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Franchise Brands PLC (FRAN)

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Thursday 30 July, 2020

Franchise Brands PLC

Interim Results

RNS Number : 5336U
Franchise Brands PLC
30 July 2020
 

 

30 July 2020

 

FRANCHISE BRANDS PLC

("Franchise Brands", the "Group" or the "Company")

 

Interim results for the six months ended 30 June 2020

 

Strong Q1 followed by resilient performance through lockdown and recovery in June

 

Franchise Brands plc (AIM: FRAN), a multi-brand franchise business , is pleased to announce its unaudited results for the six months ended 30 June 2020.

 

Financial highlights

· Revenue increased by 21% to £24.2m ( H1 2019 : £20.1m) including contribution from Willow Pumps acquisition ( like-for-like revenue was £18.0m (H1 2019: £20.1m) due to the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown) .

· Fee and direct labour income increased by 39% to £14.7m ( H1 2019: £10.6m).

· Adjusted EBITDA* increased by 13% to £2.8m ( H1 2019 : £2.5m).

· Statutory profit before tax decreased by 50% to £0.9m ( H1 2019 : £1.8m), reflecting COVID-19 related charge of £0.6m (reduced from the £1.3m announced at the time of the April Placing).

· Adjusted net cash** of £4.2m at 30 June 2020 (31 December 2019: Adjusted net debt £9.2m**) following the April Placing which raised £13.6m net of expenses.

· Adjusted EPS*** decreased by 10% to 1.84p (H1 2019: 2.06p).

· Basic EPS decreased by 64% to 0.67p ( H1 2019 : 1.84p), reflecting COVID-19 related charge of £0.6m compounded by the increased number of shares following the Placing.

· An interim dividend of 0.30p per share declared (interim 2019: 0.30p per share), 2.0 times covered by profit after tax (interim 2019: 6.1x).

 

 

Operational highlights

· Strong Q1, followed by decreased trading during the COVID-19 lockdown, with some recovery in June.

· B2B division provides key workers to essential services, and therefore continued trading through the period with increased activity in June as businesses re-opened.

· Metro Rod system sales grew by 16% year-on-year in Q1; resilient performance with 3% decline in H1 overall (H1 2019: growth of 15%).

· 28 of our 43 Metro Rod franchisees achieved year-on-year growth in sales in H1.

· Successful start to the rollout of our new Metro Rod works management system, a key part of our Vision 2023 strategy.

· Metro Plumb was resilient in H1.

· Willow Pumps was effectively right-sized for temporarily reduced volumes from certain sectors.

· B2C division resumed trading in June 2020, with a strong restart at ChipsAway.

· B2C franchise recruitment of 18 in Q1 and 9 in June 2020 (H1 2019: 34).

· Barking Mad fully integrated into our B2C support centre in Kidderminster.

 

*Adjusted EBITDA is earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and share-based payment expense and non-recurring items (COVID-19 related restructuring charge and bad debt provision).

** Adjusted net cash and debt are before capitalised leases under IFRS16.

*** Adjusted EPS is earnings per share before amortisation of acquired intangibles, share-based payment expense and non-recurring items (COVID-19 related restructuring charge and bad debt provision).

 

Stephen Hemsley, Executive Chairman, commented:

 

"I am pleased with our robust H1 performance which featured a strong first quarter followed by a period of tight cost control during the lockdown period. This highlights the underlying resilience of our business model, underpinned by our network of 435 franchisees supporting a broad range of commercial and domestic customers, and is thanks to the hard work and adaptability of my colleagues, our franchisees and particularly our engineers during this challenging period .

 

"Following a successful Placing, our strengthened balance sheet will allow us to take advantage of both organic growth opportunities and earnings-enhancing acquisitions as the lockdown eases."

 

Enquiries:

 

Franchise Brands plc

+ 44 (0) 1625 813231

Stephen Hemsley, Executive Chairman

 

Chris Dent, Chief Financial Officer

 

Julia Choudhury, Corporate Development Director

 

 

 

Allenby Capital Limited (Nominated Adviser and Joint Broker)

+44 (0) 20 3328 5656

Jeremy Porter / Liz Kirchner (Corporate Finance)

Amrit Nahal (Sales)

 

 

 

Dowgate Capital Limited (Joint Broker)

+44 (0) 20 3903 7715

James Serjeant / Colin Climie

 

 

 

MHP Communications (Financial PR)

+44 (0) 20 3128 8100

Katie Hunt

+44 (0) 7884 494112

 

[email protected]

 

CHAIRMAN'S STATEMENT

 

Introduction

 

We started the year full of confidence and, as anticipated, 2020 got off to a strong start across the Group. However, as the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and the subsequent lockdown measures became apparent, activity slowed, particularly in the B2C division. We moved quickly and decisively to right-size the business to match anticipated levels of income with strict costs controls to enable the Group to trade profitability through the crisis.

 

In our B2B division, we worked with our Metro Rod and Metro Plumb franchisees and the team at Willow Pumps to implement safe working practices which allowed our engineers, as key workers, to continue to provide support to essential services.  Trading in April and May was challenging as volumes were significantly reduced, but we have seen a progressive month on month improvement as the economy remobilised. Whilst our B2C division was more severely impacted with no trading during the lockdown period, our actions enabled it to operate at cash break-even during this period and it has since recovered strongly.

