Hickory’s Smokehouse has reported a strong first week of trading as Covid-related restrictions continue to ease.

“We’ve had a hugely encouraging first week with sales up 35% like-for-like on the same week back in 2019,” managing director John Welsh told MCA.

The MD also confirmed that the Piper-backed group is on the hunt for new properties.

“We’re actively looking for properties and are having some very constructive discussions,” he said.

The group secured its latest site, in Nuthall, Nottingham, in April. The former Marston’s pub is undergoing a complete refurbishment and will see outdoor dining sheds, BBQ smokers, a fire pit and landscaped gardens.

“We’re opening Wilmslow next month (June) and Nuthall in Nottingham, in August and hope to squeeze in another one before the year is out,” added Welsh.

Meanwhile, Jim Bishop, who joined the company in 2017 as head of property, has stepped down from his role to build his own property consultancy business. Hickory’s is expected to announce some new appointments shortly.

Hickory’s was recently placed 11th in the Top 100 ‘Best Large Companies’ list of the UK’s ‘Best Companies to Work For’ annual list.