New landlords sought for Cirencester pub
By Simon Hacker | 5th June 2023
A popular Cirencester pub is up for lease – but the billionaire Tory donor brothers who are seeking to lease it are embroiled in a lockdown rent battle with 250 tenant landlords across the UK.
David and Simon Reuben own the Wellington Pub Company (WPC) which is currently advertising the Wheatsheaf Inn in Cirencester's Cricklade Street, the popular pub having closed last summer when landlords David and Carolyn Watson decided to retire after 29 years of pulling pints.
Advertised as free-of-tie, WPC says the listed grade-II building has a 2023 Rateable Value set at £13,500, though tapered rates relief might apply. The domestic accommodation is within council tax Band B.
The centrally located pub comes with a main bar, large function room/restaurant offering 24 covers, gardens, outside seating, car parking and four-bedroomed private quarters.
Letting agents Fleurets said: "The Wheatsheaf represents a Cotswold Stone building constructed on ground and first floors with attic conversion plus a large single storey extension to the rear. Internally there are many features including open fireplace, beams and exposed stone. Please note the premises are currently closed and there is no inventory in the premises. The Wheatsheaf offers potential for reopening as a town centre bar with a food offering."
Punchline has approached Fleurets for details of the rental.
With a net worth of £2.4399bn, the Sunday Times reports that David and Simon Reuben, who own the WPC as well as 10% of Newcastle United, have increased their wealth from £22.265bn in 2022, but dropped to fourth position in the newspapers annual rich list. Since 2008, they have given more than £900,000 to the Conservative Party.
In the 1990s, the Indian-born brothers made much of their fortune through trading aluminium in Russia, but now have a vast property estate in the UK and, through the Arena Racing Company, own 16 UK race courses.
An issue over the brothers' refusal to grant pandemic rent relief without a five-year future commitment is, however, currently causing conflict between WPC and tenant landlords, with pubs accusing the company of pushing them into bankruptcy – and eight saying the deal will close them forever.
In total, WPC has offered its estimated 850 tenants a Covid discount for trade lost during lockdown months, but only on condition that they extend their leases for five years.
A pressure group of 250 tenants has subsequently refused, and the Guardian reports arbitrators have "now ruled many of many of them will have to pay rent in full".
Nick Holden and Kate Ahrens, of the Geese and Fountain pub in Lincolnshire say they will have to close imminently because of the deal's terms.
In a statement, they said the pub was one of the "many victims of a combination of the UK's exceptional economic collapse and a failure to support businesses trying to recover from the Covid pandemic".
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