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Greene King acquires leading BBQ smokehouse restaurant group hickory’s

Greene King, the UK’s leading pub company and brewer, today announces that it has acquired Hickory’s, a highly differentiated, leading BBQ smokehouse restaurant group, with potential to grow it into a national dining brand.

This investment underpins Greene King’s strategy of growing its reach through compelling brands and unlocking value by making the most of each of its sites.

Founded in 2010 by Neil McDonnell, Hickory’s has grown into a leading authentic BBQ smokehouse restaurant operator in the UK, with 17 restaurants across the Midlands and North West. It is a family friendly smokehouse and BBQ restaurant business, with a strong focus on food quality with meats slow cooked for up to 12 hours on smokers specially imported from Memphis. Customers are offered unique dining experiences, such as chef’s tables, dining verandas, cinemas and children’s play areas.

Hickory’s is highly complementary to Greene King’s current portfolio of brands and geographical reach. As part of this transaction, Greene King plans to leverage its scale and expertise to accelerate the national roll out of the Hickory’s brand beyond its North West heartland, with significant growth over time by optimising Greene King assets.

Hickory’s is a well-invested business with attractive unit economics and the potential for considerable future growth. As part of Greene King, the business will continue to be run by its highly experienced and proven management team, Neil McDonnell (founder) and spearheaded by John Welsh (managing director). Hickory’s has performed exceptionally well since reopening following the pandemic, with trading underpinned by an offer centred around authenticity, experience and great value.

Greene King has acquired Hickory’s for an undisclosed sum.

Nick Mackenzie, chief executive officer at Greene King, said:

Hickory’s is an outstanding business which has established itself as one of the UK’s leading BBQ smokehouse restaurant operators. This is a business which has a commitment to authentic hospitality and dining experience, and which has an offer loved by its customers, old and new.

“Hickory’s shares Greene King’s focus on providing quality food and drink at the best possible value and when looking at our stable, it really complements our existing brands. We are confident that we can take Hickory’s to the next chapter in its history, and we look forward to working with John and the whole of the Hickory’s team as we focus on building it into a national dining brand.”

Neil McDonnell, founder of Hickory’s, said:

“We are delighted to have this investment from Greene King which enables us to bring the Hickory’s smokehouse offer to many more guests and locations. This will provide our teams with fantastic opportunities for growth and development.”

Libby Gibson, partner at Piper, added:

“Hickory’s is a fantastic business that has a unique position in the market offering its guests brilliant BBQ food and service. It’s broad appeal to a wide range of guests has meant we have been able to grow the business significantly during our partnership. We have thoroughly enjoyed working with Neil, John and the team at Hickory’s and wish them and Greene King every success as they embark on their next stage of growth.”