Langton Capital – 2016-05-19 – M&B, Marston’s, Thomas Cook, Merlin, Young’s & other:
A Day in the Life:
I do think that Google and You Tube make life easier because you can often look up a problem, for example how to remove circular loops in an Excel programme, learn how to deal with it and then get the job done.
However, the two aforementioned internet services do mean that one has less and less need to retain information and, if I had a pound for every time I’ve had to look the same problem up twice, I’d be a richer man than I am today.
In fact, many of the sites that I find myself going to are purpled out, suggesting that I’ve been there before, probably sleepwalking through some sort of IT problem or another, after which any memory of what I’ve done is erased presumably because it’s more efficient – or at least convenient – to learn how to do it again than it is to apportion a chunk of my noggin to remembering how to do it unprompted.
Anyway, it seems to work. And it’s another monster day for results but, as I was chastised yesterday for not bragging vociferously about how the mighty Hull City had hammered Derby 3-2 in order to get to Wembley (again), I’ll do so now. Yes, we almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory but isn’t that always the way?
In fact, and here’s one for the sporting nerds out there which, if any, English football league club has played more times at Wembley since 2008 than Hull? Clue, we’ve been (or will have been) there four times. On to the news:
Mitchells & Butlers – H1 Numbers:
Mitchells & Butlers has this morning reported H1 results for the 29wks to 9 April and further comments are set out below:
M&B has reported that total revenues for the H1 fell by 1.5% to £1.096bn.
Sales from invested sites are up by 10% but this was offset by falls in sales at uninvested sites to give an overall H1 LfL fall of 1.6%
Adjusted operating profit is up by 2% at £156m and PBT is £83m compared with £75m a year ago
The operating margin has edged up from 13.7% to 14.2%, EPS is 18.4p (2015: 14.4p) and a H1 dividend of 2.5p has been approved
More on recent trading:
CEO Phil Urban reports ‘in the first half we increased our adjusted earnings by 9.0%. However, in order to accelerate the trading performance of the group there is much to do in our three priority areas: building a more balanced business; instilling a more commercial culture; and increasing the pace of execution and innovation.’
He says ‘during the last six months we have completed a review of our strategic options. I am very clear that our best route for delivering sustainable returns for our shareholders is through the acceleration of organic growth: to maximise the return on the high-quality assets we own.’
Mr Urban concludes ‘our plan, to reshape the estate and innovate in both existing and new offers for our guests, is now well under way and I have every confidence in its success.’
Balance sheet, cash flow and debt:
Net debt is £1.86bn, some 4.2x annualised EBITDA (versus 4.4x last year)
Free cash flow came in at £42m and capex was £88m including 4 new site openings and 22 major conversions
M&B says that it will build a more balanced business, instil a more commercial culture and increase the pace of execution and innovation within the business
This is laudable but, as always, execution is the issue
And Mr Urban is not the first M&B CEO to attempt to awaken what may prove to be a sleeping giant
However, we would suggest that he is likely to be given some time and, if the troops on the ground can be incentivised and given a sense of purpose, the group could begin to perform
Proof is unlikely to be forthcoming for a number of quarters and, for this reason, the performance of the invested units may be an area of focus
Langton Comment: Re current trading, it could be said that these results are not as bad as they could have been.
It’s been clear from the Coffer Peach Tracker for some time that there are a couple of relative losers out there and, as Restaurant Group is currently the owner of the wooden spoon, this does (arithmetically) give M&B a little room to breath.
And the performance of the converted and invested units has been good,
Here the number of invested or converted units (at 294) is not inconsiderable. Certainly the low hanging fruit may have been the early focus of attention, but the performance here does suggest that there is further room for improvement.
Of course, if 294 units were up 10% and the estate was down 1.6%, then a large number of pubs must have performed poorly – and that will need addressing.
As regards its share price, we are now at a point where the group is trading at only around 7.5x current year earnings and it has a 2.6% (and hopefully growing) yield.
One would hope that the management revolving door (and lack of clarity as to the longer term objectives of shareholders Joe Lewis and Elpida) can be put to one side for the moment – but we have arguably been here before.
Nonetheless, M&B has an extremely attractive estate and, we would suggest, at less than £3 per share, the risks may be on the upside. The catalyst to unlock value may remain somewhat elusive but, as the group moves from planning to execution, we will be awaiting further news with interest.
