Snug Bars, the Hertfordshire-based up-market bar operator, is to undergo a rebrand across its estate as it targets expansion from five to 20 sites over five years with help from new banking facilities, M&C Report has learnt.

The group, which saw like-for-like sales grow 16% in the year to the start of March, is to open its sixth site next month in Hitchin, its first private leasehold; the others are Enterprise Inns leaseholds or tenancies.

The new design, to be introduced in Hitchin and also at its flagship St Albans outlet in May, follows consultation with its customers, which led to the creation of a “style guide” template for the new design and the revamped food and drink offer.

The logo and branding have been overhauled. The decor is more stripped back, with exposed natural wood and metal decor, wooden floors and tiled areas.

“We really made sure that our lettering, our colour scheme, the environment of the bars from a construction point of view, are all in keeping with what the guests’ expectations are,” managing director Giles Fry told M&C Report. “The colour scheme is all on trend with what they are after.”

The new menu is more “lady-friendly”, Fry said, and it also incorporates popular contemporary dishes such as premium hot dogs and gourmet burgers. There’s an extra focus on grazing and a £5.95 weekday lunchtime menu is available.

The enhanced drinks range has more emphasis on sharing cocktails, such as the Indiana Bones & Crystal Maze, and there’s a Brazilian Basil Smash to tie-in with the World Cup. Craft beer will be introduced to selected venues and the soft drinks range has been enhanced with the introduction of boutique Dorset-based Orchard Pig sparkling fruit juices.

Fry said: “We would ideally wish to get all the other bars converted [to the new design] before the end of our financial year; we’re just one month into our new financial year.

“Our plan this year is to open a further two sites on top of Hitchin - that will bring us to opening three sites this year - and also to look at spending our money wisely to get the other sites converted over to the rebrand.”

He said an agreement with a new bank is soon to be finalised that “will definitely support us for the next three openings”. “We’re in a position to start putting the foot down on the accelerator because we have a bank now that supports us in what we want to do.

“By the end of the fifth year we would be looking at about 20 sites.”

The company would look within 50 miles of its St Albans headquarters, said Fry, in areas of similar demographics to its current locations.

Fry said: “The re-brand and new menu launching together are an incredibly exciting time for all of the team and guests at The Snug and show a real step change in our position as a business. It was high time that we re-connected with our core customer profile and understood their needs, the changing fashions and have done this through a series of focus groups, and in turn, have evolved the brand into something more appealing for the 24-35 discernible drinkers market.

“We hope the new menu pleases our guests and the new branding widens our appeal to drive our business forward.”