Retail and leisure property investor NewRiver is selling its Hawthorn Leisure community pub business to pub company Admiral Taverns for approximately £222.3m.
Admiral boss Chris Jowsey said it was an “exciting” time for the pub brand, despite hospitality’s struggles during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The portfolio comprises 674 leased, tenanted and operator-managed community pubs across England, Scotland and Wales.
The sale is part of NewRiver’s strategy to diversify itself from community pub business to reset its loan-to-value ratio and reshape its portfolio.
Allan Lockhart, chief executive of NewRiver, said: “Over recent years, we have grown Hawthorn to become the UK’s leading community and wet-led pub business. As a consequence of this, we received significant interest from a range of potential buyers for Hawthorn, following the divestment plan we announced in April 2021.”
A further £4m relating to a pending insurance claim received by Hawthorn may be payable by the buyer.
“We have now agreed the sale of Hawthorn which, once completed, will deliver on our key priority to reset Loan to Value, strengthening our balance sheet and enabling us to focus on executing our resilient retail strategy.”
Headquartered in Chester, Admiral Taverns already holds around 1,000 pubs around the UK. The acquisition is a continuation of the company’s growth strategy to expand its wet-led community pub portfolio.
Jowsey said: “This is one of the biggest acquisitions by Admiral to date and delivers on our strategy to build our estate to 1,500 sustainable pubs. It is a really exciting step forward for the business and we remain committed to the supportive partnership model, which is highly regarded by licensees.”
The completion of the acquisition is expected next month, once NewRiver’s shareholders have approved the sale at the general meeting.