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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 13th Oct 2022 - Update: Bill’s appoints Tom James as new MD, analyst downgrades TRG
Bill’s promotes Tom James to managing director: Bill’s, the Richard Caring-backed restaurant group, has promoted Tom James, formerly of Jamie’s Italian, Strada and Coppa Club, to managing director, Propel understands. James joined Bill’s last November as its new director of operations, from Harbour Hotels Group. Previous to that he was director of operations at Coppa Club and operations director at Strada. He also spent more than six years as a regional director at Jamie’s Italian. Propel reported last month that Bill’s, the Richard had closed a further handful of sites across the country. At the end of last year, the company confirmed it had closed 14 sites after a review of its portfolio, leaving it with a 62-strong estate spread across the UK. Over the summer, speculation has increased that the company had placed a number of sites on the market or surrendered leases back to landlords, with some suggesting this included sites that had already been closed, such as those in Plymouth and London’s Holborn. It subsequently closed another handful of sites, including those in Epsom, Durham, Muswell Hill and Welwyn Garden City, leaving it with a 55-strong estate. The brand’s website now lists 51 restaurants currently operating, with its site in Leicester’s Shires Lane closing permanently earlier this week. The company declined to comment on the closures.

Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book to feature updated accounts for 35 companies, another 18 businesses added: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, will feature updated accounts for 35 companies. Premium subscribers will receive the latest edition of the Blue Book tomorrow (Friday, 14 October), at midday. Another 18 companies have been added, taking the total to 638. The Blue Book shows more sector companies are making a profit than a loss for the first time since the pandemic. While total losses of £5.4bn are being reported by 314 companies, a further 324 sector companies are reporting total profits of £1.7bn. They are turning over a collective £32.3bn. 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 access to three other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate, the New Openings Database, and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database. 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.

Berenberg downgrades The Restaurant Group, cites lack of positive catalysts: Analysts at Berenberg downgraded The Restaurant Group (TRG), the owner of Wagamama, yesterday to ‘Hold’ from ‘Buy’ and slashed the price target to 35p from 65p. On a three-year view, the bank still expects TRG shares to perform well, as some cost pressures such as energy reverse, competitors exit the market, the consumer recovers, and the company ultimately “benefits from being a survivor”. However, in the short term, Berenberg noted that huge energy inflation has driven large earnings downgrades, meaning that the shares still do not look cheap. “With few positive catalysts ahead, we downgrade our rating to hold,” it said. Berenberg analyst Owen Shirley said: “While TRG blamed the heatwave and a moderation in delivery sales for the marked slowdown in like-for-like sales growth across its divisions in Q3, we have some concerns that this may also be an early indicator of a softening trend in demand, which is not currently baked into consensus.” The downgrade pushed the TRG shares down 2p, or 6.3%, to close at 30.25p yesterday. 

High-end Italian restaurant to make UK debut with opening at new hotel in London’s Whitehall: High-end Italian restaurant Paper Moon is to make its UK debut. Paper Moon has been confirmed as the latest restaurant that will be part of The OWO, the new high-end hotel set to open in London’s Whitehall in late 2022. Paper Moon hails from Milan, with the original opening in 1977 and it also has restaurants in Doha, The Algarve, Hong Kong as well as Istanbul and Bodrum in Turkey. The space in London is being designed around the look of an Italian house, reports Hot Dinners. Paper Moon offers dishes such as fritto misto, ravioli with burrata and shrimps; and linguine with lobster and bisque sauce. There will also be a bar offering daily aperitivi alongside traditional Italian cocktails with a modern twist. The OWO will be home to nine restaurants, three of which will be operated by Mauro Colagreco, holder of three Michelin stars at his restaurant Mirazur on the French Riviera.

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