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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 11th Dec 2015 - Stonegate sells three central London freeholds, Fabric nightclub wins appeal
Stonegate sells three central London freeholds: Stonegate Pub Company, the TDR Capital-backed group, has completed the sale of three central London­-based freehold sites to CBRE Global Investors, as part of a sale and leaseback process. The package, which comprises the St James Tavern in Piccadilly, The Duke of Wellington in Wardour Street, Soho, and The Admiral Duncan in Old Compton Street, Soho, was acquired for a sum that further reduced the level of investment made by Stonegate in acquiring the TCG sites. Agent Coffer Corporate Leisure acted on behalf of the vendor. The subject pubs were acquired as part of the acquisition of 53 pubs from TCG Group. Coffer Corporate Leisure managing director Mark Sheehan said: “This was a rare opportunity to acquire three very centrally located public house investments with a terrific covenant. The significant shortage of stock in central London makes this one of the few deals of its kind in 2015. London is certainly the world’s most sought after location for high quality leisure real estate investment. In the pubs sector, long lease terms mean investors are buoyed by the ability to acquire assets let to operators for an assured long-term income.” James Horgan, director, separate accounts group, CBRE Global Investors, said: “We are delighted to have successfully acquired these three central London freehold properties that all had the rare characteristics of long leases reviewed to the higher of RPI or open market rents, as well as superior vacant possession values to purchase prices. This type of property is precisely the type of investment several of our clients are currently looking for.” Charles Curtis, director at Finn and Company, which acted for CBRE Global Investors, said: “These types of assets do not come onto the market very often. The long dated RPI linked income together with the under lying vacant possession values of these central London properties, make this investment a very secure and excellent buy for CBRE Global Investors. Stonegate were a well organised vendor and after a short but competitive marketing process we agreed terms with CBRE Global Investors who moved to execute very quickly.” All three properties will be let to Stonegate on new 30-year leases, providing index-linked growth throughout the term.
Fabric nightclub wins appeal against Islington Council: London nightclub Fabric has won its appeal against Islington Council after it imposed licensing conditions forcing the club to hire sniffer dogs and introduce ID scans. The club was required to employ drugs detection dogs at the premises for 50% of the time it was open and use ID scan machines on all customers. These conditions had been stayed pending the appeal but the club carried out trials of both. The club instructed leading licensing silk Gerald Gouiet QC and the appeal was allowed in full by District Judge Allison. In relation to the drugs dog she said, on the evidence she had heard, Islington Council was wrong to impose the condition as it would not promote the licensing objectives. The judge went further and found the use of a drugs dog could undermine the licensing objectives in a number of unintended ways, including causing drugs to remain in circulation that would otherwise have been confiscated under Fabric’s thorough search procedures. With regards to ID scan, the judge said that there was no evidence that the premises had issues with underage entry/sales; that to deploy it at Fabric would adversely affect the length of the queue, with possible public order consequences; and that it would create problems for the significant number of non-UK customers who would not necessarily carry photo ID. She said that Fabric had no issues with violent crime and disorder, which made ID scan a more understandable control measure at other premises. She also noted the ID scan system Fabric had trialled for seven weeks had not been interrogated once by the police, and that in 16 years of operation there had only been one incident at the premises where ID scan might have been of some use in the prevention crime – although she added that, on the facts, she doubted it would. Again she found Islington Council was wrong to impose the condition. The judge found the operator was a “beacon of best practice”, and urged Fabric to continue its diligence in what is a “difficult environment” for all who work in the night-time economy. 

Intertain opens fourth new Walkabout this year: Walkabout operator Intertain has opened its fourth newly acquired venue this year, this time at The Printworks in Manchester. The company has spent £650,000 transforming the 600-capacity bar into a “new-style” Walkabout, bringing Intertain’s total investment in acquiring and developing new venues to £2.9m in 2015. Formerly Henry J. Beans, the new Printworks bar, which sits alongside a cinema as well as a selection of bars and restaurants, brings the total number of Walkabouts in Intertain’s portfolio to 25.  The venue features an urban décor in keeping with its city-centre location, with a “Reef Bar”, pre-bookable VIP areas and a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system.  Pre-bookable front row seats are available for all major televised live sports events, which will be shown on giant new projection screens and multiple HD televisions. The venue features Walkabout’s new food and drinks menus, focusing on light bites, main meals and party plates, as well as wines, beers and cocktails inspired by Australia. Intertain chief executive John Leslie said: “The Printworks is known for being a fantastic entertainment hub and we believe our new-style Walkabout is ideal for this location and will complement its current offering. Our focus on our day-time offering will enable shoppers and cinema-goers to dine with us or pop in for coffee, whilst our reputation for hosting the best party nights in town will make Walkabout at The Printworks one of Manchester’s premier night-time destinations.”

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