Lfls were slightly ahead of FY2019 in the first 12 weeks of this period and 1% below FY2019 in the last 16 weeks. Total retail sales in managed and franchise pubs returned to FY2019 levels during the period, while drinks sales have continued to outperform food sales.
The pub operator further reported growing drink sales but weakening food sales in the last four weeks to 23 July, attributed to recent heatwaves.
The group states it is well placed to deliver positive trading through a “balanced estate of predominantly community pubs, investment in outdoor trading areas and staycation custom.”
Business as usual basis
It is also mitigating cost inflation over the medium term through future pricing strategies and energy efficiency plans, including fixing the group’s electricity rates for the upcoming winter with an incremental cost impact of £3m and gas prices until the end of March 2025 with no incremental spend anticipated.
CEO Andrew Andrea commented: “Since Covid restrictions were lifted, we have been encouraged with the level of sales as we have transitioned to operating on a ‘business as usual’ basis.
“In spite of external economic headwinds, we have not seen any discernible change to customer footfall to date and remain cautiously optimistic that we will continue to see similar levels of customer demand across the summer where we will benefit from our investments in outside space and staycations.
“We continue to focus on our strategic plans and remain on track with our debt reduction strategy. We are making considerable progress with the transition away from our value food Two for One brand which will be complete by the end of September.
“We have completed 45 of these pub conversions to date and, whilst still early days, initial indications are encouraging with positive customer feedback and improving returns. We remain confident that the changes we are implementing now will deliver a higher quality business for the Group over the medium to longer term.”