A MULTI-AWARD winning pub group which operates some of the county’s most popular and highly-regarded eateries has filed for administration. 

The Seafood Pub Company, which among many others owns the Assheton Arms in Downham, the Oyster and Otter in Blackburn and Forest in Fence, had to call in administrators last week, after failing to secure funding since the coronavirus lockdown.

Last year it was reported that a series of one-off expenses such as system improvements, restructuring, and the exit of one non-core site, the Roaming Roosters farm shop and café in Higham near Burnley, were to blame for its £1.2m loss.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the Alma Inn with MP Andrew Stephenson.

At the time, founder Joycelyn Neve said she did not expect the costs to repeat in future years.

However on Friday a letter written by Miss Neve thanked all of her staff for their hard work, commitment and friendship as she revealed the sad news that the company had gone under. 

She wrote: “It is with a very heavy heart that I am writing to tell you that we have not been able to secure the funding needed for the business to survive.

“As we were not granted a coronavirus business interruption loan the next step was for us to try and raise funding from the bank and our investors. Whilst both were supportive, the investor fundraise failed, as did my subsequent management buyout attempt.

“Without funding and no income since the forced closure, we have no choice other than for the business to go into Administration.”

Miss Neve founded the company in 2010, combining her family heritage in the fishing industry with her passion for high-quality food and relaxed service. 

Lancashire Telegraph: Joycelyn Neve

In total, the company operated ten award-winning gastro pubs across Lancashire and Yorkshire, all with a raft of accolades to their name. 

In a statement to the press, Miss Neve said: “The past few months has been unprecedented for the hospitality industry. Unable to access Government support or other funding, and with no income since the forced closure, there is no choice other than for the business to go into administration.

"It goes without saying I am truly heartbroken, to have lost my business, but even more so for my team and seafood family.

“We fought as hard as possible, every step of the way and I am just so sorry to all the team that we weren’t able to save the business. 

“I can’t thank the team, guests, suppliers, neighbours and everyone who has been part of Seafood Pub Company enough, for your hard work, support and friendship the past nine years and especially for your kindness and well wishes in this incredibly difficult time.”

Adressing the news leader of the Ribble Valley Borough Council, Stephen Atkinson said: “We need to start by thinking about the employees and hope that the businesses get taken over to maintain employment and the amenity that is the Assheton Arms.

“This was the pub that received an award last year for best seafood in the country and it would be such a shame if it couldn’t start again with new owners. 

“The council is currently looking at how to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and support local restaurants hotels and shops going forward.”

READ > Seafood Pub Company collapse: 'If they've gone, who is next?'

The full list of pub's owned by the company is as follows: 

  • Assheton Arms, Downham
  • Farmers Arms, Great Eccleston
  • The Fenwick, Lancaster road, Claughton
  • Barley Mow, Pendle 
  • Derby Arms, Longridge 
  • The Oyster & Otter, Blackburn
  • The Alma Inn, Laneshawbridge
  • The Inn, South Stainley, Harrogate
  • The Fleece, Addingham, Ilkley
  • Forest, Fence