Looking ahead to 2021 after the Stockport-based operator of 257 pubs, inns and hotels across the north west revealed its financial results for the year ended 31 December 2019, William Robinson, managing director (pub division), expressed cautious optimism about the business’ immediate future.
“While these are obviously troubling times for all, our family business is well-funded and we secured independent bank funding outside the Government backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme loans,” he explained.
“We have a strong leadership team who are experienced and focused to meet the present challenges.
“We will continue to grow our managed business through investment and acquisition, additionally our tenanted strategy of long-term sustainable growth has not changed.
“To date our considerable support for our licensees has included a 60% rent reduction between March and November as well as the replacement of all their spoilt beer.
“Presently the hospitality sector looks towards this autumn and winter with understandable concern and we will have to plan for 2021 with caution.
“Longer term, we remain optimistic about the opportunity for growth while remaining committed to supporting our great licensees and team members at the brewery and within our pub estate as much as possible.”
Overview of 2019 finances
According to its latest update, Robinsons recorded a £4.4m increase in continued operations turnover for the year ended 31 December 2019, with a total group turnover hitting £75m.
The group also reported an increase in total group operating profit of 13.5% to £3.7m for the same period.
What’s more, following record investment in its pub estate during 2018, Robinsons spent a further £7.6m on its estate, including significant upgrades at 19 sites during 2019 alongside many smaller projects.
The brewer and operator also acquired seven pubs in addition to its purchase of Individual Inns in December 2019, which saw Robinsons double its managed pub estate to 20 sites with 165 letting bedrooms.
Results were further boosted by a strong trading and cost management across the business, with Robinsons’ managed pub business contributing £14.3m to turnover, a year-on-year increase of 28.8%.
Additionally, the operator’s tenanted turnover and profit grew by 2% and 2.5% respectively despite eight tenanted sites transferring to Robinsons’ managed estate and one disposal.
“We were understandably delighted to have acquired the Individual Inns business last December", Robinson said in response to the group’s latest figures. “This contributed to the doubling of the number of managed sites providing accommodation, as well as enhancing our estate in Cumbria and adding our first ever managed pubs in Yorkshire.
“In addition, we have completed some great managed investments including the historic Legh Arms in Prestbury, Cheshire and the George III in Penmaenpool, Wales – surely one of the best estuary views in the UK.
“Over the past five years, we have developed a managed estate with pubs in exceptional locations; we remain acquisitive for the right opportunities.
“However, the ongoing development and success of our tenanted estate underpins our business and so, to provide the best platform to continue this, we were delighted to create the new role of tenanted operations director in January 2020. Given what has happened since then, I am relieved we now have an enhanced senior team to support our tenants.
“We have now invested £34.4m in 146 pub developments in past six years, giving us a great estate and in the current climate I am glad we have such strength in ‘staycation’ locations in places like North Wales, Derbyshire and Cumbria with little dependency on city centres.
“However, the industry cannot come out of the current period unsupported and will continue to support the great work of the British Beer & Pub Association as they seek to secure an extension of the business rates support and address their wider reform, as well as seeking a long term continuation of the VAT reduction.”