Langton Capital – 2020-11-26 – M&B, Fuller’s, Britvic, New River, UK Tiers, Spending Review etc.:
M&B, Fuller’s, Britvic, New River, UK Tiers, Spending Review etc.:
A DAY IN THE LIFE:
Business Secretary Alok Sharma has written to Langton reminding us that, in a month or so, the UK’s transition period with the EU will end.
That’s kind of him but, as we are 98% of the way or so through the period from the referendum to our final jettisoning out of the Bloc, we can’t help thinking that he might have written a bit sooner.
And, as his letter gently reminds us that the bottom may be about to fall out of our corporate world, I looked for a phone number to ring him and tell him that he’d been a bit tardy with his warnings & should perhaps have mentioned this financial Armageddon scenario a while ago, perhaps some time in early 2016.
However, probably wisely, there are no phone numbers whatsoever on the letter and I couldn’t find his mobile or a number to get him on at the House of Commons.
And I can’t go there to see him in person because we’re all locked down, the website links don’t really get me anywhere and they don’t give his email address. So he presumably would advise us to continue with our existing policy of ignoring emails from European sources telling us they won’t deal with us post December because the UK’s VAT registration requirements are too onerous etc.
But we’ve added something now as we’re also sticking our fingers in our ears and saying la-la-la repeatedly so that we fit in pretty much with the rest of British industry.
And certainly with the crowd of muppets that we’ve sent to Westminster who are boldly leading us to greatness via penury. On to the news:
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BALANCE SHEETS WILL BE MORE STRETCHED AFTER COVID. Perhaps survive first & worry about the balance sheet later. But will this change behaviour? 26 Nov 20:
• As we mentioned yesterday, the road to normality is becoming visible even if it is not likely to be easy.
• Most companies should and hopefully will survive. But their balance sheets will be stretched in many cases and this could change future behaviour. See Premium Email
OTHER PREMIUM CONTENT: See also extended comments on the Tier system & the Spending Review (which are included in the premium email only) in blue below.
MITCHELLS & BUTLERS FULL YEAR NUMBERS: Mitchells & Butlers has this morning reported full year numbers and our comments are set out below. 26 Nov 20:
• M&B reports that sales for the year came in at £1,475m, a fall of 34.1% on last year
• Operating profit was £8m (FY 2019 £297m) with a loss before tax of £123m against a profit of £177m last year
• Basic loss per share was 26.2p vs a profit per share of 33.5p in 2019. There is no dividend
• M&B reports that it took decisive action in face of the Coronavirus crisis and it says that its new financing arrangements ‘provide security and flexibility’. See Premium Email for analysis
FULLER’S REPORTS H1 NUMBERS:
• Fuller, Smith & Turner has reported H1 numbers for the 26 weeks to 26 September 2020 saying that sales were £45.6m, down from £167.1m last year.
• The group is reporting an adjusted loss before tax of £22.2m versus a profit of £17.9m last year. Debt excluding lease liabilities is £187.4m against £23.0m at the end of H1 last year. There is no dividend.
• Fuller’s says ‘managed like for like sales outside of London were 92% of prior year. Overall like for like sales were 75% including transport hubs and Central London pubs.’ London is clearly tough
• FSTA says its financing and liquidity position is ‘underpinned by strength of freehold portfolio’
• FSTA says it is seeing ‘successful trading from staycations in our hotels and pubs with rooms – particularly in popular tourist destinations – with occupancy levels of 79%, demonstrating the benefits of our balanced estate.’
• It adds re current trading that all units are closed with 98% of team members furloughed
• It says ‘like for likes sales in our Managed Pubs and Hotels for the 34 weeks to 21 November 2020 at 69% of prior year’
• CEO Simon Emeny comments ‘the imminent roll out of a vaccine is excellent news for the future. The tightening of the tier system will present further challenges over the winter months, but we welcome the Prime Minister’s comments that we will see the need for restrictions fall away in the spring. Without doubt, a return to normality is in sight.’
