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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 1st Aug 2023 - Update: Greggs and Domino’s H1s, Adnams, AG Barr, MrBeast lawsuit
Greggs H1 lfl sales up 16%: Food-on-the-go retailer Greggs has reported a 16% increase in like-for-like sales across its company-managed shop estate for the 26 weeks to 1 July 2023. Total sales for the period were £844m (H1 2022: £694.5m), while underlying pre-tax profit (excluding a £16.3m exceptional gain – on the settlement of its covid business interruption insurance claim) was £63.7m in the first half of 2023 (H1 2022: £55.8m). The company said that the year-on-year progression was supported by a strong start to the year in January and February where the sales comparatives in 2022 reflected the impact of Omicron. It said that sales and profit progression normalised through the remainder of the first half in line with its plan. It said: “Cost inflation, particularly in food and packaging commodities, continued to be a feature of the first half of 2023 but is expected to ease somewhat as we annualise on the significant mid-year increases seen in 2022. Overall, like-for-like cost inflation was 11% in the first half of 2023 and we expect this to reduce to around 7% in the second half, averaging around 9% for the year as a whole.” It said that 94 new shops opened in the first half, against 44 closures, leaving the business with 2,378 shops trading as at 1 July 2023. The brand said it has a “strong pipeline of good opportunities” and continues to anticipate circa 150 net new shop openings in 2023. The company said it had increased the pace of both openings and closures as “we expand the reach of our shops into new locations and relocate existing shops to larger sites in better locations to facilitate further growth”. It said that the continued extension of early evening trading was progressing in line with its plan. Evening remains the brand’s fastest growing daypart and, in the first half, represented 8.3% of company-managed shop sales (H1 2022: 6.5%). Roisin Currie, Greggs chief executive, said: “The strong trading momentum of the first half has continued into the second half of the year, with good sales reflecting the exceptional value that Greggs offers to customers who need food and drink on-the-go. The rate of cost inflation has started to ease and we expect this trend to continue through the second half. Whilst uncertainties in the economic outlook remain, we continue to trade in line with our plan and are making good progress against our strategic objective to grow the frequency of customer visits through new channels. As such, the board’s expectations for the full year outcome are unchanged. Greggs strong performance continued in the first half of 2023 as we deliver on our strategic growth plan. With consumers remaining under pressure, we continue to offer exceptional value, which is reflected in our performance and growing market share. In the period we continued to open further new shops, extended trading hours into the evening and saw increased participation in the Greggs App. Our ambitious plans for growth are on track and our amazing teams are committed to realising the opportunity to become a significantly larger, multi-channel business.”

Three days to go before next edition of The New Openings Database release, to show details of 108 new sites, 6,000-word report included: The next edition of The New Openings Database will show the details of 108 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (4 August), at midday, including which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location, and there will also be a website link to the businesses. The database is published on a monthly basis, and the next edition features growing restaurant and café brands, niche cuisine, and expanding experiential concepts. Premium subscribers will also receive a 6,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to four other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; and the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage. This month, Propel will 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com 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. 

Domino’s H1 lfls up 9.7%: Domino’s Pizza Group has reported that trading in the 26 weeks to 25 June 2023 was strong, with like-for-like system sales, excluding splits and the impact of VAT, up 9.7%. Total orders in the period stood at 35.4 million (2022: 34.4 million), with system sales at £766.4m (2021: £710.5m), an increase of 7.9%. It said that like-for-like sales in Q2 were up 8.6%. Underlying Ebitda for the half year was £68.7m, up 8.2% compared to H1 22, which it said was driven by an increase in system sales volume, acceleration of store openings and the pass-through of food costs. Statutory profit after tax was £80.2m, up 90.5% on H1 22 as a result of profit from the disposal of its German associate, generating a profit of £40.6m recorded in non-underlying results. The company said it performance was due to “working collaboratively with our franchise partners, focusing on our five key priorities for the year and giving our customers great service and value in a challenging market”. The business said it had delivered “a strong first-half performance in a challenging market”. It said: “Trading momentum is encouraging in the first three weeks of H2 23 with like-for-like system sales excluding split stores increasing by 7.9% with total orders up 2.3%. While the market and consumer backdrop remains uncertain, as a result of the strong first-half performance and current momentum, we now expect to deliver FY23 underlying Ebitda in a range of £132m-£138m.” Elias Diaz Sese, interim chief executive, said: “We have delivered a strong first half of 2023 with continued growth in orders and sales. Thanks to our alignment with our brilliant franchise partners, we have been able to accelerate our progress on the strategic initiatives set out at the beginning of the year, with a significant acceleration in store openings, greater app penetration and material improvements in delivery times. Today’s results are testament to the hard work of our colleagues and franchise partners who have worked relentlessly to ensure nobody delivers like Domino’s. We are delighted to welcome Andrew Rennie as our new chief executive, who brings extensive experience from across the Domino’s system. While we continue to face a challenging and uncertain macroeconomic environment, we remain confident in the many opportunities we see for Domino’s in 2023 and beyond as we continue to work towards our purpose of delivering a better future through food people love.”

