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Wed 27th Feb 2019 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Fishworks returns to expansion trail by securing Loch Fyne site: Fishworks, the Boparan Restaurant Group-owned brand, is to return to the expansion trail, Propel has learned. The company is understood to have secured the Loch Fyne restaurant in Catherine Street, Covent Garden, for an opening later this year. Fishworks currently has two sites, in Swallow Street and Marylebone, down from a peak of 12 in 2006 when it was listed on the AIM stock exchange. The fishmonger and restaurant concept, founded by Rockfish operator Mitch Tonks, was bought out of administration by Boparan in 2009, with five sites continuing to trade at the time following the sale. Earlier this year, Boparan promoted Caroline Hoyle to head of operations of the brand. Greene King has been consolidating its Loch Fyne estate during the past 18 months, with companies such as Giggling Squid, Oakman Inns and The Restaurant Group-owned Brunning & Price acquiring sites. The latest disposal leaves Loch Fyne with a 24-strong estate. Earlier this month, Propel revealed Boparan had appointed advisors to review options for its Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner chains. The company, which is led by Tom Crowley, has started working with KPMG on its options for the two national restaurant brands. It is thought core parts of each respective brand are trading in line with the wider market but one option would be a consolidation of each estate with a number of disposals. It is also thought as part of the process, which is at an early stage, the company will also tentatively explore the sale of both brands, together or separately. Boparan also operates Harry Ramsden and has the master franchise for the Slim Chickens concept in the UK, which, along with Fishworks, aren’t thought to be included in the KPMG-led process.

Industry News:

Social Strategy In A Day open for bookings: Social Strategy In A Day, an event aimed at allowing companies to develop and hone their social media strategy, has launched and is open for bookings. The event features all-new content and insights to allow companies to increase brand exposure, broaden their reach and ensure their digital marketing really delivers. Propel has partnered with digital marketing company Digital Blonde for the one-day advanced workshop, which will cover everything a marketing department should be thinking about when it comes to social strategy. The event takes place on Thursday, 4 April at One Moorgate Place in London. Insights will include how to drive business via social media; which social media activity works best for each generation; the key to successful storytelling; and the latest findings in consumer psychology and how they can benefit your social media communications. There will also be tips on how to improve your food and drink photography and rebuild trust on social media in the wake of fake news, alongside insights on key apps, how to make the most of Instagram and Facebook, and how to make your social spend count. Those who book tickets can submit questions ahead of the event for the Digital Blonde team to answer in special “20 questions in 20 minutes” sessions. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members and £345 plus VAT for non-members and can be booked by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com

European hotel industry reports revpar and average daily rate rises in January: The European hotel industry saw a year-on-year rise in revpar and average daily rate in January, according to the latest data from STR. Revpar rose 2.4% year-on-year to €57.81, while average daily rate increased 2.5% to €99.56. Occupancy levels fell 0.1% to 58.1%, compared with January 2018. Data this month focused on two cities – Barcelona and Paris. Barcelona hotels sold more room nights in the city than any other January on record, with large year-on-year increases across all three key metrics. Revpar rose 13.6% to €65.08, average daily rate increased 7.1% to €107.75, and occupancy was up 6.1% to 60.4%, compared with January 2018. In addition to solid weekday performance, which correlates with demand in the business travel sector, STR analysts noted a significant year-on-year rise in weekend revpar in Barcelona, which they linked to strengthening leisure travel and further recovery from the period of declines that followed the Catalan independence referendum in 2017. Paris, meanwhile, suffered year-on-year demand declines in December (minus 6.5%) and January (minus 4.2%), which STR analysts attributed to ongoing gilets jaunes protests that began in November. Occupancy fell 5.9% year-on-year to 65.0%, the lowest for a January in Paris since 2016 when the market was in decline following November 2015 terrorist attacks. However, hoteliers in the Paris market maintained year-on-year growth in the average daily rate – up 7.1% to €204.07 – while revpar rose 0.8% to €132.72.

