Loungers, operator of 175 cafés, bars and restaurants across England and Wales under the Lounge and Cosy Club brands, has reported net like-for-like sales growth of 23.7% in the nine weeks from 17 May to 18 July versus the same period in 2019.
In its audited results for the 52 weeks ended 18 April, the group reported a 52.9% drop in revenue to £78,346 and a 51.6% drop in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to £13,913, although pre-tax losses stabilised at £14,722 compared to £14,781 last year.
The group said it was benefiting from post-Covid trends, such as flexible working driving traffic to local high streets rather than city centres, and the staycation boom.
Nick Collins, chief executive of Loungers, said: "I am delighted with the strength of our performance since reopening, with like-for-like sales of +23.7%. Each time the business has reopened over the past 18 months, we have achieved consistent, sector-leading sales growth.
"We welcomed the removal of all Covid-related restrictions on Monday and while there is naturally short-term uncertainty, we are looking ahead with real confidence. We have already opened seven very strong new sites this year, and I am delighted we are now back opening sites at a run-rate of 25 sites per year.
"We want to play our part in driving economic growth as we come out of Covid, improving high streets across the UK and providing amazing hospitality in communities. The strategy that we outlined when we floated the business in 2019, and our place on the high street, have never looked more relevant.
"The last few weeks have been very challenging operationally, and as we head into the summer holidays, the operating environment will continue to be difficult as we face interruption due to positive Covid cases and self-isolation and a very tight labour market in a number of locations. Once again our team have approached the challenge with enthusiasm and commitment and I am enormously grateful and proud of the contributions made at every level in the business. The resilience shown by our team over the last 18 months has been remarkable."
However, in his chairman's statement, Alex Reilley said he had "never known there to be such a shortage of people in the sector as there is now", that the sector "desperately" needed to work together and the government also needed to assist in helping to address the labour crisis.