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Thu 12th Sep 2019 - Update: Comptoir Group results
Comptoir Group reports revenue and Ebitda boost, repositioned Westfield site trading ‘well above’ expectations, CFO retracts resignation: Comptoir Group, the owner and/or operator of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean restaurants, has reported group revenue increased 0.2% to £15.8m for the six months ending 30 June 2019, compared with £15.7m the year before. Gross profit increased 2.0% to £11.5m, compared with £11.3m the previous year. Adjusted Ebitda before highlighted items was up 11.1% to £2m, compared with £1.8m the year before. Pre-tax losses reduced to £528,000, compared with £697,000 the previous year. It had net cash and cash equivalents at the period end of £3.4m, compared with £3.9m the year before and £4.6m as of 31 December 2018. Comptoir Westfield, Shepherd's Bush reopened in May 2019 as a new repositioned site following the extensive centre redevelopment and is trading “well above” the board's expectations. The company currently owns and operates 25 restaurants with a further four franchise outlets. The group has not yet opened any additional sites this year as it continues to develop its property pipeline “with caution”. Terms have been agreed on three franchised sites with its partner HMSHost – in Ashford and Dubai Airport, which will open in the second half of the year as planned, and a third site, in Abu Dhabi airport, in the first half of 2020. The company said franchise growth remained “an attractive and key contributor to profitable growth” for the business. The group said it remained focused on investing in carefully selected sites. Selective refurbishments have been carried out over the first half and will continue into the second half of the year. Chief financial officer Mark Carrick, who announced in July he would leave, will now remain with the company after retracting his resignation. He was set to join Chopstix, the UK’s fastest-growing Asian quick service restaurant company. Comptoir Group chief executive Chaker Hanna said: “Performance over the first six months of the year has been encouraging despite the continuing challenging economic climate and uncertainty around Brexit outcome. Following the extensive redevelopment of Westfield, Shepherd's Bush, the new repositioned Comptoir opened ahead of schedule on 8 May. Since reopening the restaurant has been exceptionally well received and trading well above management expectations. As part of the Westfield development, we successfully exited from the Shawa restaurant on 2 June, having reached the end of its lease. The company also exited from the Oxford Shawa lease as planned on 31 March. Three sites were affected by extended temporary closures in the first half of 2019; the most significant being the Westfield Comptoir, which was closed for five months from the second week in January to its reopening. In addition to this, we had two temporary closures as a result of insurance-related refurbishments. The comparative sales for these three sites over the period of closures amounted to £1.04m in 2018. Despite the impact of reduced revenue resulting from these closures the group still reported revenue during the period above 2018. We are very wary of the exposure our sector has to increasing costs, particularly food costs, rent and labour. We remain confident that our sales levels are able to absorb these increases, and we continue to refrain from discounting, instead focusing our efforts on further improving the customer offering and experience. This includes our stance on providing our customers with the ease of access to our menus through our digital delivery platforms. In February this year we entered into an agreement with UberEats to widen access to our customers through a delivery partnership. We aim to significantly grow this important channel over the coming years. Investment in our people is paramount in order to ensure we continue to attract and retain the best talent in our business. As part of this, we have introduced an international accredited external leadership and management programme with our first tranche of managers enrolled on the programme. Our operational managers are also able to apply for our selective internal fast track development programme to help grow the pipeline of our future leaders. We have also further enhanced our digital people platform with its access to online training. Up until April this year, the business had been supported by teams across three separate locations. There is now one consolidated head office support team based in new offices in London Bridge. This has already enabled further efficiencies and the business will benefit from the synergies this brings to the group. In July this year we announced Mark Carrick had notified the board of his intention to resign from his role as chief financial officer. I am now delighted to advise Mark has retracted his intention to resign and will remain in office.”

Stonegate updates on Ei Group acquisition financing arrangements: Stonegate Pub Company has updated on its financing arrangements for its £3bn acquisition of Ei Group. Reminding investors the “acquisition is to be effected by means of a scheme of arrangement between Ei Group and the scheme shareholders”, Stonegate has said a list of bankers including Deutsche Bank and Lloyds will now join the company’s existing bankers – Barclays, Goldman Sachs and Nomura – in financing the deal.

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