Brunning & Price, The Restaurant Group’s pub division, has acquired Ribble Valley Inns through advisor Christie & Co for an undisclosed sum.
RVI, built up by Northcote Goup, represents a major deal for B&P, enjoying widespread recognition for its four destination venues – the Three Fishes in Mitton, the Highwayman at Kirkby Lonsdale, The Clog & Billycock in Pleasington and The Bull at Broughton.
The fifth RVI pub, the Nag’s Head in Tarporley, Cheshire, was not part of the deal and will be sold separately.
The acquisitions join B&P’s existing holdings in the Ribble Valley, the Aspinall Arms and Haighton Manor, which were also acquired through Christie & Co. The four pubs take B&P’s total estate to 62.
The Brunning & Price business was estalbished in 1989 and remains headquartered in Chester. It was sold to TRG in 2007 for £32m.
Mary Willcock, managing director, said: “We have admired Ribble Valley Inns for many years and believe that these well known and long-established businesses are perfectly positioned geographically for us to enhance our presence in the north of England.
“As always, we feel that a pub should retain its own personal character and look forward to working with the teams locally to ensure they prosper and thrive in the coming months and years.”
Northcote managing director Craig Bancroft said: “When approached by Christie & Co regarding the potential acquisition of RVI our first question was ‘to whom?’. Once we learnt that Brunning & Price were the interested party it made perfect sense to pursue the enquiry to its conclusion.
“Brunning & Price are a superbly run operation who invest in their people and their sites, building community food-led pubs. We will now turn our focus to developing Northcote further to continue to lead the North West in hospitality.”
In October last year, star chef Nigel Haworth, responsible with Bancroft for building the Northcote country house hotel brand, stepped down as chef-patron and joint managing director to become an ambassador the business.
Close to half of Brunning & Price’s estate is currently made up of pubs in the North West and North Wales, and the focus now may be on expanding beyond its heartland. Simon Chaplin, senior director at Christie & Co, said: “We have been working with Brunning & Price for over seven years now, helping them source suitable pubs for the estate.
“Their appetite to expand further continues and we are currently looking at several other possible acquisitions on their behalf in the Midlands and South West.”
Other brands in national operator TRG’s stable include Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquito, Garfunkel’s and Joe’s Kitchen, along ith its Concessions operation, which runs airport eateries for a variety of brands. The listed business this week reported a “challenging” 20-week period that saw like-for-like sales drop 4.3% year on year.