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03/02/2000

AGM Trading Update made by Sir Ian Prosser, Chairman of Bass PLC, at the company's Annual Genera

AGM Trading Update made by Sir Ian Prosser, Chairman of Bass PLC, at the company's Annual General Meeting Thursday 3 February 2000.

In the first sixteen weeks of the year (thirteen weeks for Bass Hotels and Resorts) the group has made good progress. The hotel division, which last year accounted for almost 40 per cent of the group’s profits, has made an excellent start to the year. Our domestic businesses in leisure retailing and branded drinks have traded satisfactorily.

Inter-Continental continues to perform well, with RevPAR increases in the owned and leased estate of 10.1 per cent in Europe and 5.2 per cent in North America. Across the system as a whole, RevPAR grew by 9.7 per cent. We continue to add distribution and last month announced that we had acquired the Stephen F Austin hotel in Austin, Texas to add to the Inter-Continental brand.

In North America, Holiday Inn traded well with a RevPAR increase of 4.4 per cent, while Crowne Plaza RevPARs increased 3.2 per cent. Holiday Inn Express continued its strong growth with a 7.1 per cent increase in RevPAR. We now have 2,154 midscale hotels in the Americas, with 305,503 rooms, compared to 2,051 hotels and 299,692 rooms a year ago.

Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza have also shown good growth in EMEA. RevPAR in the owned and leased estate grew by 6.2 per cent for Holiday Inn and 2.8 per cent for Crowne Plaza.

Our investment in our pub and restaurant business continues to achieve the anticipated returns. In the core estate food sales have grown by 9.8 per cent and drinks sales by 4.1 per cent. In aggregate, turnover is up 5.3 per cent with profits in line. Like for like sales show some improvement over the second half of last year, both being ahead by 1.0 per cent overall on an invested basis, and being down by 1.3 per cent on an uninvested basis.

The former Allied Domecq pubs that were acquired shortly after the start of the financial year are trading in line with our targets. We have confirmed the potential for developing these outlets under our brands and they are successfully being integrated into Bass Leisure Retail with the introduction of our electronic retail systems expected to be completed this month.

Bass Brewers’ volumes were up 3.4 per cent over the previous year, with volumes up 25.5 per cent in the Off trade and down 3.8 per cent in the On trade. As a result Bass Brewers has once again increased its share of the market in both channels. The benefit of this increase in volumes has been offset by the margin pressures that have continued to affect both the On and the Off trade and the effect of the change in channel mix.

Our core brands continue to out perform, with Carling volumes ahead by 16 per cent, Grolsch by 34 per cent and Worthington by 8 per cent.

A review of the Beer Orders has been announced by the Office of Fair Trading. We welcome the opportunity to have the regulations relating to our brewing and pub businesses clarified.

The soft drinks market remains competitive but Britvic is performing well with volumes up 3 per cent. Robinson's value share of the dilutables market is now 37.1 per cent, and 1.9 percentage points higher than in the previous year. Pepsi's volume share of the cola market has increased in the last quarter of 1999.

We are pleased that each of our divisions is consistently delivering against their key business objectives. The extensive restructuring of the group that has taken place over the last few years confirms our commitment to creating value through investment in strong brands and markets with long term growth potential.

---ends---

For further information, please contact:  
Richard North, Finance Director 020 7409 1919
Jonathan Atack, Investor Relations 020 7409 8153
Mark Rigby, Media Relations 020 7409 8571

Appendix

US Hotels Performance - 1st Quarter*

Bass Hotels & Resorts: Fiscal Year 99 / 00 U.S. Results
 
  1st Quarter BHR: CY99
  Oct - Dec Jan - Dec99
 
Occupancy
%
% Pts +/-
CY
% Pts +/-
 
Holiday Inn
59.5
-0.2
65.5
0.0
Holiday Inn Express
58.3
0.4
64.7
0.9
Crowne Plaza
66.5
0.3
69.1
0.2
 
Ave Rate
$
% Growth
CY
% Growth
Holiday Inn
75.86
4.5
76.77
4.7
Holiday Inn Express
65.50
5.9
66.35
5.6
Crowne Plaza
112.15
4.3
108.07
4.2
 
RevPAR
$
% Growth
CY
% Growth
Holiday Inn
45.15
4.1
50.27
4.7
Holiday Inn Express
38.20
6.8
42.95
7.0
Crowne Plaza
74.63
4.9
74.63
4.5
 
System Size at 31/12/99
 
 
Hotels
% Growth
Holiday Inn
1,100
-2.8
Holiday Inn Express
904
14.6
Crowne Plaza
67
4.7
 
 
Rooms
% Growth
Holiday Inn
212, 176
-2.2
Holiday Inn Express
70,536
13.7
Crowne Plaza
21,146
1.4

*Based on returns submitted by franchisees up to the date of this announcement.

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