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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 13th May 2019 - Update: Escape Hunt, Goals Soccer Centres
Escape Hunt reports progress in the UK: Escape room operator Escape Hunt has reported revenue of £2.31m in the year ended 31 December 2019, compared to £870,000 the year before. It has opened eight owner-operated UK sites in Bristol, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Oxford and Reading. It reported it has received outstanding customer feedback on TripAdvisor with the first four sites to be opened reaching #1, the next three reaching #2, with the last already at #7. The company stated: “(We) built from scratch the infrastructure required for our growth plan. Included moving the operations from Asia to the UK, creating a game design studio in London, rolling-out of the new Escape Hunt Brand across the business, and establishing a capable Head Office team, all requiring minimal additional expenditure. Pre-tax losses of £9.98m (2017: £4.13m) reflect the amortisation of the IP purchased at acquisition (£3.7m), exceptional costs relating to the Bangkok closure (£0.3m), and an impairment charge of £2.3m for goodwill and IP intangibles, driven by the decision to delay the roll-out of UK sites in 2017 while we rebranded the business.” It added: “Since the year-end we have signed detailed heads of terms with a US franchising partner to roll-out new franchisee sites across the US and Canada. The first tranche of three UK sites continue to trade well and the second tranche of five less mature sites are so far building more quickly than the first with both sales and Ebitda ahead of board expectations. The UK owner-operated estate of nine sites is now generating positive Ebitda as a group. The company has today announced a proposed equity placing (to be undertaken by Stockdale Securities and Peel Hunt to raise a minimum of £4m (before expenses) by way of an accelerated bookbuild primarily to fund the company’s roll-out of new sites in the UK.” Chief executive Richard Harpham said: “It has been a significant year of progress with elements of the business reorganised and eight owner-operated sites successfully rolled-out across the UK. I am also delighted to report that the inaugural performance and revenue generated from these sites has been in line with expectations. The strength of the Escape Hunt brand helped us secure a major licensing agreement with the BBC, to create Doctor Who themed escape rooms. This was an important milestone for the group and has helped us to deliver on our strategy of being the premier brand in the escape rooms sector. The demand for experiential leisure is reflected in our success and ability to attract growing footfall and we look forward to opening more UK sites during 2019 whilst expanding our franchise overseas.” 

Goals Soccer Centres chief executive Andy Anson quits: Goals Soccer Centres, the operator of outdoor small-sided soccer centres with 50 sites, including four in California, USA, has announced its chief executive, Andy Anson, has tendered his resignation from the company, and from the board, as he has decided to take the role of chief executive at the British Olympic Association where he is already a board member. Anson has committed to remain with Goals for the next six months to assist in resolving the company’s previously-announced accounting and VAT issues. Above and beyond this, Goals remains focused on moving the business forward in both the UK and the US. Michael Bolingbroke, chairman of Goals said: “Whilst Andy’s decision is disappointing, particularly at this challenging time for the company, the board respects Andy’s decision to take a role that is a once in a lifetime opportunity for him. We are very grateful for all that he has done for Goals and are pleased that he will continue to fully support the company to secure the best outcome in the discussions with our auditors and HMRC.”

Upcoming conferences: The Finance and Investment Conference is on Friday, 24 May. Click here for details. The Coffee Conference takes place on Tuesday, 11 June. Click here for details.

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