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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 31st Oct 2019 - Update: Starbucks, Greene King and calorie labelling
Starbucks beats revenue and profit estimates: Starbucks beat analyst sales and profit estimates yesterday, driven by new stores, digital ordering and delivery in China, and cold drinks in the United States. Total net revenue for the world’s largest coffee company rose 7% to $6.75 billion (£5.24 billion) in the quarter to 29 September, higher than the average analyst estimate of $6.68 billion. Starbucks shares rose nearly 3% in extended trading after the Seattle-based company also forecast 2020 like-for-like restaurant sales largely above estimates. Like-for-like sales rose 6% in the US and 5% in China in its Fourth Quarter, the 13 weeks to 29 September. Overall international like-for-like sales rose by a more modest 3%. Sales for the year were up 7% to $26.5bn. A year ago, Starbucks announced an organisational restructuring with corporate job cuts and leadership changes, partly to revitalise stagnant sales. Changes have included more focus on digital sales and new beverages. To boost sales, Starbucks continued to expand its “Rewards” loyalty program, including access to Happy Hours events. In China, the program had ten million active members in the company’s fourth quarter, up 45% over the prior year. US membership jumped 15% to 17.6 million. Chinese consumers are “much more digitally savvy than any other market in the world”, chief executive Kevin Johnson said. Ten percent of sales in China are digital – 7% for delivery, and 3% for mobile ordering. That compares to less than 1% of US orders for delivery. “We do have two very different markets,” he said. Overall, sales at restaurants open for at least 13 months rose 5% in the fourth quarter. Analysts had forecast like-for-like sales growth of 3.95%, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. Starbucks estimated fiscal 2020 global like-for-like store sales would rise 3% to 4%, while analysts had expected a 3.3% increase. Starbucks plans about 2,000 new store openings in 2020, with 600 in the Americas and 1,400 more internationally. In Chicago, Starbucks plans to open its largest store in the world next month, a “Reserve Roastery,” with about 35,000 feet of retail space across five floors. Another driver for US growth has been cold beverages, including iced teas and coffee, “Refreshers” fruit-flavoured drinks, and Nitro Cold Brew drinks. Over the summer, Starbucks launched four flavoured creamers under its partnership with Nestle. In stores, faster new espresso machines will finish rolling out in about the next 12 months with built-in, internet-connected sensors to relay data to a central location about every single espresso shot, allowing managers to know if a machine needs service.

CK Bidco completes Greene King acquisition: Hong Kong-based CK Bidco has completed its acquisition of Greene King. Greene King shareholders will receive 850p per share. Trading of Greene King shares on the London Stock Exchange’s main market, will cease from 8am today. Each of the Greene King non-executive directors will resign as directors of Greene King and George Magnus, Gerald Ma, Peter Macnab, Andrew Hunter and David Dyson will be appointed as directors of Greene King, in each case with immediate effect.

Study finds calorie labelling in the US leads to small reduction in intake: Labelling the number of calories in fast food restaurant meals can be linked to a small reduction in the amount customers purchase, a new study claims. Researchers at Harvard evaluated the impact of calorie labelling on meals from a large restaurant franchise in the southern United States, where obesity rates are among the highest in the country. They found that while labelling can be linked to a “small immediate” decrease in the average number of calories purchased, it was followed by a gradual weekly increase over the following year. The study, which was published in the British Medical Journal yesterday, said: “These results imply that calorie labelling alone may not be enough to make sustainable reductions in calorie intake in fast food restaurants.” Large chain restaurants in the US have been required to label the calorie content of individual dishes since May 2018 to help customers make healthier choices. A similar policy is being considered in the UK. US researchers were provided with weekly sales data from 104 restaurants during a two-year period before labelling was introduced and one year afterwards. The restaurant franchise labelled its menus ahead of the new rule being introduced in the US. It gave researchers access to nearly 50 million transactions across a three-year period between April 2015 and April 2018. They found that calorie labelling was associated with an immediate decrease of 60 calories per transaction. The study said the reduction might have been “largely driven” by customers purchasing fewer items, rather than lower calorie items. But the decrease was followed by a weekly increase of 0.71 calories per transaction over the next year, the study said. This meant that by the end of the study, the 60 calorie reduction had dropped to just 23 fewer calories for each purchase made. In a linked editorial, researchers from the University of Oxford said: “Although the results of this study might be disappointing to some, small changes to calorie intake can have meaningful effects at the population level. Obesity is complex, and it is only through taking a multifaceted, cross-government approach that it can be tackled – an approach in which calorie and nutrition labelling on restaurant menus should play a part.”

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