Tortilla enters partnership with Merlin Entertainments, adapts operational model:Tortilla is to open a site in Chessington World of Adventures Resort, through a new partnership with Merlin Entertainments, which could see the Quilvest-backed fast casual Mexican concept open further sites with the visitor attractions operator. The first site under the new partnership opens on Monday, 17 May. Tortilla’s managing director Richard Morris said the brand was thrilled to be opening in Chessington and has adapted its operational model to suit the high-volume environment. He said: “We’ve streamlined the menu and repositioned the servery to be able to serve more burritos per second than ever. This is a new model for us and, if successful, we hope to continue opening Tortilla sites of this format in more Merlin locations as well as other high-throughput locations with SSP.” Natalie Fox, commercial director at Chessington World of Adventures Resort, said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming Tortilla to our line-up – it’s going to be a great addition to the resort.” Located in the Mexicana Land, Tortilla Chessington will be centrally run and staffed by Tortilla and its employees. Tortilla, which operates circa 50 sites, is rolling out several more restaurants this summer as lockdown Read More
Wasabi strengthens management team, returns to expansion trail: Wasabi, the sushi and bento chain led by Henry Birts and backed by Capdesia, has strengthened its management team with the appointment of a new marketing director and operations director as it returns to the expansion trail, Propel has learned. Wasabi has appointed Tom Sugarman, formerly of Pret A Manger, as operations director. Sugarman spent nine years at Pret, most recently as its UK shops director. Meanwhile, the 43-strong Wasabi has appointed Sam Bourke, formerly of ETM Group and The Restaurant Group, as its new marketing director. Bourke joins the business after more than four and half years as director of sales and marketing at ETM Group. The appointments of Sugarman and Bourke follows that of Kate Lucas, who joined the business earlier this year in the new role of managing director for the group’s grocery business. Wasabi said it was in a strong position to grow as covid restrictions ease and the consumer economy recovers. It has now reopened 39 of its sites and said it was “building a confident new openings programme for 2021 and beyond”. It opened one new site in February – London Bridge, which it said was Read More
Maray appoints new chairman as it prepares for expansion: Liverpool-based Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant and cocktail bar concept Maray has appointed Lucy Noone Blake as its new chairman as it prepares for expansion. Noone Blake joins the three founders – Thomas White, Dominic Jones and James Bates on the board of the business, bringing with her 18 years’ experience in hospitality in front of house, operations and marketing roles at companies such as Hawksmoor and Arc Inspirations. Maray, which is backed by Rosa’s Thai Cafe founders Alex and Saiphin Moore, said Noone Blake’s appointment will lead its “rapid expansion into exciting new territories”. This will include the opening of new concept, Sabich, at GSG Hospitality’s Duke Street Food and Drink Market when it reopens on Monday, 17 May, the impending opening of the One O’Clock Gun, its new pub on the city’s Albert Dock, as well as its first launch outside of Liverpool, in Manchester. Bates told Propel: “We’ve been looking for a site for in Manchester for so long, so we know the rumours have been swirling and it’s great to be able to confirm. Lucy is Manchester-based, as is Dominic, so it all feels very natural as a next Read More
Poké House makes UK move with Ahi Poké deal: Milan-based, fast-casual brand Poké House is to make its debut in the UK after acquiring the Ahi Poké business. Off the back of the acquisition of the six-strong, London-based Ahi Poké, the company plans to launch seven venues in the capital by the summer, with the first Poké House restaurant planned to open in Notting Hill, in June. Poké House currently operates 30 sites across Italy, Portugal and Spain, and employs more than 400 people. It said it plans to expand into city locations, shopping malls, outdoor kiosks and dark kitchens in the UK. The deal comes a few days after Poké House closed a €20m (£17m) Series B funding round led by Eulero Capital, with backing from FG2 Capital and reinvestment from Milano Investment Partners. The proceeds from the investment are intended to fuel and accelerate the international expansion of the company, with the acquisition of Ahi Poké representing a key step in a broader plan to open 200 new stores across Europe. Matteo Pichi, co-founder and chief executive of Poké House, said: “We realised early on that poké could be a product with great potential but, at the same Read More
KFC UK system sales up 16% in first quarter, second largest increase of all markets: Yum! Brands has reported KFC system sales in the UK rose 16% for the first quarter, ended 31 March 2021, compared with the previous year when many of its stores were shut for some of the period as a result of the pandemic. The increase was the second largest in all of KFC’s markets as the business continues its recovery – the highest was in China, at 24%. The UK accounts for 6% of KFC’s system sales worldwide. Globally, KFC like-for-like sales in the quarter increased 8% with US like-for-like sales up 14% – system sales worldwide rose 16%. The company said about 2% of its international restaurants and less than 1% of its US sites remained temporarily closed at the end of the quarter. Operating margin increased 8.4%, driven by like-for-like sales growth, lower bad debt expense and unit growth. KFC opened a gross of 409 new restaurants in 50 countries during the period. Operating profit was up 34% to $300m. Meanwhile, Pizza Hut system sales in Europe, including the UK, were down 23% – the continent accounts for 8% of Pizza Hut’s system Read More
Prezzemolo & Vitale lines up a fourth London site: Family-run Italian operator Prezzemolo & Vitale (P&V) plans to open its fourth site in London, in Wimbledon, Propel has learned. The company is set to open on the former Le Pain Quotidien site in Wimbledon High Street. Founded in Italy 30 years ago by husband and wife team Giuseppe Prezzemolo and Giusi Vitale, the brand offers Sicilian and Italian delicacies, including takeaway ready-made meals, sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese boards. Its debut London site was at the Mercato Metropolitano market in Southwark. It has since moved out of the market and opened sites in Chelsea, Borough and Notting Hill. The Chelsea site features a coffee bar and wine cellar, which offers “classics and rarities” as well as Giù Giù, P&V’s own-brand wine. The company also operates seven shops in Palermo, Sicily. Business behind George’s Great British Kitchen concept wound up: Adel Investments, the company behind fish and chip restaurant concept George’s Great British Kitchen, has been wound up after accruing estimated debts of more than £442,000. The company operated sites in Liverpool, Nottingham, Newcastle and Leeds. The business was wound up last month, after going into liquidation earlier this year, and all Read More
