The managed pub sector is likely to see a wave of further consolidation over the next 12-18 months.
Groups such as ETM, Drake & Morgan, New World Trading Company, the Alchemist, and Brewhouse & Kitchen could all be targets for investors, Tom Barnard, director of M&A for BDO predicted in the firm’s summer 2018 Restaurants & Bars Report.
Barnard said there had been a “return of the pub” over the past 12 months, as wet-led concepts playted more of a prominent role in sector M&A.
He predicted that other operators like White Brasserie, Peach Pubs, Upham Pub Company, Oakman Inns and Seafood Pub Company would also be on the radar for investors “given their high quality, authentic pub offerings”.
Meanwhile well-capitalised groups such as City Pub Co, Vine Acquisitions and Stonegate would continue to look to acquire in the sector to deliver growth, he suggested.
He also noted that Fuller’s, Brewdog and Young’s have all made acquisitions or made positive statements about their appetite.
In the past year, there has been a series of high-profile deals in the pub sector, including Patron Capital and Heineken’s £1.8b acquisition of the 3,200 strong Punch estate, Brewdog’s deal to buy the 14-strong Draft House for approximately £15m, and the sale of Laine Pub Co, the 54-strong group to Vine Acquisitions.
Barnard said: “Unlike the boom in capacity experienced in the casual dining market, the wet-led pub sector has not witnessed such recent oversupply, presenting an opportunity for differentiated operators to deliver LFL growth.
“These wet-led pubs have demonstrated a resilience compared to their casual dining and food led pub peers, benefitting from less competition, higher margin premium products and craft beer, the luxury of having a more flexible operating model without the need for chefs and suffering less impact from food cost inflation.
“Similarly, the wet-led concepts do not require expensive kitchens, driving down the day one fit-out cost and boosting return on capital, a key metric for investors who have started to take note of the attractive returns available in the sector.”