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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 14th Mar 2022 - Update: Hostmore, Nightcap, State of Play, Ukraine aide, inflation
Hostmore lfl revenues down c3% in eight weeks to 27 February: Hostmore, the parent company of Fridays and the 63rd+1st concept in the UK, has this morning reported that its like-for-like revenues for the eight weeks ending 27 February 2022, were circa 3% lower than FY19. The company said that like-for-like revenue since the gradual lifting of restrictions in May 2021 to 2 January 2022 was 4% ahead of the FY19 comparable despite the impact of the Omicron virus variant in the key December trading period. It also said that strong cash generation enabled substantial settlement of arrears trading liabilities and significant reduction in net debt to £12.2m (FY20: £28.6m). Turnover for the 53 weeks ended 2 January 2022 stood at £159m (2020: £129.1m), with group adjusted Ebitda at £43m (2020: £23.5m). Pre-tax loss in the period narrowed from £20.1m in 2020 to £1.58m last year. The company opened three 63rd + 1st sites (Cobham, Glasgow and Harrogate), and one Fridays site (Lincoln), in FY21. Six new sites are set to open in the financial year 2022 (FY22) including Dundee (Fridays and Go), Edinburgh and Cambridge (63rd + 1st), and Chelmsford, Barnsley and Durham (Fridays). The company said that a new bank facility of £65m was put in place in July 2021 with a term until 1 October 2023, with an option to extend the term by 12 months with the agreement of all parties. It also reported that free cash flow of £31.0m in FY21 supported substantial reduction in net debt to £12.2m from £28.6m. Its cash holdings as at the year-end stood at £32.1m and it had a balance of undrawn revolving credit facility of £20.0m, which it said provide “significant liquidity headroom to counter potential risks and fund continued growth”. At the same it announced the appointment of Gavin Manson to succeed Neil Johnson as its non-executive chairman with effect from the end of its AGM on 27 May 2022. Robert B Cook, Hostmore chief executive said: “I am delighted to report a strong financial performance, in our maiden results as a publicly listed company, considering the challenges of the past two years. My colleagues in-store, at the support centre, and all stakeholders, have positively contributed to trading and the strengthening of our balance sheet. Consequently, we are well prepared to meet the expansionary goals which gave rise to Hostmore. I am equally appreciative of the ongoing loyalty of our many guests that continued to support us by visiting our restaurants and indicated their appreciation of the improvements in quality and service which have resulted in higher and more consistent levels of guest satisfaction. Whilst we will no doubt face new macro-economic challenges as we proceed this year, together with the challenges raised by the Ukraine crisis, we are now well positioned to consider opportunities for both organic growth via our existing brands, including the very first Fridays and Go quick service concept restaurant which opens in Dundee later this week, and the acquisition of small disruptor brands that are seeking investment capital to grow. The growth of the group will provide existing and new employees the reward of enhanced career progression whilst delivering on our goals to the benefit of all stakeholders, including our loyal shareholders.”

93 of 548 companies in next edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book generating pre-tax profit of more than £1m: A total of 93 of the 548 companies featured in the next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book are generating pre-tax profit of more than £1m. Premium subscribers will receive the latest edition of the Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, on Friday (18 March) at midday. The Blue Book shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £7.6bn being reported by 350 companies. However, a further 198 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £828.9m. The Blue Book, which is updated every month and has had 12 companies added to the latest edition, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive 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. Premium subscribers are also to be given exclusive access to a new database early next month. The UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database will be an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and be updated every two months. The first edition will feature more than 100 companies, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. The first edition provides almost 25,000 words of content. 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.

