London pub chain buys Brighton's Lion and Lobster for record £4.5m

London pub chain buys Brighton's Lion and Lobster for record £4.5m

London pub chain buys Brighton's Lion and Lobster for record £4.5m

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A pub famed for its rabbit warren of nooks and crannies has been sold to a Chelsea-based pub group for a record price of £4.5 million.

The distinctive Lion and Lobster pub in Sillwood Street in Brighton is believed to have become the most expensive pub in the city after being sold to the City Pub Company.

The popular pub which has a range of different rooms over three floors has been owned by actor Gary Whelan since 2001.

The sale will be a considerable mark-up for The Bill star who bought the property from friend Jack Harding for less than £1 million.

Regulars are being reassured that the pub's new owners are keen to “stick with the formula” that has made the pub one of the city's most popular and packed drinking establishments.

Mr Whelan, who is best-known for his role as Detective Inspector Haines in The Bill and who appeared as headmaster Brendan Kearney in Ballykissangel, has now moved back to his birthplace of Dublin.

The Lion and Lobster is one of Brighton's oldest pubs dating back to the 19th century and was previously known as The Olive Branch and The Rockingham.

It will be the first time that the London-based City Pub Company have bought a pub in Brighton and Hove and expands on their portfolio of establishments they own in London, Oxford, Cambridge, Norwich and Stratford-Upon-Avon.

The City Pub Company is the latest venture of pub entrepreneur Clive Watson after selling his previous firm, the Capital Pub Company, to brewers Greene King for £70 million three years ago.

James Grimes, of licensed leisure specialists AG&G who acted for the buyers, said the £4.5 million price tag was “groundbreaking” not just for the city but also the country with very few establishments selling at such a price.

Previous high pub sales in Brighton and Hove were around the £2 million mark including the Wick Inn in Western Road, the Good Companions in Dyke Road, the Pub Du Vin in Ship Street and the Post and Telegraph Wetherspoons in North Street.

Mr Grimes said that his client was interested in buying more pubs in the city and favoured traditional establishments.

He added: “There are not many in the pub trade like The Lion and Lobster, there cannot be that many that do the business they are doing.

“It is an institution and I have always known that the pub was a gold mine.

“The owners approached me, the market is very strong at the moment and I think they thought it would be a good time to sell, and my client had been looking at Brighton if the right deal came along.

“The Lion and Lobster was sold by Irish actor Gary Whelan, who has made a name for himself playing police officers on shows such as The Bill, EastEnders and Prime Suspect - I think it's safe to say both sides consider the deal a fair cop

“Essentially, they want to stick with the formula that has made the pub such a success over the years.”

The seven-figure deal is set to be completed next week.

Comments (23)

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9:30am Tue 8 Apr 14

Zykonaton says...

Shame!!
Shame!! Zykonaton
  • Score: 9

9:55am Tue 8 Apr 14

kevin meredith says...

Might of been good to mention that the Loin and Lobster also has a restaurant with private dinning rooms so it's way more than just a pub. Over the 15 Mr Whelan had the place they did so much improvements which must of cost a fortune.
Might of been good to mention that the Loin and Lobster also has a restaurant with private dinning rooms so it's way more than just a pub. Over the 15 Mr Whelan had the place they did so much improvements which must of cost a fortune. kevin meredith
  • Score: 4

10:17am Tue 8 Apr 14

Maxwell's Ghost says...

Will it end up like the pretend pub du vin? I particularly despise the wallpaper in the pub du vin which to the drunken eye looks like exposed brick walls.
Will it end up like the pretend pub du vin? I particularly despise the wallpaper in the pub du vin which to the drunken eye looks like exposed brick walls. Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 6

11:05am Tue 8 Apr 14

clubrob6 says...

They should have done some research,its not the centre of London.Plus its scope is limited especially being in a residential area.Its a great pub to meets friends in if they try to change it they will kill it off.
They should have done some research,its not the centre of London.Plus its scope is limited especially being in a residential area.Its a great pub to meets friends in if they try to change it they will kill it off. clubrob6
  • Score: 11

11:32am Tue 8 Apr 14

Zykonaton says...

clubrob6 wrote:
They should have done some research,its not the centre of London.Plus its scope is limited especially being in a residential area.Its a great pub to meets friends in if they try to change it they will kill it off.
Yep, that's the beauty of a lot of Brighton pubs. They ooze character and charm and are unique and this is because they're independent.
This is the danger of a big company (especially from London), taking over. It runs a great risk of losing all this.
The last thing we want is a 'Starbucks style' chain of faceless pubs!
[quote][p][bold]clubrob6[/bold] wrote: They should have done some research,its not the centre of London.Plus its scope is limited especially being in a residential area.Its a great pub to meets friends in if they try to change it they will kill it off.[/p][/quote]Yep, that's the beauty of a lot of Brighton pubs. They ooze character and charm and are unique and this is because they're independent. This is the danger of a big company (especially from London), taking over. It runs a great risk of losing all this. The last thing we want is a 'Starbucks style' chain of faceless pubs! Zykonaton
  • Score: 28

12:42pm Tue 8 Apr 14

city-boy says...

