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Mon 1st Sep 2014 - Paul UK reduces losses as new CEO makes mark
Paul UK reduces losses as new CEO makes mark: Paul UK reduced its losses in 2013 as turnover climbed 1.7% to £23,773,540 from £23,366,832 the year before. Pre-tax losses reduced to £115,496 from £1,432,484 the year prior thanks to the benefits of structured controls and procedures even though they “only started to be recognised during the second half of the year as these controls took time to implement across the business”. Like-for-like growth was 0.7% compared to a 0.3% decline the year before. Gross profit margin increased 3.4% to 74.4%. Ebitda improved from 3.7% in 2012 to 7.8% of turnover. Overall average transaction value increased to £5.52 compared to £5.49 the year before. Better understanding of staff rotas and requirements at store level resulted in an 0.2% improvement in staff costs on the year before. A new chief executive Jean-Michel Orieux arrived in January 2013 and began putting in place “the building blocks to return the business to profitability and ensuring a clear business focus was established”. Orieux also began to develop the key elements of the business – “consistency of product quality, service levels and timely product placement”. The company reported “previous underinvestment needed to be addressed and the business undertook mini refreshes across the store portfolio to brighten the customer’s environment”. Two major refits were undertaken and six are planned for 2014. Leases at four smaller sites will be surrendered with terms agreed for surrender at the Leadenhall site. The company stated: “During the year under review, the directors agreed a new five-year business plan focusing on the development of larger shops in appropriate locations and started to look for the first time at shops outside London. Product and menu development during the year has supported the plan with the company looking to offer customer an all-day dining experience from coffee and croissants in the morning through to lunch and afternoon tea and cake and into the evening with a bistro-style menu offering typically French dishes accompanied with a glass of wine. The development was trialed towards the end of the year.” The five-year business strategy focuses on driving sales and growth through the acquisition of larger shops which can provide an all-day dining offer in an environment which will encourage longer dwell times and increased transaction values. The acquisition programme for 2014 is focused in the main within London and the Home Counties where the management team can “manage and oversee the development and ensure the exacting standards expected of the product, which is freshly produced in store and customer service matches expectation”. The company said it would continue to review its existing store portfolio and implement a structured closure programme where stores do not fit into the five-year strategy. 

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