Marston’s – H1 Analysts’ Meeting:
Marston’s has this morning reported H1 numbers for the 26 week period to 2 April 2016 and our comments are set out below:
The supply of new units is potentially a negative in certain ‘hot-spots’
However, for the most part the group does not compete in these areas and, even in areas of intense activity, it believes that the markets will slow a little (in terms of the scramble for property) next year.
The consumer is OK. There is no discernible ‘Brexit’ impact but even moderate price rises need to be ‘earned’
Legislation and changing attitudes towards sugar, salt, fat etc. are now a feature of the market
Within this market, Marston’s believes that it can add value via:
It’s new build. Here it will open 20 pubs a year and 5 lodges.
It’s broad appeal. It is not faddy or overly-focused on one area of the market. The group has lodges, premium outlets, community pubs, a major beer business etc.
The group now controls, either through management or franchise, most of its units.
Accommodation will be an area of focus going forward. Marston’s has around 850 rooms on 51 sites at present. LfL sales here are up by 12%. MARS will look to open larger units (currently c40 beds).
Detail re Marston’s approach. The group has been busy on the ground. It has 200 new build pubs, over 100 rotisseries and or pizza ovens, it is pushing non-alcoholic drinks, it has learned from the casual diners, has reinvented the burger etc. etc. This represents good, solid management. There have been no quick fixes or sleights of hand.
Behind the scenes, the EPOS system is being replaced and customer satisfaction scores have been increasing
The group has led the way on franchising (2009) and new build (around the same date). Franchising arguably began as a defensive move but now it has moved on. Over 50 franchisees turn over >£10k per week and some do >£20k. The group is trialling a new-build franchised pub in the North East & has one franchised lodge
The group is not pushing price. Some competitors are jacking list prices & then discounting
The MRO is not a big deal for Marston’s. Only c14% of EBIT comes from leased pubs. Relations are by and large good and smaller units, which could have been problematic, have been sold
See earlier Flash Note for comment on LfL sales, margin, profits etc. H2 will be a shade more challenging. Comps are tougher & the NLW will impact margin.
Key point to get across, perhaps, is that the earnings drag caused by the disposal of bottom-end units has ran its course
Earnings growth should pick up and balance sheet and gearing metrics improve
H2 is the bigger half and Debt/EBITDA, fixed charge cover etc. should all improve further by the end of the year
Langton Comment: Earnings growth has picked up and, though comps will be more challenging in H2, Marston’s has reassured that trading remains in line with expectations.
The group, as much as consumer-facing companies can be, is the master of its own destiny and, with its new-builds contributing well, its breweries taking share and its estate of managed and franchised pubs performing strongly, forecasts are healthily underpinned.
Hence we believe that, trading at around 11x earnings and offering a yield of almost 5%, Marston’s shares offer good value.
RECENT WEBSITE ARTICLES:
• Main features London hotels, slowing markets, Restaurant Group etc. Link to index page – here
• Ongoing tweets found – here
PUB, RESTAURANT & DRINKS PRODUCER NEWS:
• Coffer Peach April Tracker shows LfL spend in pubs & restaurants down by 0.8% in April. Easter fell in April last year.
• Coffer Peach says that a drop in pub sales in April ‘undermines growth in [the] casual dining trading’.
• April Tracker: The April fall of 0.8% follows a sluggish 0.6% rise in March, a month that should have benefitted from Easter
• April Tracker: Says ‘while restaurant groups saw like-for-like trading increase 2.5%, pub groups experienced a 2.7% decline’.
• April Tracker: London better than provinces, spend in capital +1.0% but down 1.3% outside the M25. Peach’s Peter Martin reports ‘April’s performance can in part be put down to the cold weather, to Easter being in March rather than April this year and also to the general slow-down in the wider economy in the run-up to the Brexit vote, but the underlying fact is that the overall market has been essentially flat since the start of the year, with April’s numbers coming on the back zero growth in February and only a small uptick in March.’
• April Tracker: Concludes that trade has been ‘essentially flat’ since the beginning of the year. Peach’s Peter Martin says ‘the cold weather in the month also helps to explain why restaurants did better than pubs.’ Poor weather tends to empty beer gardens. Mr Martin says ‘but taken together we are seeing a slowdown in market growth. Industry sentiment at the start of the year was that 2016 was going to be a tougher year than last, and that seems to be panning out. Optimism levels among operators are still positive, but down on 2015.’
