Eldridge Pope has identified the improvement of its food offer as key to enhancing its performance during the second half of the year following the announcement of "disappointing" first-half figures.
While most of the group's outlets, including bars, now offer food, food sales and margins have grown most robustly at sites that have adopted its Food Solutions tool to manage margins and develop menus suited to local markets.
For the second half, new menus and trials with third parties are planned for over 50% of the group's community pubs. However, food sales have grown at a slower rate than anticipated among its inns.
New chairman Miles Templeman said that while the building blocks for the group's "back to basics" recovery strategy were in place, "It is taking longer than expected for the benefits to flow through."
Turnover from its 151 sites dropped by 8.3% from £33.9m to £31.2m.
Despite solid growth at its 44 tenancies, like-for-like sales in the managed estate fell by 5.3%. Although they increased by 2.7% at the group's 44 community pubs, they dropped by 11% at its 33 bars and by 3.5% at its 36 inns.
Occupancy across the group's 500 bedrooms dropped from 47% to 45%.
Since the year-end, Eldridge Pope has increased like-for-like sales at its pubs and tenancies, and reduced the rate of decline at its bars.
by Angela Frewin
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