Pub owner Young’s has swung back into profit for the past year as the relaxation of restrictions drove a sharp increase in revenues.
The company, which operates more than 270 sites across the UK, posted a £27.5 million operating profit for the 26 weeks to September 27, compared with a £17.3 million loss over the same period last year.
The return to profitability was driven by the lack of Covid-19-related trading restrictions, resulting in revenues almost trebling to £149.6 million.
Young’s said “pent-up demand” helped sales to pick up quickly after restrictions were fully relaxed in July.
Patrick Dardis, chief executive of the group, told the PA news agency that the company was well positioned and well stocked for Christmas.
“If you had asked me how I was feeling five weeks or so ago I would have been a bit nervous, but things have improved immeasurably and we are now in a better position than I could have predicted,” he said.
“We have not run empty of stock at any point and worked well with our suppliers to work through any challenges in recent months.
“We are really excited for Christmas. Five or six weeks ago bookings were a bit below expectations, but have now gone beyond our wildest hopes.
“There are pubs that have a waiting list for dinner on Christmas Day because of really strong demand.”
The pub group said it had seen sales boosted by investment across its portfolio during the lengthy period of closure.
It said that inflationary pressures were a challenge as it continues its recovery over the year and said it expected to increase prices for customers next year.
“We typically increase prices in line with inflation around February each year and expect to do the same this year,” Mr Dardis said.
“There are a lot of factors driving inflation that will continue into next year – rising national insurance, the rise in the national living wage, energy prices.
“But we will absorb what we can and have contracts with suppliers coming up for tender in April and that will help us to keep a lid on things.”