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Mon 28th Oct 2019 - Update: Gourmet Burger Kitchen, The Restaurant Group, Tim Hortons and Chapel Down
Gourmet Burger Kitchen reports like-for like sales up 8.6%: Famous Brands has reported its Gourmet Burger Kitchen business saw like-for-like sales increase by 8.6% in the six months to 31 August. The company stated: “In line with management’s projections, the business made good progress, benefiting from the extensive range of operational improvements implemented, together with the Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) restructuring programme completed over the past year. Despite the subdued economy and general pressure experienced by the industry, GBK’s like-for-like sales grew, attributable to intensified focus on the quality of the offering (product and experience); a targeted reinvestment in refurbishments; an intensified campaign to upweight online sales; and improved management of efficiencies and costs. Revenue in Rand terms decreased by 7% to R640.7 million (2018: R691.6 million), while revenue in sterling was 13% lower. Notably, the business reduced its operating loss by 76% from (R45.4 million) in the prior corresponding period to (R10.7 million). The operating margin improved from (6.6%) in the prior comparable period to (1.7%). System-wide UK sales (Sterling) declined by 12.5% (2018: decrease of 6.8%), due to the closure of 24 stores as part of the CVA process, seven of which were closed during the review period. Significantly, like-for-like sales increased by 8.6% (2018: decrease of 9.7%). While dine-in sales declined in line with sector trends, online and delivery sales grew strongly, supported by promotional activity. External benchmarks confirm that the business tracked ahead of the market during the six months, building on the momentum evident in the second half of the prior financial year. Notably, like-for-like sales post the end of the review period have remained positive. Three restaurants underwent full revamps, while 30 other sites received kerbside makeovers in the six months under review. At the close of the reporting period, GBK’s footprint comprised 73 stores.” Of its Wimpy business in the UK it stated: “Capitalising on consumers’ growing demand for home delivery, the business expanded its multi-partner offering across the restaurant network, contributing to the positive like-for-like sales growth recorded. Revenue in Rands improved by 6% to R60.8 million (2018: R57.4 million), while revenue in Sterling was 1% lower. In Rand terms, operating profit increased 57% to R13.4 million (2018: R8.5 million), while the operating margin rose to 22.0% (2018: 14.9%), underpinned by foreign currency translation gains. Continued collaboration with GBK to leverage purchase volumes of core products enabled the business to extract cost efficiencies and contain price increases. In the six months under review, two restaurants were opened in Portslade and Huddersfield, and two others were refurbished to the new store design, which continues to deliver good post-revamp sales growth. There were no store closures. At the end of the reporting period, the footprint comprised 69 restaurants.” 

The Restaurant Group adds two non-executive directors: The Restaurant Group has hired Alison Digges and Zoe Morgan as non-executive directors. They will join the board on 1st January 2020. The company stated: “Alison Digges has extensive experience of running consumer businesses in the media and gaming sectors, leading programmes of digital transformation. She is currently the UK managing director of Digital for GVC PLC, one of the world’s largest sports betting and gaming groups, with full P&L accountability for their gaming brands. She sits on their UK digital board. She previously held digital and marketing roles for Gala Coral, Datamonitor and Granada TV, and brings a wealth of commercial, operations and digital experience from multi-site consumer businesses. Alison will become a member of the Audit and Nomination Committees. Zoe Morgan is an experienced marketeer and non-executive director. She has been marketing director of a number of retail, consumer and food businesses including Boots and the Co-operative Group. She has also been co-founder of a number of start-up businesses. She has a strong marketing background in multi-site, retail businesses, with a broad skill set in strategy, brand management and CRM. She has previously held a number of NED roles, including at Finsbury, a leading speciality bakery manufacturer, and Moss Bros Group, and chaired the Remuneration Committees of both organisations. Zoe will become a member of the Remuneration and Nomination Committees.” The company also today announces that Simon Cloke, non-executive director, will be retiring from the board on 26 February 2020. Debbie Hewitt MBE, chairman, said: “We are pleased to welcome both Alison and Zoe to The Restaurant Group. Alison’s expertise in digital transformation and running commercial operations and Zoe’s broad strategic, brand and food supplier insight will add to the skill set of the board. We look forward to working with them both. On behalf of the board, I would also like to extend our thanks and gratitude to Simon for his valuable contribution during his tenure with the group and particularly for the important role he has played in the repositioning of the group.”

Chapel Down reports excellent 2019 harvest: Chapel Down has reported the completion of the 2019 harvest, which yielded excellent quality fruit for our wines and was its second largest ever harvest by volume yielding equivalent to 92% of 2018’s record harvest. Frazer Thompson, chief executive of Chapel Down Group, said: “This year’s harvest has been another exceptional one and enables us to put sparkling base wines aside for future growth. With some of our new vineyards giving us their first crop and high yields in our more mature vineyards, we are delighted to report our second highest ever vintage which yielded equivalent to 92% of 2018’s record harvest. Despite the challenging weather during harvest we have again been delighted with not only the quantity of fruit but also the quality, especially in Kent. It’s testament to the outstanding team we have developed that we have been able to maintain very high quality fruit and excellent yields. This is further evidence of the genesis of a new World class wine-growing region. These are exciting times for our young industry.”

Tim Hortons to open third Northern Irish site: Canadian cafe and bake shop Tim Hortons is to open its third outlet in Northern Ireland. SK Group, which is leading the UK roll-out of the brand, is launching a drive-thru site in Antrim Road, Glengormley, creating 40 jobs. Tim Horton’s other two Northern Ireland restaurants are based in Belfast – in Fountain Street, and a drive-thru at Connswater. Kevin Hydes, chief finance and commercial officer of the Tim Hortons franchise in the UK, told Belfast Live: “When we opened our two Belfast restaurants last year we were completely blown away by the excitement and the wonderful welcome from the local community. We are thrilled to be opening our second drive-thru site in Glengormley.” SK Group opened the debut UK Tim Hortons in Argyle Street, Glasgow, in June 2017 and the brand now has circa 20 sites in Britain. Professional ice hockey player Tim Horton founded the brand in 1964 to create a space where “everyone feels at home”. The brand currently has more than 4,700 restaurants globally.

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