Property round-up

The latest pub openings and sites on the market

By Gary Lloyd contact

- Last updated on GMT

Movers and shakers: properties purchased, renovated and on the market
Movers and shakers: properties purchased, renovated and on the market

Related tags: Property, Finance, Pubco + head office, Tenanted + leased, Freehouse, Multi-site pub operators

Brakspear brands its managed estate, Redhouse and Star team up and Valiant takes on 17 SA Brain sites are among the latest property moves.

Brakspear brands managed estate as Honeycomb Houses and seeks expansion

Pub operator and brewer Brakspear is set to brand its nine-strong managed estate as Honeycomb Houses – and it is planning to expand the division through acquisitions.

Honeycomb Houses’ motto is ‘Our House, Your Home’ and while sites will retain the Brakspear name, they will also use a honeycomb cell with the bee symbol of the parent company on other exterior and interior signage, menus and team uniforms.

Turning to expansion, Brakspear has refocused the criteria for its managed estate and is actively looking for new pubs that meet the brief: larger sites in rural locations and market towns in the south east and Cotswolds, with a strong food trade, event space and, ideally, bedrooms.

Brakspear has identified three pubs, described as ‘community locals’, that will transfer into its tenanted business: the Retreat in Staines, the Dog & Duck in Wokingham and the Golden Ball near Maidenhead. Tenants are being sought for all three pubs.

Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said: “Honeycomb Houses is a strong identity that brings our managed pubs together while retaining the links to Brakspear as a family-run business, steeped in centuries of brewing and pub tradition. 

“We’ve had nothing but positive responses from guests and from the pub teams, who will be living and breathing the ‘Our House, Your Home’ ethos and turning it into memorable guest experiences.” 

Of the three pubs transferring to tenancy, Davies said: “These are all fantastic pubs, possibly some of the best tenanted sites currently available. This calibre of pub doesn’t come on the market often and we’re confident that, in the hands of the right operator, they will become some of the most successful sites in our tenanted estate.”

The ‘Our House, Your Home’ is said to be an ethos of treating colleagues as family, guests as friends and pubs like home.

Honeycomb Houses will focus on for all occasions, from bar snacks to special occasion meals with an emphasis is on quality, seasonal ingredients and local provenance, while menus are tailored to each pub: several have wood-fired pizza ovens, while its flagship site – the Frogmill near Cheltenham – uses a Josper oven and an American smoker. 

Brakspear’s managed division was founded in 2013 with the opening of the Bull on Bell Street in Henley-on-Thames. The latest purchase, in March 2020, was the Egypt Mill, a pub restaurant with rooms and a weddings business near Stroud, and the estate now numbers nine sites dotted across the Cotswolds and south-east.

Flagship: the Frogmill is Honeycomb Houses' lead site

Redhouse and Star team up for £350k pub revamp

Redhouse Pubs Group is breaking ground on a joint £350,000 refurbishment of the Rose & Crown in Enfield with Star Pubs & Bars.

The pub is Redhouse Pub Group’s first substantive lease with Star. Redhouse has a varied portfolio of 19 leased pubs – 10 free trade and nine tied – in and around the M25.

Dating back to 1716, the Rose & Crown is believed to have once been run by Dick Turpin’s grandparents and to have been a hideout for the highwayman.

Star Pubs & Bars, Heineken’s pub arm, said the investment will transform the Rose & Crown into a great-quality, family-friendly pub serving outstanding food. The exterior work will renovate the grade II-listed pub, repainting the building and adding new lighting and signage. An 80-seater alfresco terrace will be created, overlooking adjoining woodland. It will boast covered heated space for 24 people, festoon lighting, new planting and new furniture.

The internal revamp will upgrade the pub while maintaining all its original character. Features such as fireplaces, old beams and flagstone floors will be restored and retained. The layout will include a bar, a lounge, a snug and two function rooms that can also be used as overflow trading space.

A kitchen refit will enable head chef Allan Herrick – who has previously worked at Michelin-starred establishments such as Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck – to develop the Rose & Crown’s food. The menu will focus on pub classics as well as changing à la carte specials. All the dishes will be made from scratch using seasonal ingredients and produce sourced by Herrick. Fresh fish will come daily from Cornwall and fruit and veg from Covent Garden or nearby farms.

