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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Fri 28th May 2021 - Update: Fulham Shore, Burger & Lobster, Clive Watson and AG Barr
Franco Manca reports trading in first week was 92% like-for-like with two years ago: Franco Manca operator Fulham Shore has reported 71 out of the group’s 73 restaurants (53 of 54 Franco Manca and 18 of 19 The Real Greek) are now open across the UK for dining indoors in compliance with government guidelines for group sizes and social distancing, as well as continuing to offer takeaway/click and collect and delivery services. The company stated: “Since the start of the current financial year beginning 29 March 2021, we have opened a Franco Manca on High Holborn in London and are due to open a further Franco Manca on Mitchell Street in Glasgow next week. Group revenues in the first full week since reopening for indoor dining, being 17 to 23 May 2021 inclusive, were circa 103% of the group revenues recorded in the similar week in calendar year 2019 (the company had 61 restaurants open at that time) and 92% on a like for like basis for the same time frame. This recent sales performance is very encouraging despite the restaurants having restricted capacity due to social distancing. Franco Manca’s loyalty scheme user numbers have doubled since the beginning of the first lockdown, in March 2020, to over 220,000 today. As a result of this trading performance, the group continues to plan the opening pipeline for the next three years. Our property team is travelling around the UK looking for new properties and we have a number of sites that are currently in legal negotiations. We look forward to fully opening our remaining two restaurants (in the Covent Garden area of London) at the beginning of June and welcoming enthusiastic customers on their return, both to our existing locations and the restaurants we will open in the future.”

108 companies running more than 1,000 sites being added to updated database of multi-site businesses, available exclusively to Premium subscribers at midday today: A total of 108 companies, operating 1,161 sites, have been added to the updated database of multi-site companies, which will be released at midday today (Friday, 28 May) – but only to Premium subscribers. They 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 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. In this week’s Premium Opinion column, Mark Wingett looks at whether it is time to rip up the playbook and, if so, how easy it is to do. Subscribers will receive Premium Opinion on Friday (28 May) at 5pm. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Burger & Lobster – a large overall loss is likely during the pandemic: Burger & Lobster has forecast it is likely to make a large overall loss during the covid pandemic which can’t be ‘precisely quantified’ at the moment. The company added: “The directors do not consider this to impact their assessment of the group’s ability to continue as a going concern due to the group’s strong balance sheet position and access to funding if necessary.” The comments came in accounts filed for the year to December 2019 that show turnover of £37, 667,122 (2018: £37,960,596) and pre-tax profit of £2,692,142 (2018: £2,740,896). The company added: “Turnover decreased by 1% which is primarily due to the expiry of the lease of the group’s Smack restaurant in Soho in June 2019. Overall Ebitda is £5m (2018: £5.7m) with the fall largely due to a reduction in the gross margins achieved on the sale of food an beverages.”

Clive Watson increases stake in City Pub Group: City Pub Group has announced chairman Clive Watson had acquired 100,000 ordinary shares in the company. Watson, who took over as executive chairman in November 2012, purchased the shares on Tuesday (25 May) at an average price of 132.50p each, for a total value of £132,500. Following the transaction, Watson holds a beneficial interest in 3.44 million ordinary City Pub shares, representing 3.26% of the company’s issued share capital. Earlier this month, City Pub said full-year revenues had slid due to the covid-19 pandemic forced it temporarily shutter venues, pushing it to a loss. Revenue for the year to 27 December fell 57% to £25.8m, while the adjusted Ebitda was £800,000, compared to Editda of £9.1m a year previously. The group’s adjusted pre-tax loss was £5.1m, compared with a pre-tax profit of £5.3m the previous year.

AG Barr reports encouraging trading: AG Barr has reported trading in the year to date is in line with the board’s expectations. The company added: “Despite lockdown restrictions being in place across much of the first quarter, Barr Soft Drinks trading has been relatively strong since the start of the new financial year. As lockdown restrictions have eased we have seen a positive impact on both our sales volume and mix, with a shift back towards ‘drink now’, hospitality and leisure. Our soft drinks trading momentum has been supported by encouraging new product launches – Rubicon RAW Energy in particular achieving promising initial customer listings and consumer feedback. While the pace and extent of the reopening of the hospitality sector varies by region, our Funkin business is already beginning to see the benefits, delivering on-trade sales that provide optimism for the sector’s recovery. Across the take-home channel, the strong performance of our Funkin ready to drink cocktails during 2020 is continuing, with an increase in both customer listings and new consumers enjoying Funkin cocktails at home. Current trading is encouraging and we have clear plans to further invest in our brands, with exciting consumer engagement and marketing activity planned across the year. Our balance sheet remains strong and we remain committed to our plan to recommence dividend payments during the current financial year. A further update in this regard will be provided in our half year trading update in early August 2021. Whilst there remains some uncertainty in the short term as pandemic related restrictions ease, we believe we are well placed to drive the growth of the business and remain confident in the company’s prospects for the full year.” 

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