Scandinavia’s largest nightlife group in battle for Deltic: Rekom, Scandinavia’s largest nightlife group, has not given up in its bid to acquire The Deltic Group, the UK’s biggest nightclub operator, Propel has learned. Earlier this week, Propel revealed private equity group Greybull Capital had secured preferred bidder status for the Peter Marks-led, 52-strong group. However, it is thought that during the past 48 hours, Rekom has returned with an improved bid for Deltic, and is set to battle it out with Greybull, which has backed companies such as Monarch Airlines and British Steel, for the business. It is thought that if successful in their respective bids, Greybull and Rekom will look to back the existing management team and take on the majority of the group’s existing estate. It is thought the company may still need to go through a restructuring process as part of any deal. Rekom’s interest in Deltic, whose brands include Atik, Bar & Beyond, Eden and Vinyl, is part of its international growth strategy to become the largest nightlife group in Europe. The company currently operates circa 120 bars and nightclubs across Denmark, Norway and Finland. Propel revealed in October, Shoreditch Bar Group, which last year acquired Read More
Premier Inn adds 13 new sites across Germany after acquisition from Centro Hotel Group, flagship hotel opens in Southwark: Whitbread, the owner of the Premier Inn and Hub by Premier Inn hotel brands, has completed the acquisition of 13 hotels across Germany from the Centro Hotel Group. The acquisition grows Whitbread’s network of trading and pipeline hotels to 68 locations across Germany and more than 12,000 bedrooms. Whitbread now operates 29 hotels, with a total open and committed pipeline of 68 hotels in Germany and sees the potential to operate around 60,000 bedrooms across the country. The acquisition of the 13 hotels from the Centro Group adds 1,934 bedrooms to Whitbread’s growing network in Germany. Six of the acquired sites (759 bedrooms) are trading hotels and seven sites (1,175 bedrooms) are either under construction or are secured development sites. Mark Anderson, managing director for Property and International at Whitbread, said: “Our ambition is for Premier Inn to be the number one budget hotel operator in Germany, offering business and leisure travellers the high-quality, good-value accommodation the Premier Inn brand is so well known for in the UK. The hotels match our network requirements and bring Premier Inn to many locations Read More
Black Sheep Coffee looks to tempt Caffe Nero landlords to switch brands:London-based speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee has sent out an email aimed at Caffe Nero landlords, looking to tempt them to change to its brand. In the email seen by Propel, Black Sheep Coffee said: “Are you a Caffe Nero landlord? Have you been served with a CVA notice and can’t help but think you’re getting the short end of the stick? Then you probably are, but don’t worry, we are here to help. At Black Sheep Coffee, we’re raising money to take over Caffe Nero’s sites to save jobs and continue on our mission to rid the world of boring, average-tasting coffee.” The email also puts out a call to possible investors: “If you are an investor looking for a young and hungry company that wants to help make the world a better place by getting rid of plastic and supporting our homeless communities, then click the button below to find out how you can get involved and become part of the Black Sheep Coffee family that, every day, is growing bigger and stronger.” Black Sheep, which operates circa 35 sites – with the majority in Read More
Natural Kitchen managing director buys back majority of business under new vehicle: Justin Green, managing director of London-based deli and cafe concept The Natural Kitchen, which was placed into administration in October, has bought back the majority of the business as part of a pre-pack administration process, Propel has learned. Propel revealed in September the nine-strong company was working with property advisers Lambert Smith Hampton in regards to the marketing of its business. It was subsequently placed into administration with Quantuma overseeing the process. All The Ducks, a new company set up by Green, is believed to have fought off competition from another party to acquire the company’s goodwill, equipment, business contracts, intellectual property, domain names and websites for £187,222 (exclusive of VAT). It is yet unclear how many of the brand’s nine sites have been transferred to the new vehicle. According to the administrator’s report, Natural Kitchen had its most profitable year in 2019, reporting a total profit of £323,204, on turnover of £13.6m. However, the impact of covid-19 on trade and the subsequent lockdown, which forced the company to keep its sites in the capital closed, saw sales drop from circa £300,000 net per week to zero. The Read More
Birley Sandwiches set for administration process: Birley Sandwiches, the City fast-food chain owned by Robin Birley, owner of the Mayfair private member’s club 5 Hertford Street, is on the brink of collapse after it revealed plans to file for administration. According to The Telegraph the company had been trading well prior to the pandemic and was profitable. However, the shift to home working during the pandemic and harsh restrictions imposed on the hospitality sector have hit sales. The ten-strong company has been forced to make 75% of its 220-strong workforce redundant as a result. Birley said it was with “huge sadness” he had been forced to prepare the firm for administration. He said: “I have been self-funding its losses since the restrictions imposed by the government in March, but the continuing series of lockdowns and ever tighter restrictions means I cannot justify continuing down that route. When businesses as long-standing and robust as Birley Sandwiches’ futures are in jeopardy, it says something extremely meaningful as to the ultimate long-term economic impact this government’s response to coronavirus is going to wreak on our country.” Propel revealed earlier this month Birley Sandwiches had become the latest London-based food-to-go operator to be placed Read More
Simon Emeny – order and pay has worked well for us, Cotswolds acquisition was timely: Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny has lauded the benefits of order and pay across the estate. He stated: “We launched order and pay – a web-based solution that asks customers to scan a QR code displayed on the table, allowing them to browse the menu, choose items, and order and pay their bill without the need for interaction with a team member. We started in a handful of sites when we reopened in July, where it proved popular and successful. It is now operational in about 75% of our managed pubs and hotels, with the rest of our managed sites due to come online over the coming months. It has led to some interesting insights into consumer behaviour, with customers choosing dishes and drinks they have not tried before, now they have the luxury of carefree browsing time, and our team members have more quality time to spend with customers as they serve the customers’ tables.” Emeny also highlighted the impact of working from home on its central London sites. He said: “On 17 October, when London was moved into tier two and people were Read More
Giggling Squid co-founder to launch new Thai fast-casual concept: Pranee Laurillard, the co-founder of Giggling Squid, is to launch a new Thai fast-casual concept in the new year, called Lime Squeezy Thai Kitchen, Propel has learned. The new venture, which is a separate business to Giggling Squid, will open its first site in the former Wahaca restaurant in Chichester, West Sussex, with an opening scheduled for early February. The new concept will have a lower price-point than Giggling Squid, feature a takeout offer and communal tables. Laurillard, who founded Giggling Squid with her husband Andy in 2009, told Propel: “This is something I have wanted to do for a very long time, even before we launched Giggling Squid. The concept will be more in the fast-casual category, with everything focused on the meal being in one dish. I am very excited to be working on something new and looking forward to launching it next year.” Laurillard believes the concept will have the potential to be rolled out. She added: “My focus is getting everything ready for the first one, but I know there will be opportunities regarding other sites next year, and it is something I will keep my eye Read More
Cake Box maintains positive sales growth: Cake Box, the specialist retailer of fresh cream cakes, has reported it has maintained its positive sales growth into the second half of its financial year. Franchisee like-for-like sales were up 12.7% in October and 2% for the first two weeks of November following the imposition of a second national lockdown. Following the launch of its Cake Box home delivery service to complement its existing partner offer, online sales have continued to increase in the second half, up circa 56.5% in the six weeks since the end of September versus last year. Five new stores have also opened since the end of September, with encouraging initial trading, including a new first-week sales record, in Staines. Cake Box provided the update as it reported revenue jumped 30% to £8.6m for the 20 weeks to 30 September, compared with £6.6m the previous year. Ebitda was up 0.5% to £1.98m over the six-month period from £1.97m the year before, with pre-tax profit down 4% to £1.66m from £1.74m the previous year. Gross margin improved to 48.4% over the half-year, up from 45% in March. Like-for-like sales in franchise stores grew 12.1% in the 20 weeks to 30 Read More
Company News: Administrators for failed bakery Patisserie Valerie slap lawsuit on auditors Grant Thornton over ‘negligent audits’: Administrators for collapsed bakery chain Patisserie Valerie have slapped a lawsuit on auditors Grant Thornton at the High Court for “negligent audits” of its accounts. Patisserie Valerie collapsed last year after a £40m hole was found in its accounts, possibly as a result of fraud. Grant Thornton is also being investigated by the accounting watchdog over the collapse. FRP Advisory, the administrator, confirmed the liquidators have “issued a claim for damages against Grant Thornton in respect of their negligent audits of the group companies’ financial statements”. Grant Thornton said: “We are aware a claim has been filed but it has not been served. We will, however, be rigorously defending the claim once we receive it.” Patisserie Valerie began in 1926 as a bakery shop in Soho, before it was bought by entrepreneur Luke Johnson in 2006. David Dunckley, chief executive of Grant Thornton UK, stated last year at a hearing with MPs it was not the role of the auditor to uncover fraud. The audit watchdog, the Financial Reporting Council, revealed plans last month to increase the onus on accountants to spot fraud. Read More
AB InBev to fully integrate Camden Town Brewery, managing director Keary to step down: Camden Town Brewery, which was acquired by AB InBev in an £85m deal in 2015, is to be integrated into the global brewing company from January, in a move that will see the brewery’s current managing director Adam Keary step down. Keary, who initially joined the business as its sales director in April 2017, before becoming managing director in August 2019, will step down in March next year, while founder Jasper Cuppaidge will move into a consultative role with AB InBev. On possible redundancies, AB InBev said it anticipates retaining “most of the talent from Camden, and we are aiming to reduce any potential total impact to a minimum by reviewing alternative opportunities for any employees within the company”. Keary said: “Camden is about to turn the next exciting chapter in our story, by integrating fully into the UK arm of our parent company AB InBev, Budweiser Brewing Group. We have achieved a huge amount over the past ten years, and by making the transition, our brand and our breweries will be well positioned to continue that into the next ten and beyond. We will be Read More
TRG paid £895,000 to buy back three Food & Fuel sites: The Restaurant Group (TRG) paid £850,000 to buy back three sites from the 11-strong Food & Fuel business, which was placed into administration in March, Propel has learned. On 24 April this year, TRG exchanged on a deal for Coco Momo sites in Marylebone and Kensington, The Queens in Crouch End, The Roebuck in Chiswick and The Queens Arms in Pimlico, with completion due to have taken place by 12 June, for a sum of £1.6m. However, Propel has learned the company eventually paid £895,000 to acquire the Coco Momo site in Kensington, The Queens in Crouch End and The Queens Arms in Pimlico. It has since also agreed a deal to acquire the Roebuck in Chiswick. However, the company’s interest in the Coco Momo site in Marylebone failed to progress and its was subsequently acquired for £200,000 by Santi & Santi, the company behind Marylebone Leisure Group, and Marmalade Pubs, a joint venture with Ei Group’s Managed Investments segment. In June, Propel revealed London pub operator Market Taverns had acquired another four sites from the former Food & Fuel estate – The Sporting Page in Chelsea, The Queens Read More
YO! to trial franchise model for Panku concept: YO!, the Richard Hodgson-led global multi-brand, multi-channel Japanese food group, is to launch a trial of a franchise model for its pan-Asian street food concept Panku, Propel has learned. YO! currently acts as the master franchisee for the concept, which was founded by Neil Nugent and Andy Upton. It now plans to trial the franchise model across a select number of sites, before assessing whether to roll it out further. It currently operates 35 Panku concessions in Asda stores across the UK, with another two set to open soon. David Hampton, managing director of Retail at YO!, said: “We’ve been really pleased with the reaction to our Panku kiosks. With 35 sites up and running, and more in the pipeline, we are now looking at what the next phase of development might look like. Drawing from our experience with Snowfox and Bento, our highly successful kiosk brands in the USA and Canada, we will be trialling a franchise model across a handful of Panku sites in the UK.” Last month, the company began trialling a new Indian street food concept called Kulaba Kitchen with retailer Asda. The company launched the trial in Read More
Pret launches new dinner range for delivery and new Order Ahead service: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned chain, has further diversified its offer with the launch of new Dinners by Pret delivery range and a new Order Ahead service. Available from 30 Pret sites from Thursday (19 November), the new Dinners by Pret range comprises focaccia pizzas; pigs in blankets; mac ’n’ cheese; hot rice bowls, including curry and chili; and milkshakes. The new dinners menu also includes three new vegan-friendly hot rice bowls. Briony Raven, UK food and coffee director at Pret, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to offer more customers new (and freshly made) Pret Dinners for their evening takeaways. With many of us having tried to take up cooking during the last lockdown, we decided it’s time to let our customers sit back and relax while Pret handles dinner – you’ve seen enough of your kitchen this year. We’ve worked hard to take some of the nation’s most beloved comfort foods and give them a Pret twist, including our new focaccia pizzas. Not only have we created new items to add to our dinners menu range but we have expanded the delivery services to be Read More
