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Thu 4th Nov 2021 - Franco Manca franchise deal signed for Greece, 20 UK sites in legals
Franco Manca franchise deal signed for Greece, 20 UK sites in legals: Franco Manca owner Fulham Shore has signed a franchise agreement for Greece with Franco Manca EE Limited, a company founded by a group of experienced local operators and investors. The company stated: “David Page and Nabil Mankarious, both directors of the company, each will have a beneficial interest of 5% of the issued share capital of Franco Manca EE Limited. The Greek franchisee gained encouragement from the investment by two of Fulham Shore’s directors. The franchisee has plans for a minimum of six restaurants to be opened over the next three years. The first opening will be in the Athens metropolitan area and two sites are being secured in Nea Filadelfia and Peristeri. The group continues to explore a number of additional international territories where franchised restaurants could be opened, and is currently in discussions on territories in Europe, Middle East, and Africa.” Meanwhile, Fulham Shore has fully repaid the £8.5m remaining balance of its UK government backed £10.7m Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan, which supported the business at the height of lockdown uncertainty in 2020. The company has entered into an extension of its revolving credit facility (RCF) with HSBC from March 2022 to November 2024 and an increase of this facility from £14.25m to £17.0m. There are no material changes to the terms of the RCF, other than a small increase in the interest margin. The increased RCF will both aid increased expansion plans and support further investment in central team resource as Fulham Shore accelerates its opening programme. The company added: “The group’s restaurants continue to trade strongly, as previously reported, and ahead of the comparative period in 2019. Since the group’s AGM, revenues in our group of 17 restaurants in the West End of London and city centre office locations have performed particularly well and are now +3% ahead of the same weeks in 2019. Over this period, they have gradually been increasing from the figure of –3% reported five weeks ago as office worker and tourist footfall improve. Sales of delivery meals continue to be higher than 2019 levels, implying that the group’s delivery customers continue to choose our quality food and value pricing. This strong revenue growth post September 2021 continues to be ahead of management’s expectations. Since the last trading update at our AGM, the group has opened a Franco Manca in Blackheath Village, London, which has been well received by locals. This takes the total number of restaurants operated by the group to 76 (56 Franco Manca and 20 The Real Greek). Fitting out works are underway in a further Franco Manca on Baker St, London, W1 and another two The Real Greek – in the Bluewater Shopping Centre, Kent and at The Corn Exchange in the centre of Manchester. These new restaurants will take our restaurant totals to 79 (57 Franco Manca and 22 The Real Greek) by Christmas 2021. The group’s pipeline continues to grow with 20 more potential sites in solicitors’ hands for both new Franco Manca and The Real Greek restaurants.” Chairman David Page said: “Fulham Shore continues to experience growing sales across both our businesses. Many of our restaurants throughout the UK continue to break trading records on a regular basis. This is due to our customers returning to us in great numbers since trading restrictions were lifted and our loyal teams who have stuck with us during a difficult 18 months. We are maintaining margins in both our businesses as the rise in our restaurant sales is enabling the group to deal with the well flagged inflation of utility costs and the wage increases that have been instigated. We have repaid our government backed CLIBL loan early, and with the support of our long term bank, HSBC, have put the company on an extremely secure financial footing with an extended £17m RCF facility, reinforcing the group’s strong platform for continued expansion. We are accelerating our growth in the UK and abroad. We continue to trade ahead of our own expectations and have a strong pipeline of exciting new locations.” 

Fourth edition of The New Openings Database released tomorrow, to show details of 306 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 306 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published tomorrow (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. The latest database features several international growth brands making their UK debut, new and expanding luxury leisure concepts, and regional brands in growth. For the first time 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. 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. To subscribe, email jo.charity@propelinfo.com.

Wingstop CEO – UK market “generating average unit volumes exceeding $2m”: Charlie Morrison, chairman and chief executive of Wingstop has said that the UK market is generating average unit volumes exceeding $2m (£1.46m) for the chicken brand, “well above the average we see in the US”. In an update to investors on the back of the brand’s Q3 results, Morrison said: “In the UK, we have opened ten restaurants in the last 18 months alone, and the market is generating average unit volumes exceeding $2m, well above the average we see in the US. This market has only been opened since 2018, which underscores the tremendous long-term potential. As we communicated earlier this year, we made a minority investment in our UK operations. We believe this strategic use of our capital will continue to strengthen the development pipeline, as we look to double the UK footprint in 2022. We are excited to support our brand partner in achieving the potential for the Wingstop brand in the UK, a market we believe will serve as a model for our Western European expansion and other parts of the world.” Earlier this week, Propel revealed that Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out US chicken brand Wingstop across the UK, had appointed Chris Sherriff, formerly of Ben & Jerry’s and Yum! Restaurants, as its new chief operating officer. Wingstop recently opened its eighth restaurant in the UK, in Bristol’s Cabot Circus scheme. The company also operates six delivery kitchen sites. It will open a site in the Edinburgh St James Quarter scheme, in the unit previously earmarked for @Pizza, and on the former Bella Italia site in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens, later this year. Wingstop is also set to open a site in Wood Green, north London, in Capital & Regional’s The Mall scheme. Last weekend marked three years since the brand launched its first site in Europe, in London’s Shaftesbury Avenue. In May, Wingstop, which has more than 1,500 locations worldwide, announced a minority investment in Lemon Pepper Holdings. 

