Thursday 10 September 2020 10:48 am

Fuller's sales rebound after Eat Out to Help Out brings customers back to pubs

Pub chain Fuller, Smith and Turner said sales had reached 80 per cent of last year’s levels after trade was buoyed by the Eat Out to Help Out scheme. 

Fuller’s said the discount scheme had encouraged customers to return to the pub after lockdown, “reinstating it in their routine”.

Read more: Fuller’s reports £10m hit on trading due to coronavirus pandemic

Stronger trading in suburban and countryside pubs has offset the impact of lower footfall in towns and city centres, the company said. 

Meanwhile the boom in “staycations” this year has boosted business for Cotswold Inns & Hotels, which Fuller’s acquired in October last year. 

Hotels have been nearly at full occupancy, the company said, as travel restrictions and quarantines led to more UK-based holidays. 

Fuller’s has reopened more than 90 per cent of its managed pubs since government restrictions lifted on 4 July, and almost all of its tenanted pubs have also reopened.

The pub chain reintroduced commercial rent for Fuller’s tenants on a tapered basis from August. 

Chief executive Simon Emeny said: “We are still at the start of a return to normality, but we are quietly confident with the way business is progressing.

“Fuller’s has long extolled the virtue of a balanced estate, both in terms of style and geography, and that has been borne out in the current climate with stronger trading in suburban and countryside locations compensating for the initial lack of footfall in our town and city centres. 

Read more: Fuller’s suspends dividend during closure of pub estate

“Recent investments in our gardens and accommodation have helped us benefit from both the customers’ desire to be outside and the growth in domestic tourism.

“It has been an incredibly challenging time. We have implemented a clear strategy with our phased reopening plan that included introducing a number of digital-led initiatives to improve the customer journey, taking every possible step to keep our teams and our customers safe, and keeping a tight focus on costs.”