Reporting its latest accounts for the 52 weeks to 1 May 2022, the group’s directors said they were pleased with the performance of the company over the period, particularly given the Covid restrictions in place during that financial year.
It generated an operating profit of £4.12m from sales of £32.6m, compared to £0.22m and £10m, respectively in FY2020/21.
Loss for the year, after tax was £993,000, compared to a loss of £99,000 in 2021.
Positive trading momentum continued in the FY22/23 financial year, with sales up 12% on a like-for-like basis compared to 2019 levels.
The group said that despite the unprecedented level of external distractions and disruptions from spiralling energy costs, inflation and staffing shortages, its directors remained confident the business was well placed to ride out the storm.
The directors also described FY20/21 financial year as a “transformational” period for the group.
On 29 August 2021 the shares in the company’s parent were acquired by a new investment vehicle, jointly owned by the business’ original co-founders (Nick Pring and Malcolm Heap) and funds under management by Davidson Kempner and Global Mutual Properties Limited.
“This is an exciting transaction that provides the business with additional capital to develop and invest in the existing business while also looking to expand the portfolio through investment in new sites,” the directors stated in the accounts.
Shortly after the new investment – “and an example of the investor’s intentions” – the group acquired 13 sites from Barworks Limited (November 2021).
It said the new sites complemented its existing estate of pubs perfectly and it commenced a refurbishment programme of the first five sites, with an investment of almost £1m by the balance sheet date, and a plan to continue the further refurbs in the following financial year.
“This investment, along with improving and strengthening site level management and the food and drink offers, combined with the commercial benefits of the Urban Group having a significantly larger portfolio of sites, means that we are excited at the growth potential that this transaction provides the group,” it added.
In addition, the group opened three new sites, Fleets near St Paul’s, Nest in Bishopsgate and the Black Horse in Fitzrovia, taking the total number of sites to 32 at the year end.
Urban Pubs & Bars said it was actively seeking further sites to expand, and since the year end has added a further six sites to its portfolio and has a strong pipeline of new venues.
During the period the company refinanced its RCF loan with a new RCF loan of £9.75m, which expires in October 2024.