NewRiver chief financial officer Mark Davies has told MCA that the synergies from the integration of the Hawthorn Leisure estate could exceed the target £3m.

The integration of the 298 Hawthorn pubs to make a combined 671-strong pub estate completed at the start of this month.

Davies, who is executive chairman of the combined pub business, said the focus would now turn to the scope for Hawthorn’s suite of operating formats.

As revealed by MCA in November, Hawthorn’s managed community pub model has already been trialled in one of NewRiver’s shopping centres – The Ridings in Wakefield.

Davies said there had been a positive reaction to Keg & Kitchen and that there was scope to roll the concept out further across the shopping centre portfolio.

He said: “It’s part of a wide process to evolve the offer in our community shopping centres to reflect what is going on behind them. It’s bringing a bit of community and a bit of personality into the offer. We’re matching the pub offer with a cinema and we’ll be looking closely at how that works. But, so far so good.”

He added: “We have already delivered £2m of the synergies, with the other £1m to come this year, and it may even be more than that.”

Announcing the official completion of the transition yesterday, the company reported that Hawthorn Leisure traded well in the most recent reporting quarter, with like-for-like EBITDA per pub up 0.8% in Q3, and up 4.3% in the two weeks to 31 December 2018.

Alongside Davies as chair and Gerry Carroll as chief executive, several employees of NewRiver’s former external pub management company, LT Management Services, will also be joining the Hawthorn Leisure team.

Carroll said: “I am very pleased to have completed this important integration, and would like to extend a warm welcome to all our new Pub Partners joining us as a result. With a strong set of shared values, and a highly passionate, experienced and hardworking team, I am confident that Hawthorn Leisure will continue to grow as a fully-integrated part of NewRiver.”

The group also announced this morning the appointment of Colin Rutherford as a non-executive director with immediate effect. Rutherford currently sits on the board of Mitchells & Butlers, where he is chairman of the audit committee.

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