Pub giant Fuller’s has revealed that it saw sales fall by £4 million as a result of its venues being hit by rail strikes in recent months, and warned of the impact trading in a “high inflation environment” would have on its profit margins.
The premium pub and hotel group has reported its trading results for the 43 weeks to 21 January, with the underlying positive sales momentum of the business continuing and like-for-like sales during this period up by 20% compared to the previous year, despite the challenging consumer backdrop.
In comparison to pre-pandemic levels, the company’s like-for-like sales for the period are at 97% against the same period in FY 2020.
Sales for the four-week Christmas and New Year period increased by 38% against a trading period last year that was impacted by Covid restrictions and work from home guidance.
Due to the effect of recent rail strikes, the company’s sales declined by five per cent compared to the same four weeks in 2019.
Since the start of October last year, Fuller’s estimated that industrial action has reduced its sales by some £4m, and the consequent impact on profitability means that the firm now expects to report earnings below market expectations for the full year.
Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller’s, said: “We are encouraged by our underlying sales performance. While it is frustrating that the train strikes have set back our reported sales and earnings, it is reassuring that we are achieving our anticipated sales trajectory in periods unaffected by strikes.
“While ongoing strike action will dampen sales, demand from customers remains good and we are optimistic that 2023 will deliver further sales growth through a busy calendar of events, and as office workers and tourists continue to return to the capital.
“We are operating in a high inflation environment, and that continues to impact our operating costs and margins. While some of these costs may be temporary in nature, others – such as the National Living Wage increase – are more permanent and we are focused on taking action to mitigate these costs wherever we can.
“Although strike action and the cost-of-living crisis create short-term hurdles to our post-pandemic recovery, we remain confident in the resilience of the pub and the future opportunity for Fuller’s.”
Fuller’s plans to reopen The Admiralty in Trafalgar Square and The Sanctuary House in Westminster this spring, following transformational investments, as well as opening The Willow, the group’s new pub in Bourton-on-the-Water.