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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 4th Mar 2015 - Greggs reports year of exceptional progress with PBT up 41.1%
Greggs reports year of exceptional progress with PBT up 41.1%: Greggs, the bakery retailer with 1,650 sites, has reported a year of “exceptional progress” in the year to 3 January 2015. Total sales rose 5.5% to £804.0m (2013: £762.4m) with its own shop like-for-like sales up 4.5% (2013: 0.8% decline). Pre-tax profit excluding exceptional items was up 41.1% to £58.3m (2013: £41.3m). The company said its food-on-the-go focus delivering growth with upgraded coffee sales now circa £1 million per week. It also reported strong growth from ‘Balanced Choice’ range and growing customer participation in value deals. There were 213 shop refits completed in the year with 50 new shops opened and 71 closures. Chief executive Roger Whiteside said: “2014 was a year of significant change and an exceptional step up in performance for Greggs as we began to implement our new strategic plan centred on the growing food-on-the-go market. We have improved both our food offer and the shop experience for customers. Market conditions have been more favourable and like-for-like sales have grown throughout the year. This has resulted in record underlying profits for the financial year. Overall we are confident of delivering a further year of good growth and progress against our strategic plan in 2015. We continue to make changes to our product range which have been successful in driving sales growth. In February 2014 we launched our improved coffee blend which, in extensive nationwide blind tasting, four out of five customers judged to be as good as or better than their favourite coffee brand. Coffee sales were our fastest growing product category last year and our reputation for freshly-ground bean-to-cup coffee at exceptional value continues to grow with sales in the period leading up to Christmas reaching a new high of £1 million per week. In the summer we completely overhauled and relaunched our entire sandwich range with improved recipes and enhanced packaging. This included the launch of our new sub-brand of ‘Balanced Choice’ products offering healthier choices with fewer than 400 calories. Sandwich sales surpassed our expectations following the relaunch. Sales of our ‘Balanced Choice’ lines reached circa £55 million for the year creating a strong platform for future development in this strategically important range. Throughout the year we continued our program of improving recipes in our most popular lines in the traditional sweet and savoury ranges with positive customer reaction helping to support increased repeat sales. New flavours in traditional products have also been successful, such as our new steak and cheese roll, launched in November, which has quickly become a best seller. Alongside this activity we successfully launched new products in food-on-the-go categories such as fresh soups and hot sandwiches which are aimed at creating new reasons to visit Greggs. Outstanding value for money remains a key attribute of the Greggs brand and we have continued to build our reputation for market-leading menu deals which drive growth and average transaction values. We maintained our £2 breakfast meal deal for the fifth year running, again driving double digit growth as this meal occasion continues to grow in importance to our food-on-the-go customers. We once again extended the range of sandwiches included in our £3 sandwich meal deal. We also introduced a new menu deal offering coffee and any sweet item for £2 and this is growing strongly in popularity. Finally, although we are no longer focused on the take-home bakery market, we have successfully launched a range of outstanding value impulse packs selling to food-on-the-go customers for sharing at home or at work. Examples include our mini doughnut and mini yum-yum packs, both priced at £1. We have a strong pipeline of further product developments planned for 2015. As an example, we have just launched our new fresh soups including Chorizo and Fire Roast Pepper and introduced our new meal deal offering coffee and any savoury snack for just £2. In the coming weeks we will be extending our breakfast offer and launching new options under our ‘Balanced Choice’ label. As well as improvements to our products we have continued to make changes in our shop operations to meet the needs of our food-on-the-go customers better. For example, we have invested in increased labour hours to improve availability particularly at lunch time and continued with our program to increase trading hours where we see opportunity.”

Shepherd Neame reports 22.7% rise in pre-tax profit: Shepherd Neame, the Kent-based brewer and pub operator, has reported profit before tax rose 22.7% to £5m (2013: £4.1m) for the 26 weeks ended 27 December 2014. Managed house like-for-like sales rose 6.8% (2013: +7.5%), with liquor up 4.9%, food up 7.8% and accommodation up 14.5%. Tenanted like-for-like Ebitdar was up 3.4% (2013: +1.5%) and average Ebitdar per pub up 4.0% (2013: +4.4%). Turnover rose 1.5% to £73.5m (2013: £72.5m). Operating profit before exceptionals was up 4.2% to £7.1m (2013: £6.8m). Chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “I am pleased to report strong trading across the business, particularly in our inns and hotels, and good like-for-like performance in the tenanted estate. There has been a higher quality mix of pub revenues and greater share of own beer volume and it is pleasing to note that operating margin before exceptional items increased by 0.3% in the period. We are pursuing a consistent long-term strategy to build the quality of our pub portfolio and brand assets.” In the 26 weeks ended 27 December 2014 Shepherd Neame sold 146,000 brewers’ barrels of beer (42.0 million pints) including 127,000 brewers’ barrels of own brewed beer (36.6 million pints). The majority of these sales were made in the UK although the Company also exports to more than 35 countries including Sweden, Italy, Ireland, the United States and Canada. At the half-year end, the Company operated 347 pubs, of which 297 were tenanted or leased and 50 managed. The pub estate ranges from mainstream city centre pubs to food-focused destination houses, from hotels to historic coaching inns and traditional community ‘locals’. Chairman Miles Templeman added: “The period is characterised by further strong trading in our managed houses, in particular the inns and hotels, and good like-for-like performance in the tenanted estate, offset by a small decline in total beer volume as the Kingfisher contract comes to an end. These combined factors result in only modest turnover growth but a higher quality mix of pub revenues and greater share of own beer volume. The Board is focussed on investing in our pub and brand assets to drive higher returns and it is pleasing to note that operating margin before exceptional items increased by 0.3% to 9.7% during the period. During this period the economy has continued to recover and weather conditions have been favourable, both of which have helped sustain consumer expenditure. Trade benefited in particular from a warm September and strong Christmas trade. Those pubs which offer a great and memorable experience for the customer, with an interesting beer portfolio and a strong range of complementary products in food, wine and accommodation, have traded well in these circumstances.”

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