Charles Wells acquires second Oxford venue for Pizza, Pots & Pints as it plans 25-site portfolio: Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells has acquired a second site in Oxford as part of a rapid expansion programme for its Pizza, Pots & Pints managed pub concept. Following the launch of The Oxford Blue last month, The Holly Bush in west Oxford will be number seven in the portfolio, which the company plans to increase to 25 during the next three years. The latest Oxford purchase is part of a strategic move by Charles Wells to develop a strong branded offering as part of its managed pub portfolio to complement its 186 leased and tenanted pubs across the UK. Pizza, Pots & Pints offers smaller, community-based pubs with informal dining. “The Pizza, Pots & Pints format is a key part of the Charles Wells growth strategy over the next three years,” said chief executive Justin Phillimore. “We are actively looking for individual sites as well as smaller, regionally based multiples to expand this portfolio.” The Pizza, Pots & Pints concept was first introduced by Charles Wells in 2015 with the opening of The Salisbury Arms in Cambridge. Since then it has been Read More
Pret A Manger to introduce compostable cutlery: Pret A Manger is to introduce compostable cutlery to all its UK sites next year. In the meantime, the company is also testing keeping cutlery behind its tills to see if that will lead to a cut in the use of plastic items. Announcing the move on Twitter, it stated: “First we trialled wooden cutlery, and you told us it wasn’t up to scratch. The good news is we will introduce compostable cutlery to all our UK shops next year.” Pret A Manager is on a crusade to reduce its plastic usage. The company has extended its water bottle deposit scheme trial to Birmingham having launched a pilot in Brighton. Last month, chief executive Clive Schlee revealed reusable cup usage at its stores had increased by ten times since the company doubled the discount to 50p.   Signature Living explores new long-term funding streams as it reports turnover and pre-tax profit surge: Aparthotel developer and operator Signature Living has revealed it is exploring new long-term funding streams as it reported a surge in turnover and pre-tax profit. The company, founded by Lawrence Kenwright, saw turnover jump to £14,117,021 for the year ending 31 Read More
Comptoir Group announces board changes: Comptoir Group, the operator of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean restaurants, has announced changes to its board. The company stated: “The company announces the appointment to the board of Mark Carrick as chief financial officer with immediate effect. Mark joined the group in April as chief financial officer and was formerly director of operational finance with Ten Entertainment Group. Mark started his career in hospitality at JD Wetherspoon in 1999, where he qualified as an accountant and has since held several senior roles within a diverse range of multi-site leisure businesses over the past 19 years providing finance, commercial and operational expertise. In addition, Jonathan Kaye has notified the board of his resignation as a non-executive director to focus on his other business interests, with his resignation to take immediate effect. The company has commenced the search for a suitably qualified independent non-executive director and will make a further announcement in due course.” Non-executive chairman Richard Kleiner said: “On behalf of the board I would like to thank Jonathan for his valuable support and contributions to the company over the past couple of years and we wish him well for the future.” Liberation Group reports managed Read More
Red’s True Barbecue directors in advanced talks to restructure debt after breaching banking facility, losses increase to £2.5m:The directors of American smokehouse chain Red’s True Barbecue are in advanced discussions with Santander to restructure the company’s debt after breaching its banking facility. Despite the breaches, Santander issued a letter of support indicating it would continue to make funds available to the business. The details were revealed in a report accompanying the accounts for Red’s True Barbecue filed at Companies House for the year ending 26 March 2017, which showed losses increased to £2.5m. The report stated: “During the year the business suffered breaches of the facility. However, the bank remains supportive of the business and the group is in discussions with the bank to refinance its current facilities. In addition the bank has issued a letter of support indicating it intends to continue to make funding available to the business. The business will need to renegotiate current debt facilities to ensure the repayment profile for the current borrowings match the future cash generation of the business. The directors are in advanced discussions with their bank with a view to restructuring their current debt facility and amortisation of existing debt. These Read More
7Bone eyes Derby city centre for expansion into the Midlands: 7Bone Burger Co, which is backed by Kings Park Capital, plans to open a restaurant in Derby city centre for its first site in the Midlands. The company has applied to Derby City Council to convert a former Boots store in Victoria Street. The building has been vacant for a number of years after Boots relocated elsewhere in the city. The main dining area would be on the ground floor, with external seating to the front of the property, Derbyshire Live reports. Planning documents submitted by Paul Ashton Building Surveying and Project Management on behalf of 7Bone stated: “The applicant is proposing to bring its highly successful chain of premium burger restaurants to Derby. 7Bone currently operates from a number of sites across the south of England and has plans to expand its offering into the Midlands. Currently, the restaurants extend from Eastbourne, along the south coast and up to Weston-super-Mare in the west.” If approved, the restaurant would create 18 jobs and open from 10am to 11pm, Sunday to Thursday, and 10am to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. 7Bone currently has nine restaurants across the southern counties, including Berkshire, Read More
JD Wetherspoon expects to add dozen pubs a year as it has ‘colonised most of the country’: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has told Propel the company expects to add about a dozen pubs a year to its portfolio as the company had now “colonised most of the country so there was less to choose from”. The rate of openings has slowed in recent years – the company has launched six pubs this financial year. Martin said the Fifa World Cup had added about 1% to like-for-like sales growth, with the recent hot weather also helping to drive revenues. Drinks including pink gin and Pimms had seen notable sales increases while Martin said the CO2 shortage had no impact on trade with its pubs still having “plenty of beer stocks”. Meanwhile, Martin said the company would continue to increase the number of UK products in its pubs as it seeks non-EU alternatives – and he urged other foodservice businesses to follow suit. Wetherspoon has already exchanged French Champagne for sparkling wine from the UK and Australia, and German wheat beer for UK and US alternatives. Of the company’s third-quarter results, Martin said: “We continue to do well, helped by the Read More
Pret A Manger to open store run exclusively by Rising Stars: Pret A Manger is to open a store run exclusively by graduates of its Rising Stars programme. Writing in his blog, chief executive Clive Schlee said enough people had come through the programme at management level to make the idea possible. He said: “We have been running our Rising Stars programme for ten years and have given jobs to more than 400 ex-homeless people since we started. Every summer I take a group of Rising Stars to Austria to hike up a mountain. Two years ago, one of the Stars came up with the idea of a Pret shop run exclusively by Rising Stars. My fellow hikers were enthusiastic. Our shop idea lost momentum when we returned home. People pointed out we didn’t have enough Rising Stars at management level to actually run the shop. Others felt we might be leaving them too exposed. I’m pleased to say the situation has changed. Enough Rising Stars have now developed through the ranks to become managers, team leaders, baristas and hot chefs. This means we can now build what we like to call a ‘family tree’ – the ideal team structure Read More
Timothy Taylor reports turnover boost: Keighley-based brewer Timothy Taylor has reported a turnover boost helped by a beer launch and the acquisition of a hotel and restaurant in Harrogate. Turnover increased 2% to £22,187,485 for the year ending 30 September 2017, compared with £21,637,292 the year before. Pre-tax profit fell 1.5% to £2,742,083 compared with £2,782,510 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “Demand for our beers remains strong, with draught sales showing a like-for-like increase over last year of 2.8% boosted by the successful introduction of the first new permanent beer since Landlord – Knowle Spring Blonde. Boltmaker remains in high demand, selling more than in the year following its success as Champion Beer of Britain in 2014, and sales of Landlord remain strong, with customers prepared to pay the price premium the beer warrants. During the year we acquired the Harrogate Brasserie, a family-owned restaurant and hotel business that has successfully traded from its Cheltenham Parade address for the past 27 years. We believe our beer and an enhanced drinks offer will be the perfect accompaniment to the high-quality food and entertainment for which the venue Read More
Novus put up for sale: Novus, the London bar and restaurant operator, has been put up for sale by its private equity owner. HayFin Capital Management has hired Sapient to find a buyer for Novus, which has 41 bars and nightclubs — including the flagship Tiger Tiger in London’s West End, reports The Sunday Times. The sale follows a turbulent few years for Novus, which counted David Cameron as a non-executive director when it was briefly listed on the London Stock Exchange under the name Urbium. The business was taken private in 2005 in a £113m management buyout. Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland took control through a debt-for-equity swap in 2009, after the deal turned sour. In 2012, the private equity firms LGV Capital and Hutton Collins bought the group for £100m. Three years' later, the business was again seized by its lender – this time HayFin, which had provided the debt for LGV and Hutton Collins. Novus, which owns brands such as Balls Brothers and Tank and Paddle, which serves pizza and craft beer, has been shifting its focus towards restaurants. The company, which is led by Toby Smith, has just six Tiger Tiger clubs left. EAT founders Read More
Shake Shack has room for a ‘few more’ London sites as it makes City debut: Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati has said the company has room for a “few more” sites in the capital as it launched its first restaurant in the City of London. The company has opened a venue in Cannon Street targeting City workers’ lunch needs. Shake Shack agreed a new 15-year lease with landlord Morgan Capital on the 3,608 square foot restaurant at 45 Cannon Street. Rosati told City AM that regional expansion was also on the cards. He said: “I get excited to think about all the UK – there are a lot of cool cities. As we keep growing, if a neighbourhood says we want our own Shake Shack, we’ll take a look.” Despite the well-publicised headwinds suffered by a number of restaurant chains, Rosati said Shake Shack hoped to keep its prices accessible by sourcing British produce. He said: “We try to keep our prices low. If we didn’t localise the menu, this would be a lot harder.” Shake Shack joins other operators at 45 Cannon Street including London-based independent coffee shop Black Sheep Coffee, Indian grab-and-go concept Pali’s Kitchen and Canada-based Read More
Greene King plans 100 redundancies, 25 jobs created: Brewer and retailer Greene King has announced a proposed restructure of its office teams based in Bury St Edmunds and Burton-upon-Trent. It is understood about 100 roles in total are at risk across the two locations, although 25 roles will be created as part of the proposal in addition to vacancies available. A Greene King spokesman said: “The industry in which we operate is facing considerable cost pressures – and we are not immune. We need to focus on supporting our pubs and believe the proposed structure will deliver a simpler, more effective way of working and at the same time reduce costs. We are working hard to minimise the number of redundancies and are supporting any colleague who is at risk of redundancy by trying to find an alternative role in the business. This decision has not been taken lightly but is critical to ensure Greene King is sustainable and fit for the future.”   Easycoffee secures £10m investment to roll out vending machines:Easycoffee has secured £10m investment from Stellar Asset Management to roll out 800 vending machines nationally in the next year. Easycoffee has grown rapidly since it launched in Read More
Investigation opens into Conviviality collapse: An investigation has been launched into the collapse of Conviviality. The company went into administration in April after two profit warnings, which it said stemmed from accounting errors and a £30m tax bill. The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said it had launched an investigation into the audit by KPMG of the financial statements of Conviviality for the 52 weeks ended 30 April 2017. The investigation will be conducted under the audit enforcement procedure. A KPMG spokesman said: “We note the announcement by the FRC of its investigation of the preparation, approval and audit of the financial statements of Conviviality for the year ended 30 April 2017. We believe we conducted our audit appropriately and will co-operate fully with the investigation. As reported by the company, it experienced margin weakness at the start of 2018 and also a significant payment to HMRC that had not been included within its short-term cash flow projections, creating a short-term funding requirement. Our audit of the company’s financial statements for the year ended 30 April 2018 had not yet commenced at the point administrators were appointed.” Conviviality’s first profit warning was due to an error in its accounts, while the Read More
