Fuller’s ‘at start of return to normality’ after vast majority of pubs reopen

Pub-owner Fuller’s has reopened more than 90% of its pubs and hotels, but stressed that it is “still at the start of a return to normality” after shutting down sites.

The London-based firm said it had reopened 169 of its managed sites by the end of August, before opening a further 23 earlier this month.

Almost all of its tenanted inns have now also welcomed customers again, after being forced to shut in March.

The company says sales in its pubs have grown “steadily” since reopening and are currently at about 80% of last year’s figures on a like-for-like basis.

It also saw trading across its estate buoyed by the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which it said “encouraged consumers to come back to the pub”.

Fuller's chief executive Simon Emeny
Fuller's chief executive Simon Emeny

Simon Emeny, chief executive, said that the company has kept a tight control of its costs as it faced “an incredibly challenging time”.

“We are still at the start of a return to normality, but we are quietly confident with the way business is progressing,” he said.

“Fuller’s has long extolled the virtue of a balanced estate, both in terms of style and geography, and that has been borne out in the current climate with stronger trading in suburban and countryside locations compensating for the initial lack of footfall in our town and city centres.

“Recent investments in our gardens and accommodation have helped us benefit from both the customers’ desire to be outside and the growth in domestic tourism.”

Fuller’s said it has also seen strong trade in the Cotswold Inns & Hotels business it bought for £40 million last year, where “staycationers have led to near full occupancy”.

Last year, the company sold its entire brewing business, which made brands including London Pride, to the European arm of Japanese brewer Asahi for £250 million.

Shares in the company were up 3.6% at 570p in early trading on Thursday.