 

Based on the current trajectory of reduced Government restrictions and business re-openings, we anticipate a continuing strong recovery in the second half of the year.  Overall, our resilient performance through what has been a challenging first half has demonstrated the strength of our businesses and management team, which leaves us well placed to take advantage of opportunities to grow our business organically and by acquisition in the post-pandemic recovery.

 

B2B Division

 

Our B2B division, which comprises Metro Rod, Metro Plumb, Willow Pumps and Kemac, provides a "Water In. Waste Out" range of national drainage, plumbing and pumps services. On a pro-forma basis (including Willow Pumps for a full year) this division would have contributed 67% of the Group's 2019 Adjusted EBITDA (excluding group overheads).  The majority of its services were designated by the Government as essential to ensure the smooth running of the health service, public utilities and other key businesses during the lockdown. As the majority of the work is reactive, there has been continuing demand, and the business has continued to operate and serve customers, albeit at considerably lower volumes. We are proud of the role our front-line key workers have played during the crisis in keeping Britain's drains and water flowing.

 

At all times our key priority has been the safety of our team members, engineers, customers and the public whilst continuing to provide the best possible customer service in a challenging environment. This has resulted in the development of a number of different ways of working, some of which have added to our and our franchisees' costs in the short term whilst others, which have proved to be more efficient than our previous practice, are expected to be adopted on an ongoing basis.

 

B2B Franchise activities

 

Metro Rod and Metro Plumb started the year strongly with system sales in the first quarter 16% ahead year-on-year. Following the lockdown, around 40% of the Support Centre staff were furloughed under the Government's Job Retention Scheme ( " furlough scheme") and the rest of the team were asked to work from home. This transition was achieved with minimal disruption thanks to the preparedness and hard work of our IT team, the investment we had previously made in our IT systems and the excellent leadership of the Metro Rod Managing Director, Peter Molloy.

 

During the early days of the lockdown we were restricted to primarily servicing critical establishments such as hospitals and supermarkets, resulting in Metro Rod's system sales in April and May being only 70% of 2019 levels. More recently, invoiced sales have been largely correlated with the sectors and businesses allowed to resume trading, allowing them to recover in June to 88% of 2019 levels and job lead intake to recover to 93% of 2019 levels in July to date.

 

We have provided considerable support and guidance to our franchisees throughout the crisis. They have responded with real entrepreneurial spirit and have right-sized their businesses by using the furlough scheme, raising additional capital where necessary, and have been very effective in attracting new customers where the competition has not provided an on-going service. This is demonstrated by the fact that 28 of our 43 Metro Rod franchisees achieved year-on-year growth in sales in the first half of the year.

 

Our IT systems have proven to be robust in the crisis and our drive for ever more efficient systems that link with our customers' systems has continued with the completion of the development of our new works management system, "Vision". This is an important part of Metro Rod's Vision 2023 strategy. The new system has now been successfully rolled-out to 42% of the B2B franchise system and we are optimistic of achieving our target of a full roll-out by the end of 2020, with the improvements in efficiency and productivity expected to become increasingly apparent as we move into 2021. Our IT business systems have also allowed us to be more data driven during the crisis which has led to faster and better decision making.

 

Metro Plumb has traded well throughout the period due to the resilient nature of its principal activity of emergency plumbing work. Whilst most Metro Plumb franchisees are also Metro Rod franchisees, we are focused on recruiting more independent franchisees that can offer a broader range of plumbing services. This will eventually allow us to broaden the customer base and grow the Metro Plumb brand.

 

B2B Direct Labour Organisations ("DLOs") activities

 

Willow Pumps, which was acquired in October 2019, made an inaugural contribution to profits in the period. The business had a strong start to the year, and Q1 also saw it assume responsibility for the Metro Rod corporate franchise servicing Kent and Sussex, which was subsequently integrated into the Willow Pumps operation. The resultant more focused management and reduced overhead delivered a significant turnaround of this business. Another highlight was the establishment of a new design capability which allows Willow Pumps to design adoptable and non-adoptable pump stations in-house, providing a competitive advantage. Previously it had to either outsource this work or work as a subcontractor for the designers. This activity has gained good traction and is likely to contribute to profits in the second half of the year.

 

At the start of the lockdown Willow Pumps' management, led by Ian Lawrence, took swift action to right-size the business in anticipation of a reduction in volumes resulting in 36% of the staff being furloughed. Two key customer sectors are hotels and construction and whilst these were closed entirely during the lockdown, pump service and repair work for essential service providers such as supermarkets remained resilient. Following the successful transfer of Metro Rod Kent & Sussex to Willow Pumps, the last remaining corporate franchise in Exeter was transferred to Willow Pumps management in May. It is now the intention to expand this operation and establish a joint Metro Rod/Willow Pumps depot in the South West.

 

Kemac, which operates 6 Metro Plumb territories and provides specialist services to several water utilities, traded well during the period. However, profits declined when compared to the first half of 2019, during which Kemac benefited from a sizeable one-off emergency contract with a water utility which was not replicated in the current period.   Underlying trading, however, improved year-on-year mainly as a result of a management reorganisation that has given this business improved operational focus and efficiencies. We anticipate that this will now provide the foundation for longer term growth.

