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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Tue 5th Jun 2018 - Update: Starbucks, Ten Entertainment Group, Vianet, McDonald’s, Merlin
Howard Schultz to leave Starbucks: Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz will leave the company at the end of this month. Schultz, who has been at the helm of Starbucks for almost four decades, will be replaced by Myron Ullman, the former chairman and chief executive of JC Penney. Schultz, who will step down on Thursday, 26 June, had previously served as chief executive of Starbucks, and only became executive chairman last year, handing the chief executive role over to Kevin Johnson. Writing to employees to announce his resignation from the chairman post, Schultz, who will become “chairman emeritus”, said he had “set out to build a company that my father, a blue-collar worker and Second Word war veteran, never had a chance to work for”. During his 36-year tenure, Starbucks has grown from 11 stores to more than 28,000 stores across 77 countries. It generated net revenues of $22.4bn last year. In the letter, he also suggested that he might pursue a career in politics once he leaves Starbucks, adding fuel to speculation he could be preparing for a 2020 presidential bid as a Democratic candidate. He said: “I’ll be thinking about a range of options for myself, from philanthropy to public service, but I’m a long way from knowing what the future holds.” In an interview with The New York Times, he added he was focused on finding a role in which he could give something back. “For some time now, I have been deeply concerned about our country – the growing division at home and our standing in the world,” he said. “One of the things I want to do in my next chapter is to figure out if there is a role I can play in giving back. I’m not exactly sure what that means yet.” Rumours have been swirling Schultz could have political ambitions for a while, and last year he spoke out about his dislike of president Donald Trump and said he was “a president that is creating episodic chaos every day”. He was also critical of the Republican tax plan at the end of last year, saying it was a “fool’s gold”.
 
Ten Entertainment Group chief executive to step down: Ten Entertainment Group, the UK operator of bowling and family entertainment centres, has announced chief executive Alan Hand is to step down for personal reasons. Hand has agreed to continue in his role as chief executive until 14 December 2018. Ten Entertainment Group said a search for his successor would begin immediately. The company also said since the end of the first quarter, it had continued to “trade well” and the integration of the four sites it has acquired in FY18 was “going smoothly”. It added it remained on track to meet expectations for the year as a whole. Chairman Nick Basing said: “We respect Alan’s wish to step down. Working with him closely for nearly ten years in this business has been a pleasure and I am disappointed not be continuing this successful journey together. I would like to express the board’s and my gratitude to Alan for the significant contribution he has made and wish him well.”
 
Vianet reports revenue and profit boost: Vianet Group, the international provider of actionable data and business insight through devices connected to its Internet of Things platform, has reported revenue for the year ended 31 March 2018 increased to £14.56m compared with £14.26m the year before. The company stated: “Recurring revenues across the two divisions remains strong at 90% (2017: 85%) helped by the Vendman acquisition in October 2017 and transition from capital to annuity based sales in smart machines. Operating profit pre-amortisation of intangibles, share options and exceptional costs was up 9.2% to £3.62m (2017: £3.32m). Profit before taxation increased 45% to £2.05m post exceptional items (2017: £1.45m). Operating cash generation was down to £2.97m (2017: £3.93m). Net cash fell to £1.2m (2017: £3.45m), post acquisition of Vendman. (Our) Smart Zones division was resilient, with 245 new drinks monitoring system installed, offsetting some of the impact of pub closures. The Smart Machines division added 4,490 new connected devices excluding Vendman (2017: 5,092) and increased underlying profitability by 6.7%. A £2.0m investment was made in cloud and mobile technology to modernise the Smart Zones platform and support growth in the Smart Machines division.” Chairman James Dickson said: “Vianet has made significant steps towards the delivery of its earnings transformation plan and continues to benefit from its focus on exploiting growth opportunities in the Smart Machines division while optimising performance in the Smart Zones division. The group has a proven track record of converting data from its Internet of Things platform connected devices into actionable information and solutions for business-to-business markets. We continue to develop and grow our working relationships with our blue-chip customer base where contracted recurring revenues now represent more than 90% of turnover. The acquisition of Vendman with circa 200,000 mobile connections and roll out of the recently won global coffee contract, is expected to be transformational for the Smart Machines division and should drive significantly increased earnings for the group in the next few years. The group has high levels of recurring income, strong cash flow and a healthy balance sheet, which means we are well placed for further investment to accelerate Smart Machines expansion and for selective acquisitions. The board is confident the group’s long term strategy is the right one and that it is positioned to deliver earnings growth and expand future strategic options.”
 
McDonald’s opens new global headquarters: McDonald’s has officially opened its new global headquarters in Chicago, a step company bosses said was needed to attract top talent and stay relevant to changing tastes. After spending more than 40 years in the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook, the company has officially returned to the US’ third-largest city. McDonald’s was previously headquartered in Chicago from 1955, soon after the company was founded by Ray Kroc, until 1971. At a time when the company is seeking to build loyalty among millennials, chief executive Steve Easterbrook predicted the move will help the company become “more attractive” in its pursuit of top talent. He said: “We firmly believe part of the importance of the move downtown is it gets us closer to our customers, it gets us closer to competition, it gets us closer to the trends in society.” The new headquarters, 490,000 square foot over nine floors, in the city’s West Loop was built on the former grounds of Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios. The design of the new McDonald’s global headquarters, which houses more than 2,000 employees, features cafe-style work spaces and open space floors with communal tables, huddle rooms and personal lockers. A high-ceiling work cafe on the sixth floor includes stadium seating to accommodate large meetings and pays homage to McDonald’s restaurants’ PlayPlace area for children. The company decided to build its seventh Hamburger University, a training grounds for managers to sharpen their business and leadership skills, at the headquarters. The new headquarters also features a restaurant on its ground floor that is open to the public, which includes a rotating selection of menu items from McDonald’s outlets around the globe. McDonald’s is now looking for a buyer for its old headquarters campus in Oak Brook.
 
Merlin Entertainments confirms Peppa Pig World of Play roll-out: Merlin Entertainments has confirmed the roll-out of its first five Peppa Pig World of Play attractions. The company stated: “The first venue will open in Shanghai’s LC Mall in late 2018, while four further sites have been secured, in Beijing, Dallas, Michigan and the New York area, and are planned to be opened before the end of 2019. As previously announced, Merlin expects to open The Bear Grylls Adventure in Birmingham in the UK and Little BIG City in Beijing later this year.”

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