• April Tracker. Total sales, including new openings, up by 3.1% suggesting around 4% has been added to capacity. Davis Coffer Lyons comments ‘the global business environment is now learning to deal with a period of long term uncertainty. This has led to UK economic indicators weakening’. It adds ‘with the number of new openings continuing to exceed closures, the pressure on operators is unlikely to diminish for the rest of the year.’
• Fever Tree updates on trading says is ‘pleased to announce that momentum seen in 2015 has continued into the start of 2016.’ It says ‘Fever-Tree has outperformed expectations in the first four months of the year as the premium mixed drink movement continues to grow. This strong performance, alongside a currently favourable foreign exchange environment, has also driven gross margin improvements.’ The group concludes ‘given the strong sales in the period to date, the Board anticipates that the results for the full year ending 31 December 2016 will be materially ahead of market expectations.’
• Young’s revenue for the year ending 28 March 2016 was £245.9m (+8.3%), driving a 9.6% rise in adjusted operating profit to £41m and a 13% increase in adjusted basic EPS. The group’s managed houses division grew sales by 8.7% in total and 5.6% LfL, for a third consecutive year of over 5% like-for-like growth, while sales in its accommodation business rose by 11.6% to £10.4m.
• YNGA: On the current year’s trading, Young’s says that: ‘Managed house revenue in the first seven weeks of the new financial year was up 8.1% in total and up 5.3% on a like-for-like basis.’ Meanwhile, the group quantifies the New Living Minimum Wage cost to £2m, and comments on its outlook: ‘Our trading environment continues to benefit from high employment levels, improving wages, and a period of longer than expected low inflation and interest rates.’
• Britvic’s H1 figures for the 28 weeks to 10 April show revenue up 5.1% to £678m on a constant currency bases, with EBITA up 7.1% to £69m. Adjusted EPS increased 6.1%, the interim dividend is up 4.5% to 7p, and adjusted net debt to EBITDA has been brought down from 2.2x to 2.0x.
• Britvic. Simon Litherland, Chief Executive Officer commented: ‘We have reported a 7.1% increase in EBITA in the first half of the year despite the challenging customer environment and continued price deflation in our core markets. We have outperformed the soft drinks category in each of our core markets, gaining market share as a result. Our recent acquisition in Brazil is growing ahead of last year and Fruit Shoot multi-pack is being launched in the USA.
• Britvic. We continue to invest behind the longer term drivers of growth – supply chain efficiency in GB, innovation and our international businesses – and I remain excited about our ability to drive sustainable revenue growth in the years ahead.’
• Diageo has appointed private equity specialist Javier Ferrán as its new chairman from 1 January 2017.
• Booker total sales grew 5% to £5bn in the 52 weeks to 25 March 2016, although a 5.2% fall in tobacco sales dragged total like-for-likes down 1.9%. The wholesaler saw operating profit rise 11% to £155.1m, while basic EPS rose by 7% to 7.24p, putting the group on 24 times price/earnings. Booker has raised its full year dividend from 3.66p to 4.6p, and proposes to return an additional 3.2p per share of cash to shareholders (2015: 3.5p).
• BOK. The highly-valued company expects ‘that the challenging consumer and market environment will persist through the coming year,’ and notes that the UK’s food market ‘remains very competitive’ with ‘increasing price competition’, although trading in the first seven weeks of the new financial year is ahead of last year.
• MCA reports that Luke Johnson, when asked whether or not he will buy Giraffe back from Tesco, has been saying ‘watch this space’.
• JDW yesterday announced that it had Tuesday bought back 12k of its own shares at 713p per share
• See comment on UK jobs market in Finance & Markets below.
• Upham Group’s target of doubling the size of its estate within three years remains intact, despite its plans to float on the stock market being pushed back. Speaking to MCA, finance director Robb Harris said the group’s IPO had been delayed due to a combination of weak consumer confidence and uncertainty surrounding the upcoming EU referendum.
• Irish Distillers, a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard, has sold Paddy Irish Whiskey to US-based Sazerac, owner of Kentucky and Buffalo Trace bourbons. Pernod Ricard said the sale was in keeping with its strategy to streamline its portfolio.
