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Tue 26th Mar 2019 - Leigh Nicholson resigns as managing director of Eclectic Bars
Leigh Nicholson resigns as managing director of Eclectic Bars: Brighton Pier Group has announced that Leigh Nicolson, managing director of the Bars division (Eclectic Bars), has resigned and is standing down from the board. He will leave the company on the 31 March 2019. The company stated: “As reported in the company’s Final Results on 28 September 2018, the Brighton Pier Group has continued to rationalise its bars portfolio. Since his appointment to the board, Leigh has led this process, successfully disposing of non-profitable or marginal sites, reducing the trading estate to eleven profitable venues. In view of this reduced scale, Leigh will be handing over the management of the Bars division to Anne Ackord, chief executive of the Brighton Pier Group; who will take over direct management responsibility for the Bars division going forward.” Ackord added: “The board would like to thank Leigh for his commitment and drive over the last thirteen years in particular his contribution to the launch of the Lola Lo, Embargo 59, Smash and ‘Le Fez’ brands. We wish him every success for the future.”

Brighton Pier Group reports Brighton Pier still affected by rail engineering works: The Brighton Pier Group has reported sales rose to £16.5m in the 26 weeks to 30 December 2018 compared to £16m for the same period the year before. Profit before tax was £1.7m compared to £2.3m the year before, with Brighton Pier still affected by rail engineering works. Anne Ackord, chief executive, said: “Paradise Island Adventure Golf continues to trade in line with expectations at the time of the acquisition. We are looking forward to our first new site opening (since the purchase of the business) at Rushden Lakes in April 2019. The refit of our Putney bar to ‘Le Fez’ has transformed this site with its improved layout and functionality. I am excited by the potential for growth as we rollout new nights over the coming months. The sale of the Derby bar freehold for £0.8 million nearly completes the site rationalisation process within the Bars division. Rail network disruptions to and from Brighton continues to affect the pier, which is disappointing; however once the engineering works are complete they will be of great benefit to future visitors travelling to the city and consequently to our Brighton businesses. The company’s pier, bars and golf businesses remain well invested, strongly cash generative and well positioned for future growth.” The company added: “Total group revenue for the period was up £0.5 million for the period, benefitting from the acquisition of Paradise Island Adventure Golf, which has contributed £2.1 million of sales in the 26 weeks of trading (2017: £0.2 million). We are pleased to report the Golf business continues to trade in line with expectations at the time of purchase. Revenue for the Pier division was £7.9 million (2017: £7.8 million), up on the prior period by £0.1 million. The newly fitted bars and catering facilities combined have out-performed the prior year, with sales for Palm Court and Horatio’s Bar up 22%, partly due to growth in the functions business and partly due to the closure of Horatio’s Bar for its refit during the prior period. Sales across the rest of the pier (primarily from rides and arcades) was down 4% versus the like period, hindered by poor weather and reduced numbers of visitors to Brighton resulting from weekend closures of the mainline railway from London. Given that the pier’s rides and arcades have higher margin than the bars and catering, the loss of revenue (excluding bars and catering) has negatively impacted Ebitda and earnings. Revenue for the Bars division was £6.6 million (2017: £8.0 million), down £1.4 million. £0.4 million of this decrease related to the planned closure of Putney Fez for its refit, and £0.2 million from the closure of Reading Coalition. As reported in the group’s January 2019 trading update, Christmas trading across the bars was broadly flat year-on-year but conditions have otherwise been challenging in parts of the estate; these issues have impacted sales by £0.8 million versus the 2017 period. Group gross margin for the period has increased by 120 basis points in comparison with the 2017 period, reflecting the high-margin nature of the acquired Golf division, together with a continued focus on pricing in order to mitigate pressure from rising input costs across the rest of the group. Highlighted costs totalling £0.3 million were incurred during the period, of which £0.2 million related to occupation and other pre-opening expenses incurred during the redevelopment of ‘Le Fez’ in Putney, as well as a further £0.1 million relating to costs incurred from the closure of Reading Coalition in June 2018.”

Fever-Tree reports turnover and profit growth: Fever-Tree, the world’s leading supplier of premium carbonated mixers, has reported sales up 40% to £237.4m for the year ended for 31 December 2018. Profit after tax was £61.8m (2017: £45.5m) Tim Warrillow, co-founder and chief executive of Fever-Tree said: “2018 was a significant year for Fever-Tree. In the UK, we strengthened our position as the leading mixer brand in the off trade. In the US, we successfully established our own operations and the business made real progress in deepening and widening its presence in multiple European regions. As the world’s leading premium mixer brand with a strengthening global distribution network we are well set to drive the international opportunity as the move towards the premium long mixed drink continues to gather momentum around the world. At this early stage in the year, the group is trading in line with board expectations and we remain excited about the size of the opportunity that lies ahead.”

Vianet Group to beat last year’s profit of £3.62m: Vianet Group, the international provider of actionable data and business insight, has reported trading for the second half of the year to 31 March 2019 has been largely as anticipated and, as a result, the group’s full year profits will be in line with market expectations and ahead of last year’s outturn of £3.62 million. As such, the board intends to recommend a maintained final dividend of 4.0 pence per share. The company stated: “The Smart Machines division, including the successfully integrated Vendman business, continues to deliver strong growth in connected devices, with increased penetration helped by the transition of capital sales elements to a recurring sales model. Whilst reduced capital sales suppresses short term financial performance, these strong contracted recurring revenues provide greater visibility and higher quality of future earnings. The Smart Zones divisional contribution is slightly down year on year, with the impact of pub closures being partially offset by transactional process cost savings and system upgrades for customers.” James Dickson, chairman, added: “We are pleased to deliver good year-on-year profit growth again and it is notable that this has been achieved whilst shifting the focus within Smart Machines from capital to recurring annuity based sales. The successful integration of Vendman has boosted momentum and we have seen good growth in connections for telemetry and contactless payment solutions for both the coffee vending, and snack and can vending markets.”

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