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Loungers set for phased reopening as it signs new deal with lenders

August Graham, PA City Reporter
·2-min read

Restaurant, bar and cafe operator Loungers has announced plans to open just under a third of its sites for outdoor service next week, and a new deal with lenders to tide it over into next year.

The company behind Cosy Club and Lounge said that its £15 million loan facility with Santander and Bank of Ireland had been extended by another year and expanded to £25 million.

The banks have also changed the conditions to which the company had previously been forced to adhere, giving it headroom to start opening new locations again.

Four new sites, in Wolverhampton, Stourbridge, Welwyn Garden City and St Ives, are set to open before the end of May, when all Loungers’ 172 sites should be back up and running.

Like many in the hospitality sector, the company has been forced to close its restaurants, bars and cafes during the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Next Monday Loungers will open 47 sites in England for takeaway and outdoor service, while five in Wales will open when restrictions there ease on April 26.

It then plans to reopen the rest of its English sites by May 17, and those in Wales later in the month, based on what the Welsh Government decides.

“Having been closed since December 30, it is really exciting to be back in some of the sites, preparing to open our terraces to customers on Monday,” said chief executive Nick Collins.

“Whilst it is frustrating that we have to wait until May 17 to reopen more fully, given the steps we have taken to ensure our business is Covid-safe, it does allow us to reopen gradually, bring our teams back from furlough and get the supply chain back up and running.”

The business will target domestic tourists when travel is again allowed in the UK, with plans to open new sites in Blackpool, Scarborough and Aberystwyth before the summer holidays.

“Our suburban and market town locations, combined with our flexible, all-day model, mean we are well-positioned as we look to the future,” Mr 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, and we are grateful to Santander and Bank of Ireland for their continued support.”