Blind Tiger Inns is eyeing up a further four to five pub openings before the end of the year, MCA has learnt.

The northwest-based community pub operator has just acquired the lease of The Rose & Crown in Chorley, from Star Pubs & Bars – its 13th site and 12th with Star.

MD Chris Tulloch, told MCA that while further sites have yet been secured, he sees the potential for up to five more in 2018 – a significant increase in pace on its expansion in previous years – due to the number of opportunities coming up in the market.

Tulloch said there was “certainly potential” to take on additional pubs through Star, but that there were also opportunities to ramp up its estate through other partnerships. “We get a lot of interest from various pubcos – they all know what our model is so they contact us and we’ll have a look at those sites,” he said.

“We also have some property companies that would like to work with us if we want to do freeholds, which we haven’t done in this current company but we have experience of.

“There are a lot of opportunities at the moment, and pubcos especially are favouring the multiple operators,” he added.

The business has seen investment in its existing estate pay off with “lfls north of +20%”, said Tulloch. It carried out four refurbishments last year and has invested significantly in marketing and technology, he said.

The pub group has just completed a £50k refurbishment of The Station Hotel in Altrincham, which is due to reopen today. “It’s already a good site but it’s been about five or six year since it had an investment and we like to invest in our pubs every five years to keep them fresh and on trend,” said Tulloch.

Refurbishment work on The Rose & Crown began earlier this week with the pub due to reopen on 10 August.

“It’s a pub we know well as it’s only a couple of miles from our office. It has had the same lessees for about 10 years so when they said they approached us to say they were coming out of the business we were very excited as it fits into our wet-led community model,” he explained.

“We are traditionally value led but we are finding that by presenting the option of having the value offer and also offer some kind of premium product range and premium pricing, that people are going for it; particularly the people that are well documented as going out less and spending more – they are still coming into our pubs,” said Tulloch.

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