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Thu 4th Jan 2018 - Update: New Whitbread chairman, December results for Stonegate and Upham
Adam Crozier to replace Richard Baker as Whitbread chairman: Whitbread has announced that its chairman, Richard Baker, will be retiring from the board at the next financial year end, 28 February 2018, having completed nearly nine years service on the board, including the last four years as chairman. He will be succeeded by Adam Crozier, currently the senior independent director. Crozier has extensive and broad experience as chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi, the Football Association, the Royal Mail and most recently ITV, where he served as chief executive until June 2017. Crozier joined the Whitbread board in April 2017 and became senior independent director in September 2017. Richard Baker said: “As I now approach my ninth Whitbread year end, we are executing our strategic plan to build a bigger and better Whitbread for the benefit of all stakeholders. We have a well established chief executive and Executive Team, a refreshed board, and considerable momentum in delivering this plan. This aligns with a personal intention I had, earlier last year, to progressively scale back my business responsibilities, so now is the time to hand over the chair. Adam has had a long and successful executive career and I am pleased the board has selected such a strong candidate to lead Whitbread through its next era of development. It has been a privilege to work for Whitbread during such a time of growth and success. Hosting the recent 275th year celebration was a proud and poignant moment for me, given how very few companies achieve such an extraordinary milestone.” Adam Crozier commented: “Whitbread has two great brands in Premier Inn and Costa, with 50,000 colleagues delivering terrific customer service every day. We have a very strong management team and an exciting plan to continue to deliver growth in our core UK businesses, whilst developing our international business through growth in Germany, China and Costa Express. I am delighted to become chairman of Whitbread and to help steer the company through the next chapter of its long history. I would also like to thank Richard on behalf of the whole Whitbread team for his wisdom, enthusiasm and commitment during his nine years on the board, during which time the company has grown earnings each year and created significant value for shareholders.” Chris Kennedy, a Whitbread non-executive director, who led the selection process last autumn, said: “We have conducted a thorough, independent, external appointment process and it was evident that Adam was the best candidate to become our next chairman. Adam has proven himself to be an eminently capable leader in a number of high profile executive appointments and shares the same strong sense of cultural values, which have been integral to Whitbread throughout its 275 year history.”

Upham Group reports like-for-likes up 6.5% in December: Upham Group, the operator of premium pubs with its own regional brewery, has reported total gross pub sales during the five weeks to 31 December 2017 were up 6.5% on a like-for-like basis on the previous year to £2.3m. New Year’s Eve was the highest grossing sales day in Upham’s history, taking £112,000, and the week from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve marked the first time that sales exceeded £500,000 in a single week. The Weighbridge Brewhouse in Swindon took the top sales spot over the festive period, followed by The Navigator in Lower Swanwick, Southampton. This performance was driven largely by food sales of just above £1.2m, with drink sales topping £800,000. Bedroom occupation was also relatively high for the time of year, accounting for around 13% of total pub revenue. The brewery successfully launched Upham’s new craft beer UB5, selling over 4,000 pints in December. Chris Phillips, chief executive of Upham, said: “This strong Christmas performance rounds off a good year for the Upham Group, despite a difficult trading environment for the sector. 2017 was a productive year, in addition to pursuing our pub acquisition strategy, we also launched our first ever craft beer, which continued to sell extremely well throughout December. I would like to thank the teams at all our pubs for their fantastic Christmas menus, as well as the rest of our staff who made this such a successful few weeks.”

Stonegate reports December like-for-likes up 5.5%: Stonegate Pub Company, the operator of 701 drink-led, high street bars, has reported that all of the group’s formats performed well during the core four week festive period to 31 December with total like for like sales growth up 5.5%, following a strong performance over the corresponding period last year (2016: up 5.3%). Encouragingly, all areas of the country were in growth. Slug & Lettuce performed particularly with like-for-like growth of almost 10%. The company stated: “Stonegate operates a multiple format strategy approach, with a portfolio which operates across a wide variety of predominantly drinks-focussed trading formats spanning high-street and suburban pubs, as well as late-night bars and venues. Whilst all of the group’s formats demonstrated growth over the period, Slug & Lettuce delivered an exceptionally strong performance with clear evidence of premiumisation as customers traded up to premium spirits, draught, craft beers and sparkling wines, as well as strong cocktail sales. In addition, pre-booked sales were also strong across the group. Following the acquisition of 30 sites from iNTERTAIN in December 2016, 2017 saw Stonegate acquire 21 pubs from a selection of JD Wetherspoon, Sports Bar & Grill and Faucet Inn during the course of the year, further consolidating the group’s position as a leading high street, managed pub operator in the UK. With the integration of these sites complete, these bars traded in line with expectations over the Christmas and New Year period and, as such, have contributed to the group’s overall festive success which is encouraging.” Simon Longbottom, chief executive of Stonegate, added: “I am delighted to report another strong festive trading period, building on the positive like for like trading momentum which Stonegate delivered in 2017. Our range of pub and bar formats and consumer propositions continue to resonate with customers and win market share, underpinning our success and confidence in our drinks-led, high street strategy. Encouragingly all of our trading formats performed well and it was particularly pleasing to see some of the pubs we have acquired – and invested in over the last 12 months – performing particularly strongly. Key trading occasions such as Christmas and New Year are becoming increasingly important in the pub retailing calendar and the entire Stonegate team delivered an outstanding experience for our customers up and down the country throughout the four week festive period. We enter 2018 with positive trading momentum. This, together with the leading team in drinks- led pub retailing, a well invested estate and a growing reputation as the consolidator of choice in the high street pub sector, leaves Stonegate well positioned and we look forward with confidence to another year of progress.” 

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