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Wed 28th Aug 2019 - Update: Loungers Full Year results, Fulham Short AGM and vegan meals
Loungers reports like-for-like sales up 6.9% in Full Year: Loungers has reported sales rose 26.4% to £153m and like-for-like sales rose 6.9% in the 52 weeks ended 21 April 2019. Adjusted Ebitda was up 23.7% to £20.6m (2018: £16.6m). Adjusted Ebitda margin was broadly maintained at 13.5% (2018: 13.7%). Adjusted operating profit was up 23.3% to £12.4m (2018: £10.1m). 25 new sites opened in the year (2018: 22 new sites), taking the total to 146 sites at FY19 year end. The company stated: “The new financial year has started well and we are trading in line with our expectations as we continue to outperform the wider hospitality market. We look forward to updating the market further when we next report on trading at our AGM in October.” Chief executive Nick Collins said: “Eight new sites have opened in the current financial year and the group remains on track to deliver its target of 25 new openings in the full year. These results represent a strong performance for the financial year ending 21 April 2019 and are in line with both our, and the market’s, expectations. Our revenue and profit growth not only reflect the continued success of the roll-out, but also our unwavering focus on our customers, the evolution of our proposition and how we support and invest in our teams. Our admission to AIM post the FY19 year-end has meant almost 600 employees have had the opportunity to become shareholders in Loungers and it is fantastic that their hard work and commitment can be rewarded in this way. Our new financial year has started well and our roll-out strategy for both brands is on schedule. I remain confident about the outlook and future growth prospects for the group.” He added: “Critical to delivering the sustained like for like sales growth in the mature estate has been our focus on evolving and developing the Lounge and Cosy Club brands and their customer proposition. Neither brand is wedded to a particular cuisine and this year has seen continued evolution and innovation in our broad all-day menus. The business has had a strong reputation for vegetarian, vegan and gluten free dining since inception and we continue to build on these foundations to respond to changing consumer dynamics. The roll-out of the “Beyond Meat” plant-based vegan burger during the year, initially trialled as a special but now a core menu item, is an example of our continual evolution. A current focus is on our drinks ranges and we see significant opportunity to refresh and enhance our drinks offer in the coming months. Coffee has been another area of focus, with emphasis on training, equipment and consistency as we seek to stay ahead of other national brands. We commenced our kitchen re-set programme during the year and to date have completed our work at 47 sites. The objective of the re-set is to improve the efficiency of our kitchens and the working environment of our back of house teams. The relatively modest capital investment at each site addresses kitchen lay-out and additional equipment, as well as the deployment of kitchen display screens which provide invaluable data in terms of ticket times, efficiency and guest experience. Our focus on the look and feel of our sites has been maintained, in particular on ensuring each site is unique. Particular attention has been placed on our furniture styles, to allow us to maximise food covers whilst not impacting wet-led bar trade in the evenings, and on our external areas. During the year we undertook eight “splash and dash” refurbishments at a total cost of £0.9m (2018: eight at a cost of £0.8m).”

Fulham Shore reports trading in line with management expectations: Franco Manca operator Fulham Shore, due to hold its AGM today, has reported trading is line with management expectations in the first 21 weeks of the year. Chairman David Page stated: “In the first 21 weeks of the current financial year, total group revenues have increased compared to the same period last year. At Franco Manca, increased revenue is being driven by restaurant openings and increased customer numbers. At The Real Greek, due to the long spring and summer 2018 heatwave, which has not been repeated in 2019, like for like revenues have until recently been slightly behind last year. Overall, trading for the group in the financial year to date continues to be in line with management expectations. In the current financial year to date, Fulham Shore has opened five Franco Manca pizzeria: in Greenwich, Birmingham, Exeter, Leeds and Edinburgh, all of which have started brightly. The opening of these last four restaurants continues our successful expansion outside London. We are building our 50th Franco Manca pizzeria in Manchester and the 17th The Real Greek on the Strand in London. These two will take Fulham Shore’s restaurant portfolio to 67 restaurants in the UK, as well as one summer Franco Manca franchise in Italy. We are in negotiations to secure a number of sites for the current and next financial year. As previously announced, we will continue our policy of funding new restaurant openings largely through internally generated cash flow. We continue to see more properties coming to the market at ever lower rents as a result of the current conditions in the wider property, retail and dining out sectors, and will continue to take advantage of these as and when is appropriate.”

Vegan meals are the fastest growing takeaway choice: Vegan meals are now the UK’s fastest growing choice, with orders rising almost fivefold over the last two years. With 600,000 people believed to be vegan in the UK in 2018, and an increase in “flexitarians” choosing to reduce their consumption of animal products, orders of vegan takeaways grew 388% between 2016 and 2018 while vegetarian orders rose 137%, according to research by the British Takeaway Campaign. Pakistani, Greek, Persian and Turkish takeaways also grew in popularity more rapidly than the nation’s favourites – Chinese and Indian – over the last two years, indicating a growing cosmopolitanism in UK appetites. In a blow for proponents of fish and chips, English takeaways recorded the slowest growth – less than 1%. Meanwhile average household spending on takeaways has grown to nearly 15% of food expenditure from close to 11% in 2015. Vegan orders have quadrupled over the past two years while in the past 12 months the number of vegan restaurants on the Deliveroo app has increased by 168%, making it one of the fastest-growing categories.

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