The Campaign for Real Ale has raised concerns over NewRiver’s acquisition of 76 pubs from Star Pubs & Bars, insisting the property group should now be subject to the Pubs Code.
NewRiver picked up the portfolio of mainly wet-led pubs last week, paying Star £12m for the sites.
The pubs are predominantly let on short-term leases, with a weighted average unexpired lease term across the portfolio of less than one year.
NewRiver claims this will facilitate immediate active asset management initiatives, such as signing new long-term leases with new and existing occupiers, and the deployment of targeted CAPEX, including into risk-controlled development opportunities.
But the acquisition has left CAMRA feeling uneasy, with the organisation arguing that the scale of the deal and NewRiver’s previous record of managing pub sites means it should be expected to abide by the same rules as other pub operators.
CAMRA’s national director, Ben Wilkinson, said: “This acquisition represents a significant growth of NewRiver’s tenanted pub estate and, as such, we have asked BEIS (Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Committee) to consider whether the company should now be subject to the pubs code.
“NewRiver’s history of closing and converting popular community pubs to other uses will naturally cause stress and concern for the tenants and customers of these locations. CAMRA calls on NewRiver to act responsibly by committing to keeping these pubs open and to not imposing new stocking requirements which will affect their viability.”
NewRiver presides over a £1.4 billion retail portfolio comprising 34 shopping centres, 21 retail parks and 650 community pubs.