Loungers, the fast-growing cafe/bar/restaurant company led by Alex Reilley, has reported a 6% rise in like-for-like sales for the first 17 weeks of its current financial year and confirmed its next raft of openings.

The group, which has just opened its 26th site, the Arcado Lounge in Christchurch, Dorset, said that since the beginning of May overall sales were up 43.4% to £7.21m against the previous period in 2011.

Loungers’ managing director Reilley said: “Our roll out is beginning to gather some significant pace now and so it’s logical that we should expect to see some big year-on-year growth. However, our like-for-like performance has been strong over a period that has seemed to be quite challenging for a number of operators and this is particularly pleasing.”

Reilley told M&C Report in June that it has identified the potential to operate at least another 250 Lounge sites across the UK, as it reported a 27.6% rise in EBITDA to £3.14m in the 12 months to 30 April.

The group, in which Piper took a significant minority stake earlier this year, said it had invested £400k in the Arcado Lounge. Previously a discount retail store, the 3500sq ft site, which is the chain’s 22nd Lounge opening, was eventually secured following a protracted planning battle with planning finally being secured on appeal.

Reilley, who was named Rising Star at this year’s Retailers’ Retailer Awards, confirmed that the group was on schedule to open its first site in the North West, the Brasco Lounge in Liverpool’s Mann Island scheme this November.

It has secured its first four planned openings in the North West - including sites in the Wirral and two in Greater Manchester - and said it had identified more than a dozen target locations in the region.

The group will open its fifth site under its more female-orientated brand, Cosy Club, in Cardiff in November and Reilley said that the company hoped to open another Lounge in December, which would take the number of openings for the year up to nine.

The chain is also believed to have submitted plans to turn the Budgens store in Portishead high street into a new 130-cover cafe bar. The building would undergo a £500k refit and refurbishment.

Piper, which formerly backed Pitcher & Piano and Las Iguanas is to invest £16m into Loungers, which was founded in 2002 by Reilley, Jake Bishop and Dave Reid.