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Thu 26th May 2022 - Hostmore reports like-for-like sales down 6% on 2019 levels due to ‘more challenging consumer environment’
Hostmore reports like-for-like sales down 6% on 2019 levels due to ‘more challenging consumer environment’, takes more prudent view on trading for rest of year: Hostmore, the parent company of Fridays and the 63rd+1st concept in the UK, has reported like-for-like sales for the 20 weeks ending 22 May 2022 are circa 6% lower than 2019 as a result “of a more challenging consumer environment”. The company stated: “Dine-in trading, the most significant revenue stream and primary focus for the group, is in line with the market benchmark data, with like-for-like revenue for the 20 weeks ending 22 May 2022 circa 6% lower than FY19 as a result of a more challenging consumer environment. We believe this is primarily a result of consumer confidence weakening significantly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 which is contributing to the current cost of living crisis. Our focus on quality, relevance and simplification continues to deliver a significant improvement in guest satisfaction scores. Furthermore, early hedging of gas and electricity costs, both volume and pricing, and success in limiting food and beverage costs increases, has limited the impact on margins. Strong cashflow from operations continues, enabling estate expansion in line with our strategic growth plans. The new store openings in Dundee (Fridays & Go) in March and Chelmsford (Fridays) in May have both since traded ahead of expectations. We expect to open a further three new sites during FY22 with the development of the Edinburgh 63rd+1st site having commenced with a planned opening date in early July. Subject to an improved trading environment our ambition is to almost double the number of site locations from the current 89 over the medium term. This growth will be self-funded and achieved through a combination of our core Fridays portfolio, further roll-out of 63rd+1st and, in particular, the development of the recently launched town centre concept Fridays and Go, which allows low capital brand penetration into previously inaccessible but attractive geographies. The challenging consumer environment means that we are taking a more prudent view on trading for the remainder of year, including the assumption that like-for-like dine-in volumes, as compared to FY19, may reduce by 8% for the rest of FY22. However, improved customer satisfaction scores demonstrate the success of our investment in improving the quality of our customer offer and now provides a strong basis for appropriate pricing adjustments, in line with broader sector announcements, to mitigate approximately half of the impact of the lower volumes now anticipated. Food and beverage input cost inflation impacting the sector is currently approximately 10%. We have partially mitigated the impact of this cost inflation by fixed utility and supply contracts; however, the combination of cost increases and lower volume will result in an Ebitda margin (pre-IFRS) in low double digits (%) for the current year compared with our medium-term targeted level of mid-teens, which is retained. The group is highly cash generative and maintains a strong and resilient balance sheet with significant liquidity headroom, providing the flexibility for disciplined expansion. This will be focused around our organic growth and new store openings from our existing stable of brands. We now expect to be at the mid-point of our previously communicated target net debt to Ebitda range of between 0.75 times and 1.5 times Ebitda (pre-IFRS) at the end of FY22, taking into account the investment in new store openings.” Robert B Cook, Hostmore chief executive, said: “We are not where we expected to be, however, I am able to report a financial performance which, regardless of the arduous challenge and extreme economic headwinds being encountered presently, allows us to confidently continue with our development strategy. Our ambition remains that of almost doubling the size of our existing portfolio brands over the medium term as economic conditions improve. Our relationship with landlords, coupled with a prudently managed balance sheet, provides the basis for confidence in the success of our strategy over the longer term. The ongoing loyalty of our many guests that continue to support us by visiting our restaurants is welcome, and I am extremely grateful to all our colleagues for their continued hard work and commitment which has resulted in a further improvement in our guest satisfaction scores. This is a great cornerstone to build upon, and our focus continues to be on extending the lifetime value of our guests by adding further to the guest experience through our three pillars of quality, simplification and relevance, which should increase the number of repeat visits per annum. The recent Fridays core brand store opening in Chelmsford, and our world-first ‘fast casual’ Fridays and Go restaurant in Dundee, supports our belief that the Fridays brand has a strong long-term future, and our 63rd+1st brand continues to attract higher than average levels of guest spend and satisfaction which will enable it to consolidate itself in existing and new target locations. While we remain ever mindful of the ongoing economic challenges, the management team remains focused on delivering the appropriate returns to the benefit of all stakeholders.”