Caffe Nero had been trading at 55% to 65% of pre-pandemic levels in recent weeks: Caffe Nero had been trading at 55% to 65% of pre-pandemic weeks before the second lockdown – and is forecasting a funding requirement of £26m. The company, which currently operates 800 sites across the UK, has also said it doesn’t consider 69 of its outlets, in its recently launched company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposals, to be viable based on historical performance and expectation of future trading. These are thought to include central London-based sites in Piccadilly Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Central St Giles and Covent Garden (Maiden Lane). It is understood prior to the recent takeaway-only restrictions, overall sales in recent weeks were between 55% and 65% of levels prior to the pandemic, which the company said represented an “unsustainable drop”. Some stores are understood to be trading at as little as 25% to 40% of pre-covid levels. After taking advantage of support provided by the government, between March and September the business is thought to have lost £110m of sales and £36m of Ebitda versus the same period in the prior year. Propel understands even with the significant and ongoing actions taken by the Read More
Company News: TGI to launch ‘Friday’s for grown-ups’ bar focused concept: TGI Friday’s is to launch a bar-focused concept, which harks back to the heritage of the brand as it looks to re-engage with older consumers. The first site under the new concept, which is being pitched at a more grown-up demographic, is set to open early next year in Cobham, Surrey. The company is about to start work on the former Carluccio’s premises with the concept inspired by TGI Friday’s original site, which launched in New York’s 63rd and 1st in 1965 and that it might take its name from this location. Speaking at Propel’s final Multi Club event of the year, TGI Friday’s chief executive Robert Cook said: “It’s cocktail-led but still has all the attributes that one would expect from Friday’s. When the first one opened in New York, it was a cocktail bar with a small food offering. Rather than a small food menu, we’re going to have a sharing menu. I would describe it as Friday’s for grown-ups – people aged 40 to 55. We’re looking at where those people have gone as Friday’s fans and how can we re-engage with them. It will be a Read More
McPhee steps down as Soho House Group chief financial officer: Peter McPhee has stepped down as global chief financial officer of Soho House Group, Propel understands. McPhee joined the Nick Jones-led business at the start of 2016 from retailer Fresh & Easy, where he had been its chief financial officer. Previous to that, he was UK chief financial officer for General Merchandise, Clothing and Digital Entertainment at Tesco. He also had a stint at Yum! Brands. In 2017, McPhee oversaw Soho House’s £275m refinancing deal with Perimira Debt Managers, while last year he oversaw a $100m fund-raise, which was to be used to double the size of the company’s chain of hotels and private members’ clubs around the world. Goodbody – JD Wetherspoon’s liquidity remains healthy and cash burn appears to be ‘negligible’: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has said JD Wetherspoon’s liquidity remains healthy and cash burn appears to have been “negligible”. Speaking after the company’s first quarter trading update, in which it reported like-for-like sales fell 27.6% for the 15 weeks to 8 November, Ruddy said: “As of 25 October, the group had liquidity of £234m. In late July, the group had £194m of cash and cash equivalents Read More
Wadworth to sell 21 pubs to Liberation Group: Devizes-based brewer and retailer Wadworth has exchanged contracts for the sale of 21 pubs to Channel Islands and West Country-based brewer and retailer Liberation Group – owners of Butcombe Brewing Co – for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition will deliver an additional 140 rooms to the Liberation Group’s managed estate, taking the total number of rooms to 223. Liberation will incorporate the acquired sites, and associated employees, into Butcombe’s existing 39-pub portfolio and intends to invest substantial capital into many of the businesses to support future growth. Liberation will finance the entire cost of the acquisition by way of a new equity investment from its ultimate shareholder, Caledonia Investments. Wadworth chairman Charles Bartholomew said: “We are working with our teams in each pub to enable the seamless transition to Liberation to take place over the next four weeks. I am in no doubt these pubs will continue to thrive under their new ownership and remain central to the local communities they serve.” Liberation Group chief executive Jonathan Lawson added: “Although the challenge posed by covid-19 on Liberation, and the wider hospitality sector, continues to be substantial, it has not impacted our longer-term Read More
McDonald’s to test loyalty programme as part of new ‘Accelerating the Arches’ strategy: McDonald’s is to test a loyalty programme for customers and launch a new crispy chicken sandwich next year as it refocuses its long-term strategy after the coronavirus pandemic. The company plans to prioritise marketing next year as part of its “Accelerating the Arches” strategy, including new packaging globally with a “modern, refreshing feel and playful touches to unify branding in markets all over the world,” it said in a statement. McDonald’s will focus on core products such as burgers, coffee and chicken, including a new crispy chicken sandwich – something some franchisees have long sought in order to compete with the success of similar products at Popeyes and Chick-fil-A. It will also soon include another growth driver that other companies have long had – loyalty programmes. “My McDonald’s” digital programme will allow customers who sign up to get tailored offers, the company said. A loyalty programme using the My McDonald’s programme will start as a pilot in coming weeks in Phoenix in the US. McDonald’s will also accelerate technology innovation its customers have a “fast, easy experience”. Its global sales fell 2.2% in the third quarter – Read More
TRG keeping 77 sites in England open for click and collect and delivery: The Restaurant Group (TRG) is keeping 77 of its leisure sites in England open for click and collect and delivery during lockdown. The company is offering the services at 58 of its Frankie & Benny’s sites, 17 Chiquito outlets and its Firejacks venues in Basildon and Stevenage. They are available Monday to Thursday between 4pm and 9pm, and Friday to Sunday from noon to 9pm. It means 32 leisure sites have temporary shut – 25 Frankie & Benny’s, three Chiquito, its Coast to Coast outlets in the Metrocentre in Gateshead and the Trafford Centre in Manchester, Firejacks in Northampton and Est Est Est in the Trafford Centre. The group is also offering a series of ongoing promotions including 20% off all click and collect orders as well as a meal deal bundle for Frankie & Benny’s – pasta meal deal for two for £19.99 and a family feast for £29.99. TRG will also reopen its seven leisure sites in Wales on Monday (9 November) and two in Northern Ireland on Friday (13 November) in line with the lifting of lockdown in those countries. The company’s 16 leisure Read More
BrewDog appoints Niall McCallum as chief financial officer: Scottish craft brewer BrewDog has appointed Niall McCallum as its chief financial officer, Propel has learned. McCallum brings a raft of experience at the cutting edge of international and private equity-backed businesses. He held both chief financial officer and finance director positions at Element where he spent the past three years. Prior to that, he worked at KPMG, Caird Capital and Capita. McCallum is passionate about helping BrewDog build on the company’s success and continue to evolve its finance function as the business’ global business evolves. Neil Simpson, who had been holding the interim chief financial officer position, will move into the business development director role, which he previously held, to focus on international expansion across BrewDog’s key export markets. TGI Friday’s and Turtle Bay to offer takeaway and deliveries: TGI Friday’s, led by Robert Cook, will offer click and collect and home deliveries while its restaurants are shut in England until 2 December. It confirmed sites in Scotland and Jersey will stay open and will reopen in Wales on Monday (9 November) when the 17-day “firebreaker” ends. Deliveries in England will be available through the company’s Fridays Delivered app and Deliveroo Read More
Shoreditch Bar Group among interested parties for Deltic Group: Shoreditch Bar Group, which last year acquired the remainder of London bar and restaurant operator Novus’ late-night business, is one of the parties running the rule over the Deltic Group, Propel understands. The Peter Marks-led Deltic, which is the UK’s largest nightclub chain, began working with advisers from BDO last month, as it seeks investment to help support the business through the extended period of closure. BDO is currently overseeing a sales process for the business, which is thought to have attracted interest from private equity firms and trade buyers. Propel understands the Shoreditch Bar Group, which earlier this year acquired The Hoxton Pony in Hackney, is one of the trade players and is thought to be working with Steve Thomas, the founder of Luminar, the at-one-time circa 300-strong chain, from which Deltic was born, on a possible bid. Deltic was founded in 2011 after Marks and a group of investors bought the Luminar nightclub group after it went into liquidation. Speaking to Propel last month, Marks said that no nightclub business would survive unless outside financial support “is received from somewhere”. He warned the industry was at a “critical point” Read More
Greggs to remain open during lockdown but expects losses: Food-to-go operator Greggs has confirmed it will remain open for business during lockdown but the period is likely to result in losses. In an update to employees, the company said while sales had recovered to circa 76% of prior year levels during the month of September, the latest restrictions imposed in the UK are likely to see a reduction in demand across its store network. Goodbody leisure analyst Jason Molins said: “Greggs has not provided any guidance around potential losses, however, we estimate that assuming sales fall to 50% of prior year levels during the month of November, this would see profits impacted by circa £10m to £15m. Similar to Wales, which went into full lockdown last week, Greggs expects footfall in stores to decline but expects continued demand from people who cannot work from home. We would also highlight the delivery service through Just Eat is being rolled out across the country, supported by television advertising. Greggs announced the extension of the furlough scheme will help protect critical jobs that will be impacted in the short term by lower demand, but will be needed later in the year when lockdown Read More
Pandemic pushes St Austell to £10m first-half loss, profitable since lock-down easing at lower level: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has reported a “positive” improvement to trading since reopening and a return to profitability – but the first lockdown saw the business lose in the region of £10m in the first half of 2020. The company, which operates circa 180 pubs, inns and hotels, is also in the process of completing a review of the business, which will “inevitably result in some people leaving the business”. Speaking prior to news about the second national lockdown, chief executive Kevin Georgel said: “During the first few months of 2020, our pub estate had delivered like-for-like sales performance ahead of the market and beer sales had also started the year well, once again showing growth on last year. Although we continued to produce and sell our own beer at record levels to supermarkets and through our online shop, the closure of all our pubs on 20 March saw our turnover fall to approximately 10% of expected levels, in the period up to the end of June. Although most of our teams were placed on furlough, which helped to offset some of our costs, we Read More
Mowgli secures Cheshire Oaks site for opening next year: Indian street food concept Mowgli has secured a site in Cheshire Oaks for an opening next year. The 11-strong group, which is backed by the Foresight Group and chaired by Karen Jones, has secured a site in the McArthurGlen Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet, with the opening scheduled for spring 2021. Founder Nisha Katona said: “So happy to be able to share some good news/green shoots of growth and hope nudging up through these autumn days. Mowgli Cheshire Oaks will be coming to you this spring. I searched high and low for a place to take Mowgli to my home crowds of Wirral, Cheshire and north Wales. Cheshire Oaks sits slap bang in the middle of the places I hang out.” The company, which has reopened its 11 restaurants across the country, already has a site secured in Bristol’s Corn Street that was due to open this year. Earlier this summer, the company shelved its plan to open in Preston city centre – and said it was reviewing plans for an opening in Edinburgh. Katona said: “I’m afraid Mowgli Preston is now not on because the overall Fishergate project is mothballed. I Read More
Gordon Ramsay to launch third Street Pizza site: Gordon Ramsay has announced he will open a third site in London under his £15 all-you-can-eat Street Pizza brand next month, in Southwark. The new site will open on Thursday (5 November) under the chef’s Union Street Cafe site in Great Suffolk Street. He also operates Street Pizza sites in St Paul’s and at his York & Albany site in Camden. Ramsay said: “This project has been in the pipeline for the past 12 months. You may think it is crazy to open a restaurant across these torrid times, but we are going to bounce back, and we have to get this economy kick-started and back to where it was.” In August, accounts for Ramsay’s restaurant business showed it made a profit of more than £15m last year and was still planning to open 50 venues across the UK. The chef is also planning a major expansion into Asia with 200 sites in the next five years. His ambitions to “create a billion-dollar dining proposition” are unaffected by the covid-19 pandemic. Ramsay believes the restaurants will create around 2,000 jobs in the UK including some in head office. “We have big dreams, Read More
