Ex-lawyer saves 20 jobs at gastro pub-hotel, helped by Thursfields

A former City lawyer who turned entrepreneur to save his local pub has now added a fourth hostelry to his growing mini-empire, with the help of Thursfields Solicitors.

Thursfields has assisted Andrew Cornthwaite, owner of The Baiting House Group, to acquire what was The Crown Inn in Hopton Wafers, near Ludlow in Shropshire.

Mr Cornthwaites’ purchase of the venue, now rebranded as The Hopton Crown, means 20 staff have kept their jobs at the gastro pub-hotel, and that villagers are continuing to enjoy their local.

Tony Gibb, director of the Commercial Property team at Thursfields, said: “We were delighted to help Andrew to acquire his third, and now this his fourth venue in his growing portfolio of gastro pubs and hotels.”

Gareth Burge, director of the Corporate team at Thursfields, said “The Crown Inn went into receivership before the busy Christmas period, but by acting quickly to buy it as a going concern The Baiting House Group has managed to retain all the staff and keep what is a stunning local going.”

Mr Cornthwaite, a former lawyer who worked in finance, formed The Baiting House Group with his wife Kate Lane, a part-time sheep farmer, when their local pub, The Baiting House at Upper Sapey, closed down after years of decline.

The couple bought that pub-hotel three years ago and set about a major refurbishment, re-establishing the pub at the heart of its community.

They’ve since bought and developed The Admiral Rodney at Berrow Green, Worcestershire, and The Stockton Cross at Kimbolton, Herefordshire.

Mr Cornthwaite said: “Tony Gibb, Gareth Burge and their team at Thursfields did a great job on the commercial property and business sale sides, responding quickly to our needs and making sure everything went through smoothly for the purchase of what’s now The Hopton Crown. It was a pleasing moment when the deal went through, especially because it meant we’ve managed to retain all the staff and keep such an important community venue open.

The Hopton Crown currently has 20 bedrooms, a 70-plus cover restaurant and a cosy bar with a big inglenook fireplace. Our plan is to keep all the good bits, but to renovate the public areas and bedrooms – particularly the bathrooms! – and to turn some of the bedrooms back into two luxury waterside cottages for holiday rentals.

We’re proud to be developing our small group of pubs in the neighbouring counties of Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire.”

If you are buying or selling a business or commercial property please contact Tony Gibb, Commercial Property Director on 01905 677042 or email tgibb@thursfields.co.uk

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