Blackpool pub company set to hit target after deal

James Baer, Managing Director at Amber Taverns with Clive Preston, Chairman
James Baer, Managing Director at Amber Taverns with Clive Preston, Chairman
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A Blackpool-based pub company is aiming to have 100 pubs in its portfolio this year after acquiring new owners in a £80m deal.

Amber Taverns specialises in “wet-led” pubs – traditional ones that concentrate on the beer rather than the food 
offering– and currently 
operates 95 across the North of England and Wales.

It targets watering holes which have been in decline but have the potential to be revived as community-
centred pubs.

This week the group, based at Victory Road, Blackpool, was boosted after the 82 per cent stake owned by LGV Capital was sold to a team backed by MxP Partners and BlueBay Asset Management.

It means that Amber has new investors to drive its plans to increase its estate to 120 pubs by 2016, an aim it announced when it secured a £27.5m funding deal last 
September, and could be in line to spend between £6m and £7m a year on expansion over the next four years.

Managing Director James Baer said the deal showed faith in Amber’s philosophy and methods.

He said: “Michael George who led the MxP team had been an investor in our company in the past and was a reluctant seller when LGV bought the business. So 
having him back is great and he knows the business well.

“Basically the positives from the deal for our people are that the team stays together and the new owners are backing us to keep growing the business with our proven business model.

“We started in 2005 with no pubs and now we are up to 95 and expect to get to 100 by the end of the year.

“The trick is that we are prepared to invest in our pubs. A lot of other pub companies have gone down the food route, which is fine, but that should not leave out the more traditional wet-led pubs in terms of investment.”

He said it was a tough market having to compete with the supermarkets heavily discounted alcohol sales but if the right pub in the right location was acquired a successful business could be established.

The group has several pubs on the Fylde including the Sandyforth Arms, Cleveleys, The Queens and the Ardwick in Blackpool and the Kings, Fleetwood.

Amber Taverns’ chairman Clive Preston said: “The board of Amber Taverns is delighted to have a new partner to continue the buy and build 
strategy of the group.

“The continuing success of our business is proof that the traditional ‘wet-led’ pub is alive and well, and quality venues in a good location with a competitive offer will thrive.”