Everards managing director calls for tax reform during update of past 12 months:Stephen Gould, managing director of Leicestershire-based brewer and retailer Everards, has called for “a long overdue opportunity to deliver lower taxation for beer duty, property rates and VAT for pubs” as he gave a 12-month update on how the business has fared during the pandemic. Gould explained the business has sold 14 pubs for an undisclosed sum to community pub company Hawthorn and 71% of its sites began trading again on Monday, 12 April. Meanwhile, continued investment has seen Everards develop a new home based at Everards Meadows that will open in June. It will house its offices, breweries (main and pilot), shop and a beer hall – creating 57 new jobs. It has created a public park on land owned by the business with planning permission sought for a further six-acre area to be developed into a mixed-use scheme incorporating a hotel, offices and bespoke buildings developed for education, health and well-being uses. Gould said: “The past 12 months have been intensely challenging for the hospitality industry. I would like to thank our employees, business owners, shareholders, bank, advisers, brewing partners, suppliers, trade associations and the government Read More
Sumosan founder launches Israeli-Japanese dining concept with backing from Cain International: Cain International, the privately held investment firm led by Jonathan Goldstein, has partnered with Janina Wolkow, restaurateur and founder of multi-award-winning contemporary Japanese restaurant Sumosan, to launch JiJi’s, a new Israeli-Japanese dining concept. The debut site will launch in London’s Islington Square development in June. Heading up the kitchen will be executive chef Bubker Belkhit, who has worked with Wolkow for more than 20 years and was instrumental in the creation and ongoing success of Sumosan. JiJi’s will also sell branded merchandise, including homemade sauces, selected condiments, apparel and books. Wolkow said: “Inspired by frequent travels to Tel Aviv, Jiji’s will demonstrate how Japanese and Israeli cuisines can complement each other perfectly. We’re thrilled to be working with Cain International and it’s fitting we’re launching this new concept in Islington, the centre of the casual dining scene in one of the world’s most international cities.” Goldstein added: “Having collaborated with Janina to bring Sumosan to our development at Courchevel 1850, where it has been exceptionally well received, we were very pleased to work with her in making this exciting dining concept a reality. Pent-up demand has resulted in levels Read More
Company News: Neame – we hope to be profitable by June: Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Kent-based brewer and pub retailer Shepherd Neame, has said that on the back of the company being able to reopen more than 200 pub gardens and seeing more than 50% of those trading in line or significantly ahead of last year, he hopes the business will return to profitability in June. On Wednesday (21 April), the company reported a rise in bottled beer volume growth by 25.7% and tight cost control had restricted underlying monthly cash burn to circa £1.5m to £2m while its pub estate was closed. Neame told Propel: “The early signs have been good. Of the more than 200 pubs we have been able to reopen, 50% are trading in line or significantly ahead of the same period last year. Consumers are much more confident, more relaxed and there is plenty of goodwill for pubs. On that basis and that April will see us incorporate significant start-up costs, which will be a challenge, I expect us to be cash neutral in May but, come June and the reopening of the rest of our estate on 17 May, I hope we will Read More
Patisserie Valerie appoints Hughes-Ward as new finance director: Patisserie Valerie, which is backed by Irish private equity firm Causeway Capital, has appointed Jenni Hughes-Ward, formerly of and Links of London, as its new finance director, Propel has learned. Hughes-Ward, who spent over two and a half years as finance director at, replaces Richard Purvis, who left the business earlier this year. Purvis joined Patisserie Valerie in summer 2019 from Tulip Food Company, where he spent more than two years as finance director. Last year, Causeway merged Patisserie Valerie and Bakers + Baristas to create a “high-quality patisserie and coffee group” with more than 125 locations in the UK and Ireland. The new entity is led by group chief executive James Fleming. Causeway Capital said the merger would enable both businesses to benefit from shared baking, coffee and customer service resources as well as new product development. Prezzo promotes Challenger to chief operating officer: Prezzo, the Cain International-backed restaurant chain, has promoted Dean Challenger to chief operating officer, Propel understands. Last March, Karen Jones-led restaurant chain Prezzo expanded the remit of the finance director Challenger, under the new role of chief services officer. He already had IT, procurement, risk Read More
Company News: Tortilla appoints former Azzurri Group MD Jason Thomas as COO: Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed fast casual Mexican concept, has appointed Jason Thomas – formerly of Azzurri Group, Shake Shack and Loch Fyne Restaurants – as its new chief operating officer. Thomas was previously a managing director at Zizzi and ASK Italian operator Azzurri. He most recently worked as a business director for AlShaya in the Middle East, and for a year and a half headed up Shake Shack in the UK. He was also previously an operations director at Loch Fyne Restaurants. Tortilla managing director Richard Morris said: “Having worked previously with Jason at Loch Fyne, I know he’s the right cultural fit for the business, and will be able to get stuck into the many exciting projects we have planned for this year and beyond.” The company also confirmed previous Propel reports it was to open in Exeter, in High Street, and Edinburgh, at the St James Place development. The 43-strong group is also set to open in Windsor, in the town’s Peascod Street, and add to its dark kitchen’s estate with an opening in the Deliveroo Editions in Manchester next month. The brand said it was also Read More
Company News: Corbin & King reports FY turnover passes £50m before pandemic hit, first week of reopening ‘better than anticipated’: London restaurant operator Corbin & King has reported turnover increased beyond £50m in its financial year before the pandemic hit while the first week of reopening had been “better than anticipated”. The company saw turnover of £53.1m for the year ending 31 December 2019, compared with £44.2m for the nine months ending December 2018. The shorter accounting period reflected the alignment of the company’s accounts with parent Minor International, which bought Graphite Capital’s stake in December 2017. Ebitda for the year ending 31 December 2019 stood at £2.7m, compared with £7.5m in the prior period. Operating loss before tax increased from £2m to £3.9m while pre-tax losses were up to £5.4m from £3.1m. A £13.2m loan owed to Minor International, which was payable in May 2020, remains outstanding. In his report accompanying the accounts, co-founder Jeremy King said: “We have taken a number of steps to preserve cash and support trading and these have included but not limited to rent relief and deferral of payments by majority of landlords; suspension of any unnecessary capital expenditure; and launching a new revenue channel, Read More
