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Tue 25th May 2021 - The Restaurant Group ‘encouraged’ by trading performance
The Restaurant Group ‘encouraged’ by trading performance: The Restaurant Group has reported it had approximately 200 sites trading for delivery and takeaway in the six weeks to 11 April across its Wagamama and Leisure businesses prior to the resumption of “outdoor dining” on 12 April. The company stated: “The trading performance of those sites was very encouraging with average standalone delivery and takeaway sales in Wagamama and Leisure tracking at approximately 3.0x and 5.5x pre-covid-19 levels, respectively. In the five weeks to 16 May, following the easing of restrictions across the UK we have seen a very encouraging recovery in sales: Wagamama (for the circa 130 sites open in this period): Sites traded at c.85% of comparable 2019 sales levels, representing a circa 15% outperformance of the market reflecting ongoing strong delivery volumes and good trading from outdoor space in many locations. Pubs (for the circa 75 sites open in this period) traded at c.85% of comparable 2019 sales levels, representing a circa 15% outperformance of the market, benefitting from significant outdoor space and investments in stretch tents and marquees. Leisure (for the circa 110 sites open in this period) sites traded at circa 60% of comparable 2019 sales levels, in line with our expectations, reflecting a continuation of strong delivery volumes and limited number of outdoor covers. Performance of sites in Scotland since resumption of indoor dining in the three weeks to 16 May has been strong. Wagamama (for the seven sites open) traded at 22% ahead of comparable 2019 sales levels. Leisure (for the 16 sites open) traded at 21% ahead of comparable 2019 sales levels. The group currently has approximately 350 sites open across its Wagamama, Pubs and Leisure businesses, representing 95% of their respective combined estates. The Concessions business currently only has four sites trading, given restrictions regarding international travel. The board has been very encouraged by the trading performance seen so far in 2021. While the environment for the remainder of the year continues to remain uncertain, the group is well positioned across its diversified brand portfolio to benefit from the sustained removal of government restrictions. The group completed its previously announced refinancing and has £450 million of new debt facilities having drawn down £330 million of the Term Loan Facility on 17 May 2021 and access to a £120 million Super Senior Revolving Credit Facility. The P&L interest cost for FY2021 is expected to be c.£25m, including c.£3m of non-cash fee amortisation. The Term Loan provides flexibility allowing the group to prepay a significant proportion of the loan without penalty in the 18 months following initial drawdown. The group currently has in excess of £200m of cash headroom on its debt facilities, providing significant liquidity headroom to protect against a resurgence / new variant of covid-19 as well as strengthened flexibility to capitalise on selective site expansion in its Wagamama and Pubs businesses.”

Just four days until Premium subscribers receive the updated database of multi-site businesses: The updated database of multi-site companies for May, which is available exclusively to Propel Premium subscribers, will be sent out in four days on Friday (28 May) at midday. It will include 108 new companies since its previous update in April – making a total of 1,823 listed businesses. Subscribers will not only receive the database as a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet, they will also be sent a 14,000-word report on the businesses added during May. The key themes covered in the latest update include companies with big growth potential entering the UK market such as US bakery Cinnabon and interactive football and entertainment concept Toca Social. Meanwhile, operators offering Italian cuisine are enjoying a strong showing, including Milan-based vegan burger brand Flower Burger and sandwich and bakery business Spianata. The UK’s love for coffee also continues with companies such as London-based Hermanos Colombian Coffee Roasters and coffee and brunch specialist Mule entering the database. The go-to database 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. 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 are also to receive access to a second exclusive monthly database, The Propel Blue Book. This database will provide an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. It will be available on Friday, 4 June, at midday. Subscribers also 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. 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Pub snack brand Serious Pig passes target for second fundraise to ‘turbo-charge the business’ after revenues triple: Pub snack brand Serious Pig, which is backed by James Watt, co-founder of Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, has reached and passed its second fundraise target, which sought a minimum of £400,000. It has raised more than £520,000 from more than 1,340 investors with 20 days of its Crowdcube campaign to go. The company’s first raise in 2019, which was also through crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, attracted more than 1,600 investors and raised £895,000 after setting an initial target of £350,000. Serious Pig said the capital raised allowed the company to expand its range, grow its sales and marketing operations, and helped to treble its revenues. Serious Pig founder George Rice said: “Our first crowdfunding with Crowdcube was a huge success and gave us the ability to massively grow the business, despite the challenges of covid. Now, we want to build on our momentum and turbo-charge the business. Our plans are to invest in sales and marketing, move to a bigger and better site, add tasty new products to our range and become a more sustainable business.” The minimum investment is £10 with a range of rewards and benefits available, depending on the size of the investment, including an investors’ dinner with Rice. For its second fundraise, Serious Pig is offering equity of 3.38% in the business, giving it a pre-money valuation of £15m. 

Shaftesbury – a West End recovery has begun: West End landlord Shaftesbury has reported a recovery has begun. Chief executive Brian Bickell said: “After more than a year of unprecedented disruption, a revival in the West End’s broad-based economy is now underway. Since the start of re-opening on 12 April, we are seeing an encouraging increase in demand for space and lettings and a return of footfall and spending across our locations. Forecasts point to a sharp rebound in the UK economy but there remains the risk that the recovery could encounter delays and setbacks in the period ahead. We expect occupier demand to improve further as businesses seek to locate in our lively, holistically-curated villages. Importantly, the inherent flexibility in our portfolio, and our culture of innovation, will ensure we can continue to adapt our buildings to meet the fast-changing expectations of our occupiers. Growing footfall, prosperity and occupier demand will improve our cash income and earnings and stabilise investment yields. As the global pandemic recedes, we are confident that the unique appeal and features of London and the West End will continue to attract businesses and visitors on a scale matched by few other cities, underpinning the long-term resilience and prospects of our portfolio. With our proven, ever-evolving strategy, guided by our experienced, enthusiastic and entrepreneurial team, and supported by a strong financial base, Shaftesbury is well placed to return to sustainable long-term growth.” Shaftesbury said it had collected 50% of contracted rents for the year to 31 March 2021 – the collection rate in the six months to March 2021 was 43%. Net property income in the six months to 31 March was down 42.6% to £26.5m (31.3.20: £46.2m) due to occupier support, reduced rent collections and increased vacancy. 

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