Derbyshire pub business The Pub People has been sold to investment management company Downing LLP.

The Alfreton business has 49 pubs and the new owner said they plan to add to that number. It has been sold by shareholders Andrew Crawford and Kevin Sammons, and Downing has merged it with its existing investment in Autumn Pubs – which has been managed under contract by Pub People since 2012.

Mr Sammons has headed the business for more than 28 years, establishing it as one of the top independent pub companies in the Midlands, with an estate based in and around Nottingham, Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, and Lincoln.

Under the new ownership he will move into a non-executive role, while Andrew Crawford will move into the role of managing director.

Mr Sammons said: “I am proud to have led and built this successful company, along with the many loyal and exceptional employees who have been important contributors to that success.

“They can now continue the Pub People journey along with Downing and fulfil their and the Group’s potential.

“I am extremely grateful for the support Downing has given us over the last 10 years. It is now time for me to step back and hand over to a worthy and capable successor and his team.”

Mr Crawford said: “Kevin and I have worked very well together as a management team for over 20 years.

“We have together built a company we can be truly proud of, but now there are new chapters to be written.

“While there are numerous economic challenges on the horizon, we have a strong team and with support from Downing the group can continue to invest and grow its high-quality pub estate.”

Downing is a London-based, sustainable investment manager which looks after £1.7 billion of assets across its various funds, investment trusts and tax-efficient products.

Its Development Capital team partners with management teams to help realise their growth ambitions and maximise the potential of their business by providing flexible funding and strategic support.

Typically it makes initial investments of between £5 million and £50 million and focuses on sectors including healthcare, education, housing, leisure and hospitality.

Associate director Nick Carter said: “Kevin and Andy have been trusted and respected partners of ours for more than a decade.

“We wish Kevin well and we are excited to take the Group to the next stage under Andy’s direction.”

The Downing team that on the deal was made up of Colin Corbally, Gautam Chhabra and Nick Carter. Downing was advised by Michelmores, HMT and K3 Advisory.

The Pub People was advised by Browne Jacobsen and BHP.