Co-founder Hamish Stoddart said despite the trading environment being 'brutally hard' in market towns which host the majority of the company's 16 trading pubs, trade had been good overall with like-for-likes up 7.1 per cent in December.
“Eleven years in we’re still going forward every year, with another great year under our belts in 2013 and everything to play for in 2014,” he said. “The majority of our pubs were at 10 per cent like-for-likes in December, although we got battered in a couple.
“At the grand old age of 11, we’re classed as a mature company, although Lee and I don’t quite suit that word, and we’re proud to have achieved like-for-like growth and profit every single year since we started. Outside of London in market towns where many of our pubs are, it’s been brutally hard and yet we finished on plan for the year with a strong second half.
“Operators think it’s easy to run pubs in market towns and therefore they’re coming into them, but the reality is it’s a pretty tough and competitive place. There aren’t many people in our market towns who’ve had pay rises and who can afford to eat out as regularly as before so our success comes from the fact we continue to beat the competition in getting more guests to return to us and use us in a limited market."
Stoddart said there were several 'star pub performers' across the group, which made £600k in the last full trading week before Christmas.
Among those with ringing tills were The Fishes in North Hinksey, Oxford, which was up 25 per cent in December, and The Rose and Crown in Warwick, the company’s original pub which had its biggest week ever in December at £50k.
New pubs The Chequers in Eversley Cross, Hampshire and The Old Mill in Berkhamsted, both partnerships with Spirit also did well.
“The Chequers had a sterling year and is a good example of what we can do in partnership with pubcos and property owners and we’ll be sharing the results of that success through our turnover rent with Spirit," he said. "We also work with Spirit at The Old Mill in Berkhamsted and that pub did a 21 per cent increase last year after we invested in a major refurbishment of its canal-side site."
He added: “Christmas was done just a little better again through more control on-line and a concerted push from the autumn onwards. We’re in good shape for 2014, with one opening lined up as well as two major refurbishments as we invest in developing our own places. We’re also looking for one or two more new sites this year, as well as more talented people and partners to join us.”