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Loungers sales beat pre-pandemic levels with 13 new sites planned

Cafe bar group Loungers has beaten pre-pandemic sales as customers flocked back to its sites following the lifting of Covid restrictions earlier this year, the company revealed.

Bosses also said they have yet to see any impact from the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 on its business.

Nick Collins, chief executive of the group, told the PA news agency that it has continued to see Christmas bookings.

“Christmas is more of an important period for our Cosy Club venues, and they haven’t seen bookings impacted, to be honest,” he said.

“We have seen bookings continue to come in as predicted over the past week or so.

“I’m really happy with our preparations for Christmas – our supply chain has been really resilient despite well-publicised pressures, so we haven’t had any cause for concern whatsoever.”

It came as revenues hit £102 million in the six months to October 3, up from £53.5 million during the same period a year ago and up from £79.8 million in the same six-month period before the pandemic.

Pre-tax profits were £12.8 million compared to a £117,000 profit a year ago and a £2.5 million pre-tax loss in the six months in 2019.

The boost in sales on a two-year basis comes despite four weeks of the period covering the Covid restrictions where customers could only be served outdoors and nine weeks when indoor service was restricted.

Loungers was helped by bosses opening 12 new stores during the period, with a further 13 planned by April next year.

The company said it is managing rising inflation on the costs of products with differential pricing and has hedged its energy costs until 2024 to avoid rising prices for gas and electricity.

Bosses said they plan to open more sites – focusing on suburban locations to benefit from a shift to home working, with customers heading to their local high streets rather than into city centres.

Mr Collins said: “Our value for money, all-day offer appeals to a very broad demographic and this underpins our market-leading performance in towns and suburbs across England and Wales.

“We will open 25 sites this year as we continue to benefit from the changing dynamics of the high street and our pipeline of new sites has never looked so strong.

“Our sustained growth alongside our operational discipline are enabling us to manage and mitigate most inflationary pressure.

“As we move into the Christmas trading period any potential impact of Omicron remains to be seen, but as we look ahead to 2022, I am very optimistic with regards to our prospects and the continuing rollout of both Lounge and Cosy Club.”