Wizard Inns is buying 20 pubs and bars from Regent Inns for £27.9m, an average of almost £1.4m a site.

The deal, which sees Wizard grow by 40% to 69 outlets, includes 15 sites in and around London and the South East, and others in Taunton, Hereford, Bedford, Ipswich and Walsall.

The sale is part of Regent's stated strategy to dispose of its estate of unbranded pubs.

Wizard's MD Chris Hutt, hinted that more deals are just over the horizon, saying the company would achieve its aim of doubling the business "by the middle of next year", rather than over the next three years, as originally planned.

He said all the pubs and bars Wizard is buying "currently trade as unbranded units, which is our core business. They are quality sites at the top of the scale in terms of potential sales and beer volumes.

"The average sales and profitability of the pubs being acquired is greater than that of our existing pubs and bars, so overall our estate is greatly enhanced. We are very pleased to have got them." All the existing pub managers and staff will transfer to Wizard.

In March, Wizard revealed it had built a "war chest" of more than £20m to invest in new growth opportunities. Extra money to complete the Regent deal came from its principal backers, Guy Hands's Terra Firma Capital Partners and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Hutt's boast is that Wizard is the country's leading unbranded managed pub specialist. He said: "We don't believe there is anyone else in the market place who is this 100% focused. Being unbranded, we believe, gives us greater flexibility to focus on a small number of big things and do them well. The demise of a number of branded operations in the past 12 months underlines the benefit of this approach.

"We encourage an entrepreneurial culture and freedom and flexibility among our pub managers, but behind the scenes we are just as methodical, systematic and well-drilled as any leading branded operator."

Wizard, which has its headquarters in St Albans, has grown its turnover from £4.4m to £20m in the past four years.