Langton Capital – 2019-03-29 – Fullers, Franco Manca, CAKE update, discounts, staycations etc.:
Fullers, Franco Manca, CAKE update, discounts, staycations etc.:
A DAY IN THE LIFE:
I read a book the other day called So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson in which the author, who’s main topic was the current fashion for demanding apologies for anything that has offended, is offending or may at some point in the future offend you.
And very interesting it was too but, the thing that stuck with me was just how many professionals there are out there who are paid to ‘scrub’ the Internet and remove info that puts their client in a bad light.
In fact, ‘scrub’ is probably the wrong word as even the most powerful oligarchs etc (you know, the ones taking out super-injunctions all the time etc) can’t remove stuff. They just have to drown it out with positive or at least neutral information.
Hence the ‘date rape’ allegation or whatever gets relegated to page twenty of the Google search so, with that in mind, I Googled my own name and, for some reason, it was in connection with an article in that illustrious morning eye-opener, City AM.
And the headline that comes back top of the Google search is ‘City Bids Farewell to Ancient Broker’ which, since I was a dashing 40-something (at least at the time), I thought was a bit rich.
The headline, however, had nothing to do with the bit about me which was quite a pleasant article about the setting up of Langton Capital nearly ten years ago. Still, forever, the words ‘Ancient,’ ‘Broker’ and ‘Brumby’ will be linked online. On to the news:
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PATISSERIE HOLDINGS STATEMENT OF AFFAIRS. THE HORROR STORY CONTINUES. 29th March 2019:
Statement of Affairs lodged with Companies’ House. Not pretty. See Premium Email.
Arcane piece of accounting mumbo jumbo or prelude to a financial horror show? See Premium Email.
GENERAL NEWS – PUBS & RESTAURANTS:
• Fuller’s beer disposal progressing. EGM date announced, CMA on side & certain directors to leave the company.
• Fuller’s has updated on the disposal of its beer business to Asahi saying a circular will be posted to shareholders later today. An EGM to approve the disposal will be held on 24 April.
• Fuller’s says Asahi has received CMA approval to complete the deal. The group is to delay the announcement of its FY numbers to 25 July (was 7 June) in order to finalise the disposal. The group says Simon Dodd will resign as Managing Director of The Fuller’s Beer Company and as a Director of the Company on 30 April 2019. In addition, Jonathon Swaine will resign as Managing Director of Fuller’s Inns and as a Director of the Company on 11 October 2019 and Richard Fuller will resign as Corporate Affairs Director on 31 January 2020, but will remain on the Board as a Non-executive Director.
• Discounts still much in evidence. Prezzo 40% off mains, ASK 30% off mains and Domino’s offering 35% off orders over £30.
• Telegraph reports ‘the company behind restaurant chains Franco Manca and The Real Greek is poised to start paying dividends despite the ongoing malaise in the casual dining sector.’ It says ‘Fulham Shore said both sales and profits were expected to be ahead of the previous year, steadily increasing each quarter.’
• Fulham Shore had ‘a particularly strong trading performance’ in the final few weeks of its financial year to March. The Telegraph says ‘Thursday’s optimistic trading update came as many chains continue to suffer from a so-called “casual dining crunch”.’ This has been caused by rising rents, ‘punitive’ business rates and wage inflation.
• Four strong wine-bar chain Vinoteca has appointed advisors as its looks to secure funding for its next stage of growth reports Propel. The company, which was incorporated in 2005, last reported accounts for the year to end-March 2018. The group reported at the time that retained profits fell during the year by £410k to minus £35k. Shareholders’ funds fell to £468k. The company last year closed its restaurant and bar in Beak Street, Soho. See yesterday’s comment on High Street operators.
• The rising number of staycations this summer reported under leisure travel below (with a boost to Easter too) should be good news for the country’s pubs
• Pizza Express is relaunched its Langham Place, Oxford Circus yesterday to test a new offer with more emphasis on bar space and an extended cocktail list. The company is also exploring grab-and-go options with its new pizza by-the-slice concept Za in the City.
• AlixPartners Growth Company Index names Sticks ‘n’ Sushi as the UK’s fastest-growing restaurant group, with 8 sites in the UK. Indian operator MW Eat Group came second and Oakman Inns third.
• Bessemer Investment Partners, a New York PE firm, acquires 73 Taco Bell restaurants in Texas from KorMex Foods.
• UKHospitality responds to the BMC report on alcohol and cancer, saying ‘While this study will drive some headlines in the popular press, it is entirely misguided and misleading, and we believe the BMC should and must do better. All studies agree that there is an immediate health risk from smoking, from the first puff onward, whereas studies show that this is not the case with drinking alcohol. Indeed, moderate drinking can benefit wellbeing, so to try to compare the two in this way is completely wrong.’
• Grind announces it will put the extra money raised from its crowdfunding towards an additional site should it hit £3.5m. The original campaign target was £1.35m, with money raised currently sittinng at £3.1m.
• Zonal reports turnover maintained at £54m for the year ended 30 June 2018, with a 95% yoy increase in SaaS sales revenues and operating profit down from £4m to £3.7m. The company also announced a 41% increase in R&D spend to £6.9m.
• Zonal CEO Stuart McLean said ‘This is a milestone anniversary for Zonal as we celebrate 40 years since our founder, and my father, Ralph McLean, launched the company after inventing the first hospitality EPoS system for our family hotel.’
