Wine Bar Boss in £2m Deal
A chain of wine bars in Newcastle are about to be sold for £2m – so that the company can repeat its success in central London.
Joe Robertson, chairman of Newcastle’s City Leisure Group, says the first of a string of London wine bars will be open before the end of the year.
The £2m takeover deal by Allied Breweries is expected to be signed during the next few days.
Mr Robertson, 35-year-old former manager of North-East group Lindisfarne, will be kept on in an advisory capacity by Allied Breweries to help with the running of his former Newcastle wine bars, Rick’s, City Vaults, Pumphrey’s, Brahms and Liszt, Sloanes and Legends.
But, he will also be starting work immediately to conclude property acquisition deals in central London to repeat his success, based on identical-style wine bars in the capital.
Mr Robertson said: “I am actively involved in negotiations for premises in London to run a similar operation.”
Mr Robertson, who started with Rick’s Wine Bar in Newcastle’s Cloth Market just a few years ago said: “What we have done here has been a proven success.
“The standard, style and meticulous attention to detail is something that is evident and is lacking in many other cities in the country, even London.”
“I have seen openings in London for them and we have already designed two or three bars for brewers in London along our style.”
“But, that does not mean they can inject our standards in their operation.”
“I hope to do that down there. We hope to get two or three outlets going there this year.”
Mr Robertson, who employs 200 staff in his six city wine bars, likened the idea of taking trendy pub designs from the “depressed” North-East to swinging London as “taking coals to Newcastle.”
He stressed that one of the conditions of the £2m sale to Allied Breweries via their local representatives Joshua Tetley, is that the Newcastle wine bars will continue to be run in exactly the same way, with the jobs of the 200 staff safeguarded.
He added: “The group is successful, the products sell, the market is buoyant. If I believe my competitors, we have revolutionised drinking in Newcastle city centre.
“We did not actively wish to dispose of the licensed premises. We were approached, negotiations were entered into, the deal was concluded. The legal documents will be signed within a few days.”
There are two share-holders of the City Leisure Group – Mr Robertson and his wife Sharon, who is a former leading North-East model.
The third director is interior designer Barry Nicholson, who has been substantially responsible for the design of most of the company’s outlets and is now working on numerous interiors of pubs, dance halls around the country for such diverse clients as Scottish and Newcastle, Mecca and Allied Breweries.
Alex Porteous, North-East regional director of Leeds-based Joshua Tetley, revealed that the company is planning a major expansion in the North-east.
He said: “We do not consider the North-East to be a depressed area at all. We consider it to be an expansionist area.”
Tetley has also bought new pubs in Durham and Sunderland and has local representatives on the look-out for more.
Mr Porteous said: “Joshua Tetley are actively involved in extending their interests in the North-East, which is why, when we saw the chance of acquiring what we feel are six prime outlets in the city centre, we made a positive approach to Mr Robertson.”
Joshua Tetley, which will continue to serve the same rival brands of beers and lagers in the wine bars, has 1,100 pubs in the northern region including 60 in the North-East.