• Mr Emeny says ‘we know our customers want to come back’ and says ‘we are optimistic about the future in the medium term and beyond, but there is no doubt that this will be a tough winter and a very different looking Christmas.’
• FSTA says ‘we will start to reopen our estate in a measured way, navigating the tier system and the restrictions that come with it. However, it is important that we see beyond these obstacles and look at the bigger picture. The excellent news of successful vaccines gives us confidence where previously there was uncertainty, and with the sensible decisions we have taken during the pandemic, Fuller’s is well-placed for future success.’
• CEO Simon Emeny concludes ‘this business is armed with a well-invested and well-balanced, freehold estate, excellent people, robust financial foundations, a clear and consistent strategy, and the drive and desire to lead the way out of this crisis. The long-term future for Fuller’s looks positive.’
PUBS & RESTAURANTS:
Trade very much out of love with the Government #1 – The Proposed New Tier System continued:
• Details on which regions are in which tiers later today.
• In the meantime, UKH says ‘the government’s new tighter tier system is at best a restrictive straitjacket and at worst a lockdown in all but name for hospitality businesses’
• UKH says ‘hospitality jobs are at the core of the grave unemployment forecasts the Chancellor announced today, yet the sector has shown repeatedly, most recently in August, how those jobs can help deliver economic growth for the economy. But it can only do so if it survives the winter, and that means getting the necessary support now. The increase to the National Minimum Wage will be a great benefit to many workers in our sector only if the businesses that employ them are still around.’
• It says ‘the hospitality sector is key in preventing unemployment getting out of control. The sector is being hit hardest by this crisis, but it is also the sector which could lead the recovery of the economy if given the chance. As demonstrated after the financial crisis in 2008, we can provide jobs, investment and opportunities in every region of the UK and the economy back up to full speed. Once the crisis has passed, people will want to go out for a drink or a meal, take a holiday or enjoy their newly gained freedom with their family and friends. Hospitality is central to all of this.’
• CEO Kate Nicholls says ‘we can only deliver the growth that the Treasury desperately needs if we survive the winter. If hospitality does not get the support it needs right now, businesses will fold and jobs will be lost. That is not just a disaster in the short term, it undermines the efforts to recover next year and into 2022. We have already lost 600,000 jobs. Support must be comprehensive and swift if we want to stop that figure from rising and avoid the nightmare of unemployment the Chancellor spoke of.’
• UKH calls for ‘a swift announcement to fill the gap in hospitality previously filled by the Job Retention Bonus, coupled with a solution on rents, is critical for immediate survival. Subsequent revival will be hugely benefited by then extending the VAT cut and the business rates holiday. Every venue that we can save now means jobs safe and secure as we look to rebuild.’
• The Society of Independent Brewers says the ‘PM and Chancellor ‘failed in their duty’ to address issues facing Hospitality and brewing industries.’
• It says ‘today, at PMQs the Prime Minister had the opportunity to address the devastating and unjustified restrictions being forced upon hospitality during what should be the best month of the year, but he did nothing. The Chancellor at his spending review had the opportunity to right a past wrong – that breweries have suffered the hardest during this crisis and received little or no direct support. Both failed in their duty to take these opportunities.’
• It says ‘SIBA will continue to work with other trade and consumer bodies to press the Government to see past the narrow view they are taking on coronavirus and address the wider damage they are doing to jobs, businesses and the irreplaceable culture of the UK’s pubs and breweries.’
• A second HospoDemo is to be held in London’s Westminster next month. The group has announced that the second protest will take place on Parliament Square on Monday 7 December at 11am, and attendees are encouraged to “bring the tools of your trade to make as much noise as possible, so those making the decisions that are killing our industry hear us loud and clear”.
• The organisers of HospoDemo say ‘the tier restrictions announced earlier this week will be the “final straw” for many businesses which were looking to the Christmas period for much-needed trade, and is calling for either fewer restrictions on the sector or more financial support.’ It says that hospitality is being made the scapegoat once again.
