City Pub Company chairman Clive Watson has told MCA the group is keen to add further sites in the City of London and would not rule out a group deal.

Watson spoke to MCA on the back of the group’s results for the year to 31 December, during which total sales grew 36.6% to £27.4m and company EBITDA rose 43.4% to £4.1m.

The group now operates 32 sites and Watson said he was confident that the group would have 35 in operation by the time of its intended listing on AIM in the autumn, which he expects will raise between £15m and £20m.

The group took on its first pub on the fringes of the city - Three Crowns in Old Street – in February and Waston said trade had been encouraging.

He said: “It’s an area we shied away from for a long time but – as anticipated – the City, or certain parts of it, are now able to trade seven days a week. It’s an area that should be attractive going forward and we’re very keen to find further sites there.”

On the potential for a group deal, Watson said: “Anything is open for suggestion. If we can fit it into our culture, we’ll consider it. One of the reasons we have tended to go for one-offs is that it is easier to then fit them into our culture. Corporate acquisitions generally come with their own culture.”

On geographic targets, he said: “We are generally in the cities we want to be in. We wouldn’t rule out places like Chichester – as we have already established a base in Brighton - but we don’t want to go charging off to York or Nottingham. We have always said our radius is two hours from head office or the managing director’s home.”

The next site to open will be The Walrus in Brighton – formerly operated by Glendola Leisure as Smugglers.

On the financial year, Watson said: “Clive Watson, Chairman of City Pub Company, said:“2016 was a fantastic year for the business during which we expanded our high quality estate and significantly increased revenue and Company EBITDA. Paying our maiden dividend is another milestone and demonstrates the progress made and our strong financial performance.

“Importantly, we now have invested in the infrastructure in place to scale and manage an estate in excess of 50 pubs in the coming years, and while there are a number of headwinds in the sector, our exceptional growth will more than mitigate any cost impact.

“2017 has started strongly and the Company continues to trade in line with our expectations. We have a pipeline of high quality acquisitions ahead and look forward to the future with real confidence.”

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