Restaurant and bar chain Loungers is planning to “accelerate” the reopening of branches following the relaxation of government restrictions – but two sites will stay permanently closed.
The cafe-bar group, which was founded in Bristol in 2002, has already reopened 75 Lounges and 19 Cosy Clubs across the UK from its estate of 167 sites.
However, the listed business is not reopening Banco Lounge in Bristol – one of its earliest sites – and Allegro Lounge in Birmingham. Its remaining 165 sites will all be open by August 5.
Loungers said the Bristol branch’s “small size” and “additional costs” meant it no longer met the company’s returns criteria. The site’s lease expires in March 2021 and it will not be renewed.
Birmingham’s Allegro Lounge, which opened in 2018, has also not performed well, according to the company. It said Northfield, where the site is based, had “proven to be the wrong location”.
Loungers said in a statement: “As a result of the confidence we have gained from the trading at our re-opened sites to date, we have decided to accelerate our re-opening programme and will have the full estate re-opened by August 5.
They added: “The steps we have taken to ensure everyone’s safety have been well-received and has not prevented us delivering our usual exceptionally high standards of hospitality and atmosphere.”
Loungers said it was still planning a roll out of new sites but that it would be “considerably more conservative” in the short term.
The chain is opening its 30th Cosy Club branch in Brindleyplace, Birmingham, on August 11.
Nick Collins, chief executive of Loungers, said: “It remains our view that Loungers is well placed coming out of lockdown and we are optimistic with regards to future trading and the continued planned growth of both our Lounge and Cosy Club brands.”
Loungers said it would be participating in the government’s ‘ Eat out to help out’ campaign and welcomed the support the sector had received in VAT reduction and the Job Retention Scheme Bonus.
Nick added: “We welcome the further sector support announced by the Government last week which is timely and will assist us in re-building momentum over the weeks and months ahead.”