Joule’s, the Shropshire brewer and pub operator, has taken its estate to 40 sites with three new acquisitions, one of which will be the first new opening under the company’s fledgling craft beer concept, M&C Report has learnt.

Managing director Steve Nuttall told M&C Report that sales increased by two and a half times at the first site to operate under the Blue Sack Craft Beer Bars concept, the Lower Chequer in Sandbach, which opened eight weeks ago as a conversion from an existing Joule’s pub.

“There’s no doubt that in provincial towns the concept of craft beer is clearly not as developed as it is in city centres or student towns. We are certainly ahead of the game and ahead of trends,” he said.

“We’re now doing about two and a half times what we were doing when we traded it as a purely traditional bar with a selection of cask beer. But we know it’s a honeymoon period and we’re waiting to see how it all settles down.”

The pub is attracting a mixed audience, he said. “I think people think craft beer bars are all about young people who are willing to experiment, but we’re getting a good cross section of customers.”

The second site to operate under the format will be the Angel Inn at Lichfield, which has been bought from Marston’s. Nuttall pointed out that it’s a bigger town than Sandbach with a bigger drinking circuit.

Meanwhile, the company has bought the Boldmere Oak in Sutton Coalfield, from Marston’s. It becomes Joules’ first pub with a Birmingham postcode. Nuttal said he viewed Birmingham and the surrounding region as a good target for new openings, with a focus on circuit and edge-of-circuit venues.

The firm’s latest acquisition is the New Inn in Newport, Shropshire, which was bought from Enterprise Inns.

Nuttall said the company is in discussion on three more sites. “One is very close to legals and a couple more are in very preliminary stages,” he added.