Hostmore, the parent group of the chain, said it saw ‘an improvement’ in trading over the latter half of 2023 after pushing forward with a turnaround plan
Fridays, the popular restaurant chain, has seen a boost in Christmas bookings despite the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
The parent company, Hostmore, reported improved trading in the second half of 2023 due to a successful turnaround plan. Julie McEwan, the CEO of Hostmore, spoke about how they adapted their strategy considering the financial strain on families.
She told PA news agency: “We were mindful that the cost of living crisis affected quite a lot of families over time, so we wanted to go back to our roots and understand who we were and our core market. We looked at our booking strategy and also looked at what our competitors were doing, we made it as frictionless as possible, but also with a smaller deposit.”
McEwan explained how they reduced the deposit amount for large parties, saying: “A lot of competitors were saying if you want to come and dine with us, and you’ve got a party of 12, for example, it was £10 per head. We took that deposit right down which meant that our deposits went up and our core market our families could afford to actually come and book with us, and they did.”
The company enjoyed a “really pleasing” December 2023, boosting its overall revenue for the latter half of 2023, with a like-for-like revenue increase of 4% compared to December 2022. Hostmore, which manages 91 locations and employs around 4,500 people across its restaurants, recently rebranded from TGI Fridays.
The company said it was “particularly encouraged” by the outcome, given that most of their properties are in retail parks and shopping centres. The firm expects to generate £5.4 million of EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) by the second half of 2023.
Ms McEwan, a representative for Hostmore, stated: “We have continued making good progress in executing our turnaround strategy, through disciplined capital allocation and the delivery of further cost reductions. Our organic growth initiatives, implemented through a strong and motivated operational platform, have improved the financial outlook of the business and continue into 2024.”
Hostmore is also committed to becoming debt-free by using all its free cash flow to pay off its borrowings. By the end of the year, the company’s net bank debt was £25.1 million, a significant improvement from the £31.3 million recorded on July 2, 2023.
Ms McEwan concluded: “We’ve got really motivated teams and a lot of the ideas that we use come from the experience within the brands. Also, what we are doing is we’re utilising our brand equity and also our heritage of TGI Fridays, so what worked really well and taking the best of both, looking at the consumer of the future and how we can attract more footfall in as well.”
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