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Tue 10th Jan 2023 - Robert B. Cook steps down as Hostmore CEO, revenue 14% below comparative FY19 period
Robert B. Cook steps down as Hostmore CEO, revenue 14% below comparative FY19 period: Robert B. Cook has stepped down as chief executive of Hostmore, the parent company of Fridays, 63rd+1st and Fridays and Go, with immediate effect. Julie McEwan, currently chief operating officer of Fridays, has been appointed interim chief executive. McEwan joined Fridays in February 2022, and prior to that was at Big Table Group, latterly as brand director of Las Iguanas. She has previously held management roles at Spirit Pub Company, Premier Inn and Whitbread. An external and internal process to find a long-term successor to Cook is underway. Gavin Manson, chairman of Hostmore, said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Robert for his efforts as chief executive over the past three years, particularly in steering the business through the covid pandemic and in rebuilding the executive team, and we wish him well for the future. We are pleased that Julie has accepted the role of interim chief executive, given her strong sector experience and operational strengths. Together, we look forward to focusing on the group’s priorities and building on its strengths in the weeks and months ahead.” Cook added: “I wish to extend my sincere gratitude and thanks to the board and the executive team for their support in my three years at the helm, and, most importantly, to thank all the team in the restaurants who pull on the red and white stripes every day and do such a sterling job for the brand.” The move comes as Hostmore announced a trading update for the 26 weeks ended 1 January 2023, in which revenue, on a statutory like-for-like basis, continued at 14% below the comparative FY19 period. The company generated revenue in December 2022 of £21.3m, slightly more than December 2021’s revenue of £21.2m. After adjusting for the government’s temporary decrease in value added tax during December 2021, which had the effect of increasing revenue, like-for-like revenue in December 2022 was only 1% below December 2021. The company’s consolidated net bank debt (pre-IFRS 16) at the year-end was £29.5m, which has improved from the company’s prior guidance of £32.5m for the quarter ended 2 October 2022.

Next edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book to feature 692 companies: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, will feature 692 companies. The Blue Book, which will sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (13 January), shows almost 60% of the companies are now in profit. The Blue Book shows 406 companies in profit and 286 reporting losses. The Blue Book is updated each month and ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. Propel is to add a fifth major database to its Premium service this month. The Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will be the first time full profiles of the UK’s top 700 food and beverage operators will be available in one place. The companies, listed in alphabetical order, will have their most recent results reported as well as broader information around Ebitda, plans and trading style available. The database has taken 16 months to pull together, merging Companies House information, interviews and other public information to provide an easy to reference and exhaustive guide to the sector. 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. Premium subscribers are also to be given exclusive access to the recording and slides to Propel Multi-Club Conferences. 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 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.

UKHospitality – lower level of energy support will cost sector businesses a further £4.5bn: UKHospitality has said the lower level of energy support from April, announced by the government last night, will cost sector businesses a further £4.5bn. Under the new scheme, which will run until March 2024, firms will get a discount on wholesale prices rather than their costs being capped as under the current one. Heavy energy-using sectors such as manufacturers will get a larger discount than others, but firms paying under a certain price for their energy wholesale will not get support. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “While I’m relieved the chancellor has listened to UKHospitality’s concerns and extended the scheme as a whole, the absence of a sector-specific package that helps vulnerable sectors like hospitality will still result in higher bills. Our analysis shows the new, lower level of support will see a total £4.5bn hike in bills for the sector compared to the previous scheme. This will simply be unsustainable for many. With no further, dedicated support for a vulnerable sector like hospitality, I’d urge the government to consider other measures it can take to help the sector.” She added: “Now we have some clarity on the future of energy support, we must see a concerted change in behaviour by energy suppliers, who have been unfairly treating businesses with outlandish quotes and unjustifiable demands for enormous deposits or pre-payments. Government must act swiftly if this is not forthcoming. This scheme is a significant investment from the government and energy suppliers should not be using that as an excuse to hike up prices. The Ofgem review into the non-domestic market should serve as a wake-up call to suppliers that now is the time to be reasonable with the quotes they’re offering and to abandon unfair demands of businesses to secure fixed deals. They should also consider allowing businesses to renegotiate if they are stuck on previously agreed, inflated fixed deals.” Michael Kill executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said: “The announcement once again outlines how out of touch the government are with businesses. Even under the current relief scheme, greedy, profiteering energy companies are subjecting businesses to over 400% increase on previous energy bills. All of this in light of the fact that gas/oil wholesale prices in recent months have dropped below the levels prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The scaling back of the energy relief scheme by government at the end of April, will without doubt mean thousands of businesses and jobs will be lost in the coming months.” Clive Watson, chairman of the City Pub Group, added: “At times, we have to close pubs at certain parts of the day because it’s just not worth it, given the increases in energy costs we’re having to pay. It’s great that energy prices are slowing down, but that’s just not coming through in the bills just yet. My long-term planning is on hold because of the short-term risks.”

