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Tue 25th Jul 2023 - Update: Brighton Pier Group reports ‘more difficult’ second quarter
Brighton Pier Group reports ‘more difficult’ second quarter as it expects first-half earnings after tax to be below market expectations: Brighton Pier Group has warned trading during the second quarter has proved “more difficult” as it warned it expects earnings after tax in the first half of the year to be below market expectations. However, the group said all four of its divisions will remain profitable for the full year. In an update on trading for the 26 weeks to 25 June 2023, the company stated: “On 24 April 2023, the group announced its final results for the 18 month period ended December 2022. That announcement included an update on the group’s trading over the first quarter of this year which, although behind the equivalent exceptional period in 2022, was in line with market expectations. However, the second quarter has proved more difficult. Sales remain behind 2022, with the current macroeconomic environment leading to a widespread decline in disposable incomes and consumer confidence. Total sales for the six months ending 25 June 2023 are expected to be in the region of £16.2m. Ongoing inflationary pressures, meanwhile, in particular in relation to food and beverage and staff costs have adversely affected the group’s operating margins in the current reporting period. The combined effect of these lower sales with the inflationary cost pressures are expected to result in earnings after tax below market expectations. The board notes that the group is currently in the middle of its busiest period in July and August. However, July 2023 trading has been impacted by unseasonably poor weather, train strikes and most significantly the impact of the fire at a major hotel opposite the entrance to the pier, which resulted in some disruption for about a week. We are pleased to confirm that access to the pier is now back to normal. The summer months represent a significant opportunity for the group, with these two months historically contributing approximately 30% of annual group sales, which in turn equate to a significant proportion of the earnings of the group for the year. The management team continues to mitigate the economic pressures faced wherever possible, and all four of the group’s divisions will remain profitable for the full year despite the challenges. The board’s short to medium term outlook remains cautious.” Chief executive Anne Ackord said: “The group is navigating a challenging trading environment, with persistent high inflation and reduced footfall continuing to affect disposable incomes across many of the group’s trading sites. When combined with the ongoing cost pressures we face it has led to lower than expected sales and earnings in the first half of 2023. While we still have many of the key summer weeks to come, recent trading in July has been impacted by a number of events outside of our control namely weekend train strikes, stormy weather and the hotel fire across the road from the pier which has disrupted sales. We will still attempt to capitalise on the forthcoming school holiday period of August, traditionally the busiest and most profitable period in our year. With current economic trends set to continue in the short to medium term the outlook must continue to be one of caution.”

Three days to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, 17 businesses being added: A total of 17 new multi-site companies, operating 52 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday (28 July), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes regional café operators, growing restaurant brands, and expanding experiential concepts. Premium subscribers will also receive a 1,300-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. The database now features 2,883 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database on Friday, 4 August, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 4,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases: the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage; 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.

Cinemas report ‘extraordinary’ ticket sales following ‘Barbenheimer’ release: Britain’s biggest cinema chains have reported an “extraordinary” weekend of ticket sales over the weekend as the simultaneous releases of Barbie and Oppenheimer filled venues. Vue, which has 226 cinemas, including 88 in the UK, prepared early for the “Barbenheimer” rush after advanced bookings reached their highest level since the release of Avengers: Endgame in 2019. According to the Cinema Association, the opening weekend generated almost £30m in box-office takings in the UK and Ireland. Tim Richards, chief executive of Vue, told The Times: “Across our circuit, we did two million people from Milan to Copenhagen to Warsaw. In the UK, we had more than 4,000 sold-out sessions.” The Vue boss said the most remarkable element of the booking frenzy was 23% of its customers had bought tickets for Barbie and Oppenheimer at the same time: “In itself, that is unbelievable,” he added. Odeon reported a similar surge, welcoming more than a million guests through the doors of its 110 venues in the four days after the joint release on Friday (21 July), its busiest period since reopening after the pandemic. It was also its busiest Saturday since 2015. Suzie Welch, Odeon’s interim managing director for UK & Ireland, said: “What a weekend it was for guests, with so many cinemas jam-packed full from Friday onwards on our busiest weekend since 2019.” The weekend has proved a boon in an otherwise tricky summer for the film industry, which has had disappointing results from big-budget films including Indiana Jones and The Dial of Destiny, The Flash and even the Tom Cruise vehicle Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One. “The biggest issue that we’ve had has been the supply of films,” Richards said. “There were 35% fewer films last year and 20% this year. We’re either breaking a new record or waiting for the next film to come out. And that‘s very, very frustrating.” He also played down the impact of subscription services such as Netflix. “They had their moment in the sun during the pandemic and it’s over,” he added. Richards also said despite the sales surge, the company was “still not completely out of the woods yet”, adding: “It’s a fragile recovery. Our goal right now is to get the company back on track completely to where we were pre-pandemic. Then we’ll start to look at potential opportunities, probably in 12 to 18 months, but not today. We’ve still got quite some way to go.”

Private sector slump raises recession warnings: Economic activity in the private sector has fallen to a six-month low under pressure from soaring interest rates and uncertainty about the state of the economy. A monthly measure of private businesses’ health has dipped by more than expected this month to 50.7 from 52.8 in June, the weakest reading since January and just above the 50 mark that indicates growth, reports The Times. Economists had expected the purchasing managers’ index figure for July to fall only marginally to 52.3. Companies cited “headwinds to business activity from rising interest rates, elevated inflation and more caution among clients due to the uncertain economic outlook”, S&P Global, which compiles the index with the Chartered Institute for Procurement & Supply, said. Inflation is now being driven by higher wages as companies pass on rising salary costs to their customers, businesses have warned. Chris Williamson, chief business economist at S&P Global, said the survey would “reignite recession” warnings. “Forward-looking indicators, such as order book inflows, levels of work-in-hand and business expectations, all point to growth weakening further in the months ahead, adding to a risk of GDP falling in the third quarter,” he said. Forecasters including the Bank of England and the International Monetary Fund have ruled out a recession in Britain this year and in 2024 because falling global gas prices have drastically improved the economic outlook. However, persistently high inflation is likely to mean sharper interest rate rises in the UK compared with other economies. The bank’s monetary policy committee is expected to carry out its 14th interest rate rise next month and to tighten two further times this year. “Rising interest rates and the higher cost of living appear to be taking an increased toll on households, dampening a post-pandemic rebound in spending on leisure activities,” Williamson said. The services sector, which has been powering the economy over the past year as factories struggle, also reported a dip in output for a third month running. 

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