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Thu 22nd Apr 2021 - Oakman Group reports like-for-like sales up 33.4% in first full week of trading
Oakman Group reports like-for-like sales up 33.4% in first full week of trading: The Oakman Group, which was recently rebranded following its acquisition of six Seafood Pub Company sites, has reported like-for-like sales up 34.3% in the first full week of trading versus the same week in 2019. Total sales were up 51.5% versus the same week in 2019. In addition, the company has announced the acquisition of The Grand Junction Arms near Tring from The Punch Pub Group. Oakman Group’s executive chairman Peter Borg-Neal said: “These sales are way above our expectations, particularly given that the Like-For-Likes are against Easter 2019. This success is testament to a superb job by Dermot King and his team with respect to our pre-opening training and our investment in our outside spaces. Average sales across the Oakman Inn brand were well in excess of £40k net last week – although we did see huge polarisation across the estate driven by the size and amenity of the respective outdoor spaces. Our newly acquired Seafood Pubs will not open until May, nor will The Woburn. However, we did see a great start from the newly acquired Grand Junction Arms in Tring. We are planning to expand and develop it shortly and, given that it achieved sales of £38k last week from a standing start, we are very optimistic about what we can achieve with the site. We have also commenced work this week on our sites in both Buckingham and Wokingham which will open in September.” Chief executive Dermot King, added: “Whilst it is difficult to make direct comparisons, given the locational and spatial advantages our sites enjoy, we have clearly outperformed the wider market which was 21% down on like-for-like sales. These numbers represent a remarkable performance by our teams. Given that we have only been allowed to trade for four of the last 13 months – and with the constant threat of being told to stop trading or follow new regulations – they have come through some tough times. They have been brilliant in, not only serving our customers but, also, reinstating all our covid bio-security measures that mainly exceed government requirements. In the majority of cases, our local authorities have been very supportive, and we are taking a vigorous stance with those who are being unhelpful.” King believes that, despite the medical authorities’ increasingly aggressive stance against the hospitality industry, the public’s appetite for a sociable, responsible and relaxing time with friends and family has not diminished. He said: “We have 90% advance bookings on key trading days for the next six weeks over our 28 currently trading pubs, and customer feedback has been enthusiastic and positive. We don’t have any City pubs, where trading outside can be limited, and we have invested in all our outdoor spaces to give our customers the best possible experience. It was encouraging to see so many local friends and families wrapping up for the weather, determined to simply enjoy the pleasure of each other’s company again at their local – and we thank them for their support.” Borg-Neal warned: “As an industry, we cannot forget that three in four hospitality venues remain closed because either they don’t have the outdoor space, or they can’t create a bio-secure environment that meets local council requirements. Having vaccinated almost two thirds of the adult population, it’s vital the government is driven by data and not dates and sticks to its roadmap allowing pubs to serve guests safely inside from 17 May or sooner, or we will lose the backbone of many rural communities, which is constantly undervalued by the governing elites.” Oakman Group will be re-opening their six Seafood Pubs and their latest acquisition, The Woburn, from 17 May.

Updated Propel Premium multi-site database to include 4,000-word report on 71 new companies, exclusively for subscribers: Propel Premium subscribers will receive an exclusive 4,000-word report on the new companies added to the multi-site database this month – it is released on Friday, 30 April, at midday. The monthly update of the Propel Premium multi-site database, which is exclusively available to subscribers, will include at least 71 additions. The exhaustive database of businesses comprised 1,629 companies when it was issued to subscribers at the end of March, and will now list at least 1,700 businesses by the end of April. The 4,000-word report details the new additions to the database while information on all companies has been updated during the past month. The go-to database has the most comprehensive multi-site operator information in the sector – it provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different, and what each business specialises in. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Premium subscribers already receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Domino’s Pizza reports like-for-like sales up 18.7% in Quarter One: Domino’s Pizza Group has reported trading in the first quarter to 28 March has been strong, with exceptional trading over the new year period, resulting in UK and Ireland system sales of £371.3m, up 18.7% on the first quarter of last year which was largely unaffected by the impact of covid-19. Like-for-like system sales, excluding splits, were up 18.5% maintaining our performance momentum. The company stated: “The sales performance of our delivery business has been particularly good, more than offsetting the lower sales within our lockdown-impacted collection business. At an order count level, we have seen delivery growth of 6.8% in the quarter with collection reporting some recovery, now trading at 65% of 2019 levels. In line with our planned exit from wholly-owned and directly operated international markets, we announced in March that we have agreed terms for the disposal of our discontinued businesses in Sweden and Iceland, which we expect to complete by the end of May.” Dominic Paul, chief executive officer said: “We are pleased with the strong performance of the business in the first quarter of the year. The investments we are making to deliver our multi-year strategic plan give us confidence in our ability to capitalise on the opportunities which lie ahead as the nation begins to emerge from the covid-19 lockdown restrictions. With management focused on our core UK and Ireland business, we are working to fulfil our vision of being the UK and Ireland’s favourite food delivery and collection business. I look forward to sharing an update on our progress at our half year results.”

