We bring you the latest top news in the industry from this week.
Ei Group shareholders unanimously back £348m commercial properties division sale:
Ei Group shareholders have unanimously backed the company’s plans to dispose of its commercial properties division for £348m. A total of 99.99% of shareholders approved the deal at a general meeting on Thursday (7 February). Ei Group announced last month it had agreed to sell 370 properties to investment fund Tavern Propco having previously appointed Rothschild & Co as advisors. Ei Group chief executive Simon Townsend said at the time: “We are pleased to have agreed the sale of the portfolio, which is in line with our strategy of delivering attractive and sustainable returns to shareholders by unlocking the embedded value and optimising the returns from every asset within the business. The portfolio comprises high-quality assets, which we believe are best suited to a free-of-tie, rent-only business model.”
Faucet Inn sold in pre-pack agreement to Steve Cox:
Faucet Inn has been sold in a pre-pack agreement, Propel has learned. Geoff Rowley and Jason Baker, partners at FRP Advisory, were appointed administrators of the company, which was founded by Steve Cox. The business and assets were sold to Golden Brick Pubs and Freshwater Pub Co, which both list Cox as its sole director. FRP Advisory stated: “At the time of administration, Faucet Inn operated two sites in London – Neighbourhood in Stratford and The Northumberland Arms in Tottenham Court Road. Both sites continue to trade as normal. The company had previously operated other leasehold sites, which had become unprofitable and were subsequently closed. These losses, together with contingent liabilities crystallising from the closed sites, meant continued trading was untenable and the directors sought professional advice, resulting in the appointment of administrators. The business and assets were sold on appointment, with the two sites continuing to trade. All employees’ jobs were secured and arrangements reached with key suppliers for continued trading.” The appointment came five months after Faucet Inn took the decision to put its Scandinavian-inspired restaurant and cafe concept Kupp into administration, with Rowley and Baker also appointed joint administrators. Kupp suffered cash flow issues, with investors of its parent company refusing to inject money directly into the business. A statement of administrators proposal showed the company owed almost £5m in loans and had seen losses increase with the concept proving to be “not as popular as first envisaged”. The July 2018 balance sheet showed an intercompany loan of £4.1m due to Faucet Inn and another £750,000 due to another related company, Kicking Horse Holdings. For the year ending 30 July 2016, the company had turnover of £1,272,860 with a net loss of £455,107. With the company having made a loss of £328,038 on turnover of £460,594, it meant the company was carrying forward a loss of £783,145. The company was incorporated on 13 March 2013, with Cox its majority shareholder. It operated from two leasehold properties in Paddington and Oxford while two further sites – in Exeter and Southampton – were shut in July and August 2018 respectively. Cox bought the leasehold assignment of the Oxford and Paddington sites for £90,000 following an initial offer of £75,000. It was the only offer made for the business.
Programme launched for fairer draught connecton fees:
Raising the Bar is a new initiative providing fairer draught connection fees for smaller brewers, a simpler process for pub operators and more choice for customers.
The new programme from AB InBev aims to be more sustainable for the industry overall – a result of positive changes the company is making to the fees involved in sharing cellar draught dispense equipment in British pubs.
As part of the scheme, smaller drinks companies won’t need to pay connection fees going forward to dispense their drinks on draught, as well as using the cooling and pouring infrastructure under the bar – the current system in the UK that sees Brands Dispense Association members and large producers pay a one-off connection fee of £145 to the lead brewer for each brand with a tap at the bar on point of install.
Larger producers will still need to pay the one-off connection fee to use AB InBev’s dispense system.
Smaller companies and pubs will be saved from the additional costs and administration.
Pub operators will experience minimal disruption adopting Raising the Bar in terms of replacing infrastructure, and there is no charge whatsoever to the customer.
This, combined with no fees for lower-volume drinks companies, frees up venues to offer a broad choice at the bar to cater to demand.
Raising the Bar will come info effect as of 1 April 2019 in pubs where AB InBev is the lead brewer.
Old Spot Pub Company to open two sites this month:
The Old Spot Pub Company, an Ei Managed Investments venture, is set to open two new sites in February, taking its portfolio to seven pubs, with further openings planned for 2019.
The Emperor in Farnham Common, Buckinghamshire, is next to open, followed by The Star of The East near Limehouse, London.
Catering for those looking to lower their alcohol intake, Old Spot Pub Company has become the first to serve St Peter’s Brewery alcohol-free beer on draught in all of its pubs.
“Old Spot pubs are welcoming places deigned with the local community in mind,” comments Dave Ford of Old Spot Pub Company.
“Many have lovely log fires and they all offer a relaxed atmosphere with great, honest food.
“We tend to take on pubs that have been shut for a while with the intention of giving the community back their local.
“The Star of the East has been shut for a long time but we feel there is a strong community there so we are looking forward to giving them a central hub to meet and enjoy good food.
“So far the reaction to our pubs has been extremely positive, trading has been good and we’re on track with our growth plans. We have many more openings in the pipeline for 2019.”
Articles taken from Pub & Bar and Propel websites