Oh, he does like to be beside the seaside: Luke Johnson has just bought Brighton Pier for £18m

 
Emma Haslett
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Scream if you want to go faster.... (Source: Getty)

He may be best known as the former owner of Pizza Express, but it seems Luke Johnson is more of a scream-if-you-want-to-go-faster man now: he's just splashed out (see what we did there?) on the company behind Brighton Pier.

This morning Johnson's company, Aim-listed Eclectic Bar Group, said it had entered into an agreement with the snappily-titled The Brighton Marine Palace and Pier Company, to buy it for £18m.

It added that it will fund it through a rights issue of £8.5m, with the rest to be funded through a £13m debt financing agreement with Barclays.

Read more: Unfinished business? Luke Johnson on sentimentality, curves and the General Election

In a statement this morning, Johnson called the pier "one of the most iconic and instantly recognisable attractions in the UK", adding that it "occupies a special place as a landmark at the heart of Brighton".

"Brighton is one of the UK's most popular visitor destinations with over 10 million visitors per year, making it the most visited place in the South East. The pier itself is Britain's most popular attraction outside London."

It's a bit of a change from Eclectic Bar's usual fare - among other brands, it owns nightclub chains Fez and Po Na Na.

But Johnson said buying the pier "represents the next stage in the group's development, expanding the company's existing portfolio and using the enhanced board's diverse skillset to become a differentiated operator of leisure and entertainment assets." Tiddly om-pom-pom...

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