The best shares to hold for perks and freebies

The days when being a shareholder allowed you widespread perks are all but gone. But some companies do still offer them. Here are just a few.

160516-perks

The days when being a shareholder allowed you widespread perks are all but gone. After all, shareholder perks – however small – eat into the bottom line, and these days many companies believe that the best way to reward shareholders is to make as big a profit as possible and pay that out as a dividend.

Events such as Young & Co's Brewery's riotous AGMs are legendary. Every year, 2,000-odd shareholders were entitled to a free lunch and unlimited beer and wine. That particular perk ended in 1986 as it was estimated to cost the company anything up to £70 a head – all for the price of a single share.

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And Eurotunnel is still counting the cost of its rash promise to its original shareholders. For an investment of £5,250 in 1987, the company offered unlimited travel under the Channel to 5,000 "foundation" investors. Later shareholders got less generous, but still attractive, incentives. When the company tried to take the perk away, the investors mounted a successful legal challenge.

But some companies do still offer perks to shareholders, although none are so generous. Some are available to owners of just one share; others only become available after you've spent rather a lot of money.

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A word of warning, however: not all perks are available to people who hold shares in nominee accounts (which is anyone who uses any of the big online investment platforms, for instance). And the incentives can be taken away at any time.

A surprisingly high number of companies offering perks are brewers and pubcos. Many of their offers apply to meals, rather than a round of drinks. And you may need to stump up a sizeable sum to get the discount.

For the well-dressed investor about town, Moss Bros offers 20% off purchases for holders of just one share. Next gives a one-off discount of 25% off purchases. And fancy-handbag maker Mulberry offers holders of 1,000 shares (which will cost you about £2,500) 20% off purchases of up to £10,000 a year.

Perhaps the best bargain is for bibliophiles. Book-lovers can get 35% off all print books published by Bloomsbury, as long as they have bought one share (which will set you back about £1.50 at today's price).

Below is an uncomprehensive list of firms that offer perks, and the perks offered. But just to reiterate: do not buy shares on the basis of perks alone.

CompanyPerkNo. of shares needed
Bloomsbury35% off all print books1
CarnivalOnboard spending money, value dependent on the length of the cruise100
Chapel Down GroupOne free tour and tasting for two people each year (worth £20.00) 25% off one purchase each year500
 33% off wines and vine lease schemes. 25% off Curious beer & cider. One free tour and tasting for two people per year2,000
Countrywide Farmers5% off products3,000
Fuller, Smith & TurnerDiscounts on food and accommodation500
Greene King20% off food and drink when dining100
Groupe Eurotunnel30% off regular fares for 6 single journeys per calendar year30,000
Inchcape£100 off new or used vehicles. 15% off service and parts and accessories100
Irish Continental GroupUp to 20% off ferry crossings between UK and Ireland1,000
Johnson Service GroupVouchers for money off dry cleaning1
Legal & GeneralVarious discounts on Legal & General insurance products1
Marks & SpencerDiscount vouchers1
Marston's20% off food and accommodation500
Merlin Entertainments40% off either 2 adult or 1 family annual passes317
Mitchells & ButlersMoney off meals1
Moss Bros20% off any purchase within the Moss Bros Group1
Mulberry20% off purchases valued at up to £10,000 a year250
N Brown Group plcUp to 20% off1
NextA one off 25% discount on full priced merchandise100
Safestore Holdings25% off storage and packaging materials (new customers only)100
Share plc30% discount on online dealing commission500
The Restaurant Group12 vouchers for 25% off250
Shepherd Neame15% off items in the online shop, 20% off food and 25% off accommodation100
 20% off items in the online shop, 25% off food and 30% off accommodation3,000
WhitbreadDiscount vouchers64
Young'sMoney off accommodation1
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