Nearly six months after putting itself up for sale, struggling pub chain Honeycombe Leisure has still not found a suitable buyer, it admitted last week.
The chain, which operates the Amber Taverns and Ma Hubbards brands, said that, since announcing back in June that it was seeking a buyer, and "despite a comprehensive auction process", no bid had been forthcoming.
Honeycombe held talks with a mystery third party last autumn but discussions were terminated in May.
In full-year results announced last week, chairman Sandy Anderson did concede his talks to take over the company were continuing although, he stressed, "there can be no certainty that any offer will be forthcoming".
A major stumbling block appears to be Honeycombe's high levels of debt. In the results, to the end of April, the chain reported a loss before exceptionals of £1.7m, four times as bad as the £400,000 loss last time around, and despite a 14.7% rise in turnover.
Anderson was brutally honest in his assessment for the business going forward. "It is clear that the business cannot continue in its current form. The level of gearing and the demands on cash in the present challenging environment provides no upside for any stakeholders, be it employees, shareholders or the bank," he said.
By Nic Paton