James Baer, managing director of Amber Taverns has told M&C he expects the company to grow to 125 sites in 2016.

The company will open sites under its ‘gin palace’ Hogarths brand in Leicester and Newport in the coming months and is also refurbishing the former Ambience nightclub in High Street, Burton. This will take the company to 110 sites and Baer said he “would be disappointed if we didn’t get to 125 by the end of the year”.

Newport will be the company’s second site in Wales, where it has now recruited Sally Davis – previously of SA Brain – as a dedicated area manager. Baer said the first Welsh Hogarth’s, which opened in Swansea, had performed well and that the company was actively looking for further sites, both for undbranded pubs and under the Hogarth’s banner.

He said: “Our geography is getting wider and we are looking at a lot more areas that fit the Amber model. We’re keen to move south and Wales offers a lot of opportunities for us. But there’s still a lot of scope to infill in our heartland.”

He said he was not overly concerned about competition for talent from larger operators such as Enterprise, whose Craft Union operator agreement offers similar terms to Amber’s core model.

He said: “The publicity around what Enterprise and others are doing is actually quite helpful because it increases awareness about these types of agreement. We are very confident in our offer because it is something we’ve perfected over a number of years and that’s attractive to operators.”