Fortress Investment Group is acquiring Punch Pubs & Co., one of the U.K.’s largest pub companies with 1,300 venues, from Patron Capital as the industry consolidates to better weather the pandemic.
“The U.K. is an extremely attractive investment environment, and we will continue to explore other opportunities in this sector and across the U.K., Ireland and Europe,” Cyril Courbage, managing director at Fortress, said in a statement.
The purchase comes two months after Fortress lost out to rival private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice LLC in a months-long takeover battle for WM Morrison Supermarkets Plc, the U.K.’s fourth-largest grocer.
A wave of dealmaking has swept through the pub sector in recent years, led by the sale of Greene King to Li Ka-shing’s CK Asset Holdings in 2019 and Heineken NV’s acquisition two years earlier of Punch Taverns, which managed almost 2,000 pubs. The number of pubs operating in the U.K. has fallen over the past three decades as establishments increasingly compete with cocktail bars and contend with drinkers opting to stay home, a trend heightened by the pandemic.
Earlier this week, JD Wetherspoon Plc said the U.K. government’s latest restrictions — what Chairman Tim Martin described this week as a “lockdown by stealth” — would result in the pub company being loss-making or “marginally profitable” in the first half of its fiscal year.