Pubs and Bars

Pub veterans join chase for M&A investment

Industry giants and private equity firms continue to line up for investment opportunities in the sector

Mark McQuarter and Mark Crowther are the latest in a succession of pub sector veterans seeking backing for pub deals, as reported by the Times.

The former boss of Barracuda Pub Company and Revolution Bars, McQuarter has now been named as chairman of London pub operator, Portobello Brewery.

He confirmed to the Times that his phone has been “ringing off the hook” as private equity firms look to gain entrance into the sector, which will maintain a false dearth of activity until lockdown restrictions are eased.

McQuarter added: “We could probably raise anything from £10 million to £50 million, but that’s not to say that if somebody came along and offered me £200 million and said go out and buy some pubs we couldn’t do it.” 

Despite the investor interest, which has been particularly targeted at freehold pubs, Crowther has claimed that opportunity-wise, there was “not much out there”.

He said: “People seem to be waiting for cheap deals, but I’m not sure there will be that many. I think pubs will bounce back very quickly and strongly when they’re allowed to open.”

The latest investors will have to compete with some of the industry’s biggest names after it became apparent last week that Rooney Anand, the former Greene King CEO, has raised £200m towards industry-wide acquisitions.

Elsewhere, the founders of Hawthorn Leisure teamed up with James Croft, the ex-retail director at Ei Group, to launch the Valiant Pub Company, while JD Wetherspoon’s Tim Martin reached £93.7m worth of investor funding through an accelerating share placing to “facilitate the acquisition of new properties”.

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