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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 8th Jan 2020 - Update: Doubts raised again over future of Handmade Burger Co
Doubts raised again over future of Handmade Burger Co: The future of Handmade Burger Co is again uncertain, after owner The Burger Chain Ltd filed notice of its intention to appoint an administrator for the 19-strong chain, over the festive period. It is thought that an administrator for the business could be appointed as early as this week. Burger Chain Ltd was the Essex-based business set up to acquire the 20-strong rump of Handmade Burger Co by businessman Wahab Hussain in 2017, after the then 29-strong group was originally placed into administration. In October, Burger Chain Ltd appointed CBRE to assess its options for the brand, including a possible sale of the business. Last September, Burger Chain Ltd and sister company The Burger Comp Ltd were served with a compulsory strike-off notices, although these were discontinued the following day after “cause has been shown why the company should not be struck off the register”. The company closed its 80-cover restaurant in Deansgate, Manchester last autumn, with Rosa’s Thai Café taking on the unit for its first site in the city, and second in the north west. Handmade Burger Co currently operates sites in Aberdeen, Edinburgh Ocean Terminal, Glasgow Braehead, Glasgow St Vincent Street, Birmingham Brindleyplace, Birmingham Bullring, Leicester Highcross, Lincoln Brayford Wharf, Peterborough, Solihull Touchwood, Gateshead Metro Centre, Hull, Leeds Trinity, Sheffield Meadowhall, Bath, Bournemouth, Reading, Southampton West Quay and London’s Wembley. Nine of the group’s sites shut under the insolvency process in 2017. A report by Companies House showed that the 20-strong chain was sold to Burger Chain Ltd out of administration for just over £1.45m. Leonard Curtis was the administrator first rime around. The 2017 sale process generated interest from 36 parties with seven offers subsequently received and a sale contract issued to two parties.

Additional speakers confirmed for Restaurant Marketer & Innovators European Summit: Three new speakers have been confirmed for this year’s Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit to be held in London in two weeks. Steph Howson, head of content at CH&CO will join the content panel; Elton Mouna, managing director of Remarkable Pubs will join the restaurant of the future think tank; while Maya Orr, senior marketing consultant at Lidl will be a special guest speaker sharing the success the brand had with its Lidl surprise campaign. They will join a line up of more than 70 speakers from 12 countries, including senior leaders from Wagamama, Ogilvy, Dishoom, by Chloe, Carluccio’s, The Restaurant Group, Marco Pierre White Restaurants, Pho, Bills, Honest Burger, Petersham Nurseries, ETM Group, Puttshack, London Union, Tortilla and Adam Handling Restaurants. Wagamama’s business development director, Andre Johnstone said of last years event: “I’m always amazed by the quality of the speakers and talks at the RMI events. James Hacon and the team always manage to find people who have incredible marketing stories to tell. You just need to look around the room and see how many people are furiously scribbling notes during each talk for proof of how much people get out of them!” Limited tickets still available. Tickets for operators for the two days are £575 plus VAT and £345 plus VAT for one day. Tickets for suppliers are £795 plus VAT for the two days and £445 plus VAT for one day. Tickets can be purchased from Propel by calling Anne Steele on 01444 817691 or emailing

Greggs to make £7m payment to staff after 2019 saw 9.2% like-for-like sales growth: Greggs has report total sales rose 13.5% (2018: 7.2%) in the 52 week to 29 December 2019. Company-managed shop like-for-like sales were up 9.2% (2018: 2.9%). 138 new shops opened in the year, with 41 closures. A £7m special payment will be made to employees. Full year underlying profit before tax is expected to be slightly higher than our previous expectations. Chief executive Roger Whiteside said: “We delivered a strong finish to what has been an exceptional year for Greggs. The major investments we have made in recent years to make Greggs an attractive choice in the food-on-the-go market are delivering. Consumers are responding very positively and we have seen increasing visits from both new and existing customers. Our record financial performance in 2019 has enabled us to enhance returns to shareholders. I am delighted to announce that we will also be making a special additional payment to all of our colleagues across the business who have worked so hard to deliver this success in what has been a phenomenal year. Looking to the year ahead, we face strong sales comparatives and cost inflation headwinds present a challenge. However, with strong momentum in the business we see further growth opportunities across a number of channels as we invest in new ways to make Greggs more accessible and convenient for customers.” In the fourth quarter company-managed shop like-for-like sales grew by 8.7% (Q4 2018: 5.2%). The company added: “Growth continues to be driven by additional customer visits with strong demand across our traditional ranges and, of course, the huge popularity of our now-iconic vegan-friendly sausage roll. As we enter the new year, we have added to our vegan-friendly menu with the launch of our ‘Vegan Steak Bake’ and our first vegan doughnut. In the year ahead we will continue to evolve our range to suit a broad variety of dietary choices. We have finished 2019 in a very strong financial position, despite having made significant investments in our strategic programmes and having enhanced shareholder returns by the payment of a special dividend of £35 million in October 2019. In the context of this exceptional year the board has agreed to make a special payment to employees, in recognition of their crucial contribution to business success. All of our colleagues will share in a one-off payment costing £7 million which will be paid at the end of January. With strong momentum in the business there are clear opportunities for further growth as we begin to invest in new ways to make Greggs more accessible and convenient for customers. In particular we expect to scale up successful elements of our trials in the extension of trading hours and by making delivery more widely available. We see a number of cost headwinds in the year ahead and expect these to be higher than we have seen recently, as National Living Wage costs increase faster than general inflation and the cost of pork continues to rise significantly. As usual we will seek to mitigate as much of this as is possible through business efficiency, but will also ensure that our prices continue to represent great value.”

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