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Fri 22nd Sep 2017 - Update: Pod results, London's restaurant boost, Charles Wells, McDonald's and Tim Bacon fund-raiser
Pod reports like-for-likes down 1.6%, delivery sales grow 45%: Healthy fast food chain Pod has reported like-for-like sales fell 1.6% for the year ending 25 December 2016. The company saw turnover decrease slightly to £17,041,451 compared with £17,324,966 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. It said 45% growth from deliveries year-on-year had partially offset softer trade in store revenue. Store Ebitda for the period dropped slightly to £2.6m compared with £2.9m the year before. Pre-tax losses increased to £383,964 compared with £260,714 the previous year. Net assets totalled £3.3m (2015: £3.7m), including cash of £1.7m (2015: £2.9m). The company opened two stores during the period taking the total number to 24 along with two delivery hubs. Writing in the accounts, John Postlethwaite, who stepped down as executive chairman earlier this month, said: “Despite headwinds felt both at top line as well as non-controllable cost levels, the business delivered its second highest corporate Ebitda. The performance reflects a challenging year in store sales, which was partially offset by a strong deliveries performance with deliveries hitting record levels and recording 45% growth year-on-year. With the support structure provided by core shareholders and our banking partner NatWest, we opened two new stores within the year. Our Kingsway store was launched in July 2016 and our Covent Garden store launched in September 2016. In addition, to facilitate the growth strategy for our delivery business we opened two delivery hubs. We were able to adjust our operating model and significantly reduce man hours during the year. While a quarter of the estate experienced rent reviews in 2016, almost all stores in the estate traded profitably evidencing the resilience of our business model. Looking ahead, we expect further structural cost changes. Given these challenges, cost control will be crucial in achieving our targets for 2017.” The company stated: “The company has made a loss before tax for the period of £383,964. It had net assets at 25 December 2016 of £3,342,229 including cash at bank of £1,739,209. The company has continued a trading pattern of organic growth in existing stores. Growth as in previous years has been financed by share issues, bank borrowing and hire purchase financing. The current working capital and funding lines are sufficient for current trading requirements and anticipated store openings. These capital injections have placed the company on a sound financial footing, enabling it to open sufficient stores to achieve profitability in the near future. The latest management accounts show continuing store contribution and the latest forecasts indicate an increased store Ebitda for the current year. The company funds its working capital requirements by a combination of bank borrowing, including long-term bank and hire purchase finance, shareholders’ funds and its trading operations. The company is trading within its banking covenants and has a bank loan facility of £600,000.” Earlier this month, Alex Young, who joined the company from Itsu earlier this year, was promoted to chief executive.

Airbnb guests generate £522m for London restaurants: Airbnb guests have spent £522m in London restaurants in the past year, according to new research by the platform. Its report – Airbnb: Generating $6.5bn for restaurants around the world – focuses on 44 cities, including London, and aims to showcase the benefits guests bring when they stay in local neighbourhoods. The city’s eateries have benefited from a dramatic rise in guest spending, increasing by £79m since the same time last year. Across the ten European cities cited in the report, including Paris, Berlin and Barcelona, guests have spent more than €2.5bn – €700m more than in 2016. The report showed the average guest spends between $40 and $100 per night in restaurants. A total of 43% of all guest spending occurs in the neighbourhood in which they are staying, and 56% who saved money by using Airbnb spent more on food and shopping. The report comes as Airbnb began rolling-out restaurant reservations in the US through the booking app Resy, which it acquired it January. After a test run in San Francisco, users can book tables at about 650 restaurants in 16 cities throughout the US. Earlier this month, Airbnb reported 5.9 million people visiting the UK used its platform in the past year – an 81% increase.

Charles Wells to open fourth Pizza, Pots and Pints site next month, in Hitchin: Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells will open the fourth site for its Pizza, Pots and Pints concept, in Hitchin next month. The company will reopen The Radcliffe Arms in Walsworth Road on Thursday, 26 October having acquired the site earlier this summer. The concept offers artisan pizza and “one-pot comfort food” such as mac and cheese, and cheesy squash casserole ham hock fricassee, alongside Charles Wells beer. The opening team consists of Sam Adams and Craig Billington, who have worked with Charles Wells from the launch of the Pizza, Pots and Pints concept. Director Craig Mayes said: “We know how important this pub is to local people and having spoken with many of them over the past few weeks we’re inspired by their enthusiasm for our ideas and what we’re bringing to their doorstep. The fact that we’ve secured this popular pub’s future perfectly fits with the community spirit at every Pizza, Pots and Pints and adds something extra special to the reopening of The Radcliffe Arms.” Charles Wells launched the concept at the Salisbury Arms in Cambridge two years ago and has since opened sites in Baldock and Peterborough.

McDonald’s raises quarterly dividend by 7%, 41st consecutive increase: McDonald’s has approved the company’s 41st consecutive annual dividend increase, raising the quarterly dividend 7% from $0.94 to $1.01 per share. The dividend will be paid on Friday, 15 December to shareholders of record at the close of business on Friday, 1 December. It brings the fourth quarter dividend payout to about $800m. McDonald’s said the increase “reinforced management’s confidence in the company’s long-term strategy and expectation to return between $22bn and $24bn to shareholders for the three-year period ending 2019”. President and chief executive Steve Easterbrook said: “We continue to make progress in building a better McDonald’s with our Velocity Growth Plan. The dividend increase reflects our confidence in the strength of the business and our ability to deliver sustained, long-term profitable growth for our system and our shareholders.” McDonald’s will release its third-quarter results next month.
 
Tim Bacon Foundation fund-raiser in Manchester nets £527,000: A city-wide banquet held in Manchester in memory of restaurant entrepreneur Tim Bacon has raised more than £527,000 for charity. The Living Ventures co-founder, widely credited as the man who transformed the city’s dining scene, passed away from cancer last year. The Tim Bacon Foundation held “Dream the Impossible” last night (Thursday, 21 September) at eight Living Ventures venues across the city, which staged a simultaneous dining experience for more than 1,000 people. Following dinner, all guests were taken to the Albert Hall for a party that included performances from singer Beverley Knight and a DJ set by actor Craig Charles. The event raised money for The Tim Bacon Foundation’s first appeal for Christie’s Proton Beam Therapy project and Maggie’s Centres, which provides cancer patient care. The foundation was set up by Bacon’s business partner Jeremy Roberts in January. He told The Business Desk: “The aim of Dream the Impossible was to celebrate Tim’s life and raise a huge amount of money for the foundation. I am delighted to say we achieved both aims and had an amazing night. I cannot thank everyone who has supported this event enough, from my colleagues at Living Ventures in organising it, our amazing suppliers and sponsors and everyone that attended, it has been humbling to receive such goodwill from so many people in Manchester and from the wider hospitality industry. The money raised will really help make a difference to so many cancer patients.”

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