Coppa Club operator Various Eateries’ prospects are better than ever despite the latest month-long lockdown, director Hugh Osmond has said.

Speaking at MCA’s The Conversation, Osmond revealed that whilst the group hadn’t anticipated a second period of full closure when it decided to float in September, “our prospects having raised the money are potentially better now than they were before.”

Various Eateries entered its first day of trading on the AIM on 25 September, raising £25m by way of a share placing.

Its market capitalisation at the placing price on admission was £65m, and the company said net proceeds of the fundraise would be used to advance roll out plans for its Coppa Club and Tavolina brands, as well as to fund future activities and acquisitions.

Though he stressed he takes “no pleasure” in the misfortune of other operators in the sector, Osmond told MCA that with availability opening up in prime retail and leisure sites across the country, there are now countless opportunities for the business to pursue its expansion plans.

“Having raised the money and not spent any of it as yet we’re in quite a strong position for when we eventually come out of this,” he said. “We’re being offered hundreds and hundreds of sites, and we will be taking some good sites previously occupied by big and small businesses that let the sites go or have become insolvent.

“I’m very sad as to what is happening in the entire industry and to all the people in it, but all I can say is that as soon as we’re allowed to get out of the starting gate we will be taking on new sites and we will be getting them open as quickly as possible.”

As well as its own-brand expansion plans, Osmond said that the business will also be looking to assist start-ups in their growth ambitions through and after the crisis.

“We are talking to some very good young companies, who are finding it difficult in covid, about how we may be able to help both with funding and potentially rollouts,” he said. “We have a very good in-house team now so we can help with both of those things.”

A vocal lockdown critic since the start of the pandemic, Osmond added that the government’s failings in the past few months have never been more significant.

Already “inexcusable” in March, he said Westminster’s handling of the crisis since the end of the Summer is “doubly, triply” inexcusable, showing their clear inability to form a plan for winter when they had time to do so.

“They had the whole of the summer to make a plan,” he said. “But they were busy patting themselves on the back because their lockdown ‘worked,’ without looking at the fact that every single coronavirus that’s ever been documented always dies down in the summer.

“So, instead of preparing over the summer, I don’t know what they were doing, but it meant they didn’t have a better plan come autumn.

“And I think that makes them 10 times more guilty than the actions they took in March.”