According to a statement from the AIM-listed café-bar operator on 4 June, Loungers plans to kick off takeaway trading at 10 of its sites during the week commencing 8 June in addition to the 17 venues that have launched similar services in the past fortnight.
The group also explained it is working towards potentially opening the majority of its sites in July, assuming the Government is able to grant the hospitality sector the 4 July independence day it has been anticipating.
“Takeout, ‘From our Lounge to your Lounge’ is a completely new model for us but our objectives were to understand if it could provide an additional revenue stream – once reopened – to help us understand operating in a physically distanced environment, to get the supply chain back up and running, to bring team members back from furlough and working and, most importantly, to further energise the culture of the business and generate some excitement,” the statement read.
“It has been a big success, hugely welcomed in the communities where we have opened and we don’t rule out following up with more sites in the coming weeks.
“It won’t move the dial financially on a stand-alone basis but could potentially provide a further revenue stream when reopened, as well as providing a service to anyone who is less comfortable eating out.”
Marked difference in social distancing
Loungers also revealed that it is currently investigating measures such as order-at-table technology, condensed menus and cashless venues as it seeks to ensure staff and customer compliance with distancing measures when sites reopen.
According to a survey of 6,000 customers, only 2% of respondents said they would not be comfortable resuming their normal visits to Lounge and Cosy Club sites Government restrictions are lifted.
However, amid conflicting comments regarding the potential scaling back of social distancing rules, the group explained that the Government’s current approach could impact the rate at which it is able to open sites.
“Due to the size and layout of the majority of our sites and the spread of our trade across the day parts, we anticipate being able to trade profitably with distancing rules in place,” the statement added.
“There is, however, a marked difference between one-metre and two-metre distancing, and if two metres is implemented, it may not make sense to open a small number of our more compact sites immediately.
Site expansion as soon as is ‘sensible’
On 23 April, The Morning Advertiser (MA) reported that Loungers was eyeing post-lockdown expansion after negotiating new credit facilities and raising £8.3m through share placings – plans which, according to its latest statement, it intends to press ahead with when appropriate.
Speaking in February 2019, Loungers’ Alex Reilley stated that the group has its sights on expanding to around 500 sites – comprising 100 Cosy Clubs and 400 Lounges – by expanding at a rate of 25 sites per year.
“Regarding the rollout of new sites, we are keen to restart our new site opening programme as soon as it is sensible and we expect to be able to secure great property opportunities in the coming months in a tenant-friendly market.”
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