‘Business as usual’ after pubco sale

Deal provides ‘strong platform for growth’, says Hawthorn chief

Gerry Carroll, Hawthorn Leisure
Gerry Carroll set up Hawthorn in 2014; it has 97 outlets in Scotland.

LESSEES and managers of Scottish pubs owned by Hawthorn Leisure have been assured it’s “business as usual” after the pubco was bought by leisure and retail property firm New River for more than £100 million last month.

Gerry Carroll, chief executive of Hawthorn, which has an estate of 298 leased and managed pubs across the UK, 97 of which are in Scotland, said the company’s acquisition by New River, which already owns 331 pubs in England and Wales, is the “best possible outcome for our people and pubs”.

Following the completion of the deal, the two companies said the acquisition “will not affect the publicans or partners of either portfolio and they will be able to continue on their existing agreements”. The statement said the Hawthorn name will be retained and “over time both estates will be transitioned into a single operating platform”.

Gerry Carroll, chief executive of Hawthorn Leisure who set the company up in 2014 with backing from Avenue Capital and the acquisition of 275 pubs from Greene King and a further 88 outlets from R&L, said: “The deal provides a strong platform for our ambitious growth plans and ensures we not only retain all staff and our head office but the Hawthorn Leisure brand and values that we live by,” he said.

“New River has bought into the Hawthorn Leisure team, as much as the pubs, so for us it’s business as usual. As such, we will continue to support our partners to achieve the best possible results and be famous for great people, great pubs and great propositions.”

News of the deal came as Hawthorn revealed the latest tranche of investment in its Scottish estate.

The group spent more than £600,000 to open two outlets with Scottish operator PG Taverns: The Jolly Gin and Craft in Falkirk and The Grapes in East Calder. The spend is part of Hawthorn’s plans to invest £1.8 million in  its Scottish estate this year.