Yates Brothers Wine Lodges will open its first franchised branch at Gatwick airport next month. It hopes to repeat the franchised Yates's Wine Lodge concept at other airports and major railway stations.

The company confirmed the plans, first revealed in the M&C Report newsletter last year, on the announcement of group annual pre-tax profits up 19% to £15.6m, on turnover up 20% to £144m, for the year to April 2.

It opened 31 new branches during the year bringing the total to 143. Six Ha! Ha! Bar & Canteens opened and another has opened in York since the year-end - the first outside the south of England. The group has also opened another seven Yates's Wine Lodges. About another 20 new Lodges will open this year. It has increased the refurbishment budget so it can take advantage of late night trading.

The group has transferred six of the smaller and older Wine Lodges to the Blob Shop management team. These will be converted during the course of this year. Those outside the north-west will trade as Addison's.

Lower drinks prices at Yates's Wine Lodges led to a 1.5% fall in like-for-like sales during the year. Drinks sales at Ha! Ha! increased to 63% of sales, compared with 58% in the previous year. Average sales per branch are over £16,500 a week. At the eight-strong Watling Street Inns, all branches reported an increase in like-for-likes, which were up by 12.5% overall. Average turnover is now about £15,500 a week, with food accounting for 21%.

The company walked away from several potential acquisitions last year because it considered the prices were too high, said chairman Peter Dickson.

"On the prices expected and achieved, we could not hit our targets for return on capital," he said. The company would continue to concentrate on organic growth.

Yates Brothers will seek shareholders' approval to change its name to Yates Group at the forthcoming annual general meeting.