Novus Leisure, the privately-owned bar and club group led by Steve Richards, has reported a rise in full-year sales on the back of its pre-bookings and continued investment in its existing estate. Like-for-like sales for the 52 weeks to 26 June 2011 increased 8.9%, with total sales up 12% to £106.7m. Ebitda for the year climbed to £11.1m, up from £6.9m the previous year, as the group’s key 25-33-year-old consumer group remained resilient. The 52-strong operator of the Tiger Tiger and Jewel brands said that the London market had remained strong despite the economic climate, while its regional sites had continued to generate “double-digit growth”. The group, which acquired the Balls Brothers and Lewis & Clark chains for £8.1m in March, has seen nine consecutive quarters of growth and it expects to report record profits of £17m by the end of the calender year, the previous record was £12.2m in 2006. For the period June to November, the group generated like-for-like sales growth of 15.9%. Pre-booked events now generate 50% of the group’s revenue, rising to c.75% over the festive season, while revenue from food sales continues to grow and now accounts for 40% of turnover in its bar formats. Richards told M&C Report that the decision taken back in 2008 to continue to invest in its portfolio and people as competitors were looking to cut costs was “paying off”. The group invested £5.9m across its estate during the year to increase bookable space by a further 1,400 spaces. It now has bookable space for 12,000 customers out of a total capacity of 33,000. He said: “We have continued to invest in our estate and infrastructure, successfully leveraging our USP of pre-booked sales to deliver industry leading returns.” Richards said that the Balls Brothers and Lewis & Clark operations were an excellent strategic fit with its core estate, and would be “a driver of profit in 2012”. The group has so far remodelled eight of the Balls Brothers bars, broadening their appeal to wider customer base. Four of the sites have been extensively refurbished under the group’s “exchange” format. The company has also converted six of its existing sites to the Lewis & Clark model taking the estate to 12 sites in total. It expects to add a further two revamped bars to the brand early next year. Richards said the group was still aiming to double its 52-strong estate over the next four years and was currently in negotiations on three or four sites. It will concentrate on making additions in the South East. The group, which was recently a winner at the Cool Venue Awards, announced John Kelly as it new chairman earlier this year. Kelly, the former Gala Coral founder, succeeded John Barnes.