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Wed 4th Nov 2015 - JD Wetherspoon reports operating margin slips to 6.2%
JD Wetherspoon reports operating margin slips to 6.2%: JD Wetherspoon has reported that for the 13 weeks to 25 October 2015 like-for-like sales increased by 2.4% and total sales increased by 6.1%. Sales have been slightly higher in the last six weeks, which has coincided with the Rugby World Cup. The operating margin in the 13 weeks to 25 October 2015 was 6.2%, compared with 7.7% in the same 13 weeks last year. The lower margin was due to increases in the starting rates for hourly paid staff in October 2014 and August 2015, which totalled approximately 13%. The company has opened three new pubs since the start of the financial year and has sold one. It stated: “We intend to open approximately 15 pubs in the current financial year. Following a review of our pubs, as previously reported, the company offered 20 leasehold pubs for sale and is now considering a small number of freehold disposals in the course of the financial year. The company remains in a sound financial position. Net debt at the end of this financial year is currently expected to be slightly above the 26 July 2015 total of £601.1 million.” Chairman of Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, said: “As we indicated in September, it is difficult to quantify exactly the factors which will influence our trading performance in the early stages of a financial year. Increased labour costs are clearly an important factor for all pub and restaurant companies and may result in our annual profits being slightly lower than the last financial year. We will provide updates in our regular statements.”

Fever-Tree reports strong trading: Fever-Tree, the supplier of premium carbonated mixers for alcoholic spirits by retail sales value, has announce that Fever-Tree has continued to perform strongly in the second half. The company stated: “Both UK and international sales have been encouraging, driven by distribution gains which have come through earlier than anticipated in our existing markets. Given the strong sales in the period to date, the Board anticipates that the results for the full year will be materially ahead of Board expectations.” 

AB InBev and SABMiller request further extension to talks deadline: AB InBev and SABMiller have requested a further extension to their takeover talks deadline. A statement said: “On 28 October 2015, SABMiller and AB InBev announced the extension of the relevant ‘put up or shut up’ (PUSU) deadline to 4 November 2015 in order to allow SABMiller and AB InBev to continue their discussions with respect to the possible recommended offer to be made by AB InBev for the entire issued and to be issued share capital of SABMiller on the key terms set out in the announcement on 13 October 2015. It was announced at that time that AB InBev had completed its confirmatory due diligence review of SABMiller and reconfirmed the financial and other terms of the possible offer. AB InBev also confirmed that facilities which will allow AB InBev to provide certain funds in support of the cash components of the Possible Offer had been negotiated and could be executed at short notice. Since that announcement, SABMiller and AB InBev have made good progress in agreeing the terms of the possible offer which will be set out in detail in any announcement of a firm intention to make an offer. AB InBev has also confirmed that the above mentioned facilities have been entered into. In order to allow SABMiller and AB InBev to finalise their discussions and satisfy the pre-conditions to the announcement of a formal transaction as outlined below, the Board of SABMiller has requested that the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers further extends the relevant PUSU deadline until 5.00pm on 11 November 2015.”

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