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Tue 19th May 2020 - Update: PizzaExpress, Compass Group, hotels
PizzaExpress to begin reopening sites for delivery only: PizzaExpress, the Hony Capital-backed chain, is to begin reopening a select number of sites for delivery only. Propel understands that the Zoe Bowley-led brand will open 13 restaurants for delivery in ‘London Villages’ including Balham, Fulham and Notting Hill, in the next ten days. Bowley told Propel: “We have deliberately taken our time to ensure we get this right for our teams and customers, and feel now is the right time to test our re-opening strategy starting with a small group of restaurants which are geographically sensible, and areas where we have historically seen high customer demand. There has been huge rigour around all the right safety protocols so our teams feel comfortable, and we can really demonstrate to customers how we are looking after the teams and ensure they trust the quality of the pizza they receive. We are running a slightly edited menu but as you would expect it does have all the familiar favourites. We will do this to test and learn and then it will enable us to programme the roll out and ultimately pave the way for dine in the future.” Talking to Propel last month, Bowley said the company was learning from the experiences of its restaurants in Hong Kong, where some sites have reopened, and working on a virtual delivery brand. 

Compass Group seeks to raise £2bn: Compass Group has launched an equity placing that seeks to raise up to £2bn. Dominic Blakemore, group chief executive, said: “The covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on Compass. We can only exist with the commitment of our colleagues around the world, many of whom have been on the front line of the battle against the pandemic. I am extremely proud of how the organisation has responded, and I’m humbled by the commitment and dedication our people are showing, day in day out. I want to extend my deepest sympathies to the families of those colleagues that have lost their lives to covid-19. Since the beginning of the crisis, keeping our colleagues safe has been our overriding focus. Colleague and consumer safety will continue to guide everything we do as we move towards reopening more units over the months ahead. It goes without saying that covid-19 has changed everything. Compass is a resilient and adaptable organisation and we have moved quickly to manage cash and costs and increase liquidity. We are doing all we can to protect jobs by redeploying colleagues into units that remain open and using government job retention schemes where available. The duration of the pandemic, and the pace at which containment measures are relaxed in different countries is unknown, which makes it a challenge to reliably assess the impact across our markets and our business. We are therefore withdrawing our previous growth and margin outlook for 2020. We remain, however, excited about the significant structural market opportunity globally and the potential for further organic revenue growth, margin improvement and returns to shareholders over time. Given the uncertainty in the short term outlook, today we have launched a £2 billion equity raise to reduce leverage and increase our liquidity. A strong balance sheet will allow us to weather the crisis whilst continuing to invest in the business to enhance our competitive advantages, support our long term growth prospects and further consolidate our position as the industry leader in food services. Alongside a placing to institutional shareholders, I am pleased that we are giving our valued retail investors an opportunity to participate in the fundraising through a separate retail offer. Although there are significant short term challenges, I firmly believe that Compass is now well-placed to succeed in a post covid-19 world. The strengths which have delivered Compass success in the past are the same ones which will deliver success in the future. Our scale and focus on execution, our emphasis on trust and safety, and our financial resilience will put us in a strong position for the recovery and will allow us to generate sustainable long term value for all of our stakeholders.” In April, Compass mitigated its cost base by around £500 million per month by taking a wide range of actions. These include a temporary reduction of 30% in the group chief executive’s salary, whilst the group board and executive committee have temporarily reduced their fees and salaries by 25%.

Hotels could provide a re-opening blueprint: Hotels could provide a blueprint for re-opening the hospitality sector. Facial recognition in lifts, self-service wine bars and ‘digital’ room keys are just some initiatives being deployed by major hotel chains to make sites safe for staff and customers. Around 20pc of the UK’s hotels have remained open throughout the crisis to provide accommodation for front line workers such as NHS staff and homeless and vulnerable people. It has been suggested this experience means the sector could provide a blueprint for the wider hospitality industry in preparing for reopening.

Heineken hires Stacey Tank to run corporate relations: Heineken has hired Stacey Tank to become chief corporate affairs and transformation officer as of 1 June 2020. She will join the executive team, reporting to Dolf van den Brink, the company’s chief executive designate and from 1 June 2020 chief executive and chairman of the executive board. Stacey Tank ran the corporate relations function at Heineken USA until 2015. The company stated: “She amplified the company’s sustainability development and performance, and boosted the company’s reputation among internal and external audiences. A US national, Stacey has over two decades of experience in global businesses in senior management roles. This includes close to ten years at General Electric in a variety of international audit, finance, and communications roles. During her GE years, she lived and worked also in Europe, Mexico and Brazil. In 2015, Stacey Tank joined The Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement retailer, as chief communications officer. Since 2018, Ms Tank leads their Installation Services and Measurement Services businesses, being responsible for several billion dollars in annual sales and over 5,000 employees. She returned the businesses to double-digit growth while instilling a strong values-based culture and robust innovation pipeline. Ms Tank is dedicated to the intersection of business and positive impact on society and she has repeatedly authored large-scale movements across enterprises.”

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