Wear Inns, the 26-strong northern pub operator, is “back on the acquisitions trail” and is looking to buy larger premises, managing director John Weir has told M&C Report.

He told M&C Report that like-for-like sales at its estate, excluding the 11 pubs it bought last year, grew 3.2% in the 12 months to 31 March. Turnover in the year grew 58% to £11.8m.

Weir said sales in the last eight weeks across the estate grew 20.2% and profits lifted 23.2%. “The last eight weeks have been very good for us. August was outstanding, the last two weeks of July were outstanding as well.”

Last May Wear Inns secured a £10m investment from NVM Private Equity and the Business Growth Fund and said it planned to expand to 42 sites by the end of 2013.

“Clearly we are not going to make anywhere near that,” Weir said. “I would hope that we would be able to get another five or six by the first quarter of 2014 then possibly the other six or seven in the second quarter of 2014.”

“Our strategy is still to acquire more. We are back now on the acquisition trail. We are now looking for larger premises but still going to maintain our overall values of high amenities levels and good value and still predominantly a wet-led business.”

He said the company is not currently in negotiation on sites. “I’ve looked at a number. The last six to seven weeks unfortunately things haven’t met our criteria fully. We are now looking at possible opportunities that we believe may come in the near future.”

Wear Inns reported a pre-tax loss of £301,807 in its most recent financial year against a pre-tax profit of £63,906 in the previous 12 months. Weir said that was “fully related” to the £10m investment.