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Mon 4th Jul 2016 - Stonegate results, JW Lees results, JD Wetherspoon award
Stonegate reports like-for-like pub profit up 10.6% in first 28 weeks of FY: Stonegate, the operator of 660 managed pubs located nationwide, has reported for the 28 weeks to 10 April 2016, total revenue was up 12.8% to £342m (half one 2015: £303m). Adjusted Ebitda rose 21% to £50.2m (half one 2015: £41.5m). Like-for like revenue increased 2.1% and like-for-like pub profit rose 10.6%. The company stated: “The Rugby World Cup through October and the Christmas period performed very strongly with like-for-like revenue up 4.7% during the Rugby World Cup, playing to Stonegate’s trading strength over key sporting events, and up 5.9% during the key two week Christmas trade period. This strong performance continued into the second quarter with like for like revenue growth of 1.4% despite an unseasonably wet Easter. Like-for-like gross margin was up 2.8% for the 28 weeks to 10 April 2016. This was achieved primarily through profitable pricing initiatives and synergies being realised from the Tattershall Castle Group (‘TCG’) acquisition. Strong conversion of this sales growth saw adjusted Ebitda up 21.0%. Stonegate’s drink-focussed strategy continues to demonstrate sector-leading growth. Openly acquisitive with a track record of success in identifying, acquiring and ultimately extracting value from pub assets such as Bramwell, Maclay’s and TCG, the group continues to be the natural consolidator of drink-led businesses in the pub sector. Having acquired Maclay’s in July 2015 and TCG in September of the same year, both of these businesses have now been successfully integrated into the enlarged group and £2.3m of synergies have been realised from these acquisitions. Investment across Stonegate’s pub estate continues to deliver strong returns. The group has completed 240 investment projects across its portfolio, averaging over £200,000 each over the last three years and has achieved average return on investment of over 40%-plus. During the period under review, Stonegate completed 61 investments across all seven of the company’s trading formats, including four investments from within the Maclay’s estate and four from the TCG estate purchased last year. Total capital expenditure invested over the first half amounted to £28.3m. Since the half year end, Stonegate has continued to trade well. The company has continued to invest in sport offering its customers both Sky and BT in 394 of its pubs. This investment has underpinned the strong trading opportunity presented by Euro 2016 for Stonegate’s sport-led pubs and venues. To date, quarter three has traded at more than +5% like-for-like sales.” Simon Longbottom, chief executive of Stonegate, said: “Stonegate has enjoyed a very strong first half in which we have maintained our mantra of sales, margin and profit growth. I am very proud of our people and their hard work in ensuring we deliver excellent customer service day in day out in our businesses. The Maclay’s and TCG businesses acquired last year have integrated well and are growing from strength to strength within the enlarged group. We continue to see good opportunities both to invest in our existing estate, as well as via selective acquisitions, as we continue with our growth strategy to build the leading, drinks-focussed, nationwide, managed pub business.”

JW Lees reports record turnover and profit: Brewer and retailer JW Lees has reported turnover of £64.1m in its latest financial year, up by 0.2% on a year earlier. Pre-tax profits climbed by 1.8% to £5.7m and post-tax profits excluding disposals rose by 9.9% to £4.5m. Managing director William Lees-Jones told a company conference attended by circa 250 staff that the company’s debt-free position bodes well for its future prospects especially in the wake of the uncertainty arising from the recent Brexit vote. He argued there are three areas that JW Lees needs to focus on in the coming years – improving sales, driving up standards and learning from mistakes. Lees-Jones added: “Family ownership in a turbulent world is a great thing because it allows you to make decisions for the long-term stability of the business.”

JD Wetherspoon airport pub named best in the world: A JD Wetherspoon airport pub has been named as the best in the world in the prestigious FAB (Food & Beverage) awards. The Windmill, which opened at Stansted Airport in March 2015, won the title “Airport bar of the year” at the awards, held in Switzerland. The awards recognise the best and most innovative projects in travel-related food and beverage. Two other JD Wetherspoon pubs – Wetherspoon (Birmingham Airport) and The North Western (Liverpool Lime Street Station) were also recognised. JD Wetherspoon was “highly commended” in the airport category and The North Western was “highly commended” in the railway category. The awards were presented during the annual Airport Food and Beverage (FAB) conference and awards in Geneva. Organised by the Moodie Davitt Report and the Foodie Report. JD Wetherspoon head of property and acquisitions Jon Randall said: “We are delighted that the Windmill has been named the best ‘Airport bar of the year.’ The award is testament to the amazing efforts of manager Michael Wilkins and his team of 160 staff who serve great food and drink in a superb looking pub. The Windmill is a vital part of the food and drink offering at Stansted Airport. We are equally proud of the awards to Wetherspoon at Birmingham Airport and The North Western at Liverpool Lime Street Station.” Stansted’s interim commercial director Martin Jones added: “It’s a fantastic achievement for the Windmill to be recognised as the best airport bar in the world, just over a year after it opened at the heart of Stansted’s £80m terminal transformation project. I would like to congratulate the whole Wetherspoon team as the pub is now an integral part of the new food and drink offer at Stansted and has proven to be extremely popular with both our UK and overseas passengers.”

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