JD Wetherspoon has said that it has taken a commercial to dispose of its largest package of pubs since 2004.

The company placed a package of 20 pubs on the market through CBRE yesterday, with the majority based in London and the south east.

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “We have taken a commercial decision to dispose of a small number of pubs. These pubs will remain trading until they are sold.

“We will continue to open new pubs in the coming months and years. Staff at the pubs will be offered jobs within our existing pubs, however, some might decide to remain with the new owners.”

Analyst Simon French at Cenkos said that the sites should attract decent premiums given their locations which will lead to a small but welcome reduction in group net debt. He said: “We would view Stonegate as the most likely acquirer of the sites if sold as a package.”

The properties, which are being considered for sale either individually, in small packages or as a group, are brought to the market for the first time in many years and are located in prime town and city centre locations within England and Scotland.

Paul Breen, senior director in CBRE’s Specialist Markets team, said: “We anticipate strong interest from a broad range of pub, bar and restaurant groups.”