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Sun 23rd Feb 2014 - Sunday Breaking News
Patisserie Valerie prepares for float: Patisserie Valerie is planning a float that would value the company at more than £150m, according to The Sunday Times. A listing would deliver a large profit to Risk Capital, the investment business led by Luke Johnson. He acquired the business in 2006 when it was breaking even on sales of circa £5m and had just 11 sites in Soho. The business currently has circa 90 sites and is set to make £14m Ebitda this year. In November, Johnson wrote: “I continue to make long-odds wagers, knowing some will prove to be mistakes – but confident they occasionally pay off. Seven years ago when I bought Patisserie Valerie it had revenues of only £5m and was breaking even; most of the management were departing on the sale, and the accounts were rudimentary at best. This year we are projecting £14m of Ebitda on revenues increased 15-fold since purchase with staff numbers up 20-fold.” The Sunday Times reports that the company is working with stockbroker Canaccord Genuity and could list in late Spring. A Patisserie Valerie flotation would represent another hugely successful investment in the sector by Johnson. Propel Quarterly magazine asked his colleague James Horler, current interim chief executive of Red Hot World Buffet, what sets Johnson apart as an investor in the sector. Horler said: “I think Luke is the most insightful, decisive, visionary person of all the people I work with. Out of everybody I work with he is in a different league. I worked with on 3Sixty Restaurants, Patisserie Valerie and on Red Hot World Buffet. One thing about Luke is that he will always the phone or ring you back within five minutes, guaranteed. I have sent him a complex email and his answer back was timed one minute before I had sent him my email – how that works, I don’t know!” See the forthcoming Spring edition of Propel Quarterly magazine for the full James Horler interview.

CGA Peach - transport hubs and premium formats will be growth areas: Transport hubs and premium formats will be among the big growth areas for casual dining and pub brands in 2014 - while barbecue and craft beer are the food and drink hotspots. Those are among the findings of CGA Peach’s annual Business Leaders’ Survey, sponsored by Omnico, which outlines the trends that senior executives will be keenly watching in the year ahead. The rising popularity of airports and major train stations as venues to eat and drink has pulled many restaurant and pub operators into the sector over the last couple of years, and the poll reveals that interest will continue to soar in 2014. Four in five leaders (79%) think they will be a growth area this year. With consumer confidence slowly returning, upmarket concepts are also widely tipped for 2014. More than half of leaders (58%) think premium casual dining and fast food will thrive in 2014. Flexibility has been a watchword for the sector lately, and a similar proportion of leaders (59%) think all-day formats will grow in 2014 too. Express and pared-back concepts, often spun off from full-scale dining brands, are tipped by slightly more (63%) – a big jump of 19 percentage points on last year’s Survey. Food-wise, business leaders sense a buzz around barbecue concepts of the kind being brought into the mainstream by Leeds and Manchester based Red’s. Half (50%) think it will make a big impact this year. Decent numbers think upmarket pizza (33%) is primed for popularity this year, with cheaper cuts of meat (34%) also identified. On the drinks side, more than two thirds of leaders (68%) think craft beer will be a significant trend. Good numbers believe craft cider (44%) and micro-distillery spirits (40%) will do the same, reflecting the growing demand for unique, artisan drinks over established brands. CGA Peach’s Peter Martin said: “Stations and airports are having a food and drink renaissance at the moment, driven by some terrific innovation by eating and drinking out brands, and our survey shows this mutually beneficial relationship will deepen this year. We have also seen big increases in the standards in casual dining and pubs, so it is heartening to see such confidence in premium concepts this year – and operators like Loungers have shown the value of flexibility too. With people travelling more than ever, increasingly pressed for time and demanding great experiences, speed, adaptability and quality will be three essential traits this year.” The Business Leaders’ Survey, sponsored by Omnico, drew responses from 172 senior executives. In-depth analysis of the findings can be found in the latest issue of Peach Report, out now. The full report is free to Peach Report subscribers and available to others to buy for £199. Email for more information. 

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