City Pub Group: Rail strikes cost us nearly £1m in lost sales
The City Pub Group today reported a welcome boost in trading over the festive period, but said sales would have been even stronger if it weren’t for the rail strikes.
The group, which operates 44 pubs across the south of England, including 15 in London, said sales for the last quarter of 2022 were 7.8 per cent higher compared to the same period in 2019.
The City Pub Group (CPG) said the boost was the result of “improved planning to maximise revenues” from the World Cup in Qatar and festive period.
Annual turnover also increased by 63 per cent in 2022, up from £35.4m in 2021, while like-for-like sales compared to 2019 were up three per cent.
But it said expected sales could have been higher still if it weren’t for the rail strikes.
“The performance would have been even better, had it not been for the rail strikes, especially those towards the end of the year, where we estimate lost revenue to be in the region £0.75m,” the company said in a trading update today.
The comments come after pub chain Fuller’s said yesterday that the train strikes had also dented its sales.
The hospitality industry has also been suffering from rising energy bills, which has squeezed margins and forced some bars to raise their prices.
The City Pub Group admitted the price it pays for energy “rose substantially” last year, but it hopes that a company-wide energy reduction drive and hedging 40 per cent of its energy costs will reduce the company’s energy bills by around 10 per cent over the coming year.
“Despite challenges that our industry faces, CPG has always been flexible and adaptable and ready to take advantage of change. We have emerged from the pandemic in a position of strength”, Clive Watson, chairman of CPG said.
“Trading has begun better than expected in 2023 and we look forward to an improving economic outlook as the year progresses.”
City Pub Group also announced two new acquisitions and that its net debt had been reduced to £5m, down from £13.8m.
The firm also its chief operating officer Toby Smith will leave the business at the end of the month, and will be replaced by managing director Rupert Clark.