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Mon 6th Aug 2012 - Punch Taverns, Greene King and Jamie’s Italian

Story of the day:

Punch Taverns joins Jacques Borel VAT Club: Punch Taverns, the UK’s second largest operator of tenanted pubs, has become the latest hospitality sector company to join the Jacques Borel VAT Club to reduce VAT to five per cent as a way of stimulating job creation. Roger Whiteside, chief executive of Punch Taverns, said: “We are delighted to join the VAT Club and fully support Monsieur Borel’s efforts to reduce the VAT burden on pubs and bars in the UK. The economic case for a reduction in VAT in this sector is compelling as evidenced by similar changes elsewhere in Europe where thousands of jobs have been created as a result proving the leisure sector has a vital role to play in providing a catalyst to growth. “Pubs are important in providing local employment opportunities particularly for young people and we must do everything we can to persuade government to change their approach to this sector and work with us to stimulate investment and growth.” Jacques Borel said: “I’m very pleased to welcome Punch Taverns to membership of my VAT Club. Reducing VAT to five per cent in the sector would be a very cost effective way of creating jobs in the UK, as many, many countries in Europe have already discovered.” The Jacques Borel VAT Club now has almost 40 members made up of companies from across the pub, restaurant, hotel, brewing and foodservice sectors. These include Pizza Hut, Road Chef, TGI Friday’s, JD Wetherspoon, Mandarin Oriental, Shepherd Neame, Fuller’s, Charles Wells, St Austell and Subway.

Industry news:

Britons spend a year of their lives in the pub: A survey conducted by Taylor Walker, the traditional Spirit Pub Company brand with just over 100 sites, has founds Britons spend over a year of their lives in the pub. The study of 2,000 pub-goers showed that they popped into their local for a total of three hours and 34 minutes a week. Across the average year, that was just under eight days that were spent drinking with friends and family down the local. And during an average adult lifetime, Britons would have propped up the bar for a total of 11,220.7 hours or 467.5 days. When it came to keeping company, 44 per cent of people preferred drinking with their partner, while a further third liked to catch up with their friends. One in ten people will drink with their work colleagues.

ALMR conducts survey on Olympics trading: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers is to conduct a survey of members to determine the impact of the Games on business. The survey is anonymous and takes less than five minutes to complete.

Bed and breakfast owner sues TripAdvisor: A bed and breakfast owner in Scotland is suing TripAdvisor over “malicious” reviews. Richard Gollin, who owns a remote B&B on the Isle of Lewis, has claimed he has been the victim of fake reviews with customers claiming rooms are freezing cold and he is a “pompous” host. Gollin has started an action in Stornoway Sheriff Court. He said: “All across the country people should stand up to TripAdvisor. Anyone can go on the site and within two minutes could post a fake review.” However, out of the 50 reviews for his business on TripAvisor, 29 rate it excellent and five rate it as “terrible”. 

Sky awaits sport ruling: The competition authority is due to deliver a long-awaited verdict on a legal battle between BSkyB and BT. The ruling can change the dynamics of pay TV if it goes in BT’s favour. The legal battle derives from the Competition Commission’s review of the pay-TV sector in which it ordered Sky to wholesale Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 to rivals at a fixed price. BT has also challenged the findings, asking to have access the high-definition versions of the two channels plus Sky Sports 3 and 4 – at a lower price.

Chick-fil-A receives support: Tens of thousands of Americans packed into the 1,600 sites operated by Chick-fil-A in support of president Dan Cathy who has made controversial comments in favour of Christian values and traditional marriage. Former Arkansas governor and radio talk-show host Mike Huckabee called on Americans to show their support for the company by making 1 August Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. By the morning of the national event over 650,000 people had signed up on the special Facebook page Huckabee had created for individuals to show their appreciation and say they would participate. At many of Chick-fil-A’s locations across the country, customers waited patiently in long lines for more than an hour to be served.

Company news:

LT Pub Management posts 40 per cent turnover increase: LT Pub Management, the specialist management and turn-around company led by Billy Buchanan, has reported a more than 40 per cent increase in turnover from £16.96m to £27.39m as demand for its services increased across the hospitality sector. The company posted a post-tax profit of £862,000 for the first full year to Christmas Day 2011, which compares with a loss of £394,000 for the ten month period in 2010. The company, which is based in Attleborough, Norfolk, began by managing pubs for tenanted operators but has expanded to manage hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and other leisure assets on behalf of a wide range of clients. Currently LT runs around 1,100 such assets. Since the year-end, LT Pub Management has won the prestigious contract to run out-sourced management for the Little Chef chain. Buchanan said: “Our strategy since we founded LT Pub Management has been to create a platform for growth across the sector. The company has expanded quickly and taken on a number of contracts to work on behalf of banks, insolvency practitioners, investors and private clients, managing and operating assets across the hospitality and leisure sector. We will be looking to build further on this foundation in the rest of 2012.”

