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Monday 12th of September 2016

Safestay plc Interim Results

By Aim Listing

Safestay, the owner and operator of a new brand of contemporary hostel, announces its unaudited interim results for the six months ended 30 June 2016

Operational Highlights

 

  • Average bed price stable at £18 per night, within the current range of £18-20, and expected to be stable through to year-end
  • Introduction of direct booking channel which is performing ahead of expectations; ranked 2nd as on-line revenue channel in terms of revenue in the business
  • Excellent guest satisfaction scores in line with premium positioning
  • Capturing c.1000 guest records/week strengthening the Brand marketing activity 
  • Successful transition to new Group property management system and multi-property web site
  • Pleasing like-for-like growth at our Elephant & Castle site offset by short term headwinds facing our Holland Park hostel

 

Financial Highlights

 

  • Over twofold increase in revenues in H1 2016  to £3.29m (H1 2015: £1.40m)
  • Restructure of breakfast offer and focus on ancillary revenues has seen H1 non-accommodation revenues move from 4% to 11% of total revenues on a like-for-like basis across Elephant & Castle and York
  • Strong increase in EBITDA in H1 2016 to £0.78m (H1 2014: £0.26m)
  • The portfolio of hostels are a mix of freeholds and a leasehold with the freeholds externally valued at £32.6m. Elephant & Castle revalued at £16.0m on 21 July 2016 adding a further £3.7m to the total portfolio valuation
  • Net asset value per share increased by 14.2p to 58.0p at the period end (2015: 43.8p)

 

Larry Lipman, Chairman of Safestay, said:

"The business is progressing well, like-for-like revenues and margins are improving and we have now successfully put in place the systems and infrastructure to support multiple hostels as part of our growth planning. 

We are building a premium hostel brand and are gratified that our customer feedback shows the increasing understanding of Safestay's premium positioning.  Notwithstanding the current trading headwinds impacting the London market, and more directly Holland Park, the Board remain confident in our outlook with 2016 full-year EBITDA projected to be at the lower end of our expectations.  We continue to see opportunity for expansion and to seek new sites amongst the principal western gateway cities of Europe."


Chairman's statement

Introduction

I am pleased to present the unaudited interim results of Safestay plc for the six months to 30 June 2016.  We have made good progress, more than doubling the revenues of the Group and investing in the systems and infrastructure so that we can now efficiently support multiple hostels. 

Our hostels in London Elephant & Castle, London Holland Park, York and Edinburgh, with a portfolio bed count of over 1,500, positions Safestay as the UK's leading premium tourist hostel business.  I am particularly satisfied with the quality of our fledgling hostel group in terms of location, real estate and standard of customer offering.  These fundamentals underpin our business, as a premium hostel brand.

The European tourism market has been facing some headwinds through 2016 driven primarily by acts of terrorism, softening economies and political instability which has notably had a well reported impact on London's hospitality sector performance.  The Group's exposure to this market, with two hostels, compounded by Holland Park being a new entrant, has created a drag on the 2016 performance.  It is encouraging to note Elephant & Castle is recording like-for-like revenue growth of 4.5% against this challenging backdrop and I remain confident Holland Park will reach our expected trading performance within the original target three year maturation period.

Operational Review                                    

I am particularly pleased that the teams have improved our operational efficiency and grown EBITDA as a percentage of revenues in all our hostels. This positions the business well to capitalise on strengthening revenues as the London market returns to more normal trading conditions.

Elephant & Castle saw revenues grow 7.7% and EBITDA by 31.1%, York's revenues grew by 0.6% and EBITDA by 51.5% and Edinburgh, against pre-acquisition unaudited numbers, grew revenues by 2.2% and EBITDA by 16.8%.  It is particularly encouraging to see efficiency gains across these hostels ahead of the growth in revenue.

The refurbishment of the Edinburgh hostel, which was undertaken in the low season allowing the business to trade through, is now complete.  This activity had an impact on the trading performance in H1, despite which the business grew revenues year on year. Now the works are complete the interim branding of Smart City Hostels by Safestay will be phased out during H2 2016 simplifying brand communications going forward.  From a guest perspective, across the Group the net promoter score of over 1,500 guests was 45, up from 42 for H2 2015.  This is a very positive absolute score and an improving trend.  Holland Park consistently rates highest in our portfolio for guest satisfaction.

