A prominent south London pub chain has been forced to let go of around a third of its venues.

Antic, which ran around 50 pubs across the capital, has announced 14 venues, including The Royal Albert in New Cross and Eltham GPO, are being taken over by Portobello Brewing.

In a message posted across websites, Antic said its financial backer gave “no prior notice” of its decision, describing the move as “untimely, unwarranted” and “ill-conceived”.

The statement reads: “I’m afraid that 36 hours before the latest lockdown our long term financial partners decided to serve notice upon us to terminate our management relationship for those pubs in which they had an interest, including Royal Albert, with immediate effect and replace us with Portobello Brewing, and so you may see some changes when you visit post lockdown.

“We had no prior notice of this intent and we have made it clear that such an action was to our mind untimely, unwarranted, and we believe ill-conceived, and certainly not what one would expect from an 11 year relationship.

“I guess that all break ups are a surprise for the party on the receiving end.

“We shall do all that we can to ensure that these pubs are returned to the Antic Collective, sooner rather than later.

“After all, they were all conceived by us and quite a few were established long before our funders involvement, and the spirit of our rather eclectic public house approach is clear to see within both the buildings and the lovely folk who put them at the heart of the communities that they serve.”

Antic will continue to run 17 pubs, including The Goldsmiths Arms in Penge, Railway Tavern in Bromley and Baring Hall Hotel in Grove Park, should they reopen after lockdown.