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Fri 17th Jun 2022 - Punch owner runs rule over Amber Taverns
Punch owner runs rule over Amber Taverns: The owners of Punch Pubs are exploring a potential takeover of smaller rival Amber Taverns, a deal that would create a leisure group operating from nearly 1,500 sites. Sky News reports Punch Pubs, which is owned by US-based Fortress Investment Group, is among a number of parties which has requested information on Amber from advisers handling a sale. City sources said that other major UK pub operators including Heineken and Admiral Taverns, which is owned by Proprium Capital Partners, are also expected to examine bids for Amber, although it was unclear on Thursday whether they would proceed to lodging formal offers. The auction, which is being run by Sapient Corporate Finance, could command a price tag of about £200m, although intensifying fears of a recession and sharp consumer spending slowdown may dampen value expectations. Inflationary pressures are having a severe impact on the hospitality sector although so-called wet-led pubs, which rely on the sale of drinks rather than food. Propel revealed in April that Amber Taverns, the wet-led, freehold community pub operator, had appointed advisors as its geared up to review its options, which could include a sale of the circa 160-strong business. Amber Taverns has been backed by MxP Partners since 2014. At the end of 2017, former Admiral Taverns backers Ares Capital Management also invested in Amber Taverns, which at the same time agreed a new facility with HSBC of up to £100m, to back its strategy of adding ten to 12 sites a year to its estate. The company, which is chaired by Michael George, was founded in 2005 from the ashes of Honeycombe Leisure then bolstered by the acquisition of 28 former Cains pubs. LGV acquired the business in 2010, when it backed a £80m management buy-out. The business has spent the past decade expanding outside its north west heartland. Its estate now spreads across the Midlands, Wales, north of England, parts of the south west, and Scotland. Under its operator-managed, wet-led model it is understood the business is not as impacted by some of the headwinds currently hitting the wider sector, including food inflation and rising utility costs. Fortress declined to comment.

Latest edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book being sent to Premium subscribers today: The latest edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, will be sent to Premium subscribers today (Friday, 17 June), at midday. The Blue Book, which now features 589 companies, shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £5.8bn being reported by 348 companies. However, a further 241 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1.1bn. The 589 UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators featured have a total turnover of £28.6bn. In the next edition, 31 companies have also reported updated accounts. 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 the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Premium subscribers also now have access to the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and will be updated every two months. 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 single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and 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 group editor Mark Wingett.

Eating out and takeaway spend hit by rising prices: People struggling with the soaring cost of living are cutting back on eating out and takeaways to save money, according to a BBC-commissioned survey. Almost two-thirds (64%) of the 4,011 UK adults asked had eaten out less than usual and 58% had not got a takeaway. More than half (56%) had bought fewer groceries, and the same proportion had skipped meals. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds (68%) had gone on fewer nights out in the past six months. The findings reveal the widespread impact of prices rising at their fastest rate for 40 years. Many people have cut spending on clothes and socialising. Some say their mental health has been affected. Two-thirds of those surveyed also suggested government support provided so far was insufficient. The cost of domestic energy, petrol, and food have all increased significantly in recent months, and the findings suggest more than eight in ten people (81%) are worried about the rising cost of living. Concern has grown since the start of the year when 69% of those asked said they were worried in a similar BBC survey. In the latest results, two thirds (66%) of those with worries said this was having a negative effect on their mental health. Almost half (45%) said their physical health had been affected. About half (52%) expect to work more hours in the next six months to help to pay the bills. Prices, as measured by inflation, are rising at a rate of 9% a year, the fastest for 40 years. Interest rates, which also affect the cost of living, were increased to 1.25% yesterday (Thursday, 16 June) by the Bank of England – the highest they have been for 13 years. The situation is being driven, to a significant degree, by global factors such as the cost of oil, gas and food. But there are UK-specific issues which are adding to inflation such as the tight labour market. Job vacancies are at a record high of 1.3 million meaning employers face paying higher wages to fill roles. Also, the UK’s dominant services sector – which includes the likes of accountancy and law firms, as well as restaurants and pubs – is seeing price rises. Drivers now have to spend £103 for petrol and £106 for diesel to fill a family car, according to the RAC. The Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD) has predicted food prices will rise at a rate of 15% this summer as households pay more for staples such as bread, meat, dairy and fruit and vegetables. A typical household in England, Wales and Scotland is likely to see a rise in its annual domestic gas and electricity bill of £800 in October, on top of a £700 rise in April. Soaring prices have led the government to announce a package of financial support directed primarily at those on low incomes. This includes a £400 discount on all energy bills in October, in addition to payments totalling £650 to people on means-tested benefits. Pensioners will get more this winter, as will billpayers with disabilities. However, the BBC survey reveals 64% of those asked said this support was insufficient to help people with the rising cost of living.

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