Regional Report

Essex appeal: what makes Essex a good place to run a pub?

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

That’s the way it is: Essex may be a place to seek out the stereotypes but there’s more than enough positivity to make it a great place for you to invest
That’s the way it is: Essex may be a place to seek out the stereotypes but there’s more than enough positivity to make it a great place for you to invest

Related tags: Property

Forget the stereotypes that are associated with Essex. There is plenty of opportunity to make it big in this affluent county.

Essex in numbers

  • The region of Essex is made up of 14 local authorities: Harlow, Epping Forest, Brentwood, Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford, Maldon, Chelmsford, Uttlesford, Braintree, Colchester, Tendring, Thurrock and Southend-on-Sea
  • There are 995 pubs in Essex that employ 20,852 (direct, indirect and induced) (Source: British Beer & Pub Association)
  • The Essex County Council region encompasses 1,300sq miles that stretches from ‘Constable Country’ to the Thames Estuary, from the M11 corridor to the traditional seaside resorts of Clacton and Walton. There are 50,000 businesses providing 500,000 jobs (source: Essex County Council)

Let’s be honest, Essex has a reputation. There is the ‘Essex Girls’ phenomenon and then The Only Way is Essex or TOWIE, as it is called, that has thrust the locals into the celebrity spotlight.

But there is a lot more to the region than that. It is an affluent area with strong house prices and with its location in the south-east, it has easy access to the capital – making it a desirable location.

Essex boasts the city of Chelmsford as well as the historic town of Colchester, the beachside towns of Southend-on-Sea and Frinton-on-Sea, and it even has its own airport at Stansted. ­Then there is the impending Crossrail train route from London to Shenfield set to open.

All major players

On the market

Essex - Hannover

The Hanover Inn, Harwich, Essex

Price: £425,000

Tenure: Freehold

Turnover: £360,000 (inc VAT).

Wet:dry split: 60:40

Agent: Guy Simmonds 01332 865112

This 17th century multi-award-winning pub is situated in the prime location of Harwich. It has a public bar (30 covers), restaurant (30c) and function room (25c). There is a commercial catering kitchen, family accommodation, and a self-contained two-bedroomed flat and one-bedroom apartment – ideal for letting.

Essex - White Hart

The White Hart, Stebbing, Essex

Price: £495,000

Tenure: Freehold

Turnover: Not supplied

Wet:dry split: 95:5

Agent: Christie & Co 01472 565052

The White Hart is a detached Grade-II listed 15th century building. The pub has a pitched tiled roof and, to the rear, a paved patio area, and a brewhouse.

There are many historic towns within easy reach of the village, which are popular with tourists.

Cherry Tree

Ye Olde Cherry Tree, Harwich, Essex

Price: £375,000 (plus VAT)

Tenure: Freehold

Turnover: Not supplied

Agent: Sidney Phillips 01892 725900

The wet-led Ye Olde Cherry Tree is located in the village of Little Oakley, on the western outskirts of the port town of Harwich in the county of Essex. There is four-bedroom owner’s accommodation, a rear trade garden and car park. To the side of the property there is a car park for up to 15 vehicles.

At the time of the 2011 census, the Essex County Council region had a population of 1,393,600, making it one of the largest local authorities in England. And its pub numbers reflect its size with 995 pubs that employ 20,852 people (source: British Beer & Pub Association).

It is an area that boasts all the major players with more entrepreneurial operators recognising the potential and moving into the region.

Oakman Inns, the premium bar restaurant chain, has two pubs in Essex, the King’s Head in Chipping Ongar and the Anchor in Hullbridge.

Broad spectrum represented

Essex (1)

Oakman Inns CEO Peter Borg-Neal says the county is attractive because it has a population of over 1.5m and explains that “like many UK regions”, it has areas representing a broad spectrum of economic and social success.

“­The success of Oakman Inns has, in part, come as a result of a very simple belief that we know where our style of operation and interaction with the local community is going to be best placed. Our pubs and level of service work best in areas with good population density and with high average incomes,” argues Borg-Neal.

“­That means our two premium, food-led pubs – the King’s Head in Chipping Ongar and the Anchor in Hullbridge – work well in Essex and have both a good strong community tie and a wider destination appeal.”

He says that Essex is definitely “somewhere we want to be”.

He adds: “As a sign of that commitment, we have a current planning application for a £2m investment in the Anchor, the riverside pub in Hullbridge, for a full refurbishment and expansion.”

Wealth in house prices

Essex (2)

While operators are seeing the bene t of operating in the region, Anthony Jenkins, associate director in leisure and licensed team at Christie & Co, highlights south Essex as an affluent area that boasts high house prices.

“­There are a lot of people in those southern Essex towns and a lot of wealth and money flows up and down the A12,” he says.

“It is a good, strong area backed up by property prices.”

He says major towns boast managed operators such as JD Wetherspoon, Mitchells & Butlers and Loungers – which is expanding in the region – while the city of Chelmsford is anchored by a big shopping centre development called Bond Street that is also enjoying new restaurant and bar openings.

Overall, the region is a busy market with Christie & Co selling eight pubs in the last year ranging from £300,000 to £900,000 – all freehold.

“Freehold Essex, at the right price, will always get interest,” Jenkins says.

Not just the major towns

Essex (3)

Meanwhile, Robert Cockayne, regional valuations manager at Sidney Phillips, says that it is not just the major towns that have a strong pub trade but also the surrounding areas.

“There are often multiple pubs in each village and they are still very traditional and well used,” he says.

“Generally speaking, the disposable income in Essex is ‘half decent’. In most areas, it is no more than an hour into London’s Liverpool Street so you do get a lot of families and middle-aged workers living out there.”

He says the area has a mix of freehold, leasehold and tenancies with free-of-tie leases being very popular. He puts this down to the high number of private individual landlords operating in the region.

“It is a vibrant area. It is an area that a lot of first-time buyers are getting into, which is quite interesting,” he reveals.

“We are going to see more fresh blood come into the industry, predominantly working on destination food pubs that focus on traditional British pub cuisine.”

And what of the future for Essex?

“I would like to think we are going to see more free-of-tie leases come up and, in terms of rental, it is well priced,” Cockayne says.

“Almost every smaller town and village in Essex is subject to development of some sorts and they are all expanding. It is only going to get better up there in terms of bums on seats in pubs and spend per head.”

Done deals

The Beaufort Arms, Gilwern, Abergavenny

Essex - Beaufort Done deal

Price: £225,000

Tenure: Freehold

Turnover: £85,000

Wet:dry:accom split: 90:0:10

Agent: Davey Co 0333 200 8788

This pub was owned and operated by the previous licensees for 20 years. The traditional style four-star-rated inn o­ffers potential to introduce a food o­ffer. It is centrally located in this desirable village on the edge of the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons National Park.

The Fox & Hounds, Exton, Rutland

Essex - Fox Done deal

Price: £160,000

Tenure: Leasehold

Turnover: £538,290 (inc VAT)

Wet:dry:accom split: 25:50:25

Rent: £37,692

Landlord: Private

Agent: Guy Simmonds 01332 865112

This Grade II-listed 17th century former coaching inn has been accredited with two AA rosettes. It has a bar (22 covers, plus standing), a restaurant (40c), dining deck (28c) and garden area. There is a private dining room (16c), commercial catering kitchen, ground-floor cellar and owner’s accommodation with two double en-suite bedrooms.

To find out more about pubs for sale, lease and tenancy visit our property site​.

Related topics: Property law

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