Wednesday, 26 March 2014


I submit this blog post, in the hope I can obtain some views,opinions and indeed some guidance regarding a small community pub.
Here how the land lies: The pub is owned by a Pubco and was put on the market last year. A local building firm made an offer to buy the pub, with the intention of converting it into two private dwellings.
Thankfully, the locals opposed this, and petitioned the local town council. The council concurred with their opposition and planning permission was refused.
However, the applicant was within their rights to appeal within six months - and that is precisely what they did.
So the tenants have been in limbo ever since, as they await the outcome of the appeal.
Now, I have given you some background, I would like your views on what I am now going to say below.
The Pubco have received an offer from the local builders, which   appears to have been accepted. However , I have spoken to the owner of a brewery, who have made an increased offer for the pub.
So, subject to the outcome of the appeal, I was under the impression that the brewery should have been in a good position.
I contacted the Pubco, who then wanted to know a little about me. And why I was enquiring - fair enough.
I then explained my reasons, and what I did in a journalistic capacity.
They then replied promptly(must have passed the test) A spokesperson saying: "We can confirm contracts have been exchanged on the pub, subject to approval of planning permission, submitted by the potential purchaser.
Any late interest will be recorded by the agents."
So, is this the end for the pub, if planning permission is approved?
Why have the Pubco accepted a lower offer before the appeal is known? Surely, you would want the outcome resolved, so you can listen to any further offers - increased offers. - wouldn't you?
It all seems a little odd - and that's why I am asking for your views and opinions.
 I suspect there are some of you out there who can explain the situation. :-)


  1. A lot of the time in past when I've seen a similar thing happen the reason has been not just the money made from the sale of the pub, but the potential money lost if the pub was to reopen as competition to another one they own nearby. I shan't name any large East Anglian breweries, but you can probably guess.
    If there are two pubs within walking distance competing for the same trade, a pubco is more likely to sell one to close so as to remove potential competition.

    A few times I've seen it happen to "save face", if the pubco can't make the pub a success with their much vaunted ties and practices, then having it become a success without them shows flaws in their ideals.

    If the sale's been signed, and is now subject to planning permission, the thing to do is to fight it there. Pretty much all planning applications are available to view online, and there are ways to fight the change.

  2. how can a pubco accept a lot lower offer to change the building into two houses than a lot higher offer from a brewery to keep it on as a pub it doesnt make sense

  3. It does seem odd. The Pubco accepted a reduced offer. It was on the market for 115,000 originally. The increased offer was not a lot higher - but it was an increase on the price that has apparently been agreed with the builder.

  4. Pastey has it I think. I've been watching this kind of thing with pubco disposals pubs for a long time and from the outside little of their behaviour seems rational. Internally though, the forces and contradictions Pastey touches on are certainly at play.

    Ideally pubco's would be able to shift their many failing pubs quietly off market while claiming publicly that they have the best quality estate with the most experienced management support back up supplying their pubs with the best range of branded products available at the best value possible.

    When a pubco pub fails to the extent that no rational person will ever take it on again as a lease, and let's be frank, they're failing in massive numbers, a pubco's dirty laundry gets to be hung out for public view. They don't like it.

    I've even seen a pubco refuse an offer from a community group, preferring to sell to a developer at a lower price, only for the developer to sell on almost back to back to the community for the best part of a couple of hundred grand more. The amounts involved are unusual but the practice is common.

    The pubco's are desperate for cash but the impulse to sell at any price is balanced by the need to keep their 'business model' closed to scrutiny which would expose it for the outrageous asset stripping scam it really is.

  5. The pub is doomed. What will replace it will be nicer.

    1. Cooking Lager, as Peter Kay would say: "How dare you". :-)

  6. RAUN
    The application for change of use would have been made by the potential purchaser, after having their offer accepted conditional on obtaining planning permision. The contract to sell will be binding on both sides. If permision is granted the pubco must sell, and the builder must buy. No other offers can be considered untill this sale has fallen through.
    The local brewery coming along in the middle of the planning process can only hope that the planning consent is not granted.
    Most large pubccos prefer continued use sales as it avoids the necessity of gaining change of use, and the time that takes. Unfortunately that severly restricts the number of potential purchasers and therefore the potential price.
    In the final analyses the building belongs to someone who has the absolute right to determine who to sell for and for what price just as all of us who are property owners have with our property. We do not live in a dictatorship.

    1. Cheers for this Matt. I suspected it would be the point of no return if the appeal was successful. Still awaiting the decision. I suppose the only thing that will save the pub, is for the brewery owner to go to the builder and offer him a few grand more than what he has paid. Let's hope the appeal is rejected. It's a nice, friendly , community pub.