Coronavirus - 1st September

Company news

• STV# – “Total advertising revenue down 20%, with national down 23% and regional impacted to a lesser extent, down 18%. Digital revenues up 5%, illustrating the growing strength of STV's digital business, with VOD revenue from STV Player +13%. Studios revenue down 17% reflecting the pause in filming in Q2, but profit impact wholly mitigated by strong secondary sales and cost savings. Savings and variable broadcast cost model mitigated nearly half of the revenue decline, with operating profit of £5.2m, down 52%. Focus continues on accelerating successful growth strategy to diversify STV. Given the continued market uncertainty, it is still not possible to provide guidance for the remainder of the year, however the fundamentals of STV's business are strong and improving:
• Continued excellent viewing performance, even post lockdown, with strong H2 schedule to come.
• Advertising trends have improved materially over the summer, with total advertising revenue -7% in July and +1% in August.
• Regional revenue returned to growth in July and August, with VOD also growing again in August.
• STV's digital business is expected to continue to grow strongly.
• Production hiatus caused by Covid-19 will impact revenue rather than profitability in 2020, with £15 to £20m of commissions already secured for 2021.”

• Cake Box – “The period to 30 August 2020 included a period of 6 weeks during which all of the Group's stores were closed due to the UK lockdown, impacting sales. As previously announced with our full year results on 15 June 2020, the Company implemented new ways of working and gradually reopened the store estate across the country, meaning that by 1 June 2020, 131 of the 133 stores had reopened, offering a limited menu of products. In the last three months, since the reopening of the estate, trading has been very strong, with like-for-like sales growth of c14.1% in franchise stores. Online sales continue to grow, up c74% compared to the previous year threemonth period. The Company is also benefiting from the increasing appeal of its delivery service through Uber Eats, Just Eat and Deliveroo. Since the start of June, the Group opened 5 new stores including in Swindon and Basingstoke, and continues to target further new store openings, with a good pipeline of franchisees and locations to achieve this. Alongside the additional employment our new franchise stores bring to communities, we are also recruiting for certain new roles at our central HQ to support our continuing growth. Repayment of furlough monies - During the onset of Covid-19 in the UK, Cake Box utilised the Government's Job Retention Scheme in order to protect jobs in an uncertain environment. Given the ongoing trading performance of the Group, the Board has taken the decision to repay the monies previously received under the Job Retention Scheme, amounting to £156k, and will make no further claims under the scheme. The Group does not plan to make any claims under the Government's Job Retention Bonus.”

• Dunelm# – “Sales have been strong in the last two months, with total year over year sales growth up 59% in July, partly as a result of pent up demand following the store closure period and the timing of our Summer Sale, and up 24% in August. This performance reflects the strength of our proposition within a resilient homewares market, positive footfall growth to our mainly out-of-town superstores and continued strong growth in our home delivery offer. Whilst the year to date performance has been materially ahead of our initial expectations, it is very difficult to provide any meaningful guidance on the future outlook given the uncertainty in the wider economy and the potential impact of further regional or national lockdowns. However, we remain confident in our ability to adapt to the environment and are well positioned to continue to grow market share.”

• Gear4Music – “Following the exceptional period of revenue growth during Q1 FY21, I am pleased to report that trading has remained strong throughout July and August, with the Group continuing to generate improved margins alongside proportionally lower marketing costs compared to the same period in the prior year. 
Whilst still relatively early in the current financial year, the Board remains confident that results for the full year will be at least in line with our recently upgraded expectations.”

• CentralNic – “The past half year of strong organic growth demonstrates the Company's resilience despite the economic crisis, and ability to execute on its accelerated buy and build strategy Solid cash generation from operations is expected to continue, leading to decreased net debt over time New product launches and further integration activities will support and potentially improve revenue growth and margins Confident in our successful consolidation strategy, we continue to assess a number of opportunities in what is a large, globally fragmented and growing market Having achieved strong results in the first half of 2020, management is confident that the full year results should be in line with management expectations.”

• Immotion – “We are pleased to report that since our last update on July 29th 2020, trading has continued to be encouraging across the sites that have operated during the summer period. We currently have 16 Partner sites where our attraction is operating, plus we have traded at four of the ImmotionVR sites throughout the summer. Our ImmotionVR sites have operated on limited opening times, but have all traded strongly, generating a profitable contribution after all local costs. We are working closely with landlords on flexible arrangements that could, we believe, lead to further opportunities as we head to the Christmas period. Whilst visitor numbers are generally down in Partner sites, due, we believe, in the main to Covid -19 related restrictions on attendance levels, average revenue per headset has been encouraging despite the reduced visitor numbers. In two of our larger locations we have seen demand for additional seats as utilisation was running at near capacity. That said, a number of our attractions in key Partner sites have remained closed as a result of Covid restrictions on interactive attractions and other local and partner social distancing requirements. This is obviously a dynamic situation and one which can vary state -to -state in the USA. We continue to work with Partners in a proactive manner and have introduced increased hygiene protocols. We continue to work with Partners to help as far as we can in getting un -opened sites operational. Mandalay Bay, our largest partner installation to date, has now had almost a month of trading and the reaction has been very positive. Visitor numbers through August at Shark Reef Aquarium have been close to the currently - permitted daily cap of 1,000. Whilst much uncertainty and disruption remains and numerous sites remain closed, we are encouraged by revenues for August from both our operational Partner estate and ImmotionVR sites. The re -opening of these sites, along with the opening of Mandalay Bay, should result in a significantly reduced loss in August and is a major step forward in achieving the short term objectives of monthly EBITDA breakeven and operating cash flow neutrality.”

• In France, new rules on the wearing of facemasks in workplaces come into force on Tuesday. Masks are being made ‘systematic’ in all shared, enclosed spaces, but in the past 24 hours the government has said that companies may be able to avoid the new regulations if rigorous social distancing measures are put in place instead.

• Children in England are three months behind in their studies after lockdown, with boys and poor pupils worst hit, a teacher survey has suggested. The National Foundation for Educational Research’s survey questioned a weighted sample of almost 3,000 heads and teachers in about 2,200 schools. It was carried out just before the end of term in July, and suggested teachers had covered just 66% of their usual curricula for the academic year. The researchers found:
• almost all teachers (98%) said their pupils are on average three months behind where they would normally expect them to be in the curriculum;
• boys are further behind than girls, according to 21% of teachers; and
• the learning gap for poorer pupils has widened by 46%.
• Less than two weeks after Portugal was given an exemption from UK quarantine rules, the country could face losing it as cases rise. Infection levels have reached 21.1 virus cases per 100,000 people over the last week, above the UK’s threshold for reimposing quarantine of 20 cases per 100,000.
• From today, companies will have to begin contributing to the wages of workers on the furlough scheme, which has seen the government pay 80% of wages up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. Now employers will have to pay 10% and the government will contribute the remaining 70%. By the end of October the scheme is due to end altogether.
• The number of foreign tourists visiting Spain fell 75% in July from a year earlier, data showed today. Foreign holidaymakers spent €14.29bn in Spain in the year to July, a whopping 73% below the €52.36bn they had spent by that point last year.
• Hungary has decided to let tourists from its three eastern European neighbours (Poland, Czechia and Slovakia) enter the country with a fresh negative coronavirus test.
• India’s economy suffered an historic 23.9% contraction in the April-June quarter. Construction activity was halved, while manufacturing plummeted by nearly 40% compared with the previous year.