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Thu 26th Jul 2018 - Update: AB InBev, Compass Third Quarter
AB InBev reports volume growth, Stuart Macfarlane to leave: AB InBev’s has reported beer volume growth of 0.9% in its Quarter Two. Ebitda growth was 7.0% despite increased marketing investment. Jason Warner, president of North Europe at AB InBev, said: “Our UK business momentum continued, delivering double-digit revenue growth again in the first half of this year for the third year running. In the second quarter we saw sales of our premium beers benefiting from the warm weather and busy sports calendar. Growth of our global brands accelerated this quarter. Budweiser is now the UK’s second biggest beer brand in the off-trade, and has had a brilliant year so far. As Official Beer of the FIFA World Cup, we activated a huge campaign across 12,000 pubs and bars and 26,000 retail outlets, helping us to become the most talked about brand of the tournament and contributing to a great sales uplift. Stella Artois has also retained its top spot as Britain’s biggest alcohol brand in the off-trade and is continuing to grow value, even ahead of volume. Limited-edition packaging, partnerships with iconic sporting events like Royal Ascot and Wimbledon and an emphasis on food pairing in the on-trade have boosted the brand’s premium credentials even further. Corona has also had a strong quarter. As a brand that’s often associated with the beach, it has stepped up its bid to raise awareness of marine plastic pollution, with an attention-grabbing plastic wave installation in London for World Oceans Day, as part of its partnership with Parley for the Oceans. In its second year since launch, Bud Light continues to create value, as the second largest driver of off-trade value growth. The brand also increased volumes by double-digits in the second quarter, leading the way for our low-alcohol beer initiatives as part of our Global Smart Drinking Goals. Looking ahead, we will maintain a focus on our global brands, low-alcohol and alcohol-free portfolio and the craft side of the category, as Goose Island and Camden Town are now the fastest growing craft brand families in the on trade. We will also keep investing in sustainability. Thanks to the green technology, such as CO2 recovery systems, in place at our breweries we were unaffected by the recent CO2 shortage and want to make sure we can continue to make the nation’s favourite beers sustainably for years to come.” Stuart MacFarlane, currently Zone President for Europe, has decided to leave the company to pursue other interests, effective 1 May 2019. The company stated: “Stuart started with us in 1992 and leaves a tremendous legacy. He demonstrated relentless commitment to our people in growing our talent pipeline and to our business, by driving strong results for Europe. We thank Stuart for his many contributions to our company’s success and wish him the best for his future.” The company added: “We are simplifying our geographic structure, and will shift from nine to six management zones. Our Zone Presidents will focus on driving growth opportunities and developing talent at the zone level. Together with their leadership teams, our Zone Presidents will own the commercial and external affairs agendas for their businesses. We are making these changes to more closely align with our consumers, make our company more agile in the zones, and proactively pursue growth opportunities.”

