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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 10th Oct 2023 - Update: Joseph Holt FY trading, Famous Brands, Roxy Leisure, consumer spending
Joseph Holt sees gradual return to normality, as FY turnover tops £70m: North west brewer and retailer Joseph Holt has reported it saw a “gradual return to normality” last year, as its turnover for the 53 weeks to 31 December 2022 reached £70,192,000m (2021: £41,486,000). The company, which owns 127 pubs across the region, said: “Through 2022 we continued a gradual return to normality in terms of trading conditions and we avoided any further lockdowns and were able to focus on re-building our trade. Turnover reached £70.2m. However, this was for a 53-week year and was still £1.5m below the pre-pandemic level in 2019. Operating profit of £4.0m compared to £3.6m in 2021, with profit before tax at £4.3m (2021: £3.43m), and a significant positive cashflow. 2022 saw three major refurbishment schemes, at the Eagle & Child in Whitefield, the Griffin in Heald Green and the Tavern at the Mill in Thornton Cleveleys. All three pubs are trading successfully. During the year we sold the Bridgewater in Hollinwood. In 2022 we carried out a comprehensive review of our energy usage, following which we undertook a wide-ranging programme of works to install equipment that can be used to reduce energy consumption, including solar panels at the brewery and automatic timers for lights and water taps, as well as roof and window insulation. Our Free Trade operation grew steadily through 2022 and enjoyed a very successful year. Our competitive pricing structure and ability to brew our own beers allow us to target and acquire new customers in our heartland areas, offering quality products and excellent customer service. Since the year end we have acquired a 29-bedroom hotel situated next to our Cat & Lion public house in Stretton. The hotel opened in February 2023 following a refurbishment of the reception and several bedrooms, allowing us now to offer both standard and premium rooms. This is our first standalone hotel and it complements the seven pubs already within our estate which offer accommodation.” Richard Kershaw, chairman of Jospeh Holt, said: “Looking ahead, I am optimistic for our group. Despite the ongoing challenges posed by global factors, economic uncertainty and continuing cost pressures, I believe that our strong financial position, innovative offerings and dedicated staff will enable us to continue to thrive. We aim to reinvest into our existing pub estate and we are always looking for suitable opportunities to grow further through new pub acquisitions. Overall, we remain confident in our ability to adapt to changing market conditions, deliver a quality experience to our customers and create long-term value for our shareholders.”

Premium subscribers to receive all videos from Talent and Training Conference on 27 October: Premium subscribers are to receive access to all the videos from this month’s Talent and Training Conference. Premium subscribers will be sent 13 videos on Friday, 27 October at 9am. The videos will include: KAM managing director Katy Moses; Jordan Moore, head of talent at Gail’s; Leanne Gunson, head of learning and development at Pizza Pilgrims; British chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author Asma Khan of Darjeeling Express; Nina Panayiodou and Andrew O’Callaghan, operations director and people director from Dishoom; Helen Melvin, people director at Heartwood Collection; Hannah Plumb, talent and culture director at The Alchemist; Jo Cole, people director, and Olajide Alabi, equality, inclusion and well-being partner at Turtle Bay; Kenny Blair, managing director of Buzzworks Holdings; Steve Rockey, group people director at The Pig; and Dame Karen Jones, chair of Hawksmoor and Mowgli. Adam Dilks, group people director at Nightcap; Beth Anderson, people director at Revolution Bars Group; and Chantal Wilson, people director at NQ64; discuss how the late-night sector is evolving to attract talent. Phillip Eeles, co-founder of Honest Burgers; Sunaina Sethi, co-founder and people director at JKS; Will Fraser, ex-Saracens/England Rugby player; and Matt Grimshaw, founder of people experience platform Youda; explore why people data is a barrier to industry growth. 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 kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. Premium subscribers also receive access to six databases: the Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage; and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database. 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.

Wimpy owner issues profit warning: South African-based restaurant group Famous Brands, the owner of the Wimpy brand, said it expects a sizeable drop in earnings for the six months ended 31 August 2023. The South African website reports that the group, which is valued at around R6.5 billion (£280m) on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), is the franchisor for several well-known South African brands, including among others Steers, Debonairs, Wimpy and Mugg & Bean. In a trading update statement on Monday, 9 October for H1 2024, the group, which previously owned GBK, said it continued to see an improvement in its revenue performance, primarily due to further improvements across its value chain. “However, the high levels of sustained load shedding, related cost pressures and a challenging economic environment impacted the group’s profitability,” the statement read. The statement added that the group expects headline earnings per share to be between 178 cents and 221 cents per share. This represents a change of between -17% and 3% compared to the same period in 2022. Meanwhile, the reported basic earnings per share (BEPS) is expected to be between 174 cents and 225 cents per share. That represents a decrease of between -33% and -13% from the comparable period in 2022. “The reduction in BEPS is predominantly due to the Gourmet Burger Kitchen Limited (GBK) liquidation dividend of R75 million received in August 2022,” the group said. “Excluding the GBK liquidation dividend, the reported BEPS would have been between 180 cents and 217 cents per share for August 2022.” The group confirmed it would publish its results on SENS on or near Tuesday, 24 October 2023. The company’s global footprint of franchised stores totalled 2,824 stores as of 2022.