Mash Inns reports £1m sales in first full year: Mash Inns, the joint venture between Laine Pub Company and Enterprise Inns’ Managed Investments segment, has reported sales of £997,000 in the year to 24 September 2017 – the company was incorporated on 17 February 2016. It made an operating loss of £52,000 and a loss before tax of £110,000, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Mash Inns opened its first site – the Ladywell Tavern in Lewisham, south London – in December 2016 followed by its second – The Albion in Hove – in early 2017. In February this year, the company added The Branch Tavern in Brighton to its portfolio after signing a 25-year lease and then the St George’s Inn in Brighton under a 25-year operating lease in April. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The loss before tax for the year amounted to £110,000 (32-week period ended 30 September 2016: £11,000) primarily due to administrative costs incurred establishing the business operations. The directors do not recommend the payment of a dividend.” Ei Group currently has ten managed joint-venture partnerships. Pret launches apprenticeship scheme that offers fully funded undergraduate degree: Pret A Manger has Read More
Emily Roux to open Caractère restaurant in London: Emily Roux is to become the third generation of the Roux family to operate a restaurant in the UK when she launches a venture this year in Notting Hill. Acting on behalf of a private landlord, agents AG&G let the leasehold interest of the unit, which formerly traded as Bumpkin and the Good Leaf restaurants, at the junction of Ledbury Road and Westbourne Park Road to Emily Roux, the daughter of Michel Roux Jr and granddaughter of Albert Roux Sr. The London venture will be called Caractère. The circa 2,500 square foot corner site has some notable neighbourhood operators including the Ledbury, Granger & Co and Beach Blanket Babylon. Emily Roux said she would open the restaurant with husband Diego Ferrari, who is head chef at Le Gavroche, so Caractère would offer a “mix of French-Italian food”. AG&G director James Grimes said: “Our client is delighted to have secured such a prestigious family name and reputation. The attention to detail of Emily and her advisors as far as the planned fit-out is concerned bodes well for the business focus they will have when it opens. I am sure it will be a Read More
Greene King pubs seeing 100% like-for-like growth during England World Cup games, ‘significant’ funds available for acquisitions: Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand has told Propel the World Cup is proving a shot in the arm for the business, with some of its pubs reporting 100% like-for-like sales growth during England games. The company said it also had “significant undrawn revolving bank facilities” available to finance pub acquisitions. Anand said of the World Cup boost: “We do outperform when there’s good sport on because we have geared up for it. We’ve invested £1.5m in televisions for example. We also have our Season Ticket app that is helping push people into our pubs with personalised offers and loyalty points. That is live in 750 pubs and we have more than 100,000 subscribers. Our pubs are performing very well during most World Cup games but obviously when England play we are seeing a bigger impact. We sold 500,000 pints on Sunday (24 June) during the Panama game. In fact, during the first two England matches pubs have reported like-for-like sales up between 50% and 100%. The noticeable thing from the World Cup four years ago is the broader range of drinks being Read More
CDG Leisure instructed to sell five Hummus Bros sites: CDG Leisure has been instructed to sell five Hummus Bros sites after the company fell into administration. The sites are in the City, St Paul’s, Holborn, Soho and Exmouth Market. They are available either as a group or individually. To request further information, email Hummus Bros said “rising costs, reduced demand and oversupply in the market” had affected the restaurants. PizzaExpress becomes first UK restaurant to use augmented reality gaming in own app: PizzaExpress has become the first UK restaurant to use augmented reality gaming in its own app. The company has launched an update that allows customers to play a virtual game of football while dining. The first of many augmented reality updates planned for the app, the game enables users to place computer-generated objects into the real world by using the phone’s camera. In this case, it’s playing football with PizzaExpress’ dough balls. In “Doughball”, players place a set of small football goalposts on the table and have 60 seconds to score as many goals as possible. The player must move their phone to aim and swipe upwards to shoot while avoiding the Doughball keeper. PizzaExpress senior marketing Read More
Industry leaders launch quick service chicken brand Chiktopia: Industry leaders have joined forces with Dan Einzig, founder and chief executive of sector design agency Mystery, to launch fast-food firm Chiktopia. Investors who form the advisory board include Ashton Crosby, former investment director of True Capital and City Pantry; James Hacon, managing director of Think Hospitality; and Mark Lilley, chief executive of Abokado. Einzig, who is also a founding investor in a portfolio of brands in the sector, including bubble tea bar operator Bubbleology, said: “The idea for Chiktopia was hatched on a quest to find the nirvana of chicken, which took us as far as New Orleans. For us, Chiktopia is not a destination it’s an ongoing mission, not only to create the tastiest chicken and satisfy our guests’ cravings for chicken paradise but also to have a demonstrable social impact by helping people in need. It’s flattering to have attracted investment from such senior industry figures. Their guidance and support will be invaluable as we pursue our strategy to position Chiktopia as a leading UK restaurant brand.” Roadchef sees pre-tax losses significantly narrow driven by foodservice investment: Motorway services operator Roadchef has seen its pre-tax losses significantly narrow driven Read More
Retail rather than restaurant struggles providing opportunity for Loungers to build pipeline: Nick Collins, chief executive of cafe bar brand Loungers, has told Propel the struggles of retailers rather than restaurants are providing opportunities to build its pipeline. Collins said because the company, which is backed by Lion Capital, targets secondary suburban high street and market towns Loungers has been on a different strategy to most other casual dining operators, which meant there was little on the restaurant property side that was providing real interest. He said: “We are certainly having a lot more properties presented to us including opportunities from other operators but, to be honest, there’s little that has really excited us. But there are certainly more retail opportunities coming on the market as a result of those businesses contracting. The majority of our sites are A1 locations converted to A3. We are very much a neighbourhood cafe bar brand that is a community business and not a casual dining operator.” The company, which currently operates 126 venues under the Lounge and Cosy Club brands, revealed on Monday (25 June) it is on track to reach 140 sites by the end of 2018. The pipeline is building for Read More
Yummy Pub Company site suffers fire: The Somers Town Coffee House, operated by Yummy Pub Company suffered a large fire on Friday (22 June). The London Fire Brigade said it was called to a blaze in Chalton Street, a few hundred metres from Euston, King's Cross and St Pancras, at 8.06pm. Witnesses reported seeing flames and plumes of smoke coming from the pub. There were at least 72 firefighters tackling the blaze at one stage, the brigade said. Authentic Alehouses passes £6m mark in £10m crowdfunding campaign:Leeds-based Authentic Alehouses, led by Burning Night Group boss Allan Harper, has passed the £6m mark in its £10m fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdstacker. The company launched its funding bid in July last year to revive the fortunes of underperforming pubs by attracting a new generation of customers with a menu of “quality artisan food and drink, updated decor and a variety of entertainment”. It opened its first venue in November by relaunching The Albert Hotel in Hull following a £1m refurbishment. Its other venues are The Fountain Inn in Barnoldswick, Lancashire; The Countess Of Rosse, near Bradford; and the Albert Hotel in Southport. Authentic Alehouses is offering investors a 6.5% per annum interest Read More
Mentor Inns puts nine sites on market: Mentor Inns has put nine of its 12 freehold sites on the market. The pubs, located across the south and east of England, are being marketed by agent Christie & Co. Christie & Co is seeking offers in excess of £3.8m for the entire portfolio, with opportunities to purchase as sub-groups or as individual assets. The pubs are Claytons & The Glasshouse in Barnstaple, Devon; First & Last in Herne Common, Kent; The Arcade in Exeter, Devon; The Fox Inn in Ellisfield, Hampshire; The Lounge in Trowbridge, Wiltshire; The Quarryman’s Rest in Bampton, Devon; The Rusty Axe in Stembridge, Somerset; The Wheatsheaf in Drayton, Oxfordshire; and The White Hart in North Tawton, Devon. Christie & Co stated: “This opportunity represents an attractive, low-maintenance investment with experienced tenants in situ at each site. Further opportunities to invest for capital and rental growth are available for those with the appetite to do so.” Neil Morgan, managing director – pubs and restaurants, who is handling the sale, added: “The Mentor Inns group is a fantastic opportunity at a perfect time as the UK licensed sector is seeing excellent-value growth, which is fuelling considerable appetite for desirable Read More
Pod to launch £200,000 mini-bond as it plans 11 new sites: London-based healthy eating brand Pod is set to launch a £200,000 fund-raise on peer-to-peer lending platform Code Investing as it plans 11 new sites during the next three years, Propel has learned. The company will offer a mini-bond that will pay 8.5% annual (gross) interest rolled up and paid as a single lump sum on the maturity date after two years. Pod, which has 24 sites in central London, said it had created a solid base for expansion and was issuing the mini-bond to support organic growth, enhance the existing estate and open new sites that adhered to a “demanding new site-opening model”. The pitch states: “Pod is planning 11 further openings over the next three years. Its delivery business is currently growing at circa 27% per annum and sales growth was 11% in the last quarter of 2017. The fourth quarter of 2017’s sales figures meant the best fourth-quarter performance in Pod’s history. Pod has also achieved positive store Ebitda for every month in 2018 and corporate Ebitda of £86,700 for the first quarter of 2018. Pod believes it has the ability to outperform the market, with an Read More
Bourgee creditors left with estimated deficiency of almost £1m: Creditors of steak-lobster lounge concept Bourgee will be left with an estimated total deficiency of almost £1m, newly filed documents have revealed. In their statement of proposals filed at Companies House, joint administrators Mark Upton and David Scrivener, of Ensors, said the expected total deficiency would be £962,848. The report also showed Bourgee owed Colchester Zoo Holdings, which held a legal charge in respect of the company’s leasehold property and a fixed and floating charge debenture in respect of the company’s assets, about £1m at the date of the administration. Colchester Zoo Holdings’ shortfall is estimated to be £536,132 with unsecured creditors, excluding Colchester Zoo Holdings, having an estimated shortfall of £426,716. The report stated: “Based on present information, we estimate the value of the company’s net floating charge property to be circa £16,000. Arising from this, the value of the unsecured creditors’ fund is estimated to be about £5,600. Please be aware the value of this fund is likely to fluctuate during the course of the administration and further updates will be provided in our progress reports in due course.” Colchester Zoo Holdings called in Ensors in October last year Read More
The Alchemist secures two new central London sites: The Alchemist, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, has secured two new central London sites. The company will add to its Bevis Marks venue in the capital with openings in Covent Garden and Shoreditch. The first venue is set to open in St Martins Lane, Covent Garden, in November. The bar and restaurant will undergo a £1.6m investment and extend over 6,966 square feet, accommodating 72 covers. Following a £1.3m investment, the second venue will open in Old Street, Shoreditch, in March 2019. The new bar and restaurant will span 4,456 square feet and accommodate 76 covers with an outdoor area hosting an additional 28. The sites’ interior design will follow The Alchemist’s trademark “copper-cased wonderland” look, with interiors featuring a palette of amber, copper and red accompanied by unique and gothic artwork. Meanwhile, in keeping with the evolved style of The Alchemist, its Bevis Marks venue will undergo a £280,000 refurbishment, closing on Monday, 6 August before reopening a fortnight later. Managing director Simon Potts said: “We are delighted to finally announce these London venues. It has been a long time coming but we feel incredibly lucky to have secured Read More
Austin Whelan takes on fifth Star site for third Whelans venue, two more pubs with company to follow: Multiple operator Austin Whelan has taken on his fifth site with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars – and is taking on another two south London pubs with the company this year. Whelan has acquired the lease of Acorn 20 in Kingston, which together with the two other sites will take his pub portfolio to eight. Whelan is investing £500,000 with Star Pubs & Bars to transform Acorn 20 into the third site for his top-end Irish pub brand Whelans, joining its Neasden and Uxbridge venues. Propel has learned one of the two new sites will also be a Whelans. Work began on the Kingston site on Monday (11 June) and will take five weeks to complete. The site had been closed for 18 months prior to the investment. Whelans will have an emerald green exterior with black and gold signage and a courtyard garden with seating for 30 people. As at the other Whelans pubs, the interior will resemble a traditional Irish street scene with shopfront cabinets as a backdrop plus colourful tiles and wood panelling. There will be plenty of snugs Read More
Tattu co-founder – 15% like-for-like sales growth giving confidence to forge ahead with expansion: Adam Jones, co-founder of contemporary Chinese restaurant group Tattu, has told Propel its like-for-like sales are up 15% so far in 2018, which is giving him the confidence to forge ahead with expansion. Tattu, which has venues in Manchester and Leeds, is to double its portfolio after acquiring sites in Birmingham and Edinburgh. Jones, who founded the company with brother Drew in 2015, said the company’s immediate focus had been to offer a quality product and dining experience rather than growth. However, he admitted demand and support from customers was now driving a period of growth for the company. He said: “We had 23% sales growth in 2017 and Leeds, which opened in June last year, has traded 30% above budget in the first 12 months. We’re currently operating at an increase of 15% on a like-for-like basis in 2018 and we’re still attracting new customers, which is great. Between 87% and 91% are first-time diners.” Jones said the company had been actively looking for a third site “after the fantastic reception in Leeds”, with Birmingham the “logical next step”. The restaurant will open in the Read More