‘World’s best restaurant’ to close: Noma in Copenhagen, consistently ranked as the world’s best restaurant, is to close. The three Michelin-starred venue, which first opened in the Danish capital in 2003, reopening in 2018 after shutting in 2016, has topped the World’s Best Restaurants list a record-breaking five times – most recently in 2021. But it has announced it will close as a restaurant at the end of 2024 and reinvent itself as a food laboratory. Chef Rene Redzepi admitted it can no longer afford to pay its 100 staff fairly – the move coming just three months after the restaurant began to pay its interns for the first time. “Financially and emotionally, as an employer and as a human being, it just doesn’t work,” said Redzepi. “We have to completely rethink the industry. This is simply too hard, and we have to work in a different way.” It is not the first time the restaurant has had to reinvent itself. Forced to close repeatedly for more than six months during the pandemic, it transformed into a burger and wine bar for a month in the summer of 2020. An Instagram, post from the restaurant said: “To continue being Noma, we must change...Winter 2024 will be the last season of Noma as we know it. We are beginning a new chapter. In 2025, our restaurant is transforming into a giant lab, a pioneering test kitchen dedicated to the work of food innovation and the development of new flavours, one that will share the fruits of our efforts more widely than ever before. Serving guests will still be a part of who we are but being a restaurant will no longer define us. Much of our time will be spent on exploring new projects and developing many more ideas and products.” While Noma will be stopping its regular service, the dining rooms will be opened for occasional pop-ups. The restaurant announced last year that it would open for a stint in Kyoto for two months this year, from 15 March to 20 May.

Manchester group returns to profit as revenue outstrips pre-pandemic levels: Manchester-based hospitality company Elle R Leisure has reported a return to pre-pandemic levels of trading in its accounts for the year ended 31 March 2022. The independent company, which operates four Albert’s restaurants, three hotels and a large city centre bar, reported a turnover of £20,181,271 – a huge increase on the March 2021 figure of £5,357,950 – with a pre-tax profit of £4,490,211 (2021: loss of £418,075). The turnover figure represents an increase on the last pre-pandemic result of £18,911,121 in the year to March 2020. No dividends were paid. In a statement accompanying the accounts, director Beth Adams said: “On a like-for-like basis, the company’s operation of public houses, restaurants and hotels has seen revenues increased back to before the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic. Through careful and continued cost management and the limited use of government grants, the profit margins have been maintained. The results for the year ended 31 March 2023 are expected to show a strong result although the directors anticipate that the current economic situation will impact the results.”

West Sussex-based brewery exceeds £150,000 crowdfunding target to aid expansion: West Sussex-based family-run brewery Lister’s has exceeded the £150,000 target on its latest campaign, to aid its expansion plans, on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. Lister’s, founded by the Waite family at Ford, near Arundel, is offering 18.87% equity in return for the investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £6.7m. With 12 days left, it has raised £155,083 from 209 investors as it looks to grow its distribution, sales software and sales team, expand its gin and tonic range and develop its crisps and bar snacks. The company said it had a record third quarter in 2022, with sales reaching £100,000, making for an operating profit of £58,000. It now has direct distribution to 40 countries, with its own route to market, and has seen sales grow 93% from £104,000 in the first half of 2021 to £202,000 in the first half of 2022. A company spokesman said: “We are so pleased to have hit our target and to be overfunding. We have also just had two new gin flavours delivered, ready to be delivered to our customers.” In 2021, Lister’s raised more than £100,000 to expand its sales team and distribution network, increase its brewery capacity and develop anaerobic digestion technology to help power the brewery. This followed a £75,000 fundraise in 2020, as it moved its operations to the Angmering Park Estate.

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