Heathcote sells part of group to Living Ventures

Restaurateur Paul Heathcote has sold five of his nine restaurants to Cheshire-based Living Ventures, owner of the Gusto and Blackhouse Grill chains.

The deal transfers three Olive Press restaurants in Cheadle Hulme, Liverpool and Manchester city centre to Living Ventures, along with Grado in Manchester and London Road Restaurant & Bar in Alderley Edge.

Tim Bacon, managing director of Living Ventures, said: "We are delighted to be bringing this boutique group of restaurants into the Living Ventures family and are looking forward to developing the sites and integrating them into our existing brands."

Living Ventures was founded in 1999 by Tim Bacon and Jeremy Roberts who developed a number of successful high street brands including the Living Room, which they sold in 2007.

Heathcote will continue to run his original Longridge Restaurant, the Olive Press in Preston and his soon to be opened Heathcotes Grill & Bar in Clitheroe. He is seeking a buyer for his Bolton site.

He said: "I am looking forward to running a smaller more focused family restaurant business.

"There is every chance that I will look to re-brand the Preston restaurant in the New Year but a final decision has yet to be made."

He added that a licensing agreement had been reached with Living Ventures over joint continued use of the Olive Press brand and that both organisations would take some time to decide on future branding of those operations.

"I have known Tim Bacon for many years. He is a very good operator and has had great success in growing his two brands – Gusto and Blackhouse Grill – so I know the restaurants are in good hands.

"The deal will allow me to concentrate on gaining recognition for a small group of restaurants. I have high ambitions for my original restaurant and the new Clitheroe one which opens next week.

"I am still a shareholder and director in the Heathcotes Outside catering business, of which I am very proud. We have some prestigious contracts and more in the pipeline and it continues to be an exciting business to be involved in.

"I have always said that at 50 I would change the way I worked. After nearly 35 years in the business I still have ambitions, including gaining Michelin recognition for Longridge."

Living Ventures has yet to decide whether it will re-brand the three very successful Olive Press sites or expand them.

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