M&B tipped as frontrunner in £600m Whitbread sale process

By Georgi Gyton

- Last updated on GMT

M&B tipped as frontrunner in £600m Whitbread sale process

Related tags Whitbread Mitchells & butlers Brewers fayre Premier inn Beefeater Bar + Block Casual dining R200 Multi-site

Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has been tipped as the frontrunner in the sale of 250 of Whitbread’s 440 pub-restaurants.

According to The Times​, Premier Inn owner Whitbread is restricting the auction of the sites to established pub operators in an estimated £600m sale process.

The business, which is being advised by Goldman Sachs, is understood to have approached established pub companies, including Greene King, Heineken, Marston’s and Punch, in order to avoid a drawn-out process.

Many of the sites identified for possible disposal are either marginal or loss-making, and located next door to a Premier Inn.

Last month it was reported that Whitbread was exploring the sale of its restaurants brands​, which include Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Cookhouse and Pub.

It followed a warning in Whitbread’s recently published annual report of 'the increasing divergence of performance of the hotel business and the food and beverage business', which it warned could have a detrimental effect on the price charged for Premier Inn rooms.

In April it revealed that its F&B sales were 40% ahead of FY22 for the 52 weeks to 2 March 2023, however, they remained 4% behind prepandemic levels. Increased spend per head was outweighed by a decline in customer volumes at its branded restaurants, despite their focus on the value-end of the market, however trading in the seven weeks to 20 April 2023 had seen an improvement in F&B – which were up 10% on FY23.

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