Kent-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has bought 12 pubs on an individual basis in a single year - the highest number for a decade.
The company paid an average of more than £1m per pub, spending a total of £16.4m at a blended average of 10 times earnings.
One site, the Royal Albion Hotel in Broadstairs, Kent, cost £2.7m, with the remainder acquired for an average of £1.245m.
Chief executive Jonathan Neame said: "It's a bigger investment in new pubs than we've made in the past. It's down to opportunity; we've seen some very good quality assets coming on the market."
The acquisitions have included four new pubs in Sussex, one in Surrey, two in Hampshire and two in Central London. The two London pubs are wet-led freeholds with liquor sales accounting for 90% of takings. Shepherd Neame also sold seven pubs for a total of £2.9m - an average of around £415,000 each.
The company took advantage of low long-term interest rates in April to refinance, extending its debt facility to £75m, hedged at an average interest rate of just under 6%.
Like-for-like sales at its 42 managed pubs operated for a full two years were up by 4.3% in the year to 30 June - food accounts for 27% of sales. On the tenanted side, like-for-like contribution was up by 6.2%. Investment in signage, external decoration and repairs increased following a design review in 2006. Beer volumes were up by 2.6% with barrelage now standing at 221,000.
Turnover was up 4.9% to £100m with profit before tax up 3.3% to £11.6m.
new faversham microbrewery
Shepherd Neame has spent £50,000 building a microbrewery at its Faversham site to allow easier product development. It will also allow the brewing of one-off beers. Chief executive Jonathan Neame said the biggest worry was the issue of malt costs and supply, with increases of 50% to 100% in prices.