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Tue 10th Jul 2018 - Update: Ei Group, Young’s, Fourpure, spending boost for pubs
Ei Group poised to sell £300m property division: Ei Group has appointed advisers to look at a potential sale of its commercial property division in a deal that could value the business at up to £300m. The company has hired Rothschild, the investment bank, to help it to consider options for the business, including a sale of some or all of the portfolio of 351 properties, reports The Times. Ei Group was founded in 1991 by Ted Tuppen, its chief executive until 2014, to take advantage of the Beer Orders to buy packages of pubs from big brewers including Bass, Whitbread and Scottish & Newcastle and other pub companies spawned by the regulatory shake-up. At its peak, it had about 8,500 pubs, but as the smoking ban and recession hit, it was force to sell thousands of pubs to cut its debts. Although best known for its tied pub estate, in recent years the company has diversified by creating smaller managed-pub and commercial property divisions. Ei Group’s commercial properties are free-of-tie pubs and other properties that were formerly pubs but have now been converted to alternate use, including restaurants and convenience stores. Unlike most of Ei Group’s 4,700 pubs, they are run on an arm’s length basis on long-term leases with no support from the company. At its interim results in May, Ei Group said its commercial properties were generating a net annualised rental income of £25m on assets valued at £289m, representing a yield of 7.7%. The average net income per property was up 8.2% to £68,600 year-on-year.
 
Young’s reports like-for-like sales up 5.2%: London pub retailer Young’s has reported managed house sales for the first 13 weeks of the new financial year are up 8.8% in total and by 5.2% on a like-for-like basis. Chairman Stephen Goodyear said: “This performance is very pleasing given the very tough comparatives delivered this time last year when I was reporting to you our managed house like-for-like sales were up 8.6%, aided by the hottest June in 40 years. We are, once more, benefiting from a long period of very warm weather. We are already seeing some benefit from the seven acquisitions we made last year, and the three transfers from the Ram Pub Company, our tenanted operation, to managed houses. Both the Park (Teddington) with 43 bedrooms and the Bridge (Chertsey) with 51 rooms that we acquired at the end of March, increasing our hotel presence, will undergo redevelopment during the coming year. We expect to see the benefit of these two acquisitions later in 2019. We will also shortly be opening the Naturalist (Woodberry Down) and we are poised to start fitting out a further site in Kidbrooke Village. The macro-economic and political environment remains challenging and the continued uncertainty surrounding Britain’s future trading relationship with Europe is unhelpful for businesses. In addition, our sector faced huge cost headwinds last year and while these pressures have continued into the current year, they have slightly moderated. Despite these challenges, we remain confident in our winning strategy of running differentiated well-invested, individual, premium pubs in excellent locations, which has a proven track record of outperforming the sector. We will continue to invest in our estate, our technology and our people and therefore, when combined with the hard work put in by our teams throughout Young’s, we remain positive about the year ahead.” 
 
Fourpure acquired by Australian company Lion: Bermondsey-based craft brewer Fourpure Brewing Co as been bought by Australian beer company Lion for an undisclosed sum. Lion has taken full ownership of Fourpure, but both founders have said they will remain involved with the business. Brothers Dan and Tom Lowe started the business in 2013. It has since expanded, earlier this year putting £2.5m into expanding its brewery. Dan Lowe said: “While in four short years Fourpure has grown to become one of London’s leading independent modern craft brewers, we knew we couldn’t take the next adventure alone. We met Lion towards the end of our process after a wide range of funding options had been considered, and quickly realised we had a shared vision and values.” Lion’s international business was launched in 2015 to sell a range of Australian and New Zealand craft beers in the UK and Europe. It has identified the UK as an area for special focus. Lion global markets director Matt Tapper said: “We’re making real progress in making our craft beers such as Little Creatures available in the UK and Europe and we see some great opportunities to work together to get these and Fourpure’s brews in the hands of more beer lovers.”
 
