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Tue 14th May 2019 - Update: Ivy Collection, Greggs and Ei Group results
Baton Berisha promoted to managing director of The Ivy Collection: The Ivy Collection has promoted Baton Berisha to managing director, effective immediately. Berisha joined the group in 2014, before being promoted to director of operations in 2018. The appointment of Berisha follows the recently reported solid revenue growth for the group following a hugely successful year of planned expansion across the UK and internationally. Consisting of a group of brasseries and neighbourhood cafés, The Ivy Collection now currently operates a portfolio of 32 restaurants within London and cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Leeds. The Ivy Collection chairman Richard Caring said: “I am delighted to promote Baton to managing director at The Ivy Collection where he has played an integral role in the growth of the company. As we move into the next phase of our expansion, we will be working closely together to ensure we realise the vision and ongoing success of the group.”

Greggs reports like-for-like sales up 11.9% in first 19 weeks of 2019: Greggs has reports like-for-like sales rose 11.1% in the first 19 weeks of 2019 (2018: 4.7%) with total sales up 15.1%. Increased customer visits have continued to drive strong trading in traditional categories and new products. A total of 38 new shops opened and there were 22 closures. The company stated: “In our preliminary results announcement on 7 March we reported a very strong start to 2019, with company-managed shop like-for-like sales growth of 9.6% in the first seven weeks of the year. This built on a strong finish to 2018 and was further boosted by the publicity surrounding the launch of our vegan-friendly sausage roll. Sales since then have continued to grow very strongly, helped by the roll-out of vegan-friendly sausage rolls to all shops following limited availability in the early part of the year when demand outstripped supply. Other product categories have also shown good growth as customers have recognised the investment made in our product range and quality, and the shop environment in recent years. Sales at breakfast, including Fairtrade coffee and other hot drinks, are continuing to grow strongly, as is our post-4pm pizza deal, offering a pizza slice and a drink for just £2. Sales of our traditional sweet bakery products are also benefiting from the improved quality delivered by our investment in manufacturing centres of excellence. Our new summer menu has just launched, featuring pasta salads, fruit, cold drinks, and a new and improved vegan wrap – Mexican Bean & Sweet Potato. Customers continue to recognise the quality and value of our lunch offer, with Greggs recently recognised as `Britain’s Favourite Sandwich Retailer’ (Source: NPD Crest) and, just last week, we picked up four awards at the British Sandwich Industry Awards. In the first 19 weeks we opened 38 new shops, including ten franchised units in transport locations. We closed 22 shops, giving a total of 1,969 shops trading at 11 May (comprising 1,700 company-managed shops and 269 franchised units). Our shop openings continue to take the Greggs brand into new food-on-the-go locations, and are increasing our presence in travel and workplace catchments. The success of sites such as our new unit at London Bridge station give us confidence to pursue further openings in similar locations. Commissioning of our new manufacturing platforms has progressed in line with plan. Sandwich rolls are now being produced at our Manchester and Enfield sites and construction of our new distribution centre at Amesbury in Wiltshire has started. Deployment of SAP systems in payroll and manufacturing have progressed successfully with further roll-out to follow in the months ahead. The exceptional level of like-for-like sales growth that began in January has been sustained in the months that have followed, driven by increased visits to our stores. Looking forward, the sales comparatives from 2018 become progressively stronger but we now anticipate materially higher sales for the 2019 year as a whole than we had previously been expecting. Whilst there have been some increases in input costs, we expect overall cost inflation to be broadly in line with our plans for the year. In the balance of the year we plan to increase investment in strategic initiatives that will deliver further long-term growth. Taking all this into account, the board believes that underlying profits (before exceptional costs) for the year will be materially higher than its previous expectation.”

Ei Group reports tenanted per pub like-for-like income up 1.9%: Ei Group has reported growth in underlying Ebitda to £140 million (H1 2018: £139 million) in its First Half ended 31 March 2019. Underlying profit before tax increased to £59 million (H1 2018: £57 million). It tenanted pubs saw like-for-like net income up 1.9% (H1 2018: up 0.6%) with growth across all geographic regions. Average annualised net income per pub was up 2.7% to £83,100 (H1 2018: £80,900). Its managed pubs saw like-for-like sales growth of 6.0% (H1 2018: up 6.6%) across its largely wet-led managed house businesses. Within its managed operations, growth was on track with 357 (H1 2018: 276) pubs trading within our wholly-owned managed division. Its managed investments saw continued progress with 62 (H1 2018: 43) pubs trading with 11 specialist partners. It has a total portfolio of 83 (H1 2018: 351) commercial properties of which 22 are expected to be sold, subject to superior landlord consent, for £11.4 million over the coming months. The retained portfolio of 61 properties generates net annualised rental income of £4 million with average annualised net income per property of £65,600 (H1 2018: 351 properties generated net annualised rental income of £25 million with average annualised net income per property of £68,600). Simon Townsend, chief executive officer, said: “We are pleased with the trading performance of our group for the first half of the year. We continue to deliver sustained like-for-like net income growth within our core Publican Partnerships business and are generating strong returns as we expand our Managed Operations and Managed Investments businesses. Despite an environment of unprecedented political uncertainty and inflationary pressure from increases in the national minimum and living wage, consumers continue to support their local pub. This consumer resilience, combined with excellent operational execution and effective capital investment, provides us with the confidence that we can maintain our growth momentum for the year as a whole, despite some challenging comparative trading periods ahead of us in June and July. The completion of the disposal of 348 commercial properties in March represented a significant milestone for the group. We have demonstrated our ability to grow value through the transfer of assets to their optimum use and then to unlock that value through monetisation providing evidence of our strategy in action. We are using the significant cash proceeds received from the transaction to accelerate our debt reduction plans and to deliver value to our shareholders. We are pleased to announce today a further £30 million share buyback programme, in addition to the £55 million programmes previously announced in this financial year.”

Eagle Eye forms US and Canada partnership: Eagle Eye Solutions (Eagle Eye), is partnering with News America Marketing (NAM), the premier marketing services company in the US and Canada, to deliver next-generation retailer and brand marketing solutions. The agreement establishes a partnership where the parties will collaborate to provide personalized digital and analogue advertising and incentives in real time to shoppers in the North American region. “This agreement with News America Marketing represents an exciting new opportunity to introduce next-generation marketing solutions in North America with a partner that has a great product portfolio and an extensive client base,” said Tim Mason, chief executive of Eagle Eye. ‘Together, Eagle Eye and NAM will be able to offer market-leading promotions programming, capable of delivering data-driven, personalized offers and messages to digitally-connected consumers in real time.’ The Eagle Eye AIR marketing technology platform will enable NAM to offer an integrated digital connection to consumers and provide an innovative solutions suite to its extensive retailer network and brand clients. “We are excited to enter this partnership with Eagle Eye to deliver cutting-edge real-time marketing solutions to our clients,’ said Martin Garofalo, chief executive of News America Marketing. ‘This is a significant milestone in executing on NAM’s strategy to deliver open-platform digital innovation across our network. The AIR platform provides superior infrastructure and features for brands and retailers to understand and communicate with their customers. We believe that Eagle Eye is a best-in-class solution that, combined with NAM’s core capabilities, will create significant value for all players.” NAM and Eagle Eye will begin presenting its joint solution to retailers beginning in June 2019 with immediate opportunities for retailer integration.

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