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Liberation Group "cautiously encouraged"

Liberation Group

Tuesday 02 May 2023

Liberation Group "cautiously encouraged"

Tuesday 02 May 2023

The Liberation Group has published its latest Trading Update with a cautious warning of uncertainty over the coming year.

The company has shared its confidence in "the quality of our business, offer and above all our teams" with plans to grow market share in key areas.

Its 12-week Trading Update showed that the Group's Channel Islands LFL estate (16 pubs) was up +4.5%. This was equal with the chain's UK operations (36 pubs).

Looking forward, the Group said the "outlook for the rest of this year remains uncertain given the stubbornly high inflation rates, rising interest rates and the resulting impact on consumers' disposable income. But we have been cautiously encouraged by the start of the year and are confident in the quality of our business, offer and above all our teams. All markets and channels offer us the opportunity to grow market share and our work over the last few years places us in a strong position to seize these opportunities. Targeted investments have already commenced, and we have a clear pipeline of internal investment opportunities available to us, including additional rooms".

Liberation Group

Pictured: The Liberation Group owns businesses across the Channel Islands and the UK.

With utility costs and food inflation among the challenges this year, the Group said it is "encouraged by the margin performance of both our Pubs and Drinks business and feel we have struck the right balance between delivering value for money to our customers, a fair price for our suppliers and driving value through our business to assist future investment and growth".

Among the announcements, the Liberation Group confirmed the successful completion of the integration of Cirrus Inns into its Butcombe Pubs and Inns business with "an encouraging start to the new financial year".

The South of England and Channel Islands Pub Operator and Brewer completed the combination with Cirrus Inns on 16 December 2022. Jonathan Lawson CEO said everything has gone well since then.

“I’m delighted and really impressed with the progress we have made since Christmas. Our collective teams have worked incredibly quickly and effectively. We are now in the position where all 22 of the new Pubs and Inns are fully integrated into our systems, processes and infrastructure and trading under the Butcombe brand. We have launched our award-winning food and drinks offerings, which have been really well received by our teams and customers, brand new websites are now in place and customers are now able to take advantage of our fantastic loyalty club."

Jonathan Lawson.JPG

Pictured: Jonathan Lawson, CEO.

Mr Lawson continued: "Part of the logic behind the deal was to leverage the benefits of scale that the larger group would bring, and we have already been able to do this across food and drink, to the benefit of the entire group, in both the UK and Channel Islands. This also includes our accommodation where we now have over 400 rooms, compared to under 100 in 2020.

"We are now able to operate at a different level in terms of marketing appeal and our higher room sales has additional and positive impact on our food and drink sales and margin mix. We have only had to add a small incremental overhead to our business to integrate the new pubs into the larger group, which has enabled us to achieve the targeted overhead savings from the combined business. Most importantly, the integration has seen us welcome some fantastic new team members to our team and we have been incredibly encouraged by the quality and calibre of the new chefs, managers and team members applying to join us and play a part in our exciting next stage of growth.”

Updating on the trading performance of Liberation Group Lawson added “we delivered a strong year of trading last year across Pubs and Drinks in all markets, culminating in a strong Christmas.  We are encouraged by the start we have made this year, despite weather in the spring that has frequently felt like winter. Our investment into external areas over the last few years puts us in a strong position to capitalise on the sun when it finally arrives".

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