Brighton Pier Group reports revenue 19% above pre-pandemic levels, driven by strong trading, reduces net debt by 46%: Brighton Pier Group has reported revenue 19% above pre-pandemic levels, driven by strong trading across all the group’s divisions. The group issued a trading update for the 78-week period to 25 December 2022, following the accounting reference date change from the end of June to the end of December. Overall, the group performed well during the period and continues to trade in line with market expectations, having ended the 18 months with a stronger balance sheet. In the first 12 months, the group benefited from covid-19 related government assistance and pent-up demand as the UK emerged from lockdown, while the final six months witnessed a decline in consumer confidence and increased costs across the sector. For the 78-week period as a whole, the group reported total unaudited revenues of £58.9m (2019: £49.4m), up 19% on the same pre-covid 78-week period ending 26 December 2019. This was driven by strong trading across all the group’s divisions, benefitting from the acquisition of Lightwater Valley in June 2021. It was also helped by support from the government's temporary reductions in VAT, the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme and pent-up consumer demand. On a like for like basis, sales were up 9% against the same pre-covid 78-week period in 2019. Since the end of the previous audited financial year (52 weeks ended 27 June 2021), the group has improved its balance sheet having repaid £9.1m of debt, reducing borrowings from £20.4m to £11.3m and reducing its net debt by 46% from £13.1m to £7.0m. It said revenue of £18.8m for the 26 weeks ended 25 December 2022 (2021: £22.8 million) is not easily compared with the same period in 2021 due to the exceptional level of Government VAT support and pent-up demand post-covid in the prior period. However, when compared to the same period in 2019, revenue was up 8% and like for like sales (excluding Lightwater Valley) were down 2%. This reflects a general dip in consumer confidence in response to the difficult economic environment. Preliminary results for the 78 weeks ended 25 December 2022 will be published on 24 April 2023. Anne Ackord, Brighton Pier Group’s chief executive officer, said: “Like many in our industry, we have had to absorb higher costs relating to wages, energy prices and other inputs. However, going into 2023, our businesses remain profitable, well managed and backed by a strong balance sheet and asset base. We are confident in the ability of our management teams to operate well in our markets, but we remain mindful of the continuing pressures from the wider economic environment in which we trade.”
Sixth UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database to feature more than 10,000 new words of content, released on Friday: The sixth UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (17 February) at midday, will feature more than 10,000 new words of content, taking it to more than 85,000 words. It will provide insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details of 185 companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK. Several sweet treat concepts are among the new franchisors featured. Among them is Paul, the French chain of bakery-cafe restaurants with 36 UK sites, which made its franchise debut here in November. Also featured is Floozie Cookies, an all-vegan stuffed cookie concept founded in 2020 by Kimberly Lin, which announced plans in November to expand internationally and in the UK under a franchise model. Doh’Hut, a Leeds doughnut shop that is set to make its London debut and open five new sites this year, is also featured. Premium subscribers also receive access to The New Openings Database; the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the Turnover & Profits Blue Book; and the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage. Premium subscribers have also been given access to the entire recording of the 2023 Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit Conference. Subscribers were sent 30 separate video presentations, featuring more than 80 speakers. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of Friday Wrap interviews and have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. They also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.
Scotland’s deposit return scheme to go ahead despite producers’: Scotland’s deposit return scheme will go ahead in August despite the concerns of producers, the circular economy minister has said. Lorna Slater also encouraged businesses to sign up to the scheme, which is designed to boost recycling via a 20p deposit on single-use drinks bottles and cans. But industry critics fear it will disrupt trade, raise prices and reduce choice. Producers have until 28 February to register for the scheme ahead of its launch on 16 August. Asked if it would launch as planned despite the warnings and criticism, Ms Slater told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland: “Absolutely. It is all systems go for Scotland's deposit return scheme. Our scheme is very similar to successful schemes around the world that do, as you say, increase recycling but also do that really important piece to reduce litter on our streets. We have all seen cans and bottles and broken glass. We've got to do something about it and the deposit return scheme is our answer to that.” Slater said the scheme had already been delayed to give companies more time to recover from the pandemic and stressed discussions had reduced costs to producers and resolved an issue over VAT from the UK government. She added: “I am aware there is still some outstanding concerns from small producers and importers particularly, which I absolutely take seriously, and we are working through solutions to those as well.” Among the scheme’s critics is Theo Barnes, of Otherworld Brewing in Midlothian, who said most producers were waiting until the last minute before signing up. He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Mornings programme that the liabilities involved could potentially “bankrupt your business”. He said the costs range from registering the cans in advance to paying administration fees, and said he is aware of a small-scale brewer who is not going to register for the scheme and instead produce beer in Scotland but only sell it south of the border. He added: “The mark-up difference means it is not worth aligning it to the scheme. It is a terrible situation to be put in.”
UK wages rose faster than expected in Q2 2022 but real pay fell 2.5% last year: UK wages rose faster than expected in the last quarter of 2022, new data from the Office for National Statistics has revealed. Growth in regular pay excluding bonuses was 6.7% in October to December, the strongest growth rate outside of the pandemic period since records began in 2001. The pace of wage growth exceeded the 6.5% economists had predicted, and the increase for the preceding quarter was revised by 0.1% to 6.5%. Average regular pay growth for the private sector was 7.3% and 4.2% for the public sector. This is the largest ever growth rate seen for the private sector on record outside of the height of the pandemic, reports Investment Week. Richard Carter, head of fixed interest research at Quilter Cheviot, said regular wage growth experiencing a further uptick reinforces the inflationary pressures in the economy. However, in real terms, total pay fell by 3.1% over the year. Real pay adjusting for inflation fell 2.5% last year, one of the biggest drops since 2001. The employment rate was estimated at 75.6%, 0.2 percentage points higher than the previous three-month period and 0.9 percentage points lower than before the pandemic. The unemployment rate stayed relatively flat at 3.7% for another month, near the lowest rate since the 1970s, but demand for workers is slowing down. In November 2022 to January 2023, the estimated number of vacancies fell by 76,000 on the quarter to 1.1 million, the seventh consecutive quarterly fall since May to July 2022. This was mainly driven by the private sector, but public sector vacancies have also stopped rising. The ONS said that the fall in the number of vacancies reflects uncertainty across industries, as survey respondents continue to cite economic pressures as a factor in holding back on recruitment.
Doctors urged to help employees carry on working rather than writing sick notes: Doctors will be urged to issue fewer sick notes and instead help employees carry on working under plans being considered for next month’s Budget. The Treasury is said to be weighing up a new approach to reverse the rise in staff who are off work with long-term sickness. Instead of allowing a sick person to stop working entirely, doctors would be encouraged to recommend ways they can still go to work so that they do not drop out of the labour market. The number of staff signed off work with long-term health problems leapt from 1.95million in 2019 to 2.32million in 2022, figures show. A Government source told The Daily Telegraph: “The mental health benefits of work are well-established. We want to do all we can to encourage as many people as possible to stay in work with the relevant support in place.”