Compass reports Third Quarter revenue up 7%: Contract caterer Compass has updated investors on its Third Quarter performance since 31 March 2018. It stated: “Compass continues to trade well and our full year expectations are unchanged. In the third quarter organic revenue grew by 5.7% (up 5.1% excluding the impact of Easter). Growth was driven by strong net new business in North America, an acceleration in Europe and good progress in Rest of World. For the nine months to 30 June 2018 organic revenue growth was 5.1%. We continue to generate efficiencies through our management and performance (MAP) programme and the operating margin in the third quarter improved as planned. Whilst the margin for the nine months to 30 June 2018 was slightly lower than the margin for the same period last year, we remain on track to deliver modest margin progression for the full year. The North America region continues to perform strongly, with organic revenue growth of 7.0% (up 6.6% excluding Easter) in the third quarter and 7.2% in the nine months to 30 June 2018. We are seeing particularly good growth in our business and industry, vending, and healthcare businesses, partly offset by the impact of the timing of sports and leisure events. We have had some good wins in education which will mobilize in Q4. Margins in the nine months to 30 June 2018 remained stable. Organic revenue grew in Europe by 3.2% (up 2.0% excluding Easter) in the third quarter, and grew by 1.4% in the nine months to 30 June 2018. The acceleration in revenue was driven by strong rates of net new business in the UK. The benefits from the cost actions taken to offset above average inflation in the UK are starting to come through with an improving run rate. However, these were offset by a more challenging volume and cost environment in the UK. As a result, margins in the nine months to 30 June 2018 were down by around 70 basis points. Organic revenue in the Rest of the World grew by 3.1% (up 2.7% excluding Easter) in the third quarter, and grew by 3.3% in the nine months to 30 June 2018. The increased operational focus on productivity and pricing that followed our 2015/16 restructuring programme – combined with improved overhead leverage in growing markets – is driving better than expected efficiencies. As a result, margins for the nine months to 30 June 2018 increased by around 60 basis points. Trading results from our overseas operations are translated at the average exchange rates for the period. If current spot rates continue for the remainder of the year, foreign exchange translation is expected to reduce 2017 reported revenue and underlying operating profit by around £984 million and £77 million respectively. The group invested £27m in acquisitions in the third quarter mainly in small infill vending businesses in North America. The total invested in acquisitions in the 9 months to 30 June 2018 is £355m. There has been no material change in our financial position in the nine months to 30 June 2018. We continue to expect our financial year end net debt to Ebitda ratio to be around 1.5x. Going forward, we will continue to maintain a strong investment grade rating by targeting net debt to Ebitda of around 1.5x. Compass continues to have a good year. Revenue growth in North America is strong, Europe is accelerating as expected and Rest of World is progressing well. Better than planned margin improvement in Rest of World, is offsetting a more difficult volume and cost environment in Europe. As a result, our full year expectations are unchanged, with organic growth above the middle of our 4-6% range, and modest margin progression. Looking to the longer term, we continue to be excited about the significant structural market opportunity globally and the potential for further revenue growth, margin improvement and continued returns to shareholders.” 

Women’s Entrepreneur Conference five weeks away: Propel has partnered with Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott to launch the sector’s first conference featuring an all-female line-up of company leaders. The event, which is open for bookings, takes place on Tuesday, 4 September at One Moorgate Place, London. Speakers will be Wahaca founder Thomasina Miers (“How to ascertain if your business idea is genius or madness”); Mowgli founder Nisha Katona (“From barrister to bunny chow: why risk it all for restaurants?”); Sophie Bathgate, of Sophie’s Steakhouse (“What I would do differently next time”); Artizian founder Alison Frith (“How to market a startup”); Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars founder Mary Mclaughlin (“Growing an idea from startup to sustainable”); Eve Bugler, founder of BabaBoom (“How to keep the joy when it’s all on your shoulders”); Jane O’Riordan, founder of The Dynamo (“The importance of patience”); Sally Jackson, owner of The Pink Pig Farm (“The ten hardest lessons I’ve learned”); Christine Winton, of Siam Eatery (“Can you have work-life balance when you start a business?”); Vanessa Hall, co-founder of Jack & Alice (“The importance of staying true to your values when you start and expand your business”); and Laura Harper-Hinton, co-founder of Caravan (“Why people are key to your success”). The event will also see an award given to the Wireless Social Female Entrepreneur of the Year. Elliott said: “Female entrepreneurs are making an enormous contribution to the hospitality sector – but we need even more of them. The conference is intended as a showcase of some of the sector’s best female entrepreneurs and to encourage even more of them to take the plunge.” Propel managing director Paul Charity added: “If our sector is to truly serve its market, we need more companies led by women at senior levels. We hope companies send their brightest female talent to the conference to pick up inspiration and develop their entrepreneurial talent. We also believe it’s a great opportunity for male colleagues to gain insights into female entrepreneurial skills.” Tickets are £195 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers, £245 plus VAT for operators and £395 plus VAT for suppliers and can be booked by emailing or calling her on 01444 817691.

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