Camerons Brewery grows managed estate with Bar Soba acquisition

By Stuart Stone contact

- Last updated on GMT

Group growth: Camerons' purchase of Glasgow-based Bar Soba group will see its estate of managed sites now number 34
Group growth: Camerons' purchase of Glasgow-based Bar Soba group will see its estate of managed sites now number 34

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North-east-based brewer and pub operator Camerons Brewery has announced the acquisition of five-venue Bar Soba group for an undisclosed sum.

The deal will see Camerons add Bar Soba’s sites - three in Glasgow, one in Edinburgh and one in Leeds - to increase its managed pub estate to 34 venues with the help of HSBC, which financed the acquisition.

News of the Hartlepool-based brewer’s purchase follows the reveal of a £500,000 drop in operating profit from £2.1m to £1.6m for the 12 months ending 5 May 2019, with pre-tax profit of £397,000 for the same period compared with £1.2m the year before.

What’s more, Camerons’ net debt stood at £26.1m at the end of the period, compared with £24m the previous year.

However, the brewer and operator registered an increase in revenue from pubs, including its recently rebranded Head of Steam chain, from £18.1m to £22m, while turnover from brewing increased from £55.9m to £62.1m.

Overall, company turnover increased by 14% over the 12-month period, from £74m to £84.1m.

Expanding estate

“This is a deal we have been working on for some time and we are delighted this has now gone through,” Chris Soley, chief executive at Camerons Brewery, said. 

“We have been extremely impressed by the Bar Soba brand and identified the potential for this group to develop. Growing our retail pub group is one of our key business strategies and we will continue to look to add more venues to our various pub brands. 

“We identified an opportunity to add another brand in our portfolio to complement the offers in our The Head of Steam and Urban Country Pubs and we feel the unique food and drinks experience Bar Soba offers gives us an exciting new opportunity to grow our estate further.

“A big part of the acquisition involves retaining the staff who have been involved in Bar Soba’s success. All of the current management team and staff will remain in place and this business will operate independently as a standalone business. 

“We look forward to welcoming David (Ladd) back into our business as he was a great asset to Camerons when he worked with us previously within our operations team.”

Scottish cocktail and Asian street food chain Bar Soba, which launched as a pop-up restaurant at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1997, received £3m investment from Business Growth Fund in 2016.

Discussing the group’s sale to Camerons Brewery, Bar Soba CEO David Ladd - who was previously a regional operations manager at Camerons - said: “We are all delighted and very excited to be part of Camerons Brewery. 

“Bar Soba is a fantastic, successful brand with a highly talented and dedicated team. With support from the management team at Camerons, we are all looking forward to new opportunities to grow the business.

“On a personal level I would like to thank the Business Growth Fund for their support, I am however thrilled to be working with everyone at Camerons again.”

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