Merchant Inns acquires seventh pub and reveals further expansion plans

21 April 2008 by
Merchant Inns acquires seventh pub and reveals further expansion plans

Merchant Inns, the pubs-with-rooms company controlled by property magnate Sir John Ritblat and chairman Robert Breare, has acquired its seventh pub, the Saracen's Head in Essex.

The site will add 31 rooms to Merchant's portfolio when they move in on 6 May.

Merchant Inns already has sites in Berkshire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey and Cambridgeshire.

Breare said: "We will have 150 additional rooms coming up in the next 26 weeks. We have finished a consultation to add 30 beds to the Talbot Inn in Woking, Surrey, by July and the Carnarvon Arms will have 45 rooms by 10 November."

Another unnamed property with 31 rooms is currently in negotiation.

Merchant Inns has coined the term "luxury budget" to describe its pubs-with-rooms concept, which claims to provide luxury accommodation with dining at affordable prices.

"Rooms are where some safety is now," Breare added. "We are the kind of pub that sells more wine than beer and we have had no smoking in them for two years now."

Breare and Ritblat took control of Merchant Inns through investment vehicle Kamside to purchase the then five-strong group for £11m plus £10m in debt.

Before the deal Breare had targeted a private equity backer to support plans for an expansion to 75 sites.

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