“We have a great free trade relationship with Heineken stretching back many years,” said Redhouse Pub Group head of operations Brian Coughlan. “It’s good to be building on that by working with Star. They’ve got the same family ethos and look after their licensees well.

“I can tell instantly whether a pub will work for us, and I got that feeling when I walked into the Rose & Crown. It has got loads of potential and fantastic outside space.”

Star Pubs & Bars operations director Tim Galligan added: “We’re delighted to be investing with Redhouse Pubs Group. They’ve got an excellent reputation and a proven track record of developing great pub businesses. The Rose & Crown will be no exception; it will be a superb local pub for the community and a destination dining spot for those from further afield.”

All Rose-y: Redhouse Pubs Group will spend £350k with Star Pubs & Bars

Valiant takes 17-pub package from SA Brain

Start-up business Valiant Pub Company has acquired 17 pubs from SA Brain for an undisclosed sum through its newly formed partnership with investment firm Njord Partners.

Valiant, which was co-founded by Gerry Carroll, Mark McGinty (ex-founders of Hawthorn Leisure) and James Croft (formerly of EI Group) in January this year, has a long-term aim of developing a portfolio of community-focused pub business with the support of Njord Partners.

Valiant said: “Both the formation of a partnership with Njord Partners and our first acquisition are important first steps in building our new business. Valiant is committed to operating great-quality well-invested pubs in the heart of their communities. Valiant is currently building an acquisition pipeline and is seeking further suitable sites. We are delighted to have partnered with Njord Partners and look forward to working with our new pub teams to build a successful company.”

SA Brain chief executive Jon Bridge added: “It’s been a very straightforward transaction and a pleasure to do business with Valiant. I wish them and the pub teams all the very best for the future.”

Arvid Trolle, co-founder and portfolio manager of Njord Partners said: “We are excited to have partnered with the highly experienced Valiant team and look forward to supporting future growth within the UK pub sector. Going forward, we believe there will continue to be significant opportunities to acquire and invest in creating high-quality pubs that are valued by their local communities.”

Njord Partners is a London-based investment manager and capital partner to middle market corporates across Europe.

Big acquisition: Valiant has teamed up with Njord Partners

16th century Mendips pub sold for first time in 27 years

A 16th century village pub with letting rooms in Wookey has been sold for the first time in 27 years.

Funding for the purchase of the Burcott Inn, which is located at the foot of the Mendip Hills, was secured by estate agent Christie & Co’s sister company, Christie Finance.

The Somerset pub has origins dating back to the late 1500s, with some parts of the original building still remaining. However, the site has been added to significantly over the centuries and now comprises the main pub, large beer garden and four self-catering cottages housed in the original stables.

The business has been owned and operated by Ian and Anne Stead since 1994, who brought up their family at the same time as running the village pub.

The pub has been purchased by husband-and-wife team, Jeanine and Harish Kumar. They will be relocating back to the UK to run the business after living in Dubai for the past 20 years.

The Kumars said: “Together with Harish’s background in the hospitality industry and our love of the West Country, the Burcott Inn in Wookey was the perfect choice for our family of four plus two dogs, to make our new home and start our business at this warm and traditional inn.

“Chef Harrie will be heading up our team in the kitchen, serving modern pub food with an interesting twist. He’s built an enviable skillset working in various world class restaurants over the past 30 years. We are excited to bring our passion for good food and good cheer to Wookey and we aim to support the community by using locally sourced produce.”

Gary Boyce, director at Christie Finance, who secured the funding, said: “It was a pleasure to assist Jeanine and Harish throughout the process of securing funding and completing the purchase of the Burcott Inn. By focusing on their strong background and skills in the sector, we were able to put together a competitive funding package to help them acquire the business and facilitate their exciting plans.”

Christie & Co hospitality team director Nicholas Calfe who brokered the deal added: “The Burcott Inn attracted a huge amount of interest because of its rural village location, close to the beautiful city of Wells, and the demand for the large grounds on site, which can be used for alternative accommodation such as Shepherd’s Huts. This type of opportunity is very much in demand and premium prices are being achieved so it’s a great time to think about selling if you own a similar business.”

Site sold: the Burcott Inn has origins dating back to the 1500s

Amber Taverns targets expansion in south-west and Wales

Community pubs operator Amber Taverns has set its sights on open new pubs in the south-west and south Wales.

