City Pub Group profits soar as expansion boosts sales

Premium pub operator City Pub Group saw rising profits last year as it continued to expand across London and the South.

The group made an adjusted profit before tax of £5.1 million, surging 60% compared to last year.

Profit at a reported level was £2 million, swinging back from the £700,000 loss in 2017.

It follows a year in which the company opened 11 new sites and benefited from the World Cup.

Revenue was up 22% to £45.7 million, with like-for-like sales rising 1.6%.

Executive chairman Clive Watson said: “Our performance has been driven by both organic growth and the new pubs coming on stream. Considering the continued strong performance we are delighted to increase our dividend, by 22% for shareholders.”

The operator said it is on track to have as many as 70 pubs in its portfolio by mid-2021.

Sites are lined up to open this year in London, Reading, Cambridge, Bath and Exeter.

The company has used the opportunity of closures on the high street to snap up sites. The Turks Head in Exeter, set to open late this year or early 2020, is in a former Prezzo which was shuttered as part of the Italian chain’s restructuring last year.

Mr Watson said the group has an opportunity to take advantage of the “softening” environment.

“We are positioned to meet the number of well-trailed headwinds, not least the challenges brought through Brexit, and to take advantage of the softening market for acquisitions with our robust balance sheet and strong cash generation.”

The company has also announced it will change its profit share scheme to be paid on a weekly basis rather than annually, in order to retain and recruit staff.

Earlier this year, Mr Watson told Press Association that his company was supporting its EU staff through the Brexit process, though he said there would be a “remain dividend” for businesses and consumers if the exit was called off.

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