Raising a glass to tradition….and to profit
With a history stretching back to 1740, a reputation for fine cask conditioned ales and ciders, and the accolade of being runner up in the 2018 Countryfile Country Pub of the Year awards, the Rugglestone Inn, located on the edge of the enchanting Dartmoor village of Widecombe in the Moor, is a destination pub with tradition at its heart.
For Vicki and Richard Palmer, who bought the Inn twelve years ago, they knew that sticking to tradition was the key to their success: “I’ve always known the Rugglestone”, says Richard. “Having grown up in Buckfast, I used to come here as a teenager. I loved the honesty of the place and so, when the opportunity to buy the pub came up, Vicki and I leapt at it.
“Neither of us had any experience as publicans, although Vicki had a background in catering. However, what we knew, without doubt, was that we wanted to keep the Rugglestone as a proper pub. At the time, lots of old-school pubs were going out of business, yet we felt that if we kept true to the roots of the Rugglestone, rather than jump to becoming a gastro-pub, we’d start to stand out as a haven for locals and tourists with a love of great beer, cider and honest homecooked food.”
Over the years, Richard and Vicki have installed a commercial kitchen in place of the original range, refurbished the interior of the pub and converted a barn into selfcatering for four on site. Yet, throughout, they’ve maintained the charm of the original pub in all its idiosyncratic glory.
Whatever the weather, you can be sure of a warm welcome from Richard, Vicki and their team. There’s a wood burner and open log fire for the cooler months; and a large sheltered garden with picnic tables and a babbling moorland stream for the summer. Pigs, ducks, chickens and even a turkey roam free; a nod to the Rugglestone’s humble 18th century beginnings as a farmhouse.
Since buying the pub, business has gone from strength to strength. The Palmers even have a smallholding, which they use to supply all their pork and lamb requirements. Their ambition is to develop this further, so that one day they’ll be as close to self-sufficiency in all their meat dishes as they possibly can be.
Helping them on this journey has been Simpkins Edwards, which took over the pub’s accounts from Adams and Co when the businesses came together in 2014.
“The transition was seamless and the level of service has been superb”, says Richard.
“Whenever we have a question, Mary Jane Campbell and her team are always there to help, guiding us through the complexities of tax planning and advising on how best to structure the company to minimise our tax obligations.”
Mary Jane Campbell, Partner at Simpkins Edwards, comments: “It’s a great pleasure working with Richard and Vicki. The two have a clear vision, a wonderful business and a good understanding of QuickBooks, which helps make the working relationship speedy and efficient.
“Each year we discuss their income requirements, their planned withdrawals from the business. We look at the personal tax implications and advise on the best way to structure their income; assessing the best split between salary, dividend and interest to minimise personal tax, making use of additional interest, the dividend 0% rate bands and their personal allowances.”
Vicki, who manages the accounts and works directly with Simpkins Edwards, says: “The team are very proactive, friendly and approachable. With their guidance, and following a recent upgrade to QuickBooks desktop, we are now fully compliant with Making Tax Digital for Businesses. Our accounts are up to date, we are tax efficient and we continue to make the very most of our allowances.
“The nice thing about Mary Jane’s team is they go the extra mile, consistently offering sound advice. They’ve also been invaluable for our end of year tax returns; it’s always a huge relief to know that the experts have checked through the accounts to ensure that you’ve done the job right and completed your returns correctly. It means that we can focus on what we do best, which is serving great ales, ciders and wines, alongside high quality hospitality and great traditional pub grub.”