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Thu 30th Mar 2017 - David Lloyd to launch experiential leisure parks
David Lloyd to launch experiential leisure parks: Leisure entrepreneur David Lloyd is to tap into increasing consumer demand for experiential leisure and adventure by launching a chain of adventure parks aimed at attracting children and adults. The former tennis star, best known for setting up his gym and tennis club brand, has revealed plans to build four £7m, 60,000 square foot, sites each year over the next five years. David Lloyd’s Adventure Parks will have a selection of indoor and outdoor activities, ranging from climbing walls to trampolines, crazy golf to a 50km per hour highwire suspended 16 metres in the air. “The difference in what we are doing is, it’s a day out. It’s a three to four hour adventure,” Lloyd told City AM. The 69-year-old is no longer involved in his gym and leisure brand, having previously owned it on two separate occasions. The chain, which recently bought 16 Virgin Active outlets, is reported to be up for sale for £1.3bn. Lloyd’s last involvement in his eponymous gym brand was in 2013 when the business was sold to current owners TDR Capital for £750m. The adventure parks will be run in conjunction with property firm Holmes Investment. Lloyd will identify locations, negotiate with local authorities over their sale and planning permission before Holmes provides the financing to fund their purchase. Thereafter Lloyd will operate the sites, paying rent to landlord Holmes. He said the demographics are very similar to his gym and leisure centres and many of the skills he developed in building his previous business are transferable to his latest venture. “I’ve activated all my contacts with councils which have pockets of brown land they can’t use for anything else,” said Lloyd. “I’m totally convinced it’s going to work. But I need to get the right location. That’s my skill. The demographics and where you put things are something we’ve done for 32 years. So we’re pretty good at it. Similar to theme parks, some of the activities will be restricted to older children and parents. Others will specifically be directed at younger children with an added educational element. The parks will be open in the evenings during the week and all-day during the weekend and school holidays. During daylight hours in working weeks they will be available for private hire for corporate days out and will be offered to schools at discounted or free rates.” He said: “Where can you go for a teambuilding day with all those activities?” Holmes Investment has purchased a German-listed shell company called Caroboo Gold Mines, renaming it Holmes Investment Properties. The firm plans to raise £6m through a private share placement and has already signed £42m development loan facility, money that will fund the first handful of sites Lloyd identifies. Chief executive of Holmes Investment, Martin Helme said: “We believe that David Lloyd is the most successful sports venue entrepreneur in Europe, and he is now concentrating on building a unique, exciting business that people will flock to. Holmes Investment Properties, our property division, are experts in funding and development, so it makes sense for Lloyd to leave this part of the process to us.”

Easyhotel loses retrospective planning application in Islington: Easyhotel has announced that its appeal against Islington Borough Council’s refusal of retrospective planning permission relating to 78 of the 162 rooms at its Old Street Hotel (80 Old Street, London) has been unsuccessful. The company stated: “This retrospective planning application was identified (and communicated) as a potential risk at the time of the Initial Public Offering (IPO) in June 2014 and was inherited by the current management team in 2015. This retrospective planning application relating to the additional 78 bedrooms was rejected by Islington Council in June 2016 and, since then, the Board has worked closely with Islington Borough Council to come to a beneficial solution for both parties, but has been unsuccessful as the Planning Inspectorate has upheld the Council’s policy to protect office space in the borough. The property was originally acquired by Easyhotel prior to IPO, in June 2012, for £10 million as a 92 bedroom hotel. In March 2014 the hotel was extended to 162 bedrooms, without planning permission. The net book value of the property is £13 million and the Board is confident that the current realisable value of the building is significantly in excess of this. In light of this outcome, Easyhotel is now considering its options, including a sale or partial sale of the building to release capital to fund future higher yielding development projects. The Board is confident a full sale of the building should fund the development of at least 500 new rooms in the UK. A partial sale, which would entail the concentration of the hotel operations on the ground, first and second floors, with a sale of the upper floors, would finance the development of a further 170 rooms in the UK. Each option, if pursued, is likely to result in a short term adverse impact to earnings in the current financial year and during the period whilst the capital released is deployed in higher yielding assets.”

Booker reports good Fourth Quarter: Booker Group, the food wholesaler, had reported a good Fourth Quarter in the 12 weeks to 24 March. It stated: “Group non tobacco sales rose by 4.5% with non tobacco like-for-likes up 4.7%. Group tobacco sales declined by 7.9% with tobacco like-for-likes down 7.5%. Tobacco sales are being impacted by the tobacco display ban and new plain packaging restrictions coming into force. Total sales were up 0.5% and like-for-likes were up 0.7%. Both the Catering and Retail sides of Booker Group made good progress. Non tobacco sales in Premier continue to grow and Budgens and Londis are performing well. Internet sales increased by 8% to £233m (excluding Budgens and Londis) and Booker India continues to make progress. For the 52 weeks to 24 March 2017, total sales were £5.3bn, up by 6.7% compared to last year. Like-for-like non-tobacco sales increased by 2.8%, and like-for-like tobacco sales reduced by 4.6%. Like-for-like sales to caterers rose by 4.4%. Like-for-like sales to retailers reduced by 0.6% primarily due to the tobacco display ban and plain packaging restrictions. Customer satisfaction scores were good. Booker Group had approximately £160m net cash at the end of the financial year.” Charles Wilson, chief executive, said: “Overall, 2016/17 was a good year. Customer satisfaction was good and sales were the best we have ever achieved. Booker Group remains on track to Focus, Drive and Broaden the business. On 27 January we announced the planned merger with Tesco. We are excited about the benefits the enlarged Group will bring to consumers, our customers, suppliers, colleagues and shareholders. The merger is going through the competition process. Meanwhile it is business as usual as we continue to improve choice, prices and service for our retail, catering and small business customers.”

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