The property market is becoming a more competitive space, particularly in the types of location Peach Pubs operates in such as suburban locations and market towns, managing director Hamish Stoddart told MCA.

The 19-strong pub company announced last month it was looking to acquire between three and four pubs over the next months and had partnered with Fleurets on its property search.

However early conversations have suggested that there is “a huge shortage of good stock for those operators who want to expand”.

Stoddart said that Peach is not shy in telling people that it is doing well, because it wants to make sure the opportunities for pubs are brought to them.

“Everyone know that the guys with gardens in gastro pubs in market towns, are doing really well. I think the challenge is that everyone will think they can do it. It’s not just an easy fix – you’ve got to learn the trade,” he said.

Stoddart said that while its strategy hasn’t changed in terms of the types of location and pub it’s looking for, “I think our geography will continue to gradually expand”.

The company’s pubs are centred roughly in Bicester, so anywhere within two-hours of that would have potential. He said Peach would look as far north as Birmingham and then down to the south coast, but it wouldn’t be making a break for Cornwall or Scotland, for example.

Peach’s portfolio is made up of a mix of leasehold sites – both independent free-of-tie, and pubco tied and free-of-tie pubs. Stoddart explained that while he’s had brilliant support from the pubcos and very mixed support from the independent landlords over the past year, “everyone has helped us in some way, and I am happy with where we have ended up”.

The business opened all of its sites on 12 April – “whether brave or foolish” – and has seen significant uplift in sales on the comparable period in 2019, which have been around +120% on average over the first four weeks of trading. Forward bookings were really strong, he added, with around 15,000 covers booked in for this week.