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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 26th Apr 2016 - Update: Whitbread FY results, Phil Strong steps down
Whitbread reports annual sales near £3bn: Whitbread has reported sales grew 12% to £2,921.8bn in the year to 3 March, with like-for-like sales up 3%. Profit for the year was up 5.8% to £387.3m. Hotels and restaurants saw underlying profit up 11.3% to £446.9m and Costa saw underlying profit up 15.8% to £153.5m. Chairman Richard Baker said: “With another good set of results, that continue to show the strength of Whitbread’s brands, the board is pleased to announce an increase in the full year dividend of 10%. This is a very exciting time for the company; with our recent senior appointments, we now have a refreshed leadership team, and I am delighted it is being led by Alison Brittain as chief executive, to take us on the journey to building a bigger as well as a better Whitbread.” Chief executive Alison Brittain added: “Whitbread has had another successful year with good growth in sales of 12.0% and underlying earnings per share increasing by 11.7%, once again demonstrating the strength of our businesses. We propose a final dividend of 61.85 pence per share, which would deliver an increase in the full year dividend of 10%. Both Premier Inn and Costa benefit from attractive market growth opportunities and we will continue to capitalise on these by developing our network and brand strength as we fulfil our ambitions to reach circa 85,000 UK hotel rooms and circa £2.5bn system sales in Costa, by 2020.The world around us is shifting, with rising customer expectations, an evolving competitor landscape, rapid technological developments and changing cost structures. In responding to this change, I am especially keen to reinforce our relentless focus on our customers and on innovation to develop our brand propositions ensuring we stay ahead and become more productive. I have identified three key strategic themes to develop our business: grow and innovate in our core UK businesses; focus on our strengths to grow internationally; and build the capability and infrastructure to support long-term growth. This strategy will enable us to deliver our significant growth ambitions, grow earnings and dividends, maintain good returns on capital and create further value for our shareholders. Whilst it is only six weeks into our new financial year we remain confident of making good progress this year.” She added: “Premier Inn and Costa both continue to benefit from significant structural market opportunities. The budget hotel market is continuing to grow as the independent sector declines, and there is an increasing demand for great coffee. Whitbread continues to be uniquely positioned to capitalise on both of these growing segments which provides us with confidence that we will achieve our ambitious 2020 milestones of circa 85,000 Premier Inn UK rooms and circa £2.5bn of systems sales for Costa. At Premier Inn, we deliver a market leading experience for business and leisure customers alike.” Of Costa, she said: “We are also planning to further expand our food range to offer customers fresher, healthier options, and to introduce new tills and ovens to increase our speed of service. We will build on the taste of our great Mocha Italia coffee and continuously improve our coffee credentials so we can respond to customers’ increasing demands for quality coffee anytime, anywhere. This includes plans to expand our coffee range through the launch of single origin coffee and new brewing techniques.” Of its pub restaurants, she said: “We continue to make good progress in rejuvenating our restaurant brands and have converted 62 sites to the new Beefeater brand proposition to date. Furthermore, we have recently launched a contemporary Beefeater in Birmingham in March this year, Beefeater Bar + Block, serving all day breakfast, lunch and dinner. This small format, new joint site model is designed to improve returns versus those of our solus sites in city and town centres and although early days, has already received great customer feedback.”

Chameleon MD Phil Strong steps down: Chameleon Bar and Dining managing director Phil Strong is stepping down – he was a founding director and has served the company for well over 15 years. He said: “Having operated the business for over 15 years I think it is time to move on and take the opportunity to enjoy my other interests. It is my intention to continue to use my experience to help others in the industry albeit in a less executive capacity and without the day-to-day commitment. I am proud to be leaving on a high with a successful business where we have just concluded our best financial year to date. I also think it is time to take a clean break and pass on the daily responsibilities of operating a chain of destination pub restaurants to a new person with a fresh pair of eyes.” Alistair Arkley, chairman of Chameleon Pub and Dining, said: “Clearly, we are disappointed to be losing Phil’s skills and experience as he has been a valued colleague for many years. However, we respect his desire to take it a little easier and take a little more time with his family and other interests. I will assume responsibility for the for the day-to-day running of the business but it is my intention to find a more permanent resolution to take the business forward. We wish Phil all the best for the future.” 

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