Amber Taverns has secured £25m in further financing to fund growth and announced like-for-like sales up 3% for the year to 31 January, MCA has learnt.

The company saw turnover rise 21% to £52.6m with company EBITDA up from £9.1m in 2015 to £11m and unit EBITDA up from £11.2m to £14m. Operating profit before exceptional items was up from £6.7m to £8.1m.

The company currently has 117 sites trading with two more set to open this month, four currently being refurbished and another seven in legals. This includes three pubs from JD Wetherspoon.

Chairman Clive Preston told MCA: “I think I’m right in saying we are now the largest purely wet-led pub company in the country. Everybody doubted it all those years ago but it has provided to be an incredibly durable model.”

Managing director James Baer told MCA: “What is really pleasing is that on all the key measures, we are up at least 20%. It was a year in which we made our first in-roads into south wales and we see a lot of potential there. We could do another two or three in south Wales.”

On the revolving credit facility with HSBC, Baer said: “It puts us in a strong position for growth. We generate quite a lot of cash ourselves so we would see ourselves investing £15m in new pubs for the next couple of years. How many pubs that translates to obviously depends on the price.

“HSBC have been incredibly supportive. They took the time to understand the model and see where it could go.”

On the geography for expansion, Preston said: “South Wales is a key focus and we’re looking at sites across the east midlands. We’ve just opened in Wellingborough and we’ve just exchanged on a site in Kettering. But there’s still a lot of infill in the north.

“We are very selective. We could just go out and buy 50 pubs but we won’t. Much of our success is not what we have bought but what we haven’t bought.”

The company now operates seven of its ‘gin palace’ concepts Hogarths, with two more to open later this year. The next opening is in Hereford.

Preston said: “It has allowed us to attract a different audience and we certainly see a higher percentage of women among the clientele there.

“We’d like to do more but it has to be the right town and the right characterful site.”

Baer said the Amber offer continued to be value driven and stressed that the like-for-like sales increase had been achieved with minimal price rises.

On the potential for prices to increase going forward, he said: “We are always guided by what is happening in the wider market. Value is an important part of our offer and while that certainly subjective and depends a lot on the quality of the offer it is also about being sensitive to market pricing.”