White Horse Inn at Easton set for a re-launch under new management
12:01 12 February 2016
A picturesque village pub is set to be relaunched under new management in May.
Alastair and Sian Kerr, owners of the White Horse Inn at Easton, near Framlingham, are handing over its management to the Chestnut Group, which has taken on a long-term lease on the 18th century property and aims to ‘revitalise’ the venue.
The move will enable the couple to concentrate on their wedding venue business, Easton Grange, which opened two and a half years ago. The extended Kerr family also owns popular family attraction Easton Farm Park.
The Chestnut Group, launched in 2012 by former banker and corporate financier Philip Turner, owns the Packhorse Inn near Newmarket, and the Rupert Brooke in Grantchester, and is set to launch a boutique hotel in Bury St Edmunds in the spring.
The deal is part of a wider strategy by Chestnut to identify properties that can deliver further potential following investment.
“It made sense to build the group on the strong, asset-based foundations of a number of freehold properties,” said Mr Turner.
“However, businesses diversify as opportunity knocks, and this was certainly the case when we were offered the option to manage the White Horse and the chance to work in partnership with Alastair and Sian.
“The Chestnut Group is not just about property. It is now an established hospitality brand with a strong central management team and a reputation for great service, food and drink. The White Horse has the perfect location as in terms of geographic spread, we were looking for opportunities to the east of the county.”
The village location, structural layout and established local food focus made it “a perfect fit” for the Chestnut portfolio, he added.
“The White Horse will benefit from some investment and attention to detail to bring the interiors up to the Chestnut’s customers’ expectations and we look forward to reopening the doors in May.”
Mr Kerr said they had bought the pub four years ago with a view to integrating it with the wedding venue.
“However, the wedding venue is now going from strength to strength and although a difficult decision, we know that our business focus has shifted towards the venue and the pub has not been getting the management attention our customers deserved,” he said.
“We know Philip and we admire what he is doing with Chestnut Group. We are very excited about what Philip and his team can bring to the area and look forward to working together to put The White Horse back up there with the best in Suffolk hospitality.”
Chestnut Group worked with Everard Cole, a property consultancy specialising in the leisure industry, to develop the innovative lease structure.
Tom Nichols, founder of Everard Cole, said it was “refreshing” to work with Philip and Alastair in developing a “really exciting” product that works for asset owners looking for a ‘partnership’ with a great operator and brand.
Existing physical features such as the original flint stone walls and open fires will be key features when the pub relaunches.
There will also be a club room for business meetings and private parties, and zoned eating areas, inside and out, to cater for its wide-ranging customer base.