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Mon 1st Nov 2021 - Brighton Pier Group reports £5m insurance pay-out, strong summer trading
Brighton Pier Group reports £5m insurance pay-out, strong summer trading: Brighton Pier Group has reported a strong summer of trading and a £5m insurance receipt. Chairman Luke Johnson said: “Sensible decisions (were) taken before the pandemic to put in place the right business interruption insurance in the Bars and Golf divisions. These policies were able to respond to the pandemic, resulting in payments totalling £5 million. Whilst these payments do not in any way cover all the losses incurred since the start of the pandemic, this insurance has provided important financial protection to the group.” Meanwhile, revenue for the year to 27 June was £13.5m (2020: £22.6m) and profit before tax was £4.2m (loss of £10.2m). Johnson said: “The group reaped the benefits of its diversified portfolio of businesses. Whilst the late-night bars were almost entirely closed throughout the whole 52-week financial period, the Pier and Golf divisions were able to reopen for trade during the key summer months of July to September 2020. The Pier benefitted from the group’s significant investment in its food and drink facilities during 2017. This £1.3m investment significantly increased outdoor seating capacity and enabled visitors to remain safely distanced. This summer trading period contributed approximately £2 million of earnings to the group. The group’s management team and staff reacted with speed to reduce the financial impact of the closures by working together with our suppliers, landlords and bank to reduce cash burn and to provide additional funding. We are grateful not just to our suppliers and landlords but also to our staff, who all took pay cuts while our venues were closed. The group also benefitted from targeted government support with furlough (which enabled us to retain a large part of the workforce), rates relief, VAT reductions and the ‘Eat out to Help out’ scheme. With the backing of our bank and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL) scheme, the group raised £5 million of additional debt. This combination of strong and supportive management, staff, bank, suppliers, landlords and government help avoided any need for formal restructuring or new equity capital. With further support from our bank, we purchased Lightwater Valley which is one of the UK’s premier theme parks. Located in North Yorkshire, it owns 175 acres of landscaped parkland, numerous attractions and hospitality offerings making it a popular day out for families. This acquisition is an excellent example of how the group can create a growth enterprise, operating across a wide variety of leisure and entertainment assets in the UK. I believe there are more opportunities available to the group in this sector and we continue to assess attractive acquisition opportunities in family leisure and the broader leisure sector. With the easing of restrictions during summer 2021, the group’s diversified offering has been in prime position to capitalise on pent up demand for leisure experiences. With the Pier and Golf divisions both open, the addition of Lightwater Valley for the full 13 weeks and the Bars finally open for ten weeks, total sales for the 13-week period to the end of September 2021 were £15.9 million. This is 145% over the same period in 2020, and 44% ahead of the same (pre-covid) period in 2019 (or 30% ahead of 2019 if benefit from the temporary VAT concession is excluded). This strong summer 2021 trading performance, coupled with the benefits from VAT and rates relief, indicates that this year could be an exceptional opportunity for the group to recover some of its lost earnings if it is able to continue trading without further restrictions.” Chief executive Anne Ackord, said: “The past 18 months have, at times, been very difficult for our industry. The results we present here are testament to the hard work and dedication of the teams across all divisions and at all levels of the group, so firstly I would like to thank our staff who contributed in so many ways to these results. I must also thank our suppliers and our landlords for their sensible and supportive approach. To end the year with the acquisition of Lightwater Valley has been particularly satisfying and a sign of how we have remained focussed on our stated aim to expand the group by further acquisitions.”

Fourth edition of The New Openings Database to show details of 307 new sites, 15,000-word report included: The fourth edition of The New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, will show the details of 307 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (5 November), at midday. The database shows the details of which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location. There will also be a website link to the businesses so you can find out more about them. It is published on a monthly basis. In the fourth edition of this database, it features several international growth brands making their UK debut, new and expanding luxury leisure concepts, unique cuisine and regional brands in growth. For the first time this month, Premium subscribers will also receive a 15,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to two other databases. The latest Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, was sent to Premium subscribers last Friday (29 October). The database contained 66 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed up to 2,152. The 446 sites run by those 66 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 61,740 sites. Premium subscribers also received a 5,000-word report on the new businesses added. The go-to database provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Premium subscribers also receive the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. 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. Email to sign up.

Deliveroo reports 105% rise in vegan orders: Deliveroo has revealed that since World Vegan Month last year, orders of (completely) plant-based dishes on the platform have risen by a massive 105%. Deliveroo now has over 14,000 vegan and vegan friendly restaurants available on the platform across the UK. According to the food-delivery company, the cities with the most vegan orders (as a proportion of their total orders) this year in order are: Brighton, Bristol, Leeds, York, Manchester, Liverpool, Norwich, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Sheffield then London. According to survey data commissioned by the food-delivery company, the vegan trend isn’t just specific to takeaway foods. Out of a survey of 2000 people, 20% (19.6%) said they will be breaking with tradition and tucking into a vegan/ veggie dinner this Christmas. Out of those respondents, a majority (58%) stated that they’d only begun eating plant-based at Christmas in the past four years or less – and 46% in the last two. Overall, slightly more females eat vegan/ vegetarian food at Christmas (21%) compared to males (17.8%). Surprisingly, male respondents are far more likely to have adopted veganism/vegetarian eating very recently (in the past year) (47%) than females (23%). The main reasons Brits gave for opting for plant-based food this festive season was because a) they anticipate catering for vegetarians and vegans at the table (55.8%), b) for health benefits (31.9%), c) for variety (27.1%) and d) for animal welfare (26.5%). Elena Devis, vegan category lead, Deliveroo said: “It’s fantastic to see demand for vegan food continue to grow every year, largely driven by the incredible range of plant-based dishes available across restaurant and grocery menus.”

Business confidence dips but staff shortages show signs of easing: Business confidence fell in October but was still at its second highest level since the start of the pandemic, reports The Times. Sentiment dipped last month to 43% from 46% in September, mainly because of a fall in optimism about the wider economy, although it remains considerably higher than the long-term average of 28%, according to the latest Lloyds Bank Business Barometer. Despite rising energy costs and supply chain woes, the survey also found that the net balance for firms’ own annual trading outlook was down by only one point to 42%. The survey also suggested that staff shortages in some sectors may ease, with 60% of companies that have furloughed staff planning to bring them all back and a further 30% expecting more than half of their furloughed workers to return. Hann-Ju Ho, a senior economist at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said that “it should bode well for the labour market as we head into the winter”. However, pricing expectations among businesses continued to rise because of increasing input costs, including raw materials and staffing, with 45% expecting to increase their prices, up from 37%. The level outstripped the previous high of 44% in March and April 2018. Lloyds said it indicated that firms continue to consider passing costs on to customers. The monthly survey, which started in 2002, was conducted before last week’s autumn budget, involving 1,200 companies between 1 and 15 October across all sectors and regions. Five out of the 12 UK regions and nations registered an increase in business confidence last month but it also fell in five. London, which rose 65%, and the northeast, which was unchanged at 61%, remained the most positive regions. Employment expectations are particularly high in the capital, the survey found. Confidence remained highest in the manufacturing sector, where it rose to a five-month high of 51%, up from 49%. Sentiment in retail and services fell slightly to 37% and 43%, respectively, although they remain higher than three months ago.

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