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Tue 7th Mar 2023 - Update: Greggs, Revolution Bars, Pret A Manger and The Restaurant Group
Greggs lfl sales up 18.8% in first nine weeks of 2023, strongest growing daypart is now post-4pm: Food-to-go retailer Greggs has said it started 2023 well, with like-for-like sales in company-managed shops growing by 18.8% in the first nine weeks, in line with its expectations. Total sales for the 52 weeks to 31 December 2022 increased by 23% to £1.513bn (2021: £1.23bn), with like-for-like sales in company-managed shops up 17.8% year-on-year. Pre-tax profit in the year increased 1.9% to £148.3m (2021: £145.6m), which it said reflected “strong sales growth in the face of significant cost inflation and the removal of government pandemic support”. The business opened a record 186 new shops (including 70 franchised units) in 2022 and closed 39, growing the estate to 2,328 shops as at 31 December 2022, 441 of which are franchised shops operated by its partners, mainly in roadside locations. The company said: “Our ambition is to have significantly more than 3,000 shops across the UK, and we are expanding in new locations to achieve this – setting up shops inside supermarkets, in travel hubs like airports and railway stations, as well as in retail parks and shopping centres. The versatility of our shop format is one of our greatest strengths, operating in anything from a kiosk to a full-service drive-thru unit. We relocated 25 existing shops to better sites in 2022, allowing us to increase coffee shop seating as well as expand our food preparation space so we can meet the demand of our home delivery and click + collect services. In addition, we refurbished 73 existing company-managed shops and 13 franchised shops to our latest format. In 2023, we plan to refurbish a further 150 company-managed shops, relocate 40 shops to new, larger sites, and open around 150 net new shops, including around 50 with franchise partners.” It extended the opening hours of 500 shops until 8pm or beyond, and it said the evening daypart is now the strongest growing segment of the day, albeit from a relatively low base. In 2022 its share of post-4pm visits was only 1.2% (source: NPD Crest). It said: “We are able to offer home delivery from around 80% of our late opening stores, which is extending our reach further and will, in time, make more of our estate viable for evening trading. During 2023, we plan to extend opening hours in 300 shops to 9pm and will trial 24-hour drive-thru shops. 1,270 of our shops now offer a delivery service, and this accounts for circa 5% of sales overall. Consistent with the market trend, our delivery volumes have been normalising as in-store volumes recover post-covid, but the longer-term opportunity remains intact and we are committed to developing this further in the year ahead, both by broadening the reach of the service and by raising operational standards.” Roisin Currie, chief executive of Greggs, said: “2022 has been a year of strong progress for Greggs, the result of committed efforts to deliver our strategic growth plan. The significant opportunities on which the plan is based will remain centre stage in the year ahead as we make Greggs more accessible to even more customers. Although consumer incomes remain under pressure, Greggs continues to offer exceptional value to people looking for great tasting, high-quality food and drink on-the-go. We have an exciting, ambitious plan for the years ahead and, by continuing to nurture what makes Greggs special, I believe we are extremely well-placed to realise the opportunity to become a significantly larger, multi-channel business.” At the same time, the business announced that it has appointed Nigel Mills as an independent non-executive director with immediate effect. It said it intends that Mills will become senior independent director following the close of its annual general meeting on 17 May, when Sandra Turner steps down from the board. Mills was chief executive at Hoare Govett and chair of corporate broking at Citi Group, advising a wide range of companies including a significant number within the consumer sector. He currently holds the senior independent director role at both John Wood Group and at Persimmon, where he was also acting chair during 2018.

Latest Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows sector companies making collective loss of £829m, improvement on loss of £1.04bn last month: The next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (10 March), shows sector companies are making a collective loss of £829m – an improvement on the loss of £1.04bn the previous month. The Blue Book shows the total profit of the 709 companies in the list is £2,589,591,707 and losses are £3,418,115,551. The Blue Book is updated each month and ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. Premium subscribers also receive access to four other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage; 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 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 are also to be given exclusive access to the recording and slides to Propel Multi-Club Conferences. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel group editor Mark Wingett.
