History 2016 / 2020
The past year of 2020 was marked by the Covid-19 pandemic, that spread at a global scale, causing the world economy to slow, with a deep impact on consumer’s habits and behaviour. On 11 March the World Health Organisation declared the spread of Covid-19 to be a pandemic, which led to the decreeing of states of emergency in all the locations where the Ibersol Group operates, with the population confined to their homes and a general lockdown of businesses and restaurants to block transmission chains.
This situation forced our restaurants to close, with only take-away and delivery available, cutting operations down to a much smaller scale than normal potential. Following the first wave of the pandemic, the group began a gradual reopening of its restaurants, culminating in the reopening of the restaurants located in shopping centres, in June. Restaurants located in concession areas, namely airports, opened only sporadically, in accordance with the grantors, to supply the expected passenger flow, as airspace travel restrictions were lifted.
During this very demanding process, Ibersol Group, in accordance with indications of the World Health Organisation and national Health Boards, activated contingency plans that prioritised the safety of all clients and staff and guaranteed the protection of the supply chain, in order to combine the abrupt reduction of activity and job protection. At the same time, we had to make choices regarding financial sustainability and strict governance, namely those that directly affect cost reduction, such as renegotiating contracts in search of a renewed financial balance of the same and adjust payment schedules.
Additionally, we took the appropriate measures to strengthen our financial position and, to that end, we negotiated additional credit lines, as a preventive measure to boost liquidity at a time of high uncertainty. As the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic spread, first in Spain and then in Portugal, the Group once again saw its operations limited, both in terms of sales channels and opening hours, due to the measures implemented in different countries and regions. Thus, since October, our business has always been limited, in terms of hours of operation and authorized services.
This was, therefore, a very difficult year which tested our cohesion, but also a year that demonstrated our resilience and strength. We had already said that in the Ibersol Group we know that the path consists of effort and dedication, but as the year began nobody could have imagined the magnitude of the impact of this pandemic. However, as the year progressed, we managed to prove that we were prepared to rise to our responsibilities, being a large restaurant Group. Awareness of the importance of our operation to the lives of many people, and of our restaurants which open every day, from north to south Portugal, Spain and Angola, played an important role in our response.
The safety and trust of our clients and staff has also always been a strategic pillar of Group’s activities, and these have been reflected in the implementation of very strict cleaning and disinfection, food safety, workplace health and safety standards in all the Group’s restaurants, in catering events carried out by us, airport restaurants and other operations. Therefore, and throughout the pandemic experienced in 2020, we implemented our Safety Covid by ALS programme, with strict inspections, from restaurant to restaurant, to make sure everything conformed to the plan set according to the best practices of the modern restaurant sector, thereby increasing the safety perception of our restaurants.
It was in this context that we gathered the knowledge of our teams and the ability to mobilise to continue our operation and continue with our expansion plan. And, despite the obvious obstacles that resulted from the pandemic, we continued to open new Burger King, KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants. This year will also be marked by the accelerated growth of aggregators, due to the expansion of the delivery market. We had expected 2020 to be a very challenging year in all the latitudes in which we operate, but the Covid-19 pandemic introduced factors of uncertainty that we had never experienced before. After overcoming difficulties, we know that we will get through this challenge together, with the support and dedication of all involved. This is the attitude that ensures that, day in and day out, we receive the acknowledgement of all our stakeholders, clients, partners, suppliers, investors, and society.
Our day-to-day work at the Ibersol Group is made up of effort, dedication and a constant struggle to be up to the challenges and responsibility that comes from being a large player in the restaurant sector and, at the same time, a major job creator.
We are aware of how important our group is to the lives of many people and it is with that in mind that we open the doors of our restaurants to our clients, every day, from the north to the south of Portugal, Spain and Angola. It is this enthusiasm that guarantees us the recognition of all the Stakeholders, Clients, Partners, Suppliers, Investors and Civil Society, day in and day out. 2019 was a particularly important year for us, as we completed our 30th anniversary, and we did so with the same passion and stamina with which we started this journey. We continued with the expansion plan that we have been implementing over the past two years, especially for brands such as Burger King and KFC.
Burger King, in particular, experienced notable growth, and the group has now reached 100 restaurants in Portugal. This growth rate is unprecedented for a modern restaurant brand in our country and represents an enormous challenge. Our clients represent a very important part of our existence and we cannot lose sight of the fact that they are becoming increasingly demanding in terms of product, service, hygiene and general restaurant atmosphere. At every point of their consumption they are looking for a striking experience.
