Managed pub operator TCG has reported a moderate improvement in sales over the Christmas period, compared to the same period a year before.
The company said trading depended on the type of business and its location, with some food-led venues in London and the South East achieving record sales, while its locals and bars businesses traded strongly from 22 December onwards.
Overall, TCG saw a 2.5% year-on-year sales increase in the four weeks to 1 January.
Chief operating officer Nigel Wright said: “With Christmas Day on the Tuesday, the overall trading period obviously moved back slightly compared to last year, which provided a superb week of double digit growth in the week up to Sunday 23 December.
“Pre-booked parties at our Henry’s Café Bars and other food-led sites delivered the big numbers in mid-December, while the real uplift in wet trade came closer to Christmas, with some bumper numbers on ‘mad Friday’. This last Friday before the long break was a huge day across the whole business and was 140% up on the same day last year, as groups of office workers and tradesmen spilled into their local pub or bar for a traditional festive drink.”
Several of the group’s London sites, including Henry’s Café Bars and the Tattershall Castle floating pub on the Embankment, benefited from an early, co-ordinated drive for party bookings by a sales team recruited earlier in the year. Henry’s in Covent Garden achieved a record-breaking week ending 16 December.
The start of the sales on Boxing Day saw another surge in trade in London. At the St James Tavern, close to Regent Street, assistant manager Claudia Schadegg said: “Boxing Day was one of our busiest days of the Christmas period, with shoppers out in force in the West End.”
Outside London, Bar 38, located in Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays shopping centre, achieved an 84% uplift in the week ending 23 December. The Star in Bishop's Stortford recorded a strong Christmas Eve, while the Hare & Hounds in West Derbyhad a “brilliant” traditional community Boxing Day starting at lunchtime and carrying on into the Liverpool match in the evening.
Wright added: “New Year’s Eve on Monday night was very strong as ever but down on last year’s exceptional Saturday. Fantastic individual successes from around the country included: the Tattershall Castle, which was pre-sold months in advance to customers wanting to view the London fireworks and hit over £50,000 on the day; the Sailors Arms in Newquay; Golden Fleece in Chelmsford and Rendezvous in Weymouth.
“Overall, we feel this was a very creditable festive performance and a testament to the hard work and pre-planning of our pub and bar teams. It puts us in a good position at the start of 2013.
“The TCG management team have now agreed a further extension to the banking facilities and are about to start a new programme of capex and other investment in the estate. The potential sale of the company, which dominated much of 2012, is now off the agenda, and we are able to focus on running our business and making sure that each of our pubs and bars is the very best in its local area.”
Pictured: Claudia Schadegg, assistant manager at St James Tavern, London, part of the TCG estate
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