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Tue 16th Mar 2021 - Greggs to accelerate multi-channel development strategy
Greggs to accelerate multi-channel development strategy: Greggs has reported it has accelerated its multi-channel development strategy, with delivery and wholesale channels contributing an increasing proportion of total sales. Click & Collect has been rolled out across entire estate and delivery made available from more than 600 shops. The company said it had reactivated its shop opening pipeline, demonstrating ‘confidence in its long-term growth opportunity’. 84 new shops opened in 2020, with 56 closures (28 net openings). It is planning circa 100 net new shops for 2021. In 53 weeks to 2 January 2021, total sales were £811.3m (2019: £1,167.9m). Like-for-like sales in company-managed shops were down 36.2% on 2019 level. The company saw a progressive recovery in sales levels through second half of year. It reported a pre-tax loss of £13.7m, including government support for job retention and relief from business rates (2019: £108.3m profit). It reported a positive sales trend and a better-than-expected start to 2021 given the extent of lockdown conditions. Shops in Scotland are temporarily closed to walk in customers for the majority of the year to date. Company-managed shop like-for-like sales are down 28.8% year-on-year in the ten weeks to 13 March 2021. Outside of Scotland, company-managed shop like-for-like sales in the rest of the UK estate were down 22.4% year-on-year. Delivery sales particularly strong, at 9.6% of total company-managed shop sales in the first ten weeks of 2021. Chief executive Roger Whiteside said: “Greggs has made a better-than-expected start to 2021 given the extent of lockdown conditions and is well placed to participate in the recovery from the pandemic. It has a clear strategy to extend its digital capabilities and to grow further in new locations, channels and dayparts. These opportunities will benefit all of its stakeholders in the years to come. In a year like no other I believe that the covid crisis has in many ways demonstrated the strength of Greggs. It has shown the resilience of our business model, but most of all the strength of our people who have worked hard throughout to maintain an essential service providing takeaway food to customers unable to work from home, many of whom were themselves key workers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our people, who can be proud of the part we played in our nation’s time of need.” He added: “Digital technology had been identified in our plans as the key opportunity for Greggs to increase market share by increasing customer loyalty, menu choice and multi-channel reach. Successful trials in 2019 allowed us to move quickly under covid to roll out new services nationwide including a new Greggs Rewards offer, Greggs click and collect, and delivery with our partners Just Eat. In a matter of months delivery was made available in over 600 shops and in the fourth quarter accounted for 5.5% of company-managed shop sales. Delivery is extending our reach and taking market share and we are planning further roll out in the year ahead. Similarly, successful trials of our improved Greggs Rewards loyalty scheme in 2019 meant that we were able to accelerate our plans and launch it nationwide in October. Our development team also applied the learnings from earlier trials to launch our new click and collect service making it available to all shops by September. These two new services have been brought together in our new app which is now being piloted ahead of launch in the second quarter of 2021. Marketing continues to play a key role in driving brand awareness amongst target customer groups and we have invested in a stronger team to compete in digital channels and develop our customer relationship management capabilities as new systems are deployed during 2021. While new digital channels present opportunities to compete for market share our shop network remains key to our growth ambitions providing both convenient access to passing customers as well as nationwide reach for delivery and collection services. Existing trends towards increased flexible home working and online shopping have seen a material acceleration during this crisis and longer term we expect to see a further shift away from office-dependent catchments and weaker shopping locations. Our experience during this crisis has highlighted that the diversity of our estate means we are not overly dependent on any one location type and downturns in some areas are balanced by improvements in others. Shops accessed by car have been the strongest performers during the covid crisis and these location types already formed most of our new shop pipeline. This gave us the confidence to restart our new shop opening programme in the second half and we are targeting a rapid return to previously planned growth levels of circa 100 net new shops for the year ahead. In addition, new opportunities now exist in previously underrepresented locations such as central London and mass transport hubs where availability and rental levels will now make those locations more accessible. Similarly, relocation opportunities to expand into bigger, better shop space are expected in existing locations that will support our continued drive to improve the quality of the estate and develop new opportunities with additional seating. With a strong pipeline and support from multi-channel development we have raised our target for the UK estate to 3,000 shops.”

