Although group lfl sales for the business’s first half of the year (H1), including New Year's Eve, continued to demonstrate an improving trend, figures remained negative at minus 2.8%.
Revolution Bars Group, which operates bars and gastropubs, trading mainly under the Revolution, Revolución de Cuba and Peach Pubs brands, plans to shut eight of its sites as its “guests continue to be disproportionately impacted by the current macro-economic conditions”.
While the group – which continues to operate 58 bars and 22 pubs – delivered a strong festive trading period for the four weeks from 4 to 31 December, the macroeconomic trading environment continued to be challenging, and the prospect of the statutory 10.8% increase in the national living wage in April 2024 increases the challenge.
The closed bars are: Revolution Bars in Beaconsfield, Derby, Reading, St Peters Liverpool and Wilmslow, Revolución de Cubas in Sheffield and Southampton, and the Playhouse in Newcastle-Under-Lyme.
Negotiations for five of the eight bars had already begun for them to be transferred to other operators or their leases rescinded.
The Group is currently working through redeployment plans to enable those team members affected to be offered alternative employment elsewhere in the group.
As of 4 January 2024, net debt was £18.3m, which is below that reported in July 2023.
Best festive period
Revolution Bars Group CEO Rob Pitcher said: “We have had the best festive trading period for four years with all of our brands recording positive like-for-like sales and Revolución de Cuba being the stand-out performer.
“However, our younger customers are still feeling the disproportionate effect of the cost-of-living crisis and the national living wage will increase materially in April 2024. Therefore, we have taken the difficult yet ultimately beneficial step for the group to close several bars, which are unprofitable.
“Our teams do a terrific job in making guests welcome and giving them a great experience and again we have demonstrated that when our customer base can afford to do so, they are choosing to celebrate with us, and we have delivered record levels of guest satisfaction. This should bode well for the future.”
Revolution Bars Group expects to announce its H1 pre-close trading update on 24 January.