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Fri 5th Jul 2013 - Breaking News - Heartstone Inns sets 50 freehold pub target
Heartstone Inns sets 50 freehold pub target: Heartstone Inns, the operator of freehold pubs led by James Birch, has set a target of expanding to as many as 50 freehold pubs after embarking on its latest and final round of EIS fund-raising. The company, founded in 2006, has acquired its tenth freehold pub, The Blathwayt Arms near Bath, which is a disposal from the Enterprise Inns estate and will be refurbished in August. The company, whose turnover stands at £6.6m, has raised more than £1m through its latest EIS fund-raising and is looking to add a further £2m – the company has previously raised £5m from investors through EIS schemes and a further £4m in equity has been raised since the company was founded. The company has also renegotiated its senior debt with lenders HSBC and Coutts and merged its two operating companies. Birch told Propel: “We are very pleased to have acquired The Blathwayt Arms which has enormous potential as a quality country inn in a popular destination area for tourists and the local community alike. The merger of our two businesses will considerably simplify our day-to-day operations and will enable us to create a single platform for future growth. We now have ten very good pubs turning over £6.6m, which is £660,000 per pub. We’re looking to add more having established a good, solid platform. Last year, we didn’t acquire any pubs but added a 100-seat restaurant to our Hare and Hounds pub in Devon, which has grown like-for-likes by 25% since. We also refurbished The Pelican Inn near Hungerford. It’s our ambition to grow a substantial pub estate, with 30 to 50 pubs our ultimate goal.” Heartstone Inns was founded in December 2006 by James Birch, Andrew Haining and Robin Black. Birch was the former chief financial officer of both InnSpired and Refresh UK while Haining and Black were the senior partners of Botts & Company, a London based private equity fund manager and founders of Balmuir Partners with a focus on leisure and property investments including Cineworld and Malmaison. The company’s freehold managed pubs are in the south and south-west, with a focus on larger destination and food led pubs in strong demographic areas.

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