Northcote Group, the north west England-based hotel and pub operator, is planning to expand after securing new investment from former Blackburn Rovers Football Club vice chairman Richard Matthewman.

This has resulted in a potential for between £4m and £6m to be spent on the estate, with an initial target of adding between six and eight pubs in the next five years for its four-strong Ribble Valley Inns division, joint managing director Craig Bancroft told M&C Report.

Matthewman, who has also been made chairman of the Northcote Group, has taken what the company called a “substantial” equity interest in the group along with his wife Lynda.

“We’ve negotiated an investment parcel that’s available for us to utilise,” said Bancroft.

He said both freeholds and leaseholds would be considered and the group is likely to look at opportunities south of its heartland, in areas such as Cheshire, Bolton, Chorley and possibly the Lake District.

“Ribble Valley Inns will take on a renewed vigour by reinvesting in the existing successfully managed properties, to ensure that they remain a leading brand within the hospitality industry,” the company said.

In addition, the firm said that its Northcote hotel in Langho, near Blackburn in Lancashire, will be developed, with the number of bedrooms increased by 10 to 24 alongside other developments such as a new kitchen, improvement to the grounds and the expansion of facilities in the Louis Roederer Room.

Richard Matthewman was also formerly a non-executive director at Blackburn Rovers, where Northcote Group operates a hospitality and conference facility called Northcote at the Rovers. His other roles include being managing director of Blackburn-based Neales Waste Management.

Bancroft said Matthewman would add a great deal to the business. “He is obviously a man of great resource; he is not a restauranteur or hotelier by nature - this is a new departure.”

He said such an investment was “always what we set out to do”.

“In this difficult climate we had to look to different methods [of funding].”