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The City Pub Group digs in and waits for opportunities once lockdown ends

Snapshot

  • Pub group with around 50 premium sites in 'cathedral cities'
  • Sites are wet-led/drinks focused
  • High-quality outlets are in demand and management has built and sold pub groups before
At the bar in the pub

Quick facts: City Pub Group PLC

Price: 137 GBX

AIM:CPC
Market: AIM
Market Cap: £142.15 m
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What it does

The City Pub Group PLC (LON:CPC) owns and operates almost 50 ‘wet’ or drink-led pubs across Southern England and Wales. 

At the helm is Clive Watson – a 30-year pub veteran, who is perhaps better known in younger circles as the dad of Made in Chelsea stars Lucy and Tiff.

Those in the City of a slightly older vintage are more likely to remember him for Capital Pub Company, which he set up with fellow industry veteran David Bruce in 2001, before selling it on ten years later to Greene King PLC (LON:GNK) for £93mln.

“Our whole rationale is to widen our target market as much as possible; to be ageless, classless, to be premium without being overly expensive or too posh.

“Really to be somewhere where anyone, as long as they behave themselves, can feel comfortable.”

How it’s doing

In January, City Pub said its cash burn has been “significantly reduced” to cope with the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, while also outlining actions that it said will allow it to “rapidly take advantage of pent-up consumer demand and opportunities that will undoubtedly emerge” once restrictions are lifted.

In an update for the year to December 27, 2020, the AIM-listed publican said cash burn has been reduced to £300,000 per month following a number of cost-saving measures including furloughing almost all of its staff, reducing director salaries and negotiating with its landlords.

The company also said it has “ample liquidity” into 2022 with £5mln of further credit approved from its bankers, and that a reorganisation of its supplier base and a streamlined retail offer have been completed ahead of a reopening, which is expected to see a “rapid return to cash generation and profitability”.

For 2020, City Pub said it generated revenue of £25.7mln compared to £60mln in 2019 as a result of the closures and restrictions on its estate during the year.

What the boss says: Clive Watson

"2020 has been a very challenging year, but decisions made since March 2020 with regards to the fundraising, cost control, streamlining of the business, and strengthening of the Board has resulted in a very strong balance sheet, good levels of liquidity, a strengthening of our business model, a more focussed proposition and most importantly, pure determination to go out there and do the business once the pubs reopen.”

Inflexion points

  • The company raised £22mln to strengthen its balance sheet after the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of its pub estate
  • The group has reduced employee costs both at its head office and its pubs around the UK to save money amid the coronavirus pandemic
  • Group looking at alternative uses for some sites

 

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