WORKERS at four city pubs are facing an uncertain future after the company which operates them went into administration.
Bramwell Pub Company, which runs Varsity and Chaplins in Sunderland city centre, the Chesters, in Chester Road, and the Blue Bell, in Fulwell, announced that it had to apply for the measure.
Durham’s Varsity is also run by the company.
All five bars told the Echo they were open for business as usual today, although staff said they were unable to give any more details about their employment at this stage.
Bramwell operates 185 different venues across the UK, employing 3,300 staff.
Administrators have been appointed after the group experienced cash flow problems arising from the “current economic environment”.
Last week, bosses at Bramwell, formerly called Barracuda Pub Company, admitted that a restructuring process carried out in 2012 did not go far enough in cutting the group’s then £160million debt pile or in off-loading its loss-making sites.
It is understood that the Stonegate Pub Company is in advanced talks to acquire about 80 of the Smith and Jones brand operator’s better performing sites.
Zolfo Cooper has been appointed as joint administrator to the company and is now asking all parties interested in acquiring the business to contact them.
Administrators say they will continue to trade the majority of the estate “while exploring a range of options including the sale of parts of the business as a going concern”.
Peter Savile, partner at Zolfo Cooper, said: “We will continue to trade the business while exploring all possible options for its future, including a sale of the business, and would like to thank the staff for their continued support and professionalism during this process.
“We would invite parties wishing to make an expression of interest in certain sites to contact Zolfo Cooper.”
The number of pubs closing continues to increase, with the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) saying that in 2012 there were 18 pubs closing permanently in the UK each week.
The British Beer and Pub Association says there were 50,395 pubs operating in 2011, down from almost 68,000 in 1982.