Greggs reports like-for-likes up 3.2% in first eight weeks of 2018: Greggs has reported total sales up 7.4% to £960.0m (2016: £894.2m) in the year to 31 December 2017. Company-managed shop like-for-like sales were up 3.7% (2016: 4.2%). Operating profit excluding property profits and exceptional items up 4.6% to £81.7m (2016: £78.1m). Pre-tax profit excluding exceptional items was £81.8m (2016: £80.3m). Actual pre-tax profit was £71.9m (2016: £75.1m). There was further improvements to product range, with specific focus on hot drinks and hot food. Healthier options are growing strongly, with the ‘Balanced Choice’ range accounts for more than £100m of sales. 131 new shops opened, and there were 41 closures (90 net openings) with 1,854 shops trading at 30 December 2017. Company-managed shop like-for-like sales are up by 3.2% in eight weeks to 24 February 2018. Chief executive Roger Whiteside said: “In 2017 we delivered another strong performance in challenging economic circumstances as rising inflation impacted both our own costs and customers’ disposable income. At the same time we continued to make good progress with our business transformation programme. Whilst the UK consumer outlook remains challenging, we are encouraged by the start to the year. 2018 will be the peak year for investment in our supply chain as we create the platforms for further growth. We also plan to open a record number of new shops as we implement our plan to grow Greggs as a leading food-on-the-go brand.” Chairman Ian Durant added: “Greggs continues to demonstrate its resilience in the face of economic uncertainty. This environment seems unlikely to change in the short term as the UK negotiates its exit from the European Union, with the associated risks to consumer confidence and further cost inflation. We are alive to these risks and working hard to mitigate the possible impacts where we can. Looking beyond this we remain optimistic about the growth potential for Greggs and are currently investing to support this. The benefits of our major change programmes are beginning to show and will give us much greater capability and capacity for further growth in the years ahead. Greggs continues to be a strong business with a great team. I am confident that we will make further progress in the year ahead.”
Liquidators appointed to company operating four bars and nightclubs in Norwich: Liquidators have been appointed for the company behind four Norwich bars and nightclubs. Joint provisional liquidators have been appointed for Code Red Promotions, which owns Mercy nightclub, Flaunt, Lace and Rocco’s, all on Prince of Wales Road. The notice says the liquidators, Moore Stephens, were appointed under the Insolvency Act Liquidation can be either voluntary or involuntary, with assets of a business often sold to repay creditors. The four make up a significant part of Norwich nightlife, in an area which is particularly popular with students and visitors to the city. Mercy – which opened in 2003, having previously been a cinema – was closed over the weekend.
Barclaycard’s Dine & Dash being trialled at Prezzo branch: Barclaycard’s “Dine & Dash” technology, which is being trialled at the St Martins Lane branch of Prezzo, gives customers the option of tapping a “totem” box in the middle of their table with their smartphone to check in. Diners then just order their food as usual, before walking out – without waiting for the bill, which will be automatically charged to the app on their phone. “Building on our experience in ‘invisible payments’, we wanted to create an innovative solution that removes any barriers to enjoying the meal whilst also helping restaurants deliver great service and keep those diners coming back,” said Barclaycard’s Nick Kerigan. The table totem changes colour to show a successful payment, while the Dine & Dash app also allows customers to view their bill in real time, add a tip and split the cost between individuals. According to Barclaycard’s research, 38% of diners want to avoid waiting for the bill and 67% of restaurant owners are in favour of an “invisibill” payment method to improve service and customer satisfaction. Added to that, 60% of restaurant owners have seen customers leave without paying the bill – meaning a huge majority are in favour of using some sort of technology to improve payment methods.
