On the 4th February 2022, I travelled to London to attend the AGM of Shaftesbury, the West End property company and owner of the freehold of a number of pubs.
During the meeting, I asked about the impact of covid restrictions on the company’s tenants, the current situation, and whether the company was seeing any opportunity to increase the size of its pub portfolio.
The company said that footfall in their areas was recovering, and they were pleased that they had been able to support tenants through the pandemic, meaning that all their tenants were still in place and trading.
After the formal meeting, I spoke to the relevant directors and managers, and we discussed the opportunities for increasing their pub portfolio. It appears that the opportunities to acquire freeholds in their operating areas are very infrequent, and the potential to change existing premises for pub/micropub/microbrewery use are very restricted, due to local planning policies.
Overall, the company’s objectives for its estate are very much aligned with those of the club, with a wish to encourage interesting and niche operators, rather than national brands. However, due to the issues mentioned, this will remain a long-term project.
Ian Brindley – CMIC Committee Member