Noble House weighs up Beefeater bid

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Noble House Pub Company is weighing up a bid for the 45 Beefeater sites put up for sale by Whitbread.A glut of operators are interested in parts of...

Noble House Pub Company is weighing up a bid for the 45 Beefeater sites put up for sale by Whitbread.

A glut of operators are interested in parts of the package but Noble is the only one pondering a deal for the complete package.

Any buyer would need to embark on a substantial capital expenditure programme. The pubs are understood to be in poor decorative condition and many require structural work.

"They have been milked," said one person close to the situation. "It will be a tough decision. Any buyer would need to spend £250,000 per pub to bring them up to scratch."

Six of the underperforming pubs have hotels attached under the Travel Inn banner. The package has been valued at around £50m with the hotels and £40m without.

Operators have also questioned the value of the sites once they have been de-badged. "These pub are absolutely filled with grey-haired women with handbags full of meal vouchers," he said.

"Obviously there would be a capital benefit but there is practically no running yield to these businesses. You would need to spend a lot before you make money."

Noble House was not available for comment but question marks over a pending war in Iraq are also thought to be hampering the £40m decision.

Another issue at the forefront of operators' minds is the potential break up of Six Continents. "I think most people are a bit preoccupied with what pickings could be available from a break up," said one managed house operator.

Related articles:

Whitbread plans to revamp flagging Beefeater (8 January 2003)

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