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Wed 13th Oct 2021 - Update: Marston’s, Just Eat, £250m city wellness centre
Marston’s – trading has been 94% of 2019 levels since 12 April: Marston’s has reported that since restrictions were lifted on 12 April, the group has seen a continuous improvement in trading. It stated: “For the most recent quarter from 25 July to 2 October, we saw a return to growth over 2019, with sales 2% higher across our managed and franchised pubs. Overall, trading since 12 April has been at 94% of 2019 levels which includes the benefit of the temporary VAT reduction on food and non-alcoholic drink sales. As previously reported, trading during the year was significantly disrupted by the impact of the pandemic. Our pubs were open for only 54% of the total trading days. When they were open, they operated under significant trading restrictions ranging from outdoor only and table service only, to the different tier systems across the UK. Total pub sales were £402 million for the year, representing 78% of last year, reflecting the significant disruption to trading from the pandemic. During the lockdown period, Marston’s entered into an agreement to operate a portfolio of 156 pubs from SA Brain, under a combination of leased and management contract arrangements. These pubs reopened alongside the existing Marston’s pub estate in Wales and have performed well and ahead of expectations. Pubs were permitted to reopen for outdoor trading from 12 April in England and from 26 April in Scotland and Wales, and from 17 May indoor trading was permitted across all of the group’s pub estate, albeit still subject to the continuance of various social distancing restrictions, until 19 July. Having invested £2 million in ‘Inside-Out’ schemes in Autumn/Winter 2020, we were able to open c70% of our pubs under outdoor trading restrictions and the group’s entire estate of c1,500 pubs has been open since 17 May. The ten weeks since 25 July have seen overall sales continue to improve from the initial opening and are in line with our expectations. During this period, sales growth resumed with like for like sales achieving 102% vs 2019 levels. The group’s balanced estate, largely comprising community pubs nationwide with limited exposure to London and city centres, have supported this rapid return to above pre-pandemic levels. In addition, trading has been stronger in our premium pubs over the period. Accommodation sales have been excellent benefitting from the growth in staycation holidays. It has been well publicised that the wider industry is facing challenges in respect of staff recruitment and cost inflation, alongside supply issues. Whilst the labour market remains tight, particularly in city centres, we are currently managing this well. The national minimum wage increase was in line with our expectation of a resumption of the 5-6% increase, which we were observing before the pandemic. The majority of our 2022 costs are now contracted in, specifically gas to 2023 and electricity to the end of March 2022. With regards to supply chain challenges, we have seen some small pockets of disruption however, we are working closely with our suppliers to manage this.” Chief executive Andrew Andrea said: “We are delighted to be fully open again since trading restrictions were lifted in July. We are encouraged by the trading momentum which we have experienced since April and pleased to be trading robustly and above 2019 levels again. Our business benefits from an optimally balanced pub estate of food and wet led pubs that are predominately suburban, community based and well located for the changes in consumer behaviour that we are seeing. However, we are mindful of consumer confidence in the short term and the challenges impacting the economy and our industry. Government messaging will remain a key factor in determining sentiment. Looking ahead, we are now keenly focussed on our strategy of delivering exceptional experiences for our guests. We will continue to invest in our teams and pubs as we strive to meet our clear goals.”

21 new additions to Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book are turning over £856.6m: The next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, will feature 21 new companies, which are turning over £856.6m. It will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (15 October), at midday. The Blue Book will now feature 427 UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators with a total turnover of £30bn. The Blue Book has begun to reflect the economic damage of the pandemic with 208 companies reporting a profit and 219 reporting losses. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive two other databases – the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. To subscribe, email jo.charity@propelinfo.com.

Just Eat UK passes one billion orders mark since foundation: Just Eat has reported Third Quarter orders rose 25%. Chief executive Jitse Groen said: “With most of the world returning to pre-pandemic life, our growth in the third quarter of 2021 has remained strong. Just Eat Takeaway.com is well-positioned for autumn and winter, our traditional growth season. We look forward to updating the market on the exciting opportunities for long-term growth across our business during our Capital Markets Day on 21 October.” Just Eat processed 266 million orders in the third quarter of 2021, representing a 25% increase compared with the same period of 2020. GTV amounted to €6.8 billion in the third quarter of 2021, up 23% compared with the same period of 2020. The investment programme in the UK continued to drive sustainable network effects. Just Eat in the UK reached more than 200 million orders in the first nine months of 2021, up 51% in the third quarter of 2021 compared with the same period last year. Just Eat UK surpassed the one billion orders milestone since its foundation, demonstrating its enormous scale and longevity. In the US, orders in the third quarter of 2021 increased 3% compared with the same period last year. Management started to implement an improvement programme re-focusing the company on Grubhub’s strongholds. Germany was the second fastest-growing segment adding ten million incremental orders in the quarter compared with the prior year, representing 35% order growth, demonstrating the strength of the brand. 

More details about £250m Therme wellness centre in the centre of Manchester: More details have been revealed about the £250m Therme spa, water park and wellness centre that is being built next to the Trafford Centre. The vast ‘urban oasis’ will be the UK’s first city-based wellbeing resort which will sprawl across a huge 28-acre site next to the shopping mall at Barton Square. It will be double the size of Therme’s wellness centre in Bucharest, which opened in Romania in 2016. The glass-domed facility aims to encourage the ‘wellbeing of people and the planet’ with facilities to entice all ages – including 25 pools, over 35 water slides and 30 saunas and steam rooms, while there will be a weekly timetable of changing exercise classes. It will boast indoor and outdoor pools and over 1,500 palm trees for a tropical ambience. There are also plans for rooftop beehives – with the hope of using honey from local bees in recipes at the on-site restaurants as well as in spa treatments. At the heart of the development will also be a spectacular 10,000sqm rose-shaped botanical garden – to represent the national flower of England. The centre is set to combine hundreds of water-based activities with wellbeing treatments, art, nature and technology to create a unique experience ‘never before seen in the UK’ and tap into the staycation boom. Therme Group bosses say they hope the centre will bring an ‘everyday holiday to people across the North West of England.’ Bosses say the development is still on track for a 2023 opening, although building work remains at a preliminary stage on the site. It is being planned at the space next to Barton Square at the Trafford Centre, an area partly covered by the Event City exhibition centre which closed earlier this year. The centre will include a large family area with waterslides, a wave pool, indoor and outdoor pools, steam rooms and relaxation areas. There will also be a dedicated adults’ area with warm water lagoons among spectacular botanical gardens, swim-up bars, therapeutic mineral pools and luxurious steam rooms and saunas.

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