The business, which operates more than 160 pubs in the Midlands, Wales, north of England and Scotland, has opened three sites in the UK this year, all of which have been retail conversions. It is now on the hunt for freehold or long leasehold high street locations.

Stuart Stares, associate director in the at Savills licensed leisure team, which is leading the search for sites, said: “With the economy opening up we’ve seen pubs and restaurants benefit from the positive and energetic response from consumers. The sector is expected to continue to perform resiliently and as such we have seen active interest from investors, both new and established.

“Amber Taverns is an experienced pub operator that has an established portfolio of more than 160 pubs, many of which have been converted from alternative uses. It is now seeking to expand in the south-west and south Wales and looking for freehold or long leasehold units in high street locations with a minimum ground-floor areas of 175sq m. It will also consider non-licensed buildings.”

Amber Logo
Green light for new sites: Amber Taverns operates 160-plus pubs

Green light for new Innis & Gunn brewery

Scottish brewer and bar operator Innis & Gunn has received the go-ahead from The City of Edinburgh Council to build a new brewery at Heriot-Watt University’s Research Park.

The two-hectare site will provide increased brewing capacity that will support the brewer’s continued growth, both in the UK and internationally and it will be the first major brewery to be built in Edinburgh for more than 150 years.

Beer fans will be able to experience the brewing process first-hand with guided tours of the brewery set to be on offer.

The site will also usher in a collaboration between Innis & Gunn and Heriot-Watt University that will see students on both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the School of Brewing and Distilling spend time on placement in the brewery. Further collaboration between Innis & Gunn and Heriot-Watt University is envisaged in fields such as low carbon brewing technologies, product and packaging innovation, and new product development.

Plans for the brewery were submitted in May 2020, following a successful crowdfund campaign, which raised £3.3m from more than 2,000 investors. The total budget for the brewery is £20m.

Innis & Gunn founder Dougal Gunn Sharp said: “I have wanted to build this brewery in Edinburgh for almost two decades and, as the business has grown and gone from strength to strength, the importance has only increased. To have planning permission now granted at such an inspiring site is an important step forward.

“Plans for the brewery have taken a natural pause as we all continue to deal with the impacts of the pandemic, but we are committed to building the brewery when the time is right. Although we cannot give an exact date for breaking ground, the longer time-frame does have some positives including more options in the market for the best low-carbon equipment and technology, which have the potential to change the game in terms of energy usage in brewing and packaging processes.

“Over the past year or so, everyone at Innis & Gunn has worked hard to ensure a strong supply chain for our customers and drinkers alike. Our latest published accounts show our sales in the off-trade increased by almost 30% year on year and this success during a challenging time, only strengthens the business and our need to have our own brewery.”

Heriot-Watt University global director, estates and facilities, Lynda Johnstone added: “This is an exciting time for everyone involved and it’s a great honour to have the first brewery to be built in Edinburgh in 150 years located within the Heriot-Watt Research Park. When fully operational, this will provide a significant benefit for the students taking our brewing and distilling courses, as well as offering many opportunities for us to work together to take advantage of the low-carbon and environmental sustainability expertise we have within the university.”

Do the maths: Innis & Gunn will open a brewery at a university site

Liberation Group subsidiary rolls out refurbishment programme

Liberation Brewery, which is part of Liberation Group, has rolled out its refurbishment programme across the Channel Islands by investing heavily in some of its best-loved pubs and bars.

In Jersey, St Mary’s Pub & Dining (formally known as St Mary’s Country Inn) reopened last week following a refurbishment. The pub has been refreshed with new décor, furniture and fittings that it said is befitting of a traditional country pub but with a modern twist and has retained a number of architectural features such as the central fireplace. Liberation added the pub’s name has been changed to highlight the pub’s high-quality food and drink offering.

In St Helier, the Halkett Pub & Dining has reopened after a refurbishment and refresh. The venue has been redecorated and remodelled to include what Liberation said is an ingenious inside-out garden, linking the site with its outside space. The ceiling has been removed and opened up into the roof space creating a light and airy feel. The dance floor has been renewed with more entertainment and live music planned throughout the week such as salsa evenings and Tuesday open mic sessions in the garden room.

The Five Oaks Pub & Dining also received a full renovation and makeover recently transforming it into a “luxurious, beautifully designed pub inside and out” with a focus on its award-winning food and drink offering.

