All articles by James Halliwell

  • Restaurant

    ​September sales go in reverse post-curfew


    Sales slumped in September after the combination of the withdrawal of EOHO and the introduction of the 10pm curfew, according to the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Wet-led pubs were hit hardest, with sales down 22.7% and like-for-likes down 21.1%. Restaurant groups suffered a sales slump of 19.6%, but like-for-likes were down just 6.7% below September 2019, thanks to 72% of group-owned restaurant sites trading during the month. Bar groups, which had 79% of their sites trading, had the worst of the month, with like-for-like sales down 37.1% and total sales down 42.7%. Delivery accounted for 10.4% of sales, up from 8.8% in August and the pre-lockdown level of 5.9% in February.

  • HLP

    Hospitality Leaders Poll: Confidence remains low as curfew continues


    Some 64% of operators would rather shut down for a ‘circuit-breaker’ now if it meant they could open as usual over Christmas, according to the latest Hospitality Leaders Poll carried out by Lumina Intelligence for MCA, the MA, Big H and Restaurant. However, even those that would prefer that option said it wouldn’t be possible without government support, while others said there was no guarantee it would be effective and Christmas trading may be impacted anyway. “It is unlikely to be temporary,” said one operator. “The last lockdown had to last months to have the desired effect, what is the case for a two-week circuit-breaker being a miracle solution?”

  • Wetherspoons

    JD Wetherspoon Tim Martin: Regulations are capricious and damaging


    JD Wetherspoon has released its full year results which lay bare the impact of the coronavirus on sales and profits. Sales were down 30.6% to £1,262m while it made a £34.1m pre-tax loss, down 133% on the previous year. Chairman Tim Martin slammed the government’s handling of the situation and the effect it’s having on the hospitality industry. “For the two months following reopening, it appeared that the hospitality industry, in difficult circumstances, was adapting to the new regime and was getting ‘back on its feet’, albeit in survival mode,” he said.

  • Loungers

    Loungers trading well post-reopening


    Loungers has released a trading update saying since reopening on 4 July the Group delivered like for like sales growth of 25.1%. All of its 168 sites are trading and it plans to open three more before the end of the year. “I am delighted with our continued excellent trading which reflects the resilience of our brands and fantastic performance of our team working in very difficult circumstances,” said CEO Nick Collins. ”Loungers, and the sector more broadly, have gone to considerable efforts to ensure the safety of our teams and customers.

  • Domino’s

    Online sales soar at Domino’s


    Online sales now account for 95% of sales in the UK, Dominos has said in its Q3 trading update.

  • Franco Manca exterior

    Fulham Shore predicts a promising future


    Fulham Shore has said sales were up 7% to £68.6m before the full impact of the coronavirus as it revealed its results for the year to March 2020. It opened seven Franco Manca pizzerias and two Real Greek restaurants. It currently has 68 of its 70 restaurants open, including one new Franco Manca site, taking the total to 52. It said the business has “emerged in robust shape from this critical period” and without the coronavirus sales would have “exceeded market expectations”. “Franco Manca and The Real Greek are popular with the public,” it said. “Fulham Shore is well capitalised and we have ample headroom in our borrowing facilities.

  • Marston's Pedigree

    Marston’s: 2,150 jobs at risk


    Marston’s has released a trading update saying group sales are down 30% on last year to £821m. Total pub sales for the year were £515m, down 34% on last year. It also said that 2,150 jobs are at risk due to the new restrictions. “This year has been testing on many fronts,” said CEO Ralph Findlay. “Trading has been difficult, but to operate at 90% of last year on a like-for-like basis is better than our forecast, ahead of the market and a highly creditable result. In part, this is because most of our pubs are in suburban or community settings, and we have relatively few pubs in city centres which have been worst hit by changes in working habits.

