A northern pubs company is bucking a national trend of closures by acquiring locals that are close to calling last orders or are already boarded up, The Times reports.

The Blackpool-based Amber Taverns, which has 165 pubs, operates mainly in smaller regional towns in northwest England, the northeast, the Midlands, Wales and Scotland.

With net sales of about £96 million and underlying earnings of £20 million, the group is opening 14 to 16 pubs a year. Recent openings include sites in Shrewsbury, Brighouse, Ashton-under-Lyne and Skegness.

Its formula involves investing in the fabric of the pub and putting in Sky and BT televised sports and entertainment channels. The estate is almost completely freehold and the pubs are run under a hybrid “operator-managed” business model that is a cross between a managed pub and a tenancy.

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