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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 16th Jan 2019 - Update: City Pub Group and Cineworld results, UKHospitality on Brexit, BigDish
City Pub Group reports full-year like-for-likes up 1.6%, updates on pipeline: City Pub Group, led by Clive Watson, has reported like-for-like sales increased 1.6% for the year ending 30 December 2018. The company said the majority of the like-for-like growth in 2018 was volume driven as price increases were only implemented at the end of 2018. Total turnover for the year was up 22% to £45.6m with 44 pubs trading at the end of the financial year. The company said trading over the festive period was “strong” and “benefited from good organisation of promotions and efficient group bookings”. Like-for-like sales over the six-week period ending 6 January 2019 were up 7.0%. The company stated: “In December, the group completed the acquisition of Chapel 1877, a freehold site in the centre of Cardiff and one of the city’s best known venues, for a cash consideration of £2.2m. The group has exchanged on two freehold sites since year end – one in Norwich and one in Exeter, for a total cash consideration of approximately £3m. The total refurbishment costs for these two sites are expected to be approximately £1.1m. The site in Norwich is an extension to the company’s existing operation, The Georgian Townhouse, and will enable an increase in the number of letting rooms from 22 to 32. The site in the centre of Exeter will give the group extended presence in that city. The group’s net debt at year end was approximately £10.5m. The group has total borrowing facilities of £30m, which it intends to renegotiate during the current year to provide further headroom to fund its acquisition programme and take advantage of opportunities in a much less competitive market place, while maintaining a conservative approach to gearing. The group is currently refurbishing three large sites and anticipates these opening as follows – Aragon House, Parsons Green in the second quarter of 2019, Reading freehold site in Market Place in the second or third quarter of 2019 and the former Tivoli site in Cambridge in the third or fourth quarter of 2019. Once these three sites are open and the exchanged sites are completed, the Group will have 48 trading pubs and approximately 100 letting rooms. Further sites are in legals and we continue to appraise multiple opportunities.” Watson said: “Trading was very encouraging over the festive period and throughout 2018, particularly post-Easter. We have grown very rapidly over the past two years, performed well and our new sites are showing their potential. Our low gearing puts us in an enviable position to take advantage of attractive acquisition opportunities that present themselves. If we enter a period of uncertainty caused by Brexit, there is much we can continue to achieve organically. Our estate is in great shape; well invested and trading well with considerable upside potential, including the additional benefit of the quality of our earnings increasing as we invest and grow our accommodation business which delivers an incremental income stream.”

Cineworld reports UK and Ireland retail revenue up 3.4%: Cineworld has reported UK and Ireland retail revenue increased 3.4% for the year ending 31 December 2018. Total revenue in the UK and Ireland was up 3.0%. Globally, revenue rose 7.2% in the year with retail revenue up 7.7% as a record 308 million people visited its cinemas in 2018. The highest grossing films for the year in the UK were Avengers: Infinity War, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again! and Incredibles 2. At the end of 2018 the group operated a total of 790 sites globally with 9,518 screens. This includes 13 sites (108 screens) opened during 2018, six in the UK, six in the US and one in Romania. During the year, four refurbishments were completed in the UK. A total of 14 sites were closed – 11 in the US, one in the UK and two in the rest of the world. The company stated: “ There is a strong film slate for 2019 including The Lego Movie 2, Captain Marvel, Dumbo, Shazam!, Avengers: Endgame, Aladdin, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Toy Story 4, Spider-Man: Far from Home, The Lion King, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, It: Chapter 2, Frozen 2 and Star Wars: Episode IX. After a successful transformative year, the group is well positioned for another year of growth in 2019.” The full year results will be announced on Thursday, 14 March. 

UKHospitality urges MPs to work together to avoid no-deal Brexit following Commons vote: UKHospitality has urged politicians to work together to avoid a no-deal Brexit after the government’s proposed deal was rejected by parliament. Following the vote in the House of Commons last night (Tuesday, 15 January), which saw 432 MPs reject the deal, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The vote in parliament brings into stark reality the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, which would likely be disastrous for the British economy and a hospitality sector that is well-equipped to make a vital economic contribution as we leave the EU. There can be no delay, faced with such a stark outlook, for politicians to focus on working together to take any and all measures possible to ensure British consumers are not in the direct firing line of the consequences of food and drink supply chain chaos and the price rises that would inevitably ensue. If that means delaying implementation of Article 50 then ideological differences must be put aside for the sake of pragmatic economic benefit.”

BigDish launches in Bournemouth, available in Bristol by end of month: BigDish, the company that operates a yield management platform for restaurants, has launched in Bournemouth and will be available in Bristol by the end of the month. The company has also finished beta testing of the app and a redesign has been finalised, targeting the UK market. BigDish stated: “The migration of Bournemouth restaurants from TablePouncer to BigDish began on 14 January. As a result, more than 50 of the city’s most popular restaurants will offer a 50% discount on food from Sunday to Thursday, at least twice per day. BigDish expects that this number will increase. Ensuring momentum is maintained in the company’s expansion, it is targeting a roll out of the BigDish app to Bristol by the end of January. Big Dish has also been through a beta period in Bath, with a limited number of restaurants, which it will now seek to increase. Coinciding with the launch in Bournemouth, BigDish has also finalised its UK-centric app redesign. This redesign contains a new logo and numerous visual changes based on qualitative and quantitative research among UK consumers over the past few months. This redesign is set to be applied to the website over the next four to six weeks and will also introduce stability and speed improvements.” Chief executive Joost Boer said: “We could not be more thrilled about taking this major step towards larger UK expansion. Our roll out in Bournemouth and imminent launch in Bristol is testament to the team’s tireless work over the past few months. The TablePouncer team has done a fantastic job over the past few years in developing Bournemouth’s leading restaurant deal platform. Its work has provided us with a strong platform from which to make BigDish the leading restaurant deal platform in the UK. The time spent doing further research in the extended beta testing period has allowed BigDish to gain invaluable data driven insights into the market and user insights that will help us to grow our business and develop our plans and technology to drive us forward in 2019. This year looks set to bring much progress for BigDish, with continued work in our first two UK territories, the larger UK roll-out and our technology plans for 2019. As such, we look forward to updating the market with further developments.”

Former Diageo boss joins McDonald’s board: Paul Walsh, the former Diageo chief executive and current chairman of Compass Group, has joined the board of McDonald’s. Chief executive Steve Easterbrook said: “Paul is an exceptional leader who has developed and led world-class companies. With his extensive experience, he will bring insights that will be tremendously valuable as we continue to execute our growth strategy and become a better McDonald’s.” The appointment brings the number of directors on McDonald’s board to 12.

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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