8 types of paperwork you need to sell your pub

07/03/2023 Venners Ltd.

“If you’re considering selling your pub it can be tricky to know where to start. As experts in the industry we want to provide you with as much help as possible on the ins and outs of what it takes to sell your pub and who can help you do it. There are a number of ways we can help with the process of selling your pub, we can offer support and guidance throughout your pubs entire life cycle.”

– Malcolm Muir , Consultancy Director, Venners

You are on a mission to sell your pub but you are struggling to know where to start when it comes to the paperwork you need. You are in the right place! Selling a pub is a journey, and a journey requires preparation. By now you should have already chosen the business experts who will help you along the way. In this blog we want to make sure you know exactly what you need from them and which steps you need to take to collate the right sets of paperwork.


There is a lot to do, and it can be incredibly overwhelming. Having the understanding of what data and documentation you need will help you gain control of the selling journey and take things at your own pace. This ultimate guide will not only cover what documentation you will be required to show, it will also explore what extra documentation can help you sell your pub most profitably.


1. The legal paperwork you need and who can help you get it

Your primary starting point is to locate your proof of ownership documentation. Christie & Co have provided some extra tips on this. They say that “if you own the freehold this will be a copy of your Title from the Land Registry, which can be obtained by your chosen agent. If you own the leasehold, you will need to provide your landlord’s details and a signed copy of your lease, the necessary information can then be deciphered.” Once you have located the relevant documentation, you need to show this to both your solicitor and your estate agent.

Next up is your licensing documentation. You will not need this immediately, but having it to hand as a supporting document will be helpful in your journey to sell your pub. Operational consultants can assess and advise you on any current conditions attached to your licenses to ensure none are being contravened. Otherwise you could face a licence review by the council in the middle of the process, interrupting the sale transaction.

Sometimes, having a look through your insurance paperwork can help you translate the specific conditions that are associated to your property, to your buyer. It is also useful to offer a sense of transparency about the level of insurance costs a buyer could be looking at. This information might be useful for your estate agent who in turn can inform a buyer to improve their confidence in the sale and encourage them to continue their journey with you.


2. The accounting paperwork you must ask your accountant to prepare

It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but these documents are absolutely essential as you sell your pub. Your accountant, with help from your stocktakers, can help you collate your financial portfolio to show your business is financially flourishing. They will need:

o 3 years of Profit and Loss statements (P&Ls)
o 4 quarters of VAT returns
o Management accounts from last year end

A regular independent stocktaking programme should help provide some of the information your accountant will need. In particular, your stocktake report should contain a fully costed inventory of your stock (or a stock valuation). It should also include crucial data on trade splits and barrelage (a universal measure of all liquid – spirits, soft and beers – as a number of 36 Gallon Barrels). Above all, if you have been working closely with a stocktaker you will note that your improved stock control and performance measurements have helped to build a stronger P&L for sale.

To finish of this set of accounting paperwork, make sure you have employed a qualified valuer to provide you a fully costed inventory list of all your assets, including your fixtures and fittings.


3. Some additional finance records that will give you a leg up

Your financial portfolio could be strengthened with additional support from an operational consultant. They will take some of the following data and put it into a simplified report which you can share with your estate agent.

Your chosen operational consultant should be able to review cash and banking records to ensure that they match trading figures, showing that your pub is in good standing. When it comes to employing an operational consultant, it is best to do so sooner rather than later. Longer term support allows for effective protocols to be put in place, thereby securing both your financial stability and the supporting documentation.

Although we will cover HR specific documentation later on, at this stage it is poignant to refer to payroll cost documentation. Working with your operational consultant can directly reduce outgoing payroll costs by advising on effective staff rotas. They will also be able to evidence that you are running a tight ship by helping you perfect the process and collect necessary records associated to hours worked and tips distribution. This will be especially helpful if your pub is sold with a TUPE agreement.


