Wear Inns expands pub portfolio

July 2012

Wear Inns, a company focused on acquiring and managing a chain of community pubs across the North of England, has purchased 9 pubs from TCG Bars. This will bring Wear Inns’ managed pub estate to a total of 24 premises, with plans to acquire more in the near future. This acquisition comes two months after an injection of growth capital provided by NVM Private Equity and Business Growth Fund.

The newly acquired premises include The Bedroom in Whitley Bay, Black Bull in Morpeth, Greens in Sunderland, Lambton Arms in Chester-le-Street, Ye Olde Lang Jack in Whickham, Ship and Royal in South Shields, Lloyds Arms in Grimsby, Porter Cottage in Sheffield and The White Bear in Barnsley.

John Weir (Managing Director) and John Sands (Chairman), both long-standing pub entrepreneurs and Wear Inns’ founders, have established a reputation as credible acquirers in the market. The team has created a winning formula of purchasing well-located and often underperforming pubs with huge potential. Their premises are run and staffed by Wear Inns’ employees, to ensure a consistent management approach and high levels of customer service - without eroding the independent feel and atmosphere. The pubs are predominantly wet-led (i.e. focused on drink sales) and one of the benefits of being managed rather than tenanted is that they have more of a say in the range of products sold. The premises are deliberately unbranded to reinforce the community nature of the pubs.

John Weir, Managing Director of Wear Inns: “We are highly delighted to acquire this package of well-known pubs, with some iconic sites situated in areas that we know very well. The pubs will complement our existing business and enhance our growth strategy. All of the pubs are planned to receive capital investment and some new retail trading formats in the near future; with a clear emphasis on standards, service and exceptional retailing. This is the second transaction Wear Inns has made from TCG, after acquiring the highly successful Cross Keys Washington in December 2009.

As we develop we are hopeful of adding another four North East and Yorkshire pubs to the portfolio this year; with more acquisitions planned in early 2013. We should also create 40 new jobs as the business grows this year, with further new jobs expected in early 2013. It has been a complicated process of raising funds and making the acquisitions over the last six months. We were guided through this process by Duncan Reid and Paul Wigham from Watson Burton Newcastle, Simon John and Paul Mankin from PwC Newcastle.”

Wear Inns has acquired the pubs with the £10 million recently provided by existing investor NVM Private Equity (NVM) and new investor Business Growth Fund (BGF). BGF co-invested £8 million and NVM a further £2 million. This brings NVM’s total investment since 2006 to £6.2 million.

Mauro Biagioni, Director of NVM Private Equity:

“The Wear Inns’ management team has stuck to its business strategy since 2006, using their extensive experience of the industry to create an estate of unique community pubs that meet the desires of the regulars, as well as passing visitors. Wear Inns has increased its value considerably since inception and we are delighted to continue supporting the company’s acquisition strategy.”

David Colclough, Investment Director at BGF:

“The expansion of Wear’s estate of pubs follows our recent investment in the company and demonstrates the enormous potential for this business to grow through continued acquisition. We will continue to lend our support to the management team as they take the business into its next stage of development, solidifying its position as one of the leading pub chains in the North of England.”