THE owner of Brighton Palace Pier is considering selling the pub and bar arm of his business empire.

Multi-millionaire businessman Luke Johnson’s company, Risk Capital Partners, is behind the Laine Pub Company, which has nearly 50 pubs across London and Brighton.

Laine Pub Company chief executive, Gavin George, confirmed to MCA trade magazine that the group was working with advisory firm BDO to assess the best way of funding “the next chapter in our exciting journey”.

He said the company had “appointed advisors as it assesses future funding options”.

Business insiders told The Argus the move meant that Mr Johnson’s company was looking to sell the pub group.

Mr George told MCA: “We have appointed BDO and they are working with us and our current investors to look at our strategic objectives.

“We have been encouraged by the approaches we have had in recent times, which give a good indication of the strength of the business and its potential to grow further.”

Mr Johnson, who is known in the business world as Cool Hands Luke, invested in the pub group in 2014.

In the spring of 2016 he announced he had bought Brighton Palace Pier and pledged to make it one of the most visited attractions in the south east.

One of the first things he did after buying the pier was announcing he would put the name Palace back into the pier. It is now called Brighton Palace Pier.

The Laine Pub Company has nearly 50 pubs in London and Brighton including the North Laine Pub in Gloucester Place, Brighton.

Only in April the company it announced it was buying six more London pubs for an estimated £4 million.

Selling the company would mark a shift away from the pub and bar sector which is known for being increasingly difficult to make money from.

Mr Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners also has a stake in Small Batch Coffee, which has several branches across Brighton and Hove and Worthing.

It also has a stake in high street French cafe Patisserie Valerie, the Ego Restaurants chain and sports equipment company Zoggs.

On his website, Mr Johnson said he invested in the Laine Pub Company as it provided an “established profitable estate of pubs in the affluent south east” and had a “proven management team incentivised to grow the estate.”

Risk Capital Partners is an investment company which pumps money into business with the intention of making a return.

The business statement on its websites reads: “We look to invest £3 million to £10 million of equity in established, profitable companies based in the UK.

“Our flexible and open-minded approach to investing means that we will consider most industry sectors, though we have been most successful in the consumer, leisure and retail sub sectors.

“We are not governed by rules and do not have to report to external committees – if we like your story, we will invest.

We invest solely our own money in each transaction – so we have a real alignment of interest with our management partners / founder shareholders.”