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Fri 10th Feb 2017 - Update: Greene King trading, Just Eat ceo, Shaftesbury
Greene King reports strong Christmas trading: Greene King has reported strong Christmas trading. It stated: “In the first 40 weeks of the year, Pub Company achieved like-for-like sales growth of 1.1%. Excluding Fayre & Square, like-for-like sales were +1.6%. Over the last 16 weeks, we have seen a strong Christmas trading period alongside the usual quieter months of November and January. Like-for-like sales over the three Christmas weeks were up 4.5%, despite tough comparisons with the previous Christmas. Sales were driven by particularly strong growth in London. We again broke our record for Christmas Day with sales of £7.4m, up 6% on the previous year. Like-for-like net income in Pub Partners was up 3.5% after 40 weeks, maintaining its strong performance this year. In a cask ale market down 3.8%, own-brewed volume (OBV) in Brewing & Brands was down 4.2%. Further progress was made on the Spirit integration with over 1,000 pubs now converted to the ‘best of both’ pub company IT system and ongoing synergy savings realised. We also made further progress on the delivery of our estate plan. We reached our target of 11 new pub acquisitions, of which six were Farmhouse Inns and five were Hungry Horse. Our disposal programme accelerated in the second half as expected. So far this year, we have sold 59 pubs across both pub company and Pub Partners for total proceeds of circa £35m. We anticipate disposing a further 50-60 pubs this year, raising proceeds of circa £30-40m. Looking ahead, despite continued economic uncertainty and significant cost pressures, we will remain focused on building our retail pub brands, delivering great experiences to our guests and completing the Spirit integration. We are confident that the combined strength of our brands, pubs, people and cash generation leaves us well placed to deliver another year of progress, value creation and returns for our shareholders.”

David Buttress to step down as Just Eat chief executive: The board of Just Eat has announced that, due to urgent family matters, David Buttress has informed it of his intention to step down from his role as chief executive. He will work full time in the company until the end of the first quarter, at which time John Hughes, who has been chairman of the board for almost six years, will assume the role of executive chairman. Hughes will work closely with Butrtess and chief financial officer Paul Harrison to ensure a smooth and orderly handover. The board is commencing an immediate search to find a replacement for Buttress. He has agreed to serve a minimum one-year term as a non-executive director. David Buttress said: “It has been a great privilege to work alongside, and then lead, the exceptional team at Just Eat, helping to build the business from the very first restaurant in the UK to the company it is today. I would like to thank the board for their understanding, and I am very pleased that I will be able to continue to play a role in the future of the business as a non-executive director. This has been one of the best jobs in the world, and I wish my successor all the best when they take on the role.” John Hughes said: “The board would like to thank David for his outstanding contribution and respects his imminent need to focus on other important matters. David has been an incredible leader and colleague, who has earned the respect and loyalty of all who work with him at Just Eat. David will leave as chief executive with the business in excellent health and with an experienced leadership team at the helm. We look forward, in due course, to welcoming him as a non-executive director. I will work closely with Paul Harrison and the rest of the team as we recruit David’s successor, and we will provide an update on that process in due course. The company is very strongly positioned for the future.”

Shaftesbury – West End benefiting from advantageous currency rates: West End property Landlord Shaftesbury has reported the West End is benefiting from the reduced level of sterling post-Brexit. It stated: “Although longer-term political uncertainties continue, in recent months, confidence in the medium term prospects for the UK economy has stabilised and domestic consumer spending has been resilient. The West End, with its added advantage of world-class visitor attractions and an unrivalled choice of restaurants, cafés, bars and shops, continues to attract ever-growing numbers of international visitors, who are currently benefitting from advantageous currency exchange rates. These factors have contributed to good footfall and increased trading volumes across our locations over the traditionally busy festive period, and into January. With its exceptional visitor economy and diverse employment base, the long-term outlook for footfall and spending in the West End is positive, and underpins continuing good demand for accommodation in our carefully curated, popular locations. Throughout the period, vacancy rates in our portfolio have remained low, available space has attracted considerable interest and leasing activity has continued to meet our expectations.”

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