The Langtry, Seaton Place, threw open its doors last month (October) with an exciting new food and drink offering created in an open kitchen. Formerly known as the Seaton Place Social, the Langtry (named after Lillie Langtry) is claimed to be a great spot for a pre-work feast, morning meeting and out-of-office meeting or after-work drinks venue. 

Jayson Perfect, group managing director, pubs and inns, Liberation Group, said: “Our refurbishment and improvement programme on the islands is forging ahead at speed now. We’re constantly growing and evolving to keep up with taste and demand. Our customers are at the heart of everything we do so it’s important that we continue to invest in our pubs, bars and our teams to reflect this and meet their needs.”

Other Jersey-based projects planned include improvements at Liberation Group’s HQ and Brewery, Tregear House in St Saviour and a refresh and external refurbishment at the Cock & Bottle on Royal Square, which will reopen at the start of December, in time for the festive season, complete with a new fabulous alfresco area.

In addition to refurbishing and refreshing managed sites, the group has also been busy working with a number of its partner (tenanted) pubs.

The Victoria Tavern (previously known as the Green Rooster) in St Helier is undergoing a complete internal refurbishment, new signage and a replacement roof. Working closely with its tenants, the interior will be completely refreshed and the side garden improved. The Parade, also run by the same licensees, has also been updated with new exterior decoration and branding.

Perfect added: “The Victoria Tavern refurbishment is now under way and a really key project for us.  It’s crucially important to us that our tenants know that we’re committed to them and to making their businesses the very best they can be.  This really matters as our tenants play a vital role in making Liberation Group the success it is today so we want to support them as much as possible. It’s been great working closely with our tenants to get their input into changes being made. This way the sites retain the character and personality of those running the site.”

Other tenanted pub projects are The Farmer’s Inn, St Ouen, which has an external and garden makeover planned for the future; The Trafalgar Inn, St Aubin, has new exterior decoration and updated signage; Victoria in the Valley, St Peter, now has a fresh exterior, new branding, signage and lighting; and Saint Laurent, St Lawrence, has undergone an interior redecoration.

Liberation Group’s significant investment into its estate continues on the island of Guernsey. The Crow’s Nest has been amalgamated into the Ship & Crown to create one venue with a focus on its dining experience.

Early next year, Thomas de la Rue, St Peter Port and the Deerhound in Forest will be treated to further investment and updates and the Houmet, which will be renamed as the Puffin & Oyster, will be completely remodelled with major external and internal refurbishments planned for the new year as well. The Liberation Quality Drinks retail shops are also being renovated and restyled with a refreshed exterior and interior refits planned.

Liberating move: the inside-out garden at the Halkett in St Helier

Freehouse lease of village pub on market for £65,000

The leasehold of village freehouse, the Oxfordshire Yeoman, has been placed on the market with a guide price of £65,000.

Estate agent DaveyCo said the pub, in Freeland, Witney, trades well on net sales of around £310,000 per year with a trade split of 70:30 in favour of wet sales over food. A rustic lounge bar and dining area for 55-plus is complemented by a fantastic courtyard garden trading area for 80-plus.

There is scope to increase the food trade significantly while the business is well supported by the local village with regular use by the village football, cricket, Aunt Sally, darts and cribbage teams. An outside bar is used for private events and offers great potential to increase trade.

The current owners invested £50,000 into the property previously, which has “excellent” ancillary areas and a commercial catering kitchen facility. The private accommodation is located on the first floor with independent access.

Pre-Covid sales for the year ended 2019 were £450,000, excluding VAT.

The premises is held on the residue of a 10-year lease and current rent is in the order of £30,000 per annum.

Lease for sale: the Oxfordshire Yeoman has a 70:30 spilt in favour of wet trade

Chestnut pub company acquires new site in north Norfolk

East Anglia-based pub company Chestnut has increased its portfolio with the acquisition of the Feathers pub in Holt, Norfolk.

The pub, which was built on the site of an old cattle market in 1650, offers 16 bedrooms with capacity for growth, alongside a restaurant and bar.

