November 2018

The Inn Collection Group has appointed Ian Goulding as its new chairman

The Inn Collection Group has appointed Ian Goulding as its new chairman as the operator enters its next stage of growth and development.

Ian Goulding, co-founder and former CFO of the 26-hotel group QHotels, has been announced as chairman of the nine-site Inn Collection Group which is poised to roll out strategic expansion growth plans. His appointment comes following the acquisition of the majority shareholding in The Inn Collection Group by private equity investor Alchemy Partners earlier this year.

Sean Donkin, managing director of The Inn Collection Group said: “Ian has a wealth of commercial experience and specific experience in hospitality that will be of great value to us at a crucial time as we begin the next phase of our buy and build growth plans. 

“Expansion brings with it a number of challenges. Not only is it finding properties that meet our pubs with rooms blueprint of providing quality accommodation, food and beverages in contemporary inn environments, it is ensuring that the business can then accommodate the increased portfolio. 

“Having achieved this with great success on several occasions with QHotels we will be drawing on Ian’s wisdom and experience as we progress the continual evolution of The Inn Collection Group.”

Goulding, who also co-founded and was CFO of Paramount hotels for 10 years, said: “What The Inn Collection Group has brought to the industry is really quite unique and their approach excited me. 

“For over a decade we have been reading about the number of pubs closures in the UK every week. Yet the The Inns Collection team is making pubs a success which is down to the management team, their processes and their multi-tasking staff who make a successful customer experience their priority. I am looking forward to providing support and guidance to Sean and his team as they go through the growth phase.”

Goulding replaces outgoing chairman Geoff Hodgson who stepped down from the board in June. 

The Inn Collection Group launches Innspiration training academy

The Inn Collection Group launches Innspiration academy

The Inn Collection Group has launched a training academy to fast track talent and support staff to further their careers in the hospitality sector.

The group has teamed up with leading hospitality and catering training experts Branikov Training, to create its bespoke Innspiration Training Academy.

As well as helping to progress the next generation of managers, the programme includes training for all staff, from those with no qualifications to Degree level covering core subjects including food safety; first aid, hospitality services, supervision and leadership through to NVQ level five Management and Leadership.  

Training is delivered to staff via the Innspiration e-learning portal, targeted monthly workshops, on-the-job training and product showcases such as a recent group management product visit with Carlsberg to the brewer’s Milan operation and a cellar training day with Black Sheep for all trainee and assistant managers.

Operations manager Paul Brown said: “Customer experience - whether our guests are dining, drinking or staying with us - is at the heart of all that we do.

“Fundamental to this is having a great team of enthusiastic, knowledge and trained people with a genuine desire to deliver a customer experience that is second to none. That’s why we have invested in the Innspiration academy.”

He added: “Hospitality tends to be seen as a stop-gap solution rather than a long-term career option. The Inn Collection Group ethos is to promote from within and we have a proven track record of supporting our people to rise through the ranks, such as our managing director, Sean Donkin who started with the company as a general manager.

“By tapping in to and nurturing bright sparks from grass roots stage right through to the highest level within our organisation we have created a culture in which individuals want to foster a career with us. It’s a great position to be in.”

William Winstanley is a trainee assistant manager at the group’s Lindisfarne Inn near Berwick-upon-Tweed.  He has his sights on becoming a general manager within the group and feels the Innspiration academy is key to helping him succeed in this.

Currently undergoing Level 2 Team Member in Hospitality, William said: “I’m getting so much from the course because it is work related. It’s a great opportunity. I don’t think there are many companies that give you opportunities like this.

“What you learn from the course really does rub off into your day-to-day work. As well as being mentored and inspired by my manager, the programme really helps you progress with your staff and customer interactions. It is helping me learn and fully understand how to run a pub business to its full and best capacity. The training gives me more incentive to work towards my goal of becoming a general manager.”

For more information about working with The Inn Collection Group contact Paul Brown at or visit 



Inn Collection Group supports cheeky rugby charity calendar

The Inn Collection Group is supporting an eye-brow raising rugby calendar with a difference.

Showing members of the Newcastle Falcons squad in a whole new light, sales from the calendar will raise money for the nominated charities of Bobby Vickers Testimonial year - the Newcastle Rugby Foundation, Doddie Weir Trust and Stay Strong Stu as well as premiership hero Rob Vickers’ Testimonial. 