Spending in pubs up 9.5% in June following World Cup boost: Spending in pubs grew by 9.5% overall in June compared with the previous year, boosted by the kick-off of the 2018 World Cup, new figures have revealed. The latest data from Barclaycard also showed spending in pubs surged by a third on the day of England’s debut match. It jumped by 33% compared with the same day a week earlier, as England fans toasted the team’s 2-1 success against Tunisia on 18 June. Overall, consumer spending grew by 5.1% year-on-year in June. Non-essential spending grew 5.5%, its best performance since October 2016 – driven by a particularly strong month for entertainment. Entertainment spending increased by 10% week-on-week in the first seven days of the football. The hot weather is also encouraging people to open their wallets according to Barclaycard. One in three (33%) people said they have spent more than normal so far this summer. Of these, nearly three in ten (28%) said this is because they are planning more activities to make the most of the hot weather. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of people now feel confident in their household finances, Barclaycard found – the highest proportion in 12 months. Barclaycard director Esme Harwood said: “As the warm weather continues and World Cup fever sets in, it’s clear many households are prioritising fun in the sun while making the most of the summer’s best experiences. While some lingering caution remains, confidence in household finances is at a 12-month high. This may be good news for retailers, especially as many shoppers are keen to use their spending power to help their local high street.”

Charles Wilson to focus on leading Booker business after stepping down as Tesco boss following cancer treatment: Charles Wilson is to step down as chief executive of Tesco’s UK and Ireland retail and wholesale operations after receiving treatment for throat cancer. Wilson will focus on leading the Booker business, which was taken over by Tesco in a £3.7bn deal in March. Tesco stated: “The board of Tesco would like to announce the following changes to the board and executive committee. Following an operation to remove his tonsils in April of this year, Charles Wilson was diagnosed with throat cancer. During May and June he has been undergoing daily radiotherapy. The good news is Charles has responded very well to the treatment and all the signs are that the treatment has been successful. However, given the nature of the illness and the need for Charles to remain vigilant in his recuperation, we have agreed to make the following changes to responsibilities within the senior leadership team. Charles will step down as chief executive Tesco UK and Ireland and from the board, but remain on the Tesco executive committee. He will focus on leading the Booker business, continuing to deliver the cost synergies and driving the growth agenda set out in the merger agreement. As a member of the executive committee he will contribute to the broader Tesco UK strategy. He will continue to report to Dave Lewis. Jason Tarry, currently group chief product officer, will become the chief executive of the UK and Ireland business and Andrew Yaxley, currently chief executive Ireland, will be promoted to group chief product officer and join the Tesco executive committee. Both Jason and Andrew will report to Dave Lewis. All changes to responsibilities will be effective from 16 July.”
 
Costa partners with digital receipts startup Flux: Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee has teamed up with paperless receipts and digital rewards startup Flux to trial its technology in a number of central London stores. The trial will begin with a first phase of cashback rewards via Flux’s challenger bank partners Starling and Monzo, which is in a closed pilot, before expanding from there to explore providing users with itemised receipts inside their banking app. Flux is also launching its partnership with Barclays Launchpad, the bank’s early adopters platform for testing new features, before the feature is evaluated to go live to all Barclays’ customers in their mobile banking app. Costa joins Flux’s other retail partners that are currently trialling its services, fresh food-to-go retailer EAT and London-based healthy eating brand Pod. Eric Tavoukdjian, commercial marketing director for Costa Coffee UK and Ireland said: “We’re delighted to be working with Flux, an innovative supplier giving great value and solutions to customers.” Founded by three former employees of digital banking unicorn Revolut, Flux was a product of the Barclays Techstars accelerator program in 2017. Flux founder and chief executive Matty Cusden-Ross added: “We are delighted to have launched our integration with Barclays Launchpad to bring it the Flux platform and honoured to welcome Costa Coffee as the nation’s favourite coffee shop.”

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