A PUB group which went “over and above” to look after people during lockdown has been named the best employer in the business.

The accolade went to Brewhouse & Kitchen, founded by Bournemouth-based chief executive Kris Gumbrell.

It won Best Pub Employer at the 2021 Publican Awards, which recognise businesses that invest time, focus and energy in the development of employees.

An internal survey saw 97 per cent of staff give it the highest possible rating for the way it has supported them during the pandemic.

Brewhouse & Kitchen’s 22 brewpubs include those in Southbourne and central Bournemouth, which reopened yesterday, and one in Poole, which is currently closed but under review.

The company previously took three trophies at the British Institute of Innkeeping National Innovation in Training Awards – for outstanding staff welfare, its apprenticeship programme and the best training programme.

Mr Gumbrell said: “Throughout the pandemic we’ve gone over and above in the measures to protect both our teams and our guests. We’ve introduced temperature testing of all team before work and ensured all were fully trained to deliver the very best in Covid safety standards for our guests.

“Our team are a major focus of investment into our business, and we aim to be the employer of choice for anyone seeking a career in the hospitality sector.

“We’re very pleased to have our efforts recognised at the 2021 Publican Awards which are the Oscars of the pub Industry.

“We can’t wait to welcome back all of our wonderful guests and team.”

The business is due to see a 23rd pub open in Worthing on May 17 as well as the introduction of accommodation under its “brewtel” concept.

In the past year, the business has launched a customer care training programme called Brewing Happiness. It has focused on wellbeing through a training programme focusing on the four “pillars” of wellbeing – mental, financial, career and physical/social.

It has created support packs to give staff guidance on how to spend their time, how to safely volunteer in their communities and how to manage their finances.

There have been weekly activities, with skills and product training, quizzes, tasting evenings and social events, as well as a programme of activities for Mental Health Awareness Week.

The company ran team welfare days for its staff to attend and collect goodie bags, offered flexible wage advances and continued delivering its apprenticeship programme.

Ninety-two per cent of staff returned to work after the first lockdown.