SA Brain to sell 40 ‘non-core’ pubs

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Reducing its portfolio: SA Brain currently has more than 200 sites
Reducing its portfolio: SA Brain currently has more than 200 sites

Related tags: Property

Welsh brewer and operator SA Brain is to sell 40 pubs that are “not core to its business” and will be reorganising its support centre to create a “leaner and more agile business”.

The company outlined how it has a three-year plan to significantly grow its profitability and future-proof it for the benefit of generations to come.

While it is executing this plan and it claimed the momentum is building with encouraging progress being made against its key priorities, it is facing uncertain economic times due to the costs around Brexit, specifically the national living wage, which is set to rise ahead of inflation.

As a result of this, it said it had identified about 40 pubs, in its managed and partnership arms that are not core to its business.

Leaner and more agile business

Brains released a statement that read: “We have engaged the team at [real estate adviser] Avison Young in Cardiff to sell these over the coming months.

“We have briefed all the teams in the selected pubs. The proceeds of these sales will enable us both to improve the quality of the rest of our estate and to repay some of the facilities provided to us by our bank partners, HSBC and Lloyds.

“Regrettably, we will require fewer people to provide services to our pub estate once the sales are completed and so will reorganise our support centre to create a leaner and more agile business.

“We shall manage this difficult process with respect and care, recognising the loyalty and commitment of all our colleagues to Brains. We will carry out these changes over the coming months to ensure we have sufficient time to make proper provisions for any colleagues affected and to minimise the impact of these changes.”

Commenting on the sale, Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) national chairman Nik Antona said it was vital the 40 pubs are marketed as going concerns so different pub operators have a chance to take them on.

He added: "Local communities and pub staff deserve rapid reassurances that everything will be done to secure the future of these pubs.

"CAMRA is also calling on the Welsh Government to urgently bring forward long-promised changes to planning laws to give communities a chance to save their local pub.

"Giving people a say through the planning system if their pub is being sold, converted into another use like housing or is facing demolition would give pubs better protections and a chance to thrive under new ownership."

Previous sale

However, this isn’t the first time Brains has sold off a group of pubs; in 2017, Butcombe Brewery acquired eight sites​ from the Welsh business.

At the time, then CEO Scott Waddington, who announced he was stepping down in April 2018, said: “The sale of our English pubs is well timed, given the outstanding prospects we have to further grow our brand and pubs business in Wales.

“The rich affection with which our brand is held has further solidified our conviction to pursue our pub agenda inside Wales.

“We will remain very proud of the period of ownership we have enjoyed with the pubs that are being acquired by Butcombe and believe the team, with its West Country heartland, are well placed to take these businesses forward.”

Related topics: Other operators

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