Charles Wells aims to grow both its Pizza, Pots and Pints portfolio and its French estate of pubs to 20 each by 2020, MCA understands.

The group has so far grown its Pizza, Pots & Pints managed pub format to six sites, with more in the pipeline. This includes negotiations with Ei Group over taking on The Cottage in Earlsdon, Coventry, MCA understands. It’s John Bull Pub Company in France has grown to 13 sites with expansion set to consider regardless of the outcome of Brexit.

The group has grown its Pizza, Pots & Pints pub format to six sites with more in the pipeline. This includes negotiations with Ei Group over taking on The Cottage in Earlsdon, Coventry. It’s John Bull Pub Company in France has grown to 13.

Chief executive Justin Phillimore told MCA that the group would also be looking to add to its c170-strong tenanted estate in 2019.

Phillimore spoke to MCA following publication of the group’s results to September 2018, which saw a 226.9% increase in profit before tax to £4.6m on its continuing business and a 29.3% increase in underlying operating profit to £5m. Turnover on its continuing operations increased by 8.6% to £43m and investment in its leased and tenanted pubs equated to £2.3m.

During the year, Charles Wells doubled its portfolio of Pizza Pots & Pints pubs to six sites, opened the Bull Hotel in Olney and acquired two more pubs in France, bringing its managed portfolio in the UK and France to 23 pubs. Investment continued in its pub partner business with a record 13 developments during the year. Post year-end, it completed its joint venture with Little Gems Country Dining, acquired four managed pubs from the Orange Tree Group and purchased a further three pubs in France.

Progress continues towards creating a flagship new brewery, with planning permission received and work due to start in the spring of 2019.

Phillimore said: “Last year saw us making the transition from a largely brand-oriented brewing business to a service-focused pub company that is fit to deliver strong growth for the future. We have made a large investment in our pub training and apprenticeship programs as well as in systems in order to support our growth plans for the future.

“With virtually no debt we are in a very strong position to continue to invest both in the UK and France behind our managed pubs and in our pub partner businesses. We are actively looking for acquisition opportunities within the East Midlands, East Anglia and the home counties, and to recruit great staff to work in them.”

Looking ahead to 2019, Justin Phillimore added: “Whilst the future will continue to remain uncertain for some time, we are confident that great pubs will continue to thrive and that we are well positioned to grow over the next twelve months. We plan to once again double the size of our UK managed estate, are actively hunting for more great French sites, and of course are excited to return to brewing when our flagship new brewery in Bedford reaches completion in early 2020.”