Amber Taverns, the northern England-based operator of wet-led freehold pubs, has brought its estate to 69 sites with the purchase of three ex-pubco pubs for £505,000. Joint managing director James Baer also revealed that the company is “actively pursuing” sites in the Midlands, and could eventually buy pubs in the south, as it eyes expansion outside its heartland. Amber, which is backed by private equity firm LGV Capital, plans to operate 100 outlets by 2014. The three new pubs, all acquired this summer and expected to open in September, will receive investments worth more than the purchase prices; Amber specialises in reviving underperforming community pubs through large CAPEX spends. The sites include a former R&L Properties pub, the Wellington in Southport, Merseyside, which was part of Robert Tchenguiz’s pub empire until it was placed into administration in January. The pub was bought for £225,000 and Amber plans a £240,000 refurbishment. The other two were bought from Enterprise Inns: the Stop & Rest in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester, cost £105,000, with plans for a £350,000 refurbishment; and the New County in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, bought for £175,000, which is set for a £230,000 revamp. Baer told M&C Report: “There are a lot of opportunities out there for pubs that are sensibly priced.” Terms have also been agreed for a further three unidentified pubs, one of which will become the company’s most southernly site, in Wolverhampton. The other two pubs are in Middlesborough and Scunthorpe. On future acquisitions, Baer said: “We are actively pursuing opportunities in the Midlands. We hope to have a site there before the end of the year.” He suggested that acquisitions in parts of southern England could be a future strategy. “This is not imminent in any way but we could argue that the model could work in the Medway towns [in Kent],” Baer said. “We are not going to rush into it. LGV are very clear that there’s no point just buying pubs - it’s not a numbers game.” Amber’s like-for-like sales are up 3% for the first 23 weeks of the current financial year( from the first week in February), Baer said, adding that this was a good result as against a World Cup year in 2010. Current sales average £7,250 per site per week, with per-site ebitda at £100,000. Meanwhile, Baer said LGV Capital has indicated that it’s in no rush to exit its investment in Amber. LGV, the original backers of Enterprise Inns, backed a management buy-out of Amber Taverns last October. Baer said he expected the investment to last between three and five years, which is a standard duration for private equity companies. But he added: “I think it’s flexible. Being private equity, clearly they are looking for an exit, but they feel we are a cash generative business so they are not rushing to exit. “There’s no pressure but clearly it’s something that we talked about when they invested. We don’t get the impression that they are in a dash for the exit.” LGV’s other investments include Jersey-based pub company Liberation Group.