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Wed 18th Jul 2018 - Update: TGI Friday's, Andrew Griffiths MP, Hawthorn Leisure, Hotel Chocolat
TGI Friday’s reports sales growth in the UK, growth in Ebitda on underlying basis: TGI Friday’s, led by Karen Forrester, has reported sales rose 5% on an underlying basis to £215,988,000 in the 52 weeks to 31 December 2017, with like-for-like sales up 0.5%. Ebitda was £33.3m on a 52-week basis versus £33.4m on a 53-week basis the year before, which is “year-on-year growth on an underlying basis”. The company opened five sites in the year and all “recent acquisitions are performing in line with expectations”. The company added: “(We have) renegotiated the franchise agreements on all existing sites until June 2032.” There was an exceptional charge of £1,332,000 in respect on one onerous lease provision that meant pre-tax profit dropped to £19,956,000, compared with £20,995,000 the year before.

Female campaigners call on Brigid Simmonds to condemn Andrew Griffiths’ behaviour and stamp out sexism and sexual harassment in sector: A group of leading female pub sector licensees and campaigners has written to British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds to join them in condemning Andrew Griffiths’ “appalling” attitude towards female pub workers and stamp out sexism and sexual harassment in the pub sector. It has been revealed Griffiths, at the time a business minister as well as a former chairman of the Parliamentary Beer Group, sent a series of sexual texts to two female bar staff over a three-week period. He has resigned as a minister, but not as an MP and while he has apologised to his family and to those who voted for him, the group said he had not apologised to the two women who he sent the messages. The group of women, all licensees or former licensees and leading campaigners in the British Pub Confederation, Justice for Licensees, Licensees Supporting Licensees and the Fair Pint Campaign, has condemned Griffiths’ behaviour – but are demanding Simmonds, as the most senior women in the beer and pub sector, does the same. As well as demanding an apology to the bar staff involved, the licensee campaigners said Griffiths was not fit to work in the sector. Inez Ward, founder of Justice for Licensees and vice-chair of the British Pub Confederation, said: “While I was horrified to read the article in the Mirror, very sadly I was not in the least surprised. For too long there are some men in this industry who continue to believe degrading women and treating them as second-class citizens, or even worse objects, is acceptable behaviour. This is a blight on this industry and must be stamped out in no uncertain terms! We call upon Brigid Simmonds, as the highest profile woman in the beer and pub sector, to condemn Andrew Griffiths’ behaviour and stand up for women in our industry. We must stamp out this kind of attitude once and for all.” 

NewRiver – Hawthorn Leisure integration going well: NewRiver has reported Hawthorn Leisure, the 298-strong pub business it acquired in May for £106.8m, is expected to generate at least £3m of annualised operating synergies. It said integration of the business is progressing well, with a dedicated committee established to involve all stakeholders in the process; integration completion is expected in the fourth quarter of FY19. Of recent progress, Allan Lockhart, chief executive added: “This has been an active period for NewRiver, in which our continued focus on convenience and community retail and leisure assets, characterised by frequent spend on everyday essential goods and services, has enabled us to continue to deliver robust operational performance despite wider sector headwinds. Our portfolio is focused on the fastest growing and most sustainable sub-sectors of the UK retail market, with grocery, convenience stores, value clothing, health and beauty, and discounters forming the core of our retail portfolio, and a deliberately limited exposure to department stores of just 0.1% of our total rent roll. Since the start of this financial year we have invested more than £140m across our core sectors of community shopping centres, retail parks and community pubs at a blended initial yield of 13%, demonstrating our disciplined approach to capital allocation and the diversified nature of our assets. The integration of Hawthorn Leisure, which we acquired in May, is progressing well and is on track for completion in early 2019. Across our portfolio we are progressing a number of opportunities to unlock further value, having identified the potential to develop an additional 1,300 residential units across our retail portfolio and commenced a review of the Hawthorn Leisure portfolio to identify convenience store development sites. In addition, we continue to recycle capital profitably, with £25m of disposals completed or under offer, and more than £30m in the market. The 3% increase in our first quarter dividend to 5.4 pence reflects our continued commitment to deliver growing and sustainable cash returns to shareholders.”

Hotel Chocolat reports trading in line: Hotel Chocolat Group, the British chocolatier and omni-channel retailer, has announced its trading update for the 52 weeks ended 1 July 2018. Revenue for FY18 was £116m, an increase of 12% compared with the 52 weeks ended July 2 2017. The company stated: “Management expects profit before tax for FY18 will be in line with market expectations. Operationally, the business opened 15 stores in the year contributing 6% to group sales year-on-year, added 200,000 new online buyers, and has developed a number of innovative new products for the upcoming autumn-winter season. Trading since FY18 continues to be in line with management’s expectations.” Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive of Hotel Chocolat, said: “Hotel Chocolat has had another strong year. While there has been considerable recent media coverage of retail generally, we are encouraged by the performance of both our new and existing locations. Customers are continuing to respond well to our luxury brand and lifestyle propositions. During the recent heatwave in the UK, our new chilled chocolat drinks, unique chocs to chill, ice cream of the gods and improved cocoa beers have been very popular. The deep knowledge of our School of Chocolate-trained retail teams and our experiential Chocolate Lock-in sessions continue to underpin the allure of our multi-channel model.” The board expects to announce the group’s preliminary results for FY18 on Thursday, 27 September.

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