MORE than 650 Stonegate pubs in the south-east are at risk as the chain’s private equity owner seeks to refinance debts worth £2.6 billion, GMB union warned today.
Gary Lindsay, boss of TDR Capital, which also owns supermarket giant Asda, told the business and trade select committee on Tuesday that he was “confident” the debts could be refinanced this year.
But with current high interest rates, GMB raised concerns that the refinancing could lead to crippling payments to service the debt, which has already resulted in a “toxic culture of bullying and harassment” due to cost pressures at Asda.
GMB regional secretary Justin Bowden said that, like with Asda, the finances of the pub chain, which includes brands like Slug & Lettuce, Yates and Walkabout, are “equally lacking in transparency, with the ultimate holding company based in the Cayman Islands.”
He added: “We fear for the future of our local supermarkets and pubs in the hands of their private equity owners.”
A Stonegate spokesman said: “Our pub business remains very resilient despite the challenges our industry faces, with good like-for-like sales growth across the group.”