Caffe Concerto plans to consolidate operations as it reports turnover and profit boost: Caffe Concerto, which operates 22 sites, mostly in London, has said it plans to consolidate its existing operations as it reported a turnover and profit boost. The company saw turnover rise 4% to £22,747,306 for the year ending 31 August 2017, compared with £21,852,756 the year before. Pre-tax profit was up to £210,940 compared with £194,276 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The directors expect to consolidate their existing operations and only open additional branches once exceptional locations have been identified.” The number of staff increased to 484 at the end of the period from 474 the year before. Investment firm to acquire Cotswolds-based gastro-pub brand: Investment firm Sovereign Mines of Africa is to acquire Cotswolds-based hospitality group Turf To Table in a deal comprising three gastro-pubs that also offer 38 bedrooms in total. Turf To Table was founded in 2008 by chef Sebastian Snow, who formerly worked under Antony Worrall Thompson and ran restaurants such as Snows On The Green in west London. Snow acquired the lease for his first gastro-pub – The Read More
Pret A Manger’s brand perception rises after staff bonus announcement: Pret A Manger’s decision to give staff a £1,000 bonus following the company’s £1.5bn sale to JAB Holdings has given its brand perception a shot in the arm. YouGov figures showed the move has led to Pret’s attention score, which measures whether people have heard anything about the brand, rising from three to 12 in the past week. Pret’s impression score (whether a member of the public has a positive impression of the brand) jumped from 17 during the week the news was announced to a peak of 26 on Friday (1 June). Meanwhile, its reputation score (whether someone would be proud to work for a brand) increased from ten to 15 and its consideration score (whether someone would consider purchasing from a brand) rose from 14 to 23. YouGov data showed Pret’s current customers are more likely than the average (46% versus 37%) to say they only buy from companies who have ethics and values they agree with. YouGov co-founder Stephan Shakespeare told City AM: “YouGov data has often recorded how brands being known for positive staff relations can contribute to a jump in perception and purchase consideration.” Provenance Read More
Former Intertain chief operating officer Simon Kaye joins pasta and grappa concept Morso to aid growth plans: Former Intertain chief operating officer Simon Kaye has been appointed non-executive director of pasta and grappa concept Morso to help with the company’s growth plans. Morso is the brainchild of Paolo Vernetti, a former chef at Jamie’s Italian and Carluccio’s. Alongside Vanessa Vaz, commercial director Barak Peled and Barry McCaughley, he has created an all-day restaurant and bar concept that combines fresh pasta and small Italian bites with grappa-based cocktails. Morso launched as a pop-up last year and will open its debut permanent restaurant in St John’s Wood, north London, on Wednesday, 13 June with plans to open a number of “community-centred” sites in key London neighbourhoods by 2020. The menu includes signature creations such as egg yolk raviolo and grappa-cured salmon gravadlax. The bar will offer more than 20 grappa bottles and a dozen grappa-based cocktails. Peled said: “We’re really excited to have Simon on board. We have ambitious growth plans and it is vital to have somebody with us on this exciting journey who has done this several times over.” Las Iguanas launches bespoke experiences on Airbnb: Las Iguanas, the South Read More
Pizza Hut and Costa Coffee franchise businesses sold in separate deals: London-based independent pizza delivery business KMP Taste, one of the UK’s largest Pizza Hut franchises with almost 30 stores, has been sold to private investors. The sellers were three brothers from the London-based Patel family, who are private shareholders with a variety of business interests. The buyer was Zaf Holdings, a new company set up by Arif Jivraj, a private investor with wide-ranging expertise in franchised food retail. The deal was managed by Midlands-based accountancy and business advisory firm Smith Cooper, which provided full deal management services, including buyer identification. Corporate finance partner John Farnsworth said: “This transaction, involving nearly 30 stores and more than 500 employees, breaks size records for a UK Pizza Hut deal, certainly in recent history. We are privileged to have worked with the seller for some years before the sale process began, during which time it built a large, market-leading and profitable business.” David Crump, senior corporate finance manager, added: “We are delighted to have placed the business with a leading retail franchise expert, Arif Jivraj, whom we have known for some years and who owns Zaf Holdings. He has ambitious plans and is Read More
Rosa’s Thai Cafe to sell majority stake to US private equity firm: Thai restaurant group Rosa’s Thai Cafe, set up by husband- and-wife team Saiphin and Alex Moore, is poised to sell a majority stake to the US private equity firm TriSpan. The couple, who opened their first restaurant in east London 12 years ago, have grown Rosa’s Thai Cafe into a 13-strong chain in the capital. New York-based TriSpan, which counts former YO! Sushi boss Robin Rowland as a partner, is expected to take a majority stake this week, as Rosa Thai Cafe looks to expand outside London, with its first regional site opening this summer, in Liverpool. The couple, who met in Hong Kong 17 years ago, will remain involved in the company part-time and as minority shareholders, reports The Sunday Times. Rosa’s Thai Cafe began when the Moores moved to the UK and discovered an old greasy spoon in Spitalfields called Rosa’s, which they snapped up using credit cards and money borrowed from friends and family. They sold their home in Hong Kong to fund the second site, in Soho, before it gradually expanded across London. Saiphin Moore secured a recipe book deal with Octopus Publishing. The Read More
D&D London to open new City rooftop restaurant: Restaurant operator D&D London has signed an agreement with Generali Real Estate to launch a 9,257 square foot venue on the 14th floor of new development 120 Fenchurch Street in the City. The restaurant, which is set to open in spring 2019, will operate on the floor below a public sky garden and will boast views of the capital. The building, which is adjacent to Leadenhall Market, will in addition provide some 420,000 square foot of new Grade A office accommodation over 13 storeys, and about 27,000 square foot of retail space at ground level. D&D London chairman and chief executive Des Gunewardena said: “After a series of regional UK openings, including our recently launched rooftop restaurant 20 Stories in Manchester, and the announcement of our international expansion with Bluebird opening in New York later this year, 120 Fenchurch Street represents a return to London for what will be our largest new venture here since Aster in Victoria. London continues to be a significant part of D&D’s growth strategy and the project also reflects our continuing commitment to the City. 120 Fenchurch is a remarkable building and I hope we can create Read More
Notes reports like-for-likes up 5% in May: Notes, the nine-strong, London-based coffee shop and wine bar concept, has reported like-for-like sales were up about 5% in May. The company is currently embarking on a second round of fund-raising on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube and passed its initial £600,000 target within two days of launch. Notes said: “Now we have reached our target we have already started to implement the business plan. We have hired a head of bookings. Along with the above momentum, trade has been positive throughout the month of May – we have delivered like-for-like sales growth of circa 5%. It is definitely an exciting time for Notes and we look forward to having more of you on-board!” Notes has so far raised £713,850 from 418 investors in its latest round and is offering 6.60% equity in return for investment as it seeks to expand. The pitch stated: “Since our last Crowdcube raise in 2015, we have opened four locations, doubled our revenue to almost £5m (£0.2m Ebitda), increased site Ebitda by three times and expanded our roastery, which now produces more than one tonne per week for Notes and our wholesale partners.” Notes raised £908,400 on Crowdcube in Read More
KFC launches first campaign since chicken delivery crisis: KFC has relaunched its Colonel Sanders mascot in a bid to refresh its brand following a disastrous delivery failure earlier this year. In February, the company was forced to close more than two thirds of its 900 UK stores after it ran out of chicken, with some restaurants shut for weeks. KFC said the shortage was due to “teething problems” with a new delivery partner – DHL in partnership with QSL – and eventually went back to previous supplier Bidvest Logistics for about a third of its restaurants. In its announcement of the new television advert, the company made a tongue in cheek reference to its problems earlier this year: “February was supposed to be the month of love. But not this year…instead, a dark, swirling wind of sadness and heartbreak descended. A sorrowful shadow was cast across our nation. With such desolation and desperation, many wondered whether it was the beginning of the end. Some even considered going to Burger King.” However, KFC added the colonel’s return “in a glorious blaze of herbs and spices” was a symbol of “a return to full strength after the nation’s favourite chicken restaurant ran Read More
FT – JAB Holdings set to buy Pret A Manger: Luxembourg-based JAB Holdings is set to buy British sandwich chain Pret A Manger for 1.5 billion pounds ($2.0 billion), including debt, from its private equity owners, the Financial Times has reported. Pret’s private equity owner, Bridgepoint, bought the chain at the height of the buyout boom in 2008 for 500 million euros. JAB, the family office of Europe’s billionaire Reimann clan, has built up the world’s second-largest coffee business over the past five years. It controls packaged brands such as Kenco and Douwe Egberts; retail chains like Peet’s and Espresso House; and Keurig, the leading at-home single-serve brewer system in the United States. Reuters reported last year that Philippines fast food chain Jollibee Foods Corp was exploring a bid worth over $1 billion for Pret Read More
Cake Box set to float: Two cousins from London’s east End are on course to realise a £50m fortune when they float their cake shop business next month. The Sunday Times stated: "Sukh Chamdal and Pardip Dass opened the first Cake Box store in Green Street, Upton Park, a decade ago and now have more than 90 franchises across the UK. They aim to open two or three new stores each month, with a goal of 250 in total. Cake Box has appointed the broker Shore Capital to advise on the listing, which will see the business float on the junior AIM market. It is expected to value the company at between £40m and £50m, and Chamdal, 56, and Dass, 46, will sell 40% of their shares. The cousins will retain control of the remaining 60%. Chamdal, a former chef, had the idea for the business when his daughter asked for a cake that didn’t have eggs in it. All the company’s products are egg-free and suitable for vegetarians. Customers can choose to have a personalised message iced on to a fresh cream cake while they wait. Cake Box was named last week on The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 Read More
Patrick Dardis – we expect Smiths of Smithfield to turn over up to £250,000 a week: Patrick Dardis, chief executive of London pub retailer Young’s, has told Propel he expects its newly refurbished Smiths of Smithfield site to turn over up to £250,000 a week. The company reopened the grade II-listed, four-storey City pub earlier this month following an £800,000 refurbishment having acquired it in November. The 800-capacity venue, which is the company’s largest, has an average weekly take of £100,000 but Dardis said: “With the refurbishment, our intentions are to get more from it than that. I would expect up to £250,000 a week. The site is not due to mature until 2020 and we are very excited about its prospects.” Dardis said the company would continue to invest heavily in its estate to ensure it remained “out in front”, including a £1.5m spend on The Park – the 43-bedroom hotel in Teddington it acquired in April. The company has 580 bedrooms in its portfolio and Dardis said another 140 to 150 bedrooms could be added in the next three to five years. Young’s transferred three sites from its tenanted Ram Pub Company business to the managed estate during Read More
Notes launches £600,000 crowdfunding campaign to fund further expansion: Notes, the nine-strong, London-based coffee shop and wine bar concept, has launched a £600,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to fund expansion. The company is offering 5.66% equity in return for investment. So far, 158 investors have already pledged £560,380 with 30 days of the campaign remaining. The largest investment so far has been £50,000. The pitch states: “Notes is a growing coffee shop and wine bar concept, which has established itself as one of the market leaders in London’s quality coffee market with nine central London locations. Starting from a coffee cart in a cobbled street market in 2010, we now source and roast our own single-origin coffee, serving more than 1.4 million cups a year. The coffee market currently stands at 2.3 billion cups per year in the UK and customer tastes are moving towards quality. We believe Notes is perfectly poised to take full advantage of this trend. Since our last Crowdcube raise in 2015, we have opened four locations, doubled our revenue to almost £5m (£0.2m Ebitda), increased site Ebitda by three times and expanded our roastery, which now produces more than one tonne per week for Read More
Brewhouse & Kitchen acquires Horsham site: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the brewpub business led by Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn, has acquired a site in Horsham, West Sussex, Propel has learned. The company has bought the freehold of contemporary Japanese restaurant Wabi in East Street from owners Paul and Verity Craig. The Craigs acquired Wabi in early 2014 from receivers for more than £1m. The venue was opened by former Nobu chef Scott Hallsworth about nine years ago. The Craigs will continue to operate Bohemia bar in Brighton and their nightclub lighting, sound and installation company Showtec. Verity Craig said: “It was an offer we simply could not refuse. We continue to enjoy successfully trading Bohemia in The Lanes in Brighton as well as Showtec and have no future plans to sell Bohemia as it is our core trading business. We have enjoyed owning Wabi and meeting so many lovely people in Horsham who have supported Wabi immensely over the years. We thank every one of them, along with the wonderful teams of people we have employed over the years. We would like to wish every success to the new owners and wish our team (who they are taking with them) Read More
