M&B's acquisition story

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Look back: The Morning Advertiser has delved into Mitchells & Butlers through the ages
Look back: The Morning Advertiser has delved into Mitchells & Butlers through the ages

Related tags Mitchells & butlers Finance Property Pubco + head office

Pub company Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) currently has more than 1,700 sites across the restaurant and pub sector. Here, The Morning Advertiser takes a look back at how the business got to where it is today, through its merger and acquisition activity.

In 1898, the merger of Henry Mitchell & Co of Cape Hill and Butler’s Crown Brewery joined forces to create Mitchells & Butlers.

Both had roots in Birmingham own-brew pubs – Henry Mitchell at the Crown in Smethwick in the 1860s and William Butler at the Crown in Broad Street in the 1870s.

The following century saw the company merged with Bass in 1961, which then went on to merge with Charrington of London in 1967 to form the UK’s biggest brewing and pubs group of the time, before the firm became Bass PLC.

Just two years later, in 1969, the company entered the hotel business with the creation of Crest Hotel group as part of a bigger diversification attempt.

By the 1980s, the firm was running 7,000 pubs nationwide with beer as its biggest seller before it split into separate brewing and retail divisions – Bass Brewers and Bass Taverns.

The next decade brought a change in the business’ sales with food becoming key. Its first O’Neill’s opened in Aberdeen and its first All Bar One in Surrey.

Acceleration of plans

Which brands does Mitchells & Butlers own?

Sizzling Pubs

Vintage Inns


Ember Inns

Toby Carvery





All Bar One

Miller & Carter


Innkeeper’s Lodge

Oak Tree

Orchid Pubs

Premium Country Pubs

Stonehouse Pizza & Carvery

This was followed by the acquisition of Harvester in 1995, which included: the brand name, 78 sites predominantly in the south east and the direct support staff for a total consideration of £165m – payable in cash.

The company said the purchase would accelerate the implementation of its plans for the development of a significant presence in the branded pub catering market.

The 1990s also saw the firm acquire Browns alongside 550 pubs from Punch, as the business expanded.

In the new millennium, the company sold its Bass brewery operations and rights to the name Bass to Interbrew for £2.3bn.

The following year (2001) saw Bass PLC become Six Continents PLC and sell 988 pubs to the Nomura group before the pub division listed separately to become M&B once again​.

Six Continents previously bought the M&B chain of pubs in the 1960s but dropped the name a number of years later.

The company focused on a strategy of operating large, food-led operations and bought 239 pub restaurants from Whitbread as well as exchanging 44 pub-restaurants for 21 Express by Holiday Inn lodges.

Company history

At the time, M&B planned to rebrand Whitbread’s pub-restaurants​, which were mostly Beefeaters and Brewer’s Fayres, to its own brands.

Looking to 2010, the company announced the disposal of 333 pubs for a cash consideration of £373m​, to Stonegate Pub Company.

One fifth (20%) of these pubs were short leasehold and following this disposal, M&B had 1,580 restaurants and food-led pubs.

This was quickly followed in October of the same year, by the purchase of 22 Ha Ha Bar & Grill sites​, for a cash consideration of £19.5m, which it claimed paved the way for more conversions to the All Bar One and Browns brands.

The next year brought news of the acquisition of eight Old Orleans sites from Intertain​ for a price believed to be between £2m and £3m.

The eight sites based in Manchester, Birmingham Star City, Coventry, Epping, Thurrock, Enfield, Cardiff and Reading were mooted to be converted to either of M&B’s Harvester or Miller & Carter brands.

Three years later in 2014, M&B acquired the majority of the Orchid Pub Group, including 173 predominantly (151) freehold, with seven long leasehold and 15 short leasehold pubs, as well as the Orchid head office. The purchase price, which was paid entirely in cash, was £266m.

Related topics Mitchells & Butlers

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