Nightcap posts like-for-like revenue growth of 24.8%: Nightcap, the owner of The Cocktail Club, the Adventure Bar Group and the Barrio Familia group of bars, posted like-for-like revenue growth of 24.8% for the nine weeks ended 27 February 2022 when compared to the same period in 2020 and 24.6% when compared to the same period in 2019. For the 26 weeks ended 26 December 2021, the group’s reported revenues increased by more than 700% to £15.8m, with a 22.4% like-for-like increase compared to the same period in 2019. Excluding the ‘Plan B’ period, the group said its revenue increased by 28.3% on a like-for-like basis for the 24 weeks ended 12 December 2021 compared to the same period in 2019. Adjusted Ebitda for the period stood at £2.5m. As at 26 December 2021, the business said it had unaudited cash resources of approximately £9.4m and had total legacy bank borrowings assumed from its acquisitions of approximately £6.0m giving a net cash position of £3.4m (excluding lease liabilities). The company said: “With the legacy debt from our acquisitions having attractive terms (both in tenure and interest rate) Nightcap is well placed to execute its roll out strategy.” 19 bars traded throughout the period, with 27 bars being operated at the end of the period, reflecting the acquisition of Barrio Familia and the opening of three The Cocktail Club (TCC) venues during November 2021, all of which traded for only the last five weeks of the period. The business said that its organic growth was “progressing well”, with three new openings, four refurbishments and one additional new lease completed in the period. It said it continued to see “excellent opportunities” in the property market with over 24 sites in legal negotiations or under offer across several group brands. The business completed additional two leases for TCC in Cardiff and Exeter in 2022, which together with the three new TCC openings and the Tonight Josephine Cardiff lease signed during the period, takes the total new sites to six for the year so far. The company said: “In all of the more than 30 new sites that we have opened, announced as completed, currently under offer or in legal negotiations, we have not offered or paid a single property premium and yet we continue to find top tier sites in all of our prioritised cities nationwide.” Sarah Willingham, chief executive of Nightcap, said: “Nightcap has had a fantastic half year. We have taken the first steps in significantly growing our family of bars, both by adding the Barrio Familia Group in November 2021 and by opening three more The Cocktail Clubs in Bristol, Reading and London. We finished the calendar year with 27 top quality, late night bars.” This half year has been spent focusing on getting the team and the group ready for the fast and sustainable growth that we have planned for 2022 and beyond. With the team now in place to execute Nightcap’s strategy, we see continued excellent opportunities in the property market with over 24 sites in legal negotiations or under offer across several of our brands, in addition to the three new bars we have already announced for Cardiff and Exeter. Importantly, out of this portfolio of sites not a single property premium has been paid or offered to date. We can look forward to the growth of our brilliant brands across the United Kingdom with confidence during the 2022 calendar year. At the same time we have delivered incredible numbers throughout the core estate with reported revenue increasing by more than 700% compared to last year (H1 2020) (primarily due to the acquisition of The Adventure Bar Group) and a 300% increase compared to the same period in 2019. The like for like* revenue growth of 22.4% (compared to H1 2019) demonstrates that through excellent management and motivated, happy teams we have been able to respond to the pent-up demand from our wonderful customers, while significantly growing the underlying businesses. It is worth noting that out of our 27 bars only 19 bars (70%) traded for the whole 26-week period. Five sites were added through the acquisition of the Barrio Familia Group on 21 November 2021 (19%) and a further three sites (11%) opened under The Cocktail Club brand also in November 2021. Our amazing team were able to reschedule over 70% of the initially cancelled Christmas bookings into our Q3 (January 2022 – March 2022), and because of their flexibility and customer care, we are already seeing bookings and re-bookings for Christmas 2022! This performance shows that we can trade strongly with or without covid restrictions, and our guests and their demographics are resilient and keen to get out and socialise.”

