London pub group Fuller’s has reported like-for-like sales up 20% for the 43 weeks to 21 January 2023, and at 97% against the same period in FY 2020. Sales for the four-week Christmas and New Year period increased by 38% against a trading period in 2021 that was impacted by covid restrictions and work from home guidance.
The group also reported tha it has lost £4m in sales and will miss its profit targets this year due to the impact of ongoing rail strikes.
The group, which has almost 400 pubs, also warned that cost-of-living pressures were weighing on the business.
Simon Emeny , chief executive at Fuller’s, said:
“We are encouraged by our underlying sales performance. While it is frustrating that the train strikes have set back our reported sales and earnings, it is reassuring that we are achieving our anticipated sales trajectory in periods unaffected by strikes. While ongoing strike action will dampen sales, demand from customers remains good and we are optimistic that 2023 will deliver further sales growth through a busy calendar of events, and as office workers and tourists continue to return to the capital.
We are operating in a high inflation environment, and that continues to impact our operating costs and margins. While some of these costs may be temporary in nature, others – such as the National Living Wage increase – are more permanent, and we are focused on taking action to mitigate these costs wherever we can. Although strike action and the cost-of-living crisis create short-term hurdles to our post-pandemic recovery, we remain confident in the resilience of the pub and the future opportunity for Fuller’s.
We are a long-term business and we will continue to invest in our people, in our properties and in providing excellent reasons for our customers to visit. We are delighted to continue to support the development of our 200 apprentices and we look forward to the re-opening of The Admiralty in Trafalgar Square and The Sanctuary House in Westminster in the spring, following transformational investments, as well as opening The Willow, our new pub in the stunning Cotswolds village of Bourton-on-the-Water.
These are challenging times, but our fundamental strengths of a talented and experienced team, a high-quality, well invested, predominately freehold estate, and a healthy balance sheet provide the foundations for us to make the right long-term decisions in this period of short-term turbulence.”