Revolution Bars Group saw like-for-like sales fall 0.6% in the year to 30 June, with the second half of the year seeing a dip of 3.2%.

Like-for-like sales in the first quarter of the current financial year are down 5% but the company stressed that it had confidence the initiatives being implemented by new chief executive Rob Pitcher would improve the situation. Pre-booked revenue for Christmas is currently up 20.3% on the same time last year (up 13.8% on a like-for-like basis).

In its update this morning, the company refused to divulge any further information about talks with Deltic Group, after confirming discussion were underway earlier this month.

Setting out his strategy, Pitcher, who joined five days before the year end from Mitchells & Butlers, said he had already refreshed the company’s digital and social media strategy, was looking to further develop relationships with delivery partners and aiming  to develop a click and collect offer. The sales team has been strengthened and the group is working with a consultancy to further refine the Revolution brand proposition.

Pitcher insisted he would be a very ‘hands on’ chief executive and, as such, would not be replacing the chief operations officer role, although a third operations director has been brought in.

He has also launched a review of pricing, refreshed the food offer – including introducing a weekend brunch offer in Revolucion de Cuba – and launched new cocktails. Pitcher said a key task was to re-establish the group’s “market-leading position for Friday and Saturday night entertainment”.

During 201/18, the group recorded sales of £141.9m - up 8.7%, driven by new site openings.  Adjusted EBITDA of £15m was in line with revised market guidance.

After exceptional items of £11.1m, bar opening costs of £2m and a credit from long term incentive plans of £1.6m , the operating loss was £3m.

During the reporting period, the group opened six new venues, three Revolution and three Revolucion de Cuba sites.  Since the end of the reporting period, Revolution Glasgow (Mitchell Street) and Revolucion de Cuba in Southampton have opened. Three further openings are planned before the end of November, meaning the group will trade from 79 venues at that time.

On the outlook for expansion, Pitcher said: “Our pipeline of new sites remains healthy and we have many exciting prospects including two sites that could open in the second half of the FY19.  In the short term, we intend to take a slightly more cautious approach to new sites given that we believe our immediate priority and management focus must be to return our existing business to growth.  This may also necessitate an increased focus on the refurbishment of the existing estate, particularly if our work on the customer proposition and late-night entertainment identifies that remedial actions requiring capital investment are required in order to drive like-for-like growth.”