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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 29th Jun 2022 - Update: Greene King report on sector jobs, Shepherd Neame trading update, 92 Degrees investment, Diageo, food prices
Young people should see bar jobs as important as university degrees: Young people must stop turning their noses up at working in bars to help ease the jobs crisis, according to a report backed by ministers. The Telegraph reports that Greene King has called for training in bar and restaurant skills to be given an equal footing to university degrees in career advice as the hospitality industry struggles with record job vacancies. A survey of almost 2,000 young people commissioned by the pub chain found that nearly half think that the hospitality sector does not offer good career development opportunities, while a fifth believe that a career in hospitality is viewed negatively by society. It also found that three in five young people do not believe there are enough promising job opportunities in their area. Greene King will pledge to challenge such “misconceptions” as it launches a report on how pubs can “untap potential” to fill job vacancies, provide training and support communities. Neil O’Brien, the minister for levelling up, and Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP and chairman of the education select committee are among politicians backing the initiative. O’Brien said: “Pubs are the lifeblood of our communities, providing a key hub for relaxing, socialising and working and Greene King’s report and commitments are an amazing example of levelling up in action.” The report is due to be launched by Nadhim Zahawi, the education secretary, later today. Greene King, which employs 39,000 people, has around 3,000 job vacancies, of which 650 are for apprentices. It has pledged to take on 5,000 apprentices and 300 prison leavers by 2025, with opportunities across the country to work in its pubs, hotels, offices, breweries and depots. Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, said: “We need to change how people perceive jobs in hospitality. It is incredibly disheartening to see that nearly half of young people don’t view hospitality as offering them good career development opportunities.” He told The Telegraph that pursuing a career in bars and restaurants should be regarded as highly as training in STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths-related] skills. He said that while young people can “start off at a very low level in hospitality, doing an important job, but one that might not be classed on the same level as an engineering apprenticeship...actually over time, your ability to progress to much more senior levels [in hospitality] is second to none in terms of what industries can deliver”.

Two days to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, 50 business being added: A total of 50 new multi-site companies, operating 323 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday (1 July), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes growing experiential concepts, regional restaurant and pub operators and expanding hotel brands. Premium subscribers will also receive a 4,500-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, 8 July, 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 18,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to 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 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 second edition featured 120 companies, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details. The second edition provides almost 47,000 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.

Shepherd Neame – overall trading in line with expectations: Kent-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has reported that since the resumption of restriction-free trading, it has performed “well with encouraging demand”. The business, which operates 299 pubs in Kent and the south east, said that overall trading for the 52 weeks to 25 June 2022 has been “in line with expectations”. It said: “Cash generation has been strong and net debt reduced to the lowest level since 2018. The company has emerged from the pandemic strongly and is actively pursuing opportunities again to invest and grow. Retail sales have been encouraging since our last update, with our coastal pubs and hotels, in particular, benefitting from their unique locations and great outside space. Our Central London pubs are still to see a full recovery but footfall is improving. Same outlet like-for-like retail sales for the six weeks to 25 June vs 2021 were up +13.0%. This compares directly with the period from which indoor trading was allowed again on 17 May 2021. Same outlet like-for-like retail sales for the six weeks to 25 June vs 2019 were down -4.1%. Income levels in the tenanted estate have continued to rise versus 20211, although volumes are lower than pre-pandemic. Own beer volumes in all channels for the six weeks to 25 June vs 2021 were up +2.0%. Own beer volumes in all channels for the six weeks to 25 June vs 2019 were down -3.0%. The inflationary environment is challenging, with high costs in utility, energy related products and in our supply chain. We have long-term fixed price contracts in place for certain items, and are taking mitigating action in other areas, through menu management and price increases to soften the impact. We are also choosing to invest more in areas such as property, marketing and people development for the long-term strength of the company.” The business said that its net debt (excluding IFRS 16 lease liabilities) has reduced “significantly” in the last year with strong cashflow, tight cost control and reduction in capital projects. Since its peak in December 2020, total indebtedness has reduced from £96.5m to £75.3m, the lowest level since 2018. The company confirmed that Jonathon Swaine, formerly of Fullers and Rank Group, joined it as its new managing director, pubs and was appointed to the board on 28 June. Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame said: “Since covid restrictions have been lifted, we have been encouraged by levels of demand and are enjoying strong performance across our business. In spite of external economic headwinds, we remain optimistic that we will continue to see similar levels of demand across the summer. We are very pleased to welcome Jonathon Swaine to the team at a time when we are recommencing investment in our pub estate. We are mindful of the many challenges ahead, but the business and our team have demonstrated extraordinary levels of resilience in the last two years, and we have no doubt we have the skills and platform to find opportunities to grow and develop in the future.”

