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Tue 26th Apr 2022 - Update: Loungers, Nightcap, Costa, Barkby Group
Loungers announces record sales for the 52 weeks to 17 April 2022: Loungers, the operator of 164 Lounge cafe-bars and 31 Cosy Club restaurant-bars, has announced record sales for the 52 weeks ending 17 April 2022. The company said: “Our significant outperformance of the market has been maintained over the financial year. Whilst trading during December was subdued as a result of the Omicron variant, it recovered strongly post-Christmas, allowing us to deliver record total revenue for the financial year of £237.3m. The group has continued to deliver a very strong like-for-like sales performance of +22.1% over the 48 weeks to 17 April 2022. Like-for-like sales in the second half rebounded convincingly post-Christmas, evidencing once again the relevance, resilience and popularity of our brands. In light of the group’s strong performance post-Christmas we expect profitability for the financial year to be slightly ahead of market expectations.” In the 40 weeks to 20 February 2022, like-for-like sales excluding the VAT benefit were ahead 9.3% on the same period two years ago. In the 48 weeks to 17 April 2022 like-for-like sales excluding VAT benefit, were up 14.2% on three years ago. Net debt (pre IFRS16) at 17 April 2022 was £1.2m, excluding a further £1.4m of outstanding rent liabilities, to give underlying net debt of £2.6m. The business said this represents a reduction in underlying net debt of £44.9m compared to 18 April 2021. Over the course of the financial year the group opened a record 27 new sites, comprising 26 Lounges and one Cosy Club, taking the portfolio to 195 sites as of today. The company said it continued to be “very pleased with the strength of these openings”. Loungers expects to next update the market on 13 July 2022 when it announces its preliminary results for the year ended 17 April 2022. Nick Collins, chief executive, said: “I am delighted with trading in both the Lounge and Cosy Club brands over the financial year. We continued to deliver underlying, volume driven like for like sales growth despite the uncertain consumer backdrop and we are well-positioned to increase share in the coming months through our new site opening programme and value for money offer. It has been a phenomenal effort from our team to open 27 fantastic new sites in what has at times been a difficult year. The new site pipeline is in excellent shape and we are optimistic as we look ahead to FY23.”

Number of concepts aimed at those with a sweet tooth set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A number of concepts aimed at those with a sweet tooth are among the 31 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday (29 April), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features Newcastle-based family ice cream business Mark Toney & Co, which was established in 1892 by Giovanni Marcantonio, and operates three sites – in Grainger Street, Percy Street and Grainger Arcade. Also added this month is Midlands-based Project D, a doughnut concept founded by three friends – Max Poynton, Matthew Bond and Jacob Watts ­– that is looking at branching out into bricks-and-mortar sites, with an aim of opening several locations. Also featured is Soft Serve Society, founded by Nicky Lau and Emma Tang, which has been operating from Boxpark Shoreditch since 2016 and has also opened its first central London location, at Seven Dials Market, offering its range of ice-cream options, milkshakes and bubble tea. Premium subscribers will also receive a 2,607-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 next edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 6 May, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 11,700-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. Premium subscribers have also been given exclusive access to a new database. The UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and will be updated every two months. The first edition featured 100 companies, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. The first edition provides 27,000 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 – Adventure Bar Group team achieves earn out milestones ahead of time: Nightcap, the owner of The Cocktail Club, the Adventure Bar Group and the Barrio Familia group of bars, has said that on the basis of its trading since its acquisition, the Adventure Bar Group has achieved the milestones required for the payment of the all equity earn out component of the consideration for this acquisition significantly earlier than originally anticipated. Last May, Nightcap announced the acquisition of the entire issued share capital of +Venture Battersea Limited, Adventure Bars Mid Limited and Adventure Bars Luna Digbeth Ltd, being the companies that operate the Adventure Bar Group’s Tonight Josephine, Blame Gloria, Bar Elba, Luna Springs, Escapologist and Nikki’s Bar brands. The consideration payable to the vendors of the Adventure Bar Group companies comprised of an initial tranche of 4,761,905 new ordinary shares of 1p each in the company which were issued on 14 May 2021, plus the issue of a maximum of a further 7,142,856 new Ordinary Shares to the vendors (the “Earn Out Consideration Shares”), dependent on the level of growth in adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) for certain Adventure Bar Group’s bars over an up to two-year period commencing on 1 July 2021. The company said: “The board is pleased to report that, based on the Adventure Bar Group’s unaudited management accounts since acquisition, the Adventure Bar Group has achieved the financial milestones required in order for all of the Earn Out Consideration Shares to be issued. Given the strong performance of the Adventure Bar Group since its acquisition, this has occurred on a significantly faster timeline than originally expected by the board. The acquisition of the Adventure Bar Group has been a very important step in Nightcap’s buy and build strategy and the Board is delighted with the smooth integration of Adventure Bar Group’s management into the group’s broader management structure, the performance of the Adventure Bar Group’s brands and its management’s ability to execute on Nightcap’s ambitious roll-out plan. The board is very pleased with the performance of the Adventure Bar Group over the last 11 months since being part of the group and, as such, the board continues to be confident of the positive impact that the Adventure Bar Group will have on the group for the remainder of the current financial year and beyond. In March and April 2022, the Adventure Bar Group acquired three new sites for its bars in Cardiff, Liverpool and Bristol, with several further new Adventure Bar Group site acquisitions being planned for announcement later this calendar year.” Tom Kidd, managing director of the Adventure Bar Group, said: “Like most businesses in hospitality covid hit us hard, but it has been incredible to see how much our customers have enjoyed our venues since the reopening last year. Working with Nightcap has allowed us to focus on creating great experiences for customers across our existing sites and start the roll-out of our amazing brands, which we always believed had nationwide potential. I would like to thank Nightcap for recognizing our strong performance early, which has freed us up to focus on securing the best sites across the country for our continued roll-out.” Sarah Willingham, chief executive of Nightcap, said: “I am delighted to congratulate Tom Kidd, Tobias Jackson and Bryan Lloyd on achieving the Adventure Bar Group earn out milestones well ahead of time. It is a phenomenal achievement and a testament to the quality of their leadership, the exceptional team that they have put in place and the brands they have built and continued to strengthen since the acquisition by Nightcap last year. They have managed to realise this whilst still setting themselves up for an aggressive expansion this year, by filling the pipeline with new sites, expanding their team, refining their offer and even rebranding two of their sites. Tonight Josephine in Cardiff, which opened its doors just four weeks ago, has hit the ground running, trading profitably from the very first week since opening, further strengthening our commitment to expand this popular brand across the UK.” 

