Zolfo Cooper has been appointed as joint administrators to the company, which underwent a restructure and appointed a new management team led by former Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) executive Roger Moxham little more than a year ago.
The TDR Capital-backed Stonegate Pub Company is in advanced talks to acquire c80 of Smith & Jones brand operator’s better performing sites. These talks are ongoing with a deal likely to be completed over the coming few weeks.
Zolfo Cooper is now inviting parties wishing to make an expression of interest in certain sites to contact them
The group operates 185 pubs and bars across the UK and employs approximately 3,300 staff across all sites. 25 of these sites will close immediately with Christie + Co set to be appointed to market them.
Administrators have been appointed after the group experienced cash flow problems arising from the “current challenging economic environment”. Following the appointment, the Joint Administrators will continue to trade the majority of the estate while exploring a range of options including the sale of parts of the business as a going concern.
Peter Saville, partner at Zolfo Cooper, said: “We will continue to trade the business while exploring all possible options for its future including a sale of the business and would like to thank the staff for their continued support and professionalism during this process.”
The group has continued to struggle after the initial restructuring process in 2012, which saw US hedge fund Varde Partners take a significant stake in the Smith & Jones operator, did not go far enough in cutting the group’s then c£160m debt pile or in offloading lossmaking sites.
Investment in the group’s core estate, which is understood to be performing well, has been hindered by the pressure to service the company tail of leasehold properties, which is believed to include up to 100 sites.
It is understood that a number of options were being explored for the business, which included Varde or another of the group’s investors taking forward the growth part of Bramwell and in the process backing the current management team.
The former Barracuda Pub Company completed a restructuring last September, which saw the separation of its operating company (opco) from its property company (propco).
Under the terms of the restructure, the opco was renamed Bramwell Pub Company and planned to benefit from a credit facility of up to £10m from new backer Värde.
At the time, the company said it believed that the restructuring and new credit facility created a “solid foundation to execute the sales and investment plans” developed by the new management team, led by Moxham.
The group said that the financial restructuring placed it onto a “firm financial footing” allowing a planned investment in service, training and refurbishment in line with the new business plan.
Since morphing into Bramwell, the business has unveiled a new food-led café/bar concept called Wild Lime Bar & Kitchen, which it is currently assessing over three pilot sites with a view to expanding to up to 100 units. It also launched craft beer bar format, The Long Room on the site of The Gate near Farringdon Station.