Revolution Bars Group reports H1 sales of £76m, up 2.6% on 2022, boosted by record pre-booked Christmas sales: Revolution Bars Group, which operates 90 premium pubs and bars, trading mainly under the Revolution, Revolucion de Cuba and Peach Pub brands, has reported sales of £76m for the first half of FY2023, up 2.6% on 2022, boosted by record pre-booked Christmas sales. The group saw like-for-like sales in the second half of FY23 of (6.8)% to date, an improvement of +2.6%pts on the first half of the year. The board said it remains confident of achieving adjusted Ebitda in line with market expectations for FY23 and anticipates some sales recovery in 2024. It said the group faced “continuous and varied external headwinds impacting profitability during FY23 H1” including transport strikes, downturn in consumer confidence and cost inflation. “However, early indications show that the trading environment should improve, with consumer confidence having bottomed out and energy prices trending in the right direction,” it said. “There is evidence our brands are resonating with guests following record breaking like-for-like pre-booked party revenue over the festive period, refurbishments performing well, and the latest new bars performing in line with expectations. Significant strategic progress was made during the period with the material acquisition of The Peach Pub Company (Holdings) Limited and its subsidiaries (“Peach”), in order to diversify the group’s earnings away from a late-night and city centre focus. Synergies are on track and additional growth opportunities being identified.” The group had net debt of £23.1m as at 6 March 2023, made up of £27m drawn down revolving credit facility and £3.9m cash, with £6.9m headroom available on the facilities. Chief executive Rob Pitcher said: “We have faced well documented macroeconomic challenges which impacted profitability in the half year. The team have done everything they can to mitigate the cost headwinds and other factors outside of our control, and I am immensely proud of our people for delivering an amazing Christmas to our corporate guests, delivering an all-time record of pre-booked sales for the group. Walk-in custom was hampered by industrial action, reduced consumer confidence and the hot summer, and we look forward to increased guest confidence in the coming months as energy prices continue to fall from their previous peak and inflation abates. We were delighted to announce the acquisition of Peach Pubs in October 2022 which has diversified our offering and guest base. We have continued to see pleasing performance, delivering excellent Christmas trading. We continue to develop synergies between the businesses and identify new and exciting opportunities. Management continues their focus on navigating the current macroeconomic situation, developing our business, and putting in place further building blocks for future growth. The board remains confident that the business is on track to achieve market expectations for FY23, and we anticipate some sales recovery in 2024.” Non-executive chairman Keith Edelmen added: “I am very proud of the Christmas trade delivered by our amazing colleagues. Management had hoped that this would be the first winter period of normal trade in three years; however, industrial action had a significant impact on walk-in trade. We were very pleased to see our corporate guests joining us in our bars for their festive celebrations, with most venues exceeding party expectations. Pre-booked party revenue during the five weeks to 31 December 2022 was +10.3% compared to 2019, representing an all-time like-for-like record for the group. The previous year experienced a combination of pent-up demand alongside a hampered Christmas due to Omicron, whereas the current year was significantly harmed by macroeconomic factors and factors outside of our control. Neither periods represent the true Christmas trading that the group can deliver when not disrupted by external factors. Transport strikes have continued into 2023, albeit with less impact due to the normal lower trade seen in January and February. We continue to see pleasing advancements in our brand offerings and guest journey, and the board remains confident of achieving adjusted Ebitda in line with market expectations for FY23 and anticipates, assuming a more benign trading environment, some sales recovery in 2024.”
Pret CEO says staff may get another pay rise this year, has ambitions to take brand global ‘like McDonald’s’: Pret A Manger chief executive Pano Christou has said his staff may yet get another pay rise this year, and said he has ambitions to take the brand global “like McDonald’s”. The JAB Holdings-backed chain announced last week that it will give its 7,870 UK staff a third pay rise in 12 months. From 1 April 2023, team members, baristas and shop managers will receive an additional 3% pay increase, on top of the 5% increase that came into force in December 2022. Staff will also continue to get free food and drink while on shift and a 50% discount at other times. Christou told The Daily Mirror he has ambitions of making the firm a global powerhouse but believes staff must get the cash they deserve. “If you pay people what they should be paid, you shouldn't have a staff problem,” he told the newspaper. “I want us to pay more than the competition.” Christou said he “wouldn't be surprised” if he looked at another increase “at some point this year” for his staff. He added: “It depends on ­inflation, whether it continues to push up.” On whether this meant more price rises, Christou told the newspaper: “If we continue to see food inflation as it is, it becomes very hard for us to hold everything down.” Pret had to axe 3,000 jobs in the pandemic to save the business, says The Mirror, but it is growing again and plans to open 50 stores this year, taking the total to 500. The firm has 180 shops abroad and hopes to open one in India next month, and Christou is keen to add to its global footprint. Christou, who started at the company at 22 and became their third chief executive in 2019, said his first job, as a teenager in South London, was washing his taxi-driver dad’s cars and posting business cards through doors. He then took a £2.75-an-hour job at McDonald’s at 16, which he told The Mirror disappointed his parents at the time, but that they are now “proud” of his success. He now wants to move Pret into the same global sphere as McDonald’s, telling the Daily Mail: “We want to be genuinely worldwide. Why can’t it be like McDonald’s? We haven’t really got a British brand that has done that, so this is our aim.” Christou said energy costs are “huge for us” and “the number one cost challenge we’re facing now”. He told The Mail Pret is still recovering from the pandemic, when it “stayed afloat only thanks to a capital injection of £185m in February 2021, then a further £106m in November 2021”. He told the newspaper: “I was seriously worried. We were losing millions a day, burning cash. Furlough was a lifeline. It was very hard seeing a business you have been part of for so many years just disappear in front of you.” The company made a pre-tax loss of £269,685,000 in 2021 but in the summer said it had returned to profit for the first time since the pandemic due to success of its out-of-town stores.
