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BigDish Plc (LON: DISH), a food technology company that operates a yield management platform for restaurants, is pleased to announce the appointment of a new CEO and to provide an operational update.
The Company has appointed Tom Sumner as the new Chief Executive Officer commencing 2 December 2019. Tom has worked in the restaurant discount industry for the past six years. From 2013 to 2016 he was National Partnership Manager, managing a 10 person telesales team at Gourmet Society and Tastecard which are the largest diner membership clubs in the United Kingdom. These brands are operated by The Dining Club Group and each has over 6,000 restaurant partners.
· New CEO with a proven track record of restaurant acquisition in the industry
· Company to open a telesales operation in Manchester to accelerate restaurant acquisition
· Financial position update
· Q1 2020 launch of BigDish Premium
It is the view of BigDish that the appointment of Tom Sumner is a major coup for the company, as he is a proven person in terms of his performance and ability. His relative youth and dynamism sits well with the ethos of a tech company such as BigDish, and as “player/manager” is likely to be inspirational for the team he leads.
Tom joined TableNow in 2016 initially as Product Development Manager and subsequently became Head of Operations and in May 2018 he was appointed as Managing Director. TableNow is a dining discount app that enables diners to book discounted restaurant seats in the UK. In April 2019 the Company rebranded with a new app and embarked upon a nationwide rollout. Following the rebrand, Tom grew the platform, with a 10 person telesales team, from 250 to 3,000 restaurants across the United Kingdom over a six month period. TableNow monetizes by charging consumers either a membership fee or a booking fee. Given that BigDish is free to consumers if scale can be achieved it is likely to have greater appeal.
Sanj Naha, will remain with the Company but in a new role where he will focus on the acquisition of restaurant groups and technology integrations with Electronic Point of Sale (ePOS) companies and other third party restaurant technology platforms with whom he has developed relationships with.
The Company has used a ‘boots on the ground’ approach to restaurant acquisition through Territory Managers. While there has been some success in certain aspects of the business, achieving scale is the goal both in terms of the consumer experience, but also to ensure that BigDish achieves the critical mass to disrupt and erode existing players.
As has been evident throughout the technology space, once companies achieve critical mass, their strategic value alone can rise by significant multiples. Therefore prompt and significant action has already been taken in the run up to this update to ensure an accelerated rollout of restaurants via management and strategy enhancements.
At 11 November 2019 there are a total of 177 restaurants which are live on the BigDish platform. The primary focus for the next 12 months is restaurant acquisition and accelerating the growth of restaurant numbers. A shift to consumer traction and further product development is then envisaged.
The Company has chosen not to retain 7 of its 9 Territory Managers. The best performing Territory Managers are focused on Birmingham and Brighton and will remain with the Company and progress will be monitored.
Rather than “boots on the ground”, the Company, led by Tom Sumner, will launch a telesales operation in Manchester on 2 December 2019 as its prime strategic initiative for restaurant acquisition. The Company notes that Tastecard, Gourmet Society and TableNow all have proven the effectiveness of telesales within their operations and have all favoured this to a ‘boots on the ground’ approach to restaurant acquisition.
In addition to Tom Sumner, two other persons will join the team who have experience working with Tom in restaurant acquisition and collectively have 12 years industry experience. The objective is to rapidly build up a telesales team of approximately 10 persons.
The cost of the telesales operation will be considerably less than the ‘boots on the ground’ strategy. This will result in very substantial cost savings.
Financial Position Update
At 30 September 2019 (interims reporting period date) the Company had total cash of £ 1,288,666 and immaterial cash liabilities. The new strategy will result in substantial cost savings well in excess of £ 250,000 per annum. A new budget has been worked based on the most conservative basis possible. The Company has sufficient funding until the period of the third quarter of 2020. This has been estimated using purely a cash burn assumption – the most pessimistic scenario.
The Company’s auditors, Mazars LLP, noted in their Independent Auditors Report that they had “reviewed future forecasts for at least twelve months from the date of approval of the financial statements and reviewed the underlying assumptions for reasonableness and reliability”. Furthermore they concluded that “Based on our work, we found the Going Concern basis to be appropriate.” The Financial Statements were approved on 31 July 2019.
The Company’s technology and business support operations in Manila remain lean and cost a total of approximately £ 19,300 per month. The Company currently employs 13 persons in its Manila office. This is considerably less than the cost of having these functions based in the UK. The Company also operates a Salary Sacrifice Scheme to ensure that management cash costs are kept as lean as possible.
The Company announced its Brand Ambassador Program on 2 July 2019. This will now be launched at a later date once there are a critical mass of restaurants that will ensure that any marketing initiatives relating to Brand Ambassadors will have the maximum impact. Brand Ambassadors will be paid in shares as previously announced.
The BigDish App will be made more attractive to both consumers and restaurants. There will be more flexible discount options available and consumers will be able to book up to 7 days in advance rather than just 48 hours in advance.
The technology team is also developing a BigDish Premium product that will be a different revenue model. This is expected to be ready for launch in the first quarter of 2020 and more details will be provided in due course.
With early stage technology companies it is often difficult to forecast accurately and the Company will be mindful of this with all future public statements. The Company’s business model is a proven one in the restaurant sector, and Bigdish now feels it has made the dramatic changes required in order to achieve its ambitions. Going forward, improvements will continue, as necessary.
The United Kingdom is currently dominated by consumer paid dining membership products. The BigDish Yield Management app is a free consumer product and empowers the restaurants to select the discount options and the availability in order to fill empty tables. We are therefore presenting the marketplace both with a compelling consumer proposition as well as offering more flexibility to restaurants. This ‘win-win’ scenario continues to present an exciting opportunity for BigDish and the Company believes that the new and improved strategy will create value for shareholders.
Tom Sumner, incoming CEO commented:
“I am really excited to be joining BigDish on 2 December, especially to add to my track record of restaurant acquisition. It is a great looking App and I am confident that the free consumer model will be a big hit in the United Kingdom. The technology is sector leading and with the launch of the Manchester operation I hope to achieve the same results for BigDish that I have at TableNow, Tastecard and Gourmet Society.”
THIS ANNOUNCEMENT CONTAINS INSIDE INFORMATION FOR THE PURPOSES OF ARTICLE 7 OF THE MARKET ABUSE REGULATION EU 596/2014 (“MAR”)
Zak Mir, Digital Communications Officer, BigDish
+44 (0) 7867 527658
Jonathan Morley-Kirk, Non-Executive Chairman
+44 (0) 7797 859986
Notes to Editors
BigDish Plc is a London Stock Exchange listed food technology company that operates a yield management platform for the restaurant industry.
Yield Management is a dynamic pricing strategy based on understanding and influencing human behaviour in order to maximise revenue from a fixed, time limited resource. Yield Management has been very effective for selling airline seats and hotel rooms. BigDish believes that Yield Management can benefit restaurants to optimize revenue by bringing diners to empty tables.
BigDish is a free consumer product. Consumers can book a table with a discount via the BigDish App or website. Restaurants pay BigDish a fixed fee per diner seated.