• Lidl will roll out its damaged veg box initiative across the UK. Fruit and vegetables that aren’t in perfect condition are sold in a mixed 5kg box for £1.50.
HOLIDAYS & LEISURE TRAVEL:
• A study by travel industry digital marketing specialist Sojern claims more British holidaymakers are opting to take domestic breaks this summer instead of travelling abroad. UK holiday searches and bookings are up by a third on this time last year, according to the study.
• Airbnb announces it has checked in its 500 millionth guest. The company is set to acquire HotelTonight in a deal reported to be worth roughly $465 million. Airbnb is reportedly valued at $31bn.
• Lyft increases its IPO share price range to $70-72 per share, set to list on Friday. At $72 per share Lyft could raise more than $2.2bn at an initial valuation above $20bn. The previous price range outlined by the company was $62-68 per share. The group has settled on a valuation based on $72, valuing the firm at $24.3bn.
• Icelandic budget carrier Wow Air collapsed yesterday morning, stranding thousands of passengers. The airline struggled to attract investors and announced yesterday ‘Wow Air has ceased operation. All Wow Air flights have been cancelled.’
• For the week ending 23 March, STR reports US hotel occupancy up 0.2% to 69.6%, ADR up 0.2% to $133.65 and RevPAR up 0.4% to $93.02.
• The National Cyber Security Centre finds Huawei still poses a threat to national security, saying it could ‘only provide limited assurance that all risks to UK national security from Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s critical networks can be sufficiently mitigated long-term’.
FINANCE & ECONOMICS:
• Nationwide reports house price growth of 0.4% in the year to Feb, up from 0.1% in the year to Jan. It says ‘after almost grinding to a complete halt in January, annual house price growth remained subdued in February, with prices just 0.4% higher than the same time last year.’
• Nationwide adds ‘indicators of housing market activity, such as the number of property transactions and the number of mortgages approved for house purchase, have remained broadly stable in recent months, but survey data suggests that sentiment has softened.’
• Guardian reports car manufacturers’ Brexit anxiety is now ‘at fever pitch’. Around 80% of the cars made in this country are exported, more than half of them to the EU. The SMMT says ‘the ninth month of decline for UK car production should be a wake-up call for anyone who thinks this industry, already challenged by international trade hostilities, declining markets and technological disruption, could survive a no-deal Brexit without serious damage.’
• Sterling down at $1.2069 and €1.1636. Oil up at $68.14. UK 10yr gilt yield down 3bps at 0.99%. Not good news for those calculating pension fund liabilities to 31 March. World markets better yesterday with Far East higher this morning.
• Brexit, politics etc.:
o Vote today but not clear yet whether this will be MV3 or not. Commons may be looking for something, anything that it can agree on. Even ‘Today is Friday’ would struggle in this environment.
o Odds of everything, whilst not arithmetically possible, seem to have increased. Vote may be a wish list item, no comment on the political declaration going forward.
o The BBC reports that the EU free-trade deals achieved to date are ‘incomplete’. The BBC says ‘this is despite claims from ministers that these deals have been rolled over in their entirety.’ A deal with Switzerland has been signed but the CBI has complained of the “gap between rhetoric and reality” from ministers over these deals.
o FT reports just over 70% of respondents to a poll in the paper favoured revoking the Article 50 exit process altogether. By contrast, this was only the fifth most popular option among MPs in Wednesday’s “indicative votes”.
PRIOR DAY LATER TWEETS:
• The High St. Even sexiest of chains ultimately need to make profits. That’s often when the dream comes to an end. See Premium e/m
• Fulham Shore – trading in line, good end to year, openings to be stepped up, dividend now possible, group believes will ‘continue to thrive’.
• Time Out FY. Sales up but EBITDA loss of £8.1m (vs a loss of £14.2m last year). It says this is ‘in line with expectations.’
• Mr Kalanick’s City Storage Systems has acquired FoodStars, which runs over 100 commercial kitchens across London.
• Synergy Grill manufacturer Active Food Systems awarded ‘Accredited Supplier’ status the Carbon Trust. First chargrill maker to do so.
• Nationwide: House prices +0.4% in year to end-Feb. Adds ‘measures of consumer confidence weakened around the turn of the year.’
START THE DAY WITH A SONG:
Yesterday’s song was Rasputin by Boney M. Today who sang:
When I’m drivin’ in my car, and the man come on the radio,
He’s tellin’ me more and more about some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination
TOPICS FOR CONSIDERATION IN PREMIUM EMAIL:
• Thematic pieces including Pubs vs Restaurants, Delivery, Experiential Leisure, Crowd Funding, CVAs, Employemnt levels (& costs) etc.
• Occasional ‘deep dives’ into stocks (Pat Val, RTN etc.), trends etc.
• Book reviews. Black Swans, The Honest Truth about Dishonesty, Dark Pools, Lean Start Up, Smartest Guys in the Room, Client Nine, Black Edge, The Billionaire’s Apprentice, Thinking Fast & Slow, Wizard of Lies & many others.
• Accountancy, Audit & other, thrill-a-minute topics
• Behavioural economics. Over-confidence, Hofstadter’s Law, confirmatory bias etc.
• Other. Guest contributions, From the Archive etc.
RETAIL NEWS WITH NICK BUBB:
Mr Bubb is taking a well-deserved break.