The addition of the Feathers comes shortly after the acquisition of the Maltings in Weybourne, earlier this year. Chestnut founder and managing director Philip Turner said: “We are really excited to be expanding in this wonderful part of the region. This year continues to be a year of growth and with Norfolk remaining a great staycation destination and fast developing into a preferred post-Covid relocation hotspot, the Feathers is the perfect addition to the Chestnut collection. 

“We have ambitious growth plans for the area, which is reflected in our latest acquisitions. Chestnut is looking to consolidate its position in a market of £3.5bn tourism spend and be well positioned for the changing dynamic of office/home working habits.”

Portfolio growth: the Feathers joins the Maltings in Chestnut's pub collection

Suffolk pub opens village store and café

The Queen pub in Brandeston, Suffolk, has opened a village store, café and new community seating area to help local residents.  

The pub, which is run by publican Caroline Aitchison, with her daughter Harriet and son Alexander, opened a village shop during the first Covid-19 lockdown and it proved so popular that it has become a permanent fixture. The nearest major supermarket is more than 10 miles away and with limited transport links in the area there were challenges for locals to get their essentials.   

Part of a barn, which is situated beside the pub, was converted with inside and outside seating, to help bring members of the community together. 

The village store, café and seating area were opened with the expert help and a Community Services Fund grant from Pub is The Hub, the not-for-profit organisation that helps pubs to diversify and provide essential local services.   

Caroline, who has run the pub for the past seven years, said: “During the first lockdown when we opened a temporary village shop and we also delivered essentials and vegetable box deliveries to local residents. Our local store became a lifeline to villagers so we have made it a permanent service.” 

Harriet added: “The new outside seating area and café offer is also proving really popular with the locals, many of who want to meet especially in the wake of the Covid pandemic.”  

Pub is The Hub regional adviser Terry Stork said: “This family-run pub is a real hub of the community. The village store has proved really popular with those living locally and is an important amenity especially for older and more vulnerable customers who find it hard to travel.”
Community hero: Harriet Aitchison and Pub is The Hub regional adviser Terry Stork

Urban Pubs & Bars acquires 13 Barworks sites

London bar group Barworks has sold 13 of its 19 sites to Urban Pubs & Bars. The acquisition includes sites such as the Exmouth Arms (Exmouth Market), Singer Tavern (Moorgate) and Harrild & Sons (Farringdon). The transaction comes on the back of Urban’s recently announced partnership with Davidson Kempner and Global Mutual. The joint venture was established to support and accelerate the growth of Urban and the Barworks transaction is the first acquisition of scale.

Following the acquisition of the Barworks sites, Urban will comprise 34 pubs, bars and restaurants across flexible trading formats. Nick Pring, co-founder of Urban, said: “We’ve known the guys at Barworks for many years. They have some wonderful sites in prime locations. We are delighted to be able to acquire so many iconic pubs that complement our existing estate perfectly.”

Malcolm Heap, co-founder of Urban, added: “It is great to find such a quality acquisition so shortly after completing on our own transaction to raise capital with new partners. The pubs being acquired will strengthen our business and we look forward to welcoming their amazing people into Urban.”

Barworks will continue to operate with an estate of six sites that includes Mare Street Market, plus the opening of Gas Station this week in Kings Cross and a site in Heddon Street in Mayfair in the coming months.

Marc Francis-Baum, co-founder and managing director of Barworks, said: “We received a fair offer from Urban and we took it. We felt it was a good idea to ‘cash in some chips’, consolidate and move forward. We still have a great business, plus a fantastic pipeline of sites and we’ve never had ambitions to be the biggest pub group in London, we just like creating spaces that people want to be in and will continue to do so.”

Barworks was founded in 1996 by Andreas Akerlund, Patrik Franzen and Marc Francis-Baum. Privately owned by the three founders, they have never had any outside investment. Over the last 25 years have built a mix of various of eclectic pubs, bars and restaurants including the highly acclaimed Mare Street Market.

The three partners also co-founded Camden Town Brewery with Jasper Cuppaidge and East London Liquor Co with Alex Wolpert. Camden Town Brewery was sold to AB InBev in 2016. They were also major investors in Hawkes Cider that sold to BrewDog in 2018.

Michael Penfold of AG&G acted on behalf of Barworks and Fraser Anderson of Sapient Corporate Finance advised Urban Pubs & Bars on the transaction.

Capital move: Urban Pubs & Bars now has 34 sites after its acquisition from Barworks
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