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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 15th Oct 2021 - Update: Loungers, Hostmore and BrewDog
Loungers maintains ‘significant outperformance of market’ with like-for-like sales up 26.6% since 20 May: Cafe bar operator Loungers has said its “significant outperformance of the market” since indoor trading restarted on 17 May has been maintained with like-for-like sales up 26.6% between 20 May and 6 October versus 2019 levels. The company stated: “While trading and the reported like-for-like sales uplift benefit from the VAT reduction, the continued strength of performance is testimony to the relevance and resilience of our brands. Net debt at 3 October 2021 was £11.9m, excluding a further £5.6m of outstanding rent and deferred liabilities payable to HM Revenue & Customs. Since the start of the financial year the group has opened 13 new sites, comprising 12 Lounges and one Cosy Club, taking the portfolio to 181 sites as of today. We expect to open a further ten sites in the current financial year. Loungers will next update the market on 1 December 2021 when we announce our half-year results.” Chief executive Nick Collins said: “Our like-for-like sales have been consistently strong since reopening, across all site age cohorts and both brands. In addition, I am particularly pleased with the strength of performance in the new sites we have opened in this financial year. Loungers continues to thrive as we put covid behind us and manage the current challenges facing our sector. This success reinforces our roll-out strategy and we look ahead with confidence, with our pipeline of future sites as strong as it ever has been. I would like to say a special thank you to our teams across England and Wales for their fantastic performance over what was a demanding summer trading environment.”

Next edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book sent to Premium subscribers today: The latest edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, will be published today (Friday, 15 October) at midday. The latest Blue Book sees a further 21 companies added, taking the number of UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators featured to 427, with a total turnover of £30bn. The Blue Book, which is updated every month – on the second Friday of the month – has begun to reflect the economic damage of the pandemic with 208 companies reporting a profit and 219 reporting losses. The Blue Book provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive two other databases – the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. 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, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday at 6pm, Mark Wingett looks at the return to the late-night sector of Luminar founder Steve Thomas, and at reports that Burger King UK could be the next sector candidate for an initial public offering. Meanwhile, sector analyst Simon Stenning focuses on the changing nature of hospitality on the high street. 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. To subscribe, email

Hostmore to begin trading on 2 November, like-for-likes up 11% since 17 May: Hostmore, the parent company of Fridays, has reiterated its plans to demerge from Electra Private Equity and begin trading as a listed company on 2 November. The group said it would be demerging on the back of making “encouraging progress since the resumption of indoor dining in England on 17 May 2021”. Over the 20-week period since the resumption of restricted indoor dining in England on 17 May 2021, the Robert Cook-led group reported like-for-like growth of 11% when compared with the same period in 2019. On a VAT adjusted basis, the like-for-like growth of the group when compared with the same period of 2019 was 1%. In the 11 weeks since the further relaxation of covid-19 restrictions in England on 19 July 2021, the like-for-like growth of the group when compared with the same period of 2019 has averaged 12.1%. On a VAT adjusted basis, the like-for-like growth of the group when compared with the same period of 2019 was 0.1%. The group’s net debt, adjusted to include all covid-19 related accruals, reduced to £36.4m at the end of August 2021 from £46m at the end of December 2020. Cash generated from operations over the three complete months following the resumption of indoor dining in England on 17 May 2021 was £12.5m. It said the free cash flow generated during the period of £14.1m reflects a 103% conversion of Ebitda. During the period, the business opened a new Fridays restaurant in Lincoln on 19 May, followed by the opening of the first 63rd+1st in Cobham on 24 May and the second 63rd+1st in Glasgow on 24 September. The group plans to open a further 63rd+1st site in Harrogate next month. The business said there was scope for ten-plus sites under the concept by the end of 2023. The company said it is exploring opportunities with TGI Friday’s to expand its existing brands into new franchise territories and, following the demerger, will “seek to add rapidly growing, early-stage businesses to its portfolio of complementary brands, exploring opportunities to extend its offering into experience-led hospitality and leisure concepts”. It also announced it had permanently closed its site in Covent Garden last month. Cook said: “We are delighted to be announcing the intention to proceed with the demerger and listing which, subject to the approval of Electra shareholders, we expect to complete in early November. The demerger and listing of Hostmore leaves us well placed to continue to develop enduring value through our existing and future brands and we look forward to the future with excitement and confidence.’”

Watt – last week was the first time BrewDog bars were in growth versus 2019: James Watt, co-founder of Scottish brewer and bar operator BrewDog, has said last week was the first time the group’s bars were in growth versus 2019. Watt said sales across the brand’s 103 bars were up 3% last week versus 2019. He also highlighted how “people are behaving very differently in our hospitably venues now versus pre covid”. Watt said: “I was putting together some stats for our team and I found it really interesting how people are behaving very differently in our hospitably venues now versus pre-covid. Our bars lost money every single month since March 2020. We had 103 bars closed at one point. Last week was the first week our bars were in growth versus 2019 (+3%). Average cheque size is up 78% versus 2019 meaning guests are staying longer and visiting fewer venues when socialising. Our food sales have increased from 29% of our revenue to 41%. We are 25% busier than 2019 at lunchtimes and in the afternoon. Evenings are a little quieter than they were in 2019. Late-night trade (9pm-close) is 35% quieter than 2019. Overall people are visiting our bars earlier in the day, ordering more food and staying longer than they did in 2019.”

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