More than 150 pubs, bars and clubs across the region could close after the chain behind them issued a profit warning.

Unions have warned company Stonegate’s 157 venues in the region could be at risk after it said there was no guarantee it could continue as it struggles to refinance a £2.2bn debt.

Stonegate is behind brands including Slug & Lettuce, Be At One, Flares, Popworld, and countless local boozers. The firm is based in the Cayman Islands and is owned by private equity firm TDR Capital, which also owns brands including Asda.

Nadine Houghton of the GMB union said: “TDR bosses are private equity gamblers - playing fast and loose with people’s jobs and lives.

“When their risky ventures go wrong, they swan off to their next project, leaving workers and communities to pick up the pieces.

“Now, hundreds of much-loved pubs across the North East are in serious danger of pulling their last pint.

“It’s a disgrace.”

Stonegate has said no pubs will close.  A spokesperson said: “We are really pleased with the performance of the business in 2023, which included a sector-leading Christmas trading period. We have delivered a rise in revenue and a significant increase in profitability. We have been very clear that we continue to work towards achieving our long-term balance sheet goals, with the successful refinancing of a portion of our estate in December marking a significant strategic step towards this. We would also like to assure our employees and partners that no venues are at risk as a result of this process.”

“TDR Capital has been and continues to be a supportive investor in Stonegate - developing the business over the last fourteen years into the UK’s largest pub company with 4,500 great venues across the country.”    

Local pubs across the region could be at risk of closing if Stonegate fails to secure funding.

The GMB has written to Liam Byrne MP, chair of the Business and Trade Committee in parliament, asking him to summon TDR bosses before the committee.

Appearing before that committee in January TDR COO Blair Thompson said: “We are in the process now of taking appropriate actions to extend the debt load on that business.

“It is important to bear in mind that this is a business that has grown significantly since it was formed 10, or 13 years ago when we first put it together.

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“But it would be unfair of us to ignore the fact that for the thick end of 18 months, that business was closed completely. So, during covid, hospitality businesses like Stonegate were completely closed, and as a result, that had negative effects on the cash flows and profitability of that business, which we are now taking active steps to remedy and mitigate.”

But as that is yet to happen Stonegate said earlier this month: “Since the refinancing plans haven’t been executed, there is an indication that a material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on the company and group’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

The firm is yet to agree new loans to replace debt due to be repaid in June 2025. Talks with potential lenders are underway, The Guardian reports.