Pubs: a polarised market
By Adam Bullas, Savills director in the licensed leisure team
The pub market has been markedly polarised over the last two years, and like with most things, when evaluating the impact of Covid, there have been some clear winners and losers.
Trade in larger towns and city centres has been particularly sluggish as a large percentage of UK office workers have been working from home. In addition to this, visitor numbers to the UK plummeted from 40.9 million in 2019 to 11.1 million and 7.7 million for 2020 and 2021 respectively. Community, coastal and rural locations on the other hand have performed much better, particularly those pubs with large external areas, and those which can and have successfully dealt with social distancing guidelines.
The re-emergence of the hospitality industry following the relaxation of Covid restrictions has been a welcome blessing for most of the British public and pub operators. However, there still remains an element of uncertainty and caution; for instance, December is historically the most profitable month of the year for pub operators and this was lost due to a rise in Covid cases. Since mid-January there are signs that the trajectory is moving in the right direction.
Workers returned to the commute on 20 January 2022, after guidance to work from home in England was lifted as Plan B measures were phased out. Transport for London (TFL) reported week-on-week increases in public transport and both pub operators Fullers and City Pub Company have announced a “significant increase in trade”. With both operators’ larger weighted portfolios in London and other urban areas, reinforcing the positive impact of the return of the office worker.
With the industry experiencing a resurgence of activity operators and investors are now more confident in the future. While there are still a number of challenges that pubs have to overcome, such as staff shortages, supply chain disruption and rising costs, improved market confidence is resulting in the deployment of much of the capital that has been raised.
From a transactional perspective, whilst there has been an uptick in activity in the sector, stock levels remain low with few opportunities being openly marketed.
Going forwards we believe that town and city centre trade and thus values will continue to improve but there will be changes. We anticipate trade for urban pubs will be enhanced mid-week with more sluggish returns reported on Friday, as many continue to work from home towards the end of the week.
We also believe that by the end of 2022, stock levels will begin to improve, given operators will have fulfilled a sustained period of income/profitability and therefore will hold trading accounts to support this. Cost pressures and the removal of government support might mean that for those operators that have not been able to adapt will be under pressure to sell, with a likely continued outcome of a sale for alternative use.
Finally, we think there will be increased estate churn from the main pub companies. Large multiples will be paid for freehold and leasehold sites with large outside space, ideally with a view or water close by and where there is proven sustainable trade. With low cost of debt and continued appetite from private equity and foreign investment, competition for sites will be rife and therefore we believe multiples will continue to improve.
Revolution party bar set for six-figure makeover
The popular Southampton venue will be renovated after a six-figure investment in time for Spring.
The revamp includes luxury VIP booths, a new open plan Club Room, renovated roof terrace, new décor and state-of-the-art lighting.
The UK’s premier vodka bar will reopen on 18 March. The refurbishment will entail an open plan look, centred around a luxury feel. The Club Room will be renovated with a new lighting show and renovated heated roof terrace.
Revolution in Bedford Place, Southampton has been central to the city’s bar scene since 2008. The bar introduced a new cocktail menu in January, which included 22 new cocktails including the Bubble-gum Daiquiri and a Salted Caramel Martini.
Revolution Southampton sales and events manager Olivia Bartlett said she was “super excited” for the venue to reopen with its new look.
“The refurbishment includes major changes to the famous Club Room and Roof Terrace, as we know, Southampton doesn't have it's pick of rooftop bars with only a handful places to choose from within the City – the SKY Bar offers a guaranteed suntrap all day long, so you can sit back, relax and sip on your 2-for-£10 cocktails from 12-9pm,” she said.
She continued: “We can’t wait to kick things off with our relaunch Brunch Event on 26 March. We have such an exciting line up of DJs, sax players, magicians, singers and the amazing drag queen Norvina Michaels. Everyone loves bottomless brunch at Revolution so it’s amazing that we can kick off our relaunch with such a fun event!
“We've spent a lot of time reviewing our guests' feedback and we know that they want great quality while getting it quickly so we have undergone a big recruitment push and training programme to ensure this - we have largely increased our team and provided extensive training along with refresher training for our current team members.”
