Everards chief executive Steven Gould told MCA that the business was close to securing two new suburban sites under its Project William initiative, which gives smaller operators and brewer tenants greater flexibility in relation to the beer tie.

He said Project William, which currently has c30 sites, was performing well – though said its growth had slowed over the last three years, which he said came as larger pub groups got a greater handle on their estate, which created greater competition within the tenanted sector for talented licensees.

Gould admitted he was surprised at how much praise the initiative had received, and insisted it was only common sense for a regional brewer such as Everards to build trusting relationships with smaller operators and give them flexibility to introduce more varied beer range.

He also said the pub code had implications for the likes of Everards and its c170 estate, as it again created competition for talent in the tenanted sector between regional and national pub groups – though he said Everards had long prided itself on strong relationships with its tenants.

Having previously said Everards preferred characterful sites over new-builds, Gould suggested Everards could consider a smaller c2,500 sq ft new-build in a drive thru location, as an all-day food-led offer if it was commercially viable.