Amber Taverns acquires three new sites

By Finn Scott-Delany, MCA

- Last updated on GMT

Portfolio growth: the Engine Room in Ashton-under-Lyme was acquired from City Pub Group
Portfolio growth: the Engine Room in Ashton-under-Lyme was acquired from City Pub Group

Related tags Multi-site pub operators Property Finance Pubco + head office

Amber Taverns has completed on three new sites, in Ashton-under-Lyne, Peterlee and Shrewsbury, managing director James Baer has told MCA.

The Engine Room in Ashton-under-Lyne, Greater Manchester, was acquired from City Pub Group, and is currently closed for a major refurbishment, due to reopen in September.

A former B&M retail store in Castle Dene Shopping Centre, Peterlee, County Durham, will reopen as a community pub under Amber Taverns.

And the Warehouse Bar & Grill in Shrewsbury has been taken over and will be renamed The Clairmont Taphouse.

Baer told MCA​ the c160-strong Blackpool-based operator had a further six sites in the pipeline.

Opportunity rise

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He said: “One of the disappointments coming out of Covid is people were adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude to disposing of properties.

“That is just starting to change now with interest rates moving up, and what will be a tough period for the high street, so maybe it’s concentrating a few more minds.

“We are seeing an increase in the number of opportunities.

“What’s important is that we remain selective, that we take a longer-term view and see through the next 12 months,” he added.

“We haven’t abandoned our core principles of looking at each site individually, to make sure it fits in the local marketplace and make a sensible decision based on that.

“There’s no dash for growth. We look at good opportunities as they come up.”

Sector challenges ahead

Baer said he was focused on remaining true to Amber Taverns’ company values, of offering good value for money, through a decent product and good pricing.

While volumes were still behind FY2020, he said the estate had benefited from the good weather and the Women’s Euro football tournament​.

Despite there being less cash in the till because of price increases, the company is ahead of budget for the year.

The company has fixed its energy costs​ until 2025, helping it maintain its good value proposition, while it is investing half a million pounds on upgrading boilers across the estate, Baer said.

“Undoubtedly, there are challenges for the whole sector coming up,” he added.

“I don’t speak Mandarin, but I believe the Chinese word for crisis is made up of two characters - one is threat and the other is opportunity.

“Clearly there are threats for the sector, but I think there’ll be opportunities.”

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