Oasis threatens to push for removal for TRG boss: Activist hedge fund Oasis Management has threatened to push for the removal of the boss of Wagamama owner The Restaurant Group (TRG) unless he delivers a shake-up of the struggling UK casual dining operator, according to two people with direct knowledge of the fund’s plans. The Financial Times (FT) reports that a person close to the Hong Kong-based investor said its ambition was to put TRG in a “virtuous circle” where it can “reduce debt, reduce interest, resume dividends . . . get a higher stock rating, better market cap [and] attract better people”. The warning comes after TRG rejected Oasis’s requests for a strategic review of the company led by an independent bank and for a board seat when the fund went public with its 6.5% stake last month. TRG, which also owns Frankie & Benny’s, will post its full-year earnings tomorrow (Wednesday, 8 March). After Oasis declared its shareholding, TRG insisted it was already in the process of reviewing its strategic options. An asset sale could help pay down TRG’s debt pile and revive its share price, which is down 60% since its last equity raise in March 2021. One option available is to offload its 80-site pub business Brunning and Price, which the FT said people close to Oasis believe could fetch £160m for its freeholds or upwards of £250m for the entire business. The newspaper said a person close to TRG insisted Oasis’s views on management failings were “isolated” and not shared by other shareholders. They pointed to how chief executive Andy Hornby, TRG chair Ken Hanna and chief financial officer Kirk Davis all received 99% of shareholders’ votes at the annual meeting last year, and Oasis was “now pursuing a scattergun approach” after its demands were turned down. The next AGM is due to take place in May. The person close to Oasis disputed TRG’s claim that no other investors were supportive of its requests, said the FT. The share price is up 28% to 44p since mid-February when Oasis confirmed its position, valuing TRG at £337m. “Everyone feels the pain of an investment that goes down north of 75%”, said the person, citing investor dissatisfaction with the small size of the board, the pay of senior executives, as well as management missteps. TRG told the FT it had “performed strongly” compared to the sector in recent years.
One in four pubs raise price of beer by more than 10% in six months, average pint of lager now £4.23: One in four pubs have hiked the price of beer by more than 10% in six months, with the average pint of lager now costing £4.23. During the same half-year period, less than a fifth of landlords have kept prices the same, reports The Daily Mail. The newspaper said according to data from the Office for National Statistics, the price of a pint of lager has soared by 27p from £3.96 in January 2022. Rocketing energy bills rocketing and an increase in goods as well as staff costs are being blamed for the rise. But the Campaign for Real Ale said pubs and breweries had no choice but to put up prices and urged the government to ditch its plans to cut energy cost support in April.

2023 Michelin guide leave female French chefs in the cold: The Michelin guide has faced accusations of sexism after female chefs were largely overlooked for its latest French edition. The Times reports that of the 44 restaurants that won a star for the first time or had their ratings improve, only one, Rouge, in the southern city of Nîmes, has a woman in sole charge of the kitchen. Georgiana Viou grew up in Benin before moving to France to study languages at the Sorbonne. The self-taught cook’s dishes include pigeon with beetroot and Sichuan pepper, and crispy rice pudding with Madagascar vanilla, mango and green cardamom. “I’m an outsider,” she said as she received the star at a lavish ceremony in Strasbourg, eastern France, attended by more than 1,500 chefs and gastronomic critics. Although a handful of other female cooks were awarded stars, all worked in tandem with men in their restaurants. They included Camille Pailleau, the pastry chef at Rozó in Lille. Gwendal Poullennec, director of the guide, rejected claims of sexism. “There is no discrimination or quota linked to the gender of the chefs or any other criteria at all,” he told The Times. “Our inspectors base their judgments on the quality of the establishment.” Poullennec denied ignoring women, saying that many had front-of-house duties in the restaurants lauded by the guide, which remains the most influential in France. Michelin faced similar controversy last year, when there was also only one woman chef to win a star. Of the 29 restaurants in the guide with the maximum three-star rating, only one has a female chef, Anne-Sophie Pic.

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