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Wed 31st Jul 2019 - Update: Just Eat, M&B, Easyhotel and Escape Hunt
Just Eat reports sales rose 30% to £465.5m in First Half: Just Eat, the global marketplace for online food delivery, has reported sales rose 30% to £465.5m in the six months to 30 June 2019. Profit before tax was down 98% to £0.8m (H1 2018: £48.1m) reflecting planned investments in delivery and iFood. Orders were up 21% to 123.8 million (H1 2018: 102.5 million), with 2 million net new customers joining Just Eat in H1. The company said it had over 27m customers now ordering an average of 8.7x a year compared to 8.1x in H1 2018. There was an expected recovery in UK order growth to 11.2% in Q2 – May and June stronger – giving 9.3% order growth in H1. An accelerated delivery rollout meant there were 5,200 UK and 5,700 Australian delivery restaurants at the end of June. The company stated: “Our delivery service covers in excess of 50% of the addressable population in both countries. Australia returned to revenue and order growth in Q2, gross profitability for delivery achieved from April.” The company reported Canada was profitable in H1 2019, with continuing positive order momentum. Its European markets are showing ‘good growth’, with strong order performances in Italy and Switzerland. Just Eat said it is the First food platform to launch hygiene ratings in-app across the 34,000-strong UK restaurant estate. It signed new partnerships with Greggs and Asda in the UK, Domino’s in France and Burger King in Denmark & Ireland. The company added: “The board is confident in the current performance of the group and is reconfirming its guidance for full year 2019 revenue in the range of £1.0 billion to £1.1 billion and uEbitda in the range of £185 million to £205 million (both excluding Brazil and Mexico). We expect the recent acquisitions of Flyt, Practi and City Pantry to impact uEbitda by £10-12 million in 2019 but, despite this, we are reconfirming our uEbitda guidance range. The board also continues to expect Just Eat’s share of its Latin American operations (being Brazil and Mexico together) to report an uEbitda loss in the range of £80 million to £100 million for full year 2019.” Peter Duffy, interim chief executive officer, said: “We’ve been working at pace and made good progress in the first half of the year to become the preferred food delivery app for our customers, with a broader choice of restaurants, a better user experience and a more personalised and impactful approach to communication. Performance in our UK business strengthened in Q2, our Canadian and European businesses are performing well and Australia has returned to top line growth with our delivery operations achieving gross profitability. These are strong foundations for Just Eat to build on, as the business continues to drive forward.”

M&B reports like-for-like sales up 2.8% in most recent ten weeks: Mitchells & Butlers has reported like-for-like sales rose 2.8% in the ten weeks to 27 July, down from 3.8% in the 33 weeks to 11 May. The company stated: “Like-for-like sales for the ten week period since our last announcement grew by 2.8% with our performance remaining consistently ahead of the market. Growth in food sales was particularly strong (at 5.4%), in comparison with a period last year that had included strong drink sales driven by the World Cup and an extended period of sunny weather, demonstrating the breadth and resilience derived from our broad range of established brands. We have opened six new sites and completed 230 conversions and remodels in the financial year to date.” Phil Urban, chief executive, said: “We are pleased with sales performance which remains convincingly ahead of the market. Whilst growth across the market during the early weeks of the period reflected the World Cup and sunny weather last year, we are encouraged by how growth has strengthened in recent weeks. We remain confident in the momentum we have gained, and which continues to build, driven by the ongoing impact of numerous Ignite 2 initiatives.”

Easyhotel buys 87-bedroom Nice hotel: Easyhotel, the owner, developer and operator of “super budget” branded hotels, has exchanged contracts to acquire the freehold of the 87-room Ibis Palais des Congres, Nice. The company stated: “The group will invest €11.7m to both acquire and rebrand the site and will also seek planning approval to add a further seven rooms to the property. The hotel is in excellent condition and following completion of the Acquisition the hotel will open immediately as Easyhotel Nice. Completion is expected to take place in October 2019. The popular tourist destination of Nice, located on the French Riviera is the fifth largest city in France, attracting over ten million overnight hotel stays in 2018. It is home to the largest airport in France, outside of Paris, with c.14 million passengers passing through in 2018. The hotel is centrally located, close to a range of excellent transport facilities and a short walk from the Promenade des Anglais and Nice’s popular Vieux Nice. The acquisition brings the group’s owned and franchised committed development pipeline, scheduled to open in the next financial year ending 30 September 2020, to 735 rooms across five hotels, with a further 976 rooms expected to open in the following year.” Guy Parsons, chief executive of Easyhotel, said: “This investment in our first owned hotel in France is testament to the ambitious plans we have to develop the Easyhotel brand in Continental Europe. We see significant opportunities to develop owned hotels in France and Spain and are confident that we will receive planning permission this autumn for the 209-room hotel close to Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport that we announced last December. Attracting over four million visitors every year, the iconic city of Nice is famous as one of France’s premier tourist destinations, with recent years having seen significant investment in the City’s infrastructure and services. We are delighted to have secured this excellent site and look forward to announcing further opportunities in due course.”

Escape Hunt chief financial officer Alistair Rae steps down: Escape Hunt, the escape rooms company, has announced that Alistair Rae has stepped down today as chief financial officer in order to take up another appointment. The company stated: “Graham Duncan, who has worked with the company since before its re-admission to AIM in May 2017, has agreed to provide the necessary finance support by assuming the role of interim chief financial officer. Alistair has agreed to assist Graham with a hand-over during the coming weeks. Graham is a chartered accountant with more than 20 years capital markets experience; until 2013, he was a capital markets director with Mazars LLP in London. The board has commenced the process to appoint a successor.” Chief executive Richard Harpham said: “Alistair leaves behind a well-established and proficient finance team, which will support Graham in his interim role. Alistair leaves with the board’s very best wishes and thanks for his contribution over the last two years. The search for a permanent replacement is underway. We look forward to updating shareholders in due course.”

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