Laine Pub Company will consider more package deals, including new clusters of pubs outside of London and Brighton, if it’s “the right thing, at the right time”, MCA has learnt.

Dan Hills, Laine’s sales and marketing director, was speaking to MCA as the group opened its latest site, Ninth Life in Catford, and following its acquisition by Punch Taverns backer Vine Acquisitions in May last year.

Hills said it was “business as usual” following the acquisition, describing it was a vote of confidence in Laine’s model, and saying Vine supported its approach, which would continue to suit outside the mainstream.

He said there was an appetite to introduce more performative and immersive elements into Laine pubs following Ninth Life, which is themed around festival culture and includes escape rooms upstairs.

Hills told MCA had taken on Brighton’s Pull & Pump, formerly part of the Pleisure Pub Company, as part of its EiG joint venture Mash Inns, and that there would be further conversations about the remaining three Brighton pubs.

On working with Vine, which also backs Punch via Patron Capital, Hills said: “It’s very much business as usual. Vine are really keen on us doing more of what we’re been doing. It’s a vote of confidence. It means we were right in our approach. Financially obviously it works, but also culturally as well.

He continued: “We will always sit outside the mainstream - that’s what we were when we started. There’s lots of mainstream operators on the high-street, and there’s not a lot we can learnt from that as a business.

“Laine is 23 years old, so it would be a dramatic shift to change our core model at this stage.”

On future expansion plans, Hill said: “It’s just a question of the right thing at the right time. The same goes with outside Brighton and London. It’s something we’ve considered on and off for years. In the early days we were all along the south coast and up to Guildford.

“Over a few years, we reassessed why we were taking those sites, what was the reasoning. We discovered the reason we did well in Brighton and London is because we understood those areas and the people. So anything we do in other cities will be creating a cluster of sites, and understanding what the offering is, rather than one on its own.

“It was part of our learning experience and working out why we did what we did.”

Hills said there was no conflict between working with Ei via Mash Inns and Punch via its new owner.

He added: “Finding a really good site is a hard thing for any operators – so to have lots of opportunities and potential coming our way is really helpful. Ei have been really supportive. Its been interesting for us to learn from the bigger operators. Probably at the beginning there was a temptation to rally against it, and celebrate being independent, but finding ways to learn has been really beneficial.”