Eclectic returns to profit as it plans new ‘leisure’ concepts

lola lo derby

Leading operator Eclectic Bar Group has returned to profit, with a strategy that includes broadening the business into “more activity-based leisure concepts”.

It today reported that earnings before tax and after highlighted items reached £280,000 in the half year to December 27 compared to a loss of £530,000 for the same period last year.

Executive chairman Luke Johnson said: “This is a key milestone for the business and demonstrates what can be achieved through applied focus and determination.”

The group has been taking action to turn the business around after issuing a profit warning nearly a year and a half ago, saying trading was proving difficult because of increased competition and students going out less.

At Japanese-inspired late-night venue Sakura in Reading, it is redeveloping the street-level bar to trade during the daytime, after work and into the evening with a menu of fresh dough pizzas and craft beer and an area for people to play ping-pong.

With planning and licensing applications currently being considered, the street-level bar is expected to re-open in May. The rest of the unit will continue to operate as normal on the upper floors.

Eclectic describes its campaign for returning students in September as “a notable success”, halting the slowdown seen last year. The group has introduced a loyalty card, installed free wifi, and improved its offers and communication which have contributed towards new student nights, increased overall student numbers and increased mid-week sales for the group.

Tiki venue Lola Lo’s in Derby (pictured) has returned to profitability while Dirty Blonde in Brighton saw Christmas trading that showed it had “potential to deliver a positive contribution”.

Eclectic’s other venues around the UK include Embargo Republica, Po Na Na, Fez Club, Lowlander and Coalition.

Other benefits to the business have included the negotiation of the group’s principal supply contracts at the end of February 2015, a “significant” reduction in net debt to £200,000, and “significant” savings in head-office costs.

Luke added: “Eclectic has some of the best locations and premium brands in the UK. Positive progress is being made across all areas of the business and I am particularly pleased to see the group returning to profit for the half year.

“Broadening the business into more activity-based leisure concepts such as we are trialling in Reading will continue to build value for our shareholders over the medium to long term.

“The management team at Eclectic has achieved tangible progress over the last six months and I am confident that together we have the skills and potential to build on this and grow the business further.”

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