The West Midlands is to have two new Walkabout Australian bars after a deal to sell the leaseholds of two popular nightspots.
The Après Bars in Solihull and Lichfield will be refurbished and re-open as Walkabouts in September – in time for the Rugby World Cup – after a £1 million refit.
The move comes after the leasehold interests were sold to Intertain by Town & Country Inns, advised by city firm Christie + Co
Simon Chaplin, director of corporate pubs and restaurants at Christie + Co, said the Après in Sutton Coldfield continued to trade as before.
He said: "The two Après bars were sold in an off-market deal to Intertain as we recognised they would be an ideal fit for their new style Walkabouts.
"As a result, we now look forward to working closely with Town & Country on their own expansion programme and development of the Fleet Street Kitchen brand in the West Midlands and further afield."
Town & Country Inns will reinvest the proceeds into expanding its successful Fleet Street Kitchen brand – and is seeking new sites.
Managing director Mark Jones said: "We view Fleet Street Kitchen as the jewel in our crown and we're looking at rolling out six new venues over the next three years, working closely with Christie + Co who facilitated a robust and efficient sales process for the two Après bar sites."
The move comes just weeks after Town & Country Inns announced a shake-up of its city centre operations in Summer Row – comprising Mechu, Fleet Street Kitchen and Après.
There are plans to convert the basement area of Fleet Street Kitchen into a private club for corporate and individual members only which would have a 24-hour concierge and be aimed at the city’s corporate market which is expected to grow on the back of developments such as Paradise and Arena Central.
Town and Country Inns is also entering into a joint venture with Edgbaston-based All in All Events, which specialises in organising corporate functions, dinners and balls, and plans include "mobile" versions of Mechu and Fleet Street Kitchen catering.
The company also said it wanted to launch a new events programme at nightclub Mechu.
Walkabout aims to deliver the "awesome spirit of Australia" in its bars. Presently, its only operation in the West Midlands is the long-standing bar on Broad Street.
John Leslie, chief executive at Intertain, said he was confident they would prove popular.
He said: "We're very excited to be opening these two new venues. We now have a fantastic platform from which to build for the future.
"Solihull and Lichfield are both great towns and we're looking forward to introducing customers to our new-style Walkabout."