 

B2C Division

 

The B2C division, comprising ChipsAway, Ovenclean and Barking Mad, had a good start to the year with recruitment particularly strong at ChipsAway. However, as this division does not provide essential services, the COVID-19 crisis and the lockdown significantly impacted the business. During this period 85% of the team were furloughed and franchisee fees and charges, other than those necessary to maintain skeleton operations, were reduced or suspended. Notwithstanding the significant drop in income, the B2C division traded at break-even during the lockdown, which was a credit to the Managing Director, Tim Harris, and his team.

 

The B2C brands are recovering at different speeds. ChipsAway, our largest network which generated 83% of the divisional income last year, recommenced trading in June with both franchisee trading and franchise recruitment recovering strongly. Ovenclean is recovering more slowly, with trading still below normal levels while consumers have been cautious in allowing non-essential tradesmen to work in their homes. At Barking Mad, our smallest network, trading is still well below pre-COVID-19 levels given its heavy dependency on the foreign holiday market. We have restructured Barking Mad, integrating all its operations into the B2C overhead at Kidderminster, which should allow it to continue to make a positive contribution to group profitability in the future.

 

Financial position of the Group

 

The Group started 2020 in a sound financial position with net debt (excluding leasing) of £9.2m, representing 1.8 times adjusted EBITDA in 2019, and with interest covered 14.5 times. However, the uncertain outcome and duration of the COVID-19 crisis and the related decline in EBITDA meant that a number of decisive actions had to be taken to reduce costs and enhance liquidity.

 

Accordingly, we reassessed our liquidity position and the options available and concluded that it would be prudent to strengthen the balance sheet by an equity Placing at an early stage in the crisis rather than increase our borrowings or defer payments to creditors, landlords or the Government. We also wanted to be well placed for opportunities we believe are likely to arise during the recovery. As a result, on 20 April 2020 we completed the Placing of 15,555,556 new Ordinary Shares at the price of 90p, raising £13.6m (net of expenses).These new shares represented 19.6% of the previous equity capital.  The Placing proceeds have allowed us to eliminate the Group's overall net debt and provided additional working capital. The Placing shares were subscribed for by the Directors, senior management and most of our institutional shareholders. We also had the opportunity to welcome some new institutional shareholders to the register and we thank all the investors in the Placing for their support.

 

Outlook

 

The second half of the year has started well. In particular, with the opening up of the hospitality and retail sectors, we have continued to see a return to levels of trading in the B2B division similar to 2019. In the B2C division, ChipsAway is leading the recovery both in terms of franchise activity and recruitment. The other B2C brands, which make a far smaller contribution, are expected to be slower to recover. As activity levels improve further, we will bring back from furlough more of our people and return people to full pay, a process we anticipate will be completed across the business by the end of August.

 

The outlook for the rest of the year is dependent on how quickly the remaining restrictions are eased by the Government and the pace and shape of the economic recovery. Although parts of the Group have historically proved to be resilient in a recessionary environment as a provider of essential services, and given the diversified customer base and increased interest in franchising as an alternative to employment, the demand for our services would still be impacted by an overall reduction in economic activity. We have, therefore, made a very small number of redundancies, primarily as a result of combining Barking Mad with our other shared services, to maintain the improved efficiency which was realised during the lockdown.

 

The short-term focus of the Group will be the resumption of the organic growth achieved prior to the lockdown, which will be significantly assisted by the strengthened capital structure provided by the recent Placing. We also remain receptive to earnings-enhancing acquisitions that expand the range of services offered by Metro Rod and Willow Pumps in pursuit of our ambition to offer a full "Water In. Waste Out" range of drainage, pumps and plumbing services. In the B2C division, acquisitions that allow the Group to leverage its existing divisional infrastructure are in scope. However, we are cautious about acquiring smaller B2C franchise businesses until we have visibility of both franchisees' and franchisors' longer-term viability following the COVID-19 crisis.

 

Conclusion

 

I would like to thank all my colleagues, our franchisees and particularly our engineers, for their continued hard work and commitment in what has been a very challenging time, certainly the most challenging of my business career. The dedication, determination, and adaptability of everyone in the Group during the last few months has been incredible and somewhat humbling as we have embraced new ways of working and the opportunities this has created.

 

In conclusion, we remain cautiously optimistic for the full year. The Group has a robust balance sheet, strong underlying brands, motivated franchisees, and dedicated team members. This gives us both the opportunity and resources to grow both organically and through acquisition. As such, we are well placed to take advantage of the post-pandemic recovery.

 

Stephen Hemsley

Executive Chairman

 

 

FINANCIAL REVIEW

 

Summary statement of income (unaudited)

 

 

H1 2020

H1 2019

Change

Change

 

£'000

£'000

£'000

Statutory revenue

  24,209

  20,084

4,125

21%

Franchisee payments

  (9,488)

  (9,493)

5

0%

Fee & direct labour income 

  14,721

  10,591

  4,130

39%

Other cost of sales

  (5,146)

  (3,147)

  (1,999)

64%

Gross profit

  9,576

  7,444

  2,132

29%

Administrative expenses

  (6,793)

  (4,984)

  (1,809)

36%

Adjusted EBITDA

  2,782

  2,460

  322

13%

Depreciation & amortisation of software

  (666)

  (317)

  (349)

110%

Finance expense

  (262)

  (159)

  (103)

65%

Adjusted profit before tax

  1,854

  1,984

  (130)

-7%

Tax expense

  (286)

  (389)

  103

-27%

Adjusted profit after tax

  1,568

  1,595

  (27)

-2%

Amortisation of acquired intangibles

  (196)

  (108)

  (88)

82%

Share-based payment expense

  (102)

  (100)

  (2)

2%

COVID-19 related costs

  (620)

  - 

  (620)

100%

Other gains and losses

  (54)

  - 

  (54)

100%

Tax on adjusting items

  (26)

  40

  (66)

-165%

Statutory profit

  570

  1,427

-857

-60%

 

 

The results for the six months ended 30 June 2020 contain six months of trading from Willow Pumps (acquired on 7 October 2019), whereas the comparative results do not.

