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Tue 8th Jan 2019 - Greene King reports like-for-likes up 10.9% over Christmas fortnight
Greene King reports like-for-likes up 10.9% over Christmas fortnight: Greene King has reported like-for-like sales over the two weeks to Christmas were up 10.9%. The company stated: “After 36 weeks of our financial year, Pub Company like-for-like sales were up 3.2% following strong trading over the Christmas period as we continue to trade ahead of the market. Like-for-like sales in the last two weeks, covering Christmas and the New Year, were up 10.9% and we achieved record Christmas day sales of £7.7m. All sales categories saw like-for-like sales growth over the last six weeks with our Greene King branded local pubs driving strong drink sales growth. Last year’s additional investment in value, service and quality continues to underpin our performance. Pub Partners like-for-like net profit was down approximately 1% while total beer volumes in Brewing & Brands were up 1.8% and own-brewed volumes were down 2.3%. Our cost mitigation programme is on track to limit net cost inflation to £10-20m in the year while we made further progress on our estate optimisation programme, remaining on course to dispose of 100-110 pubs and open around nine new pubs in the financial year. Following the announcement in December of an open tender process on the remaining Spirit bonds, as part of our ongoing debt refinancing programme, we have bought back £62m of the Spirit A5 bonds to date. While the ongoing uncertainty around Brexit may still have an impact on consumer confidence and spending during the year, we remain confident of our outlook for the financial year. We remain focused on our strategic priorities of driving profitable sales growth, developing a more streamlined and efficient organisation, and further strengthening and improving the flexibility of our capital structure to deliver long-term value for our shareholders.” Analyst Douglas Jack, of Peel Hunt, said: “Moving outlets into the core Greene King brand has resulted in an improved drinks range and double-digit growth in numerous premium drink categories. Investment in value, service and quality is paying off, as has the c20% increase in local marketing investment, improved labour deployment at weekends and the improvement in key dish food quality. These factors helped total NPS to rise from 59.0% to 61.5% in H1. Managed like-for-like sales rose by 3.2% over the first 36 weeks, ahead of our forecasts and the market, having risen by 10.9% over the last two weeks. We are holding our forecasts, which we believe have upgrade risk. As a result of this, an attractive, sustainable dividend (yielding 6%) and falling net debt, we would buy the shares at the current large discount to the 850p/share true NAV.”

McDonald’s UK increases hourly pay: McDonald’s UK is to increase hourly staff pay rates again this month. McDonald’s is increasing hourly rates for younger members of its staff by the most in percentage terms. Those aged 18 and under will see an extra 9% added to hourly rates, while those aged 25 and over will see 1%. The company said it is “doing right by staff” and said it looks to increase pay every year where possible. “Our people are at the heart of our business and, as a responsible and proud employer, we are committed to investing in them,” a McDonald’s spokeswoman said. “Reward and recognition for our people and their contribution is key, and to ensure we can attract and retain the best people, we regularly review pay and benefits. While our franchisees set their own pay rates, we are pleased to recommend an increase across all age bands for our hourly employees. Company-owned restaurant hourly pay increases will take effect from 24 January.” McDonald’s said it would be “recommending” the same wage increases to franchisees, but there’s no guarantee owners will agree. “We recognise that our success as a business is as a result of the hard work of our people – since October 2015 we have increased recommended pay rates by over £1.40 per hour – which is an increase of at least 24% for all ages and an increase of 30% for our youngest workers,” said the company. “Our 2019 recommended rate for under 18s is now £1.65 higher than the government minimum.” Recommended 2019 starting rates are £6 for under 18s, £6.85 for 18 to 20s, £8.31 for 21 and over. 

Starbucks revises down company target of 1,000 Reserve stores: Starbucks new chief executive Kevin Johnson has reduced the company’s target of having 1,000 Reserve coffee shops – a target set by previous chief executive Howard Schultz in 2016. “One thousand was an aspiration,” he told the Wall Street Journal. Instead, Starbucks will test six to ten Reserve stores to see if they can generate the necessary returns before they expand any further. Johnson said Starbucks wants to achieve 3% to 4% in like-for-like sales growth in 2019. Schultz believed that the exceptional experience offered by high-end destination retail stores would draw back consumers who had abandoned malls, while the higher prices would also bolster Starbucks’ profit by moving to a more premium position.

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 anne.steele@propelinfo.com

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