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Thu 27th Jan 2022 - Fuller’s – we are seeing an improvement in trade
Fuller’s – we are seeing an improvement in trade: London-based pub operator Fuller’s has reported that trading has begun improving since the New Year. In a trading update for the 43 weeks to 22 January 2022, it stated: “We fully reopened the estate on 19 July 2021 and had delivered a steadily improving trading performance, with our managed like-for-like sales reaching 90% of 2019 levels, prior to the emergence of the Omicron covid variant in early December. The enhanced covid restrictions introduced by the government in response to Omicron, including the guidance to work from home, impacted our trade during the important festive and new year period. Office Christmas parties were cancelled, and City workers stayed at home, leading to managed like-for-like sales in the four weeks to 1 January 2022 reducing to 72% of 2019 levels. Since the new year, we have seen an improving trading position, such that for the 43 weeks to 22 January 2022 our managed like-for-like sales have traded at 81% of pre-pandemic levels. Following last week’s welcome announcement from the government to remove the working from home guidance and the lifting of other restrictions in England, we have gained further momentum as consumer confidence returns.” Simon Emeny, chief executive, said: “We are seeing an improvement in trade and expect that to quicken further now that the government has lifted covid restrictions. We saw sales rise steadily in the City after previous lockdowns, and recent trading patterns suggest that there is a strong desire among many workers to return to office working. In addition, we expect to see a rise in the number of international tourists, which will benefit our London pubs and those in other tourist destinations. I am confident about the future, especially as we move towards business as usual and an end to government intervention. Our estate of iconic, well-located pubs is in great shape, and we have a busy pipeline of investments due to complete during the last quarter of the financial year. We will next update the market on 9 June 2022, when we announce the company’s full year results for the 52 weeks to 26 March 2022.”

Two days to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, 87 businesses being added: A total of 87 new multi-site companies, operating 918 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday (28 January), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes a number of brands growing through franchise, expanding cocktail bar concepts and regional restaurant and coffee shop operators. Premium subscribers will also receive a 6,500-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and 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. It features more than 2,000 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the sixth edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 4 February, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The sixth edition also includes a 26,300-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to another database – the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated monthly, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. 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 single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. 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 group editor Mark Wingett.

Whitbread promotes Hemant Patel to chief financial officer: Whitbread has promoted Hemant Patel to chief financial officer. His appointment will take effect from 21 March 2022 and Nicholas Cadbury will step down from the board and as chief financial officer with effect from the same date. The company stated: “Hemant joined Whitbread in 2018, and since then has been finance director of the UK Premier Inn and Restaurants business. Prior to joining Whitbread, Hemant was finance director of Greene King Pub Company and held a number of senior finance and commercial roles at Asda and Mars. Hemant is a chartered management accountant and is also a non-executive director and chair of the Audit and Risk Committee of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.” Alison Brittain, chief executive of Whitbread, added: “I am delighted to announce the appointment of Hemant as our chief financial officer. Hemant has been with the company for the last three years, he knows our business very well and brings a wealth of experience to the role, with considerable commercial and operational expertise. Since joining us, Hemant has made a major contribution to the UK business, and has worked skillfully across multiple areas of responsibility. I look forward to working with him as we continue to deliver our strategy in the UK and Germany”.

Average nightclub debt tops £230,000: The average nightclub business is burdened by debt topping £230,000 thanks to the pandemic, with sector bosses calling for more support. Clubs are no longer required to ask revellers to show their NHS Covid Pass on entry, however the sector has said a full covid recovery was far away. The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said there was a 40% drop-off in trade across the night time economy during the festive period due to covid measures. Night time bosses have called on ministers to consider long term aid, including further grants and an extension of VAT and business rates relief. These measures would help businesses tackle cost inflation and short-term cash flow issues after a disappointing Christmas, the NTIA said. Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said many businesses were now concerned they would not survive beyond February. Kill added: “While we celebrate the end of uncertainty, the real impact of recent months is coming to light. It is vitally important that the government allows the night time economy to trade indefinitely, building momentum towards pre-covid trading levels, as well as building customer confidence.” The trade organisation has also called for flexibility around planning and licensing to “give businesses the best opportunity to diversify and maximise trading capacity”.

Diageo reports growth: Diageo has reported net sales increased 15.8% to £8bn in the six months ended 31 December 2021. The company said growth reflected continued recovery in the on-trade, resilient consumer demand in the off-trade and market share gains. Operating profit rose 22.5% to £2.7bn. Ivan Menezes, chief executive, said: “I am very pleased with our financial results, which build on our growth momentum in fiscal 21. We delivered strong organic net sales growth across all regions and operating margin expansion. This performance demonstrates our world-class brand building capability, supply chain excellence and agile culture, and reflects the strength of our portfolio across geographies, categories and price tiers. In the off-trade channel, where consumer demand has remained resilient, we have gained or held market share across the majority of our measured markets. We also benefitted from the continued recovery of the on-trade channel, particularly in Europe and North America. Strong sales volume growth and continued premiumisation drove an improvement in organic operating margin during the half. This was achieved while increasing our investment in marketing to gain share and support innovation, particularly in North America and Greater China. In addition, our focus on revenue growth management and productivity savings are helping to mitigate the impact of cost inflation. Strong cash flow generation is enabling re-investment in sustainable long-term growth. We are expanding our production capacity, enhancing our digital capabilities, investing in talent and progressing with our ambitious ten-year sustainability plan. During the half, we also returned £0.5 billion to shareholders via share buybacks and we are accelerating the timeline of our return of capital programme of up to £4.5 billion to now be completed during fiscal 23. We have made a strong start to fiscal 22. While we expect near-term volatility to remain, including potential impacts from covid-19, global supply chain constraints and rising cost inflation, I am confident in our ability to successfully navigate these disruptions through the remainder of the year. Over the medium-term, from fiscal 23 to fiscal 25, we continue to expect organic net sales to consistently grow within a range of 5% to 7% and organic operating profit to grow sustainably within a range of 6% to 9%.”

Eagle Eye reports first half surge helped by new Pret business: Eagle Eye has reported sales up 40% to £15.21m in the six months to 31 December 2021 and adjusted Ebitda up 50% to £1.8m. The period saw its customer Pret A Manger expand its coffee subscription service into France and the US and launch a trial loyalty scheme, Pret Perks. Tim Mason, chief executive of Eagle Eye, said: “Eagle Eye has performed strongly in the first half of the financial year, delivering significant growth over the prior year, building on last year’s momentum. We have deepened our existing client relationships, enabling them to connect with their consumers via multiple means and taken new customers live in record time, while continuing to secure new business. Never has digital engagement with consumers been of more relevance to the global retail sector. Eagle Eye is increasingly becoming the chosen partner of many large retailers across multiple geographies, as demonstrated by the speed with which we have announced our two most recent US wins. This presents a huge opportunity for the business as we increase our market share and capitalise on the growing demand for our expanding AIR platform.”

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