PizzaExpress to recruit 1,000 new employees: PizzaExpress is to recruit 1,000 new employees as it prepares to reopen its restaurants over May and June. The nationwide recruitment campaign across the group’s 360 UK eateries will include 300 posts under the government’s Kickstart initiative. The company reopened 118 restaurants for al fresco dining on 12 April, and it said that their “gardens and terraces are busy during periods of good weather”. A further 24 PizzaExpress restaurants in England will reopen for al-fresco dining on 29 April. Restrictions will start to be lifted in Scotland to allow indoor dining from 26 April. All 360 PizzaExpress pizzerias in the UK will reopen for indoor dining in May in line with local government guidance, and customer numbers are expected to increase further as social distancing measures are due to be relaxed on 21 June. Zoe Bowley, PizzaExpress’s managing director, said: “We’re expecting millions of people to flock back to restaurants as restrictions are eased, so we are delighted to be in a position to be able to recruit a thousand new team members to help us serve customers at PizzaExpress. We are also very pleased to support the Kickstart initiative. Our restaurants have been the beating heart of our local communities and neighbourhoods for decades. As well as helping locals to get together with friends and family, we support 360 local economies across the UK as an employer for anyone looking for a fun, flexible and rewarding career. Our pizzerias are a great place to work, and our teams love welcoming new colleagues. After all the challenges and uncertainties of the last year, we’re very excited to be open and recruiting again.” The new recruitment drive follows a challenging year for the business which, in the wake of the pandemic, closed 73 outlets via a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). The closures resulted in the loss of 1,100 jobs while a further 1,300 redundancies were announced as part of cost-cutting measures.

