Derek Pain: Bowling chain is on a roll with growth plan
No Pain, No Gain
Friday 03 May 2013
The recovery at Essenden has been remarkable. Five years ago it suffered a £43.6m loss. The comparable performance last year was a £1.3m profit. And Nick Basing, who as chief executive has masterminded the 10-pin bowling chain's renaissance, indicates that the group could eventually emerge as a powerful force in the leisure industry.
"At its full-year results check-up the company, having served over 3.7 million visitors, has been given a clean bill of health across all measures," he reports. "Essenden needs to continue its intense programme of getting fitter and stronger," he says, adding that the intention is to put through a "transformational" leisure acquisition so the skills and wide experience of the management can be utilised.
Mr Basing, who used to run the Chez Gerard and Bertorelli restaurant businesses, declares that the first leg of the revival is now over and the directors believe the group, despite the nation's economic difficulties, can "sustain a prosperous future".
Clearly the group has endured a difficult time since, as Georgica, it was born out of an operation called Allied Leisure around the turn of the century. AL had a spread of interests but Georgica decided to concentrate on 10-pin bowling and snooker. The snooker side was sold around the time that Essenden itself was created to become a 10-pin bowler.
At the statutory pre-tax level the group was still loss-making – albeit a modest deficit – but I would expect the bowling operation to produce "true" profits this year whether or not Mr Basing's envisaged takeover occurs.
The no pain, no gain portfolio acquired the shares in November at 24p. The price is, as I write, around 31p. Essenden is, in effect, a second time around constituent. It was a portfolio member when the group was known as Georgica. Before troubles took hold the shares were sold, netting a handsome profit.
Another portfolio leisure constituent, the Spirit Pub Company, with 1,200 outlets, has rolled out interim profits that helped to reverse a share decline. The price before the figures fell to 55p, but once they were released it rallied to around 65p, against the 42p paid by the portfolio. Mind you, the profits were not outstanding, as the influence of the cold, bleak winter impacted. Still, they were better than anticipated.
At the statutory pre-tax level the figure fell to £12.7m, but allowing for £7.3m of exceptional charges the return was up 3 per cent at £20m. The half-time dividend is increased to 0.68p a share.
Last time an interim of 0.65p was followed by a 1.3p final.
Spirit embraces such pub brands as Fayre & Square and the oldest chain of them all, Chef & Brewer. The managed pubs increased sales by 1.4 per cent, but income from its leased and tenanted estate was down 2.9 per cent, although the chief executive, Mike Tye, said the performance was "stabilising".
He added: "We are well placed to perform strongly during our key summer trading period, and we remain confident of delivering our full-year expectations".
Two other constituents have attracted attention. Booker, the cash and carry chain, has won a higher share target from the Goldman Sachs investment giant. The US group has placed a 135p price tag, up from 121p.
Booker, which has now received formal clearance from the Competition Commission for its £140m takeover of the rival Makro warehouses, is due to report full-year figures this month. The shares are 118p; the portfolio paid 24.5p.
The other constituent requiring my attention is Avation, the aircraft leasing group. It has acquired another Airbus A320-200, bringing its commercial passenger fleet to 21. Five of them are Airbus A320-200 models. The newcomer is being leased to an Australian airline for 61 months.
The build-up of Avation's operations has been impressive. Jeff Chatfield, the chairman, says the average age of its fleet is now 8.7 years as it reduces interest in aircraft that are no longer produced. The group's shares have, however, been a disappointment; they are priced at 76.5p compared with the 83.5p the portfolio paid in January 2011. The stockbroker WH Ireland forecasts profits of £7.2m this year, a performance that, if achieved, would suggest the shares are undervalued. The broker has a 140p target.
Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk
The best deals on personal loans: Peer-to-peer providers are more competitive for smaller sums
China stock collapse: Five things you need to know about 'Black Monday'
Questions of Cash: 'Our dividends seem to have disappeared when TSB was bought and then born again'
My Tinder date asked for a refund when I declined a second meet up
The most expensive cities in the world 2015
- 1 Barbarians vs Samoa interrupted by sprinklers as fans criticise lack of Wi-Fi and poor seating at West Ham's Olympic Stadium
- 2 Watch the Supermoon live: How to see the brightest Moon of the year tonight
- 3 Hulk Hogan wants to be Donald Trump's running mate in the US Presidential election
- 4 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
- 5 David De Gea to Real Madrid: Real finally get their man with £29m bid for Manchester United goalkeeper
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Day In a Page
In a sandbanks location, moments from the beach, this three-bedroom apartment has a large open-plan living area and a south-west facing balcony.
This four-bedroom home has an annexe accessed from the side of the house, with potential for improvement and conversion subject to the necessary permissions.
In the heart of the hamlet of Wardley, this five-bedroom period home offers countryside views and a stylish interior, with original features and open fireplaces.
Offering countryside views and landscaped gardens, this three-bedroom Grade II-listed lodge has a spacious conservatory and a large cellar that could serve as a workshop.
Set in approximately 1.5 acres, this four-bedroom home comes with a second, detached property that's currently used as an annexe.
In the hamlet of Newchurch, this former parish church is now a four-bedroom home complete with clock tower and eyrie.
Offering scenic views from a large balcony and sun terrace, this four-bedroom home has a wraparound garden and a heated swimming pool.
Offering views across the Humber and East Yorkshire Wolds from a glass panelled balcony, this four-bedroom barn-style home befits a life of leisure.
This four-bedroom home offers versatile accommodation with annexe potential; features include a hot tub, sauna and Norwegian BBQ hut.
Well-located for schools, colleges and the town centre, this contemporary thatched cottage offers flexible living space with six bedrooms.
Built in 1907, this four-bedroom Edwardian period home has been refurbished by the current owners, retaining many original period features.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this five-bedroom home offers living space across three floors.
This lovely country home in Burnham Market is currently run as a popular holiday cottage, with five en suite bedrooms and colourful gardens.
This three-bedroom 17th-century former village bakery is just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
Set on a landscaped plot, this light and airy four-bedroom home comes with a log burner in the lounge, a fitted kitchen and an open-plan ground-floor layout.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.
Less than five miles from Malmesbury, this four-bedroom cottage comes with equestrian facilities and gardens that extend to approximately three acres.
Spanning three storeys, this late-Victorian five-bedroom farmhouse is a spacious family home with a modern interior and B&B potential.
With an original church arch, this triplex one-bedroom church conversion has a light, spacious, feel and comes with a secure off-street parking space.