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Wed 21st Sep 2016 - Update: Shepherd Neame, Richoux Group, Ed’s Easy Diner, Marston’s, Hollywood Bowl
Shepherd Neame reports 10.7% increase in underlying profit before tax, current like-for-likes in managed pubs and hotels up 8.2%: Shepherd Neame, Britain’s oldest brewer, has reported a 10.7% increase in underlying profit before tax to £10.3m for the 52 weeks ended 27 June 2016. Turnover increased 1.2% to £139.9m (2015: £138.2m). Underlying operating profit before was up 3.5% at £14.2m (2015: £13.8m). Like-for-like managed pub and hotel sales were up 4.4%, with liquor up 3.1%, food up 4.2% and accommodation up 11.7%. Like-for-like tenanted Ebitdar was up 2.7%. Its core own and licensed beer volumes (excluding contract brewing) were up 0.3% with excellent growth from the Whitstable Bay range. In the ten weeks to 3 September, like-for-like sales in managed pubs and hotels were up 8.2% and like-for-like Ebitdar from tenanted pubs to 27 August was up 2.2%. Core own and licensed beer volumes (excluding contract brewing) to 3 September was up 1.2%. It has also acquired eight pubs from Enterprise Inns since the year end. Chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “I am delighted to report a record set of results, with managed pubs our key driver of growth, and an impressive performance against our strategic objectives. In recent years, we have worked hard to improve the quality of our pub estate and modernise our brand portfolio. We have created a much stronger business with sustainable cashflows and the skills and ambition for further growth. We have made a good start to the new financial year, with a particularly strong performance from our coastal pubs.” Chairman Miles Templeman added: “This has been an excellent year for the company. The continuous investment in our brands and significant improvement in the profile and quality of our pub estate in recent years has transformed the business. The managed pub estate has been our principal engine for growth whilst our tenanted pubs and brewing and brands deliver strong cash generation. Strong trading and operational cash flows, cash proceeds from disposals and refinancing, have all helped to put the company in a good position to seek further growth opportunities through acquisition. We are delighted by the purchase of eight pubs since the year end and continue to pursue other opportunities. We live in uncertain political and economic times and consumer confidence is very sensitive to changes in sentiment. The outcome of the EU referendum in June 2016 presents a degree of legal and economic uncertainty whilst the government negotiates the UK’s exit and we are mindful of the possibility of a slowdown in economic activity. Thus we retain a cautious approach at all times and focus on making the right investment decisions for the long term. Finally I would like to pay tribute to the dedicated and highly talented staff who contribute so much to the success of the company year after year and whose efforts we rely on greatly.”

Ed Standring resigns as Richoux Group managing director: Ed Standring has resigned as managing director of Richoux Group, which operates the Richoux, Dean’s Diner and Villagio restaurants. The company stated: “The company today announces that Ed Standring has resigned from the company with immediate effect. The board would like to thank Standring for his work with the company and wish him all the best for the future.” Standring joined Richoux Group as managing director in September 2012. He was previously a director of Relish Restaurants and Café Pasta and has also held management roles with ASK and Spirit Group. Earlier this month, the company reported turnover was up 5.7% to £7.08m in the 28-week period ending 10 July 2016. Adjusted Ebitda decreased to £0.28m (2015: £0.79m). The company made a pre-tax loss of 0.58m, compared with a profit of £0.32m the year before.

Sky News – Ed’s Easy Diner begins search for investment: Ed’s Easy Diner has begun a search for new backing less than a year after it launched a previous auction, Sky News has reported. The company has appointed KPMG to undertake a rapid hunt for new financing. Sky reported City sources saying the process could lead to an outright sale of the chain, although the existing shareholders’ preference was for a refinancing of the business which left them in control. Ed’s Easy Diner had been working with advisers at AlixPartners on efforts to put in place a mezzanine finance package, but those discussions have now ended, the sources added. The restaurant group, which offers customers a slice of 1950s Americana, operates from about 60 sites across the UK and recently announced plans to open at least 10 more in train stations, airports and visitor attractions through a partnership with SSP. Ed’s main shareholders include Andrew Guy, who returned as its chief executive earlier this year following the decision to terminate the earlier auction. Reports at the time suggested that the company’s owners had been looking for offers of about £100m. Ed’s Easy Diner declined to comment.

Retirement of NED at Marston’s, appointment of remuneration committee chair: As stated in last year’s annual report, Neil Goulden has stated his intention to retire from the Marston’s Board as a non-executive director at the conclusion of the 2017 annual meeting in January. In preparation for this, Marston’s has announced that Carolyn Bradley will assume the role of senior independent director and become a member of the remuneration committee and Catherine Glickman will take over chairmanship of the remuneration committee from the same date. Roger Devlin, chairman of Marston’s, said: “I would like to thank Neil for the significant contribution he has made to Marston’s over his time in office. He has been a great support to the board in developing strategy and providing valuable insight and wise counsel during his eight and a half-year tenure with the business. On behalf of the Board, I wish him well for the future.” With effect from 1 October, Andrew Andrea’s title is changed to chief financial and corporate development officer, recognising his additional responsibilities in relation to retail systems development, including EPOS, and contribution to the development of strategy.

Hollywood Bowl to start trading this morning: Hollywood Bowl Group, the UK’s largest ten-pin bowling operator, with a portfolio of 54 centres operating across the UK under the Hollywood Bowl, AMF and Bowlplex brands, will begin trading on the main stock market at 8am this morning. The total number of ordinary shares of 47 pence each in the capital of the company is 150,000,000. The company does not hold any shares in treasury. Therefore, the total voting rights in the Company is 150,000,000. 

Diageo issues trading commentary ahead of AGM: Diageo has issued trading commentary ahead of its annual meeting. Chief executive Ivan Menezes said: “The 2017 fiscal year has started well. As expected, the momentum we created last year, strengthening our business through improved marketing, innovation, and commercial execution, has set us up to deliver a stronger performance. Key drivers of improved top line growth are our fiscal 2017 priorities: scotch, US spirits and India. We have made a strong start to our productivity work and are moving at pace. As we no longer take productivity related costs as an exceptional item, in the first half these costs will impact our organic operating profit margin. In the second half productivity related costs will decline and be offset by higher savings as well as the benefits from our targeted reinvestment of those gains. This will contribute to organic margin expansion for the full year. Our top line momentum and progress in implementing productivity changes, gives us continued confidence in achieving our objective of mid-single digit top line growth, and over three years ending fiscal 2019 delivering 100bps of organic operating margin improvement.”

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