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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 4th May 2016 - Wetherspoon reports like-for-likes up 3.8%, margin drops to 6.4%
Wetherspoon reports like-for-likes up 3.8%, margin drops to 6.4%: JD Wetherspoon has reported like-for-like sales increased by 3.8% for the 13 weeks to 24 April, in line with the most recent six week period reported in its interim results. Total sales increased by 5.5%. Year to date like-for-like sales have increased by 3.2% and total sales have increased by 5.9%. The operating margin in the 13 weeks to 24 April 2016 was 6.4%, compared with 7.5% in the same 13 weeks last year. The margin reflects the increases in the starting rates for hourly paid staff in August 2015, which totalled approximately 8%. The company has opened 8 new pubs since the start of the financial year and has closed 19, of which 8 have been sold. It expects to open 16 new pubs in this financial year. There will be around £5m of exceptional non-cash losses in this financial year, associated with the disposal programme. The company added: “The company remains in a sound financial position. Net debt at the end of this financial year is currently expected to be around £650m. In compliance with new regulations governing share buy backs, the company is disclosing its intention to buy back between zero and £60m shares (comprising up to 8.5m shares) in the financial year ending July 2017, with purchased shares being cancelled.” The chairman of JD Wetherspoon, Tim Martin, said: “Sales during the quarter have continued at approximately the same levels reported on 11 March 2016 in our interim statement. We are still aiming for a reasonable outcome for the financial year, before the impact of the previously announced £3.8m property gain realised in the first six months.”

Starbucks promotes Kris Engskov after European success: Starbucks has promoted Kris Engskov to a global executive vice president role and announced the arrival of Martin Brok as new senior vice president and president in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) to replace him in the summer. Engskov joins the Starbucks senior leadership team in Seattle. Having started with Starbucks in 2002, Engskov has worked in Europe since 2011, first as managing director of Starbucks UK and Ireland and from 2013 as president of Starbucks EMEA. During his tenure, Engskov led a major restructuring of the EMEA business, including the development of a new licensed business model and the launch of the company’s first-ever franchising program. Over the past few years, the region has dramatically increased unit growth and profitability, driven by the signing of a number of new development agreements, including with Shell, REWE, and Casino, and through new licensing agreements to open several new geographies including Italy and South Africa. Martin Brok, incoming senior vice president and president, Starbucks EMEA, joined the company in February 2016 as senior vice president, strategic partnerships. He previously served as vice president of global product and merchandising operations at Nike, where he was responsible for transforming the global product and merchandising operations and analytics organisation. “I could not be more proud of the progress we have made in Europe, Middle East and Africa, in some of the most competitive coffee markets in the world,” said Engskov. “With an entirely new business model now driving sustainable profitability, a healthy portfolio of stores, and new partnership agreements driving growth across 39 countries, our EMEA region is stronger than at any time in its history. It has been a privilege to lead some of the best teams and the brightest people I have ever worked with. As I return to Seattle for a new professional challenge, I leave Starbucks EMEA in great hands with Martin, who will bring new energy, drive and leadership experience to the region.” Brok added: “We’ll focus on further elevating the brand across retail, channel development and digital through innovation, creating new occasions and deepening our connection with existing customers and engaging new ones. Kris’s hard work over the last five years means we are a strong part of the global team and well prepared for our next wave of growth. I look forward to building on this work and to working side by side with some of the finest partners in the company.”

Intu reports rent review gains, new restaurant openings: Shopping centre operator Intu has reported it remains on target to deliver growth in like-for-like net rental income for the year in the range of 2% to 3%. It settled 38 rent reviews in the period for new rents totalling £14 million, an average uplift of 9% on the previous rents. It noted continued active retailer demand with 43 new long term leases agreed for £7 million of new annual rent, 10% above previous passing rent. Year-on-year footfall to date is up 1.4% and occupancy is 95.3% (March 2015: 94.3 per cent), marginally reduced from 95.8% at 31 December 2015 (December 2014: 95%) reflecting seasonal fluctuations since Christmas. UK development pipeline is on track with 11 new restaurants opened at intu Metrocentre. This £17 million redevelopment brings new brands such as Five Guys, TGI Friday’s and Barburrito to the centre and delivered a stabilised initial yield on cost of over 8 per cent. The Intu Eldon Square restaurant development is scheduled for opening in October this year with 92% of the project let to high quality names such as Ask, The Alchemist and Chaophraya. David Fischel, chief executive, said: “Encouragingly we have seen little impact on customer flow into our shopping centres or tenant interest for space which remains very positive despite financial markets being volatile ahead of the EU referendum vote on 23 June 2016. Global investors continue to look actively at prime regional shopping centres in the UK, focussing on the quality income streams provided by this asset class.”

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