Busaba secures CVA approval: Busaba, the Thai chain founded by Alan Yau, has secured approval for its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposal, Propel has learned. The 13-strong company, which earlier this summer was acquired by Tnui Capital – the London-based private equity firm – launched its CVA at the start of last month, working with advisory firm Duff & Phelps. Propel understands the CVA was approved by more than 85% of the group’s creditors. It will see the company exit its site in Eastcastle Street, Oxford Circus, which it placed on the market earlier this year; plus the lease of its former site in Manchester; the lease of its former site in St Albans; and the site it was set to take in Reading’s Jackson’s Corner development. The Terry Harrison-led company has so far reopened nine of its sites since 4 July, with its restaurants in Covent Garden, Leicester Square and the O2 still closed. Jamie Oliver’s parents sell Essex pub to the Chestnut Group: Trevor and Sally Oliver, the parents of high-profile chef Jamie Oliver, have sold their pub, The Cricketers in Clavering, Essex, to East Anglian-based pub and restaurant company The Chestnut Group. After owning the pub for Read More
Company News: BrewDog hits latest £7.5m crowdfund target: Scottish craft brewer BrewDog has hit its initial crowdfunding target of £7.5m for its crowdfunding investment programme, Equity for Punks Tomorrow, which launched in September. The brewer recently announced its carbon negative status as it continues to break from conventional business models and become the world’s most sustainable beer business. Equity for Punks Tomorrow launched on 10 September with the initial goal of raising £7.5m. It raised £1m in less than 48 hours, and has now hit its target in just over a month as investors show their belief in the brewer’s commitment to state-of-the-art sustainability projects. With its initial target surpassed, the brewer will be able to fund projects including direct wind power for its breweries, CO2 recovery, electric vehicle fleets and converting waste into energy. James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, said: “As investors continue to join our thriving community of Equity Punks, it proves people believe in our ambition for the business and want to be a part of our story. Announcing our carbon negative status earlier this month was the first step in ensuring that, as a business, we’re holding ourselves accountable for how our actions impact the environment. Read More
Edin Basic to launch new pizza concept, Pizza Madre: Edin Basic, founder of Firezza, the gourmet pizza delivery company that was acquired by PizzaExpress, is launching a new pizza “al metro” concept called Pizza Madre. The new concept is to be launched at The Red Lion in Ealing, which has been home to the Santa Maria pizza offering for the past two years. Basic told Propel: “This is just one of many sites we are going to open. We will donate £1 from each of our three best-selling pizzas to support local struggling musicians during the covid-19 restrictions. We have many friends in the music industry and most are struggling at the moment. The Pizza Madre name means mother’s pizza and is chosen having in mind what we stand for: community, support, sharing our metre-long pizzas with the family and friends, care and love. In British pub context, we felt this is what people want – we rarely have individual people coming to eat alone. However, if they do we will do individual pizzas. I have put all 25 years of my experience of creating Neapolitan pizza concepts here in UK and abroad (Pizza Mano in Norway) into this concept, Read More
Prominent London members’ club The Conduit placed into administration: The Conduit, the prominent London members' club that opened just two years ago following a reported £38m investment, has been placed into administration. Quantuma has been appointed to oversee the administration process, which has come about after negotiations about the future of the business with its bank Metrobank broke down. In a letter to its members, seen by Propel, The Conduit said: “After emerging from lock-down, our business has shown real resilience and we had been increasingly confident we had weathered the storm. Over the past weeks, as many businesses during this period have been doing, we have been in detailed negotiations with our landlord, our shareholders, and our bank, to establish a strategy to buy out our debt and secure the future of the business. While negotiations appeared to have been progressing well, and before considering a revised offer, to our complete surprise and dismay the bank closed negotiations abruptly and appointed administrators. We are therefore devastated to be writing to inform you The Conduit will cease trading and The Conduit on 40 Conduit Street will be permanently closed. The Conduit team is completely committed to finding a new way Read More
Company News: Birbeck steps down as Whitbread Restaurants MD: Phil Birbeck has stepped down as managing director of Whitbread’s circa 400-strong restaurant division, Propel has learned. Birbeck, formerly of Dixons Carphone, joined the Brewers Fayre, Bar + Block and Beefeater operator in June 2015, after a year and a half as operations director of Dixons Carphone, where he was the Dixons lead in the merger integration with Carphone Warehouse. He also spent time as president director general of Pixmania and previous to that he was director of DSG Business, which at the time included PC World. Birbeck leaves Whitbread following a restructure of its operational reporting lines. Its restaurants and central operational teams will now be overseen by Simon Ewins in his new role as managing director, UK Hotels and Restaurants. A Whitbread spokesman told Propel: “Phil played a huge part in shaping the restaurant brands into the businesses that currently exist today as well as delivering excellent market performance.” Birbeck was also the company’s representative on the board of healthy food-to-go concept Pure. His position there has been taken over by Whitbread group transformation director Nigel Jones. Lussmanns restructures business via new company JL20: Lussmanns Fish & Grill, the Read More
Bids in for Stonegate/Ei Group CMA package: Several parties have submitted bids to acquire the entire 42-strong package of pubs, which were originally placed on the market to address competition concerns surrounding Stonegate Pub Company’s £3bn acquisition of Ei Group. Propel understands bids were due on Monday (19 October) for the package, which Stonegate agreed to sell at the end of last year to get Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) approval for its £3bn acquisition. The package comprises 30 freehold and 12 leasehold sites and consists of 32 Ei Group-owned properties and ten Stonegate. The pubs, which are being marketed by CBRE, need to be divested in a maximum of three packages unless otherwise agreed in writing by the CMA. Propel understands Admiral Taverns and real estate investment company Aprirose are among the parties interested in the pubs. Last year, Aprirose launched Blackrose, its pub management company. Blackrose has circa 40 pubs under management with 12 operating under the Blackrose brand, and set out plans earlier this summer to have 200 new site acquisitions by the end of 2021. Stonegate declined to comment. Pret appoints Tom Mackay as new chief financial officer: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned brand, has Read More
Koh Thai founder to launch new brand Nusara: Andy Lennox, the founder of the Koh Thai brand, is to re-enter the Thai food market with a new high-end concept called Nusara. Lennox said the new concept will combine the “age-old tradition of fire grilling alongside time-honoured recipes with a balanced Thai menu of meat, fish and plant” to deliver “an innovative healthy, fresh menu for Thai lovers everywhere to explore”. The first Nusara will open next month, on the former Koh Thai site in Christchurch, Bournemouth. The launch will see Lennox who founded the Koh Thai brand in 2009, then sold and exited the business in 2018, going on to found Zim Braai, re-enter the Thai market after two years. He will be joined in the new venture by chef Thammanoon Thurasan and Zim Braai operations director Sophie Cox, who will also take up the position of group operations director. Lennox said: “What’s in a name? Nusara is a labour of love, born to create something truly special, a safe home, and a mecca for Thai Lovers everywhere. Nusara is about family, about exploring Thai food to its next level and delivering a truly exceptional dining experience.” Lennox currently operates Read More
Individual Restaurants – reopening sales and profits have exceeded expectations: Individual Restaurants, which operates circa 30 sites under the Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill brands, has said since reopening, sales and profits have exceeded its expectations. In its group accounts filed at Companies House, the business stated: “As for all of us in the sector, lock-down was a painful and worrying time. Since reopening, sales and profits have exceeded our expectations. The size of our restaurants has allowed us to meet demand even with strict social distancing and dine-safe measures in place. We have limited exposure to central London, which has been the hardest hit and our affluent suburban locations have traded very well with the shift change towards home working and staycation Britain. Online continues to beat expectations. As we look to the winter with this second wave of the virus and restrictions imposed on eating out, there are challenging and uncertain times ahead. However, we are ready to weather the storm with the same resilience the business has delivered in lock-down, reopening and performance to date.” Earlier this year, the business launched its own premium collection and delivery service. It said: “The business goes from strength to Read More
Tim Martin – government has been ‘shooting from the hip’ on coronavirus restrictions: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has told Propel the government needs to stop “shooting from the hip” and constantly “chopping and changing” when it comes to its latest coronavirus restrictions. Speaking following the company’s full-year results, Martin said: “When respiratory infections started to rise in autumn, it (the government) panicked and started abusing emergency powers, and started shooting from the hip. The messaging is being chopped and changed on a weekly basis. How as an operator can you possibly be able to change at the same rate? As we get just barely used to one set of new measures another one, two or three are added.” Martin said with that level of uncertainty it is hard to plan ahead, whether that was in terms of investment or new openings. He said: “We can’t give out that kind of guidance at the moment, especially on new openings. Where is the certainty to be able to say we can open, say 20 new pubs next year? We are on site on five, which we will push ahead on, but after that it is hard to predict.” Speaking before the Read More
Pret signs new partnership deal with Moto: Pret A Manger has announced a new partnership with Moto, which will see Pret expand its motorway service estate back to three shops in the UK. The first shop under the new deal will be at Cherwell Valley services and is scheduled to open its doors in December, with a second shop planned at Moto’s new Rugby service area, opening in early 2021. Both shops will serve a menu of freshly prepared salads, sandwiches, baguettes and breakfasts, and organic coffee and tea, all prepared in the shop’s on-site kitchens throughout the day. Pret currently operates a site with Welcome Break at its South Mimms services. Until earlier this year, it also operated two sites with Roadchef, at its Chester services on the M56 and at Clacket Lane westbound on the M25. Both these sites have since closed. Clare Clough, UK managing director of Pret A Manger, said of the new Moto partnership: “Working with Moto is an exciting step for Pret as we begin to expand our estate at motorway services. We know many Moto customers are looking for freshly prepared food, which they can pick up on the go, and Pret can Read More
BrewDog has 20 new bars in construction: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has 20 new bars in various stages of construction around the world. The company is currently working on openings in the UK, in Plymouth, Exeter, Manchester (Font Street), Chelmsford, Basingstoke, Bath, Ealing, Headingley, Huddersfield, Bradford, Lincoln and Belfast. Propel revealed last week that the company was to extend its franchise agreement with smokehouse brand Red’s True Barbecue to four further sites. The two groups that first teamed up at the BrewDog site in Call Lane, Leeds, will open new sites over the coming months in Headingley, Lincoln, Huddersfield and Bradford. In terms of international openings, the company plans to open in Cleveland (US), Shanghai, Frankfurt, Bangalore, Wiesbaden, Mumbai and a second site in Paris. Co-founder James Watt said: “Feels like a crazy time to be expanding but we currently have 20 brand new bars at various stages of construction. These bars will all be carbon negative and will create more than 400 new jobs at a time when job creation is badly needed all over the world.” Tonkotsu to hit dozen in London with Walthamstow site: Ramen restaurant group Tonkotsu is to add to its presence in London Read More
TRG launches bao virtual brand; appoints Farrer as head of change: The Restaurant Group (TRG), the Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s operator, has added a further virtual delivery brand to its portfolio called Bao Now, Propel has learned. The new pan-Asian concept, which offers “steamed buns and range of tasty fillings”, is understood to have been launched through its concession’s restaurant and bar site 1751 at the Hilton Hotel near More London. The new virtual brand is available through Deliveroo and UberEats. Speaking to Propel last week, TRG chief executive Andy Hornby said he believed there was more in the delivery and takeaway market for the company’s leisure division to go after, especially with Frankie & Benny’s, and that the sales mix for delivery and takeaway could grow to 20% during the next year. The company has developed and launched a number of new virtual delivery brands over the past 18 months, although it is thought not all will be revived. At the same time, TRG has appointed Rebecca Farrer, formerly of SSP and PizzaExpress, as its new head of change. Farrer stepped down as brand director at PizzaExpress in 2014 to join SSP as its new international head of Read More
Papa John’s investigates alleged Eat Out To Help Out fraud by franchisee: Papa John’s is investigating allegations taxpayer cash was fraudulently claimed during the Eat Out To Help Out scheme. Franchisee Raheel Choudhary claimed more than £250,000 in non-existent meals during the scheme, the Daily Mail has alleged. Choudhary has denied all the allegations. Papa John’s said it was investigating the allegations “thoroughly”. A spokesman told the BBC: “All of Papa John’s UK stores are run by franchisees and we made it very clear to all franchisees we felt it unlikely they would be eligible to participate in Eat Out To Help Out.” The Mail said it conducted its investigation with the help of several whistleblowers who worked for Choudhary’s stores. The Mail claimed Choudhary instructed staff to process thousands of fake meals under the scheme across 57 of the 61 branches he owns, resulting in hundreds of thousands of pounds being wrongly claimed. It added Choudhary had instructed his staff to record payments made by “phantom covers” as voucher payments. A representative for Choudhary disputed the value of the claims made under the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, stating it was £185,015 and not the alleged £250,000. Choudhary Read More
