Peach Pubs has bought a former Jean-Christophe Novelli pub in Hertfordshire after its most recent owner, Urban and Country Leisure (UCL), closed it earlier this year.
The deal takes Peach's estate to 14 pubs, and it will be the first pub the company has acquired since December 2009. Peach plans to grow its estate by around three pubs each year for the next several years and the deal boosts its presence in the Home Counties, an area where it wants to grow.
Peach has negotiated a free-of-tie lease with Enterprise Inns for the property. Its interior and exterior will be refurbished in keeping with the building's age and character, in a bid to put the heart back into the pub.
Peach co-founder Lee Cash (pictured) said: "Harpenden is a great town, exactly the kind of place Peach does well in and we can't wait to get started. We're aware the pub has had mixed fortunes of late but we think the location and the building - it's a particularly beautiful pub in a cracking setting with a big garden and car park - make it perfectly suited to Peach. We're sure it's going to work - it just needs the right offer and the right people on board."
Peach has recruited a management and chef team to run the 60-cover restaurant and bar, 100-cover garden and outside deck and the private dining room for 12, with some Peach people moving to Harpenden to launch the pub and others joining from outside the business. Opportunities still exist to join the new team and work with the company that twice won Caterer and Hotelkeeper‘s Best Places to Work in Hospitality award.
UCL closed the White Horse in Harpenden in February because it wasn't generating sufficient profit. "The board had looked at a number of options including redevelopment of the site and had tried on a number of occasion to buy the site from brewers Enterprise Inns - however, this was unsuccessful," the company said at the time.
Following UCL's decision to close the White Horse, the company has confirmed it is reversing a £15m plan to expand its pubs business, announced last year, and is diverting the money to a £20m expansion of its Lazy Cow hotel brand.
By Neil Gerrard
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