Borg-Neal – police patrol plan is a pathetic diversion: Oakman Inns founder Peter Borg-Neal has dismissed plans for plain-clothes police to patrol pubs to protect women from harassment and assault as a ‘pathetic diversion’. Boris Johnson announced measures last night in an attempt to reassure women after the killing of Sarah Everard. Pilot schemes will be run across the country with more patrols to “identify predatory and suspicious offenders”. The government is doubling a fund that provides deterrents such as better lighting and CCTV, to £45 million. Johnson said that the Everard case had “unleashed a wave of feeling about women not feeling safe”, adding: “We must drive out violence against women and girls and make every part of the criminal justice system work to better protect and defend them.” Peter Borg Neal tweeted: “Another pathetic attempt by government to deflect from its own failings and blame hospitality. In my pubs if someone harasses someone else we throw them out – we don’t need this intrusion. When the government introduced the senseless curfew policy it drove a glut in demand for taxis at 10pm making them harder to find for women going home alone. They didn’t think it through. Pubs did and allowed people to wait inside in defiance of the governments foolishness.”

C&C Group – we are ready for the hospitality market to re-open: Drinks company C&C Group boss David Forde has said the company is ready for the re-opening of the hospitality market. He said: “C&C has an inherently strong business model, with admired brands that embody provenance and have a real affinity with their markets, coupled with a leading distribution infrastructure in terms of scale and reach. These are supported by the quality of our people who are dedicated, agile and passionate about our brands. While our ability to trade has been severely restricted in hospitality, our brands have performed strongly in the off-trade. The group has been working hard to ensure that we are primed and ready to serve our on-trade customers as and when the hospitality sector is allowed to reopen, from a more streamlined base and with new brand partners, in the post pandemic market.” The company stated: “The covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the broader hospitality sector and C&C specifically, with the last twelve months trading characterised by a series of significant and continuously evolving national lockdowns and regional trading restrictions. As a consequence, C&C has not been in a position to provide guidance on earnings or related measures and formally withdrew guidance on 3 June 2020. Throughout the pandemic the group’s key priorities have been, and continue to be, to protect all stakeholders and support our customers. This has included: providing a safe, compliant and supportive working environment for all our employees; as well as working with our customers on product ranging, credit terms and order and delivery options in preparation for the eventual reopening of the hospitality sector. Thanks to the collective dedication of all our team, the group’s supply chain and production facilities remain fully operational and we continue to work with our partners to serve our off-trade customers. The inherent strength of the group’s brand-led distribution model, and the fundamental role the group occupies in the infrastructure of the UK and Irish drinks market, supported a return to profitability and underlying cash generation during the easing of trade restrictions in July, August and September 2020. The company embarked on a cost reduction programme expected to deliver annualised savings of €18 million against its pre covid-19 cost base. The cost programme includes an acceleration in the optimisation of the English and Scottish delivery networks which is scheduled to be completed in Q1 FY22. This will consolidate volumes from three separate networks into two, bringing all of our final mile English distribution in-house, driving on-going efficiencies and in turn enhanced future margins. It has postponed non-committed capital expenditure, temporary management salary and director fee reductions and significantly reducing discretionary spending. It has renegotiated the timing of term loan repayment, securing covenant waivers from lenders and diversifying our sources of funding through completion of a €140 million US private placement in March 2020. As a consequence, C&C reports liquidity of €315 million and pre IFRS 16 net debt of €362 million as at 28 February 2021. The group’s off-trade volume share in its three core brands have grown over the past twelve months. Tennent’s Scottish lager volume share of 26.6% for the twelve month period ended 24 January 2021, represents growth of 1.2 percentage points, Bulmers volume share of Irish cider increased to 50.2% representing growth of 3.3 percentage points to the twelve month period ended 31 January 2021 and Magners volume share of apple cider in the UK increased to 9.6% representing growth of 0.3 percentage points to the twelve month period ending 24 January 2021. Going forward, the objective is to continue to position C&C as the preeminent brand-led drinks distribution business in the core markets of the UK and Ireland. During FY 2021, C&C divested of the non-core asset, Tipperary Coolers in Ireland for a consideration of €7 million. In addition, C&C announces today the sale of its wholly-owned US subsidiary, Vermont Hard Cider Company, to Northeast Kingdom Drink Group LLC for a total consideration of $20 million USD, with the transaction due to complete in the coming weeks. The sale is expected to result in a net book profit for C&C. The total net proceeds from these divestments will be applied to reducing net debt.”

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