Pub group Fuller’s has said it is in a “good place” for Christmas as it hailed a “surge” of new bookings in recent weeks and reassured customers that its supply chain preparations have been “seamless”.
Shares in the company lifted on Thursday morning as it returned to profit for the past half-year.
The group, which primarily runs pubs and hotels in the south of England revealed an adjusted pre-tax profit of £4.6 million for the six months to September 25, compared with a £22.2 million loss last year.
It came as the company saw revenues bounce to £116.3 million for the half-year, compared with £45.6 million for the period last year.
Group revenues remain below pre-pandemic levels but Simon Emeny, chief executive of the business, told the PA news agency that its rural estate has performed above 2019 levels.
He added that its sites in central London have seen strong growth in recent months and highlighted “good momentum” for the important Christmas trading period.
“Christmas is in a really good place so we are excited,” he told PA.
“We have seen a surge in bookings over the past couple of weeks particularly, with a clear rise in London and the West End.
“We have seen patterns normalise more recently in central London, with Mondays and Fridays growing well, although it is still quite early to see how patterns are playing out.”
Mr Emeny said the company’s supply chain has had no issues in the run-up to Christmas and said it has no plans for price increases in the coming weeks amid soaring energy prices and rising supply costs.
However, he said the group, alongside others in the industry, will have to assess its pricing position for the start of the new financial year in April but intends to avoid increases where possible.
From April, the company will also see a significant increase in business rates payments and the chief said the system needs a “thorough overhaul” after a limited response on business rates at the Chancellor’s latest Budget.
“The Budget was very disappointing to be honest. We were waiting for a fundamental change to rates to resolve the system but there was virtually nothing,” Mr Emeny said.
“I can’t see why they haven’t yet decided to shift some of the burden on to the digital economy and we are going to have to continue to shoulder that weight until we finally get that overhaul.”
Shares in the company rose by 2.1% to 655.7p in early trading.
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