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Tue 16th Feb 2021 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Cut VAT to boost tourism as sector sinks, says UKHospitality: UKHospitality has urged the government to extended and expand the VAT cut for sector businesses in order to stimulate demand and help support the tourism and hospitality sectors. It comes after figures published by the Office for National Statistics outlined the impact of covid-19 on the UK’s travel and tourism industry. In the second quarter of 2020, overseas residents made 96% fewer visits and spent 97% less than in the second quarter of 2019. Domestic and international air passenger traffic fell to less than 2% of its February 2020 levels in April 2020. Accommodation and travel agency businesses saw the sharpest decline in turnover during the first national lockdown, falling to 9.3% of their February levels in May 2020. In the three months to June 2020, employment in accommodation for visitors fell by 21.5%, compared with the same three months of 2019. In travel and tourism industries overall, the number of people aged 16 to 24 years saw the largest fall in employment of any age group between the third quarter of 2019 and the third quarter of 2020. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The sudden and colossal drop-off in the number of inbound tourists recorded last year makes for shocking reading for the hospitality sector. Hospitality relies in large part on inbound tourism, and a healthy travel and tourism sector is going to be key for the survival of our sector in the months and years ahead. We appreciate these figures are not going to return to pre-pandemic levels overnight, but we hope everything will be done to encourage tourism in the UK, first domestically and then internationally, as soon as it is safe to do so. Key to this will be an extension of the VAT cut for hospitality businesses. If this is maintained and expanded to the wider hospitality sector, it can play a key role in stimulating demand and getting these numbers back up to where we need them to be. If this accompanied by an extension of the business rates holiday, then all the better for businesses’ chances. A healthy tourism sector means we can play a bigger role in the economic recovery of the country and we can begin to refill these vacancies. As the worldwide vaccine rollout continues apace, we need to send the message that we are open for business.”
 

Industry News:

Fuller’s operations director Kate Eastwood to feature in ‘A Focus on Operations’ video: In a new series of Propel lockdown videos in conjunction with restaurant intelligence platform Yumpingo, we focus on the role of operations directors. We speak to operations directors from leading sector businesses about how their priorities have changed during the crisis, how they have adapted, the biggest challenges they have faced, how their relationships with their teams have changed, and how they see the consumer experience evolving. In the latest video of the series, Ann Elliott talks to Fuller’s operations director Kate Eastwood. The video will be released at 9am on Tuesday (16 February).

Sector trade bodies in Scotland lambast ‘flawed’ and ‘outdated’ covid-19 transmission report: Sector trade bodies in Scotland have lambasted an “outdated” and “flawed” report that questioned whether pub operators can effectively and consistently prevent covid-19 transmission – after researchers observed risks arising in licensed premises last summer. The study, led by the University of Stirling, was funded by the Scottish government chief scientist office and conducted in May to August last year in a “wide range” of licensed premises. Professor Niamh Fitzgerald, director of the University of Stirling’s institute for social marketing and health, who led the research, said: “We concluded, despite the efforts of bar operators and guidance from government, potentially significant risks of covid-19 transmission persisted in at least a substantial minority of observed bars, especially when customers were intoxicated. Closures of premises can eliminate these risks, but also cause significant hardship for business owners and staff.” But UKHospitality Scotland executive director Willie Macleod said: “The report appears flawed in the extreme. It is limited to just 29 licensed premises out of an estimated 9,000 across the country, with these venues only being visited for a maximum of two hours each. The report states research was also carried out during the period of May to August 2020, even though businesses were only permitted to reopen in mid-July. Hospitality businesses have not been responsible for covid-19 transmissions in any meaningful way, but they continue to bear the brunt of massively damaging restrictions. They are too often the victims of alarming rhetoric and specious innuendo. Their future, and the livelihoods of their employees, is at risk if they are forced to shoulder any more burdens introduced on the back of misleading and misguided calls for further restrictions.” Scottish Hospitality Group spokesman Stephen Montgomery added: “It’s a farce this report is even on the table for discussion. It is an out-of-date witch-hunt, that is wholly unreflective of our industry, and while Scottish hospitality businesses are left to fail daily, the government has paid hundreds of thousands of pounds on a six-month old study based on a tiny number (0.17%) of Scotland’s bars and restaurants. From those 29 targeted, criticism is levelled at in their own words a ‘substantial minority of observed bars’. You don’t need to be a mathematician to work out that basing the closure of a £10.5bn industry on this sham of a report would be ludicrous.”

