Brains set to offload more pubs in £100m deal
One of Wales’s foremost brewers, is reported to be selling another 100 of its pubs in a deal worth close to £100m.
According to Sky News, industry insiders say the brewing company SA Brains is days away from securing a deal which will offload the freehold of some its core properties to a “consortium that includes a global private equity powerhouse”.
In the latest of several significant deals in the sector, Brains is said to be offloading the Welsh pubs to Song Capital and Cerberus Capital Management, which formerly owned Admiral Taverns.
The substantial proceeds from the deal, said to be around £100m, is expected to be used by Brains’ family shareholders to pay down debt, leaving the company as a family-owned brewer with a small residual pub portfolio.
SA Brain & Co was established in 1882 in Cardiff and became Wales’s biggest brewer and pubs company while remaining under family ownership, running a beer brand of the same name.
In December 2020 the company revealed that over 156 pubs in Wales would be sold to pub group Marston’s.
The company said Covid restrictions in Wales had put Brains under significant financial pressure, so it had entered collaborative discussions to preserve the brand and secure jobs.
Welsh hospitality was ordered to close on 19 December 2020, but 100 of Brains’ managed pubs had already been closed since earlier that month, when a ban on serving alcohol across Wales came into force.
At the time, Brains’ chairman John Rhys said the decision to sell would allow the company to continue “for generations to come” and could safeguard 1,300 jobs.
He said: “We know and trust Marston’s to be excellent custodians of our pubs and, while this is not a decision we have taken lightly, we are confident that our pubs and our pubs teams will thrive under their stewardship.
“Furthermore, this transaction enables Brains to recapitalise its balance sheet and continue its long heritage as an independent entity, preserving this great Welsh business for generations to come.”
By August 2021, Marston’s had to close 30 pubs and limit trading at 50 others due to staffing issues.
Last October the company called for the relaxation of visa restrictions for hospitality staff as the sector was facing severe labour shortages, with almost one in ten of its 187 pubs being understaffed.
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