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Fri 11th Jun 2021 - Update: Freedom Day, Tourism Recovery Plan, Fuller's and Starbucks
Nightclubs consider opening regardless on 21 June: Some UK nightclubs are considering reopening their doors on Freedom Day, 21 June, even if the government pushes back the date for lifting lockdown restrictions. Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), told City AM the sector was “getting to breaking point”, adding that a potential delay to reopening had sparked “panic and anxiety” for businesses. He said the industry was now considering “every avenue” for challenging a delay, including a legal battle, while some venues were considering protests or opening their doors regardless. The lobby group, which represents British bars, nightclubs and live music events, is also in talks with companies in different sectors such as hospitality about launching a collective challenge. Fears have been mounting that the final stage of the government’s roadmap for ending covid measures could be pushed back by several weeks or a month amid concerns about the spread of the Indian variant of the virus. The government will announce their decision on Monday. The pushback from nightlife groups comes after Andrew Lloyd-Webber vowed to reopen his theatres at full capacity later this month regardless of the rules. The theatre entrepreneur said he was willing to risk arrest if authorities tried to intervene. A survey conducted by the NTIA found 95% of businesses in the sector had already made financial commitments and logistical preparations to reopen, including ordering stock, calling in staff and selling tickets. Kill warned that a delay would result in the loss of business and livelihoods, “culminating in further loss of confidence in the sector”. In a tweet, Brighton Pier Group chairman Luke Johnson said: “We will open the doors of our venues come what may on 21 June. The government’s incoherence and mistakes have totally undermined their authority.”

Additional 204 companies sign up to Propel Premium in wake of launch of two monthly ground-breaking databases, first edition of Blue Book released today: An additional 204 companies have singed up to Propel Premium in the past two months in the wake of the launch of two ground-breaking monthly databases exclusively for subscribers. The first edition of the new Blue Book database will be released at midday today (Friday, 11 June). The database, which will be updated and expanded each month, ranks the top 215 sector operators by turnover and then by profitability. It also has a five-year overview of turnover and profit and shows what percentage of turnover is converted to pre-tax profit – or otherwise. The first edition of The Blue Book shows there are 106 companies in the sector turning over more than £30m, with 76 of them turning over more than £50m and 43 turning over more than £100m. The Blue Book shows companies with franchise and tenanted operations converting turnover to profit very efficiently, with family brewers, for example, also performing well. The Blue Book also sees strong performances from some of the outstanding UK restaurant brands and operators. Each month, Propel will be expanding the scope of The Blue Book – we want to add any company either turning over more than £5m or making a £1m pre-tax profit. Email to add your company to The Blue Book universe. Propel Premium subscribers have just received their monthly update to the multi-site database, which has had 108 companies added since the last release at the end of May. They not only received the database as a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet, they were also sent a 14,000-word report on the businesses added during May. The go-to database, which now features 1,819 companies that collectively operate 58,838 sites, 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. 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 column, which will be sent to subscribers at 5pm today (11 June), Kate Nicholls looks back at her three years at the helm of UKHospitality and the challenges ahead for the sector, while Mark Wingett looks back over the past week, including an interesting couple of days for BrewDog. 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. Email to sign up.

