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Sat 6th Nov 2021 - Exclusive: JD Wetherspoon places motorway services pub on market
Exclusive – JD Wetherspoon places motorway services pub on market: JD Wetherspoon has placed the company’s first and only pub based at a motorway service station on the market, Propel has learned. The company spent £1.18m developing the Hope & Champion at the Extra Motorway Service Area, located adjacent to junction 2 of the M40, near Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. The site opened at the start of 2014 from 4am to 1am daily and served alcohol from 9am. It attracted criticism in the mainstream media at the time, with road safety charity Brake saying the pub was "putting temptation in front of drivers" and it should make its drink-drive warnings "extra clear". Speaking to Propel almost a year after its launch, Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said: “Beaconsfield motorway service pub has the lowest bar sales I’ve ever seen at one of our pubs anywhere – we’re trying to get it into the Guinness Book of World Records! It’s one in the eye for me – I thought we could make a buck there.” Martin indicated average weekly bar sales were well below £10,000 a week at that time. The company recently acquired the former Prezzo site in Beaconsfield’s Station Road, for a new pub opening. The Hope & Champion is available by way of an assignment of the existing lease. The property is held on a lease for a term of 25 years from 20 January 2014 at a rent that is to be to the higher of the base rent of £174,541.89 per annum or 16% of gross turnover. The base rent is subject to annual review, which is linked to trading performance and the lease has the benefit of a tenant break option on 20 January 2029 upon giving the landlord six months’ notice in writing. The property is subject to a service charge that for the most recent year was in the region of £41,000. The property is able to open 24 hours a day and benefits from a premises licence permitting the sale of alcohol from 8am until 1am daily. The Hope & Champion is part of an eight-strong package of Wetherspoon pubs currently being marketed, which comprises seven freehold/long leasehold sites and one leasehold (The Hope & Champion). The package, some of which were marketed earlier this year, also includes the Coal Orchard in Taunton (freehold, guide price of £450,000) and the Looking Glass in Warrington (freehold, guide price of £650,000). Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told Propel: “We can confirm that The Hope & Champion is on the market through our joint sole selling agents CBRE and Savills. The pub will remain open until/if it is sold. Wetherspoon does on occasion put its pubs on the market.” The other pubs being marketed are The pubs are Chapel an Gansblydhen in Bodmin, Cornwall (freehold, offers invited); The Bell in Aylesbury (freehold, offers invited); North & South Wales Bank in Wrexham (freehold, guide price £500,000); Sir Daniel Arms in Swindon (long leasehold, guide price of £400,000); and the Postal Order in Worcester (freehold, offers invited).

31 new companies to be added to Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, will include 456 companies, an increase of 31 companies compared with the October edition. The 456 companies produce total turnover of £30.2bn – 191 are in profit and 265 are reporting a loss. The next edition of the Blue Book will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (12 November) at midday. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive two other databases – the New Openings Database, produce in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. To subscribe, email jo.charity@propelinfo.com

Burger King UK secures £25m of additional support from Bridgepoint: Burger King UK, the Alasdair Murdoch-led, fast-food chain, has secured an additional £25m of funding from its backer Bridgepoint. The company said the new funding, which was secured earlier this summer, will be used to continue the expansion of its estate, and in the “unlikely event it is required to do so”, support the working capital requirements of the group. In filings at Companies House, the business, which is reportedly set to explore its options next year, said it had made a drawdown of £25m of 11% unsecured redeemable series A loan notes from its shareholder, Bridgepoint Funds. In addition, the group signed an amendment to the master franchise and development agreement held between itself and Burger King Europe. In 2020, the business secured a new bank facility of £25m at a rate of UBOR plus 4% to 5%. The company said: “In light of the impact of covid-19, the lending bank has agreed to make certain amendments to, and waivers in relation to, the original facilities agreement covenants have been waived until September 2021 as part of the amended agreement the directors have also assessed the group's forecast covenant compliance from December 2021 until June 2022, once the covenant waiver has expired, and note that even in their severe but plausible downside scenario there is sufficient headroom across all of the covenants in each test period.” The business said it had generated a positive Ebitda from May 2020 and continued to produce “strong performance” in the period since reopening despite multiple lockdowns continuing into 2021. The group had cash resources of £12.9m at 31 December 2020. Earlier this spring, the group acquired franchisee, Zing Leisure, which operates 17 Burger King sites around England, for an initial consideration of £5m. The business said it was still in discussion with a number of its landlords to finalise rent on properties heavily impacted by covid-19 in 2020, and the “equitable sharing of the financial burden caused”. For the full-year to the end of 2020, the company posted an operating loss of £16.5m (2019: £13.7m), with turnover of £117.1m (2019: £101m). During the year, like-for-like sales on acquired sites fell 22.8%. 

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