Company News:

Bistro Qui calls in administrators: Bistro Qui, the Liverpool-based restaurant company that put three of its venues on the market last year, has gone into administration. John Fisher and Ian Brown, of Liverpool firm Parkin S Booth & Co, have been appointed joint administrators. Bistro Qui put The Hub Alehouse & Kitchen and The Refinery, Kitchen Bar & Live Music, both in Liverpool city centre, and Bistro Jacques in Shrewsbury on the market in late September. Mission Mars, the north west-based operator behind Albert’s Schloss and Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza, acquired The Hub Alehouse & Kitchen earlier this month on a leasehold basis off an asking price of £750,000. On behalf of Bistro Qui, agent Christie & Co was seeking £295,000 for the leasehold of The Refinery and £195,000 for the leasehold of Bistro Jacques. At the time, Bistro Qui owner Mark Friend said: “The businesses have operated for more than 15 years. We are selling them with a view to pass the business on to a new operator with capacity to grow the three brands nationally. All three brands have proved they can stand the test of time and develop nationally with the right investment.” Friend founded Bistro Qui in 2003. Other sites include Chicha, Bistro Pierre and Button Street Smokehouse, all in Liverpool. The Hub is Mission Mars’ 12th venue overall and second in Liverpool. The company received £10m from the BGF last year to fund expansion.

Thunderbird Fried Chicken opens maiden permanent site, in Brixton: Thunderbird Fried Chicken, the wings and fried chicken concept founded by former Nascar driver Matt Harris, has opened its first permanent site, in Brixton, south London. The company received investment from private equity firm TriSpan in January through its dedicated restaurant fund Rising Stars, enabling it to launch the restaurant in Brixton Village. The 42-cover venue is split over two floors and offers a takeaway service. The stripped-back, electric blue interiors are inspired by Harris’ racing days. All chicken can be purchased as part of a box or bucket deal, while halloumi replaces chicken for a selection of Veggie Buns. Drinks include American milkshakes, Brixton beer and soft drinks. Thunderbird Fried Chicken gained a cult following at London Union street food locations Dinerama in Shoreditch and Giant Robot in Canary Wharf. Harris said: “I’m eternally grateful to everyone who has tasted my chicken and taken a chance on me. To open my first permanent site in one of London’s most exciting food destinations is an amazing opportunity.” The TriSpan investment saw Marcel Khan, who played a key role in the launch and expansion of US better burger brand Five Guys in the UK, join Thunderbird Fried Chicken as chief executive. Khan and Harris will be supported by a highly experienced senior team. Former Itsu chief executive Ivan Schofield moved from executive chairman to non-executive chairman alongside Brandon Stephens, founder of Tortilla Mexican Grill; Ian Edward, non-executive director of Hippo Inns, Pizza Pilgrims, and Seafood Pub Company; and TriSpan partners, former YO! Sushi chief executive Robin Rowland and Joseph-Patrick Dib. Kieran Sherlock, former property director at YO! Sushi, also joined the business to help build a pipeline of sites. 

Chetiyawardana takes Mr Lyan cocktail bar brand to Amsterdam for international debut: Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, who operates the “world’s best bar” Dandelyan, is taking his Super Lyan cocktail bar concept to Amsterdam. Chetiyawardana will partner with Jacu Strauss, creative director of Lore Studio, to launch his first site outside the UK, in the Kimpton De Witt hotel in mid-April. The 65-cover venue will offer a further 45 covers in a roofed courtyard. Chetiyawardana said: “Although I love London, I love being able to travel and experience new cultures. I love to eat and drink my way around the world and sometimes you come across a place that makes you feel like you want to live there or embrace the culture and setting. Amsterdam, with its incredible history, warmth, fun and charm, is one of those places for me.” Chetiyawardana has been named UK Bartender of the year twice and in 2015 was proclaimed International Bartender of the Year. He launched his first bar, White Lyan, in Hoxton in 2013. He replaced it in April 2017 with two new venues – Super Lyan and Cub. Dandelyan opened in 2014 in the Mondrian Hotel. It will close next month to make way for a new concept – Lyaness. Super Lyan closed in late 2018, making way for a fermentation lab for Cub restaurant. The Mr Lyan brand also includes a range of five bottled cocktails.

