An appetite for expansion
Byline: Stuart Stares, associate director in the licensed leisure team at Savills
Over the past 12 months the hospitality sector has navigated through some of the most difficult trading conditions. Operators have been resilient and innovative creating new outdoor spaces, adopting technology and widening their offering in some instances.
As we emerge from lockdown the excitement from the British public to eat, drink and be merry is abundantly clear.
Pubs and restaurants are reporting that venues have been inundated with booking requests, many of which are now fully booked for the next few months.
However, it’s not just the public that’s watching the sector with excitement as many large pub companies and new entrants raise equity, refinance and look to explore an IPO as appetite for acquisitions grow.
More than a billion pounds have been raised by operators and investors in the past year. These funds will not only help operators navigate through the Covid-19 disruption but ensure these operators and investors are well positioned to capitalise on opportunities as they emerge from this disruption.
Mitchells & Butlers, UK’s largest listed pub chain, announced a share issue of £350m, which will be used to repay existing debt taken out due to Covid-19. These funds will also be used to help with new acquisition and capital expenditure across the existing estate.
Pub group JD Wetherspoon completed a second share issue in January 2021 to raise £93.7m to target new acquisition opportunities in London. The first share issue in April 2020 raised £140m.
The Restaurant Group, a significant player in the UK casual dining market with over 650 restaurants and pub restaurants, recently completed the refinance of its estate providing up to £500m of debt as well as a share issue of £175m. This capital will help protect the group from any resurgence of Covid-19 as well as strengthen its ability to expand, putting it in a strong position to benefit from the wider recovery of the sector.
It’s not only established players looking to shore up their balance sheets and position themselves for expansion. RedCat is a new entrant to the sector and has reportedly raised £200m through private equity backers to focus on distressed opportunities within the pub sector.
In addition, NewRiver’s pub company Hawthorn, which owns more 700 sites, are considering an IPO to raise further funds for acquisitions as they target an estate of 2,000 to 3,000 pubs.
This tells us that there is definitely a growing appetite to start acquiring sites again in the sector and take advantage of any distress that may occur throughout the rest of 2021.
However, while there may be some distress in the market, generally there is a lack of stock available to these operators, so for the very best sites that do come to market we expect some fierce competition.
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BrewDog signs lease for ‘carbon negative’ Las Vegas venue
Independent Scottish brewer and bar operator BrewDog has signed a lease for Las Vegas' first carbon negative bar, according to co-founder James Watt.
On 24 April, Watt Tweeted: “We have just signed the lease on BrewDog Las Vegas. This will be the first ever carbon negative bar in Vegas.
“You can expect an amazing roof top urban forest, an onsite brewery, a secret event space, a retro game zone & a special edition of Elvis Juice. Let's go Vegas!”
The news comes after the group unveiled an artist’s impression of a new site in Atlanta on Twitter in which Watt revealed that BrewDog has 42 sites in its expansion pipeline.
“Others include Belfast, London, Paris, Vegas, Bath, Exeter, Mumbai, Sydney, Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, Gurgaon, Lyon, Milan, Chester, Durham, Hyderabad & Cleveland,” Watt explained.
Earlier this month, Watt shared images of a new Doghouse hotel site that will open the third quarter of 2021 in central Edinburgh’s Market Street, and revealed that the carbon negative beer maker had signed a deal to become Forest Green Rovers football club’s pouring partner.
We have just signed the lease on @BrewDog Las Vegas.— James Watt (@BrewDogJames) April 24, 2021
This will be the first ever carbon negative bar in Vegas.
You can expect an amazing roof top urban forest, an onsite brewery, a secret event space, a retro game zone & a special edition of Elvis Juice.
Let's go Vegas! pic.twitter.com/nBpLhxVdvN
Camden Town Brewery to open beer hall
Budweiser Brewing Group’s Camden Town Brewery will be open the doors to its brand-new beer experience, the Camden Beer Hall, in June.
An impressive refurbishment of the original bar at the North London brewery site, the new venue takes inspiration from traditional Bavarian beer halls and boasts double the seating capacity of the original outdoor space as well as 24 taps at its bar.
“We’ve been making beer under the arches in Camden for 11 years now and serving beer onsite has always been an important part of what we do, so we couldn’t be more excited to welcome our regulars, beer fans and local community back in to see what we’ve done with the place,” Jasper Cuppaidge, founder of Camden Town Brewery, said of the new venue.
“Our house will be open again and it will be super exciting to be serving fresh, never pasteurised beer in our home, just like we always have – but now in a space that’s three times bigger and finally does justice to our vision.
“Bavarian beer halls have a special place in our hearts, as part of the experiences that inspired our Hells lager. If Hells is our version of a German Lager, this is our version of a beer hall, perfect for drinking the freshest Hells lager.
Camden Town Brewery has also teamed up with renowned chef, Theo Randall, to curate a unique menu designed to perfectly pair with Camden’s range of beers.
“It made sense to have our great friend and great chef Theo Randall create the menu and look after the kitchen for us, championing fresh ingredients in a way is the perfect accompaniment to our beer, Cuppaidge added. “It will be the best beer experience in the city and we can’t wait for beer lovers to see what we’ve been up to when we fling open the doors.”
Czech beer concept to open in Clerkenwell
Focusing on authentic Czech beer from independent producers, Pivo will open in London’s Clerkenwell in May on the site of former coffee, cocktails and all-day dining venue, Grind.
Pivo will showcase a portfolio of breweries that until now have been largely undiscovered in the UK, according to its founders, ranging from historic beer makers to the new wave of modern Czech craft brewers.
The extensive drinks list will be complemented by a modern bar food menu that seeks inspiration from traditional Czech cuisine.
