Tim Martin offloads further £50m in JDW shares
As reported by The Morning Advertiser’s (MA) sister title MCA, JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has sold 4.37m of ordinary company shares – at a price of £11.50 – netting him £50m and reducing his company stake to 21.88%.
The news comes after Martin sold £5m worth of company shares in December, which at the time left him with a 27% stake in the business – a move which itself followed on from another £5m sale in the summer.
The latest sale on 26 January was in response to “significant buying interest following the company placing last week”, according to the operator.
The business recently raised £93.7m in new equity following a share placing, which it said would strengthen the company’s balance sheet and help provide a buffer against low in-venue sales upon reopening.
Martin has agreed to a lock up arrangement on his remaining 28,174,709 shares which runs until the release of the company’s full year results for the 52 weeks to 25 July 2021 in September.
Chancellor implored to act to save pub jobs
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been pressed to extend vital support for hospitality, after figures reveal the sector as the hardest hit by job losses once more.
The food and accommodation sector was worst hit by the rise in unemployment in the three months to November, according to figures published on 26 January from the Office for National Statistics.
The number of people unemployed in hospitality increased by more than 50,000 on the previous year – up 54,000 on the year to 171,000.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), said she feared job losses “could get a lot of worse unless action is taken”.
Overall unemployment in the UK increased to 5% from 4.9% in this period as the pub sector battled additional trading restrictions and regional closures.
Timothy Taylor’s hires new estate operations director
Brewer and pub operator Timothy Taylor’s has announced Paul Turner will become its new estate operations director replacing Steve Robinson, who will retire from the beer and pub industry after more than 45 years.
Though having only spent the last two years working with Timothy Taylor’s 19-strong pub estate, Robinson’s career includes spells at Wilsons Brewery, Heron and Brearley and Robinsons Brewery – where he worked as a business development manager for more than eight years before joining Timothy Taylor’s.
“I have been lucky enough to spend over 45 years in the licensed trade, working for nationals and family brewers,” Robinson said. “The past two years at Timothy Taylor’s have flown by. I shall miss my work colleagues and the day-to-day involvement with the pubs.”
New hire, Turner, joins the brewery from Daniel Thwaites where he has spent the last 11 years.
“I’m very much looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that this new role brings with it,” Turner said of his appointment. “Timothy Taylor’s has a great reputation in the industry for its family values and genuine care for its pubs and tenants and I am looking forward to being part of that tradition.
“The pubs are in a great position and all looking forward to reopening whenever this becomes possible. My main task will be to build on the excellent work that Steve has done in furthering the development of the small but high-quality Taylor’s estate.
“Thanks to Steve for all his support and advice during the handover and I wish him all the best in his well-deserved retirement.”
City Pub Group chiefs defer 25% of salary until pubs reopen
The operator of 48 pubs across southern England and Wales reported that revenue for the 52 weeks to 27 December plummeted from £60m to £25.7m – a 57% dive.
The City Pub Group, which currently has four development sites on top of its near 50-strong stable, attributed the sharp drop in revenue to Covid-enforced closures and restrictions throughout 2020.
What’s more, in light of the most recent lockdown measures, the group announced cash burn had reduced to in the region of £300,000 per month – excluding Government grants with the exception of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
With the exception of eight members of staff, all of the company’s employees had been placed on furlough while the group’s directors have deferred 25% of their salary from 1 January until pubs reopen – having already sacrificed 50% of their salary between March and June, and 25% between July and October.
Other cost cutting measures employed by the Group included the suspension of capital expenditure barring minor essential remedial works and a £300,000 upgrade at the Hoste Arms in North Norfolk, which City Pub Group acquired for close to £9m in April 2019, to increase the trading area on the ground floor and enhance 10 remaining hotel bedrooms.
The group also claimed to have made “considerable progress” with its landlords who, on the whole, have agreed to “sensible compromises” and “minimal rents”.
Only a Pavement Away announces Zonal partnership
Hospitality charity Only A Pavement Away has announced the launch of its first Winter Warmth campaign in Scotland in tandem with hospitality technology company Zonal to support the country’s rough sleepers.
Zonal volunteers will pack and distribute clothing, sleeping bags and toiletries for Scotland’s homeless throughout the new Winter Warmth campaign in March, which follows on from successful campaigns in English cities such as Brighton, London, Norwich and Manchester, where in the region of £115,000 worth of donations were distributed.
“For more than forty years, Zonal has been a true pioneer within hospitality and a real asset to all those they have worked alongside,” Greg Mangham, founder of Only a Pavement Away, said.
“As we have celebrated a significant number of achievements over the past year at Only A Pavement Away – including facilitating over £80,000 worth of food donations since Christmas – partnering with Zonal felt like a no brainer and we couldn’t think of anyone better suited to help us as we expand our support for hospitality into Scotland.”
Stuart McLean, CEO of Zonal, added: “After following Only A Pavement Away’s story for some time now, we became determined to lend our support, and everyone at Zonal is delighted that we will now be bringing Winter Warmth to Scotland this year to help those experiencing destitution.
“With the whole hospitality industry having taken such a hit in 2020, it’s fantastic to be collaborating with Only A Pavement Away who carry out such vital work.
Winter hospitality shifts down 81% versus 2019
The number of hospitality shifts worked in 2020 was 47% lower than 2019’s overall figure – peaking at a 97% drop during the toughest months of the sector’s shutdown.
According to the latest figures from income streaming provider Wagestream, the number of shifts worked recovered to 57% of non-pandemic levels be at the height of in-person dining during the summer, after pubs were allowed to resume trading from 4 July under Covid-secure restrictions.
As previously reported by The Morning Advertiser, data from hospitality software provider Fourth found that the Government-backed Eat Out to Help Out scheme increased the scheduled hours worked by hospitality staff from 12.9m in July to 20.1m in August – an extra 821 years’ worth of work.
However, winter and its further restrictions heralded an 81% nosedive versus 2019 levels, according to Wagestream, as pubs were forced to close under England’s second national lockdown, which was bookended by regionally tiered restrictions which further stifled trade.
A recent survey from global intelligence platform Streetbees found that just one-in-four (26%) Brits visited a pub between England’s nationwide lockdowns in November and January while a small number of sites were open under tiered restrictions.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson eventually announced a third national lockdown on 5 January amid increasing numbers of daily Covid cases and deaths.