Yeo Valley to launch first cafe, in London: Yeo Valley, the family-owned, organic dairy business based in Somerset, will open its first cafe, in London in May, Propel has learned. The Yeo Valley Café will open at 20 Queensway, just a few metres from Kensington Gardens. It is thought the cafe will be a one-off but the company hasn’t ruled out other openings under the concept. Like the Yeo Valley canteen in Blagdon, north Somerset, where the company is based, the new cafe will serve freshly made breakfast dishes including warm scotch pancakes with Greek yogurt and seasonal fruit compote; kedgeree with smoked haddock and organic eggs; and a Coombe Farm bacon butty on fresh farmhouse bread. The regularly changing lunch menu will include a Holt Farm rare roast beef sandwich with organic creme fraiche and horseradish; Crown Prince squash risotto; red lentil, coconut and spinach dahl; and broad bean, pea and feta salad with fresh mint. Sarah Mead, of Yeo Valley, said: “We know millions of people are familiar with the Yeo Valley name and the quality it brings, but fewer people know Yeo Valley is an actual place – a very beautiful place – where one family has been steadily building an organic dairy business and welcoming new friends since 1961. As we now have a small number of staff based in our little London hub, it seems sensible they can enjoy great food as our staff in Somerset have done for years and, by that same token, it’s important we extend our Somerset welcome to friends in London and those visiting from outside the city.” The menu will be devised by Yeo Valley food ambassador Paul Collins – formerly of the Dorchester, Cliveden and Lucknam Park – who has spent the past five years perfecting the organic menu in Somerset. Sourcing will be from Somerset and London farms and small producers. The cafe will open from 7.30am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am to 5pm at weekends.

Warwickshire-based bagel and doughnut coffee shop concept to open Birmingham site as it tests potential for national franchise: Warwickshire-based bagel and doughnut coffee shop concept The Steamhouse is to open a site in Birmingham as it tests the potential for a national franchise. Owner Ashley Baker opened his debut site in 2016, in Leamington Spa. The Birmingham cafe will launch in Temple Row towards the end of March. Baker recently sold what was his second site in Stratford-upon-Avon but still hopes to have five shops within five years of starting out. Baker recently opened a bakery in his home town Redditch to produce bagels that are made fresh daily using unbleached stone-ground flour milled at Charlecote Mill, near Stratford-upon-Avon. The bagel menu includes The New York Giant, which consists of salt beef with pickles and American mustard; and The Italian, which features Mortadella ham, salami, mozzarella, tomato, pesto mayonnaise and leaves. The doughnut range includes Belgian white chocolate with raspberry compote and Nutella. Baker told Birmingham Live: “We will have room for 22 seats. That’s small but bigger than our Leamington cafe, which has 12 seats yet sells 1,500 bagels a week. Hopefully Birmingham will be a really good takeaway site, too, and a model for how we can franchise the format.”

Hotel Chocolat ready to ask banks to advance extra cash to turbocharge expansion: Hotel Chocolat, the premium British chocolatier, is prepared to ask its banks to advance extra cash to turbocharge the company’s expansion. Chief executive Angus Thirlwell, who is growing the business in America and Japan, told the Evening Standard: “Cash generation is very strong but if we need to find other ways to go faster, we will. If it’s right to take on bank debt, we’ve got multiple sources to go to for that.” Revenue increased 13% to £80.7m and underlying profits grew 10% to £17.3m for the 26 weeks ended 30 December 2018. Figures have been boosted by sales of its new hot chocolate machine – the Velvetiser. Thirlwell admitted he had been caught out by demand for the Velvetiser after it went on sale last year. He said: “It blew our expectations. We were in a happy position of chasing our tails to keep it in stock.” Hotel Chocolat has already sold “tens of thousands” of Velvetisers online and it will also begin to sell it in stores soon.

Yorkshire-based curry house brand Kashmiri Aroma to open fifth site, in former Bradford pub: Yorkshire-based curry house brand Kashmiri Aroma is set to open a fifth site in the county, in a former Bradford pub. Scaffolding has already been erected around The Turf, which sits at the junction of Keighley Road and Emm Lane, with the restaurant expected to launch in April. Kashmiri Aroma operates restaurants in Ilkley, Halifax, Wakefield and Sheffield. The Turf opened in 1894 and underwent a £150,000 refurbishment in 2012 when it was owned by Wear Inns, the Telegraph & Argus reports. Kashmiri Aroma operates under the banner: “Splendid surroundings and traditional tastes.”

Bubble Magik opens Selfridges concession for third site: Bubble tea concept Bubble Magik has opened its third site – a permanent concession within Selfridges’ flagship London store. The new site is located just outside Selfridges Kitchen on the fourth floor of the department store in Oxford Street. Bubble Magik houses a bar, illuminated graphics and a long table. Customers can choose from a menu of fruit and milk-based tea and a selection of toppings. A Bubble Magik spokesman said: “Being part of one of the world’s most iconic retail destinations is a major step forward for Bubble Magik, which was created with luxury retail in mind. We hope to bring excitement and refreshment to a much larger audience.” Bubble Magik’s other sites are at Intu Lakeside and the Ealing Broadway shopping centre in west London.

