The Oakman Group has reported an excellent first full week of trading since customers were allowed to return to outdoor-only service.

The pub group reported like-for-like sales up 34.3% vs the same week in 2019. Total Sales were up 51.5% vs the same week in 2019.

Oakman Group executive chairman Peter Borg-Neal said the figures were particularly impressive given the Easter comparative in 2019.

In addition, the company, which was recently rebranded following its acquisition of six Seafood Pub Company sites, has announced the acquisition of The Grand Junction Arms near Tring from Punch Pubs.

Peter Borg-Neal, commented: “This success is testament to a superb job by Dermot King and his team with respect to our pre-opening training and our investment in our outside spaces. Average sales across the Oakman Inns brand were well in excess of £40k net last week - although we did see huge polarisation across the estate driven by the size and amenity of the respective outdoor spaces.”

Seafood Pubs will not open until May, nor will The Woburn.

However Grand Junction Arms in Tring achieved sales of £38k last week “from a standing start”.

Work has commenced this week on sites in Buckingham and Wokingham which will open in September.

Group CEO, Dermot King, added: “Whilst it is difficult to make direct comparisons, given the locational and spatial advantages our sites enjoy, we have clearly outperformed the wider market which was 21% down on like-for-like sales.

“These numbers represent a remarkable performance by our teams. Given that we have only been allowed to trade for four of the last 13 months - and with the constant threat of being told to stop trading or follow new regulations – they have come through some tough times. They have been brilliant in, not only serving our customers but, also, reinstating all our Covid bio-security measures that mainly exceed Government requirements. In the majority of cases, our local authorities have been very supportive, and we are taking a vigorous stance with those who are being unhelpful.”

King added consumer demand for good hospitality had not diminished: “We have 90% advance bookings on key trading days for the next six weeks over our 28 currently trading pubs, and customer feedback has been enthusiastic and positive.

“We don’t have any City pubs, where trading outside can be limited, and we have invested in all our outdoor spaces to give our customers the best possible experience. It was encouraging to see so many local friends and families wrapping up for the weather, determined to simply enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company again at their local – and we thank them for their support.”

Borg-Neal added: “As an industry, we cannot forget that three in four hospitality venues remain closed because either they don’t have the outdoor space, or they can’t create a bio-secure environment that meets local council requirements. Having vaccinated almost two thirds of the adult population, it’s vital the Government is driven by data and not dates and sticks to its roadmap allowing pubs to serve guests safely inside from 17th May or sooner, or we will lose the backbone of many rural communities, which is constantly undervalued by the governing elites.”