• Kevin Georgel, CEO at St Austell Brewery tweets ‘once again, the Great British pub and British breweries are facing an existential threat. This time, not as a direct result of the pandemic but as a consequence of the Government’s unfair and illogical targeting of our sector.’ He says ‘since March, we’ve worked tirelessly and collaboratively to support the nations battle against Covid-19. We’ve closed our pubs, invested millions in re-opening safely and played a responsible role in balancing the public health risk and the economic impact.’
• Georgel adds ‘as a result of this work, pubs are proven to have one of the lowest levels of transmission rates. YouGov consumer research also shows that the public feel safer in pubs than they do in shops or on public transport.’ He says ‘against this backdrop, we are devastated that the Government has singled out the Great British Pub once again and is enforcing illogical restrictions on us, without sufficient targeted support. The Great British pub is part of our social fabric.’
• St Austell says ‘we’re urging the Government to work in partnership with the hospitality industry to arrive at a more balanced approach, while offering targeted and longer-lasting financial support at this critical time.’
• Founder of Oakman Inns Peter Borg Neal tweets ‘the sheer spitefulness of some of these decisions lead me to think that there is an underlying agenda within Public Health England and other bodies to permanently damage the hospitality industry. Certainly protecting public health is not served by this.’
• As mentioned, details on the new Tier system will be made public tomorrow. Continued in Premium Email.
Trade very much out of love with the Government #2 – The Spending Review:
• The British Beer & Pub Association ‘the lack of action by the Chancellor to save pubs and jobs by giving them the proper support they need is staggering. It seems pubs have now been cast adrift by the Government. To save businesses and jobs the Chancellor needs to come back to the House this week and set out an enhanced package of support ahead of the new tier system coming into effect.’
• CEO Emma McClarkin says ‘not only is the Government unfairly rendering pubs unviable or forcing many of them to stay closed this Christmas, it isn’t even giving them the full financial support they need to survive. Whilst the news of a review of business rates reliefs in the New Year is a glimmer of positive news, it is not nearly enough.’ Continued in Premium Email.
• The Food & Drink Federation is happier. Its members serve both the on and off-trades and, if they have been flexible enough, have not suffered during the Covid pandemic to the extent that the hospitality industry has.
• The body says ‘today’s Spending Review announcement will be broadly welcomed by the food and drink industry, particularly the Chancellor’s commitment to additional investment in skills.’ It says ‘it is encouraging too to see further money committed to R&D, which we hope will deliver long- term benefits for food and drink manufacturers across the country.’
Trade very much out of love with the Government #3 – On Trade Consultancy Webinar.
• OTC held another webinar yesterday hosted by Rupert Culme Seymour. Anthony Pender (Yummy Pubs), James Nye (Anglian Country Inns), Garry Mallen (GC Mallen) and Philip Thorley of Thorley Taverns took part.
• The participants expressed the firm belief that the hospitality industry had been unfairly treated. Venues are regularly cleaned (and they always have been), they are well ventilated and operate out of typically much larger rooms than will be found in residential houses.
• Pushing people into households will remove a check and balance and facilitate the spread of the virus.
• Re the future, the participants, along with many other people, would like to see the back of 2020 and see evidence of the (or a) vaccine being rolled out. It would be nice to get people socialising again and we should get the young back to work. Basic human interaction is currently absent and working from the back garden will be less fun in the winter (and less novel) than it was in the spring and summer.
• There was a general call for more financial support and both a hope and a belief that there was a pent-up demand to get back out into hospitality venues. Many companies have borrowed heavily (and not some of their bills) and balance sheets will need repairing. Landlords and suppliers might need to help. The Webinar can be found here
• Britvic reports FY numbers saying sales fell by 6.8% to £1.4m with profit after tax up 16.9% to £94.6m. EPS fell 27.8% to to 43.2p. The company CEO Simon Litherland says the company is continuing ‘to navigate the changing landscape successfully.’ He says ‘we have also made considerable progress executing our strategy and we are well positioned to drive future growth and returns.’
• Britvic adds ‘we have extended our GB carbonates relationship with PepsiCo to 2040 and expanded our presence in the energy category through the addition of their Rockstar brand’ and concludes ‘we are confident that we will continue to react with agility and pace as events unfold. Soft drinks has repeatedly proved itself to be a highly resilient category, and we fully intend to be at the forefront of its recovery.’
