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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 2nd Jan 2014 - Breaking News - Varsity Bars buys 18 Bramwell sites
Varsity Bars buys 18 Bramwell sites: Varsity Bars, a new company incorporated at the start of last month and led by Michael Holder, has acquired 18 former Bramwell Pub Company sites out of administration through agent Christie + Co. The portfolio includes sites in Accrington, Bangor, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Chepstow, Chesterfield, Chester-le-Street, Grimsby, Leek, Liverpool, Plymouth, Prestwich, Southampton and Wisbech. In Scunthorpe, for example, the company has acquired the high street’s biggest bar, the 650-capacity Abacus. Christian Kent, the area manager for Varsity, said: “We have exciting plans for the Scunthorpe business. The emphasis will be on providing good service and something different for our customers. We are also planning a refit in 2014 and a change of name from Abacus to Varsity. The mixture in Scunthorpe will be on different food, live music and entertainment.” Of the Varsity Bar in Plymouth, another acquisition, Kent said: “It will stay as Varsity at least until Easter when it is to have a refit and rebrand. What was frustrating from my point of view was we were one of the top performing sites in the company. We were victims of the other poor performing sites and the company not managing the situation. We had 17% growth when we were shut down.” Stonegate Pub Company bought 78 sites from Bramwell in November but passed on the opportunity to take on Plymouth’s Varsity. Kent said he was under the impression, for example, that Stonegate, which already owns six premises in the city, did not want to create more competition for itself and sites it acquired nationally were guided by this. The administrators at Zolfo Cooper revealed last month that Bramwell Pub Company collapsed owing creditors £23.3 million. Secured creditors are likely to be left being owed £10.4m and unsecured creditors £12.7m. Trade creditors are owed a total of £9.1m. Among the biggest creditors are Matthew Clark Wholesale, which is owed £926,000; Carlsberg UK, owed £496,000; Heineken, owed £443,000; Sky, owed £153,000; Brake Brothers, owed £132,000; and Bibendum Wine, owed £126,000. Agent Christie & Co is selling 102 Bramwell sites in the wake of Stonegate buying 78 venues. The 67 include eight Varsity sites, Cape in Nesham Street London, The Longroom in London – and all three Wild Lime Bar and Kitchen sites. Highest turnover site is Abbey in Liverpool, which had turnover of £1,051,296 in its most recent year.
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