Trade news


Young’s purchase of the City Pub Group was approved by their shareholders in January. It includes 51 pubs, valued at around £162 million. Young’s issued a statement, “Young’s is pleased to announce that its acquisition of City Pub Group has completed, with the scheme of arrangement becoming effective, bringing together two complementary, culturally and strategically aligned businesses. The acquisition will significantly strengthen the presence of Young’s in London, as well as opening up new geographic areas such as Cambridge and Norwich, adding a premium, predominantly freehold estate of 51 well-invested, wet-led pubs to the group. The combination of the two businesses provides a platform from which the Young’s group can continue to accelerate its growth strategy.”

Both companies did well over the Christmas/New Year period. CPG’s final Christmas saw half of their pubs record their highest ever sales for the period while Young’s reported strong trading, with some of their pubs having the highest daily sales in the company’s history.

The pubs now owned by Young’s are:-

Althorp, SW17 7EB
Aragon House, SW6.4XG
Belle Vue, SW4 7AA
Bow Street Tavern, WC2E 7AU
Bridge, SW13 9DW
Case is Altered, HA5 2EW
Cat & Mutton, E8 4RA
Cock & Bottle, W11 2RP
Daily’s Wine Bar, WCR 1AP
Garrison, SE1 3XB
Green Goose, E3 5HD
Larkshall, E4 6NT
Lighthouse, SW11 4LR
Lost Hours, SW6 2EB
Nell Gwynne, WCR 0NP
Phene, SW3 5NY
Pride of Paddington, W2 3RF
Rising Sun, TW1 2NP
Roundhouse, SW18 2SS
Simmons, W1D 4AE (leased)
Temple Brew House, WCR 3JF
Three Crowns, N1 6DX
Walkers of Whitehall, SW1A 2DD


Similarly, the pub company have reported that ‘like for like’ trading over Christmas and the New Year was, in their words, ‘particularly strong’. It was up by 21.6%. For the 42 weeks ending 20 January 2024, sales grew by 11.5%. Chief executive Simon Emeny said he was delighted and that the company was positive about the future. He promised some ‘high profile, trade-enhancing investment schemes in our existing estate, which will ensure we continue to build on our current momentum’.


When I made my comment in the December/January edition about the Fulham Arms possibly being Butcombe Brewery’s only London pub, I was unaware of the wider picture. Apologies for this and thanks to Paul Compton for enlightening me. In December 2022, the Channel Islands based Liberation Group acquired the Cirrus Inns pub company. Cirrus had 22 pubs, six of which were in London. Liberation acquired Butcombe Brewery (Wrington, Somerset) in 2015 and the Cirrus pubs were incorporated into Butcombe’s existing estate. Consequently, their beers have started to appear in the former Cirrus pubs. These are the Punch Bowl in Mayfair, the Admiral Codrington and the Cross Keys in Chelsea, as well as the Fulham Arms and the Brown Cow in Fulham. Overall, Liberation Group have 130 pubs and, in the year ended 27 January 2024, their group revenue increased 22.5% to £147 million.


The latest beer to have its ABV reduced to the duty-saving 3.4% is John Smith’s Extra Smooth. John Smith’s is, apparently, the country’s biggest-selling keg ale and is currently 3.6% ABV. Heineken say that they are ‘lowering the strength to promote moderation’. Heineken do not publish their production statistics but SIBA (the Society of Independent Brewers) estimates that they could be saving up to £4 million a year in duty. You would have hoped that Heineken might want to share this windfall with their loyal customers but no; they have increased the price of all of their draught beers by 1.73%. The price of packaged beers in the off trade has however been frozen, which can only encourage drinking at home at the expense of visits to the pub.


On the subject of the strength of beer, the Foreign Office has issued a warning to English and Scottish football fans heading to Germany for the UEFA European Football Championship finals. Pointing out that beer in Germany is usually 4.7% ABV to 5.4% ABV, as against 4.4% ABV here, the FO advises, ‘beer can be stronger than in the UK so, drink responsibly, know your limits and respect local laws’. For those who wish either to watch or to avoid, Scotland’s first game is on 14 June, when they play the hosts, and England’s first game is against Serbia on 16 June.


The annual Estrella Damm Gastropub awards have been announced. This lists the country’s top 50 specialist food pubs. London had just one pub in the top ten, the Grade II-listed Red Lion & Sun in Highgate (N6 4BE). There were seven other London pubs on the list:
12 – Harwood Arms, Fulham (SW6 1QP)
26 – Baring, Hoxton (N1 3DS)
31 – Bull & Last, Dartmouth Park (NW5 1QS)
36 – Parakeet, Kentish Town (NW5 2AA)
40 – Cadogan Arms, Chelsea (SW3 5UG)
43 – Guinea Grill, Mayfair (W1J 6NL)
46 – Canton Arms, South Lambeth (SW8 1XP)