Tom Davies, chief executive of Brakspear, has told MCA the group is assessing its portfolio with an eye to how pubs will be used decades into the future.
Davies said the Henley-based pub operator was reaching the end of its disposal programme but still expects around six pubs to be sold over the next 18 months.
He said the estate was constantly being re-evaluated based on changes in the market – with consumer trends, potential drink driving law changes and wider economic challenges – all key factors in determining which pubs were viable. He said: “Small, rural pubs are difficult businesses to run and we have to be mindful of that as we have a number of those in our portfolio.”
Davies was speaking to MCA on the back of the publication of financial results for parent company JT Davies & Sons, which showed turnover for the year to 31 December up almost 13% to £22.4m.
The growth came primarily from the company’s fledgling managed house division, where turnover increased by £2.1m to £5.7m. In the 122-strong tenanted and leased estate turnover was up 2%.
Work is expected to start on the group’s ninth managed site – the Frogmill Inn, near Cheltenham – in the first quarter of next year.
Brakspear invested £7.4m in its estate during 2015, including the managed house acquisitions and developments.
Davies said: “We have made some investments but it’s a case of steady as she goes. Got some fantastic operators running our pubs and where possible and appropriate we like to invest in them.
“We are constantly looking at our tail and making sure we dispose of the right pubs, in the right quantities and at the right times. We are a long-term business and we want to make sure any pubs we have are viable for the long-term. We are trying to look five, ten, 20 years ahead.
“It’s about looking at trends. We know people are going out less frequently but potentially spending more when they do go out. That means that you have to be set up to accommodate people when they want to be out and that means looking at capacity.
“The drink driving laws are also something we have to be mindful of as we know there will be pressure to make changes south of the border.”
Operating profit for the year increased 19% to £6.9m, while profit before tax and exceptional items was up 26% to £5.3m.