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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 20th Jul 2023 - Update: Fuller’s lfls up 15.1%, Jamie Oliver reflects on restaurant business failure, Cake Box receives offer
Fuller’s lfl sales up 15.1%: Fuller’s reports it has continued to make strong progress with total sales for the first 15 weeks to 15 July 2023 rising by 17.1% and like-for-like sales for the same period rising by 15.1%. The business said that increased tourism and events, along with workers returning to their offices, have contributed to like-for-like sales growth of 17.9% in its City and Central London sites. The business said: “Given the strong start to the year and having declared a total dividend of 14.68p per 40p ‘A’ and ‘C’ share for FY2023 (an increase of 30% on the previous year), the board has decided to commence the repurchase of up to one million ‘A’ shares in line with our capital allocation framework.” Chief executive Simon Emeny said: “We are very pleased to have delivered a strong start to the year. The hard work of our teams, coupled with London’s continued recovery, is driving strong sales momentum. Our comprehensive strategy, combined with the investments we have made in our people, infrastructure, marketing and estate, is delivering excellent results; and while cost inflation and the ongoing train and tube strikes continue to present challenges, we are pleased with our progress. We have a clear vision and the best people in the sector to take the company forward, grow the business, and deliver excellent returns for all our stakeholders. I look forward to providing a further update on 16 November 2023 when we will issue our half year results for the 26 weeks to 30 September 2023.”

Latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage to feature 76 updated entries and 21 new companies, released tomorrow: The latest Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage will feature 76 updated entries and 21 new companies when it is released to Premium subscribers tomorrow (Friday, 21 July). This month’s edition includes 714 companies and more than 187,000 words of content. 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. Propel will next month launch the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database– the first time that profiles of 100 of the top food and beverage franchisees have been available in one place in the UK. The go-to database, which features many of the big franchise operators running Costa Coffee, McDonald’s and Domino’s sites, brings together a wealth of information on an increasingly important part of the market, and the first edition will feature more than 32,000 words of content. The sixth major database exclusive to Premium subscribers, it will be sent out bi-monthly, including new entries and updates to existing entries. The companies, listed in alphabetical order, will have their most recent results reported as well as broader information around the company’s background, site numbers and board make-up. 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 being given exclusive access to the recording and slides to Propel Multi-Club Conferences. They 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.

Oliver blames business rate hike for business failure: Jamie Oliver has said he “hasn’t lost faith” in the restaurant industry as he pushes ahead with plans to open a new restaurant four years after the collapse of his eponymous high street chain. Speaking to The News Agents podcast the chef blamed a 40% hike in business rates and a fall off in punters hitting the high street for the demise of his business. “Interestingly, I think, having thought about it long and hard, I had the best of the best mid-market, socially orientated business on the planet for seven, eight years, and then lost it over four years, which was utterly painful. We probably signed rents 20% over the odds, our rates went up 40% in two years [and] high street decline was about 16%. And then your margins, which were smaller because we were selling more ethical food, you know, at the same prices. Our model didn’t work and we died,” Oliver said. In 2019, Oliver’s restaurant chain was plunged into administration, with the 22 restaurant closures resulting in some 1,000 jobs being lost. Following its collapse Oliver owed creditors a whopping £83m and made a personal loss of £25m. “It was utterly devastating,” Oliver said, commenting on the closures, however, said he “hasn’t lost faith” in the sector with plans to open a new restaurant in October. Later this year, he will open a new landmark restaurant in London’s Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Oliver said the restaurant will be a bit more upmarket than the chef’s previous venture, who plans to work with farmers and artisan producers he has known for years. He said: “I think I’m still young-ish”, he said: “I’ve got ten years of good work in me yet, I think. So I’m opening back up in October, and what’s beautiful is, the greatest hits of all, my team are coming back. We’re getting the band back together.”

Cake Box receives takeover offer: Cake Box Holdings, the London-listed bakery chain, has received a takeover approach from a privately owned Australian group. Sky News reports that The Cheesecake Shop has tabled a 160p-a-share proposal to buy the British company. City sources said the bid, which has not been publicly disclosed, was unlikely to gain support from the Cake Box board. It was unclear on Wednesday evening whether any discussions were ongoing between the two companies. Cake Box trades from about 230 stores across the UK, and floated in London in 2018 at a price of 108p-a-share. Last month, the company said full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) had fallen by nearly a quarter, adding that inflation was starting to soften “which will support margin progression over the medium term”. The company continues to be run by Sukh Chamdal, its chief executive and co-founder.

American restaurants cater to rise in people dining earlier: Just as the early bird catches the worm, growing evidence suggests Americans may live longer by bringing forward the time they tuck into their dinner. The Times reports there are signs that the nation’s restaurants are changing the way they operate so they can meet demand for “evening” meals from as early as 5.30pm. Many people are in fact eating all their meals much earlier in the day, partly because of a general change in habits, and partly in an effort to reap potential health benefits. A study last year by Brigham Young University outlined the dangers of dining too late in the day. “Eating late increases hunger, decreases calories burnt and changes fat tissue,” it said. The study found early diners had lower blood glucose levels, an improved fat-burning capacity and reported better sleep. They also had higher energy. By contrast, those who ate later in the day reported increased hunger and a slower burning of calories. “We wanted to test the mechanisms that may explain why late eating increases obesity risk,” wrote Frank Scheer, senior author on the study. Another factor appears to be a permanent shift in eating habits adopted during the pandemic. When people had to sit outside in winter weather, the desire to linger over late meals declined. Both research and anecdote suggest millennials and Gen-Zers are less interested in boozy nights than their parents, and value a good night’s sleep. While eating early was always an easy option at chain restaurants, high end establishments are changing their hours to cater to demand. Data from Yelp, the reviews website, shows that restaurants seat a tenth of customers between 2pm-5pm.

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