Barons Pub Company reports turnover and profit boost: Surrey-based Barons Pub Company has reported turnover rose to £11,524,544 for the year ending 30 September 2017, compared with £9,666,464 the year before. Pre-tax profit increased to £432,269 compared with £269,046 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Barons Pub Company had 340 employees at the end of the period compared with 270 the year before. It operates seven sites – six in Surrey and The Black Boy in Reading. REL Capital buys Union Bars site, seeks further acquisitions with two more in legals: REL Capital, led by leisure property entrepreneur Andy Scott, is seeking further opportunities having bought one of Chelsea’s oldest pubs – The Pig’s Ear – from Union Bars. REL exited the pubs and bars sector after its 1 Leicester Square “super club” was developed for hotel use in 2015. It also sold regional sites in Guildford, Watford and Crawley to focus on other portfolio businesses, including the development of ten Hawthorn freehold development sites, and growing its central London entertainments business Contraband Events. REL has taken on Ian Newman, former head of property at Carluccio’s and Ivy Group, to spearhead its acquisitions. It has two Read More
NewRiver set to buy Hawthorn Leisure estate: NewRiver, which owns about 300 community pubs, is set to double the size of its estate by buying Hawthorn Leisure in a deal worth more than £100m, The Times has reported. Hawthorn, which is owned by its management and Avenue Capital, an American private equity firm, was put up for sale recently via Sapient Corporate Finance with a price tag of more than £115m. It was formed four years ago when it acquired 275 Greene King pubs for £75.6m. It quickly followed that deal with the purchase of 88 pubs from R&L Properties. The company has since taken over two small packages of managed pubs from Nectar Taverns and JD Wetherspoon, and has sold off about 100 non-core sites. Meanwhile, Hawthorn has opened two pubs in partnership with PG Taverns. The move is part of Hawthorn’s “ongoing commitment to Scotland”, with plans to invest £1.8m in its 106 pubs in the country during 2018. The Jolly Gin And Craft in Falkirk has reopened after a £300,000 internal refurbishment to feature a redesigned bar and an indoor gin garden with its own wisteria tree. The only pub in East Calder – The Grapes – Read More
Wadworth will strategically add to managed estate: Devizes-based brewer and retailer Wadworth has said it plans to strategically add to its managed estate this year. The company reported managed like-for-like sales increased 3.65% for the year ending 30 September 2017 and said this area would be its “engine for growth”. Group turnover increased 8% to £67,963,000, compared with £62,650,000 the year before. Pre-tax profit was up to £5,440,000, compared with £3,607,000 the previous year. Operating profit before exceptional items rose to £6,873,000, compared with £6,600,000 the year before. Ebitda increased 13% to £10,809,000, compared with £9,515,000 the previous year. During the period the managed estate grew from 48 to 54 pubs, while the company spent £7m on three acquisitions – the Bird in Hand in Maidenhead, The Stag in Alcester and The Dolphin in Botley. There were also three transfers from tenancy during the year – the Plough Inn in Sparsholt, The Inn In The Park in Poole and The Three Crowns in Devizes. The company stated: “This has been a second year of solid progress for Wadworth as we have continued to develop the company for the long term. This year we have established a firm foundation for the Read More
Wagamama makes Sharjah debut as part of UAE expansion: Wagamama has opened its first restaurant in Sharjah, the company’s first site in the United Arab Emirates outside Dubai, as part of continued expansion in the country. The 110-cover, 180 square metre restaurant has launched at the newly opened Zero 6 shopping centre in Al Juraina District, which houses the largest IMAX theatre in the UAE. The Wagamama restaurant also offers a terraced area, with the venue opening in time for Ramadan. The launch brings the number of Wagamama sites in the UAE to six, with wider expansion to take place this year in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Wagamama launched in the UAE in 2004, opening its largest venue to date in the country in Dubai earlier this year. Wagamama international managing director Brian Johnston said: “With an established and growing presence in Dubai, we are excited to launch in another emirate, bringing fresh Japanese-inspired cuisine to diners in Sharjah for the first time. The opening signifies the wider expansion plan of our franchise partner RMAL Hospitality to deliver world-class restaurant experiences to UAE residents and visitors.” Kensington-based Indian restaurant Chakra to expand across London via delivery kitchens and restaurant roll-out: Read More
Boxpark appoints non-executive directors: Boxpark has appointed John Leslie and Scott Murdoch as non-executive directors to help guide the company’s strategic development amid continued expansion. The appointments follow the addition of Simon Champion (chief financial officer) and Ben McLaughlin (operations manager) to Boxpark’s executive management team earlier this year. Leslie has more than 30 years’ experience in the sector, having previously held chief financial officer and chief executive roles at companies including Intertain, Scottish & Newcastle, Allied Domecq and Regent Inns, with a proven track record in developing and executing expansion strategies. Scott Murdoch is founder and managing partner of independent retail property advisor CWM, working with Boxpark on projects such as its Wembley site, which will launch later this year. Boxpark founder and chief executive Roger Wade said: “I’m delighted to announce the addition of John and Scott as non-executive directors to our board. We have been working closely with John and Scott over the past year and, with over five decades of experience in this sector between them, I know we’ve got a robust set of strategic advisors in place to help Boxpark expand into Wembley later this year and beyond.” Last week, the company announced Boxpark Wembley Read More
MJR Group to reopen Birmingham nightclub closed following drugs deaths after licence reinstated: Paddy Whur, of solicitors Woods Whur, has succeeded in getting the licence reinstated for the former Rainbow Venues nightclub in Birmingham for live music venue operator The MJR Group. MJR, which operates Dingwalls in Camden as well as live music venues in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leamington Spa, Sheffield and Leeds, will now reopen the site in Lower Trinity Street as The Mill. The previous operator had its licence revoked by Birmingham City Council in November after a 19-year-old student died after taking ecstasy in the club the night before. It was the second death at the premises. Bristol-based MJR will bring its own management team and controls to the venue. The company recently took over the licence of nearby venue The Arena. The Mill will offer live music and DJs. Whur said: “I am pleased with the approach the authorities have taken towards us and with the extra effort my client has put into the application process. It is a live example of a partnership approach that has worked in bringing a quality operator into premises that previously had issues. Operators can only go so far and face Read More
M Restaurants founder hints at CAU swoop: The founder of M Restaurants, former Gaucho managing director Martin Williams, has hinted at a potential swoop for the struggling CAU brand. Gaucho has confirmed it is exploring options for the 22-strong Argentinian-inspired restaurant CAU brand. This includes a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) that would require the approval of landlords and other creditors. Propel understands CAU has seen double-digit sales decline that has accelerated in recent months but it has continued to open further sites. Williams has said he would “look again at the opportunities that arise in the coming weeks,” having made a previous proposition to Gaucho last year. Williams, who was managing director of Gaucho until 2014 when he left to set up M Restaurants, told City AM: “Late last year we heard the company was struggling and approached the owners with a solution that we thought would help the CAU and Gaucho chains while providing a great expansion platform for the M brand. Sadly this didn’t work out, but we will look again at the opportunities that arise in the coming weeks.” Gaucho was acquired by private equity firm Equistone in 2016 for £100m. Gaucho was founded in 1976 by Read More
  Burning Night Group appoints new financial director: Burning Night Group has promoted Darren Harvey to financial director as it restructures the business as part of its expansion strategy, Propel has learned. Harvey is a qualified chartered accountant and has worked as finance controller alongside former financial director Chris Pickles for more than three years. Burning Night Group said Harvey had gained a wealth of experience at the company and “proved himself extremely competent in accounts preparation”. Pickles will remain at the company’s head office and lead business development and funding for other businesses outside Burning Night Group. He will not remain part of the company’s board. Chief executive Allan Harper said: “We have implemented these appointments as part of our expansion strategy. Chris and Darren play important roles in our organisations and this restructure will mean they can both focus on certain aspects of the business.” Burning Night Group operates six sites under The Bierkeller Entertainment Complex banner, which houses three concepts under one roof – Bierkeller Bavarian bar, sports bar Shooters and Around the World. It also operates American-style barbecue concept Smokin’ Bar & Kitchen in Leeds and last year secured private investment to launch its Sportskeller concept. Read More
Punch plans wet-led growth as it re-enters the market for pub acquisitions:Punch has said it is focusing on wet-led growth as part of its acquisition strategy. Following the sale of 1,900 pubs to Heineken last year, Punch, which was acquired by Patron and May Capital last August, is beginning a strategy of growth through acquisition to add to its current estate of 1,300 pubs. The news follows the acquisition last week of the 54-strong Gavin George-led Laine Pub Company by Vine Acquisitions, backed by Patron Capital and May Capital. Agents Everard Cole, James A Baker and Matthew Phillips Surveyors have been retained to seek new sites for the company. Everard Cole director Jon Heald said: “Punch is committed to growing its estate through selective acquisitions and is back in the market to acquire businesses and property that will complement and enhance the current estate. Our exciting brief is to acquire wet-led pubs that are suitable for the managed or leased estate, doing at least circa 250-plus barrels a year and minimum net sales of more than £6,000 per week.” Cote looks to dispose of Limeyard and Jackson & Rye sites: French brasserie Cote is examining plans to dispose of restaurants Read More
GG Hospitality to embark on Hotel Football roll-out: Winston Zahra, the new chief executive of GG Hospitality, which is co-owned by former Manchester United stars Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, has told Propel it plans to roll out its Hotel Football brand globally in the years ahead. Zahra said the company’s immediate focus would be on growing Hotel Football within the UK, although he added it was “open to opportunities” overseas. Zahra said the Cafe Football brand would be an intrinsic part of the Hotel Football offering and the main food and beverage offer within each hotel. Zahra, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the hospitality industry and was previously co-owner and chief executive of Malta-based Island Hotels Group, said: “Our main focus is growing the Hotel Football brand and that is what we are working on at the moment. The plan is to make Cafe Football the food and beverage offer for Hotel Football instead of opening more standalone sites. We are not going to rush the process because we want to get it right, but we feel we are ready to move on to our second and third hotel sites for the concept. The fundamentals of Read More
Wahlburgers targets 50 UK sites within five years, initial focus on central London: US burger chain Wahlburgers has targeted 50 UK sites within five years having secured its debut restaurant in Covent Garden, Propel has learned. Restaurant Property has been appointed sole agent for Wahlburgers in the UK, with the company seeking prime sites in high-footfall areas. The first five sites are planned for central London within the first 12 months. The debut venue is due to open in September in James Street at a site formerly occupied by Maxwell’s Restaurants Group. The two-storey site, which consists of 1,859 square feet of ground-floor space and 4,352 square feet in the lower ground floor, has been leased from landlords Capital & Counties (Capco). Massachusetts-headquartered Wahlburgers is the brainchild of chef Paul Wahlberg and his Hollywood actor brothers Donnie and Mark. Founded in 2011, its menu features fresh burgers and homemade condiments. The brand has stores in 22 US cities and also features in an eponymous behind-the-scenes reality television series. Mark Wahlberg, who will attend the Covent Garden launch, said: “I am delighted to announce Wahlburgers is coming to the UK and we have the best possible location, one of the most Read More
Wahaca becomes first restaurant chain in Europe to allow customers to pay through Facebook Messenger: Mexican restaurant brand Wahaca has become the first chain in Europe to be connected to Facebook Messenger, enabling its customers to pay their bill through the platform. Hailed as one of the best examples of a chatbot on Facebook Messenger at the annual F8 Conference on Tuesday (1 May), Wahaca worked with technology partner Flyt to enable guests to retrieve, split and pay their bill through Messenger. In an industry first, Flyt used its universal hospitality platform to connect the technology giant’s platform used by billions of people to the physical environment of restaurants. Flyt chief executive Tom Weaver said: “Flyt continues to deliver on the possibilities integration offers hospitality and retail businesses. As a key Facebook Messenger partner, Flyt is enabling new services within the biggest platform in the world and is offering operators the opportunity to rapidly innovate. Our universal integration platform is growing in the number of available services a business owner can use to create new experiences for its customers. To have our work showcased at the F8 conference is a watershed moment for Flyt.” Brewhouse & Kitchen to secure east Read More
