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Fri 30th Sep 2016 - Update: Brighton Pier Group, restaurants ordered to reduce size of puddings
Brighton Pier Group – ­‘we plan a diverse portfolio of experiential leisure and entertainment assets’, reports return to profit: Brighton Pier Group, which has sector investor Luke Johnson as chairman, has said the long-term strategy was to “create a growth company operating across a diverse portfolio of experiential leisure and entertainment assets in the UK”. The company, which owns and trades Brighton Palace Pier as well as 19 bars under its Eclectic division, saw revenue increase to £22.6m for the year ending 26 June 2016, compared with £22.3m the year before. Group Ebitda before highlighted items rose to £2.3m, compared with £1.8m the previous year. The company reported a pre-tax profit of £900,000, compared with a loss of £500,000 the year before. It reported good progress with the group’s existing bars business. The division remains cash generative, contributing £2.3m to Ebitda during the period. The company stated: “In the short to medium term, the group sees development opportunities for the pier business including the potential to improve its catering and hospitality offering. In addition, we continue to review possible capital enhancement opportunities that have previously delivered strong Ebitda uplifts for the pier, including the development of more family-friendly attractions such as a soft play area in the Dome and the bringing in-house of certain food kiosk concessions from vendors. In terms of the bars division, the group will continue to focus on providing quality service and delivery in respect of the group’s existing sites whilst also continuing to rationalise the estate, dispose of underperforming sites, and target developments and acquisitions when opportunities arise. In the coming year, the combined group’s Ebitda will reflect the full 12-month impact of the acquisition of Brighton Palace Pier and synergies arising from the combined business including staffing and purchasing benefits. Trading for the summer period has been in line with management expectations. The long-term strategy of the enlarged group is to capitalise on the skills of both the bars and the pier divisions to create a growth company operating across a diverse portfolio of experiential leisure and entertainment assets in the UK. The group will achieve this objective by way of organic revenue growth across the whole estate, together with the active pursuit of future potential strategic acquisitions of experiential leisure and entertainment destinations, enhancing the group’s portfolio to realise synergies by leveraging scale. It is the board’s longer-term strategy to position the company as a consolidator within this sector.” Johnson said: “The clear highlight of the year was the acquisition of The Brighton Marine Palace and Pier Company on 27 April 2016. Brighton Palace Pier is an iconic landmark and leisure attraction in Brighton, spanning 1,722 feet and offering a wide variety of seaside entertainment including amusement rides, arcades, bars, a restaurant and other food and retail kiosks. Free of charge to enter, the pier provides a nostalgic, recreational environment, with spectacular views of Brighton and the English Channel. According to Visit Britain, it is the fifth most popular visitor destination in the UK, drawing over 4.6 million visitors in 2015, making it the UK’s most visited attraction outside of London. I believe this acquisition represented a significant opportunity for the group to acquire the freehold of a valuable asset, while at the same time broadening our business base. The enlarged group will benefit from the extensive experience of the pier’s management team, led by Anne Martin. Revenue generated by the pier will be transformative to the existing business during the current financial year, providing substantial free cash flow for use within the enlarged group and enabling the possibility of funding further acquisitions across the leisure and entertainment sector, as and when opportunities arise. During our first full summer of ownership, the pier business has traded in line with our expectations. Good weather has continued to attract visitors to Brighton seafront, despite the significant disruption to rail services over recent months. Since my appointment at the start of this financial year, I am pleased to report that the group has also made good progress with the existing bars business. The campaign for returning students in September 2015 was a notable success, halting the slow-down witnessed during the previous year. The introduction of the ‘Loyal’ card scheme, the installation of free public Wi-Fi, improved offers and better communication with customers, have all contributed towards new student nights, boosting overall student numbers and increasing mid-week sales for the group. The significant savings made on head office costs, as well as the rebasing of costs across the estate, were, in my view, essential to the future profitability of the existing business. The 2.25% margin improvement arising from the renegotiation of the bars principal supply contracts has brought welcome additional profit, together with a logistics benefit through having a single drinks supplier. Meanwhile, Derby Lola Lo’s return to profitability, the successful launch of Smash, our new ‘ping pong’ bar in Reading, and the disposal of Sheffield and half of the Liverpool site, demonstrate the positive progress. Most importantly, at the end of this financial period, the new combined group returned to profitability with basic adjusted earnings per share of 4.2 pence versus a loss of 0.3 pence per share for the same period last year. This is a key milestone for the business and demonstrates what the group can accomplish through effort and application.” 

Restaurants, pubs and cafes ordered to make food and drink healthier or be named and shamed: Restaurants, pubs and cafes have been ordered to make their food and drink healthier or face being named and shamed, the government has said. Big chain restaurants, takeaways and fast food retailers – including PizzaExpress, Starbucks and McDonald’s – must cut sugar and reduce the size of desserts, cakes and pastries. The move comes as part of the Government’s bid to tackle obesity, The Times reported. Health secretary Jeremy Hunt told food companies that as eating out “is no longer a treat” they needed to be part of reforms to reduce the nation’s waistline. Consumers will be able to check the companies’ efforts on a website, although exactly how they will be compared has not been decided. It comes alongside food producers being asked to cut sugar in key products by 20% over the next five years. In a private meeting Hunt told 100 food companies “doing nothing was not an option”. He said: “Going out to eat is no longer a treat. It’s a regular habit for many families and is contributing significantly to the extra calories and sugar that we all consume on a daily basis. We can’t ignore the changing habits of consumers. This means we expect the whole of the out-of-home sector – coffee shops, pubs and family restaurants, quick-service restaurants, takeaways, cafes, contract caterers and mass catering suppliers – to step up and deliver on sugar reduction.” Hunt told the meeting people are consuming more than a fifth of their sugar intake outside the home and a quarter of families took children to fast food outlets each week.Chief executive of Public Health England Duncan Selbie told the meeting the new measures were needed to improve nutrition across the board. He said: “We need a level playing field – if the food and drink bought in cafes, coffee shops and restaurants does not also get reformulated and portions rethought then it will remain often significantly higher in sugar and bigger in portion than those being sold in supermarkets and convenience shops. This will not help the overall industry to help us all make healthier choices.”

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