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Loungers 'optimistic' about July reopening with smaller menus and revised layouts

04 June 2020 by
Loungers 'optimistic' about July reopening with smaller menus and revised layouts

Loungers has said it is "optimistic" about a July reopening and in a "strong position" with regards to the future, anticipating it can benefit from increases in home-working across the UK.

In a statement released today the company, which operates 167 Lounge and Cosy Club sites in suburban and market towns, said it had gained "valuable intelligence" during lockdown and that its recent focus had been on communicating with its team, engaging with its communities and customers and "evolving the business for a post Covid-19 trading environment and beyond" ahead of reopening from July.

The update, which comes after the company announced it raised approximately £8.3m through a share placing and additional banking facilities on 22 April, said: "We are naturally preparing to re-open, anticipating some - and potentially the majority - of sites being allowed to open in July, assuming the hospitality sector gets the go-ahead from the government to do so, as anticipated."

Loungers, which has reopened 17 Lounge sites for takeout and will open a further 10 sites over the following week, said it had asked its teams how they feel about returning to work, what measures they want to see put in place to protect them and that they were working on "specific training materials" to ensure their staff would not be put at risk in any way.

"Our team are at the heart of everything we do. Alongside providing reassurance and information we have worked hard to ensure we have positively enhanced the culture within the business."

The company said it had also introduced initiatives such as a new app to allow teams "to communicate together more easily" and to ensure "the voice throughout the business is heard".

In terms of guests, the company said it had surveyed "significant numbers" of customers in both Lounge and Cosy Club to understand their attitudes towards visiting their venues post-lockdown and that the "vast majority" of the 6,000 respondents were looking forward to returning.

"We will continue to survey our customers in the coming weeks to understand how attitudes are shifting and to make sure our strategy is on point."

The company's new takeout operation, ‘From our Lounge to your Lounge', had been a "big success" and "hugely welcomed in the communities" where it was operating, the statement said.

The objective of the new model had been to gauge whether it would provide an additional revenue stream once they re-opened and "to help us understand operating in a physically distanced environment, to get the supply chain back up and running, to bring team members back from furlough and working, and most importantly to further energise the culture of the business and generate some excitement."

"As we prepare to re-open, we are challenging aspects of the service model in both Lounge and Cosy Club. We are looking to trial order-at-table technology, for example, and whilst this is something we have ruled out several times in the past, we would be keen to try it post lockdown if it makes a minority of our customers feel more comfortable. "

The company said it was also looking at menu size to understand "what efficiencies we might achieve with slightly smaller menus" and would trial changes while operating physical distancing in their kitchens, as well as trialling cashless payment.

In terms of physical distancing measures, they said they were revising layouts and removing surplus furniture from their sites, saying that although they anticipated being able to "trade profitably with distancing rules in place" there was "a marked difference between 1 metre and 2 metre distancing, and if 2 metres is implemented, it may not make sense to open a small number of our more compact sites immediately."

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