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Fri 21st Dec 2018 - Update: Loungers set to push ahead with float, gin sales, Diageo
The Times – Loungers to push ahead with float plan: Cafe bar group Loungers is to push ahead with plans for a £250m-plus stock market listing despite growing economic and political uncertainty. The company, which is backed by Lion Capital, the private equity firm, is understood to have drawn up a shortlist of four City advisers – Numis, Peel Hunt, Berenberg and Liberum – to handle a potential initial public offering, reports The Times. Last month, the paper reported shareholders of Loungers, which runs 139 cafe bars under the Lounge and Cosy Club brands, were evaluating the potential for a stock market flotation in the light of resilient trading by the business. Loungers, which was founded by Alex Reilley, Jake Bishop and Dave Reid, opened its first Lounge in 2002 in Bristol. In 2012 it attracted £16m of funding from private equity firm Piper and two years ago Lion acquired a stake of just over 60% in a deal valuing the company at £137m. While the casual dining sector has been hit by soaring costs, stiff competition and Brexit uncertainty, Loungers has continued to report strong like-for-like sales growth while opening up to 25 outlets a year. It opened its 139th, the Portello Lounge, this week in West Bridgford, Nottingham. In the year to April 22 2018, it reported a 31.9% jump in revenue to £121.1m, with like-for-like sales up 6%. Underlying earnings rose 31.4% on an adjusted basis to £16.7m, while pre-tax profits rose from £3.2m to £5.6m. Like-for-like sales since the year end have continued to grow by about 6%, well ahead of the market. Loungers is tipped to achieve underlying earnings this financial year of more than £20m. Analysts said this would imply a stock market valuation of between £250m and £300m. Loungers runs neighbourhood cafe bars in suburban high streets and market towns, avoiding sites in expensive retail schemes.

On-trade gin sales pass £1bn: Gin sales in the on-trade have passed £1bn for the first time as the hot summer, the Fifa World Cup and demand for new flavours drove another record year. According to a report from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, which uses figures from Nielsen and CGA, sales in pubs, bars and restaurants rose 56% year-on-year. Overall, sales of gin in the UK over the past year jumped by 53% from £1.26bn last year to £1.93bn – a leap from £732m in 2013. Volumes jumped 41% to 66.3 million bottles year-on-year, double the 33 million bottles sold five years ago. Flavoured gin drove more than half of all growth in the spirit in the past year. Almost three quarters of the flavoured contribution to gin’s growth was driven by pink gin, reports The Times.

Filta Group Holdings acquires WatBio for £7m: Filta Group Holdings, a provider of fryer management and environmental services to commercial kitchens, has acquired WatBio for a total consideration of about £7m. WatBio, which includes Watling Hope Environmental Biotech - provides a range of fat, oil and grease control, and management services for many of the UK’s leading restaurants, including grease traps, biological drain treatment and grease removal systems. Filta Group said the acquisition, which comprises both cash and shares, will further strengthen its own grease management solutions which are provided through FiltaGMG, based in Rugby. As well as grease management services, WatBio also provides an additional range of complementary services, including wastewater pumping and treating, and a one-stop shop for drainage issues through its drain jetting and vacuum tankering facilities. Based in Stratford-upon-Avon, WatBio has an annual turnover of about £10m and 85 staff who will all be retained bringing the combined workforce across the expanded Filta Group to about 150 people. Watbio’s business will continue to operate under the leadership of managing director Edward Palin, who will work alongside Debbie Sarson-Lowe, who remains managing director of Filta UK.

Diageo completes sale of 19 brands to Sazerac: Diageo has completed the sale of 19 brands to Sazerac for an aggregate consideration of $550m. The net proceeds of approximately £340m, after tax and transaction costs, will be returned to shareholders through a share repurchase. Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes said at the time of the deal being announced last month: “Diageo has a clear strategy to deliver consistent efficient growth and value creation for our shareholders. This includes a disciplined approach to allocating resources and capital to ensure we maximise returns over time. This is another example of this strategy in action. The disposal of these brands enables us to have even greater focus on the faster growing premium and above brands in the US spirits portfolio.” The brands in the transaction are Seagram’s VO, Seagram’s 83, Seagram’s Five Star, Myers’s, Parrot Bay, Romana Sambuca, Popov, Yukon Jack, Goldschlager, Stirrings, The Club, Scoresby, Black Haus, Peligroso, Relska, Grind, Piehole, Booth’s and John Begg. Diageo has also agreed to enter into long-term supply contracts with Sazerac for five of the brands each for a period of ten years. Supply of all other brands will transition to Sazerac within a one-year period.

Propel launches Leadership Summit, open for bookings: Propel is launching the Leadership Summit, which will see a select group of the sector’s most experienced bosses share their expertise on leadership. The full-day event, in partnership with Elliotts, will take place on Tuesday, 12 February at One Moorgate Place and is open for bookings. Speakers will include Will Stratton-Morris, chief executive of Caffe Nero, who will talk about building high-performance teams. Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King, speaks about the role of leadership in business turnarounds. Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott will talk to Des Gunewardena, chief executive of D&D London, about the lessons of leadership he has picked up in his career in the sector. Duncan Garrood, chief executive of Ten Entertainment, will give his views on leadership and the customer experience, while Jo Fleet, managing director of Flat Iron, will talk about empowering people and trust and getting the team to “buy in” through clear communication and vision. Mark Jones, chief executive of Carluccio’s, will explain how the company is building the quality and skillsets of its general managers to lead the business out of decline. Simon Townsend, chief executive of Ei Group, will give his views on the challenges of leadership during a period of immense change and Zoe Bowley, managing director of PizzaExpress, will give her top ten tips on leadership. Meanwhile, Loungers founder Alex Reilley will talk about the adaptations involved in growing a business from one site to more than 100, celebrating success and the art of succession, while Ann Elliott will give her views on the power of mentoring to grow talent in organisations. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “With the industry facing such challenging times, effective leadership has never been more important. This is an unmissable opportunity to learn from high-profile leaders in our sector.” Prices are £295 plus VAT for Premium members, £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers. To book, email

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