Mitchells & Butlers has lined up the purchase of Ha Ha Bar & Grill's 22 sites in the UK from Bay Restaurant Group.

The transaction, announced earlier today (17 September), will cost the pub and dining operator GBP19.5m (US$30.4m). Following completion, scheduled for 3 October, 12 of the leasehold sites will be converted into All Bar One sites, while six will become Browns restaurants. The remaining four will operate as “other Mitchells & Butlers brands”, the firm said.

“Whilst small, this acquisition illustrates our ability and our strategy to develop sites to create value for Mitchells & Butlers shareholders,” said M&B's chief executive, Adam Fowle. “It will also provide an excellent opportunity to grow significantly two strong brands, All Bar One and Browns.”

The move highlights M&B's move away from drink-led outlets as the UK's on-trade struggles in the current economic climate. Last month, the company sold off 330 “price sensitive drinks-led pubs to Private equity-controlled Stonegate Pub Co for GBP373m.