 

Statutory revenue

 

Statutory consolidated revenue has increased by 21% to £24.2m in the period (H1 2019: £20.1m). This has been driven by our acquisition of Willow Pumps which contributed revenue of £6.2m during the period. Like-for-like revenue declined by 10% to £18.0m (H1 2019: £20.1) due to the effects of the COVID-19 lockdown during Q2.

 

System sales at Metro Rod, which are the gross sales made by our franchisees, declined by 3% to £19.6m in the period (H1 2019: £20.2m). 2020 started strongly with Q1 growth of 16% year-on-year representing continued momentum on the back of a 14% increase last year. However, system sales during Q2 were substantially impacted by the Government restrictions and declined by 24% year-on-year. During the height of the lockdown in April and May, system sales declined by 29% year-on-year but recovered strongly when the restrictions began to be lifted in June resulting in only a 12% year-on-year decline in June.

 

Fee and direct labour income

 

The principal KPI used by management is fee and direct labour income, which increased by 39% to £14.7m in H1 2020 (H1 2019: £10.6m).

 

 

H1 2020

£'000

% of

Total 

H1 2019

£'000

 % of

Total

Change

£'000

Change

%

MSF income

  5,323

36%

  5,401

51%

  (78)

-1%

Area sales

  723

5%

908

9%

  (185)

-20%

Product sales

  324

2%

  460

4%

  (136)

-30%

Direct labour

  7,966

54%

  3,202

30%

  4,764

149%

National advertising funds

  384

3%

  620

6%

  (236)

-38%

 Fee & direct labour income

  14,721

 

  10,591

 

  4,130

39%

               

 

Management Service Fee ("MSF") income received from our franchisees is based on fixed monthly fees or a percentage of the franchisees' sales. Our strategy is to increase sales-related MSF income to improve the quality of our earnings and align ourselves with the interests of our franchisee communities so that both parties benefit from the growth in system sales. We continue to incentivise Metro Rod franchisees to grow their businesses through a series of MSF discounts and schemes designed to encourage sales growth and investment in a wider range of equipment and people.

 

Despite the 3% decrease in system sales at Metro Rod, MSF income from this brand was up by 7% year-on-year due to a change in mix towards sales which attract the full rate of MSF. However, our B2C brands (which accounted for 30% of MSF in 2019) all experienced declines in MSF income as a result of the lockdown. ChipsAway and Ovenclean MSF income predominantly comprises fixed monthly fees, but as these brands paused trading during the lockdown, we took the strategic decision to significantly reduce these fixed fees in order to help ensure the financial viability of our franchisees. The MSF income at Barking Mad is calculated as a percentage of franchisees' turnover, but as this business also did not trade during the lockdown, no MSF income was generated. Overall MSF income was down 1% year-on-year.

 

Fees generated from the sale (or resale) of franchises fell by 20% year-on-year as a result of a virtual cessation of new franchisee recruitment during the lockdown period. In our B2C division we recruited 27 new franchisees (1H 2019: 34). 18 of these occurred in Q1 and a further 9 in June following the lifting of lockdown. 23 of these were for ChipsAway, a 21% improvement year-on-year. We have seen a higher level of leavers from the B2C brands than in previous years with 42 franchisees leaving (H1 2019: 27) due to the crisis, resulting in a reduction of the total number of B2C franchisees from 404 to 389, a fall of 3%. At Metro Rod we had two new joiners, one of which was a sale of a previously vacant territory and at Metro Plumb we sold one territory and had one leaver.

 

Income from the sale of products to franchisees fell 30% as ChipsAway and Ovenclean franchisees paused trading during the lockdown.  

 

Sales at our DLOs arise from four principal business areas: Willow Pumps; the Metro Rod and Metro Plumb corporate businesses; Kemac; and the ChipsAway Car Care Centre. DLO sales increased by 149% to £8.0m (H1 2019: £3.2m) principally as a result of the inclusion of Willow Pumps for the first time. Whilst Willow Pumps contributed sales of £6.2m, Kemac saw a decline in sales of £1.5m year-on-year due to the inclusion of a large one-off contract in H1 2019 that was not matched in the current period.

 

The franchisees of every brand pay a monthly contribution into their respective national advertising funds. These funds are used exclusively to promote system sales through marketing of those brands. The Group does not make any profit from these activities. During the lockdown most of these marketing contributions were paused and marketing activity reduced.

 

Trading results

 

H1 2020

H12019

Change

Change

 

£'000

£'000

£'000

%

B2B Division

 

 

 

 

  Franchisor

1,452

1,379

72

5%

  DLO

  888

  345

  543

157%

B2C division

  893

  1,225

  (332)

-27%

Group overheads

  (451)

  (489)

  39

-8%

Adjusted EBITDA

  2,782

  2,460

  322

13%

 

All parts of the B2B division continued to trade throughout the period of the lockdown, as our engineers are key workers providing support to essential services. During this period, we reduced our costs to match the estimated decrease in revenues, meaning that the division continued to trade profitably, albeit at a significantly lower level than previously.

