Loungers’ pre-‘Freedom Day’ sales 23.7% up versus 2019 levels

By The Morning Advertiser

- Last updated on GMT

Operational challenges: 'As we head into the summer holidays, the operating environment will continue to be difficult as we face interruption due to positive Covid cases and self- isolation and a very tight labour market in a number of locations,' Loungers CEO Nick Collins said
Operational challenges: 'As we head into the summer holidays, the operating environment will continue to be difficult as we face interruption due to positive Covid cases and self- isolation and a very tight labour market in a number of locations,' Loungers CEO Nick Collins said

Related tags: Loungers, Finance, Pubco + head office, Coronavirus

According to its latest financial update, café bar operator Loungers revealed that sales across its estate of 175 venues were up by 23.7% in the nine weeks from 17 May to 18 July 2021 versus the same period in 2019.

The firm behind the Lounge and Cosy Club concepts revealed that it had benefited from post-Covid trends such as flexible working driving traffic to local high streets rather than city centres, community presence and staycationing as pandemic restrictions on the hospitality sector gradually eased. 

What’s more, Loungers also recorded £78.3m in revenues in the 52 weeks ended 18 April 2021 – down from £166.5m in the previous year – while its adjusted pre-tax loss deepened from £2m to nearly £13.4m.

On top of this, the operator’s non-property net debt of £34.2m on 18 April 2021 reduced to £18.2m by 11 July 2021, while the operator also reported that seven new sites have opened to date in the current financial year as it looks to return to opening 25 sites per year.

Welcome removal of restrictions 

Reflecting on Loungers’ most recent set of financial results, chief executive officer Nick Collins said he was “delighted” with the strength of performance since reopening.

“Each time the business has reopened over the past 18 months, we have achieved consistent, sector-leading sales growth,” he said.

“We welcomed the removal of all Covid-related restrictions on Monday (19 July) and while there is naturally short-term uncertainty, we are looking ahead with real confidence. 

“We have already opened seven very strong new sites this year, and I am delighted we are now back opening sites at a run-rate of 25 sites per year. 

“We want to play our part in driving economic growth as we come out of Covid, improving high streets across the UK and providing amazing hospitality in communities. 

“The strategy that we outlined when we floated the business in 2019, and our place on the high street, have never looked more relevant.”

Facing interruption 

However, despite the positive financial returns since venues were allowed to resume indoor trading in May, Collins conceded that the last few weeks had been “very challenging operationally”.

“As we head into the summer holidays, the operating environment will continue to be difficult as we face interruption due to positive Covid cases and self-isolation and a very tight labour market in a number of locations,” he added. 

“Once again our team have approached the challenge with enthusiasm and commitment and I am enormously grateful and proud of the contributions made at every level in the business. 

“The resilience shown by our team over the last 18 months has been remarkable. We are committed to using our growth to provide fantastic careers and progression opportunities in the hospitality sector, and with around 1,250 employee shareholders, rewarding loyalty with ownership in the business”

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