Property agent Davis Coffer Lyons has seen a 35% increase in the number of applicants making enquiries about buying a pub.
The comapny's pubs and bars team said there were "clear signs" that the market was starting to turn, with greater numbers of established multiple operators and first-time buyers expressing their interest to acquire sites. London and key regional cities were the preferred locations.
Paul Tallentyre, DCL's director of pubs, said: "There has been a sharp increase in enquiries compared against the same time last year with established multiple operators now crying out for sites. We set up this department in 2005 and we have not seen such a remarkable start to the year since the prosperous years of 2005 and 2006. There is still a severe lack of high end quality disposals resulting in prices being slightly inflated when they eventually become available."
The team also reported a 25% increase in disposal instructions as well as more activity in the acquisition market with many clients deciding to make aggressive approaches to buy other businesses instead of waiting for them to come to the market.
Tallentyre also suggested that now could be a good time for landlords to churn their portfolio. "The market is full of lower-end stock that hasn't sold over the last year so increasingly we have been putting together tailor-made acquisitions packages for operators who are looking to expand, actively targeting suitable off-market sites."
He added: "There's a simple question of supply and demand and currently the demand is very high and the supply needs to be provided."
By Neil Gerrard
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