Greene King has made its first foray into Scotland to become a truly national operator with the acquisition of the Dalgety Taverns managed business.
Greene King's managed house division - Greene King Pub Company - bought the eight-strong Scottish pub business in a bid to shake off the outdated and redundant label of "regional brewer".
The £585m brewer and pub operator will convert the large-scale managed pubs to its Hungry Horse brand, a process that should be completed in six to eight weeks.
The acquisition will take Horse to 135 outlets. The company will employ an area manager to head up the Scottish region.
The Dalgety Taverns estate, most of which is in and around Edinburgh, stretches from Dalgety Bay in the north east to Kilmarnock in the west.
The pubs are all new builds - between five and six years old.
The business was founded by Willie Rowan. He started with one pub in Dalgety Bay before borrowing £1m to build two more. Mr Rowan then acquired five pubs from Tom Cobleigh to take his estate to eight.
Before the deal, a Greene King team that included managing director Neil Gillis and property director Donald Stevenson spent two days visiting the eight pubs.
The management spent last week meeting and greeting the new staff. It is the first package of pubs the group has acquired since the £102.6m Old English Inns deal last September.
The company said it would look for more opportunities in Scotland for Appleton's, its fresh-food pub concept and its Old English Inns division, as well as for Hungry Horse.
"This is a very exciting move for Greene King," said Neil Gillis. "It's not very big in the context of other deals, but strategically it's very significant."
Greene King is not alone in venturing north of the border. Pubmaster recently bought a package of pubs and SFI also announced it was looking for acquisitions. Revolution and Walkabout, two of the UK's leading brands, have also opened venues in Scotland.
Greene King now has about 600 managed pubs and nearly 1,200 tenanted.
- Earlier this week, David Elliot, managing director of Greene King's tenanted pub business, exercised options on 25,000 shares to realise £61,775.