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Wed 24th Jul 2019 - Update: Orderswift, Marston's, Pret, Starbucks, Chipotle, Comptoir
Orderswift and Stuart expand direct delivery partnership across the UK: Online ordering platform Orderswift and on-demand logistics specialist Stuart have expanded their direct delivery partnership to cover 34 cities and towns around the UK. The move comes after a successful two-year collaboration between the two companies in London. They said the ability for restaurants to collect a delivery fee directly from the customer, as well as it being a commission-free model, means direct delivery orders have a lower cost to restaurants versus those that come from third-party market places such as Deliveroo and UberEats. The proposition is bolstered further with restaurants taking ownership of the end-customer relationship and data. Companies currently working with Orderswift and Stuart are thought to include Rosa’s Thai Cafe, Busaba and The Restaurant Group through its delivery brands – Pyjama Hotel and Jumping Pans. In the US, more operators are exploring direct delivery initiatives as a means to bolster and control their relationships with consumers, rather than just engage third-party aggregators. In addition to London, Orderswift and Stuart’s direct delivery partnership now covers Brighton, Birmingham, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Bristol, Basildon, Cambridge, Cardiff, Chesterfield, Darlington, Derby, Exeter, Gillingham, Hull, Huddersfield, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Northampton, Nottingham, Oxford, Plymouth, Reading, Sheffield, South Shields, Southampton, Sunderland, Swansea, Teeside, Wakefield and Warrington. With direct delivery, customer orders are placed through a restaurant’s own website via a branded ordering interface from Orderswift. Once payment has been confirmed, the relevant order data is passed through an API integration to Stuart, which fulfills delivery to the customer using its network of independent couriers. Orderswift co-founder Matt Gilbert said: “Direct delivery is starting to thrive in the UK. We’re excited this partnership gives thousands of restaurants the opportunity to take their own delivery orders, strengthening relationships with their customers and giving them a significantly greater share of the profits from deliveries in the process. Our close working relationship with Stuart means we have been able to create a turnkey solution that is getting restaurants live in a single day, which is incredible.” Jonathan Jenssen, Stuart’s UK general manager added: “We have built a solution that empowers restaurants to offer their customers a 360-degree solution, wowing them through multiple channels and remaining front of mind. This offering forms a synergy with market place solutions, allowing restaurants to tap into the full scale of their customer base. By working alongside Orderswift we want to help unlock every restaurant’s full potential.”

Marston’s halts £70m spend on new-build pub restaurants in period of “peak uncertainty”: Marston’s has decided to halt all pub restaurant new-build projects over the next three years. The company, which has created an estate of more than 200 new-build pub restaurants over the last years, building 20 to 25 a year, had planned six or seven a year for the next three years. Now the planned £70m investment has been put on ice – a smaller sum of £20m to £30m will be switched to organic capital projects where the company is getting better returns. Chief executive Ralph Findlay told Propel the new-build strategy had been a “fantastic programme” but had been revised in a climate of “peak uncertainty” and the company now focused on debt reduction. Findlay said also that the decision also reflected a sector-wide under-performance in food-led pubs at the moment alongside a stronger performance in wet-led pubs. Peel Hunt analyst Douglas Jack said like-for-likes had fallen by 2% in the most recent 16 weeks and brewing volumes were down by 5%. Findlay told Propel that tough comparables with the World Cup and wet weather in June and during the May Bank Holiday was largely to blame. The company stated: “We have achieved sales growth in both our pub and beer businesses in the 42 week period to date, despite weaker sales in the last 16 weeks reflecting strong trading in the same period last year, which included the World Cup and an unusually hot summer. Like-for-like managed and franchised pub sales increased by 0.5% in the 42 week period. In Destination and Premium, like-for-like sales for the 42 week period were 0.1% ahead of last year and in Taverns, like-for-like sales for the 42 week period were 1.1% ahead of last year. We continue to remain disciplined in terms of pricing, discounting and promotion, with operating margin in line with our expectations. In Marston’s Beer Company, volumes are in line with last year and continue to outperform the market, with volume performance over the last 16 weeks principally reflecting weaker lager sales in the off-trade. We set out in the company’s January trading update our target to reduce net debt by £200 million in the period 2020-2023 through reduced capital expenditure, £120 million of disposals and a reduction in interest and pension costs. We have made good progress already in this regard and remain on track to hit our 2019 cashflow and debt targets. Following a further review of our plans, we have decided to accelerate the timeframe within which the debt reduction target is achieved. As a consequence, we are proposing to defer £70 million of the new-build investment planned for the next three years and reallocate £20-30 million of funds into our organic capital plans, which are generating significantly higher returns. The earnings impact of this capital reallocation will be minimal and this will generate an additional £40-£50 million of cash flow over the next three years.” Chief executive Ralph Findlay said: “We have achieved modest growth during the 42 weeks to date continuing the long term positive like-for-like sales trend despite May and June being hampered by relatively poor weather. We have a high-quality, balanced pub estate and a highly disciplined approach to preserving margin, together with a leading beer business which continues to perform well leveraging our outstanding brand portfolio and increasing our market share. Having made good progress with our cash generation and debt reduction plans, we have subsequently decided to accelerate our efforts in this context and defer our remaining new-build plans and reallocate £20-30 million of the £70 million new-build capex over the next three years to drive higher returns from our existing estate. We believe that this focus will further enhance our returns from our existing pub business and reduce our debt at an even greater pace.”