To add to this, our products and services are subject to an increasing level of scrutiny, constantly being evaluated and shared on social media. This is a global trend, part of the new “permanently connected” reality in which the consumer is constantly sharing his or her experiences, either through comments or images. This content sharing increasingly leads to smart shopping behaviours, in which influencers determine the consumption patterns of other consumers. Against this backdrop we have continued along a path of operational excellence – using the tools at our disposal and the commitment of the whole team – that has helped us to overcome challenges in an increasingly changing society, with new consumption habits and new behaviours on the part of consumers.
Of equal importance is the paradigm shift that has resulted from the appearance and consolidation of aggregators and their impact on the delivery market. The growth in sales in 2019 is a reflection of this new reality, although a group such as ours, of course, will always attempt to achieve a balance between internal sales and those generated by these new channels. Equally important, in 2019, was our investment in the international Taco Bell brand, that we expect to become another important part of our portfolio.
In Spain, following the acquisition of the EOG, in 2016, we set ourselves to meeting and overcoming the natural challenges that come from the integration and fusion of two companies with very different cultures. Spain is a country with a large market, in which we believe we will continue to be a big player, despite the many challenges ahead for which we need to be prepared.
In Angola the socio-economic framework remained uncertain and therefore we our approach has been to sustain the operation, both for KFC and for PH, but withholding any further expansion until the uncertainty clears. In terms of our global operations, a word also about the importance of our teams, our staff, who have been crucial in living up to the expectation of our Clients. This is why training is an increasingly strategic pillar of our Group.
It is a Human Capital challenge, because at the same time we need to train and retain talent at all levels, as well as being able to rejuvenate our teams. The Ibersol Group has created thousands and thousands of jobs, is respected by its international partners and is composed of a fantastic team, renowned for its dedication and performance.
We expect 2020 to be a very challenging year in all the markets in which we operate, but the current situation brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic has introduced an unprecedented degree of uncertainty. We are going to have to overcome the difficulties that result from a long lockdown and the gradual reactivation of business, and this will require a change in our management processes, since the impact is going to be significant and will have lasting consequences.
We are optimists, and we know what we are capable of, so we know that we can overcome this hurdle together, with everybody’s support and dedication.
Following record GDP growth in 2017 (2.3%), we reached the end of 2018 with 2.1% growth, according to the National Statistics Bureau (INE). This can be largely put down to a decrease in exports of Goods and Services (from 7.8% in 2017 to 3.7%). Internal demand – investment – also contributed to the slowdown, despite expenditure having risen from 2.3% to 2.5%. Part of this expenditure, which was in large part due to the record high numbers in tourism, was spent in our restaurants.
Foreign tourists spent 1.9 million euros per hour in Portugal last year, or 45.5 million euros a day, the highest value on record. Altogether, the Portuguese economy exported 16.6 billion euros in travel and tourism. Being optimists, we continue to believe that Portugal has the necessary conditions to continue to grow and converge with Europe, despite uncertainties at the external level. This is the background against which we manage the Group’s activities in the three markets in which we operate: Portugal, Spain and Angola.
Last year’s activity was marked by the agreement reached between Pizza Hut and Telepizza in May, which was approved at the end of the year by the directorate- general for competition of the European Commission, although the impact will only really be visible in coming years. We believe Pizza Hut will continue to be a valuable asset to the Group, due to the importance and the quality of the brand.
This was also an important year for our agreement with Burger King, with the opening of new restaurants. Equally important to the management of our group was the signing of two investment tax contracts with the State, representing a total of 42.5 million euros, which guarantees the creation of 926 jobs, as well as the concession of financial benefits to group companies.
The economic situation in Spain also showed signs of slowing down, despite growth of 2.5% in 2018. This fell below Government estimates, although it is in line with both Bank of Spain and IMF forecasts.
As for Angola, a country which is feeling the effects of the new and transformative leadership of João Lourenço, 2018 was marked by a 2.4% recession, according to FocusEconomics consultants, although this is expected to give way to growth over the next few years. The important oil sector continued to fall short of desired results in the last quarter of 2018, with falling oil prices offsetting any gains from the slightly higher turnout of the previous quarter.
But there is a silver lining. The economy will recover in 2019. Inflation should drop and the Kwanza is expected to stabilise, sustaining private expenditure, while ongoing IMF sponsored reforms should boost growth in investment and in economic activity. Bloomberg analysts expect economic growth of 2.2% for Angola, which should climb to 2.5% in 2020, whereas inflation should remain above 16%. It is worth noting good signs in terms of foreign currency transfers, with the National Bank of Angola taking on a stabilising role.
We want to remain focused on customer satisfaction in all the markets the group operates in, in the knowledge that in the end what matters is good value for money and the good experiences we provide with every visit to our restaurants.
