Property round-up

Former pubco bosses launch new ventures, Red Oak grows to 180 sites

By Stuart Stone contact

- 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, Finance, Greene king, Hawthorn leisure, MA500

This week’s pub property news includes reports that former Greene King CEO Rooney Anand is to embark on a £200m pub investment project, the launch of Valiant Pub Company, and a trio of new acquisitions for Red Oak.

Greene King renames pubs with ‘racist connotations’ 

Pubco and brewer Greene King has announced it plans to relabel a number of pubs in its portfolio due to the existing names having racist connotations. 

These pubs include the Black Boy in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk alongside two other pubs of the same name in Sudbury also in Suffolk and Shinfield in Berkshire as well as the Black’s Head in Wirksworth, Derbyshire.

The pubco is asking communities to rename the pubs via an online poll and stated the decision to change the names is part of its inclusion and diversity strategy in a bid to champion equality and diversity within the firm alongside further supporting people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. 

Greene King said the name change followed detailed consultations with a range of stakeholders and thorough research of the pubs’ histories.

It added while the pub name ‘Black Boy’ exists throughout the nation, there is not a consensus of its origins and many of those consulted felt the name was discriminatory and offensive.

Read more here

Greene King

Red Oak Taverns acquires three pubs

As reported by The Morning Advertiser’s (MA)​ sister title MCA Insight​, independent pub operator Red Oak Taverns has acquired three pubs from Reclamation Inns for an undisclosed sum.

The Great Western in Bewdley, Worcestershire, the Railway in Alsager in Crewe, Cheshire and the Black Boy in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, will join the pub company’s 177-strong stable. 

Discussing the acquisition, Red Oak co-founder and CEO, Mark Grunnell said: “These sites are a perfect match for our business and are fantastic community pubs. 

“We are looking forward to welcoming the tenant partners and their established businesses to our pub company in readiness for when we all reopen”.

“We want to look beyond these difficult times and continue to invest in and grow our business. We are in a financially stable position and although the pandemic has slowed down our investment plans we are focused on looking for more pub acquisition opportunities now and in the future”. 

New pubco ‘eyeing up sites’

Three top operators are set to re-enter the UK pub market with the launch of the Valiant Pub Company.

As reported by The MA​, Gerry Carroll and Mark McGinty, co-founders of Hawthorn, and James Croft, former group strategy and retail director at Ei Group, are looking to use their extensive experience to create a new operation, targeting the suburban and community pub sector.

The trio, who previously all worked together at Enterprise Inns and were instrumental in rolling out the company’s Beacon concept, are now keeping an eye for when the market starts to open back up. 

Carroll said they are setting the operation up with their own funding, alongside investors, and are engaging with potential others. He said they were “poised and ready to go”, but added timing was key.

Read more here

Carroll

Former Greene King CEO raises £200m for pub investment 

Rooney Anand has raised £200m to invest in Britain’s pubs sector according to Sky News.

As reported by MCA Insight​, Anand – who led Greene King for 15 years – is expected to embark on a series of acquisitions in the coming months with the backing of an unnamed US-based private equity firm. 

Sources close to his vehicle, Redcat Pub Company, said Anand was unlikely to pursue large corporate takeovers in the short term but would instead focus on smaller deals with scope for improving operational performance. 

Anand, who left Greene King in 2019 before joining Casual Dining Group as chairman, is said to be working on the assumption that the eventual end of social distancing will trigger a resurgence for the pub sector, which has been badly impacted by lockdowns.

Anand

£2.7m rent dispute between Wellington and tenants 

Millions of pounds of rent owed to billionaire-owned pub group Wellington Pub Company from some of its tenants is currently in dispute, according to a survey.

As reported by The MA​, Wellington Pub Company is owned by the Reuben Brothers and managed by Criterion Asset Management. In May 2019, The Sunday Times Rich List ​​estimated the family had a net worth of £18.66bn.

Licensees previously told The MA ​​​of their despair about a lack of communication from the group​​​ and rebuffed the landlord's offer​​ of three months' free rent and two quarters charged at 50% last year.

This month (January 2021), a number of tenants responded to a questionnaire which saw 144 responses collected via Google forms between 3 January and 14 January and 135 included in the analysis (after the removal of duplicate entries).

More than half (52.7%) of the 131 tenants who answered the question of ‘what rent have you paid for the March, April, May 2020 quarter’ forked out rent in full for this period when pubs were forced to close by the Government.

As the survey covered about a quarter of Wellington’s tenants (more than 700), it is estimated that this outstanding rent could be as much as £10m and more. 

Read more here 

Authentic Alehouses portfolio returns to market

Specialist business property advisor Christie & Co has been instructed to market a portfolio of five Authentic Alehouses pubs on behalf of joint administrators Simon Bonney and Michael Kiely of Quantuma - who were appointed in March 2019.

The five freehold properties - which are available on either a group or individual basis - are located along the M62 from Driffield in East Yorkshire to Barnoldswick in Lancashire and have been operated by creditors since Authentic Alehouses Limited entered administration in 2019.

While four of the properties the Albert Hotel, Ponty Tavern, Wakey Tavern and the Countess of Rosse are described as "substantial, traditional public houses" found in town-centre or suburban locations, the Fountain Inn is a smaller, more rural site.  

Neil Morgan, senior director of Christie & Co’s corporate hospitality team, said: “We’re delighted to bring the portfolio to market on behalf of administrators.

"The properties have been well maintained and we anticipate strong interest in these particular assets that are priced at a level which is likely to attract numerous prospective buyers.” 

Authentic Alehouses

Owner of ‘world’s smallest gin bar’ eyes seaside expansion

According to reports in Bdaily​, the Davis Family – which owns Tin of Sardines in Durham, claimed to be the world’s smallest gin bar – has announced plans to open a new venue in Sunderland.

The group has agreed a 10-year lease for the former Roker Toilet Block on Pier View with Sunderland City Council where it is poised to sink £60k into a refurbishment project – creating 10 new jobs. 

“The Tin of Sardines business has been a real success since we first opened our doors in Durham three and a half years ago and we’d been mulling over a third venue for some time until we saw the former Roker Toilet Block hit the market,” Tin of Sardines co-owner Ben Davis told Bdaily​. 

Councillor Rebecca Atkinson, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for dynamic city, added: “We are absolutely delighted to be welcoming Tin of Sardines to the city and it fills us with even more pride to see a local family returning home to invest in the city.

“The council and its partners have invested millions of pounds in the seafront over recent years and it’s great to see this bearing fruit with the attraction of success stories such as Tin of Sardines. We’d like to wish them all the best for the future.” 

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Related topics: Property law

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