Pubs (and bars) in brief …

Woolpack Banstead

A £1.3million transformation of The Woolpack in the Surrey village of Banstead has been completed by Shepherd Neame. It has been remodelled to raetain its warm, traditional feel, but with a quirky modern touch. The drinks offer has been refreshed, with an extensive range of beer and cider on draught and in bottle.

NewRiver has announced the acquisition of community pub company Bravo Inns Limited for £17.9 million. Bravo Inns owns 44 wet-led community pubs, predominantly located in North West England. These will be converted to NewRiver’s Hawthorn Leisure brand, which operates 660 community pubs.

Brewhouse & Kitchen has won four categories at the NITA Bii Awards. There were triumphs in most innovative recruitment strategy, professional trainer of the year, and best managed training programme: under 50. In addition, chief executive, Kris Gumbrell, received the lifetime achievement award. The NITA awards celebrate the people and companies propelling the hospitality industry to higher standards. 

The Campaign for Real Ale has named the four finalists its club of the year competition. Among the finalists are former winners the Cheltenham Motor Club, in Gloucestershire (2017), the Flixton Conservative Club, in Greater Manchester (2018), and the Appleton Thorn Village Hall in Warrington (2019). The Orpington Liberal Club, in London, completes the quartet.

Lincolnshire Brewing Co has been put up for sale, along with a pub it owns. The Georgeis in the village of Langworth, where the brewery is based. The businesses are available separately or as a package through Sidney Phillips.

The British Beer & Pub Association has published the latest edition of its operating cost guide for tenants and lessees. The data is intended to help those wishing to take on a tenanted or leased pub business to be as well informed as possible about the current costs involved in running a pub. It can be downloaded here.

Guinness is opening a pop-up Pint-Sized Pub in London this week. The venue, with its cosy fireplace, Christmas tunes, and board games, will be on Flat Iron Square, from December 5-8. Tickets are obviously limited, so guests must reserve a space via Design My Night.

Laine Pub Company has opened Dead Wax Digbeth in the former Waggon and Horses pub on Birmingham’s Adderley Street. The premises is described as a music venue and vinyl bar.

Arkell’s Brewery is recruiting for new tenants to run the Village Inn, at Liddington, the Priory Inn, at Tetbury, and the Bell Inn, at Purton Stoke. Potential licensees can find more information, including an informative video, at www.arkellsrecruitment.co.uk/

Twenty-seven pubs celebrated their success with Wadworth at the brewer and regional pub operator’s annual Best of the Best Awards. Best beer and cellar quality was won by Anne and Kevin Ford, of the Beehive, Yeovil (tenanted pubs) and Matt Humphries, of the Three Crowns, Devizes (managed).

Admiral Taverns has completed the purchase of 137 pubs from Marston’s. Admiral also acquired 150 venues from Star Bars and Pubs in October.

Half Moon Herne Hill

The Half Moon, in Herne Hill, London, has been named Fuller’s pub pof the year, winning the coveted Griffin Trophy. The pub, run by Matthew Dutson, was acquired by Fuller’s in 2016 after it was damaged by flooding.

Mitchells & Butlers has reported profit before tax of £177m in the 52 weeks to September 28. Like-for-like sales rose by 3.5%. Improved returns from its capital programme, strong sales initiatives, and efficiencies contributed to a strong performance.

JD Wetherspoon has reported a rise in like-for-like sales of 5.3% in the 13 weeks to October 27, with total sales rising by 5.6%. Steve Miley, a senior market analyst at www.asktraders.com, said: “The figures show that JD Wetherspoon customers continue to spend in the 900 pubs across the UK, despite Brexit uncertainty. Whilst consumers are reining in their spending elsewhere, pub-goers haven’t been deterred. Costs remain a challenge, particularly staff wages. Given the difficult trading conditions, these are encouraging results.”

Camerons Brewery has acquired the Bar Soba group. The addition of Bar Soba, which has five venues in the UK, will see the brewer grow its retail managed pub estate to 34 sites. Each venue is vibrant and colourful, serving remixed fresh food from the streets of South-East Asia, with DJs playing cool tracks alongside indulgent and creative cocktails.

The British Beer and Pub Association has published new guidance for pubs, titled An Open Welcome: Making Your Pub More Accessible For Customers, which will help licensees make their venues as welcoming as possible for those with access needs. The guidance has been published on Purple Tuesday (November 12), an international call to action focused on changing the customer experience for disabled people and improving awareness of their value and needs. 

Pub operator and brewer Brakspear has purchased the Golden Ball, in Pinkeys Green, near Maidenhead, taking its managed estate up to 15 sites. The pub has seating for 110 customers inside, as well as a large patio and garden. Food includes fresh pizzas, burgers, and a range of pub favourites, while the drinks list includes wines, cocktails and an extensive selection of gins.

Dog House Nottingham

Big Dogs Pub Company, based in Nottingham, has received a six-figure loan from Assetz Capital as it sets it sights on expanding to new locations across the city. It currently operates a chain of micropubs under the Dog House brand and plans to use the loan to replenish cash investment and expand across the region. Pictured, left to right, are the Big Dogs team of David Fewster, Paul Oldnall, Leigh Elston and Greg Elston at the Dog House in Yorke Street.

Manchester-based Seven Bro7hers Brewery, which raised £600,000 in crowdfunding for investment in its business earlier this year, is to open a second beerhouse, this time in Liverpool.

The SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) Business Awards 2020 will, for the first time, feature an award for the UK’s best independent craft beer taproom, following huge growth in the number of breweries opening their doors and serving beer on-site.

St Austell Brewery has acquired the Rising Sun, in Pensford, near Bristol, which will be added to its tenanted estate.

The Licensed Trade Charity’s annual boxing fundraiser, held at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, raised almost £4,000. British welterweight champion, Bradley Skeete, was a special guest on the night.

Finalists have been announced in the Charity Pub of the Year Awards, run by PubAid and the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, and sponsored by Matthew Clark. The pubs are: the Bull’s Head, Mobberley, Cheshire; the Falkners Arms, Fleet, Hampshire; the Fatling, Hornchurch, Essex; the Front Page, Ballymena, Co Antrim; the Lion Brewery, Ash, Surrey; the Rose of Mossley, Liverpool; the Swan, Thornbury, Gloucestershire; and the White Horse, Quorn, Leicestershire.

Sorbon Estates has agreed a new lease with Crafty Taproom at 77 Marlow High Street, which was previously occupied by Café Copia. This will be Marlow’s first craft beer bar and shop, and is expected to open by mid-November. The shop will serve a wide range of independently brewed beers, as well as fine wines and liquors. In addition, a central part of the concept will be a regularly changing menu of small plate dishes.

The British Beer & Pub Association has welcomed plans to extend pub opening hours for the VE Day 75 celebrations. Under the proposals, pubs, clubs and bars which are licensed to trade until 11pm could be allowed to open until 1am on both Friday, May 8, and Saturday, May 9, 2020. The Friday will be a public holiday.

North Bar has sold its Cross Keys pub, in Leeds, to the Water Lane Pub Company. North Brewing Co is understood to want to concentrate on its wet-led venues.

Alcohol education charity Drinkaware is encouraging pub and bar operators to create an environment where customers can enjoy themselves safely ahead of the Christmas festivities. Among its tips are: offering an interesting selection of low- and no-alcohol drinks; making food available, where possible; making customers aware that drunk people will not be served; looking after designated drivers; and training staff.

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