Dalata reports Ireland and UK progress: Dalata Hotel Group, the largest hotel operator in Ireland with a growing presence in the United Kingdom, has reported sales rose 19.9% to €348.5m in 2017. Pre-tax profit rose 42.5% to €77.3m. It has a current pipeline of over 2,200 new rooms: Four new hotels totalling 727 rooms on target to open during 2018 in Belfast, Dublin (two) and Cork creating 500 new jobs on the island of Ireland. Maldron Hotel Newcastle (264 rooms) scheduled to open in early 2019. It completed the sale and leaseback of Clayton Hotel Cardiff at a yield of 4.85% with M&G Real Estate in June. Pat McCann, Dalata Group chief executive, said: “2017 was another exciting time for Dalata and I am delighted with the progress we have made. The team at Dalata have delivered another year of strong earnings growth and met our target to announce 1,200 new rooms per year. Our hotels continued to outperform the market with RevPAR growth of 11.0% in Dublin (excluding Clayton Hotel Burlington Road) versus the city as a whole of 7.7%. Including Clayton Hotel Burlington Road Dublin RevPAR increased by 9.2%. Hotels in Regional Ireland also performed well achieving RevPAR growth of 9.1%. I am particularly pleased with the performance at our UK hotels. Our London hotels achieved RevPAR growth of 11.9% versus the city growth of 4.4%. Our regional UK hotels showed RevPAR growth of 7.8%, with our hotels in Cardiff, Manchester and Leeds outperforming the market. These results are a testament to our decentralised model which continues to underpin everything we do and is central to our success. I am pleased to report that the value of our property, plant and equipment is now almost €1 billion. The comparable amount at June 2014 was €23.9 million after we first listed on the stock exchange. This is a stark reminder of how fast we have grown and how far we have come in a relatively short space of time. I am very satisfied with the revamp of our brand websites in 2017. We reviewed and simplified the booking process for our customers making it easier and faster for our customers to book directly with us. The response to our launch of “Click on Clayton” is being very well received and up-take to date has been very positive. The roll out of “Make it Maldron” is currently underway. Our customers are always at the heart of everything we do. In 2017 €22.2 million was invested in capital refurbishment expenditure. €14.6 million related to on-going refurbishment projects to ensure our hotels offer a superior standard to our customers and €7.6 million related to the upgrade of recently acquired hotels to brand standards. A further 889 rooms were refurbished during 2017 bringing the total number of refurbished rooms since 2015 to 2,270. We also continued to invest in our sales and marketing strategies to further increase the value and presence of the group’s Clayton and Maldron brands. In 2017 we invested in technology to support our processes and ensure we are able to deliver our long-term growth strategy. We introduced a single accounting platform which will increase efficiency in our finance function across the group. We also began the implementation of a new procurement system which will streamline our procurement process and in time deliver savings across the business. As of January 2018, every hotel in the group now has the Opera Property Management System (PMS). We have implemented an automated revenue management system at some our larger hotels to provide powerful analytic data to aid decision making. I must stress this will only be used as a support tool for the Revenue Manager. We continue to see benefits from the 2016 roll-out of the Alkimii payroll management system across the group, particularly in our food and beverage department profit margins. We will continue to invest in our people and ensure they are highly trained and motivated. 157 people completed development programs in 2018. Developing our people within Dalata greatly reduces the operating risk of running and opening new hotels. 2015, 2016 and 2017 were busy years at Dalata and 2018 will be no different. I am really excited about the pipeline of hotels that we are opening in 2018. Maldron Hotel Belfast City opens in mid-March 2018, Maldron Hotel Kevin Street, Dublin opens in June, Clayton Hotel Charlemont, Dublin opens in November while Maldron Hotel South Mall, Cork opens in December. The management teams that will open and operate these new hotels have been developed within Dalata and I have full confidence in their ability to lead these hotels to success. Opening a new hotel is not an easy task and these hotel teams will have the full support of Central Office as they progress to achieve full operating performance over the next two to three years. We will also complete significant extensions at Clayton Hotel Dublin Airport (May), Maldron Hotel Sandy Road, Galway (June), Clayton Hotel Ballsbridge (August) and Maldron Hotel Parnell Square (December). We received full planning permission in January 2018 at Tara Towers Hotel to develop a new hotel branded Maldron Hotel Merrion Road and 69 residential units. We have commenced the process to select a development partner. We will also continue to deliver on our promise of announcing 1,200 new rooms per year. Our development team are actively looking for new sites located in our twenty target cities across the United Kingdom. I am very excited about the quantity and quality of opportunities that are coming our way at present.”