  • ComptoirLibanais-Chelsea_09_2019_40

    Comptoir hoping to emerge stronger


    Comptoir has revealed its results for the six months ended 30 June 2020. It said sales at the 24-site chain were down 61.4% to £6.1m while gross profits were down 61% to £4.5m. “There is no hiding from the fact that we are facing unprecedented times across UK hospitality, and with that, market conditions will inevitably continue to be challenging for our business,” said non-exec chairman Richard Kleiner. ”However, I am greatly encouraged by the strength of the Comptoir brand with its excellent quality, healthy food served in the safest possible environment, whilst retaining the genuine feel of family and friendly hospitality that forms the very heart and soul of our offering.

  • Waitress

    'Feeble' employment market demands government support


    UK Hospitality has warned that 500,000 jobs are at risk without further support from the government. Yesterday the ONS revealed unemployment hit 4.5%, the highest figure since 2017. “The feeble nature of the employment market is worrying in and of itself, but it masks a much larger worry for the country,” said UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls. “Furlough support is about to end and we are moving onto a Job Support Scheme that will not work for many of our businesses. Our sector is being forced to operate under crippling restrictions, so to pay staff for more than hours worked is an unachievable ask for many venues. Unless support is forthcoming, the outlook is only going to get bleaker.

  • Shepherd Neame

    Shepherd Neame: “profitable and cash generative” since reopening


    Shepherd Neame has said since July, “nearly all” its pubs have reopened and are trading “successfully”. In a trading update it said in the 13 weeks since 4 July the business has been “profitable and cash generative”. Net debt at the year-end was £84.4m with an additional £11m of tax liabilities that had been deferred in agreement with HMRC. As at 26 September net debt was £82.4m with the tax liabilities that had been deferred reduced to £5.7m with a further £1.2m of general deferrals. It said liquidity is “sufficient for the foreseeable future”. Like-for-like sales in the 64 managed pubs and hotels that were open for this period were down 7.9%.

  • New River Retail

    New River feeling positive post-lockdown


    New River has said “almost all” of its pubs in England, Scotland and Wales are now open and trading. In a trading update it said its Hawthorne Leisure pub portfolio has “outperformed the wider market since the easing of lockdown restrictions. “For the 12 week period since 5 July 2020, the day pubs were allowed to open in England, like-for-like volumes in our Leased & Tenanted pubs were down only 8% compared to the same period in 2019, and like-for-like sales in our Operator Managed pubs were down 16% compared to the same period in 2019. “Our trading performance compares favourably to the wider market over the same period, with data from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker reporting that pub like-for-like sales are down 18% compared to the same period last year.

  • greene king

    The PM can’t produce the science because it doesn’t exist


    Monday is looking like a big day. Make that another big day. Or maybe they are all big days at the moment, it certainly feels that way. News of CVAs and redundancies blur with curfews and localised lockdowns, or in the case of Scotland a near-total lockdown. The outlook is bleak. It all feels like bad news right now, the only hope is that the government sees sense and has a rethink over the 10pm curfew, or is forced into scrapping it following the curfew vote, which has been delayed from Tuesday to Monday so the PM can get his whip out. It will take a big party rebellion to overturn the curfew because every non-conservative MP would have to vote against it and be joined by 79 Tory rebels. Certainly not impossible, but not especially likely.

  • HLP
    Analysis & Insight

    Hospitality Leaders Poll: 63% of operators will fail inside six months without government support


    Unless the government steps in with more financial support, 63% of operators don’t believe they will make it through the next six months of the 10pm curfew, according to the latest weekly Hospitality Leaders Poll. As it moves into its second week, the sense among operators that the curfew will threaten their survival has increased, not least because another 87% believe that customer confidence in returning to eating and drinking out has taken a hit after the curfew was introduced. “The 10pm curfew is a knee jerk reaction that was ill-informed, not validated by evidence or empirical data and is actually making the R number worse in the capital by tipping thousands of customers into the streets and public transport system en masse,” said one operator. “It’s so silly and they should just admit they got it wrong and reverse it.”

