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Wed 17th Jan 2018 - Update: City Pub Group, sugar cut pledge, Cineworld, Yummy Pub Co
City Pub Group reports like-for-likes up 3.8%, David Bruce resigns from board: City Pub Group, the owner and operator of an estate of premium pubs across southern England, has reported like-for-like sales increased 3.8% for the year ending 31 December 2017. Total turnover for the year was up 34% to £37.4m with 33 pubs trading at the end of the financial year. The company stated: “Trading over the Christmas period was strong with many of the recent openings trading ahead of management’s expectations and a number of pubs achieving a record result. Following a successful December trading period, the group confirms that it has traded in line with market expectations for 2017 and remains optimistic about its prospects for 2018. Following its admission to AIM on 23 November 2017, the group now has the funding available to execute the strategy of doubling the size of its estate over the next three to four years. The group is pleased to announce that it has exchanged on two freehold sites and completed on a third leasehold site for a combined cash consideration of £5.8m, which marks significant progress against its plan for 2018. Refurbishment costs for these three sites are expected to be approximately £2.6m. They include completion on a leasehold property in Parson’s Green, west London, which is due to reopen as a pub serving vegan fare at the end of March. Contracts have also been exchanged on a freehold pub in Clapham, south London, with completion due by the end of January. The company exercised an option to acquire this pub, which was disclosed in its admission document. The pub is expected to reopen after a minor refurbishment in March. Contracts were exchanged on a freehold former bank building in Reading, with completion due by the end of January. It will require extensive refurbishment and is expected to open towards the end of 2018. In addition, the group has acquired the long-leasehold interest (effective freehold) of its King Street Brew House in Bristol, further strengthening and underpinning the group’s balance sheet. Following completion of these acquisitions, the group will own 23 freehold and 15 leasehold pubs, of which 33 are currently trading. The City Pub Group announces David Bruce has resigned from the board with immediate effect so that he can focus on his other activities in the pub and brewing industry. David was a co-founder and inaugural chairman of The City Pub Group and the board wishes to express its gratitude for his contribution in helping to establish and develop the group from inception into one of the industry’s fastest growing independent pub retailers. The Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Neil Griffiths as independent non-executive director of the group with immediate effect. Neil worked at Punch from 2001 to 2017 in a number of senior roles including chief operating officer. He previously held senior roles at Warner Village Cinemas and Bass. Neil has extensive operational and property experience in the pub industry and will make a valuable contribution to the group as it embarks on the next stage of its journey. Neil is also a trustee director of the Prince of Wales initiative ‘Pub is the Hub’ and is a qualified chartered surveyor.” Executive chairman Clive Watson said: “Trading was robust over the festive period and throughout 2017. Our new openings are performing well and we are excited about our recent high-quality acquisitions. We continue to seek and find a ready flow of acquisitions to build the group and we are close to exchanging on further units. I would like to personally thank David for helping me establish The City Pub Company following the sale of the Capital Pub Company in mid-2011. He has been immensely supportive and we wish him well with his other ventures. I am delighted that Neil Griffiths has joined our board – his knowledge and experience will be extremely valuable as we aim to double the size of the Group over the next three to four years.”

Foodservice companies vow to cut sugar levels by 20%: Foodservice companies are promising to slash the use of sugar and change the face of eating out. McDonald’s, Greggs, Whitbread, Mitchells & Butlers, JD Wetherspoon, Starbucks, Pizza Hut and Caffe Nero are among the companies that have signed up to a code of practice including a pledge to cut sugar in their food and drink by 20% by 2020. This will mean a change to the recipes of many products and the addition of new low sugar items to menus. Options include replacing ice cream with frozen yoghurt and introducing smaller portions. The move is designed to meet targets set by watchdogs at Public Health England as part of the Childhood Obesity Plan. The code, drawn up by a working group from all the participating companies, includes a series of commitments around cutting sugar and responsible marketing to children. There is a pledge to offer new products and reformulate recipes to reduce sugar. There will be more promotion of fruit and vegetables. The code has been reviewed by the British Nutrition Foundation, an independent expert body, which will also advise the alliance on its progress. An alliance spokesman told the Daily Mail: “These pledges will positively benefit the millions of customers we welcome into our stores and restaurants every day, to help make a significant collective impact.”

Cineworld reports revenue up 11.6% boosted by retail offering including 29 Starbucks sites: Cineworld has reported group revenue increased 11.6% for the year ending 31 December 2017, boosted by its retail offering, including 29 Starbucks sites. Total revenue in the UK and Ireland was up 5.9% with retail revenue increasing 7.1%. Meanwhile, group retail sales increased 15.6%. The company stated: “Admissions in both the UK and Ireland and the rest of the world increased compared with the prior year. Growth has been driven by the expansion of our estate, the improved results from the ongoing refurbishment programme and the continued roll-out of our premium formats. The highest grossing films for the year in the UK were Beauty and the Beast, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Dunkirk. Locally produced films continued to perform well across the rest of the world, especially in Poland where Listy Do Movie 3 and Botoks were the top performing films for the year. Retail revenue showed strong growth of 15.6%, particularly in the rest of the world with growth of 29.2%. Retail revenue is a function of admissions, economic and spending trends in each local market and was positively impacted by the expansion of the group’s retail offerings. The group opened five Starbucks sites and three VIP sites in 2017, bringing the total to 29 Starbucks sites and 12 VIP sites at 31 December 2017. For the group, other income growth has primarily been driven by the rest of the world, with growth in both the advertising and distribution income streams. The group made significant progress with its expansion and refurbishment programme. At the end of 2017 the group operated 232 sites with 2,217 screens. This includes nine sites (110 screens) opened during 2017, four in the UK and five in the rest of the world, as well as the Empire Newcastle site (16 screens) acquired in June 2017. The group proactively managed the existing estate through its refurbishment and selective site closure programme. During the year, four refurbishments were completed in the UK, (Hemel Hempstead, Ipswich, Northampton and Solihull) and two in Poland (Arkadia and Mokotow). There are a number of sites currently under refurbishment, including at Leicester Square and The O2 in London. Four of the group’s smaller sites were closed during the year, three in the UK and one in Hungary. The group continued with its strategy to invest in technology and be leaders in the industry, with 11 4DX screens, two Superscreens and two IMAX screens opened during the year. At the end of 2017 the group had a total of 38 4DX screens, 35 IMAX screens and 11 Superscreens. There is a strong film slate for 2018 which includes Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Avengers: Infinity War, The Incredibles 2, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Deadpool 2, Fifty Shades Freed and Mary Poppins Returns. After a successful outcome in 2017 the group is positioned well for another year of progress in 2018.”

Yummy Pub Co wins two accolades at Charles Wells awards as free training academy downloads top 3,100: Yummy Pub Co, the London-based operator of six sites, has won two accolades at the Charles Wells awards as free downloads of its training academy workbooks topped 3,100. The company picked up the award for Best In House Training while 29-year-old Makeda Sanford, who works at Somers Town Coffee House, was named rising star. Last month, Propel reported Yummy Pub Co had decided to offer its training workbooks across its Yummy Academy free on its website in a move to “inspire all hospitality companies – large and small – to collaborate to put people first and share best practice”. More than 350 companies and individual have now downloaded the workbooks, totalling 3,168 documents. Co-founder Tim Foster said: “We’re extremely proud to have received both awards, highlighting how far we have taken the business in the past ten years. We wanted to give our training manuals to the industry to inspire collaboration, but we had no idea the uptake and feedback would be as overwhelming as it is. Max is a superstar, one of a number we have in the business – she puts people at the forefront of everything she does and has a bright future ahead of her.”

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