North east-based Uno Ristorante submits plans to open third site, in Richmond: North east-based Uno Ristorante, which has restaurants in Yarm and Middlesbrough, has submitted plans to open a third Italian restaurant in the region, this time in Richmond, North Yorkshire. The family-owned company has applied for planning permission to convert a shop in Market Place that was recently discount store Goodwins but is currently used by Yorkshire Trading as an extension to its nearby premises. The grade II-listed town centre shop is owned by Yorkshire Trading, which intends to lease it to Uno, Richmondshire Today reports. Supporting documents state: “Marketing evidence shows retail use of the building is no longer required and cannot be made viable. The restaurant is planned to have 90 covers and would open until 10pm. This would be a major support for the evening economy and leisure role of the town centre.”

Yorkshire-based wagyu restaurant to double up as it secures former Jamie’s Italian in Harrogate: Yorkshire-based restaurant concept The Wagyu Bar & Grill has secured a former Jamie’s Italian in Harrogate for its second site. The concept is the brainchild of Warrendale Farm, a long-established family business, and pledges to offer the “finest quality” British wagyu beef in a “gate-to-plate steak exercise” from its own farm in the village of Warter, near Pocklington. The debut Wagyu Bar & Grill is due to open in York in mid-March while the Harrogate site is set to launch in April or May following refurbishment of the former Jamie’s Italian premises, which closed in Parliament Street last year. The Harrogate opening will create 30 jobs.

Pieminister links up with independent Manchester bar as it expands city presence: Bristol-based Pieminister has linked up with a Manchester independent bar as it expands its presence in the city. Pieminister has taken over the kitchen at The Library Bar in Beech Road, Chorlton. Pieminister will serve its signature pies such as The Moo (British beef steak and gem ale) and the Free Ranger (chicken, leek, ham and thyme). Pieminister already has a presence in Manchester, with its own cafe in Church Street in the Northern Quarter as well as pies on the menu at The Town Hall Tavern, City Road Inn and The Goose. The Library Bar owner Oliver Goldring told the Manchester Evening News: “We have searched the country to find the best operator to partner with us at The Library Bar and Pieminister is the perfect fit. It has close links to live music, festivals and is an exciting national brand.” Goldring launched The Library Bar in June 2017 with seven draught taps and an extensive bottle menu, plus boutique gin and a menu of fine wine.

Costa Coffee voted UK’s ‘favourite coffee shop chain’ for ninth year running: Costa Coffee, which is owned by Coca-Cola, has been voted the UK’s favourite coffee shop chain by Allegra’s independent panel of more than 3,120 consumers for the ninth year running. The UK coffee shop market entered its 20th consecutive year of growth in 2018, with the branded coffee shop segment continuing to outperform rivals amid a challenging economic environment. Allegra said growing demand for experience-led hospitality had enabled coffee shops to offset recent challenges on the UK high street. As consumers expand their tastes and refine their coffee knowledge, coffee shops have catered to this growing interest, it added. The independent panel also voted Costa Coffee as the UK’s most ethical coffee shop, pointing to the company powering its roastery with 100% renewable energy, diverting more than 7,000 tonnes of waste from landfill and removing 45 million plastic straws from its 2,600-plus stores. Costa Coffee managing director, UK and Ireland Jason Cotta said: “We are delighted to be named the UK’s favourite coffee shop for the ninth consecutive year. It’s also incredibly rewarding to have been recognised for our sustainability work. This fantastic achievement means a great deal to us, having been voted for by our valued customers. A huge thank you to our talented and dedicated baristas.” Allegra founder and chief executive Jeffrey Young added: “Achieving this accolade for the ninth year running shows Costa Coffee resonates with British consumers up and down the country. It is a brand that is part of the fabric of British lifestyles.”

Sbe hotel in Covent Garden calls time on trailblazing Chino-Latino concept after 20 years: Sbe Hotel in St Martins Lane, Covent Garden, is to close its trailblazing Chino-Latino restaurant Asia de Cuba after 20 years. The restaurant will close at the central London hotel on Thursday (28 February) to be replaced by St Martins Lane Kitchen, a pop-up serving an Asian-inspired menu. Exploring cuisine from Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, dishes will include Cambodian fish amok with turmeric, lemongrass, coconut and jasmine rice; and Kampot pepper baby chicken with baby corn, carrot, asparagus and long beans. Desserts will continue to celebrate Asian flavours such as banana and coconut cake with Chantilly cream and passion fruit. St Martins Lane Kitchen will also offer weekend brunch, including a bottomless option with a choice of unlimited prosecco, mimosa, bellini or bloody mary cocktails. Later this spring, the hotel will close St Martins Lane Kitchen and another of its concepts, Blind Spot, for a refurbishment to introduce another Sbe brand, which will be “revealed in due course”. Sbe operates one other hotel in London, the Sanderson, and nine internationally, with another “coming soon” in Dubai.

