Pub chain placed in 'administration'

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The Independent Online

The recession claimed another casualty in the ravaged pub industry today as Pubs 'n' Bars was placed into administration, putting jobs at its 87 premises at risk.

Administrators at Grant Thornton said the group, which operates mainly in the South East, would continue to trade all its pubs "for the time being" but warned that some may need to be closed.



Pubs 'n' Bars expressed "deep regret" in announcing the administration after it failed to persuade its bank to provide it with sufficient funding to carry on trading.



Administrators said the problems at Pubs 'n' Bars appeared to originate from the smoking ban, which caused a drop in the group's takings from cigarette and gaming machines.



More recently, the recession has further cut into customers' spending power.



Pubs 'n' Bars is one of several firms in the sector to have struggled in the recession.



Walkabout bars and Jongleurs parent company Regent Inns fell into administration after suffering losses, although much of the business was then rescued in a management buyout.



Earlier this year, figures from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) showed more than 50 pubs closed every week in the first half of the year and the organisation said the data "continues to reflect the current trends in the industry".



David Thurgood of Grant Thornton said: "Currently we are assessing the financial situation of the group and each of the pubs individually whilst all the pubs remain operational for the time being.



"However, it is clear that some of the weaker units may need to be closed to conserve cash in the business."



The company's shares were suspended earlier this month "pending clarification of the group's financial situation".



Pubs 'n' Bars had previously reported a lack of supplier credit and said its bankers were supporting it on a day to day basis.



In September, administrators were appointed over the property assets of Moorgate Taverns, a wholly owned subsidiary of the company, which had an estate of 10 freehold pubs.



Pubs 'n' Bars saw revenues fall to £10.3 million in the six months to June 31, from £11.2 million in the comparable period last year. It reported pre-tax losses of £691,000, compared to a 2008 profit of £128,000.



About two thirds of the company's premises are operated by managers, with the remainder run by tenants.

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