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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 15th Dec 2022 - Update: Admiral Taverns reports FY turnover of £152.8m on back of successful integration of Hawthorn Leisure
Admiral Taverns reports FY turnover of £152.8m on back of successful integration of Hawthorn Leisure: Admiral Taverns, the Proprium-backed business, which operates circa 1,550 predominantly wet-led community pubs, has reported group turnover of £152.8m for the year to 29 May 2022 (2021: £40.2m), on the back of the successful integration of Hawthorn Leisure. Operating profit for the year stood at £21.2m (2021: £3.7m), with a loss after tax of £6.6m (2021: £5.2m) and underlying profit after tax of £3.6m. The company said that its pubs traded ahead of management’s expectations through September 2022, helped by “buoyant drink sales from the tenanted pub estate”. It said that current trading demonstrating resilience of the sector and it was well-positioned to weather the storms of macroeconomic headwinds. The company invested £28m in capex over the year, delivering on FY21 commitments to invest in capex across the estate with a total of £50m invested in last two years. The group’s estate valuation stood at £589.8m at the year end, reflecting the acquisition of the Hawthorn portfolio with 64 disposals during the period resulting in a total estate of 1,547 pubs at the financial year end. During the year the company said it successfully launched inaugural sustainability strategy and £1m was invested into energy saving measures. It also established short, medium, and long-term strategies to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions throughout the business. It said that current trading demonstrating resilience of the sector and it was well-positioned to weather the storms of macroeconomic headwinds. Chris Jowsey, chief executive of Admiral Taverns, said: “Our highly supportive and proactive measures to protect our licensees during the pandemic have enabled the business to recover quickly and I’m pleased to see most pubs returning to pre-2019 trading levels. The Hawthorn acquisition was a transformational event for the business, and I am delighted to have successfully completed the integration of these pubs into our estate, welcoming a number of new colleagues and licensees into the group. The current economic environment creates a challenging backdrop for our publicans, but our community based, wet-led pubs continue to demonstrate their resilience, and are well situated within their communities to provide affordable hospitality. We have a passionate belief in the value of community pubs and have delivered several strategic initiatives to support licensees through this period, including our £1m investment into energy saving measures and £28m capex investment across the year. As we look to the future, we continue to focus on our strategic plans to acquire, develop and maintain a high-quality estate of successful, individual wet-led community pubs at the heart of their communities. We remain optimistic that our supportive model, and high-quality estate of pubs puts us in a good position to trade through this challenging macroeconomic environment and continue to make progress against our long-term strategy.” Admiral completed its acquisition of rival pubco, the 674-strong Hawthorn from property investor NewRiver in a £222.3m deal last August.

Nightcap grants share options to employees: Nightcap – the owner of The Cocktail Club, the Adventure Bar Group and the Barrio Familia group of bars – has announced that it has granted a total of 2,690,000 share options to a number of the group’s employees. The options have been granted pursuant to Nightcap’s existing share option plans, and include grants under the Company Share Option Plan (CSOP) and the grant of unapproved options. All of the options have been granted on the same terms. The company said that 1,500,000 options have been granted to Elizabeth Hills and Thomas Kidd who are persons discharging managerial responsibilities. The other 1,190,000 options have been granted to group employees. All of the options have been granted with an exercise price of 10p, representing a premium of 17.6% to the closing mid-market share price on 14 December 2022. The company said: “The options will become exercisable from the third anniversary of the grants until the tenth anniversary of the date of the grant, but will only be exercisable when and if the company was profitable in the prior accounting year (for these purposes, ‘profitable’ means taking the company’s reported consolidated profit before tax for the relevant prior accounting year and adding back interest, depreciation and amortisation, exceptional items and non-recurring costs).” Following these option grants, Nightcap’s entire option pool is now equivalent to 12.16% of the company’s issued ordinary share capital.

Soho Estates hot properties paying off for sisters: Profits at Soho Estates, the property group founded by the late Paul Raymond, rose sixfold in its latest financial year following another increase in the value of its estate, which has topped £1.1bn. The Times reports the group, which is controlled by Raymond’s two granddaughters, owns dozens of offices, shops and restaurants in central London. Soho spans 87 acres – Soho Estates is thought to own about 60 of them. Fawn James, a director at Soho Estates, and India Rose James, inherited the property empire of their grandfather following his death in 2008. Soho Estates, which is managed by their father, John, and chaired by Steven Norris, the former Conservative minister, turned a pre-tax profit of £108.9m for the 12 months to the end of March this year, up from £19m last time around. Much of the increase came from an £88m rise in the value of the group’s property portfolio, which stands at £1.16bn, according to the latest accounts filed with Companies House this week. The biggest driver of the portfolio’s increased valuation was Ilona Rose House, on which building work finished over the summer. Soho Estates has moved into the top floor of the building, while other tenants, including Warner Bros and Skyscanner, will join early in the new year. Soho Estates’ rental income fell 16% to £29.5m in the year just gone, down from £35.3m. The company said that the fall reflected an accounting technicality relating to the rent-free periods that it gave to some tenants during the pandemic. During the lockdowns Soho Estates wrote off £9m worth of rent owed by some of its struggling tenants. It also offered to defer another £12m of rent for up to three years. “With the opening of the Elizabeth Line, more pedestrians can access all that Soho has to offer and consumer spending has almost reached the levels seen in 2019,” John James said. He added that the group “will do the utmost as landlords” to help tenants through the looming recession.

Company insolvencies soar amid economic gloom: Company insolvencies last month were 35% higher than in the last pre-pandemic November, the clearest sign yet that economic strife is taking its toll on businesses. The Times reports there were 2,029 corporate insolvencies in England and Wales last month, which was also 21% higher than a year before. Compulsory liquidations, a form of insolvency that follows a court winding-up order, were five times higher than last year and 7% higher than November 2019. The government’s Insolvency Service, which issued the figures, said compulsory liquidations had increased from historic lows during the pandemic, partly as a result of an increase in winding-up petitions presented by HM Revenue & Customs. Compulsory liquidation figures were driven up by Barclays. The bank lay behind 95 winding-up petitions as it pursued businesses that it suspects of misusing emergency pandemic schemes. It also issued 45 petitions in October. The increase in overall figures in recent months has largely been caused by a rise in creditors’ voluntary liquidations, a form of insolvency used by companies with no ongoing business in order to sell remaining assets, return available funds to creditors and close down. There were 1,595 such liquidations in November, a 5% rise on the previous year and 50% higher than November 2019. Creditors’ voluntary liquidations are running at close to record highs. Administrations and company voluntary arrangements, procedures often used to rescue struggling companies, have been edging up but remain lower than before the pandemic. Christina Fitzgerald, president of R3, the insolvency and restructuring trade body, said: “What we’re seeing here is a perfect storm of creditors pursuing unpaid debts and directors choosing to close down their businesses – either before this choice is taken away from them or because they have simply run out of road. An increasing number of businesses are buckling under the strain of more than two and a half years of economic turmoil. Companies have been battered by the pandemic, rising costs, reduced spending and increasing inflation, and a growing number are now turning to an insolvency process to resolve their financial distress.”

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