Revolution Bars Group, saw like-for-like sales (lfls) grow 0.4% in the 26 weeks to 30 December.

When extended to 27 weeks, to incorporate New Year’s Eve, the lfls were up 1.9%.

Total sales for the period were up 10.6% to £73.8m, while there was an operating loss of £3.7m impacted by £9.6m exceptional costs. Adjusted EBITDA was up from £8.7m last year to £8.9m.

The company said that like-for-like sales since the start of 2018 had been slower than previous years. In the eight weeks to 24 February, like-for-like sales were up 3.8%, but in the seven week period to exclude New Year’s Eve, like-for-like sales were down 2.0%.

It said that wet sales have generally held up well, particularly at weekends and that it had resisted the temptation to aggressively discount as it does not believe that this is in the best long term interests for its premium bars. It said that food sales had been impacted during the period.

Chairman Keith Edelman said: “January and February is always the quietest time of year for our business and we have observed a long term trend to a later but stronger Christmas trading period being followed by a bigger trough in sales during January. We believe that like-for-like sales reduction is temporary and that growth will return as footfall naturally improves as customers recover from the Christmas period, with the better weather and in particular the bank holiday weekends when the business traditionally see stronger sales.”

Four new sites were opened during the period. The Revolución de Cuba opening in Belfast in July achieved the highest level of sales over its first 24 weeks of all venues which have opened in the last two years and the third highest of all the Group’s venues in December. Three new Revolution bars also opened just before Christmas in Solihull, Inverness and Putney with each surpassing their initial sales targets.

Currently, the group trades from 58 Revolution and 14 Revolución de Cuba venues.

A further Revolución de Cuba opening is due towards the end of March 2018 in Birmingham with another Revolución de Cuba expected to open in Newcastle-upon-Tyne just before the end of the financial year.

The group said a further three new sites were expected to open early in the new financial year with the pipeline for further sites remaining strong.

On future prospects, the group said that it was confident in the strength of the group’s brands and its ability to operate and grow. It said new chief executive, Rob Pitcher, would bring “significant sector experience and insight and a personal determination to drive the next phase of growth”.

Jimmy del Giudice stepped down as the group’s chief operating officer in January. The company said that this had allowed the senior operator of the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands to step up to the senior management team. At the same time, responsibility for marketing, which previously reported to the de Giudice, has been realigned to Kate Eastwood, who is now responsible for both sales and marketing.

The company said: “Food remains a significant growth opportunity particularly across its day time and early evening business and therefore we recruited Simon Dobson as food director in January. Dobson was previously managing director of Delaware North and achieved much success in growing and operating very large restaurant businesses. His initial focus will be to revitalise the food offer in the Revolution bars, improving its quality, delivery and service standards and aiming to ensure that customers rate Revolution food as highly as its cocktails.”Edelman said: “I am delighted with our sales performance in the second quarter and over the Christmas period which shows the clear underlying strength of our business and continues to demonstrate the appeal and potential of our brands. New openings are performing particularly strongly, and site refurbishments are delivering healthy returns, meaning the group can pursue its strategy of profitable growth and drive like-for-like sales in its core estate. The business is well set for the arrival of Rob Pitcher in the coming months.”