Old English plans pounds 70m expansion

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OLD English Pub Company, the pub and coaching inn operator, yesterday announced plans for an ambitious pounds 70m expansion programme. It is raising pounds 30.5m through a one for three rights issue at 330p a share and is willing to use an additional pounds 40m worth of banking facilities.

The money will be used to buy another 50 new sites to add to its current 120-strong estate.

The group plans to continue its strategy of concentrating on traditional pubs with features such as log fires, and opening more pubs that offer customers a wide range of food.

The company is looking at broadening its geographic reach into areas such as Herefordshire and Gloucestershire from its traditional trading areas in the South East and East Anglia. The group has already made offers for 35 sites, 18 of which have been accepted.

Barry Warwick, chief executive of the group said: "The company is excellently placed to exploit the growing market for traditional quality pubs/restaurants and coaching inns." OEPC unveiled a sharp rise in pre-tax profits to pounds 4.5m (pounds 1.6m) for the year to March.