In a trading update for the 23-week period between 29 March and 5 September, Fuller’s revealed that trading across its reopened estate in August was buoyed by the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.
As reported by The Morning Advertiser (MA), the Government-backed discount programme saw more than 100m meals claimed by the British public between 3 and 31 August – with a number of operators choosing to fund their own equivalent discounts during September.
Fuller’s announcement added that it had reopened 169 of its 213 managed pubs during August, with the resumption of trade at 23 further sites in September meaning that more than 90% of its managed pubs and hotels are now open for business.
The operator added that almost all of its 178 tenanted Inns have also now reopened with commercial rent reintroduced on a tapered basis from August after a four-and-a-half-month cancellation.
What’s more, the update also revealed that business has been strong in its seven-site Cotswold Inns & Hotels stable, which Fuller’s acquired in October 2019, where the staycation boom has yielded near full occupancy.
Incredibly challenging time
The reveal of Fuller’s post-lockdown performance follows news that the Covid-19 crisis and enforced 15-week closure of its estate hit the business for an estimated £10m.
While the operator’s chief executive Simon Emeny acknowledged that the operator was still “at the start of a return to normality”, he explained that the Group was quietly confident with the way business is progressing.
“Fuller’s has long extolled the virtue of a balanced estate, both in terms of style and geography, and that has been borne out in the current climate with stronger trading in suburban and countryside locations compensating for the initial lack of footfall in our town and city centres,” he explained. “Recent investments in our gardens and accommodation have helped us benefit from both the customers’ desire to be outside and the growth in domestic tourism.
“It has been an incredibly challenging time. We have implemented a clear strategy with our phased reopening plan that included introducing a number of digital-led initiatives to improve the customer journey, taking every possible step to keep our teams and our customers safe, and keeping a tight focus on costs.
“The Fuller’s experience is centered around warm and inviting pubs and hotels in iconic locations with delicious fresh food, a vibrant portfolio of drinks, beautiful bedrooms and exceptional customer service. It is a credit to our team members that they have quickly adapted to new ways of working and continue to deliver that great Fuller’s experience to our discerning customers.”