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Thu 31st Aug 2023 - Update: The Wolseley Hospitality Group reports record results, Pret fined after worker trapped in freezer
The Wolseley Hospitality Group reports record revenue and Ebitda as it returns to profit: The Wolseley Hospitality Group has reported revenue increased 60.7% to a record £53,674,320 for the year ending 31 December 2022 compared with £33,398,704 the previous year. Adjusted Ebitda also hit a new record level of £5,735,000 (2021: £2,341,000). The group made a pre-tax profit of £4,111,677 compared with a loss of £2,072,246 the year before. In January 2022, the business received a business interruption insurance payout of £3,233,103. In his report accompanying the accounts, chief executive Baton Berisha stated: “Given the wider economic challenges, the results are extremely encouraging and puts the group on a strong footing as it looks forward. In the previous financial year, the covid-19 pandemic continued to have a materially adverse impact to operations from January 2021 through to mid-April 2021. During this period of time, the restaurants were unable to open due to the government enforced closure of restaurants. The current year result is adversely impacted by economic pressures and cost pressures faced; namely the rise in national minimum wage in April 2022 from £8.91 to £9.50, utility price increases and business rates reverting back to normal levels following the cessation of discounted bills up to 31 March 2022. On 10 August 2022, the group exited Bicester Village, where it operated Cafe Wolseley, the group’s first restaurant outside of London.” The business did not receive any government grants (2021: £3,210,916). No dividend was paid (2021: nil). Last April, Minor International acquired 100% of what was Corbin & King after the business was placed into administration, having held a 74% share since 2017. The acquisition saw co-founder Jeremy King leave the business, which changed its name to The Wolseley Hospitality Group last summer. The company’s estate includes The Wolseley in Piccadilly, The Delaunay in Aldwych, Brasserie Zédel in Soho, Colbert in Chelsea, Fischer’s in Marylebone, Soutine in St John’s Wood and Bellanger in Islington. The group opened seafood restaurant Manzi’s in Soho in June 2023 and is set to open The Wolseley City later this year. Earlier this year, Dillip Rajakarier, chief executive of Minor International, said he envisaged Wolseley restaurants in Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai, as well as London’s financial district. He also plans Cafe Wolseley sites – more relaxed versions of the original in London’s Piccadilly – across other parts of China and the Middle East, as well as Manchester, Birmingham and Oxford in the UK. 

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Pret fined £800,000 after worker became trapped in walk-in freezer: Pret A Manger has been fined £800,000 after one of its staff members became trapped inside a walk-in freezer. The worker – who had to be treated for hypothermia – was discovered after two-and-a-half hours by a colleague at the company’s Victoria coach station outlet on 29 July 2021. Wearing just jeans and a T-shirt, she tried to stay warm by moving around, but her condition began to deteriorate. Her breathing became increasingly difficult, and sensations in her thighs and feet started to fade. In an attempt to shield herself from the cold air blowing from the ventilator, she struggled to tear up a cardboard box filled with chocolate croissants, but her hands were too cold to break it apart. Following her rescue, an inquiry uncovered the absence of a suitable risk assessment for employees working in environments with controlled temperatures. According to information from Pret’s reporting system, there were several instances over the last 19 months where it needed to address problems with broken or frozen push buttons. One incident in January 2020 in the same kitchen involved a worker getting trapped in the walk-in freezer because they couldn’t open the door from the inside. On that occasion, the internal door release mechanism wasn’t functioning properly. Consequently, Pret admitted at Westminster Magistrates Court on Tuesday (29 August) to an offence that contradicted the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 after an investigation by Westminster Council. A Pret spokesperson said: “We are incredibly sorry for our colleague’s experience and understand how distressing this must have been. We have carried out a full review and have worked with the manufacturer to develop a solution to stop this from happening again. Following the incident, we have revisited all our existing systems and where appropriate, enhanced these processes, and have co-operated fully with Westminster City Council’s investigation.”

C&C Group appoints new independent non-executive directors: C&C Group has appointed Chris Browne and Sarah Newbitt as independent non-executive directors. The company stated: “The appointments of Chris, effective 2 October, and Sarah, effective today (Thursday, 31 August), follow a thorough recruitment process led by the nomination committee, with the support of an independent executive search firm. Chris brings vast experience managing complex consumer-facing operations to C&C, while Sarah brings extensive consumer goods sector and supply chain expertise, together with developing and implementing sustainability strategies.” Browne has held a number of senior leadership and executive roles within the aviation and travel industries having served as managing director of First Choice Airways, which included overseeing a customer-focused transformation programme. She subsequently directed and managed a successful merger with Thomson Airways before being appointed to execute a similar project for parent company, TUI Group. In 2016, Browne joined EasyJet and served as chief operating officer until 2019. Newbitt spent the majority of her executive career with Unilever and held various international roles across operations and general management. Her most recent role was as vice-president supply chain of Unilever UK & Ireland. Ralph Findlay, C&C Group executive chair, said: “We are delighted to welcome Chris and Sarah to the board and look forward to drawing on their diverse and extensive public company expertise across operations, logistics, international consumer goods, supply chain management and sustainability, for the benefit of the group in the years ahead.”

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