Arc Inspirations has set out its ambitions to double in size over the next five years as it seeks investment for its next stage of growth, chief executive Martin Wolstencroft has told MCA’s Pub Conference.

The 19-strong bar group has been self-funded so far, and Wolstencroft said with banks more hesitant about lending, an injection of external investment was the most likely way of achieving the group’s ambitions.

The founder said he was keen to stay on and deliver the next stage of growth for the company, which he said would see Arc open four to five sites a year.

In an exuberant presentation to the conference, the Yorkshireman set out Arc’s strategy of expanding by developing clusters in key cities, based around its three core brands, Banyan, Manahatta and The Box. 

Wolstencroft revealed Birmingham as Arc’s next new destination, with a site lined up in the city due to open at the beginning of next year, which he said would be a “big push” as it was two hours away.

He told the Pub Conference, held earlier this week at the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) in the City: “We want to open four or five sites a year, but it’s getting tougher and tougher to finance.

“We bank with Santander and they’ve had some casualties over the last five years. I don’t think I’d be speaking out of turn in terms of what’s happened with Red’s [True BBQ] and there’s two or three others that they bank with.

“Our relationship with banks is getting tougher and tougher. They’re not lending as easily as they were five or six years ago. To grow and keep developing, we do need external investment.”

In December last year MCA revealed Arc had appointed AlixPartners to explore investment options for the group.