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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 12th Jun 2023 - Update: Busaba, Britain to steer clear of recession, Staycity and Flat Iron
Busaba reports full-year like-for-likes up 2%, reveals it closed ‘underperforming’ Cardiff and Oxford sites to ‘improve profitability and cash flow to offset significant cost inflation in business’: Busaba, the Thai chain founded by Alan Yau, has revealed it took the decision to close its “underperforming” Cardiff and Oxford sites to “improve profitability and cash flow to offset significant cost inflation in the business”. The Cardiff restaurant opened in October 2021 and the Oxford site in January 2022. The Cardiff lease was surrendered to the landlord while the Oxford restaurant lease has been assigned to Rosa’s Thai. It comes as the now nine-strong Busaba reported like-for-likes sales increased 2% for the year ending 18 September 2022. Turnover increased 106% to £21,162,725 compared with £10,251,709 the previous year driven by the lifting of covid restrictions. Adjusted Ebitda increased from a deficit of £1,332,000 to a profit of £171,000. Pre-tax losses increased to £3,093,377 from £2,871902 the year before. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The first half year benefited from increased footfall across our prominent locations in London together with government support on business rates, tax and grants. The second half year has been more challenging through cost inflation from reduced supply chains, people availability and utility prices. Despite strong sales at the start of the new financial year, high price inflation for both customers and business together with reduced availability of key people and supplies remains the biggest risk for the coming months. Busaba does have a lean business model, a loyal ‘family’ employee base, access to a credit facility and ability to flex the menu to minimise disruption caused by supply chain availability.” Busaba received government grants of £30,000 (2021: £2,264,570). No dividend was paid (2021: nil).

Latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage featuring 693 companies to be released on Friday: The latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will be published for Premium subscribers on Friday (16 June). A total of 13 companies have been added to the database, which now features 693 companies. This month’s edition also includes 40 updated entries. 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 merges 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 four other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; 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 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.

Britain to steer clear of recession: Britain will avoid a recession this year, according to new forecasts, as energy prices retreat and supply chain disruption abates. Economists warned companies and consumers were still in for a tough year, however, with stubborn levels of inflation raising the risk of more pain for borrowers while the Bank of England battles to reduce it. KPMG no longer expects a recession in the UK this year, forecasting that gross domestic product will rise by 0.3%. The CBI, which previously projected a decline of 0.4% in GDP, now expects it to expand by 0.4%. Both expect growth to pick up next year, with KPMG forecasting a 1.1% rise in GDP and the CBI projecting an increase of 1.8%, reports The Times. Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG UK, said: “We’ve seen a slightly stronger momentum for the UK economy but risks are still elevated on the downside. A stickier inflation will see monetary policy tightening even further, increasing the risk of unwelcome side effects among other potential headwinds.” Alpesh Paleja, lead economist at the CBI, said economic tailwinds were firmer across the world with energy prices declining and China reopening following years of covid-19 restrictions. Business activity is growing most quickly in London, according to the NatWest’s latest regional PMI survey, which showed the capital far ahead of other regions. With a reading of 50 signalling growth, activity in London hit 58.5 last month, with south east England at 54.6, the West Midlands at 54.2 and the north west at 52.3 . Wales, with a reading of 49.4, was the only area in decline. A recovery in service sector activity has also spurred confidence, with output reaching a ten-month high of 101.55 last month, according to BDO. It highlighted a stark divergence in optimism among service-based companies and manufacturers, however, with its services optimism index rising to 100.79, while its manufacturing optimism index slipped to 91.56, its lowest level since February 2021, during lockdown.

