City Pub Group (CPC:AIM) continues to benefit from its expansion strategy after sales rose 22% to £45.7m in the year to 31 December 2018.

Shares in the pub operator frothed 4.9% to 233.5p as the firm entered the black with a reported pre-tax profit of £2.6m against a loss of £0.2m in 2017.

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City Pub aims to double the size of its estate to between 65 and 70 sites by 2021 and is making good progress with 44 wet-led pubs and four currently in development.

This does not include the acquisition of two new sites including 'The Hoste' in Norfolk which boasts a spa, cinema and gym and is set to have the largest amount of bedrooms in the firm’s estate at 53.

Liberum analyst Anna Barnfather says City Pub’s expanded estate has led to a bump in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) forecasts.

For this year and next year, Barnfather estimates a 6.1% and 13% jump in EBITDA respectively.

Over the last year, shares have surged 42.6% as the growth strategy and focus on drink-led pubs have boosted trading during a difficult time for the sector.

As other pub groups have struggled due to higher costs and intense competition for casual diners, those less exposed to food sales have generally performed better.

So far in 2019, City Pub continues to trade well with sales up 36% in the first 14 weeks of the year.

The company is confident that its pipeline will drive sales higher, flagging five new openings including Cambridge, Bath and Reading.

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Issue Date: 09 Apr 2019