Greene King chief Rooney Anand hails ‘momentous day’ following completion of Spirit deal

Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, left, with Mike Tye, chief executive of the Spirit Pub Com

Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, left, with Mike Tye, chief executive of the Spirit Pub Company, outside Spirit's headquarters in Burton uponTrent. - Credit: Archant

The chief executive of Greene King yesterday hailed “a momentous day” in the company’s history as it became the UK’s largest player in the managed pubs sector.

Bury St Edmunds-based Greene King’s £774million acquisition of the Spirit Pub Company leaves it with a total of around 3,100 pubs, including some 1,800 under direct management.

This puts it ahead of rivals such as Mitchells & Butlers, which owns around 1,700 pubs under brands such as Harvester and O’Neills, and J D Wetherspoon, which has around 920 pubs.

The deal, the latest in a string of acquisitons by Green King over the last two decades, also extends its lead over Marston’s as the country’s largest integrated pubs and brewing group, with the Marston’s estate numbering around 1,630.

Enterprise Inns and Punch Taverns remain the UK’s two largest pub owners, with around 5,500 and 4,300 properties respectively, but they are focused on the tenanted sector.

Greene King has focused on growing its managed estate which has been the chief driver behind its growth in profits in recent years, particularly since the start of the economic downturn in 2008.

Stock market dealings in shares in the enlarged Greene King company began yesterday, marking what chief executive Rooney Anand described as “a momentous day in the company’s 216-year history.”

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He added: “Our focus now turns to building a combined business of our best brands, people, locations, and processes to ensure we succeed in the eating and drinking out markets for the long term.”

Mike Tye, chief executive of Spirit, said: “The combined business will be the largest managed pub company in the UK and a real force to be reckoned with, especially by taking the best of both businesses and creating a clear industry leader.”

Combining the businesses is expected to result in cost savings of around £30m a year.

Greene King and Spirit currently operate 14 different pub and restaurant brands between them, including Hungry Horse, Loch Fyne, Old English Inns, Chef & Brewer and Fayre & Square, and Mr Anand said there was likely to be some rationalisation in the line-up.

There is speculation that job losses are likely to centre on Spirit’s head office in Burton upon Trent in Staffordshire but Mr Anand said yesterday that no announcement would be made until the end of the summer.

Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill said: “The pub and brewing industry adds £126.2m to the local economy and employs 2,471 people across my Bury St Edmunds constituency.

“As one of the largest businesses and employers, I look forward to discussing with Greene King what further benefits this acquisition will bring to the area.”

The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has accepted an undertaking from Greene King to sell a pub in each of 16 locations – none in East Anglia – where the CMA ruled that the tie-up with Spirit could result in a reduction in competition.