Backman – covid will have opened up a world that didn’t exist before, but past trends will also be the drivers of the future: Sector analyst Peter Backman has said for some operators covid will have opened up a world that didn’t exist before, but for others, past trends will be the drivers of the future. Backman said: “For instance, which past trends will fall by the wayside – overcapacity perhaps, or insufficient workers? Which past trends will continue – customers’ desire for eating out, or customer promiscuity and lack of loyalty? And which new trends will have to be faced – working from home? Or the growth of technology? Or new community rules about what levels of social distancing are acceptable? Clearly it is difficult to separate these trends into precise collections, but the future restaurant will nevertheless be defined by these trends. The implication of this is the future will not be all new, and defined by changes that covid has wrought, nor will it be a continuation of the past. The crucial issue is going to be – for each supplier, investor, operator – which factors will be significant for its own future. For some, covid will have opened up a world that didn’t exist before – one in which delivery and technology, for example, create opportunities in former restaurant deserts. For others, past trends will be the drivers of the future. High-end restaurants will be quite likely to reflect the pre-covid world and ways of operating. Casual dining chains will be grappling in a new world in which they will compete with changes in consumers’ habits and preferences but in ways we can’t yet clearly see – maybe a need for experience, perhaps a desire for genuine hospitality, or the emergence of new definitions of quality, or service, or value. These are challenges for existing players – but they represent opportunities both for them and for newcomers.”

Johnson – no plans for vaccine passports to go to pub: Prime minister Boris Johnson said he has no plans to introduce so-called vaccine passports for activities such as going to the pub. Earlier this month, foreign office minister James Cleverly said the UK government would work with other countries to “help facilitate” coronavirus immunity passports if they are required by destinations to travel abroad. Speaking to the media from south London on Monday (15 February), Johnson said he imagined such schemes could be required for foreign travel, although he has no plans to introduce them for domestic activities. He added: “I think inevitably there will be great interest in ideas such as can you show you had a vaccination against covid in the way you sometimes have to show you have had a vaccination against yellow fever or other diseases in order to travel somewhere. I think that is going to be very much in the mix down the road, I think that is going to happen. What I don’t think we will have in this country is – as it were – vaccination passports to allow you to go to, say, the pub or something like that.” Johnson also said he expects there to be an increase in “rapid testing” as more of the population is vaccinated. He added: “Looking at the future, what we hope to have is such a high proportion of the population vaccinated that when you couple that with rapid testing – lateral flow testing – you really start to get the kind of answers you’re talking about.”

King – last year the opportunity we were given for outdoor seating was laughable: London-based operators have slammed as “grossly unfair” government plans to allow the hospitality sector to start serving food and drink only outdoors from Easter onwards. Jeremy King, co-founder of Corbin & King, told the Evening Standard such a restriction would not allow the company to reopen its most famous restaurant, The Wolseley in Piccadilly. He said: “It’s a nonsense. Last year the opportunity we were given for outdoor seating was laughable. It was a little strip of pavement behind a horrible green barrier on a camber, which meant everything rolled off the table anyway. It’s not necessarily safer outside if you have big groups of people huddled together, rather than a controlled environment inside.” Ranjit Mathrani, co-owner of MW Eat, which runs ten London Indian restaurants, said: “In most cases it is unlikely to be viable. Unless you can have 40 or 50 seats outside, it is going to be impractical. We should take the same graduated approach they have adopted in South Korea and Hong Kong where you start serving indoors with a maximum of tables of four with no more than two households, or tables of up to eight if it is all the same household. Then you can get something going in a controlled structure and every two weeks you could add on another household or whatever.” Clive Watson, chairman of the City Pub Group, said: “It’s really important to relax all restrictions when the over-50s are vaccinated. There is a danger the government is going to be over cautious with regards to socialising and hospitality. This caution will have a detrimental effect on everyone’s well-being and further damage the hospitality industry.”

