Bar group turns to kitchen offering to reverse sluggish sales

Eclectic Bar Group Dirty Blonde

Bar group Eclectic has made developing its food offer one of its key priorities as it seeks to reverse the sluggish performance of the latest additions to its estate.

The firm admitted this week that its Lola Lo and Dirty Blonde sites in Derby and Brighton respectively have seen “disappointing” sales since their launch, while it also lamented “poor trading” in Bournemouth.

The company’s location strategy is heavily based around university towns and it said that reduced student numbers and increased competition had hit business over the last six months.

Chairman Jim Fallon said Electic had taken “mitigating actions” to address the issues. “These include developing our food offer, focussing on profitable trading nights augmented by feedback from various focus groups, a review of head office costs and a review of the estate,” he revealed.

The company said its management team have been working on the implementation of more food offerings in a number of venues with street level frontage.

Trading for the first half of the year was in line with the trading update given to the market in November, with EBITDA of £1.1m. Half-year sales, meanwhile, rose from £ 11m to £12.3m.

Fallon noted that despite the disappointment of the newer stores, it has seen a number of achievements, including the impressive refit of Embargo Republica on the King’s Road and strong performances from Lowlander, Coalition and Manchester Lola Lo.

“The team at Eclectic have achieved some notable successes and I am confident that they have the skills and talent to address the trading and competitive issues currently being faced. The company has some of the best locations in the UK, with premium brands and excellent people,” he said.

Fallon also confirmed that Leigh Nicolson, the company’s operations director, is now a member of the board as an executive director and COO.

“Leigh has been hugely instrumental in the development and growth of the group and will further strengthen the Board in his new role,” said Fallon.

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