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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 30th May 2019 - Update: TRG announces new CEO start date, polystyrene food box ban, BigDish, Chapel Down
TRG announces start date for new CEO: The Restaurant Group (TRG) has announced the start date for new chief executive Andy Hornby will be Thursday, 1 August. The company also revealed current boss Andy McCue will step down with effect from Sunday, 30 June but would remain accessible to Hornby and the broader executive team for a short period of handover. TRG stated: “In the period following Andy McCue’s departure at the end of June and prior to Andy Hornby joining as chief executive at the beginning of August, the business will be led by chairman Debbie Hewitt, supported by chief financial officer Kirk Davis and the broader executive team. Current trading remains in line with our expectations.” McCue’s service agreement is subject to 12 months notice so will be paid his base salary of £535,000 from 1 July 2019 to 13 February 2020 and his other benefits will cease subject to notice. His deferred bonus plan shares for 2016 and 2017 will vest (circa 50,000 shares), but his 2016, 2017 and 2018 long-term incentive payment awards will lapse. Hornby, whose appointment was announced in May, had been joint chief operating officer of Ladbrokes’ parent company GVC Holdings. Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy said: “Our knowledge of Hornby from his previous role would indicate he is a good appointment. We would not have any concerns about the short interim period between McCue’s departure and Hornby’s appointment given Davies and Hewitt will be in situ. Confirmation of a start date is helpful as we believe there has been some investor uncertainty around the timing of his appointment and any potential period of instability. We would not expect any strategic change post the appointment of the new chief executive with the group continuing to drive growth in pubs, concessions and Wagamama while right-sizing and managing the leisure brands.”
Ban on polystyrene food boxes will force takeaways to go green: Takeaway boxes and cups made from expanded polystyrene will be banned as the government targets rarely recycled plastic that ends up in incinerators and landfill sites. The ban will force thousands of takeaway food outlets to use packaging made from alternative materials that may be more expensive or less effective at keeping food warm. Hundreds of millions of boxes and cups made from expanded polystyrene are used in the UK each year but very few are recycled because they are difficult to collect and often contaminated with food and drink. The government confirmed last week it would ban plastic items including straws, plates and cotton buds but the polystyrene ban would be the first time a specific polymer has been targeted. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) last week sought tenders for a research contract to assess “the economic impacts of a potential ban on expanded polystyrene food and beverage containers”. A Defra spokeswoman told The Times the ban would be imposed before or at the same time as a planned EU-wide ban on polystyrene food and drinks packaging, due to take effect in 2021. The Foodservice Packaging Association (FPA), which represents packaging companies, has been lobbying against a ban on polystyrene. On the planned EU ban, Martin Kersh, the FPA’s executive director, said in March: “This type of material is most commonly used by independent takeaways and mobile caterers, whose customers are least able to afford a price hike.”
BigDish to launch nationwide roll-out: BigDish, the food technology company that operates a yield management platform for restaurants, has revealed plans to roll-out across the UK. The company said following launches in Swindon and Taunton, it expects to go live in Brighton and Reading with an initial selection of restaurants around Friday, 7 June. It said the number of restaurants available is expected to increase significantly over the weeks following these launches. BigDish said it had divided the UK into ten territories to “ensure a smooth roll out”. Each territory will have one manager with the exception of London, which will have three. The company has managers for “territory one” and “territory two” and will now recruit a further ten. The company expects new locations to go live at a more rapid pace as managers are recruited throughout the UK. The company now has more than 150 restaurants on the platform, which are predominantly independent restaurants. BigDish plans to expand throughout the UK by initially targeting independent and smaller restaurant groups. The company also expects to sign up restaurant and pub groups to the platform in the second half of the year. Chief executive Sanj Naha said: “We are excited to announce the plans for our nationwide UK roll-out. We have spent the past couple of months preparing our strategy for the execution of this expansion and are now ready to push the button, especially after the success of and learnings from the roll-out across our first two territories. This is an exciting time for BigDish as we enter our biggest growth phase yet. Recent restaurant chain closures in the UK show BigDish is in the right place at the right time with the right product. Our focus remains on bringing diners back to restaurants.”
Chapel Down reports sales and Ebitda growth: Wine and beer maker Chapel Down has reported revenue was up 10% to £13.0m for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £11.8m the previous year. Wine and spirit sales increased 11% to £9.0m, compared with £8.1m the year before while beer and cider sales, in the associate company Curious Drinks, grew 10% to £4.0m, compared with £3.7m the previous year. Ebitda rose 18% to £1.1m, compared with £960,000 the year before as it continued “to reinvest in our brands, infrastructure and supply”. Chairman John Dunsmore said: “2018 has been a busy year preparing the company for further growth. A total of 388 new acres of prime vineyard land will produce up to one million extra bottles of wine per annum. Our gin and vodka have had critical acclaim and we have developed a new experiential brand home on the Regents Canal in the developing Kings Cross area of London. Our brewery building is now complete and our facilities at Tenterden have been given a facelift that has driven an increase in retail sales of 17%. We have an ambitious and experienced management team focused on our desire to make Chapel Down England’s most exciting drinks company. We are on the way, but there is much to be done. We will continue to make substantial investments over the coming years in planting more vineyards, developing our winery, improving our commercial infrastructure, hiring and training the best talent and creating smart effective marketing to ensure that we build the strongest quality brands and are therefore best placed for future growth and any industry consolidation.”

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