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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 28th Apr 2015 - Whiting & Hammond turnover hits £10m, eyes two sites
Whiting & Hammond turnover hits £10m, eyes two sites: Gastro-pub operator Whiting & Hammond, led by Brian Whiting, saw turnover push through the £10m mark in the year to 30 September 2014 – turnover was £10,019,943 compared to £9,177,697 the year before. Pre-tax profit was lower at £140,485 compared to £280,087 the year before. Operating profit was £136,828, down from £280,087 in the year prior. Turnover growth of 9.2% overall was ‘in large part due to the acquisition and opening of a new pub near Sevenoaks, the King’s Head’. The company stated: “Gross profit margins were slightly lower, down 1% from 31% to 30% principally due to the start-up costs of the new pub. Underlying food and drink margins have remained very stable over the reporting period. On 30 September the company returned one of its oldest pubs, The Old Dunnings Mill, to the landlord at the end of its ten-year tenancy agreement. The risk this might happen was understood, but it remained disappointing that the landlord did not wish to continue this successful commercial agreement. Looking to the future, trading conditions remain tight with a number of well-known chains opening in local towns, offering an alternative dining experience. However, the company remains focused on its offering of excellent food and service such that the underlying customer base remains firm. The directors continue to look for opportunities to take on new sites - two have been identified (and) agreements in principal have been reached. We expect both of them to open in the calendar year 2015 after extensive refurbishment.” The company is understood to be in advanced talks over a Star Pubs & Bars site near Epsom in Surrey, The Blue Ball, which would be the first opening since The Kings Head in Bessel Green, Sevenoaks, Kent last year, a Punch Taverns site. In the company magazine, Brian Whiting said: “It looks like it’s going to be a busy period as we have our eye on a new site near Epsom.” Dividends for the year ended 30 September 2014 were £96,000.

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