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Mon 4th Jul 2022 - Update: Regional growth boosts Pret’s H1 sales, pub numbers decline, Boparan eyes 350 Slim Chickens, firms vow to put prices up, food waste
Pret H1 sales up 230% boosted by regional and suburban growth: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned business, has announced its half year revenue in 2022 reached £357.8m, up 230% compared to the same period in 2021 (£155.4m), and up by 160% from 2020 (£223.4m). The company, operates 442 shops in the UK and 558 shops internationally, said that UK sales growth outside London outstripped growth in the capital, both on a like-for-like basis and in total revenue. It said that reflected the “sustained growth of Pret’s regional shop estate as well as the impact of new shop openings in Brentwood, Harrogate, Leeds and York”. Today, 66% of Pret’s UK shop portfolio is outside of the Square Mile, with 36% of UK shops located in regional cities and towns. The company said that “boosted by the accelerating rate of sales growth across the UK”, it has been generating cash since March and went “operationally cash flow positive from May”. The results come as Pret files its 2021 accounts to Companies House, with revenue for 2021 up 17%, from £392.9m to £461.5m. Pret’s operating loss for the year was £225.9m, down from £343m in 2020. The company said: “While 2021 was marked by a lockdown at the beginning of the year, Pret’s recovery has continued and accelerated in 2022. In September last year, Pret announced a medium-term growth target to double the size of its business within five years, as well as expanding into five new markets by end-2023. Since then, the company has: Established four new franchise partnerships and opened 27 shops in the UK to bring Pret to more people in cities and towns across the UK. Announced agreements with franchise partners to enter Canada, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and India, therefore expecting to meet international expansion commitment one year ahead of schedule. Recruited over 2,300 people, with an 8,700 strong workforce in the UK alone, benefiting from a best-in-class reward package in the hospitality sector, worth more than £11 an hour in the UK. Invested in new menu development and set a target of doubling sales from new products to 20% of UK revenue by the end of the year.” Later this week, the business said it will unveil a new affordable menu range in the UK to help customers continue to access freshly prepared food options, following the launch of an extensive spring menu earlier this year, while also expanding its range of bakery products. The business said that 37% of UK transactions were through digital channels during 2021. In 2021, the company’s Coffee Subscription was used over 667,000 times per week, which it said has now risen to a million redemptions a week. The business said: “The award-winning subscription has been a key driver of customer loyalty, with subscribers typically spending four times as much with Pret than non-subscribers.” Following the success of the coffee subscription in the UK, the service has also now been launched in France and US. Pret also said it was tracking ahead of mid-term growth target announced in September 2021 to double the size of its business within five years and enter five new markets by end-2023. Since September 2021, Pret has agreed franchise partnerships with K&Z Group, Dallas Holdings, Joy Brands and Iceking in the UK. Internationally, Pret has recently agreed franchise partnerships with A&W Food Services (Canada), Ibersol Group (Spain and Portugal), Carebrook Partnership (ROI and NI), One PM Franchising (Middle East) and Reliance Brands Limited (India). It has also recently expanded its partnership with Emirates Leisure Retail (UAE). Pano Christou, Pret chief executive, said: “Two years ago, we said we wanted to bring Pret to more people. During the first half of this year, we not only delivered on that pledge, but we also grew fastest in some of the places where we only had a handful of Pret shops before. That’s a fantastic result and shows how big the appetite is for freshly prepared food and organic coffee in towns and cities across the UK. The opportunity now is for us to take that growth and apply it internationally. Since the start of this year, we’ve signed four new partnership agreements to take Pret into new global markets. The second half of this year will be about taking that a step further, while continuing to run our business with the fast, friendly, joyful service which has made Pret what it is today.”

