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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 10th Sep 2020 - Various Eateries unveils float amid ‘biggest event outside of war-time’
Various Eateries unveils float amid ‘biggest event outside of war-time’: Various Eateries, which operates Coppa Club and Tavolino, has announced its plan to float on AIM with the intention of raising up to £25 million by way of a placing. The company stated: “Members of the board have created some of the UK’s largest and most well known hospitality groups. Between them, they have opened more than 400 new sites and have generated attractive returns for investors since the mid 1990s.” They are: Hugh Osmond, founder – PizzaExpress, My Kinda Town, Punch Group; Andy Bassadone, chairman – My Kinda Town, Strada, Côte Restaurants, Bill’s, The Ivy Collection; Yishay Malkov, chief executive – The Ivy Collection, Gordon Ramsay Holdings, Roka Zuma, Park Chinois; Oli Williams, chief finance officer – itsu, McDonald’s; and Matt Fanthorpe, chef director – Guy Savoy, Jamie’s Italian. The company has ten sites in operation, with five sites in London and five sites outside, ‘providing a platform to scale organically at pace’. The company added: “The directors believe site availability, acquisition opportunities, reduced competition, availability of talent and changes in consumer behaviour provide opportunities to accelerate the group’s growth. The directors believe admission will allow the group to advance its plans to roll out the Coppa Club and Tavolino brands, while allowing greater access to capital to fund future activities including acquisitions and for working capital.” Hugh Osmond, founder of Various Eateries, said: “I believe that covid-19 is the biggest event to hit the UK economy outside of war-time. Whilst I deplore the terrible effect it has had on our industry, we are confident that there will be major opportunities for a well-funded group with strong management to build a fantastic business in the aftermath of covid. We are also confident that we have one of the most experienced teams ever assembled in the hospitality sector, 2020s-appropriate brands, and an established platform business and I am firmly of the view that the opportunity is as big as it was in the early 1990s when I jointly led the acquisition of PizzaExpress. The funds raised will be principally used to take advantage of the opportunities and accelerate growth. Our senior team has an established track record of acquiring, converting and opening sites and, with, what we perceive to be, the availability of premium sites at attractive rents, I believe the prospects for Coppa Club and Tavolino are exciting. There are also a number of well-known brands out there that are struggling to navigate the pandemic and various other industry pressures. Should the right opportunities present themselves, we would consider supplementing our organic growth through acquisition, offering distressed brands a more sustainable future as part of the group. The brands we operate have been designed to cater to changing consumer preferences. Coppa Club provides all-day flexible spaces ideal for remote working as well as extensive outdoor spaces, and separate bar, lounge and restaurant areas. Tavolino is a modern all-day Italian bistro with potential for every high street. With a team that between them have created some of the UK’s most well-known sit-down restaurant groups over a period of 27 years, we believe we are ideally placed to make the most of the post-lockdown landscape.” The company said its two remaining two Strada which it aims to re-fit as Tavolino sites. The company added: “The directors understand that due to this pressure on restaurant groups, and the desire to ensure occupancy on the part of the landlords, there has been an aggressive renegotiation of the terms of many existing leases with some groups negotiating up to 25% rent reductions. The directors believe that, as the economic fallout continues, the element of the rent linked to turnover (and therefore linked to performance of the tenant) rather than a fixed amount will increase and base rents will reduce accordingly. As a result, the directors also believe that there will be a power shift in favour of tenants and operators in the longer term, with potential one-way tenant breaks, upward and downward rent reviews and turnover-linked leases.”

Fuller’s reports managed sales 80% of last year’s: Fuller’s has reported sales in those managed pubs and hotels that have reopened since 4 July 2020 have grown steadily and are 80% of last year’s on a like for like basis. The company stated ahead of its AGM: “Trading across the Fuller’s estate in August was buoyed by the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which grew trade and encouraged consumers to come back to the pub, reinstating it in their routine. Business has also been strong in Cotswold Inns & Hotels, which Fuller’s acquired in October 2019, where staycationers have led to near full occupancy. With its well-invested, predominately freehold estate and strong balance sheet, Fuller’s is well-positioned to navigate any challenges ahead and to capitalise on suitable opportunities that might arise.” Chief executive Simon Emeny said: “We are still at the start of a return to normality, but we are quietly confident with the way business is progressing. Fuller’s has long extolled the virtue of a balanced estate, both in terms of style and geography, and that has been borne out in the current climate with stronger trading in suburban and countryside locations compensating for the initial lack of footfall in our town and city centres. Recent investments in our gardens and accommodation have helped us benefit from both the customers’ desire to be outside and the growth in domestic tourism. It has been an incredibly challenging time. We have implemented a clear strategy with our phased reopening plan that included introducing a number of digital-led initiatives to improve the customer journey, taking every possible step to keep our teams and our customers safe, and keeping a tight focus on costs. The Fuller’s experience is centered around warm and inviting pubs and hotels in iconic locations with delicious fresh food, a vibrant portfolio of drinks, beautiful bedrooms and exceptional customer service. It is a credit to our team members that they have quickly adapted to new ways of working and continue to deliver that great Fuller’s experience to our discerning customers.”

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