M&B appoints Anna-Marie Mason as managing director of pubs division: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), the Phil Urban-led company, has appointed Anna-Marie Mason as managing director of its pubs division, Propel has learned. Mason has been with the company for almost eight years, beginning as a retail director, before spending the past five years as director of brand marketing. Before joining M&B, she spent nearly three years as marketing director of Game Digital. In her new role, she will oversee M&B’s circa 500-strong Pubs Division, which includes its Ember Inns brand; the group’s Suburban segment Sizzling Pub & Grill; and High Street segment O’Neill’s and similar unbranded pubs. She takes over from Nick Crossley, who left M&B earlier this year, to become chief executive of Turtle Bay, the Caribbean restaurant brand backed by Piper. Various Eateries begins building Coppa Club pipeline: Various Eateries, the AIM-listed Andy Bassadone-chaired business, has begun building its site pipeline for its Coppa Club brand, with openings in Bristol and Haslemere on its radar, Propel has learned. It is understood the 11-strong company, which also operates the Tavolino concept, has secured the former Georgian Hotel in Haslemere for an opening later this year. At the same time, Read More
Wendy’s lines up first out-of-town site for UK return: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, has lined up its first out-of-town site for its UK return, in Essex, Propel has learned. The company, which plans to open five sites in the UK this year, with a target of eventually operating about 20 company-owned branches in Britain, is understood to be in advanced talks on taking a site at Thurrock Shopping Park. It is thought it could even be the location of its first UK drive-thru. The company plans to enter the UK with company-owned and operated restaurants in 2021 and, in its second phase, will launch in priority areas with multi-unit franchisee operators. It has already secured sites in Reading and Oxford, and is believed to have a strong pipeline of locations in place in the UK, including some drive-thrus. It recently applied for planning to open a site in Croydon, close to East Croydon Station. In March, the company said it plans to open ten sites in the UK next year, and that it had secured multiple locations and was engaged with several potential franchisees. Wendy’s chief executive Todd Penegor said: “We continue to make Read More
Incipio Group to open first bricks and mortar Pergola site in Canary Wharf: Incipio Group, operator of venues including The Prince and Lost In Brixton, is to transform Percy’s, its current nightclub in High Street Kensington, and open the first bricks and mortar site under its Pergola concept in London’s Canary Wharf. Propel understands the Edition Capital-backed business has secured the former Giant Robot site for Pergola on the Wharf, which will open in June. The new venue will feature a wraparound terrace with capacity for 200 guests – the terrace will also be heated for colder months. Inside, floor-to-ceiling windows will ensure guests can continue to enjoy panoramic views of the city and plenty of natural daylight, while green planting throughout the venue will bring the outside in. There will be three different bars offering a selection of expertly made cocktails, alongside an extensive list of beer, wine and soft drinks. The total venue capacity is 700. As well as a year-round in-house food offering, Pergola on the Wharf will house a separate kitchen dedicated to hosting a rotating series of guest chefs showcasing “innovative dishes by street food traders from London and beyond, shining a spotlight on new Read More
Company News: Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken begins national expansion with Essex franchise deal:South west-based operator Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken is to begin its national expansion after signing a franchise deal to open in Essex, Propel has learned. The nine-strong company, which is led by Carl Traill and backed by HBM Investments, will open the first site under the new agreement with franchisee Joe Bhangal in Billericay later this summer. Propel understands the Billericay site will be the first of ten stores planned in the Essex area over the next three to five years for the brand, with openings lined up in Colchester, Chelmsford, and Southend-on-Sea. The company is also believed to be in advanced talks with franchisees for the south Wales, Birmingham and Hertfordshire regions. Traill told Propel that Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken was actively recruiting multiple site franchisees across the country and had mapped out 85 regions in which the brand could expand into. He said: “Aside from trying to stay afloat over the past year, we have also been busy examining opportunities to grow the business. We are in discussions with a number of multiple franchisees, who can support five sites and above, across the country, including two Read More
Company News: Arc Inspirations ‘extremely encouraged’ by very strong demand for forward bookings, two new sites in pipeline: Martin Wolstencroft, chief executive of Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of a number of fast-growing brands, has said the business is “extremely encouraged by the very strong demand we are seeing through forward bookings through the summer and towards Christmas”. Of the group’s 17 premium bars, 13 will reopen on Monday, 12 April, when outside trading recommences. The company said these venues were experiencing “very high demand, with many fully booked in that first week and with good bookings visibility for the first five weeks”. It said it was also “seeing very strong demand” from the 17 May, when indoor trading recommences, and all 17 of its venues reopen, and from the 21 Junewhen all restrictions are due to fall away in England. It comes as the company reported a record year in the 12 months to 29 March 2020, with turnover up 11% to £30.1m. The company said it conservatively estimated the impact of the covid-19 crisis on this financial period was £1.5m, in lost sales. As a consequence, the group recorded adjusted Ebitda of £2.9m. This was lower than the Read More
Boom: Battle Bar accelerating growth and signing up franchisees weekly as it seals The O2 deal: Boom: Battle Bar, the adventure bar concept from the team behind adventure park franchise Flip Out, is accelerating its growth, Propel has learned. Boom: Battle Bar, which is aiming to become the UK’s biggest competitive socialising concept, said it was signing up new franchisees on a weekly basis. It has just signed a deal at The O2 Arena, where negotiations were extended to include an additional 7,000 square foot lounge on top of the original planned 10,500 square foot space. The combined spaces were the previous performers’ lounge and former banqueting restaurant, Water Margin, which is spread over two floors. As well as including Boom: Battle Bar’s games of axe throwing, augmented darts, beer pong and shuffleboard, The O2 site will have several Japanese-style karaoke booths. Boom: Battle Bar chief executive Elliott Shuttleworth said: “The Boom brand is set to become the leading competitive socialising offering in the UK. We have secured some of best prime retail space that has meant we have had to invest a huge amount of money to accelerate our growth plans. We have had incredible demand for Booms from Read More
