The UK’s largest pub owner and operator Ei Group is exploring opportunities to sell its commercial property portfolio.
In a trading statement for the 47 weeks to 25 August 2018 the group said it had appointed financial advisory group Rothschild & Co “to assist us to explore various possible routes to optimise value”, which “may include the disposal of all or part of the portfolio”.
The group also launched an offering of £150m unsecured bonds and a conditional tender offer for its outstanding £97m convertible bonds.
The group reports it has seen further growth in the number of properties trading on free-of-tie agreements, in line with expectations, of which it now has 376 sites.
Pubs that traded as commercial properties throughout both the 47 weeks to 25 August 2018 and the prior comparable period delivered strong like-for-like net income growth of 6.7%.
The group reported good trading in the second half of the year to date, aided by the good summer weather and England’s prolonged success in the FIFA World Cup.
Its leased and tenanted estate increased like-for-like net income growth to 1.3% in the 47 weeks to 25 August 2018, up from the 0.6% delivered in the first half of the year.
It has also continued to convert selected pubs from its leased and tenanted business to its managed estate, which now comprises 354 pubs. Pubs that traded as managed pubs throughout both the 47 weeks to 25 August 2018 and the prior comparable period delivered like-for-like sales growth of 6.6%, aided by particularly strong beer sales.
Simon Townsend, chief executive, said: “Trading performance has steadily improved throughout the year across all areas of our business. Our largely wet-led estate has benefited from the good summer weather and the successful FIFA World Cup underpinned by our continuing investment programme as we further evolve the profile of our portfolio to optimise returns.”