DESPITE the ongoing recession a small pub group in Bolton is defying the odds by reporting an increase in sales.

Welcome Taverns runs The Brewhouse pub in Blackburn Road and the Thomas Egerton in Egerton as well as the Bleachworks members’ bar at Dunscar Bridge Business Park.

The worst recession in 60 years has claimed the scalps of many once-successful businesses and left high streets littered with empty shops and pubs.

However, the pub group says its sales have risen 10 per cent on last year.

Gary Targett, Welcome Taverns’ area manager, said adapting to the needs of different customer groups through the day and night was vital, along with offering good food, cask ales and friendly service.

The group currently has 30 full and part-time staff across the three sites and is owned by Bolton entrepreneur Jeremy Jones, who acquired the pubs several years ago.

He was determined to turn the neglected venues into local pubs that would be attractive to a cross section of people — men watching football with pals, women meeting for lunch, family dining and people who simply want a drink.

Mr Targett said: “We have developed the Brewhouse and the Thomas Egerton as local pubs, serving up a good choice of cask-conditioned beers and tasty food using the best local produce and cooked on site.

“Our pubs and the Bleachworks bar serve a wide range of drinks but our own cask-conditioned Dunscar Bridge Brewery beers have been particularly popular.”

The chefs at both pubs have introduced new menus and quiz nights.

The Thomas Egerton has an over-60s’ menu and live football, while The Brewhouse has launched a new lunch and evening menu, and its four letting rooms have been booked by families, walkers and business travellers.

Mr Targett said: “The Bleachworks Bar has just celebrated its first anniversary and the first 12 months have been very successful.

“We now have 5,000 members and are revamping the membership card system with targeted offers, discounts and links to other local firms.

“The bar has also been popular for private parties.

“We also plan to use the bar as a base for brewery tours in the coming months.”