Property round-up

New site openings, big renovations and what’s on sale fill the property market

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Property action: the most recent activity on pub openings, reopenings and sales
Property action: the most recent activity on pub openings, reopenings and sales

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

Loungers opening 150th site, Star Pubs & Bars makes double move and GK collaboration reopens site after £400k investment are among the latest news in the pub property world.

Loungers opens its 150th Lounge site

Loungers has reached the 150 mark as its latest Lounge brand outlet began trading as the Arboro Lounge in Ringwood’s The Furlong Shopping Centre in Hampshire.

Loungers also operates the Cosy Club brand and the opening takes its total estate to 181 sites. 

The Ringwood site is set to be followed by a Lounge opening in Reigate, Surrey – Corzo Lounge will be based in High Street.

Loungers has also lined up an opening in Maidenhead, Berkshire, before the end of the year. The business will open the Bardo Lounge at Shanly Homes’ Waterside Quarter development in the Berkshire town, in December.

Further Lounge openings are planned in Basildon, Colchester, High Wycombe and Ealing, while the business is also set to open a Cosy Club site in Chester.

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Big numbers: Loungers has opened its 150th site

Historic Lakes inn is reopened by The Inn Collection Group 

Northern pubco The Inn Collection Group has reopened one of the oldest pubs in the Lake District following the completion of the first phase of a full-scale refurbishment.

A former coaching inn, the 17th century Pheasant Inn in Bassenthwaite reopened following a meticulous six-month refurbishment to re-purpose its dining areas along with a revamp of 20 bedrooms by the multi-award-winning operator.

The inn’s original listed bar, with its red velvet banquettes, oak-panelled walls and eclectic collection of curios remains the same, preserving the Pheasant Inn’s venerable heritage as one of Cumbria’s oldest hostelries.

Managing director of the Alchemy-backed group, Sean Donkin, said: “The Pheasant has evolved in response to travellers’ needs over the centuries. We’re proud The Inn Collection Group has been able to contribute to the history of one of the Lake District’s best-loved sites through this careful and rewarding refurbishment.  

“The reopening of The Pheasant marks the completion of our first phase to renovate this unique site to enhance its offering for customers while ensuring its provenance and heritage are preserved for future generations of people to eat, drink, sleep and explore from.”

In line with The Inn Collection Group’s pubs-with-rooms model, home-cooked pub food is at the heart of the offer plus local real ales from Cumbrian Ales and the inn’s bespoke house Pheasant Ale brewed by Tirril Brewery.

Cutting the ribbon to officially reopen The Pheasant was head housekeeper and grandmother-of-four Gillian Gaston (pictured), who has worked at inn for 25 years. 

Gillian, 66, of Great Clifton, said: “The whole inn is just beautiful. They have done such a good job. I think we were all a little apprehensive as it is such an institution, but it looks wonderful. It’s lovely to be back and I can’t wait to welcome people again – the regulars who have been coming for years and to seeing new faces after the pandemic.”

Husband and wife team Chris and Debra Adamson are general managers at The Pheasant Inn. Chris said: “It’s great to see friendly faces – people who have been here previously and new faces who are stepping inside for first time and seeing their reaction. 

Debra added: “We are so happy to be getting back to business and seeing this amazing place as it should be: full of people enjoying their food, their drink and enjoying the company and seeing our team happy in our lovely new inn.”

A second phase of redevelopment is under way to repurpose a cottage within the grounds to provide a further seven rooms including new family-friendly accommodation to create a 27-room site in total.
Ribbon cutting ceremony: stalwart staff member Gillian Gaston opens the Pheasant Inn

Experienced operators take on second Star Pubs & Bars site

North-west-based operators Jamie Whittaker and Kelly Vickers have taken on their second Star Pubs & Bars lease in three years – the White Bear in Knutsford, Cheshire – and plan to add a third Star site later this year and establish a portfolio of five pubs within the next three years.

The couple are undertaking a joint £200,000 investment with Star Pubs & Bars to create a family-friendly local and beer garden. The move will create 10 jobs and the investment will also see food introduced to the pub’s offer.

An alfresco eating and drinking area is being created with seating for 60, which will include a pergola, mirrors and festoon lighting while a wood burner will make it an area to enjoy all year long.

Inside, the traditional character of the pub will be retained while seating is being increased to 86 to reflect the pub’s change of direction, and the kitchen is being overhauled as part of the refurbishment with equipment fitted to enable the pub to offer food for the first time.

Whittaker and Vickers’ plans for the White Bear are to host acoustic live music at weekends and wine tasting and wine matching evenings plus family-friendly interactive quizzes on Sunday afternoons with questions for children.

