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6th September 2022

Brakspear makes new appointments to bolster Honeycomb Houses division

Brakspear has made two new appointments within its Honeycomb Houses managed division, designed to bolster the 10-strong estate and put it in a strong position for growth. James White is appointed as operations manager, while Ken Umasanthiram joins as head of food.

White is responsible for five Honeycomb Houses including the recently redeveloped Bull on Bell Street in Henley, and the Nag’s Head, set on its own island on Abingdon Bridge.  He has worked in hospitality for many years, initially in his native city of Wellington, known as New Zealand’s culinary capital, before moving to the UK five years ago. Most recently, he worked for Charles Wells, overseeing the repositioning of their managed pubs division.

He says: “Honeycomb Houses is an exceptional group of pubs, run by exceptional GMs and teams.  I see a big opportunity to develop our teams further and create a culture of excellence, delivering the highest service standards to our guests, which will give us the edge over our competitors.”

Umasanthiram will oversee all aspects of the food offer, working with the chefs and GMs at each pub and the Honeycomb Houses marketing manager. He has worked across the hospitality sector, including a number of years at Bill’s, where he held senior roles involving menu development, chef training and operations. He has also worked in the USA, opened the first Popeyes UK site and was personal chef to bands Kaiser Chiefs and Korn.

Like White, Umasanthiram sees Honeycomb Houses’ teams as its biggest asset, saying: “We have hugely talented head chefs and GMs within the business and I’ll be working closely with them to ensure we’re serving delicious, beautifully presented dishes across all Honeycomb Houses. I want to give our chefs the best ingredients, and the best chance of serving consistently amazing food to our guests, every time they dine with us.”

Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies, said, “We’re delighted to welcome James and Ken, whose skills and industry experience will be an enormous asset.

“Like all operators, we are facing a raft of challenges from team shortages to supply chain issues and spiralling energy costs. We believe, though, that the Honeycomb Houses ethos of ‘Our House, Your Home’, is creating a culture among our teams where they are focused on delivering high standards, happy in their work and loyal to their pub.

“We will continue to build on this and are confident it will stand us in good stead both to weather adverse trading conditions, and to further develop the Honeycomb Houses division.”

Caption to attached image: (l-r) James White, operations manager and Ken Umasanthiram, head of food at Brakspear’s Honeycomb Houses managed division


Notes to editor:

Brakspear’s managed pub division was established in 2013 with the opening of The Bull on Bell Street in Henley-on-Thames, just yards from the site of the original Brakspear brewery founded in 1711, and next to the company’s current head office.

In November 2021, Brakspear rebranded its managed estate as Honeycomb Houses, underpinned with an ethos of ‘Our House, Your Home’, offering relaxed, attentive service to guests and creating a ‘home from home’ atmosphere.

The estate comprises:

In Henley-on-Thames

  • Bull on Bell Street, Henley-on-Thames: Brakspear’s first managed pub, opened in 2013 just yards from the site of the original Brakspear brewery founded in 1711. Major refurbishment in April 2022 created an extensive outdoor area, The Courtyard, with a retractable roof and a private dining room inside, as well as a complete décor makeover. Nine bedrooms in two adjacent properties, The Doll’s House and The Old Coach House.

In the Cotswolds

  • Frogmill, Shipton Oliffe near Cheltenham: reopened with major investment in 2018. Historic pub, restaurant and 28 boutique bedrooms with a wedding and events business, set in extensive grounds. Winner of the National Pub & Bar of the Year Award 2022.
  • George Townhouse, Shipston-on-Stour: opened in May 2015, a Grade II listed building with 15 bedrooms, refurbished in spring 2022.
  • Sheep on Sheep Street, Stow-on-the-Wold: opened in July 2016, contemporary bar and restaurant with 22 bedrooms promising to bring a ‘slice of London to the Cotswolds’. New beach huts added to the garden for summer 2022.
  • Porch House, Stow-on-the-Wold: opened in 2013. Believed to be the oldest pub in the country, with parts dating back to 947AD. Grade 2* listed building with 13 bedrooms. Won AA Pub of the Year England 2015 and Good Pub Guide’s New Pub of the Year 2016.
  • Egypt Mill, Nailsworth near Stroud: acquired by Brakspear in March 2020, a converted mill with riverside dining, 28 bedrooms and a wedding and functions business.

Other locations

  • Nag’s Head, Abingdon: purchased in June 2019. Iconic Oxfordshire pub, set on its own island halfway across Abingdon Bridge, with extensive gardens seating 200 people and a barge bar.
  • The Lion, Wendlebury, Bicester: purchased November 2017. Food-led pub with 190 cover restaurant and 13 bedrooms.
  • The Chequers, Marlow: moved to managed estate from L&T in 2014. Busy High Street pub and restaurant with nine bedrooms.
  • Ghyll Manor, Rusper, near Horsham, West Sussex: purchased by Brakspear in February 2022, a historic hotel with 29 bedrooms and wedding and functions business, set in 25 acres of grounds including a lake and landscaped gardens. Currently closed.

Press release from Shiel Porter.

For further information, please contact Ros Shiel via or 07841 694137.