• New River reports H1 numbers saying it is seeing ‘operational resilience and improving liquidity.’ CEO Allan Lockhart says ‘the first half of the year was a period of unprecedented disruption and yet our operational performance has proved to be resilient. We have seen a significant increase in leasing activity…which has led to occupancy in our retail portfolio increasing to more than 96% during the period. This reflects both our affordable rents and focus on essential and convenience retail.’
• New River says ‘while our markets continue to be disrupted by COVID-19 in the short term, given the resilient first-half operational performance and the confidence we have in our portfolio it is the Board’s intention to reinstate a covered dividend at the full year.’
• Over fifty pub bosses have written to PM Boris Johnson saying that the industry is facing the “darkest of moments”. Executives from companies including Marston’s, Fuller’s, Carlsberg UK, Greene King, and Heineken UK have called on the PM to publish the evidence justifying further restrictions on the industry.
• The letter says ‘the pub is clearly being singled out for exceptionally harsh and unjustified treatment and unless your government changes course, and soon, huge portions of this most British of institutions will simply not be there come the spring. We believe it is in the interests of openness and transparency that any evidence showing pubs to be the source of outbreaks of the virus, and thereby justifying these extra restrictions, must be published immediately.’
• The letter continues ‘your Winter Plan, compounded by the Christmas announcement, have been greeted with utter dismay and incredulity by publicans up and down the country, and made the situation facing us exponentially worse.’ It says ‘it is clear that pubs are being scapegoated despite a lack of available evidence that they are any more responsible for outbreaks than other types of venue. We cannot stand idly by and allow these measures to destroy our businesses.’ It concludes by calling for financial support in line with suggestions made by UKH.
• France is to ease its strict coronavirus restrictions this weekend believing that the peak of the second wave has now passed. However, bars and restaurants would have to remain closed until 20 January.
• UK pub bosses have warned that the next rise in the living wage will lead to job losses. The rate is due to rise by 2.2% to £8.91 an hour from April 2021, lower than the £9.21 rate previously expected.
• The Resolution Foundation says that the Covid-19 crisis could cut average pay by £1,200 a year by 2025. It says ‘the Covid crisis is causing immense damage to the public finances, and permanent damage to family finances too, with pay packets on track to be £1,200 a year lower than pre-pandemic expectations.’
• It’s worth taking a step back to look at 2020 as the year is beginning to draw to a close. M&C points out that, only a year ago, 2020 ‘promised to be a good year for the Great British pub sector, with large sporting events including the Olympics and the Euros set to take place; outlet decline projected tail off; and several of the bigger groups making transitional deals to strengthen their positions as pub operators.’
• This didn’t happen. M&C says, nonetheless, that ‘despite the considerable challenges facing the pub market, it remains an adaptive industry with opportunities for resilient and resourceful operators.’
• Property advisor Avison Young has released its UK National Outlook 2021 suggesting that ‘despite the challenges, we believe workplaces will remain a key space for collaboration, innovation, relationship building and mentorship, sustaining a level of demand in our key markets throughout 2021.’
• It says ‘by and large, workers will go back to the workplace once it’s safe to do so but a greater share of homeworking will form a larger part of workers’ lives.’ The former will be a source or relief to Pret etc whilst the tail end of the sentence is a little more concerning.
• Avison Young suggests downsizing could ‘see an increase in the supply of ‘grey space’ coming on the market. This is an understandable reaction to companies’ inability to use their space during the pandemic but we need to wait and see how much of this space is reoccupied once the recovery sets in.’
• In the US, the National Restaurant Association reports that, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau, “eating and drinking places” registered $55.6 billion in sales on a seasonally adjusted basis in October—a notch down from the $55.7 billion in sales in September.’
• The NRA says ‘the Census Bureau’s unadjusted data set as a better measure of the industry’s sales losses during the pandemic, as it represents actual dollars coming in the door. According to those unadjusted numbers, between March and October, sales at eating and drinking places were down nearly $175 billion from expected levels. When you factor in foodservice in other sectors, such as lodging, healthcare, education and more, the shortfall is $215 billion during the last eight months.’
