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Tue 18th Sep 2018 - Update: Escape Hunt and Domino’s Pizza Poland
Escape Hunt reports minus Ebitda in its First Half: Escape Hunt, the escape rooms company, has reported revenue of £800,000 and adjusted Ebitda of minus £1,375,000 for the half year ending 30 June 2018. Escape Hunt’s first three UK owner-operated sites opened in March with trading in line with expectations. It is on target to have nine UK owner operated sites open before the year end. It said: “(We have) developed higher quality, deeply immersive escape room games all achieving #1 TripAdvisor scores. (The) loss (is) in line with expectation and relates to advance build up of head office resource and initial site trading losses.” It had a net cash position of £6.4m at 30 June 2018 (31 December 2017: £10.6m). Chairman Richard Rose said: “The strategic change from a pure play franchise model to a hybrid model, involving the roll out of owner-operated sites, has made very significant strides. There have been challenges along the way, which is perhaps not unexpected given that Escape Hunt is a relatively early stage business, and that it is raising the barriers to entry in what has been a “Ma & Pa” industry. The management’s decision, post the acquisition, to rebrand the business and develop higher specification industry leading games came to fruition during the period. The objective is to provide a strong platform to differentiate the group from its competitors and to establish Escape Hunt as the premier brand in the rapidly evolving escape room sector. Whilst we have had challenges to overcome, both in obtaining planning permission for our new UK sites as well as putting together a reliable supply chain for games production, we have now made good progress in both securing sites and finding production partners. Since the agreement with the BBC, we are receiving much inbound interest from retail property operators, since experiential leisure is regarded as an attractive addition to the landscape to drive interest and footfall. Although still at an early stage of its journey, Escape Hunt is beginning to reap the rewards of the repositioning of the business. We are particularly proud that all of our newly opened UK sites are already ranked at #1 on the TripAdvisor scores for the “Fun & Games” sector in their respective cities. The group is delighted to report that, relative to the number of rooms opened, sales at the new UK sites is in line with expectations and Ebitda is ahead of expectations on the same basis. The focus in the short term is to ensure that performance across all of the group’s UK venues continues to show strong growth and also to ensure the smooth roll out of the remaining five sites this year. Together with the site at Bournemouth which was acquired in December 2017, Escape Hunt expects to have nine sites open by the end of this year. The group’s premium games, coupled with the professionalism of the team, led to BBC Worldwide entering into an exclusive agreement with Escape Hunt to roll out and operate Doctor Who branded escape rooms over the next five years. Escape Hunt believes that the longer-term success of this industry, and the ability to achieve strong returns for stakeholders, is intertwined with the use of branded intellectual property. The business is greatly encouraged by the very positive response from the public to July’s Doctor Who announcement, which bodes well for future sales and occupancy levels at the venues. Management will concentrate on larger leisure/property partners for new franchising opportunities. They have the financial resources to develop multiple sites and support the production of more valuable games and higher marketing budgets. As mentioned in the July trading update the strategic work referred to above took time to complete but plans are now being executed at pace. Given the evidence of the newly opened sites, the group is reassured that the resultant format is producing the desired customer response and financial result and I am confident that Escape Hunt is building the foundations for a successful, high quality business.” 

Domino’s Pizza reports progress in Poland: Domino’s Pizza Poland has reported continued expansion with a 38% increase in system sales, 61% increase in corporate store Ebitda and a 39% increase in commissary gross profit in the First Half to 30 June 2018. It said 77% of delivery sales were ordered online in the period (73% H1: 2017). Five new stores were opened in the First Half, with one further opened since the period end. It has 60 stores open to-date, across 27 towns and cities, with eight further leases signed. Latest like-for-like system sales were up 6 per cent in July and one per cent in August, adjusting for delivery area splits, impacted by hot weather and very high comparatives in July and August 2017. Peter Shaw, chief executive of DP Poland said: “DP Poland delivered continued expansion and strong growth in System Sales and profit across both corporate stores and commissary during the first half of the year. Pleasingly, this was achieved despite unseasonably hot weather impacting sales expectations as previously reported. We have expanded the store estate by 11% so far this year and anticipate up to 20% expansion for the year as a whole. The store roll-out is underpinned by our expanded commissary capacity, logistics capabilities and area management, providing a strong platform for the group’s long-term growth plans. We remain convinced by the longer-term growth trajectory of both sales and profit performance, as more stores are opened and as sales continue to grow across the high proportion of currently immature stores. The Polish food delivery sector continues to grow impressively and we are confident that, underpinned by our well-invested infrastructure and world-renowned service and products, Domino’s Pizza in Poland will continue to outperform this growth. The Polish economy’s strong fundamentals and the continued expansion of our market supports the growing opportunity for the highly successful and competitively robust Domino’s proposition in Poland.”

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