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Mon 1st Nov 2021 - Hawthorn founders and ex-Ei Group director to buy 17 SA Brain sites in first acquisition for new pub company
Hawthorn founders and ex-Ei Group director to buy 17 SA Brain sites in first acquisition for new pub company: Valiant Pub Company has reached an agreement to buy 17 pubs from Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain for an undisclosed sum through its newly formed partnership with investment firm Njord Partners. Valiant was co-founded by Hawthorn Leisure co-founders Gerry Carroll and Mark McGinty and James Croft, ex-group strategy and retail director at Ei Group, with a strategy to develop a substantial community-focused pub business. Valiant stated: “Both the formation of a partnership with Njord Partners and our first acquisition are important first steps in building our new business. Valiant is committed to operating great quality well-invested pubs in the heart of their communities. Valiant is currently building an acquisition pipeline and is seeking further suitable sites. We are delighted to have partnered with Njord Partners and look forward to working with our new pub teams to build a successful company.” SA Brain chief executive Jon Bridge said: “It’s been a very straightforward transaction and a pleasure to do business with Valiant. I wish it and the pub teams all the very best for the future.” Arvid Trolle, co-founder and portfolio manager of Njord Partners, added: “We are excited to have partnered with the highly-experienced Valiant team and look forward to supporting future growth within the UK pub sector. Going forward, we believe there will continue to be significant opportunities to acquire and invest in creating high quality pubs that are valued by their local communities.” Propel revealed Carroll, McGinty and Croft had launched Valiant in January this year. As chief executive and managing director of operations respectively, Carroll and McGinty created and rolled out a number of different operating models including Hawthorn’s successful operator managed model. The Valiant team first worked together at Enterprise Inns (Ei Group) where among other initiatives they jointly set up the Beacon division. When Carroll and McGinty left to form Hawthorn, Croft continued his career at Ei Group, working in finance and property. He subsequently became its group strategy and retail director, where he was the architect of its successful turnaround strategy. He created Craft Union and the managed expert joint ventures, and had overall responsibility for all of the managed pub divisions. Carroll was managing director at Enterprise Inns, for five years, overseeing circa 3,500 pubs producing more than £200m Ebitda. He also held senior roles at Mitchells & Butlers, Little Chef, Whitbread and Warner Bros. He told Propel in January: “We all love pubs and are looking forward to developing Valiant Pub Company and launching the business in 2021. We were heartened to see how well pubs bounced back post the first lockdown and believe once covid restrictions are lifted the pub sector will be one that recovers quickly. Having visited hundreds of UK pubs post lockdowns we were hugely impressed by the professionalism of operators and their ability to create safe environments for their customers.” Njord Partners is a London-based investment manager and capital partner to middle market corporates across Europe. Njord was founded in 2013 and has a total capital base in excess of €700m across its long-term investment vehicles. Njord Partners has a primary focus on value creation through close partnerships with management teams and other stakeholders. 


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