The brand is also continuing its mission to be carbon neutral by 2030, after winning the Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice. Notably, the company decided to remove the passion fruit halves from its Pornstar Martini cocktail, replacing them with a rice paper alternative.
Gypsy Hill promises ‘not another gastropub’ in new Peckham venue
The Greyhound, Peckham, south London, will open this spring, joining its sister venue the Paxton in Gypsy Hill; the second Queen’s House venue to open in under 18 months.
The Greyhound will provide pub co-working spaces fit for purpose at a tenner a day for bottomless coffee or tea, lunch, and a pint of craft beer or cocktail at the end of the day.
The Greyhound will combine elements of the typical pub experience with a range of independent craft beers, ales and cocktails, as well as global street food, vegan food menus, artisan pizza, Sunday roasts, drag roasts, local radio weekend DJ set takeovers and more.
New owners at HG Wells in Sutton
Savills, on behalf of Tavern Propco Limited, has completed the sale of the freehold interest in the HG Wells, a pub located in Worcester Park, south west London, to a privative individual in excess of the guide price of £2m.
HG Wells in Sutton is a substantial property extending c.5,879 sq ft and sits on a large 0.49 acre site.
Savills licensed leisure team director Stuart Stares said the company was “delighted” to complete the sale of HG Wells where they received strong interest from operators and investors. He said the new owners intended to undertake a full refurbishment prior to reopening.
The property is situated around 2.5 miles from Sutton and 4.6 miles from Kingston upon Thames. Worcester Park train station is located approximately 0.8 miles away and provides direct services to London Waterloo (27 minutes) and Guildford (48 minutes).
Green light for development of the Inn Collection Group’s seaside sites
Plans to breathe a new lease of life into the Inn Collection’s Group’s sites in Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, have been given the green light.
The redevelopment will see the northern pub company merge its beachfront venues the Lindum and the Carlton to form a single, upgraded 99-bedroom site.
The site will be remodelled to include a family-friendly restaurant with 250 covers. A large outdoor seating terrace will maximise the venue’s front-line location, two miles south of Blackpool and overlooking St Annes Pier and the Ribble Estuary beyond.
Additional bedrooms will include premium sea view rooms, accessible accommodation and dog-friendly suites.
Once complete, the venue will operate under the Inn Collection Group’s award-winning Eat, Drink, Sleep and Explore concept, offering year-round informal dining, drinks and serviced accommodating, creating around 60 full time jobs.
The Inn Collection Group operations manager Chris Moor said: “We are delighted plans have been given the go ahead and that work can now begin to give this site a vibrant new lease of life. The project will create a relaxed, beachside venue befitting of its location on one of Britain’s most popular traditional seaside resorts.”
The Inn Collection Group specialise in rejuvenating aspirational sites like this while being careful to retain the individual character and appeal that makes our venues so distinctive, according to Moor.
He added: “The redevelopment is a major investment by The Inn Collection Group which will revamp and refresh not only the site itself, but which will contribute towards the wider economy of Lytham St Annes with valuable increased visitor spend, inter trading and employment opportunities as well as creating a vibrant new facility for the community to enjoy.”
The pub company purchased the Lindum as its debut Lancashire site in 2020, followed by the acquisition of the adjoining premises, the Carlton, in 2021.
Red Oak Taverns completes first pub acquisition of 2022
Red Oak Taverns has made its first pub acquisition of 2022, with the Vine in Worthing, West Sussex bringing its pub estate to 206.
Red Oak co-founder and chief executive Mark Grunnell said: “Following the five portfolio acquisitions we completed in 2021, we are delighted to start our 2022 programme with the Vine pub. We are looking forward to welcoming the tenant partner of The Vine to the Red Oak business.
“We continue to focus on growing our pub estate through single and multiple pub package acquisitions to develop our pub business further”.
The Bear Inn reopens doors
The Bear Inn, Bath, Somerset, reopened its doors last Friday (11 March) following its recent acquisition by the Metropolitan Pub Company.