Cluster of London pub openings to feature in next edition of The New Openings Database, 19,100-word report included: A cluster of London pub openings will feature in the next edition of The New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock. The database will show the details of 371 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (8 July), 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 next edition features Artfarm, a hospitality company owned by Iwan and Manuela Wirth, which will relaunch The Audley in Mayfair this autumn, offering its guests three distinct experiences. Independent Surrey brewer Big Smoke Brew Co and Airport Retail Enterprises (ARE), who have launched The Oceanic in Terminal 3 and The Globe in Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport, will also be featured. In addition, independent south London pub group Livelyhood, owned by Sarah Wall, which is set to launch its eighth site this summer with The Rosy Hue in Elephant & Castle, is included. Premium subscribers will also receive a 19,100-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases. The latest Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, was sent to Premium subscribers last Friday (1 July). The database contained 50 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed up to 2,531. The 323 sites run by those 50 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 65,803 sites. Premium subscribers also received a 4,500-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. Premium subscribers have also been given exclusive access to the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and will be updated every two months. The second edition featured 120 companies and almost 47,000 words of content, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost, business background, contacts and other key details. 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 single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. 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 group editor Mark Wingett. 

Number of pubs falls by 7,000 in a decade: The number of pubs in England and Wales fell below 40,000 (39,970) during this year, a loss of more than 7,000 in a decade. The Mirror reports that the hospitality sector, which tackled huge challenges during the pandemic, is now facing record-high inflation and an energy crisis. Pubs have been demolished or converted, research from real estate advisers Altus Group found. Robert Hayton, head of Altus in the UK, said: “Whilst pubs proved remarkably resilient during the pandemic, they’re now facing new headwinds grappling with the cost of doing business in a crisis through soaring energy costs, inflationary pressures and tax rises.” According to the research, the West Midlands saw the biggest number of pub closures in the first six months of 2022, with 28 shutting. It was followed by London and the East of England which both lost 24. Altus said that pubs which had “disappeared” from the communities they once served had either been demolished or converted for other purposes, meaning that they were “lost forever”. Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), said: “When pubs are forced to close it’s a huge loss to the local community, and these numbers paint a devastating picture of how pubs are being lost in villages, towns and cities across the country. As a sector we have just weathered the hardest two years on memory, and we now face the challenge of extreme rising costs,” she added. “It’s essential that we receive relief to ease these pressures or we really do risk losing more pubs year on year.” According to research from the BBPA, the British Institute of Innkeeping and UK Hospitality, only 37% of hospitality businesses are currently turning a profit. Those surveyed said the rising costs of energy, goods and labour were most to blame.

Boparan Restaurant Group sees scope for 350 Slim Chickens sites: Ranjit Boparan – “The Chicken King” will today open four restaurants under the Slim Chickens brand and plans to be operating 350 restaurants in Britain under the US brand in the next few years. The Times reports that his Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), which also owns the Carluccio’s and Ed’s Easy Diner brands, has the master franchise for Slim Chickens for the UK, Europe and airports. Today’s openings in Leicester, Liverpool, Milton Keynes and London’s Bishopsgate lift its total to 26. The group recently teamed up with Bourne Leisure to roll out the Slim Chickens brand in its Haven holiday parks. The first two openings were in Devon and north Wales; after trading “above expectations”, further sites are planned. However, the biggest opportunity is its partnership with Sainsbury’s, which is developing food courts at 150 of its stores that will feature a clutch of BRG’s brands, including Slim Chickens. The first has opened at its store in Selly Oak, Birmingham, with a target of all 150 within three years. Satnam Leihal, the chief executive of BRG, said the group saw an opportunity for at least 200 Slim Chickens sites on top of the 150 Sainsbury’s locations, including sites in shopping malls, leisure parks, high streets and drive-through locations, the first of which will be in the East Midlands. Overseas, it has 67 restaurants in airports under the Carluccio’s, Giraffe, Cinnamon Collection and Wondertree brands, along with Slim Chickens. It will open its first Slim Chickens outlet in Ireland later this year, and has started identifying sites in Germany, France and Spain. Slim Chickens began in a garage in Arkansas in 2003 and now has more than 100 branches in the US.