• It’s Thanksgiving today in the US today and Black Friday tomorrow.
HOTELS & LEISURE TRAVEL:
• Discover Ferries says that the majority of UK consumers are unaware of the changes that affect travel to the EU and Ireland after December 31. It says 62% of people do not know they may need an International Driving Permit and 70% are not aware they need a Green Card from their motor insurers.
• UKinbound says the Chancellor’s Spending Review was a “missed opportunity” to help domestic tourism businesses. Chief executive Joss Croft says it was an opportunity to help struggling inbound tourism businesses that, if supported now, will significantly aid the country’s economic recovery.
• French ski resorts are unlikely to open before January
• HVS has hosted a webinar that has been told there is likely to be a rise in hotel insolvencies over the near term. Liquidity is likely to be one of the biggest challenges
• STR suggests that UK hotel rates seemed to be levelling off around 30% below their 2019 levels. But it says that discount ‘has increased as we have moved into this second lockdown, and last week ADR was 44% lower than last year.’
• Netflix is to increase its spend on making TV shows in the UK to $1bn this year. The BBC’s total annual content budget across TV, radio and online is £2.3bn
• Pinterest is reported to be entering the online events market
FINANCE & MARKETS:
• Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said that the “economic emergency” caused by Covid-19 has only just begun. He says we are about to endure the biggest economic decline in 300 years with the UK economy set to shrink by 11.3% this year and not return to its pre-crisis size until the end of 2022.
• Government borrowing is setting new records and the number of unemployed people in the UK is expected to rise to 2.6 million by mid-2021. Sunak says Coronavirus will leave ‘long-term scarring’ on the UK economy
• The Guardian reports that the government ‘has privately admitted the UK faces an increased likelihood of “systemic economic crisis” as it completes its exit from the European Union in the middle of a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.’
• The UK and Canada have agreed to set up a new trade deal next year
• Sterling lower vs dollar at $1.3387 but up a little vs Euro at €1.1224. Oil higher at $48.86. UK 10yr gilt yield down 2bps at 0.31%. World markets lower in Europe yesterday but Far East up in Thursday trade & London set to open up around 18pts.
RETAIL WITH NICK BUBB:
• Today’s News: On top of the Motorpoint interims today, there is plenty of other news out. The second-hand car supermarket chain Motorpoint says that “since fully reopening all branches in July, demand levels have exceeded management’s expectations and indeed the prior year performance. Margins have also been above recent levels”, with the 14th branch (Stockton on Tees) on schedule to open in late December. The embattled Mulberry has also released interims, which tell a different story, with revenue down 29% and down 19% in the last 8 weeks, but they make no mention of the recent stakebuilding/bid plan by Frasers Group. We have also had finals from the Aussie-based Online retailer MySale (in which the beleaguered Philip Green still has a stake), headlined “A recapitalised, restructured and repositioned business with firm foundations for future growth”. And Boohoo has announced that
TRADING STATEMENTS & EVENTS:
Upcoming results are set out below:
• 24 Nov 20 Compass Group FY numbers
• 26 Nov 20 Fuller’s H1 numbers
• 26 Nov 20 Britvic FY numbers
• 26 Nov 20 New River H1 numbers
• 2 Dec 20 Loungers H1 results
• 2 Dec 20 Shepherd Neame AGM
• 2 Dec 20 Stock Spirits FY numbers
• 4 Dec 20 Shepherd Neame AGM
• 8 Dec 20 Vianet H1 numbers
• 10 Dec 20 Marston’s FY results
• 10 Dec 20 On the Beach FY results
• Est 15 Dec 20 Fulham Shore H1 numbers
• 17 Dec 20 Revolution FY numbers
• 17 Dec 20 JD Wetherspoon AGM
• 22 Dec 20 Revolution AGM
• 12 Jan 21 Nichols FY trading update
• 20 Jan 21 JD Wetherspoon H1 update
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