Anglian Country Inns looking to return to expansion trail in September in ‘big year’ rebuilding the business: Anglian Country Inns, the pub and restaurant operator led by James Nye, is looking to return to the expansion trail in September as the business rebuilds post-covid-19. Nye told Propel that Anglian Country Inns aims to pay down part of the £3.3m it secured through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) last June in the next six to 12 months, while it is close to the disposal of its Water Lane cocktail bar and restaurant in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, which will leave the business with eight sites. Nye said: “I think we have a big year coming up as we rebuild the business, but I am very optimistic for the future. We were planning a refinance of the business before covid, so we had new deals in place, which meant our covenants were easier to meet. Our planned capital expenditure became survival capital in the form of a CBILS but it has enabled to get us through. But that refinancing work has been critical in positioning the business to now not only pay back the CBILS, but to also start expanding again.” Read More
Albion & East to launch crowdfunding campaign for next stage of growth: Albion & East, the Imbiba-backed, London-based bar business, is set to launch a crowdfunding campaign, as it looks to fund its next stage of growth and open its first site in north London, Propel understands. The four-strong, Sarah Weir-led, business is set to launch the fundraise early next month via Crowdcube, with an initial target of £500,000. The business currently operates four bars – Martello Hall in Hackney, Canova Hall and Cattivo in Brixton and Serata Hall in Old Street. A fifth bar, Allora Hall, will open on the former Monkey Nuts site in Crouch End, in May, which will mark the company’s debut in north London. Propel understands Albion & East has a further two sites in the pipeline for 2021 and it wants to accelerate growth by acquiring new sites over the next three years. One of these sites is set to open under a “experience-led concept – an urban distillery and tasting room”. It is thought to have a site in the pipeline for this concept, with a target opening in late 2021. It is also thought the funds raised will also go towards the Read More
Starbucks franchisee 23.5 Degrees hits 80 stores with King’s Lynn launch, plans 300 by 2027: Starbucks’ first UK franchised business partner, 23.5 Degrees, will open its 80th store on Friday (26 March) in King’s Lynn, Norfolk. The opening is part of an ambitious expansion programme for 23.5 Degrees, which has a strong pipeline of approved stores and plans to reach 300 stores by 2027. Managing director Mark Hepburn said: “The past year has been challenging but opening this Starbucks store demonstrates our commitment to our ambitious growth plans.” 23.5 Degrees opened its first Starbucks store, in Liphook, Hampshire, in February 2013. Despite the pandemic, 23.5 Degrees opened seven drive-thru stores in 2020. The business aims to reach 100 stores by March 2022. 23.5 Degrees is seeking both freehold and leasehold drive-thru opportunities on main arterial routes, close to major retail destinations or on large industrial estates. These opportunities should be able to be designed into three standard sized units – 1,500, 1,800 and 2,200 square foot. They can either be modular or traditionally built. 23.5 Degrees will also consider retail park and drive-to destinations, as well as high street units in prominent high footfall locations with a minimum size of Read More
Zambrero – Australia’s largest Mexican food franchise to launch in the UK:Zambrero, Australia’s largest Mexican quick-service franchise with more than 200 restaurants globally, is to launch in the UK, Propel has learned. Founded in 2005 by then-medical student Dr Sam Prince, Zambrero offers a fresh, modern interpretation of classic Mexican food. Through its humanitarian initiative, Plate4Plate, Zambrero is also tackling world hunger by donating a meal to someone in need for every burrito or bowl purchased. Since the inception of Plate4Plate, more than 46 million meals have been donated so far by Zambrero’s network of restaurants in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the US. Zambrero’s expansion into the UK marks the next phase in its goal to donate one billion meals. Led in the UK by chief executive Emily Teh, Zambrero is understood to have lined up a site in London’s Kentish Town for its debut opening here. Stonegate support for Ei Publican Partnerships to continue to June: Stonegate Pub Company has announced it will continue its support for Ei Publican Partnership publicans with rent and trade credits throughout April, May and June. The support builds on the financial assistance given to publicans in the form of significantly reduced rents Read More
US fried chicken brand Popeyes plans UK launch: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick service restaurant brand, has announced plans to enter the UK this year, with the goal of opening 350 new restaurants in Britain over the next ten years. The brand, which was founded in Louisiana in 1972 and currently operates circa 3,400 restaurants across 29 countries, will enter the UK market as part of an agreement between PLK Europe, a subsidiary of Restaurant Brands International (RBI), which also owns Tim Hortons and Burger King; Austrian-based, family-owned international conglomerate Ring International Holdings and hospitality-industry veteran Elias Diaz Sese. He is a former executive of RBI and is a shareholder and a director of Domino’s Pizza UK and Ireland. Until October 2019, he was president for UK, Ireland & Scandinavia at the Kraft Heinz Company. He spent more than 15 years at RBI across a number of senior positions around the world. Sese told Propel there were three reasons why Popeyes was launching in the UK – the brand, the product and the people. He said: “The chicken sector in the UK has been growing over the past few years, but we believe there is a space Read More
Tim Martin – we’ve taken £51.7m CLBILS as a ‘precautionary measure’, hopes business will be profitable again in June: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has told Propel the company has secured a further £51.7m from the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) as a “precautionary measure”. Speaking after the company’s interim results where it reported a 53.9% decline in like-for-like sales in the 26 weeks to 24 January 2021, with revenue down by 53.8% to £431.1m, Martin said he hoped the business would be profitable again in June. He said: “Any business now will build in some sleeve, if they can, for unforeseen events. At Wetherspoon, we say ‘everything depends on the virus’ – but also on government action. If we are open by June without restrictions we, and the industry, will be profitable from that point. The vaccine looks promising, so touch wood. We’re trying to get through the point about transmission – as are many others in the trade – to Sage and the government, but they’ve got cloth ears, unfortunately.” Martin said the company was starting to look at some property opportunities that had arisen from the pandemic but added: “Like others, we’re nervous about government Read More
