City centre pubs enjoy boost from returning office workers
City Pub Group has reported robust half-year sales at above 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, with returning workers driving sales at city sites this month.
The group – which operates some 50 pubs in London and market towns – managed to break even by June, despite the period not covering sporting tournaments including Wimbledon and the Euros final.
City centre sites had seen further improved trade since the beginning of September as return to offices gains momentum, the pub group said in its results ended June 27.
It posted it was at EBIDTA break-even, despite spending the majority of the 26 weeks in lockdown, compared to a £1.2m loss in the same period in 2020.
Revenue hit £8.9m, compared to £12.1m in the comparable period, while the group posted a £2m adjusted loss before tax.
Analysts said the pub group’s sales were impressive and pointed to rival JD Wetherspoon’s own sales at 85 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
“City Pub’s higher margin will play in its favour in the battle against its no-frills cousin. While Wetherspoon is notorious for cheap pints, City Pub prides itself on bars replete with craft ales and premium spirits,” Freetrade analyst Gemma Boothroyd said.
Clive Watson, executive chairman of The City Pub Group, said his ambition was for the estate to be in excess of 100 pubs.
The group has acquired the Cliftonville Hotel in Cromer, Norfolk, for a consideration of £1.7m, with £100,000 payable through the issue of 86,505 new ordinary shares of 1p each in the company.
“We have traded well since May and are emerging strongly with a streamlined and more profitable business. We have continued to implement a relentless focus on cost control and we are capturing cost savings identified and negotiated over the last year,” CEO Watson said.
“We are emerging from the pandemic in a good shape, well prepared for the challenges facing our industry.
“We have maintained and enhanced a number of our pubs and benefited during staycation summer from our estate of more than 200 letting rooms.”