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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 10th Feb 2016 - Update: Sugar Hut expansion, Greene King results
Sugar Hut brand set to expand across the UK: The Only Way is Essex star Mick Norcross is to expand his Sugar Hut brand across the UK after appointing a new chief executive. The Sugar Hut site in Brentwood, Essex has enjoyed a high profile show since featuring in the reality television how for a number of years – Norcross bought the freehold from Enterprise Inns a few years back. Now Norcross has identified a site in Liverpool for expansion and hired a chief executive for the roll-out, Terry Pullen. Norcross told Propel: “Terry Pullen’s entrepreneurial career has included a Rothschild partnership, property development and ownership of numerous high profile clubs and restaurants including The Bloomsbury Ballroom, Connaught Rooms and The 10 Room at London’s Cafe Royal. Most recently through The Substantia Group, which offers communication and business consultancy services through a boutique team of talent led by Terry, he has enjoyed unprecedented success developing brands and creating commercial property deals. This broad experience has now paved the way to form a powerful and exciting new partnership with Sugar Hut Group to deliver the undeniable potential of the brand’s expansion in the UK and beyond, through the role of group chief executive.”

Greene King reports “strong performance”: Greene King has reported retail like-for-like sales up 2.2% and Spirit managed like-for-like sales up 1.1% in the 40 weeks to 7 February 2016. In the two Christmas weeks, like-for-like sales grew 5.0% in Greene King and 5.2% in Spirit. Pub Partners like-for-like net income was up 2.5% and brewing and brands own-brewed volume (OBV) was up 3.9%. The company reported Spirit integration is progressing well and there is encouraging performance in rebranded trial sites. Rooney Anand, chief executive officer, said: “This was another strong performance, with all divisions trading well during the important festive period, and record trading on Christmas Day. The latest Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker shows that, despite varying their choices when eating out, pubs were a major destination for customers. Our positive trading results are a testament to the hard work and dedication of our teams who gave our guests great experiences, with value, service and quality central to our offer. I am pleased to report continued progress with the Spirit integration, including encouraging signs from our rebranded trial sites thus far, and continued progress in terms of synergy delivery. Our focus remains on the development and continuous enhancement of our core Greene King business while successfully integrating Spirit, to create the UK’s leading pub company.” The company added: “Combined Retail sales were up 67% after 40 weeks benefitting from a 33 week contribution from Spirit and 6% growth at Greene King. In the Greene King estate, like-for-like sales were up 2.2%, led by Locals Pubs and our hotels, with growth in food, drink and rooms. Like-for-like sales grew by 1.1% in the Spirit Managed business, where we saw continued strength in Chef & Brewer. We achieved record sales of £6.8m on Christmas Day in the combined Retail estate which was led by food and included a record pub trading day of £19k at the Farmhouse Inn in Ashton-under-Lyme. Over the Christmas and New Year weeks, Prosecco volumes were up 69% while Premium Gin grew 77%, and at New Year a record 4,447 drinks per minute were sold in the last hour of 2015. In addition to the ongoing strong growth in the underlying Retail business, we opened ten new sites in our combined Retail estate in the year to date. Following the successful integration of the Spirit leased business at the end of the first half, Pub Partners performed well with like-for-like net income up 2.5% – an improvement on the trend seen at the half year. Individual pubs had a great Christmas with five sites from our turnover agreement estate achieving sales of over £40k in the Christmas week. Our disposal programme is on track, with 33 Pub Partners disposals so far this year. In Brewing and Brands, own-brewed volume was up 3.9%. Growth was driven by Greene King IPA and Old Speckled Hen. Greene King IPA has been helped by its popularity surge in China and the distribution from within the Spirit managed estate. In addition, we recently announced that Greene King IPA is now the official beer of England cricket. Overall, our expectations for the full year are unchanged. Despite the current global economic uncertainty, we remain confident that we will deliver further value to our guests and shareholders by continuing to develop and enhance the existing Greene King business while successfully integrating Spirit.”

Drink-drive limit could be cut to one glass of wine or pint of beer: Motorists could see the drink-drive limit in England and Wales cut for the first time in a generation after figures revealed drunk driver deaths remained static. Roads minister Andrew Jones is to hold talks with his Scottish counterpart to discuss cutting the limit to less than one glass of wine or a pint of beer, bringing England and Wales in line with Scotland. Responding to a parliamentary question, the minister told MPs: “I am intending to discuss with the Scottish minister the experience of the lower limit in Scotland and the timescales to get access to robust evidence of the road safety impact. It is important to base our decisions on evidence and the Scottish experience will be crucial to that before we consider any possible changes to limits in England and Wales. This government’s current position, however, remains to focus resources on enforcing against the most serious offenders.”

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