Julie McEwan appointed permanent CEO at Hostmore

By Georgi Gyton

- Last updated on GMT

Julie McEwan appointed permanent CEO at Hostmore

Related tags Hostmore 63rd+1st Casual dining Fridays Multi-site R200

Julie McEwan has been confirmed as the permanent CEO at Hostmore, having led the business on an interim basis since January.

McEwan was previously chief operating officer at Hostmore, after joining the operator of Fridays, 63rd+1st and Fridays and Go in February 2022, and took up the post of CEO after Robert Cook stepped down from the role at the beginning of this year​.

She will also join the board as a director of the company at the conclusion of the upcoming annual general meeting on 7 June 2023.

“Julie has impressed the board immensely during her period as Interim CEO and her positive impact is already being felt throughout the organisation,” says Gavin Manson, Hostmore chairman.

“The board is pleased that Julie has accepted the permanent CEO position and we look forward to working with her to deliver on our key objectives for the business.”

Confirmation of McEwan’s position comes as Hostmore posted a loss of £91.9m for the 52 weeks to 1 January 2023, compared to a profit of £11m the prior year.

The group recorded total revenue for the year of £195.7m – a 23% increase on the company’s 2021 financial year, with like-for-like sales revenue up 22% to £189.1m.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the year stood at £31.1m, down from £34.5m.

Overall net debt, including lease liabilities, increased from £163.2m to £176.3m, with net bank debt having increased to £27.7m from £12.2m in the previous financial year, while free cash flow reduced from £31m to £16.5m over the period.

Hostmore completed a cost reduction exercise in first quarter of 2023 that will reduce overheads by £1.8m on an annual basis. And it has now announced a further cost reduction programme that will result in £4.1m of annualised savings.

This includes an agreement with its brand franchisor to defer all future new opening obligations until the 2025 financial year, which is due to save an estimated £13m of capital expenditure.

Revenue in the first 16 weeks of 2023 financial year, adjusted for the variance in the VAT rate on food sales, were 2% higher than in 2022.

“Hostmore’s first full year of being an independent listed company has been challenging for the economy and consumers - and for the company,” adds Manson.

“The impact on consumer confidence of the rapidly increasing inflationary pressures arising from the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 changed the nature of the market in which we are operating.

“We have adapted our marketing and capital allocation policy to these new circumstances and are now firmly focused on delivering improved performance from our core TGI Fridays estate; not undertaking new site openings for our brands in FY23 and FY24; and continuing our cost reduction and debt repayment.”

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