Deep Blue secures £3m CBILS, sees sales recovery hampered by 10pm curfew, paid £7.3m for Harry Ramsden business: Deep Blue Restaurants, owner of the Deep Blue and Harry Ramsden’s brands, has secured £3m from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to support the business through the coronavirus pandemic. Founder and chief executive James Low told Propel sales have broadly “recovered” but the latest government restrictions were hampering progress. The company also paid £7.3m to acquire the Harry Ramsden’s brand from Boparan Restaurant Holdings in August last year, which now consists of ten sites following the restructuring of the business and 17 franchises, and £921,000 for Fish & Chips @149, which has a portfolio of three outlets in Yorkshire and County Durham, in February 2019. The details were revealed in accounts filed by Deep Blue Restaurants for the year ending 24 September 2019. Low told Propel like-for-like sales in September this year were at 98.5% of 2019 levels but expressed concerns the government’s latest restrictions were hampering the recovery. He said: “We are delighted with the speed at which our business has recovered since the lock-down restrictions were eased. Our investment in training and other measures that were designed to Read More
Hornby – the next six months will be about cash preservation: Andy Hornby, chief executive of The Restaurant Group – the owner of Wagamama, Frankie & Benny’s and Brunning & Price – has told Propel he is cautiously pleased with the progress the business has made, but the focus for the next six months will be “cash preservation” and ramping up the delivery and takeaway capabilities of its leisure division. Hornby said: “As Boris Johnson said, the next six months are going to be bumpy so, for us, it is all about trading, trading and trading, being the best we can be and also preserving cash. We can’t be complacent especially with a number of different new rules coming in at various stages, impacting the sector both nationally and regionally. The next few months are going to still present lots of challenges.” Hornby told Propel he was particularly pleased with the performance of the group’s pub business, Brunning & Price, with Q3 like-for-like sales up 14%. A performance he described as “outstanding”. In the three weeks to 26 July, Brunning & Price like-for-like sales were down 13% but were up 20% in the four weeks to 23 August and up Read More
Steamin’ Billy boss – restrictions have left business’ future looking ‘very bleak’:Billy Allingham, managing director of Leicestershire-based Steamin’ Billy Brewing, has told Propel the restrictions on the sector have left the future of the business looking “very bleak”. Steamin’ Billy operates eight traditional pubs across the county, three of which are wet-led. Seven of the eight sites have now reopened and trade had been steadily rising to 65% of last year’s like-for-like sales. However, Allingham said the introduction of the 10pm curfew has seen like-for-likes at its wet-led pubs drop to 50.6% of last year and are down 35.9% at the food-led outlets. Allingham, who also operates the Caddyshackers crazy golf concept in Leicester, has secured £1m from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and also received £200,000 in grants in a bid to keep the business afloat. But he said: “At this rate, survival as we currently operate doesn’t look viable. Why should I take on an extra £1m of debt to my existing borrowings knowing we are losing between £50,000 to £70,000 a month? For three months, with grant support and furlough it looked achievable but for 12 months… what’s the point? We have had to make some Read More
Deliveroo picks bankers for potential IPO, unveiling new services: Deliveroo has appointed investment bankers to oversee a long-awaited flotation as it unveils a series of innovative features that it hopes will provide a compelling growth story for public market investors. Sky News reported the food delivery app, which last week said it was preparing to add 15,000 riders to its fleet by the end of year, has begun working with Goldman Sachs on its plans for an initial public offering. A float is expected to take place in London next year, and is likely to value the company at more than £2bn, according to insiders. Deliveroo declined to comment on Goldman's appointment, and sources close to the company insisted there was no definitive timetable for a public listing. Further banks are expected to be appointed in the coming months. Sources said Deliveroo now had 44,000 restaurants on its platform in the UK, as well as 16 on-demand convenience and grocery partnerships with companies such as Waitrose, Morrison's, Aldi and the Co-op. Deliveroo is now preparing to launch a series of other features aimed at strengthening its appeal to customers, restaurants and riders. These will include post-order tipping – allowing customers Read More
East Coast Concepts acquired out of administration for £520,000: Manchester-based restaurant and bar group East Coast Concepts was acquired out of administration for £520,000, Propel has learned. The five-strong business, which operates the Victors and Neighbourhood concepts, was acquired last month via a pre-pack administration by an investment group led by Naveen Handa of leisure company The Cairn Group. The deal protected more than 250 jobs. Propel understands the Handa-led group fought off five other offers for the business, which generated turnover of £13.7m in 2019. Management’s plan was to continue to roll out both the Victors and Neighbourhood concepts to more locations and grow the brand in line with increases to central overheads. However, this was put on hold after the Manchester site closed in April 2019 due to the loss of its licence. Manchester was the company’s most profitable site and, combined with operational issues at the newly opened Alderley Edge site and increased central overheads, the closure of Manchester accelerated the company’s losses, resulting in a pre-tax loss of £1.7m in the 12 months to the end of February 2020. Following the closure of Manchester, further support was provided by backer NorthEdge with the intention of giving Read More
Various Eateries sees potential for 100 Tavolino sites, plus smaller formats:Various Eateries, the recently AIM-listed Andy Bassadone-chaired business, believes there is potential to open up to 100 sites under its fledgling Tavolino brand, and capacity for more than 50 Coppa Clubs across the UK. To date, one Tavolino, at More London, has opened, but the group’s two remaining Strada sites at Royal Festival Hall and Dockside are scheduled to be converted to the new brand within the next 12 months. The company believes there is potential to roll out up to 50 sites under the full-service version of Tavolino, and also to launch smaller pasta-only and pizza-only sites under the concept. The company currently operates six Coppa Club sites, with a seventh set to open this November in Cobham, Surrey. Like-for-like sales at the existing Coppa Club sites were up 2% to the end of August. The group is looking at opening six new sites over the next year, plus the two Strada conversions. The company’s shares began trading on AIM last week. It raised £25m (before expenses) by way of a placing of 34,246,576 new ordinary shares with institutional and other investors at a price of 73p per ordinary Read More
BrewDog to extend franchise agreement with Red’s to four new sites: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is to extend its franchise agreement with smokehouse brand Red’s True Barbecue to four further sites, Propel has learned. The two groups that first teamed up at the BrewDog site in Call Lane, Leeds, will open new sites over the coming months in Headingley, Lincoln, Huddersfield and Bradford. In each, BrewDog will open a bar, with Red’s overseeing the kitchen operation. The Headingley site will see a conversion of the existing Red’s site, while the two companies will also take over the Brew Haus sites in Bradford, Lincoln and Huddersfield. Early this summer, Red’s, which was founded by James Douglas and Scott Munro, launched a site focused on takeaway food in Wilmslow Road, Fallowfield. The group’s other sites are in Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Leicester. A BrewDog spokesperson told Propel: “We are delighted to be entering a new phase in our long partnership with James and Scott at Red’s True Barbecue, previously their team have supplied the food to our Call Lane, Leeds, bar and took over the food operation of our Leicester bar in 2018. We love working with James, Scott and the Read More
Buzzworks increases staff engagement levels as it lays foundations for recovery post-lock-down: Scottish bar and restaurant operator Buzzworks Holdings has increased its staff engagement levels, which is helping lay the foundations for the company’s recovery post-lock-down. Managing director Kenny Blair told Propel the company has seen a 7% rise in it scores based on staff members’ confidence in the leadership skills of the management team and the organisation being run on strong values and principles. He said, during lock-down, the leadership team held a meeting every evening to discuss the next steps and how to keep the team as settled and as informed as possible, with Blair also writing a daily blog to keep employees updated. Blair said: “Without our people we are not really anything and that’s why we thought it was really important we took these steps to look after our teams. We want to capitalise and improve on the great communications work we’ve managed so far. We want to use video calls to have more face-to-face conversations and talk more about our well-being strategy to really get it out there. Our people are an important part of our culture and they are the ones that will help Read More
Pure launches CVA process: Healthy food-to-go concept Pure has become the latest sector operator to launch a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). Propel understands the 22-strong company is working with advisors RSM on the proposals and expects the CVA process to complete on Wednesday, 7 October. Co-founder Spencer Craig told Propel: “We really did not want to do a CVA. It was the last option we considered. We took every other possible measure but in the end, the lack of people in central London has led to an unsustainable position for us. And with government guidance on working from home changing again last week, there is now unlikely to be any improvement until 2021. We have been a little surprised by how many people have not wanted to return to see their colleagues or enjoy the wonders of central London. We love both of these things. London is an ecosystem of the demand created by the people that work here, visit from its suburbs, and international tourists. There are so many wonderful restaurants, shops, theatres, museums, live events and a public transport infrastructure to support this demand. But if you remove office workers from this system, there will be far, far Read More
Mexican restaurant brand Chilango acquired out of administration for £1m:Mexican restaurant brand Chilango was acquired out of administration last month by investment group RD Capital Partners for £1m, Propel has learned. The deal secured ten of Chilango’s 11 restaurants and preserved about 130 jobs, with managing director Richard Franks, who took over running Chilango in February, continuing to lead the business. The £1m paid for the business includes £829,991 in goodwill (£402,407 consideration, £427,584 secured debt rollover). The administrator’s report showed ten parties made an offer for the business, which underwent a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) at the start of this year, but that follow-up conversations were held with just six of these. Interested parties in all or part of the business were thought to include RCapital, Imbiba and Tortilla. Following further discussions, administrator RSM concluded the preferred bidder was RD Capital Partners. The report stated: “It was subsequently confirmed by the secured creditors and, as such, they would only look to roll over their debt in respect of this offer.” It also states the purchaser had committed a further £375,000 investment to assist with the business’ working capital requirements following completion of the deal. Pre-administration, the company had engaged Read More
Ayerst joins Leon as managing director: Natural fast food brand Leon has appointed Nick Ayerst, formerly of The Restaurant Group (TRG), as its new managing director, Propel has learned. Ayerst stepped down as managing director of TRG Concessions earlier this year. He had been with TRG for almost 14 years, including the last seven as managing director of its successful Concessions arm. Ayerst will oversee the company’s managed and franchised operations in the UK and overseas. Shereen Ritchie continues as the UK managing director for Leon Restaurants. At the same time, Propel understands the company is set to trial order-at-table at a select site, as it continues to evolve its trading model. On Wednesday (23 September), the company announced the launch of 13 new grocery products, including six ready meals as part of its exclusive partnership with Sainsbury’s. Following the recent launch of its Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets, Brown Seeded Sourdough and Waffle Fries, the company has launched three product ranges that will span three new categories. This includes six new gluten-free ready meals, which are priced at £4 each. Leon chief commercial officer Charlotte Di Cello said: “With our first grocery anniversary around the corner, expanding our range will Read More
Gusto secures approval for CVA: Italian casual dining group Gusto, which has been backed by Palatine Private Equity since 2014, has secured approval for its company voluntary agreement (CVA) proposal, which secures the future of the business and more than 600 jobs, Propel has learned. The 18-strong group’s CVA proposals were supported by the overwhelming majority of creditors as 98% voted in favour. As a consequence of the restructuring, the group’s restaurants in York, Lytham, Leamington Spa and Mere Green in the West Midlands, will close permanently with the loss of 105 jobs. Gusto said it has sought to mitigate the impact of the closures on its staff and has been able to redeploy 40 members of the team to alternate restaurants. A package of support for those impacted has also been provided. The Matt Snell-led business said that going forwards, it will be “well-funded and in a strong position to resume a growth strategy at a time that the board thinks is appropriate”. It said the CVA agreements it now has in place with its landlords gave it “confidence to weather any further covid-related challenges”. Snell, chief executive of Gusto, said: “The past six months have been the most Read More