Wood to step down as Adnams CEO: Suffolk brewer and retailer Adnams has announced, as part of its ongoing long-term succession planning, that Andy Wood OBE intends to retire from his role as chief executive and director of the company at the end of 2024. The company said: “During his tenure the company has made considerable progress, adapting to a rapidly changing marketplace and extending its brand and sales presence into new markets including distilling, retail, export and hospitality. Further the company completely renewed its infrastructure in respect of brewing, distribution and IT and has won many awards for its product quality and for its approach to sustainability and responsible business. Over the coming 18 months, Andy will continue in his role as chief executive and director including to assist in a smooth transition to his successor. A succession process, led by Steven Sharp, senior non-executive director, will consider both internal and external candidates and a further announcement will be made when appropriate.” Jonathan Adnams OBE, chairman, said, “On behalf of the board and all stakeholders, I would like to thank Andy for his continuing dedication and support and his commitment to ensuring there is a full handover to his successor, once appointed.” Wood said: “It has been a privilege to lead Adnams, a company defined by its values, for almost 20 years. Clearly, whilst we plan for a successor there is much work to do to ensure the company is well placed to grow and succeed for another 150 years.”

AG Barr CEO to step down, reports strong H1: AG Barr has announced that chief executive Roger White has agreed with the board that he will, at a mutually agreed date in the next 12 months, step down from his role, resign as a director of the company and retire from the company. The company said it will immediately commence a formal succession process including an external search to ensure a smooth leadership transition. Mark Allen, AG Barr chairman, said: “Roger has served the shareholders, board, wider business and industry for over 21 years – this makes him one of the longest serving chief executive’s in the UK public market. He has supported the transformation of the business from a regional soft drinks business into a highly successful multi beverage, branded company that has delivered significant value to shareholders, stakeholders and employees. AG Barr has a strong culture and momentum and is strategically well placed to continue to deliver for the long term”. White said: “It has been a privilege and pleasure to lead the business for over two decades and now the time is right to plan for my succession and to ensure the continued success of the business. I would like to pay tribute to everyone across the whole organisation who make AG Barr a very special place with amazing brands.” It comes as the business reported a strong performance in the 26 weeks to 30 July 2023. It said revenue for the first half of the financial year is expected to be circa £210m (2022/3: £157.9m). This represents circa 33% year-on-year revenue growth, circa 10% on a like-for-like basis – excluding the contribution from the Boost Drinks business acquired in December 2022. The group said it delivered revenue and volume growth, reflecting “underlying brand momentum, the benefit of higher pricing from early in the year and particularly good weather in June”. The company said that it exits the first half with strong brand momentum. It currently expects its full year profit performance to be marginally above the top end of analyst expectations. White said: “In March we communicated that 2023/24 would be a year of investment across the business, supporting the group’s long-term revenue and profit growth ambitions. I am pleased to report we have had a strong first half, despite ongoing macro cost challenges. Our focus remains on offering consumers great value, affordable brands. Our medium-term plan to rebuild the group’s operating profit margin is progressing well across a range of activities, including supply chain optimisation, cost management and portfolio development. We have strong brand plans in place across the business for the balance of the year to sustain our growth momentum and we remain confident in the group’s long-term growth strategy.”

