Loungers CFO to step down in 2024 as group reports ‘strong growth

Gregor Grant has confirmed he will be stepping down from his role as chief financial officer of Loungers in July 2024.

Grant was appointed to the position in 2018 with the aim of helping the café, bar, and restaurant operator, which owns the Lounge, Cosy Club, and Brightside brands, grow from 128 sites to 200.

He is set to depart from the company after the release of Loungers' results for the year ending 21 April 2024.

The board has initiated the search for his replacement and added an appointment will be made 'well in advance of Gregor leaving the group'.

Alex Reilley, executive chairman and co-founder of Loungers, said: 'During his time here Gregor has provided consistently strong financial leadership as the business has more than doubled in size, alongside delivering the IPO in 2019 and of course helping to guide the business through the challenges of the Covid period and the inflation that has followed.'

It comes after the publication of Loungers' results for the 24 weeks ended 1 October 2023.

During this period, the café, bar, and restaurant operator achieved an 'accelerated new site roll-out,' introducing 16 new locations. This expansion comprised 14 Lounges and two Brightsides, the roadside dining brand introduced in November of the previous year.

The Brightside locations attained a gross average weekly sales level of £22,500. Loungers expressed a willingness to expand Brightside into a national brand based on 'a view on Brightside's returns on capital'.

The group said its new openings 'continue to perform very well and above average', adding its portfolio will 'gradually move towards Scotland' and the north east, though opportunities in England and Wales remain.

Nick Collins, chief executive of Loungers, revealed earlier this month that the brand is 'firmly on track' to open 34 new sites in the current financial year. Loungers said it is targeting over 250 sites by April 2024.

The group added it is 'optimistic' about the Christmas trading period due to robust customer demand and 'continuing evidence of moderating inflationary pressure', with like for like sales growth over the first eight weeks of Q3 at 7.6%.

In its results for the 24 weeks ended 1 October, profit before tax grew by 39% from £2.8m in 2022 to £3.9m, while revenue jumped from £122.3m to £149.6m over the same period.

Non-property net debt increased by £4.8m relative to October 2022 to £14.3m, but the group said this was largely due to the accelerated site opening programme.

Commenting on the results, Collins said: 'This has been another period of strong financial and operational growth for Loungers. The fact that we have delivered increases of 22.3% and 23.6% in our revenue and EBITDA respectively should be taken as yet another reminder that it is not all doom and gloom in the UK hospitality sector.

'By the end of 2023, we will have added another 1,000 people to our team during the year, and we are particularly pleased that one in eight of those new jobs is in areas that the government wants to 'level up' by creating better opportunities and standards of living.'