Liberation Group, which brews beers and operates pubs from London to the Channel Islands, said total group revenues were up 22.5%, versus the same period FY23, to £147.0m.
Meanwhile, its UK managed pubs enjoyed an 8.0% uplift in like-for-like (LFL) growth, on the back of impressive contributions from all categories, with LFL sales across drink up 8.6%, food up 6.2% and accommodation up 11.6%.
The growth also reflected the contribution of the pubs acquired from Cirrus Inns in December 2022 that have now been fully integrated into the Butcombe managed estate.
Accommodation has proved its importance and now drives a substantial proportion of food and drink sales with 42 of the group’s 78 managed pubs offering rooms for guests and its Channel Island sites continued to perform very well and reap the benefits of bringing modern casual dining to Jersey and Guernsey.
The Butcombe brewing business produced a “stand-out performance” delivering strong sales and volume growth with sales up by 23% v LFL a year ago.
Liberation said this growth reflects the continued appeal of its brands and beer quality, and singled out keg ale Goram IPA Zero, the group’s alcohol-free IPA, that saw volume sales up 95% in January versus the same period last year in its managed estate as customers turned ‘zebra drinking’, whereby customers alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the night, in greater numbers.
LFL sales in the tenanted division rose by 4.3% as the group focused on its strategy to “rationalise the estate portfolio and drive sales and EBITDA across a smaller, high-quality, group of pubs”.
The Channel Island drinks businesses in Jersey and Guernsey saw LFL sales improve by 3% on the same period last year.
Accommodation is ‘substantial lever’
Liberation Group CEO Jonathan Lawson said: “It is particularly satisfying to see the way that mature parts of our business continue to grow such as CI drinks, tenancy and Butcombe, while also seeing new elements coming through so strongly, such as accommodation.
“We should remind ourselves that in 2016 we only had 10 rooms and now we have well over 400, with the potential to achieve 700 in the existing estate. We are increasingly seeing accommodation as a substantial lever for our overall managed business and see events and occasions as a fourth revenue stream in its own right along with drink, food and accommodation.
“The headwinds on cost have eased and the outlook is better than the one in our rear-view mirror and the improvement in consumer confidence is noted and welcomed.
“Our performance at Christmas was testament to the hard work from our teams but also a reflection of the long-term trend in consumers valuing experiences more than stuff. We need to build on this and continue to provide amazing experiences for our customers.”