Oakman Inns said it is now employing more people than it did before lockdown following a bounceback in business, but has had to scale down its central support functions.
Remarkably the company has just posted the highest sales quarter in its history, with like-for-like revenues up 25% to £15.1m for the three months to 4 October.
Oakman said its estate has proved to be “ideally suited” to the new trading conditions, with most of its pubs situated mainly in commuter belt market towns or destination locations, offering a substantial food offer and boasting extensive internal areas and large gardens.
The growth has allowed it to expand the operation, said CEO Dermot King.
“Whilst we unfortunately had to take the tough decision to reduce the size of our central team, we have created more jobs in our sites and I am very proud that we now employ over 100 more people than we did before lockdown.
“As the numbers clearly demonstrate, although our core food and wet sales have seen strong growth, our accommodation sales have been weak due to the reduction in business travel and the banning of events such as large weddings. However, we are fighting back by developing our short break offer with more families taking domestic breaks and exploring our localities.”
Oakman Inns is now seeing average net sales per pub of more than £46,000, which it said reflects how compelling its offer is to customers.
The chain is working on a raft of initiatives to ensure it maintains momentum, including an investment to create a variety of covered heated outdoor spaces to mitigate the capacity restrictions placed upon pubs.
It is set to install a series of modular heated glazed garden pods that will seat a ‘bubble’ of six people.