Admiral Taverns shakes off eight-year hangover to turn business around

Admiral Taverns menu

Pub group Admiral Taverns has hailed the “turnaround” of its business after recording absolute growth in turnover, operating profit and EBITDA for the first time in eight years.

The company revealed annual figures that showed a 2% rise in turnover to £78m and operating profits up 82% to £25m. EBITDA per pub increased 9% on the previous year.

The firm said its results were boosted by the launch of new Business Support Agreement and Advanced Business Development Programmes to support licensees.

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Last year, for instance, it announced assistance for pubs wanting to develop a food offering in their pubs. As part of the ‘Build a Menu’ initiative, it provided licensees with the opportunity to choose from more than 160 dishes in a central food bank, with simple instructions on how to prepare, cook, store and control portion sizes. It also gives advice as to where to buy the products.

Before starting the initiative, licensees are visited by a member of the food development team to discuss what they would like from their pub’s food offer and receive advice on food preparation, cooking tips, choosing the right suppliers and food trends.

The last six years have marked a transformational period for Admiral Taverns and following a restructuring of the businesses in 2009 the group’s management team was strengthened and a new strategy outlined to develop and maintain a sustainable, well-invested estate of freehold pubs.

CEO, Kevin Georgel, says the latest figures demonstrate a very strong performance in what remains a challenging market place. “Our strategy has remained unapologetically consistent and, despite the challenges presented to the industry by impending Government legislation, we remain passionately committed to being the best operator of wet-led community pubs in the sector,” he commented.

Georgel added that the growth was based on three business objectives: improving the operational performance from its core estate of pubs; the select disposal of unsustainable pubs; and the development of a team and organisation to deliver strategic growth opportunities.

“Over recent years we have tripled the amount of money invested in our estate and this evidences not only our commitment to our licensees in supporting them to develop their businesses but also to ensuring the long term quality of our estate,” he said.

The disposal programme that Admiral Taverns put in place as part of its turnaround strategy five years ago is now drawing to a “natural conclusion” and it anticipates that it will be completed in the new financial year. Once concluded, it will have an estate of 858 core pubs representing a 12% increase in its core estate since the previous year end.

Last year Admiral Taverns acquired 111 pubs from Heineken UK’s Star Pubs & Bars business and it said it expects to invest around £2m of capital expenditure in these properties during the first 18 months of ownership.

Georgel said the chain’s “positive momentum” had continued into the current financial year and trading since the year end has been strong and in line with expectations, with like-for-like income for the 22 weeks to 31 October 2015 up 2%.

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Andrew Seymour

The author Andrew Seymour

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