Strong festive trading at TCG bars

Bar and pub operator TCG has reported “strong” overall trading for Christmas and New Year, especially through pre-bookings.

Sales grew year on year by 2.5 per cent in the four weeks to January 1, although TCG added that the trading pattern varied across its estate which ranges from local pubs to Henry’s Café Bars and Bar 38.

In the run-up to Christmas, a number of TCG’s food-led venues in London and the south-east achieved record sales, while its Locals and Bars businesses led the way from December 22 onwards.

Chief operating officer Nigel Wright said: “With Christmas Day on the Tuesday, the overall trading period obviously moved back slightly compared to last year, which provided a superb week of double-digit growth in the week up to Sunday 23 December.

“Pre-booked parties at our Henry’s Café Bars and other food-led sites delivered the big numbers in mid-December, while the real uplift in wet trade came closer to Christmas, with some bumper numbers on ‘mad Friday’. This last Friday before the long break was a huge day across the whole business and was 140 per cent up on the same day last year, as groups of office workers and tradesmen spilled into their local pub or bar for a traditional festive drink.”

Several of the group’s London sites, including Henry’s Café Bars and the Tattershall Castle floating bar on the Embankment, benefited from an early co-ordinated drive for party bookings by a sales team recruited earlier in the year. Henry’s in Covent Garden (pictured) achieved a record-breaking week ending December 16.

The start of the sales on Boxing Day saw another surge in trade in London. At the St James Tavern, close to Regent Street, assistant manager Claudia Schadegg said: “Boxing Day was one of our busiest days of the Christmas period, with shoppers out in force in the West End.”

Outside London, Bar 38 in Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays development achieved an 84 per cent uplift in the week ending December 23 and, in the following week of “the sales”, it ended up as the busiest venue in the complex, beating the nearby Jamie’s Italian.

Wright continued: “New Year’s Eve on Monday night was very strong as ever but down on last year’s exceptional Saturday.”

He added that “fantastic individual successes” around the country included the Tattershall Castle, which was pre-sold months in advance to customers wanting to view the London fireworks and hit over £50,000 on the day. Other notable successes were the Sailors Arms in Newquay in Cornwall, the Golden Fleece in Chelmsford in Essex, and bar and club Rendezvous in Weymouth, Dorset.

Wright said: “Overall, we feel this was a very creditable festive performance and a testament to the hard work and pre-planning of our pub and bar teams. It puts us in a good position at the start of 2013.”

The TCG management team have agreed a further extension to the company’s banking facilities and are about to start a new programme of capital expenditure and other investment in the estate, Wright added. “The potential sale of the company, which dominated much of 2012, is now off the agenda, and we are able to focus on running our business and making sure that each of our pubs and bars is the very best in its local area.”

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