 

The B2B franchise operations generated a 5% increase in adjusted EBITDA to £1.5m (HI 2019: £1.4m) as a result of a strong trading performance in Q1 followed by strict cost control in Q2. The B2B DLO operations have seen an increase in adjusted EBITDA from £0.3m to £0.9m, substantially as a result of the inclusion of Willow Pumps for the first time, but the result was negatively impacted by a significant fall in profitability at Kemac as a result of the previously mentioned fall in turnover.

 

The B2C division also had a good first quarter, particularly recruitment income at ChipsAway, but then had to pause all activities during the lockdown. Costs were minimised by the use of the furlough scheme which allowed the division to operate at a cash break-even basis during the lockdown. ChipsAway and Ovenclean both resumed trading in June and ChipsAway, in particular, experienced high levels of both consumer activity and recruitment. Barking Mad, which depends heavily on the foreign holiday market, has not yet seen trading volumes return in any meaningful way. Overall, the B2C division generated adjusted EBITDA of £0.9m, a 27% decline from the £1.2m generated in H1 2019.

 

As mentioned above, the Group has made use of the furlough scheme to manage costs during the lockdown and to subsequently help ensure that we could keep the team together once volumes increased and the business recovered.  On 1 April we utilised the scheme for 118 of our 290 employees. This decreased to 89 during June and will be 16 by the end of July. It is the Group's current plan to bring all staff back from furlough by the end of August.  During the period, the Group received £0.5m of funding through the scheme. In addition, the Group also agreed temporary pay-cuts with a number of higher paid employees, including the Board of Directors, which resulted in savings of £0.2m during the period. These pay-cuts began to return to normal levels in June, and all employees, including the Board, will be back onto their contracted salaries by the end of August. 

 

The period of lockdown has allowed us to review the optimal operational structure of the Group. As more of the shared services were being provided out of the Support Centres at Macclesfield and Kidderminster, we have decided to close the Barking Mad office . In addition, we have made a number of redundancies at our other divisions as a result of the efficiency gains which were realised during lockdown. This will see total staff numbers for the Group fall from 290 to around 270.

 

Adjusted & statutory profit

 

 

H1 2020

H1 2019

Change

Change

 

£'000

£'000

£'000

%

Adjusted EBITDA

2,782

2,460

322

13%

Depreciation & amortisation

(666)

(317)

(349)

110%

Finance cost

(262)

(159)

(103)

65%

Adjusted profit before tax

1,854

1,984

(130)

-7%

Amortisation of acquired intangibles

(196)

(108)

(88)

81%

Share-based payment expense

(102)

(100)

(2)

2%

COVID-19 related costs

(620)

  - 

  - 

  - 

Other gains and losses

(54)

  - 

  - 

  - 

Statutory profit before tax

882

1,776

(894)

-50%

Tax

(312)

(349)

37

-11%

Statutory profit after tax

570

1,427

(857)

-60%

 

Depreciation and amortisation of software increased 110% to £0.7m (H1 2019: £0.3m) as a result of the inclusion of the Willow Pumps charge for the first time and an increase in the amortisation charge in respect of software development at Metro Rod.

 

The finance charge of £0.3m increased 65% in the year (H1 2019: £0.2m) as a result of the higher net debt position following the largely debt-funded acquisition of Willow Pumps. The finance charge does not solely represent bank interest, but also includes interest on leases.

 

Amortisation of acquired intangibles has increased 82% to £0.2m (H1 2019: £0.1m) following the acquisition of Willow Pumps. The share-based payment expense has remained steady at £0.1m as no new options were granted in the period.

 

During the period we have taken a £0.6m charge in respect of events related to the COVID-19 crisis. In the light of the impact the crisis has had on a number of our customers, we believe it is prudent to anticipate that a number of them will fail as the various Government support schemes begin to unwind. A detailed internal analysis of debtors has been completed on a risk-weighted basis according to the business sectors they operate in and their financial position. At the time of our Placing we announced we would take a COVID-19 related charge of £1.3m to provide for these potential credit losses. Since then, our absolute level of debtors has fallen due both to customer payments and lower system sales at Metro Rod, and the level of credit losses experienced to date has been only £30,000. Therefore, we have been able to reduce the provision in respect of expected credit losses to £0.5m for the period. We have also taken a charge of £0.1m in relation to the closure of our Barking Mad office and Group redundancy costs. 

 

Statutory profit before tax decreased 50% to £0.9m (H1 2019: £1.8m). The tax charge for the year at 35% (H1 2019: 20%) was higher than the statutory rate of 19% due to the change in the deferred tax liabilities in relation to acquired intangibles resulting from the Government's decision to reverse the reduction in the corporation tax rate from 19% to 17%.  As a result, the statutory profit after tax decreased by 60% to £0.6m (H1 2019: £1.4m).

 

Earnings per share

 

During the period the Group completed the Placing of 15,555,556 new Ordinary Shares. In addition, the Group issued 388,199 new Ordinary Shares as part of the final 2019 dividend which had a scrip option and 651,032 new Ordinary Shares to satisfy the exercise of share options. The Group also used 25,000 shares held in Treasury to satisfy the exercise of share options. This resulted in the total number of Ordinary Shares in issue increasing to 95,720,375 at 30 June 2020 (31 December 2019: 79,513,787) and a basic weighted average number of Ordinary Shares in issue and not in Treasury of 85,067,691.

