Amber Taverns plans to continue expanding with 14-16 new openings earmarked for the current year.

The community wet-led pub operator has reported a 70% increase in revenue with sales of £95.7m (2022: £56.2m) for the 53 weeks to 5 February 2023.

EBITDA was £22.5m (2022: £14.2m) and operating profit was £15.8m (2022: £7.9m).

Like-for-like sales were back to pre-pandemic levels in the period under review.

The 165-strong pub group, which is located in the North East, North West, Midlands, Wales and Scotland, saw trading gather momentum during 2022, as pubs were able to return to more normal trading conditions post Omicron.

The value-led pubco, which has a hybrid operator-managed business model, saw this momentum increase during the Summer and early Autumn as demand recovered, and from October onwards there was a step change in footfall with key trading events such as Halloween, the World Cup and Christmas.

Amber said customers moved to more premium drinks post-pandemic, such as continental lagers and cocktails, but demand for core value session drinks continues to remain strong.

During the course of the year to 5 February 2023, Amber recommenced its expansion programme, which is self-funded.

Four new pubs opened, in Shrewsbury, Brighouse, Peterlee and Ashton under Lyne, all of which are trading ahead of expectations.

Post year end, a new pub (The Lumley) opened in Skegness in April 2023, as well as three additional new units in June in Cheshire, County Durham and Ayrshire: The Leopard – a former Bonmarche in Chester, The Water House in Durham – a former JD Wetherspoon pub and The Northern Way in Irvine – all of which are trading well.

The company sold three non-core sites in Morecambe in March 2023, Blyth in July 2023 and Plungington in August 2023 .

In addition, two new sites acquired in July are currently under refurbishment in North Shields, Tyneside and Bellshill in Lanarkshire, ahead of opening in the Autumn.

This brings the Group’s current number of pubs to 165.

Since the year end, the business has continued to perform well with trading continuing to build in momentum.

Unit EBITDA is ahead of pre-Covid levels across the core estate, and current like for like sales are now seeing 12.5% growth compared to 2022/last year.

The group plans to continue to grow its pub portfolio as further acquisition and development opportunities arise.

Amber has an encouraging pipeline with a variety of good new site opportunities and is looking to add c.14-16 new pubs to its growing portfolio each year.

The group said it has achieved high returns of >20% on new freehold acquisitions and has lots of target towns both within regions and locations where Amber currently has a presence, as well as new geographies, to continue to expand its footprint.

The estate, which is almost 100% freehold, was valued during H1 2022. Based on the result of this valuation which was finalised in June 2022, the directors believe the fair value of the estate as at 5 February 2023 is £219.1m (2022: £198.4m), representing a c20% increase on the previous valuation.

The group secured an extension to its bank facilities in April 2023. These now extend out to July 2024. The business will seek further investment or undertake a full refinancing during the next 12 months.

James Baer, chief executive of Amber Taverns, commented: “We are pleased to have delivered such a strong trading performance underpinning our belief that our numbers continue to demonstrate the resilience of our model and the importance local communities place on having a welcoming, well invested and good value pub at their heart. This is not discretionary spend on the part of our customers but more of an essential part of their daily lives.

“Demand continues to build and we are looking forward to the coming month with a packed calendar of sporting fixtures and other key trading occasions. We have an exciting pipeline of potential new sites with lots of exciting expansion opportunities ahead to continue our track of success as we continue to bring Amber’s hospitality with the right offer, in the right locations, at a great value price point to our increasing number of loyal customers up and down the country.”