Players including Toby Flood, Ally Hogg, Joel Hodgson as well as Rob himself shed their rugby strips to cheekily champion the cause for the calendars, which will be on sale at each of The Inn Collection Group’s pubs in Northumberland, County Durham, North Yorkshire and the Lake District.

Managing director of The Inn Collection Group Sean Donkin said: “Hats off – literally – to Rob and his teammates at Newcastle Falcons for daring to bare almost all for such worthy causes.  They’ve produced a great calendar that will certainly bring a smile to your face right now and throughout 2019.

“The Inn Collection Group is proud to be a longstanding supporter of the Newcastle Falcons and their players and fans. We are delighted to be able to support Rob and his chosen charities by selling the calendar across our inns and wish Rob every success for his Testimonial.

The former Newcastle Falcons forward, who made over 250 appearances across 12 years playing for the club, said: “The support from The Inn Collection Group is something I’m truly grateful for. The calendars were a lot of fun to make and that can be seen in the pictures which I hope people enjoy. We certainly turned some heads while we were doing the shoots. 

“Themoney raised from the sales of the calendars will go towards three charities who are very close to my heart. Rugby and farming are my two passions and the charities I have chosen to support through my Testimonial Year reflect this. 

“As a trustee of The Falcons Community Foundation I’d like to repay the great work they do for the sport in our region. Doddie Weir is someone I know very well from his time at the club, and he has always been great with me.”

Calendars priced at £10 each are on sale at The Lindisfarne Inn, Beal; The Bamburgh Castle Inn, Seahouses, The Hog’s Head Inn at Alnwick; The Commissioners Quay Inn at Blyth; The Seaton Lane Inn at Seaton; The Kingslodge Inn at Durham; The King’s Head Inn at Newton under Roseberry and The Waterhead Hotel at Coniston. 

They can also be bought online

Inn Collection Group pubs are the plaices to be for RNLI Fish Supper campaign

The Inn Collection Group’s pubs will be the plaices to be as the north east operator casts out the net to support the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s Fish Supper fundraising campaign.

Each Friday night in October will see The Inn Collection Group pubs serve up delicious fish suppers including local beer-battered cod and double cooked chips and just landed catch-of-the day specials with a £1 donation (50p children’s meals) going directly to the charity which saves lives at sea. 

Taking part in the campaign in support of their local volunteer lifeboat crews include in Northumberland: The Lindisfarne Inn at Beal, The Bamburgh Castle Inn at Seahouses, The Hogs Head Inn at Alnwick and The Commissioners Quay Inn at Blyth. In County Durham: The Seaton Lane Inn at Seaton and The Kingslodge Inn in Durham city and in Teesside: The King’s Head Inn at Newton under Roseberry, Great Ayton. 

The Inn Collection Group’s managing director Sean Donkin said: “We are going hook, line and sinker to support the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s Fish Supper fundraising campaign. Fish and chips really are a national institution. What better way can there be to support the RNLI then to enjoy the perfect fish supper, knowing you are supporting a very worthy cause at the same time. 

“Many of our inns are very near to the sea or waterways and some have volunteer lifeboat crews practically on the doorstep. We see directly the fantastic work that the volunteer lifeboat crews do to save lives at sea and the first-rate work they do within our communities. We are delighted to be supporting the RNLI across our group and hope people will join us to enjoy a fish supper for a cause.”

The nationwide Fish Supper event honours lifeboat crew members who miss meal times and special occasions with loved ones to save lives at sea. 

The RNLI’s fish-themed annual fundraiser aims to raise awareness of crew who drop everything – even weddings, birthdays and births – to venture into often dangerous waters to rescue people who have found themselves in difficulty.

Last year, RNLI lifeboat crews across the UK and Ireland rescued 8,643 people and saved 431 lives. It costs over £485,000 per day to run the RNLI, and the charity relies on donations from the public to continue its lifesaving service.

The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and has more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,200 lives.  

Ian Clayton, operations manager at Seahouses lifeboat said: “Our volunteer crews are ready to drop everything – even their supper – at a moment’s notice to go to the rescue of people in trouble on the water. The money raised by The Inn Collection Group’s Fish Supper evenings will support all aspects of the RNLI’s lifesaving work and could help buy kit for our crew members or fuel for one of our lifeboats.”

For more information about the RNLI’s Fish Supper campaign please visit: visit