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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 13th Oct 2023 - Update: Loungers lfl sales up 7.7%, on track for record number of openings
Loungers lfl sales up 7.7%, on track for record number of openings: Café bar operator Loungers has reported an acceleration in like-for-like sales growth for the 24 weeks ended 1 October 2023, as it said it was on track to open a total of 34 new sites in its current financial year, a record number for the business. The Lounge, Cosy Club and Brightside operator posted like-for-like sales growth of 7.7% over the 24 weeks to 1 October 2023. It said that this represents an acceleration from the like-for-like sales growth of 5.7% previously reported for the 12 weeks to 9 July 2023 and reflects a continuation of its strong like-for-like sales performance since the pandemic. The company said: “Relative to the 24 weeks ended 6 October 2019, like-for-like sales are up 25%. The group is pleased to have delivered total revenue for H1 FY24 of £149.6m, up 22.3% on the previous year (H1 FY23: £122.3m). Inflationary pressures continue to diminish in line with our expectations. Our balance sheet remains strong with non-property net debt at 1 October 2023 of £14.3m (2 October 2022: £9.5m), reflecting the timing of September month end working capital cash outflows.” The group has opened 16 new sites during H1 FY24 (H1 FY23: 11 new sites), taking its portfolio to 238 sites as at 1 October 2023. One Lounge site has been opened to date in the second half and, with a further 17 sites scheduled to open, and the business expects to open a total of 34 new sites in the current financial year, a record number. Nick Collins, chief executive of Loungers, said: “I am delighted with our strong trading performance across both the mature estate and our new openings. Our consistent sales growth reflects the continued evolution of our offer and the resilience of the UK consumer and high street. We have now opened 34 sites in the past 12 months, creating around 1,000 jobs in the process, and 72 sites since the last covid lockdown. With a great pipeline of further openings in front of us I have never felt more optimistic about our prospects. None of this would be possible without our amazing team, and as ever I would like to say a massive thank you to them for their hard work.”

Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book to be released today: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book will be sent to Premium subscribers today (Friday, 13 October), at midday. It now features 763 companies that are turning over a total of £53.3bn. A total of 518 companies are making a profit while 245 are making a loss. The profit being made by sector companies is now outstripping losses by £1.48bn. The Blue Book shows the total profit of the 763 companies in the list is £3,462,090,613 and losses are £1,977,617,666. The Blue Book is updated each month and ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. Premium subscribers also receive access to five other databases: the Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate; the New Openings Database; the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database; the Who’s Who of UK Food and Beverage; and the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database. Premium subscribers are also to get access to the videos from this month’s Talent and Training Conference. They will be sent 13 videos on Friday, 27 October at 9am. 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 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.

Newcastle United Stack fan zone faces licensing battle: Police have raised concerns that a Newcastle United fan zone directly outside St James’ Park will lead to “crime and disorder”. Plans for the club’s Stack development in the disused Strawberry Place car park were granted approval by Newcastle City Council last month. However, the shipping container village has yet to be granted an alcohol licence with a hearing on the matter scheduled for next week. Northumbria Police, local councillors, and civic centre licensing officials have said they have reservations about the proposed venue – with a reported capacity of 3,000 – having the right to serve alcohol in close proximity to the football ground. Jonathan Bryce, who heads the city’s licensing authority, has said the proposal “adds to sensitivities” around St James’ Park and lacks detail on access arrangements for emergency services. Bryce also said the application does not show “due regard to possible terrorist or other such risks likely to be associated with the location and size of this premises”. The fan zone would be similar to the now-dismantled Stack on the city’s Pilgrim Street, made up of a collection of bars and street food vendors arranged over two floors with a large seating area and stage in the centre. The venue, which is proposed to open in spring next year, has requested a licence to sell alcohol every day of the week from 10am to midnight.

Michelin-starred Cornish chef set to open second London restaurant: Michelin-starred Cornish chef Tom Brown is set to open his second London restaurant. Brown, originally from Redruth and a protégé of two Michelin-starred chef Nathan Outlaw, opened Cornerstone in Hackney in 2018. He will follow that next month with the seafood-led Pearly Queen in Spitalfields, offering cocktails alongside dishes such as grilled lobster served in XO lobster butter; whole plaice in roast chicken sauce; and 100-layer cuttlefish lasagne. It will launch in the space formerly occupied by The Space Mediterranean restaurant at 44 Commercial Street, reports Hot Dinners. 

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