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Fri 19th Jan 2018 - Update: Restaurant Marketer Award winners, Wadworth restructure, Rollo on Whitbread, tourist boost
Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Award winners revealed: The winners of the inaugural Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards, staged by Propel and Think Hospitality have been revealed. More than 90 entries were judged by a panel of 16 industry and agency leaders, with the winners recognised for their success in marketing and innovation in the foodservice sector at last night’s (Thursday, 18 January) awards ceremony at the Ham Yard Hotel in Soho. The winners were Innovator Of The Year: Aaron Mellor (Tokyo Industries) and Martin Morales (Ceviche and Andina); Marketer Of The Year: Andrew Rayner (Nando’s); Future Marketing Leader Of The Year: Anthony Knight (group sales and marketing director, Maxwell’s); Integrated Campaign Of The Year: Pho for Christmas Campaign with Ignite Hospitality (winners), ASK Italian for Purple Basil Pesto with W Communications (highly commended); Best Use Of Video: Wreckfish with Natural Selection Design (winners), Bistrot Pierre with Ergo Films (highly commended); Digital Campaign Of The Year: Greene King Hungry Horse for Hungry for Summer with WPR; Best New Website: The Breakfast Club with ShopTalk London; Best New Or Improved Visual Identity: Chop’d with WE ARE Spectacular (winners), Tropicana Beach Club with Bespoke Barware, Cheeky Tiki and Propeller (highly commended); Best Use Of Research, Insight & Data: Thai Leisure Group with WiseTiger; Best Use Of Social Media: Maxwell’s; Launch Campaign Of The Year: Wreckfish with Natural Selection Design; and Best Use Of Technology: Gather & Gather with WioPay and Masterpass. See the full list of finalists here.

Wadworth restructures business to concentrate on core brewing and pub operations: Wadworth, the Wiltshire-based pub operator and family brewer, is to improve its customer services and delivery network following a restructure of the business to allow the company to concentrate on its brewing and pub operations. The change will result in its wine and spirits warehouse closing, reducing its haulage by at least 15,000 miles per year. A new customer service team is also being created to serve its own pub customers with a “one-stop shop” for enquiries. Wadworth chief executive Chris Welham said: “These changes enable us to further put all our energy into our core pub and beer business. Our recent partnership with a single wine and spirits supplier means we no longer source wine and spirits from many different suppliers. Our wine and spirits can now be delivered directly to KNDL’s central distribution centre in Thatcham, which will not only reduce our carbon footprint but improve our efficiency.” A number of roles are subject to a TUPE transfer or are at risk of redundancy. The company said consultations were taking place with those affected. Earlier this month, Wadworth reported a bumper yield with its contract brewing operation in the past 18 months, brewing more than 9,000 barrels of contract beer including 3,500 barrels of lager. Devizes-based Wadworth operates more than 200 pubs across the south west.

Jamie Rollo – we don’t see Whitbread restructuring its business imminently despite value potential: Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has said he doesn’t see Whitbread restructuring its business imminently despite the value potential. He said: “Costa is in the middle of a multi-year transformation the company thinks will add significant value, both in the UK and internationally, so presumably putting it up for sale or entertaining unsolicited offers would not be in shareholders’ best interests. Separation might also diminish the group-wide synergies the company is generating from its scale. Even if it were to be separated sooner than we think, we do not think it would be that material. For example, a 30% premium on our £2.6bn Costa valuation (ie 13 times FY20 Ebitda, 20 times price-to-earnings ratio) would be £4 per share or 10% on the share price, and arguably already in the valuation given the shares are up more than this since the activist stake was announced. We actually think a separation, if it happens at all, has probably been pushed out given the turnaround will take longer than originally expected. We see more potential upside from real estate separation but we think this is unlikely given the strategic benefits ownership provides on development potential (one-third of its new rooms over FY16 and FY17 were extensions of existing hotels), product (better invested and with a superior food offer to peers), funding (debt is cheaper than operating leases), and earnings security (much higher margins, particularly with revpar in decline). Even if the company does sell and lease back, say, £1bn of its roughly £5bn real estate value (£5 per share) we suspect this would be reinvested in new hotel markets such as Germany, where the company wants to accelerate growth via acquisitions. A cash return to shareholders would take adjusted leverage from 3.0 times to 3.8 times, above its 3.5 times adjusted leverage target. If the activist stake increases and/or is joined by others, pressure will build on Whitbread to extract value. However, it does not seem its institutional shareholders are pushing for radical change and we concur with management the timing is not right for a Costa separation and, strategically, the majority of its real estate should be owned. Perhaps there is a halfway-house solution such as demerging Costa or selling a portion of real estate but we do not think these are material enough individually to buy the shares. A more positive way to look at this could be that this is all a ‘free option’, but if profits continue to be eroded and more of a turnaround is required, that option is being whittled away.”

English regions see overseas tourist numbers hit record high, more growth to come: English regions are enjoying a tourism boom with more international travellers visiting the country than ever before, according to new statistics released by VisitBritain. There were a record 12.7 million visits to regions outside London in the first nine months of 2017 – a 4% increase from the same period in 2016. International tourists spent £6.1bn during this time. The north west and West Midlands had the largest percentage growth in overseas visits, both up 10% to 2.4 million and 1.8 million respectively. During the same months, Wales welcomed 909,000 travellers – up 6% on the previous year with a spend of £337m. VisitBritain director Patricia Yates told Insider Media sector growth would continue across the UK this year. She said: “Tourism is one of our most valuable export industries and we forecast growth will continue in 2018, with 41.7 million overseas visits to the UK and visitors spending almost £27bn.” Tourism minister Michael Ellis added: “Promoting the UK as a must-visit destination to the rest of the world is paramount to ensuring local areas reap the benefits of tourism. I am committed to working with the sector to drive economic growth across the UK.”

Goodbody – sector’s Christmas performance ‘disappointing’ given favourable calendar and strong trading updates: Goodbody leisure analysts have described the sector’s performance for Christmas as “disappointing” given the favourable calendar and strong trading updates from several wet-led operators. They stated: “The Coffer Peach Business Tracker for UK pubs and restaurants for the six-week Christmas and new year period to 7 January showed pub and restaurant collective like-for-like sales were -0.1% year-on-year. The comparative figure for the same period last year was +2.2%. London was flat year-on-year implying regional was also flat. Pub like-for-like sales were +0.6% year-on-year, while restaurants were -1% year-on-year. Across the managed pub market, drinks sales were up 1.8%, while food was down 1.4%. Overall sales for the cohort were +3.4% year-on-year. We would view the overall market trend over Christmas as disappointing given the favourable calendar and strong updates from several private wet-led operators (Stonegate, Deltic). The subdued trading appears to be evenly spread throughout the UK, with London and regional broadly flat. Wet-led like-for-likes unsurprisingly outperformed food-led and, as we have flagged in recent research, we expect this trend to continue in 2018. This year is set to be a tough year for the eating and drinking out sector, particularly for food-led, due to oversupply of restaurants, material cost headwinds and slowing market growth.”

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