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Wed 2nd Mar 2022 - Update: Just Eat, Wendy's, Pret et al
Just Eat reports 52% increase in UK orders with market on ‘clear path to profitability’: Just Eat processed 289 million orders in the UK in 2021, representing a growth rate of 52% compared with the same period last year. Delivery orders in 2021 grew 25% compared with the same period last year. The company stated: “In the UK and Ireland, the company has doubled orders in the past two years and is now on a clear path to profitability. Revenue grew by 63% year-on-year to €1,249m in 2021 from €768m in 2020, with clear market leadership and strong 52% order growth. The revenue growth rate was higher than the order growth rate, aided by the increase in percentage of delivery orders to 39% in 2021 from 15% in 2020. This rapid shift in the order mix to delivery reflects the strong growth with branded chains partnerships seen in 2021 and contributed to lower average transaction values compared with 2020. Following the successful launch of our employed courier model in London last year, the operation expanded into a further five UK cities in 2021. Adjusted Ebitda was minus €107m in 2021 from €237m in 2020, with the adjusted Ebitda margin as a percentage of gross transactional value declining to minus 2% in 2021 from 5% in 2020. The lower adjusted Ebitda reflected our continued investments to win online share, including the expansion of partners choice particularly with branded chains, marketing particularly through our UEFA sponsorship, and growth in our delivery business with a period of reduced delivery fees for our consumers.” Jitse Groen, chief executive of Just Eat, said: “After a period of significant investment, and with adjusted Ebitda losses having peaked in the first half of 2021, the company is now rapidly progressing towards profitability. While the northern European segment, with an adjusted Ebitda of €256m in 2021, is the most profitable segment in the industry already, we also concluded the year with much improved adjusted Ebitda in our other operating segments. The team is working hard to make 2022 a successful year for both the company and all our stakeholders.”

Host of dessert shops added to seventh edition of The New Openings Database, 15,720-word report included: A host of dessert shops have been added to the seventh edition of The New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock. The database will show the details of 279 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (4 March), at midday. The database shows the details of which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location. There will also be a website link to the businesses so you can find out more about them. It is published on a monthly basis. The seventh edition of the database features Longboys, a small batch bakery concept specialising in gourmet finger doughnuts and coffee, which has opened a site in London’s Covent Garden. In addition, ice cream parlour Anita’s, which is launching its 1,000 square foot debut site in London’s Seven Dials, in April, serving more than 150 different flavours of ice cream, sorbet, and frozen yoghurt, will be featured. Also added this month is Yolé, the world’s first no-sugar ice cream and frozen yogurt brand, which has most recently opened a new site in Shoreditch. Also included is artisan dessert restaurant Heavenly Desserts, which has opened its 36th store – and first Scottish site – in Dundee Street, Edinburgh. Premium subscribers will also receive a 15,720-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to two other databases. The latest Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, was sent to Premium subscribers last Friday (25 February). The database contained 49 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed up to 2,341. The 227 sites run by those 49 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 64,253 sites. Premium subscribers also received a 3,750-word report on the new businesses added. 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. Premium subscribers also receive the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated every month, 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 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. 

Wendy’s plans ten restaurants and circa 50 dark kitchen openings this year in the UK: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, has said it plans to “build about ten restaurants in the UK in 2022” and at the same time open circa 50 dark kitchen sites under its partnership with Reef. Yesterday (Tuesday, 1 March), the company, which made its return to the UK last summer, opened its sixth restaurant here, in Brighton’s Western Road. It is thought the business is in talks to open further restaurants in Wood Green, Camden, Uxbridge, Ilford and Maidstone, with Savills aiding the brand’s UK expansion. A first UK drive-thru site in Colchester has also been secured. At the same time, the business has so far opened six dark kitchen units with Reef. On an investor update call, Wendy’s chief executive Todd Penegor said: “We opened 30 Reefs across the US, Canada and the UK last year. We are feeling very good about the performance in every market. Reef is happy with it. We’ve got a development commitment to do up to 700 restaurants. That was part of why we increased our 2025 targets. In 2022, just give you a little colour we’re expecting to open about 150 to 200 Reef kitchens across the globe. About 65% of those will be in the US, about 10% of those would be in Canada and about 25% in the UK. We are still early in our journey with Reef, but we are pleased with the operation and performance of the Wendy’s branded delivery kitchens. These kitchens are designed and operated solely as Wendy’s locations and are operated the Wendy’s way. We continue to expect Reef delivery kitchens to help us address underpenetrated urban markets and are excited about the partnership and all the growth that lies ahead.” Wendy’s chief financial officer Gunther Plosch said the company was increasing its development capital this year, in part to continue to build its footprint in the UK. He said: “We’re going to build about ten restaurants in the UK in 2022. So in terms of – on a go-forward basis – we’re going to stay elevated on the capital side in 2023, since we are going to continue to build out our UK footprint to about 35 restaurants.” On the trading performance of the 30 Reef kitchen sites it has already opened across the US, Canada and the UK, Plosch said: “We’ve always talked about, the range would be $500,000 to $1m. And we’re on track with our expectations. So you’ll still continue to see that nice ramp up in future years.” Last year, Wendy’s said it would up its expansion plans in the UK after a strong start to its return here. Abigail Pringle, Wendy’s chief development officer, said revenues at the restaurants it had opened were “far more” than the chain had expected, at £40,000 a week. 

