- Lowered second-half guidance

- Consumer confidence significantly weaker

- Medium-term expansion plans intact

American-themed casual dining brand company Hostmore (MORE) lowered its expectations for second half trading after recognising a more ‘challenging’ consumer environment.

Management believes consumer confidence has weakened ‘significantly’ since the invasion of Ukraine, which is contributing to the current cost of living crisis.

Consequently, it is taking a more prudent view on trading for the remainder of the year and now anticipates like-for-like dine-in volumes may reduce by 8% compared with 2019 levels.

A combination of lower volumes and cost increases means EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) margin is anticipated to be in low double-digits.

However, the company is retaining its medium-term ambition to achieve a mid-teens EBITDA margin.

The downgrade disappointed investors and the shares traded 12% lower at 43.8p. The shares have lost 72% of their value since listing in November 2021.

TRADING IN-LINE WITH MARKET

For the 20 weeks through 22 May like-for-like sales are around 6% below pre-pandemic levels but dine-in sales which are the main focus for Hostmore, are said to be tracking the underlying market.

On a positive note the company’s efforts to focus on quality, relevance and simplification appears to be bearing fruit with customer satisfaction scores improving.

Early hedging of energy and successfully limiting food and beverage increases has mitigated the impact on margins.

Chief executive Robin B Cook commented: ‘We are not where we expected to be, however, I am able to report a financial performance which, regardless of the arduous challenge and extreme economic headwinds being encountered presently, allows us to confidently continue with our development strategy.’

EXPANSION PLANS INTACT

Strong cash flow from operations is enabling the self-funded store expansion to continue. The opening of a Fridays in Chelmsford and a Fridays & Go in Dundee have both traded ahead of expectations.

The firm is on track to open a further three sites during the remainder of the year. Management is sticking with its medium-term ambitions to almost double the number of sites from the current 89.

LEARN MORE ABOUT HOSTMORE

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Issue Date: 26 May 2022