According NewRiver’s trading update for the quarter to 31 December, Hawthorn – which operates more than 700 sites – invested a total of £9.4m on 270 pub projects, increasing its average spend-per-project by almost 60%, and adding an extra 61 sites to its investment programme.
In total, Hawthorn invested in 86% of its portfolio during November’s nationwide lockdown.
What’s more, the operator has completed £2.7m of non-core pub disposals since 30 September.
“Hawthorn is a dynamic, ambitious company with a proven track record of acquiring pub portfolios, and we have circa £250m of cash and available liquidity to the business, with additional funds available when required,” Hawthorn CEO Mark Davies said.
Davies previously told The Morning Advertiser that after increasing Hawthorn’s operator managed pub business from 10% to 20% of its sites in the last year through acquisitions and tenanted and leased conversions, he expects the emphasis on its operator managed estate to continue.
According to its Q3 update, NewRiver ended 2020 on course to meet its £80m to £100m disposals target for the financial year, had £135m in cash reserves, and a total available liquidity of £233m.
‘Clear roadmap’ required
Though its nationwide pub portfolio remains closed due to fresh lockdown restrictions, the group has generated an 87% retention rate from pub partners who were tenants on 31 March 2020 through its pandemic support measures.
“The great British pub sector – which serves so many communities around the UK – is under real pressure, and we at Hawthorn will continue to do all we can, working closely with industry colleagues and the British Beer & Pub Association, to get the Government to listen to our concerns and provide our pub partners with the support they so desperately need to survive this latest lockdown,” Davies said.
“Hawthorn’s overwhelming priority is to protect our people and to protect our pubs. We’re continuing to support our pub partners to help them stay afloat and to ensure that they can thrive again and bounce back when their pubs reopen.
“We remain bullish about the role that community pubs will play in people’s lives once lockdown is lifted,” he continued.
“We urge the Government to provide us with a clear roadmap for reopening, and ensure significantly more financial support is urgently prioritised, particularly on business rates and VAT to ensure these vital community establishments can survive.”