News

Canadian firm Onex Corporation has entered discussions with investment bankers regarding a potential sale of UK holiday park firm Parkdean Resorts, as it looks to cash in on the UK’s booming domestic travel market.
 
While a timeframe and valuation for the potential auction have not been confirmed, reports indicate that Onex could stand to gain more than the £1.35 billion it paid to acquire the business in 2016.
 
Parkdean Resorts, which is based in the North East, was founded in 2015 through the merger of Parkdean Holidays and Park Resorts. The company has 67 locations across the UK, including many in coastal settings and areas of natural beauty.
 
The company has been a significant beneficiary of the boom in UK “staycations” that has accompanied the easing of nationwide lockdown restrictions. In particular, Parkdean has taken advantage of widespread restrictions on international travel to target new customers.
 
This has enabled the firm to set out ambitious investment plans. In May, Parkdean confirmed that it would embark on a £70 million nationwide investment plan during 2021, with £22.5 million set to be spent acquiring over 700 new lodges and caravans, £12 million for new technology and £13 million for maintenance. The company also revealed plans to build three “Parks of the Future”.
 
The UK’s boom in domestic holidaymaking has led to a surge in M&A activity in the sector. Deals have ranged from major investments by private equity firms, such as CVC’s £250 million takeover of holiday park operator Away Resorts, to acquisition drives by market leaders, such as the numerous acquisitions made by holiday cottage platform Sykes Holiday Cottage.
 
If a sale of Parkdean Resorts does go ahead, then this would be among the biggest deals to result from the boom in UK domestic travel M&A.

Andy Nairn is one third of the founding team behind one of the most successful and prolific creative agencies on the planet – Lucky Generals.
 
Along with his colleagues Helen Calcraft and Danny Brooke-Taylor, the Lucky Generals team works for some of the biggest brands and companies, from Amazon and Co-op, to Yorkshire Tea, Ovo Energy and Virgin Atlantic and they have been responsible for some of the most iconic creative campaigns over the last decade or so.
 
Ever disruptive, always highlighting the best of his clients, Andy also chose to write a book about luck – ‘Go Luck Yourself’ on how to turn misfortune into good fortune and spot opportunities in unexpected places.
 
Importantly, he wants to share his luck with others and the royalties from book sales are being donated to Commercial Break, an organization that helps working class talent break into the creative industries.
In this show, we discuss:
  • The definition of luck
  • Alternative creative strategies
  • How Commercial Break organization helps widen the creative talent pool
  • How to on-board working class talent
  • Is the creative industry too left wing?
  • What makes a great client
  • How to attract great clients
  • Andy’s top 3 advertising campaigns of all time
  • Choosing the voice that you think you should have
  • What’s with Alaska?
  • David Bowie’s anthem for strategists

Listen to the full show here:https://thefuelpodcast.com/andy-nairn-lucky-generals-working-class-hero/

First came the Xerox machine, then photocopiers, email and in 2000, the internet – all of which have revolutionised how agents work.
 
But the next revolution? It’s ‘voice search’, the latest online trend created by millions of us now ‘talking’ our online searches into our smartphones and smart speakers via Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant.
 
Richard Murray (pictured), CEO of property software firm Veco, says this latest tech trend is set to transform the work of property professionals just as profoundly as its predecessors.
 
“People constantly use their phones to look for locations around them at any given time and voice search is becoming increasingly popular in local searches, such as ’restaurants near me’, ‘one bed flat near me’ or ‘estate agents near me’,” he says.
 
Google stats show that 65% of 25-49 year-olds talk to their phones at least once a day, while 78% of smart speaker owners search for local business on a weekly basis, with 46% saying they perform these searches daily.
 
The most common action following a voice search is a call to the business they searched for. Other common follow-up actions are visiting the business’s website (27%), visiting its location (19%), conducting research on the business (14%) and conducting more research into other businesses (12%).
 
Murray says this kind of online search is catching on largely because it’s quicker than typing.
 
“For example, typing ‘three-bedroom house in Leatherhead with a garden shed and garage’ is a pain typing on a mobile. Saying the same phrase out loud is quick and easy,” he says.
 
“Voice search presents new opportunities for the property industry – from streamlining work processes and creating new channels of communication, to marketing properties and engaging clients in a more natural way.”
 
To take advantage of this, Murray says estate agents need to optimise their websites to take advantage of this new way of searching, target the questions are likely to be asking, and use a more natural, spoken language within your website – rather ‘corporate speak’.
Revolution Bars Group said trading, following the easing of lockdowns, has been ahead of expectations, but remains wary of further pandemic restrictions heading into the Christmas period.
 
The Manchester-based operator of 67 premium bars released a trading update for the first quarter, today, which said that, during the period from July 19, to October 2, its sites have experienced strong demand delivering same site sales growth of 17% when compared with the same period two years ago, when the business traded normally pre-COVID.
 
