Boutique leisure operator Saltire Taverns has been sold by Billy Lowe in a multi-million pound deal, although the entrepreneur has insisted he is not yet ready to check out of the industry.
Glendola Leisure, which bought Lowe’s Frankenstein pubs company four years ago, has now acquired Saltire and its venues including Edinburgh’s Le Monde and Angels Share hotels following three months of talks between the two firms.
Lowe, who set up Saltire in 1997, told The Scotsman that he would be staying on as a consultant to the expanded pubs and hotels business for the next year, putting in “a couple of days a month”.
He added: “I love the industry but I plan to take stock before I make my next move. I love my golf and football and want to spend a lot more time with my family. I’ve been in this trade for 35 years and it’s time to reflect.”
Lowe has a track record of selling on successful businesses. He created Thistle Inns in 1988 and sold it to Scottish Brewers in 1997. At the time of the deal, Thistle Inns encompassed Edinburgh watering holes Sneeky Pete’s, Biddy Mulligans, The Malt Shovel and The Jekyll & Hyde.
He then built up a new portfolio of bars and clubs, including brands such as The Rutland Hotel, Espionage nightclubs and the Frankenstein Pub Co, expanding outside of Edinburgh to Aberdeen and Glasgow. He subsequently sold these businesses, with Middlesex-based Glendola buying Frankenstein.
Those disposals marked a change of direction for Saltire as Lowe began creating high-profile venues offering a “different” late-night experience in the city centre. The Le Monde complex on George Street includes bars, dining and a basement club in addition to accommodation, as does the Angels Share in the city’s west end, which was previously called the Hudson.
“We are delighted that Le Monde and Angels Share along with the Saltire Taverns team will develop further with Glendola, who are committed to growing their Scottish business aggressively over the next few years,” Lowe said.
“There’s about 200 people in the Saltire team, and they’re in great hands. I really respect the company and it’s great to have been able to sell the business to them as they’re a perfect fit.”
Lowe’s latest deal with Harlington-based Glendola sees the group – headed by managing director Alexander Salussolia – add two hotels to its estate, which currently includes Waxy O’Connor’s, Alston Bar & Beef and Horton’s in Glasgow. The firm also has venues in London and the south-east of England.
Salussolia said: “We intend to work with Billy going forward and use our expertise in the hotel and leisure sector to build on his success.
“We are thrilled to be entering the hotel market in the city and are looking forward to growing the business even further with a four-star, 98-room Design Hotel on Market Street.”
The venue is due to be opened towards the end of 2017 by Carlton Hotel Collection, the sister company of Glendola Leisure.