JW Lees, the Manchester-based brewer and pub operator, has opened a former Mitchells & Butlers pub and has offers submitted for a further five outlets, managing director William Lees-Jones has told M&C Report. 

The Kingfisher at Kirkham, Lancashire, is “trading well” after a £300,000 refurbishment that saw the former carvery repositioned with JW Lees’ signature menu.

Lees-Jones said the expansion programme is “progressing quite well” and the company still has the capacity to secure a further nine in its current financial year (to 31 March 2015).

In May, Lees-Jones told M&C Report that the company has a £20m “war chest” to open 15 pubs per year.

Lees-Jones said at the time: “We are looking at opening five managed houses and buying 10 tenancies every year, coupled with the disposal of the tail end of the estate - over the past 10 years we’ve sold an average of five pubs a year and we’re getting to the end of that tail.

“It’s a net growth of 10 a year that takes us to 200 pubs [over five years], but 200 better pubs because the quality is going up all the time.”