Holly Elliott to replace Tarquin Williams as City Pub Company chief financial officer: Holly Elliott is to replace Tarquin Williams as chief financial officer on the City Pub Company board. The company stated: “Tarquin Williams has been the chief financial officer of City Pub Group since 2015. During that time, he has been pivotal in helping merge together City Pub West and East prior to listing on AIM, played a key role in helping the group raise £22 million of new equity last March at the start of the covid pandemic, and has worked hard to help the group through its most difficult period so that it not only survived but emerged well positioned. Tarquin will stand down as chief financial officer on 29 November to have a career break and then seek new challenges. The board wishes to place on record its gratitude and appreciation to Tarquin for the significant role he has played in the company’s growth and development and wishes him all the best for the future. The board of City Pub Group is pleased to announce the appointment of Holly Elliott to the board as chief financial officer of the company, with effect from 29 November 2021. Holly joins from Honest Burgers where she was interim chief financial officer. Before that, Holly was chief financial officer of Five Guys, the fast-food chain operating in the UK, France Spain and Germany, for four years, and previously spent 12 years at Caffe Nero in a number of roles including finance director. To ensure a smooth transition to Holly, Tarquin has agreed a three-month handover.” Clive Watson, executive chairman of City Pub Group, said: “I, personally, would like to thank Tarquin for his hard work over the last six years. The group is in a much stronger place than when he first arrived, he has been great to work with and he can take great pride in growing City Pub to what it is today. We welcome Holly to the business and board and look forward to working with her on the next stage of our journey and development.”

Van-Tam – People should wear masks when moving about in pubs and restaurants: People should wear masks when moving about in pubs and restaurants, England’s deputy chief medical officer has urged, warning of “hard months” ahead. Professor Jonathan Van-Tam predicted that Christmas would be “problematic” unless people behaved cautiously and had their booster jabs, insisting that now was “not the time to be complacent”. Van-Tam told the BBC that “too many people believe that this pandemic is now over”. While cases are down 10% in a week, with a daily figure of 41,299 reported yesterday, Van-Tam pointed to the 217 daily deaths, with numbers rising 13% week on week. “My worry is that the deaths are increasing and that shows that the infection is now starting to penetrate into those older age groups,” he said. “That’s why the really key thing is that if you are called for your booster, if you are called for your flu vaccine, please go and get them – this could be really very important this winter, it is not the time to be complacent. Christmas, and indeed all of the darker winter months, are potentially going to be problematic.” He acknowledged it was “very difficult” to wear masks in pubs and restaurants, saying: “You can’t take them on and off in between sips of a drink. And so really what you should do, in my view, is to wear masks when mobile, and use them as you’re entering and exiting the premises.” He said in cinemas and theatres “you’re not interacting with the audience, you are seated quite close together, and for most people there should be relatively little personal expense involved in wearing a face covering in those kinds of settings”.

Mark Hix – The government’s Plan B will destroy the pub bar as convivial meeting place: Chef and restaurateur Mark Hix has said that if official rules requiring masks to be worn in pubs are going to be reintroduced as part of a Plan B to combat covid this winter, they will turn his “bar once more into a counter rather than a meeting place”. Writing in The Telegraph, Hix said: “With the onset of chilly nights, it is all feeling very autumnal at both the pub and the restaurant. Outdoor dining is suddenly much less attractive. Everyone wants to be indoors. So, we are busy planning live music in the tent outside The Fox in Corscombe to boost numbers in the months ahead. Suddenly the bar there is beginning to feel more like a gathering place as people come in for the warmth in the evenings. My landlady, Eva, was in the other night. When she gave me a lease on the pub last year, after her husband died, one of the things she said she most wanted to see me do was to keep The Fox as a place where locals could meet up for a drink around the bar. Sitting there, waiting for some friends to arrive for a birthday dinner, she looked round at all the people. ‘It’s just like the old days,’ she told me. It was like getting a five-star review. Whether that busy scene will prove to be just a brief moment of normality depends on how the pick-up in numbers of covid infections impacts on government rules and regulations. Our staff continue to wear masks, but very few customers do any more. If official rules requiring them are going to be reintroduced as part of a Plan B to bring down those figures for new cases, as some are suggesting, it will turn the bar once more into a counter rather than a meeting place. But what will be, will be. Worrying about it won’t change anything. So I am staying optimistic by focusing on our autumn menus.”

Ten Entertainment – like-for-like sales have continued above 30%: Ten Entertainment Group, the operator of bowling and family entertainment centres, has reported it continues to perform very well since the half-year results in September 2021. The company stated: “Outlined in those results was an expectation that sales would subside to high single digit growth from the exceptional like-for-like sales of 35.8% reported up to 12 September for the 17 weeks since reopening. Demand has exceeded expectations, and like-for-like sales growth has remained above 30% through September and October, with half-term setting a record for the group. We are now looking forward to a successful Christmas trading period to end the year. This continuing strong sales performance means that the group now expects to make a modest profit before tax for FY21, ahead of previous expectations where a modest loss had been anticipated. This is a significant achievement for a business that was entirely closed for the first 20 weeks of the year and is testament to the strength of our group and the strong levels of demand for experiences and great value family entertainment. The group is not indicating any changes to FY22 guidance amid the continuing uncertainty in respect of the economic outlook. We remain confident that our centres have broad appeal and offer great value for money. We reiterate our expectations for double-digit sales growth in FY22 compared to an FY19 baseline, with modest compression of margin as a function of ongoing inflationary cost pressures. The pipeline is progressing well, and the group expects to open four new centres in FY22.” 

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