The couple’s first Star pub, the Pig on the Wall in Droylsden, also benefited from a joint investment and has been a great success. 

Vickers said: “Knutsford is a beautiful town but was missing a good quality offer for families.  We could immediately see the potential of the White Bear. It’s like a country pub transplanted into the town.”

Star Pubs & Bars business development manager Andrew North added: “The White Bear is in a high-profile town centre location with a new housing development in walking distance. Its position and our joint investment together with Jamie and Kelly at the helm, will give the White Bear a whole new lease of life. Jamie and Kelly have done a great job turning around the Pig on the Wall outside Manchester.”

Sequel site: the White Bear operators Kelly Vickers and Jamie Whittaker

The Dairy Maid pub gets a £400k makeover

The Dairy Maid pub in Aylesbury has received a £400,000 transformation by pub owners Greene King Pub Partners and new landlords of the pub, independent operators Richard Bentley and Marcus Parton.

The investment means a large outdoor seating area will soon be covered with a heated and lit gazebo, external decoration and signage while work on the interior includes a new bar, tiled and carpeted flooring, private dining room, seating with mini screens to watch sport and more open-plan areas with contemporary furniture and lighting. The pub has kept its pool and darts areas.

A food menu has been introduced that includes Barrel & Stone pizzas, 10 different pies and Sunday roasts.

The pub reopened its doors in summer after a long closure pre-lockdown and now hosts events every night, including comedy and race nights.

Bentley said: “We have a lot of pub experience from the other side of the fence working as business development managers and we thought it was time to run our own pub. This is the first time we’ve been behind the bar so to speak and it’s fantastic. 

“Customers love the new look of the pub and, with the food and drink we’ve introduced, many have re-found us since the place has been renovated. Sky Sports is shown on large and mini screens so everyone has the opportunity to watch the match with a drink or food.”

Greene King Pub Partners BDM Drew Milne added: “This renovation has completely changed the Dairy Maid pub and it is now somewhere the local community can be very proud of and look forward to visiting again”.

Greene King Pub Partners owns and operates 995 pubs with independent operators throughout England, Scotland and Wales. It has a multimillion-pound package of investments planned for its leased and tenanted pubs in the next year.

Tailor Maid: The Dairy Maid has received a £400,000 revamp

Star Pubs & Bars to open landmark Halifax pub with £365k investment

Star Pubs & Bars is planning to reopen a landmark Halifax pub after a major overhaul that will cost £365,000.

The Westgate pub, which dates back to the 18th century has been closed for three years, is expected to reopen next year, having been delayed by the pandemic.

Subject to recruiting a new licensee, Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is keen to invest in the site that is located on the corner of Westgate and Union Street. The project would upgrade the grade II-listed pub into a bar, enhancing the Piece Hall quarter.

Star said the work would carefully renovate the building’s historic exterior, adding new signage, lighting, retractable awnings, bi-fold doors and enlarged sash windows. The pubco said should the pedestrianisation of Westgate go ahead, a pavement licence would also be sought for an area of café-style seating outside.

Plans for the interior will see a contemporary bar and dining area added on the ground floor while a commercial kitchen on the first floor will enable the introduction of food. To complement the new menu, the cellar would receive an overhaul with state-of the-art dispense equipment.

An all-day offer is set to be introduced that would see barista-quality coffee, a selection of premium wines, spirits and beers – with craft as a speciality – and a distinctive food menu. 

Anthony Briggs, Star Pubs & Bars’ area manager for Halifax, said: “Now restrictions are over, we’re eager to find a licensee to take over the Westgate and move the refurbishment forward with us. The Westgate is a well-known pub in a prominent location, so it’s a great opportunity for someone with experience wanting a quality bar in the heart of Halifax.

“Halifax has really bounced back after the lockdowns and is building on its reputation for unique independent businesses and fantastic food and drink. The reopening of the Westgate would add to other planned investment, such as the construction of a covered walkway linking the station, the Piece Hall and the town centre.

Big renovation: Halifax pub the Westgate will undergo a £365,000 revamp

Barworks to fill up King's Cross with Gas Station site 

London bar and pub operator Barworks is set to open a new site called Gas Station at King’s Cross next week (26 October).

Gas Station will operate three bars across two floors, alongside an all-seasons garden. It has brought in expertise from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, to help focus on its “huge outdoor space” along the canal to create a “pollinator haven” in the heart of King’s Cross.

The bar will also team up with London distillery East London Liquor Co to serve their collaboration East London Kew Gin at the site.

Barworks founder Marc Francis-Baum said: “In a city location, plants for pollinators like bees and butterflies, are extremely valuable for encouraging greater biodiversity, so I was very happy to be involved in the choice of plants for this garden in the middle of London.”

