ALE February 1999 No. 293

Pubco News

Large pub-owning (& not brewing) companies were unknown 10 years ago, when the Beer Orders forced the large brewery pub chains to sell excess pubs and allow a guest beer in the rest. Now that many of those pubs have been sold to new pubcos, the vital guest beer market has declined, from 12,000 to 1,200 pubs with a compulsory guest. It was largely responsible for the flood of new breweries in the 1990s and now these breweries are finding it hard to find markets, having to pay the same duty as the big brewers and not being able to match the discounted supply deals of the big brewers to pub chains. Increasingly the industry seems to be polarising into big breweries (specialising in naff fizzy beers), large pub chains and regional/small breweries (with smaller pub chains).

Nomura is reorganising its pub holdings into The Unique Pub Co (2600-odd), leaving 1300 in Inntrepreneur whose landlords are in dispute. There's also Phoenix Inns (500 approx.). It sold 100 pubs to Pennant Inns and bought over 1200 Inn Partnership pubs from Greenalls, making a grand total of over 5,000. It's reported to be planning Irish, sports and country house concept pubs, with more to come, and is a backer of other companies such as Chris Hutt's Wizard Inns. See also Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush for its recent dealings with Marston.

Pubmaster is trying to sell The Jolly Waterman, Mitcham's Corner, Cambridge and The Ancient Shepherds, Fen Ditton.

The Old English Pub Company has bought seven more coaching inns individually, adding to the five recently bought from Charles Wells, making a total estate of 112, including The Coach & Horses, Trumpington.

There's more brewery & pubco news in Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush.

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