Rockfish co-founder Mitch Tonks has said he is “astounded” by the numbers in its first month of reopening, as the group’s nine restaurants are once again open for business.

In some of its sites, the Devon and Dorset-based seafood concept has reported like-for-like sales just 7% down on 2019 trading, despite social distancing measures affecting capacity.

Sales from its takeaway operation have seen a 40% uplift on a like-for-like basis, which the group has attributed to an influx of ‘staycationers’ in the South West.

With its entire estate reopen, all jobs were retained throughout the business, and a further 25 team members have been recruited to assist in its future plans.

The Eat Out to Help Out scheme has prompted the return of 75% of covers across the group, around 20,000 people, with all sites fully booked for Mondays – Wednesdays in August.

“I’m astounded by both the guest feedback and the numbers for our first month

since reopening,” said Tonks. “We knew that staycations and the coast would be a massive draw as the summer arrived but there were too many unknowns and variables to accurately predict customer behaviour.

“We went into lockdown looking at our best year to date, so it was hard to know that all we’d done could be lost. But we’ve used the time whilst the business has been closed to make what we do better for both staff and guests. Our absolute focus has been on protecting our staff and our business and coming out of this thriving.

“There will be plenty of challenges ahead, we are not in a bubble and have a long winter ahead but we remain optimistic about people wanting to eat fresh fish by the sea. I have an amazing team throughout the business who bring energy, commitment and real care to each other and their work.

“I think we are better and stronger than we were and, if we can quickly adapt to constant change, I believe the future can be navigated safely.”