POPULAR Southampton nightspot the Lizard Lounge has been sold in a £2.5m deal.

The Bedford Place bar, which last year marked its 12th anniversary, was bought by London-based group Celwade, which immediately leased it out to bar operator Inventive Leisure.

Known for its Revolution Vodka Bars, Inventive already runs almost 60 bars in cities across the UK.

Its bars, which also serve food, offer about 30 flavoured vodkas and scores of imported varieties and cocktails of the high-strength spirit.

In the short term the student haunt will continue to trade as the Lizard Lounge but is expected to soon join Inventive's roster of vodka bars.

Originally opened as Alice's Restaurant, the premises evolved into a trendy bar and more recently added a first-floor bar and roof terrace called Apartment 26.

The sale, which was put together by agents Savills, is the latest significant move for Ideal Leisure, one of Southampton's biggest leisure and entertainment firms.

Bosses are planning a dramatic expansion by snapping up three new properties to add to their portfolio which includes Southampton eateries La Cantina and White Star as well as Hamble's Bugle pub.

They have raised a "seven-figure sum" from Lloyds Bank to fund the expansion.

They are also in the process of converting the Oxford Street White Star bar and restaurant into a 13-bedroom, £65 a night boutique hotel, based on Winchester's famed Hotel du Vin.

Independently owned by Matthew Boyle, 37, and Mark Dodd, 38, Ideal, which employs 100 people, is now in negotiations to buy another pub and two restaurants.

Ideal is tight-lipped about the details, but the sites are in Winchester, Lymington and the Isle of Wight.