Brakspear owner JT Davies & Sons registers record Ebitda and turnover up 11%, post-covid ‘better than feared’: Henley-based pub operator and brewer Brakspear’s parent company JT Davies & Sons has increased its turnover by 11% to £35.3m up to the end of its financial year to 29 December 2019 – and trade has not been as bad as expected since lock-down was lifted. This figure also generated record Ebitda, before exceptional items, of £10m – up 15% on its previous year. Meanwhile profit before tax rose by 18% to reach £6.4m. Sales growth was driven by its managed house division, which now consists of 15 pubs, restaurants and inns. Like-for-like performance was up 2%, two site acquisitions generated an extra £2m and another £1.5m from the full-year growth of The Frogmill, near Cheltenham. The company’s tenanted and leased estate saw a 1% reduction in turnover as a result of one site transferring to the managed house division and the sale of another site. The improved Ebitda is a result of higher managed house sales supported by improved management, efficiency and productivity across the managed house estate. On recent trading, chief executive Tom Davies said: “Since July, trading has been better Read More
Soho Coffee Co to make rail station debut with new TRG partnership: Artisan food-led coffee company Soho Coffee Co is to make its entry into the rail market, in Liverpool Street station, through a new partnership with The Restaurant Group (TRG). The franchise partnership features a new format exclusively developed by Soho Coffee Co for TRG, designed for rail travellers to “offer quick, fresh, handmade food across all day-parts”. A strong hot food range is at the core of the offer, building upon the customised hot food range already available across Soho Coffee Co’s high street stores. TRG Concessions said the new unit, originally due to open as the UK went into lock-down, represented its “strong ongoing commitment” to its partnership with Network Rail and provided “a specially developed experience that will exceed guest expectations in a travel environment”. Soho Coffee Co managing director Penny Manuel said: “We are thrilled to be at the start of a new partnership with TRG and opening our first rail Soho. Despite all the challenges 2020 has presented the hospitality industry, we are pleased to be looking ahead, tackling new market places and retail opportunities. We have a highly energetic, opinionated and committed team Read More
Deal for GBK would see at least nine sites close: A group of nine sites has been earmarked for closure by the current management team of Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) if a successful deal for the 67-strong business is completed, Propel understands. Propel revealed earlier this week, the brand’s current owners – Famous Brands – had pushed the button on a sale process for the better burger chain. First-round bids for the business were due on Wednesday (16 September), and Propel understands a mixture of trade players and investment groups has shown an interest in GBK, including Calveton UK, which recently acquired rival Byron via a pre-pack administration. Deloitte, which has been advising the business on its options since April, is carrying out an accelerated sale process, with second-round bids due next Friday (25 September). It is believed, unless a solvent sale can be concluded, a deal via pre-pack administration will be explored. Propel understands the sites earmarked for closure are in Aylesbury, Angel, Clink Street, Maidstone, Cardiff Library, Sheffield, Southampton, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The business is thought to have performed well in the full year to 23 February 202, with the group generating £69m of revenue, £7.1m of restaurant Read More
Itsu opens ‘Store of the Future’ concept, ‘we will lead and many will follow’ says Metcalfe: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, has opened its first site under its “Store of the Future” concept using the latest robot technology, which it believes sets a template for high street and fast food dining to spark a post-covid recovery. As revealed by Propel last month, the first site under the new concept has opened in London’s Great Portland Street, and the company said there are more to follow across the UK. It said the new store design was completely reimagined in secret during lock-down, specifically for today’s post-covid world. “Leaner and healthier than any Itsu store before it”, the store is the brainchild of Metcalfe and was designed to limit touchpoints in part thanks to the use of sushi robots and digital ordering technology. Unlike any other Itsu, the Great Portland Street store is completely digital. There is a single customer collection point and no front-of-house fridge so multi handling is reduced. The new order-and-pay screens use the latest technology with card only payments, and enable customers’ orders to be placed in under 40 Read More
Pheby Food Concepts signs deal to introduce Crepe Delicious concept to the UK: Pheby Food Concepts Group, which is behind the Wok&Go and Dough Dough brands, has signed a master development deal to launch the Crepe Delicious concept in the UK. Crepe Delicious currently has more than 60 locations globally, with the move into the UK becoming the ninth country outside of the US and Canada where the brand will have a presence. The first Crepe Delicious is set to open in the UK later this autumn and is projected to have 28 sites by 2025. Elik Farin, chief operating officer of Crepe Delicious Holdings, said: “We have had great success worldwide and seek to continue growth. International consumers really enjoy all that our brand has to offer and we look forward to bringing the great concept and variety.” Founded in 2004 by chef and entrepreneur Oded Yefet, Crepe Delicious crepes can be filled with any assortment of “fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses and lean meats in order to create a balanced meal”. Des Pheby, founder of Pheby Food Concepts Group has expressed his excitement at being a part of this new opportunity and looks forward to supporting the growth and development Read More
Adventure Bar Group launches ‘Show Must Go On’ immersive experiences:London bar operator Adventure Bar Group is launching a series of West End, theatre-themed, immersive evenings in its The Lost Alhambra cocktail bar in Leicester Square. The Show Must Go On experiences will feature West End stars and take place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday starting on 8 October, beginning with Chicago: The Musical, starring Laura Tyrer as Velma (Chicago, 9 to 5), Hayley Flaherty as Roxie (Matilda, Rocky Horror) and Oliver Tompsett as Billy Flynn (& Juliet, Kinky Boots). Later weekends in the run will include songs and stars from Hairspray; Mamma Mia; Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; and The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a Halloween Villains’ Night special, offering performances over the last weekend in October. For every ticket sold, £1.50 will go to the Acting For Others group of charities that help theatre workers with financial and emotional support throughout the pandemic. In addition to three hours of performance, the evening will include a two-course meal with vegan options, bubbles and cocktails, all in a safe environment, putting the social into social distancing. Tyrer who starred as Velma Kelly in Chicago: The Musical said: “Like most people Read More
Osmond’s Broadstone Acquisition Corp announces pricing of $300m IPO: Broadstone Acquisition Corp, the “blank check” company from serial sector investor Hugh Osmond, has announced the pricing of its initial public offering of 30,000,000 units (shares) at a price of $10.00 per unit. The units are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and trade under the ticker symbol BSN.U. The company began trading on Friday (11 September) and closed the day with a price of $9.86 per unit. Each unit consists of one class A ordinary share and one half of one redeemable warrant, with each whole warrant exercisable to purchase one class A ordinary share at a price of $11.50 per share. After the securities comprising the units begin separate trading, the class A ordinary shares and the warrants are expected to be listed on the NYSE under the symbols "BSN" and "BSN WS," respectively. The offering is expected to close on 15 September, 2020. The new company aims to find a combination target in the UK or other European markets that has been adversely affected by the covid-19 outbreak but is otherwise fundamentally healthy. It is led by chairman and director Osmond; chief executive and director Marc Jonas, who Read More
Busaba looks to exit four leases as it launches CVA process: Busaba, the Thai chain founded by Alan Yau, is looking to exit four leases as it launches its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposal, Propel has learned. The company, which earlier this summer was acquired by Tnui Capital – the London-based private equity firm – launched its CVA process this week, working with advisory firm Duff & Phelps. Propel understands the 13-strong group is looking to exit its site in Eastcastle Street, Oxford Circus, which it placed on the market earlier this year; plus the lease of its former site in Manchester; the lease of its former site in St Albans; and on the site it was set to take in Reading’s Jackson’s Corner development. The company has so far reopened seven of its sites since 4 July. Managing director Terry Harrison said in a letter to staff: “These extraordinary times have brought extraordinary challenges for everybody and, as you’ll be aware, the casual dining arena has particularly suffered as a consequence of the covid-19 pandemic. The knock-on effect of the outbreak continues and this unfortunate, but necessary measure, is the only real option we believe we have left to Read More
Loungers thanks employees for EOTHO efforts with ‘Eat Out Because You Missed Out’ initiative: Cafe bar operator Loungers has moved to thank its employees across both its Lounge and Cosy Club brands for their efforts in making the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme a success by launching a “Eat Out Because You Missed Out” reward, Propel has learned. Under the initiative, every “Lounger or Cosy Clubber” who worked a shift in August is entitled to £50 off food and drink (including alcohol) in any Lounge or Cosy Club, free of charge. The £50 voucher is for every one of the group’s employees who worked a shift in August and can be used on one occasion on Mondays to Thursdays between 15 September and 22 October. The group has brought in the initiative for its circa 5,000 employees, to recognise their hard work and that they were unable to benefit fully from the EOTHO scheme while working. Chop’d begins gradual reopening of its estate: Chop’d, the Eddie Holmes-led salad bar chain, has begun the gradual reopening of its 18-strong estate, with the opening of five sites in London. The group has, this week, reopened its sites in St Paul’s, Read More
The Avocado Show to launch in London as it signs on 19 franchise locations in UK and Europe: The Avocado Show restaurant franchise will launch a site in London within six months. The brand, which has three restaurants in Amsterdam and one in Brussels, will open another venue in Calle Colmenares, Madrid, at the end of October – and also plans to launch in London and Paris. Founded by Ron Simpson and Julien Zaal, the restaurant serves sustainable avocado-based dishes and has signed on 19 franchise locations in the UK and Europe, with the possibility of sites in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, Guildford and Brighton. Simpson said: “We are very excited to see our dream becoming a reality in all these amazing new markets and are happy to have found these great partners to work with and are looking forward to establishing The Avocado Show across the globe as a socially responsible and profitable venture that will bring joy to avo lovers for years to come.” The company has produced a cookbook, merchandise, a hologram app, its own line of avocado fries and filmed a documentary about its supply chain. The Apartment Group adds two hotels to Read More
Itsu looks to the future after CVA approved: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, has told Propel it is looking to, and investing in the future, after its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) was approved. Propel revealed in July that Itsu had appointed AlixPartners as it looked to step up conversations with landlords and explore possible restructuring options, including the possibility of a CVA. It was also set to receive £4.3m of new funding and begin an operational turnaround plan if its CVA proposals were approved. Propel understood that Itsu’s shareholders, which includes Ambrosia Investments, had provided a letter of comfort to the company confirming their intention to support the additional funding needed should it not be successful in obtaining the finance from an external source. However, this additional funding was conditional on approval of the CVA proposal. It is thought the company will now exit five sites in Chancery Lane, Lime Street, Ludgate Hill, Old Broad Street and Sackville Street, which were trading at a loss, were close to expiry or were wholly sub-let. An Itsu spokesman told Propel: “The successful vote is proof of the confidence that our landlords, suppliers and our Read More
Brewhouse & Kitchen to raise further funds for working capital and continue expansion plans: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the 22-strong brewpub group, is to raise further funds to provide working capital and continue with its expansion plans. The company, which has 13 company-owned sites and nine that it operates under a franchise and management agreement with Puma investments, has launched a limited rights issue to raise circa £2.5m from existing shareholders only, with which – alongside additional current cash reserves – the company intends to continue to invest into the current estate to develop its first brewpub with rooms in Worthing, as well as a further 24 rooms in Bristol and Bournemouth. Chief executive Kris Gumbrell told Propel: “The uptake has been excellent and we are on course to be oversubscribed. We aim to continue to improve the estate, have sufficient reserves to manage through the current uncertainty, and also look to acquire again should the right sites become available.” Given the social distancing measures in place, the group estimated its brewpubs , which were gradually reopened from 6 July, are operating at 86% of original internal cover levels. The business has traded “well ahead” of expectations and has demonstrated real Read More
Stonegate to absorb Bermondsey Pub Company into existing managed estate, Fairbanks leaves business: Bermondsey Pub Company, the Ei Group-managed format, is to be incorporated into Stonegate Pub Company’s managed estate, Propel has learned. It means the 65 pubs that sit within the Bermondsey portfolio will be converted into one of Stonegate’s existing pub formats. As a result, Bermondsey Pub Company operations director Henry Fairbanks has left the business. Ei Group’s other managed formats, such as the 300-strong Craft Union group, are unaffected by the change. Following the acquisition of Ei Group in March for £1.27bn, Stonegate Pub Company is the largest pub company in the UK. Its portfolio comprises 1,270 sites within the managed division and 3,200 leased and tenanted businesses. In July, Stonegate sold £1.2bn of bonds to partly finance the acquisition. The financing package, which consisted of five-year sterling and euro tranches worth £950m and €300m respectively, marked one of the biggest sterling-denominated “junk” bond deals ever. Stonegate paid relatively high rates of interest compared with recent debt deals in a sign of investors’ caution about an industry that has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. The sterling bond maturing in 2025 offered investors a coupon Read More
