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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 1st Mar 2019 - Revolution boss talks about turnaround plan, Whitbread management changes
Revolution boss – next 12 to 18 months about focusing ‘all efforts’ on turning core brand around: Revolution Bars Group chief executive Rob Pitcher has told Propel he expects it be 12 to 18 months before the company returns to the expansion trail as it focuses “all its efforts” on turning the core brand around. The group has halted openings to “avoid any distractions for management” while it implements a series of changes to return the company to like-for-like growth. Speaking following the company’s interim results, Pitcher said: “I picked up a business that wasn’t in great shape. We opened five sites in the first half, which are all performing very well, and had a sixth consecutive record Christmas so there’s plenty to be pleased about. However, the Revolution brand has been really uninvested in for some time and to get these customer touch points back where they need to be we need to put all our focus on that. The two Revolution sites we’ve refurbished so far are showing a strong uplift in sales and the other changes we’ve made – such as introducing reputation.com to answer customer feedback quicker – are paying dividends so we’re confident with where we are going. We previously said we might open a site in the second half of the year and one or two the following year so we didn’t have loads of openings planned. Although I’d never say never, because if a great opportunity came up we’d certainly look at it, management feels it needs to focus on investing in the current estate in the next 12 to 18 months.” Pitcher said the company was looking at “segmenting” the Revolution brand, with some sites only opening in the evening, although the number would only be in “single digits”. Pitcher said its “bigger city sites” that feature its “big production” experiential entertainment on a Saturday night had seen a 7% sales uplift and the company was now adapting the format so it worked in its venues in towns. Its new spring menu has seen the return of pizza and other Revolution “favourites”, which have been “updated for the market”. The company is also introducing “value” options to the menu as Pitcher admitted prices on some items were a “little bit too high”. Brunch menus are now in place at 15 Revolución de Cuba and 14 Revolution sites. Meanwhile, Pitcher said the company would throw a big relaunch with Deliveroo next month featuring new menu and packaging. Delivery will be rolled out to a further 20 sites, meaning 70 of the company’s 79 sites would offer the option. He added: “We still have a lot of work ahead but we’re confident we are now seeing the benefits of our plan.”

Whitbread makes management changes following Costa Coffee sale: Whitbread has announced the departure of Premier Inn acquisitions manager Joanna Moon as part of a number of changes to the management team. The changes involve streamlining of roles following the sale of Costa Coffee to Coca-Cola. Alex Flach has an expanded role, UK development director, which includes property acquisitions and construction. Mark Anderson will continue to run the overall property and international function within Whitbread, while acquisition work in the UK and Ireland will be driven by Derek Griffin, who is head of London and south east England, and Kevin Murray, who is head of north and Ireland. A spokesman told Propel: “We are continuing to expand Premier Inn in the UK from 74,000 rooms today to 110,000 rooms and are targeting the opening of 6,000 Premier Inn rooms this financial year across the UK and Germany as we work towards achieving this goal.”

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