Shepherd Neame hopes to emerge from Covid crisis in ‘position of strength’

Brewer and pub owner Shepherd Neame has said it is focusing on emerging from the coronavirus crisis “in a position of strength” ahead of the closure of sites on Thursday.

It came as the Kent-based group said it has “outperformed” the market over the past 18 weeks.

Like-for-like sales across its managed estates were 13.4% lower over the period to October 31, while its tenanted pub income was around 75% of that for the same period last year.

However, the company warned that the second national lockdown in England will be “extremely disruptive” and will adversely affect its 319 pubs.

Lockdown measures are in place until December 2 but Shepherd Neame said there is still “uncertainty” over the important Christmas period.

The group said it had been buoyed by “strong” demand for food and accommodation since reopening its sites in July.

It also told investors that it fell to a statutory pre-tax loss of £12.1 million for the year to June.

Turnover for the year fell to £123.6 million from £145.8 million in the previous 12 months, as lengthy closures dragged the company from 4.6% growth in the first eight months of the year.

Chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “This has been the most challenging period any of us in the hospitality industry have ever faced.

“I am incredibly proud of how everyone across the business has reacted, and the ingenuity, and team spirit shown by our licensees and team members during this time has been inspiring.

“Trading during the summer months was encouraging, highlighting the strength of our offer and people’s undiminished desire to go out and socialise in a safe environment with family and friends.

“Shepherd Neame has weathered many crises in its long history and I am determined that we emerge from this crisis in a position of strength, ready to seize the opportunities that lie ahead.”

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