I was in this great pub on Friday night, great atmosphere and packed.

And then I thought:- how the hell would we all get out alive if there was a serious fire!!. There must have been over 200 people upstairs. We would never have got down that one staircase.

Two doors downstairs, one saying "please use the other door!".

Anyone else know where the fire exits are.... and where do they lead to? :)

But, yes a great pub, would love to own it.
I was in this great pub on Friday night, great atmosphere and packed. And then I thought:- how the hell would we all get out alive if there was a serious fire!!. There must have been over 200 people upstairs. We would never have got down that one staircase. Two doors downstairs, one saying "please use the other door!". Anyone else know where the fire exits are.... and where do they lead to? :) But, yes a great pub, would love to own it. city-boy
  • Score: 8

2:39pm Tue 8 Apr 14

John Fallon says...

What an astonishing price! Great pub and I can't see City Pub Co changing it - they'll have justified it on its current turnover. Been to other CPC pubs and you'd never know they were in a chain.
What an astonishing price! Great pub and I can't see City Pub Co changing it - they'll have justified it on its current turnover. Been to other CPC pubs and you'd never know they were in a chain. John Fallon
  • Score: 3

3:09pm Tue 8 Apr 14

Royal_Recruit says...

city-boy wrote:
I was in this great pub on Friday night, great atmosphere and packed.

And then I thought:- how the hell would we all get out alive if there was a serious fire!!. There must have been over 200 people upstairs. We would never have got down that one staircase.

Two doors downstairs, one saying "please use the other door!".

Anyone else know where the fire exits are.... and where do they lead to? :)

But, yes a great pub, would love to own it.
Fire Engineering. Have a look at how wide the doors are for starters.
[quote][p][bold]city-boy[/bold] wrote: I was in this great pub on Friday night, great atmosphere and packed. And then I thought:- how the hell would we all get out alive if there was a serious fire!!. There must have been over 200 people upstairs. We would never have got down that one staircase. Two doors downstairs, one saying "please use the other door!". Anyone else know where the fire exits are.... and where do they lead to? :) But, yes a great pub, would love to own it.[/p][/quote]Fire Engineering. Have a look at how wide the doors are for starters. Royal_Recruit
  • Score: 1

3:18pm Tue 8 Apr 14

odear says...

Good Luck Garry new bar stuff would go down a treat and the ones that sit in the nooks a crannys!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Good Luck Garry new bar stuff would go down a treat and the ones that sit in the nooks a crannys!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!! odear
  • Score: 0

4:16pm Tue 8 Apr 14

clarkebrighton says...

GOOD LUCK TO GARY, without Doubt the City Pub Co has Paid far to much for this Building, and Business, They must have more money than sense.
And not carried out to much Research on the Area.
It would be very hard to value at £4.5 million even if it was on a PRIME SITE !! and NOT on a secondary Road as it is. Very Strange
GOOD LUCK TO GARY, without Doubt the City Pub Co has Paid far to much for this Building, and Business, They must have more money than sense. And not carried out to much Research on the Area. It would be very hard to value at £4.5 million even if it was on a PRIME SITE !! and NOT on a secondary Road as it is. Very Strange clarkebrighton
  • Score: -4

4:24pm Tue 8 Apr 14

clubrob6 says...

Bit over the top,the council should look at its valuation of £9M for the massive hove seafront council offices.
Bit over the top,the council should look at its valuation of £9M for the massive hove seafront council offices. clubrob6
  • Score: 5

5:45pm Tue 8 Apr 14

JR.JR. says...

It's a great pub that's been brilliantly run and good luck to Gary & co.
I know City Pub Co very well who are first class in every respect. I can assure you this place will not be any worse off. I know they have some ideas to make it even better.
Forget this London and Chelsea stuff and deffo forget this Starbucks comment.
Their pubs are all unbranded and offer a real alternative beer and food choice.
Check out the Bath Brewhouse, Cambridge Brewhouse, St Aldates in Oxford, Church St Townhouse in Stratford Upon Avon. All top quality in terms of food and drink offerings.
It's a great pub that's been brilliantly run and good luck to Gary & co. I know City Pub Co very well who are first class in every respect. I can assure you this place will not be any worse off. I know they have some ideas to make it even better. Forget this London and Chelsea stuff and deffo forget this Starbucks comment. Their pubs are all unbranded and offer a real alternative beer and food choice. Check out the Bath Brewhouse, Cambridge Brewhouse, St Aldates in Oxford, Church St Townhouse in Stratford Upon Avon. All top quality in terms of food and drink offerings. JR.JR.
  • Score: 2

6:01pm Tue 8 Apr 14

Smithside says...

