Brighton Pier Group lfl sales fall 11% in 2023

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Wait and sea: Brighton Pier Group is eyeing strategic acquisitions in the long term (credit: Getty/Ron Bambridge)
Wait and sea: Brighton Pier Group is eyeing strategic acquisitions in the long term (credit: Getty/Ron Bambridge)

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Like-for-like (lfl) sales for the first three months of 2023 at Brighton Pier Group were down 11% versus 2022 with 76% of the shortfall coming from its Bars division.

Brighton Pier Group (BPG), which operates Palace Pier, eight nationwide bars, eight mini golf venues and Lightwater Valley Family Adventure Park, said the result was predominantly caused by a challenging prior year comparative for its bars, which continued to benefit from the post-pandemic surge in demand in the early months of 2022.

BPG admitted “trading in 2023 has seen a general decline in consumer confidence” due to the ongoing difficult economic environment and “these economic pressures, and the resulting impact on both consumer discretionary spend and increased costs, will continue to present significant trading challenges going forwards”.

The group, which is split into four divisions – Pier, Golf, Bars and Lightwater Valley, gave the update as it reported its results for the 18 months to 25 December 2022, replacing its previous end of year date in June.

Revenue reaches £58.9m

Group revenue for the 18-month period reached £58.9m from £13.5m in the 12 months to 27 June 2021 while EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation) was £13.8m (2021: £4.7m) and profit after tax was £6.4m (2021: £4.2m).

Results specific to the Bars division were revenue at £15.5m (2021: £1.3m), lfl sales up 2% on the same pre-Covid period in 2019, gross margin up 10% at 82% (2021: 72%) and EBITDA at £3.5m (2021: £1.8m, which included £2.5m business interruption insurance income).

BPG said: “Overall, the business rebounded strongly, benefiting from pent-up consumer demand and Government assistance, this enabled the group to repay £9.1m of debt (44% of borrowings) and enter the current more challenging market in a good financial position.”

Although the business fared strongly as Covid restrictions were lifted in July 2021, the first half of 2022 saw the onset of a sharp downturn in economic activity with global instability and ongoing supply chain disruption driving UK inflation upwards. This impacted consumer spending and there were operating cost increases across all of the group’s divisions meaning it faced a challenging trading environment during summer 2022.

Softer trading

The report stated: “While the group worked hard to pass on price increases to customers wherever possible and was able to maintain gross margins, inflation persisted throughout the remainder of 2022, resulting in the group having to absorb many of the higher costs. Combined with a general dip in consumer confidence, this led to softer trading and profitability in the second half of 2022.”

BPG CEO Anne Ackord said: “Like many in our industry, we have had to absorb higher costs relating to wages, energy prices and other inputs. Nevertheless, 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 successfully in our markets, but we remain mindful of the continuing pressures from the wider economic environment in which we trade.”

Its long-term strategy continues to be to create a growth company operating across a diverse portfolio of leisure and entertainment assets in the UK. The group said it will achieve this by organic revenue growth across the whole estate, together with the active pursuit of future potential strategic acquisitions of leisure and entertainment destinations.

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