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Tue 12th Jul 2016 - Update: Hotel Chocolat and NewRiver Retail
Hotel Chocolat reports sales up 12% to £92.6m: Hotel Chocolat Group has reported sales of £92.6m for the full year to 26 June, an increase of 12% compared to the prior year, slightly ahead of market expectations. The group’s digital retail channel continued to perform well with revenues increasing by 20%. Since the Company’s admission to trading on AIM in May 2016, the new store opening programme has seen one new store opened in Sheffield on 9 May, with a further four new stores expected to open later this year. Capital projects, notably the increase in manufacturing capacity at the group’s facility near Cambridge, are on schedule and within budget. The Board maintains focus on its operating margins and tight cost control across all aspects of the business. Trading since FY16 continues to be in line with management’s expectations. Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive of Hotel Chocolat, said: “Hotel Chocolat has had a good start as a listed company, with pleasing growth slightly above expectations. We remain confident in our strategy. Our plans to invest further in our British chocolate manufacturing operations, in new stores, and in our digital offering are all progressing well.”

NewRiver Retail reports 97% retail occupancy: NewRiver Retail, which has acquired two pub portfolios in recent years, has reported good progress with retail occupancy levels rising to 97% from 96% since 31 March. David Lockhart, chief executive at NewRiver Retail, said: “It has been another successful period for the company and we are delighted to be delivering a first quarter dividend of five pence, an 11% increase year on year. Operationally the business continues to perform well, with 90 leasing events completed during the quarter and occupancy, lease length and footfall all improving in the period. We have made good progress on our Co-operative convenience store development programme, having delivered the first three stores with the next five under construction. Across the portfolio we have made further progress on our developments, securing planning consent to re-position the Montague Centre in Worthing into a vibrant restaurant quarter. We founded the Company in 2009, during a severe recession, and since then we have consistently created value for our shareholders through our proven business model, focusing on the non-discretionary convenience-led retail sector where the UK household budget is spent day in, day out. We believe that consumers are ultimately price-driven and with our convenience-led specialism, strong operational metrics, rigorous cost-control and conservative balance sheet we feel well-positioned to withstand market uncertainties following the EU referendum result. Importantly, since the referendum the business has remained active, progressing a number of leasing deals with major national retailers who are continuing to take space as planned. Finally, and significantly, yesterday we signed a new improved debt and refinancing facility for £85.3 million with a US based institutional lender, further endorsing our business model and reducing our interest costs.” The company reported disposals totalling £1.2 million through the sale of two pubs, delivered 39% above purchase price and 10% above March 2016 valuation, at IRR’s of 54% and 98%.

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