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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 17th Jul 2018 - Deltic results, Liberation Group trading, Whelans expansion
Deltic Group reports like-for-likes up 4.9% as it returns to turnover and Ebitda growth: The Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs, has reported like-for-like sales increased 4.9% for the year ending 24 February 2018 as it returned to turnover and Ebitda growth. Total sales were up 4.2% to £106.5m, compared with £102.2m the previous year. Underlying Ebitda exceeded the company’s forecast – rising to £14.5m compared with £13.2m the year before. The company had a record 7.5 million admissions during the year, beating last year’s 7.2 million. Pre-booked sales grew 8%. Having had some local market challenges in 2017, the group said it was pleased to have returned to turnover and Ebitda growth. During the year, the group invested £5.7m to refurbish and relaunch ten bars and clubs. The group plans to invest a further £5.5m in the coming year to complete the catch-up refurbishment programme. The company said this would enable it to divert more funding to use on strategic acquisitions – the first of which was completed in March with the addition of The Terrace, a restaurant and club in Exeter. The group has also continued to invest in its customer experience. It has launched dedicated social media and sales teams and invested in the development of an artificial intelligence chatbot – a first for the late-night industry. The product is being trialled ahead of plans to roll it out across the business later this year. The company said it had worked hard to mitigate increasing cost headwinds and had a strong platform for growth. Chief executive Peter Marks said: “Our strong performance is testament to the hard work of our staff and management, our continued investment in the estate, and our focus on providing up-to-date contemporary designed clubs and bars, most of which dominate their local target market. It also demonstrates what we already know – there is a continued appetite for a great night out – and we’re pleased to see performance has continued into this year. Current trading is in line with management’s expectations – we’re experiencing the usual seasonal downturn, which is exaggerated by the hot weather and England’s World Cup progress – but we’re confident this will pick up as we build to the peak trading period from September onwards.”

Liberation Group reports managed like-for-likes up 8%: Liberation Group, the West Country and Channel Island pub company, has reported like-for-like sales at its 44 managed pubs are up 8% during the past ten weeks. The company said its 21 managed pubs in the West Country, located from Dorset to Gloucestershire, have seen a 12.9% uplift in like-for-like sales as they benefited from the warm weather and England’s run to the semi-finals of the Fifa World Cup. Sales in its managed pubs in Jersey and Guernsey saw like-for-like rises of 7.7% and 5.3% respectively. The company stated: “We anticipate we will have seen incremental profit per pub throughout our entire 117-strong estate, including our 73-strong pub tenanted estate, as they will have embraced the exceptional weather and the football.” Chief executive Mark Crowther added: “We have focused heavily on ensuring our sites offer the best and most welcoming atmosphere, be it for the good weather or the football. We worked hard to make our pubs the place to be with outdoor television screens, additional well-stocked bars and barbecues to support the growing numbers and entertain those watching the beautiful game during the tournament. Our pub teams have been exceptional, going the extra mile each day, and we are extremely proud of the hard work and dedication shown.”

Austin Whelan to open fourth pub for Whelans brand, in Croydon, sixth site with Star Pubs & Bars: Multi-site operator Austin Whelan is to open a fourth pub for his Whelans brand, in Croydon, at the end of August. Having just opened a Whelans site in Kingston, the new venue will be his sixth with Star Pubs & Bars. Whelan and Star Pubs & Bars will jointly invest £400,000 to transform Baskervilles in Selsdon Road, which has been closed since October. As at other Whelans sites, the Croydon pub will feature cabinetry designed to look like an Irish street and a palette of emerald green, black and gold. Alongside wine, craft beer, Irish malt whiskey and gin, there will be light bites for lunch, Irish-influenced dishes and a Sunday roast. The pub will show live sport on 16 screens, plus live music three nights a week. Austin Whelan said: “Having two successful pubs in Croydon already, I know the area well. South Croydon needs a good-quality, affordable pub and its own entertainment spot. Whelans will provide that.” Star Pubs & Bars regional operations director Dugald Macer added: “Austin is very professional and has high standards for himself and his staff. This is his sixth pub with Star Pubs & Bars, two of which are Whelans. His Irish bars are great for bringing communities together to share conversation and enjoy food, drinks and entertainment. Local talent is also given a boost on the back of the live music the pubs host. It’s a win-win all round.”

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