Fuller's announces share placing as it prepares for reopening

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Pub chain Fuller's announces share placing as it prepares for reopening

Related tags Fullers Share Coronavirus lockdown Pub & bar

Fuller's is to raise around £53m through a share placing that it says will strengthen its balance sheet and liquidity position in preparation for a strong reopening.

The group is placing of up to 6,455,447 new ‘A’ ordinary shares of 40p each in the capital of the company.

It will be conducted by way of an accelerated bookbuild, at a price of 830p per placing share.

Company directors have committed to contribute £225,000 as part of the placing.

Fuller's has also agreed to amend and extend its refinancing and debt facilities with its banks as part of the placing.

The investment will ensure the group is well positioned to reopen strongly once trading restrictions are lifted, capitalise on available opportunities and deliver long-term returns to shareholders.

The net proceeds aim to strengthen the group’s balance sheet, so it has the flexibility to take advantage of the reopening of the UK economy, and explore growth opportunities.

It will provide additional liquidity and headroom if the easing of restrictions under the Government roadmap is delayed or restrictions are re-introduced, and also enable the group to return to pre-pandemic debt levels by early 2022, assuming restrictions continue to ease in line with the roadmap

Fuller’s says its pubs will have been open for just 27% of the 388 days between 20 March 2020 and 12 April 2021.

Revenues in the group’s managed pubs and hotels and are expected to be around 80% less than the previous 12 months ended 28 March 2020.

The prolonged periods of lockdown and trading restrictions have impacted the group’s liquidity position, with net debt currently £216m (up from £152m in February 2020).

Monthly cash burn has averaged between £4m and £5m during periods of full lockdown.

The group plans to take a phased approach to reopening with 82 sites opening initially and the remainder of its managed pubs and hotels largely trading by 17 May, while approximately 70% of the group’s tenanted inns are expected to open on 12 April.

Assuming the Government timetable for the easing of restrictions is achieved, the group expects to return to normalised trading from mid-May 2021 onwards.

“The last year has been hugely demanding both for our business and the wider hospitality sector but we have risen to the challenges presented by the pandemic to emerge stronger, which is the Fuller’s way," says CEO Simon Emeny.

"We have used the time wisely, rightsizing our teams, building our digital capabilities by continuing to innovate, as well as investing in our properties, and we are confident that we are in the best possible position to reopen.

“It was clear the demand for our premium pubs and hotels was as strong as ever when we were allowed to trade last year, which gives us confidence for the weeks and months ahead. Over half of the UK adult population has now had its first vaccine and we have a great team of people in place who are match fit and ready to welcome our customers back into our wonderful pubs and hotels.

"The additional financial flexibility we are seeking to put in place will enable us to further capitalise on the opportunities open to us as we execute our recovery plan and regain growth momentum.”

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