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Fri 24th Mar 2017 - Update: Punch/Heineken investigation restarts, Pret, Deltic Group, Revolution et al
CMA restarts investigation into Punch/Heineken deal: The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has restarted its investigation into Heineken’s proposed acquisition of 1,900 Punch pubs as part of its joint deal with Patron Capital. Punch said as a result it expects the £402m takeover to be completed by the end of August. Punch stated: “On 20 February 2017, the CMA announced its intention to extend the deadline for its phase one decision by stopping the clock on its review period. Following constructive engagement between the CMA, Punch and Heineken, the CMA has confirmed the clock restarted on 22 March and this deadline has been extended from 24 April to 29 May. As a consequence, the board now expects the transaction to become effective before the end of August 2017.” In February, Punch shareholders overwhelmingly voted to back the deal that would see Heineken and Patron Capital, using newco Vine Acquisitions as a bidding vehicle, acquire Punch. Under the terms of the deal Heineken would acquire from Patron a portfolio of about 1,900 Punch pubs with Patron retaining an additional 1,329 it would run itself.

Pret A Manger owners play down planned US market listing: Pret A Manger’s private equity owners have played down suggestions of a planned New York stock market listing following reports it had chosen Solebury Capital as advisers. The US capital markets advisory firm will also help Bridgepoint select investment banks for an initial public offering, which could come before the end of the year, reports Reuters. Although the majority of Pret stores are in Britain, the company is expected to pursue a listing in the US, where the pool of investors is deeper and valuations potentially higher. A Bridgepoint spokesman said: “Our long-standing investment in Pret regularly prompts speculation about our intentions. We expect to remain a significant investor for the foreseeable future.” Launched more than three decades ago, Pret A Manger has about 400 branches globally, serving food made on-site to more than 300,000 customers in Britain, the US, Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai. It is aiming to expand store numbers by about 15% per year. Bridgepoint bought the chain, best known for its coffee, pastries and sandwiches, at the height of the buyout boom in 2008 for €500m (£431m). Pret A Manger sales in the US, where it has 65 sites and first opened 15 years ago, rose by 30.8% to £115,288,000 in the year ended 31 December 2015 – sales were £88,145,000 the year before. Like-for-like sales rose 6.1%.

Deltic Group opens Bar & Beyond in King’s Lynn: Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs, has opened the latest venue for its Bar & Beyond brand, this time in King’s Lynn, Norfolk. The company has invested £450,000 to convert its Chicago’s nightclub in Norfolk Street and, following a Bar & Beyond opening in Norwich, Deltic Group has invested £1m in the county. The opening weekend will feature DJ sets and appearances by The Only Way is Essex stars Lauren Pope and Mark Wright, while next month the venue will host sets by Busted singer Matt Willis, TV presenter Gok Wan and Made in Chelsea reality star Jamie Lang. The bar incorporates a Shoreditch-inspired design, including graffiti art, skull imagery and modern sculpture. It also features ten booths, three bars and an outside terrace. General manager Glen Sarabi said: “Bar & Beyond is such an exciting concept, with its urban, stripped-back design featuring a laid-back bar and high-octane club.” The Bar & Beyond ethos offers a relaxed bar from early evening followed by club experience Beyond. Deltic Group operates 58 clubs and bars in the UK and employs 3,000 people.

Revolution Bars Group to step up southern expansion with Torquay launch: Revolution Bars Group is to step up expansion plans in the south of England following its recent opening in Southend. The company will open a venue in Torquay in June, increasing its portfolio to 68 sites. The 130-cover, 3,800 square foot Revolution Torquay will be part of Fleet Walk shopping centre, with a large ground-floor bar utilising natural timber, concrete and metal, and a suspended 1970s Scandi-style ceiling made of compressed straw slabs. The menu will offer British and US classics alongside experimental cocktails, masterclasses, entertainment and bespoke party packages. Revolution Bars Group chief executive Mark McQuater said: “Torquay welcomes more than three million visitors a year and is fast becoming an increasingly popular destination in the south of England. We’re delighted to be opening here and more recently at Southend, welcoming an additional 200 people into our team across both sites.” Last month, Revolution Bars Group reported like-for-like sales rose 2% for the six months ended 31 December 2016. Revenue was £66.7m, an increase of 12.7%. Like-for-like sales for the eight weeks to 25 February rose by 1.7%. Adjusted Ebitda was up 13.6% to £9.2m.

CAMRA celebrates government move to close pub planning loophole: The government is set to close a loophole that allows pubs in England to be demolished or converted to retail use without a planning application. CAMRA, which campaigned for the change, said the loophole had “made pubs a soft target for developers, contributing to 21 net pub closures every week”. CAMRA chief executive Tim Page said: “This announcement is the result of the work of thousands of local campaigners and CAMRA members. This change delivers real and robust protection to valued community pubs, which previously relied on communities going through the bureaucratic process of securing Asset of Community Value (ACV) listings, or local authorities choosing to use complex and obscure Article 4 directions. We will work with the government to ensure these measures are implemented as soon as possible to allow pubs across England to start benefiting from the protection of the planning system.” Shadow spokesman for communities and local government Lord Roy Kennedy, who won a vote on the issue in the House of Lords last month, said: “This is a victory for common sense.” Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “Under this new amendment, rather than being placed in a class of their own, pubs would remain in the A4 use-class, with the specific right to extend restaurant use of the pub without requiring planning permission – we were concerned food-led pubs could have been disadvantaged by the House of Lords’ original amendment. This proposal should also remove an incentive for local authorities to pursue Article 4 directions and for ACV ‘mass listings’, which would be a positive step.”

Cafe concept Wood St Coffee opens permanent site, in London: Cafe concept Wood St Coffee has opened a permanent site in Walthamstow, east London, following a series of pop-ups during the past four years. Wood St Coffee, the brainchild of Clare and Gareth Reid, is based on the Australian brunch concept and  offers lots of coffee alongside healthy treats such as smashed avocado on toast and homemade granola. The venue has opened at the Blackhorse Workshop in Sutherland Road, offering rotating speciality toasters and pastries from Hackney Wick’s Artisan Bakery, Hot Dinners reports. Coffee brands at the purpose-built space include Dark Arts, Counter Roastery and Modern Standard, while the food menu features granola bars and brownies made in-house, sourdough cheese toasties, and soup. The “breakfast stack” features halloumi, potato cake, poached egg and tomatoes.

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