• M&A Leisure deal flow bulletin

    February 2020 edition


M&A Leisure deal flow bulletin - February 2020 edition

25 March 2020

Welcome to the latest edition of our bulletin – the BDO M&A Leisure team's overview of the latest M&A activity in the leisure space.

To view our recent M&A Leisure sector credentials, client testimonials and team contacts download our M&A Leisure Credentials brochure. To view our complete Corporate Finance experience in the Leisure sector, explore our latest deals.

Restaurants and Bars

  • In November 2019, it was announced that Brighton’s Shelter Hall is to be transformed into a seafront food hall. The multi-million pound project, led by Dan Warne (previously MD at Deliveroo) and Graham Turner, is backed by Imbiba. The food hall is expected to open this year.
  • According to the Times and Mergermarket, Honest Burgers, the high-quality burger operator with 34 sites across the UK, launched discussions with potential investors in November.
  • The founders of Rosa’s Thai Café acquired Ceviche, a 6-site Peruvian-inspired brand, out of administration in November 2019.
  • In December 2019, The Potting Shed Trading, the UK-based bar group, was acquired by an undisclosed bidder, after being put into administration.
  • At the end of 2019, BK UK, the Bridgepoint backed Company that controls the master franchise for Burger King in the UK, increased its company-owned estate to 135 restaurants following the acquisition of 34 sites from Kout Food Group. There is a total of 517 Burger King restaurants, operated by both BK UK and franchisees, in the UK.
  • In January, The Handmade Burger Co, a UK-based burger restaurant chain, entered administration following a 50% decline in the company’s sales over the last few years. The company struggled to compete against other brands in the highly competitive burger market.
  • McDonald’s announced that it plans to invest £1bn in UK and Ireland business over the next three years, as part of its strategy to update the look and feel of restaurants as well as develop its digital proposition. The company is also targeting 60 new store openings in the UK in 2020.
  • On 20th February, HungryPanda, a UK-based online food delivery platform that specialises in Asian restaurants, announced it had secured USD $20m in funding from a pool of investors, with 83North and Felix Capital leading the round. The investment will allow the company to invest in technology, grow its team and accelerate its global expansion.
  • Farmer J, an all-day food market concept backed by Imbiba, announced in February, that they are looking to open 4 more sites in London over the next year.  At the end of last summer, Imbiba invested a further £2.5m into Farmer J.
  • The Restaurant Group announced that it will be closing up to 90 Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito sites by 2021. The closures will reduce the number of restaurants in the group’s leisure portfolio from 350 to c.260. However, up to 12 of the sites will be converted to its more successful Wagamama brand.
  • Tapas Revolution director and former La Tasca group operations director James Picton, launched Independent Spanish Restaurant Company (ISRC), which acquired four La Tasca sites from Casual Dining Group.  ISRC is expected to go onto make a number of further acquisitions as it looks to develop a portfolio of high-quality Spanish restaurants across the UK.
  • Island Poké, announced it will commence its international expansion as part of plans to open 40 sites over the next five years. The White Rabbit Fund-backed concept, will begin with France, Belgium and Luxembourg and is also looking to expand across the UK too during the coming years. 

Pubs and Brewers

  • In November 2019, Camerons Brewery, a UK-based brewery and pub group, acquired its domestic counterpart Bar Soba. The additional 5 UK venues, will see the brewer grow its retail-managed pub estate to 34 site
  • Richard Caring sold a 25% stake in his hospitality empire Caprice Holdings to the former prime minister of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, for £200m.  
  • On 4th November, it was announced that Admiral Taverns Limited, the UK-based pub owner and operator, had agreed to acquire a portfolio of 137 pubs from Marston’s plc, for a consideration of GBP £44.9m.
  • In early December, NewRiver  acquired North-West based community pub group Bravo Inns Limited for c.€18m, representing an EBITDA multiple of 6.8x according to Propel. Bravo Inns have established a portfolio of high-quality and well-managed pubs which complements Hawthorn Leisure's existing 660 community pub portfolio.
  • In January, Stonegate Pub Company acquired Bar Fever and 17 sites from Novus for £60m, while reporting a 1.7% increase in like-for-like sales.
  • On 24th January, it was announced that Hawthorn Leisure, the pub operations arm of NewRiver, has acquired a portfolio of 29 English and Welsh pubs from Marston’s for an undisclosed sum.
  • Robinsons Brewery, the UK- based brewer and pub operating company, has acquired Individual Inns, the UK-based operator of pubs and restaurants, for an undisclosed consideration. The acquisition will grow their managed pub estate and is in line with Robinsons Brewery’s strategy of investing in training and pub refurbishments.


  • In November 2019, it was revealed that Golden Tours, the London sightseeing company, was put up for sale, according to Mergermarket.
  • Hornblower Cruises & Events, the US-based yacht company that specialises in entertainment, dining cruises and tourist ferrying has acquired City Cruises, the UK-based tour boat operator. This acquisition will extend Hornblower’s international footprint into the UK market.
  • In December, Abercrombie & Kent, acquired the UK arm of Cox & Kings from its Indian parent company, for an undisclosed consideration.
  • At the beginning of January, Chester-based Sykes Holiday Cottages, acquired Pure Cottages Group, UK-based vacation home rental agency, from LDC. This acquisition supports the Sykes Holiday Cottages’ plans for further UK and international expansion.
  • The management of Leger Holidays have acquired 30% stake.  Leger is a UK-based escorted tours operator.
  • On 26 January, it was reported by Mergermarket that Saga launched a sale process for Titan Travel, which carries out escorted tours to 70 countries across the world.  The process was subsequently pulled (Mergermarket) due to Corona Virus disruption.
  • In February, Lakeview Manor, a UK-based lodge park and hotel, has been acquired by Kings Park Capital-backed holiday company Lakeshore Leisure Group.

Alternative Leisure

  • Social Entertainment Ventures (SEV), the operator of Bounce and Puttshack, secured £15.4m of new investment from Acropolis Capital for a 30% equity, in November 2019.  The funding will allow SEV grow the UK-based business in the USA and to launch a new bingo-based entertainment concept.
  • In December 2019, Cohen Media Group acquired Curzon Cinemas, the UK-based art house theatre chain, for an undisclosed sum. Curzon currently operates 20 theatres and 46 screens in and around London.
  • Total Fitness Health Clubs, acquired Paris Personal Training, a UK-based personal training business. This follows a five-year partnership between the two companies and is in line with Total Fitness’ turnaround strategy.
  • Maven Capital Partners and Simon Applebaum sold their portfolio company Attraction World, one of the UKs largest theme park and attraction ticket specialists to a group of investors including the management of the company in a secondary buyout transaction. 
  • In the same month, Spartan Race acquired the UK operations of Tough Mudder.


Please contact one of the M&A Leisure team if you would like to discuss any of the topics raised in more detail.

About BDO

To view our recent M&A Leisure sector credentials, client testimonials and team contacts download our M&A Leisure Credentials brochure. To view our complete Corporate Finance experience in the Leisure sector, explore our latest deals.

Our team works with a range of ambitious owner managed and private equity backed businesses across a wide range of leisure sub-sectors including pubs, restaurants and bars, travel and alternative leisure. Our specialists combine deep industry knowledge and technical experience to support businesses' growth journeys domestically and internationally, bringing together entrepreneurial passion and institutional rigour. 

Our team of sector specialists is integrated across accounting, audit, tax, other advisory and corporate finance, which means we are able to help our clients in many complementary areas throughout the transactions.

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