Red Oak Taverns was due to complete on the purchase of 17 pubs from St Austell Brewery’s leased and tenanted estate yesterday.  

The deal includes sites across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, including the Four Lords in Par, the White Hart in Launceston, The Bettle & Chisel in Delabole, The Radjel Inn in Pendeen, The Wellington in St Just, The Western in St Austell, The Dolphin in Grampound and The New Inn, Park Bottom near Illogan.  

Red Oak owns 212 pubs, primarily leased and tenanted, which are concentrated in the Midlands, South, North West and South West of England. 

The independent business has already made several acquisitions in 2023, from companies including Everards, McMullen’s and Marston’s. The St Austell Brewery pubs will extend its footprint in the South West.  

Red Oak Taverns chief executive Mark Grunnell said: “We are delighted that St Austell Brewery, a fellow independent business with a rich history of running great pubs, chose to work with us in selling these assets. 

“We’re looking forward to working in partnership with all 17 of our new licensees in this exciting new chapter, providing ongoing support to help their businesses thrive.” 

St Austell Brewery chief executive Kevin Georgel said: “As a business which is committed to supporting its tenanted partners and investing in its pubs, we are confident that Red Oak is the best possible custodian for these pubs and will ensure their ongoing success.” 

Established in 1851, Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery – which remains an independent family business – owns 184 pubs, inns, and hotels across the West Country, including managed houses and leased and tenanted sites. 

The company announced the acquisition of The Bath Pub Company in September.

Meanwhile, the family running the pub at the heart of Grampound has launched a petition to prevent its sale. 

The Dolphin Inn is one of the 17 tenanted pubs being sold by St Austell Brewery to Red Oak Taverns. 

But Neil Jackson, whose family moved into the pub four years ago, said the brewery “has sold our beloved pub from under us”. 

A petition launched on on Saturday, calling for the sale to be halted and the pub designated as a community asset, had already garnered over 1,000 signatures by Monday. 

Mr Jackson, 53, was medically retired from a 20-year career at an oil refinery in Lincolnshire due to primary progressive multiple sclerosis. At this point, he and his family fulfilled a long-cherished dream of moving to Cornwall in his retirement. 

“We chose this pub because it came with an option to buy,” he said. “We have been running this establishment as a family without any external staff.

“Unfortunately, due to the impact of covid-19 on our business operations, we were unable to meet the bank’s lending criteria which requires an unbroken period of three years. To our dismay and without warning, St Austell Brewery has sold our beloved pub from under us. This is despite having an agreement in place that gave us an option to purchase. 

“We are now calling upon Cornwall Council and all relevant authorities to pause the ongoing sale process so that we can have a fair chance at purchasing this establishment.” He added that The Dolphin Inn was “not just another business”, but part of Grampound’s heritage and community fabric.

“Pubs like ours are vital for local economies - they provide jobs, directly or indirectly, for around 900,000 people in the UK, according to British Beer & Pub Association statistics,” he said.

“We urge all who value community spirit and local heritage preservation in Grampound, Truro or anywhere else to stand with us. Together we can save The Dolphin Inn for future generations while preserving its unique character within our community.”