The company revealed its unaudited results for the 26 weeks ended 27 June 2021 revealing that trading is on an upward trajectory with sales since the reopening of indoor trading on 17 May at above 90% of 2019 levels, with further improved trade in city centre sites since the beginning of September as return to work gathers pace.
It revealed revenue of £8.9m (H1 2020: £12.1 million) with adjusted profit / (loss) before tax of £(2.0) million (H1 2020: £(3.5) million).
The company has recently purchased two new sites in Cromer, Norfolk and Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
“We think we have got the structure in place to go to 100 pubs,’ Watson said.
“We will now look at large market towns closer to where we already are. We want to continue to build up the clusters but we don’t want to have sites dotted all over the UK.”
The company is focusing on acquiring closed sites and purchasing from independent operators rather than large corporate transactions. Most will be freehold but they will consider good leaseholds.
Watson revealed that the company had focused on taking costs out of the business and ensuring more efficiencies, which has put the company on a “stronger platform” than prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We were quite a complex business going into Covid and we had 46 different pubs all being run differently with different menus etc. There was a lot of efficiencies to be gained regardless of Covid in terms of menus, in terms of drinks offer and scheduling of labour,” Watson said.
“We brought in those efficiencies, which probably should have been there in the first place.”
Two of its key target markets, which are office workers and students, are coming back and there is some optimism about the return of overseas tourists.
While the industry is facing issues with the labour shortage Watson revealed this was much worse in July with the pingdemic.
Chief operating officer Toby Smith that the company had worked hard on its attractiveness for team members which hopefully will find the company at the top of the “pecking order.”
“Not just in terms of hourly rates but in the other things we offer to the team if they choose to work with us, Smith said.
“Students have returned and a week after freshers they will be looking for a job and we will be waiting there with open arms.”