The business, which operates eight sites under the Eclectic Bars brand and Brighton Palace Pier, reported unaudited revenue of £58.9m (2019: £49.4m) for the 78-week period to 25 December 2022, following its accounting reference date change from the end of June to the end of December.
Revenues were driven by strong trading across all the group’s divisions, benefiting from the acquisition of Lightwater Valley theme park in June 2021, support from the Government’s temporary reductions in VAT, the Eat Out to Help Out scheme and pent-up consumer demand.
On a like-for-like basis, sales were up 9% against the same pre-Covid 78-week period ended 26 December 2019.
The extended accounting period of 18 months was influenced by a range of factors, which the group said were “both positive and negative”.
Stronger balance sheet
Overall, the Luke Johnson-chaired group “performed well and continues to trade in line with market expectations having ended the 18-month period with a stronger balance sheet”.
It added that in the first 12 months, the group benefited from Covid-related Government assistance and pent up demand as the UK emerged from lockdown, while the final six months witnessed a decline in consumer confidence and increased costs across the sector.
Since the end of the previous audited financial year (52 weeks ended 27 June 2021), the group has improved its balance sheet having repaid £9.1m of debt, reducing borrowings from £20.4m to £11.3m and reducing its net debt by 46% from £13.1m to £7m.
Revenue of £18.8m for the 26 weeks ended 25 December 2022 (2021: £22.8m) is not easily compared with the same period in 2021 due to the exceptional level of Government VAT support and pent-up demand post Covid in the prior period, the group said.
Consumer confidence dip
However, when compared to the same period in 2019, revenue was up 8% and like-for-like sales (excluding Lightwater Valley) were down 2%. This reflected a general dip in consumer confidence in response to the difficult economic environment.
Brighton Pier Group chief executive Anne Ackord said: “Like many in our industry, we have had to absorb higher costs relating to wages, energy prices and other inputs.
“However, going into 2023, our businesses remain profitable, well managed and backed by a strong balance sheet and asset base.
“We are confident in the ability of our management teams to operate well in our markets, but we remain mindful of the continuing pressures from the wider economic environment in which we trade.”