Costa gives coffee boost to Coca-Cola’s covid recovery: Costa Coffee’s post-pandemic recovery has boosted its American owner after the chain reopened British cafés and continued to expand. The Times reports higher prices and robust demand lifted sales at The Coca-Cola Company by 16% to $10.5bn in the last quarter, exceeding expectations on Wall Street, as disruption wrought by covid-19 faded. The world’s largest drinks company reported a 24% rise in net profit to $2.78bn as it moved to reassure investors over the impact of its suspension of operations in Russia. Coca-Cola, which has a market value of more than $280bn, owns hundreds of brands, including Fanta and Schweppes. It is based in Atlanta, Georgia. It bought Costa from Whitbread, the FTSE 100 group, for $4.9bn in 2019. The chain, founded in 1971, has more than 4,000 shops globally. Coffee sales at Coca-Cola rose by 27% in the three months to 1 April, an increase “primarily driven” by the fact that Costa’s UK stores were closed during the same period of 2021, as well as the chain’s “continued expansion” worldwide. Net revenue within the group’s global ventures division, which houses Costa, rose by 28% to $729m. The unit’s pre-tax profit doubled to $56m. Having halted operations in Russia after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Coca-Cola said this was likely to cut between 1% and 2% from its sales and operating income this year. James Quincey, chairman and chief executive, said that the group was watching for any “spillover effects” from the Ukrainian war. “We are pleased with our first-quarter results as our company continues to execute effectively in a highly dynamic and uncertain environment,” he said.

Staff being at home works for more and more firms: Managers dreaming of their staff returning to working five days a week in the office are increasingly finding themselves in the minority. The Times reports that two years after the first lockdown forced millions of people to work remotely for the first time, more companies are positive about the impact of homeworking on productivity than they are negative. A survey of more than a thousand employers by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development suggests that 41% believe flexible working policies have increased productivity, compared with 18% who say it has had a negative impact. On average, companies expect about 20% of their workforce to work from home all the time once the pandemic is over and 40% of their employees to work from home on a regular basis. Employers that shared their views on the benefits and disadvantages of flexible working ranged from large private sector employers, such as Standard Chartered Bank, to charities including Blood Cancer UK and organisations such as the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. More than 2,000 employees were asked about their attitudes towards flexible working. Of the 2,000 staff questioned, 4% say they have left a job in the past year specifically because of a lack of flexible working, and 9% say they have changed career or profession owing to a lack of flexible working options in the sector. Women, at 12%, are more likely than men, at 7%, to say they have changed careers or profession for this reason.

Cost of living was a struggle even before energy hike, ONS finds: Nearly a quarter of adults in Britain were struggling to pay their household bills even before the sharp increase in energy bills at the beginning of the month, an official survey has found. The Times reports with average wages not keeping pace with the rising cost of food and energy, 23% of adults polled by the Office for National Statistics towards the end of March said that they were finding it difficult or very difficult to pay their usual bills. That was up from 17% in November. Prices of everything including wheat, timber, petrol and electricity have risen in recent months. Prices were already climbing but the war in Ukraine has sparked further price rises. Almost nine in ten of those surveyed told the ONS that their cost of living had increased, compared with six in ten back in November. The sharp increases in energy bills, fuel and food have disproportionately affected those living in the most deprived areas of the country, 34% of whom reported trouble keeping up with their bills last month. The ONS survey found that 43% of adults would not be able to save money in the next 12 months — the highest proportion since the question was first asked at the beginning of the pandemic.

Barkby agrees to sell Saffron Walden site for £3.45m: Premium gastropub operator Barkby Group has unconditionally exchanged contracts to sell its site at Saffron Walden for £3.45m. Barkby currently has a book value of £1m for the site, the sale will result in a net profit of £2.3m for Barkby after disposal costs. Completion has been agreed for 31 May 2022. Charles Dickson, executive chairman of Barkby Group Plc, said: “I am delighted to have exchanged contracts for the sale of the site. Barkby has added significant value to the site through a series of successful planning applications which has resulted in a significant profit for shareholders.”

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