Leading operator Eclectic Bar Group is to expand into the broader leisure market with an £18m takeover of Brighton Pier alongside management changes.
It has today announced it has entered into a conditional agreement to acquire The Brighton Marine Palace and Pier Company, which owns and operates the world-famous visitor attraction.
Eclectic, which operates bars and clubs such as Sakura, Lola Lo, and Po Na Na around the country, described the move as the next stage in becoming a “differentiated operator of leisure and entertainment assets”.
Chief executive Reuben Harley, who has headed the business for over 10 years, intends to step down from the board after the deal is completed.
The pier company’s senior management team, led by Anne Martin, plan to join the board on completion. Eclectic will also change its name to The Brighton Pier Group PLC.
The deal is being funded by raising at least £8.5m through issuing new shares, with the balance covered by £13m of new debt financing agreed with Barclays Bank.
Luke Johnson, executive chairman of Eclectic, said: “We are very pleased to announce the acquisition of Brighton Pier, one of the most iconic and instantly recognisable attractions in the UK. The pier is hugely popular with the British public and it occupies a special place as a landmark at the heart of Brighton.
“Brighton is one of the UK’s most popular visitor destinations with over 10m visitors per year, making it the most visited place in the south-east. The pier itself is Britain’s most popular attraction outside London.
“The pier has been well run and well maintained by the previous owners and we welcome Anne Martin and her first-class management team to the newly enlarged Eclectic group.
“This acquisition represents the next stage in the group’s development, expanding the company’s existing portfolio and using the enhanced board’s diverse skillset to become a differentiated operator of leisure and entertainment assets.
“I’d like to thank Reuben Harley for his contribution to the success of the group. He leaves with our warm wishes.”
Eclectic Bar Group already operates in Brighton with bars Dirty Blonde and Lola Lo and nightclub Coalition. The pier is already home to the Palm Court Restaurant, Victoria’s Bar and the 350-capacity Horatio’s Bar.