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Thu 17th Nov 2022 - Update: Fuller’s sees lfl sales up 13% in recent trading, helped by a strong performance in central London
Fuller’s sees lfl sales up 13% in recent trading, helped by a strong performance in central London: Fuller’s has reported a 13% increase in like-for-like sales for the seven weeks to 12 November 2022 versus the prior year, helped by like-for-like sales growth of 20% across central London, as it said it was well-placed to deliver long-term growth, despite the challenging environment. The Simon Emeny-led company said revenues grew to £168.9m in the 26 weeks to 24 September 2022 (H1 2022: £116.3m), with like-for-like sales up 20% compared to the prior year, with central London growing by 67%. The business said that adjusted pre-tax profit for the half year increased to £9.8m (H1 2022: £4.6m) as the benefit of the sales recovery exceeded inflationary increases in the cost base. In the group’s Managed Pubs and Hotels business, like-for-like sales grew by 20% compared with the prior year, with total sales increasing by 47%. Compared to pre-pandemic levels (PY-2), like-for-like sales were at 96%, as momentum in the City grew over the period. For the seven weeks post period end they are at 101%. The company said: “While overall Ebitda was £28.9 million, it is worth noting that Ebitda for the Managed Pubs and Hotels business was £30m, which represents an increase of 18% from prior year (H1 2022: £25.4m). However, Ebitda margin fell from 24.3% to 19.5%. This is predominately for three reasons. The VAT rate on food and accommodation has increased from 5% in the prior period to 20% in the current period, utilities has increased by £3.1m from the prior year, equating to a 2% decline in margin, and thirdly, in the prior year we received a number of grants from the government as well as a business rates holiday for part of the period. On a like for like basis, Ebitda margin would have been 24.8% compared with the prior year of 24.3% however, given the nature of the adjustments, the current reported margin is more reflective of future expectations for margins.” The company’s Tenanted Inns revenue grew from £11.9m to £15.1m in the current period representing a 27% increase in sales. Ebitda margin also improved from 47.1% to 51.7%. It said: “The low-cost base of the Tenanted Division means that it is a highly profitable part of the group and continues to trade strongly despite the economic backdrop.” The company reported central costs were £9.2m in the period which was an increase of £700,000 on the prior period, mainly due to increased payroll costs as recruitment was paused during lockdowns. While the quantum of central costs was up, the percentage to overall revenue was down from the prior period at 5.4% (H1 2022: 7.3%). During the period, the group refinanced all its banking facilities and agreed a new unsecured banking facility of £200m, split between a revolving credit facility of £110m and a term loan of £90m. These facilities have been agreed for a tenure of four years through to May 2026. It also reported continued strong performance in its hotels with revenue per available room (RevPAR) increasing by 17% against H1 2020 to £94.65. Its net debt is £129.2m (H1 2022: £131.5m) with the cash generated by the business funding investment in the estate and returns to shareholders. The company said that Christmas bookings are strong and that it expected an additional uplift from the World Cup. It said that its digital transformation work had been completed with new look websites and enhanced consumer marketing capability. The business said it was implementing a wide range of energy reduction initiatives as part of its “Life is too good to waste programme”, and that it had maintained investment in its estate, with £12m invested in the period to enhance capital values and drive further growth. Across the estate, it plans to invest £500,000 over the next 12 months delivering a wide range of energy saving measures which it expects to reduce consumption by 5% per annum and save over £600,000 in the first year alone. Emeny said: “Following on from a good first half performance, we have maintained our forward momentum in the seven weeks post the period end, with like for like sales up by 13% against the same period last year. As commuters return to their offices and international tourists once again visit the capital, our central London and City sites have seen like for like sales for the first seven weeks of the second half rise by 20% against the prior year, despite the impact of tube and train strikes. While we look forward to our first Christmas free of restrictions for three years, and the added bonus of a FIFA World Cup, we are trading in an increasingly challenging environment. Cost pressures from energy bills, wage and food inflation, and increasing interest rates continue to impact us and all businesses in the hospitality sector. Our teams are working hard to manage these pressures, while ensuring we continue to deliver an outstanding experience for our customers. We are a long-term business, with excellent foundations both in terms of the strength of our balance sheet and our predominately freehold estate, and we have the talent, desire and drive to deliver future growth and success.”