Slowdown in food prices offers hope inflation has peaked: A slowdown in food price rises and a wave of discounting by clothes retailers helped to drive down shop prices inflation last month, providing scope for the Bank of England to tame the pace of interest rate rises. The Times reports overall annual shop prices inflation fell to 7.6% in July, from 8.4% in June, in another keenly awaited indication that inflation may have peaked. Annual food prices inflation eased to 13.4% in July from 14.6% in June. Food prices are now rising at the slowest rate since December last year, according to the British Retail Consortium-Nielsen shop price index. Inflation for fresh food also slowed in July to 14.3%, from 15.7% in June, and is at the lowest level since last November. Ambient food inflation, including sauces, cereals and canned soups, dropped from 13% in June to 12.3% in July. The prices of non-food goods also fell, paring the annual inflation rate to 4.7% from 5.4% in June. “Leading the cuts was clothing and footwear, where retailers mitigated wet weather with larger discounts,” Helen Dickinson, of the consortium, said. She said the latest figures gave “cause for optimism, but further supply chain issues may add to input costs for retailers in the months ahead”. She warned that Russia’s withdrawal from the Black Sea grain initiative, as well as rice export restrictions from India, were “dark clouds on the horizon”. 

Confidence falls as companies fret over interest rates: Business confidence fell last month amid growing concern over the impact of rising interest rates on the outlook for Britain’s economy. The Times reports that sentiment declined in the services, manufacturing and construction sectors in July, according to a closely watched survey, although it rose among retailers. The Lloyds Bank Business Barometer fell six points to 31% overall, above the long-term average of 28% but a drop from the 13-month high of 37% scaled in June. It was knocked by the sharpest monthly fall in optimism since June 2022 as fears over the impact of the Bank of England’s campaign to bring down inflation loomed large. Net optimism declined by 11 points to 21%, the lowest level since January. The net balance of businesses planning to raise prices fell three points to 53% last month. Companies were more upbeat about their trading prospects, with the net balance between those anticipating stronger and weaker business activity over the coming year rising by a point to 42%, the highest level in 14 months. Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The barometer presents a complex picture this month, showing trading prospects remain strong with businesses feeling under less pressure by inflation to raise prices. However, there is uncertainty about the wider economy and rising interest rates.”

MrBeast sues the company behind his MrBeast Burger concept: YouTuber MrBeast is suing the company behind his branded line of MrBeast Burgers, citing ‘inedible’ food that’s allegedly been delivered to customers. The Daily Mail reports the YouTube star – known for his extravagant cash giveaways – filed the lawsuit in New York District Court Monday, accusing Virtual Dining Concepts of damaging his reputation by selling undercooked burgers and cold fries with his name on them. The Florida-based company partnered with the 25-year-old – whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson – to launch the food-based venture back in 2020, using storefronts of other existing restaurants to cook up the sandwiches. Known as ‘ghost kitchens’, the concept was initially a hit – with Donaldson successfully parlaying his fame so that a mass of more than 10,000 lined up for the opening of the first MrBeast Burger location in New Jersey’s American Dream mall. It also saw more than a million burgers sold before Donaldson even had the opportunity to advertise them. In the time since, the suit claims, Virtual Dining Concepts has repeatedly damaged the YouTuber’s reputation by not ensuring the burgers’ quality – serving customers ‘low quality’ and, at times, even raw food. It also claims that Donaldson has yet to receive ‘a dime’ from the venture, which he suddenly called off last month. The lawsuit cites how more than half of the more than 1,000 MrBeast Burger virtual restaurants “have less than two (out of five) stars”, a marker Donaldson’s lawyers wrote “is well-below the median score of four stars across the platform [Yelp]”.

Barkby Group disposes of coffee operation: Barkby Group has announced that it has completed the disposal of Workshop Trading Holdings, trading under the Workshop Coffee brand, by way of a management buyout. The company said that the disposal follows the strategic update provided in July 2022, in which the company announced its intention to focus on real estate and dispose of non-core businesses. In the year ended June 2022, Workshop achieved revenue of £1.5m, a loss before tax of £0.8m and had net liabilities of £7.1m. The MBO transaction includes the transfer of £1.7m of third-party liabilities, the repayment of £0.2m of intercompany lending and £0.3m of deferred consideration payable in cash in June 2024. Barkby intends to utilise the proceeds of the disposal for general working capital purposes. Charles Dickson, executive chairman, said: “The sale of Workshop Coffee will enable its management team to maximise its potential, whilst ensuring Barkby is able to dedicate all of its resources and management time to the successful execution of its Roadside Real Estate strategy.”

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