Pubs | Business Outlook 2020

The pub sector is in an incredibly strong position. Official national statistics on employment within the sector have shown that the sector is undeniably growing.

Beer volumes are in growth, following a sustained period of decline and stabilisation. The historical decline in pub numbers appears to have been countered by operators’ consolidation into fewer, better quality and more efficient premises.


For the Christie & Co team, 2019 involved completing acquisitions and disposals on behalf of a diverse range
of international investors, national brewers, regional pub companies and multiple operators. The £8 billion+ of portfolio transactions in 2019 surpassed that which we’ve seen in the previous ten years combined.
Supply is coming from the continued churn of large tenanted estates, with pub companies such as Marston’s, Star Pubs & Bars, Wadworth, and others, offloading what they considered to be a tail end. Private equity (and private equity backed operators) have driven demand, with investors eager to deploy capital into a sector that was previously overlooked by many, and one that contains opportunities for consolidation, as well as turning
around under-managed and under-invested businesses.
We have supported new entrants to the sector, such as Davidson Kempner, although undoubtedly the two largest deals of the year were CK Asset Holdings completing an acquisition and de-listing of Greene King, and TDR Capital-backed, Stonegate announcing their intention to acquire and de-list ei Group. However, this is not a bubble, and realistic pricing remains a key factor in achieving a successful outcome.



  • Operators have mitigated rising wage costs through consolidation into larger and more efficient premises
  • A critical shortage of skilled chefs has resulted in delays to expansion, and food offerings having to be simplified
  • Properties with letting rooms continue to attract the highest demand and are a key feature of many growth strategies
  • Traditional pub companies continue steady acquisitions and churn of their tail end, whilst private equity will continue to acquire and consolidate



  • Traditional family-owned pub companies and brewers are expected to continue expanding at a slow and steady pace, whilst bringing the tail end of their portfolios to market
  • We expect to see further M&Aactivity within the pub sector as private equity continues to seek tenanted, managed and franchised portfolios and consolidation opportunities
  • The pub sector will continue to evolve with innovation and diversification of the pub offering coming from the independent freehouse sector
  • Properties with letting rooms wilcontinue to attract the highest demand, representing a more diverse income stream, as it is seen as a more mature entry point for investors

Stephen Owens

Managing Director – Pubs & Restaurants

T: +44 7968 004 550




In November 2019, we completed on the sale of 137 Marston’s pubs to Admiral Taverns for £44.9 million. The portfolio included a mix of pubs from across Marston’s tenanted and franchised divisions, comprising mainly smaller wet-led pubs. We advised Marston’s that the optimal route to value was best realised through marketing the portfolio as a single package.



We advised Davidson Kempner on their first foray into the sector with an acquisition of 370 pub investments from ei Group’s commercial property division in a £348 million deal which completed in March 2019. This was noted for being the largest transaction in terms of both volume and value to take place in the UK since September 2017.



In August 2019, we completed the sale of a portfolio of 18 pubs on behalf of Wadworth to national pub company, Red Oak Taverns. The leased and tenanted pubs located across the South and South West of England attracted interest from numerous buyer groups. We worked closely with the vendor to ensure minimal business disruption for the tenants and the overall business.


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Christie & Co has provided valuable advice to clients within our specialist sectors for over 80 years.

Business Outlook

Business Outlook is our annual report looking at the year ahead and giving an overview of the previous year.