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

Real estate investment trust NewRiver, through Hawthorn Leisure, has acquired Bravo Inns, which is behind the likes of The Royal in Vernon Street, the Gilnow Arms 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.

Other sites in the Bolton area include The Lord Raglan, in Halliwell Road, The Lamb, in Blackburn Road, The Shakespeare in Farnworth and the Punchbowl in Atherton.

Meanwhile Hawthorn Leisure is behind locations such as The Market, also in Farnworth, The Station, in Nelson, which benefitted from a £150,000 makeover in April when landlord Stuart Kirkpatrick moved in, and the Starkie Arms, in Padiham, which was also revamped after a purchase in 2017.

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".