Five Guys UK examining drive-thru opportunities: Five Guys, the fast-growing burger concept backed by Sir Charles Dunstone, is exploring opportunities to open its first drive-thru sites in the UK, Propel understands. The circa 100-strong brand, which recently opened a new site on the former Frankie & Benny’s unit in High Wycombe, is believed to be in talks on two or three possible sites for its drive-thru debut in the UK. Its move into drive-thrus will come on the back of the success of its “kerbside” pick-up option, which it launched in Britain in May, and so far operates from 21 sites, including the new High Wycombe outlet. Over the course of the pandemic, drive-thrus have become one of the most hotly contested parts of the UK property market as businesses including Greggs, McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King and Tim Horton’s have looked to up their presence in the category. Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, which plans to re-enter the UK market this year with up to five new openings, has also expressed an interest in launching drive-thru sites in Britain. Five Guys also has openings in Chichester, Stevenage Leisure Park, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet West Midlands and Read More
Holmes – we will come out of this a lot more purpose-driven business: Azzurri Group will come out of the crisis a more purposeful and value-driven business, chief executive Steve Holmes has said. Speaking at the Propel Multi Club conference, Holmes said the TowerBrook Capital-backed company’s online meetings had resulted in broader topics being discussed including around the environment, carbon reduction and mental health support, which he expects the company to invest more heavily on and move the agenda on. He said: “We’ve become a lot closer as a business, which is ironic as no one has been able to meet up. In times like this, you can’t over-communicate but you can under-communicate so we have been talking a lot to our teams. Borne out of the fact we are having a lot more conversations with everybody across the whole organisation, it feels a lot flatter than it was before and we are having real conversations with our people across all our brands about the things that really matter. When you have them face-to-face regularly, it seems easier to make a positive difference. There has been a real sense of community, the teams have rallied, supported each other, and supported Read More
Whiteside – we may need to consider a second brand at some time in the future:Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside has told Propel the food-to-go operator may need to consider acquiring a second brand at “some time in the future”. He told Propel: “We have no plans to acquire a second brand given the long runway of growth still in Greggs although our strategic roadmap does acknowledge we may need to consider that at some time in the future.” The 2,058-strong company has increased its overall growth target for its estate from 2,500 UK shops to 3,000 at a rate of about 100 net openings a year, although Whiteside said this could be accelerated if attractive sites became available sooner, and was confident further opportunities would arise in central London, city centres across the UK and in transport hubs. Whiteside said: “People are worried city centres won’t be busy as we recover from the pandemic, but they will still be busy, maybe not as busy at first. There are also opportunities to secure sites at a good level, which wasn’t there before.” He also saw retail parks as an area for future expansion. He said: “There are about 1,300 retail Read More
Qoot Restaurant Group among investor group that agrees to buy By Chloe out of bankruptcy but won’t get to use name: Qoot Restaurant Group, which operates a number of fast-growing brands in London, is among a group of investors that has agreed to acquire plant-based concept By Chloe out of bankruptcy, although they won’t get to use the name. By Chloe’s parent company, BC Hospitality Group, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December, citing the impact of the pandemic. The company has for the past several years also been involved in a legal tangle with one of the concept’s co-founders, celebrity vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli, who left the company in 2016 and has fought to prevent the use of her name with the concept. The group of buyers, which also includes Bain Capital Double Impact Fund, Kitchen Fund, Lion Capital and Simple Capital Management, agreed to pay $333,000 and assume debts for By Chloe, which before the pandemic had grown to 14 sites in the US, Toronto and London. The investors had already provided $3.25m in bankruptcy financing to enable the company to continue operating. Under terms of the acquisition agreement, the new owners would be allowed to continue Read More
Propel Premium subscribers to receive access to Propel Multi Club Conference video on Wednesday: Propel Premium subscribers will receive access on Wednesday (17 March) to the video of the first Propel Multi Club Conference of the year. Premium subscribers should email now to receive their code on Wednesday to view the conference. Speakers include Graeme Smith, managing director at AlixPartners; Dan Warne, founder of Sessions Market; Yishay Malkov, chief executive of Various Eateries; Victor Lugger, co-founder of the Big Mamma Group; Alex Reilley, chairman of Loungers; Salima Vellani, founder of host kitchen business KBox Global; Philip Turner, founder and chief executive of Chestnut Group; Neat Burger co-founder and head of operations Stasi Nychas; and Sarah Willingham, chief executive of bar company Nightcap. There are also two panel sessions. Fledgling concepts talk about evolving and growing in a covid-impacted world featuring Grace Regan, founder of SpiceBox; Carla Casadei, founder of Young Vegans; Oliver Hyde, founder of Flour Pot; Morten Jensen, founder of Light Bar & Market; and Marco Reick, director at Qoot. Meanwhile, leading sector players look at what comes next for the industry featuring Simon Wilkinson, chief executive of Byron; Steve Holmes, chief executive of Azzurri Group; Zoe Bowley, Read More
Company News: ETM Group secures £2.5m CBILS loan, early delivery sales ‘extremely promising’: London-based gastro-pub and sports bar operator ETM Group, led by brothers Ed and Tom Martin, has reported it received £2.5m through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme last year and has forecast, with the ongoing support of landlords and suppliers, its accounts can be prepared “on an ongoing basis”. The company also reported it has received a £250,000 insurance compensation for forced closure. It added: “The group has also again taken all measures to preserve as much liquidity as possible including applying for all the latest government and local authority grants. The group has continued to innovate and explore alternative revenue streams. Digital marketing and online bookings have been enhanced. An order at table app was launched within weeks of the lockdown and in partnership with third parties its first delivery service was launched in November 2020. Order at table purchases accounted for the majority of sales at some sites and early delivery sales have been extremely promising.” The company reported it produced turnover of £31.5m (2019: £31.5m) in the year to 23 February 2020. The company opened the sports bar Redwood at London Bridge Station in Read More
