Saturday, 7 November 2015

Psst, wanna buy a few spoons?

A rough Wetherspoon's pub in a
poor, run-down neighbourhood

Back in July, I reported that Wetherspoons were planning to sell twenty of their pubs. Most of them gave the impression of either being in unsuitable locations, or close to other, busier branches, so as a whole it looked like a sensible bit of rationalisation. However, they’ve now come back with a further thirty-four planned disposals. Some of these fit into the same category, but others are apparently successful operations with no other Spoons nearby.

Locally, they include two current Good Beer Guide entries, the Milson Rhodes in Didsbury and the Bollin Fee in Wilmslow, neither of which is close to another one, and both in prosperous, busy locations. Yes, the Milson Rhodes is within a mile of the Gateway, but I don’t think by and large they compete for the same trade. On the other hand, some of them such as the Red Lion in Heanor have a poor reputation and don’t seem to have worked out. They also include the premises at 43-51 King Street, Stirling, where they fought a long licensing battle against the objections of Greene King, but have not so far got round to actually opening as a pub.

Is this a sign that the company is now struggling financially and needing to sell off some more of the family silver? Or are they cashing in some of their more valuable freeholds at the top of the market?


  1. I'd go for the latter. Just reading their latest annual report (end of July 15) tells me how focused they are on individual pub profitability against expectation. Didsbury and Wilmslow both have high value properties and a lot of competition for casual/family dining. If they're struggling I'm not seeing it in their pubs yet, though breakfast sale seem highly variable.

  2. Do they accept the 50p vouchers as part of the purchase price of these gaffs?

  3. The Long Eaton one The Twitchell made it to the Camra good beer guide a few times,but it has not been done up since it opened,the beer choice has also gone downhill over the years,all people local say how much it has gone downhill,i wonder is Wetherspoons were running the pub down deliberitly.

    The Heanor Spoons Red Lion was an original pub owned by Home Ales brewery,Spoons seem to be getting rid of original proper pubs for newer builds.

  4. well does anyone know how well the last lot of disposals has gone, as I know for a fact one of the pubs on that previous list is still Wetherspooning away and shows no sign (happily) of being sold or shut.

    whilst I assume the reasons for this new list is similar again and for multiple reasons, Kings Lynn doesnt seem like much of a property hotspot, but Whatpub helpfully points out that pub is centuries old, so be small compared to the warehouse style new builds, and would struggle to hit the turnover of food sales, remember Tim always says they make more from breakfasts thesedays and talks about trippling sales.

    yet Milton Keynes, home of the warehouse style everything,again maybe doesnt seem that unusual a choice on closer look, its one 4 Wetherspoons/Lloyds already in place, and as I recall was difficult to find as it has hardly any frontage to speak of, its just a glass metal frame building thats part of a larger complex, maybe rent is an issue, maybe again its not somewhere you naturally walk past, Milton Keynes doesnt really seem to have a natural thoroughfare as such,its basically a gigantic car park intersected with buildings, so there perhaps isnt much walk past trade.

    and Im sure the same is true for all the other pubs on the list.

  5. Looking to get rid of the Forest House in Chester is not that surprising a the two pubs (the other is the Square Bottle) they have are just yards from each other and they have recently acquired a third site in Chester, the former Bull and Stirrup, which is going to be one of their hotels.

  6. The Forest House always seemed an odd one as it's a former nightclub down a side street and very close to their existing venue.

    The Bull & Stirrup will, I'm sure, prove a better long-term bet, although it saddens me when I remember it as a multi-roomed Higsons pub. Hopefully the mural of Edgar's Eight won't be lost.

  7. I remember the Bull & Stirrup well in its Higsons days.

    Me and two mates stayed there for a weekend so we could do most of Chesters pubs back in 1982,it was £5.00 a night to stay there,i was back again in early 1983 to take my wife to be for our first weekend away,the Higsons bitter took second place that weekend,we even got locked in on Sunday afternoon but no chance to get free drinks from the bar,we had to go back upstairs and get out from a fire escape.
    Really good days.


Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval. See here for details of my comment policy.