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Thu 7th Feb 2019 - Update: Ei Group, M&B, C&C Group, Domino’s Poland
Ei Group reports 2% like-for-like net income growth in leased estates, managed pubs up 5.7%: Ei Group, the largest owner and operator of pubs in the UK, has reported that the financial year, the 18 weeks to 2 February, has started well for its leased and tenanted business with like-for-like net income growth of 2.0% in the 18 weeks to 2 February 2019. It stated: “The Christmas trading period was particularly strong and we are pleased that trading in January remained in line with our expectations. While cost pressures are evident across the broader market, our continued investment in our leased and tenanted business combined with our proactive publican support has ensured that income growth momentum has been maintained. We have continued to convert selected pubs from our leased and tenanted business to our managed estate, which now comprises 398 pubs (355 at 30 September 2018). We expect to continue pub conversions, anticipating approximately 460 managed pubs will be trading in our estate by 30 September 2019. Pubs that have traded as managed pubs throughout both the 18 weeks to 2 February 2019 and the prior year comparative period delivered like-for-like sales growth of 5.7%, aided by a particularly strong Christmas trading period. On 11 January 2019 we announced that we had entered into sale agreements, subject to shareholder approval, with Tavern Propco Limited in relation to 370 properties comprising public houses and other commercial properties for expected gross aggregate cash consideration of £348 million. The General Meeting of shareholders to consider the disposal will take place today following the completion of the Annual General Meeting. Assuming shareholder approval is received, completion of the first tranche of the disposal, comprising 348 of the properties to be sold, is expected to occur in early March 2019. On 21 November 2018 we commenced the return of a further £20 million to shareholders via a share buyback programme. This buyback programme was completed on 22 January 2019 with EIG having purchased 10.6 million shares for cancellation at an average price of 188.87p per share.” Chief executive Simon Townsend said: “The year has started well, with growth being maintained across our operating businesses and, despite the ongoing uncertainty regarding the consumer environment, we are on track to deliver our plans for the year. The proposed disposal of a substantial proportion of our commercial property portfolio is in line with our strategy of unlocking the embedded value from every asset within our business and monetising that value creation for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

M&B plans hotel in Liverpool as part of ‘space utilisation strategy’: Mitchells & Butlers plans to transform a Liverpool city centre building into a new Innkeeper’s Lodge hotel. The company has put forward proposals to convert the upper floors of the Queens Building in Derby Square, creating accommodation above its All Bar One venue. The company is looking at how its underutilised space can best be used. A statement put forward in a planning application for the hotel says: “With the company having a hotel offer, one of the strategies that it is pursuing is to develop new bedrooms (whether they be in existing buildings or in stand-alone blocks), as a revenue generator or in order to support the adjacent business by pushing additional trade through the restaurant.” Mitchells & Butlers owns the freehold interest in the Queens building, and operates the All Bar One bar and restaurant on the basement, ground and first floors. The upper two floors of the site, accessed from James Street, have been vacant since 2007 having previously been occupied by a law firm. If granted planning permission by Liverpool City Council, Mitchells & Butlers plans to convert the vacant offices, along with part of the first floor ‘back of house’ bar and restaurant space, into a hotel. Accessible via the James Street entrance, it would include a ground floor reception, two rooms on the first floor, 10 rooms on the second floor and 11 rooms on the third floor. The hotel would not include its own bar, restaurant and catering facilities.

C&C Group announces new board members: C&C Group, the brand-owner, manufacturer and distributor of cider, beer, wines, spirits and soft drinks, has announced that Jill Caseberry and Helen Pitcher have been appointed as independent non-executive directors with effect from 7 February 2019 and that Jim Thompson has been appointed as an independent non-executive director with effect from 1 March 2019. The company stated: “Further to the Statement re: Board changes issued on 25 October 2018, which stated, inter alia, that Geoffrey Hemphill and Richard Holroyd were stepping down from the board, the effective date has now been set as 1 May 2019 in respect of Geoffrey and 31 May 2019 in respect of Richard. As previously announced, Joris Brams will also step down from the board with effect from 28 February 2019. The group is currently negotiating the terms of a consultancy arrangement with Joris in relation to the development of the group’s Belgian beer brand, Heverlee, which Joris helped develop in conjunction with the monks of the Abbey of the Order of Premontre.” Stewart Gilliland, chairman of C&C, said: “We are delighted that Jill, Helen and Jim are joining the board of C&C. They bring to the board a wealth of experience and expertise, which will be invaluable to the group. The recent changes to the C&C board ensure that it has the right balance of skills and experience for the long term development of the group. We are very grateful to Geoffrey, Joris and Richard for the individual contribution each has made to the group’s long-term development.”

Domino’s Pizza Poland to raise £5.3m as chief executive Peter Shaw plans to step down: Domino’s Pizza Poland chief executive Peter Shaw is to step down, with the company set to raise £5.3m with a share placing to support sales and marketing activity – and its store roll-out. The company stated: “Peter Shaw will be stepping down as chief executive of DP Poland by mutual agreement at the conclusion of the company’s 2019 Half Year, in June 2019. Peter was co-founder of DP Poland and has led the business since October 2010 – shortly after it acquired the master franchise agreement for Domino’s Pizza in Poland. He has led DP Poland to become one of the largest pizza delivery operations in Poland, with an estate of 64 stores. Looking to the future, the group’s principal focus will include optimising resources and cost control and on increasing local market expertise, building on the strong operational team built by Peter in Poland. Pending a further appointment reflecting the group’s priorities in this area, Nick Donaldson, non-executive chairman, and Rob Morrish, non-executive director, will take a more active role in the running of the business. Maciej Jania continues as finance director of DP Poland and managing director of DP Polska SA, reporting directly to the DP Poland board in that connection. On 12 December 2018, the company announced a trading update for the year to date. As part of that update, the company announced that it had experienced pressure on 2018 sales from the exceptionally warm weather from April to mid-November 2018 as well as the cumulative impact of delivery aggregators’ advertising spend impacting on the company’s share of voice in the market. The company announced that it expected the competition for share of voice to continue to impact sales in 2019. Subsequently, the directors have taken the decision to raise approximately £5.3 million before expenses by means of the Placing in order to maintain the medium-term store roll-out and support the company’s sales and marketing programmes to be implemented throughout 2019.” 


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