Pub operator and brewer Liberation Group has reported a record performance for the business in the year ended 27th January, 2024.

Butcombe beers

Total group revenues were +22.5% at £147 million versus the same period the previous year. The group’s UK managed pubs produced a very strong performance, with +8% like-for-like growth, on the back of excellent contributions from all categories, with like-for-like sales across drink at +8.6%, food +6.2%, and accommodation +11.6%. 

The growth also reflected the contribution of the pubs acquired from Cirrus Inns in December 2022, which have been fully integrated into the Butcombe managed estate.

The Butcombe Brewing drinks business delivered strong sales and volume growth, with sales +23% versus the previous year. This growth reflects the continued appeal of its brands, the quality of beers and a positive reaction to new product development in the keg ale market, says the company. 

Goram IPA Zero, the group’s multi award-winning alcohol-free IPA, performed particularly strongly in January, with record volumes, up 95% on the same period in 2023. An upturn in ‘zebra drinking’ was noted, whereby customers alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the night.

“These are really pleasing numbers and my starting place should be a massive thank you to our incredible teams who demonstrate real passion for delivering a quality experience for our customers on a daily basis,” said Liberation Group chief executive Jonathan Lawson.

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“It is particularly satisfying to see the way that mature parts of our business continue to grow, such as CI drinks, tenancy and Butcombe, whilst also seeing new elements coming through so strongly, such as accommodation.

“We should remind ourselves that, in 2016, we only had ten rooms, and now we have well over 400, with the potential to achieve 700 in the existing estate. We are increasingly seeing accommodation as a substantial lever for our overall managed business and see events and occasions as a fourth revenue stream in its own right, along with drink, food and accommodation.”

He added: “The headwinds on cost have eased and the outlook is better than the one in our rear-view mirror, and the improvement in consumer confidence is noted and welcomed.

“Our performance at Christmas was testament to the hard work from our teams, but also a reflection of the long-term trend in consumers valuing experiences more than stuff. We need to build on this and continue to provide amazing experiences for our customers.”