Tomahawk Steakhouse repays money it borrowed from staff to fund wages and adds 20% ‘thank you’: Tomahawk Steakhouse, the company led by north east-based multi-site operator Howard Eggleston, has paid back the money it borrowed from staff to help pay their wages – with an additional 20% as a thank you. The company previously asked furloughed employees to sign an agreement to lend 10% of their wages each month to cover their pension and national insurance contributions and insisted every single employee had chosen to sign up to the agreement. It wrote to staff saying it has a “short-term cash flow issue and it requires your help and support”. It said as it must make the national insurance and pension payments itself the “only viable alternative is to ask for your agreement to a loan arrangement”. It added the interest-free loan would be repaid “once the lockdown is eased sufficiently for the company to trade”. A spokeswoman told Propel: “As part of the voluntary agreement signed by all of our staff, we promised any monies loaned would be returned as soon as we were financially able. Following the Budget announcement last week, we are delighted to have been able to Read More
Honest Burgers appoints Frank Hayes as new chief executive: Honest Burgers, the Active Partners-backed business, has appointed Frank Hayes, former managing director of pub company Spirit Group, as its new chief executive. Propel revealed last year Hayes, who was most recently managing director of Northgate, the commercial vehicle rental and disposal company, had joined the board of Honest Burgers as a non-executive director. Honest Burgers said Hayes had extensive leadership experience in both hospitality and other sectors, including 13 years at Yum! Brands and three years at Spirit Group. Hayes, who had led Northgate in the UK and Ireland since June 2017, was also previously commercial director at Wyevale Garden Centres and a consultant with Burger King. At Spirit Group, he was responsible for the food-led half of the managed pub company, which at the time had circa 2,000 pubs. He supported the sale of the business to Punch in 2006. The arrival of Hayes sees Gary Mann take on the newly-created role of chief commercial officer at Honest Burgers. Mann served as managing director for “three rapid growth years prior”. Meanwhile, David Foulis, its finance director of three years, is leaving the business this month to “pursue other opportunities”. Read More
Megan’s to transform derelict 1930s cafe in Clapham into latest site: London-based cafe and deli concept Megan’s is to convert a derelict 1930s cafe in the heart of Clapham Common into its latest site, Propel has learned. Terrace by Megan’s, which will be the company’s 11th site, will open in Rookery Road for take out on Friday, 2 Aprilbefore opening fully later that same month. The site will offer an outdoor dining restaurant and takeaway deli serving all-day brunch, lunch, dinner and takeaway picnics. The menu at the new site will be slightly different to the brand’s other restaurants, with the company launching its sourdough pide pizzas. Megan’s, which is led by Sarah Hills, is also understood to have applied to open further sites in Chiswick and Dulwich Village. Adam Handling promotes Nicola Gartenberg to executive director as he prepares to spend more time in kitchen: Nicola Gartenberg, previously operations director at Adam Handling Restaurant Group, has been promoted to executive director, and appointed to the board, with Handling planning to spend more time in the kitchen. Gartenberg joined the company four years ago, overseeing the openings of most of the restaurant group portfolio, and has been instrumental in helping the Read More
Chipotle to open Clapham site: Chipotle is to further add to its UK presence, with an opening in Clapham, as it looks to target further sites in the capital’s “villages”, Propel has learned. The company, which operates more than 2,600 sites across the globe, has secured the former Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Northcote Road for an opening this summer. Chipotle, which operates seven sites in central London, plus a delivery kitchen unit in Collindale, is also thought to be in talks on a site in East Dulwich. On the Clapham site, Fintan Harte, European property and development manager at Chipotle, told Propel: “Chipotle is cultivating a better world by serving responsibly sourced, classically-cooked, real food with wholesome ingredients without artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. We are excited to bring our real food to the Clapham community with our new Northcote Road restaurant opening this summer.” Last month, Brian Niccol, chairman and chief executive of the US brand, said the company was ready to move forward with its UK business. The company, which is led in Europe by ex-Costa Coffee managing director Jim Slater, made its debut in the UK in London Wall in 2015. Paul Tallentyre, at Davis Coffer Lyons, Read More
The Zetter Group set for expansion after takeover: London-based hotel and restaurant operator The Zetter Group is set for further expansion, after being acquired by hospitality investor Orca Holding for an undisclosed sum. The Zetter Group was founded by owners Mark Sainsbury and Michael Benyan 18 years ago, and comprises The Zetter Hotel in Clerkenwell and The Zetter Townhouses in Clerkenwell and Marylebone. Orca Holding said it now intends to retain and grow The Zetter Townhouse brand and is “actively looking” to open more properties in London and other key cities across the UK and Europe, such as Paris, Madrid and Amsterdam. Benyan said: “We are extremely proud of the culture of The Zetter Group, the hospitality brands we created and the impact they had on London’s vibrant hotel, restaurant and cocktail scene. The fact Orca Holding is passionate about The Zetter brand and has such exciting plans for its future, is great news for all involved and we wish it every success.” Laith Pharaon, chief executive of Orca Holding, said: “We see huge growth and development potential in The Zetter Group. This has been a difficult year for most hotels but the properties were previously achieving great success in Read More
YO! appoints Xenia Walters as new chief financial officer: YO!, the global multi-channel, multi brand Japanese and Asian food group, has appointed Xenia Walters as its new chief financial officer. Walters, who replaces Edward Knighton, who stepped down from YO! at the end of January, has also been appointed an executive director of the company’s board, effective from Monday (8 March). YO! said she brings with her more than 20 years’ extensive experience working in a variety of senior roles with international groups “gaining broad financial, business and international experience”. Most recently she held the role of group chief financial officer of SDL, the listed professional services provider, where she helped drive the successful transformation and merger with RWS Holdings, creating the world’s leading language service and technology group with a market capitalisation of circa £2.4bn. Prior to SDL, Walters held chief financial officer roles in a number of private equity-backed businesses including Frank Recruitment Group, Oxford International Education Group and INTO University Partnerships. Earlier in her career, she held senior roles at Regus, including UK chief financial officer and group financial controller. Richard Hodgson, chief executive of YO!, said: “Xenia has an impressive track record of helping businesses navigate Read More
