James Waddington, the founder of Inglenook Inns & Taverns, has told M&C he is planning to launch a brand later this year which would focus on converting retail sites.

Inglenook will open its 20th pub in November when it takes on the Heron in Kendal – its first partnership with Robinson’s. Waddington is also in talks with Thwaites on a joint venture for the early part of next year – the fourth time the two have collaborated.

He said he expected to add another five pubs to the estate next year but would also be focussing on growing the new brand.

He said: “We are designing a template to drop into retail premises. It would be a different division. The theme would be quirky with a focus on craft beer and really premium spirits. It would be designed so that the cellar is behind the back bar. There would be a basic food offer and some entertainment – probably a pianist or some jazz.

“There are a few of these styles of operation popping up individually but we are aiming to have a cluster.”

Waddington said he hoped to have the debut site – the company’s first free-of-tie deal – open by the end of the year.

He said trading across Inglenook had been “buoyant” so far this year.

He said: “The World Cup was tough for us last year. It’s always a gamble and we invested heavily in the World Cup. Well, we all know how that ended up.

“So our comparisons have been good and we’ve had a really good performance this year.”

Sister company Ignition Pub Management was also growing with an average of 25 pubs under management at any one time.

Current expansion has been self-funded but Waddington said there had been conversations with private equity over the growth of his planned new brand.