 

H1 2020

EPS

H1 2019

EPS

 

£'000

p

£'000

p

Adjusted profit after tax

  1,568

  1.84

  1,595

  2.06

Amortisation of acquired intangibles

  (196)

  (0.23)

  (108)

  (0.14)

  (102)

  (0.12)

  (100)

  (0.13)

COVID-19 related costs

  (620)

  (0.73)

  - 

  - 

  (53)

  (0.06)

  - 

  - 

Tax on adjusting items

  (26)

  (0.03)

  40

  0.05

Statutory profit after tax

  570

  0.67

  1,427

  1.84

 

Adjusted profit after tax has declined by just 2% to £1.6m (H1 2019: £1.6m), but as a result of the dilution resulting from the various share issues, adjusted earnings per share decreased by 10% to 1.84p (H1 2019: 2.06p). Basic earnings per share decreased by 64% to 0.67p (H1 2019: 1.84p) and diluted earnings per share decreased by 64% to 0.66p (H1 2019: 1.81p).

 

Financing and cash flow

 

The proceeds from the Placing have significantly strengthened our balance sheet and allowed us to pay down the Revolving Credit Facility in full. We have not repaid the Term Loan (which currently stands at £6.1m) to maximise the Group's immediately available liquidity. At 30 June 2020, the Group had cash of £11.8m, and undrawn bank facilities of £11.0m (comprised of the £5m RCF and £6m overdraft), giving the Group £22.8m of cash and available facilities. Having conducted an analysis of a full range of potential scenarios for the performance of the Group, the Directors are confident that this provides more than sufficient liquidity to trade through all outcomes, even those significantly worse than anticipated by the Directors, as well as to review potential acquisition opportunities as they arise.

 

 

30 June 2020

31 Dec 2019

  Change

  Change

 

£'000

£'000

£'000

%

Cash

11,820

1,682

10,138

603%

Term Loan

(6,140)

(6,401)

261

-4%

Revolving Credit Facility

 -

(3,002)

3,002

-100%

Loan Fee

103

129

(26)

-20%

Hire Purchase debt

(1,544)

(1,588)

44

-3%

Adjusted net cash/(debt)

4,239

(9,180)

13,419

-146%

Other Lease debt

(1,683)

(1,899)

216

-11%

Net cash/(debt)

2,556

(11,079)

13,635

-123%

 

Overall, the Group has substantially de-leveraged, moving to an adjusted net cash position of £4.2m (31 December 2019: adjusted net debt of £9.2m), and a statutory net cash position (including our capitalised leases) of £2.6m (31 December 2019: net debt of £11.1m).

 

The Group generated cash from operating activities of £1.1m (H1 2019: £1.8m) resulting in a cash conversion rate from Adjusted EBITDA of 38% (H1 2019: 75%). As a result of the Placing, the Group has been able to reverse the deferrals in payments which we had accepted from some of our suppliers, providers of finance and HMRC. In addition, we have been able to take a pragmatic approach with our commercial customers, particularly in the hospitality sector, some of whom have been unable to make timely payments due to their lack of revenues. Our ability to extend payment terms to them has, we hope, deepened our commercial relationship with these customers.

 

Dividend

The Board is cautiously optimistic for the full year and given the strong cash position following the Placing has declared an interim dividend at the same level as 2019 of 0.30 pence per share. The interim dividend will be paid on 19 October 2020 to shareholders on the register on 2 October 2020.

 

 

Chris Dent

Chief Financial Officer

 

 

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF COMPREHENSIVE INCOME

For the six months ended 30 June 2020

 

 

 

 

Unaudited

6 months

ended

30 June

2020

 

Unaudited

6 months

ended

30 June

2019

 

Audited

Year

ended

31 December

2019

 

£'000

£'000

£'000

Revenue

24,209

20,084

44,013

Cost of sales

(14,634)

(12,641)

(27,631)

Gross profit

9,576

7,443

16,382

 

 

 

 

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation,

share-based payments & non-recurring items ("Adjusted EBITDA")

 

2,782

 

2,460

5,182

Depreciation

(577)

(257)

(635)

Amortisation of software

(89)

(60)

(120)

Amortisation of acquired intangibles

(196)

(108)

(260)

Share-based payment expense

(102)

(100)

(238)

Costs of acquisition of subsidiaries

-

-

(270)

COVID-19 related charges

(620)

-

-

Total administrative expenses

(8,378)

(5,509)

(12,723)

Operating profit

1,198

1,935

3,659

Other gains and losses

(53)

-

(26)

Finance expense

(262)

(159)

(357)

Profit before tax

882

1,776

3,276

Tax expense

(312)

(349)

(566)

Profit for the period and total comprehensive income attributable

to equity holders of the Parent Company

 

570 

 

1,428

2,710

 

All amounts relate to continuing operations.

