Trade News – July 2021

FULLER’S

The effect of the lockdown closures was starkly indicated by the accounts for Fuller, Smith & Turner (the pub company). For the year ended March 2021 they reported a loss of £50 million, as against a £166 million profit in the previous year. Trading for the period April to June this year was at only 76% of normal expectation. The company has however continued to invest in its estate and refurbished ten of its pubs while they were locked down. In April 2021, Fuller’s issued additional shares valued at £52 million to strengthen their balance sheet.

All Fuller’s pubs have now reopened and all of their tenanted pubs are operating. Full rents became payable again from 26 June. They are looking to capitalise on the ‘staycation’ boom through their hotels. Chief Executive Simon Emeny did however acknowledge that there were ‘challenges’ with recruitment and their supply chain. Problems with both are however not unique to Fuller’s. In June, the chief executive of the Road Haulage Association said that the shortage of HGV drivers had reached ‘catastrophic proportions’.

STONEGATE EXPAND CRAFT UNION MODEL

Further to my article on the Supreme Court case about Uber contracts in the last edition (page 11), Stonegate have announced that they are continuing with and expanding the Craft Union brand, originally created by Enterprise Inns. Three of the latest pubs involved are the Arsenal Tavern in Finsbury Park, the Blue Anchor in Bermondsey and the Kilkenny Tavern in South Wimbledon. The advert for the ‘operator’ of the latter promises “18% of the weekly net turnover to pay yourself and your staff” although it also says that a £500 bond is required “to begin your business as a self-employed pub operator”. Interestingly, the pub is (quite correctly) described as ‘100% wet led’. I wonder if the 18% figure would change if there was a food offering.

CITY PUB GROUP EXPAND

CPG are looking to expand to around 100 sites and are focusing on ’large market towns in southern England and Wales’. They have however started closer to home with the acquisition of the freehold of the Roundhouse in Wandsworth for a reported £1.1 million. The chief executive, Clive Watson, told the Morning Advertiser, ‘’We have been very encouraged by how we have traded since reopening despite the continuing restrictions. I would like to thank personally all our staff and suppliers for their ongoing commitment. We have put in place a strong platform for growth, and we believe that when we are allowed to trade restriction free we will build to levels higher than 2019.”

NEW VENTURE FROM ETM GROUP

The founders of the ETM Group, Ed and Tom Martin, have set up a new pub company called Maven Leisure. They plan to open seven sites in London, including a rooftop bar in King William Street in the City. The funds required for the project, £4.3 million, will be sourced from private equity. A report in the Morning Advertiser suggested that many landlords in central London are now offering prospective new tenants rent free periods at the start of leases to avoid having properties stand empty.

 SIMPSONS MALT

he effects of the lockdown are widespread. Simpsons, a fifth generation family owned company, recorded a profit before tax of £4.7 million for 2020, as against £9.8 million in 2019. Many of the company’s customers for malt in the brewing and distilling industries at first either closed or operated at significantly reduced production levels. Trade did however pick up in the second half of the year, particularly with brewers who were finding new and different ways to supply beer to their customers. With thanks to Christine Cryne for the information.