Urban Pub Company, the Glasgow-based pub operator, has announced plans to expand across towns in Scotland’s central belt. The company has already secured two new sites - to be called the Fox & Ferret in Hamilton and the Dog & Duck in Cambuslang - which are to open this month. Urban is about to complete on a third, provisionally called the Rat & Parrot in Bishopbriggs. A revamp totalling £200,000 is planned before the sites open. The pubs are leased from private landlords, said managing director Graham Sutherland, a former business development manager for Punch Taverns and Trust Inns. He set up Urban two years ago after being made redundant in his role as operations manager at GI Group. At present, Urban operates nine sites, a mixture of leased pubs from Punch and Trust Inns, plus two freeholds that are run by tenants. It also provides temporary management services on a further dozen or so sites. The plan is to open “a series of new outlets in provincial towns throughout Scotland’s central belt where major pub operators do not presently have a presence”. “This roll-out represents significant investment and signifies our confidence that there is scope for major growth within parts of Scotland currently not being served an adequate quality food and drink offering at sensible prices. Given the market opportunities arising from the current economic climate, we are convinced that the time is now right for us to embark on this ambitious expansion programme.” Sutherland said the company has no target numbers for growth. “It all depends on what kind of yields we can get, or what the rents are.” He said Urban would typically negotiate discounts of £10,000-£15,000 on rents at its new sites, and would ask for a rent review after the first year. Sutherland added: “Our policy is, we don’t pay premiums. We are giving them the opportunity to turn the business around.” The new sites will follow the animal name branding of the latest three, Sutherland said. Funding for the expansion is provided by private pension contributions, he added.

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