Property round-up

Property round-up: the latest news on pub acquisitions

By Gary Lloyd contact

- Last updated on GMT

The property market: the most recent activity
The property market: the most recent activity

Related tags: Multi-site pub operators, Pubco + head office, Property, Social responsibility, Branding + marketing

Among the latest market moves, The New World Trading Company announces The Club House is coming to Wales and The Alchemist heads to Scotland.

NWTC to open at waterfront site

The New World Trading Company (NWTC) is bringing its expanding The Club House brand to Mermaid Quay, Schroder UK Real Estate Fund’s (SREF) 150,000sq ft mixed-use scheme, at the waterfront in Cardiff Bay.

The new dining bar/restaurant will be set across a 9,000sq ft two-storey unit, which comes with a balcony area overlooking Tacoma Square and Cardiff Bay. It was previously occupied by SA Brain’s Salt bar. Brain’s Dock Bar & Kitchen, now operated by Marston’s, will continue to trade at Mermaid Quay.

The Club House will be NWTC’s second venture in Cardiff, as it also operates The Botanist in the city centre, coming at a time when work has just started on a major refurbishment of the public areas at Mermaid Quay.

Fitting out work is due to begin soon, and it is anticipated The Club House’s newest location will open in mid-2022. The concept was originally launched in Liverpool in 2016 but grew to become a multi-city brand with the opening of a venue in Plymouth in May 2021.

It specialises in serving sunshine-inspired cocktails and promises guests “a holiday experience”.

The Club House head of brand Suelen Poyser said: “There’s nothing better in the world than having that first drink on holiday. Feeling the weight lifted off your shoulders, knowing, that you’ve escaped from the everyday and left all the hustle and bustle behind. That’s the feeling we aim to provide on every visit to The Club House.”

Already located at Mermaid Quay are a five-screen Everyman Cinema, a Lounger’s Cosy Club, Hubbox and Apprentice winner Alana Spencer’s By The Sea café.

NWTC chief operating officer Natasha Waterfield said: “Since we opened our first venue in Cardiff in February 2020, our ambition has always been to bring more of our brands to the city.”

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Welsh wonder: The Club House from NWTC

Brunning & Price retains Christie & Co as property scout

The Restaurant Group-owned Brunning & Price has retained property agent Christie & Co to acquire suitable new sites for its expanding destination pub-restaurant portfolio in the UK.

Founded in 1989, Brunning & Price has grown from a small collection of pubs in the north-west of England to a substantial 55-strong pub estate, spanning the country and has been part of The Restaurant Group (TRG) since 2007.

Over the past nine years, Brunning & Price has acquired a number of new sites with Christie & Co’s help. Although put on hold during the pandemic, a recapitalisation of £175m this year by TRG has given the brand the green light to begin seeking acquisition opportunities.

Christie & Co said it is seeking large and period or characterful leasehold or freehold sites in affluent rural, town and city centre locations across England and Wales. Suitable properties could include either trading or closed licensed premises or commercial buildings that may be suitable for conversion. Small to medium-sized hotels could also be considered.

A minimum plot size of 1.5 acres is required for rural destination sites and 0.75 acres for urban/suburban town locations. Additionally, 5,000sq ft of floor space and external trading space for 50 to 100 covers is required for both.

Simon Chaplin and Noel Moffit, senior directors of corporate pubs & restaurants in Christie & Co’s Hospitality team said: “We are delighted to pick up where we left off in the search for further Brunning & Price sites. The net has now widened as TRG seeks to expand outside its traditional heartland, and we are now able to review suitable properties throughout England and Wales, opening up many more opportunities for B&P and those wishing to sell.”

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Property deal: Brunning & Price site the Roe Deer in Wordsley, West Midlands

The Alchemist to open first Scottish site with £1.5m investment

The Alchemist is set to open its first Scottish bar and restaurant next month in Edinburgh’s new St. James Quarter.

Representing an investment of £1.5m, the company claimed the site will be a “must-visit” that offers “a mystical apothecary” of creative cocktails alongside all-day casual dining.

