Barkby Group upbeat as commercial property division makes up for struggles at pubs business

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Investors in The Barkby Group PLC (LON.BARK), the gastropubs operator which turned itself into a miniconglomerate, have cheered its latest update despite the impact of COVID-19 on its business.

The company made a £2m net loss in the six months to December, not helped by its pubs and coffee shops having to shut during lockdown. But its diversification plan has helped support the business, with the property division in particular performing well. It completed a development in Hastings in August 2020 and sold it to Hastings Borough Council with a net balancing payment receipt of £1.8m, and has just announced the exchange of contracts for the sale of a development site at Saffron Walden.

Investments in SleepHub, which specialises in sleep aids, and healthcare group Verso Biosense are both expected to pay off in terms of earnings next year.

Executive chairman Charles Dickson, said: “Barkby has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic largely due to the success of our highly cash generative commercial property development business and activity has resumed apace. As we come out of lockdown, our pubs and coffee business are poised for significant growth and a return to profitability. The Group’s investments in SleepHub and Verso Biosense are performing well.  Our liquidity is strong and the diversification of the business means that the Group is in a strong position to benefit from the lifting of government lockdown restrictions. We look forward to the next 12 months with confidence.”

Its shares are up 0.75p or 3.57% to 21.75p on the news.

Elsewhere Jersey Oil and Gas (LON.JOG) has jumped 11.73% or 26.5p to 252.5p following a positive report on its development project in the Greater Buchan Area of the North Sea, which has an estimated 172 million barrels of discovered and recoverable oil volumes. 

Chief executive Andrew Benitz said: “The Greater Buchan Area has the scale to be extremely low carbon through platform electrification at the same time as offering highly favourable project economics. As a result of a significant amount of work from Jersey Oil & Gas’ excellent project team, working with specialist contractors, consultants and service providers, we are well on track to deliver on our Licence commitment to deliver the Concept Select to the Oil and Gas Authority (“OGA”) by July this year.

“We now plan to launch a farm-out process, which we expect to be highly attractive to a wide range of oil companies in light of the project’s scale, economics and low carbon potential through platform electrification, characteristic of certain fully electrified fields offshore Norway.”

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