The Oakman Group is looking to leverage its premium proposition and current staycation trends, executive chairman Peter Borg-Neal told MCA.

“I think humans were a bit in shock at the current inflation, the war, etc,” he said, referring to lower-than-expected sales during spring and the Jubilee period. “I think they’ve just got to settle back down again.”

“Food businesses towards the lower end of the market will probably be more impacted.”

The group reported its full year results ending 3 July 2022 earlier this week, with like-for-like sales up 19.9% vs 2019 and trading up 11% in June. Due to its premium offering, Borg-Neal believes consumer demand will keep up its momentum.

The offering will remain consistent moving forward, with no “menu engineering beyond driving margins,” Borg-Neal said.

“We’ve got people saying, put more pork on the menu, because the wholesale prices are lower at the moment,” he mentioned. “But we’ll continue to give the people what they want.”

Staffing shortages are one of his biggest concerns at the moment, with the business having to restrict trading hours and bookings due to the shortage. Oakman has raised wages in response but believes the issue is wider.

“It’s a big problem; there’s not enough people looking for working in this country,” Borg-Neal said.

The group is optimistic moving towards the summer period, with a rise in the number of people travelling locally and looking for staycations.

“I feel bad about people’s flights getting cancelled, but I’m hoping they’ll come stay with us.”