Financial News

  • 8 July 2014, 18:50

Sports Bar Owner Rileys To Score With Sale

The owner of the site that used to house London's famous Sports Cafe could be heading for a change in ownership after a sharp rebound in profits.

Sky News understands that shareholders in Rileys, which operates more than 60 sports bars across the UK, have drafted in advisers to oversee a review of options for the chain.

Insiders said on Tuesday that that could involve raising funds through debt or growth capital or pursuing an outright sale of the business.

A handful of private equity firms have already been approached to gauge their appetite to acquire Rileys, they added.

Global Leisure Partners (GLP), an advisory firm, is handling the process.

Rileys has been owned by Greybull Capital, a family office, since it acquired the business through a pre-pack administration towards the end of 2012.

Pre-packs can be controversial because they allow the new owner to shed a company's previous debts and other liabilities.

Greybull has also backed other prominent businesses which have changed hands in contentious circumstances, including Comet, the electrical goods retailer, whose eventual collapse sparked thousands of job losses.

Since taking control of Rileys, Greybull has shed about half its sites, which show live sport on big screens and provide venues for playing sports such as darts, pool and snooker.

The chain, which took over the running of the Sports Cafe on Haymarket in London's West End last year, now employs about 600 people and has more than half a million members, according to its website.

Sources said it had gone from making less than 1m of pre-tax profit to more than 2m.

Maurice Kelly, its chief executive, is understood to be keen to open more sports bars in and around the London area.

The chain's heritage dates back to 1878, when the first venue was opened by Edward Riley, an entrepreneur, as a sports emporium.

The division of Rileys that makes pool and snooker tables is now a separate company.

Greybull could not be reached for comment while GLP declined to comment.

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