92 Degrees to open eight more sites after £1.4m investment: Liverpool-based independent coffee roaster 92 Degrees is set to continue its expansion after securing £1.4m of private investment. Chief executive Jack Brewitt founded 92 Degrees in 2014 with a single coffee shop and roastery in Liverpool city centre. Today, he oversees more than 100 staff at 11 sites throughout the UK, from Edinburgh to London. He has also launched a series of popular coffee products online and a monthly in-person subscription service, which has helped to double the scale of the business over the past six months alone. The brand was originally looking for £920,000, but has ended its funding round with an impressive 52% more. Brewitt told Business Live: “We’ve literally roasted billions of beans and sold them across the world to rapidly become known as a nationally recognised independent coffee company. This investment will really help us to accelerate the growth that we have been witnessing over the last three years through the pandemic and cement our future plans.” He added: “We are a community united by our love for all things coffee, working with, and fighting for, each other at every opportunity as we progress towards our shared goals. Since day one, 92 Degrees’ motivation has been to bring our experience to as many communities as possible and to unite everyone, everywhere, with our love of coffee. This company values and supports the communities that we are part of, and we have learned that recruiting and developing local talent in parallel to championing local suppliers is a winning combination.” The investment will lead to a further eight sites, including in Scotland, Manchester, Liverpool and London. He added: “We have targeted doubling our store locations each year for the next two years and we are on track to close 2022 with at least 15 store locations. We will also be completing the development phase of our canned coffees and moving to implement our ambitious retail market strategy. We are already actively seeking and negotiating sites for 2023, when we will be increasing to 30 stores and working to unify our online and in-person experience, giving greater user accessibility via our app for instore and online guests. Furthermore, we are developing a very similar experience for our partner businesses via our trade division.”

Diageo calls time on its Russian arm: Diageo, the drinks company, will wind down its operations in Russia over the next six months, becoming the latest western brand to withdraw. The Times reports however, the company, which makes Smirnoff vodka and stopped shipping to and selling goods in Russia in March, will retain a business licence there that requires a few staff to remain. Once the process of winding down is complete, it will have fewer than ten employees in the country. Foreign businesses seeking to pull out Russia because of the war in Ukraine are speeding up their departure in advance of a proposed law that would allow Moscow to seize assets and impose criminal penalties. Diageo’s shares rose by 24½p, or 0.7%, to £36.80. Stocks of foreign alcohol brands have started to dwindle in Russia, leaving shoppers with less choice and higher prices. In early March, the leading western brewer in the country, Carlsberg, as well as Anheuser-Busch InBev and Heineken, suspended sales in Russia. They have since said they will sell their Russian businesses.

Fertiliser and food behind rapid rise in shop prices: Shop prices rose at their fastest pace in 14 years this month as the rising cost of materials such as fertiliser continued to push up the price of food. The Times reports prices in the shops increased at a rate of 3.1% in the year to June, up from 2.8% in May, in an early indication that the rise in food prices will continue to fuel inflation this month. Food and petrol prices were the main drivers of the rise in inflation to a 40-year high of 9.1% in May. Inflation is expected to peak at above 11% in October when households receive their energy bills. The Bank of England expects it to remain above 9% until then. The monthly index, which was calculated by the British Retail Consortium and NielsenIQ based on prices between 1-7 June, found that shop prices were rising at their fastest pace since September 2008, driven by the cost of fresh food, which has been hit by the rising price of raw materials and production. Inflation in fresh food such as cheese, fruit and vegetables hit 6.2% in June, up from 4.5% in May. The average rate of inflation among these products over the last year was 2.2% The shop price index is based on a basket of 500 essential goods, half of which are food items. It does not include utilities, fuel or any other categories that are included in calculating the consumer price index, the headline measure of inflation. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Last month households and businesses were hit by the highest rate of inflation since the 1980s as near-record commodity prices in energy, transport and food filtered through the supply chain. Food prices rose sharply, particularly for fresh foods such as cheese, which has been affected by the spiralling costs of fertiliser and animal feed.”

Prestige Purchasing and CGA launch new digital hub to track foodservice prices: CGA by NielsenIQ and Prestige Purchasing have announced the creation of the Foodservice Price Index Digital Portal, which will launch this August to help businesses monitor the latest developments in food and beverage pricing. The new online hub gives users on-demand access to accurate pricing data, with an array of features to interpret trends and improve decision-making. It is the latest evolution of the monthly Foodservice Price Index, which fuses CGA’s extensive data collection from suppliers with Prestige Purchasing’s expert analysis. The service provides the UK’s largest set of foodservice transaction data, flags movements in various key food and beverage categories and forecasts future developments. The launch of the new portal comes during a prolonged period of high inflation, and meets an urgent need for agile and up-to-the-minute analysis. It will support purchasing teams’ negotiations on pricing, help finance leaders to measure price movements against market trends, and assist board directors and shareholders in their strategic planning. Prestige Purchasing chief executive Shaun Allen said: “Inflation in the foodservice sector has hit double digits for four months in a row now, with further rises expected throughout the year. Our new digital portal will allow subscribers to the index to manage their menus and supplier spend more effectively, as the data and insight will be available to them far quicker than the traditional report. We are extremely pleased to be able to offer this new and dynamic platform to new and current subscribers at no additional cost.” Karl Chessell, director – Hospitality Operators and Food, EMEA at CGA, said: “Inflationary pressures across foodservice, hospitality and catering are heavier than they have been for years, so businesses need quick and easy access to the latest developments and trends. The Foodservice Price Index Digital Portal is designed to help leaders act nimbly to manage their costs and plan for the months ahead. It’s a great example of how collaboration on data and insight can support the industry during challenging times.”

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