The company behind a chain of burger restaurants has said that any expansion moves it makes will be “measured and cautious”, its finance director has told Insider, as it looks to move on from a tough 2022.
Hub Box operates across sites in St Ives, Truro, Pentewan, Falmouth, Exeter, Plymouth, Taunton, Cardiff, Cheltenham, Bristol and Portsmouth.
Serving beer and burgers, each venue has a focus on sustainably sourced interiors and work from local artists.
Speaking to Insider, finance director Chris Hugo reflected on what has been a “tough year” for the company.
“Like a lot of businesses in our sector, we had expectations of the year based on a couple of strong years post-lockdown,” he said.
“We actually set ourselves relatively prudent budgets and didn’t plan for a continuation of the growth we’d seen in 2021, but we still underestimated the effect the wider economic conditions would have on everyone’s trading.
“We’ve been outperforming our sector all year, but have been under our budget which is always a disappointing place to be.”
Hugo noted that like so many other businesses, Hub Box’s challenges “are intrinsically linked with inflation and the cost of living crisis and, within this, the soaring cost of energy”.
“We have always had a focus on reducing our carbon footprint, but now the financial reasons for using less power are also in sharp focus as it’s one of the key drivers of our overall profitability.
“Energy usage will have as much attention paid to it as wage costs and margins and, using good business disciplines, we intend to stay on top of all the inflationary pressures in 2023.”
Continuing to look ahead, Huge said Hub Box’s focus for the next 12 months would be “on consolidating the performance of our existing sites”.
“Any expansion will be measured and cautious,” he added.
“We are also having a revamp of our whole people strategy and we will work very hard on improving our staff retention rates and internal development processes. We want to make Hub Box the place to work in our sector, whatever level of experience you have and in whatever role you specialise.”
On what the company as learned from 2022, Hugo said: “The main lesson is to make sure you can adapt your plans to the realities of the wider world. There are still good opportunities out there for businesses that are light on their feet and agile enough to get through trickier times.
“Shape your business to work with whatever top line you’re able to achieve and learn to be patient. Focus on your teams, as if the business is feeling some stress you can be sure this will disseminate down through to everyone, and keeping your people informed and supported provides the stability required in challenging times.”