UCL closes ex-Novelli pub as profits falter

02 February 2011 by
UCL closes ex-Novelli pub as profits falter

Urban & Country Leisure (UCL) has closed a Hertfordshire pub formerly owned by Jean-Christophe Novelli because it wasn't delivering sufficient profits.

The White Horse in Harpenden closed earlier this month.

UCL said the pub was a loss-making business when it took it on but within a year it had turned it into a profitable one.

Despite that, the company has decided the level of profit was not in line with investors' expectations.

"After a strategic review of the estate, it was deemed that whilst the White Horse had made a profit, the level of profit was not in line with investors' expectations. In addition, the current economic climate and the substantial increase in VAT would further reduce profit margins for the next financial year," the company said in a statement.

"The board had looked at a number of options including redevelopment of the site and had tried on a number of occasion to try and buy the site from brewers Enterprise Inns however this was unsuccessful," it added.

Last week UCL announced that it was reversing a £15m plan to expand its pubs business, announced last year, and diverting the money to a £20m expansion of its Lazy Cow hotel brand.

The Midlands-based company run by former Bar Room Bar owner Ross Sanders (pictured) said the strategy was based on its predictions of continued difficulties for the country pub market in 2011-12.

The closure of the White Horse takes UCL's pub-restaurant estate down to 13 sites.

As a result of the closure, two full-time members of staff were offered positions elsewhere in the UCL estate. The other four part-timers were not offered other employment and it is understood that they were not paid for part of December.

UCL, which operates each of its pubs as an individual business and subsidiary of the main group, said these part-time workers "have not been offered employment and their wages will be settled with all other creditors".

The company added in a statement: "Standard procedure during liquidation is that any suppliers that are owed money have to go the formal process of dealing with the liquidator, no one individual can be paid as a preferential creditor."

The first Lazy Cow hotel and restaurant opened in November 2010 in Warwick after UCL spent £1.5m transforming the former Globe hotel into a 16-bedroom boutique hotel and restaurant, recruiting head chef David Philpot, who was previously senior chef at London eateries Le Caprice and the Ivy and head chef at Soho House in New York.

UCL reverses pub expansion plan to fund Lazy Cow hotels >>

Pub firm UCL to invest £1m in Warwick's Globe hotel >>

Urban & Country Leisure to expand to 30 pubs >>

By Neil Gerrard

E-mail your comments to Neil Gerrard here.

If you have something to say on this story or anything else join the debate at Table Talk - Caterer's new networking forum. Go to www.caterersearch.com/tabletalk

Caterersearch.com jobs

Looking for a new job? Find your next job here with Caterersearch.com jobs

[Newsletters For the latest hospitality news, sign up for our e-mail newsletters.
The Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email

Start the working day with The Caterer’s free breakfast briefing email

Sign Up and manage your preferences below

Check mark icon
Thank you

You have successfully signed up for the Caterer Breakfast Briefing Email and will hear from us soon!

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.


Ad Blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an adblocker and – although we support freedom of choice – we would like to ask you to enable ads on our site. They are an important revenue source which supports free access of our website's content, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

trade tracker pixel tracking