TRG appoints Loraine Woodhouse as a non-executive director: The Restaurant Group (TRG), the Wagamama and Brunning & Price owner, has appointed Loraine Woodhouse as a non-executive director. Woodhouse joins the company’s board as of today’s date and will become a member of both its audit and nomination committees. She is currently a non-executive director and chair of the audit committee at The British Land Company plc, and from 1 November 2018 to 16 June 2022 was chief financial officer at Halfords Group plc. Before joining Halfords, she spent five years in senior finance roles at the John Lewis Partnership, including as finance director of Waitrose. Prior to that, Woodhouse was chief financial officer of Hobbs, finance director of Capital Shopping Centres Limited (subsequently Intu plc), and finance director of Costa Coffee. Her early career experience included finance and investor relations roles at Kingfisher plc. Ken Hanna, TRG chairman, said: “I am delighted to welcome Loraine to the board. As well as her strong listed finance experience, she has worked across many different sectors, with a particular focus on consumer service businesses. Loraine will bring critical experience and depth to the company, and I and the rest of the board look forward to working with her.”

Most firms vow to put prices up: A record number of businesses intend to pass on the rising cost of energy and raw materials to their customers, according to a survey that paints a gloomy picture of business confidence. The Times reports quarterly analysis of 5,700 companies by the British Chambers of Commerce said “red lights on our economic dashboard are starting to flash” as more than four out of five of the firms it questioned cited inflation as a big concern. Two thirds of firms expect their prices to rise in the next three months, a record high, the survey found, as indications for turnover and profitability confidence, as well as for investment, all worsened between April and June compared with the first quarter. The number of businesses expecting to increase their turnover in the next year is at its lowest level since the lockdown at the end of 2020, down from 63 to 54%. Three quarters of companies had no plans to increase investment in machinery or equipment. The rate of inflation is at its highest level for 40 years, and the latest figures show the price of consumer goods rising by 9.1% a year. The Bank of England says inflation could reach 11% in October. Shevaun Haviland, director general of the Chambers of Commerce, said: “A cut in VAT on energy bills to 5%, and other steps to relieve the tax burden on firms to encourage investment, are crucial. Better infrastructure, a plan to address labour shortages and a unified long-term economic strategy to give businesses more certainty are also needed.” Another business lobby group, the Institute of Directors, said that it would like to see an investment tax incentive known as the “super-deduction”, introduced in 2021 to support business investment, made permanent. Kitty Ussher, its chief economist, said: “When business confidence in the macroeconomy is low, as it is at the moment, the case for government incentives to raise investment becomes even stronger.”

Labour shortfall leading to ‘catastrophic’ food waste, UK farmers warn: Labour shortages have resulted in ‘catastrophic’ food waste and placed huge quantities of further crops at risk, British farmers have warned as they enter peak season for harvesting soft fruit and vegetables. The FT reports the limited number of seasonal visas for overseas workers threatens a contraction of the sector, including some farms going bankrupt, industry groups said, just as the recently published government food strategy has outlined the objective of boosting production. A survey of British Berry Growers’ members found annual waste that could solely attributed to a lack of access to pickers almost doubled in value from 2020 to 2021, from £18.7m to £36.5m. Nick Marston, chair of the industry group, predicted the total would “double again this year”. “It will be more not less as a direct consequence of the restricted supply of labour, as a direct consequence of government policy on immigration,” he said. Ali Capper, executive chair of British Apples and Pears and former chair of the National Farmers’ Union horticulture and potatoes board, said one grower reportedly had not been able to harvest two million iceberg lettuces because there were not enough people to pick them. “In May, we have had some catastrophic food waste across crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, iceberg lettuces, salad and asparagus,” she said. Marston also raised the prospect of some farms being forced to close. “I’m sure that we will see people start to go out of business and that’s about two things,” he said. “It’s about the shortage of labour and the risks attaching to it.”

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