Loungers bar and café sales lifted by Eat Out to Help Out scheme

Café and bar operator Loungers has seen sales leap since sites reopened from the Covid-19 lockdown, helped by customer take-up of the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

The company behind 167 venues said it benefited from the discounting offer, which resulted in record sales for the business during August.

The chain, which has a number of sites in greater London and the home counties, said comparable sales jumped 29.9% from July 4 to September 13.

Hospitality groups had to shut venues in March when the lockdown started and could only reopen in July, with social distancing measures in place.

Loungers’ boss Nick Collins said: “Clearly we don’t know what is around the corner. We anticipate further interruption to trade on either a local or regional basis in the short-term and have the balance sheet and liquidity to withstand significant further Covid impacts.”

Collins added: “Whilst the economic outlook remains uncertain, we take confidence from our performance to date and remain optimistic with regard to future trading. Our value for money, flexible offer, and its broad appeal, alongside the locations in which we operate, mean we continue to be well-placed.”

Revenue in the year to April improved 8.8% to £166.5 million.

Full-year pre-tax losses widened to £14.7 million from a £6.7 million loss, due to lockdown disruption and costs linked to the IPO. Loungers floated at 200p per share in April 2019, and the shares in early trading this morning rose 17p to 170p.