Admiral Taverns snaps up 137 pubs from rival Marston’s

Pub operator Admiral Taverns, the pub group owned by Matthew Clark and Bibendum owner C&C Group, has snapped up 137 pubs from rival Marston’s for nearly £45 million.

The acquisition, which new chief executive Chris Jowsey said was an “exciting move for the business”, will boost Admiral’s drinks-led pub estate to around 1,075 pubs, following its acquisition last month of 150 tenanted pubs from Star Pubs & Bars. 

Admiral Taverns said it had formed a partnership with experienced managed-operator Helen Standing to provide a smooth transition of the newly acquired pubs to Admiral while it evaluated the longer-term opportunities for the individual sites.

Jowsey said the company remained “fully committed” to the leased and tenanted model.

“Through this acquisition we have been able to acquire an excellent portfolio of pubs which we look forward to developing through our award-winning and highly supportive approach,” he said.

Wolverhampton-based Marston’s, which operates more than 1,545 managed, franchised and leased pubs nationwide, announced back in March that it was seeking to offload non-core assets as part of its plan to reduce net debt of £1.4 billion by around £200 million within the next four years.

The 137 smaller, wet-led leased, tenanted and franchised pubs together had an operating profit of £3.7 million and contributed around £4.8 million of earnings (EBITDA) to the company in the year to 28 September 2019, Marston’s said, and a book value of £62.6 million.

The sale, which is expected to be completed by the end of the month, will net £44.9 million for Marston’s, around half of the amount the company plans to raise through the sale of non-core assets.

Marston’s CEO Ralph Findlay said the group was making good progress with its debt reduction plans.

“We are encouraged by the level of market interest that this portfolio of pubs has attracted.  This further underpins our confidence in achieving the accelerated £70 million disposal proceeds target that we have set ourselves for the current year.,” he said.

“We remain focused on our stated objective of reducing our net debt by £200 million by 2023 or earlier, and thereafter operating a high quality business generating consistent net cashflow, after dividends, of at least £50 million per annum.”

Last week it was rumoured that the new buyer of UK wine specialist Majestic Wine, Fortress Investment Group, was a front-runner in the deal, according to The Times newspaper.


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