 

 

 

 

Earnings per share (p)

 

 

 

Basic

0.67

1.84

3.48

Diluted

0.66

1.82

3.42

 

 

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF FINANCIAL POSITION

At 30 June 2020

 

 

Unaudited

30 June 2020

 

Audited

31 December

2019

 

£'000

£'000

Assets

 

 

Non-current assets

 

 

Intangible assets

34,444

35,057

Property, plant and equipment

1,192

1,242

Right-of-use assets

3,294

3,538

Total non-current assets

38,930

39,837

Current assets

 

 

Inventories

692

594

Trade and other receivables

13,442

16,935

Cash and cash equivalents

11,820

1,682

Total current assets

25,953

19,211

Total assets

64,883

59,048

Liabilities

 

 

Current liabilities

 

 

Trade and other payables

8,109

12,684

Loans and borrowings

1,702

4,074

Obligations under leases

924

924

Current tax liability

722

594

Total current liabilities

11,457

18,276

Non-current liabilities

 

 

Loans and borrowings

4,335

5,200

Obligations under leases

2,304

2,563

Contingent consideration

3,659

3,606

Deferred tax liability

1,139

1,544

Total non-current liabilities

11,437

12,913

Total liabilities

22,893

31,189

Total net assets

41,989

27,859

Issued capital and reserves attributable to owners of the Parent

 

 

Share capital

479

398

Share premium

36,457

22,806

Share-based payment reserve

345

316

Merger reserve

1,390

1,390

Treasury reserve

-

(21)

Retained earnings

3,318

2,970

Total equity attributable to equity holders

41,989

27,859

 

 

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF CASH FLOWS

For the six months ended 30 June 2020

 

 

   Unaudited

6 months ended

30 June

2020

Unaudited

6 months

ended

30 June

2019

 Audited

Year

ended

31 December

2019

 

£'000

£'000

£'000

Cash flows from operating activities

 

 

2,710

Profit for the period

570

1,428

Adjustments for:

 

 

635

Depreciation of property, plant and equipment

666

317

Amortisation of intangible fixed assets

196

108

380

Acquisition-related costs

-

-

270

COVID-19 related charges

620

-

-

Share-based payment expense

102

100

238

Other gains and losses

53

-

26

Finance expense

262

159

357

Income tax expense

312

348

566

Operating cash flow before movements in working capital

2,782

2,460

5,182

Decrease/(increase) in trade and other receivables

3,493

(1,198)

(1,523)

(Increase)/decrease in inventories

(94)

(36)

5

(Decrease)/increase in trade and other payables

(5,118)

587

999

Cash generated from operations

1,064

1,813

4,663

Income taxes (paid)/received

(127)

20

(147)

Net cash generated from operating activities

836

1,833

4,516

Cash flows from investing activities

 

 

(865)

Purchases of property, plant and equipment

(178)

(503)

Purchase of software

-

(245)

(837)

Acquisition of subsidiary including costs, net of cash acquired

-

-

(3,958)

Net cash used in investing activities

(178)

(748)

(5,660)

Cash flows from financing activities

 

 

(2,506)

Bank loans- repaid

(3,300)

(500)

Bank loans- received

-

-

4,000

Other loans- repaid/(made)

26

61

(5)

Capital element of lease obligations repaid

(447)

-

(716)

Interest paid - bank and other loan

(157)

(139)

(343)

Interest paid - finance leases

(109)

(12)

(44)

Proceeds from issue of shares

13,677

-

358

Purchase of treasury shares

-

(120)

(266)

Dividends paid

(229)

(358)

(592)

Net cash generated from/used in financing activities

9,461

(1,266)

(114)

Net increase/decrease in cash and cash equivalents

10,138

(181)

(1,258)

Cash and cash equivalents at beginning of year

1,682

2,940

2,940

Cash and cash equivalents at end of year

11,820

2,759

1,682

 

 

 

 

CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF CHANGES IN EQUITY

For the six months ended 30 June 2020

 

 

Share

Share-

 

 

 

 

 

Share

based

 

 

 

 

 

premium

payment

Merger

Treasury

Retained

 

 

capital

account

reserve

reserve

shares

earnings

Total

Group

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

£'000

At 1 January 2019

388

22,621

226

396

(151)

931

24,411

Profit for the period and total comprehensive expense

-

-

-

-

-

1,428

1,428

Contributions by and distributions to owners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dividend paid

-

-

-

-

-

(358)

(358)

Treasury shares

-

-

-

-

(119)

-

(119)

Share-based payment

-

-

100

-

-

-

100

At 30 June 2019

388

22,621

326

396

(270)

2,000

25,462

Profit for the year and total comprehensive income

-

-

-

-

-

1,282

1,282

Contributions by and distributions to owners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shares issued

10

185

(148)

994

396

(79)

1,358

Dividend paid

-

-

-

-

-

(234)

(234)

Treasury shares

-

-

-

-

(147)

-

(147)

Share-based payment

-

-

138

-

-

-

138

At 31 December 2019

398

22,806

316

1,390

(21)

2,970

27,859

Profit for the year and total comprehensive income

-

-

-

-

-

570

570

Contributions by and distributions to owners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shares issued

81

13,651

(51)

-

21

7

13,709

Dividend paid

-

-

 

-

-

(229)

(229)

Share-based payment

-

-

80

-

-

-

80

At 30 June 2020

479

36,457

345

1,390

-

3,318

41,989

 

 

1.  Accounting policies

 

Basis of preparation

The consolidated financial statements for the six months ended 30 June 2020 and 2019 are unaudited and were approved by the Directors on 29 July 2020. They do not constitute statutory accounts as defined in section 434 of the Companies Act 2006. The financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2019 were prepared in accordance with IFRS and have been delivered to the Registrar of Companies. The report of the auditor on those financial statements was unqualified and did not draw attention to any matters by way of emphasis of matter. The Group's financial statements consolidate the financial statements of Franchise Brands plc and its subsidiaries.

