Slug & Lettuce owner toasts bumper December

Slug & Lettuce owner Stonegate has toasted buoyant festive sales after being boosted by Christmas and New Year drinkers.

The group, which also owns cocktail bar Be At One, booked like for like sales growth of 7.8% in the month to January 1.

Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, key trading days for the sector, saw Stonegate’s sales rise on average 8.3%, and in the two weeks from 17 December they were up 12%.

It also performed well on Boxing Day as punters sank pints while watching festive football.

Stonegate also said that it reaped the rewards of an investment in pre-booking facilities, including creating a central call centre hub to handle reservations.

Stonegate boss Simon Longbottom said: “Our like for like sales have increased again driven by our multi-format strategy, relentless focus on customer service and bolstering our market share in our local markets. Our success shows that there is value in a drinks-led, high street focused strategy.

“Encouragingly, all of our trading formats and regions performed well and it was particularly pleasing to see the sites and brands we acquired in 2018 contributing to this.”

In 2017, Stonegate was embroiled in a takeover tussle with rival Deltic for control over Revolution Bars.

Both bids ended in failure with Revolution then exploring the possibility of taking over Deltic last year, which ultimately came to nothing.