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Tue 13th Jan 2015 - Greggs – December like-for-likes up 8.2%
Greggs – December like-for-likes up 8.2%: Greggs, led by former Punch chief executive Roger Whiteside, has reported December like-for-likes rose by 8.2%. The strong end to 2014 means total sales for the financial year were up 5.5% and like-for-likes for the year hit 4.5%. Whiteside said: “Since our last update on 15 December we have experienced a very strong level of trade through the Christmas and New Year period. Customers have clearly responded to the improvements in our product offer and service, designed to meet the needs of the food-on-the-go consumer, during this busy period. This has been a year in which we have made good progress with our strategic plans and seen a welcome improvement in financial performance. We remain clear on our priorities and are confident that we can make further progress in the year ahead.” The company added: “We traded strongly through the Christmas and New Year period. Since we last updated the market own shop like-for-like sales in the three weeks to 3 January have risen by 9.3%. For the five week trading period ended 3 January 2015 total sales grew by 7.6% and like-for-like sales grew by 8.2% (five weeks ended 4 January 2014: up 3.1% on a like-for-like basis).Our ‘food-on-the-go’ focused product range clearly struck a chord with customers over the Christmas period with growth in sales of sandwiches, sausage rolls and coffee. Sales of our “Balanced Choice” range of products with fewer than 400 calories continue to grow and new products such as our fresh soups and our steak and cheese roll were well received. For our 2014 financial year as a whole (53 weeks ended 3 January 2015) total sales grew by 5.5% including the impact of the additional trading week and like-for-like sales were up by 4.5%. Sales have steadily improved during the year with own shop like-for-like sales growth in the fourth quarter averaging 6.0%. Whilst trading conditions and the weather have been helpful, customers have clearly responded well to the improvements we have made to products, our service offer, and the investments we continue to make in the shop environment. During the year we opened 50 new shops (including 20 franchised units) and increased the number of shop closures to 71 resulting in 1,650 shops trading at 3 January 2015. We now have 45 franchised shops operating in travel and other convenience locations and continue to see this as a route to further growth. We successfully completed 213 shop refurbishments in the year. Returns continue to be good and we anticipate progressing with the estate improvement programme at a similar rate in the year ahead. Following the very strong finish to the financial year we now anticipate that we will report full year results above previous expectations when we make our preliminary announcement on 4 March 2015. Conditions for the first half of 2015 look encouraging with low input cost inflation expected along with an improved outlook for disposable incomes. In the year ahead we will continue to implement our plan to reshape the business to compete more effectively in the food-on-the-go market and create a strong platform for sustainable long term growth.”

Essenden reports 0.1% rise in like-for-likes in December: Leisure operator Essenden has reported a 0.1% rise in like-for-like sales in the four weeks to 11 January. For the 52 week period ending on 28 December 2014, like for like sales increased by 6.6%. Subject to audit, Essenden expects to report, for the 2014 Financial Year, Ebitda of approximately £5.7m (2013: £4.1m) and adjusted profit before tax of approximately £3.2m (2013: £2.0m). Successful appeal against rates have been worth £0.4m per annum reduction in 2014 and future years, with a one-off exceptional cash benefit of £0.6m for prior years recognised in 2014. Chief executive Nick Basing said: “I am pleased that the 2014 results have outperformed on all measures and that we will deliver another strong year of progress for 2014. This is as a result of an outstanding group of colleagues, who are committed to continually transforming this business into a leading consumer leisure operation. Looking forward, we anticipate a further material improvement in 2015 as the company benefits from a full year’s impact of the newly installed amusement machines following our deal with Namco, the contribution from the recently purchased site at Doncaster and the improving consumer outlook that is boosting leisure spending. We will also benefit from momentum of the significant changes made over time.”

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