James Davy, chairman of Davy’s Wine Merchants, would like to bring the business back up to c35 sites, and is looking at alternative locations outside of its central London heartland, MCA has learnt.

Davy, who is the fifth generation to lead the family wine merchants and bar business, said he hoped to find two more sites during this financial year after losing several in recent years due to expired leases and landlord developments – but admitted it was a struggle to find sites in such a competitive and uncertain landscape.

He told MCA he was impressed by wine shop-bar hybrids, and said the group could consider this model for future sites.

Davy said: “We would like to be a slightly bigger group from the way we’re structured and operate.

“We are looking for sites but finding it difficult to find them. Therefore part of that process means changing the geographical area a bit. We’ve talked about getting out of central London for expansion and we’re still interested in alternative locations; London villages to start with because it’s still reachable. If we get that right it would be a stepping stone. If it works there it’s more what you’d expect to find outside London.

He added: “Anyone outside London would say ‘lucky you’, which is fine as long as you get it right. If you don’t you’re going to get crippled. We’re doing OK, but its high stakes.”

Davy said he was “gutted” to lose a number of sites, such as two in London Bridge arches, in recent years.

The business acquired four-strong El Vino in 2015, a heritage wine bar collection with an Iberian wine and food offer, which it has refreshed and is now seeing strong like for like growth.