Let's hope the new owners will get a wheelchair ramp.
Let's hope the new owners will get a wheelchair ramp. Smithside
  • Score: 2

8:22pm Tue 8 Apr 14

loug says...

if it changes, especially food wise, it would be a tragic loss... best bar in the area for atmosphere, food and ambience. good luck... be careful... dont go changing....
if it changes, especially food wise, it would be a tragic loss... best bar in the area for atmosphere, food and ambience. good luck... be careful... dont go changing.... loug
  • Score: 4

9:56pm Tue 8 Apr 14

her professional says...

JR.JR. wrote:
It's a great pub that's been brilliantly run and good luck to Gary & co.
I know City Pub Co very well who are first class in every respect. I can assure you this place will not be any worse off. I know they have some ideas to make it even better.
Forget this London and Chelsea stuff and deffo forget this Starbucks comment.
Their pubs are all unbranded and offer a real alternative beer and food choice.
Check out the Bath Brewhouse, Cambridge Brewhouse, St Aldates in Oxford, Church St Townhouse in Stratford Upon Avon. All top quality in terms of food and drink offerings.
"Top quality food and drink offerings". Sounds suspiciously like a marketing man speaking.
Anyone remember th Rockingham when Barry and Carrie ran it? Predominantly gay one side, and studenty on the other, brilliant pub.
[quote][p][bold]JR.JR.[/bold] wrote: It's a great pub that's been brilliantly run and good luck to Gary & co. I know City Pub Co very well who are first class in every respect. I can assure you this place will not be any worse off. I know they have some ideas to make it even better. Forget this London and Chelsea stuff and deffo forget this Starbucks comment. Their pubs are all unbranded and offer a real alternative beer and food choice. Check out the Bath Brewhouse, Cambridge Brewhouse, St Aldates in Oxford, Church St Townhouse in Stratford Upon Avon. All top quality in terms of food and drink offerings.[/p][/quote]"Top quality food and drink offerings". Sounds suspiciously like a marketing man speaking. Anyone remember th Rockingham when Barry and Carrie ran it? Predominantly gay one side, and studenty on the other, brilliant pub. her professional
  • Score: 7

6:23am Wed 9 Apr 14

madzukun88 says...

clarkebrighton wrote:
GOOD LUCK TO GARY, without Doubt the City Pub Co has Paid far to much for this Building, and Business, They must have more money than sense.
And not carried out to much Research on the Area.
It would be very hard to value at £4.5 million even if it was on a PRIME SITE !! and NOT on a secondary Road as it is. Very Strange
Sorry, I didn't realise you were an expert at all this. Despite the location of the pub, it's the popularity of it that has caused it to be worth that much (amongst other factors like the size of it, the work that's gone into it in previous years etc). I would rather buy one of the most popular drinking establishments in the entire city (even tucked away down a few side streets), instead of buying a pub on western road that no one wants to even walk passed.

When you are looking to buy a pub, it is not just the location or the size of the building that you need to take into account. It's the income the pub currently makes, the number of return/repeat customers etc. I guarantee they would not have considered buying the lion and lobster for as much as £4.5 million if it didn't have as many loyal customers as it does now.

Everytime I go to the lion and lobster it is packed. Whenever I go for a Sunday roast there is a wait to get a table because of how amazing the food and the service is. They havent paid £4.5mil just for the building and the name. They've paid that much for the customers the establishment brings in aswell.
[quote][p][bold]clarkebrighton[/bold] wrote: GOOD LUCK TO GARY, without Doubt the City Pub Co has Paid far to much for this Building, and Business, They must have more money than sense. And not carried out to much Research on the Area. It would be very hard to value at £4.5 million even if it was on a PRIME SITE !! and NOT on a secondary Road as it is. Very Strange[/p][/quote]Sorry, I didn't realise you were an expert at all this. Despite the location of the pub, it's the popularity of it that has caused it to be worth that much (amongst other factors like the size of it, the work that's gone into it in previous years etc). I would rather buy one of the most popular drinking establishments in the entire city (even tucked away down a few side streets), instead of buying a pub on western road that no one wants to even walk passed. When you are looking to buy a pub, it is not just the location or the size of the building that you need to take into account. It's the income the pub currently makes, the number of return/repeat customers etc. I guarantee they would not have considered buying the lion and lobster for as much as £4.5 million if it didn't have as many loyal customers as it does now. Everytime I go to the lion and lobster it is packed. Whenever I go for a Sunday roast there is a wait to get a table because of how amazing the food and the service is. They havent paid £4.5mil just for the building and the name. They've paid that much for the customers the establishment brings in aswell. madzukun88
  • Score: -1

2:10pm Wed 9 Apr 14

clarkebrighton says...

