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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 26th Apr 2024 - Update: Loungers lfls up 7.5%, opens record number of sites
Loungers lfls up 7.5%, expects FY24 Ebitda to be ahead of expectations: Cafe bar operator Loungers has reported like-for-like sales growth of 7.5% for the 53 weeks ended 21 April 2024, and said it expects its Ebitda for FY24 to be ahead of market expectations. The company delivered record total revenue for the financial year of £353.5m, up 24.7% on the previous year (FY23: £283.5m). Excluding the benefit of the 53rd week total sales were up 22.2%. The company said: “This sales performance reflects both continuing strong like for like sales growth (+7.5% across the 53 weeks) and the ongoing success of our new site opening programme. The strength of our sales performance has been accompanied by disciplined management of costs and a continued easing of inflationary cost pressures and, accordingly, we expect Ebitda for FY24 to be ahead of market expectations. Our balance sheet remains strong, with non-property net debt at 21 April 2024 of £9.7m (16 April 2023: £6.1m). Year-end net debt reflects the further acceleration of our site roll-out programme during the year.” During FY24 the group opened 36 new sites, a record number (FY23: 29 new sites), comprising 33 Lounges, one Cosy Club and two Brightsides. At year end, its portfolio totalled 257 sites. Subsequent to the year end, it has opened a further Lounge in Ely, Cambridgeshire. It said: “The FY24 cohort of sites has traded well since opening, giving us confidence as to the continuing strength of the pipeline.” Loungers said it expects to update the market next on 9 July 2024 when the business will announce its preliminary results for the 53 weeks ended 21 April 2024. Nick Collins, chief executive of Loungers, said: “I am delighted with our performance over the year. We have consistently out-performed the sector on a like for like basis whilst having delivered a record 36 new site openings. As ever, it’s our continued focus on menu innovation, value for money and exceptional hospitality that is driving the strength of our performance in both the mature estate and our new openings. As we start the new financial year we are looking ahead with optimism. Our experience suggests that the UK economy is holding up well and we are well positioned to deliver continued growth.”

Propel’s latest Multi-Site Database to be released today including 190 operators from the experiential leisure sector: The next Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate, providing details of more than 3,000 multi-site operators, will be released today (Friday, 26 April), at midday, to Premium Club members – and companies are now searchable in seven main segments. The database features 910 (29%) operators from the casual dining sector, 765 (25%) pub and bar operators, 510 (16%) cafe bakery operators, 420 (14%) quick service restaurant operators, 250 (8%) hotel operators, 190 (6%) experiential leisure operators and 53 (2%) fine dining operators. The database is updated each month – this edition includes 23 new companies and brings the total to 3,098. New additions to the experiential leisure sector include Family Adventures Group, a children’s leisure venue and day nursery that run sites across the south west and Midlands and recently received £5m investment from Foresight for expansion. There is also Curly Pepper Trading, the owner of inflatable theme park operator Jumpin Fun, which was founded in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, and operates six sites. Premium Club members also receive access to five other databases: the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, the New Openings Database, the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database and the Who’s Who of UK Hospitality. Plus, all members will be offered a 20% discount on tickets to five Propel paid-for events – The Excellence in Pub Retailing Conference (14 May), Social Media for Profit (18 July), the Talent and Training Conference (1 October) and Restaurant Marketer and Innovator (two days in January 2025). Operators are also able to send up to four members of staff to each of our four Multi-Club Conferences for free. Premium Club members receive their daily Propel Info newsletter 11 hours earlier than standard subscribers, at 7pm the evening before. They also receive videos of presentations at eight Propel conference events two weeks after they are held. This represents around 100 videos of industry insight over the course of the year. Premium Club members will be sent a dedicated monthly newsletter that will highlight key updates in the sector and direct subscribers to all the vital content their membership offers. Premium Club members also receive exclusive opinion columns every Friday at 5pm, which include the thoughts of Propel group editor Mark Wingett and a host of industry leaders from across the sector. A Premium Club subscription costs an annual sum of £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Premium Club for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. Email today to sign up.

Consumer confidence is recovering as living standards improve: Falling inflation and tax cuts have helped to revive consumer confidence this month, but a delay to reductions in interest rates could keep households cautious in the months ahead, a closely watched survey suggests. The Times reports that the GfK’s consumer confidence index, which has been published since the 1970s, has jumped by two points month-on-month to -19 in April. It is up from -30 a year earlier. Improved sentiment towards the economy’s performance over the coming year alongside greater confidence in personal finances have lifted the headline index in April. The upward moves reflect a sustained drop in inflation over the past year. It is down to 3.2%, the lowest rate since September 2021. Slowing prices growth and rising nominal wages have boosted living standards. Tax cuts by Jeremy Hunt in his March budget, most notably a further 2p reduction to national insurance contributions, are said to have driven consumer confidence higher. Joe Staton, client strategy director at GfK, said: “While the overall index score remains negative, all of the underlying five measures this April are significantly better than they were last April. These improvements reflect the impact on household budgets of lower inflation and the anticipation of further tax cuts.” However, a renewed surge in inflation in the United States alongside higher than expected inflation data in Britain convinced investors to dial back their forecasts for rate cuts this year. Only one or two quarter-point reductions by the Bank of England this year are now priced in by financial markets, down from as many as six at the beginning of the year. Several lenders, including Barclays, NatWest and HSBC, have raised mortgage rates in response to the market predicting fewer rate cuts. Staton said: “There is a lot of ground to make up and caution is needed in the face of continuing economic and fiscal challenges and revised views on when the Bank of England might cut borrowing costs. But spring has arrived and maybe consumer confidence is, at last, slowly becoming brighter and heading in the right direction.” The GfK index plummeted to a record low of -49 in September 2022 after Liz Truss delivered her mini-budget, which included £45bn of unfunded tax cuts, sending financial markets into chaos.

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