Heartstone Inns has ‘plenty of firepower’ to fund further growth, like-for-like sales up 3%: Heartstone Inns has revealed it has “plenty of firepower” to fund further growth as it reported like-for-like sales increased 3% for the year ending 31 December 2017. The company saw sales rise 7% to £10.3m, while pub Editda was up 8% to £1.9m. Operating margin continued to grow – up to 18.4% compared with 18.2% in 2016 and 16.6% in 2015. It was the ninth successive year the company has enjoyed like-for-like sales growth. Heartstone Inns had gearing of only 20.4% at December 2017. A dividend of £0.025 per share was declared for 2017 – double the previous year’s dividend. The company has 16 pubs in its portfolio – 15 of them freehold – having acquired The Two Brewers in Somerset in November and The Hunters Inn in Hampshire in March this year. Heartstone invested £1.7m in the estate in 2017. In addition to acquiring The Two Brewers, the company also completed extensive redevelopments at The Bun Penny in Hampshire and The Walhampton Arms in Hampshire along with several smaller projects across the estate. The company stated: “Already this year we have completed major development projects Read More
Casual Dining Group chief Steve Richards joins Arc Inspirations board: Casual Dining Group chief executive Steve Richards has joined the board of bar and restaurant operator Arc Inspirations as a non-executive director, Propel has learned. Richards, who is also non-executive director of pan-European hostel and bar company Beds and Bars, said his “day job” at Casual Dining Group would remain his focus – the company operates about 290 mid-market restaurant brands including Cafe Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas – but added he was “very happy to be able to help growing businesses like Arc Inspirations”. Chief executive Martin Wolstencroft and chairman Chris Ure founded Arc Inspirations in 1999. Anni Opong is the company’s managing director. A source close to the company said: “Martin is a great guy – a real force of nature and one of the sector’s leading entrepreneurs. Steve brings a wealth of experience across operations and also helping companies grow. He’ll work closely with the existing board, founders and shareholders.” Arc Inspirations operates 17 venues including its Manahatta and Banyan brands. Gaucho managing director Tracey Matthews steps down: Gaucho Group, the leading Argentine steak restaurant group operating the Gaucho and CAU brands, has announced managing director Read More
Michelin-starred Matt Gillan eyes London for expansion of joint coffee shop and restaurant concept: Michelin-starred chef Matt Gillan has told Propel he is eyeing expansion to London for his joint coffee shop and restaurant concept. Gillan launched the concept in Brighton with Mike Palmer, who operates Lucky Beach Cafe on the seafront. They acquired cafe and roastery Redroaster, retaining the venue’s name for the daytime while transforming it every evening into high-end restaurant Pike & Pine. Gillan said: “Mike and I want to expand and grow this concept. It makes sense because we have the roastery so we’re committed to buying certain amounts of coffee. You don’t know how much you’ll sell but you need to use it and store what you don’t use until you can. Out of 100 kilos of coffee, if we use 60 kilos at the main site during the week, we still have 40 kilos to shift. The most logical thing is to have another place – that would make our lives much easier. We’ve looked at Brighton sites and seen offers but another site will depend on the rent. The higher the rent, the more tables we need to turn. We’ve looked at something Read More
Reilley – Loungers’ success down to ‘Game of Thrones approach’:Loungers co-founder and chairman Alex Reilley has said the company’s “Game of Thrones approach” to business, which involves defining “the Cause”, has enabled it to transform from a small cafe bar chain into a nationwide brand. Speaking during the second podcast in specialist investor Piper’s “7, 17, 70” series, Reilley said: “The biggest challenge was dealing with the scale. It’s all very Game of Thrones. You’re lined up on the battlefield and what the Cause does is conceptualise what we do and why we’re different. Protecting what made the business special was really important.” Reilley launched Loungers with friends Jake Bishop and David Reid in Bristol in 2002 with “aspirations to turn over £4,500 a week”. Today the business has more than 100 sites, a turnover of £125m and is backed by Lion Capital. Piper invested in Loungers in 2012, selling its stake in 2016 in a transaction that valued the business at £137m. Describing teething problems Loungers had when it reached seven sites, Reilley said: “It became evident the central structure of the business was lacking. Growth is very exciting but you get hooked on it and realise you’ve got Read More
Coyote Ugly lines up Swansea for fourth UK site: Coyote Ugly, the rowdy, western-themed bar that celebrates the wild side of American culture, is lining up its fourth site, in Swansea. Steve Lewis opened the first British branch of the brand in Cardiff in 2016 and has since added venues in Liverpool and Manchester. Now he is looking to open a site in Wales with Lewis calling Swansea a “natural choice”. The venue is set to open in Wind Street in the summer on part of the former Aspers Casino site, creating 50 jobs. Lewis told Wales Online: “The support we have been shown in Wales is outstanding and Swansea is a natural choice for us. The mix of beautiful scenery and city developments is hard to ignore and makes Swansea one of the most attractive cities in the UK.” Coyote Ugly currently has 26 sites in seven countries – the US, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Japan, the UK and Kyrgyzstan. Mojo Bar returns to Yorkshire for fifth site, in Harrogate: Leeds-based operator Mojo Bar has opened its fifth site, in Harrogate. The company has opened the venue in Parliament Street. The 2,400 square foot bar is split across ground level Read More
Beds and Bars promotes key team members to board: Pan-European hostel and bar company Beds and Bars has promoted key team members to its board. Sophie Herbert has been confirmed as group marketing director and has joined the board of Beds and Bars. Herbert, who has been running the company’s marketing capability for the past three years, featured in the recent 2018 Restaurant Marketer & Innovator 30 under 30 list, which recognises 30 talented future leaders in marketing, innovation and strategy roles within the hospitality sector who are under the age of 30. Chief financial officer Mobin Rana will also sit on the board and assume the responsibility of company secretary. A new role of contracts and purchasing manager will also be created, with that member of staff reporting to Rana. Luke Knowles, who is currently operations director, will have a change of role on the board and become development and strategy director of the business, responsible for site acquisition and funding. Development projects and franchise manager Lucie Perin and group finance director Philip Newlyn will report to Knowles and together spearhead the growth of the business. Knowles will also pick up the group sales function and have Michele Kaye Read More
The Restaurant Group boss receives remuneration of more than £1.1m in first full year: The Restaurant Group chief executive Andy McCue received total remuneration of more than £1.1m during his first full year, including a bonus of almost £400,000, the company’s annual report has revealed. McCue, who was appointed in September 2016, was paid a total of £1,116,000 for the year ending 31 December 2017. This consisted of £505,000 salary, £113,000 in taxable benefits, £101,000 pension and £397,000 annual bonus. The annual bonus was based on adjusted profit before tax performance, guest satisfaction improvement targets and a like-for-like covers improvement target. The total bonus amounted to 78.5% of salary, which is 52% of the potential bonus. Half the payment will be deferred for three years and paid as shares. McCue’s salary was increased 2.08% on 1 January 2018 to £515,500, while the average increase for managerial employees across the group was 2.2%. Meanwhile, Kirk Davis joined the company as chief financial officer on 5 February this year on a salary of £355,000. The Restaurant Group has also outlined proposals to rectify administrative errors regarding the level of distributable reserves and payment of interim and final dividends to shareholders during the Read More
Whitbread boss set to open door to Costa sale plan: Whitbread chief executive Alison Brittain is expected to open the door to a break-up of the company this week, after mounting pressure from an activist hedge fund. Brittain is not “philosophically opposed” to Whitbread spinning off the Costa Coffee chain from its Premier Inn hotels, said City sources. She will lay out her position at the company’s full-year results on Wednesday (25 April) and is understood to believe a split is a case of “when, not if”, reports The Sunday Times. It revealed last week Elliott Advisors, the US fund with a record of taking aggressive positions in listed companies, had built a stake in Whitbread of more than 6%. That led to a jump in the company’s shares, which ended the week 6% higher at £42.35. Market sources claim Elliott has continued to buy stock since the disclosure, but it is not required to reveal its precise position unless its ownership exceeds 10%. The hedge fund is said to think a break-up could create as much as £3bn of value. Sachem Head, another activist investor, has built a 3.4% stake and is also demanding the company split its two Read More
Vapiano partners with HMSHost International to open restaurants at UK airports and train stations: Vapiano has partnered with HMSHost International to open restaurants at travel hubs in northern Europe. The brand format is being developed by the companies as a franchise model that will launch through subsidiary Vapiano Franchising International. Locations will include airports, railway stations and outlet centres in the UK, Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands. The restaurants will be specifically designed and engineered towards the needs and demands of travel locations, offering eat-in and takeaway options. Vapiano chief executive Jochen Halfmann said: “This collaboration will enable us to open more Vapianos in international locations and further increase our profile. After a successful test phase of our pilot, we will make a joint decision about further strategic expansion.” HMSHost International chief executive Walter Seib added: “We are proud to start this new partnership with Vapiano. The brand is an enrichment for our organisation and reflects the need of our guests. Vapiano is known for preparing its food ‘a la minute’ in front of guests. We believe passionately in the power of this brand at high-traffic locations and look forward to building our partnership.” Vapiano has developed a portfolio of Read More
EAT appoints new executive chef: Fresh food-to-go retailer EAT has appointed Arnaud Kaziewicz as executive chef. French-born Kaziewicz was a MasterChef: The Professionals finalist in 2016 and has worked in some of the UK’s most renowned Michelin-starred restaurants. Kaziewicz said: “I am excited to join the EAT team to make our food great again. For me, this is an opportunity to get back to basics – simple, fresh ingredients combined to be eaten and enjoyed and always seasoned perfectly. High-street retail doesn’t have to be about mass production, it should be based on home-cooked food.” EAT marketing director Holly Oades added: “Arnaud brings a wealth of culinary knowledge, global travels and experience in food development to ensure EAT is a serious contender on the high street.” The company will also launch a new salad range on Wednesday, 25 April and has bolstered its baguette offering. The new salads will include Mexican guacamole and quinoa, and sweet pepper chicken. EAT operates more than 100 sites across the UK after launching in London in 1996. HSBC – Whitbread shares now fair value: The two hedge funds that have bought stakes in Whitbread have caused the company share price to lift to fair Read More
Crussh boss – our concessions business gives us stability and security during a difficult time for the high street: Crussh chief executive Shane Kavanagh has told Propel its concessions business is giving the company stability and security during a difficult time for the high street. The London-based healthy food and juice brand, which has partnerships with Sainsbury’s, Everyone Active and Debenhams, has now joined forces with SSP to take the brand into transport hubs across the UK. Kavanagh said the deal also gave Crussh the opportunity to take its products into new markets. He said: "We have a solid core high street business that's been around for 20 years. However, we all know the problems being faced on the high street currently and we have pre-empted that by building the concessions side of our business. I think it gives us that stability and security as well as getting our products and brand into places that we might not otherwise." The first site in partnership with SSP will open at Paddington station in May with a pipeline of additional sites under discussion. He added: "There's plenty of opportunity in the UK and we have had some conversations on international stuff. We Read More
Abokado appoints new head of marketing and finance director: Abokado, which is backed by Kings Park Capital, has appointed Vineeta “Vee” Anuj as head of marketing, while Richard Chee has been promoted to finance director. Anuj was previously marketing manager at Odeon Cinemas and is a specialist in food and beverage branding, with more than ten years’ experience working for global brands including Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee. Chee has been with Abokado for eight years, most recently as financial controller. Abokado chief executive Mark Lilley said: “This is an exciting time for Abokado as we continue to grow and appoint new senior hires. We’re looking forward to Vee’s contribution to building the Abokado brand into London’s number one healthy grab and go chain. She will be working on all elements of our marketing function from local marketing to in-store comms, digital and email campaigns and growing our social media engagement. Richard has been a loyal and passionate member of the Abokado family for many years, during which time he’s been a key part of the leadership team supporting our growth. He continues to be a vital asset to the company.” Lilley and wife Lindsay founded Abokado in 2004. It currently operates Read More
