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Thu 12th May 2022 - BT to form joint venture with Warner Bros Discovery to create premium sports channel
BT to form joint venture with Warner Bros Discovery to create premium sports channel: BT Group has agreed with Warner Bros Discovery to form a 50:50 joint venture company to create a new premium sport offering for the UK and Ireland and to transfer the operating businesses of BT Sport to Warner Bros Discovery. An announcement stated: “By bringing together the sports content offering of both BT Sport and Eurosport UK, the JV will have one of the most extensive portfolios of premium sports rights including UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, the Premier League, Premiership Rugby, UFC, the Olympic Games, tennis Grand Slams featuring the Australian Open and Roland-Garros, cycling Grand Tours including the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia and the winter sports World Cup season. Those customers who access BT Sport through BT directly, and the majority of BT TV customers, are set to receive discovery+, the non-fiction entertainment streaming service which is home to Eurosport’s live and on-demand streaming offer in the UK and Ireland, as part of existing subscriptions. Both BT Sport and Eurosport UK will initially retain their separate brands and product propositions in the market before being brought together under a single brand in the future. BT Group and Warner Bros. Discovery will enter into distribution agreements with the JV under which they will distribute the combined sports content to new and existing customers on their respective platforms and apps. BT will receive £93m from Warner Bros. Discovery and up to approximately £540m by way of an earn-out from the JV, subject to certain conditions being met. BT will retain a 50% interest in the JV, and Warner Bros. Discovery will be granted a Call Option over BT plc’s interest in the JV, exercisable at specified points in the first four years of the JV.” Marc Allera, chief executive of BT’s Consumer division, said “As a global sports and entertainment broadcaster Warner Bros. Discovery is the perfect partner to work with us to take BT Sport to the next stage of its growth. We’re excited to be joining forces to bring the best of BT Sport together with Eurosport UK to create a fantastic new sports offer alongside all the entertainment that discovery+ has to offer BT customers. I’m incredibly proud of the established, creative and innovative broadcaster that BT Sport has become. We have a brilliant team who are dedicated to broadcasting amazing sporting moments and we look forward to working with Eurosport UK to realise the opportunities that this next stage will bring both our team and our viewers.” Andrew Georgiou, president and managing director, Warner Bros. Discovery Sports Europe said: “We are excited to bring fans a new premium sport offering that brings together everything they love from BT Sport and Eurosport UK. Combining this with our growing portfolio of premium entertainment content promises to deliver consumers a richer and deeper content proposition, not only providing greater value from their subscriptions but bringing sport to a wider entertainment audience.”

Only 32 of 583 companies in next edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book generating pre-tax profit of more than £5m: Only 32 of the 583 companies featured in the next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book are generating pre-tax profit of more than £5m. Premium subscribers will receive the latest edition of the Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, on Friday (13 April) at midday. The Blue Book shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £5.9bn being reported by 352 companies. However, a further 231 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1bn. A total of 31 companies have also updated their accounts since the March edition. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, 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 also now have access to the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which 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 features 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and 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 seeing “solid results” in the UK, “several franchisees” signed up: Todd Penegor, chief executive of Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, has said that the brand saw “solid results” in the UK during its first quarter to 3 April 2022. The brand currently operates six restaurants in the UK, plus seven delivery kitchen sites with Reef. In contrast, last November, Penegor said that the business was seeing “extremely strong sales across our UK restaurants”. At the time, the company had opened three restaurants and four dark kitchens in the UK since June. In August, the brand signed up Reef as its first franchisee in the UK, agreeing a development commitment to open and operate 700 delivery kitchens over the next five years across the US, Canada and UK. Speaking on the group’s Q1 analyst call, Penegor said: “As we sit here coming on at the end of the first quarter, we have over 60 Reef units open. As you know, we are opening them in the UK, Canada and in the US. As we look at where some of our best performing Reef kitchens are, they have been in international locations and we continue to have great momentum there.” In terms of future expansion in the UK, which the company is using as a bridgehead to launch into continental Europe, Gunther Plosch, chief financial officer at Wendy’s, said: “There is huge interest by franchisees in our European expansion plans. We have now signed up several franchisees already for the UK market. They are very excited to join our company restaurant footprint. As you know, we are expecting by the end of this year between 50 and 60 restaurants in the UK, a combination of company restaurants and delivery kitchens. So, overall, that is a positive. Overall, for international, for this year, we are expecting about a 20%-unit-growth rate, mainly focused in India, the Philippines, and obviously in the UK.” The company will open its latest bricks-and-mortar site in the UK next week (17 May) in Ilford, Essex. As previously revealed by Propel, the company is also planning to open restaurants in Camden, Guildford, Maidstone, Kingston, Colchester, Peterborough and Uxbridge, with Savills aiding the brand’s UK expansion.

