Okell's heads for the mainland

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Related tags: Robert cain brewery, Public house, Isle of man

Isle of Man brewer Okell's has recruited the former managing director of Liverpool's Robert Cain Brewery to scour Merseyside for pubs.Steve Holt is...

Isle of Man brewer Okell's has recruited the former managing director of Liverpool's Robert Cain Brewery to scour Merseyside for pubs.

Steve Holt is establishing a mainland business for Okell's pub business, which trades under the name Heron & Brearley.

The mainland arm will go under the name Manx Cat Inns.

Mr Holt has kicked off the acquisition drive by snapping up one of Liverpool's oldest pubs, Rigby's in Dale Street. "It's brilliant to be back in Liverpool with the opportunity to put Rigby's back on the map," said Mr Holt.

"It is very much a part of the city's heritage and is desperately in need of care and attention."

Mr Holt's success in acquiring the 18th century pub comes after an unsuccessful bid for the public house as Cains' managing director two years ago.

Cains' Danish owners blocked the move ahead of putting the business up for sale in December 2001.

It was Mr Holt who revived the former Higsons brewery in Toxteth 13 years ago before leaving to set up his own consultancy.

Okell's has at least 10 Merseyside pubs in its sights as part of the first phase of its mainland drive.

Meanwhile, against a backdrop of intense speculation, Liverpool brewer Cains reconfirmed its commitment to its 10-strong pub estate.

"We have a five-year plan to build our managed business up to a 100 pubs," said Sudarghara Dusanj, joint managing director.

"Buying pubs is difficult at the moment but we have the finance in place through our banks and want to grow the business."

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