At-home food selling ‘concerning’, says FSA: There has been a “concerning” rise in food businesses operating out of people's homes during lockdown, according to the Food Standards Agency. Many of them are selling food through social media, putting further pressure on a hygiene inspection system that is under strain because of the crisis. Many are failing to register as food businesses, meaning their hygiene arrangements are not checked by local authorities. But even those that do register are often not getting an inspection – despite new businesses usually being a priority – because the system is struggling to keep up during the pandemic. “The growth of at-home food businesses is a concern,” the FSA said. Hygiene inspections ceased completely during the first lockdown and since then a scaled-back operation has focused on high-risk cases. Local authorities are using video calls in a bid to clear the backlog. They allow basic issues to be resolved and reduce the time environmental health officers need to spend on-site. But these video calls can never be as effective as in-person, surprise inspections, argued Julie Barratt, of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. She told the BBC they are unable to reveal things such as ingredients past their use-by date, or rat-droppings under the cooker. Indeed, a challenge posed by the new legion of at-home businesses is even if a physical inspection is required, a 24-hour warning has to be given because it is a private address, so the surprise element is lost. About 44% of new food businesses started since the first lockdown are home-based, according to a new centralised online registration system used by almost 200 local authorities, the FSA has revealed. 

Apprentices quiz minister as showcase event goes virtual: Apprentices across the sector took the opportunity to question Gillian Keegan, parliamentary under secretary of state for apprenticeships and skills, about what the government is doing to safeguard the future of the industry as the Hospitality Apprenticeship Showcase went virtual. The event, which normally takes the form of an interactive event at the House of Commons, was held online due to the pandemic. Apprentices from companies including Fuller’s, JD Wetherspoon, McDonald’s and Mitchells & Butlers took turns to quiz the minister. The pandemic and the road out of lockdown was the main focus of the discussion with the apprentices highlighting how important the hospitality industry, and in particular the role of apprentices, will be in kick-starting the economy again. They also quizzed the minister on the engagement with young people in hospitality “to ensure their voices are heard in government”. HIT Training managing director Jill Whittaker, who helped oversee the session, said: “Our apprentices are our industry’s best cheerleaders and trailblazers in the future of learning and development programmes. Hospitality is no longer a place where you work temporarily to make some extra cash, you can build life-long rewarding careers. We will come out of this lockdown fighting and it is going to be an exciting time, full of opportunity, for our sector.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a business that has a small group of premium restaurants that is looking to bring on board a head of operations, ideally to start in early summer. They will oversee all current sites and spearhead upcoming expansion plans in London, which will include an additional five or six sites over the course of the next three to four years. They will report directly to the owners and oversee and co-ordinate the head office, with the head of food, head of beverage and head of people all reporting directly to them. A salary of up to £65,000 will be considered and the incoming head of operations will need to have easy access to London. Anyone interested can send their CV to tyron@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Deliveroo pencils in 8 March to unveil float: Deliveroo is poised to fire a formal starting gun on its stock market flotation early next month. The company and its advisers have pencilled in Monday, 8 March to publish an expected intention to float announcement, meaning shares in Deliveroo could start trading just weeks later, reports Sky News. Insiders at Deliveroo cautioned 8 March was not yet a definitive date and the timetable remained subject to change. The deal will bring to the public markets a company that has become one of Britain's most valuable tech businesses, with a likely market value of up to £7.5bn. Deliveroo, run by founder Will Shu, has appointed half a dozen investment banks to work on the flotation. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan will lead the company's stock market debut. It comes just weeks after Deliveroo raised a further $180m from investors. The company recently announced plans to expand into a further 100 towns and cities across the UK, enabling it to reach an additional four million people. The float will come after Lord Hill, the former EU commissioner, completes a review of London's listings regime with the objective of attracting high-growth technology companies to the City. Deliveroo now has about 45,000 restaurants on its platform in the UK, and it has recently started allowing customers to reward riders after their delivery has arrived. It has also announced the launch of a service called Brought to you by Deliveroo, which will allow customers to order food from restaurants’ websites, but with the technology company fulfilling the orders’ delivery.

