Liberation Group has reported a strong strong summer of trading across the UK and the Channel Islands within its pubs, brewing, and drinks businesses. This included its highest ever single week of revenue during August.
Liberation Group chief executive, Jonathan Lawson
Taking the period of 21st May to 3rd September, total like-for-like sales across Liberation’s managed pub division was 6.3% up versus 2021, and 30% above 2019.
Sales growth has been driven by an encouraging performance on drinks, a robust performance on food (which was only
slightly negative due to the variance in VAT rates year on year in the UK) and record sales in accommodation, demonstrating another strong summer of staycation and an encouraging recovery in business and international guests.
A strong performance in the UK has been added to by an encouraging recovery in Guernsey and Jersey, benefiting from strong tourist demand and a gradual return to office working.
Within the brewing and drinks division, Butcombe has enjoyed a very strong summer, including a record August driven by an excellent performance in the free trade. There have been record customer numbers and spend, continued growth of the packaged sales, and strong sales in Butcome’s own estate.
Own-brewed volumes were 9.5% up on last year, driven by strong demand for the keg portfolio of ales and lagers. The brewe has also been encouraged by the robustness of its cask performance, with Butcombe Original on target to achieve top ten status this year in terms of UK cask ales.
The brewery has been delighted with the response to its new range of small batch cask ales, which have sold out within a few days of launching. In September, Butcombe will be launching Tall Tales, a modern pale ale drawing inspiration from a famous Bristol tale.
There has also been an excellent reaction in the market to Goram IPA Zero, recently winning a gold medal and country award at the World Beer Awards.
The trading outlook has clearly toughened, with our customers contending with a cost of living crisis and ourselves grappling with cost base pressures, the most extreme of which is utilities,” said Liberation Group chief executive, Jonathan Lawson.
“The recently announced support from the government is welcomed and provides some reassurance for our customers, which is important, and some short-term de-risking of extreme utility costs for business. However, even with the support announced, our UK utility costs will double in October.
“We are keen to understand further details from the government, including longer-term utility support and actions to reduce VAT and suspend business rates. Once again, we have cause to be thankful of our group composition and geography as utility inflation and costs in the Channel Islands has been kept to a manageable level over the next few years, which helps blend and balance our overall cost base.”