Phoenix Pub Group, the south east-based operator, has designs to become one of the top 10 managed pub groups in the country by growing its estate to 120 nationwide, M&C Report has learnt.

The group, which was formed in 2012 as an umbrella company for a number of subsidiaries including Premier Pubs, West Inns, London and Counties Pub Company, Tenderfoot and Enlighters, currently operates c.80 pubs, bars and restaurants across the country with a significant amount being freehold.

Commercial director Chris Cody told M&C Report: “Our intention is very much to create an estate of 120 pubs after going through a churn process in which we managed to get rid of some of our lower performing sites and building on the top through group and individual acquisitions of bigger and better sites.”

He said the company has built a team of area and business managers recruited from pub and retail backgrounds to enable it to reach 120 sites in the next 12 months.

“Previously we were focused in the south east but the opportunities presented themselves and we have acquired nationwide pubs including 16 ex-Bramwell sites,” Cody said. “We needed to expand geographically in order to hit our targets in terms of acquisitions.”

The group is currently looking to expand in Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and is considering a number of high street retail sites but will also consider out of town locations that have the capacity to trade in excess of £10k per week.

“The skillset we have in our teams has enabled us to look at a much wider range of sites.”

“We have the management and head office support to manage but we won’t do it recklessly, we will do it by acquiring the right sites in the right locations – but we will look at any and everything.”

The group, which has private equity backing, has agreed on investment plans with Carlsberg and Molson Coors to develop the business, which Cody described as the beginning of on-going relationships with the two companies.

He added the group is looking to raise more money through private equity to enable it to move into the top 10 managed house groups in the country.

The group is also trying to develop a cluster of sites in the north east and the Midlands where it currently operates a small number of pubs in each region.

The business has operated since 1997 and includes a number of subsidiary firms including Premier Pubs, West Inns, London and Counties Pub Company, Tenderfoot and Enlighters - the Phoenix Pub Group was created in April 2012 as the umbrella company.