Great British Pub award winners Maggie and Andrew Dunkin have taken on a further two sites in Nottingham in partnership with Punch.

The duo, who started the Flipside Brewery in 2010 and currently operate the Old Volunteer, also in Nottingham, have taken over the Lord Roberts, in Hockley, and the Golden Fleece.

Maggie Dunkin told MCA’s sister title Publican’s Morning Advertiser taking on failing pub the Golden Fleece was a ‘risk’ for the growing company but said she was up for the challenge.

“It’s a very quirky and very different site. Previous operators have tried to turn it into a student pub selling shots and bombs and a world beer emporium with lots of unusual lagers but it hasn’t worked. We were offered it last December and we’ve decided to take the risk.

“We’ve changed the beer, put eight real ales and five ciders on, added a range of malt whiskeys and a full catering kitchen. I’ve employed a chef and we’ll start doing food in time for the May bank holiday weekend.”

Dunkin added that the new sites will help promote the brewery’s range of beers, which have won several awards from the Society of Independent Brewers Association.

“When we first started six years ago, there was just 700 micro brewers and lots of customers. Now, there’s 1,700 brewers and diminishing customer base, it’s harder because the publican has got so much choice. We make 300-400 calls a week to sell our beers and you have to do that. Having our own pubs means there is a guaranteed customer.”

Not having enough hours in the day has been the biggest hurdle when it comes to getting the two sites up and running, she said.

“It has been very hard. We’re working twenty hours a days. You can’t let go of your existing site even when you’re concentrating on the new ones- the Old Volunteer is a fantastic pub and we don’t want anything to happen to it so I’m constantly on call to support the manager.”

The pair have increased turnover at the Old Volunteer from a couple of hundred pounds a week to £9,000 and say the company is on track to meet its self-imposed target of five sites in five years, although Maggie jokes she will divorce Andrew if he buys another pub this year.