Tim Martin – we’ve taken £51.7m CLBILS as a ‘precautionary measure’, hopes business will be profitable again in June: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has told Propel the company has secured a further £51.7m from the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) as a “precautionary measure”. Speaking after the company’s interim results where it reported a 53.9% decline in like-for-like sales in the 26 weeks to 24 January 2021, with revenue down by 53.8% to £431.1m, Martin said he hoped the business would be profitable again in June. He said: “Any business now will build in some sleeve, if they can, for unforeseen events. At Wetherspoon, we say ‘everything depends on the virus’ – but also on government action. If we are open by June without restrictions we, and the industry, will be profitable from that point. The vaccine looks promising, so touch wood. We’re trying to get through the point about transmission – as are many others in the trade – to Sage and the government, but they’ve got cloth ears, unfortunately.” Martin said the company was starting to look at some property opportunities that had arisen from the pandemic but added: “Like others, we’re nervous about government action, which is holding back putting projects on-site.” Martin also felt the circa 870-strong estate was geographically well positioned and would not be adversely affected by changes in consumer behaviour as a result of covid-19. He added: “We’ve sold quite a few pubs in the past five years. If we were to sell any more it would only be a handful.” Issuing a “Reduce” note on the shares with a target price of 1,150p, Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack said: “The interim results are in line, but we are now forecasting lower losses in 2021E to reflect the Budget and reopening programme. However, we are not going to assume much benefit from the extended VAT cut, nor do we expect any price increases. If the chancellor decides to make these VAT reductions permanent, the company intends to retain these lower prices indefinitely. The shares, on a 2023 EV/Ebitda multiple of 10.8 times versus an eight times historical average (all IAS 17) are overvalued, in our view.”
Chipotle to open in Chiswick: Chipotle is to further add to its UK presence, with an opening in Chiswick, as it looks to target further sites in the capital’s “villages”. The company, which operates more than 2,600 sites across the globe, is set to open on the former Byron site in 227-229 Chiswick High Road, later this summer. Jacob Sumner, Chipotle’s European operations director, told local website chiswickw4.com: “We are excited to bring Chipotle’s real food to the Chiswick community with our new restaurant opening on Chiswick High Road this summer. As the first Chipotle restaurant located outside of central London, it will offer an amazing, open-fronted dining room as well as a convenient walk-up window for guests picking up digital orders.” Earlier this month, Propel revealed the brand had secured the former Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) in Northcote Road for an opening this summer. Chipotle, which operates seven sites in central London, plus a delivery kitchen unit in Colindale, is also thought to be in talks on a site in East Dulwich. In February, Brian Niccol, chairman and chief executive of the US brand, said the company was ready to move forward with its UK business. The company, which is led in Europe by ex-Costa Coffee managing director Jim Slater, made its debut in the UK in London Wall in 2015.
KFC business sold to fellow franchisee: KFC UK & Ireland franchisee, the Castlebarn group of companies, comprising 13 restaurants in south east London and the Kent area, has been sold to fellow KFC franchisee, the Caskade Group, for an undisclosed sum. David Catterall and Anton Jebaharan, who have worked with KFC for more than 35 years, acquired Castlebarn in 2007 through a management buyout. The pair also ran Taco Bell restaurants that, like KFC, are part of Yum! Brands, but sold these several years ago in the first step to retirement from their restaurant interests. The buyer, Caskade Group, now operates 47 KFC and 21 Taco Bell restaurants, having joined the KFC family in 1996. Catterall said: “We’re delighted to have completed the transaction despite the covid-19 pandemic, and to have sold to a fellow KFC franchisee.” Smith Cooper acted on the deal. Legal advice was provided to the sellers by Flint Bishop.
Cooplands manages to recover ‘bulk’ of like-for-like sales: South Yorkshire-based bakery and cafe chain Cooplands has reported it has managed to recover “the bulk” of its like-for-like sales in its current financial year. The BGF-backed business said the various government initiatives along with its “loyal customer base” allowed it to exit the first phase of the crisis “in a comfortable position”. During the pandemic, the vast majority of its circa 165 stores have remained open, although its 12 cafes were forced to close between March and June 2020. The company stated: “Going forward, we are not immune from the uncertainties, which are affecting every part of the economy. We continue to monitor the covid situation closely and will ensure we serve our customers in a safe and friendly environment. The introduction of the government’s furlough scheme enabled the company to retain all staff who were temporarily unable to work due to unit closures. The retention of these staff allowed us to resume suspended activities at the appropriate time and recover the bulk of our like-for-like sales.” The company reported turnover increased 6% to £53.4m for the year ending 31 March 2020, compared with £50.2m the previous year. Ebitda grew 3.2% to £3.26m from £3.16m the year before. This was despite trading in the final quarter being affected by two named storms in quick succession followed by the national lockdown in the final week of the financial year.
