Darwin & Wallace bought by Portobello Pub Company

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Deal done: Mel Marriott, founder and MD of Darwin & Wallace will step down
Deal done: Mel Marriott, founder and MD of Darwin & Wallace will step down

Related tags Portobello Pub Company Darwin & Wallace Finance Pubco + head office Multi-site pub operators Property

Pub and restaurant operator Portobello Pub Company has completed a deal to buy London-based bar-restaurant business Darwin & Wallace.

The acquisition will see seven “high-volume venues” located in some key London ‘villages’ including Battersea Power Station, Clapham Old Town, Wimbledon and Richmond.

Darwin & Wallace will continue to operate under the same name and will “continue to provide guests with its high-quality, all-day drinking and dining offer that has become revered for its high standards and award-winning design, as well as its sustainability credentials and commitments”.

The acquisition means Portobello Pub Company will now comprises 27 sites, and it has further plans to grow the group “via selective acquisitions”.

Darwin & Wallace was founded by Mel Marriott in 2012, backed by leading private equity firm Imbiba and approximately 200 smaller individual shareholders, via the Government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme.

Fantastic acquisition

The deal will see Marriott step down from day-to-day operations, with the enlarged group led by Richard Stringer, managing director of Portobello Pub Company. The rest of the existing Darwin & Wallace senior team will remain in place.

Portobello Pub Company chairman Mark Crowther said: “This is a fantastic acquisition for Portobello, bringing an extremely successful and high-quality business under our umbrella.

“It represents a fantastic opportunity for us to blend our existing high-quality estate of pubs and restaurants with a collection of truly excellent and premium high-street hospitality venues.

“Mel and her team have done an extraordinary job in creating and building the business over the past decade, and we’d like to thank her for trusting us to be careful custodians; we are looking forward to taking Darwin & Wallace to the next level.

“We’d also like to thank the teams at both Imbiba and Zetland for supporting this deal, enabling us to start this exciting new chapter at Portobello.”

Immensely grateful

Darwin & Wallace founder and managing director Mel Marriott added: “I am incredibly proud of what we’ve built at Darwin & Wallace and am immensely grateful to everybody who has been a part of this journey.

“While it’s the end of an era for me, what we have created is truly special and I am looking forward to watching the business continue to flourish under the stewardship of Mark, Richard and the Portobello team.”

Darwin & Wallace operates seven sites across London in total, at: Battersea Power Station, Canary Wharf, Chiswick, Clapham Old Town, Ealing, Richmond and Wimbledon.

Last week, Portobello announced it had acquired a former JD Wetherspoon site for an undisclosed fee in Battersea – the Asparagus – which it has reopened with a full capex refurbishment due to take place in the coming months.

The iconic Asparagus pub is named in homage to the vegetable that was historically grown and harvested in the Battersea area, for the city of London, and is located just a five-minute walk from Clapham Junction railway station.

The bar has been stocked with Portobello’s own range of beers, including London Pilsner, Notting Helles and Stiff Lip IPA, and will stock other local breweries’ beers too.

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