Comptoir Group reports trading in line with management expectations: Comptoir Group, the owner and/or operator of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean restaurants, has announced trading for the 26-week period ending 30 June 2019 was in line with management expectations and ahead of the same period in 2018. The company added: “The board continues to take a cautious approach to selecting new site openings and is exploring multiple opportunities for both organic growth and further franchise opportunities. The company currently operates 25 managed restaurants and 4 franchise sites. The company retains a strong balance sheet and the Directors continue to be excited by the prospects of the group and expect to end the year in line with market expectations.”

Pret hires Kate Stein as global technical director: Pret A Manger has announced the appointment of Kate Stein as global technical director, starting on 2 September. The company stated: “In the newly created role, Kate will drive the implementation of key elements of Pret’s Allergy Action Plan globally, while also overseeing policies across the business on food standards, safety and consumer protection. Kate brings with her over 20 years of experience at Marks & Spencer. She has worked in both chilled and ambient food sectors. Most recently she has been part of the M&S senior technical leadership team.” Clare Clough, Pret food and coffee director, said: “It’s a pleasure to welcome Kate to Pret. She brings extensive industry experience that will complement and enhance our food team. Kate’s appointment will be pivotal as we continue to strengthen Pret’s food policies and transform our menu to serve changing consumer needs.” Kate Stein added: “I’ve always admired Pret and its ability to bring innovative, on-trend, freshly-prepared delicious food and drink to consumers. It’s been encouraging to see how Pret has transformed its business to improve food safety and support customers with allergies. I’m delighted to join the team at this point in Pret’s history and play a role in building on the progress to date.” 

Starbucks to expand delivery across the whole of the US in partnership with Uber Eats: Starbucks has announced plans to make Starbucks Delivers available throughout the US in early 2020 through an agreement with Uber Eats as the preferred delivery provider of Starbucks items. The intention to expand follows an 11-market rollout which demonstrated successful operational integration and received positive customer response to an effortless high-quality experience consistent with the Starbucks brand. “We are driven to create new and unique digital experiences that are meaningful, valuable and convenient for our customers,” said Roz Brewer, group president and chief operating officer for Starbucks. “Partnering with Uber Eats helps us take another step towards bringing Starbucks to customers wherever they are.” The company added: “By partnering with Uber Eats, Starbucks is leveraging the expertise of the largest global delivery service outside of China while extending the potential customer base beyond those who currently include Starbucks as part of their morning or afternoon routines.” Through the agreement, the companies will collaborate on innovation and technology integration. Starbucks and Uber Eats will continue to focus on delivery packaging, in-store operations, and a quick order-to-door delivery window. “Our customers are huge Starbucks fans and love being able to get their favourite items delivered with Uber Eats speed,” said Jason Droege, vice president of UberEverything. “We’re excited to expand our partnership across the United States to make ordering their favourite coffee and breakfast sandwich as easy as requesting a ride.” Starbucks Delivers powered by Uber Eats began rolling out in the fall of 2018 through a pilot in Miami and is currently available in 11 US markets. Starbucks will continue to introduce delivery to new markets, achieving national coverage by early 2020.

Chipotle reports like-for-likes up 10% in it Second Quarter: Chipotle has reported sales grew 13% in its Second Quarter in the US to 30 June to $1.4 billion. Comparable restaurant sales increased 10.0%, net of 40 bps from loyalty deferral, and included nearly 7% of comparable restaurant transaction growth. Digital sales grew 99.1% and accounted for 18.2% of sales for the quarter. Restaurant level operating margin was 20.9%, an increase from 19.7%. “We’re pleased with our financial performance, which marks the sixth consecutive quarter of accelerating comps and reflects continued progress on our key strategic initiatives,” said Brian Niccol, chief executive. “These strong results were delivered despite a tougher year over year comparison and benefited from better restaurant operations, more effective marketing, and leveraging our digital make line to grow sales and expand access.”

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