Spirit plans review of S&N Retail pub brands

Related tags Private equity

Spirit plans a review of all Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) Retail pub brands after winning the auction for the managed pub business.Chief...

Spirit plans a review of all Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) Retail pub brands after winning the auction for the managed pub business.

Chief executive Karen Jones said the Chef & Brewer and John Barras brands "impress the hell" out of Spirit's management team, but suggested there were others which had not worked as well. She said: "In any group, ideas are tried and inevitably some are more successful than others."

The combined business will operate almost 2,500 pubs with chains ranging from Spirit's Bar Room Bar and Wacky Warehouse to S&N's 20-plus pub brands including Bar 38 and Country Carvery.

Ms Jones (pictured)​ would not say which brands might disappear, but pledged a complete review of the business. Some familiar S&N brands, such as Rat & Parrot, were already seen as approaching the end of their lifecycle even before the £2.51bn deal was agreed with Spirit.

The consortium of private equity firms backing Spirit's bid, including Texas Pacific, Blackstone, CVC Capital Partners and Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity, have formed a new company, Spirit Amber Bidco, to complete the deal. The existing business, Spirit Group Holdings, will move into Spirit Amber Holdings.

The cash deal is expected to be completed during November, subject to approval by S&N shareholders.

Tony Campbell, chairman of Spirit Amber Holdings, said: "We are delighted to acquire such a high quality business with great pubs and great people. I am confident that the business will continue to prosper as part of the new group, which will be the leading managed pub business in the UK." He added that the two businesses were complementary, and Spirit would be looking "to secure the best of both" in the enlarged company.

He stressed that the nature of the closed auction meant Spirit only now has the chance to meet with S&N Retail executive chairman Bob Ivell and the rest of the S&N senior management.

S&N sources are stressing that the business has been sold to the newly-formed Spirit Amber rather than to Spirit Group, and suggested that the money men backing the enlarged operation would be well-advised to consider the experience of Mr Ivell and his team.

Along with S&N's pubs and restaurants, the deal also includes the Premier Lodge budget hotel business. While Whitbread is understood to be keen to combine Premier Lodge with its own Travel Inns brand, Mr Campbell said he was not in talks with anyone to sell Premier Lodge, and would be reviewing the business before any decision is made.

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