Franco Manca operator – we are in the ‘survive and prosper’ group of companies: Fulham Shore has reported sales have risen week-on-week since re-opening on 4 July and like-for-like sales are circa 72% of last year in the four weeks since 4 July. The company said it was in the “survive and prosper” group of companies that will come out of the crisis stronger. The company is also planning a £2.25m equity fundraise at a price of 6.25p per share. The majority of Franco Manca restaurants (49 of 51) and The Real Greek restaurants (14 of 18) have now re-opened, serving customers through a combination of dine-in, takeaway, click and collect and delivery. The company stated: “Due to social distancing requirements, the board estimates that re-opened restaurants can operate at approximately 60 to 70% of their previous dine-in capacity – this reduction in capacity has to some extent been compensated by an increase in delivery and takeaway sales. Effective cost saving measures implemented include rent reductions, deferrals and waivers negotiated with many landlords. Constructive dialogue with others is ongoing. One new Franco Manca pizzeria, next to the Old Vic near Waterloo station, (is) due to open in September.” The directors are all intending to subscribe for shares in the Fundraise for an aggregate amount of approximately £600,000. Meanwhile, the company has entered into a new £10.75 million debt facility and agreed new terms for its existing £15 million banking facilities. The company added: “Trading at the group’s re-opened restaurants has started gradually, and the early signs in both businesses are promising. In the four weeks since 6 July 2020, like-for-like restaurant sales at reopened sites were approximately 72%. of the equivalent weeks in the previous year. The group has shared approximately half the benefit of the new six month reduction in VAT on food with its customers. In addition, both Franco Manca and The Real Greek will be participating in the government’s Eat Out to Help Out initiative, where customers will enjoy a 50%. discount (up to £10 per person) when dining from Monday to Wednesday in August. Both these measures are expected to have a positive impact on the group’s trading as sales rebuild to pre-covid-19 levels. The UK government’s help has been invaluable – the furlough scheme, together with the hospitality business rates relief, the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund and VAT deferral and reduction, have meant the difference between survival and failure for many companies in the hospitality sector. However, as the situation is ever-changing, in the board’s opinion there is still little certainty around the duration of the covid-19 impact on the group and, more widely for the sector, when and how many restaurants will re-open for dine-in across the UK. Members of the Fulham Shore board have been in the restaurant business for many years and have seen the effects of the 1979/81, 1989/93, 2001/03 and 2007/08 downturns in the sector. All were driven by poor economic conditions and various social disruptions. The current situation started with an oversupply of restaurants in the UK, followed by the covid-19 pandemic. In all of the previous downturns referred to above there were many casualties in the restaurant sector. In the board’s opinion, many of these businesses were those with poor products, overpriced menus and stretched balance sheets, sometimes combined with owners inexperienced in how to run restaurants, control costs and look after cash. In the aftermath of all the above downturns, many good restaurant businesses survived and came out stronger. With the company’s two highly attractive restaurant businesses, prudent management approach and reduced debt levels prior to covid-19, the directors believe that the company is firmly in the “survive and prosper” group. In addition, both Franco Manca’s and The Real Greek’s everyday low pricing policies, combined with high quality ingredients, provide great value for money. These are important factors, which will be particularly attractive to customers whilst household budgets are stretched.”
Hammerson – we’ve collected 34% of Q3 rent: Property landlord Hammerson has reported that, as at 31 July 2020, 72% of H1 2020 rent had been collected for the group, with 34% of Q3 rent due collected. Average rental waiver was 1.1 months and deferral of 0.8 months during covid-19 closures. It reported a continued high level of group occupancy at 94% (FY 2019: 97%). During the six months to the 30 June 2020, 36 of the group’s tenants have entered administration or undertaken a CVA affecting 88 units (out of 2,886 units across the group) of which 49 continue to trade. Some £6.5m of new income secured across the group (-29% vs HY 2019). Key lease agreements during the period include Brown Thomas at Dundrum to replace House of Fraser, Haidilao at Bullring, taking its first restaurant outside of London and Slim Chickens at Westquay. All three of its territories outperformed national footfall benchmarks in 2019 with continued outperformance in 2020, in the lead up to national lockdowns. Following reopening there has been a strong recovery in France and Ireland flagships and retail parks with footfall -18% versus July 2019 and all are currently in line with or outperforming national benchmarks. The company added: “With UK flagships more weighted towards city centre venues, which are public transport and workforce orientated, initial reopening footfall was subdued (-73% for week commencing 14 June). Strong sustained recovery is underway: +22% point improvement for July to -51%.” The company is seeking to raise £551.7m through a right issue and a further £274m from a disposal.