Wimpy UK declines as network shrinks to 110 sites: The franchised Wimpy Restaurant chain, owned by Famous Brands, has reported 13 site closures in the most recent year to 28 February, with just two new sites opened. Overall, site numbers reduced to 110 from 121 in 2012. The company saw a 6.8% decline in franchised income to £6,240,341. The company saw a 17% revenue decline the year before. As a franchised business, though, with its owner collecting royalty income, it is still profitable with pre-tax profit of £606,660 compared to £817,574 the year before. The company stated: “Strategically, the brand is undergoing a process of consolidation with a short term view to renovating and modernising the network. Other marginal sites are being considered for conversion as in the case of Clapham Junction where the iconic South African burger brands Steers successful announced its arrival in July. It has performed remarkably well despite trading in an intensely competitive category which has traditionally been dominated by the global burger giants.” The company said that despite the year’s volume shortfall, total expenses as a percentage of revenue increased by only 2.6% to 90.7% against 88.1% in the previous year, a result of vigilant operational and expense controls.
Chancellor offers £1,000 discount on business rates for small pubs and restaurants: Chancellor George Osborne has promised a £1,000 discount for pubs and restaurants with a rateable value of up to £50,000. Osborne also promised a 50% re-occupation discount for businesses opening in empty high street sites. The 3.2% business rates increase due next April will be capped at 2% – and businesses will be allowed to pay in 12 monthly installments. Small Business Rate Relief will be extended for another year. The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) welcomed the decision to extend Small Business Rate Relief to April 2015, which will avoid a £27 million bill for thousands of pubs across the country. It is estimated that 38,000 – three in four – pubs will get the £1,000 reduction in their rates bill, as they have a rateable valuation of less than £50,000. The decision to cap increases in Business Rates to 2% will help pubs to avoid £7.8 million on the previously proposed increases. The joint industry Better Rates for Pubs had been backed by 61 MPs who have signed EDM 599 from Charlotte Leslie MP, which supports the campaign’s aims. Chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “These are very positive steps on Business Rates, and the Chancellor was right to champion pubs in his speech. We welcome the Chancellor’s decision to extend Small Business Rate Relief which was one of the first objectives of the Better Rates for Pubs campaign. It shows real support from the government for pubs.” It is also very good news for rural pubs that the proposed increase in fuel duty has been scrapped, she added.
Restaurant delivery website sees surge in investment: Dine-in.co.uk, the business that delivers food from London restaurants to people’s homes, has raised an additional £125,000 in ten days towards its target on crowd-funding website Crowdcube to raise £300,000 for 23.08% of its equity – a total of £225,290 from 35 investors has been raised so far. Founder Evan Graj, a former equity trade at Cantor Fitzgerald, said: “Our website and delivery service launched the in the summer of 2011 with 15 restaurants while I still had a day job. Now, we are the second largest delivering for over 100 of London’s best restaurants including one Michelin star, 27 different cuisines servicing thousands of registered users, a few corporates, and have just recently started adding accredited chefs who cook in their own homes. Our business model is simple. We charge restaurants and chefs a percentage of the total order plus a small delivery charge to the customer based on distance.”