Pub chain and brewery Shepherd Neame announced that the business has been “profitable and cash generative” since pubs reopened on 4 July.
The Faversham-based brewery has bounced back from the financial hit taken during the previous financial year to 28 June, mainly due to initiatives such as the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme and reduced VAT rate of 5%.
While net debt at the year-end was £84.4m with a further £11m of tax liabilities – deferred in agreement with HMRC – this has now been reduced to £82.4m of net debt and £6.9m of deferrals.
However, sales across the group’s 64 pubs and hotels which did reopen over this period are still not as high as in previous years.
The company’s recent trading update said: “Sales in those 64 managed pubs and hotels that were open for this period were down 7.9%. Our coastal and destination sites have performed well and food and accommodation sales have been strong but our city centre and central London drinks-led outlets less so.
“For the thirteen weeks to 26 September, we achieved 73% of prior year tenanted pub income. This includes substantial rental support for our licensees throughout the period and the phased opening of our pubs.”
Going forward, the business expects trading over the winter to be “challenging” as a result of government restrictions impacting both “business and consumer confidence”.