Luminar forecasts bumper Christmas

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Britain's biggest nightclub operator Luminar yesterday predicted a bumper Christmas and New Year as it unveiled half-year results that suggested consumers would continue to spend more on leisure.

Stephen Thomas, the chief executive, said that apart from a couple of days after 11 September, business had been robust and venues packed. "There is a lot of doubt with jobs going. But people are partying a little harder, hitting the dance floor harder and raising their hands higher when they're dancing," he said.

The owner of a range of chains including Chicago Rock Café and Jumpin' Jak said the relaxation of Sunday trading laws had helped like-for-like sales in its entertainment and dancing divisions rise by 4.9 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively. Luminar, which runs 280 nightclubs, theme-bars and restaurants, intends to grow by 40 units a year. Mr Thomas said the group – which approached the wine bar chain Yates earlier this year about a possible offer – would focus on organic growth and acquisitions of single sites. "We are getting good opportunities where entrepreneurs are squeezed," he said, adding that the group was not looking at any other large business.

Group pre-tax profits for the six months to 26 August doubled to £23.1m on sales up 116 per cent to 166.4m from £77.2m. Its shares gained 4p to 853.5p.