UK design firm Harrison debuts UK TGI Friday’s design in the US: UK design firm Harrison, which has been involved in evolving design of TGI Friday’s in the UK has applied the same design principles to a TGI Friday’s site in Nashville, Tennessee. The site has re-opened with an open kitchen that is about 25 per cent smaller than a typical Friday’s unit and a redesigned bar. “We’ve completely redesigned the kitchen so guests can see how we cook their favorite dishes and the bar is now the centrepiece of the restaurant,” TGI Friday’s chief operating officer Ricky Richardson said. The bar also includes community tables, located across from the bar, which the company said, “encourage friends to gather and talk, watch a game or wait for a table.” The bar has been redesigned for an “interactive experience,” and includes quieter blenders and machines to produce three different kinds of ice. The design will provide a blueprint for future US Friday’s units and renovations.

Heineken UK reports £33.3m operating profit: Heineken UK has reported an operating profit for 2011 of £33.3m, compared to a loss of £5.2m the year before. Turnover was slightly lower at £1.596bn compared to £1.663bn the year before.

Pizza Hut Canada repeats UK marketing trick with customers teased until September: Pizza Hut in Canada has introduced a campaign that teases customers for a month. All customers are being given a prize-winning envelope but are instructed not to open them until September. Every envelope contains a prize but customers can only redeem it if they return to a Pizza Hit restaurant and the restaurant manager opens it. “Research has proven that there is a circuit in the human brain that gives us the ability to say no to immediate gratification if it means holding off for a bigger reward,” said Beverley D’Cruz, director of marketing at Pizza Hut Canada. “The fun part will be seeing how many Pizza Hut fans actually can. Don’t Open Me debuted, and was a smash hit in the UK, which is why we’re bringing it to Canada. The question we have for Canadian pizza lovers – are you better at waiting for reward than those in the UK?” There are more than one million available prizes including home entertainment systems, gift cards, free food and travel vouchers in the mystery envelopes. The grand prize is a holiday for four.

Simon French – Enterprise has 55 per cent share price upside: Simon French, leisure analyst at Panmure Gordon, has reiterated a “Buy” recommendation on Enterprise shares, with an 87p Target Price, ahead of Enterprise Inns third quarter results on Thursday (9 August). He said: “The second half was reported to have started well. However, we believe trading may have since deteriorated due to the weather. To reflect this and more significantly recent disposals as reported in the trade press we have reduced our 2012 full year forecast by circa four per cent to £139m profit before tax. We reiterate our “Buy” recommendation and 87p Target Price, implying 55 per cent potential upside.”

JD Wetherspoon to take over Harry Ramsden’s site in Cardiff: Managed operator JD Wetherspoon looks set to take over the Harry Ramsden’s site in Cardiff Bay. The restaurant was opened in 1995, but a statement from the company said the “tough economic climate” meant it was having to consider its options in the city. Harry Ramsden’s chief executive Joe Teixeira said: “This is an extremely difficult decision. However, in this tough economic climate, we are now in a position where we have to consider our options.” A spokesman for JD Wetherspoon said the pub chain had exchanged contracts on the building. Meanwhile, Wetherspoon has submitted a two-pronged bid to open a venue in the centre of Stirling – yards from where the firm hopes to open a separate venture. Stirling Council’s planners have received an application to change 43-51 King Street from retail and office space into a pub, restaurant and hotel. Meanwhile, Stirling’s licensing board is expected to hold a special meeting later in the year to discuss JD Wetherspoon’s attempts to open a pub on the site of the former tax offices in Spittal Street. The bid to convert the one-time HMRC hub was granted planning consent last year but had a licence request turned down.

