Charles Wells is looking to ramp up the expansion of its Pizza, Pots and Pints concept, by up to eight sites a year.

Speaking at MCA’s Pub Conference this week, chief executive of Charles Wells, Justin Phillimore, said that while so far it had been “learning slowly”, it was planning to expand the concept and is“looking to add around six to eight year – that’s the plan”.

He said the company, which opened its sixth Pizza, Pots & Pints venue, in Oxford, was looking within around a 65-mile radius of Bedford, in order to keep things relatively focused on one region. It also has two sites in Cambridge and one Hitchin, Peterborough and Baldock.

“It is a very simple concept, of pizza in a reasonable size community pub,” said Phillimore. Its pizza ovens also bake dishes such as mac ‘n’ cheese and ‘shroom and aloo curry in ceramic pots.

“In terms of kitchen space, the prep area can be relatively small, so it works well in 200-300 sq m trading areas,” he added.

Phillimore said that following the sale of its brewing business to Marston’s in May 2017, it was “learning to be a much smaller business”.

“We were a business of more than £200m turnover, we are now £45m, so we have been delayering and getting much closer to the business, and learning to be much more operational,” he said.

He joked that running a brewery over the past few years has not always been a greatest growth story, “but we are now in a fantastic and fortunate position to be able to grow our business”.

Charles Wells entered into a joint venture with Little Gems Country Dining in October last year, which will see them run a combination of the Little Gems and Charles Wells Apostrophe pubs.

Steve Wilkins, co-founder of Little Gems, said they would shortly be going on site on the fifth Apostrophe site – The Old Cock Inn, In Harpenden – “and possibly its sixth”, which he said was due to open in Q1 2019.