Pret sales in London’s financial districts propel to 79% of pre-covid levels as more workers return: Pret A Manger’s sales propelled in London’s financial districts to 79% of pre-covid levels last week, suggesting increasing numbers of workers are returning to the office as the UK learns to live with the virus. Sales fell slightly in London’s entertainment and shopping district, due to the half-term holidays and strong winds and rain in the early part of the week, according to Bloomberg’s latest Pret Index. Pret’s business in London’s airport terminals rose for the fifth consecutive week as international travel continued its recovery. Pret stores in London’s suburbs saw an expected decline in demand for the second consecutive week as families went away for half term. Sales in London train stations also fell as poor weather impacted many services and put off commuters traveling into the city to work, shop and dine.

Contract catering sector sales still below pre-covid levels despite fourth quarter rise year-on-year: Contract catering sales saw a modest recovery in the last quarter of 2021, new CGA research reveals – but covid-19 concerns continue to hold them well below pre-pandemic levels. The latest edition of CGA’s Contract Caterer Tracker shows sales from October to December 2021 were up by 37% on the same three months in 2020 – a period when many venues served by caterers faced heavy restrictions. However, the Tracker also indicates sales were 26% below the fourth quarter of 2019, when businesses were trading as normal – though this marks an improvement on a shortfall of 36% in the third quarter of 2021. The Tracker shows the number of outlets open in the fourth quarter of 2021 was 13% lower than in the last three months of 2019. Trading was also hit by the spread of the Omicron variant and “Plan B” restrictions that were introduced in England in December. Karl Chessell, CGA’s director – hospitality operators and food, said: “It has been a hugely challenging two years for contract caterers, and with sales still well below pre-covid-19 norms the sector is clearly going to take a long time to recover. The phasing out of restrictions should pull more people back to workplaces and the many other spaces served by caterers as 2022 goes on. However, with some businesses severely weakened by the effects of covid-19, supply and staffing problems continuing, and inflation hitting both caterers’ costs and people’s spending, more challenges lie ahead.”

The Lakes Distillery launches £5m fundraise, poised to revisit flotation plans: The Lakes Distillery has unveiled plans to raise £5m from investors to drive forward a growth strategy – as well as making renewed flotation plans. The company became England’s newest and largest whisky, gin and vodka distillery when it started life eight years ago on the banks of Bassenthwaite Lake, after lifting three handmade copper stills into place. Now the distillery – which has raised more than £30m in investment since the firm was founded in 2011 – is seeking to increase production of its single malt, with the help of fresh funds. A crowdfund campaign has been launched on Crowdcube to raise £1.25m, and has already raised more than 50% of its target in its private phase ahead of going public. The fundraise forms part of wider plans to raise around £5m, also taking investment from its pool of high net worth investors, many of whom have backed the business since it first set out to launch the distillery. It comes on top of investment programmes, which has seen £3m invested over 2020 and 2021 into its single malt production capacity, installing eight new “wash back” fermentation tanks, to add to the existing four tanks. It means the distillery now has the capacity of production 130,000 litres of alcohol a year to 375,000 litres. Chief financial officer David Robinson said: “The reason we are raising equity now is to start to put that increased production to work, and it’s the capital funding that will help us to do that.” The company paused its plans for an initial public offering (IPO) in 2018 after some investment it had gathered during the initial process began to fall away. Robinson said the company’s governance structures remain in place from that original flotation plan, and it is poised for a future liquidity event. He said: “We’ve had lots of shareholders who’ve been brilliant supporters of ours, in some cases since 2012, and we are as a board absolutely committed to delivering a liquidity event for those guys. Our preferred route at the moment is to revisit an IPO. If we can successfully complete this fundraise the board’s attention will turn to that – and it’s a short to medium term goal for the board.”

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