• Midlands-based Peach has secured a £9.5m refinancing from Natwest as it looks to expand from 17 to 22 pubs.
• Hull City Council is adamant that Greggs should provide toilets at its sites if food and drink are consumed on the premises. Mr Justice Kerr said that the council’s claim was ‘well-funded’, adding: ‘It is obvious that if a person sits down in a Greggs outlet at the seats provided and proceeds to eat a pasty and a fizzy drink just purchased at the counter for that purpose, that is a normal use of the premises.’ Greggs is expecting a final decision within the next nine months.
• A vote for Brexit would force c-store retailers to increase prices and would do little to fix regulatory issues, according to Chuka Umunna and Vince Cable. Speaking at a pro-EU event earlier this week, shadow business minister Umunna said 28% of produce on high street stores is sourced from the EU and leaving the EU would lead to higher tariffs.
• Nielsen’s Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions shows the proportion of UK consumers switching to cheaper grocery brands is at a record low. Only 22% of consumers changed to cheaper brands in the first quarter of 2016, the smallest amount since the survey began seven years ago.
THOMAS COOK H1 RESULTS:
• TCG cautions that Turkey & drop in Belgian demand are leading it to guide down on FY profits
• TCG H1 numbers. Revenues down 9% at £2.67bn, gross margin higher at 21.7% vs 21.3% last year
• TCG H1: Says underlying loss reduced to £163m from £173m. Loss before tax £288m vs £303m.
• TCG H1. ‘Further progress despite continued market disruption.’ Group is ‘trading well to destinations other than Turkey’
• TCG H1: Summer bookings ex-Turkey +6%. Seeing ‘strong growth to alternative destinations’ but summer down 5% overall.
• TCG H1: Says ‘customers [are] responding to increased focus on quality and service’. CEO Peter Fankhauser reports ‘Thomas Cook has made significant progress in the last six months. Despite disruption in some of our key markets, we’ve managed to slightly grow our revenues on a like-for-like basis, having anticipated the shift in demand away from Turkey, Tunisia and Egypt and into the Western Mediterranean and long haul destinations.’
• Mr Fankhauser carries on ‘we’ve increased our underlying gross margin by 10 basis points thanks to our focus on selling higher quality holidays.’ He adds ‘as we look ahead to our busiest period, Thomas Cook is trading well to destinations other than Turkey, with particularly strong bookings to Spain and the USA.’
• Turkey, well, a Turkey. Mr Fankhauser says ‘however demand for Turkey – our second largest market last year – remains significantly below last year’s levels. This has impacted our German Airlines business in particular. We’ve also seen a sharp decline in demand in Belgium following the tragic attack at Brussels airport in March. As a result, taking into account anticipated foreign exchange translation gains, we expect underlying EBIT for the full year to be between £310 million and £335 million. We continue to expect to pay a dividend in respect of the current year’s earnings
• Mr Fankhauser concludes ‘despite the current market environment, I am confident that the actions we are taking to focus on customer excellence, strengthen our holiday offering, invest in omni-channel distribution, and bring our businesses closer together mean we’re well positioned to meet our existing growth expectations to FY18, creating value for both customers and shareholders.’
• easyHotel has announced that it has been granted planning permission for an 84-room easyHotel in Birmingham. The hotel is expected to open by March 2017.
• Recently-floated tour operator On The Beach has grown first half revenue 21.6% to £35.5m and adjusted underlying PBT is p 53.2% to £9.5m. The group’s adjusted EPS figure is up a similar 51.3% to 5.9p, while net debt has been significantly reduced, from £22.3m to £6.6m. On current market trends, the group observes a shift away from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Western Mediterranean, and a ‘sharp reduction’ in consumer confidence linked to terrorist attacks. Consumers are consequently delaying holiday bookings suggesting the 2016 lates summer period could be much busier than last year.
• Simon Cooper, Chief Executive of On the Beach Group plc, commented: ‘The terrorist acts in late 2015 and early 2016 created uncertainty and volatility in the holiday market however the business has adapted to changes in typical consumer practices by focusing on securing incremental supply in the Western Mediterranean, enhancing margin, delivering operational efficiencies and retaining an efficient level of spend in driving demand to site.
• OTB. ‘In the absence of any future negative market events, we anticipate stronger consumer confidence in the second half of the financial year, buoyed by a strong ‘lates’ market, and are on track to meet our expectations for the full year.’