Activist hedge fund takes stake in Whitbread: Activist hedge fund Elliott built a stake of more than 6% in Whitbread on Friday (13 April) in order to force the company to spin-off its Costa Coffee brand. Elliott has a reputation for taking aggressive steps to extract value from its investment – its Whitbread stake cost more than £430m and it is now Whitbread's largest shareholder. The Sunday Times claimed Elliott believed £3bn of value – a 40% rise in its existing market value – could be created by splitting Costa Coffee from Whitbread's Premier Inn business. Another activist fund Sachem Head holds a 3.4% stake in Whitbread. It wants the company to undertake a sale and leasehold of its freehold hotel properties and leverage the balance sheet to return more cash to shareholders. The Sunday Times – Conviviality had been warned to improve its financial controls: The Sunday Times has reported Matthew Clark’s previous owner Conviviality was warned it needed to improve its financial controls a year before it collapsed. Conviviality, whose shareholders have been left with nothing after it collapsed, hired accountancy firm EY to review its cash flow forecasting in January 2017. EY came in at the request Read More
JD Wetherspoon slows Irish expansion as property prices rise: JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin has reported rising property prices in Ireland has led to a more cautious approach to expansion there. Wetherspoon entered the Republic’s market in 2014, but rising property prices put paid to ambitions to open dozens of pubs in the first five years. Five pubs have been opened to date and work is scheduled to begin on three more sites shortly – two in Dublin, including a planned hotel in Camden Street, and one in Waterford. Another site in Carlow is a little further away from opening. “Ireland [before the crash] had become one of the most expensive places probably in the world to buy a property,” Martin told the Sunday Independent. “And then of course prices went down – some people in Ireland thought they were cheap, we thought they were reasonable – so that gave us the impetus to have a look and we bought six or seven sites. But no sooner had we done so then property prices shot up again like a rocket. So it gave us pause as they say. It’s a boring thing to say but what we’re going to do Read More
Wrapchic to open Birmingham airport site as it looks to add at least ten more outlets in 2018: Fusion fast food business Wrapchic is returning to its Birmingham roots with a site at the city’s airport as it aims to add at least ten more venues by the end of the year. Mahesh Raikar, who founded the concept in Birmingham in 2012, is opening the kiosk in departures following a deal brokered by agents Harris Lamb. Raikar tasked Harris Lamb in 2015 with acquiring premises in key locations across the UK to aid the business’ expansion. It now has 15 stores across the UK, and aims to have more than 25 by the end of 2018. Wrapchic has also launched its first international store in Dubai. Head of retail David Walton told The Business Desk: “Transport locations are a pivotal part of the business’ next growth phase, and this is a superb site at an important UK airport.” Raikar said the location was a “landmark achievement” for the business. He added: “With a number of further outlets planned for 2018 and more transport locations already in solicitors’ hands, we’re confident the next 12 months will see the chain expand further Read More
Turkish brand Bunco secures debut site: Property agent Shelley Sandzer has secured a debut London location for bao concept BunCo, in the City of London. The new outlet is due to open later this year. The brand will take a 1,000 square foot unit spread across ground floor and mezzanine levels. Originating in Istanbul the new site, located at 22 Monument Street, will be the brand’s first in the UK. BunCo’s primary offer will be steamed Asian buns known as “bao” made with natural ingredients and combined with non-traditional fillings such as falafel, fried chicken and tuna. Baran Dumanoglu, managing partner at BunCo, said: “BunCo was founded with the intention of bringing a unique interpretation to bao buns. People are bored of eating the same things so, using quality and tasty ingredients, we have revolutionised the street food culture in Istanbul and can’t wait to share this with our new customers in London. Opening our second outlet in a new country is a big step but Shelley Sandzer have been brilliant advisors throughout this process and secured the perfect City of London location.” PizzaExpress reports 112,000 downloads of new app: PizzaExpress has seen its new app downloaded more than 112,000 Read More
CG Restaurants & Bars forecasts 31% rise in site-level Ebitda driven by Dirty Martini brand: CG Restaurants & Bars has forecast a £5.1m (31%) increase in site-level Ebitda in 2018 compared with the previous year, driven by its Dirty Martini brand. The company, which also operates Covent Garden restaurant Tuttons, is also predicting like-for-like site-level Ebitda will grow 5% during the period. It added total sales for 2018 are expected to increase 27% on last year, with like-for-like sales anticipated to be up 3% on 2017. CG Restaurants & Bars chief executive Scott Matthews said: “We’re delighted with how the expansion of Dirty Martini is progressing and extremely encouraged by the strong regional performance of the brand, while our London venues continue to deliver well in a tough trading environment. Manchester in particular has been outstanding and is up 19% against budget in its first 19 weeks of trading.” The next Dirty Martini site will open in Birmingham on Saturday, 21 April and is “already fully booked for its opening weekend”, Matthews said. He added: “We are also evaluating sites in Liverpool and Newcastle as well as an additional site in Manchester.” Dirty Martini operates seven sites in London, with Read More
SSP to open debut UK Bottega Prosecco Bar, at Birmingham airport: UK transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group has partnered with Italian drinks brand Bottega for its debut UK site. The first Bottega Prosecco Bar will open at Birmingham airport this week. Deeply rooted in the Italian tradition of fine wine and food, Bottega Prosecco Bar will offer a selection of wine along with traditional finger food and specialities. The bar at Birmingham will feature a selection of dishes popular with airport passengers and an Italian breakfast menu. SSP UK and Ireland chief executive Simon Smith said: “We are delighted to be working with Bottega, which is a wonderful premium brand and a great addition to our portfolio. This is definitely prosecco’s time, and this new bar is completely on trend.” Sandro Bottega, owner and managing director of Bottega, added: “This concept, which aims to promote and enhance the reputation of our country, reflects the core values of Bottega. We also believe in the pairing of food and drink, which is why we have created our own food and wine combinations. I am particularly delighted to partner with SSP, whose knowledge and experience in the airport market and knowledge of Read More
Veeno reveals plans for up to 12 new UK sites: Italian wine cafe Veeno has revealed plans to expand with up to 12 new sites across the UK. Veeno has appointed Cedar Dean Commercial (CDC), the strategic lease management arm of property advisory firm Cedar Dean Group, to oversee its real estate strategy. CDC will provide lease advice, rent review and business rate services for the company as it looks to expand its presence in prime markets, in particular London. Cedar Dean Group’s CDG Leisure has already been appointed to help develop the business by identifying and acquiring new sites. Veeno was founded in November 2013 in Manchester by Nino Caruso and Andrea Zecchino. It now has 18 sites across the UK and is targeting 80 sites by 2020. Caruso said: “We are delighted by the response from our growing customer base for our unique brand, and will be working with Cedar Dean Commercial to ensure more people will be able to enjoy our Italian aperitivo. We have no doubt that our expansion plans will be an enormous success.” Michael Macpherson, head of strategic lease management at Cedar Dean Commercial, added: “We are very pleased to be involved in Veeno’s Read More
Little Britain Pub Company opens fifth site: Little Britain Pub Company has opened its fifth site – a Leicestershire pub, The Langton Arms in Church Langton, which has been closed for two years. Little Britain Pub Company was established in 2009 by two families, Ben and Katie Moore, and Mike and Lesley Herington, with the intention of creating “well-designed, food-led village pubs with an emphasis on fresh food and service standards that, while not being fine dining, are a good notch ahead of your average boozer". The company also operates The Windmill in Wymeswold, The Curzon Arms in Woodhouse Eaves, The Blue Bell in Rothley and The Crown Inn in Old Dalby. The Langton Arms has been the biggest project to date for the Little Britain Pub Company, which has the mantra: “If the village had a heart it would be the pub.” The menu offers a selection of dishes – from classics such as British mussels, scampi in a basket, fish and chips, or pie of the week, to pan fried scallops, braised ox cheek, or a 35-day aged Chateaubriand for two to share. Caffe Nero posts first Irish profit: Caffe Nero have claimed there are strong growth prospects Read More
Shonhan to open second Flesh & Buns site, in Fitzrovia: Ross Shonhan, founder of Japanese ramen bar concept Bone Daddies, is to open the second site of his bao bun restaurant Flesh & Buns, in Fitzrovia. Shonhan is opening the new venue in the Copyright development in Berners Street in late June. It will differ from the original Flesh & Buns, which was launched in Covent Garden nearly five years ago, in that it will also explore Nikkei Peruvian cuisine and drinks. The menu will feature a new ceviche and tiradito offering, and hot dishes. Flesh & Buns’ signature frozen yuzu margaritas will remain on the menu, with an expansion into the Peruvian Pisco Sour, which guests can push a button at their table to order. The 170-cover restaurant will sit across one floor and will be divided in to three sections. Through the centre of the site, raised booths will divide the bar and the two parts of the restaurant. At the back of the site, there is additional seating leading to an open kitchen, with counter dining. There will also be a secluded semi-private dining room. Shonhan said: “Almost five years ago, we were the first dedicated bao Read More
Coppa Club opens fifth site, in Henley: Sector investor Hugh Osmond has opened a fifth site for his Coppa Club concept, this time in Henley. Coppa Club, which launched in Sonning-on-Thames in Berkshire in 2014, has opened three further sites in London – in Oxford Circus, St Paul’s and Tower Bridge. Now Osmond has invested £1m to convert a Strada restaurant in Bell Street into Coppa Club’s latest venue, creating almost 30 jobs. An internal wall has been demolished to create a large, open-plan dining area and kitchen along with more casual cafe seating, a log fire, sofas and a bookshelf, reports the Henley Standard. Plans for a sixth Coppa Club are in the pipeline, in nearby Maidenhead. Osmond worked with Luke Johnson to launch the flotation of PizzaExpress in 1993. He founded Punch in 1997 and private equity firm Sun Capital Partners in 2001, which acquired Strada in 2014. Trading Post Coffee Roasters opens second site as part of East Sussex expansion plan: Brighton-based Trading Post Coffee Roasters has opened its second site, in Lewes. The company has opened the venue in Cliffe High Street on a site previously occupied by The Real Eating Company. The company has acquired Read More
TRG Concessions takes on three new Edinburgh airport sites: The Restaurant Group (TRG) Concessions has taken on three new airside sites at Edinburgh airport. The company is now operating champagne bar Flutes and Tails, The Gathering and The Gathering Deli at the airport, which is the sixth-largest in the UK. Flutes and Tails offers champagne, wine, beer, spirits and cocktails alongside a wide-ranging food menu. The Gathering has a menu based on local ingredients and traditional dishes, often with a contemporary and creative twist. The Gathering Deli serves filled croissants, baguettes and hoagie rolls, alongside salads and a selection of 100% organic Fairtrade coffee. The openings further strengthen TRG’s presence in the airport with the new sites joining Barburrito, which launched in January, and BrewDog’s recently announced first airport bar in its portfolio as it looks to increase its presence at UK airports. TRG Concessions managing director Nick Ayerst said: “We are delighted to have acquired further sites at Edinburgh airport and look forward to trading them over the summer with a view to developing further award-winning concessions at the airport in 2019 and beyond. We welcome our new team members into the business and will invest in them and Read More
Cambridge-based vegan restaurant Stem + Glory hits £350,000 crowdfunding target in five hours to expand into London: Cambridge-based vegan restaurant Stem + Glory has passed its £350,000 fund-raise target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open its third site only five hours after launch. The company opened its first site in Cambridge in October 2016 after raising more than £97,000 in a campaign on Crowdfunder. The restaurant has experienced an 84% increase in turnover year-on-year and Stem + Glory opened a second site, in Cambridge city centre, in November 2017. In the new campaign, Louise Palmer-Masterton is offering a 15% stake in return for investment and plans to open a site in Old Street, London, in July before preparing the brand for roll-out. So far, the campaign has raised £352,750 from 307 investors with 29 days remaining and is currently “overfunding”. Stem + Glory offers gourmet vegan food from locally sourced ingredients with all dishes made on-site and available to eat in or take away. Its restaurants also feature a vegan bar offering craft beer, fine wine, cocktails, mocktails and smart drinks. Palmer-Masterton also founded yoga brand Camyoga, while fellow director Jim Masters was part of nightclub Ministry of Sound and Read More
NYC Bar & Grill operator acquired out of administration: NYC Partnership, which operated five New York-themed burger restaurants and bars under the NYC Bar & Grill brand, has been acquired out of administration. Joanne Hammond and Claire Dowson, of Begbies Traynor’s Sheffield office, were appointed joint administrators of the business on 22 February. The company had expanded rapidly in the previous 18 months and obtained funding to support its growth. However, it encountered problems when the opening of its Darlington site was delayed by three months, which had a significant impact on cash flow. Sites in Bawtry, Stocksbridge, Doncaster and Hull, all in Yorkshire, were closed and staff made redundant by the company prior to entering administration. Following the appointment of administrators, a pre-pack sale of the business and assets of NYC Partnership was completed. This enabled the Darlington venue to remain operational with 15 staff transferred to the purchaser, reports Insider Media. Jamie Oliver goes Dutch with Pizzeria concept: Chef Jamie Oliver has opened his first Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria site in the Netherlands as he continues international expansion. The 142-cover restaurant has opened in Koningstraat in Arnhem city centre. The move follows an opening of the first Jamie’s Pizzeria Read More
