Stonegate, which could soon be the UK’s largest pub operator, should a £1.27bn deal to buy Ei Group’s 4,000 pubs go through, will open a second Slug & Lettuce site in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, following a major refurbishment replacing the city’s only Yates pub.
A spokesman for the company said: “Yates is a much-loved brand and will always have its place on the UK high street in line with consumer demand.
“Stonegate continuously changes and develops its formats within the group portfolio to address both the competitive landscape locally and meet the ever-evolving demands of the high street.”
A perfect addition
The spokesman added: “Newcastle is just the latest city to be reviewed and due to its popularity, it was felt that a second Slug & Lettuce would be the perfect addition.”
There is currently one Slug & Lettuce on Newcastle’s Quayside, near the Baltic art gallery on the banks of the River Tyne, but the second will take up residence in the former Yates site near the city’s train station.
The pubco, which currently operates more than 760 branded sites across the UK, including Be At One, announced plans to convert the Yates site in June.
It is expected the new Slug & Lettuce will open this month, after major works have been carried out to transform the venue into the new brand.
Slug & Lettuce Grainger Street will provide the brand’s full food and cocktail offer and will feature bird cage booths as well as a cocktail masterclass station.
Prepared to invest in Ei
Meanwhile, Stonegate boss Simon Longbottom told The Morning Advertiser (MA) he was prepared to invest in Ei Group’s portfolio as soon as the deal is approved by Ei’s shareholders and competition authorities.
“The big thing is investment, we can unlock capital to invest in this pub estate, whether tenanted and leased or managed,” he said.
Industry spectators, such as former Punch MD Paul Pavli, believe the buyout of Ei Group by Stonegate could be transformative for the predominantly tenanted and leased pubco.
“What this [deal] says to me is that the pub industry is a great place to invest, somewhere innovation often starts, especially in the leased and tenanted estates,” Pavli told MA in an exclusive interview.