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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 10th Jan 2019 - Brighton Pier Group profit warning, M&B LfLs, C&C Group trading
Brighton Pier Group report profits will be 18% lower than expectations: Brighton Pier Group, announcing a trading update for the six-month period to 31 December 2018, has told the market profit before tax will be 18% lower than expectations. It stated: “The company’s Fez bar in Putney was closed for a full refit at the end of July 2018. The site relaunched as ‘Le Fez’ at the beginning of December and performance since then has been in line with management’s expectations, however the refurbishment works were protracted due to structural issues. Christmas trading across the Bars division was broadly flat year on year, but trading conditions are challenging across parts of the estate. The impact of these issues will result in earnings from the Bars division being lower than previously expected for the period. As previously reported, the trading performance of the company’s pier division during the period has been negatively impacted by disappointing weather over the August bank holiday weekend that continued into the following month. Additionally, weekend railway services to and from Brighton have been disrupted by a major programme of engineering works, resulting in recurrent line closures (with replacement bus services) on the main line from London between the stations at Three Bridges and Brighton. This has significantly impacted the number of visitors into Brighton and onto the pier. As such, earnings from the pier have also been lower than expected for the period. The company has been informed that these line closures will continue into the second half of the current financial year, including a complete closure over the nine days of February half term and further closures in March, April and May (the start of the pier’s peak trading period). However, once the railway upgrades have been completed, the company expects that the improved railway service with fewer interruptions will benefit businesses across Brighton, and the trading performance of the pier. The company’s golf division continues to trade in line with expectations. A new site is due to open at Rushden Lakes in April 2019, bringing the total estate in the golf division to seven locations. A further site is planned to open in the following financial year at Drake’s Circus in Plymouth. The board now anticipates that, as a result of the reasons outlined above, profit before tax for the current financial year will be in the region of 18% lower than current consensus expectations.” Commenting on trading, Anne Ackord, chief executive, said: “Whilst I am disappointed at the rail network disruptions currently affecting the pier, once they are complete, this will be of great benefit to future visitors travelling to the city and consequently to our Brighton businesses. Despite these challenges the company’s pier, bars and golf businesses remain well invested, strongly cash generative and well positioned for future growth.”

M&B reports like-for-likes up 12.3% over Christmas fortnight: Mitchells & Butlers has reported like-for-like sales were up 9.8% over the three-week festive period – total sales were up 5.1% over the 14-week period to 5 January 2019, its First Quarter. The company stated: “Trading through the festive season was strong with like-for-like sales growth over the three week festive period of 9.8%. Growth was achieved on all key dates supported by good underlying trade. Our sales performance has also strengthened over the full 7 week period since our last update with like-for-like growth of 6.9%, balanced more evenly between food and drink. We continue to focus on investment in the estate, premiumising where possible as well as improving amenity. In the year to date we have already completed 114 conversions and remodels and opened 2 new sites. We remain encouraged by the returns being generated.” Phil Urban, chief executive, said: “We are delighted with our performance over the festive trading season, with record trading on all key festive dates, including sales of over £12m on Christmas Day, and like-for-like sales growth of 12.3% over the core two week period. The weather was milder than last year but the results were also due to the months of planning put in by our teams, and to several of our Ignite initiatives beginning to bear fruit. We now enter our toughest quarter and, given the success of the festive trading period, we would expect trade to be quiet at least until people get paid again. The ongoing uncertainty around Brexit will continue so we remain cautious about the outlook until the political and macroeconomic landscape becomes clearer. That said, we have made a good start to the year.”

C&C Group reports ‘strong’ four months: C&C Group, the brand-owner, manufacturer and distributor of cider, beer, wines, spirits and soft drinks, has reported that trading across the group for the four months to 31 December 2018 has been in line with expectations, including through the key Christmas trading period. Operational delivery and customer service at both Matthew Clark and Bibendum have been very strong and ahead of plan. We therefore anticipate that their combined financial contribution will be as guided at our half year results on 25 October 2018. Across the rest of the group, positive trading momentum has continued into the second half, with revenues tracking mid-single digit ahead of last year. Accordingly, the group currently expects to deliver full-year results to 28 February 2019 in line with the board’s expectations. Stephen Glancey, chief executive, said: “Despite the current political uncertainty the group is increasingly well positioned going into 2019. The new management teams and colleagues at Matthew Clark and Bibendum, have delivered an exceptional operating performance over the key Christmas period. With service levels restored, we now have stable platforms with real growth potential and unparalleled market access to the UK on trade. In Scotland and Ireland our combination of leading brands and distribution assets is highly resilient, cash generative and delivering growth. With a strong balance sheet and normalised cash flow conversion of 60-70% of Ebitda we are poised to provide enhanced shareholder returns.”

Simmons Group targets 30 sites as like-for-likes rise 20.1%: London bar operator Simmons Group has reported like-for-like sales up 20.1% over the six-week festive period. Chief executive Nick Campbell stated: “Trading has been very strong across the Simmons Group since we last spoke. Like-for-like sales were up +20.1% for the six week festive period and +16.3% for Q4 of 2018, with total sales up +39.3% and +34.5% over these periods respectively (with the benefit of two new site opening in the year at Farringdon and Angel). This impressive trading performance is off the back of strong pre-booked sales growth, with covers up +40.8% for the festive period (like-for-like growth of +21.1%), as well as continued investment across the group in all areas (property; people; marketing). Our 14th site is due to open in April of this year, occupying a ground floor and basement site, right next to Monument underground station (35 Eastcheap, EC3M 1DE). We’re actively pursuing a number of new opportunities, targeting three to five new openings in 2019 and a long term goal of reaching 25-30 sites in the next three to five years.” 

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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