Northern Pub Group Toasts £10M Equity Investment
Founded in 2006 by local entrepreneurs John Weir (CEO) and John Sands (Chairman), Wear Inns focuses on the acquisition and management of freehold community pubs across the North East and Yorkshire. The estate currently comprises 15 sites, including The Townhouse in Whitley Bay, Millstone in Gosforth, Black Bull in East Boldon, Cross Keys in Washington, Guidepost in Springwell, New Inn in Durham, Priory in York, New Inn in Wetherby, The Sun in Shipley and the Courthouse in Barnsley. Wear Inns is headquartered in Billingham, County Durham, and currently employs 175 people. BGF and NVM’s £10m equity investment will enable Wear Inns to acquire further sites over the next few months, creating a further 40 new jobs, and provide flexibility for further acquisitions thereafter.
BGF and NVM Private Equity (NVM) has commited £10m of growth capital in acquisitive Northern pub chain, Wear Inns. BGF invested £8m for a minority stake in the business and will join the existing board.
NVM has backed Wear Inns from start-up and to this point has £4.2m of capital invested in the business. Since then, the company has built up an estate of 15 sites through regional and national acquisitions; from chains such as Mitchells and Butler, Spirit, TCG Inns, Barracuda Pubs and Bars, and Greene King. On average, Wear Inns has succeeded in improving the turnover of its pubs by c90% within six months of their acquisition and refurbishment. In the last three years, Wear Inns has trebled its sales with net revenues now totaling £7.3m and has achieved like for like sales growth of 7.2%. This is a second investment for BGF in the North of England within six weeks, following its backing of Manchester and Leeds based Mexican food chain, Barburrito, last month. It is also the second co-investment for BGF.
In recent years there has been a strong outperformance by the managed pub model where the company owns the freehold and employs its own staff, as adopted by Wear Inns. Chairman John Sands and MD John Weir who started the business in 2006 have significant experience in the Hospitality sector. Sands developed the Hartlepool based Pubmaster chain into one of the largest in the UK, selling the 3200 pub estate in 2003. John Weir was Retail Director for Bass/M&B, mainly responsible for the North East and North of England before joining John Sands at Pubmaster. Wear Inns was introduced to BGF by PWC.
The advisers to the transaction were KPMG (vendor due diligence), Watson Burton (lawyers to Wear Inns), Dickinson Dees (lawyers to NVM), and Addelshaw Goddard (lawyers to BGF).
December 2012 to September 2015
Unruly, based in London’s Tech City and led by co-founders Scott Button, Sarah Wood, and Matt Cooke, is one of the world’s most innovative ad tech companies, getting videos watched, tracked and shared across the open web, increasing viewer engagement, brand performance and publisher revenues. Its platform has attracted top tier advertisers and brands, including Adidas, Dove, T-Mobile, Evian, Go-Pro and Renault.
BGF backed the company in January 2012, investing £4m in a £15m round of funding alongside Amadeus and Endeit. With this new capital and investor support Unruly enjoyed a further period of sustained growth, continuing to launch ground-breaking products, making a number of significant strategic acquisitions and international joint-ventures, expanding to 15 offices across the world and winning numerous awards.
In September 2015 Unruly was acquired by News Corp for £114m; BGF’s first full exit and a good return for all shareholders.
“We had great support from our three institutional investors and I know that they would have been happy to continue backing our growth, but the opportunities and synergies of being part of a major global media business like News Corp offer us a hugely exciting prospect. We are now looking forward to a new phase of development.”
Scott Button, CEO and founder