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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 1st Feb 2019 - Update: Patisserie Valerie set to be sold off piecemeal, Comptoir Group trading
Patisserie Valerie set to be sold off piecemeal: Patisserie Valerie looks increasingly likely to be sold off in chunks, with its unreliable accounts deterring even those bidders that specialise in distressed companies, reports the Financial Times. According to people who have assessed the company with a view to making a bid, administrator KPMG has provided only very limited financial information from October and November last year. An internal report into the accounting irregularities at the group said financial statements dating back up to six years may not be reliable. One person who had looked at the company but decided against pursuing a bid said: “It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen a fraud like that. I couldn’t bid on it. It’s a total punt.” People familiar with the bidding process said Mike Ashley, the billionaire founder of Sports Direct, had not submitted a formal bid and nor had Rcapital, the private equity firm that rescued Little Chef from collapse. Endless, another private equity firm, has also not pursued an offer. The initial deadline for offers is noon today (Friday, 1 February). There has been more interest from buyers considering acquiring individual Patisserie Valerie sites, said people with knowledge of the process. Costa Coffee, now owned by Coca-Cola, and privately owned Caffe Nero are among those that have looked at parcels of stores, the people said. David Scott, who sold Druckers to Patisserie Valerie more than a decade ago, has indicated he intends to bid for a substantial number of the chain’s stores plus the company’s bakery in Birmingham, which is a freehold asset. A senior adviser on corporate transactions in the leisure sector added: “With a fraud it is very difficult for many people to look at it. The usual suspects will be looking at it because that is what they do, but I think it will be hard for them to bid.” Patisserie Valerie’s parent company and main trading subsidiaries were placed into administration last week when it failed to renew its banking facilities after revealing the £40m black hole discovered in its accounts in October was worse than first thought. A total of 70 stores and concessions were closed immediately, and 51 of the stores are now being marketed by Savills as sites for immediate occupation. They vary in size from less than 1,000 square feet to almost 5,000 square feet. “It’s clear from what has been released so far that many of the stores were over-rented,” said one leisure sector analyst, pointing to the £664,000 annual cost of occupancy at the company’s cafe in London’s Spitalfields Market.
Comptoir Group reports trading ‘in line with market expectations’: Comptoir Group, the operator of Lebanese and eastern Mediterranean restaurants, has reported trading for the 52 weeks to 31 December 2018 was “in line with market expectations with the expected strong finish to the second half of the year”. The company stated: “Two additional Comptoir Libanais sites successfully opened in 2018 – Birmingham in March and London Bridge in November. The company also opened its second franchise site with HMSHost, in Cheshire Oaks in November. The company ended the year with 27 managed restaurants and four franchise sites. The company retains a strong balance sheet and the directors continue to be excited by the prospects of the group.”

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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