Admiral Taverns buys rival pub group Hawthorn in £222m deal

Pun firm Admiral Taverns has bought rival Hawthorn for £222.3 million (Johnny Green/PA) (PA Media)
13:04pm, Mon 26 Jul 2021
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Admiral Taverns has sealed a £222.3 million deal to snap up community pub rival Hawthorn

The move will see Admiral further establish its position as one of the UK’s biggest pub groups by purchasing Hawthorn and its 674 sites from retail property investor NewRiver.

Admiral will expand to more than 1,600 pubs across the UK following a growth plan based on steadily acquiring drink-oriented pubs.

FTSE 250-listed NewRiver has now exited the pub sector in a bid to focus on further growth within retail.

NewRiver entered into the pub industry in 2013 before expanding with its acquisition of Hawthorn in 2018 for £107 million.

In April, the retail investment trust revealed plans to offload Hawthorn as a standalone business.

Glasses outside a bar (Brian Lawless/PA) (PA Archive)

Chris Jowsey, chief executive of Admiral, said: “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.

“Our wet-led, community focused, supportive culture is very much shared by Hawthorn and I’d like to take this opportunity to welcome our new licensees and colleagues to Admiral.

“The acquisition has allowed us to acquire an excellent portfolio of pubs which we look forward to developing through our award-winning and highly supportive approach.

“During the pandemic Admiral has consistently championed its community pubs, offering significant rent aid and reopening support as well as lobbying the Government on key issues such as hospitality grants, reducing business rates and VAT, and economic support for the hospitality sector.”

Analysts at Shore Capital said on Monday that the sale represents an “attractive exit price at the top-end of our valuation range” and reflected a good deal for NewRiver shareholders.

NewRiver chief executive Allan Lockhart 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.

“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.”

Shares in NewRiver were 3.5% higher at 90p after early trading.

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