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Loungers to cash in on cheap rents on Covid-battered high streets with new openings plan

Naomi Ackerman
·1-min read
<p>Loungers operates neighbourhood café-bar chains Lounge and Cosy Club</p> (PR Image)

Loungers operates neighbourhood café-bar chains Lounge and Cosy Club

(PR Image)

Loungers, the operator of neighbourhood café-bar chains Lounge and Cosy Club, has plans for a swift return to pre-pandemic expansion levels as it prepares to swoop on cut-price rents on the UK’s Covid-battered high streets.

The Bristol-based firm, which has 168 venues across the UK and employs 5,000 people, said on Friday that 47 sites are set for an al-fresco reopening on April 12 and that it is "ready to return to a run-rate of 25 new site openings per year during the course of the year ending April 2022, assuming no further Covid interruptions".

The business has secured an extension to borrowing facilities by a year to October 2022, with bank covenant tests shifted "to enable a full resumption" of its site launch plans. Four new venues are set to open in Wolverhampton, Stourbridge, Welwyn Garden City and St Ives by May 26.

Chief executive Nick Collins said: “The most recent lockdown has given us a real opportunity to build a fantastic pipeline of new sites in what is undoubtedly a tenant-friendly environment.

"We will approach the coming months cautiously but are very keen to get back to opening 25 sites a year at the earliest opportunity with such excellent properties being presented to us."

The news comes after The Gym Group boss Richard Darwin said the fitness giant is planning to take advantage of lower rents in retail parks to open new gyms.

Analysts at Peel Hunt noted that Loungers "is strongly positioned with an all-day offer that attracts a wide demographic to its suburban and market town-oriented estate".

Shares were up 0.75%, or 2p, to 268p in early trading.

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