Joule’s Brewery has returned to the acquisition trail after securing part of the site of its former brewery to launch its first new-build pub.

The group has taken on a canalside plot of land in Stone, Staffordshire to build a flagship Taphouse.

Managing director Steve Nuttall told MCA he hoped this would kickstart a new phase of growth for the group after opening just one site this year.

He said the group would look to capitalise on opportunities in the market but was unlikely to go for a group deal, due to the preference for character properties. He said expansion would be targeted within Joule’s core geography of Staffordshire, Shropshire and Cheshire, although he would be keen to explore more properties in north Birmingham.

He said: “We would certainly like to acquire more but it has very much gone from a buyer’s market to a seller’s and we have no interest in growing for the sake of it. If we can get by with one or two new sites a year then that’s what we’ll do.”

He said trade across the estate was relatively flat in the year-to-date, particularly in the community pub segment.

On changing consumer trends he said: “There was a time when you could put people in categories – real ale drinker, lager drinker etc. Now people flit across categories and might have several different preferred brands. That is obviously a challenge to pubs and you have to really keep an eye on your offering.”

The new Taphouse will be on land known as Crown Wharf. The site is currently utilised by Stone Town council as a parking facility and has been acquired from the Canals and Rivers Trust.

Nuttall said: “This acquisition provides us with an opportunity to embrace the Joule’s story and return the brand to Stone with some style. Our Joule’s boardroom will once again be located in Stone where the story all began. We also intend to establish a full Brewery Taphouse by the canal. This will be the first pub we have built from the ground up, it is daunting for a small company like ours and we know we need to be bold if we are to embody the spirit of Stone and embrace our brewing heritage, we simply cannot get this wrong, scary and exciting in equal measure and now we have bought the site there is no going back.”