Revolución de Cuba owner taps investors for £15m as it eyes August reopening

 Revolución de Cuba on Arthur Street, Belfast.
Henry Saker-Clark, PA

THE owner of Belfast bar Revolución de Cuba has launched a fundraiser to secure £15 million from shareholders as it works towards reopening its sites in August.

Pub chain Revolution said the move will cut further into its debts and help it to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic in "a position of strength" after shutting all 74 of its bars.

The group's sole operation in Northern Ireland is located in Belfast's Arthur Street. Pub chain Wetherspoon is understood to have bought the building last year, but Revolución de Cuba continued to operate in the premises up until the lockdown during March. 

Revolution also announced plans to delist from the London Stock Exchange's main market in favour of a listing on its junior market AIM.

It said it would raise the funds through a share placing to ensure it is well-placed to grow once its bars are able to reopen.

The hospitality firm told shareholders that it plans to recommence plans to refurbish sites and will use cash to "take advantage of growth opportunities post Covid-19".

Prior to the lockdown, the company said it was demonstrating signs that its recent turnaround strategy was "successful" as it delivered like-for-like revenue growth and reduced its debts.

Revolution said it has cut costs since the closure of all its bars in March but still reported running costs of roughly £400,000 for each week sites remain shut.

Revolución de Cuba on Arthur Street, Belfast.

The company board told investors that their current "base scenario" is that it will be able to reopen its bar estate in August.

It said it will make changes to its operating model to account for current social distancing guidelines and predicted that there will be a "gradual" recovery in customer numbers.

Sales for August are expected to be around 55% of the same month last year, if current reopening plans go ahead.

It said it expects sales will only "marginally improve" in September and October, before a stronger recovery in November, at which point it expects social distancing guidelines to have been relaxed.

On Thursday, the boss of pub group Young's called for current two-metre social distancing guidance to be reduced to one metre, in line with restrictions in France and Germany, warning that current rules could impact "up to one million jobs" in the hospitality sector.

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