Fuller’s has said sales for the first half of the year (for the 26 weeks to 26 September 2020) hit £45.6m, down from £167.1m it made last year.

It also reported an adjusted loss before tax of £22.2m compared to a profit of £17.9m last year.

“The tightening of the tier system will present further challenges over the winter months, but we welcome the Prime Minister’s comments that we will see the need for restrictions fall away in the spring,” said CEO Simon Emeny.

“When the current lockdown was announced, we acted swiftly to implement the lessons learned last time round and this latest closure has been made with minimal stock losses. We also immediately placed 98% of our team members – across our pubs, hotels and in our support functions – on furlough or flexi-furlough, thereby minimising our cash burn. The extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until March 2021 provides a degree of breathing space and will allow us to apply a sensible and measured approach to costs as we reopen our estate, particularly at the most affected sites in our city centres.

“We entered this crisis in a position of strength, buoyed by the sale of the Fuller’s Beer Business. We have used the time and space created by the pandemic wisely – completing targeted investments in our estate, rightsizing our teams and utilising the support available to manage our cash reserves where possible. It has not been easy, but prudent financial management, an estate that is 92% freehold, and a strong Balance Sheet mean that we will be in the best possible position to get back on a growth trajectory.

“We know our customers want to come back, we know they trust us to look after them and provide a safe and sensible environment to enjoy a great Fuller’s experience and, over and above this, we have a dedicated and passionate team of people with the ability and desire to delight, surprise and welcome back those customers.

“We are optimistic about the future in the medium term and beyond, but there is no doubt that this will be a tough winter and a very different looking Christmas. We will start to reopen our estate in a measured way, navigating the tier system and the restrictions that come with it. However, it is important that we see beyond these obstacles and look at the bigger picture. The excellent news of successful vaccines gives us confidence where previously there was uncertainty, and with the sensible decisions we have taken during the pandemic, Fuller’s is well-placed for future success.

“This business is armed with a well-invested and well-balanced, freehold estate, excellent people, robust financial foundations, a clear and consistent strategy, and the drive and desire to lead the way out of this crisis. The long-term future for Fuller’s looks positive.”