The City Pub Group has secured a further £5m in liquidity through the Government’s Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) as it sees sales plummet 57% year-on-year.

The group, which operates 48 pubs across South England and Wales, reported revenue of £25.7m for the 52 weeks to 27 December 2020, compared to £60.0m in 2019.

Despite its losses, the company has said it is “well positioned to emerge strongly” when restrictions are lifted, with current net debt at £14m following an equity fundraise of £22m in March last year.

In the meantime, City Pub’s directors have deferred 25% of their salary until reopening, CAPEX has been suspended on all projects except minor essential remedial works and a £300k upgrade at The Hoste Arms, North Norfolk, and additional cost-cutting exercises have reduced cash burn to approximately £300k per month – excluding Government grants with the exception of furlough.

It has also reported “considerable progress” with landlords, having negotiated minimal lockdown rents and concessions in a large number of its leasehold properties, and announced it has initiated pursuing insurance claims following the Supreme Court ruling regarding coronavirus claims earlier this month.

The group strengthened its management team at the latter end of last year, with the appointment of Toby Smith as chief operating officer, and has since established a new committee to oversee its ESG policy.

“2020 has been a very challenging year, but decisions made since March 2020 with regards to the fundraising, cost control, streamlining of the business, and strengthening of the board has resulted in a very strong balance sheet, good levels of liquidity, a strengthening of our business model, a more focussed proposition and most importantly, pure determination to go out there and do the business once the pubs reopen,” said chairman Clive Watson.

“We have the right people in the key roles, whether in the pubs or head office and a fantastic estate to trade from. I look forward to a time when I can announce to shareholders that we are on the acquisition trail again, but this will only be considered once we are hitting high levels of optimisation from our existing capacity.”