The 56 English sites, which had no restrictions over this period, traded at 21% higher when compared with two years ago. In line with the previously communicated plans the group has re-commenced its refurbishment programme.
 
This strong trading performance was well ahead of the company’s expectations for this period, and costs have continued to be well controlled resulting in good profit generation from these sales.
 
However, the group said that, while confident in the outlook for the business in the current trading environment, the board remains cautious of the potential impact of an escalation of COVID-19 and any associated restrictions on the business in the upcoming key trading months, including corporate Christmas parties.
 
The group’s balance sheet remains strong, with net cash of £3.7m and £36.5m facility headroom as at October 6, 2021. The group intends to publish its preliminary results for the year ended July 3, 2021 on November 16, 2021.
 
Chief executive, Rob Pitcher, said: “We spent the lockdown periods working extremely hard to refine and enhance our brand propositions with a key focus on heightening guest experience.
 
“As a result, it is extremely encouraging to see we have capitalised on the pent up demand we predicted, which has been reflected in excellent trading so far this year. We are, therefore, confident in the group’s outlook assuming that there are no further restrictions on our ability to trade.”
Uncommon has released its first campaign for Twinings tea, capturing the wellness benefits associated with the classic drink while modernising its image for new audiences.
 
’Alive in Every Drop’ consists of a trio of cinematic films shot by James Marsh which drag the classic caffeinated drink from its staid image of clinking china, tea cosies and raised pinkies through a series of ’tea moments’.
 
This includes a morning dance routine powered by Twinings Glow blend as well as a moment of serenity on the beach in the company of the Calm blend. Rounding off the series for the Focus blend is MC Nino who conducts a live performance with his cuppa in hand.
 
Filmed with a focus on health the promotional work positions Twinings as a wellness brand while dispelling entrenched stereotypes of tea drinkers by capturing people enjoying moments of exercise, reflection and concentration.
 
In a blog post Uncommon Creative Studio wrote: “The campaign speaks powerfully to Twinings purpose of empowering people get the most from life, but also seeks to depict a modern image of tea in the UK. We’ve never enjoyed more varieties and blends of tea in our lives but the image of tea in the UK is somewhat stuck in the past. Twinings are seeking to address this with these captivating stories of new tea moments.“
 
’Alive in Every Drop’ will run across TV, online and social with the support of out of home executions.
 
Twinings’ high brow approach contrasts with a lewd social campaign conducted by Poundland in 2019 in which an elf was pictured ’teabagging’ a female doll with the Classics blend, prompting Twinings to disavow any knowledge of the controversial tweet.

Formby-based online bathroom supplier, Victorian Plumbing Group, has reported strong revenue growth for the year.
 
The business, which raised £298m earlier this year after floating on AIM a market capitalisation of £850m, issued a trading update for the year to September 30, ahead of releasing results on December 9.
 
It said the financial year finished positively with revenue growth of circa 29%. This reflects strong trading in the first three quarters of the year, more subdued market conditions as lockdown restrictions were eased, before customer demand improved in September.
 
While revenue growth moderated over the summer, gross margins remained strong throughout and adjusted EBITDA for 2021 is anticipated to be ahead of market expectations.
 
Given the widely publicised global supply chain issues that have been affecting many companies, the group said it has been proactive in optimising its stock holding going into the new financial year.
 
It said it continues to progress all of the operational and strategic opportunities outlined at the time of the IPO, and management will provide a further update in the group’s maiden preliminary results on December 9.
The Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) market is currently a £2.7 billion market in the UK, as per a review by the Financial Conduct Authority.
 
While Klarna and Afterpay are credited for pioneering the BNPL trend, London-based Zilch is trying to define the sector in the UK. It also recently passed its 1 million customer milestone.
 
The company’s CEO and founder, Philip Belamant, reveals more about the company, it’s future plans and more.
 
Zilch just announced its 1 millionth customer, which is a notable milestone for the company, that exited beta 13 months ago. The startup shows between 2-5X year-on-year growth rate over its industry peers, including its rivals in the US. Zilch also recently surpassed $140M in sales.
 
“Traditional credit cards come with limits that aren’t linked to a customer’s ability to repay, in fact, the model incentivises providers to facilitate borrowing that leads to interest charges and late payment fees,” says Belamant. “At Zilch, our BNPL model only works if customers are able to repay what they borrow. We’ve built a completely transparent alternative in consumer credit around structured repayment plans, zero interest and no hidden fees.”
 
Additionally, diverging from the credit card models, which monetise late fees and interest, Zilch makes fixed fees per transaction from the retailer including affiliate commissions and advertising. This means that the company makes better money when their customers pay on time and it takes steps such as personalised lending caps and proactive repayment reminders to help customers with affordability.
 
Recent rumours suggest that some established fintechs such as Monzo and Revolut are planning to enter the BNPL segment. If this comes to pass, with new players, the space is bound to get competitive. However, Zilch founder believes that new players rumoured to enter the BNPL space only signifies this segment’s continued growth.
 
