Loungers has seen sales growth across day parts and categories as the business looks to maintain its current rate of expansion, CEO Nick Collins tells MCA.

The all-day café, bar, and restaurant operator reported record revenue of £353.5m in the 53 weeks to 21 April 2024, along with like-for-like sales growth of 7.5% and EBITDA ahead of expectations.

“The intention is to carry on opening 35 sites a year,” Collins says. “Our customers are behaving as they always have, really, with no shift in behaviour.

“One of the pleasing aspects of sales growth is that it’s across day parts and categories, with the slight exception of late night, which isn’t a big part of our sales.”

Expansion will continue to be dominated by the Lounge brand, albeit the business continues to pick up opportunities for Cosy Club.

The pipeline will see more sites in the North and Northeast, with newer sites in Newcastle and surrounding areas trading “just as well” as sites in the South.

“We’re edging further away from our heartland in the Southwest,” Collins adds. “The brand trades really well in new geographies…but equally there will be a pipeline across England and Wales.”

In addition, the company is “really pleased” with trading at roadside dining concept Brightside.

“We know we’re performing well from our customer feedback,” Collins continues. “The reception has been really good – it’s not difficult to make people think about sitting down and eating vs grab and go.

“It’s still too soon to tell the long-term scope [for Brightside].”

As a large and still growing business, Loungers has been able to implement cost control through increased buying power. The inflationary environment has eased significantly as well, according to Collins.

“As we grow, we get better at managing margins, becoming more efficient, and also looking at driving cost reductions in other areas.”

With many new sites housed in former banks and retail units, the business continues to benefit from favourable property dynamics.

On the menu front, it continues to innovate, with an eye on Asian-inspired dishes as well as trends towards Lebanese cuisine.