Goodbody – M&B fundraise announcement bigger than expected, de-risks group: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has argued the announcement of Mitchells & Butlers’ (M&B) £350m fundraise from shareholders and new £150m three-year unsecured revolving credit facility with its banks is bigger than expected and de-risks the group. M&B said on Monday (15 February), it intends to raise £350m via a fully underwritten pre-emptive open offer. The company will issue circa 167 million (circa 39%) new ordinary shares at 210p, a 36% discount to the closing price on 12 February, and it is anticipated it will be fully underwritten at launch. In reaching the £150m revolving credit facility, it has agreed a number of amendments and waivers with Ambac and HSBC in relation to the securitised debt. Ruddy said: “Overall, the raise is bigger than we thought would be the case. On the positive side, the group will be significantly de-risked post raise with a £350m cash inflow and a £150m revolving credit facility available. We had forecast circa £1.62bn of bank net debt at year-end, this could be circa £150m higher, depending on the length of the current lockdown. Post the raise, bank net debt will reduce to £1.4bn, factoring in cash burn of £150m above our current forecasts (the securitised debt pile will be circa £1.54bn at FY21). This would put the group on circa 4.3 times and 3.6 times net debt/Ebitda in FY22 and FY23, including leases and pensions. This lower level of leverage de-risks the equity case and we would argue in favour of a higher blended valuation as a result.”

YO! appoints Christian Haas as new group development director: YO!, the multi brand, multi-channel Japanese food group, has appointed Christian Haas, recently of PizzaExpress, as its new group development director, Propel understands. Haas joined PizzaExpress last February in the newly created role of retail and product director. Haas, who spent 14 years at Waitrose, most recently leading its category management function, also joined PizzaExpress’ UK and Ireland leadership team. Leading a newly formed team, the company said Haas’ role had been created to bring “additional cross-departmental synergies across product-related functions while driving end-to-end quality, efficiency and innovation”. At the Richard Hodgson-led YO!, Haas will work closely with the leadership team both in the UK and in North America to “identify new opportunities and help execute the new and existing development opportunities in both our retail and restaurants divisions”. He will also take responsibility for group procurement as YO! “seeks to take advantage of its group scale”.

Liberation Group hit by cyber-attack: Channel Islands and West Country-based brewer and retailer Liberation Group has put in additional measures to help protect it from further cyber-attacks, after being hit by one last week. In an email to customers, the business said: “At the Liberation Group we take protecting your data very seriously, but unfortunately last Wednesday we suffered a cyber-attack on one of our email boxes, resulting in you receiving a false email purporting to be from our chief executive Jonathan Lawson. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused you and thank the many organisations who contacted us. We have fully investigated this incident and have put in place additional measures to help prevent it from happening again. We wish to assure you no personal data was stolen or compromised that would have placed you or your organisation at risk, and our teams also conducted some careful testing, confirming the file was benign. Thank you for your understanding, as we all strive to combat attacks of this nature.”

Revived Inns takes former Whiting & Hammond pub for eighth site: South east pub operator Revived Inns has taken its eighth site with the acquisition of former Whiting & Hammond pub The Farm at Friday Street, in Eastbourne. Revived Inns, which runs sites in Kent, East Sussex and West Sussex, has let the pub from landlord Tavern Propco – which also let former Whiting & Hammond pub The Mark Cross near Crowborough in East Sussex to Elite Pubs last month. Whiting & Hammond, the gastro-pub operator led by Brian Whiting, was placed into administration last year following the impact of covid-19. Revived Inns director Tom Stovold said: “The emphasis will be on quality dining, based on classic pub staples with some more adventurous offerings. We want to maintain the ‘country inn’ atmosphere of The Farm and drinkers in the bar areas will be made to feel very welcome at all times.” The bar will be stocked with local beer from Harvey’s and Long Man Brewery and the wine list will include a selection from sister company Bluebell Vineyard Estates. Work will soon be under way to enhance the East Sussex pub, including new flooring, new heating system and works to improve the beer garden. Property agent Savills acted on behalf of Tavern Propco, Nick Earee, of Fleurets, acted for Revived Inns and AW Gore acted on behalf of the liquidators.