Premium subscribers to receive videos and slides from this month’s Propel Multi-Club Conference: Premium subscribers are to be given exclusive access to the recording and slides from this month’s Propel Multi-Club Conference. The videos will be sent on Wednesday, 30 November, at 9am. They will include Tim Shield, partner at John Gaunt & Partners; James Hacon, founder of Think Hospitality; Greg Ilsen, co-founder of SushiDog; Burgerism co-founder Mark Murphy; Bob & Berts co-founder Colin McClean; James Lipscombe, founder of The Chesterford Group; Roy Ellis, founder of Mission Mars; Alex Reilley, co-founder and chairman of Loungers; Nick Crossley, chief executive of Turtle Bay; Christian Haas, managing director UK & Ireland at YO!; and Stephen Owens, managing director – pubs and restaurants at Christie & CoAndrew Ball, of Haysmacintyre, leads a panel discussion on the sector investment landscape with serial sector investor Luke Johnson; Darrel Connell, of Imbiba; Steve Kenee, former chief investment officer at Oakman Inns and Restaurants; and Robin Rowland, of TriSpan. Meanwhile, Mark Stretton talks to Stephen Owens, managing director – pubs and restaurants at Christie & Co; Jon Lake, managing director of Chopstix; Julian Reilly, property and franchise development director at Creams; and Popeyes property director Tom Byng about the property landscape. Premium subscribers will also receive the latest edition of the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database on Tuesday (22 November), at midday. It will provide insight on the offer, locations, cost and other key details of 170 companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and feature more than 75,000 words of content. Premium subscribers also receive access to The New Openings Database; the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; and the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group. 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 Friday Wrap interviews and 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. They 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.

London districts to receive night time economy cash boost: City Hall has announced Bromley, Vauxhall and Woolwich as recipients of a new cash pot to boost London’s high streets at night time and help businesses stay open for longer into the night. The Mayor of London’s office said a £500,000 fund would boost the economies of these parts of the capital after 6pm with a package of events and business support, reports City AM. Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Harrow and Islington will also receive extra cash to come up with ideas to make licensing easier for venues. Funding will go towards making high streets more accessible and inclusive after dark, such as extending business opening hours and adding to the array of activities available in the evenings. Bromley, Lambeth and Greenwich boroughs will each be awarded £130,000 through the partnership, with the London Economic Action Partnership (LEAP). City Hall launched a pilot of the scheme in Waltham Forest in 2019, extending opening times, boosting promotion and launching, which saw footfall increase on Walthamstow High Street by 22%. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said the new enterprise zones would “bring innovative ideas” to support local areas at night, and to businesses “struggling due to the spiralling cost of doing business and the lasting impact of the pandemic”.

Warning rail strikes could continue for further six months: Rail union leaders have received a mandate to continue a campaign of strike action for another six months. The Rail, Maritime and Transport workers’ union (RMT) said that more than nine in ten members backed further walkouts across Network Rail, the owner of tracks and stations, as well as 14 train operating companies, reports The Telegraph. Unions called off strike action at the start of November, which has been followed by a period of “intensive negotiations” between them and rail chiefs. Mick Lynch, RMT general secretary, said the results of Wednesday’s ballot endorsed the union’s plans to go on strike again if necessary. He said: “The National Executive Committee will now look at these fantastic results and negotiations will continue with Network Rail and the train operating companies. This union is determined to continue with this campaign until the employers understand that they need to respond to our members’ aspirations on job security, pay and working conditions.” Strike action by drivers’ union Aslef is due to go ahead on Saturday, 26 November. Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, said: “The only way to solve this dispute, for both our people and our passengers, is around the negotiating table, which is why we look forward to continuing intensive talks in the days ahead, with the hope of finding a breakthrough and an amicable solution for all.”

New poll shows majority of Londoners opposed to ULEZ expansion: London mayor Sadiq Khan is under fresh pressure to drop his expansion of the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) as a new polling reveals the majority of Londoners oppose it. Around 60% of Londoners said they oppose the expansion across all of Greater London, according to a YouGov survey conducted on behalf of Conservative party members of the Greater London Assembly. The results, seen by The Telegraph, contrast sharply with a separate YouGov poll, conducted on behalf of the mayor in October, which found 51% of people supported widening ULEZ across Greater London. A consultation on expanding the zone closed at the end of July. A vote is now due to take place in City Hall today (Thursday, 17 November) on whether to support the public consultation’s findings. The results are then expected to be published in the coming days, with a final decision expected to be made by as early as next week. Nick Rogers AM, GLA Conservatives transport spokesman, said: “This poll reaffirms what we and the mayor already know: an overwhelming majority of Londoners are opposed to Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion. It would be devastating for small businesses and low-income families. London Assembly members must vote to stop Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion today.”

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