JW Lees looks to buy ten pubs this year: Manchester brewer and retailer JW Lees is looking to add ten pubs to its estate this year. Managing director William Lees-Jones told North West Business Insider that the company had been forced to close boozers like many others in the sector but planned to open ten new pubs this year having recently added four new sites to the portfolio. In 2011, a dozen were shut. He said: “This year the plan is to buy another ten pubs. We make profit and we invest that profit back into the pubs. We’ve got an excellent relationship with our bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland. We can afford to buy ten pubs because the property market is on its arse. The recession presents an opportunity.” The company operates 166 pubs – it bought ten pubs from Staffordshire chain Punch Taverns in 2009. On succession plans he added: “I have four children, my brother has two, my sister has three and my cousin has two. Hopefully, among them, there will be someone who can come into the business and add value. Whoever it is, they’ll have to be really good.”

Mitchells & Butlers lines up another Harvester opening: Managed operator Mitchells & Butlers is lining up its 202nd Harvester site with an opening on Aintree Retail Park planned for tomorrow (Tuesday 7 August). The venue comes a few months after the brand hit the double century mark with a new-build opening in Peterborough’s Pavilion West, with an opening in York’s Clifton Moor following last month. In May, the brand, overseen by Steve Cash, added an ultimate chicken platter, barbecue glazed rib of beef, a 8oz lamb leg steak, and grilled Sea Bass to the menu.

Jamie’s Italian turnover jumps 50 per cent to £72m: The Jamie’s Italian restaurant chain is expected to report turnover up 50 per cent to £72m in 2011 with pre-tax profits of £7.2m, according to The Sunday Times. However, pre-tax profits of Jamie Oliver Holdings are expected to dive from £8m in 2010 to £3m in 2011 after a one-off provision of £6m related to an investment in Jamie at Home, which operates Tupperware style parties at British homes. There was a reduction in the number of people attending the parties last year and those who did were spending less. 

Pub People Company set opening date for Punch’s The Bridge: Pub People Company, the 50-strong Midlands operator led by Kevin Sammons, has set an opening date of Thursday 16 August for The Bridge at Saniacre, a £300,000 co-investment with Punch Taverns. The pub co-investment will see the pub become a family-friendly value-dining community pub. The company has already enjoyed considerable success in developing family value dining offers at a number of its pubs – The Dukeries in Edinstowe, Sherwood Forest, has hit weekly turnover of around the £18,000 mark despite a poor summer. Operations director Andy Crawford told Morning Briefing recently: “We’ve done a lot of research on this part of the market in the past couple of years, looking at all the good work done at Flaming Grill, Hungry Horse and Sizzling Pub Company. We’ve put our own twist on it.”

Nama puts first Botanic Inns freehold on the market: Republic of Ireland “bad bank” Nama has placed the first freehold of six sites tenanted by Botanic Inns on the market. The premises of Botanic Inns’ Taphouse on Lower Crescent is on the market for £1.15m. Nama controls five other Botanic freeholds in Belfast - The Botanic Inn, The King’s Head, Madison’s, The Globe and The Northern Whig – are controlled by Nama after Lanyon Trading and Lisk went into administration last year.

Coca-Cola boss defends sponsors’ role in the Olympics: Coca-Cola chief executive Muhtar Kent has stressed the key role sponsors have played in creating a better Olympic Games attended by more countries. He told The Sunday Telegraph: “In today’s world, many countries may not be able to put teams together (if there wasn’t the level of sponsorship presently available). A big portion of all the funds generated through partners like Coca-Cola and others are channeled through the International Olympic Committee back to the countries, which helps the Olympic movement and national Olympic committees. You can’t just say, “I’ll take the benefit and I’m always going to be critical”. There has to be a balanced approach”. Kent also pointed out that Coca-Cola has taken large strides on the health agenda with 40 per cent of the products now sold in the UK sugar-free.

Greene King gives senior management 2.4 per cent pay rise for this year: The executive directors and senior managers at Greene King have been awarded a 2.4 per cent pay rise for the current 2012-2013 financial year. Overall pay rises across the company are 2.5 per cent. Directors emoluments totaled £1,975,000 in the most recent year, down from £2,028,000 the year before. Chief executive Rooney Anand earned a total of £1,121,000, including a £477,000 annual bonus and £108,000 of cash in lieu of pension. In addition, £110,000 of additional bonus, compared to £253,000 in 2011, will be paid to Anand under the terms of the economic profit deferred share bonus scheme introduced in 2010. Additional economic profit of £3.2m was achieved in excess of the strategic plan against a maximum target of £7.5m. This resulted in a pay-out of 42.7 per cent of the economic profit element of the bonus scheme, equating to 21.4 per cent of his basic salary. The bonus is deferred in the form of restricted shares, which are released to Anand if he stays in Greene King’s employment for a year after the shares are acquired.

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