Eat Out to Help Out helps sales at pubs chain Fuller’s return to normal levels

Eat Out to Help Out helps sales at pubs chain Fuller’s return to normal levels

Pubs chain Fuller’s today said sales were back at 80% of last year’s levels after staycationers and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme boosted post-lockdown trade.

More than 90% of the chain’s 213 managed pubs and hotels are now open for business, with momentum from the government’s half price meals offer continuing after the scheme ended at the end of August.

CEO Simon Emeny said Eat Out to Help Out had been crucial in giving customers the “confidence and permission” to visit pubs again. Measures put in place to stop the spread of the virus were also working well, without ruining the customer experience.

He added: “Across the industry, pubs have done a fantastic job. Concerns over the spread of the virus seem to be coming from unregulated gatherings and not pubs.”

Emeny urged the government not to place further restrictions on the industry ahead of what’s likely to be a tough winter. He said: “Pubs are already heavily regulated and Covid compliant. Any further restrictions would be catastrophic for the industry.”

He called for an extended VAT reduction through to April and the continuation of business rates relief in order to help the industry get through to next spring.

Fullers has seen stronger trading in suburban and countryside locations compensate for the initial lack of footfall in towns and city centres, with those pubs open since 4 July achieving 80% of last year’s sales levels. Recent investment in its gardens and accommodation has also helped the company weather the challenging conditions.

Speaking ahead of the Chiswick company’s virtual AGM, Emeny said: “We are still at the start of a return to normality, but we are quietly confident with the way business is progressing.”