The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) – which lobbies against the closure of pubs – has warned that Stonegate’s takeover of Ei Group will create “anxiety” within the industry and called on the owners to make their plans clear as soon as possible.
Stonegate yesterday revealed it will pay £1.3 billion and assume all of Ei Group’s debt in a deal worth £3 billion.
The move will make Stonegate the UK’s largest pub operator, with close to 5,000 properties.
Ben Wilkinson, CAMRA’s national director, said: “For many EIG has become a byword for unfair business practices and disregard for the social value of pubs. Its custodianship of thousands of community pubs has not been a happy period and it’s clear many will welcome this news. However, such a significant change will create anxiety and we call on Stonegate to be clear and open about their plans as early as possible.”
Mr Wilkinson said that being the largest pub owner in the UK would bring a “huge responsibility” to Stonegate in terms of consumers and tenants.
“We hope Stonegate seizes this opportunity to make a firm commitment to adhere to the spirit and letter of the Pubs Code and spearhead a new, more positive era in the industry by setting a gold standard for thriving pubs based on fair and equitable business practices.,” he commented.