Loungers, the Lion Capital-backed group, has reported like-for-like sales up 5.3% for the year to 23 April, as it opens its 100th site.
During the financial year Loungers grew turnover 34% to £91.7m with EBITDA (excluding pre-opening costs) rising by 49.7% to £12.7m.
The group added 20 new sites in the period and today reached the milestone of 100 venues with the opening of Capo Lounge in Mansfield. Capo, which is the group’s 82nd Lounge, has launched in a former Lloyds bank on Stockwell Gate following a £550,000 investment. The 430sq m space is laid out over two floors and includes 225sq m of internal trading plus 25sq m of external trading at the front.
Loungers chief executive Nick Collins said: “Hitting 100 sites is an impressive landmark for the business and we are proud to have achieved this whilst at the same time having improved our conversion and posted some decent like-for-likes. We are only as good as the 2,700 people representing us across the UK and our team at all levels has never been stronger. Loungers is in a good place at the moment, our pipeline of secured sites now takes us well into 2018 and whilst I am mindful of the economic uncertainty in the UK, we have every reason to be optimistic about the future.”
Loungers chairman and co-founder Alex Reilley said: “It’s a monumental achievement for the business to reach 100 sites and something Jake, (Bishop) Dave (Reid) and I would have never considered possible when we opened our first Lounge back in 2002. We’ll allow ourselves some reflection (and probably the odd glass or two) and then get cracking on adding the next 100.”
The original Lounge, which only had 10 tables, took c£7,500 net a week. Fast forward to the current financial year and the group’s best performing site took £2.32m net.
The best-selling item 15 years on from Loungers’ creation remains the Lounge breakfast – with 11,000 sold last week alone.
Reflecting on the journey to a century of sites, Reilley told MCA: “Back in 2002 if someone had said we’d get to 10 sites we’d have thought they were completely mad so the idea of reaching 100 would have been truly ridiculous. However, once we hit 20 sites getting to 100 felt very much in a grasp.”
He said it was the opening of the company’s first site in Cardiff in 2007 that was the real indicator that the Loungers concept had legs and wasn’t “just a Bristol thing”.
Asked if he had any regrets along the way, Reilley said: “We could have recruited some senior roles in the business a lot earlier. We also snatched at a couple of sites that didn’t work that we ended up closing. I wish we’d been able to put a Cosy Club in the site in Manchester that Hawksmoor secured but we were trying to be a bit too cute on rent. Hawksmoor have done a fantastic job with the building so we can’t be too bitter - despite how well they trade from that site!”
On the best piece of advice he had received during that time, Reilley said: “Work hard, obsess about always wanting the business to better and - most importantly - enjoy the ride!”
He concluded: “Our ethos hasn’t really changed and that is largely down to us having to work really hard to ensure it doesn’t need to change as we get bigger. Loungers has a great culture and protecting, nurturing, and enhancing that culture remains the number one priority in the business.”