Located within at St James Quarter, customers will enter the 6,091sq ft,170-cover space via a lobby featuring star sign projections before an immersive elevator experience to the fourth floor.

Opening at the end of October, the venue will provide jobs for 60 people, who will all be fully trained in the “dark art of molecular mixology”.

The Alchemist brand director Jenny McPhee said: “From ancient alchemists to modern mystics, Edinburgh’s association with alchemy spans thousands of years and the city has long been described as a hotbed for spirituality – what better place to open our first Scottish site? 

“We know we’re going to feel right at home here and look forward to welcoming Scots seeking an unconventional drinking and dining experience to The Alchemist Edinburgh at St James Quarter.”

The Alchemist promises to announce details of brand partnerships exclusive to the Edinburgh site, which it said will bring a series of firsts to the city’s cocktail scene.

The Alchemist's cocktail bars and restaurants can be found across the UK including London, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Cheltenham, Oxford, Nottingham and Cardiff.

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Golden opportunity: The Alchemist has ploughed £1.5m into its its new Edinburgh venue

Red Dragon Pubs acquires two more pubs

New pub company Red Dragon Pubs has added two new pubs to its portfolio – the Pemberton in Burry Port and the Gwesty in Brynmawr.

After officially launching at the Aubrey Arms in Ystradgynlais in August, Red Dragon Pubs now owns 10 pubs in the Swansea and Gwent Valleys, with plans to expand its portfolio by even more in the coming months.

The company is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur James Hunt who, along with a group of investors, have ambitions to acquire and invest in pubs across south Wales in a bid to make Red Dragon Pubs the most familiar and well-loved pubs in Wales.

Its first investment was the Aubrey Arms, then Red Dragon Pubs added the Mill House in Morriston, the Other Place in Pontardawe, the Tregib Arms in Ammanford and the Old Glais Inn, Glais, as well as the Red Lion in Brecon, the Doll’s House in Abertillery and the Torbay Inn in Llandeilo to its portfolio.

The two latest purchases brings the pubco to a grand total of 10 venues, of which Hunt said: “We are hugely ambitious and believe there is a great opportunity to create a Welsh pub company, fit for the people of Wales that everyone is proud of.  

"We want Red Dragon Pubs to be a recognisable part of every Welsh community and, with 10 pubs acquired so far, we certainly believe that we are on our way to achieving this.

Hunt added the move also increases the number of jobs available to people in the area of its sites. He explained: “We’re very excited to welcome these pubs to the Red Dragon Pubs family and are confident that many more will be added to our expanding portfolio in the next few months.

“The new acquisitions don’t just bring new pubs to communities, but also many recruitment opportunities for locals too.  We want attract people who have a keen interest in carving a career out in hospitality to join us here at Red Dragon Pubs. We are looking to invest in much in our staff as we are in our pubs.

“We want the best pub managers, chefs, bar and waiting staff to join us and feel as passionate about our business as we do. Working for Red Dragon Pubs is not just a job, but a career.”

Red Dragon Pubs also runs The Red Dragon Foundation, which helps support charities around south Wales with 1p from every drink ordered in a Red Dragon pub going towards a chosen Red Dragon charity.

Hunt added: “The more people come and enjoy a drink in the local community Red Dragon pub, the more they will be helping to support really worthwhile community projects and charities. We see it as a win-win situation.”

RESIZEDRed.Dragon.Pubs.Director.L.to.R.Angus.Scott.James.Hunt.John.Chadwick.Giles.Darby.David.Surdeau
Welsh firepower: Red Dragon Pubs directors Angus Scott, James Hunt, John Chadwick, Giles Darby and David Surdeau

Tenant sought to bring Queens Head back to life

A new tenant is being sought to take over the Queens Head pub and restaurant, which is currently closed.

The stone-built property is in Great Whittington, Northumberland, with Matfen Hall Golf & Spa Hotel just a short drive away.

