Pub sector raises glass to economic recovery as more properties change hands

Kasmira Jefford
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Wetherspoon's Opens The First Motorway Pub On The M40
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The pubs property sector enjoyed a resurgence in deal activity last year thanks to the economic recovery and improved consumer confidence, new research shows.

The number of significant corporate deals that took place last year was similar to the number in the previous year, according to Fleurets, a commercial estate agent specialising in selling pubs.

However the scale of the transactions grew significantly, with almost twice the number of properties transacted and at nearly twice the total price.

Overall, the company advised on around £1bn of major corporate deals in the year to September 2015 covering 1770 pubs. That compared with £543m sales spanning 922 pubs in 2014.

Half of freehold pub sales it acted on last year remained as pubs, down from 56 per cent from the year before but in line with a six-year average of 52 per cent.

Thousands of pubs have been converted into homes, convenience stores and even student housing over the past decade as weak consumer spending, the ban on pub smoking and competition from cheap alcohol sold through supermarkets piled pressure on pub owners.

However, despite this continued fall, Fleurets said the sector overall had "turned a corner" thanks to strong rental growth, fuelled by improved trading and growing consumer confidence.

Simon Hall, director and head of agency, said: “2015 will be seen as the point where the economic recovery started to reach the pub property market in all regions of England and Wales.”

“From continued strong growth of rents and capital values in central London to the early stages of increased deal activity in many northern towns, the market is clearly moving,” he added.

The volume of leasehold deals increased by 46 per cent while freehold sales 23 per cent because of reduced supply of stock.