David Gough joins Boxpark as COO: Boxpark has appointed David Gough as its chief operating officer to lead company strategy, Propel has learned. The former operations director at Fuller’s brand the Stable will also oversee all commercial aspects of the business, enhance the customer experience, and focus on training and employee development. Gough said: “I’ve been a huge fan of Boxpark for a number of years so it really is a privilege to come on board and join the team. This is an exciting opportunity for me to use my experience on a thriving brand that is on the cusp of a transformational stage in its growth. Despite the struggles facing the hospitality industry, I’m looking forward to bringing Boxpark’s vision to life and building a solid strategy to achieve our goals.” Boxpark chief executive and founder Roger Wade added: “As we focus on our growth strategy, David will be instrumental in ensuring everything is in place and that we are meeting our commercial objectives.” Gough has also previously worked for Good Company Inns, Olivo Restaurants and PizzaExpress. Last month, Boxpark appointed Simon Bishop as property director to drive the company’s development plans during the next five years. Read More
East Coast Concepts acquired out of administration: Manchester-based restaurant and bar group East Coast Concepts has been acquired through a pre-pack administration by an investment group, led by Naveen Handa of leisure company The Cairn Group, Propel has learned. The deal for the five-strong business protects more than 250 jobs and its existing Neighbourhood and Victors sites will continue to trade as normal. The Handa-led group said the deal for East Coast Concepts was a “strategic acquisition to enhance their premium restaurant and bar offering”. Propel revealed in July that East Coast Concept, which is led by John Hammond and operates sites in Hale, Alderley Edge, Liverpool, Leeds and Oxford, was working with FRP Corporate Finance, with options thought to include securing a further equity injection. It is thought a competitive bidding process was subsequently generated. Propel understands the Handa-led vehicle has committed £1m post-investment in the business to safeguard it against any further “sector shocks” and will look to aid its expansion plans going forward. Handa also recently led a consortium to become the new joint venture partners for London and UK franchisees of Vapiano Restaurants. Ben Woolrych and Anthony Collier of FRP were appointed as joint administrators of Read More
Byron to reopen majority of its estate over the next week: Better burger brand Byron, which earlier this month was sold via pre-pack administration to investment vehicle Calveton UK under newly formed company Famously Proper for £4m, will reopen the majority of its estate over the next week. The Simon Wilkinson-led group will have 18 of the 20 sites it acquired out of administration by 9 September. Last week, the company reopened its sites in Waterloo and Old Brompton Road. On Tuesday (1 September), it opened its two sites in Edinburgh, plus restaurants in Manchester, and Bury St Edmunds. This week, it will also open restaurants in locations including Oxford, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Leeds, Liverpool and Milton Keynes. Propel reported last month that the company would initially focus on reopening its circa 20-strong estate but would also examine consolidation possibilities, which could include long-time rival Gourmet Burger Kitchen. It’s thought to be currently in negotiations regarding a handful of sites, which would make up its final estate. At the same time, the new company is expected to ramp up its delivery strategy. To mark its reopening plans, the company has brought back one of its favourite specials of all time – Read More
Inn Collection Group buys 15th site: The Inn Collection Group have taken its pubs with rooms portfolio to 15 with the purchase of a fifth Lake District site. The north of England operator has acquired the 20-bedroom Churchill Inn in Ambleside. The multimillion-pound deal is the group’s second Lakes acquisition of 2020 and its second venue in Ambleside. The Churchill Inn will be closed temporarily before trading independently until the start of a major redevelopment, which is set to take place later this year, to bring the site into the group’s “eat, drink, sleep and explore” philosophy. The Inn Collection Group’s managing director Sean Donkin said: “We’re looking forward to unlocking the venue’s full potential and investing in what will be a valuable new addition for locals and visitors to the Lake District here in Ambleside as we continue to grow our customer base and group foothold across the north of England.” The group’s existing Ambleside venue, The Ambleside Inn, opened in December following a major refurbishment, while the company’s 42-bedroom The Coniston Inn in Coniston opened on 1 August, following an 18-month redevelopment. Elsewhere, the group’s trading portfolio includes sites in Northumberland, County Durham and Yorkshire with a 40-bedroom Read More
The Alchemist brings forward opening of new Cheltenham site after being buoyed by post-lock-down trading: The Alchemist, the 18-stong Simon Potts-led bar and restaurant concept, has brought forward its planned opening of its new site in Cheltenham after being buoyed by post-lock-down trading. The company had pushed back the opening of the 4,500 square foot venue in The Brewery Quarter to the end of year, but this has been brought forward to Friday (28 August). Potts told Propel: “Along with everyone else, we’ve had a stellar August – the Eat Out To Help Out scheme has been an astonishing success, providing a real shot in the arm in revenue terms with a number of the venues in double-digit growth in recent weeks, but far more crucially in reminding the general public that not only is eating and drinking out a safe thing to do – it is also incredibly good fun.” Potts said its offer was “working well” in line with the current guidance, with both dwell time and average spend up on last year. He added growth was being seen across all dayparts, which is helping to smooth out the impact of the capacity restrictions at what would have previously Read More
TRG announces further leisure brand reopenings: The Restaurant Group (TRG) is set to reopen more Chiquito, Frankie & Benny’s, Coast to Coast and Filling Station sites. A further 12 Chiquito venues – including Liverpool Edge Lane and Manchester Printworks – are set to reopen for click and collect, delivery and dine-in from bank holiday Monday (31 August) following the restart of three sites on Monday (24 August). Frankie & Benny’s in Bury St Edmunds will open Thursday (27 August) for click and collect, delivery and dine-in along with delivery options from 14 other sites, including Tamworth and Oxford. Meanwhile two Coast to Coast and three Filling Station operations began full reopening on Monday (24 August). Leisure division chief executive Mark Chambers said: “We are delighted to be reopening more of our restaurants and very much look forward to welcoming back our guests. Our priority will be to ensure the health and safety of our teams and guests while providing a first-class experience. We are very pleased with the feedback we have received from returning guests so far and we will be monitoring feedback very closely to ensure we continue to deliver a great and safe experience.” All dine-in outfits in Read More
Gerry’s double deal makes it UK’s largest Costa franchisee: Gerry’s Offshore Incorporation UK has acquired two franchise companies, to become the UK’s largest Costa franchisee. The business has acquired Coffee Snob and South West Coffee, comprising 24 stores in total. This is in addition to the existing 33 Costa Coffee stores it operates spanning across eight counties. The acquisitions bring the total number of Costa Coffee stores managed by Gerry’s Offshore Incorporation to 57, which is the largest number of stores operated by a single franchise partner. Group managing director Akram Wali Muhammad said: “It is a proud moment for us, this acquisition of Coffee Snobs and South West Coffee is the next exciting chapter in Gerry’s ambitious expansion plan within the UK. Our primary objective is to bring all the 57 Costa Coffee stores together into a single business entity with a view to maximise our combined strength. This could not have been possible without the trust of the board of directors, the UK team headed by Triloc Seebundhun and the support staff.” Gerry's Offshore Incorporation has been a Costa UK individual franchise for more than 15 years. Stonegate extends tenant support package, now worth more than £32.5m: Ei Read More
Franco Manca operator reports one of its highest weekly turnover figures following Eat Out To Help Out boost: Fulham Shore, operator of Franco Manca and The Real Greek, has reported the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme has helped it record one of its highest weekly turnover figures. Following the trading update chairman David Page told Propel group weekly sales approached £1.5m in the second week of August. In the update Fulham Shore said trade in the first two weeks of this month was “markedly up” on last year despite some sites still being shut. The company has reopened two more The Real Greek restaurants and is planning to welcome customers back to another Franco Manca next week, next to the new Harrods store in Westfield London. This will mean 50 of the 51 Franco Manca and 16 of the 18 The Real Greek sites will have reopened. But Fulham Shore said the three remaining closed sites – in the Strand, Aldwych and Spitalfields – will remain shut until office tenants and theatre-goers return to the capital. Footfall in the City and West End has been hurt by travel restrictions keeping tourists away, and numerous people continue to work Read More
Lasan Group to expand to Leicester with Fiesta Del Asado off-shoot: Birmingham-based restaurant group Lasan is to expand to Leicester. The company has taken the lease of 4 St Martin’s – a grade II-listed former bank that stands on the corner of Grey Friars, next to the Richard III visitor centre. The group runs its eponymous restaurant in Birmingham as well as Indian street food cafe Raja Monkey and two Argentinian steak restaurants under the Fiesta Del Asado brand, in Edgbaston and Solihull. The Leicester restaurant, which is due to open later this year creating 40 jobs, will be an off-shoot of Fiesta Del Asado and called Sonrisa, which group founder Jabbar Khan believes will be more suited to the location. He told The Business Desk: “We love the cool and quirky feel of St Martins and its wide range of independents, which is a perfect fit for the Sonrisa concept – a Latin cocktail bar and restaurant with bustling atmosphere and full-flavoured food. It’s Argentinean-style eating with rustic small plates of meat, seafood and vegetables served throughout the day.” Joe Reilly, associate director at Innes England, who arranged the deal, said: “To get one of Birmingham’s best-known culinary teams Read More
Robinsons unveils host of board changes: North west-based brewer and retailer Robinsons has announced changes to its board. In a letter to the company’s employees, chairman Peter Robinson said prior to his brother David passing away last week, he along with Dennis Robinson had decided to retire from the board after more than 180 years of combined service. He also announced Neil Robinson-Stanier, Veronica Robinson and Paul Robinson would be stepping down from the board as part of a strategic restructure. He said they had played very significant roles in the business and thanked them for the positive contribution they had made in their respective areas over the past 17 years as board members. He added: “I have pleasure in announcing Philip Moody will take on the role of non-executive chairman. Philip has been working with the board as an advisor for the past three years and has retired as a senior partner with Smith & Williamson to enable him to accept this position. The board believes Philip’s extensive experience advising family businesses, his leadership responsibilities over his career, and his numerous non-executive and chairman positions held over the past 30 years make him ideally placed to lead our family Read More
Fitch assigns Stonegate bonds a ‘stable outlook’: Ratings agency Fitch has assigned Stonegate Pub Company a final long-term issuer default rating of B-, with a stable outlook. A note by Fitch stated: “Fitch expects the enlarged UK pub group Stonegate, following its recent acquisition of the Ei Group portfolio, to return to its pro-forma run rate Ebitda by FY22 (end of September 2022) post-pandemic. This, together with realised synergies, should result in a lease-adjusted net debt/Ebitdar below 6.5 times. As at July 2020, more than 80% of the enlarged group's pubs were trading, but some Stonegate's high-Ebitda pubs remain closed. The enlarged group, primarily wet-led, is diversified across the UK, with a 48% weighting in the south. The diversification, with Stonegate weighted towards town centre outlets while EI Group towards unbranded suburban pubs, many of which are with outdoor facilities and closer to those working from home, aids the group's profile. The enlarged portfolio combines Stonegate's 761 managed formats yielding an average Ebitdar of £270,000 per pub versus Ei Group's larger 3,988 leased and tenanted portfolio averaging £70,000 per pub. Using pro-forma annualised Ebitda figures, the Ei Group/Stonegate profit split is approximately 60:40.” Bubble tea brand brews up third UK Read More
Star Pubs & Bars invests further £4m in rent reductions: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is investing a further £4m in rent reductions for its leased and tenanted pubs in September and October. The move brings the total rent support offered by the company to £25m until the end of October. The group said with most pubs open and benefiting from government support such as a business rates holiday, VAT cut, loans and furlough scheme, the company was tapering its rent relief in September and October. The company’s 50%, 75% and 90%-plus rent reductions will reduce to 40%, 55% and 70% in September and 30%, 35% and 50% in October. Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “We have invested heavily in helping licensees through these difficult times. Throughout, we have been transparent and consistent with the rent reductions we have offered. We hope this latest tapered rent relief will help licensees plan ahead as much they are able to and we’ll continue to review our overall support as we have done since the beginning. Now seems the right time to offer tapered support as the feedback from our estate has been encouraging overall, with consumer confidence growing Read More