Lake District-based restaurateurs to open Grange bistro and bar for second site: Lake District-based restaurateurs Faye and Harry Ramsey are to open a bistro and bar in Grange next week for their second site in the region. The husband-and-wife team will launch The Estuary at a former pharmacy in Main Street offering brunch, lunch and drinks as well as dinner at weekends. The menus will feature local and seasonal produce with a mix of “healthy options, small sharing plates and British a la carte classics”. Dishes will include langoustine arancini, pulled pork with chunky apple sauce, and stone-baked flatbread. The art deco-inspired venue will feature a custom-designed bar with antique glass shelving and a “coastal colour scheme”. The drinks list will focus on wine, gin and prosecco cocktails. Faye Ramsey told The Mail: “We are excited to bring something new to Grange, create jobs for the area and breathe new life into a building that’s been empty for some time. We are so lucky to have excellent produce on our doorstep, many of our daily specials will be inspired by Morecambe Bay.” The Ramseys also own Porto Restaurant in Bowness-on-Windermere.

Ice Cream Union launches debut bricks and mortar site, in Chelsea: Artisan ice cream brand Ice Cream Union has opened its debut bricks and mortar site, in Chelsea, south west London. The company began life serving directly from its warehouse in Spa Terminus, just around the corner from Maltby Street in Bermondsey, south east London, while supplying pubs, restaurants and hotels across the capital with ice cream and sorbet. The parlour has launched in Pavilion Road but with no fixed seating. Managing director Alex Fubini told Hot Dinners: “The idea is customers order and eat ice cream (or have a coffee) directly on top of the ice cream counter. It’s essentially like a kitchen island, where everything happens around the island.” The Chelsea site has 20 flavours on offer, 12 fixed with the remaining eight consisting of limited-edition flavours or rotating on a seasonal basis. Fubini founded Ice Cream Union with brother Franco in Battersea in 2006. Ice cream flavours include Cornflake, peanut butter and lemon pie, while there are four flavours of sorbet, including Granny Smith.

Trump Turnberry to create 100 jobs as part of Scottish resort’s growth plans for 2019: Trump Turnberry is to create up to 100 jobs as part of the Ayrshire coastal resort’s growth plans for this year. Recruitment drives will take place on Wednesday, 13 March and Saturday, 16 March aimed at filling a range of positions, including chefs, spa therapists, receptionists, and food and beverage specialists. Permanent, seasonal and casual roles are available across various levels and departments. As well as interviews and a hotel tour, candidates will watch kitchen and spa demonstrations and meet staff and managers to gain further insights. Trump Turnberry general manager Ralph Porciani said: “The hotel has undergone significant changes and improvements in recent years and our business is growing as a result. Service is at the heart of everything we do here so continuing to develop and expand our team with the right people is vitally important. Our aim with our recruitment days is to show prospective staff what Turnberry is all about rather than relying on traditional interviews alone. The resort operates as a family so it’s important candidates get to experience our values and culture. The hotel is already a major employer in Ayrshire and the majority of staff live within 20 miles of the resort. Supporting the local community for more than 112 years is something we are incredibly proud of.” The resort currently employs more than 480 staff.

Glasgow-based bar operator reopens Kilsyth canal-side restaurant: Glasgow-based bar operator Ryan Barrie has reopened The Boathouse restaurant in the village of Kilsyth. The boutique hotel and restaurant at Auchinstarry marina closed suddenly in October. Barrie, who formerly operated Glasgow bars The Spiritualist and Citation, has reopened the bar with wife and former Miss Scotland Aisling Friel. He told the Evening Times: “It is always an exciting challenge opening venues like this. The team has worked immensely hard to get The Boathouse open so quickly and new jobs filled. The Boathouse was always a popular venue and I hope this revamp will excite a new generation of customers.” Mark Smith, head of destinations and tourism at Scottish Canals, added: “Auchinstarry is one of Forth & Clyde Canal’s key tourism destinations and The Boathouse has been a popular fixture for a number of years. It’s fantastic to see the restaurant reopen.” Barrie and Jim Ballantyne launched The Spiritualist in a former library in Miller Street in March 2016. It offers 320 spirits and liqueurs to boast Scotland’s “most extensive drinks range”. 

