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Wed 5th Dec 2018 - Update: Patisserie Holdings, Restaurant Group, Pret, Greene King
Patisserie Holdings hires interim chief financial officer: Patisserie Holdings has hired Nick Perrin as interim chief financial officer. The company stated: “Perrin is an experienced and successful finance director, most recently of AIM-quoted CVS, the leading integrated veterinary services provider in the UK, which saw revenues grow from £110m to £350m during his tenure. Nick has been retained on an interim basis while the board undertakes a process to appoint a permanent chief financial officer. Mr Perrin is not a member of the board.” Steve Francis, chief executive, said: “I am pleased to welcome Nick to Patisserie Holdings. He brings with him the necessary experience to help strengthen the team as the company works tirelessly to put the events of the past months behind it and look forward to the future.” 

Douglas Jack – our Restaurant Group share recommendation is ‘Hold’ as the shares are likely to suffer indigestion in the short run: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has issued a ‘Hold’ recommendation on The Restaurant Group’s shares. He said: “The Wagamama acquisition and related rights issue will proceed even though 40% of the shareholder vote rejected the deal. In the short run, the shares are likely to suffer indigestion. On paper, they offer value and attractive long-term growth but only if all parts of this restaurant corporate conglomerate perform. Restaurant Group’s site profit fell by 31% per outlet during 2016 and 2017, and was down 21% in H1 2018. Wagamama’s strong like-for-like sales (partly based on delivery) are not converting into profit growth; its adjusted Ebit fell by 16% in the 16 weeks to 19 August. Like-for-like sales might drive the headlines, but it is profit that matters; thus, it is important Wagamama’s (preferably in-store) like-for-like sales stay broken out. Our revised forecasts assume Wagamama’s in-store sales grow at 5% pa and that The Restaurant Group’s original leisure estate recovers to positive like-for-like sales in 2019E. They also assume all expansion and synergy targets are achieved. Restaurant Group’s shares are not expensive if the company achieves all its targets and related forecasts. However, the enlarged debt, rent and labour cost base leave no room for disappointment. This, and a potentially large equity overhang, is why our recommendation is ‘Hold’.”

Pret A Manger to remove the word ‘natural’ from logo and packs: Pret a Manger is removing the word ‘natural’ from its logo and packs following pressure from ‘real bread’ campaigners. It has also promised to give more information about its ingredients following the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse. She suffered a catastrophic allergic reaction to one of the sandwich chain’s products. The removal of the word ‘natural’ comes in response to revelations that it uses some artificial additives in its sandwich bread. Pret, which was founded in Britain in 1983, has grown to more than 500 shops in nine countries on the back of a claim to offer natural, fresh, quality food, made on the premises. However, it has had to bow to pressure from the Real Bread Campaign, which champions honest labelling and fights for small independent bakers and sandwich shops who do not use additives. Earlier this year, the Advertising Standards Authority ruled in favour of a complaint by the group, which argued Pret was misleading customers with claims on its website to sell ‘natural’ food. The ruling was based around the fact that Pret’s bread contains three additives including E472e, which strengthens the dough and reduces the number of large holes. The Daily Mail recently revealed the company was removing the word ‘natural’ from its website and signs. It has now emerged that it is also being taken off packaging and off the circular logo. Chris Young, of the Real Bread Campaign, said Pret ‘had been putting real effort into evolving its products, labelling and marketing descriptions’. Clare Clough of Pret said it had been working on improving communications with customers and on removing artificial additives.

Greene King hires George Davidson as interim head of insights: Greene King has appointed former InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) George Davidson as its interim head of insights. Davidson was previously consumer insights director, Europe for IHG and has also worked in market research and insight roles at Burger King, McDonald’s, Mars and First Direct. While Greene King has always done insights work, this is the first time it has a dedicated standalone team of five people, led by Davidson. He has been charged with helping Greene King build its understanding of the British pub guest. Davidson said: “I’m delighted to have joined Greene King at this exciting time for the business. It’s a business that combines heritage and tradition with a forward vision for the UK pub and restaurant market.”

Australian-Japanese sushi hand-roll concept fails to raise £350,000 in crowdfunding campaign to roll out kiosks across London: Australian-Japanese sushi hand-roll concept Inigo has failed in its £350,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it looks to roll out kiosks across London. The company, founded by Jeremy Bliss, was offering 18.92% equity in return for the investment. The pitch stated: “Down under, hand-roll kiosks are commonplace, with Australia’s six leading hand-roll chains totalling more than 380 locations across the country. Hand rolls are sold in schools and work canteens, corner shops and airports, and are considered by many an essential part of Australian eating. Britons are increasingly looking for light, healthy and tasty meal options. Inigo hand rolls can be conveniently eaten on the go. Inigo produces all its own food at the site of partner H Forman & Son’s – a leading smokehouse that contributes scalable kitchen infrastructure, product expertise and, of course, high-quality produce for Inigo’s menu. Our chefs are Noma and Hix-trained. Inigo is operating one store in the City of London and our business-to-business offering launched at the start of the year. We already supply a number of corporate clients via BaxterStorey and Searcys.”

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