THE growing Brewhouse & Kitchen chain of ‘brewpubs’ – founded by a former Bournemouth hospitality student – is poised to expand into the hotel business.

The moves came as the six-year-old company reported an annual loss which it said was partly due to gearing up for more growth.

It intends to open its first hotel in a brewpub this year, with three more to follow within 18 months.

Publication of its results coincided with the news that Brewhouse & Kitchen had been listed in the Stock Exchange’s annual 1,000 Companies That Inspire Britain report, which looks at fast-growing small and medium sized enterprises.

Brewhouse & Kitchen’s co-founder Kris Gumbrell went to Bournemouth University’s predecessor the Dorset Institute of Higher Education before 20 years working for big companies.

He founded the chain as a “disruptive” force in the sector originally with a pub in Portsmouth. The former Malt & Hops in Southbourne followed soon after, as did the former Rising Sun in Poole and former Branksome Arms in Bournemouth.

The pubs were launched with no Sky Sports or gambling machines, with beer brewed on the premises.

Brewhouse & Kitchen reported an operating loss of £560,653 for the year ended last September 29, although turnover was up 21 per cent to £14.1million.

Mr Gumbrell reported: “The Brexit uncertainty and cost headwinds around wages, input costs and business rates continue to make the trading conditions difficult throughout the hospitality sector. This in turn, along with an increase in head office costs, in readiness for the next stage of growth, has had an impact on the performance and profitability of the company within the year.”

An unsuccessful attempt to bring accounting functions in-house had also hit the bottom line, he said.

The company raised £8.8m in equity during the year to enable further development of its estate.

It has 13 of its own pubs and has franchised another nine.

Mr Gumbrell said the company’s HQ team had been “focused on, at times, an exhausting strategy of buy, build and open".

He added: “Last year the board felt it was time to step back, invest into our systems, consolidate and re-enforce the core team. We now have the largest and most established brewpub business with the UK market. Craft beer is now built into the core UK pub offering to various degrees, so it is essential that we maintain our competitive edge of leading the market for innovation, craft beer retail and a ‘best in class’ experience business.”

He added; “Despite many challenges, the brand has evolved and adapted to maintain its place at the head of a market that sees the continued rise of craft beer.”

Explaining the business’s philosophy to the Daily Echo in 2017, Mr Gumbrell said: “I’m probably a bit of a moralist in terms of pubs.”

He said he was against gambling in pubs and, although he loved sport, did not care to have it televised in his premises.

“There are too many pubs out there who think ‘If I just switch the football on or buy a karaoke, I’ve done my job’. You’ve got to be more dynamic and creative,” he said.