Mag­n­ers owner C&C to take on ma­jor stake in Ad­mi­ral Tav­erns chain

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Public Sector Jobs - BY JOHN MUL­LI­GAN

DRINKS gi­ant C&C, which owns Mag­n­ers cider, has agreed to take on a huge stake in a UK pub chain.

Ad­mi­ral Tav­erns is un­der­stood to have plans to sig­nif­i­cantly boost its es­tate of 845 pubs over the next three years.

The am­bi­tious ex­pan­sion plan will give C&C, which has op­er­a­tions in Belfast, an even greater direct to mar­ket plat­form for its broad range of drinks, with its craft drinks likely to be amongst the big­gest ben­e­fi­cia­ries, ac­cord­ing to C&C chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer Mark Bou­los.

C&C has agreed to pay £37m for its stake in the pub chain, which op­er­ates mainly in Eng­land and Wales. The re­main­ing 53% of the chain is be­ing ac­quired by Ad­mi­ral man­age­ment in con­junc­tion with Pro­prium Cap­i­tal Part­ners, an em­ployee-owned real es­tate fund man­ager spun out from Mor­gan Stan­ley in 2013.

Ad­mi­ral has been sold by US hedge fund firm Cer­berus, which ac­quired it in 2012 for £200m from bank­ing group Lloyds, which in turn took a £500m hit when it sold to Cer­berus. Ad­mi­ral Tav­erns is a ten­anted pub chain, where its pubs are rented by and man­aged by land­lords. It com­petes with man­aged pub chains such as Mitchells & But­lers, one of Bri­tain’s largest op­er­a­tors of pubs and restau­rants. Ir­ish horse rac­ing ty­coons John Mag­nier and JP Mc­manus are sub­stan­tial share­hold­ers in Mitchells & But­lers, with their Elp­ida ve­hi­cle own­ing 23.1% of the com­pany. In a hugely com­pet­i­tive UK cider mar­ket, C&C, whose Bul­mers brand is sold as Mag­n­ers in North­ern Ire­land, has of­ten strug­gled to find mo­men­tum in the on­trade sec­tor. But Mr Bou­los said the deal will pro­vide an im­por­tant en­try point for its sta­ble of brands, par­tic­u­larly its niche, higher mar­gin prod­ucts. “The ten­anted pub model is much more fluid and dy­namic, and you can be much more re­spon­sive to con­sumer de­mand,” he said. “We think that we can get a lot of our more craft and niche port­fo­lio of brands into the es­tate. That’s what ap­peals to the con­sumer at the mo­ment.”

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