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Mon 18th Sep 2017 - Update: Byron, Christie & Co, Domino’s Poland
Byron hires KPMG to work through cash management plan: Better burger brand Byron has hired advisers to work through a “cash management” plan that could include shutting underperforming branches, according to the Sunday Times. The chain, which is owned by private equity firm Hutton Collins, has brought in advisory firm KPMG in recent weeks as it works to cut costs, and KPMG is being lined up for further possible restructuring work if the company’s problems worsen, the Sunday Times reported. Byron has been hit by sterling-related price inflation, a rising national living wage and increasing rents and business rates. In addition to those stresses, burger chains also face consumer fatigue as competition ramps up, and they are said to be less successful on food delivery apps like Deliveroo. Byron operates from 70 sites across the UK. Over the summer it identified four sites to close, and sources said more could now follow. Last year Byron made pre-tax profit of just £194,000 on revenues of more than £80m, and insiders said the firm had paid the price for expanding too quickly. Earlier this year, the firm announced it had hammed up its management team with the addition of Nick Young, former Pizza Express boss, as chief operating officer, and at the end of 2016 the company revealed Dalton Phillips, the former boss of supermarket chain Morrisons, would be its new chairman and founder Tom Byng would leave. A spokesperson for Byron said: “We are working with KPMG as part of our plans to grow and develop the business as we build our team and look at new growth opportunities.”

Christie & Co reports strong First Half, Trevor Heyburn to retire: Property agent Christie Group has reported revenues up 10.6% to £34.9m (2016: £31.6m) in the six months to 30 June 2017. First-half operating profit before exceptional items was £1.0m (2016: operating loss of £0.9m). David Rugg, chief executive of Christie Group, said: “We are pleased to report an encouraging first-half performance, with strong growth. Business buyers have been undeterred by political events and our sector-specialist knowledge and services are in demand. We remain optimistic for our full year prospects.” Chairman Philip Gwyn added: “As anticipated in my AGM statement in June, our first-half result was a material improvement over the corresponding period in 2016, further supporting our view that last year was adversely affected in the run up to the EU Referendum. Reflecting this recovery, we achieved an operating profit before exceptional items of £1.0m (2016: £0.9m operating loss) from revenue of £34.9m (2016: £31.6m). In the UK, neither the EU Referendum nor the General Election outcome have deterred business buyers. Indeed, this first-half result coupled with the stronger second-half we delivered in 2016, equates to an operating profit before exceptional items over that twelve month period of £3.0m. In the licence sector with Venners, we won stocktaking for Amber Taverns and for Milton Group, a portfolio of 73 pubs just purchased from Mitchell & Butlers. For our Health and Safety services we added Cotswold Inns and Hotels and Yummy Pub Company. Early adoption of evolving and emerging third party software and technology is vital. As Venners’ Clients adopt newer more modern systems that introduce a greater level of control and analysis into their businesses, we too gain vital exposure to a working knowledge of such systems. We adopt them into our working practices and integrate them into our own technology infrastructure. Trevor Heyburn, the managing director of Venners, has decided to take a well-earned retirement after over forty years with the firm. I am pleased to advise we have been able to appoint our current client services director, Steve Mayne, to the role of managing director and have created a new role of deputy managing director to further strengthen Venners’ solid management team. We have enjoyed a strong first-half performance by our existing UK regional office network. Owning and operating one’s own business remains an aspiration for many. Our coordinated sector-specialist teams were busy assisting corporate operators to either build or rationalise their portfolios across both branded and unbranded assets. In Hotels, we’ve been busy on regional brokerage transactions. Branded examples included the sale of Holiday Inn Expresses in Tamworth and Ramsgate, the Holiday Inn Coventry South and a number of Mercures including Hatfield, Hull and Bowdon, Cheshire. Most recently we have sold on behalf of Principal Hotel Group, Project Prime, a group of five regional hotels to be operated by a major FTSE 100 Plc. Remaining in the UK hospitality arena in the Pub sector, we have seen most of the activity coming from established PubCos seeking to expand their estates. Differing from the UK, hotel agency completions in our mainland Europe operations were subdued in the period. However momentum has begun to gather pace. Completions nonetheless included two branded hotels – the Lindner Hotel Much in Cologne and the Steigenberger in Linz – as well as the Best Western L’Artist Hotel in the Loire Valley and the Hotel Live & Dream in Barcelona.”

Domino’s Pizza Poland reports strong like-for-like growth in First Half: Domino’s Pizza Poland has reported store numbers to date up 37% in the First Half to 30 June. System sales were up 50% with like-for-like sales strengthening through the summer. Combined corporate store and commissary contribution was +39%.There are currently 48 Domino’s Pizza stores in 19 Polish cities, 25 corporately managed, two under management contract and 21 sub-franchised. The company is on track to cross 50 store mark in October 2017. Like-for-like system sales (PLN) were up 17% in the First Half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. The latest like-for-like system sales show July up 24% and August up 28% compare to the year before. The combined corporate store Ebitda and commissary variable profit are up 39%. Peter Shaw, chief executive of DP Poland, said: “We are on track to cross the 50 stores mark in October, as we drive towards the critical mass that will support national television advertising and further economies of scale in procurement. New store openings in combination with robust like-for-like sales growth increased System Sales by 50% in the first half of 2017. In July and August we saw like-for-like System Sales grow by 24% and 28% respectively. The twin sales streams of corporate stores and commissary delivered an increase in combined corporate store Ebitda and commissary variable profit of 39%. As our newest stores’ sales build and they move into profitability we will see a further uplift in this figure. Our new commissary opened at the end of August, ahead of schedule, and is now supplying stores to the north, south and west of the country, while our original facility in Warsaw continues to supply the capital city and the east. Our expansion is further underpinned by the robust growth of the Polish economy.”

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