By Stuart Stares, Associate Director in the Licensed Leisure team at Savills
More than £1bn has been raised by operators and investors since the start of the pandemic in anticipation of capturing opportunities that become available in the pubs sector. With the industry experiencing a resurgence of activity since the lifting of trading restrictions operators and investors are now more confident in the future.
While there are still a number of challenges operators have to overcome, such as staff shortages and supply chain disruption, the improved confidence is resulting in the deployment of much of the capital that has been raised.
Admiral Taverns, a joint venture between C&C Group and real estate investor Proprium Capital Partners, which raised £151m in June 2021, recently acquired rival community pubco Hawthorn in a £222.3m deal.
The deal sees Admiral acquire 674 venues from NewRiver and will now operate more than 1,500 sites, making it one of Britain’s biggest pub firms.
Punch Pubs & Co completed a £600m refinance in June and quickly acquired the Ram Pub Company tenanted division from Young’s Brewery in a £53m deal, a process that was handled by Savills. Punch Pubs now operates close to 1,300 pubs in the UK. The proceeds of the sale will provide Young’s with a strengthened balance sheet and capacity to invest further in its pubs. Young’s has also said it would look to acquire freehold managed pubs.
RedCat Pub Company, which was founded in February 2021 by former Greene King boss Rooney Anand, and has raised around £200m to invest in UK pubs, has been busy. It has completed a number of recent acquisitions including the 18 sites run by The Coaching Inn Group for a reported £60m, 42 pubs from Stonegate Pub company for a reported £20m and four sites from the Knead Pub Group as well as some single sites.
While there’s plenty of activity in the market, the fact remains there’s not that many sites being openly marketed and, with plenty of money waiting to be deployed and operators looking to gain market share, we expect there to be healthy competition for sites that do become available.
Banwell House Pub Company acquires Cornwall hotel
Banwell House Pub Company has acquired An Mor hotel in Bude, Cornwall, for an undisclosed price.
With views of Summerleaze Beach, An Mor hotel is believed to have been originally constructed in the 1800s and extended in the 1930s and 1970s. It now comprises 27 en-suite guest bedrooms, a two-bedroom apartment, public bar, restaurant, guest lounge and gin school room, as well as off street parking, a large enclosed outdoor trading area with outdoor bar and lawned gardens with panoramic views.
Since purchasing the hotel in 2014, the present owners carried out significant repairs and improvement works to the building, transforming it from a dated coaching hotel which traded as the Hartland Hotel to a contemporary popular destination hotel.
Banwell House Pub Company, which is owned by Toby Brett, was established in 2010 for buying and repositioning freehold properties. The group currently operates seven pubs in the south west including Victoria Pub & Kitchen, Bath; Three Horseshoes, Chapmanslade; and Rose & Crown, Trowbridge.
Brett said: “An Mor is a little different from our other businesses, and the most significant purchase to date. Being a hospitality business there are synergies to help both businesses. We plan to move the hotel further towards the family market, carry out some scheduled maintenance and see what the next 12 months brings.”
Christie & Co acted on the deal.
Community group saves last pub in area
Local community group – The Manor Reborn – is set to be the new owner of the last remaining pub in Great Holland, in Essex.
The Manor pub was put on the market and had a planning application to convert it to residential property submitted.
However, a team of villagers, wanted to save its only watering hole.
The Manor in Great Holland, Essex, had been shut since the beginning of the pandemic and its owner had no plans to reopen it.
The group carried out an in-depth survey to find out what residents wanted before making the decision to raise the money in share capital to run the pub as a community enterprise.
Campaign co-founder Andrew Fairbrother said: “Shares were £50 each, with a minimum investment of five shares. Involving the community was the pinnacle of what we set out to do as it.”
The committee, assisted by The Plunkett Foundation and property agent Fleurets raised enough share capital to make an offer to purchase the pub.
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Nightcap secures central London site for London Cocktail Club
Nightcap, a hospitality group formed by investors Sarah Willingham and Michael Toxvaerd, is set to open a new site for its London Cocktail Club bar brand after securing a lease at Queen Victoria Street, central London.
The site covers an area of approximately 1,500 square feet and has a 1am licence and is expected to open before the end of 2021, with an unrestricted capacity of 150.
Nightcap has a further five sites in legal negotiations across several of its brands.
Nightcap chief executive Sarah Willingham said: “Since the lifting of covid restrictions, we have been impressed with the strong trading at all of our City sites in London.
“I am, therefore, delighted to announce the signing of this new bar by Mansion House tube station as the next in a string of new sites being finalised for The London Cocktail Club. We are delighted to see the hard work invested across the group, in securing the best possible sites across the country, is starting to pay off.”
Adventure Bar Group opens Blame Gloria sequel
The Adventure Bar Group, founders of famed late-night venues Tonight Josephine, Bar Elba, Nikki’s Bar and The Escapologist, has launched its second Blame Gloria site in the capital.
The cocktail bar replaces the group’s original site in Clapham Junction, where The Adventure Bar Group opened its first site 16 years ago.
Since its inception in summer 2018, Blame Gloria has offered drag brunches and speciality cocktails.
The venue underwent a soft launch at the end of August but has now officially opened its doors.
Upcoming plans for the new Blame Gloria site include its sell-out Mamma Mia Brunch, which will see a cast perform ABBA hits, and its Disco Drag Brunch that will “bring a sexy twist on the era of ’70s disco”.
Tom Kidd, co-founder of the 11-strong Adventure Bar Group, said: “After witnessing the success of Blame Gloria in Covent Garden, it was a no-brainer that bringing this unique venue to Clapham, the party hub of London, would be a hit. We aim to make this the go-to late night for locals, but also to attract party-goers from around the UK, by providing unforgettable experiences and unmatched vibes.”
Sarah Willingham, founder and chief executive of Nightcap, which recently acquired The Adventure Bar Group, said: “We believe Adventure Bar Group and its unique brands have significant potential for expansion across the country.
“It’s amazing to see Blame Gloria arriving in Clapham in such a great site, filled with a long cocktail history for both the community and for the group. This is the first step to get its iconic brands into more areas and cities, with news to follow as our expansion plans continue to gain momentum.”
Guests at Blame Gloria at Clapham Junction can expect garish prints and tonnes of sequins in terms of decoration.
Coldstream pub brought to market
The Castle Hotel in Berwickshire has been placed on the market with an asking price of £249,950.
The Castle Hotel, in the village of Coldstream, Berwickshire, which lies on the north bank of the River Tweed, is renowned as the home of the Coldstream Guards.
Each year, during the first week of August, Coldstream hosts a traditional ‘civic week’ during which it includes historical aspects of the town’s history such as the torchlight procession and horse rides to the Flodden battlefield.
The pub occupies a corner location on the High Street and Court House Place in the centre of the village. Dating back to the 1800s, the property is semi-detached and predominately stone built, it has been renovated and maintained during recent years by its current owner.
It features a public bar, lounge bar, restaurant/function room and eight letting bedrooms.
The venue trades throughout the year with a mix of tourists, contractors and business visitors as well as serving the local community, who use the hotel for meeting friends. Several local clubs also use the hotel for meetings and events.
The freehold is being marketed through property agent Sidney Phillips.