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Wed 6th May 2015 - Wetherspoon reports like-for-likes up 1.7%
Wetherspoon reports like-for-likes up 1.7%: JD Wetherspoon has reported like-for-like sales up 1.7% and total sales up 5.8% in the 13 week period up to 26 April 2015. In the year to date (39 weeks to 26 April 2015), like-for-like sales increased by 3.6% and total sales increased by 7.9%. The company stated: “The operating margin in the 13 weeks to 26 April 2015 was 7.5%, compared with 8.0% in the same period last year. At this stage we expect the full-year margin to be in the region of 7.3% to 7.7%. The company has opened 20 new pubs and disposed of four since the start of the financial year. We have 12 pubs under development and, in line with our last update, intend to open around 30 pubs in the current financial year. It is our present intention to open a similar number of pubs in the following financial year. The company has bought back 1,621,163 shares, at a total cost of £12.5 million, since the start of the financial year. There have been no other significant changes in the company’s overall financial position since the publication of the interim accounts on 13 March 2015.The Late Night Levy, combined with higher business rates per pint and a huge VAT disparity, mean that pubs continue to trade at a great disadvantage to supermarkets. As previously stated, the second half of the last financial year was strong, which will make it difficult to improve on that performance in the current year. Our expectations for this full financial year remain unchanged. For the next financial year, there are a number of factors which are likely to influence our trading performance, although they are difficult to quantify at this stage. Positive aspects include an increase in our pub numbers, stable utility prices and slightly lower interest rates. Other trends include increased competition from supermarkets and restaurant groups, together with additional staff and repair costs. We will provide updates, when appropriate, on these, as next year progresses.”

Intu reports progress on restaurant lettings: Shopping centre company Intu has reported continued improvement in retailer demand with 44 new long term leases agreed for £7 million new annual rent, 10% above previous passing rent and in line with valuation assumptions. Signings in the period include:1 5 new restaurant lettings across the portfolio including Byron, Joe’s Kitchen and Zizzi at Intu Derby, Wagamama and Coast to Coast at Intu Trafford Centre and Five Guys at Intu Braehead. Its UK development pipeline includes: A £42 million restaurant and mall refreshment project at Intu Victoria Centre and the £19 million cinema and restaurant extension at Intu Potteries are both on target for openings in autumn 2015; The extension of the Qube dining area at Intu Metrocentre with 14 new restaurants and the Queens Gardens project at intu Bromley with five new restaurants have both commenced in the period and are due to be completed in early 2016. Letting is almost complete with one unit remaining at each site. The hotel development at Intu Lakeside has been pre-let to Travelodge and construction will commence in the second half of this year. The company said all but one centre now has high quality Wi-Fi installed. It added: “Visits to intu.co.uk have increased by over 40% against the same period in 2014 and the marketing database has surpassed two million individuals. We are now actively using this database and the fully mobile responsive website to generate advertising, media and commission income.”

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