Eldridge Pope looks to reverse declines

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by The PMA Team Business at Eldridge Pope's Toad brand and its other high-street bars in October and November was 9.3% lower than the year before....

by The PMA Team Business at Eldridge Pope's Toad brand and its other high-street bars in October and November was 9.3% lower than the year before.

The Dorset-based retailer, however, is hoping to reverse the declining like-for-likes at its Toads by adapting each unit to suit its local customer base.

The company is also adopting a micro-management approach in the rest of its 109-strong managed estate.

Chief executive Susan Barratt pointed to the success of a site in Weymouth that had shown a 40% like-for-like sales hike by playing more cheesy music, increasing the drinks range to offer products with more margin and recruiting staff "who can talk to people".

Meanwhile, Toads in Milton Keynes and Rugby were sold to Bakersfield, operator of the Mood bar brand, for nil premium ­ they were worth £1.7m on the books.

"They seem to know what they are doing and we'll be having a look at them to see if we can learn anything," said Barratt.

Three more Toad outlets are on the market and the chief executive admitted that there would be no more Toad openings "in the near future".

Eldridge Pope's managed pubs and tenancies divisions showed a 6.4% and 2.9% increase in business, respectively, in October and November.

"A bit of that was the rugby [World Cup], but there does seem to be a lot more of a positive feel," said Barratt.

For the full year ending 4 October, the company registered a post-exceptional loss of £9.9m on turnover of £70m ­ even its pre-exceptional item profit was down to £3.5m compared to £6.4m for the year before.

Barratt added: "Whilst the performance of the business during the year as a whole was very disappointing, the decline that had been seen in the first half slowed considerably in the second half.

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