In a trading update, the pub operator said sales remain behind pre-pandemic levels, at 97% against its 2020 financial year.
Sales for the four-week Christmas and new year period were 38% up against last year, due to the impact of Covid restrictions. Compared to 2019, sales declined by 5%, attributed to the impact of rail strikes.
The company estimates industrial action has significantly impacted profitability by reducing sales by about £4m since the start of October and now expects to report earnings below market expectations for the full year.
Achieving anticipated sales
Fuller’s will announce its full year results for the year to 1 April on 15 June 2023.
CEO Simon Emeny said: “We are encouraged by our underlying sales performance. While it is frustrating the train strikes have set back our reported sales and earnings, it is reassuring that we are achieving our anticipated sales trajectory in periods unaffected by strikes.
“While ongoing strike action will dampen sales, demand from customers remains good and we are optimistic 2023 will deliver further sales growth through a busy calendar of events, and as office workers and tourists continue to return to the capital.
“We are operating in a high inflation environment and that continues to impact our operating costs and margins. While some of these costs may be temporary in nature, others – such as the national living wage increase – are more permanent and we are focused on taking action to mitigate these costs wherever we can.”
He continued: “Although strike action and the cost-of-living crisis create short-term hurdles to our post-pandemic recovery, we remain confident in the resilience of the pub and the future opportunity for Fuller’s. We are a long-term business and we will continue to invest in our people, in our properties and in providing excellent reasons for our customers to visit.
”We are delighted to continue to support the development of our 200 apprentices and we look forward to the reopening of the Admiralty in Trafalgar Square and the Sanctuary House in Westminster in the spring, following transformational investments, as well as opening the Willow, our new pub in the stunning Cotswolds village of Bourton-on-the-Water.
“These are challenging times but our fundamental strengths of a talented and experienced team, a high-quality, well invested, predominately freehold estate, and a healthy balance sheet provide the foundations for us to make the right long-term decisions in this period of short-term turbulence.”
For more financial news, visit The Morning Advertiser’s sister publication MCA by clicking here.