Amber Taverns, the Preston-based operator of wet-led freehold pubs, has taken its estate to the 70 mark with the purchase of a further two sites in the North East. The company, which is led by managing director James Baer, has acquired the Hairy Lemon pub in Middlesbrough from the Ladhar Group, the leisure and healthcare group led by Michael Ladhar. It is thought that the Hairy Lemon didn’t fit with the ongoing strategy of Ladhar, which was linked earlier this year with a bid for the Principle Leisure business that is currently in administration. Amber, which is backed by private equity group LGV Capital, has also acquired the freehold of the Mint in Scunthorpe for an undisclosed sum, off an asking price of £250,000 from Scottish and Newcastle Pub Enterprises. The pub is set to be reopened later this month after a refit under the name The Penny Bank. The company is also “actively pursuing” sites in the Midlands, and could eventually buy pubs in the south, as it eyes expansion outside its heartland and closes in on its aim to operate 100 outlets by 2014. Christie + Co acted on behalf of the vendor in the Mint deal.