Admiral Taverns through the years

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Tap the Admiral: Admiral Taverns now has a portfolio of circa 1,600 pubs
Tap the Admiral: Admiral Taverns now has a portfolio of circa 1,600 pubs

Related tags Pubco + head office Tenanted + leased Multi-site pub operators Branding + marketing Finance Beer Food

The Morning Advertiser examines the history of Admiral Taverns and its mergers and acquisitions activity throughout the years.

Pub company Admiral Taverns was founded in 2003 by the Landesberg and Rosenberg families in London.

Between 2004 and 2010, the group acquired more than 3,000 pubs via a series of 13 acquisitions. During that period, in 2006, Admiral moved its head office to Chester in the north-west of England.

In 2008, it launched Agenda​, a monthly magazine to licensees that gave advice and offers to its licensees on all aspects of running a pub and also rolled out My Pub Superstore – an online commercial shop for licensees.

In 2009, Jonathan Paveley joined the business as executive chairman while, a year later, a new management team was appointed under managing director Kevin Georgel as the company began a new strategy to transform Admiral Taverns into a leading community pub operator with a refined portfolio of sustainable wet-led pubs.

Catering support was expanded in 2011 that included a new food development menu suite and the appointment of catering experts to its commercial team. This was followed in the subsequent year by a training programme called the Admiral Taverns Development Programme.

In 2013, new funding was brought on board through the arrival of Cerebus Capital Management in the region of £200m​ while the business scooped the Best Leased and Tenanted Pub Company honour at The Publican Awards.

Georgel stepped up to the position of chief executive and 111 pubs were acquired from Star Pubs & Bars in 2014​. A year later, it confirmed the completion of a business restructure with an estate of circa 800 sustainable, wet-led pubs.

Huge investment: Admiral Taverns ploughed £320,000 into renovating and reopening the Borough Arms in Lymington, Hampshire, in 2019

Ambitious initiative

An ambitious capex investment initiative was launched in 2016, demonstrated by the business’s largest funding effort for a single site of £330,000 at Tetbury’s the Greyhound, and another Best Leased and Tenanted Pub Company gong followed at The Publican Awards.

Admiral welcomed new partnership and investment with Proprium Capital Partners and C&C Group in 2017​. At the time, Admiral had developed an estate of 845 predominantly wet-led pubs at the heart of their local communities. Georgel said: “Recent years have seen Admiral Taverns go from strength to strength and I am delighted that with the support of our new investors we will have the platform in place to continue our development and execute our growth plans.

“Our nationwide estate of community pubs showcases the supported-tied model at its best. Through our distinct and award-winning operational approach, our dedicated and passionate team have worked hard to build strong and enduring relationships with our licensees.

“Our strategy remains unapologetically consistent and I look forward to working with the support of our new investors to continue to build on the significant progress the business has made over the past five years and take advantage of the opportunities within our markets, as and when they arise.”

In the same year, the business, in partnership with G1 Group, acquired an estate of community pubs from Heineken’s Star Pubs & Bars business. The portfolio of 29 pubs comprised 12 pubs in Scotland and 17 across England and Wales​. The portfolio was brought to the market as a result of the Competition and Market Authorities (CMA) investigation into Heineken’s acquisition of the Punch A portfolio and was comprised of pubs from both Star Pubs & Bars and Punch A. Admiral was completing on the sale of its own business, with investors Proprium Capital Partners and C&C Group supporting its growth strategy. Georgel said at the time: “This acquisition is early testament to our commitment to this growth strategy. We have an excellent track record of integrating new pub portfolios into our estate and working together with these licensees to invest behind their pub business, building progressive, working partnerships.”

An acquisition of 150 tenanted community pubs​ from Star Pubs & Bars followed in September 2019.

Recently appointed chief executive, Chris Jowsey, was set to lead the business through the next phase of its development. He said: “We are delighted to announce another important step forward in our strategy and ambitions for the business. Admiral has a strong track record of integrating new acquisitions and these new pubs will significantly increase our presence across the UK.”

“Core to Admiral’s approach is our commitment to invest behind our pubs and licensees, supporting them to build vibrant social hubs that can thrive at the heart of their local communities. Through this acquisition we are delighted to be able to bring so many new dedicated licensees into our business.”

Community favourite: £120,000 was paid out to reopen the Canal Tavern in Stoke-on-trent in July 2021 by Admiral Taverns

Move for Marston's sites 

Not finished yet, Admiral took on 137 further pubs from Marston’s in November 2019. The nationwide portfolio comprised a mixture of predominately tenanted, leased and retail-agreement sites across England and Wales.

To support the integration of the pubs in the portfolio that operated under retail agreements, the group formed a partnership with experienced managed operator Helen Standing, to facilitate the smooth transition of these pubs to the Admiral platform while the group evaluated the longer-term opportunities for these sites. Jowsey said: “This is another exciting acquisition for our business, building on the strong momentum established over the course of the year.

“I’m also very pleased that Helen Standing has agreed to partner with us to support the wider integration programme for some of these pubs. Helen is a highly successful, experienced operator who is well known to our team and we are looking forward to working very closely with her and these pubs.”

Earlier this year, Admiral Taverns reached an agreement to acquire Hawthorn​, the Community Pub Company, from NewRiver REIT. The nationwide portfolio of 674 pubs comprised a mixture of predominately tenanted, leased and operator managed sites across England, Wales and Scotland.

The acquisition continued Admiral’s growth strategy and meant the group’s estate reached in excess of 1,600 pubs. It was announced funding would come through debt provided by Admiral’s lenders, together with capital provided by its existing investor, Proprium Capital Partners.

Chief executive Jowsey said: “This is one of the biggest acquisitions by Admiral to date and delivers on our strategy to build our estate to 1,500 sustainable pubs. It is a really exciting step forward for the business and we remain committed to the supportive partnership model, which is highly regarded by licensees.

“Our wet-led, community-focused, supportive culture is very much shared by Hawthorn. The acquisition has allowed us to acquire an excellent portfolio of pubs.”

Admiral added that, throughout the pandemic, it had “consistently championed its community pubs, offering significant rent aid and reopening support as well as lobbying the government on key issues such as hospitality grants, reducing business rates and VAT, and economic support for the hospitality sector”.

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