TRADITIONAL pub chain Wear Inns has plans to grow its turnover from £7.4m to more than £13m following the acquisition of 11 pubs this year.
The County Durham-based firm, which now owns 26 pubs across the North East and Yorkshire, has plans to expand its portfolio to 40 by the end of next year.
As part of its strategy to grow the business, Wear Inns has moved into the former headquarters of the Castle Eden brewery, near Peterlee.
The firm, which reported a 7.3% rise in like-for-like sales in 2011/12, is now the biggest independent operator in the region in terms of volume of beer sold. It was able to buy 11 pubs this year after completing a £10m funding package from NVM Private Equity and Business Growth Fund.
Managing director John Weir said: “Each of the 11 pubs will undergo a refurbishment of between £150,000 and £200,000 to give it a more traditional look.
“We have completed nine of the 11, with the final two in Sheffield and Barnsley to be done by the end of January. We are looking to expand our pub portfolio in the North East and Yorkshire only. Our turnover in 2011 compared to 2012 prior to buying the pubs increased by £1.2m. Our reported turnover in 2011 was £6.2m and in 2012 it was £7.4m. The addition of the 11 pubs will take turnover above £13m.
“We are interested in individual pubs or pub chains which are or have the potential to be community hubs. We have grown quickly and plan to continue this in 2013.
“We see an opportunity to buy good freehold properties. The majority of our pubs are on iconic sites and well- known in the past but which, for a variety of reasons, have not attracted investment. Our plan is to refurbish each one and develop them into a traditional local pub which is at the heart of the community.
“We believe a good local pub which serves local beer, good-quality local food and provides the opportunity to form clubs around them, whether it be football teams, jazz clubs, gardening clubs or any kind of social activity, it will help them not just survive but thrive at the heart of the community.”
Since Weir and the company’s chairman John Sands formed Wear Inns in 2006, the workforce has grown from 105 to 265.
The latest pub to undergo a major facelift – the Lambton Hotel in Chester-le-Street, County Durham – re-opened at the weekend.
Although the pub industry has been shrouded in doom and gloom over the past few years, Mr Weir is optimistic about his company’s progress.
Weir said: “It is about sustaining and creating local jobs but also doing everything we can to support the local economy.
“We are very proud to have been able to develop the business in such a challenging market.”