Osmond – Pubs and restaurants need rational and evidence-based policy: Serial sector investor Hugh Osmond has called for a rational and evidence-based policy for pubs and restaurants from the government rather than a re-opening programme that has jumped to the most ‘devastating and irrational’ of ‘simplistic conclusions’. Writing in The Times, the founder of Punch Taverns, said: “Despite the beautiful weather Cornwall had last week, it wasn’t commercially viable for the St Kew, the St Tudy, The Maltsters in the Amble or many of the village pubs near me to open. Then there are those without outdoor space – two out of five pubs and restaurants. Each day closed for them is another business destroyed, jobs lost, and a cost to the industry of £200 million. And what makes it worse is that the evidence shows that hospitality venues are not a major source of covid infection, but that most serious infections take place in hospitals and care homes. At the start of the pandemic there was the understandable assumption that hospitality venues might be responsible for covid spread. Visions of drunken people in crowded pubs are an easy and obvious target. But more than a year later, we now have hard data and evidence, so we don’t need to rely on assumptions, prejudice and guesswork anymore. Pubs and restaurants are safe – ‘nowhere near the top of my risk radar,’ said Greg Fell, director of public health on Sheffield City Council. Even the chancellor knows this. In defending the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme he said analysis of PHE data had revealed ‘a very small percentage’ of the causes of transmission were hospitality settings, and cautioned against us ‘jumping to simplistic conclusions’. The Treasury has even pointed to a negative relationship between hospitality venues and transmission. The biggest risk factor for a serious infection in the community is having visited a hospital recently. Yet hospitality venues closed when they were told to, met and went beyond the safety standards set by the government, were deemed safe by ministers last summer – when we hadn’t vaccinated over 32 million adults – and the public were subsidised by the taxpayer to come and visit us. Today the government’s re-opening programme has jumped to the most devastating and irrational of simplistic conclusions’. First we had the ‘scotch egg’ mess at the end of last year, which Sacha Lord defeated. Then came the ludicrous 10pm curfew, and now we have the roadmap where ‘non-essential’ shops can open a full five weeks before indoor hospitality. With the government refusing to even to meet with hospitality businesses, we had no choice but to take legal action, not only on behalf of all those whose lives and livelihoods in our industry have been ruined. But because this approach to governing is dangerous for the whole country. The government’s own data show that the vast majority of fatal infections since the epidemic began originate in hospitals and care homes – not in the general community. Yet ministers keep using pubs and restaurants as a smokescreen. If we continue to allow ourselves to be governed like this, we will make exactly the same mistakes in future pandemics. Infection controls in hospitals and healthcare institutions are the fundamental thing that needs to be improved. Patients with infectious viruses or other diseases should be isolated immediately in infection secure facilities, completely separated from other patients and treated only by properly protected staff dedicated to those specific isolated areas. The ‘British Variant’ originated in a patient being treated in a hospital in Kent, but was allowed to infect other hospital patients and staff, then escape into the community. Even the latest ‘Indian variant’ appears to be centred around one care home. Surely we should be focusing on this rather than needlessly harming the hospitality industry? Our case is a David and Goliath fight against the British establishment. But wherever our case ends, this is about learning lessons for the future, about properly examining how infectious diseases should be handled in hospitals and care homes, and about improving government so that it is nimble in the face of new data. It was with great sadness that Sacha and I had to take our own government to court. But when ministers so irrationally say they don’t ‘intend to debate the sufficiency or nature of the evidence and data relied on’ when so many livelihoods are at stake, and when the real heart of the pandemic is in such a different setting to pubs and restaurants, that sort of arrogance, diversion and inefficiency needs to be called out. We won’t ever be able to repair our health, recover our social lives or build back better if we allow those in power to lock us up and shut down the country without reason, or to single out one industry as a smokescreen to distract from failings elsewhere. Our democracy should be better than this and on behalf of all those who have been affected by government measures, and those of us who cherish British democracy, freedom and rational, evidence-based government, I hope that this legal case provides some hope for the future.”

Chipotle reports like-for-like sales up 17.2% in First Quarter: Chipotle has reported sales increased 23.4% to $1.7 billion in the quarter ended 31 March 2021, with like-for-like restaurant sales up 17.2%. Digital sales grew 133.9% and accounted for 50.1% of sales. Restaurant level operating margin was 22.3%, an increase of 470 basis points. The company opened 40 new restaurants and closed 5 restaurants. Chairman and chief executive Brian Niccol said: “Chipotle is off to a great start in 2021 thanks to our employees and their incredible level of collaboration and tireless dedication. As vaccines roll out and we get closer to moving past this pandemic, I believe Chipotle is well positioned for growth. I’m excited about our future as we remain focused on innovating in culinary, leading in food with integrity, and providing convenient access inside our restaurants and through our expanding digital ecosystem.” The company added: “The health and well-being of our employees and guests continues to be our top priority. Beyond the investments made in our people, restaurants, and supply chain, we are closely following the recommendations of the CDC and local health departments and have implemented social distancing, wearing face masks, a tamper evident packaging seal for all digital orders, as well as creating the steward role to sanitize high-traffic areas. Collectively, these efforts give our employees and guests confidence that Chipotle remains steadfast in our commitment to keep them safe as we continue to increase capacity for in-restaurant dining.”

Pub landlords increase prices after lockdown easing: The Daily Mail has reported that Star Pubs and Bars has told its tenants that KAM Media research shows customers are expecting to pay more after lockdown – customers have reported 40p a pint increases. A spokesperson for the company told the newspaper: “It’s not up to us to dictate pricing in our pubs, it’s up to individual pub landlords and our advice is there to help them. We know from research that people are prepared to pay a bit more for a pint and are looking forward to getting back to the pub with their friends and family.” Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, added: “Hospitality businesses know their customers and their circumstances best and will make decisions based on what they feel is appropriate to their local market and to help them rebuild after an awful year. For the past 12 months, venues have been either closed or trading under severe restrictions, while their costs, such as rent, have piled up. The sector faces a huge debt crisis and will find the best ways to address it but the overwhelming desire is to trade our way out of this, so it’s vital that the government’s commitment to dropping legal restrictions on 21 June is delivered upon.”

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