Yotel acquires Washington DC hotel as it introduces new development strategy: Yotel, the budget accommodation chain launched by YO! Sushi founder Simon Woodroffe, has acquired the Liaison Washington Capitol Hill hotel in Washington DC, marking a new development strategy for the group. Yotel will operate the premises, which will be transformed and rebranded during the course of the next year. The hotel has co-working and private meeting spaces, and features the largest outdoor rooftop pool deck in the US city, as well as a gym. The Art and Soul restaurant, which serves “farm-to-table” American-Southern cuisine, will also continue to run alongside the hotel. Chief executive Hubert Viriot said: “Our rapid global expansion is very exciting and further asserts our prominence in the US and on the world stage. Expanding our portfolio of hotels in the US also allows for better economies of scale by running operations more efficiently and maximising cross-selling opportunities between all our properties. The acquisition furthermore introduces a new development strategy for Yotel to take over existing hotels.”

Nando’s to launch Denton restaurant: Nando’s is to open a restaurant at Crown Point North Shopping Park in Denton, Greater Manchester, later this year. It will be the second Nando’s to open in the Tameside area, with another in Ashton Moss, while the brand also has restaurants at nearby Oldham Town Hall, Oldham Elk Mill, Stockport and Manchester city centre. A spokesman for the company told Manchester Evening News: “We are very excited to bring some peri-peri goodness to Crown Point North Shopping Park.” Nando’s operates circa 350 restaurants in the UK and opened its latest site earlier this week – in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

Bristol-based operator to open vegan cafe and deli for second site: Bristol-based cafe operator Sophie Fox is to open a vegan cafe and deli in the city for her second site. Fox will launch Flip in North Street at a site that has been vacant for more than five years since it housed Indian restaurant Eastern Tandoori. Fox, who has run Café Create at The Create Centre in Hotwells for the past eight years, will open the new venue in April. She told the Bristol Post: “I have been developing a vegan range and wanted to take it to the wider public. It feels like North Street is a good place and it will be good to take on a site that has been empty for so long. The deli counter will be our showpiece and everything we sell will be made by us on-site.” Flip will be a zero-plastic venue, with customers encouraged to bring their own containers, while compostable and reusable boxes will be sold on-site.

Diageo reveals proposal to increase stake in Chinese baiju-maker: Diageo has proposed to increase its stake in Chinese baiju-maker Sichuan Shujingfang Company to 70% through a partial tender offer. Diageo, which currently has a 60% stake in Sichuan Shujingfang Company, has offered RMB45.00 (£5) per share. Sichuan Shujingfang Company said the proposal was still under discussion and there could be no certainty any offer would be made. Baiju literally translates as “white alcohol” or liquor.

Goodbody – Dalata valuation remains attractive given ‘medium to long-term growth opportunity’: Goodbody leisure analyst Gavin Kelleher has said the valuation of Irish hotel group Dalata remains attractive given the “medium to long-term growth opportunity”. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares, Kelleher said: “Group revenue was €394m, up 12% year-on-year (Goodbody: €389m) and Ebitda was €119.6m (including pre-opening costs circa €117m versus Goodbody €115m). Group-level revpar was up 4.7% year-on-year to €94.13, driven by occupancy growth of 60 basis points to 83.7% and average room rate up 4% to €112.5. On current trading the group said it is trading in line with its expectations for the first quarter of 2019 and it is confident in its outlook for Ireland. Management continues to monitor the uncertainty in the UK but has seen no impact on trading. UK revenue was €78.1m (up 10% year-on-year) and Ebitdar was €30.5m (up 12% year-on-year). Revpar was up 3.1% year-on-year driven by occupancy of 84.7% and average room rate growth of 3% to £82. The group added 493 rooms in the UK during the period. Overall, this is a strong set of results from Dalata with the group outperforming our expectations in all three markets leading to a beat on our Ebitda forecasts. At this point in time we expect to leave our FY19 Ebitda forecasts broadly unchanged at circa €135m. We continue to like the Dalata investment case given the continued attractive supply and demand dynamics in the Dublin market; its superior growth profile relative to peers; and its strong free cash flow conversion that should help it deleverage quickly. We continue to believe the valuation is very attractive given the medium to long-term growth opportunity this group offers.”

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