The East London Kew Gin serve features Douglas fir and lavender from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, alongside sweet orange peel and earthy liquorice root and fennel. The site will also serve fresh seafood and modern seasonal dishes to accompany the specialist gin

Barworks is an independent pub, bar & restaurant group based in London, which was founded in 1998 by Andreas Akerlund, Patrik Franzen & Marc Francis-Baum. The group is currently made up of 19 sites across London, with many regularly appearing in guides for the best pubs and bars in London.

Nature basis: Barworks hopes its Gas Station site will help pollinators such as bees

Fox & Hounds village pub lease on sale for £75k

The leasehold of the Fox & Hounds pub in the Oxfordshire village of Uffington is being marketed with a guide price of £75,000.

The four-star AA-rated site that is a freehouse and restaurant with four en-suite letting bedrooms and four-room private quarters is being offered by estate agent DaveyCo.

The pub has a lounge bar, dining for 60-plus customers, terrace, gardens and views across the Vale of White Horse on the Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Berkshire borders, which is popular with tourists, walkers and cyclists. DaveyCo said the business has been owned by its client for the past 11 years and offers an “idyllic staycation location” with plenty of all year round trade.

The four en-suite twin/double letting bedrooms are located in a purpose-built annexe with laundry store. A trading terrace and lawned garden areas are complemented by a well-equipped commercial catering kitchen and a large car park.

The trading profit and loss accounts for the year ended 31 March 2020 show net sales of £322,760, excluding VAT, from which a gross profit of £196,563 (61%) was achieved.

The private accommodation is well presented and fitted comprising four good size rooms, one of which has en-suite facilities, a fitted living kitchen and bathroom and shower room. Fixtures and fittings are substantially free of loan, hire purchase and lease agreements.

DaveyCo said its client, who owns the freehold, will grant a new commercial lease over a term of years to be agreed with a commencing rent anticipated to be in the order of £35,000 per annum. Offers are sought in the region of £75,000 for the leasehold of the premises, the goodwill of the business and trade fixtures and fittings. Stock to be purchased separately at valuation.

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On the market: the leasehold of the Fox & Hounds is up for sale

Oakman Group reopens grade II-listed pub for its 36th site

The Oakman Group has reopened grade II-listed pub the Rose Inn in Wokingham, Berkshire, this week, following a £2.1m renovation that has created 30 new jobs.

The group, which acquired the empty site in 2019, has reopened the 19th century venue after a redesign that remains sympathetic to the building’s history and character. With some parts of the original site dating back to the 16th century, the building and courtyard were once part of Wokingham’s historic Burgage Plot.

The Rose Inn is the group’s 36th opening and eighth since March 2020. Oakman Group chief executive Dermot King said: “We are very proud of what we’ve created in Wokingham’s town centre and encouraged by the feedback we’ve received so far. General manager Will Upton and his team are looking forward to serving great food and drinks and to the Rose playing its part in the community once again.

“We could not have achieved this without the support of our investors. Since fully reopening in July 2021, the business has delivered sales growth of 36% versus the same period in 2019 compared with an average of 5% among similar businesses.

“Our strategy of investing in destination sites and large covered spaces and an indigenous supply chain has certainly helped to produce impressive performances and attract the new investment. This is an exciting time for Oakman.”

He added work on a site in Buckingham that will open in spring 2022 has begun and a further 10 sites in the company's pipeline are likely to be trading by the end of 2023. These will be part-funded by a scheme that allows customers to support Oakman while earning tax-free income from a business-backed ISA.

The Rose Inn pub and restaurant can accommodate up to 185 guests with the ground floor catering for 120, while a vaulted first floor has been transformed into a lounge named The Oakroom, linking the Oakman Group’s name and the town’s old name Oakingham, which will also be available for private events.

A glass-ceilinged restaurant incorporating part of the former courtyard has been installed, plus an oak staircase that leads to The Oakroom, three new bars, The Parlour Room in the form of a country house library, the reinstatement of four fireplaces, original wooden floors, repair and reinstallation of old timbers and panelling, and a secret garden with a weather-proof pagoda and container-grown herbs and edible flowers.

A theatre-style kitchen is said to help continues Oakman’s signature cooking style using an open grill over charcoal, and a domed wood-fired pizza oven to produce its autumn/winter dishes and daily specials.
Rosy times: Oakman has reopened grade II-listed pub the Rose Inn
  • If you have any information regarding new openings or property details you think could be used in this weekly round-up section, along with hi-res landscape images, please email tnel.yyblq@jeoz.pbz​​​​.

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