Aparthotel operator Staycity reports turnover breaks €200m for first time: Aparthotel operator Staycity has seen the past 12 months of trading break the €200m turnover threshold for the first time. Improved trading prompted by the re-emergence of business travel, the increasing popularity of city breaks and 12 new property openings over the past 18 months has helped the group reach record sales of £202m in the 12 months to 1 May 2023, while turnover for 2023 is on target to reach €230m. Turnover during 2022 hit €175m, up from €78m in 2019, with Ebitda finishing the year at €30m and revpar up 10% on 2019 driven by a 15% improvement in achieved room rates. Occupancy trended at 89% in the second half of 2022 while operating margin for the year rose to 17% as the business scaled up in size. New openings, most notably in London Paddington and Dublin city centre, performed ahead of expectation. “As we went through last year it became clear that the recovery in our business, and the wider hospitality sector, was gaining momentum as people started travelling again and corporate bookings slowly began to pick up,” said Staycity Group co-founder and chief executive Tom Walsh. “This year is looking even stronger with demand for city breaks across Europe now reaching pre-pandemic levels.” Staycity currently operates 32 aparthotel properties across its Staycity and Wilde brands with the total estate, including signed pipeline, at 7,400 keys. Over the past 18 months the company has opened a record 12 new sites across Germany, France, Ireland and the UK – an additional 2,724 keys. A further six properties are scheduled to open through 2023-24 which will take Staycity into Amsterdam, Cambridge, Munich, Lisbon and Porto for the first time. The company has also announced the purchase of a site in Stratford, east London for the development of a 240-key “ultra-green” property as part of a £40m investment as well as a new site in Nuremberg, Germany. Walsh added: “In July 2022 we refinanced our £30m debt facility with OakNorth, which was initially due to expire in mid 2023. We have now extended this out to 2027 when Staycity will be debt-free. We have some exciting projects underway and we are set to reach our target of 10,000 signed and opened keys by December 2023.” 
Flat Iron confirms Cambridge opening for debut regional site: Flat Iron, the Piper-backed affordable steak concept, has confirmed it will open its debut regional site, in Cambridge next month. Propel revealed in February the 12-strong, Tom Byng-led business had secured approval from the city council to convert the former NatWest bank building in Market Street. The company has said the two-floor, 120-cover restaurant will launch next month with the concise menu led by the signature “Flat Iron” steak, alongside sides such as beef dripping chips, creamed spinach, and crispy bone marrow garlic mash. A rotating board of specials will also be available at the Cambridge restaurant, including a yet to be unveiled burger, featuring beef from Flat Iron’s own herd in Thirsk, Yorkshire. A curated selection of wine will make up the drinks list, along with a variety of draft beer and Flat Iron’s signature cocktails. Flat Iron is set for further regional expansion, with a restaurant opening in Manchester’s Deansgate later this year.
Tomos Parry confirms July opening for new restaurant in London’s Soho with Super 8 team: Michelin-starred chef Tomos Parry has confirmed the new restaurant he is opening in London’s Soho with the Super 8 team will launch next month. Mountain will open in Beak Street, in the premises previously occupied by better burger brand Byron on Tuesday, 11 July. For the wood grill and wine bar, Parry has partnered with Super 8 Restaurants, which is led by Brian Hannon and Ben Chapman and operates three London venues. “Mountain draws on the ‘mar y montana’ (or sea and hillside) cooking of Spain, the seas and mountains within the Welsh landscape and the produce which guides us every day,” said Parry. “Caldereta, among others on the menu, is the type of food I find hugely transportive and deeply satisfying to eat.” Dishes will include pink bream served whole, split and gently roasted on the plancha; a plate of wood grilled lamb chops; and an aromatic braised dish of whole Anglesey lobster caldereta. The traditional Menorcan caldereta will also be brought to the tables in ceramic pots for two to three people to share. Mountain’s grain and bakery program will be led by Suzi Mahon, whose team will bake ensaimadas and loaves in wood ovens and make fresh cheeses using organic dairy, which will be served with summer herbs on warm grilled breads. There will also be a wine list showcasing older vintages from lesser known producers, while downstairs, guests can enjoy classic cocktails while watching the chefs cook in a large wood fire oven.

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