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Mon 8th Feb 2021 - Franco Manca operator – we are seeing opportunities to buy sites at much reduced rents
Franco Manca operator – we are seeing opportunities to buy sites at much reduced rents: Franco Manca operator Fulham Shore, which operates 53 Franco Manca sites and 19 The Real Greek venues, has highlighted the property opportunities being provided by the pandemic. Meanwhile, it is currently offering delivery and take-out services at 48 Franco Manca sites and ten The Real Greek venues. In a trading update, it stated: “The group’s revenues are currently running at around 46% of what the board estimates to be normal trading levels, whilst we operate under these limited conditions. The directors are confident that when the UK government removes trading and ‘stay at home’ restrictions, trading will return to previous levels. The group has now drawn down in full its CLBIL loan facility of £10.75m under the UK government’s scheme. The maturity date of our existing £14.75m HSBC RCF loan facility is March 2022. We are in negotiations with HSBC with a view to extending this facility. The company’s net debt, before lease liabilities recognised under IFRS 16, as at 5 February 2021 was £5.7m. This compares with net debt of £9.5m as at 29 March 2020. The group therefore has financial headroom within its loan agreements of circa £20m. The well-publicised difficulties in the property and restaurant sectors are providing the group with opportunities to acquire new sites at much reduced rents and lower capital costs per site. We are negotiating for many sites throughout the UK to re-start our expansion programme as soon as full restaurant trading resumes. In addition to our existing commitment to open a new Franco Manca in Glasgow this summer, the group is in final negotiations to secure two more sites over the next few weeks, one for Franco Manca and another for The Real Greek. Subject to concluding these negotiations as anticipated, both these restaurants would be ready to start trading in the summer.”

Cake Box opens its 150th store: Cake Box, the specialist retailer of fresh cream cakes, has opened its 150th store, located in Romford. The opening is the company’s 66th since its IPO on the AIM market in June 2018. Alongside the store roll-out programme, the group has continued to make further progress on strategic initiatives including the development of its own-brand delivery platform which complements its existing Click & Collect and third-party delivery offerings. Following investment to support the group’s continued expansion, operations at Cake Box’s new bakery and distribution centre in Coventry are due to begin shortly, complementing existing facilities in Enfield and Bradford. New product innovation which has been rolled out to customers includes improved loaf cake ranges, with gluten free and vegan options, alongside a ready-made, egg free custard. Sukh Chamdal, chief executive of Cake Box, said: “We’re thrilled to have reached this landmark in the Cake Box growth story. This is testament to the entrepreneurialism and quality of our franchisees and the resilience of our business model, which has shone through over the last twelve months, in a difficult environment. The world is still an uncertain place, but the progress we’ve made in bringing our unique proposition to more customers than ever gives us confidence that we will continue our growth journey and emerge a bigger, better business.”

Wine brand Hun closes crowdfunding campaign after raising more than £600,000: Wine brand Hun, led by entrepreneur Mark Woollard and backed by ex-Formula One driver David Coulthard and the chief executive of Waitrose James Bailey, has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Seedrs after raising more than £600,000. Lincolnshire-born Woollard was aiming to raise £400,000 and was offering a 13% equity stake in the London-based business, which is valued at £4m. The company has now closed the campaign after raising £600,761 from 455 investors. Along with a listing at Tesco, Hun became the first canned wine to be invited into the Amazon Vendor Seller programme. Funds will also be used to develop new products with plans to add a red and an alcohol-free wine to its current portfolio of a pale rosé, sauvignon blanc and a low-calorie sparkling rosé. Hun was launched in April 2020 by Woollard and its board includes Bailey, former BrewDog chief executive and Red Bull UK managing director Andy Shaw; former Red Bull Racing Formula One chief marketing officer Dominik Mitsch; and chief commercial officer of Banijay Group, Owain Walbyoff. Woollard said: “Due to the success of the campaign, we are now one step closer to achieving our ambition to become the world’s biggest canned wine brand and we have some really exciting plans for 2021.”

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