Conviviality cancels interim dividend payout as it bids to find cash for unexpected £30m tax bill: Conviviality, the UK alcohol wholesaler serving consumers through the on-trade and its franchise retail estate, has cancelled its interim dividend payment as it bids to make up a cash shortfall to pay an unexpected £30m tax bill by the end of the month. The company suspended its shares on AIM on Wednesday (14 March) and called in PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to assist its discussions with HM Revenue & Customs and creditors. PwC is also helping the company to determine the impact of the funding shortfall on its earnings and compliance with its banking covenants. Conviviality stated: “Following the suspension of company shares from trading and pursuant to the steps being taken by the company to address the short-term funding requirement, the board has resolved to cancel the interim dividend of 4.5 pence per share that was due to be paid on Friday (16 March). As a result of the cancellation of the dividend, the company’s cash position is improved by about £8.2m.” Last week, Conviviality warned it expected adjusted Ebitda to come in 20% below market expectations. In a further update on Tuesday (13 March), Read More
Michelin-trained chef launches £555,000 crowdfunding campaign to open central London restaurant: Michelin-trained chef Harvey Trollope has launched a £555,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open a restaurant in central London. Trollope is looking to launch a first permanent site for his Harvey’s British Eatery concept following a series of 40-cover pop-ups. Trollope is offering £39.5% equity in return for investment. So far, 54 investors have pledged £137,170 with 30 days remaining. The largest investment has been £50,000. The pledge states: “We will work with the best in-season produce the British Isles has to offer to break the mould of British food on the high street. We want to unearth the recipes of our British heritage. For breakfast, think artisan regional British bread and pastries alongside a range of breakfast specialities. For lunch and in the evening, grilled and roast meat, game, native seafood, vegetables, puddings and, of course, British cheese! We will also adapt forgotten regional recipes to today’s dietary needs, including vegan and gluten-free. We want to properly showcase our fantastic British vegetables and fruit. There will also be a diverse bar menu with British beer, cider, fine liqueurs and classic favourites, as well as a carefully selected Read More
Anglian Country Inns acquires ninth site as it brings Knebworth pub back in the family: Anglian Country Inns, the award-winning operator of gastro-pubs and restaurants led by James Nye, has acquired its ninth site. The company has added The Lytton Arms in Knebworth, Hertfordshire, to its estate. The free-of-tie pub overlooks the Knebworth Park estate and the Nye family has strong ties with the venue – James’ uncle, Steve Nye, built a reputation for real ale while running the site in the 1990s. The pub, which had been closed, is being restored and will reopen with a focus on the quality and range of beer. James Nye said: “When we heard about the opportunity of The Lytton Arms, it was very hard not to be excited. I had my first job scrubbing dishes in the kitchen and it is a pub very close to our family. While wet-led pubs may have been struggling during recent years, we feel there is a great opportunity to make the most of the free-of-tie position to curate an exciting collection of real ale, craft beer and cider, alongside an authentic food offer. We are excited to be writing the next chapter for The Lytton Read More
Be At One like-for-likes up 7%, plans up to seven openings in 2018: Andrew Stones, chief operating officer of cocktail bar specialist Be At One, has told Propel like-for-like sales are currently up 7% and it plans to open up to seven sites in 2018. Stones said the ratio of openings in London and the regions would be “about 50-50” and the company, which is backed by Piper and currently operates 33 venues, was currently looking for a second site in Birmingham. He added: “We have 50 places where we would like to open, which include existing locations. We’re looking to effectively double the estate in the next five years so we’re looking to open six or seven this year as part of that plan. However, we’re under no pressure when it comes to exact numbers. We are in a fortunate place where we have very supportive private equity backers and also banking partners in Santander. We would look at group acquisitions but so far nothing has really come up on that front. Then there’s the expansion on a site-by-site basis. It might take a bit longer but it means we get the exact location we want to be in.” Read More
Tossed founder – Vital Ingredient acquisition gives us chance to get under bonnet of our closest competitor, targets 50-strong estate by end of 2019: Vincent McKevitt, founder of healthy eating brand Tossed, has told Propel its acquisition of Vital Ingredient had given it the chance to “get under the bonnet” of its closest competitor. McKevitt said he would spend the next six months bedding Vital Ingredient into the business while keeping an open mind on whether the two brands would remain separate. He said: “It would be arrogant to go in and turn them all into Tossed. We will spend time learning and looking at the brand. It’s effectively a chance to get under the bonnet of your closest competitor – imagine having all that data and information about a rival company.” Explaining the reasons behind the acquisition, McKevitt said: “Strategically the deal made sense – our core product offer is very similar. We’ve done a lot of work in terms of technology and hot food – we’ve gone cashless and we’re trying to go paperless – while Vital has some great locations across London.” The acquisition of Vital Ingredient has taken Tossed’s portfolio to 38 sites – nine franchised Read More
Hubbox chief reveals expansion plans: Hubbox, which runs neighbourhood restaurants specialising in burgers, hotdogs and beer, has revealed more details of its expansion plans with two new sites and the relocation of its Exeter venue. The Richard Boon-led business currently has sites in St Ives, Bristol, Exeter, Pentewan, Plymouth and Truro and is set to launch a restaurant in Taunton and a second site in Plymouth. Boon said: “Taunton has a thriving high street but limited casual dining. Our research shows we will be well received.” Hubbox’s restaurant in Old Town Street, Plymouth, is limited by size, leading the company to secure a second site at the Royal William Yard development. Boon said: “We’ve got a beautiful building with a great interior to work with. Plymouth is more than man enough to have two Hubbox sites.” Regarding relocating the Exeter site, Boon said: “Exeter was our first bricks-and-mortar site but is limited by its size – people see it’s full and move on. We have a vision for larger sites that enable us to offer more to our customers, with bars and a longer all-day trading including breakfast and a great coffee offering. We have been looking at various sites Read More
Shepherd Neame boss – we’re very much still on the acquisition trail: Shepherd Neame chief executive Jonathan Neame has told Propel the company is “very much still on the acquisition trail” and hopes to have added two new sites in London by the end of 2018. Neame said the company was also making investments in its pubs “for the long term” and would spend £10m on refurbishments this year to help continue to drive footfall. He added: “Although we did not add any pubs to the estate in the first half of the financial year, we are very much still on the acquisition trial. We tend to expand through single-site acquisitions but we would be open to other opportunities on the market. We are looking at unique and special places, particularly in coastal areas and small villages as we continue to develop destination pubs. Saying that, we are looking at two more sites in London but it’s very early stages. We’re currently working on three schemes in the Maidstone area – one in the town centre, one on the riverside and one at Kings Hill. They are three very different offers but I think it highlights the diversity of areas Read More
Brother of late Tim Bacon to launch nightclub in Hale: The brother of the late Tim Bacon, founder of Living Ventures, is to launch a nightclub in Hale, Greater Manchester. Chris Bacon and his wife Laura, along with business partner Steve Smethurst, will launch Club Arvina on Saturday, 17 March. The 250-seat venue – named after the Latin word for “bacon” – will be based in the former Surburbia restaurant in Ashley Road. Among the services on offer to guests will be hair and make-up on arrival and a concierge service for them to book a restaurant or chauffeur. Downstairs will offer a dancing space with music as well as live entertainment such as “explosive dancers and lively percussionists”. The opening is part of a broader launch for the Arvina brand, which also includes Hair Arvina, Club Arvina and Concierge Arvina. Chris Bacon told Altrincham Today: “We aim to provide the ultimate VIP clubbing experience, making sure every customer is looked after to the highest standard. Arvina has 20 tables that can be pre-booked, with hosts to greet you from the door to your table and make your night. Arvina will provide the best service you can ask for from Read More
Gordon Ramsay confirms departure of chief executive: Gordon Ramsay Group has confirmed the departure of chief executive Stuart Gillies. A document filed on Friday (2 March) at Companies House by holding company Kavalake showed Gillies left the company on 8 February. It is understood managing director Andy Wenlock has been promoted into the role. Despite several reports of Gillies departure, there had been no official confirmation from the company. Gillies was himself promoted from managing director to chief executive in March 2016 Last year, Gordon Ramsay Group reported a return to profit following losses of £2m and £6m in the previous two years. Shake Shack – collaborations with artists and designers keeping brand 'fresh and appealing' in challenging UK casual dining market: Shake Shack culinary director Mark Rosati has told Propel its collaborations with designers and artists are keeping the brand fresh and appealing to consumers in an increasingly challenging UK casual dining market. For its latest collaboration, the company has teamed with Grammy and MOBO-award winning producer Shahid Khan – aka Naughty Boy – to launch limited-edition chicken burger, The Naughty One. And Rosati said it would continue to explore similar "partnerships" in the future. He added: "I think Read More
Grillstock creditors face £1.3m deficiency: Creditors of American-style barbecue restaurant Grillstock, which went into administration last year before being bought by a new company, are facing an estimated total deficiency of £1.3m, a new document has revealed. A statement of affairs notice filed at Companies House by administrators Gareth Roberts and Paul Ellison, of KRE Corporate Recovery, showed a total deficiency of £1,300,633. Five-strong Grillstock went into administration following the issue of a winding-up petition by HM Revenue & Customs. Grillstock owed £258,723 in VAT and £187,107 in PAYE and did not have the necessary funds to pay. Draft accounts for the nine months to 27 August 2017 showed the company made a loss of £186,000 on turnover of £1,846,000. For the year ending 27 November 2016, Grillstock made a loss of £314,000 on turnover of £3,130,000. Secured creditor NatWest is owed £199,932, while 14 employees and former staff are owed £11,800. Grillstock was sold out of administration to a new company, Hedrick, which includes some of the business’ former directors, for a total consideration of £92,000. The sale was for the Bristol, Bath and Leicester restaurants and a market stall in Bristol. It did not include the company’s Walthamstow Read More
Bubbleology heads for Wales with Cardiff opening: Bubbleology, the London bubble tea bar operator, is set to head to Wales by opening a site in Cardiff. Founder Assad Khan has applied to the city council to open the outlet on the ground floor of Elgin House in St Mary’s Street and hopes to open the venue in April, reports Wales Online. Bubble tea is the name given to flavoured fruit tea and milk tea served hot or cold with chewy tapioca balls. Its menu includes salted cream cheese crowns, which blend Philadelphia cheese, cream, organic milk and Himalayan rock salt; along with hot or cold milk teas; fruit tea and coffee mixtures. Bubbleology, which has ten sites in London and one in Leeds, is looking to roll out the brand across the UK. The company said it is growing at a rate of about 20 to 30 new shops per year and has 60 sites worldwide. Khan launched Bubbleology after discovering the drink in New York’s Chinatown while working in the city. On returning to the UK in 2011, he started working on a plan for Bubbleology and now operates in nine countries. Pub Invest Group launches gastro-pub at former Read More
Pret A Manger chief asks for feedback on proposed plastic bottle scheme: Pret A Manger chief executive Clive Schlee has requested customer feedback on whether the company should introduce a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles. Pret would like to trial its own initiative in its Brighton stores in April. Schlee posted on his blog: “The idea is we would add 10p to all plastic bottles and return 10p for each Pret bottle given back to our teams to recycle. The aim is to understand how many bottles are returned and see if it encourages more customers to opt for a re-usable bottle. We will, of course, reinvest any unclaimed deposits in future sustainability work. It will take time to eliminate unnecessary plastic but I hope this sort of initiative will bring that day forward by drawing attention to the issue and stimulating new ideas. We’d like to trial a deposit scheme this April in Brighton. We’ve chosen Brighton because we have three busy shops there and we know the local people are highly attuned to the environment. If it is successful, we could extend the scheme across the country during the autumn.” Deltic Group shuts Stourbridge venue after 3,500 Read More
