The group’s trading update, which covered the 52 weeks ending 26 December 2021, also showed it was performing ahead of 2019’s level and it is confident 2022 trading will exceed 2019 levels by the end of the second quarter.
During this period, City disposed of six sites – five of those were to Portobello Starboard – for about £17.1m with the disposal of the London Road Brewhouse in Southampton for £900,000.
Following the disposal, the company has a current net debt of about £20m and £35m banking facilities.
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The company, which currently operates a predominantly freehold estate of 41 pubs with the Oyster House in Mumbles, Swansea opening this week, also recently announced it had increased its investment into Mosaic Pub and Dining by £1.7m, meaning its total stake in Mosaic is now just over a third (36%) for a total investment of £4.1m with the intention to acquire the remaining shares not owned next year. This would result in 10 pubs forming part of the firm’s portfolio.
The business is currently refurbishing four sites and reported “significant progress” on development sites with three openings planned for the summer and it has received planning for its new concept – Damson and Wilde.
This new brand will feature an all-day menu, premium drinks offer, coffee and high service levels. Plans will include expansion of this model if it is a success however, the company said it would “not be sucked into paying high rents on the high street, which have increased considerably in the past few months”.
The outlook for the business was positive with it labelling the results as “the strongest balance sheet since inception”.
Strongest financial position
While there has been some impact from industry challenges, especially energy and food costs, the firm is currently holding prices and City stated it was “well positioned to take advantage of acquisition opportunities when they arise”.
City Pub Group chairman Clive Watson said: “Following the reversal over the festive season, trading is now beginning to build in momentum and we look forward to an uninterrupted summers’ trading.
“We are emerging from the pandemic in the strongest financial position we have ever been in and therefore have signalled our intention to recommence dividends in the autumn.
“We have a very strong platform, from which to grow and much look forward to despite the inflationary headwinds our development sites are coming on stream.
“Mosaic will be fully acquired next year adding 10 high quality pubs, our new concept will begin trading and we can take full advantage of, adhering to our strict criteria, freehold acquisition opportunities that arise.”