Fuller’s eyes July 19 boost after tumbling to £60m loss

Pub giant Fuller’s has said it hopes the further easing of Covid-19 restrictions later this month can drive its recovery after tumbling to an almost £60 million loss for the past year.

Shares in the London-based operator lifted on Thursday as it struck an optimistic note despite outlining the heavy impact of the pandemic and lockdown measures.

Simon Emeny, chief executive officer of Fuller’s, told the PA news agency that the easing of restrictions on July 19 will be the “removal of the final obstacle”.

“We are in a good place now to push on further after July 19,” he said.

“Trading since reopening indoors was better than we expected but it obviously has not been perfect as we are still having to trade at lower levels of capacity.

“It makes a difference on nights like last night, where we’d typically have lots more people packed in for the football.”

It came as the company posted a £59.2 million pre-tax loss for the year to March as the group was hammered by enforced closures, swinging from a £166 million profit a year earlier.

It said its estate was shut for an average of 71% of the financial year, resulting in a 77% plunge in revenues to £73.4 million.

Fuller’s said its hotels and pubs with rooms have seen a particularly “strong” recent performance as they have benefited from staycation customers.

It said sales over the past 12 weeks to July 3 are at 76% of pre-pandemic levels from the same period in 2019.

The group axed plans to hand shareholders a dividend for the year as a result of the significant loss.

Shares were 6.5% higher at 884p after early trading.