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Thu 14th Nov 2019 - Update: Young's results, Just Eat and McDonald's toy recycling trial
Young’s sees managed like-for-likes up 5.1% in past 13 weeks as it reports first-half record Ebitda: London pub retailer Young’s has reported strong trading in the most recent 13 weeks of its financial year with managed house revenue up 12.4% and like-for like sales increasing 5.1%. It comes as the company reported total revenue increased 7.3% to £168.2m for the 26 weeks ending 30 September 2019, compared with £156.8m the previous year. Adjusted Ebitda pre-IRFS 16 rose 7.2% to a first-half record £43.3m, compared with £40.4m the year before. Adjusted profit before tax pre-IRFS 16 was up 3.4% to £27.0m, compared with £26.1m the previous year. Managed house like-for-like sales in the period were up 1.1%, “reflecting the challenging prior comparatives from the hottest English summer on record and England's Fifa World Cup performance”. Ram Pub Company – its tenanted division – saw like-for-like sales fall 1.6% against the “same tough comparable period”. There was investment of £17.3m during the period, including the freehold acquisition of the White Bear in Tunbridge Wells. The Redcomb pubs have been successfully integrated into the existing Young's estate and, after a build-up period, are performing in line with expectations. Net debt was reduced by £8.6m to £155.0m. It reported a strong balance sheet with financial capacity for further investment. Chief executive Patrick Dardis said: “I am very pleased with the performance of our business during the first half of the year. In what was a challenging period up against tough comparatives, we continued to grow profits, make acquisitions, invest organically and increase the dividend – a reflection of the consistent execution of our strategy and the hard work of our teams throughout those six months. The start of the half-year was challenging as the poor and unpredictable weather was a far cry from last year's exceptional early summer sunshine. However, the summer bank holiday temperatures and late-September sunshine contributed to strong like-for-like sales growth in the second 13 weeks, which helped to balance the first half, with like-for-like sales finishing up 1.1%. We have added the White Bear, a freehold pub in Tunbridge Wells, into our managed house estate and continue to seek out the right opportunities in exciting new locations where we believe our premium offer will flourish. Although the upcoming general election prolongs the unpredictability of the political environment, it does not change our approach or confidence in our winning strategy of running high-quality, well-invested premium pubs. Our expectations for the full year remain unchanged and we remain confident in our ability to deliver long-term growth and sustainable superior investor returns. Recent trading has been strong, with total sales for the past 13 weeks up 12.4% and up 5.1% on a like-for-like basis demonstrating the strength of our underlying growth. During October, key weekend trading days were dominated by heavy rain. Although we saw an uplift from the knockout stages of the Rugby World Cup with England's successful run to the final, there will be an impact on the coming weeks in our heartland due to the lack of autumn rugby internationals at Twickenham Stadium. In the second half of the year we will see further benefit from the Redcomb pubs through Christmas until the acquisition annualises at the end of January. Investment is planned in the final quarter at the Bickley (Chislehurst), Carnarvon Arms (Newbury) and Worplesdon Place (Guildford), setting them up perfectly for the new financial year. The New Inn (Ealing), which we transferred from the Ram Pub Company earlier this year, will also undergo major investment, opening in spring 2020.” 

