Fuller's boss: 'There's a pent up demand for good London pubs'

By James Wallin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Public house

Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller's, says there are too few London freeholds
Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller's, says there are too few London freeholds
A “scarcity” of high-quality freehold pubs in London is creating “pent up demand”, according to Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller’s, which recently spent c£7m acquiring a pub in Covent Garden.

Emeny told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​’s sister title M&C Report​ that the company is “not purely looking at iconic sites in London”, with the group also eyeing opportunities with newbuild developments, pubs with accommodation and sites outside the capital.

Meanwhile, Fuller’s and the team behind the Stable, the Bristol-based craft beer and pizza concept in which Fuller’s recently bought a 51% stake, are “currently looking at a number of sites across the south east and the south west”, with an opening due in Falmouth.

“There are quite a few strings to our acquisition strategy,” Emeny said. Asked about the London pub property market following Fullers’ acquisition of the Harp in Covent Garden, Emeny said: “There’s certainly a scarcity of high quality of freehold assets to the degree that that’s creating pent up demand.

“But one’s got to bear in mind that London certainly has a population that’s growing, it has an ever-improving transport infrastructure and a company like us has always bought for the long term - we’ve set sights upwards of 20, 30 years. And we’ve consistently bought freeholds in good areas of London and the south east, and we’ll continue to do so when the right opportunities come along.”


Meanwhile, Emeny told M&C Report​  that in the next year the company would look to invest in Fine Line, its three-strong City bar brand with sites in Monument, Canary Wharf and Bow Churchyard.

He said: “One of the big successes in the last few years on the pub side has been the investment programme, the quality of the refurbishments that Jonathon Swaine [managing director of Fuller’s Inns] and his team have carried out have been outstanding and we’ve seen some fantastic sales uplifts at those.

“We’ve now got three Fine Line sites, they’ve traded well over the last 16 weeks and at some stage during the next year we’re looking at investments in those sites so that we can hopefully expand some of the benefits we’re seeing elsewhere in the estate from investments.”

He said it’s unlikely that Fuller’s would add more Fine Line sites to the estate. Regarding the impact of the World Cup on its most recent trading period, Emeny said: “England barely participated so it’s had very little effect on these results. I think for us the 2015 World Cup will be a much bigger opportunity.”

Fuller’s reported “strong trading” across all divisions for the 16 weeks to 19 July 2014, with a 7.3% rise in like-for-like sales in its managed pubs and hotels division.

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