Casual Dining Group chief blames online booking services for no shows: Casual Dining Group chief operating officer James Spragg has blamed online booking services for a huge rise in restaurant no shows as the company backed the #StopNoShow campaign launched by restaurateur Damian Wawrzyniak. Spragg said no shows once made up only 5% of bookings per night but could now be as high as 15%, adding the issue was fuelled by online booking services that allowed diners to book via smartphone. Spragg told the Guardian: “It’s so much easier for people to book, they are booking two or three restaurants and only turning up at one.” He said the group was considering asking for a small deposit for parties of six or more with an option to cancel up to 48 hours before the reservation date. Casual Dining Group could trial the initiative in the next few months. Wawrzyniak launched the #StopNoShow campaign after missed bookings cost his Peterborough restaurant House of Feasts £3,000 in one weekend. Peter Sánchez-Iglesias, co-owner of Paco Tapas in Bristol, said the restaurant was losing up to 10% of bookings on a Saturday night, amounting to thousands of pounds in sales each week. He said: Read More
Chris Hill – NWTC’s record position on Sunday Times list is validation of staff initiatives: New World Trading Company (NWTC) chief executive Chris Hill has told Propel its record-breaking position on the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list is a validation of how it has approached staff engagement “from the start”. The company placed seventh, moving up from its first appearance on the list – tenth – last year. The annual awards rely solely on the opinions and views of staff in the workplace to generate the top 100. Hill told Propel: “We are over the moon to be the highest placed food and beverage operator since the list began. We’re really proud of the results and it’s the biggest validation from our teams of how we set out from the start.” NWTC operates 20 venues across seven brands and employs 1,100 staff. The Sunday Times invited all NWTC staff to rate the company, its management and working environments. This feedback was then analysed to determine a place on the list. To be placed on the Sunday Times list, 40% of staff have to respond. Hill said: “That means about 500 staff must have responded, and most Read More
Be At One reveals ‘strong pipeline for year’ as it reopens debut Battersea site following £200,000 revamp: Cocktail bar specialist Be At One has revealed it has a “strong pipeline for this year” as it reopens its debut site, in Battersea, following a £200,000 refurbishment. The site in Battersea Rise has undergone a transformation to feature a new exterior, centre-stage gold bar, neon signs, mural artwork and wood-panelled walls. Chief operating officer Andrew Stones said: “We’re really excited about this investment. It’s an important and nostalgic project for the company as Battersea was the first Be At One bar having opened in 1998. We have put a great deal of thought into the look and feel. We want to continue the pace of our current momentum and this includes revamping our existing portfolio of bars as much as it does opening new venues. This project follows a similar recent programme at our Hammersmith bar, with excellent results, so we’re extremely excited to see how the Battersea bar is received by our customers. While the bar has a slightly different look to some of our others, it definitely still holds the classic Be At One feel. Guest experience continues to be Read More
Pesto reports turnover passes £10m mark: Pesto, which focuses on Italian food in a pub setting, has reported turnover increased to £10,186,648 for the year ending 30 June 2017, compared with £9,468,348 the previous year. Pre-tax profit fell to £62,230 compared with £197,151 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In a report filed with the accounts, the directors stated: “During the year the company opened its ninth and tenth sites in Marton in Cheshire and Oakerthorpe in Derbyshire respectively. All sites continue to perform well and the management team is focused on opening more in the coming year. The operating profit for the year was £236,050 (2016: £381,502) with the decrease from the prior year reflecting the costs associated with opening two new sites in the financial year.” At the end of the period, the number of employees increased to 331 from 307 the previous year. Pesto, which is owned by Sara Edwards and Neil Gatt, operates restaurants across the Midlands and north west. Innis & Gunn appoints director of operations for Beer Kitchens business: Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn has appointed Stephen Drew as its new director of operations for its Beer Kitchen Read More
City District Group teams up with Pep Guardiola and Michelin-starred chef to launch Catalan concept in Manchester: City District Group, which operates Brazilian rodizio restaurant brand Fazenda, is to team up with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Michelin-starred chef Paco Perez to launch a Catalan concept. Guardiola and Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain and chief executive Ferran Soriano have invested in Tast Cuina Catalana, which will open in King Street in the summer bringing a taste of their native Catalonia to Manchester. The 120-cover venue will take over a site formerly occupied by Aria Leisure’s Middle Eastern concept Suri, which closed in August. Tast will be set over three floors, with a casual dining and bar area on the ground floor, a first-floor dining room and private rooms on the second floor. Perez has five Michelin stars to his name, including two each at Miramar in Girona and Enoteca in Barcelona – a city where he has six restaurants in total. City District Group co-founder Tomas Maunier told the Manchester Evening News: “We are hugely excited to be working with these amazing creative talents. Paco’s reputation is immense and we will serve some of his and Pep’s Read More
Andreas Karlsson – being surrounded by high-quality operators helps rather than hinders Sticks ‘n’ Sushi: Andreas Karlsson, group chief operating officer of Japanese restaurant brand Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, has told Propel he believes being surrounded by high-quality operators is proving helpful rather than a hindrance to the business. Karlsson said the company, which has reported turnover rose to £15.6m in the year to 30 June 2017, was trading ahead of last year in terms of both revenue and customer numbers in what was a difficult time for the casual dining market. He added the company’s latest sites, which opened in Oxford and the Nova development in Victoria in November and December respectively, were doing “well”. “We are not seeing a drop in sales despite the increased competition, particularly in places such as Canary Wharf,” said Karlsson. “I think competition actually helps – if you have neighbours that are doing well then you do well. We need each other. Not everyone wants to eat pizza or sushi every time for example – the places that are doing the best have variety. Trading wise, we are in a solid place. It’s a pretty simple recipe for success – a nicely designed restaurant, Read More
Jamie Oliver set for another hit with Barbecoa ‘on brink of collapse’: Jamie Oliver's steak restaurant Barbecoa is on “the brink of collapse”, as the company scrambles to avoid administration. The management is understood to be having one last attempt to save the chain this week, with 160 jobs at stake. Last week, property agent Christie & Co confirmed it was engaged in finding buyers for the leases on the chain's two sites. But sources told City AM the brand was having trouble finding takers for the expensive venues. The restaurants, at One New Change near St Paul's and in Piccadilly, are understood to have a rent of more than £1m per year between them. A third restaurant had been planned for Victoria, but this has now been scrapped. If the rescue attempt is unsuccessful, the brand, which is part of the Oliver's restaurant empire but separate to Jamie's Italian, could enter administration as soon as this week. It is thought that some senior staff at Barbecoa have even begun looking for alternative employment. Jamie Oliver Group confirmed it had instructed real estate experts to ascertain "potential value and market suitability of two of our sites" but declined to comment Read More
Bel & The Dragon targets larger sites for expansion as it aims to capitalise on accommodation: Bel & The Dragon, the Longshot-owned collection of country inns across the south east, is targeting larger sites for expansion as it aims to make the most of accommodation. Hector Ross told Propel the six-strong company, whose five sites with accommodation will each have between five and 18 rooms by the end of 2018, was looking to acquire coaching inns with 20 to 40 bedrooms to add to its portfolio. He said as with its current country inns, sites needed to be within an “hour-and-a-half” of west London in an area spanning the A3 to the M40. Accommodation currently accounts for about £1m of Bel & The Dragon’s turnover and Ross is keen to increase that figure further especially, he said, as 80% of people who stay at its sites also dine. Ross said: “What we want is bums in beds – it’s critical for us because of the impact it has on our dining figures. The staycation market is also growing. We currently have about a 70% occupancy rate, which is growing every month. We’ve worked hard to improve the quality of food Read More
Heavitree Brewery reports turnover boost: Heavitree Brewery, the Exeter-based tenanted pub operator, has reported turnover increased by £144,000 to £7,299,000 for the year ending 31 October 2017. Group operating profit was up by £358,000 to £1,778,000. Adjusted operating profit before tax rose 25.21% to £1,778,000. During the year The Pen And Quill in Taunton was sold, generating a small loss of £5,000. Impairments on this site had been absorbed in the accounts of previous years. Since the accounts were finalised, The King Of Prussia in Bovey Tracey has been sold. It closed in 2009 with a small rental income retained from the letting of a flat – the pub will be converted into a community facility. The Crown & Sceptre in Newton St Cyres, which closed in June 2017, and The Kings Arms in Strete, which shut in September 2016, are on the market with sales agreed, subject to contract. Further improvements to camping facilities and caravan pitches have been made to the Dartmoor Halfway Inn in Bickington. The company said it had no further major developments planned for 2018, while the new year had started “satisfactorily”. Vivino wine app raises $20m in Series C funding for international expansion: Wine Read More
Polpo explores small spaces format: Polpo co-founder Russell Norman has told Propel it is looking at the possibility of developing a new version of the Venetian-inspired restaurant concept that would work in smaller-sized sites. Norman and co-founder Richard Beatty recently closed the company’s regional sites in Bristol and Exeter, which had shown the “limitations of the brand in provincial markets”. However, Norman said they remained “totally committed” to Polpo as a brand and it still had a “lot to offer”. He added: “The regional closures of Polpo have shown us the limitations of the brand in provincial markets but also allowed us to focus where we know it works – high-volume urban locations with strong lunch potential and a dining out culture on weekdays as well as weekends. We are totally committed to Polpo as a brand and all three of us – me, Richard Beatty and managing director Scott Macdonald – believe it still has a lot to offer in its current guise and, possibly, in a diffusion version for smaller locations. Watch this space!” Polpo has five sites in London and one remaining outside the capital – in Brighton. Hop Stuff Brewery to close crowdfunding campaign on Friday Read More
ETM Group reports like-for-likes up 48% at Greenwood as Super Bowl generates record sales: ETM Group, the 13-strong bar and restaurant company, has reported its Greenwood site in Victoria’s Nova development saw like-for-like sales increase 48% for the week ending 11 February. The venue saw revenue more than double on Super Bowl Sunday, which saw the Greenwood team pull almost 3,000 pints and flip more than 1,000 burgers. The company stated: “This clearly demonstrates just one year after opening that Greenwood has established itself as London’s premier sporting destination and the only place to watch some of the world’s biggest fixtures and tournaments.” Co-founder Ed Martin added: “We are thrilled with last week’s performance and, with a fantastic year of sport such as Six Nations, World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup, we are confident Greenwood will continue to thrive along with our other sports-friendly sites in the City, the recently opened Broadleaf and Long Arm Pub & Brewery.” Former Hungryhouse head of sales launches £500,000 crowdfunding campaign to expand Leeds-based food delivery app to major UK cities: Former Hungryhouse head of sales Mandeep Singh has launched a £500,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand his Leeds-based food delivery Read More
Deliveroo considers plans for £1.5bn float: Deliveroo is considering plans for a £1.5bn stock market float. Consultants at PricewaterhouseCoopers have been appointed to evaluate strategic options, including a listing in the next 12 to18 months. It is understood the company could go public in either London or New York. A float would value Deliveroo, which is yet to make a profit, in excess of $2bn (£1.5bn), reports The Sunday Times. Deliveroo lets users order food for home delivery from thousands of restaurants, including companies such as Nando’s and PizzaExpress. It charges for an order and takes a commission from the restaurants in its network. The business has grown rapidly since it was founded more than five years ago by William Shu, a former investment banker, and now operates in 12 countries. Turnover in 2016 increased by 611% to £128.6m. However, the cost of doing business has meant the company has not come close to making a pre-tax profit. In 2016, its loss widened to £129.1m compared with £30.1m the year before as it spent heavily on promotion and new technology. Last year, Deliveroo raised $385m from investment giants including Fidelity and T Rowe Price. The most recent fund-raising round gave Read More
Sayers the Bakers returns to profit: North west-based independent retail bakery Sayers the Bakers has reported a return to profit, albeit a small one. The company saw turnover of £48,307,000 for the year ending 30 September 2017, compared with £48,520,000 the previous year. It reported a pre-tax profit of £34,000 compared with a loss of £114,000 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. A report by the directors accompanying the accounts stated: “We plan to continue this upward trend in the coming year by means of investment in fixed assets in the existing estate, opening several new shops and an ongoing focus on cost control.” The number of employees during the period fell to 1,582 from 1,625 the previous year. Sayers the Bakers has more than 150 stores throughout the north west. The company was established by Fred and Lylian Sayer in Liverpool in 1912. Islington building home to D&D London’s Radici restaurant goes on market for £3.6m: The Islington building that is home to D&D London’s Radici restaurant has gone on the market for a guide price of £3.645m, reflecting a net initial yield of 4%. Savills, on behalf of a private vendor, has been instructed Read More