The Deltic Group has seen a 5% like-for-like sales increase in pre-bookings for Christmas, MCA has learnt.

Chief executive Peter Marks told MCA that pre-bookings were becoming an increasingly important part of Deltic’s business, with customers less keen to take chances on tables being available, or being able to get in, for the big occasions.

He said pre-booking sales for New Year’s Eve were currently 20% up on last year, but added that this figures was likely to drift back as it was still early days.

“We have had to climb out from a difficult summer because of the heat,” he said. “We lost momentum which we are building back up again.”

He said the first half of next year would be focused on the transformation of the three Tiger Tiger sites – in Manchester, Portsmouth and Newcastle – it acquired from Novus Leisure last month. “We have pretty much sorted out growth for the next year just by doing the Tigers, because they are big sites,” said Marks.

“We are working hard on the new programme. We have got a name, but we are not going to release it yet. We are hoping to get all three done by summer, but it does involve more planning and landlord permissions to get,” he said.

“We are really pleased with the Tigers, last week they took over £300k between the three of them, but they are old sites and need reinvigorating,” he added.

The second half of 2019 has been earmarked for the continuation of its current refurbishment programme, which is almost complete, he said.

The Deltic Group yesterday published its latest quarterly Deltic Night Index, which found while average spend per night out is up (8.9% to £67.05), the frequency with which people are going out has dropped by 6.2% year-on-year.

Marks said the reason for the decline in late nights out was a complicated issue, but to put it simply money is tight for a lot of people and consumer confidence is shaky at the moment, “but it is cyclical – we’ve been here before”.

He said were “no great earthquakes” in terms of trends, but that customers continue to demand “better for less”.

The report also highlighted the concerns that late night revellers have about safety, and suggested that increased street lighting, alongside venue security and bag checks and bodycams would put people more at ease on a night out.

“We have invested a lot of money on improving safety and security. We need to be promoting these things,” he said. “But what I felt was encouraging was that so many people (55.6%) said they felt they were primarily responsible for their own safety,” he added.