Shepherd Neame reports "profitable" three months since July reopening, but foresees "challenging" winter ahead.
The Kent-based brewer and pub company's like-for-like sales were down 7.9% in the period, with coastal and destination sites performing well, but city centre and central London drinks-led pubs seeing a slower recovery.
It anticipates that restrictions, including the rule of six and 10pm curfew, will impact the business and erode consumer confidence, but has welcomed the extension of the reduced 5% VAT rate until March 2021.
The business' financial year ended on 27 June, when net debt was £84.4m, with an additional £11m of tax liabilities.
As of 26 September net debt was £82.4m with the tax liabilities that had been deferred reduced to £5.7m, with a further £1.2m of general deferrals. Shepherd Neame has said liquidity is sufficient for the foreseeable future.
Within today's business update the company said: "Reopening our estate required the development of new ways of working, significant staff training and the introduction of extensive protective measures for staff and to ensure that our pubs are Covid – secure. Our licensees and team members have adapted to the new ways of working magnificently and immense gratitude is due for their enthusiasm and determination during a very difficult period."