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Mon 11th Sep 2017 - Update: Upham Group results, D&D London to take Bluebird to New York
Upham Group reports like-for-likes up 4.1%: Upham Group, which operates a portfolio of 16 venues, has reported like-for-like sales grew 4.1% across the estate for the six months ending 2 July 2017. Sales increased 24.8% to £7.1m compared with £5.7m the previous year. Pub sales rose 25.9% to £6.9m while brewery sales were up 0.9% to £240,000. Gross profit increased 23.6% to £5.2m compared with £4.2m the year before while overall gross margins were 73.5% versus 74.2% the previous year. Ebitda jumped 228.2% to £344,000, compared with £105,000 the year before. The company reported an estate valuation of £45.3m, which included the pubs held by OEK and managed by Upham. In February, the company acquired the Weighbridge Brewhouse in Swindon for £3.3m. Five new luxury log cabins opened at The Thomas Lord and a further four bedrooms were added at The Mill at Gordleton taking the total number of bedrooms for the group to 158. It reported its first £100,000 sales day (gross) on 26 March (Mother’s Day), followed by two further £100,000 days on Saturday, 10 June and Saturday, 1 July. The company stated: “In the face of significant cost pressures, the recruitment and retention of staff continues to be the biggest operational challenge as overall levels of employment in the economy continue to rise. However, continued focus in this area to ensure the most effective deployment of resources, as well as continued good practice with regard to overhead cost control, has seen Ebitda more than triple to £0.3m compared with the same trading period in 2016. At the half year, the group recorded an overall loss before tax of £0.4m but this is forecast to be a profit of £0.25m for the full trading year, compared with a £1.2m loss for 2016. In order to provide greater operational and commercial focus at a site level, we have made a number of management changes including the recruitment of a new senior regional manager. He joined the business in early August from a regional role with Punch, having previously worked in senior management roles with La Tasca, Paramount Restaurants and Mitchells & Butlers. In addition, we have hired an in-house marketing and operations assistant to provide day-to-day support to front line managers. After the costs of change, this restructure will deliver a saving of £35,000 in 2017 and £90,000 in 2018. These savings will be invested in improved staff training, retention and recruitment to deliver both improved customer service levels and reduced labour costs at a site level. We believe this revised structure leaves us well positioned to mitigate the current external market factors and deliver further future growth in profits. In January, we completed a small refurbishment at The Thomas Lord and a larger kitchen and restaurant refurbishment at The Swan. By the end of the of the year we expect to have added a further bedroom at The White Hart South Harting and two further letting rooms at The Winning Post. The brewery continues to perform in line with projections and ahead of 2016. In the second quarter of the year we launched our first craft beer, UB5, which has been exceptionally well received. Despite being in its infancy, UB5 is one of only ten craft beers selected by Enterprise Inns for a national listing trial and it has received very positive initial responses from both Tesco and Waitrose buyers, with both channels currently being explored further. The current valuation of the estate, based on a full Savills report from 2016 and revised in conjunction with Savills as a desk top review in March 2017, shows an estate valuation of £45.3m, including the Winning Post and Navigator pubs held by OEK and managed by Upham. This reflects £10.5m of valuation uplift compared with £22.9m of acquisition costs and £11.9m of refurbishment expenditure. The board considers there is still substantial growth in value embedded in the estate arising from further properly improvements, subject to planning, and increasing the customer numbers and spend. The Savills valuation drives a projected net asset valuation per share at the end of 2017 of £1.60.” Chief executive Chris Phillips added: “It has been a good six months for the Upham Group, in which we have seen significant activity and progress. We have been extremely pleased by the reception of our first craft beer, UB5, and the performance of our newest addition to the portfolio, the Weighbridge Brewhouse. We continue to assess acquisition opportunities where we believe we can maximise revenue streams, and look forward to further building our estate so that even more customers can enjoy our premium pubs and beers.”
 
D&D London to take Bluebird to New York: Restaurant group D&D London is to take its landmark Chelsea restaurant Bluebird to New York. The company is opening the site in the spring in the heart of Manhattan, in a 10,400 square foot space on the third floor of the Time Warner Centre, Columbus Circle. The move across the Atlantic for Bluebird is part of chairman and chief executive Des Gunewardena’s plans to expand the Bluebird brand and further strengthen D&D’s overseas presence. He said: “I am incredibly excited about us opening Bluebird in New York – we could not have picked a more prime location. The Time Warner Centre at Columbus Circle, with its views over Central Park is about as good as it gets for a midtown Manhattan restaurant venue. We think Bluebird encapsulates much of the buzz and glamour of the London restaurant scene today and will also bring to New York the quintessential style of London’s Chelsea. We hope New Yorkers like it!” The Time Warner Centre is a luxury retail, office and residential development at Columbus Circle in midtown Manhattan. Newly appointed D&D USA operations director Yannis Stanisiere, who formerly oversaw operations at Biergarten LLC for The Spotted Pig and Ace Hotel NY, will be appointing a New York-based chef, who will be announced in due course. The interior design will be overseen by New York designers Cetra Ruddy, the team behind Sushi Samba. The launch of Bluebird Time Warner in New York will be followed by a second D&D London restaurant in the city’s Hudson Yards development, opening in March 2019. Both Hudson Yards and The Time Warner Centre have been developed by Related Companies. D&D London owns and operates restaurants in London, Leeds, Paris, New York and Tokyo and the 80-bedroom South Place Hotel in London.

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