Kenny Tutt to launch two new Sussex projects: MasterChef winner Kenny Tutt is launching two new projects on the Sussex coast this summer. Tutt, who opened his debut restaurant, Pitch, in Worthing in 2019, is launching Bayside Social in a new luxury development on the town’s seafront. He will also be opening his first Brighton venture, Ox Block, as part of the recently refurbished Shelter Hall – the debut venture by Sessions Market, the ethically driven and immersive food hall concept backed by Imbiba and led by former Deliveroo managing director Dan Warne. Inspired by modern beach clubs and the art deco scene on Miami’s South Beach, Bayside Social will have 180-degree beach views from the glass-fronted building and terrace, as well as offering indoor seating for 40 diners. Opening in July, it will provide all-day casual dining options as well as classic dishes given a twist by Tutt, who won MasterChef in 2018. As part of Shelter Hall, Ox Block will operate in the 15,000 square foot space. Tutt’s new concept is a smoking robata grill kitchen showcasing seasonal meats. It will be open for outdoor dining on Monday, 26 April, and for indoor dining on Monday, 17 May. Tutt said: “My favourite thing about food and cooking is the way that it brings people together, so opening up two new spaces that allow people to do that in different ways is extremely exciting. The past year has been a challenge of course, but it’s also given me time to dedicate to these projects and really decide on next steps following on from the huge success of Pitch.”
Coaching Inn Group invests in mental health training for staff: All general managers, head chefs and senior managers at coaching inn and hotel operator The Coaching Inn Group have received certified mental health training. With help from Hospitality Action, CIC and Mind, more than 40 members of The Coaching Inn Group management team at the company’s 18 sites have received training, including increasing the number of mental health first aiders. A further 120 team members from across the estate also attended mental health workshops in March promoting well-being during the lockdown. Chris Moores, Coaching Inn Group head of HR, said: “The lockdown has been really tough for everyone, not least those in the hospitality sector who have faced extreme uncertainty. We put our people at the heart of our core business principles, and making sure that we have mental health support available at each of our inns reaffirms our commitment to support our people.” The company is set to reopen all 18 of its sites on Monday, 17 May, with team members already completing return to work training and preparing the venues to open.
Franco Manca to open in High Holborn: Franco Manca, the Fulham Shore-owned pizza brand, is to further increase its presence in London, with an opening in High Holborn. Propel understands the company has secured the ex-Byron site opposite High Holborn tube station for an opening later this summer. Fulham Shore, which operates 53 Franco Manca sites and 19 The Real Greek venues, is continuing to build its new openings pipeline for both brands. The David Page-chaired business is understood to have lined up the former Giraffe site in Norwich’s Chapelfield Plain for a The Real Greek opening. Fulham Shore is understood to be in talks on further sites for the Mediterranean brand, in Manchester and at the Cribbs Causeway shopping centre near Bristol. It is also in talks on sites for pizza concept, Franco Manca, in Basingstoke, Horsham and Tunbridge Wells.
Gazette Brasserie secures fourth London site: Gazette Brasserie, the London-based restaurant concept, has secured its fourth site in the capital, in Holborn. The concept has secured the former Vanilla Black site at 17-18 Took’s Court for an opening later this summer. The group already operates sites in Tooting, Putney and Battersea. Vanilla Black, one of the capital’s long-standing vegetarian restaurants, closed last year after 16 years in operation, because its owners said it could not operate in a financially viable way in the aftermath of covid-19. CDG Leisure acted on the Holborn deal.
Tim Hortons to open drive-thru restaurant in Sheffield: Canadian quick service restaurant brand Tim Hortons is to open its first drive-thru restaurant in Yorkshire, in Sheffield. Located at the Crystal Peaks Village Retail Park, the new venue, which is set to open in the summer, will offer dine-in seating for up to 118 guests and drive-thru services. Delivery options will also be made available to those in the local area. The new restaurant, which will create more than 50 jobs, forms part of the brand’s plan to create more than 2,000 jobs across the country, bringing Tim Hortons restaurants to every major town and city by 2022. Tim Hortons operates circa 25 sites in the UK. Professional ice hockey player Tim Horton founded the brand in 1964 to create a space where “everyone feels at home”. Kevin Hydes, chief commercial officer of the Tim Hortons franchise in the UK, said: “As we continue our expansion across the UK, we knew it was only a matter of time before we found the perfect location to bring our first Tim Hortons drive-thru to Yorkshire. We’ve had huge demand to bring the brand to Sheffield and it really excites us to be launching in a city famed for its ice hockey and presence within the Elite League.”