Greggs is facing shareholder revolt over pay: Greggs is facing a potential shareholder revolt over high pay for its executives after criticism by two respected investor advisory groups. Bonus payouts for Greggs’ outgoing chief executive, Roger Whiteside, amounted to more than double his basic salary of £575,209, taking his total package to £1.9m including benefits. As a result the investment adviser Pirc said shareholders should vote against the bakery chain’s remuneration report at the group’s annual meeting on 17 May, noting that Whiteside’s pay was excessive and amounted to 79 times that of a regular employee. Meanwhile the proxy adviser Glass Lewis pointed to a 11.4% rise in basic pay for Greggs’ finance chief, Richard Hutton, last year that was followed by a 3.5% increase this year to £393,300. He is also lined up for an exceptional share bonus payout of 150% of salary despite Greggs not paying back £87m in government furlough support received in 2020. It did pay back £4.9m in furlough support received last year. Greggs said it had approved the higher potential payout for Hutton this year because he was “critical in helping to support [the] transition” from Whiteside to new boss Roisin Currie. “The committee believes his knowledge and experience will be essential and therefore his long-term incentive award should be appropriately pitched to reflect the key contribution he is expected to make over the next few years,” the company said. However, Glass Lewis said Greggs’ board has “failed to provide a robust rationale” for the higher than usual bonus for Hutton – which would usually be limited to a maximum of 125% of salary. Greggs’ remuneration committee said its annual bonus scheme had been “designed to ensure that bonus payments would only be made for appropriately stretching levels of performance”. It added: “The committee is cognisant that the payout of the bonus is very near to maximum but is satisfied that this outcome aligns well with the business performance in what were tough trading conditions in 2021.” On the additional share bonus, it said it was “very comfortable that vesting” was justified.

Various Eateries reports strong trading: Coppa Club operator Various Eateries has reported total revenue was £17.9m in the 26-period ending 3 April 2022, up 439% year-on-year (H1 FY2021: £3.3m), driven by new site openings and reflecting fewer restricted periods of trading. The company stated: “ Since ‘Plan B’ restrictions were lifted in January 2022, overall trading steadily recovered and has been in line with management expectations, despite various macro uncertainties. Meaningful comparisons for the group are difficult to draw due to intermittent periods of covid-related closures and the substantial expansion of the group’s estate over the last three years. Outside of London, like-for-like revenue generated by Coppa Club sites versus the same nine-week period in 2019 was up 0.5%, however even this only reflects the performance of three venues, one of which enjoyed bumper trading on opening. The group is now benefiting from nine regional Coppa Clubs, all of which performed robustly since re-opening. While footfall in London remains in recovery, Tavolino and other venues in the capital delivered strong performances since re-opening. Early trading of the group’s new pasta-only concept, ‘Noci’, which opened in March in Islington, was encouraging with excellent feedback from guests.” The group’s balance sheet remains solid with cash at bank of £14.5m as at 3 April 2022. The company added: “The group currently operates 15 venues with Coppa Club Putney and Noci opening in the period. Post-period, Coppa Club Haslemere began trading, offering guests the full clubhouse experience in a beautiful Grade II listed building. Its opening has generated palpable excitement in the area with promising levels of early bookings for both the restaurant and guestrooms. Looking ahead, the group is set to continue with its roll out of venues, while taking careful consideration of macro-economic and political developments. Coppa Club Bath is due to open in late summer, with another premium new venue close to exchange. Site availability remains very strong, and the group is able to be extremely selective in choosing only the most prime opportunities. Several further sites are in advanced negotiation, with many others under consideration. The group is conscious that the industry-wide challenges currently faced, including labour shortages and increasing inflation, have heightened uncertainty. However, with a management team who have seen many periods of uncertainty before, the group is confident in its ability to successfully navigate the challenges while continuing to pursue its exciting growth strategy. The group’s restaurants and clubhouses continue to be in demand in their local communities, and opportunities for further expansion remain abundant.” Yishay Malkov, chief executive of Various Eateries, said: “Across what has been another volatile trading period, the board and I are delighted to see that our sites remain highly appealing to consumers, have been embraced by local communities and are becoming important social hubs. Trading performance has been positive, and we are pleased to see our new sites are delivering in line with our expectations. As pandemic-related restrictions dissipate, our team is now working hard to mitigate the impact of rising cost pressures, inflation, and elevated uncertainty. We are confident we have the right team and strategy to navigate the current environment, and in our ability to continue to deliver good levels of sustainable growth.”

Dalata sells Cricklewood hotel for £21m: Dalata Hotel Group has signed contracts for the sale of the Clayton Crown Hotel, London to a company controlled by AG Hotels for circa £21 million, The transfer of the business is scheduled to complete by late June 2022. The company stated: “The Clayton Crown Hotel, a 152-bedroom four-star hotel, located in Cricklewood, London NW2, has always performed well, but was no longer deemed a core hotel asset with the company’s increasing strategic focus on central locations. The consideration represents excellent value for Dalata and the proceeds will be reinvested in the business.” Dermot Crowley, chief executive, Dalata said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the team at Clayton Crown Hotel for the significant contribution they have made since the hotel was acquired as part of the Moran Bewley acquisition in 2015. This transaction represents excellent value and will assist us in our continued focus on securing central opportunities in attractive cities of the UK and continental Europe. London continues to be a priority for Dalata, and we look forward to opening our new hotel in Shoreditch in the second half of 2023. Our immediate focus now, will be to communicate with our employees and assist them with the transition. We will be retaining the hotel management within the company; all other employees will have the opportunity to apply for vacant positions within Dalata or they can choose to remain in their current roles in the hotel.”

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