Tuesday, November 17, 2015

News: Rotherham town centre pub up for sale

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JD Wetherspoon has put a popular pub at the centre of the night time economy in Rotherham town centre up for sale.

The Corn Law Rhymer at the top of the High Street is one of 34 properties made available by the pub group which operates 951 pubs and has annual sales exceeding £1.5 billion. The group is still carrying net debt of around £600m.

The Rotherham premises were purpose built for the Yorkshire Bank. It opened in 1968, on the site of the long-standing Crown Inn which was first recorded in 1605. Previously know as The Litten Tree, its current name recalls Ebenezer Elliott, who achieved fame as the Corn Law Rhymer. The Rotherham-born poet's hard-hitting verses played a significant part in ending the unpopular corn laws which caused widespread hardship in the 19th century.

CBRE has been appointed to sell the properties, which are being considered for sale either as a portfolio, in small packages or individually and are located in strong town and city centre locations within England, Scotland and Wales.

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Of the 34 pubs, 27 are owned either freehold or held on a long lease at a nominal rent with the remaining seven outlets held on leases with an average unexpired term of 18 years. The units are generating total sales of in excess of £38m, with an average weekly turnover per pub of more than £22,000 per week.

Paul Breen, senior director, CBRE's Specialist Markets team, said: "The portfolio represents a rare opportunity to acquire substantial high volume businesses which have seen sales growth in each of the last five years. Food sales represent more than a third of total sales, having increased by 40% over this period, which makes the pubs ideally positioned to benefit from the continued growth in eating outside of the home.

"We anticipate strong interest from existing operators and new entrants keen to create a platform which can be used to build a successful managed estate."

In September, JD Wetherspoon plc reported that pre-tax profits fell 25% to £58.7m for the 52 weeks to July 26, down from the £79.4m in the same period in the previous year.

Having hit out at supermarkets paying virtually no VAT in respect of food, "virtually subsiding" their alcoholic drink sales, the chairman of Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, recently warned of impact of new national minimum wage on profits. He said: "It is difficult to quantify exactly the factors which will influence our trading performance in the early stages of a financial year. Increased labour costs are clearly an important factor for all pub and restaurant companies and may result in our annual profits being slightly lower than the last financial year."

Wetherspoon's operates two other pubs in the town centre - The Bluecoat and The Rhinoceros

JD Wetherspoon website

Images: JD Wetherspoon

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