Acropolis Capital acquires Hummingbird Bakery via pre-pack administration: London-based family investment office Acropolis Capital has acquired the Hummingbird Bakery business via a pre-pack administration process. The deal for the US-style cupcake concept, which was founded in London in 2004, secures the ongoing operation of Hummingbird’s shops in Notting Hill, South Kensington and Spitalfields, and protects more than 60 jobs. However, it sees the brand’s sites in Soho and Islington close. Acropolis Capital, which is also an investor in Social Entertainment Ventures, said it was committing “meaningful capital to support Hummingbirds’ recovery and future growth”. Cameron Chartouni, chief executive of Acropolis Capital, said: “We are incredibly excited to be the new owners of this iconic brand and look forward to working with the talented team at Hummingbird. We see huge potential to reinvigorate and grow the business while staying true to its American baking heritage.” Michael Solomons and Andrew Pear, of BM Advisory, were appointed as joint administrators of Hummingbird Bakery, which was founded by Tarek Malouf, earlier this month. Solomons said: “Whilst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to affect businesses across the country and globally, we are delighted to announce the conclusion of a successful sale of the Hummingbird business to Acropolis Capital, ensuring the ongoing operations of this much-loved brand. The sale preserves jobs and ensures continuity of service for the company’s loyal customer base.”

FY turnover down 33% at Heavitree: Exeter-based tenanted pub operator Heavitree Brewery has reported a 33.32% decrease in turnover to £5.0m for the year to 31 October 2020. Operating profit for the 12 months fell 70.69% to £539,000. The company, which operates more than 65 tenanted pubs across Exeter and south Devon, said: “The operating profit has been distorted by the IFRS 16 Lease Accounting calculation that has been applied to the rent concessions given to our tenants. The accounting standards setters consider these waivers, rather peculiarly, to be ‘incentives’ and as a result the total rent over the full term of the tenancy has to be apportioned. Accordingly, we are required to recognise a write back of rents totalling £333,000, money which we have not actually received or even charged during the period. This has also attracted a corporation tax charge of £63,000.” The group’s results were also affected by an impairment cost of £279,000 relating to the Lysley Arms in Pewsham and the George and Dragon in Dartmouth. Chairman Nicholas Tucker said: “It is a commendable achievement that since March 2020 we have had only three vacancies to fill. One now has new tenants and the other two have approved interested parties working with our tenancy team to formalise agreements. We have continued to attract good candidates even while the industry is unable to trade. Even though our cash flow forecasts have shown we are able to trade within our banking facility, I am most grateful for the understanding shown by Barclays. The bank has formally agreed to waive the testing of our banking covenants until April 2022. As referred to in the strategic review, we have accelerated our programme of selling non-core assets to keep us well within our facility. We continue to conserve cash within the business and I feel the company is as best placed as it can be to resume trading when permitted.”

Ossett Brewing Group restructures management team: Yorkshire-based brewer and retailer Ossett Brewing Group has restructured its management team, Propel has learned. Alex Minett, who served as managing director of Ossett Brewery, has headed back to Red Bull from where he joined in 2019. He will remain with Ossett Brewing Group in the role of non-executive director while Nadir Zairi has moved into the position of Ossett Brewery managing director along with his current role as Salt Brewing managing director and will operate under the title of brewing managing director. Zairi is joined at Ossett Brewery by Paul Jackson, who has worked with the business for seven years, previously as Ossett Brewery Pub Company managing director. He brings his operational skills to oversee the production side of the brewing business, as group production and logistics director. Ossett Brewery Pub Company gets a new homegrown managing director in the form of Jamie Merrill, who has also been with the business for seven years. Merrill will combine his new role with his existing role of group financial director. Zairi and Merrill will report to Jamie Lawson, as co-owner and head of the group. Lawson said: “Ossett has adapted well to the difficult environment the pandemic has brought for the hospitality sector. Our 29-strong pub and bar estate has been the hardest challenged by the government enforced closure but returned to profitability last summer and traded at 80% like-for-likes across its suburban sites. Salt Brewing saw unprecedented growth in its third year of trading with the introduction of new supermarket channels for its canned range of craft IPA’s and stouts. Further growth is expected in 2021 as this channel grows and the on-trade returns. Positive trade was also established across the group in the form of direct-to-home delivery, web shops for both brands and click and collect trade at the breweries and pub network.”

Young’s to open pub in new St Albans development: Young’s, the Patrick Dardis-led pub company, is to open a new site in St Albans. Called Alban’s Well, the new pub will open later this year in the city’s St Peter’s Street. It will form part of a new development that will also feature a 130-bedroom Travelodge. At the weekend, Dardis wrote to prime minister Boris Johnson calling on the government “to save our great British pubs and pull the country back from the brink of economic misery”. He wrote: “Hundreds and thousands of jobs are at stake in the hospitality industry, which has been disproportionately hit by the pandemic while investing millions of pounds to create covid-secure environments for our customers. Please do the right thing and demonstrate strong leadership when our industry needs it most. A successful vaccination programme is meaningless if it does nothing to aid our economic recovery.”

