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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 30th Apr 2014 - Breaking News - Greene King like-for-likes accelerate
Greene King like-for-likes accelerate: Greene King has reported that its managed division like-for-like sales have accelerated to 4.8% in the last 16 weeks from 4.1% earlier in the financial year. In a pre-close trading update for the 52 weeks to 27 April 2014, the company reported its 22nd consecutive quarter of LFL sales growth. Food like-for-like sales were up 5.0% and room like-for-like sales up 6.8%. Average EBITDA per pub in Pub Partners leased and tenanted division grew 5.0%. Core brand own-brewed volumes (OBV) were up 4.6%. Chief executive Rooney Anand said: “We have achieved consistently strong trading in each of our businesses through the year. This reflects the strengths of our business and the success of our strategy to move to higher growth areas in our markets and to improve the customer offer. We expect to meet the market’s full year expectations for profit, cashflow and the balance sheet, with further improvement in our ROCE and a further reduction in leverage. Looking ahead, we see the UK’s economic outlook improving. Throughout the downturn wage growth lagged inflation but this quarter has seen that change for the first time since the recession began, which bodes well for the future. Customers, though, are still spending carefully, as highlighted by our most recent Leisure Spend Tracker report*. Hence we remain cautiously optimistic for the forthcoming financial year.” The company added: “On the back of our continued commitment to delivering great value, service and quality to our customers, we have achieved another year of strong LFL sales growth in Retail. LFL sales were up 4.1%, with 4.8% growth in the last 16 weeks. This was the 22nd consecutive quarter of LFL sales growth. Food LFL sales were up 5.0%, room LFL sales were up 6.8% and drink LFL sales were up 3.2%. During the last 16 weeks, we saw good growth on key events such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter. On Mother’s Day, we served a single day record of 262,000 food covers with LFL sales growth of 17.1%. Farmhouse Inns performed particularly well with average sales per site of £14,400 and three sites delivering over £16,000. We expect the Retail margin to be slightly ahead of last year. Our retail expansion programme remains on track. We expect to have added 45 new Retail sites by the year-end, taking Retail to 1,032 sites, with Hungry Horse reaching 232 sites by the year-end. Average EBITDA per pub in Pub Partners was up 5.0%. Our strategy to reduce the size and improve the quality of the Pub Partners’ estate continues and we expect to end this financial year with 1,164 sites, 149 less than last year, after 134 disposals and 15 transfers to Retail. Brewing & Brands has again improved its market share, achieving core OBV growth of 4.6% against a UK ale market down 2.3%. Our continued strong performance was driven by Old Speckled Hen, the UK’s leading premium ale brand, which recorded growth of 12.5%.” 
Punch bondholders waive covenants to allow restructuring talks to continue: Punch Taverns bondholders have voted in favour of waiving covenants that would otherwise have placed the company in default to allow restructuring talks to continue. The company stated: “At the meetings held today, noteholders voted overwhelmingly in favour of the waiver requests. Eleven of the sixteen meetings were quorate (requiring instructions from at least 75% of noteholders eligible to vote) and the resolutions were passed. The five (four in Punch A and one in Punch B) remaining noteholder meetings were adjourned until 13 May 2014, at which a lower quorum of 25% of noteholders entitled to vote will apply.”
Domino’s made David Wild permanent chief executive: Domino’s Pizza has named David Wild as its chief executive with immediate effect. Stephen Hemsley, non-executive chairman, said: “We are delighted that David will be joining Domino’s permanently as chief executive officer. Since becoming Interim CEO in January, he has impressed the board with his passion and understanding of both the Company and our franchisees. He has brought clarity of thought to our strategy, both in how to progress in the UK and Internationally. Having conducted a full and thorough recruitment process, we are confident he is the best person to take the business forward.” David Wild added: “Since taking on the CEO role on an interim basis it has been clear to me that Domino’s is a fantastic company with a strong brand, quality products and excellent people. I have very much enjoyed the full time role within the business and look forward to continuing to work closely with our franchisees to grow the business across all of our geographic regions.”
Greggs – it’s a good trading year to date: Greggs has reported “good trading” in the 17 weeks to 26 April with like-for-like sales up 3.7% and total sales up 4%. The company stated this morning: “Trading so far this year has been good, continuing the trend seen in the final quarter of 2013. Our total sales for the 17 weeks to 26 April 2014 grew by 4.0%. Like-for-like sales in our own shops grew by 3.7% over the same period. Our year-on-year performance is in part benefiting from comparison with a period of weak trading in 2013 when like-for-like sales for the first 17 weeks declined by 4.4%, impacted by snow in January and March 2013. In line with our strategy sales growth is also being driven by improved availability of our freshly made sandwiches, longer trading hours and product upgrades such as our improved coffee blend, which is benefiting from inclusion within our popular promotional meal deals. Greggs Rewards, our new mobile loyalty scheme, has started well and continues to build momentum. Cost control has been strong in the year to date and input cost inflation has been lower than we have experienced in recent years. As a result there has been some benefit to margin in the period. The business remains highly cash-generative and maintains a strong balance sheet position.”

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