The article refers to 300 pubs. This is the first external reference to 300 pubs that I have seen. Most quote 200 (from the Brewery). Only this site (as I know of) states 300.
It is not unknown for the Brewery to lease pubs. Cornhill Vaults in Lincoln was leased. The article states "the building?s landlord". At first I took this as meaning the owner of the building, and thus it is leased by Samuel Smith's. However, could this be just badly termed and actually mean the "pub landlord", ie the manager?
"the chain is known to allow each of its pubs to ?maintain a certain degree of autonomy" NOT.