 

Applicable standards

These unaudited consolidated interim financial statements have been prepared in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards as adopted by the European Union, under the historical cost convention. They have not been prepared in accordance with IAS 34, the application of which is not required to the interim financial statements of AIM companies. The interim financial statements have been prepared in accordance with the accounting policies set out in the Group's Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended 31 December 2019.  

 

Going concern

 

The condensed financial statements have been prepared on a going concern basis. The Group has generated profits both during the period covered by these financial statements and in previous years. These profits have resulted in operating cash inflows into the Group, and the Group has sufficient current financial assets to meet its current liabilities as they fall due.

 

During the period the Group has been impacted by the lockdown which was imposed by the Government as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. In response to this crisis the Group reduced costs to reflect the reduction in the level of revenues. This included the use of the Government's Job Retention Scheme ("furlough") scheme, which was an excellent tool during the height of lockdown to ensure that we could continue to employ our people in the face of a sharp fall in revenues. In addition, pay-cuts were agreed with the remaining employees, and other operational cost savings were achieved. Since the lockdown has begun to be eased the Company has seen a nascent recovery in its revenues and has consequently begun to return staff from furlough.

 

These actions meant that the operating divisions of the Group all continued to either generate profits or break-even on a month-by-month basis during the height of the lockdown.

 

The Company, and the overall Group, have re-forecast its anticipated financial performance over the balance of 2020, and throughout the whole of 2021. These financial forecasts include detailed income statement and cash flow budgets. These forecasts have been subject to review and approval by the Board of Directors.

 

On 20 April 2020 Franchise Brands completed a fundraise by which 15,555,556 new ordinary shares were issued at the price of 90p raising £13.6m (net of expenses). This fundraise has significantly strengthened our balance sheet at a time of heightened uncertainty. The Group has used the Placing funds to pay down its borrowings on the Group's Revolving Credit Facility ("RCF"). The Group has not, currently, used the funds to pay down our Term Loan (which currently stands at £6.1m) to continue to maximise the Group's accessible funding lines.

 

At the 30 June 2020 the Group had cash of £11.8m, and undrawn bank facilities of £11.0m (comprised of £5m RCF and £6m overdraft), giving the Group £22.8m of cash and available facilities. Overall the Group has de-leveraged, moving to an adjusted net cash position of £4.2m (31 December 2019: adjusted net debt of £9.2m), and a statutory net cash position (including our capitalised operating leases) of £2.6m (31 December 2019: net debt of £11.1m). Having conducted an analysis of a full range of potential scenarios for the performance of the Group, the Directors are confident that this provides more than sufficient liquidity to trade through all outcomes, even those significantly worse than anticipated by the Directors, as well as to review potential acquisition opportunities as they arise

 

The Directors have made appropriate enquiries and consider that the Company has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future. Accordingly, the Directors continue to adopt the going concern basis in preparing the interim financial statements.

 

 

2.  Earnings per share

 

Basic earnings per share amounts are calculated by dividing profit for the period attributable to equity holders of the Parent by the weighted average number of ordinary shares outstanding during the period. Diluted earnings per share is calculated by dividing the profit attributable to ordinary equity holders of the Parent by the weighted average number of ordinary shares outstanding during the year plus the weighted average number of Ordinary Shares that would have been issued on the conversion of all dilutive potential ordinary shares into ordinary shares at the start of the period or, if later, the date of issue.

 

During the current and comparative periods, the Group has not incurred any exceptional costs which the Directors believe should be separately identified.

 

Earnings per share

 

 

Six months ended

30 June 2020

Six months ended

30 June 2019

Year ended

31 December 2019

 

 

£'000

£'000

£'000

 

Profit attributable to owners of the Parent

570

1,427

2,710

 

Adjusting items, net of tax

997

168

672

 

Adjusted profit attributable to owners of the Parent

1,568

1,595

3,382

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Number

Number

Number

 

Basic weighted average number of shares

85,067,691

77,447,500

77,948,178

 

Dilutive effect of share options

1,755,549

1,173,070

1,190,697

 

Diluted weighted average number of shares

86,823,240

78,620,570

79,138,875

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pence

Pence

Pence

 

Basic earnings per share

0.67

1.84

3.48

Diluted earnings per share

0.66

1.81

3.42

Adjusted earnings per share

1.84

2.06

4.34

Adjusted diluted earnings per share

1.81

2.03

4.27

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

3.  Availability of this report

 

This half year results report will not be sent to shareholders but is available on the Company's website at https://www.franchisebrands.co.uk/key-documents/.

 

 

4.  Directors' Shareholdings

 

During the period, Directors took part in the Placing and elected for the scrip dividend. The beneficial shareholdings of the Directors of the Company at today's date are as follows:

 

  

Total interest in ordinary shares

% of total voting rights

Stephen Hemsley

  22,156,644

23.15

Chris Dent

  26,206

0.03

Peter Molloy

  33,861

0.04

Tim Harris

  1,370,731

1.43

Julia Choudhury

  1,529,365

 

1.60

Colin Rees

  353,375

0.37

Nigel Wray

  22,366,303

23.37

David Poutney

3,644,845

 

3.81

Rob Bellhouse

  111,260

0.12

 

 


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