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Wed 26th Aug 2020 - Byron buyer paid £4m
Byron buyer paid £4m: An administrator report indicates that £4m was paid by Calveton UK to acquire 20 Byron sites out of administration. A report by administrator KPMG states that unsecured creditors are likely to receive less than 1p in the pound because of the large quantum of liabilities. The report states that Byron’s 51 restaurants had turnover of £70.9m and negative Ebitda of £2.4m in the 12 months to 30 June 2019. There were 19 restaurants that were loss-making at a site level in Ebitda terms. Because of the March 2020 covid-19 lockdown, £8.8m was needed to bring creditors up-to-date and additional working capital of £6m was needed over the coming year. KPMG approached 190 parties as part of a sale process and there were seven indicative offers. An offer of £4m from Famously Proper, the Calveton UK acquisition vehicle, was accepted. The administrators report that equipment at sites is worth £169,000 but the cot of selling it is £5,000 per site. Because of the fact ‘there is glut of catering equipment’ in the marketplace, there is ‘nil realizable value’. Byron will begin reopening its 20-strong estate this week with two sites in London. The Simon Wilkinson-led business will reopen its sites in Waterloo and Old Brompton Road on Thursday (27 August). It is thought further sites will come back online over the next few weeks. Propel reported earlier this month the company will initially focus on reopening its circa 20-strong estate but will also examine consolidation possibilities, which could include long-time rival Gourmet Burger Kitchen. It’s thought to be currently in negotiations regarding a handful of sites, which would make up its final estate. At the same time, the new company is expected to ramp up its delivery strategy. Pre-covid, the company’s delivery segment was understood to be posting ahead of a 10% like-for-like revenue. As part of the ramp-up, the business is set to open its first dark kitchen sites in London this month with Foodstars and Karma Kitchen. It’s thought the company will initially look to open five dark kitchens and may also explore the further rollout of fledgling virtual brand Cheese Louise and smaller delivery/collection hub sites. Propel also understands the company intends to further streamline the brand’s menu and reinforce its core food proposition. As part of the new plans, it is believed Wilkinson has cut the central overheads to less than £2m, a far cry from the figure he inherited – thought to be north of £6m. It’s thought the company may dispense with its head office in favour of its restaurants, shared office space or home working. Calveton is backed by Sandeep Vyas and Haseeb Aziz and was previously owned by Style Group Brands, which included the Jacques Vert brand. Vyas, who was formerly director of international operations at Yum! Brands, has become Byron’s new chairman. The deal saw the stake in the company belonging to current backer Three Hills Capital cut to about 30% and its founder Mauro Moretti step down as chairman. 

Vianet encouraged by number of customers resuming operations: Vianet Group, the international provider of actionable data and business insight, has reported it is ‘encouraged’ that the number of Vianet customers’ sites resuming operations has risen from 56% to over 80% during the past six weeks, which is ‘higher than we had anticipated’. The company stated: “Importantly, the volume of beer sales across pubs which have re-opened compares favourably year on year, indicating positive consumer sentiment. However, a number of factors such as limited floor and outside space, city centre office dependent locations, economic concerns and publicans shielding has meant that some pubs still remain closed. From the outset of the lockdown, we successfully introduced a reduced billing rate on all of our contracts in order to maintain business continuity and to avoid expensive reconnection costs for customers when pubs reopened. This generated significant goodwill and protected a meaningful portion of the group’s recurring revenues during the period of mandatory pub closures. We continue to provide support to our customers by billing 30% of normal monthly charges for the c. 20% of pubs which still remain closed. For the c. 80% which have re-opened, we are invoicing 70% of normal recurring charges until the end of October 2020, at which time normal contract terms will resume. Data insight, analytics and customer support revenues recommenced in August and we anticipate a gradual restoration of this business income through to the calendar year end, with growing customer demand for trading data and insights to improve decision-making during the C-19 exit phase. This validates our ongoing technology investment as well as securing future growth. Although delayed by a further month due to C-19, we are pleased to say that in North America, our partner AMC Theaters is re-opening this month to coincide with Hollywood’s release of the films ‘The New Mutants’ and ‘Tenet’. Whilst the C-19 situation remains difficult to predict, the group remains in a robust position to navigate FY2021 and resume its earnings growth, continue the solid momentum that was building prior to C-19 and deliver on the exciting growth opportunities that we see ahead of us.” James Dickson, chairman of Vianet Group, said: “From the outset of the pandemic, our intention was to manage our cash and come through C-19 strongly and in better shape to take advantage of the significant opportunities available to the group. Our actions to support our customers and maintain investment while sustaining a good level of recurring revenue, which was ahead of our own expectations, have placed the business in a highly encouraging position to benefit from the increased demand for data insight and contactless solutions as the economy recovers. We are also very much aware of the difficulties our employees have faced during this time and we are proud both of their collective response to the crisis and the fact that our level of staff engagement during this period has had strong employee approval, resulting in a significant increase in survey ratings to over 80%. Although the C-19 situation remains uncertain, the board is confident that we have taken the correct measures to ensure we can accelerate the momentum we had generated before the pandemic, and we look forward to updating the market in due course.”

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