Liberation Group revenue up 20% to £144.4m

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Growth in all divisions: Liberation Group has reported record revenue (pictured is Butcombe pub the Ring O'Bells pub in Somerset)
Growth in all divisions: Liberation Group has reported record revenue (pictured is Butcombe pub the Ring O'Bells pub in Somerset)

Related tags Finance Liberation Group Butcombe Butcombe Boutique Inns Pubco + head office Multi-site pub operators Tenanted + leased

Pub operator Liberation Group has reported a 20% year-on-year growth in revenue in a “stand-out” financial year.

Liberation, which also owns brewer Butcombe Brewery that launched a new pubs division – Butcombe Boutique Inns​ – last month, said all its divisions are in growth and enjoyed a “significant outperformance against the broader market”, in its financial year to ended 27 January 2024 (FY23).

The group said its uplift of 20% meant record revenue performance for the group as the total hit £144.4m for FY23.

Its UK managed pubs reported strong performance with 8% like-for-like (lfl) growth ahead of the industry CGA RSM Hospitality Business Tracker in the UK, on the back of excellent contributions from all three categories; a step up in accommodation offering with lfl sales up 11.6%; and a strong start to its new financial year with lfl growth in food, drink and accommodation across its managed pubs.

It cited operational and strategic highlights as being the successful integration of the Cirrus Inns pubs group​, which was acquired in December 2022, into the Butcombe managed estate.

Cask and keg brands success

There had been a record year of volume and sales in Butcombe Brewery and uplift from cask and keg brands such as Tall Tales Pale Ale and Goram IPA Zero

Its group loyalty scheme now has more than 204,000 members and is increasingly a focus to drive frequency of visits and spend during those visits and its aforementioned launch of Butcombe Boutique Inns with the objective of becoming the leading operator of premium rooms in the south of England.

Liberation Group CEO Jonathan Lawson said: “[The 2023 financial year] was a stand-out year as we delivered a year of record sales with growth across all of our divisions. It is particularly satisfying to see the way that mature parts of our business continue to grow such as our managed estate, tenancy and Butcombe drinks, whilst also seeing newer elements coming through strongly, such as accommodation.

“We should remind ourselves that, in 2016, we only had 10 rooms and now we have over 400, with the potential to achieve 700 in the existing estate as our accommodation offering increasingly forms a substantial lever for our overall managed business. This performance is undoubtedly a differentiator for our Group when we look at the wider performance across the sector.”

Experiences key to future

Lawson continued: “Our events-led offering is key as we continue to see a rise in the importance of experiences for our customers.  For example, our premium pubs and inns are perfectly placed to take advantage of a growing trend for smaller, more exclusive and intimate weddings or celebrations and experiences such as comedy nights, outdoor cinemas and supper clubs.

“Looking forward, we remain optimistic for the year ahead as we start to see a calmer cost environment and are excited by the plans that we have for growing the existing business.  In accommodation, we have progressed rapidly in the past five years and the launch of Butcombe Boutique Inns presents an exciting next step.”

The group said performances were strong in its pubs and drinks divisions, citing investment into estates had proved fruitful with seven developments across the managed estate, which, alongside targeted divestments, enabled the creation of a high-quality freehold estate in both the managed and tenanted divisions.

On current trade, Liberation said lfl sales in its managed pubs in the 13 weeks ended 27 April 2024 were up 6.5% while Cirrus Inns led the way with 10.4% lfl growth.

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