Slug and Lettuce owner toasts £50m takeover of Be At One chain

Sky News understands that Stonegate Pub Company, which also owns the Walkabout and Yates brands, has struck a deal to buy Be At One from its founders and private equity backers.

The takeover will represent? another bet on Stonegate’s continued ability to improve the operation of the more than 700 sites under its management across Britain.

It has steadily grown operating profits in recent years, with results for the 52 weeks ended 24 September showing year-on-year sales, margin and profit growth.

Stonegate, which is owned by the buyout firm TDR Capital, is focused on town centres, with venues ranging from traditional community pubs to late-night bars.

The company has explored a stock market listing that would have created one of the UK’s biggest listed pub groups, but since deciding against doing so has continued to expand through a string of acquisitions.

Last year, it fought a battle to buy Revolution Bars but ended up abandoning its interest.

In addition to Be At One, Stonegate is also understood to be on the verge of at least one other significant acquisition.

Its purchase of Be At One will come 20 years after the chain was founded by a trio of cocktail mixers who had worked together at TGI Friday’s in London’s Leicester Square.

They sold a minority stake to Piper Private Equity in 2011 and last year signed a £20m refinancing deal with Santander UK to pave the way for the expansion of the number of sites from 33 to 70.

The decision to sell their business comes at a time when a number of leisure and hospitality operators on UK high streets are facing serious hardship because of rising costs and wavering consumer confidence.

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