Urbium eyes the West End

Related tags Iced tea Tea Urbium

Late-night operator Urbium is still on the lookout for sites in the West End of London following its purchase of two high-profile properties last...

Late-night operator Urbium is still on the lookout for sites in the West End of London following its purchase of two high-profile properties last week.

Its acquisition programme will continue following its rejection of a tentative bid for the group from rival bar operator Regent Inns, said Urbium chief executive Steve Richards.

"We've recently bought four new sites and we have an ambitious growth programme in the coming months. While I can't control what happens [regarding an approach to Urbium investors] I'm focused on delivering value to our shareholders," he said.

The West End is one of the country's biggest markets, he added, and Urbium will be "looking to do more acquisitions in the area", after the company, which operates the Tiger Tiger chain, announced it had acquired the Long Island Iced Tea Room and Bar 38 outlets from the Spirit Group.

Both bars, located in the Covent Garden area of the capital, will "significantly increase Urbium's presence in this busy area and complement our existing 17-strong West End portfolio", Mr Richards said.

The cost of acquiring and refurbishing the bars, due to re-open in November under new, yet-to-be decided names, will be around £3.8m.

Mr Richards believes a number of sites will come onto the market in the coming months and Urbium will be ready to buy. "These outlets are non-core to their current owners and we will be in the market for them," he said.

"Twenty to 25 per cent of our sales are through pre-booked events in our bars, so when we buy a site we know what we can achieve with it."

The Regent Inns offer, meanwhile, was "a distraction", said Mr Richards. "It was an indicative proposal which we rejected. It was way too low and that remains the case," he explained.

As this article was posted Regent Inns' board was plotting its next move for Urbium.

A hostile bid was possible, although Regent chief executive Bob Ivell admitted that he would prefer any further approach to be amicable.

"We maintain there is a compelling argument that a logical fit exists [between our businesses]. We will be pursuing this," he said.

Related articles:

Urbium buys Covent Garden bars from Spirit (17 June 2005)

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