By | January 4, 2018



Stonegate Pub Co has updated on Xmas trading saying that it has delivered a strong Christmas performance. The 701-strong group says all of the Group’s formats performed well during the core four week festive period with total like for like sales growth up 5.5%, following a strong performance over the corresponding period last year (2016: up 5.3%). Encouragingly, all areas of the country were in growth.

Stonegate reports that it operates a multiple format strategy approach, with a portfolio which operates across a wide variety of predominantly drinks-focussed trading formats spanning high-street and suburban pubs, as well as late-night bars and venues. Re trading, it says whilst all of the Group’s formats demonstrated growth over the period, Slug & Lettuce delivered an exceptionally strong performance with clear evidence of premiumisation as customers traded up to premium spirits, draught, craft beers and sparkling wines, as well as strong cocktail sales. In addition, pre-booked sales were also strong across the Group.

Stonegate CEO Simon Longbottom reports ˜I am delighted to report another strong festive trading period, building on the positive like for like trading momentum which Stonegate delivered in 2017.  Our range of pub and bar formats and consumer propositions continue to resonate with customers and win market share, underpinning our success and confidence in our drinks-led, high street strategy.

Stonegate concludes we enter 2018 with positive trading momentum.  This, together with the leading team in drinks-led pub retailing, a well invested estate and a growing reputation as the consolidator of choice in the high street pub sector, leaves Stonegate well positioned and we look forward with confidence to another year of progress.

Whitbread has announced that chairman Richard Baker is to retire after 9yrs on the board. He will be replaced by Adam Crozier. Whitbread reports Adam has extensive and broad experience as chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi, the Football Association, the Royal Mail and most recently ITV plc, where he served as CEO until June 2017. Adam joined the Whitbread PLC Board in April 2017 and became Senior Independent Director in September 2017.

Incoming chairman Adam Crozier comments Whitbread has two great brands in Premier Inn and Costa, with 50,000 colleagues delivering terrific customer service every day. We have a very strong management team and an exciting plan to continue to deliver growth in our core UK businesses, whilst developing our international business through growth in Germany, China and Costa Express.

EI Group has bought back 131,717 shares for cancellation at 142.4p.

Prezzo offering 50% off main courses till 14th, Pizza Express offers 30% off food. Cafe Rouge offering 40% off till 12 Jan. Bella Italia 2-4-1 on mains, Harvester 40% off. Whitbread getting in on the act with Bogof at Brewers Fayre; £5 dishes at Beefeater. It’s January, sure, but margin where art thou?

Pricing. Pint and a half in a Sam Smith’s pub on the south bank yesterday, £4.80. Price for the same round in an All Bar One not 200yds away? Some £8.20.

Remarkable Pubs reports that it delivered like-for-sales growth of 9.2% across its 13 comparable pubs in the four weeks of December. The group opened one new pub, the Virgin Queen in Hackney bringing the total thriving quirky London pubs in the estate to 14′ Group MD, Elton Mouna, reports ˜our sales growth was achieved by the focus, skills and the hard work of a brilliant team of people I love working with. We are now looking forward to 2018 a year brimful with opportunity.

McDonald’s staff, who protested over poor pay and working conditions recently, are to be awarded their biggest raise in 10 years”. Last September, employees from Cambridge; south London went on strike.

Gaucho Group, the Argentinian themed restaurant group, has appointed former M&B director Oliver Meakin as its new chief executive. Meakin is replacing the group’s founder and CEO Zeev Godik. Meakin commented: ˜Joining Gaucho Group represents an exciting opportunity for me to return to restaurants, a sector which I am particularly passionate about. I believe there are significant opportunities for the Gaucho and CAU brands, which are recognised for offering fantastic Argentinian steak and customer-recognised, industry-leading service.

Strada has closed up to seven restaurants after Christmas eve, including its sites in Blackheath, Newbury, Cobham, Clapham, Horsham and Harpenden. The Italian restaurant chain has blamed rising costs of rent, wages and business rates for the closures.

The experience economy grew 12.2% in 2017 according to data from Barclaycard, the PMA has reported. Consumer spending on travel climbed 3.3% whereas the household category fell by 0.4%

Durham Distilleries has announced its intentions to produce a single malt whisky as the group commits to expansion plans this year.Head distiller, Jessica Tomlinson, commented: We’ve really honed our craft over the last four years widely establishing our gin and vodka, seeing it positioned on shelves in stores and venues next to brands which have been around for decades. The chance to be part of whisky history is a limited opportunity for fans of the spirit as well as those interested in the region’s heritage, with reservations now open.

Refresco’s proposed £935m takeover of soft drink maker Cott has been referred for full investigation by the UK’s competition regulator over concerns it could push up prices. Refresco chief executive Hans Roelofs said the company was willing to look at ways to reduce that problem.

Surcharges on credit and debit cards in retail stores will be prohibited from the 13 January. A survey by the Association of Convenience Stores shows that around 13% of retailers still have a surcharge for card payments. However, it will remain legal to have a minimum spend for card transactions – 33% of retailers currently adopt this policy.

Influential MP’s are calling for a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles.

The Met Office has said that recent stormy conditions have now passed and the weather will gradually turn drier and colder over the weekend.


So how was it? There may not be many readers fully back at their desks this week but please take a moment to let us know. And, perhaps more importantly, how does January feel? Results & feedback later in the week.

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