4. The operational documents to help your pub stand out

Going back to your operational consultant for supplementary operational paperwork is vital to the successful sale of your pub business. Their reporting can cover a more in-depth perspective on the general costs breakdown of your business, allowing you to refine it before you sell your pub. This includes menu setups, menu costings and waste controls.

We have already touched on the information your accountant needed from the stocktaking reports. However, your operational consultant can take that data one step further by giving you key pointers on optimisations. Besides stocktaking reports, other control processes and procedure documentation, can be presented in a reporting format to boost the saleability of your pub.


5. The necessary HR documents to prove your pub is above board

Having a clear overview of all your HR paperwork is crucial for evidencing the legal and ethical running of your pub. This is particularly relevant if you are dealing with a TUPE agreement, but can also be useful to show the success of the inner workings of your pub business. The documentation you need to gather should be accessible via your finance and HR directors, your accountants and your operational consultants.

Records regarding Right To Work, GDPR compliance, National Living Wage adherence and more, need to be pulled together to form an overview of all HR related statutory compliance. You will also need a record of your staff and labour costs, as well as information on staffing structure, detailing roles, working hours, length of tenure with the business, holiday entitlements and rates of pay, as well as shift patterns. The last bits of this collection of paperwork should include all policies – such as management practices and staff training – and internal communication.


6. A checklist of compliance details, assessments and records

When you sell your pub you want to paint a positive picture of your business. You can do so by showing its general adherence to internal policies and procedures as well as governmental laws. Statutory compliance records and relevant certifications need to be at the forefront of your paperwork bundle. Here is a list of all the certificates you need to be able to present as evidence that your property has been assessed and is legally compliant:

o Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
o Asbestos survey
o Gas certificated
o Environmental Heath (EHO)
o Fire risk assessment
o Septic tank certification and discharge licence
o Electrical safety

Employee Performance compliance records are not an official requirement, but can once again help you present your pub in the best light possible. This is closely linked to your policy and procedure documentation that you should already have collated. It accurately reflects the quality and standards associated to your pub business and gives a buyer somewhat of an idea about how your pub is locally perceived. Which is brings us nicely to our penultimate set of paperwork…


7. The marketing documents to make your business sparkle

Having a well-rounded marketing setup can be a great selling point to prospective buyers. If you can pass on ownership and trademark rights of an established brand, which includes marketing assets such as your logos, website and social media profiles, levels of interest in your property may multiply. Any recent publications and guides that positively feature your pub online or on paper can also be of benefit.

Proven popularity of your establishment will make your pub more appealing. This can be done through comprehensive marketing analytic reports showing the levels of footfall and traffic your business typically sees. Perceptions of your pub brand can be demonstrated through recent positive online reviews across a number of platforms, including Google Reviews, TripAdvisor, Trustpilot and social media.


8.Infrastructure documents

It makes sense to offer extra guidance to buyers about the partnerships and agreements that contribute to the success of your business. Although most agreements will die with any change of ownership it can be in your best interest to ask your operational consultant to carry out an infrastructure assessment. This can include any details about pre-existing working relationships, pricing agreements and amendments. Any compliance measurements evidencing the dependability of current suppliers through the delivery of service level agreement KPIs and price versus product administration.

To accompany the partnership and supplier reports, gathering the below infrastructure documentation will also help you sell your pub:

o Details of installed technology
o Energy usage
o Equipment warranties & manuals
o Equipment leases
o Supplier contracts
o Partner agreements
o General maintenance structure & documents


Prepped and ready to go

That is all folks! We appreciate that the sheer amount of paperwork and preparation is a lot to process. But for the sake of the profitable and successful sale of your pub, you will not regret your hard work. Bear in mind that with the right support from experts, a lot of the groundwork for gathering the required paperwork will be done for you. If you need a hand with anything our specialist buying and selling team and sister company connections can go a long way in getting you ready! Contact us directly via the form on this page.