Brighton Pier Group reflects on “active” year of reinvestment

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Income gains may not have been huge for Britain’s fourth most highly-trafficked free leisure attractions last year, but savvy investment for growth certainly was. Brighton Pier Group’s acquisition of the Paradise Island mini-golf brand is evidence of a confident company leaving chairman “Cool Hand” Luke Johnson confident of the BPG’s positioning.

The year ending July 1 2018 saw the Brighton Pier Group post modest, yet still pretty impressive revenue gains to a total of £31.7m in what its chairman Luke “Cool Hand” Johnson said had be an“active year” for the company.
Collated financials for the period were posted to Companies House last week, showing year-on- year gains in excess of 0.4m. More significantly, it was a year in which the group made its most significant new acquisition of recent times – in the form of Paradise Island Adventure Gold.The new golf outfit comprises of six mini-golf sites nationwide, which in Johnson claimed were already “meeting profit expectations.” Nevertheless, the company said it was taking steps to boost income at the new mini- golf assets – with a particular focus on the addition of amusement machines “where appropriate.”
In addition to this expansion,the 12 months to July also saw BPG undertake a major rein- vestment effort on its titular pier – where it invested just over £1.3m in refurbishment work on the Palm Court restaurant and both its Horatio’s and Victoria’s bars. Johnson said the work had caused “some disruption” to trading whilst in process, but that following completion had already resulted in “material improvements” in catering income.
With the additional streamlining of the group’s national portfolio of 12 bars (in the form of the disposition of two unprofitable locations in Manchester and Liverpool), Johnson surmised that the group’s collated assets now represent “a well invested and diversified portfolio of experiential attractions in good locations.”
“These are relatively testing times for the leisure and hospitality industries, mainly owing to cost inflation, additional taxes and intense competition,” he added. “However, [the] board believes The Brighton Pier Group remains well placed to take advantage of opportunities.”
And to that end, Johnson hasn’t been afraid to put his money where his mouth is.The multi-million pound entrepreneur, who was responsible for expand- ing Pizza Express into one of the largest restaurant chains in the country,said in September that he would be investing an additional £1m of his own cash into the company“at the earliest practical opportunity,” in what he said was“a sign of faith”in his confidence of the group’s future prospects.
Johnson acquired the pier in an £18m deal back in 2016, and now owns a personal stake of around 27 per cent of the company. Self-described as an “unapologetic capitalist,”the serial entrepreneur subscribes to the Japanese management philosophy known as kaizen: which advocates a process of continual improvement across all aspects of a business, with involvement and contribution of all per- sonnel throughout the business hierarchy.
Brighton’s pier, one of the top five free attractions in the entire UK, is enjoying the most kaisen of times.

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