Sponsored message – industry recruitment crisis followed by service slump: The hospitality industry, only just recovering from a recruitment crisis, is now dealing with a new challenge – training up swelling team numbers in time for summer. “We’re picking up that businesses are struggling to get new team members up to speed quickly, often leading to standards slipping, and as a result we’ve seen a big increase in enquiries about our mystery guest audits,” said HGEM managing director Steven Pike. “Our audits can supplement training programmes, are specifically designed to help improve service standards, and are affordable, starting from £30 per report, so they’re ticking a lot of boxes right now.” To find out more about HGEM’s mystery guest audits, click here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

Big Smoke Brew Co to open two further sites at Heathrow Airport: Independent Surrey-based brewer Big Smoke Brew Co and Airport Retail Enterprises (ARE) are launching two new craft beer and food destinations at Heathrow’s Terminals 3 and 5 this summer. The Oceanic in Terminal 3 and The Globe in Terminal 5 will serve Big Smoke’s core range of beer and gin, accompanied by seasonal food. Opening next month, The Oceanic references the original name of Terminal 3, which opened as the Oceanic Terminal in 1961. The Globe is an acknowledgement of the breadth of international destinations to which Heathrow’s Terminal 5 connects. The pubs’ curated food menu has been designed with the airport traveller in mind; with a wide range of seasonal options designed for all-day-dining. Big Smoke has also designed an exclusive beer for Heathrow – Flight Mode, a 4% pilsner that will be available at both pubs, alongside a wide range of drinks designed to complement the food. In addition, both pubs will showcase digital kiosks enabling customers to purchase food on-the-go from a separate takeaway menu. The Oceanic will feature a digital Shuffleboard table. Fraser Brown, Heathrow’s retail and property director, said: “As the UK’s gateway to the world, we are delighted that local Surrey-based brand, Big Smoke, will be expanding its offering into Terminals 3 and 5. Heathrow strives to provide our passengers with the best airport service in the world and these two new openings will serve as great additions for the summer.” Rich Craig, who launched Big Smoke Brew Co with his business partner James Morgan in 2014, added: “We are thrilled to be opening two new Big Smoke pubs at Heathrow; bringing our signature home-cooked food and craft beer to more global travellers. The Big Smoke brewery is only eight miles from the airport so we are offering a truly local experience. We are in safe hands with the team at ARE, which is as dedicated to delivering fantastic service and a welcoming atmosphere as we are.” ARE director John Butts said: “ARE is delighted to be increasing our presence at Heathrow Airport in partnership with the team at Big Smoke with these two new pub sites. These new openings follow on from the success of the Big Smoke Taphouse & Kitchen in Terminal 2, which has been very popular with Heathrow’s passengers since it opened last May.”

Le Cordon Bleu to launch first London restaurant next month: Le Cordon Bleu, the global network of culinary arts and hospitality management institutes, will open its first London restaurant in June. Cord, which will finally arrive in Fleet Street after making initial plans to launch in the summer of 2020, will comprise a fine-dining restaurant, a cafe and a branch of its teaching operation. The 90-cover restaurant will open from Monday to Friday, offering a daily à la carte menu, a weekly-changing set lunch and a variety of tasting menus at dinner. The wine list – which is set to broaden its catchment area beyond France’s vineyards and into Spain, Germany, Italy and the Americas – will be utilised for a range of by-the-glass offerings, as well food pairings. Tea pairings will also be available as a non-alcoholic option. The daytime cafe, set to open from 7am to 5pm on Monday to Friday, will welcome guests to dine in, as well as offering takeaway. French patisseries, all baked fresh on site, will be available alongside light snacks. Master chefs from Le Cordon Bleu’s London institute will be on hand to lead a series of gourmet short courses in worldwide cuisine, food and wine pairings, and patisserie. Le Cordon Bleu chief executive and president, André J Cointreau, told the Evening Standard: “At Cord we aim to deliver savoir-faire and quality, bringing together unique techniques and the freshest, best-in-season ingredients across worldwide cuisines. Our guests will join us on a voyage to experience first-hand the exceptional level of skills delivered by our talented chefs at the same time receiving a warm and expert service level in a relaxed setting.” Le Cordon Bleu operates more than 35 schools in 20-plus countries. Its flagship London site is in Bloomsbury Square.

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