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Liberation Group: Uncertain outlook but food inflation starting to calm

Liberation Group: Uncertain outlook but food inflation starting to calm

Tuesday 30 May 2023

Liberation Group: Uncertain outlook but food inflation starting to calm

Tuesday 30 May 2023

The chain behind a brewery and 17 pubs and bars in the Channel Islands, as well as operations in the southwest of England, has said that food inflation is starting to calm.

Giving a trading update, Liberation Group said it had been “cautiously encouraged” by the start to the year and it was in a “strong position” to seize market opportunities.

CEO Jonathan Lawson said: “We have seen significant food inflation over the last 12 months and have made every effort to keep price increases to a minimum, which in part has been made possible by our local suppliers and fresh food offer, giving us greater speed and flexibility than other operators. 

“We are now seeing food inflation beginning to calm and in certain products such as butter and oil experiencing a fall in prices. 

“As a result of this combined approach, we are encouraged by the margin performance of both our Pubs and Drinks business and feel we have struck the right balance between delivering value for money to our customers, a fair price for our suppliers and driving value through our business to assist future investment and growth.”

Jonathan Lawson Liberation Group.jpg

Pictured: Liberation Group CEO Jonathan Lawson.

Mr Lawson added that the group had successfully completed the integration of Cirrus Inns into its UK-based Butcombe Pubs and Inns business.

All 22 Cirrus pubs – which stretch from southwest London to the Cotswolds – have now been fully integrated and are trading under the Butcombe brand.

The number of rooms within the Liberation Group is now more than 400, compared to under 100 in 2020.

In the 37 weeks to 28 January this year, revenue across the Channel Island managed pubs grew by 4.5%. It fell by 4.6% in the first 12 weeks of the financial year to 22 April 2023 due to “local trading issues in selected sites”.

Overall, however, the group said the results were “encouraging”.

Looking forward, Mr Lawson said: “The outlook for the rest of this year remains uncertain given the stubbornly high inflation rates, rising interest rates and the resulting impact on consumers' disposable income. 

“But we have been cautiously encouraged by the start of the year and are confident in the quality of our business, offer and above all our teams. 

“All markets and channels offer us the opportunity to grow market share and our work over the last few years places us in a strong position to seize these opportunities. 

“Targeted investments have already commenced, and we have a clear pipeline of internal investment opportunities available to us, including additional rooms.”

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