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Tue 29th May 2018 - Update: Pret A Manger sale, Jamie's Italian, Richoux results
FT – JAB Holdings set to buy Pret A Manger: Luxembourg-based JAB Holdings is set to buy British sandwich chain Pret A Manger for 1.5 billion pounds ($2.0 billion), including debt, from its private equity owners, the Financial Times has reported. Pret’s private equity owner, Bridgepoint, bought the chain at the height of the buyout boom in 2008 for 500 million euros. JAB, the family office of Europe’s billionaire Reimann clan, has built up the world’s second-largest coffee business over the past five years. It controls packaged brands such as Kenco and Douwe Egberts; retail chains like Peet’s and Espresso House; and Keurig, the leading at-home single-serve brewer system in the United States. Reuters reported last year that Philippines fast food chain Jollibee Foods Corp was exploring a bid worth over $1 billion for Pret. 

Jamie’s Italian opening third Brazil site: Jamie’s Italian is opening its third site in Brazil today in the Patio Batel mall in Curitiba. This follows restaurants in Campinas and Itaim. The opening is led by franchise partners from Passione, Marcel Gholmieh, Lisandro Lauretti and Renata Bagnolesi. Nick Schapira, chief operating officer of the international arm of the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group said: “Opening three restaurants in any territory is a huge achievement, so we’re thrilled to be opening up in Curitiba today. We have long-standing partners in the Passione group and our partners Marcel Gholmieh and Lisandro Lauretti have helped the Jamie’s Italian brand grow from strength to strength in their territory. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for Jamie in Brazil.”

House of Fraser to open champagne and gin bars: House of Fraser is looking at opening champagne and gin bars to attract shoppers. The department store chain has previously opened branches of coffee chain Caffe Nero in stores. But it is understood these have not been as successful as hoped so it is now turning to champagne and gin after launching a hit gin bar in a Glasgow shop earlier this year. House of Fraser already has a popular champagne bar in its Belfast store. It said: “House of Fraser is keen to create experiences which suit each store and food and beverage is important in achieving this.” The move comes as the 169-year-old company fights landlords over proposals to shut a third of stores and get rent reductions.

Richoux Group reports Ebitda loss: Richoux Group, the owner and operator of 18 restaurants under the Richoux, Dean’s Diner, Villagio, Friendly Phil’s and Zintino brands, has reported turnover increased 17.4% to £11m for the year ended 31 December 2017. Adjusted Ebitda decreased to a loss of £0.8 million (2016: £0.20 million). It currently has seventeen restaurants trading but has indicated a fund-raise will be needed. Chairman Simon Morgan said: “The adjusted operating loss before pre-opening costs, impairment, reorganisation costs and onerous lease provision was £1.34 million (2016: £0.63 million). The net loss for the period was £4.5 million (2016: £6.7 million). The board, led by Jonathan Kaye, undertook a strategic review of all restaurants and operations of the group. As part of this review certain restaurants were rebranded or closed which contributed to the significant impairment charge and onerous lease provision. The directors are not recommending the payment of a dividend. The group currently five Richoux restaurants in Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Piccadilly, Gloucester Arcade and Port Solent. The Port Solent and Chislehurst restaurants were previously Villagio restaurants, and were converted into Richoux restaurants in February and March 2017 respectively. The restaurant in St John’s Wood closed in May 2017 when the restaurant lease ended. The restaurants in Gloucester Arcade, Knightsbridge and Piccadilly were refurbished in May, June and July 2017 respectively. Since the year end the Chislehurst Richoux restaurant has been rebranded as The Broadwick, a new brand being introduced by the group in appropriate locations. The group currently has six Friendly Phil’s restaurants, in Hempstead Valley which opened in March 2017, Port Solent, which opened in April 2017, Chatham which opened in May 2017, Braintree which opened in May 2017, Canterbury which opened in May 2017 and Fareham which opened in June 2017. These restaurants were previously Dean’s Diner restaurants apart from Canterbury which was a Zintino restaurant. The restaurant in Bicester was sold in January 2017, the lease for the restaurant in Orpington was surrendered in April 2017, the restaurant in Trowbridge was sold in September 2017 and the lease for the restaurant in Yate was surrendered in September 2017.The group currently has four Italian style restaurants in Andover, Basildon, Hammersmith, and Chatham operating under Villagio or Zintino brand. The restaurant in High Wycombe was sold at the end of January 2017.The Broadwick is a restaurant and bar offering popular global food, homemade on the premises. Portions are hearty and the drink offer is extensive. The restaurants are bright, vibrant, and individual in their design. We currently have two restaurants (Chislehurst and Chatham) operating under this new format and early signs are encouraging. Like many restaurant groups in the casual dining sector, trading during 2017 has been difficult. In addition, during this period trading in some of our restaurants was interrupted whilst we converted or refurbished them. The impact of temporary closures will continue during 2018. The cost of converting or refurbishing restaurants and of closing underperforming restaurants, the reduction of income due to temporary closures and the current trading climate all have had an impact on the group’s cash balances. We continue to focus on cost reduction and, where necessary, will continue refining our portfolio. We are also conscious that, in this trading environment, opportunities may also arise for companies like ourselves which are ungeared. The board has had informal discussions with some of the company’s key stakeholders, who have indicated that, if during the course of the year the board concludes that further funds are required, it would be their intention to support such a fund raising. We propose to seek the necessary authorities to allot shares in connection with such a fundraising at our 2018 Annual General Meeting.” Chief executive Jonathan Kay added: “The group is putting expansion on hold while we work to repair the existing estate unless an attractive opportunity presents itself. This involves closing and disposing of underperforming restaurants as well as refurbishing or rebranding others. To that end, we have closed four restaurants towards end of 2016 and two restaurants during 2017, of which we have disposed of one restaurant. We have also rebranded an additional eight restaurants. In the immediate future, we intend to concentrate on continuing to develop the new Friendly Phil’s and Richoux formats, alongside overhauling our Italian concept, Villagio.”

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