NEW: Watch a recording of the meeting by clicking the link below
Annual Members' Meeting - 15th September 2020 at 6.30pm
Our second Annual Members meeting was held on 15th September and 18 were able to tune in to the virtual event. This was not an ideal way of holding the meeting but in the circumstances it was the best we could do. To support this, the presentation used at the meeting and a recording of the event can be found here. In addition, this newsletter is to report back and in this way we hope that all shareholders are kept well informed and up to date.
Last year we were able to report on the significant renovations that had been undertaken to get the pub functioning and the appointment of Tom and Becci as our tenants. It seems a long time ago and we have to remind ourselves that we are only just about two years on from when we purchased the pub in October 2018. This year has been eventful as well with major renovations continuing with the bed and breakfast accommodation being brought back to life, with three good quality letting rooms which are proving successful for the business.
In addition, as funds continued to come in from share sales we were able to tackle a complete renewal of the windows which was an important project in tandem with the the bed and breakfast room renovations, to complete improvement of the rooms and the pub areas. The windows are all double glazed and as well as the aesthetics will reduce future maintenance and improve energy efficiency. The other major renovation was to reroof the main pub and cottage roofs. Although Covid lockdown got in the way we managed without too many dramas. As with the first phase of renovations we have used local businesses where we have needed to and again acknowledge with gratitude the considerable volunteer effort that has been made available.
When we set out we prioritised renovations accordioning to the funds we had available as shares continued to be sold. Well, here we are two years on and we have achieved completion of all the major renovations we had planned to do in our original business plan. This is a great achievement and it is pleasing to report that the original business plan has been fully funded. We set out to raise around £400,000 and we have actually raised £416,000. Originally we had anticipated £295,000 from share sales but we closed the share offer at £250,000 (with 152 shareholders) as the balance was met by other funding we have been able to secure in grants significantly from Hambleton District Council, Pub is The Hub, Power to Change and the Plunkett Foundation.
Overall we have spent on renovations pretty much in line with the original business plan. There have been some ups and downs on particular projects but this has been balanced out within the overall financial provision. In round figures something like £180,000 has been spent on renovations but we expected that when we set out!
Over the year the pub has been recognised with awards but just recently we have learnt that we are third placed by CAMRA in the North West Yorkshire pub of the year awards. This is a really great award for the pub to receive. It recognises the work that has been done to rejuvenate the pub into a go to venue together with the all important welcoming offer hosted by Tom and Becci - with good food and drink and a lively atmosphere.
We could not report without mentioning the effect of Covid-19. Your directors have met more regularly as we have kept pace with events. You will know that we had a 3 month enforced closure and took the decision to offer a three month rent free period for the pub to Tom and Becci to give reassurance and prevent potential rent arrears becoming a burden to the future success of the business once reopening was allowed. We managed this by deferring payment of the interest due on shares and deferring the capital payment on our loan. The pub reopened successfully in July and trading has been good since within the Covid secure guidelines. From what was an uncertain period financially, with grants that we have been able to secure, careful management of our budget and the normal rent payments resuming, our finances remain sound. The next phase of the reopening will be the shop so look out for details in October.
Financially our accounts have been prepared with the necessary compliance issues and with better performance than expected our finances are sound. We are in a position to pay the first interest payment but with continued uncertainty over the Covid situation we have decided to be prudent and not pay this now, but hold the provision in our accounts to pay this with next year's interest payment (should we not in the meantime have had to react quickly to, for instance, another lockdown), when we hope to be in a position again to report a good financial position.
Looking forward, having completed the major renovations we will have a period of consolidation and update the business plan. There is a balance of around £25,000 for future projects that we need to think about (eg the outdoor space) and will continue to seek external financial support where we can. The new car park will come with the commencement of the adjoining housing development and in anticipation of that we have done some fencing work at the side of the pub to tidy up this area as this will be alongside the main entrance into the car park. Unfortunately community events and the like are limited in the current circumstances but we hope that this will change over the coming months.
The six directors (Peter Simpson, John Walker, Mark Temple, Alasdair Campbell, Gerry Price and George Cornwell-Legh) remain in office with no elections due this year. However there are still vacancies on the Board and anyone who might be interested would be welcome to join us. If you are interested just get in touch.
Hopefully that covers things. Best wishes from the Directors, we look forward to seeing you in the pub and hopefully next year's AMM can be more of a social event than has been allowed this year. Cheers!
Our Annual Members Meeting (AMM) was due during the lockdown period but with every thing else that has been happening around us this was not a priority and postponed for all the obvious reasons. However we are now in a position to go ahead with it in some form so please make a note in your diaries if you wish to 'tune in'.
Our last AMM was a very vibrant event with around 60 present in the pub and a lot has happened since to report on. With the current social distancing rules it is sadly not going to be possible to have a similar get together event this year. We have thought about the options and have decided that a virtual meeting using ZOOM is the best way forward. We realise this may not suit everyone but with the way we plan to hold the meeting we hope we are able to accommodate most people.
The formal agenda and other papers for the meeting can be found below together with a presentation that will be used to take us through the meeting. The reason for sending this out in advance is so that, if you want to, you can raise questions in advance as it will be different from when we are all together in the same room. There will also be opportunities during the meeting but the logistics of how many ZOOM in will dictate how we can handle these on the day and if for any reason we are not able to deal with everything there will be written answers after the meeting.
For those who are not used to ZOOM it is video conferencing system and full instructions will be given when you let us know that you will be joining the meeting. It is straightforward - you just need access to a computer, tablet or smartphone. On the day you click on a link that will be given and then another click to 'join the meeting ' and that's it.
We have previously reported that the first member interest payment was due but we deferred paying this and used the equivalent money, together with a saving by deferring our loan repayments, to offer a three month rent free period for the pub whilst it had to close. We still feel this was the right action to support the pub and Tom and Becci's business and even with changed arrangements for eating and drinking, it is great to see the pub reopen with people enjoying the place again.
We are grateful for everyone's support with this and are going to ask to stretch this just that little bit further.
With both sensible management of our finances during lockdown and with the pub reopening our finances are sound and we could pay the 1% interest in line with the original shareholder prospectus and our business plan. However, we are not done with COVID yet and do not know what might be around the corner. Therefore, we are proposing not to pay the interest due this year but hold the resource within our accounts and continue to monitor trading conditions into next year. If all plays out well with no further closures etc. and our finances remain good then we would propose paying this (2019) interest with the 2020 interest next year.
There will be more on this at the meeting but we hope that an advance explanation of what will be proposed is helpful.
Joining the meeting
If you want to join the virtual meeting please leave a reply to this post or your individually addressed invitation. Also, if you have any questions in advance please let us know.
As ever stay safe! We look forward to seeing you for the virtual AMM or of course in the pub where trading since reopening is good with the revised Covid secure offering, takeaway service, bed and breakfast accommodation and the shop coming online (literally) soon!
The Directors, Exelby Green Dragon Community Pub Ltd