Luke Johnson’s Eclectic Group has entered a conditional agreement to purchase the Palace pier. Eclectic Group runs some of the UK’s most famous bars including Dirty Blonde, Sakura and LoLa Lo.
The company plans to fund the acquisition through a conditional placing of new ordinary shares to raise at least £8.5m. The balance is proposed to be funded through £13m debt financing from Barclays.
Johnson 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 10 million 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.”
WHO IS LUKE JOHNSON?
- Luke Johnson is the chairman of Risk Capital Partners.
- He was chairman of Channel 4 Television Corporation from January 2004 to January 2010.
- In 1993 Johnson took control of Pizza Express with partners and subsequently became chairman. He grew the business from 12 owned restaurants to over 150, and the share price from 40p to over 900p. He sold out in 1999 and started Signature Restaurants, which owned The Ivy, J.Sheekey and Le Caprice, as well as the Belgo chain, selling the business in 2005.
- In 2000 he started the Strada restaurant concept from scratch and took the chain to 30 units, selling the business in 2006. The total proceeds from these two disposals were in excess of £90m. He was a director of fresh fish distributor Seafood Holdings, sold for £45m in 2010.
- In 2004 Johnson became chairman and part-owner of family restaurant chain Giraffe Restaurants, stepping down in 2013 when Giraffe was sold to Tesco for £50m.
- He has been involved as a director/owner of various quoted companies in retailing, pubs and bars, parcel delivery and maritime commerce, including Whittard of Chelsea, My Kinda Town, Clear Leisure, Nightfreight, Topps Tiles and American Port Services.
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