Princi London rescued via pre-pack administration, Starbucks sells stake in holding company: The business behind the UK operation of boutique bakery and cafe concept Princi has been saved via a pre-pack administration, Propel has learned. The deal for its sites in London’s Wardour Street and Shaftesbury Avenue saw its holding company, Princi UK, acquire both sites for a total consideration of £185,000. Meanwhile, a separate transaction saw Angel Capital Management and Pekepan Investments, which each hold a 12.5% shareholding in Princi UK, acquire the 25% shareholding in the business previously held by Starbucks EMEA. Rocco Princi founded the concept, renowned for its bread made using family recipes, in 1986. Four years ago Starbucks became global licensee and investor in Princi, which had five locations in Milan and London at the time, stating it would expand the number of standalone Princi locations worldwide. Alan Yau brought the concept to London by opening a site in Wardour Street before adding a second site at his former Babaji restaurant in Shaftesbury Avenue. Joint administrators KPMG said several parties were interested in the sites but not the business, with one party making a minimal offer of £1,000. Of the other interested parties, only one Read More
Joule’s reports first loss in 20-year history but returns to profit in July: Shropshire brewer and retailer Joule’s, which is headed by Steve Nuttall, has reported the first loss in its 20-year history because of lock-down. Nuttall told Propel the business lost £600,000 compared with the previous year for its first quarter covering April to June. Nuttall said: “These figures show the impact of lock-down and exclude the stock losses we incurred in March. Our business has been operating for 20 years and we have incurred our first loss. It shows the impact of closing and, of course, the support we have needed to provide. The effect of the pandemic has been epic, way beyond anything anyone could have imagined.” Since July the company has reopened 90% of its 42-strong pub estate and managed to break even, “which is good enough for now and well worth celebrating the milestone”, Nuttall said. He added: “We have been aided by a strong group of dedicated franchisees. In our sector we all talk about partnerships – in a crisis this really tests what that actually means. In our case we’re stronger rather than weaker and I feel we are set for whatever shape Read More
Itsu to receive £4.3m of new funding and begin operational turnaround plan if CVA approved: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, is to receive £4.3m of new funding and begin an operational turnaround plan if its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposals are approved, Propel has learned. It’s understood Itsu’s shareholders, which include Ambrosia Investments, have provided a letter of comfort to the company confirming their intention to support an additional funding need of up to £4.3m should it not be successful in obtaining this financing from an external source prior to the funding need arising. However, this additional funding is conditional on approval of the CVA proposal. If the additional funding isn’t made available, this would leave the company with a substantial funding deficit and no ability to address that. The CVA proposal document states: “The directors are firmly of the view the company has now exhausted all solvent options available to it and, unless the CVA is approved, it will be likely to file for administration or liquidation. The proposed restructuring terms in the CVA provide the only bridge to a sustainable and profitable future for the company.” As part of Read More
Roseacre aims to double estate after opening ninth site, business model boosted by work from home trend: Midlands-based Roseacre Pub Company is aiming to double its estate after opening its ninth site – and fourth with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. The company said its business model had been boosted by the trend of commuters working from home more regularly. The Beacon Hotel in Burton-on-Trent has launched following a joint £500,000 investment, creating 40 jobs. The interior has been opened up to create a bar and open-plan restaurant, with the reconfiguration allowing covers to increase from 86 to 110 inside and from 52 to 200 outside. Because of its size and the function room being incorporated in the restaurant, capacity has only had to be cut by 25% to enable social distancing. The Beacon offers a carvery alongside a new menu of traditional pub food. Michael Thomas, who founded Roseacre Pub Company in 2014, formerly held senior operations roles at Chef & Brewer, Premier Inn, Vintage Inns and Fayre & Square. He said: “I am optimistic about the future as our pubs are all located in suburbs and doing well. The covid effect – people spending more time at home Read More
The Breakfast Club to launch virtual delivery brand ahead of rolling out offer to restaurants: All-day concept The Breakfast Club is to launch a virtual delivery brand this week, Propel has learned. Saint Elmo’s Late Night Sandwich Bar will go live on Thursday (6 August) via Deliveroo before being rolled out across the 12-strong group during the next month. The company, which is led by Jonathan Arana-Morton, will give the brand a physical presence at its site in Berwick Street in Soho from September, with the venue turning into Saint Elmo’s Late Night Sandwich Bar from 5pm including a change of signage and lighting. Arana-Morton told Propel: “We worked hard during lock-down to ensure we came out fighting. We felt it was important to take steps to control our own destiny rather being at the mercy of uncertainty. We’ve thrown talent at the problem with not just one but two executive chefs. During lock-down we brought back Chris O’Neil on a consultancy basis to work with current executive chef James Brown. They’ve delivered a small but beautiful menu. It has been like having Ronaldo and Messi in the same team. In Breakfast Club style we’re playing the nostalgia card and Read More
Tony Macaroni reveals £50m expansion plans for a restaurant in every UK town and city: Scottish restaurant company Tony Macaroni is to expand its business model to create franchises in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Sep Marini, boss of the Glasgow-based, family-run chain of Italian restaurants, said his ambitious plans could see £50m invested in the hospitality sector during the next three years, creating 2,000 jobs and 100 restaurants, with a Tony Macaroni restaurant in “every UK town and city”. Part of the Viva Italia Group, Tony Macaroni opened its first restaurant in 2007 and now has 19 venues. It employs about 500 staff in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Marini said: “The next year to 18 months will be exciting for everyone at Tony Macaroni. We are perfectly positioned to come out of the covid-19 storm stronger and better than ever. Our restaurants have already seen pleasing levels of trade since lock-down eased because of the strength of our brand and quality of food and service. Ultimately, I want the brand to become a prized fixture in every city and large town across the UK. While we’ll continue to open more restaurants ourselves across Scotland the time is right for Read More
Itsu to roll out ‘store of the future’ model: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, it to roll out a “store of the future” model, including self-checkout kiosks, Propel has learned. The first iteration will open in London’s Spital Square later this year, after the format development was completed during lock-down. The company, which confirmed last week it will undergo a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) that will see 53 of its 77 sites get a rent cut and only two close, will also launch a new pre-order for collection function via a new Itsu mobile app this week. The new Itsu store model fitting into 1,000 square foot will open in Great Portland Street, with self-checkout kiosks and no fridge out front – a move the brand is describing as a “significant departure” from its traditional model. The company believes this model will open a “wealth of new site options” both in the UK and with international partners. The move comes as the business starts a gradual reopening of its UK estate, which includes a new streamlined menu of “customer favourites” that has been trialled and rolled out on reopening. A lot Read More
Kerb ‘taking plunge’ to reopen Seven Dials Market: Street food business Kerb is to “take the plunge” and reopen Seven Dials Market next week – the first major food hall in London to welcome back customers since lock-down. The reopening on Friday, 7 August follows research by the group that revealed two-fifths (40%) of Londoners are eager to visit central London to eat out, while more than two-thirds (70%) are fully behind supporting independent food and drink businesses. Seven independent traders will return to Seven Dials Market – Matthew Carver’s Pick & Cheese; Club Mexicana, the Mexican-inspired vegan street food restaurant founded by Meriel Armitage; Japanese soul food restaurant Nanban; bao concept Yum Bun; Strozapretti, the pasta restaurant from the team that founded Franco Manca; Truffle; and Venezuelan fried chicken expert El Pollote. Seven Dials Market has adapted to allow for bookings, cashless orders via click and collect, all-new table service, sanitising stations and spacious table seating. The venue will open on Fridays from 5pm to 10pm, Saturdays from midday to 10pm, Sundays from midday to 6pm and Mondays from midday to 10pm during August. Kerb founder Petra Barran said: “We have got this gorgeous, soaring, double-height space that’s been Read More
SA Brain launches additional support package for pub partners: Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain has launched an additional package for its pub partners to support them “all the way into 2021”. Measures include a phased rent plan, discounted draught pricing and an enhanced staff training programme. The move comes ahead of venues in Wales being allowed to open fully on Monday, 3 August. Brains said it would initially reopen 40 of its managed pubs on the day and expects the majority of its 60 partners to follow suit. Chief executive Alistair Darby said: “As we entered lock-down we suspended all rent for our partners and our intention is to support them all the way into 2021 as they adapt to the ‘new normal’ and its impact on trading. Our support is tailored to give us flexibility to ensure our partners’ businesses and our own business will be sustainable in the long term.” Founded in 1882, Brains operates more than 160 pubs in Wales and recently moved into its multimillion-pound Dragon Brewery in Cardiff Bay. Brains decided not to reopen its managed pubs on Monday, 13 July when hospitality businesses in Wales were allowed to open outdoor spaces only. The Read More
Oakman Inns sees like-for-like sales up 20% after launching version of Eat Out To Help Out: Oakman Inns and Restaurants said it has seen like-for-like sales up 20% year-on-year since the company launched its own version of the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme earlier this week. Oakman’s vouchers are available until Wednesday, 29 July and, like the government scheme, are valid from Monday to Wednesday. The vouchers entitle customers to 50% off food and non-alcoholic drinks up to a maximum value of £10 per person. The chancellor’s initiative doesn’t start until August. When Oakman launched its scheme, chief executive Dermot King said: “Frankly, we thought we all needed a bit of cheering up ahead of August. With prospects of good weather and some lovely pub gardens to visit, this is our way of thanking our friends and loyal regulars for supporting us since we reopened.” As well as the 20% spike in the past week, King told the Guardian the company had seen like-for-like sales up year-on-year since it reopened its 28-strong estate. He said: “With social distancing issues – reduced capacity and no standing at the bar, for instance – we expected to take a hit but like-for-like Read More
PizzaExpress to reopen 150 more sites, joins Eat Out To Help Out: Hony Capital-backed PizzaExpress is to reopen a further 150 restaurants. The phased programme will see the company reopen 71 pizzerias on Thursday, 30 July, including sites in Bournemouth, Blackpool, Huntingdon and Lincoln. A further 88 sites will reopen on Thursday, 6 August including venues in Aberdeen, Exeter, Glasgow, Manchester and London’s Leicester Square. The reopening plan follows “test and learn” trials of delivery, click-and-collect and dine-in services at selected pizzerias since 9 July. The company said further reopening phases would be announced shortly. Each pizzeria will take part in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme, which will offer diners 50% off food and soft drinks on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August to the value of £10 per person. PizzaExpress will apply the offer to all menu items excluding alcohol and in conjunction with existing offers. Safety measures include a new online booking service, digital menu and cashless payment. PizzaExpress managing director Zoe Bowley said: “It has been exciting to welcome customers back into our restaurants in the past fortnight and our teams look forward to reopening hundreds more pizzerias in the next few weeks. The Read More
Tasty reopens more than half of estate: Tasty, the AIM-listed operator of the Wildwood and Dim T brands, has reopened 33 sites for dine-in across both its brands. The company, which earlier this month revealed it was exploring ways to strengthen its balance sheet as it announced 284 redundancies, has now reopened 29 of its 51 Wildwood restaurants for dine-in. At the same time, ten of its Wildwood sites are offering delivery through Deliveroo, while its Whiteley restaurant is offering click and collect. Tasty has also reopened four of its five Dim T restaurants for dine in, with only its site in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, still closed. At the start of the month, the company said it was exploring ways to minimise costs and strengthen the balance sheet including investigating the possibility of new debt and/or equity capital and discussing terms with landlords and trade creditors. Island Poké sets out expansion plans for France as it reports encouraging initial trading: White Rabbit Fund-backed concept Island Poké has said it plans to have eight sites open in France by the end of this year after being encouraged by the first few weeks’ trade at its debut site in Paris. The company Read More
Company News: Stonegate launches own version of Eat Out To Help Out with no spending cap:Stonegate Pub Company has launched its own version of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme – but with no spending limit. Customers will be given 50% off their bill when they dine at any Stonegate site on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. The offer will be automatically applied to customers’ bills on all food, tea and coffee orders. The scheme will operate until the company switches to Eat Out To Help Out next month. Stonegate has opened the majority of its estate with new safety measures including enhanced cleaning regimes, single-use menus, contactless payment, hand-sanitiser stations and revised layouts. Customers have been encouraged to book because of reduced venue capacity. Stonegate managing director Helen Charlesworth said: “I am excited to launch this campaign two weeks ahead of the government initiative. We’re committed to providing the best possible customer experience and this is just the start of many initiatives and campaigns that will roll out across Stonegate in the coming weeks and months to benefit our customers.” Meanwhile, Stonegate will reopen the majority of its cocktail bar chain Be At One this week. Be At Read More