The venue dates back to 1770, however was built in its current form in 1942 after the original building was badly damaged, and subsequently demolished, during World War Two.
Located in the Bear Flat neighbourhood, the pub is being completely renovated with a new kitchen refurb, revamped bar, refurbished bathrooms, a new colour scheme and a brand-new signage throughout the site.
As part of the renovation, guests will be able to stay in six individually designed en-suite boutique bedrooms, including a family room, and a dog-friendly room and a dog-friendly room.
“The Bear Inn is a well-known Bath landmark, thanks largely to the well-loved statue of ‘Snowy the bear’ that resides over the door,” according to Matt Ashford, the pub’s general manager.
He continued: “The team are so excited to welcome guests to the new and improved site, it’ll be a fantastic chance to connect with old regulars as well as meeting new faces.
“Whether people visit for after-work drinks, to spend time with family and friends, or if they are staying here whilst visiting Bath for the weekend – we’re ready to make them feel at home at the Bear Inn.”
Following the pub’s reopening, the kitchen will launch a new food menu made up of seasonal dishes, which will offer authentic pub food and weekend brunches.
The Bear Inn will also get a revamped beer garden, which is set to host a range of community events, including pub quizzes, over the next year.
Nightjar to open second site
Nightjar will open its second site, Nightjar Kingly Court, in central London’s West End this April.
The late-night, live music venue will recreate the vibes of the Old Street original, complete with a lavish range of rare, revived and original cocktails, late-night live music, prohibition-era décor and a menu of vintage spirits and cocktails dating back to the mid-nineteenth century.
The interiors, from east London-based interior architecture and design studio Daytrip, will evoke the Roaring Twenties, with Art Deco interiors accented by soft rose gold, mirror detail and bespoke illustrated glass panels by Mosley Thorold Architects.
The bar is located under a staircase facing the stage, where live jazz, blues and swing performances will be held each night until the early hours. Dark corners and intimate booth seating along the walls offer more secluded spots, and guests can also take a seat at the bar.
In the 1930s and 40s, the venue existed as the Blue Lagoon Club, the city’s first black-owned music club, before becoming Club Eleven in the 1950s under Ronnie Scott. Over the years, it has hosted Bob Marley, the Who, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones alongside many more.
The menu will continue to honour three distinct historical eras in 20th Century cocktail-making- pre-prohibition, prohibition and post-war- alongside Nightjar signatures, large-format sharing cocktails and vintage spirits and liqueurs.
Founders Edmund Weril and Roisin Stimpson said: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to bring everything we’ve learnt over the last decade of Nightjar to such an iconic space in what was once the home of live music in London.
“The city has changed so much in that time, and as we started to emerge from the pandemic, we felt there was an even bigger appetite for what Nightjar has always provided - skilfully created cocktails, live music, and hospitality that culminates in an overall experience that can’t be found elsewhere.”
New World Trading Company confirms opening of the Botanist, Worcester
New World Trading Company (NWTC) has confirmed its next location for the Botanist will be Worcester, after reaching a lease agreement with the city’s new lifestyle development, Cathedral Square.
Doors are expected to open later this year, although an exact opening date is yet to be confirmed. Development is currently underway at various other new locations across the UK recently announced by NWTC, including Cardiff, Ipswich and Chester.
NWTC chief operating officer Natasha Waterfield commented: “Bringing our unique concepts to new cities and towns for the first time is always an exciting moment for the business.
“Cathedral Square is an exciting new lifestyle destination which aligns with our brand vision. We can’t wait for the residents of Worcester to experience our truly immersive offer at the Botanist.”
The Thin White Duke opens in Soho
Launching in March 2022, the Thin White Duke is a new, all-day drinking and dining venue in Soho, central London.
The venue, which holds members’ recording studio suites, will offer cicchetti, cocktails and speciality coffee, and is located on Great Windmill Street.
The venue, created by production designer Sasha and musician Giovanni Almonte, is designed in a way that reflects the styles of David Bowie. The cocktail menu has been designed by Day Eames, with coffee by Girls who Grind.
- To find out about pubs for sale, lease and tenancy go to our property site.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org before midday on Tuesdays.