Law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has advised the shareholders of Hickory’s, a highly differentiated, leading BBQ smokehouse restaurant group, on the sale of the business to pub retailer and brewer Greene King.

Founded in 2010 by Neil McDonnell, Hickory’s grew its brand from its heartland in Cheshire, the Wirral and North Wales to new communities across the UK, with 17 restaurants across the Midlands and North West. The family friendly smokehouse and BBQ restaurant business has a strong focus on food quality with meats slow cooked for up to 12 hours on smokers specially imported from Memphis. Customers are offered unique dining experiences, such as chef’s bars, dining verandas, cinemas and children’s play areas.

As part of Greene King, the business will continue to be run by its highly experienced and proven management team, led by John Welsh (managing director), and will remain based at its HQ in Chester. Greene King plans to leverage its scale and expertise to accelerate the national roll out of the Hickory’s brand beyond the North West, bringing Hickory's to many more guests across the UK.

The WBD team advising on the deal was led by managing associate Sammy Hill and associate Jo Norris, supported by partner Tom Fitzpatrick. The firm advised Piper on its £6m in investment in Hickory's in 2014 and has acted on many of its significant deals, including investments into, and subsequent exits from, Forthglade and Pet Food UK.

Sammy Hill of WBD commented: 

"It has been a pleasure working once again with Piper and the Hickory's team and we wish Hickory's the best for the future as it embarks on its new growth journey with Greene King."

Peter Kemp-Welch, managing partner at Piper, added: 

"Hickory’s is a very special brand and we’re delighted to have played a part in its successful journey. Many thanks to Sammy, Jo and Tom and the whole WBD team who have been incredible throughout the process."

Neil McDonnell, Hickory's founder, said: 

"Throughout the whole process with Greene King, nothing was too much trouble at any hour of the day or night for the WBD team and the advice was always balanced and thought out.

"They made every partner, shareholder and professional feel involved in the deal, understood and listened to. Their dedication and flexibility 24 hours a day played a huge part in us hitting the deadlines set & getting the deal over the line on time."

Ranking in the UK's top 20 law firms, WBD provides legal expertise in its key sectors, from across seven offices in the UK and 23 offices in the US.

The firm has a large corporate practice in the UK advising national and international clients on a broad range of corporate transactions, particularly M&A, IPOs, private equity investments as well as growth and development capital fundraisings.