Langton Capital – 2016-04-01 – JD Wetherspoon, Marriott/Starwood, new openings & other:
A Day in the Life:
Langton is away from the office this week. There will be no Daily Wrap and A Day in the Life will be back on Monday.
PUB, RESTAURANT & DRINKS PRODUCER NEWS:
• The National Living Wage, obliging employers to pay the over-25s £7.20 per hour, comes into force today. More than 1m workers should be celebrating a pay rise. Others have called it ‘national price hike day’.
• JDW yesterday announced that it had bought back 200k shares for cancellation on Weds at 701.5p.
• JDW has now spent some £17.6m on buying back its own shares since Jan. Has cancelled 2.6m shares at an average of 675p
• Enterprise Inns has announced that yesterday it bought back 100k shares at between 95p and 96.5p per share
• M&C writes that Carluccio’s will open its first restaurant and food shop in a UK hotel this month, in a 5,000sq ft site on the ground floor of London Marriott Regents Park hotel. The 200-cover restaurant will have its own entrance on Adelaide Road and will feature a full aperitivo and espresso bar, outdoor terrace, retail area, and deli.
• Byron sales grew by 24.4% to £69m and operating profit rose from £6.3m to £6.4m in the year to 28 June, during which the burger chain opened eight restaurants. The group extended its reach beyond London with openings in Bristol, Derby, Manchester, and Piccadilly, and now has 52 sites in the UK.
• Brexit fears dampened consumer confidence in March according to Gfk’s latest survey, although households are more positive about their finances than they were a year ago.
• Tesco is ready to call it a day with restaurant chain Giraffe as it continues to focus on its core retail business.
• Pabst Brewing Company is extending its distribution partnership with C&C Group.
• Food retailer and wholesaler Booker’s Q4 sales increased 10.6%, taking full year sales up to £5bn, thanks in part to its Budgens and Londis acquisitions.
• Elegant hotels announces appointment of Richard Jones as CFO. Jones was previously CFO at Cineworld
• Marriott and Starwood have jointly called upon their shareholders to support a purchase of the latter by the former. Groups say they will ‘discuss the merits of the combination.’ Arne Sorenson, president and chief executive officer of Marriott International, says ‘we are focused on maximizing shareholder value and from the beginning of this process we have been steadfast in our belief that a combination with Starwood will offer the highest value to all shareholders.’
• More on Marriott/Starwood merger. Sorenson adds ‘together, we can provide opportunities for significant equity upside and great long-term value driven by a larger global footprint, wider choice of brands for consumers, substantial synergies, and improved economics to owners and franchisees leading to accelerated global growth and continued strong returns. Our integration teams have been diligent in their work over the last few weeks and are more committed than ever to a timely and smooth transition.’ The groups also say ‘the companies also note that Starwood’s Board of Directors reiterated its unanimous support of the merger and that the Board recommends that Starwood stockholders vote their shares in favor of the pending combination with Marriott’.
• Monarch has extended its ban on flying to Sharm el Sheikh until 30 October
• The US hotel industry saw largely negative year-on-year results across its key performance metrics for the week ending 26 March, according to STR. Affected by the Easter calendar shift from 5 April 2015 to 27 March 2016, the industry’s occupancy declined by 5.6% to 65.5% and average daily rate for the week was up 1.3% to $123.57. Revenue per available room fell 4.4% to $80.96.
• Brewer and pub operator Charles Wells saw sales rise by £1.7m to £188.8m for the year to 26 September 2015 and is confident about its outlook for 2016. Group adjusted EBITDA increased 15.6% to £17, driven primarily by its brewing operation, which has benefited from the resurgence in craft beer.
FINANCE & MARKETS:
• UK GDP growth revised up to 2.1% for Q4 last year. Preliminary figures had suggested growth of 1.9%
• World markets: UK and Europe down yesterday, US also lower. Far East down in Friday trading
• Oil price falling just at the moment but up over the last 24hrs at around $40 per barrel
Retail Roundup from Nick Bubb:
Booker: Yesterday’s Booker Q4 trading update was flattered by the recent Budgens and Londis acquisition, but, even though LFL sales were down by 2.5%, the City was pleased and Charles Wilson, the estimable CEO, said: “Overall, 2015/16 was a good year. Customer satisfaction scores were strong, sales and profits were the best we have ever achieved”.
AO.com: Unexpectedly, AO.com issued a Q4 trading update yesterday and managed to avoid another profit warning, flagging that “Our UK business performed strongly during the fourth quarter with revenue and EBITDA ahead of our expectations, as we continued to gain market share”.
Next Share Buyback Watch: Stung by the criticism that he had been sitting on his hands on Wednesday, despite the further weakness in the Next share price, the shrewd, but petulant, “Mr Share Buyback Man” sprang back into action yesterday in Next HQ. He managed to pick up another c£5m worth of Next stock (91,400 shares at an average price of 5454p), but, alas, he again failed to stem the tide, with the shares closing down at 5400p…
Today’s Press and News: The Booker and AO.com trading updates get a fair amount of coverage in today’s papers, with Lombard column in the FT noting that although critics of AO.com CEO John Roberts see him as “a mouthy northerner whose 2014 flotation was brashly overpriced”, he has at least engaged with the City on a quarterly basis, unlike Mike Ashley. And the Telegraph highlights he Sky News story that Tesco is looking to sell its Giraffe restaurant chain.
Trade Press: The front cover of Retail Week magazine today is a photo of the Aussie DIY boss John Gillam, with the headline “Bunnings’ plans for a Homebase makeover”. The main news stories are about the BHS CVA and the Next profit warning, but RW also has a feature on Uniqlo’s new-look Oxford Street flagship store.
Next Week’s News: The highlight of next week is the much-awaited Marks & Spencer Q4 trading update on Thursday, but before that Tuesday brings the Card Factory and Moss Bros finals, together with the latest Kantar and Nielsen grocery market share data. On Wednesday we get the Topps Tiles pre-close update and Thursday also brings the Dunelm Q3 trading update. Nick Bubb – email@example.com