Turquoise adds five former branded sites to estate, eyes further expansion:Turquoise Kitchen, the Turkish concept from the group behind The Real China, has added five sites formerly operated by national restaurant brands to its estate, as its eyes further expansion, Propel has learned. Over the past few months, the now 11-strong group has secured the former Carluccio’s in Pinner, the former ASK in Saffron Walden, the former Cote in Harpenden, the ex-Bill’s site in Marlow, and the ex-Wildwood site in Letchworth. Propel understands Turquoise Kitchen is in the process of securing sites in towns such as Welwyn Garden City, Kingston and Dorking. The company is backed by HJ Tenger Holdings, which operates The Real China buffet brand, pan-Asian buffet concept Kungfu, and Tang’s, an even larger Chinese buffet format. Turquoise, which offers charcoal-grilled meat, mezze, salad and Turkish pizza, is aiming to capitalise on a lack of mass-market national operators specialising in Turkish cuisine. The business is working with property adviser DMR to find sites in affluent towns across the UK. You Me Sushi appoints Peter Cossar as managing director: You Me Sushi, the London-based restaurant and takeaway concept, has appointed Peter Cossar, formerly of Starbucks and Papa John’s, as Read More
Cote strengthens management team, Sherrington appointed CFO: Cote, the circa 90-strong French brasserie chain backed by the Partners Group, has further strengthened its management team with a number of new appointments, including James Sherrington as its new chief financial officer, Propel has learned. Sherrington stepped down as chief financial officer at Drake & Morgan earlier this year after three years in the role and six years with the Bowmark Capital-backed, London-based bar operator. Sherrington, who joined Drake & Morgan from Caprice Holdings and the Birley Group where he was the finance director, takes over from Strahan Wilson, the former EAT chief financial officer, who is leaving Cote after more than four and a half years with the company. Propel has learned Simon Chester, ex-purchasing and supply chain director at Wagamama, has joined Cote as supply chain director. The company has also hired Amy Strawbridge, former brand director and head of people experience at Virgin Group, as its new people director. During her ten years at the Virgin Group, Strawbridge led the employee experience function as part of the company’s global brand team. Cote, which appointed Lisa Buckley, formerly managing director of Wagamama, as its new managing director at the end Read More
Wingstop secures five new UK sites, ups regional expansion play: Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out US chicken brand Wingstop across the UK, has secured five further sites, including three in prominent shopping schemes across the country, Propel has learned. The company has agreed a “trilogy” deal with landlord Hammerson to open three new regional locations at its Bullring (Birmingham), the Oracle (Reading) and Cabot Circus (Bristol) schemes. Following the opening of its tenth UK location in Gloucester Road, South Kensington, late last year, Wingstop UK is now set to open sites in the former EAT at the Bullring, the former Chick-Fil-A at the Oracle, and the former Dorothy Perkins in Bristol’s Cabot Circus. With plans to reach 20 locations in the UK by the end of 2021, Wingstop is also set to open this year in Canary Wharf and Kingston-upon-Thames, where the brand will be occupying the former Pizza Hut located in Kingston town centre. The brand, which operates more than 1,500 locations worldwide, is expected to announce further regional openings in the coming month. Tom Grogan, director of Lemon Pepper Holdings, said: “We are delighted to have agreed this significant three site deal with an institutional partner Read More
YO! appoints new chairman: YO!, the global, multi brand Japanese and Asian food group, has appointed John Walden, formerly of Naked Wines, Holland & Barratt and Argos, as its new chairman, as the company sees “significant opportunities” to further progress its multi-channel strategy. Eric Nicoli, who joined YO! as chairman in 2015 following the acquisition of the company by Mayfair Private Equity, is stepping down to pursue other interests. YO! said Walden has been at the “forefront of multi-channel, consumer-driven retailing for more than 20 years”. As well as advising consumer-facing businesses and private equity investors through Inversion LLC, the US based retail focused management and strategy consultancy he founded 13 years ago, he has extensive board experience of multi-channel consumer focused businesses in the UK and US. Previous roles include chairman at Naked Wines, where he oversaw the sale of Majestic Wines and its enhanced focus on the US market, and executive chairman at Holland & Barratt following the acquisition by LetterOne. From 2012 to 2016, he was managing director of Argos and then chief executive of its parent company Home Retail Group, where he led the digital transformation and sale of Argos to Sainsbury’s. During his time at Read More
St Austell Brewery pubs MD leaves business: Steve Worrall has left his position as managing director of pubs, inns and hotels at Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery, Propel has learned. Worrall joined St Austell Brewery as retail director in 2017 and went on to become managing director of pubs, inns and hotels following the introduction of a new leadership structure at the start of last year. The company said chief executive Kevin Georgel would be “taking a more direct role in leading St Austell Brewery’s pubs, inns and hotels business going forward”. Georgel said: “I would like to personally thank Steve for his dedication and significant contribution over the past four years – we wish him and his family the very best for the future. Going forward, I will be taking a more hands-on approach in leading the direction of our pubs, inns and hotels business. We have iconic pubs, in some of the best locations in the south west, and fantastic teams to help steer us forward into our next exciting chapter. I’m looking forward to realising the full potential of our pubs when we’re able to reopen, as we continue on our road to recovery.” St Austell owns more Read More