Government launches Tourism Recovery Plan: The government has launched a Tourism Recovery Plan to boost the domestic and inbound sectors, with the aim of speeding up the industry’s recovery by a year. The plan targets a recovery in domestic tourism to pre-pandemic levels by 2022 and in international tourism by 2023 – both a year in advance of non-government forecasts. New government initiatives include a £10 million National Lottery ‘Days Out’ scheme of vouchers to support attractions and a new rail pass to encourage domestic breaks. The voucher scheme will launch this autumn to encourage trips beyond the peak summer season, with National Lottery players given the chance to claim vouchers to redeem at attractions between September 2021 and March 2022. A rail pass for ‘staycationers’ will also launch later this year based on the BritRail pass marketed to international visitors through VisitBritain. In addition, the plan promises “a new focus” on technology and data, with the government committed to explore how tourism data collected at the border can support the sector and pledged to create a tourism data hub to track consumer trends in travel and inform policy and marketing. The government also promises a Sustainable Tourism Plan later this year to look at measures to reduce tourism’s impact on the environment and to balance the needs of communities with the economic benefits of tourism. The plan will build on investments already underway, such as the England Coast Path, and will take in “a root and branch review” of how tourism is funded at regional and local levels which is due to report this summer. The government will also consult on a Tourist Accommodation Registration Scheme in England which will “consider the benefits of short term holiday rentals” and their “impact on local economies and communities”.The plan notes that before the pandemic England was on course to hit 100 million domestic overnight trips in 2020 and in 2019 41 million international visitors came to the UK, spending more than £28 billion. It reports £19 million has been earmarked for marketing campaigns to promote cities and towns across the country and a £5.5 million domestic campaign is already underway. Announcing the plan, tourism minister Nigel Huddleston described the sector as “one of our country’s greatest assets” and said: “The Tourism Recovery Plan is our blueprint for how the sector can build back better from the pandemic, faster than forecasts predict. It’s been a challenging year for the tourism sector, especially for our cities, but they stand ready to welcome visitors and I encourage everyone to rediscover the UK’s fantastic tourism offer.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We are delighted to see the government recognising the key role hospitality and tourism plays in the UK with this new Plan. The people and businesses in these sectors will be the power driving the UK’s recovery, in levelling-up, and in building back better as we emerge from the pandemic. The sector is a huge employer of people and investor in local communities and will pay forward to both any support it is given. As well as this new Plan, this support needs to include a root and branch reform of business rates, support in promoting our sector as a career of choice for everyone and a permanently reduced rate of VAT. This will enable us to compete on a level playing field with other international destinations, not just as we begin to re-open for domestic and overseas visitors but in the longer term too, cementing the UK’s reputation as a top tourist destination.”

Fuller’s hires Neil Smith as finance director: Pub and hotel business Fuller’s has hired Neil Smith as finance director. He will join the company at a date to be confirmed, but no later than 1 December 2021. Smith will also be appointed to the board as of the same date and the board will update shareholders accordingly. He is currently chief financial officer of Domino’s Pizza Group and spent nine years as chief financial officer of Ei Group. A statement from Fuller’s stated: “Neil is a strategic thinker and his breadth of experience covers areas including investor relations, corporate finance, treasury and strategic transformation in both testing and buoyant economic environments. In addition, he has a strong track record of building successful teams both within finance and in collaboration with other areas of the business.” Neil Smith said: “I am looking forward to joining the Fuller’s team – it is a business I have long respected and admired. I am passionate about pubs and welcome the opportunity to bring my experience to bear with this great company and play my part in the continued development of this iconic business and its future success.” Chairman Michael Turner added: “I am delighted to welcome Neil to our company. He brings a wealth of experience, together with valuable industry expertise, and has a very good financial track record. Neil shares our values, will fit well with our culture, and will help our leadership team grow the business as our country emerges from the pandemic. He will be a great asset to Fuller’s, and our board looks forward to working closely with him in the future.” Dominic Paul, Domino’s chief executive, said: “Neil has been a highly valued member of the management team and played a key role in refocusing the group and bolstering our financial discipline through extraordinary operating conditions. We have a clear plan to deliver the future, underpinned by a robust capital allocation philosophy that Neil helped to establish. While I am sorry he is leaving, I understand his decision and look forward to working with him as we search for his successor. We all wish him well.” 

Starbucks reports supply shortages in the US: Starbucks has been hit by supply shortages in the US meaning some drinks are unavailable for customers. The coffee company said it was seeing ‘temporary supply shortages’ for items such as oat milk. A Starbucks spokeswoman said: “Specific items will vary by market and store, and some stores will experience outages of various items at the same time.” She apologised for any ‘inconvenience’ faced by customers and said it was working with vendors to restock items. Starbucks customers in the US who open the firm’s app are also currently greeted with a message apologising for any shortages. Other than oat milk, Starbucks would not confirm which other ingredients were affected. But an internal memo, seen by Business Insider, suggests that 25 different products are on a ‘temporary hold’ including hazelnut syrup, chai tea bags and green iced tea. Others said they had noticed that no caramel flavouring or lemonade was available in their local outlets. Some members of staff also posted about the frustration of having to explain the situation to customers. One wrote that the firm had not anticipated such a significant number of customers returning to cafes and restaurants as coronavirus restrictions ease. The BBC asked Starbucks for specific details about why there were shortages. The company said in an emailed reply: “The temporary supply shortages occurring in the US on some products is attributable to the supply chain constraints.”

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