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Fri 12th Jan 2018 - Update: M&B festive trading, Network Rail and Conviviality
M&B reports like-for-likes up 3.9% during three key festive weeks: Mitchells & Butlers has reported trading through the core three week festive season was strong, with like-for-like sales growth of 3.9%. Christmas Day was a record taking day with like-for-like sales growth of 5.4% and 225,000 meals sold. The company stated: “Over the full seven week period since our last update our sales performance has been encouraging, although impacted by the adverse weather particularly in the run up to the festive season. The additional (53rd) week in the previous financial year impacts comparison of sales performance across key dates within this trading season. Adjusting for this to align calendar dates like-for-like sales growth was 1.6% over the previous seven weeks and 2.2% in the year to date. On an unadjusted basis, like-for-like sales growth in the year to date was 1.1% and total sales have increased by 0.5%, impacted by the disposals in the prior year. We continue to make good progress with our plans to build a more balanced estate, in particular premiumising our offers where possible and reducing the remodel lifecycle. We have opened two new sites and completed 114 conversions and remodels in the financial year to date and remain encouraged by returns being generated. We expect to complete around 270 remodels and conversions in the full year.” Phil Urban, chief executive, said: “We are pleased to have delivered continued strong trading results over the important festive period in the face of difficult weather for many of our guests, indicating the attractiveness of our offers in a competitive market”.

Network Rail reports Christmas period sales rose 9%: Network Rail has reported total station retail sales for the festive period (18 November to 23 December) grew by 9%. The company stated: “Station retailers saw a total of over £110m in sales during this busy period with gifting and food outlets performing particularly well, showing that shoppers are turning to stations for last-minute gifts, supermarket shopping, and pre-Christmas dining. Across the same period, 105 million people visited Network Rail’s stations and one in three (31%) of these station users entered a retail outlet. While concourse footfall was flat from last year, the marked increase in retail sales indicates a significant proportion of people now find stations an ideal destination for pre-Christmas shopping, eating and drinking. Paddington (+42%), Euston (+12%) and King’s Cross (+12%) stations showed the highest growth in London, with five stations in total recording double-digit growth. Meanwhile, Manchester Piccadilly (+9%) and Bristol (+7.4%) were the best performers outside of the capital. Our station retailers have enjoyed a very successful Christmas with like for like retail sales increasing by 3%. This achievement isn’t by chance. Our investment in stations and our diverse, high-quality retail offer is directly linked to our retail performance and customer satisfaction, both of which are growing. Gone are the days when our stations were only used for catching a train. They are now also destinations of choice for shopping, dining and socialising. These results follow five and a half years (22 quarters) of consecutive retail growth, and our plans for further retail enhancements and station regeneration this year should help to keep us on track for more success.”

Conviviality reshapes leadership team: Matthew Clark owner Conviviality is reshaping the leadership team. It stated: “We have brought together all of our drinks buying teams under the leadership of Steve Jebson who joined the business in November 2015 and has successfully delivered the buying synergies from the Matthew Clark and Bibendum integration. Steve’s new role is buying and insights director. The benefit of this change is to ensure that we truly leverage the scale of Conviviality with our suppliers as well as giving all of our supplier partners a clear route to maximise their business across our entire group, linking insight, buying, category and activation. We have brought together all of the selling and marketing functions within Conviviality Direct and Conviviality Trading under James Lousada who joined the business in June 2016. James has successfully integrated both the agency businesses and festival businesses that existed within Matthew Clark, Bibendum and Peppermint Events. James, in his new role as commercial director will now also lead the Bibendum and Matthew Clark sales and marketing teams who support all customer relationships in the on-trade. The benefit of this change is that we can simplify the processes involved in supporting our customers, ensuring they receive the best support possible to meet their needs. We will also drive greater efficiencies through more effective pipeline and retention management. Mark Riley joined Bibendum in 2012 and joined the group when we acquired Bibendum in May 2016 where he was managing director of Bibendum, during which time he successfully supported the integration of Bibendum into Conviviality. Mark, in his new role of operations director will ensure the delivery of the most efficient supply chain with an outstanding service to customers. Mark’s responsibilities cover the Bristol customer contact centre, Bristol supply chain teams and the entire Conviviality logistics operation including the relationship with Trade Team, our third party provider. With our integration nearing completion and specifically the implementation of JDE into Bibendum, we are now able to move closer to creating a single approach to our supply chain. This substantially changes the role Nigel Basey, our logistics and distribution director has been undertaking and after a period of handover, Nigel will be leaving the business to pursue other opportunities at the end of the financial year. Conviviality Retail is currently headed by David Robinson who specialises in drinks led convenience retailing and focuses on the wholesaling and Franchising of alcohol and convenience foods, predominantly through the fascia of Bargain Booze, Select Convenience and Wine Rack. David’s organisational structure remains unchanged, with the exception of the drink’s buying capability which will now be handled by Steve Jebson’s new team. (HR) continues to be headed by Sarah Miles who focuses on the effective retention, development and recruitment of our people to support the future growth of the organisation. This ensures that our culture and the ownership for success lives and breathes across the entire organisation. Mark Aylwin has fulfilled his objective of integrating Matthew Clark and Bibendum into Conviviality Direct, enabling us to bring all of our sales and marketing channels together under Commercial and Marketing. As such, Mark will step down from the board and role as managing director of Conviviality Direct on 31 January 2018.” Diana Hunter, chief executive of Conviviality, said: “I am delighted to announce this revised operational change to Conviviality which does not only mirror our operating model but also enable us to lower the centre of gravity of the organisation, bringing decision making closer to the customer. As the market continues to be full of opportunities and challenges, we now have the best platform from which to gain benefit. We are very grateful for Mark Aylwin’s contribution to the business over the past two years, delivering strong growth during a period of major change and successfully integrating Matthew Clark and Bibendum into Conviviality Direct. He leaves with the board’s sincere thanks and best wishes.”

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