Laurence Fox and Richard Tice seek London location for ‘no vaccine passports, no masks, always open’ pub
Reclaim Party founder and London Mayoral candidate, Laurence Fox, has teamed up with the leader of Reform UK – originally founded as the Brexit Party – Richard Tice, in search of a pub in Central London.
Once a site is found and purchased, the pub, dubbed ‘the Fox and Tice’ will operate on a policy of “no vaccine passports, no masks and always open”.
The news comes as the former Lewis actor and Tice announced an electoral pact ahead of the upcoming May elections which will see Fox’s Reclaim Party endorse all of Reform UK’s London assembly candidates while Tice lend his weight to Fox’s mayoral bid.
However, in polling reported on 22 April, Fox and his promise to “unlock” the capital from all Covid rules had mustered just 1% of electoral support, level with novelty candidate Count Binface.
“I’m hugely excited about playing our part in the reopening of the hospitality industry,” Fox said. “Punters and landlords alike have been forgotten, overlooked and neglected since March last year.
“Richard and I cannot wait to open an establishment that will pride itself on not asking for vaccine passports, not demand mask-wearing and continue to serve its customers without any restrictions.”
What’s more, former Brexit Party and Reform UK Leader, Nigel Farage, has agreed to pour the first drink on the Fox and Tice’s opening day.
“We have seen draconian lockdown restrictions decimate the hospitality trade,” Tice added. “When Laurence and I discussed the best way to show our commitment to get London moving again, we wanted to put our money where our mouth is and thought that a vaccine passport and mask-free pub would be a fantastic way to demonstrate our commitment to get the capital moving again.”
| NEW: Laurence Fox and Richard Tice are buying a pub - and are calling it ‘The Fox & Tice’. There will be no masks or vaccine passports— Politics For All (@PoliticsForAlI) April 27, 2021
Living Ventures announces second Grand Pacific site
Paul Moran-led Living Ventures has unveiled plans to open its second Grand Pacific restaurant and bar concept site in Leeds’ Queens Hotel, part of the QHotels Group, later this summer.
The operator, which opened its first Grand Pacific site in Manchester in 2017, will open its latest site as part of a £16m refurbishment of the hotel.
In addition to Living Ventures’ 100-cover restaurant, private dining rooms and bar, the hotel will be home to Cafe Pacific, an all-day hub offering coffees, drinks and snacks.
Everards sells 14 pubs to Hawthorn
Hawthorn has purchased 14 sites from Leicestershire-based brewer and pub operator Everards for an undisclosed sum.
The community pubs are based in predominantly suburban and neighbourhood areas across the East Midlands.
The deal comes after Hawthorn CEO Mark Davies told The Morning Advertiser the company was eyeing expansion to at least double its estate off the back of its announcement to float on the stock market.
He added that future expansion was something Hawthorn is looking at, with ambition to increase its estate significantly.
“We are 700 or so pubs today, we would like to get to 1,000 pubs at some point soon and we can probably get there quite quickly,” Davies said.
“Longer term, we could at least double the size of the platform from there or possibly go even further.
“We will be patient, opportunistic where we can be but we are ambitious and dynamic and the management team can do deals. That's how we built Hawthorn to what it is today so all of that is recognised.”
Conor McGregor buys Dublin pub where he punched a man – swiftly bars him
According to reports by The Currency, mixed martial arts superstar Conor McGregor has purchased a pub in Dublin where he was caught on camera allegedly punching a man back in 2019.
McGregor appeared to confirm a report that he has purchased the Marble Arch pub in his home area of Drimnagh, Dublin 12, for between €1.5m and €2m on Twitter.
Ye and your mans barred https://t.co/aVM5mcIA3F— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) April 22, 2021
The former Ultimate Fighting Championship featherweight and lightweight double-champion also appears to have banned the man who he had the altercation with from the premises.
Following the incident, the Irish fighter apologised and was made to pay a £860 (€1,000) fine by the Dublin District Court.
The Currency added that the pub marks his second purchase in the area as he expands his business interests.
McGregor launched his Irish whiskey brand, Proper 12, in the UK on 28 February 2019 after a record-breaking launch across Ireland and the US.
Calls for adoption of Australian rent relief model
A group of hospitality operators and property agents are calling on the Government to implement the same rent relief scheme as has been adopted in Australia, according to reports by MCA.
Peter Thornton, Australian CFO of live-music venues The Piano Works, alongside David Abramson, CEO of leisure property advisors Cedar Dean, are leading the charge, which has backing from Rob Pitcher, CEO at Revolution Bars Group, Menashe Sadik, founding director at Chopstix Group, Alex Salussolia, MD at Glendola Leisure and Tom Kidd, director and co-founder at Adventure Bars, among others.
Under the Australian scheme, the Government has made it mandatory for landlords to agree to a reduction in rent payable, of up to 100%, in proportion to the reduction in the tenant’s business during Covid-19.
The scheme has mandated that landlords waive 50% of the total reduction in rent payable and accept deferral of the remaining balance paid back in instalments over the remaining time on their lease.
Star to continue rent reductions in Scotland
Heineken’s pub arm, Star Pubs & Bars, has said it will extend rent reductions for sites in Scotland as the sector braces for the first week of post-lockdown trade.
The operator estimated that just half of its 230 pubs in Scotland would reopen for outdoor trade after rules were relaxed on Monday 26 April.
Venues are permitted to reopen for indoor and outdoor trade but cannot serve alcohol indoors and are subject to limited opening hours.
The operator has said it will continue its 90% rent reduction support for both open and closed pubs until restrictions are fully lifted.
It will have invested more than £.57m in rent cuts in Scotland by Monday 17 May – the next stage of lockdown easing when pubs will be able to serve alcohol indoors.
This is part of an overall £62m rent reduction support for the UK so far.
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