Total sales at the business rose 7.8% during December compared with 5.5% the year before, with sales on key trading days such as Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve up by an average of 8.3%. It also revealed that sales in the two weeks from 17 December increased 12% year-on-year.
Stonegate operates a multiple format strategy, with a portfolio which encompasses a wide variety of predominantly drinks-focused trading formats spanning high-street and suburban pubs, as well as late-night bars and venues.
The business invested significantly in upgrading its pre-booking facilities over the course of 2018 including creating a central call centre hub to handle bookings, consequently Stonegate saw an uplift of 17.8% in the number of pre-bookings on last year. In 2018 Stonegate continued its programme of acquisitions, acquiring Be At One, the specialist cocktail bar operator with 33 bars in prime high street locations, and a further 15 sites from Novus Leisure. These new sites further consolidated the group’s position as a leading high street, managed pub operator in the UK.
Simon Longbottom, chief executive of Stonegate, said: “I am delighted to report a strong festive trading period for Stonegate, crowning another year of significant progress for the business. Our like for like sales have increased again driven by our multi- format strategy, relentless focus on customer service and bolstering our market share in our local markets. Our success shows that there is value in a drinks-led, high street focused strategy. Encouragingly, all of our trading formats and regions performed well and it was particularly pleasing to see the sites and brands we acquired in 2018 contributing to this. Our investment in our prebooking facilities resulted in a double-digit increase in like for like bookings enabling us to maximise the trading opportunity from key festive events, such as New Year’s Eve and Boxing Day Football. We have entered 2019 with positive momentum.”