On 25th August Punch Taverns announced it was planning to sell another 158 pubs in order to help cut its £1.5bn debt. Punch says that the pubs are not part of its core estate. The purchaser is the shopping centres group New River Retail who concentrate on the UK food and value retail sector. Punch hopes to raise an average of £340k for each pub. This will raise a mere £54m, not much of a dent in the debt.
Punch will still own some 2,900 pubs in its core estate and a further 550 in its non-core estate which it plans to sell.
New River Retail owns 29 shopping centres and recently bought 202 pubs from Marstons. Fifty-four of these sites are now leased to the Co-op on 15 year no-break leases; the evidence is that the pubs Nee River Retail buy are turned into convenience stores or sold for housing. Maybe that’s what happened to The Travellers in Draycott.
New River Retail now own 350 pubs and is approaching the current limit of 500 pubs where Market Rent Only (MRO) must be offered to the pubs to buy beer on the open market, the 500 level was set as 1% of the total pubs open many years ago and is being challenged with the government to review now that many thousands of pubs have closed, a change that may have an affect on New River Retail.
Punch repeat that the Navi is part of their core estate and not for sale.