Hundreds of pubs could be turned into flats, supermarkets or fast food restaurants after a multi-million pound deal by Marstons.
The firm, which lists 12 North East taverns among its estate, has agreed a £90m deal with NewRiver Retail Limited to sell 202 sites.
And though Marstons will lease back the pubs for five years, the sale seems a death warrant for the boozers, with their new owner admitting at the outset that its plan is to try and convert them into shops, drive-throughs, housing or even doctors surgeries.
“It is NewRiver’s intention to convert the majority of the assets to meet the high demand for new convenience store premises from the UK’s major food store operators,” a spokesman said.
“The company has already received strong initial interest from the UK’s major convenience store operators and supermarkets.”
But after days of speculation Marstons press office said it still has no details as to exactly which pubs are affected, just that Marstons has agreed to lease back all of the pubs at a cost of £12.235m a year for the next five years – or until NewRiver is able to sell them on or convert them to an alternative use.
According to the Marstons website the firm owns the Pitcher and Piano on Newcastle Quayside, the Bascule bar and bistro in St Peters Basin, the Burton House in Burnopfield, the Shire Horse in Killingworth, the Poachers Cottage and Chapel Park Hotel in Westerhope, the Robin Hood in Shiremoor.
It also owns the Black Bull in Bedlington, the Poachers Pocket in Whickham, the Sun Inn in Swalwell, Gateshead, and the Benton Ale House in Longbenton.
Marstons also lists the Head of Steam’s Tilley’s Bar, which yesterday was taken over by Camerons Brewery, among its estate.
NewRetail said the pubs it is buying are “predominantly located in residential areas with good roadside visibility and car parking.”