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Mon 29th Apr 2024 - Exclusive: Punch acquires 24 ex-Wear Inns sites
Exclusive – Punch acquires 24 ex-Wear Inns sites: Punch Pubs & Co, the Fortress Investment Group-backed company, has acquired the majority of the 25-strong, ex-Wear Inns business, which was placed into administration last year. Propel revealed at the start of this month that the Clive Chesser-led, circa 1,300-strong, Punch was in advanced talks to acquire the business, which comprised 21 freeholds and four long leaseholds, located across the north east of England and Yorkshire. Punch has acquired 24 of the sites, in a deal thought to be valued at around £15m. The pubs include The Black Bull in Morpeth, The Cross Keys in Washington, and The New Inn in Wetherby. Chesser said: “We are delighted to have acquired these excellent pubs, and we are excited about the future as we welcome them into the Punch family. I would especially like to thank Kamran Aziz and the Queensway Advisory team, who continue to provide their management services as the pubs and their teams transfer into the Punch business. With the help of our industry-leading investment and support, we will ensure these pubs remain at the heart of their communities and continue to thrive for many years to come. We are looking forward to providing further updates as our plans progress.” Propel revealed in November that Milton Portfolio Op Co 3, which operated the 25 sites and was owned by investment firm Aprirose, had appointed Ryan Grant and Howard Smith, of Interpath Advisory, as joint administrators. The business had a deficiency of £8.1m when it was placed into administration. Grant said: “We are delighted to have reached this agreement, which will see this portfolio of highly profitable, strong performing and established pubs move into new ownership. We would like to thank the many stakeholders who have supported us throughout this process, including all those who assisted in the trading of the venues while the sales process was ongoing. We look forward to seeing Punch take the pubs from strength to strength.” In addition to the Milton 3 portfolio, Punch said it remains on the lookout for more “quality acquisitions, including packages and single-site opportunities that fit well with its modern and progressive vision and growth plans”. Talking to Propel earlier this year, Chesser said: “Over the past year, we have been very active in looking for single site acquisitions in the independent sector and we have acquired some cracking pubs through that route, such as the Young Pretender in Congleton. We continue to actively pursue those opportunities, as well as large or small packages of pubs; we’re always attentive to opportunities that might arise in the market, and we expect more activity in this area during 2024.” Agents Avison Young and Watling Real Estate were appointed to market the 25 pubs. The sales process for the portfolio began in February. Propel understands that the combined group net of VAT sales for the year to 31 December 2023 was £12.9m. The portfolio is a combination of community, every day, premium and urban bar concepts, with more than half of the estate having been refurbished since 2019. Aprirose acquired the former Wear Inns business five years ago in a £22.4m deal backed by the Business Growth Fund and NVM Private Equity. It is thought that Blackrose Pubs, which previously operated the Wear Inns estate, had also shown an interest in the business. Punch Pubs & Co managing director Robin Belither and chief operating officer Andy Spencer will be among the speakers at the Excellence in Pub & Bar Retailing Conference. The all-day conference takes place on Tuesday, 14 May at One Moorgate Place in London, and is open for bookings. Spencer and Belither will talk about building the company’s managed partnerships division from scratch, the journey the division has been on, its successes, learnings and what comes next. For the full speaker schedule, click here. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £395 plus VAT for suppliers. There is a 20% discount for operators and suppliers who are Premium Club members. Email: kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com to book places.


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