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Tue 19th Dec 2017 - Update: Admiral Taverns and Drake & Morgan results
Admiral Taverns reports slight dip in underlying Ebitda: Admiral Taverns has reported turnover of £69.2m (2016: £69.5m) for the 53 weeks to 3 June 2017. Underlying Ebitda was £25.1m (2016: £25.2m), primarily reflecting a “good performance from the core estate, non-core pubs disposed of in the prior year and incremental costs of the Pubs Code”. Underlying Ebitda per average number of pubs was up 3.2%. Underlying Ebitda to net debt rose to 3.4 times. The company reported a “good performance from the core estate benefiting from the group’s proactive investment approach”. Its continuing business estate delivered Ebitda of £24.0m (2016: £23.8m) representing like-for-like Ebitda growth of 1.1%, (providing three years of successive like-for-like Ebitda growth of more than 1%). More than £8m was invested in the core estate over the course of the year, which the company said continued to drive strong Ebitda per pub performance. Like-for-like estate valuation increased by 5.6%. Admiral Taverns chief executive Kevin Georgel said: “In a year that saw the distraction and bureaucratic burden of sector regulation and the impact of growing economic and political uncertainty in the aftermath of the EU referendum, Admiral has delivered a robust performance with good underlying like-for-like growth across our core estate. Since the year end we have been delighted to welcome onboard new and supportive partners, C&C Group and Proprium Capital, as the group continues to build on the strong platform it has established in recent years. In November we announced the acquisition of 17 pubs from Star Pubs & Bars, early testament to our ambitious growth plans, and we look forward to reviewing further opportunities in our sector as they arise. While the wider trading environment continues to be challenging, we see evidence that consumers are prioritising affordable, authentic, experiences in their local area, which well-invested, community pubs stand to benefit from. As such, trading since the year end has continued in line with our expectations.” The company added: “The trading environment continues to be challenging, with macro-economic and political uncertainty undoubtedly impacting consumer confidence. Against this backdrop we see evidence that consumers are looking for affordable experiences in their local area and believe that well-invested community pubs, offering great value, quality and service, stand to benefit. We are therefore pleased to report Ebitda is exactly in line with our expectations. On 1 November 2017, the group announced it had reached an agreement to acquire 17 pubs across England and Wales from Heineken’s tenanted business Star Pubs & Bars. Integration of these high-quality pubs and their licensees into our estate is well underway and in line with our plans and we look forward to reviewing further opportunities in our sector, as and when they arise.”

Drake & Morgan reports turnover and Ebitda boost: Drake & Morgan, the London-based bar and restaurant group backed by Bowmark Capital, has reported turnover increased by 48.8% to £49.2m for the year ended 26 March 2017. Like-for-like turnover was up 5.0%. Adjusted Ebitda increased by 39.2% to £5.0m and adjusted pre-tax profit was £2m. The acquisition of Corney and Barrow Bars was completed in July 2016 and, to date, five of the acquired bars have been refurbished and relaunched with two sold. Three sites were opened in 2016/17 – The Refinery at St Andrew’s Square, Edinburgh; The Refinery Spinningfields, Manchester; and The Commission, in partnership with Delaware, in Heathrow T4. A further three sites have opened in the current financial year. Chief financial officer James Sherrington said: “2016/17 was a transformational year for the business with the acquisition of Corney and Barrow Bars, three new openings and continued sales and profit growth in the existing business. Since the year end, three new London sites have opened, growing the estate to 23 in total – these are The Sipping Room in West India Quay, The Allegory in Principal Place, and The Listing in Cannon Green. While like-for-like sales continue to grow, we remain cautious given the mixed performance across the sector and current consumer uncertainty.”

Escape Hunt provides operational and strategic update: Escape Hunt, the global provider of live “escape the room” experiences, has provided a strategic and operational update. It stated: “The board is pleased with the progress made as it has continued to develop the approach to growing this early stage business. After a detailed review of the competitive landscape, which has given further confidence in both the strategy and the market opportunity, the group has adapted its approach to property to target premium, city centre sites with high footfall and close to potential corporate customers. Escape Hunt has also significantly strengthened the management team with a number of senior hires who bring substantial experience in working with international entertainment brands. This has enabled the group to start work on evolving the brand across the group as well as commencing early stage conversations with regard to licensing partnerships with leading entertainment, content and brand owners for new ‘escape the room’ concepts. At the time of the publication of the interim results on 18 September, Escape Hunt announced that it was in process to acquire leases on eight sites across the UK in 2017. Five of these leases have now been signed and the additional three leases are in the final stages of negotiation, pending planning. Planning issues have contributed to the delay in the opening of initial UK sites and their associated revenues but the commercial terms of the leases have been within management expectations and the board is pleased to have secured some excellent locations. In addition, there is a good pipeline of further sites where commercial negotiations are under way. The fit-out work at the Birmingham site is almost complete and is due to open in early 2018. Works are underway at the Bristol and Leeds sites, with Edinburgh and Oxford fit-out work due to start in early 2018. A marketing team has been established ahead of the UK launch in Birmingham and the design and delivery processes are being improved and strengthened to ensure a seamless and integrated system. A number of partners have been identified who will provide the enhanced delivery capability for games to be delivered with reduced lead times and ensuring brand and quality consistency. This process can be applied for the benefit of franchisees, as well as to the company’s own sites. Escape Hunt recently launched its first app Escape Hunt: The Lost Temples with a positive AppStore reaction. The international franchise business continues to perform well and Escape Hunt’s Ebitda loss before exceptional costs for 2017 is in line with management expectations.” Chief executive Richard Harpham said: “We have been putting in place solid foundations to deliver growth of the business and we remain confident about our ambitions over the next three years. All of the work we have completed to date shows us that Escape Hunt has significant competitive advantage and that with the right approach to property, brand and people will deliver exciting escape room experiences to customers.”

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