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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 11th Feb 2021 - Platinum ends interest in buying Marston’s
Platinum ends interest in buying Marston’s: Private equity firm Platinum has decided to end its attempt to buy Marston’s It stated: “Platinum today announces that, after careful consideration, it does not intend to submit a revised proposal and it will not make a firm offer for Marston’s.” At the start of February, Marston’s rejected an offer of 105p per share from Platinum Equity Advisors – and revealed it had received two previous offers from the US private equity firm. Marston’s stated: “The board with its advisers, has unanimously rejected the proposal on the basis that it very significantly undervalues Marston’s. The proposal followed two earlier proposals at 88 pence and 95 pence per share in December 2020, both of which were received prior to the Brains transaction, and were unanimously rejected by the board. The proposal represents a 19% discount to the company’s share price at the start of 2020, pre-covid 19; and since that time the company has completed the transformative joint venture with Carlsberg to create the Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company, which realised significant value on completion and is anticipated to continue to do so as the benefits of the joint venture are realised. In December 2020 the company also announced an agreement to operate 156 high quality pubs within the SA Brain estate in south and west Wales, in a transaction which is expected to be accretive to earnings in the first full year of trading.”

Jonathan Neame – the government’s objectives will have been met by April: Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame has argued the government’s objectives will be met in April – and further restrictions will amount to moving the goalposts. Talking to Kent Live, he stated: “I think there is no question that hospitality has been the worst affected sector. The current view is that we won’t open until the end of April, possibly May. If it is May we will have been shut for something incredible like 295 out of the previous 400 days. That is really tough on people’s wellbeing, tough on their mental health and tough across the board. We have kept the brewery open and we have seen quite a pick-up in the volume to the supermarkets but in no way does that make up for the losses in our pubs. We have received some support from the government but it doesn’t cover the losses we have incurred as a business. 97% of our staff are on furlough and our costs are cut to the bone. The vaccine programme has been exceptionally well managed but from what we understand is that within a matter of weeks and certainly not much more than a month we would expect hospitalisations to drop very significantly, once the most vulnerable in our society have been vaccinated and thereby the risk of hospitalisation drops significantly. There is a moment at the end of March or April when those objectives have been met so any restrictions after that point will be moving the goalposts.”

The Sun calls on chancellor to keep VAT rate low for hospitality: The Sun newspaper has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to keep VAT rates low for the hospitality sector in his budget next month. The Sun stated: “The hospitality, leisure and tourism sectors are being clobbered by the pandemic, with many firms teetering on the brink or closing altogether. Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s VAT reduction to 5% was a welcome support but is due to end on March 31. So The Sun is calling for it to be kept low in next month’s Budget to help save jobs.” The newspaper’s call was supported by a column authored by chef Tom Kerridge. He wrote: “Even when covid forced all 46,000 of Britain’s pubs to close their doors, they remained the lifeblood of our towns and villages. Over the last year, as they always have, publicans up and down the country worked tirelessly to take care of the vulnerable in their communities. Feeding children when free school meals weren’t available, cooking meals for the elderly, delivering vital supplies for the sick and isolating, and keeping NHS workers going with hot meals. At my pub, the Hand and Flowers in Marlow, Bucks, we are fast approaching the 100,000 mark feeding people in need through our Meals from Marlow scheme – and that’s just one pub.This was happening in communities across the country, with locals doing what they could to help out. But they are in danger. Even before the pandemic hit Britain was losing a pub every 20 hours. Last year we lost thousands more and this year the numbers are likely to rise further, with many staying shut long after lockdown ends. If the Great British Pub is to survive this, we all need to help. No one in the industry is asking for a handout but pubs do need a hand up. When they are allowed to open their doors again, I know people will flock back like they did last summer. But we also need our politicians to back British pubs, and all the jobs and communities that rely on them.Pubs need our Prime Minister and the Chancellor to do two things in the Budget next month – extend the temporary 5% VAT rate in place for hospitality until at least the end of the year and to give businesses like pubs a further break from paying business rates. These small steps will go a long way to help save not just our pubs but Britain’s restaurants, hotels, cafés, B&Bs and the like. If the government sees fit to extend these measures even further to help wedding venues and bowling alleys, for example, even more businesses and jobs would survive. In normal times, the hospitality industry employs more than three million and that’s without taking into account all jobs in the other industries that rely on us – the farms and fisheries, the brewers, the butchers and the bakers.As we come out of lockdown and get control of the virus, we need all of these businesses to boom to help our economy recover. After hugging your nan, going to the pub for a glass of the usual is the thing most of us are looking forward to doing again. When we were able to open again last summer people flocked back to their local and they could do so because of all the time, money and effort publicans everywhere put in to make it safe. Every pub spent hundreds if not thousands of pounds to put the right measures in place and protect people. And, as the government’s own figures show, it worked ­brilliantly, with millions enjoying meals out and infections remaining incredibly low. Now, over the course of the past year, many of these businesses have been shut as much as they have been allowed to be open. They are on their knees and we all need to help them back on their feet. So, I am urging everyone to remember that pubs mean more than just pints. They are about people and communities and they are a precious part of our culture. Jobs are on the line, the heart of the community is, too, and pubs need that little bit of help to give them the best chance to bounce back from this crisis. We all deserve the chance to celebrate and enjoy a drink once we are through this, so let’s hope we are raising a glass to Rishi after Budget day.” Yummy Pubs co-founder also argued that a continuation of the VAT cut is needed. He said: “Any form of support is welcomed. This year has been about trying to save the team as much as possible. I didn’t pay myself for the first six months. Now I take a third of what I would normally to keep my staff paid. We can help the economy trade out of this recession. People are desperate to socialise and we are in the position to help that and ignite the economy. The VAT reduction is the bare minimum. They should be delayed for a year, if not two. We haven’t been able to use any of the different support schemes but we need a business that can operate and trade to make use of them.”

Whitbread hires two non-executive directors: Whitbread has hired Fumbi Chima and Kal Atwal as non-executive directors of the company with effect from 1 March 2021. Chima will become a member of Whitbread’s Audit Committee, while Atwal will join the Remuneration Committee. The company stated: “Fumbi Chima is a global chief information officer, adept at digital transformation strategy in high-growth environments across a range of industries. She is currently executive vice-president and chief information officer at BECU, having previously served as chief information officer at adidas, Fox Network Group, Burberry, Walmart Asia’s business operations and American Express global corporate technologies. Kal Atwal is an experienced general manager, with over 13 years’ executive committee experience at BGL Group Limited, where she played a central role in driving the strategic growth and scaling of the brands within the group, in particular as the founding managing director of Kal is also chair of SimplyCook and serves as a non-executive director of Royal London Group and WH Smith.” Adam Crozier, chairman, said: “I am delighted to announce the appointments of Fumbi and Kal as Non-executive directors. They bring an invaluable mix of skills to the board, including in the technology sector, in digital transformation, in marketing and general management, gained from a range of businesses. As Whitbread faces into the next phase of its growth, they will add huge value to the board.”

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