  • Peach Pubs High Field in Edgbaston

    Peach Pubs: A second national lockdown would be hugely costly


    Peach has released its 2019 results and offered an update on current trading. Founder Hamish Stoddart said in 2019, the business was “flat like-for-like at £27m, whilst operating profit before exceptional items was £423k for 2019, down from £671k in 2018. The decrease is a disappointment reflecting the growing cost pressure on hospitality businesses in general between 2017 and 2019.” In 2020, Peach refinanced the business, selling four freeholds for ground rent leases and removing most of its debt. It opened a new pub in Maidenhead with a £750,000 refurbishment which closed after one day alongside all UK pubs on 20 March.

  • Andy Hornby

    Restaurant Group CEO Andy Hornby: TRG is emerging stronger and leaner


    Under normal circumstances, any CEO of a restaurant group posting a half-year loss of over £200m would be gone. But these are not normal circumstances. So despite that huge fall in pre-tax profits, over half of which was down to restructuring costs, The Restaurant Group CEO Andy Hornby believes the 400-site business is in “good shape, all things considered. You have to judge your performance in the context of what’s going on around you.” Has there ever been context as chaotic as this? “It’s such a strange period,” says Hornby, and it’s fair to say that sales and profits have been so wildly skewed by the events of the last few months that judging any operation by the numbers over the last six months feels pointless.

  • HLP
    Analysis & Insight

    Hospitality Leaders Poll: 35% of operators won’t survive 10pm curfew


    A third of hospitality operators have had over a third of their bookings wiped out by the 10pm curfew, according to the latest Hospitality Leaders Poll carried out by Lumina Intelligence for MCA, the MA, Restaurant and Big Hospitality. Some 13% said over 40% of their bookings had been hit and 18% said between 30% and 40% had been cancelled. Another third (29%) said between 10% and 20% of their bookings had been scrapped. One multi-site pub operator said trade down 20% as a result of the curfew, which was “more than expected”.

  • Ei Group

    Ei Publican Partnerships gives away 100,000 drinks


    Ei Publican Partnerships is giving away 100,000 drinks after teaming up with Budweiser, Britvic, Diageo, Heineken, Molson Coors and Sharp’s Brewery. The offer will be available in 1,250 pubs in October. Drinkers can claim one free drink a week by downloading a voucher via the Great British Pubs website. “We are delighted to be running our free drinks campaign again,” said MD Nick Light. “This time, as a thank you, we’ve extended the offer so that our customers can have up to one drink a week throughout October on a wide range of products, including from the low and no category.

  • alcohol

    A six month sentence


    “Nuts.” “No logic.” “A crushing blow.” The industry wasn’t impressed by the idea of a curfew. And that was the reaction before Boris Johnson handed down a punitive six month sentence. Frustration at the prospect was palpable and understandable, primarily because hospitality is being treated like a leading cause of infection rates rising when it isn’t.

  • Admiralty 2017

    Fullers trading at 80% compared to last year


    Fullers has released a trading statement for the 23 weeks to 5 September 2020 ahead of its AGM later this morning (10 September). After lockdown closed its estate, Fuller’s began reopening sites on 4 July and now has over 90% of its pubs and hotels open. Like for like sales are currently 80% and the business said sales in August were boosted by the EOHO scheme. It said Cotswold Inns & Hotels, which Fuller’s acquired in October 2019, also benefitted from the staycation trend.

  • Coppa Club

    Various Eateries prepares £25m float


    Various Eateries, which operates brands including Coppa Club and Tavolino, is seeking admission to AIM at the end of the month in order to raise £25m to fund expansion and provide working capital. It currently has ten sites, with five in London. “I believe that Covid-19 is the biggest event to hit the UK economy outside of war-time,” said Various Eateries founder Hugh Osmond. “Whilst I deplore the terrible effect it has had on our industry, we are confident that there will be major opportunities for a well funded group with strong management to build a fantastic business in the aftermath of Covid.