Yummy Pub Company plans to split its business into leasehold and freehold divisions, with the ultimate aim of becoming a “predominantly freehold” operation, MD Anthony Pender has told MCA.

The decision follows the opening of its first freehold site in February, The Wiremill, Lakeside Pub & Inn, near Lingfield, Surrey.

The Wiremill was the company’s first of five leasehold pubs but Yummy had an option to buy the freehold, which was signed in February. The same option does not exist on its other five pubs which are on tied brewery leases.

The Wiremill freehold deal should have completed six months earlier than it did but Pender said a fire caused by a discarded cigarette at its flagship Somers Town Coffee House in Euston, north-west London in June, delayed the deal and meant the business lost 18 months momentum.

Recovery work did not complete until May because of the time it took to get the insurance and paperwork finalised. But Pender said the site was now “fully” back up and running and the directors were looking at developing the 2,500 sq ft second floor of the building.

“We have now started to close the deficit due to the fire and we are actually going into growth again,” said Pender, who also told MCA he envisaged creating three to four new sites outside of the M25 over the next few years.