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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 6th Jun 2023 - Update: Michel Roux “food inflation is killing business”, services sector growth, consumer spending, Domino’s
Roux – Things are going to get worse due to Brexit, food inflation is killing business: Michel Roux, the chef-patron of the two Michelin-starred Le Gavroche in Mayfair, London, has said that food inflation is killing business and that things are “going to get worse” due to Brexit. In an interview with The Times, Roux said: “Oh, Brexit hasn’t even happened yet. Things are going to get worse, I fear. Less food, worse quality and higher prices. Food inflation has slowed but prices are still going up and it really frustrates me because I don’t just want to cook for the super-wealthy. When my dad ran this place, the average diner was a 65-year-old well-heeled man. I love that we get 30-year-old foodies of all types in here – I want us to be for everyone.” Roux never looks more scandalised than when asked why he doesn’t accept a chunk of venture capital and open more branches. “No, never. Le Gavroche is not for rolling out. There will only ever be one. I’ve been offered silly money – millions and millions – to open in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York but that would dilute it. People come here from all over the world and they enjoy the fact there is only one.” Roux says he doesn’t need to export his ideas. People come from across the globe to copy them. “London is the best thing that ever happened to French cooking. French hospitality used to be so stiff and formal but a lot of French chefs have been here and gone back with a more relaxed, convivial style. And London has fostered a wider variety of cooking styles too. That’s an incredible compliment to this city.”

Latest Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows sector companies making collective profit for first time since covid: The next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (9 June), shows sector companies are making a collective profit for the first time since covid. The Blue Book shows the total profit of the 736 companies in the list is £2,834,963,916 and losses are £2,774,327,505. Last month, the Blue Book showed sector companies were making a collective loss of £254m. 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 £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The single subscription rate is £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Email to upgrade your subscription. 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.

Services sector basks in warmth of leisure spending: The UK’s dominant services sector continued its growth streak last month as consumers kept spending on leisure and technology. The Times reports that survey data from services companies, known as the purchasing managers’ index (PMI), hit 55.2 in May, down a little from April’s 12-month peak of 55.9 but up slightly from an initial estimate of 55.1 and well above the 50 mark that indicates growth in the sector. Britain’s services industry, which accounts for almost three quarters of the economy, has motored along despite fears of a broad economic slowdown caused by high inflation and rising borrowing costs. The UK economy is not expected to fall into recession this year but will post only modest rates of growth until 2024. Business surveys have shown an increasing divergence between different parts of the economy this year, with manufacturing suffering from a prolonged downturn while the service-based industries have benefited from consumers spending more on leisure, travel and tourism after the pandemic. The survey of purchasing managers found that inflation in the sector rose to the highest since February as companies were facing higher operating costs as a result of rising wages for employees. This in turn led to businesses increasing the cost of their services, a phenomenon which threatens to keep inflation persistently high. John Glen, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, said that rising consumer spending “seemed to be at odds with the continuing cost of living crisis”. He said: “The service sector was running in the opposite direction to the declining manufacturing sector in the UK, powering ahead with another strong rise in new orders including work from overseas and rising tourist numbers. Optimism was high, with half of all respondents predicting a strong year ahead, keeping positivity close to April’s recent peak.”

UK consumers slow spending in May as rising food costs bite: British retail sales growth slowed to a seven-month low in May as soaring food prices prompted shoppers to rein in spending on non-essential items and dashed hopes of a boost from three public holidays, reports the British Retail Consortium (BRC). Reuters reports the BRC said spending in its members’ stores increased 3.9% in annual terms last month, well above the 1.1% fall a year ago. However, sales were below the 5.2% rise in April. May’s retail sales growth was the slowest since the 1.6% recorded in October 2022 when consumers cut back on purchases as inflation soared to a 41-year high of 11.1%. The BRC data is not adjusted for inflation, so May’s sales growth reflects a fall in the volume of goods purchased. Food was almost the only area where consumers spent more last month, due to higher prices as well as celebrations to mark the coronation of King Charles. “The wild card for the retail sector remains uncontrollable food inflation, which shows little sign of coming down in the near future, and this is having a significant knock-on effect on non-essential spending,” said Paul Martin, UK head of retail at accountants KPMG, who sponsor the data. Separate figures from Barclays on Tuesday also showed high inflation and rising food prices continued to eat away at consumers’ spending power. Barclays said consumer spending on payment cards rose by 3.6% year-on-year in May, of which spending on groceries increased 8.9%, the highest growth in the category since February 2021 when it stood at 27.0%.

Carlo Scotto leaves the Mayfair-based Amethyst: Carlo Scotto, previously head chef at Xier in London’s Marylebone, has left Amethyst in Mayfair, due to differences with his business partners, with the restaurant in Sackville Street now set to close. Scotto launched the restaurant last May. Spread over two floors, and with 36 covers, Amethyst offered “an intimate gastronomic experience”. Scotto said: “The last 12 months has been an exciting, yet challenging journey and I’d like to thank my customers for their support. We picked up many positive reviews and accolades in our 12 months of trading, including being the only new recipient of four AA rosettes this year. I am going to take short break whilst I consider my options to ensure my next role that allows me to continue to showcase my passion for fine dining and commitment to delivering some of the best food in the UK. Stay tuned, I am excited for the next chapter.”

Domino’s Pizza completes disposal of investment in German associate: Domino’s Pizza Group has completed the disposal of its investment in its German associate. The company said: “On 10 November 2022 Domino’s Pizza Group announced that it had exercised a put option to dispose of its investment in its German associate. The transaction completed on 5 June 2023 with £79.9m of proceeds received. As previously announced, this comprises a put option exercise price of £70.6m and the repayment of a £9.3m loan. As previously announced, the proceeds generated from the transaction will be flowed through our capital allocation framework. The company will release half year results in August 2023 and will provide further details on the transaction proceeds at that time. The company continues to execute the £20m buyback as announced in its Q1 2023 trading statement on 4 May 2023.”

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