Property round-up

SA Brain to dispose of 40 pubs, Butcombe Brewery completes Publican Awards finalist makeover

By Stuart Stone

- Last updated on GMT

Property moves: which sites have been reopened, revamped or changed hands in the past week?
Property moves: which sites have been reopened, revamped or changed hands in the past week?

Related tags Property

Butcombe Brewery, Stonegate and Admiral revealed pub transformations while SA Brain announced plans to reduce its estate to around 120 sites.

SA Brain to offload 40 ‘non-core’ pubs

Welsh brewer and pub operator SA Brain has announced that it has identified around 40 pubs across its estate of managed and partnership pubs to be sold over the coming months​.

As part of a three-year plan to future-proof its business, SA Brain – which recently moved into its new, multimillion-pound Dragon Brewery in Cardiff – intends to invest the proceeds in the remainder of its currently 160-strong estate.

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

Commenting on the disposal, Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) national chairman Nik Antona said: “It is vital that these 40 Brains pubs are marketed as going concerns, so that different pub operators have a chance to take them on. Local communities and pub staff deserve rapid reassurances that everything will be done to secure the future of these pubs.

“CAMRA are 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.”

Butcombe Brewery completes makeover of award-nominated Ostrich

A finalist in the 2020 Publican Awards’ best new pub/bar category, the Ostrich in Bristol has re-opened following an extensive refurbishment by the Liberation Group owned Butcombe Brewery.

The Harbourside, former SA Brain, pub now boasts a 30-cover eating area, private dining room and a new bar aptly called the Top Deck across two upper floors previously un-opened to the public.

Spring will also herald the arrival of a new outside bar and kitchen in addition to new toilet facilities.

“We’re delighted with the new first-floor dining area and Top Deck bar,” Butcombe Brewery’s operations manager Duncan Zvonek-Little said. “It has given us the flexibility to offer our guests even more.”


Abbey Road revamp for Liverpool pub

The operators behind Liverpool’s Harrison’s Bar & Kitchen have revealed plans to open a sister site, Abbey Road Bar & Kitchen in the commercial district of Liverpool city centre before the end of March.

The new site will open on the site of the former Pen & Wig pub on Harrington Street, already home to the Croc and nightclub Kingdom.

“We are looking forward to rejuvenating an iconic old site among Liverpool’s pubs and bars with a new concept in the heart of the business district,” the new site’s general manager Brandon Soprano said.

“We are ideally located for the after-work office crowd and we will be showing all live sports. Our food menu is currently in planning and will be something we will offer on a daily basis, changing each season.”

New Constitution for Young’s

Brewer and pub operator Young’s has acquired free-of-tie London pub the Constitution, in Camden.

The owner of more than 200 pubs and hotels across London and the south of England, Young’s took over the lease and purchased the freehold from the landlord, Tavern Propco.

The pub, which was founded in 1858, was one of three pubs brought to the market by the Pubs of Distinction group in autumn 2019 after its owners decided to exit the licensed trade.

“We had numerous parties showing interest in this opportunity, showing that the pub market is still doing well despite the challenges in the past few years,” Stewart Harkness, associate director at Christie & Co who handled the sale and explained.


Admiral Taverns stumps up for Foresters Arms makeover

Community pub operator Admiral Taverns has re-opened the Foresters Arms in Reading, Berkshire, following a joint £200,000 with the pub’s licensee Maria Dykes.

“The refurbishment with Admiral has given us a great opportunity to open up the pub and create a real community hub,” Dykes said of the pub’s revamp.

“Everyone has been so supportive of the refurbishment and the opening weekend could not have gone any better. I can’t wait to continue the adventure with this fantastic community.”

Admiral Taverns business development manager Mick Sheridan added: “Maria has done a fantastic job with the new look of the Foresters Arms, the locals will be ecstatic.

“The pub looks double the size, and with even more food and drinks on offer than before, I am confident the pub will thrive in this community. Don’t miss out on visiting a spectacular pub, with an even more spectacular licensee.”

Foresters Arms

Stonegate invests £200,000 on London bar refurb

Stonegate Pub Company has revamped the Core in Bank, central London, to the tune of £200,000.

The new and improved 500-capacity Core boasts a new extended bar, an improved outside area as well as new stylish seating.

“We’re thrilled to unveil the new-look Core venue to the local community and new visitors alike,” the Core general manager Gosia Kalinowska said.

“We’re back with a brand-new food menu, as well as plenty of offers on cocktails and beers for people to enjoy after work or for a night on the town.”

Husband and wife team open Cardiff vermouth and sherry bar

The husband-and-wife team behind Wales-based Spanish bar and restaurant group Ultracomida, Shumana Palit and Paul Grimwood, will open vermouth and sherry bar Vermut in Cardiff on 6 March.

Modelled on small, casual, late-night venues typically found in cities such as Madrid, the bar will accommodate 30 covers and offer sharing platters to complement its unique drinks menu.

Discussing Vermut’s opening, Palit explained: “Vermouth has been all the rage with cocktail-centric bartenders and the ABV-conscious for a while now, but it is so versatile that it's not just making a comeback, it’s rewriting the rulebook of what a single type of drink can do.

“Combine that with our selection of Spanish sherry, and our wines from Montilla-Moriles which are both already renowned to pair fantastically well with Spanish tapas, and the combination of simple but good food and drink is what Vermut is all about.”


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

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