• Booking data from Club Med points to British holidaymakers planning more long-haul travel as they look to capitalise on foreign exchange rates. Almost half of those traveling further afield are doing so as a result of security scares in Europe, with 31% planning to switch away from France and Greece this year. Destinations including Mexico, the US, Dominican Republic, and Mauritius have seen a surge in popularity.
• Business class fares have fallen to a five-year low, with top long-haul destinations on average 20% cheaper than in the same period in 2011, according to Flight Centre UK. Flight Centre UK retail MD Alison Zacher said: ‘The deals currently on offer are truly amazing. Booking a business class flight is a great way to add a special extra touch to a 2016 holiday.’
• London has experienced a boom in budget hotel openings since the Olympics four years ago, with over half of the 18,000 rooms opened since then in the budget sector. The same sector is set to account for around a third of the 7,000 new rooms coming on to market this year, according to the London Hotel Development Monitor report.
• MERL updates on Q1 saying ‘group trading year to date has been broadly in line with expectations’. It says this is ‘reflecting the continuation of the key trends underlying the 2015 result.’
• MERL says ‘market conditions in London remain challenging despite recent favourable movements in foreign exchange rates.’
• MERL concludes ‘new rides and features opened so far this season, as well as our three new Midway attractions, have been well received and we are encouraged by early guest feedback. The development of new accommodation is progressing well, with the expansion of the LEGOLAND Deutschland Holiday Village already open, and further offerings at Gardaland, Chessington World of Adventures and Warwick Castle on schedule to open over the coming weeks.’
• CINE updates on Q1, says total revenues to week 19 are +9.8%. Says it has seen ‘solid revenue growth.’ Group says ‘we remain confident of delivering a performance for the year as a whole in line with current market expectations.’
• Original Bowling Co has continued its investment programme via a £350k spend at its Birmingham Hollywood Bowl. CEO Steve Burns reports ‘we’re very excited to unveil our new-look Birmingham centre. We’ve evolved the brand considerably over the last couple of years and Park Way is a great example of the future of Hollywood Bowl.’ He adds ‘the refurbishment has already received some excellent customer reaction and is delivering a strong commercial performance. The Park Way centre is the third of several planned refurbishments in 2016 and we are also actively looking for opportunities to open new centres on a nationwide basis.’
• Tony Jiantong Xia, a Chinese businessman and owner of Recon Group, has agreed to buy newly-relegated Aston Villa.
• FT reports that Macau casino owners are betting that the drop in their revenues is bottoming out. Gross revenue fell 10% in April vs a year ago, the 24th straight month of decline. Vice chairman of Wynn Macau Allan Zeman reports ‘it it hasn’t bottomed out, we’re definitely near the bottom.’
FINANCE & MARKETS:
• The Office for National Statistics says the UK jobs market could be ‘cooling off’, following the first drop in the number of vacancies in almost a year.
• Japan’s economy grew faster than expected in the first three months of 2016, with GDP rising at an annualised pace of 1.7%. Higher government spending has served to offset weakness in business investments and exports and stave off recession following period of economic contraction at the tail end of 2015.
• Betting firms up on June rate rise in the US per latest Fed minutes.
• World markets: UK mixed but Europe up. US markets up but Far East mostly down in Thursday trade
• Oil edges back after threatening to break $50 mark. Currently trading at around $48.10 per barrel
• UK average earnings rose by 2% in Q1 this year versus the same period a year ago.
• Eurozone core CPI up by 0.7% in April. Headline figure including volatile items down by 0.7% confirming that deflation is still with us (them).
• Estate agents are claiming a UK exit from the European Union could take thousands of pounds off house values over the next three years. Homeowners in London could lose as much as £7,500, while homes elsewhere in the UK could lose £2,300, the National Association of Estate Agents said, and rents could also fall.
• Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg says that a Brexit vote could hurt UK-EU trade and financial sector businesses.
Retail Roundup from Nick Bubb:
Booker: With today’s finals, the view from Booker that “we anticipate that the challenging consumer and market environment will persist through the coming year and the UK’s food market remains very competitive” seems rather sober, but they also say that “We are on track to deliver an outcome for the new financial year in line with our plans and to make progress in this challenging environment” and Charles Wilson, the highly regarded CEO, says, as usual, that: “Our plan to Focus, Drive and Broaden the business remains on track”.
