Celtic Inns has reported a 46% increase in full-year trading profits and an 18% increase in volume of product sold through its estate. The company, which is now in its third year of operation, credited the rise to the group’s investment in higher volume sites, replacing the smaller or food-led pubs in its estate. Duncan Murray, one of the company’s directors, said: "That process is now virtually complete, and it’s been a critical reason for our success. We have sold 18 small houses and acquired 16 of the higher volume pubs since 2002, and two remaining houses earmarked for disposal will be sold by Christmas. "The other factor contributing to our success is that our business development managers have recruited some very talented tenants, some from outside the industry, who have released the potential in hitherto apparently mediocre pubs." The group is currently looking for freeholds in southern England and south and west Wales, with more acquisitions expected in the current financial year. By the end of the month the group’s estate will be at 66 sites, with plans to build to 100 within the next three years. In October last year Sand Aire Private Equity led a £26m buyout of the company, creating a war chest of some £10m.