The pub, which sits on the north side of the Tyne Valley about seven miles north east of Hexham, has a bar area with an open fireplace and beamed ceiling, along with a games/lounge area and restaurant that seats 40 diners.

Outside, the pub overlooks a large lawned beer garden and features car parking space for 12 cars. The property also features three-bedroom owners’ accommodation, including a private garden.

The current landlord is seeking an experienced and enthusiastic operator to take on a new free-of-tie lease and reopen the business, which has been sorely missed by the local community.  

Subject to the necessary planning consents and agreeing terms, the landlord is open to extending the premises to suit the needs and requirements of the successful tenant operator, offering great development potential.

David Cash, associate director in property agent Christie & Co’s hospitality team said: “Very rarely do opportunities such as this come to market. Our client is really excited by the prospect of finding a committed operator who shares their vision for the Queens Head. 

“The pub has a lot to offer in its current format but with plans to extend the restaurant and create additional letting bedrooms, the Queens Head has potential to become a real destination.

“Residents are incredibly keen to have a pub in the village again. We expect interest from owner-operators as well as regional multi-site operators looking to grow their portfolio.”

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Chance to bring pub back to life: the Queens Head in Northumberland

Mitre pub placed on market

The Mitre pub in Buckingham has been placed on the market with a guide price of £650,000.

The freehold Buckingham venue, which is close to Buckingham University offers 100% wet-led trading offering high profits off £450,000-plus net sales.

Property agent Davey Co, which is handling the sale, said the pub has had improvements made to it recently and has an impressive garden trading space with outside bar for 100-plus customers.

After a sympathetic, quality refurbishment of the trading areas, the Mitre offers a lounge bar with snug seating areas, impressive fireplace, additional log burner, stone flooring and timber beams.

The trading profit and loss accounts for the year ended 31 March 2020 show net sales of £454,233 excluding VAT from which a gross profit of £245,604 (54%) was achieved.

The pub also has owners’ accommodation that occupies the first and second floors with a living lounge kitchen, two double bedrooms and a bathroom.

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Buckingham pub for sale: the Mitre is being sold off a £650,000 guide price

Giant dining hall Hackney Bridge Kitchens set to open

Following its launch earlier this summer, cultural venue Hackney Bridge has announced the opening of its giant indoor dining hall, Hackney Bridge Kitchens.

Opening on Friday (24 September), Hackney Bridge Kitchens has a weekend packed with events lined up with 50% off all food and drinks on its opening day.

The space, which features mezzanine seating and a bar serving local craft beers, wines and cocktails, will be home to five new street food traders, as well as favourites Made in Puglia (Neapolitan pizzas) and Filigrillz (Filipino food), which took up residency in Hackney Bridge’s alfresco courtyard this summer.

To celebrate the opening, Hackney Bridge Kitchens will be hosting a special weekend of free events and activities from 24-26 September, including workshops, classes and impressive DJ line-ups.

The new vendors include West indies hot Bakes, Bakes N Stuffingz will be on site with its ​​traditional St Lucian coal pot, serving jerk pork, jerk chicken and even jerk pulled jackfruit.

Seafood specialist Simply Hooked will offer dishes that include tacos with haddock, smoked paprika panko, house ponzu slaw, chipotle mayo, coriander and black sesame seeds.

Japanese soul food expert Rainbo, famed for its homemade gyoza and hirata bao buns, will be opening its fourth site in the dining hall.

While vegan visitors can take advantages of Hanoi Chay, which will be offering plant-based Vietnamese dishes like pho and banh mis.

Tamila promises south Indian street food including flavour-packed curries and flaky layered roti as part of its menu.

Drinks at Hackney Bridge Kitchens will come from The Hangar, a micropub and cocktail bar that will offer craft beers and ice-cold serves, with two for the price of one drinks on Tuesday and Wednesday on house beers, wine, single spirits and cocktails.

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Opening this week: Hackney Bridge Kitchens is a huge dining, drinking and entertainment venue
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Related topics: Property law

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