“As new household brands join BNPL, the likes of Paypal, Square, Revolut or Monzo will quickly find simple brand recognition alone or division of payments by 3 or 4 isn’t enough to inspire consumer confidence. What matters is how you make BNPL a product, rather than just an add-on feature to a bank card or app,” Belamant notes.
 
The startup also welcomes the possible healthy rivalry that may arise from new players entering the sector. Adding to it, while the new competitors might come up with custom solutions, Zilch is merchant agnostic and enables its customers to shop anywhere Mastercard is accepted. We’re also one of the only BNPL providers to use Open Banking alongside soft credit checks, which have no impact on credit rating.
 
Zilch also acquired NepFin in the US and it is now a tech-enabled direct lender with a banking license. “we’re on a fast-track to launch in the US market early next year. NepFin founder Albert Periu is now our CEO in the US, a huge asset to our plans to launch and scale quickly across the market.,” Belamant concludes.
Technology company Shopmium found in a survey that 74% of those in the UK have changed shopping habits to be greener and that almost everybody (97%) views climate change as an issue.
 
Shopmium adds that “in a clear message to the grocery and FMCG [fast moving consumer goods] industry, eight in 10(80%) say they plan to switch brands for a more environmentally friendly alternatives in future”.
 
The survey comes as many leading producers and retailers are introducing eco-labelling, including most UK supermarkets.
 
More than half consumers surveyed (52%) told the survey that they will use eco-labels to guide purchasing decisions.
 
Among the major buying decisions consumers already seem to have made is to purchase fewer products made with palm oil (35%), with 34% switching to eco-friendly beauty and personal care products.
 
Nearly a third (32%) said they had cut back on meat and fish, rising to 40% in the 25- to 34-age-group.
 
Brands’ eco-credentials do get noticed; a third of shoppers (31%) said they always look out for these when shopping, while more than half (55%) said they sometimes notice these on packaging, with consumers under 35 the most likely to search for these on products.
 
Consumers are not confident in the environmental commitment of brands however, with shoppers rating their overall trust in brands 5.6 out of 10 for eco-credentials, dropping to 3.3 for consumers under 25.
 
Stuart Sankey, head of Shopmium UK, said: “The results of our survey clearly show consumers want to reduce their environmental impact by purchasing groceries, beauty products and other FMCG goods that have good eco-credentials, such as those that are locally grown or come in recyclable packaging.
 
“For the past 18 months, the pandemic has been the central driver of change among purchasing habits but this is set to change as climate change moves to the top of the agenda.
 
The recent IPCC report and upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, show the climate is an issue that can no longer be ignored and consumers will expect to see brands taking swift action to ensure their products have as little impact on the climate as possible.
 
“Given 80% of consumers say they will change their purchasing habits to buy products that have a low carbon footprint; it’s the brands and stores that take the initiative to overhaul their operations and ensure the goods they put out are truly sustainable, that will be the brands and shops of the future.
 
The younger generation in particular, will be seeking products that reduce their carbon footprint and if brands don’t meet their environmental expectations, we expect them to get left behind.”
The two billionaire brothers, who own ASDA, have announced the acquisition of one of the UK's biggest bakery businesses.
 
Mohsin and Zuber Issa who built their empire from a petrol station business in Bury and their founded company EG Group, has acquired Cooplands.
 
The bakery employs more than 1,600 people and was founded in 1885 by Frederick and Alice Coopland and is the second-largest bakery in the country, reports the Manchester Evening News.
 
CS Food Group Holdings, which is behind Cooplands, owns three bakeries that process ingredients and manufacture fresh food.
 
This is then distributed to around 180 stores and cafes - which are mostly in the North East and Yorkshire.
 
In a joint statement, Zuber and Mohsin Issa said: "We are very pleased to welcome Cooplands’ many talented colleagues to the EG Group family.
 
"Cooplands has a proven track record in the fresh bakery sector and vertical integration with EG Group will help to further drive our success in foodservice, where we continue to see strong growth opportunities in the UK and globally.
 
"Following the acquisition of LEON in May, Cooplands is another fantastic fresh food brand to add to EG Group’s existing portfolio of third-party foodservice brands.”
Pet food manufacturer Inspired Pet Nutrition (IPN) has appointed Will Bushell to the newly created post of head of marketing – Dog.
 
Bushell joins following an 11-year career with L’Oréal where he held a range of senior marketing roles, culminating as UKI marketing director of Kiehl’s in the group’s luxury products division.
 
He also helped navigate the brand through the Covid-19 lockdowns by launching a range of digital services.
 
Chris Wragg, marketing director at IPN, said: “Will shares our agile, disruptive and fast growth mindset and has proven expertise in driving innovative product launches, accelerating the growth of established brands and implementing innovative ways of communicating with consumers through digital media.
 
“His experience in sustainability will be a major asset as IPN focuses on becoming the UK’s most loved and most sustainable home of pet food brands, having recently become the first major pet food manufacturer to be carbon negative.”
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