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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 3rd Jan 2019 - Wagamama reports UK like-for-likes up 12% in second quarter, Urban Pubs and Bars secures 20th site
Wagamama reports UK like-for-likes up 12% in second quarter: Wagamama has reported turnover increased 15.4% to £81.5m for the 12 weeks to 11 November 2018 – its second quarter – with one new site opening in the period. The company saw UK like-for-like sales growth of 12%, and 7% like-for-like sales growth in the US. The company said it had outperformed the UK market by 11.3% and now traded ahead of the competition consistently for almost five years (239 weeks). Adjusted Ebitda was up 18.7% in the quarter to £13.2m from £11.1m the previous year with margin improvement. The company stated: “(We made) further investment in our people, product and property continuing to drive key metrics, including top ranking against our competitors for net promoter score, and further reduction in our team turnover. One new UK restaurant opened in the quarter – Gloucester Quays. Ten refurbishments have been completed in the period, bringing Kaizen design and new covers where possible to the existing estate. Three new franchise restaurants opened, in Spain (one restaurant) and UAE (two restaurants). Turnover increased 13.7% to £178.9m in the first half of the 2018/19 financial year with the continued expansion of our restaurants in the UK (five openings in the half year) and 10.0% UK like-for-like sales growth. Adjusted Ebitda was up 9.9% in the first half of 2018/19 to £25.9m from £23.5m the year before. There were five UK restaurants opened in the first half – Liverpool New Mersey, Rushden Lakes, Chelmsford, East Midlands Designer Outlet and Gloucester Quays. A total of 14 refurbishments have been completed in the first half, bringing Kaizen design and new covers where possible to the existing estate. New franchise restaurants opened in Qatar, Norway, Italy, UAE and Spain.” Emma Woods, chief executive, said: “We want Wagamama to be special, both the bowl and the soul, and so have continued to invest in our amazing teams, our vegan food and our customer service this quarter. As a result, we have sustained our outperformance of the UK market. The business is well prepared for, and excited about the next stage of its development, with The Restaurant Group as our new owners. As the ownership baton gets handed on, I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to Jane Holbrook, Duke Street and Hutton Collins for their committed leadership and ownership approach to Wagamama.” 

Urban Pubs and Bars secures 20th site, reports double-digit like-for-like growth during Christmas: Urban Pubs and Bars, the company operated by Nick Pring and Malcolm Heap, has exchanged contracts on its 20th site, a former JD Wetherspoon pub in Balham, south London. Urban Pubs and Bars will invest £400,000 in the pub with a view to reopening in March – it’s the company’s third former JD Wetherspoon acquisition, following sites in Highgate and Stroud Green – and its seventh new venue in five months. Pring told Propel the current climate had led to “lots of opportunities” for the company – at the end of 2017 the company acquired the Salt Yard Group estate, where sales have “exceeded expectations”. The company’s annual turnover is expected to hit circa £23m by April this year – it achieved “strong” double-digit like-for-like sales growth during the four-week December trading period with more than 20% like-for-like growth on food. The company opened two sites on Christmas Day for food and both were booked out some way in advance. All its venues were in like-for-like growth over the festive period. Urban Pubs and Bars has also invested £100,000 refreshing its Bat & Ball site at Westfield Stratford, which has seen the addition of a karaoke pod. Pring said the venue continued to “deliver excellent numbers”, which was encouraging as the search continues for a second site.
Tell us about your Christmas trading. Operators are invited to send their updates to Paul Charity at

Propel launches Leadership Summit, open for bookings: Propel is launching the Leadership Summit, which will see a select group of the sector’s most experienced bosses share their expertise on leadership. The full-day event, in partnership with Elliotts, will take place on Tuesday, 12 February at One Moorgate Place and is open for bookings. Speakers will include Will Stratton-Morris, UK chief executive of Caffe Nero, who will talk about building high-performance teams. Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King, speaks about the role of leadership in business turnarounds. Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott will talk to Des Gunewardena, chief executive of D&D London, about the lessons of leadership he has picked up in his career in the sector. Duncan Garrood, chief executive of Ten Entertainment, will give his views on leadership and the customer experience, while Jo Fleet, managing director of Flat Iron, will talk about empowering people and trust and getting the team to “buy in” through clear communication and vision. Mark Jones, chief executive of Carluccio’s, will explain how the company is building the quality and skillsets of its general managers to lead the business out of decline. Simon Townsend, chief executive of Ei Group, will give his views on the challenges of leadership during a period of immense change and Zoe Bowley, managing director of PizzaExpress, will give her top ten tips on leadership. Meanwhile, Loungers founder Alex Reilley will talk about the adaptations involved in growing a business from one site to more than 100, celebrating success and the art of succession, while Ann Elliott will give her views on the power of mentoring to grow talent in organisations. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “With the industry facing such challenging times, effective leadership has never been more important. This is an unmissable opportunity to learn from high-profile leaders in our sector.” Prices are £295 plus VAT for Premium members, £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers. To book, email

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