Re: madzukun88 weds 6.23am

Sorry if I touched a Nerve. And I do wish Gary ALL the Best for the Future.
However my OPINION is that the Building and Business is well overpriced.
And I Base this opinion on my 40 years Experience owning Businesses such as Nursing Homes, Hotels, Public Houses, In London, East Sussex, and the
West Country, And more recently Buying and Selling the same.
Re: madzukun88 weds 6.23am Sorry if I touched a Nerve. And I do wish Gary ALL the Best for the Future. However my OPINION is that the Building and Business is well overpriced. And I Base this opinion on my 40 years Experience owning Businesses such as Nursing Homes, Hotels, Public Houses, In London, East Sussex, and the West Country, And more recently Buying and Selling the same. clarkebrighton
  • Score: 7

3:16pm Wed 9 Apr 14

Fairfax Aches says...

so the LoL finally sells out and jumps aboard the corporate merry go round. Prices to go up, quality of food and clientele to go down.
so the LoL finally sells out and jumps aboard the corporate merry go round. Prices to go up, quality of food and clientele to go down. Fairfax Aches
  • Score: 2

5:48pm Wed 9 Apr 14

JohnMcC says...

I am staggered at that price. I don't think the location is particularly relevant, the Lion and Lobster has a tremendous reputation and rightly so and that is of course part of what they are paying for. I honestly think however that there is very little room for improvement with the place.

Not sure what Zykonaton is on about when he talks of Brighton pubs being independent. Sure, a few are but Drinks In Brighton control about a tenth of them for a kick off. Actually, if anyone knows let me know, I personally would always prefer an independently run pub. To be fair to Drinks In Brighton they do a reasonable job of making their pubs SEEM independent but their prices are more expensive than average and I cannot see this new lot doing anything other than inflating the prices at The Lion and Lobster.

I run a pub in London and Brighton was an inspiration for me when opening as the prices were reasonable and you had a great mix of characters in most pubs. At least that was the case ten years ago, Brighton pubs have got really expensive, comparable to London a lot of them are. When you consider the difference in wages that is a particularly bad thing.
I am staggered at that price. I don't think the location is particularly relevant, the Lion and Lobster has a tremendous reputation and rightly so and that is of course part of what they are paying for. I honestly think however that there is very little room for improvement with the place. Not sure what Zykonaton is on about when he talks of Brighton pubs being independent. Sure, a few are but Drinks In Brighton control about a tenth of them for a kick off. Actually, if anyone knows let me know, I personally would always prefer an independently run pub. To be fair to Drinks In Brighton they do a reasonable job of making their pubs SEEM independent but their prices are more expensive than average and I cannot see this new lot doing anything other than inflating the prices at The Lion and Lobster. I run a pub in London and Brighton was an inspiration for me when opening as the prices were reasonable and you had a great mix of characters in most pubs. At least that was the case ten years ago, Brighton pubs have got really expensive, comparable to London a lot of them are. When you consider the difference in wages that is a particularly bad thing. JohnMcC
  • Score: 2

6:56pm Thu 10 Apr 14

Seagulls14 says...

Great pub, it was my local for five years which eventually paid off, I met my now wife in there in 2009! Cheers all, good luck to the new and old owners
Great pub, it was my local for five years which eventually paid off, I met my now wife in there in 2009! Cheers all, good luck to the new and old owners Seagulls14
  • Score: 2

12:33pm Mon 14 Apr 14

TheDrive says...

Fun pub - good vibe. Also great food. Be nice if you could use the toilets without having to queue behind all the drug takers there.
Fun pub - good vibe. Also great food. Be nice if you could use the toilets without having to queue behind all the drug takers there. TheDrive
  • Score: 0

12:22pm Tue 15 Apr 14

pumpkineater23 says...

Used to be one of the best pubs in the area. Now it's a horrible 'laddy' pub. The restaurant has gone downhill and then there's the extremely aggressive bunch of doormen. Lion & Lobster is a stones throw from The Hamptons and the Windmill.. both much nicer pubs in every way.
Used to be one of the best pubs in the area. Now it's a horrible 'laddy' pub. The restaurant has gone downhill and then there's the extremely aggressive bunch of doormen. Lion & Lobster is a stones throw from The Hamptons and the Windmill.. both much nicer pubs in every way. pumpkineater23
  • Score: 2

3:27pm Thu 17 Apr 14

Old Ladys Gin says...

I remember when it was the Rockingham and the owner would only let you in if:
1/. You looked like you had taken a bath and dressed half way decently and or could hold your drink (the latter rare these days).
2/. He fancied you.
I remember when it was the Rockingham and the owner would only let you in if: 1/. You looked like you had taken a bath and dressed half way decently and or could hold your drink (the latter rare these days). 2/. He fancied you. Old Ladys Gin
  • Score: 0

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