Elephant & Castle has seen non-accommodation revenues jump from 4% to 11% of total revenue from H1 2015 to 2016.  This is a result of moving to charging for breakfasts and focusing on group food and ancillary revenues.  The hostel's improving efficiencies mean the additional revenues have been delivered without new cost.  The area around Elephant and Castle continues to improve as it benefits from significant investment in regeneration, and demand from groups and individual travellers remains encouraging.  These fundamentals underpin both the trading outlook for the hostel and the growth in real estate value.

York is seeing strong improvement in EBITDA against modest revenue growth.  Robust revenue management has seen the strongest average bed rates in the Group over the popular weekends through Q2.  The mid-week groups business continues to build and the hostel is on track to deliver its projected mature trading numbers.

Holland Park is still within its first year of trading and the business is being efficiently run and delivering high levels of guest satisfaction.  Revenues are building but at the lower end of management's expectations which is influencing the overall Group performance.  Significant focus is being directed to accelerate the maturation process including the reconfiguration of the accommodation to enable greater conversion of group enquiries.   We remain confident this hostel will achieve its projected trading potential within the three year build-up period. 

H1 2016 saw the execution of a major systems project which was delivered successfully through January and February.  There were three elements to the project; the finalisation of the multi-property web site, the development of a direct internet booking engine and the changeover to a new Group wide property management system. 

The website is performing well with the overall conversion percentage sitting favourably to industry averages.  A number of digital marketing initiatives have been implemented through the period to drive quality traffic to the site and improve conversion.  The tools are in place to measure the ROI and target future investment. 

The launch of the new internet booking engine (IBE) has been particularly successful with it performing as the Group's #2 web based channel within 3 months of being launched.  IBE conversion rates are ahead of industry norms and further analysis and improvements are being made to build on this encouraging start in building Safestay's direct channel strategy.  As importantly, the Group is harvesting valuable guest data and business insights are steering sales and marketing investment to further grow the direct channel and drive revenues and profitability.

The new Group property management system (PMS) is at the heart of the business and provides a platform for operating, understanding, driving and ultimately growing the business.  This is transformational for the Group and will continue to add value as it supports the Group's operational, growth and sales and marketing activities.

The Group remains active in seeking new opportunities in target gateway cities.  Maintaining the quality of the portfolio and acquiring in the right locations at the right price are key fundamentals that will be followed.  The Group incurred aborted acquisition costs of £0.14m which will be incurred in H2.

Financial Review

For the period under review, the Company generated revenues of £3.29m (2015*: £1.40m), the Group recorded an EBITDA of £0.78m (2015*: £0.26m) and a loss before tax of £0.49m (2015*: loss of £0.25m).

As a consequence, the Group reported a loss per share after tax of 1.43p (2015* loss: 2.61p). 

* Note that the comparable figures for 2015 are not like-for-like as they exclude Edinburgh (acquired September '15) and Holland Park (opened August '15) but do include costs associated with pre-opening of Holland Park.  

During H1 the Group invested in implementing a new systems infrastructure which has delivered a platform and team that are now capable of supporting a much bigger portfolio at only a marginal increase in cost, positioning us well for future growth.

As at 30 June 2016, the Company had gross bank and loan note borrowings of £18.16m (30 June 2015: £9.12m) secured against its freehold properties with an average weighted interest cost of 3.85% (30 June 2015: 4.5%). 

The Company has three freehold properties and one leasehold property. As at 30 June 2016, its freehold property portfolio was valued at £32.63m, which was increased by £3.74m following the revaluation of Elephant & Castle in July 2016 on the back of this site's strong operating performance.

The Holland Park property, in accordance with IAS 17, continues to have the lease accounted for as a finance lease arrangement (see notes 1 and 7).  Over the 50 year lease period and using a discount rate of 6.5% the capitalised value of the lease is £10.4m.

Net asset value per share increased by 14.2p to 58.0p at the period end (2015: 43.8p).

The Board is not declaring the payment of an interim dividend.

Outlook 

Our ambition is to become the leading premium pan-European hostel group and we continue to look for opportunities to grow the business.  We have the systems and infrastructure in place and we are very focused on achieving this aim.  

Notwithstanding the softer London market and the headwinds facing our Holland Park site, there is plenty of encouragement in the business performance and we remain confident in the outlook for 2016 and beyond.  We look forward to reporting on further progress as this fledgling business continues to grow.

Further details about SAFESTAY PLC click here