Planet ONS Watch: We will find out at 9.30am today what life was like last month on the High Street on that bizarre parallel world, the Planet ONS, via the Office of National Statistics’ Retail Sales figures for April (the 4 weeks to April 30th). In the real world, it was, of course, a disappointing month, as per the weak BRC-KPMG survey, given the adverse impact of the cold weather on Fashion sales. And, for what it’s worth, our friends at Capital Economics expect overall year-on-year seasonally adjusted sales volume growth to drop back to only 1.9% and so they have pencilled in flat volumes month-on-month (well below the consensus in the City of +0.6%).
Next Share Buyback Watch: Good old “Mr Share Buyback Man” at Next was in action yet again yesterday, for the seventh working day in a row, picking up his usual £5m worth of Next shares, to take his post-final results activity to a cumulative total of c£75m. That is well on the way to the £112m that Next have earmarked for buybacks in the whole of this year, but once the current Bond refinancing is out of the way, Next may well step up their share buyback activity. If you want to go along to today’s Next AGM (which is being led at the Leicester Marriott Hotel), to ask CEO Simon Wolfson about his buyback plans, you haven’t got much time, because the meeting starts at 9.30am.
News Flow This Week: The Wal-Mart Q1 will be out in the US at around mid-day our time today and Asda are not, for once, holding a briefing for the press to trumpet their own performance, so it will be interesting to see what Wal-Mart thinks of the Q1 figures for Asda and whether profits hold up again in the face of weak sales…The Game Digital refinancing EGM vote is being held at 10am this morning at the HQ in Basingstoke. The Moss Bros AGM is tomorrow and there should be a trading update ahead of that. Finally, the BRC Customer Insight Conference is being held in the City today, with speakers from Tesco, AO, Office, Monsoon, the Co-op and Conviviality. Nick Bubb – email@example.com
Yester-tweet – Yesterday in a Nutshell: Live Tweets on Website:
(SOME OF OUR) EARLY TWEETS:
• Marston’s reports PBT and EPS both up by 12%. LfL sales +3% at Premium & Destination, similarly at Managed & Franchised.
• Marston’s H1. Leased pubs’ LfL EBITDA +3%. Managed margins higher. Will end year level on back on NLW.
• MARS H1: Debt/EBITDA 5.0x (down from 5.4x a year ago) & fixed charge cover up to 2.6x from 2.4x last year.
• MARS H1: Winners & losers in respect of sales (JDW & MARS vs RTN and perhaps MAB) are beginning to make themselves known
• MARS H1: New build continues, forecasts maintained, shares cheap at 11x this year’s earnings with 4.9% yield
• Pat Val reports H1 numbers. Revenue +14.4% at £50.0m, EBITDA +21.3% at £10.6m, PBT +20.6% at £8.4m
• CAKE H1: Reports EPS 6.6p vs 5.5p & maiden interim dividend of 1p. Group opened 12 stores in H1.
• CAKE on H2 trading. Says ‘we continue to control costs tightly’ & says it is ‘confident of achieving the Board’s expectations for FY’
• SSP Group results for the six months to 31 March show like-for-like sales up 3.3% and operating profit up 28%
• SSP: H2 trading has started in line with expectations although the group warns of tough comparatives.
• SABMiller FY results show a 5% rise in net producer revenue, with volumes up 2% and EBITA growing by 8% thanks to 60bps margin bump
• Around 2m tonnes of food is wasted every year in UK grocery supply chain per new report by Wrap, equal to £1.9bn in lost sales
• UK CPI fell to 0.3% in April per ONS. Cheaper flights dragged the number down (impacted by shift of Easter)
• UK house price inflation jumped 9% in March as landlords rushed to buy ahead of stamp duty changes, according to the ONS.
• Marston’s H1 analysts’ meeting. Reassures as to H2 trading, currently in line, financial metrics to improve further in H2
• MARS: Says supply of new units is potentially a negative in some ‘hot-spots’. Marston’s doesn’t operate in these (casual dining) locations
• MARS: Says consumer is OK. Brexit not an issue but even moderate price rises need to be ‘earned’
• MARS: Master of its own destiny via new build & controlling its assets via management & franchise system.
• MARS: Says it will build bigger lodges. Aims to own them leasehold. Is replacing EPOS system. Good, steady stuff.