NewRiver Retail has said this morning that it is to extend its working relationship with LT Management, which will see the later operate an expanded portfolio of pubs across its 344 strong estate.

NewRiver said: “In October 2013, we acquired a portfolio of 202 pubs from Marston’s. Each pub in the portfolio was handpicked by management for its high roadside visibility, high passing footfall and prominent location, with the intention of converting a significant number of them for retail/residential use. The pubs in the portfolio traded strongly, with high occupancy and strong income returns, and consequently in August 2015 we acquired a second portfolio of 158 pubs from Punch Taverns.

“We have since sold nine pubs, many of which were to existing tenants, and closed seven for convenience store conversion meaning we now have 344 pubs remaining in our portfolio. At the time of the Marston’s portfolio acquisition, we signed a four year leaseback agreement with Marston’s, which comes to an end at the end of the year. We have been active in negotiating the transfer of a number of pubs in advance of the deadline, with 35 pubs transferred to NewRiver with existing tenancies in place and nine pubs transferred to be operated by LT Management, the specialist pub management company that already manages the Punch portfolio on our behalf.

“Further to these transfers, in December 2016 we secured contracted income on 22 pubs by surrendering the leaseback arrangement 13 months early and agreeing new 15 year RPI linked leases with Marston’s. We have in place a structured programme to transfer the remaining 123 Trent pubs to the management of NewRiver and LT Management, and through a detailed estate review, involving all relevant stakeholders, we have split the transfer into small batches in order to manage the programme effectively.

“The first tranche of pubs will be transferred in May with the last batch transferring by the end of the agreement. Throughout the programme our team will be visiting each site and working with the publicans to ensure a smooth transition. We are confident that the majority of publicans will remain in their pubs during the transfer and our operations managers and instructed solicitors will ensure that new leases and tenancies are implemented seamlessly.

“For the minority of pubs where the publican intends to vacate, we will implement our tried and tested lettings programme to recruit high quality publicans who will continue to grow the business. Throughout the transfer programme we are working closely with Marston’s to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible.”