A PUB company which is responsible for a number of hostelries across East Lancashire is now under new ownership.

Real estate investment trust NewRiver, through Hawthorn Leisure, has acquired Bravo Inns, which is behind the likes of the Tinker and Budget in Oswaldtwistle and The Entwistle in Darwen, for £17.9million.

This will result in 44 pubs joining the outfit, mainly across Lancashire, Greater Manchester and the north, to go alongside their existing 650-strong location portfolio.

It is expected that the new owners will seek to expand their current model, which encourages operator-investors to manage their own bars.

Bravo Inns itself has been particularly busy expanding its own estate in recent years, having snapped up pubs belonging to Greene King.

In 2017 it also acquired the Starkie Arms in Padiham and embarked on significant refit.

Other sites in East Lancashire include the Rhoden Inn, also in Oswaldtwistle, and The Albion, in Clayton-le-Moors.

Meanwhile Hawthorn Leisure is behind locations such as The Station, in Nelson, which benefitted from a £150,000 makeover in April when landlord Stuart Kirkpatrick moved in.

Mark Davies, chief financial officer for New River, said: "The UK pub sector has experienced a recent revival in transaction activity and, as an early investor into community pubs, we have been tracking the success of Bravo Inns for some time.

"The transaction will increase our portfolio weighting in community pubs and demonstrates the value of our Hawthorn Leisure platform in identifying acquisitions that can deliver higher yielding sustainable cashflows with scale driven synergies."

Ken Buckley, of Bravo Inns, added: "We have long been passionate supporters of pubs operating in the heart of the community, led by talented operators ensuring customers are the absolute focus.

"I am delighted to announce (this) sale of Bravo to Hawthorn. It is clear we share the same commitment to community-based assets and I look forward to developing the business further under the new ownership".