Coffee shop concept District lines up fourth London site: Coffee shop concept District has lined up a fourth opening in London, and its first in the City, Propel has learned. The concept, which is the brainchild of Australian Chelsea Finch, is understood to have lined up a site in Frederick’s Place for an opening later this year. Finch opened her first District site in Parsons Green in May 2017. A second District site in Nine Elms followed shortly after in November 2017, with a third subsequently opening in Mayfair’s Brook’s Mews. 

Gail’s and Shan Shui to join Pizza Pilgrims and Neat Burger at Victoria scheme: Gail’s Bakery and Shan Shui, the Ellen Chew-founded concept, are to join Pizza Pilgrims and Neat Burger at the Buckingham Palace Terrace scheme in London’s Victoria. Chew’s Shan Shui, a modern Shanghainese-inspired restaurant launched in Bicester Village in 2018. Gail’s, which is backed by sector investor Luke Johnson, and run by co-founder Tom Molnar and managing director Marta Pogroszewska, operates circa 65 sites. Propel revealed last year Pizza Pilgrims would open at the Belgravia scheme. Propel revealed last month Neat Burger, the Lewis Hamilton-backed, plant-based concept, had secured a site at the scheme, for its fifth restaurant opening in the capital. Colliers International and Bruce Gillingham Pollard are joint agents for landlord Grosvenor Group. 

Sit & Sip confirms plans to open third site, eyes further openings: Fledgling boutique bar and bottle shop Sit & Sip has confirmed it will open a third site, in Horsham, West Sussex, this year. As flagged up by Propel last February, the concept, which is led by James Mattingley, will open in the town’s Piries Place development. Sit & Sip specialises in craft beer from local brewers and spirits created by small family businesses alongside meat and cheese tasting boards, many sourced locally. The concept launched in West Sussex three years ago, in Chichester, with a second site opening in Wokingham, Berkshire, last year. It is working with property advisers Raven Rose on targeting further affluent commuter towns in the south east for future openings. 

Wine bar, restaurant and shop concept Eight Stony Street to begin rollout: Wine bar, restaurant and shop concept Eight Stony Street, which opened its debut site two years ago in Somerset, is to begin a rollout with the opening of two new sites, Propel has learned. The business, which is the brainchild of Kent Barker and launched in Frome in 2019, is set to open its next two sites under the new name Wilding. The company has taken on the former Cafe Rouge site in Oxford’s Little Clarendon Street for one of the new openings. It is also understood to have lined up a site in Salisbury for an opening later this year. Everard Cole acted on behalf of Barker while Cluttons acted on behalf of the landlord on the Oxford site.

Supper reports busiest weekend to date: London-based premium food delivery service Supper has reported its busiest weekend to date. Reporting “significantly increased turnover in one weekend compared with a typical busy week”, the company made more than 1,000 deliveries a day with a £273,000 turnover. Compared with last year's sales, this is a 2,694% increase. The busiest restaurants on the platform included Hakkasan Mayfair, Park Chinois, Jean George at The Connaught and Min Jiang. Supper said this suggested an overlap with Chinese New Year as well as Valentine’s Day. The most popular dish was Coya Mayfair’s Taco de Salmon with 187 portions being ordered via the app between 12-14 February. Founded by Peter Georgiou in 2015, Supper uses a fleet of specially adapted scooters and directly employed drivers to cater for the premium end of the market.

SSP Group announces independent non-executive director to step down: UK-based travel hub foodservice company SSP Group has announced independent non-executive director Per Utnegaard is to stand down. Utnegaard, who has served on the board for almost six years, is leaving to focus on other commitments. He will not stand for re-election at the upcoming annual general meeting and will retire with effect from Sunday, 28 February. Chairman Mike Clasper said: “Per has brought great insight to the board and we wish him well for the future. Judy Vezmar will succeed Per in his employee engagement role. Judy brings a wealth of experience and vision to this important role.”

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