Papa John’s launches three stores to pass 450-site milestone in the UK: Papa John’s has opened three stores to take the brand past the 450-site milestone in the UK. The new venues are in Gosport in Hampshire, Maidstone in Kent and Wednesbury in the West Midlands. Phil Gaffer, Papa John’s UK franchise sales and business development manager, said: “The stores are being managed by some of our most experienced franchisees and their teams, who have all run multi-unit operations for several years. By being able to support and deliver to our communities safely in line with government advice, we’re proud of how our network of franchisees and their staff across the country have been able to continue to deliver hot food to those needing to stay at home in recent months.” The company said it was seeking franchisees to develop businesses in the north west, north east, Nottinghamshire and the south west. Earlier this month Papa John’s reported like-for-like sales increased 24% in its North America stores in June, with like-for-likes up 6% internationally. Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1984 and has 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets and territories. Azzurri Group begins reopening ASK Read More
Pret to launch vegan bakery counter: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned group, is to overhaul its bakery range and launch Veggie Pret’s Vegan Bakery in all its Veggie Pret shops from Tuesday (21 July). The company said the move would see it “veganising” its entire bakery counter, meaning only vegan bakery products will be sold. The move adds eight new items to the menu – three vegan croissants, two vegan brownies and three vegan muffins. It is also removing all non-vegan bakery products from sale. Clare Clough, UK managing director of Pret, said: “We’re really proud to be the first high street food-to-go retailer to launch a concept like this. Expanding Veggie Pret’s offering for our vegan customers has been a huge focus of our food development over the past year and moving to an entire vegan bakery is very much the result of that. Our previous vegan bakery products, such as the dark chocolate and almond butter cookie; and the very berry croissant have always been big hits with customers – vegan and non-vegan alike. In the first few weeks of the very berry croissant being on sale, it sold more than double the amount per day of Read More
Costa Coffee to pass on full 15% VAT cut to customers: Costa Coffee, which is owned by Coca-Cola, is to pass on the government’s full 15% VAT cut to customers for all food and drink at its owned stores. The move covers 1,500 Costa Coffee stores and more than 9,000 Costa Express machines. In-store reductions include a latte, which was £2.55 and will now cost £2.23; a flat white (was £2.70, now £2.36); ham and cheese toastie (was £2.95, now £2.58) and salted caramel brownie (was £2.25, now £1.97). Diners will still receive a 25p discount for using a reusable cup. A regular-size Costa Express coffee was £2.40 but will now cost £2.10. Costa Coffee said it had also recommended its franchise partners passed on the saving. Managing director Neil Lake said: “It is important to us our customers benefit from the VAT reduction, not just on selected core coffee products but across all Costa food and drink, in-store and from Costa Express machines. As we continue to safely welcome customers back into our stores for takeaway and eat-in, we hope the reduction encourages more customers to enjoy their favourite Costa Coffee, for less.” Regarding reopening its estate, Costa Coffee Read More
Turnaround funds run early rule over Prezzo: Turnaround funds RCapital and Endless are believed to be among parties to have run an early rule over Prezzo, Propel understands. Earlier this month the Karen Jones-led chain became the latest sector operator to push the start button on a sale process. Until recently, Endless was believed to be working on a bid for Casual Dining Group brand Las Iguanas with former Revolution Bars Group chief executive of Mark McQuater. The turnaround expert formerly backed West Cornwall Pasty Co and was also in the running to acquire Jamie’s Italian. RCapital, former backer of Little Chef, also ran the rule over Busaba and Bistrot Pierre recently. Earlier this week Propel revealed Prezzo is looking to secure £15m of funding to restart the business and accelerate sales growth. Before the pandemic the business is thought to have been posting like-for-like sales growth of 3% and, with its 180-strong estate weighted towards the south east and smaller towns and cities, the company believes it is well positioned to benefit from the growing trend of working from home as the sector reopens. Propel understands about 80% of its estate is generating positive branch Ebitda and, out of Read More
Hakkasan secures new $110m loan and negotiates rent agreements: UK-based restaurant and nightclub company Hakkasan Group has secured a new $110m loan with its parent company and “negotiated rental agreements with several landlords” to help it deal with the impact of coronavirus. Hakkasan also revealed its US subsidiary had terminated 90% of staff and temporarily reduced base compensation for the remainder, although they continue to receive medical benefits. It said it would look to rehire employees depending on the phased reopening of venues. Planned capital expenditures have been delayed “indefinitely”, while non-essential contracts have been cancelled or amended. The company provided the update in its accounts for the year ending 31 December 2019 but said it was “too early” to know the full impact on the company’s financial position. It said it had reopened its London restaurants for takeaway and delivery and launched a pop­up version of its Mexican-based Casa Calavera restaurant for delivery. In addition, various managed restaurant venues across the globe have been offering delivery to alleviate lost revenues that, Hakkasan said, had an impact on the group’s management fee revenue. The company stated: “On 13 April 2020, the group amended and restated various loan agreements with Aabar Read More
Greene King appoints chief marketing officer: Brewer and retailer Greene King has appointed Maria Sebastian to the new role of chief marketing officer. Sebastian will report to chief executive Nick Mackenzie and join the executive board. In her most recent role, Sebastian was senior vice-president for marketing, product and brand at Starbucks EMEA, where she led product innovation, category management, marketing and loyalty, shaping the brand experience across 42 countries and almost 3,200 stores. She joined Starbucks after 20 years in the airline industry, including at Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines. Mackenzie said: “I am delighted to welcome Maria to Greene King. Her broad experience in brand development, pricing, digital marketing and CRM, customer experience and customer insight will be invaluable as we implement our new strategy.” Sebastian added: “I am delighted to join at such an important time as the business reopens after lock-down, with a renewed focus on delivering an improved customer experience and advancing the digital offering. Greene King has distinctive brands and amazing locations and I look forward to further developing the brand propositions.” New Vapiano UK owners plan further expansion, deal includes Edinburgh site:UK VAP, a subsidiary of Love & Food Restaurant Holdings, which recently Read More
Byron set to shed circa 20 sites under possible pre-pack administration: Better burger brand Byron could shed circa 20 sites from its 51-strong estate, if as predicted it undergoes a pre-pack administration. At the end of last month, Byron filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators and it reportedly held talks with three potential buyers. Sources said Byron's board remained confident of sealing a deal in the coming weeks, with the likeliest outcome a pre-pack administration. Propel understands that process could see between 20 and 25 sites dropped, with the majority based inside the capital. It is thought some of these sites are already being marketed. The group currently operates 32 sites inside London and 19 outside. For the 12 months to the end of 2019, the group’s revenue is thought to have stood at circa £65m, with restaurant Ebitda at £3.5m. Central costs for the year were thought to be north of £6m, although it is thought cost cutting here has already been implemented, including a new payroll system. In terms of who is bidding to take on the business, speculation suggests current backer Three Hills Capital is one of the bidders, while a management buyout led by Read More
Costa Coffee trials return of eat-in: Costa Coffee, owned by Coca-Cola, has begun trialling the return of eat-in at 44 of its sites. Costa said it would look to reintroduce an eat-in option across a further 1,000 stores by the end of the month following feedback and adjusting its operations in line with strict government guidelines. Seating will be limited and operate on a first come, first served basis. On arrival customers will be greeted by a Costa Coffee team member and, if choosing to eat-in, will be allocated a table specifically for their use ahead of being guided to the counter to place their order behind a Perspex screen. If there are no tables available, the customer will be encouraged to use the takeaway service or wait outside the store until a table becomes free. As with current procedures across takeaway stores, hand-sanitiser stations will be made available for customers to use, while all team members will be provided with personal protective equipment. The move comes as the company reopened a further 467 stores for takeaway, meaning the company now has more than 1,800 outlets back in operation. The company began gradually reopening its estate at the end of Read More
BrewDog builds openings pipeline in India: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is building an openings pipeline for its international bars estate in India. The company’s first bar in the country is under construction and opening soon in Kamala Mills, Mumbai. The company has now secured locations for a further five BrewDog bars in Pune, Gurgaon (two sites), Bengaluru and another in Mumbai. The company opened its entire estate of bars in England on Saturday (4 July) and external areas in its Scottish bars on Monday (6 July). To ensure a covid-secure reopening in line with government guidance, the company said it had implemented its own ten-point safety plan, including contactless ordering and cashless payments via its order to table app, sanitiser stations and social distancing signs. All staff will be required to wear masks and gloves, while they will also monitor site capacity continually and carry out surface cleaning every 15 minutes. The sites will also feature single-use menus, while table screens will be available on request. Oakman Inns considers options for equity raise: Oakman Inns and Restaurants is considering options including attracting a strategic investor and holding a retail fund-raising to deliver equity funding and strengthen its balance sheet. Read More
Street Food Favourite The Athenian Launches in London Bridge This July, Greek street food brand, The Athenian, is launching a new site in London Bridge. Following on from hugely successful pop ups and venues across the UK, the brand is now bringing their authentic street food and delicious Souvlaki to one of London's most bustling districts. The Athenian London Bridge is set to launch on Wednesday 26th August and they will be offering 15% off the entire menu for in-store customers for the opening week, as well as 20% off Deliveroo orders for new customers (until 16th September). Continuing its tradition for naming each site after a vibrant Athens neighbourhood, the new London Bridge site will be called Mikrolimano after a district in Piraeus, and its distinctive design will be inspired by a typical Greek urban market stall. Located in a prime position within the station, The Athenian will be the perfect place for a pita stop, to grab a quick lunch or enjoy a light snack with a cold refreshing Hellenic craft beer. The Athenian will continue to take daily measures to ensure they continue to trade in a safe environment in the current climate, with the health and Read More
Wendy’s begins building team for UK launch: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, has started building its team ahead of a proposed UK launch early next year. Propel understands the company, which operates more than 6,000 sites worldwide, has appointed Michael Clarke, formerly of Pizza Hut Restaurants and Firezza, as UK director of operations. At the same time Rhodri Jones, former property director at Soho House joint venture Quentin Restaurants, has joined Wendy’s as UK real estate manager. Propel revealed last year the company had started searching for sites in the UK to “kick-start a broader expansion plan across Europe”. The group has been working with property agent Savills to find sites and has submitted plans to open a site in an empty unit in Station Road, Reading. A Wendy’s spokeswoman told Propel: “We plan to enter the market with company owned and operated restaurants in early 2021. The brand is excited about the future as we enter this market.” The group attempted to break into the UK market before the end of the last millennium but surrendered ten leases in 2000. YO! delighted by weekend trading at new-format sites: YO! chief executive Richard Hodgson told Read More
Two-thirds of Pret closures outside London: The majority of the 30 sites Pret A Manger will close as a part of a restructure of the business will be based outside London, Propel understands. The JAB Holdings-backed company announced earlier today (6 July) it would undergo a restructure that would see 30 of its UK sites close permanently. The move came after the company experienced a 74% drop in sales year-on-year because of a “significant impact of covid-19 on operating costs and cash flow”. The company, which has so far reopened 339 of its 410 UK sites, said it would start a consultation to reduce headcount across remaining UK stores to reflect lower footfall, rental costs and new safety measures. It also said it planned a reduction in the number of support roles and a sale of the lease of its main support office in Victoria, London. Of the 30 sites that will close, one-third are in London, including those at 421 Strand, The Cut – Southwark, 109 Fleet Street and Centre Point. The group’s site at Heathrow Terminal 3 landside will also close. Sites earmarked for closure outside the capital include venues in Worcester, Lion Yard in Cambridge, Albert Street Read More