Fuller's buys Bel & The Dragon country inns

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Fuller's buys Bel & The Dragon country inns
Brewer and pub group Fuller, Smith & Turner has announced it has acquired the Bel & The Dragon country inns portfolio from Longshot.

The deal, which BigHospitality’s​ sister site MCA​values at £18.5m, was confirmed in Fuller’s annual financial results this morning.

It comes after Fuller’s bought Sussex-based brewer Dark Star and four London We Are Bars sites earlier this year.

Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny describes the Bel & The Dragon inns as a “perfect fit” for its estate.

“They offer delicious, fresh food, an interesting and premium drinks portfolio and 57 bedrooms – all areas where we have expertise,” says Emeny.

Longshot, run by entrepreneurs Joel Cadbury and Ollie Vigours, bought the then four-strong Bel & The Dragon from Orchid Group in 2010 for c£4m.

Under Longshot Bel & The Dragon grew to seven sites, but closed its Godalming pub in January. The group has since added extra bedrooms to its remaining six sites​ in a bid to drive growth.

All of its menus are overseen by executive group head chef Ronnie Kimbugwe, who worked for Gordon Ramsay Group for nine years until 2011.

“Challenging marketplace”

Fuller’s this morning reported like-for-like sales growth of 2.9% in the year to 31 March across its managed estate. This was led by accommodation sales, which were up 5.2%, with drink sales growing 3.3% and food up 1.5%.

Total beer and cider sales were flat in what the group described as a “challenging marketplace”

“While we are still in a time of national and global uncertainty – and we do not underestimate the related wider market and economic issues that we will have to navigate over the months ahead – we believe we are in a strong position,” says Emeny.

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