State of Play raises $35m toward US expansion push: State of Play Hospitality, the Toby Harris-led group, has raised more than $35m (£29.4m) from investors as it plots more openings in the US. The Times reports that the business, which already operates three Flight Clubs in the US, with a further two more due to open this year. The company thinks that the American market is big enough that it could eventually open as many as 150 Flight Clubs in 15 States. Harris said: “We’re very much focused on getting to 50 as fast as we can. We’re targeting four to six new US openings a year. The proof points coming from our sites in Chicago, Boston and Houston lead us to believe that there can be a large number of Flight Clubs across the US.” The company’s latest fundraiser was led by Bregal Partners, the investment division of the billionaire Brenninkmeijer family. The company said that the capital will be used to fund growth and enable the business “to harness structural tailwinds in the experiential entertainment sector and fulfil the potential of its technology-enabled leisure concepts”. The group is also seeking to expand its new, highly immersive bingo concept, Hijingo, as well as adding more Bounce ping pong venues to its existing sites in London and Chicago. The fundraise was corner-stoned by Bregal Partners in New York and also included meaningful investments from existing institutional investors, Acropolis Capital and Promethean Investments. The company’s growth strategy will include a “significant acceleration” in the pace of the Flight Club roll-out in the US and Canada, as well as growing its wider portfolio of experiential concepts including ping pong sister brands, Bounce and AceBounce, and Hijingo. In addition to growing the Bounce and Hijingo brands in the UK, the group also plans to launch Hijingo in the US, and is in the early stages of exploring operating partnerships for both concepts in Europe and APAC, territories where management believes there are significant opportunities. Harris said: “I am delighted to announce the completion of our fundraise, which is a significant milestone for the business. State of Play is full of so much talent on both sides of the Pond and this funding round is an endorsement of the quality of both our US and UK management teams. I’m excited to lead them on the next leg of our journey as we scale the business. I’m also very grateful to our shareholders and investors who have supported State of Play, both historically and in this raise, and shown such confidence in us. Given the quality of our concepts and people, we have an incredible opportunity ahead to build a global entertainment platform of genuine scale.”

Pubs and hotels join business push to help Ukrainian refugees: Britain’s pubs, hotels and restaurants are gearing up to help Ukrainian refugees as businesses scramble to support those fleeing the Russian invasion. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said she has been “inundated with offers of help and support” from hotels with spare rooms and restaurants looking to provide food parcels. Some of Britain’s biggest businesses are in talks with Downing Street about arranging jobs and accommodation for refugees. A consortium of dozens of businesses including Marks & Spencer say they have 10,000 jobs available for the women and children fleeing the conflict. They have been holding talks over recent days and will meet with ministers on Monday, the Sunday Times first reported. Meanwhile, there is growing support from business groups for employers to be offered tax breaks or red tape exemptions if they hire refugees. Michael Gove, the Housing and Communities Secretary, said on Sunday that “tens of thousands” of refugees would begin arriving in the UK under a sponsorship scheme. Households will be paid £350 a month to host refugees under the scheme, which has been launched following criticism of the Home Office’s response to the crisis. The refugees minister, Richard Harrington, who works across Mr Gove’s department and the Home Office, will on Monday meet with entrepreneur Emma Sinclair, who is leading the coalition of companies wanting to help out with the scheme. Nicholls said hospitality operators could “kill two birds with one stone” as many roles in the sector come with accommodation. The arrival of people seeking temporary work could also help relieve severe staffing shortages, she added. “If we can provide meaningful jobs to support them while they’re here, we would be very happy to do so.” The government said the local sponsorship scheme will match charities, businesses and individuals with refugees who do not have family in the UK.

Businesses in plea for help from soaring inflation: The government is facing calls to help businesses wrestling with soaring inflation after a survey found that manufacturers were lifting prices at a record pace and an employers’ group warned that companies are “on the brink” over rising prices and disruptions to their supply chains. Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, the manufacturers’ association, told The Times that companies faced “eye-watering increases in costs which are becoming a matter of survival for many”. He urged Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, to use his spring economic statement on 23 March “to do whatever it takes to support companies through this difficult period”. A survey by Make UK and BDO, the accountancy firm, showed that prices in Britain rose from an index balance of 52% in the final three months of last year to reach 58% in February, the highest reading ever recorded by the poll. More than half, or 54.2%, of the 287 companies surveyed, said they had seen a significant rise in the cost of raw materials and more than a third, or 37.4%, said they had noticed a significant rise in energy costs. The survey by Make UK and BDO was carried out before Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February and manufacturers’ prices are likely to have risen even further since then. Inflation reached a 30-year high of 5.5% in January. Many forecasters now expect it to exceed 8% at its peak next month. Russia is a leading supplier of raw materials from oil and gas to nickel. Prices of commodities have increased sharply since the conflict began as western sanctions on Moscow and disruption caused by the conflict put supplies in doubt. The Federation of Small Businesses told the chancellor that it would be better if a scheduled £18bn increase in national insurance was “reversed or delayed”. Martin McTague, its new national chairman, said that many companies were “on the brink” after being squeezed between surging operating costs, supply chain disruption and labour shortages.

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