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Thu 9th Jun 2022 - Update: Fuller’s returns to profitable growth, current trading year has “started well”
Fuller’s returns to profitable growth: Fuller’s has said that it returned to profitable growth in the 52 weeks to 26 March 2022, and that its current trading year has “started well”. During the year to 26 March, the company generated revenues of £253.8m (2021: £73.2m), with an adjusted profit before tax of £7.2m (2021: loss of £48.7m). The business reduced its net debt to £131.9m (2021: £218.1m) during the period. The company said that its current year has started well. It said: “We welcome the gradual return of workers to the City and tourists to Central London, which is now underway, and we are seeing steady growth in our total weekly sales, which will have a positive impact in FY2023. Momentum in the City and Central London continues to build, and we are confident that we will see the benefits of our estate’s composition come into play.” It said that in the first ten weeks of the new financial year total sales are up 4% on pre pandemic levels and are up 130% on the same period last year. On a like-for-like basis, excluding closed periods, sales in the first ten weeks of the year are up 21.4% on last year. It said: “Furthermore, the investments we have made in the last two years are not yet comparable and the return on our capex projects will benefit the current year’s results.” The company, which recently secured a new four-year £200m bank facility, said that a new directors’ valuation of its total property portfolio stood at £995.6m, approximately £400m above its current book value. The business said its Tenanted Inns remained a “key part of our strategy and complement our strategic framework”. It said: “The Tenanted division has remained consistently profitable when open, regardless of restrictions, with Ebitda margins of 51.6%, delivering operating profit of £11.1m. We ended the year strongly with an increase in the number of Tenants on longer agreements and very low levels of debt – substantially ahead of the industry average.” On costs, the company said: “In FY2022, costs were impacted by the sharp increase in utility costs, predominately in the second half of the year. We were able to mitigate some of that increase through the energy agreements we had in place from the beginning of FY2022 which hedged 94% of our gas and 76% of our electricity pricing for the entirety of FY2022. We have continued to hedge in FY2023 and have locked in our pricing for Q1 FY2023 for both electricity and gas, and 50%/75% respectively for the remainder of the year. Despite this, we still anticipate utilities cost to increase by circa £4m in FY2023.” Chief executive Simon Emeny said: “As a company, we have used the last two years wisely. While steering the business through challenging trading conditions, we have also completed a number of strategic projects that will deliver benefits over the coming years. We have successfully honed our offer, completed a digital transformation project, rolled out a new central finance system, delivered an employer brand and new recruitment platform. We have also refined our branding and reviewed and evolved our long-term strategy. The new strategic framework, driven by our purpose to create experiences that nourish the soul, and the pillars that underpin it, will give everyone in the company clear direction and ensure we work as a team, from our kitchens to our boardroom, to deliver excellent results for all our stakeholders. In addition, we have worked hard to strengthen our balance sheet and highlight how we will continue to deliver long-term value through the application of our capital allocation framework. The completion of the bank refinancing provides us with the headroom to grow and the directors’ valuation of the estate demonstrates that the implicit net asset value per share of our business is £13.80. Through the successful delivery of our strategic objectives, we plan to grow this value over the long term. While the last financial year has adversely affected Fuller’s – with some of our key sites being the most impacted by the pandemic, we have built a balanced business which positions us well to navigate the continued evolution in consumer trends and behaviour. Market conditions remain challenging with fragile consumer confidence and well-documented high inflationary pressures. Our premium offering provides some protection from inflation, however we are certainly not immune from its effects. In common with our peers, we have seen significant increases in food and utility costs and are proactively working with our suppliers, and actively managing our offering, to mitigate the effects of inflation without impairing the customer experience. We remain confident that, despite the current market challenges, we will maintain our growth trajectory for revenues and profits and as such we are pleased to announce a final dividend of 7.41p, which means a total dividend to shareholders of £7m for the year. In conclusion, we are looking back on a volatile year of highs and lows with many moving parts – but we are starting the new financial year on a high. We may be facing some bracing headwinds, especially around energy and inflation, but we are well placed to tackle the issues with clear measures and solutions in place. The great British pub has always been, and will always be, an affordable treat and has proved its resilience over time with its position at the very heart of the communities we serve. With an amazing team of people, great pubs and a clear strategy, we look forward to the future with confidence and excitement.”

Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows sector losses of £5.9bn: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £5.9bn being reported by 348 companies. However, a further 241 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1.1bn. The next edition will include 589 companies, which produce total turnover of £28.6bn. The next edition will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday, 17 June, at midday. 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. 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 are also to be given exclusive access to seven videos where sector leaders and entrepreneurs offer their insights as they develop their businesses in a post-covid world. The videos, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday (10 June), at 9am will include Paul Campbell, sector investor and non-executive director at Hawksmoor, Vinoteca, Hickory’s, Blacklock, Tortilla and The Alchemist; Colin Hill, chief executive of Nando’s UK; James Shapland, co-founder of Coffee#1, the Caffe Nero-owned brand, and new venture Coffi Lab; Jyotin Sethi, co-founder of JKS Restaurants; Jonny Boud, founder of Kitchen Ventures and Tom Snellock, founder of Clays. The videos will also include a panel session on solving the staffing, recruitment and retention crisis hosted by Mark Stretton with James Hacon, global chief marketing officer at Mapal Group; Sol Schlagman, co-founder of Stint; Roland Horne, founder of WatchHouse; Kate Daines, chief people officer at PizzaExpress; and Brian Trollop, managing director at Dishoom. 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.

BCC – Economy will flatline as consumer spending falls: The UK economy will flatline later this year, the British Chambers of Commerce has said, adding to several warnings about a big fall in consumer spending caused by high inflation. The BCC’s latest quarterly report for Britain says economic growth will stagnate in the second and third quarters before contracting by 0.2% at the end of the year as soaring consumer prices hit households. The slowdown will cause annual GDP growth to fall to 3.5% this year, down from the 7.5% expansion recorded in 2021 when the economy rebounded strongly after the pandemic. “Our latest forecast indicates that the headwinds facing the UK economy show little sign of reducing with continued inflationary pressures and sluggish growth,” Alex Veitch, director of policy at the BCC, said. “The war in Ukraine came just as the UK was beginning a covid recovery placing a further squeeze on business profitability.” Recession warnings are mounting, with households on course to suffer the worst annual fall in real disposable income since the 1950s. Inflation will run at more than 10% later this year, interest rates are rising, and fiscal policy through tax and spending will also turn restrictive. The BCC expects that the economy will struggle to rebound with growth rising by only 0.6% in 2023 and 1.2% the year after. Despite government incentives to boost business investment through the super-deduction tax break, the BCC says capital spending has shown “no sign of recovery since the start of the covid pandemic”. Total business investment is expected to grow only 1.8% this year, a sharp downward revision from the 3.5% forecast by the BCC earlier this year. “The downgrade reflects heightened political and economic uncertainty, and rising cost pressures which are limiting smaller firms’ abilities to invest,” the BCC says.

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