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Thu 24th Oct 2019 - Update: C&C Group, Patisserie Valerie and Ivy Collection
C&C Group reports revenue and operating profit boost: Tennent’s and Magners producer C&C Group has reported revenue up 13.5% to 874.9m euros in the six months ended 31 August 2019. Operating profit rose by 9.2% to 63.8m euros. Stephen Glancey, C&C Group chief executive, said: “We are pleased with the progress of the business over the first half of the financial year with revenue growth of +13.5% and operating profits ahead by +9.2%. Last year was exceptional with a World Cup and a hot summer boosting demand. Despite challenging year-on-year comparatives we have delivered a resilient revenue performance in our core brands. Cash generation is excellent with conversion at 112.7% and our Net Debt/Ebitda stood at 2.04x at the end of August, ahead of forecast. Despite the economic uncertainties linked to macro and political issues, current trading is in line with expectations. Accordingly, we remain on track to deliver double digit EPS growth in FY2020 and on our steady state forward earnings targets. We have significant balance sheet strength to support our targeted growth range. C&C is committed to effective capital allocation and progressive capital returns. In the first half of the year, we have invested €3.5m in a range of business return projects. We have also bought back three million shares and are proposing an interim dividend of 5.50c representing an increase of 3.2%.” The company added: “Trade is stable and operating margins are 2.7% at Matthew Clark and -0.8% at Bibendum. This blends to 2% which is already within the full year margin target. Revenue is up +22.6%, benefiting from better brand and customer mix, cost reduction measures and an additional month. Operating profit of €11.0m is €4.9m higher than last year. Bibendum was loss making in line with historic phasing. We expect H2 to bring the business to break-even. We remain confident of achieving a steady state operating margin of 3.0%+ across the combined businesses. Our focus in the second half is maintaining customer service, further optimisation of logistics and investment in digital capability. Tennent’s volumes remained resilient against tough comparatives and an extra two months of minimum unit pricing. Volumes for the brand in Scotland were -4.9% however net revenues were +2.5% as a result of optimising pricing yields as well as a more favourable volume mix. This includes sales of Tennent’s in Scotland through Matthew Clark. Tennent’s volumes through the GB segment were -6.0% on prior period. The brand health scores remain at all-time highs and we have momentum on customer recruitment in the critical independent free-trade. We have also launched our direct to store distribution business and are making good progress. Magners volumes were -2.9% in GB, outperforming the overall cider category and gaining share across both the on & off-trade channels. The reporting period was highlighted by the commencement of the multi-year brand sponsorship of the Cheltenham Gold Cup for Magners and Bulmers which provided brand exposure at one of the UK and Ireland’s highest profile sporting and social events. We are pleased with the progress of Dark Fruits and Rose.”

KPMG earns £2.3m from wind down of Patisserie Valerie: KPMG has been paid about £2.3m for its work on winding down Patisserie Valerie, despite being replaced as administrator to the failed bakery chain due to a conflict of interest, the Financial Times has reported. The newspaper added: “The Big Four accounting firm, whose insolvency partners earned £875 an hour for the work according to its latest disclosure to creditors, will cease to be administrator as it cannot pursue legal claims against Patisserie Valerie’s auditor, which is expected to be the next stage in attempting to recoup money for creditors. It is unable to take action against Grant Thornton as it is its own auditor. The collapsed business will instead be taken over by restructuring firm FRP Advisory, which will put the company into liquidation. Creditors to the failed chain, which include its former chairman Luke Johnson and HM Revenue & Customs, have so far received none of the money they are owed. FRP was hired by creditors to replace KPMG in July, six months after the cake and coffee chain collapsed following the discovery of a £40m black hole in its accounts. A new administrator was required to pursue legal claims against Grant Thornton, which audited Patisserie Valerie, as KPMG was unable to consider such proceedings as Grant Thornton also vetted its accounts. The potential legal claim against Grant Thornton is believed to be the company’s biggest asset in administration. FRP will also consider whether to launch legal action against Patisserie Valerie’s former directors, officers and advisers. A person close to the process said there had been a delay in handing over Patisserie Valerie to FRP due to complications regarding the tax payable on the sale of the company’s assets. The person said a “material creditor claim”, believed to be by HMRC, had also not yet been agreed.”

Ivy Collection to launch Asian concept in St Paul’s next month: The Ivy Collection, the Richard Caring-backed and David Campbell-led group, is to launch Asian restaurant and bar concept The Ivy Asia in London’s St Paul’s on Monday, 18 November. The restaurant, which has taken over the former Barbecoa site at One New Change, will open seven days a week for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch and offer “theatrical drinks and cocktails late into the night”. The menu will be inspired by Asian flavours and ingredients, with dishes such as yellowtail sashimi with truffle, chilli and tosazu dressing, alongside a bespoke express lunch menu with bento boxes to take away. Diners will be met by a fluorescent pink onyx floor, panelled artwork depicting Japanese landscapes, and a pink-hued pagoda before ascending stairs to the first-floor restaurant. Upstairs, the entire floor will be illuminated by green, semi-precious stone set against an antique gold mirrored bar, Asian fabrics, brass table tops, and large windows overlooking the cathedral. Artwork will include antique 12ft samurai warriors and, as well as restaurant, bar and open kitchen seating, there will be a 20-cover private dining room. Ivy Asia is one of five openings the rapidly expanding Ivy Collection plans before the end of the year, with the other sites in London’s Victoria, Cardiff, Oxford and Windsor. The company is also thought to be exploring sites in Liverpool and Newcastle.

Wolverhampton-based distiller to open debut gin bar at former Costa Coffee city centre site: Crazy Gin, which is run by husband and wife Bruce and Paramjit Nagra, has got the go-ahead to convert a former Costa Coffee shop in Wolverhampton city centre into a specialist gin bar and distillery. Crazy Gin will launch at the Mander Centre in Victoria Street. Bruce Nagra told the Express and Star: “My wife and I sold our house in London to come back to Wolverhampton with the sole purpose of setting up this company, which we finally managed to do three years ago. We are the world’s first British Indian distillers and make the world’s first clear lassi gin, which fuses British and Indian cultures to create a range of flavoured gin. We will regularly distill on the premises so groups of people can come in and watch the process and experience tasting sessions. We will also have a bar on-site. At full capacity we’ll be able to accommodate 60 people. Since becoming established, we now sell to Harvey Nichols and a number of other leading retailers such as Debenhams. We have also hosted events for Porsche UK, Manchester City Football Club and various A-list celebrities.”

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