Slug & Lettuce entrepreneur plans float for his latest pub venture

Hugh "Sooty" Corbett has become a legend in the pub business by building up the Slug & Lettuce and Harvey Floorbangers chains and selling them off for a handsome profit to larger drinks groups. Andrew Yates discovers he is at it again with grand plans to make his new Tup Inns a household name.

Hugh Corbett is poised to announce the acquisition of four pubs in London, which will more than double the size of his fledgling Tup Inns chain. The deal is part of Mr Corbett's plans to float the new group on the AIM market within the next 18 months.

The Tup chain is the latest brain child of Mr Corbett, who bought his first pub, the King's Arms in Chipping Camden, Gloucestershire, almost 30 years ago and since then has become one of the most successful pub entrepreneurs in the country.

He founded Slug & Lettuce in 1984 and became a pub millionaire the first time over when the first seven sites were sold to Grosvenor Inns six years later for pounds 4.36m.

Next came Harvey Floorbangers, a chain of rowdy pubs and popular live music venues, which were sold to Regent Inns in 1996.

Mr Corbett has now pumped some of the millions he made from those sales into his new venture.

The Tup Inns have taken elements from both of Mr Corbett's previous endeavours. The wooden floors and seats from the Harvey Floorbangers chain are still there but the new sites will concentrate on offering a wide range of food and premium ales.

They will also be adorned with the group's sign, a randy sheep, the name Tups being taken from the term used to describe rams which get frisky with ewes.

The first Tup Inn opened in Fulham Road in March 1996. Central London sites in Marylebone and Gresham Street followed.

Up to now the focus has been buying pubs within the M25 and the new sites will be located in south-west and north-east London. However, Mr Corbett is looking to expand the chain around the country.

Mr Corbett has just appointed Paul McKinley, who was instrumental in growing the Harvey Floorbangers chain, as Tup Inns area manager to help oversee the group's expansion.

The final details of the deal are still being thrashed out and should be announced later this month.

Mr Corbett hopes to buy another three pubs by the end of the year, taking the chain to 10, before floating on the stock market.

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