Young’s plans to reopen pubs in August

UK pub company Young’s said it is confident it can return to profitable growth by 2022 as it plans to reopen sites in August.

The pubco’s pre-tax profits fell by 24.3% in the year to 30 March, making just shy of £29.9 million as on-trade outlets were forced to close on 20 March as part of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.

The lockdown, it said, had a “significant” impact on sales despite only affecting the last 10 days of Young’s financial year.

It said that a lack of consumer confidence in going out while the pandemic had started to spread around the UK  preceding resulted in an estimated £13.0 million shortfall in revenue, and a “disproportionate impact on profits, estimated to be £7.7 million due to the limited opportunity for mitigating actions.”

The firm, which has 276 pubs said it could reopen larger venues and sites with outdoor seating from in mid-July, and plans to have all sites open on August 3.

Chief executive Patrick Dardis said sales should return to more normalised levels in 2022, but next year’s results will also be “materially below average”.

It added a thorough cleaning and sanitising strategy will be in place to reassure consumers they are safe.

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Total drink sales were ahead of last year by 2.0%, but down on a like-for-like basis, by 2.6%. This, Dardis said, was due to poorer weather compared to 2018’s record sunshine and the world cup.

The Rugby World Cup proved a boon for key sites in Twickenham, and for sales of Guinness, which offset the lost sales from the shift in autumn fixtures. Sales of the Diageo-owned stout were ahead of last year by 11.7%. However, lager proved less popular during this period, with sales down by 5.0%, and draught cider also down by 9.5%.

The CEO said, outside of draught lager, the top-selling product was Beavertown Neck Oil, “demonstrating the ever-increasing
popularity of premium brands to our customers, supported by continuing growth from the keg ale category, where sales were up 4.7%.”

Resurgent rosé wine’s performance for this fiscal year were ahead of last year’s sales by 1.7%

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