Pub group Young’s expects trading to be ‘back to normal’ by end of June

Pub owner Young’s has said it expects business to be back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of June after an “encouraging” reopening.

The company, which runs 273 pubs across the UK, opened all of its sites earlier this week after venues were able to welcome customers inside again.

Patrick Dardis, chief executive of the company, said sales “started better than planned” in April despite poor weather, after the business restarted outdoor trading at 144 pubs.

He added that future booking levels are “looking strong” as the company struck an optimistic note.

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Young’s has said it has traded at 85% of pre-pandemic levels over the past five weeks (Young’s/PA)

“I asked our finance boss to double check the figures since we reopened because they were so far beyond our expectations,” Mr Dardis told the PA news agency.

“We’ve been pleased so far this week too and it looks like we had a really strong day yesterday.

“I think Thursdays, Fridays and weekends will be key and hopefully the weather will improve a bit, but we are finding ourselves in a really strong position to have a big summer.

“With the Euros, the Lions matches on Saturdays and more people having staycations, I think we can be reasonably optimistic.”

It came as new spending data from Barclaycard revealed that hospitality venues have seen a 43% increase in revenues week on week for the period since Monday.

The company said sales over the past five weeks have been “encouraging” and were at around 85% of previous levels despite virus curbs.

However, Young’s also revealed in a stock market update that it plunged to a £45.2 million pre-tax loss for the year to March after the heavy impact of the enforced closures.

Revenues for the period plummeted to 90.6 million from £311.6 million for the previous year.

The group said that an additional £88.4 million in financing has shored up its balance sheet, and allowed it to invest £17 million into its estate.

It said it has decided it will not pay out a dividend for the year due to the significant loss.

Mr Dardis said: “We are confident with the steps we have taken to ensure Young’s continues to be in a position of strength and there is potential for a strong recovery this summer.

“With this in mind, the board expects the business to get back to pre-Covid-19 levels of trade and margins by the end of June, assuming the road map, and in particular the June 21 ‘freedom day’, is not compromised.”

Shares in the company were 1.6% higher at 1,565p.