Takeaway.com boss backtracks over Just Eat deal claims: The boss of Takeaway.com has been forced to backtrack after appearing to rule out the prospect of sweetening the terms of its offer for online food ordering firm Just Eat. Jitse Groen, chief executive of the Dutch takeaway delivery operator, was quoted by Reuters as saying the recommended merger with its London-listed rival had garnered “a lot” of support from Just Eat shareholders. Reuters said when it had asked him at a conference in Barcelona whether he would sweeten the terms of the Takeaway.com bid, he had replied: “No.” However, reports The Times, in a later statement, Takeaway.com insisted: “Groen did not state the Takeaway.com offer will not be changed. In addition, Groen did not indicate levels of shareholder support for it.” A fall in the Takeaway.com share price has reduced the value of the offer from 731p a share when it was announced in July, to 650p – well below a competing 710p-a-share all-cash bid from Naspers, the South African technology investor, which has been rejected by Just Eat. Under the Takeaway.com merger, Just Eat shareholders would receive 52.2% of the enlarged share capital, but some investors have called for the proportion to be raised to at least 56%. The cash offer from Naspers, made by Prosus, its Amsterdam-listed offshoot, values Just Eat at more than £4.8bn, while the Takeaway.com proposal is worth about £4.4bn, based on the Dutch group’s present share price.
Yesterday (Wednesday, 13 November), Takeaway.com highlighted its plan to expand Just Eat’s UK position with the introduction of Scoober, its own-delivery service, to enable the company to compete more effectively with Deliveroo and UberEats. It said British initiatives would “incur costs in the tens of millions of euros per year”, but would reposition the new company – to be called Just Eat Takeaway.com – for “long-term growth and profitability”. Benefits also would come from the rationalisation of Just Eat’s five IT platforms, which would be “kicked off by a centralisation in continental Europe”. That statement raised fears of job losses in the UK.

McDonald's launches toy recycling trial: McDonald’s is to trial collection bins for unwanted plastic toys to be recycled into new products such as coffee cups and play equipment. The company will collect any plastic toys – from its own Happy Meals and those bought from other retailers – as long as they fit through the 17cm diameter entrance to the bins. The initial trial will run for four weeks in seven restaurants in the UK and Ireland – Bramley Road, St Ives; Queensway drive-thru, East Kilbride; Kingston, Milton Keynes; Cherry Tree Road Blackpool; Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff; Roscrea, Ireland; and The Swan Centre, Eastleigh. The toys will be recycled into new products from coffee cups to bins, outdoor play equipment and vegetable planters to be gifted to communities. Helen McFarlane, sustainability manager at McDonald’s UK & Ireland, told PA: “It is really important we test this to ascertain what customers bring back to us and in turn what we are able to create with the old plastic toys. We want to ensure we’re creating genuinely useful products from the toys children have enjoyed and finished playing with. This test will enable us to work with our suppliers to create a range of new items, maximising the amount of plastic we can recycle and reducing the need for the creation of new virgin plastic.” If successful, McDonald’s will look to roll the move out to all restaurants in 2020. The trial follows McDonald’s announcing it will give customers the option of swapping plastic toys in its Happy Meals for fruit bags or books. It comes following increasing consumer pressure on fast food companies to stop handing out the single-use plastic toys, which parents commonly complain are promptly discarded and only contribute to the waste crisis. McDonald’s said swapping out the toys, alongside its roll-out of paper straws in restaurants, the removal of McFlurry plastic lids and the removal of single-use plastic from McDonald’s salads, would reduce waste by 1,005 metric tonnes annually.

Time Out opens first Time Out Market under managed agreement, in Canada: Time Out Group has opened its new Time Out Market in Montréal in Canada – its first site under a managed agreement. Spanning 40,000 square foot, the venue offers food from 16 of the city’s best chefs and restaurateurs, three bars, a demonstration kitchen, a cooking school, a retail area and cultural experiences. Time Out Market Montréal is the centrepiece of Centre Eaton de Montréal in Sainte-Catherine Street, which is owned and managed by global real estate company Ivanhoé Cambridge, with whom Time Out Group entered its first management agreement to open this location. The first Time Out Market opened in 2014 in Lisbon. This has been followed by three new Time Out Markets opened in North America this year – in Miami and New York in May as well as in Boston in June. In the first six months of 2019, Time Out Market saw a total of 2.1 million visitors across these four locations and 72% growth in net revenue to £6.6m. The global roll-out of the Time Out Market format will continue with venues opening in Chicago next Thursday (21 November), as well as Dubai in 2020, London Waterloo in 2021 and Prague in 2022.

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