Red Oak Taverns acquisition history

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Diverse portfolio: Red Oak expands pub estate with more than 20 acquisitions in 2023
Diverse portfolio: Red Oak expands pub estate with more than 20 acquisitions in 2023

Related tags Mergers and acquisitions Finance Multi-site pub operators

Multi-site operator Red Oak Taverns has procured some 25 pubs across the country so far this year, bringing its total number of venues to more than 200.

The independent Suffolk-based business, which was founded in 2011 by Aaron Brown and Mark Grunnell, acquired sites from a number of companies throughout 2023, including Marston’s and St Austell.

Kickstarting the year’s purchases, Red Oak obtained a trio of pubs​ from Marston’s back in February.

The firm acquired two pubs in Warwickshire and one in Gloucestershire from the Wolverhampton-based operator, the Bird in Hand in Atherstone, the Black Horse in Sheepy Magna and the Railway in Cheltenham.

Speaking in February, Grunnell described the procurement as a “great start to the year”.

Diverse portfolio 

“By focusing on multiple and single site pub packages, we are evolving our diverse portfolio, providing unique and flexible pub opportunities within the sector”, he continued.

Red Oak Taverns’ property and acquisitions director Graeme Bunn handled the purchase of the three sites, which were all operated free of tie.

February also saw Red Oak, which is a national entrepreneurial pub company with largely leased and tenanted sites, secure its fourth acquisition of the year with the Six Bells in Madeley​, near Telford in Shropshire.

Leisure property specialists Fleurets acted on behalf of the seller and managed the sale of the pub, which Bunn described at the time as the “perfect fit” with the firm’s estate. 

Pictured: The Six Bells pub

He added: “[The Six Bells] is operated by experienced pub operators, mother and daughter Gill Walker and Michelle Bayliss of the Little Pub Company, which has nine pubs, and we look forward to working with them as tenant partners.”

The end of March then saw the pubco purchase the Crown in Romeland, Waltham Abbey from McMullen’s, detailing plans to invest in improvements at the property, which opened with new tenant Nancy Tobias at the helm.

“It is important to us we ensure ongoing consistency for pub guests and our new tenants"

Moving to April 2023, the firm acquired the Crown in Bredbury near Stockport​ directly from its owners, who were retiring, while the pub’s long-term manager, Lisa Wejs, continued to run the establishment as a new tenant partner with Red Oak.

Fleurets also handled this purchase on behalf of the pubco.

Wejs commented at the time of the procurement: “I’m delighted to be able to continue to run the pub as the new tenant with Red Oak Taverns. It’s a brilliant opportunity in a business and community I know well.”

By the end of June, Red Oak had secured eight acquisitions, as contracts exchanged with Everards​ for the sale of the Croft in Wednesbury, West Midlands and the Bulls Head in Clipston, near Market Harborough that month.

The firm’s next purchase came earlier this month, when Red Oak confirmed it was set to complete the acquisition of 17 sites from independent Cornish operator and brewer St Austell.

Expanding its presence in the South West of England, Red Oak will take on pubs from St Austell’s​ leased and tenanted division across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, including the Rolle Quay in Barnstaple, the White Hart in Launceston and the Four Lords in Par.

Continue to expand 

Grunnell said he was delighted St Austell chose to work with the business in selling the assets.

“It is important to us we ensure ongoing consistency for pub guests and our new tenants, and I would like to thank the team at St Austell for working positively with us to affect a smooth transfer for these community assets.

“We are looking forward to working in partnership with all 17 of our new licensees in this new exciting chapter, providing ongoing support to help their businesses thrive”, he added.

Red Oak’s ongoing growth plans date back to August 2022, when the firm secured a six year £110m whole loan arranged by Excellion Capital​ to push forward with its expansion strategy.

The debt facility refinanced Red Oak’s existing debt and provided new capital to drive future development with £50m serving as an acquisition facility for new assets and investment including capital expenditure into the pubco’s estate.

Speaking in 2022 regarding the loan, Grunnell said: “Our new financing provides us with the capital to continue to expand our portfolio and helps us along the next stage of our journey.”

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