A newly created pub group set up by two former brewery directors has its sights set on up to 30 pubs after successfully securing backing from private investors.
Stuart Hawthorn, previously brewing and brands director at Hobgoblin brewer Refresh UK, and James Birch, its former finance director, have set up Heartstone Inns to buy food-led pubs in rural and semi-rural areas.
Hawthorn, who has also worked for Scottish & Newcastle and Morland, said the company had working capital of about £5m but could commit to as much as four times that amount if the right deal presented itself.
"We don't intend to be the next Enterprise Inns but will be looking for 10, 20, maybe 30 freehold sites with an established food trade," he said.
Heartstone took control of its first pub, the Butchers Arms in Sheepscombe, Gloucestershire, which was on the market for £850,000, on 10 January.
By Chris Druce
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