Orchid Group plans to “re-position” 25-30 wet-led pubs, primarily to carveries and to its Thai pub concept Dragon, over the next three years, chief executive Rufus Hall has told M&C report. Hall said every Orchid pub would receive some form of investment, but insisted that the managed operator was committed to running wet-led pubs. Last week the c250-strong company unveiled plans for a three year, £20m capex programme that would involve a mix of repositioning investments, involving moving wet-led pubs to food-led, plus smaller “shine” spends. Hall told M&C Report the investment has already begun, with five currently open, four more on site and another 10 due before Christmas; total investment this year would be £1.9m. “There are probably 25-30 businesses where we can reposition the offer,” he said. “The rest are just shrewd investments.” The sites will be repositioned “principally” as Dragon and carveries, he said. But Hall added that Orchid would definitely keep its wet-led pubs. “We do believe in the localness of the pub. Certain pubs are always going to be the best fit locally as wet led.” Hall listed its Dragon and carveries and its wet-led local pubs as the best performing across the estate. The latter category is “getting stronger” as more small tenanted pubs close, he said. On the prospect of acquisitions, Hall said: “If opportunities arise to bolt on smaller parcels of pubs, we’ve got the money to do that.” He expects a “handful” – probably five or six – disposals as part of “sensible estate management”. The investment programme follows Orchid’s restructuring in February that saw Deutsche Bank become its sole financial backer. Last week Orchid reported a 5.4% fall in EBITDAR in 2011, although turnover grew 3.7% to £179.6m and underlying gross margin improved by 1.9% or £2.3m. Hall said Orchid has “continued to perform ahead of expectations” for the first three quarters of 2012.