Exclusive – Stonegate acquires remaining 25% stake in Hippo Inns: Stonegate Group has agreed, by mutual consent, to purchase the remaining 25% share of Hippo Inns, the 12-strong, London-based pub venture, from Rupert Clevely and Ian Edward for an undisclosed sum, Propel has learned. Following the acquisition, Stonegate will hold the entire issued share capital of Hippo, which was established by Clevely, the founder of Geronimo Inns, in 2015. It was the first partnership from the then Enterprise Inns “managed expert” business where the company (latterly Ei Group) was looking to partner with industry-leading managed house operators in order to benefit from their retailing flair and capability. The first pub under the Hippo brand, The Signal in Forest Hill, south London, opened in October 2015. Since its inception, Hippo, which operates sites in prime London and Greater London neighbourhoods, has won multiple awards and industry accreditations, particularly for its premium food offer. The intention is to integrate the pubs into the wider Stonegate managed business. The Hippo pubs had turnover of £13,031,000 in the last full year before the pandemic, 30 September 2019. Propel understands the deal is not a precursor for Stonegate to acquire the remaining stakes in other “managed expert” ventures that came under its remit when it acquired Ei Group. These include Frontier Pubs and Three Cheers Pub Co. Stonegate said it looked forward to Hippo’s pub team members joining the group, while Clevely will remain as a consultant to the company for a period of two years. Simon Longbottom, chief executive of Stonegate, said: “Rupert and team have built a brilliant business we know well and one which shares many of our values in being integral to the neighbourhoods and communities that its pubs serve with outstanding food, drink and hospitality. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the team to the wider Stonegate Group and am delighted Rupert has agreed to stay on in a consultancy capacity. We look forward to leveraging the expertise and entrepreneurial flair which our new colleagues will bring to the benefit of the enlarged group.” Clevely said: “I have hugely enjoyed growing Hippo over the last seven years and am very proud of the business we have created. I now feel the time is right to hand over the reins and Stonegate Group has the requisite skills and scale to take the business to the next level. I have every confidence that both the pubs, and my trusted team, will flourish under its stewardship and I look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength.” The 12 pubs involved in the deal are The Black Horse, Kingston; The Blue Anchor, Hammersmith Riverside; The Builders Arms, Chelsea; The Duke of Sussex, Waterloo; The Eagle, Ladbroke Grove; The George, Isle of Dogs; The Grafton, Kentish Town; The Islington Town House, Islington; The Lillie Langtry, West Brompton; The Royal Oak, Twickenham; The Signal, Forest Hill; and The White Haus, Farringdon.
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