Young’s Pubs makes Brexit plans as boss calls Raab resignation ‘big blow’

Youngs pubs

The boss of Young’s Pubs has said the company is making contingency plans for a hard Brexit, as he described ministerial resignations over a draft deal as a “big blow” for business.

Speaking to the Press Association, Patrick Dardis said he had been pleased to see a draft deal agreed.

“It was very good news for business, the news business has been waiting for,” he said.

But he said the resignation of Brexit secretary Dominic Raab makes a Brexit deal look “less likely”.

Young’s, which on Thursday unveiled solid sales growth in the first half, has put contingency plans in place in case of a no-deal scenario, such as turning to new world wines if there is disruption to supply from the EU.

Mr Dardis said the group would also support its staff, 38% of whom are from the EU.

Dominic Raab
The Brexit Secretary’s shock resignation was described as a big blow for business (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“We’re doing everything we can to help them understand the status that they will have, and if there are forms that need filling in we will help them,” he said.

Analysts at Liberum adjusted profit forecasts for Young’s to account for higher labour costs, as they anticipated a tighter market after Brexit.

Meanwhile, Paul Hickman, analyst at Edison Investment Research, said the picture for the group was mixed.

“Some Brexit exposure does exist, mainly in terms of sterling’s potential weakness, which could further increase input costs and deter overseas staff, but also support London’s popularity as a tourist destination.”

Young’s sales rose by 8.8% in the 26 weeks to the end of October, boosted by the hot summer weather and the World Cup.

Adjusted profit before tax grew by 4.8% to £26.1 million.

“These are great numbers given the uncertainty in the marketplace,” Mr Dardis said.

Bestsellers at the bar included gin, which showed no signs of slowing down as sales rose by more than 35%. Pimm’s and rose were also standout performers in the summer.

Young’s has delivered average like-for-like sales growth of 5.6% over the past seven years.