It is necessary to go back 17 years to find growth rates similar to those registered by the Portuguese economy in 2017. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew 2.7%, thereby achieving its highest rate since 2000, when the economy grew 3.8%.According to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), this value is 1.1 percentage points higher than the previous year, having reached, in nominal terms, 193 billion euros, as a result of the increase in the contribution from
domestic demand. An economic scenario felt, quite directly, by various sectors, namely the hotel sector, which has largely benefitted from tourism, with Portuguese hotels registering an average annual occupation rate of 71%, up three percentage points since 2016.
Although tourism has been influential, Portugal is also in fashion for those who live here and are again beginning to consume at pre-crisis levels. The number of clients at our restaurants, where many Portuguese honour us with their choice every day, has also bounced back to what we registered before. They are demanding customers in every respect, from product, service and cleanliness, to the general ambience of the restaurant. These clients increasingly share their experiences through comments or images over social networks, which have become an important asset to promote our products.
This is also a way of assessing the satisfaction of our customers who, although they value an overall experience, will continue to pay close attention to good value for money.
In the Iberian Peninsula growth remained quite favourable and that has had a positive impact on the Group’s results. Angola, however, registered a reversal of its growth trend, as of the second quarter.
The acquisition of the Eat Out Group contributed to a higher volume of service provision and almost all the segments registered positive growth, above the average of the market, with special emphasis on “Counters”.
The businesses grouped under “Catering and Concessions”, with the best relative performance, benefitted from a high number of major events and increased traffic in the spaces under concession that we operate, namely airports.
The fourth quarter consolidated the sales growth trend, whereas in Portugal there was an impact on the consolidated sales of the first semester, which we estimate at around 4.5% due to the reduction in VAT during 2016.
The implementation of the refurbishment and opening plan, which applied to all of the Group’s brands, is noteworthy.
Regarding Eat Out Group, it is important to highlight the opening of a new unit awarded in the public tender of the Madrid Airport, the participation in the public tender of Barcelona Airport, the five units in a group awarded following the public tender of the Gran Canaria Airport and the participation in the public tenders for Barcelona and Málaga.
In Angola, business evolution remained very much dependent on the price of oil and its impact on economic activity, in a year of elections which resulted in the replacement of President Eduardo dos Santos. During the year inflation reached very high levels, which led to a significant drop in consumption, since income did not evolve in a positive way, the Kwanza not having been devalued as expected. Notwithstanding, a new cycle began after the August elections and the government gave signs of a strategy for manufacture, decreasing dependency on imports and oil, creation of conditions for increasing foreign investment, compliance and a return to the international markets.
In February, the Instituto Nacional de Estatística (Portuguese Statistics Institute) disclosed its estimate for 2016, which projected a growth in the Portuguese economy of 1.4%, attributing the acceleration in GDP seen in the last quarter to the increase in the contribution from domestic demand, as a result of investment recovery and a more pronounced growth in private consumption.
As such, the positive trend was consolidated, with an impact on the Ibersol Group’s performance, as private consumption heightened in a quarter that by nature is very important for Modern Restaurant Services.
In this context, the Ibersol Group continued to show a notable recovery compared to the years of external intervention, an evolution that was somewhat jeopardised by the effect of the exchange conversion of the sales in Angola, as a consequence of the devaluation of the local currency. On the other hand, in July the application of an intermediate VAT rate of 13% on food came into force, which enabled the impact of the rise in tax, which took place in 2012, to be softened.
2016 was also marked by the transformation and evolution of the group’s brands, by openings and refurbishments carried out, and by the pursuit of the selective expansion strategy, especially involving the Pizza Hut and Burger King brands.
2016 showed us the multiple aspects of the Group’s capacity for management, innovation and sustainability.
The example of this management dimension is in the inauguration of 12 new Burger King restaurants, which confirmed the Ibersol Group’s leadership in implementing the brand in Portugal and its presence in Angola, where the Group has become the major player in the Modern Restaurants category, reinforcing the presence of the KFC brand with a further 2 restaurants, as well as a Pizza Hut restaurant.
During the year, the Group had the opportunity to reinforce its presence in the Spanish market by acquiring 100% of the capital of the Eat-Out Group last October.
The Eat Out Group is one of the most important restaurant groups in Spain, with a history dating back more than 25 years and with geographic presence in Spain, Italy and Portugal. It operates in the restaurant business with the Pans & Company, Ribs, Santa Maria and FrescCo brands, and in the Travel business with those and another 13 franchised ones, in 6 airports and 3 railway stations.
With this acquisition, the Ibersol Group became one of the most important restaurant groups in the Iberian Peninsula: 667 restaurants and aggregate system sales of more than 478 million euros reported in 2016.
As cornerstones of a robust customer service, the Group continues to especially focus on the aspects of Quality and Food Safety, which can be seen in the certification of its activity, built upon constant work and the Group’s persistence in its operations, in order to ensure the highest standards to its Customers, as reflected in the recognition and acceptance of its brands and the millions of meals served every year.