Half of drinkers are being charged more in pubs at peak times: Almost half of consumers say they have been charged extra for food and drink when venues are busiest. It comes after Stonegate Group, the UK’s biggest pub chain, was revealed to be raising the price of drinks on the weekends and during sporting events. The Telegraph reports that some 47% of consumers polled by Barclays bank said that they had noticed the growing prevalence of so-called dynamic pricing among high street retailers. The trend typically results in increases in costs for pub and bar-goers during periods of peak trading. Just under a third of some 2,000 consumers surveyed, who noticed the practice, said they had experienced pubs and bars raising the price of food and drinks during the evenings, weekends and major sports fixtures. Few were prepared to foot the bill for the increases with only 8% willing to pay more to eat and drink out during the most popular times.

Roxy Leisure lines up second King Pins site: Roxy Leisure has lined up a second site for its King Pins family bowling concept. The operator of the Roxy Lanes and Roxy Ball Room concepts has secured a site in the Silverburn scheme in Glasgow. Alex Coffey, UK commercial director of the scheme’s landlord Eurofund Group, said: “We are delighted to add King Pins to our brand roster at Silverburn and cement the centre’s status as an integrated, premium destination for the very best of retail, F&B and leisure.” Roxy Leisure opened its debut site under the King Pins concept in Manchester’s Trafford Palazzo earlier this summer, offering 15 lanes of ten pin bowling and four lanes of duck pin bowling alongside shuffleboard, ice free curling, a batting cage, karaoke and arcade games. It also offers pizzas from PLY and Asian street food from Little Bao Boy alongside its own dessert kiosk, Royal Treats. A full-service bar serves a large selection of bottled and draught beer, including from Salford brewery Seven Bro7hers, alongside cocktails, alcohol-free options and homemade slushies. Prices for ten pin bowling start at £8 per adult and £6 per child, with duck pin bowling from £6 per adult and £4 per child. Prices for the karaoke, batting cage and ice-free curling begin at £16, and shuffleboard from £8, per 30 minutes. In April, Roxy Leisure managing director Matt Jones told Propel the company had another four King Pins sites in major cities and shopping centres in legals and would target six sites within the next two years. 

Rugby is a game-changer for pubs’ sales, but consumers cutting back on non-essentials: The Rugby World Cup helped to drive a 6.1% jump in spending at pubs and bars last month, according to Barclays. However, The Times reports that while consumer credit and debit card spending rose in September by 4.2%, it appeared that people were cutting back on non-essential spending. Jack Meaning, Barclays’ chief UK economist, said: “Over the last few months, a picture has been building of consumers beginning to pull back on discretionary spending as the cost of living and monetary tightening from the Bank of England increasingly bite. This suggests that the outlook for consumers, and the businesses that rely on them, is weak, even as they finally see their disposable incomes rise faster than inflation. It makes it hard to see anything but a relatively stagnant economy on the horizon.” Despite an easing of food prices inflation, Barclay’s found that 70% of Britons were finding ways to reduce the costs of their weekly shop. 76% of respondents to its survey said they had noticed signs of “shrinkflation” or “skimpflation”, when products have shrunk but are priced the same, and 68% said supermarkets should inform customers when this happened. 47% had noticed more “surge-pricing”, where shops raise prices during peak times or during periods of high demand. A further 67% questioned the value of loyalty schemes, believing that supermarkets inflated regular prices before promotions. Sales at health and beauty stores rose by 6.9%, which Barclays suggested had been driven by the “lipstick effect”, the theory that in periods of economic instability, people are more willing to buy small luxury items to make them feel better.

Investors grow wary of ‘greenwashing’: “Responsible” investments appear to be losing favour with private investors. The Times reports that a survey has found that only 53% of respondents consider environmental, social and governance factors before investing, compared with 60% last year and 65% in 2021. The results of the ESG attitudes tracker survey by the Association of Investment Companies comes after news last week that so-called responsible investments, or greener funds, experienced record net outflows of £448m in August. Although 68% of respondents said sustainability was important to their everyday lives, they showed concern that funds were “greenwashing”, or overselling sustainable practices for marketing purposes. Nearly two thirds, 63%, were not convinced by funds’ ESG claims, up from 58% last year and 48% in 2021. Richard Stone, chief executive of the association, said: “Our attitudes tracker suggests 2021 may have been a high point for enthusiasm about ESG investing. There is plenty of residual support for the concept, but concerns about greenwashing are increasingly dominating private investors’ mindsets.” To address greenwashing, respondents suggested greater transparency, industry regulation and standardised verification by reputable third parties. “These findings underline the importance of the regulator getting disclosure rules right, in particular the new labelling regime,” Stone said. “A new regime with high standards that investors can rely on is essential for helping investors who care about ESG to find products that align with their values and beliefs.”

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