Bass plots retail attack on Wetherspoon chain

Bass Leisure Retail is understood to be planning an all-out attack on the discount pub sector, dominated by JD Wetherspoon.

The company is expected to announce plans to “significantly increase” investment in its Goose & Granite chain at its half-year results this week, adding fuel to a growing high-street price war.

A Bass spokesman confirms it is planning a major expansion of the Goose chain and is looking at new sites across the UK.

But he refuses to confirm the extent of the investment ahead of the company’s half-year results.

The Goose chain, which has 16 outlets, markets a similar no-frills approach to Wetherspoon and has an aggressive pricing policy.

But if it is to seriously challenge Wetherspoon, analysts believe it will have to open 150 Goose-branded outlets in the next 15 to 18 months in key high-street locations.

One analyst says: “This is potentially bad news for Wetherspoon.

“Bass has the largest managed estate in the country and it would be relatively straightforward to convert many of these into Goose outlets.”

Wetherspoon has just over 400 pubs and plans to open 90 outlets a year for the foreseeable future. It broke new ground by introducing a national price list in more than 300 of its houses.

A Wetherspoon spokesman says: “Goose & Granite is without doubt a clone of Wetherspoon, but as far as we are concerned it is a far inferior offering.”

Bass is expected to finalise the &£2bn sale of its brewing assets in the next week. Bids are believed to have been received from Heineken, Carlsberg, Interbrew and South African Breweries.

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