Fireaway set for further rapid expansion by doubling estate in 2021, heading international: Fast pizza brand Fireaway is set for further rapid expansion, and is also heading abroad. The company, launched in London in 2016, now has 55 outlets across the UK and that number will double by the end of 2021. A total of 25 new branches are opening in the next 27 weeks while a further 20 franchise agreements have been signed and locations for them are being sought. In addition, master franchisees have come on board in Canada, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. Founder and chief executive Mario Aleppo said eventually he would like to see several Fireaways in every city in the UK. He also believed global growth for the concept was “unlimited”. Aleppo opened the first branch in Mitcham, and the company’s initial expansion was largely coincidental. He said: “Our pizzas went down very well with our customers right from the start. Within a few weeks one of my regulars asked if he could become a franchisee and within six months he’d opened a branch in Streatham. It started with a new franchise opening every six months. A year later it was Read More
Goodbody – open offer puts M&B ‘on the front foot’, may be ‘start of a full privatisation’: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has argued the confirmation of Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) open offer will see the business begin recovery operations “on the front foot” yet controlling group, Odyzean, will increase its shareholding and “this may be the start of a full privatisation”. Ruddy said: “M&B confirmed [on Monday, 22 February] terms of its pre-emptive open offer and gave an operational update. The Odyzean Group will be the controlling holder, and, as per the release last week, it will take up its entitlements under the open offer and subscribe for additional shares that come available under the Excess Application Facility. The statement notes it will work with management to ensure the strategy and structure of the business are appropriate to optimise its long-term success and will include consideration of the speed and nature of the existing Ignite investment programme and opportunities for acquisitions and partnerships. To this end, it notes it may need to raise additional capital through the issue of new shares at least 12 months after the date of this announcement. The Odyzean Group states it would prefer the Read More
Issa brothers make new bid to seize control of Caffe Nero: The billionaire brothers behind Asda are attempting to seize control of Caffe Nero with a raid on the coffee company’s £350m debt pile. Mohsin and Zuber Issa, who last week completed a £6.8bn acquisition of Britain’s third-biggest supermarket, are in talks with Alcentra and Partners Group to buy loans totalling £180m, reports The Sunday Telegraph. City sources said the “aggressive move” would leave Caffe Nero cornered if it were to default on its debts. Talks “were moving at quite a pace” and are delicately poised and there was no certainty a deal, which would be made in partnership with TDR Capital, will be agreed. Banking insiders said lenders believe after a year of lockdowns Caffe Nero could breach its covenants this summer. Ownership of the loans would position the Issas to make a bid for control through a debt-for-equity swap if Caffe Nero is then forced to restructure its borrowing. Sources close to Caffe Nero insisted the company does not expect to breach banking covenants this summer. One insider said the Issas had previously approached bank lenders including HSBC, Santander, Lloyds and Rabobank to acquire their debts but were Read More
Premium fried chicken concept The Bok Shop secures new investment for expansion: The Bok Shop, the Brighton-based premium fried chicken concept, has secured £1.2m of new funding as it looks to add ten new sites over the next two years. The three-strong business, which was founded in 2017 by Jamie O’Mara, Howard Kaye, Saul Burman and Matthew Dimmack, secured the funding from an unnamed private equity firm. The company currently operates sites in Brighton, Croydon and Eastbourne. It will start its roll out with the opening of a 100-cover site in Southampton’s West Quay this summer. Future sites will range from 30 to 100-cover restaurants to counter-style takeaway and delivery sites. O’Mara said: “We never in our wildest dreams thought we would be sharing what we created at our little shop in Brighton with the rest of the UK. It’s been a hard slog filled with failures and success, amplified by the pandemic, but all in the name of growth, both as individuals and as a company. We feel there is a gap in the market for a quality chicken-inspired offer like ours – what Honest Burger has done to burgers, or Pizza Pilgrims has done with pizza, we want Read More
Prezzo restaurants in Mayfair, Wembley and Edinburgh among 22 to shut after pre-pack administration: Prezzo restaurants in London’s Mayfair, Wembley and Marble Arch will be among those to close after the business was acquired through a pre-pack administration last week, Propel has learned. The Karen Jones-chaired group, which is backed by Cain International, announced last week 22 of its 178 restaurants would not reopen, resulting in 216 people leaving the business as part of the process. The sites that will close are in Aberdeen (Marischal Square), Aylesbury, Bridgnorth, Chislehurst, East Dareham, Edinburgh, Harbourne, Hitchin, Isle of Wight, Marble Arch, Marlborough, Mayfair (Hertford Street), Milton Keynes (Kingston Centre), Norwich, Preston, Ruislip, Saffron Waldon, South Woodford, Swindon, Welwyn, Wembley and Weston-super-Mare. Last week, Cain International, the privately held investment firm operating in Europe and the US, acquired Prezzo from its administrators through a pre-pack arrangement. The action protected the vast majority of Prezzo’s 2,900 team members’ jobs. It will continue to be led by its existing management team. Cain International acquired the debt and equity of Prezzo in December last year. As at 10 February 2021, Prezzo’s restaurants had been able to operate for just 25 weeks out of the previous 52 Read More
Red Oak Taverns acquires ten-strong Wells & Co package, finalising terms on £35m of new capital: Red Oak Taverns, the national pub operator founded by Aaron Brown and Mark Grunnell in 2011, has acquired a ten-strong package of leased and tenanted pubs from Bedford-based brewer and retailer Wells & Co. Red Oak Taverns said it was also finalising terms for additional capital of £35m to “take advantage of immediate investment opportunities”. The acquisition of the ten sites, which are all based in the Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire areas, takes Red Oak’s estate to 190 pubs. The deal is the second for Red Oak since the start of the year, after it acquired three pubs from Reclamation Inns for an undisclosed sum last month. On the deal for the ten Wells & Co sites, Grunnell said: “These pubs are a mix of rural destination food venues and community pubs that are a perfect match for our business and we look forward to welcoming the tenants and their teams to Red Oak Taverns. Following this acquisition, we are finalising terms for additional capital of £35m to take advantage of immediate investment opportunities. The pandemic has in some part slowed our plans but Read More
Deliveroo pencils in 8 March to unveil float: Deliveroo is poised to fire a formal starting gun on its stock market flotation early next month. The company and its advisers have pencilled in Monday, 8 March to publish an expected intention to float announcement, meaning shares in Deliveroo could start trading just weeks later, reports Sky News. Insiders at Deliveroo cautioned 8 March was not yet a definitive date and the timetable remained subject to change. The deal will bring to the public markets a company that has become one of Britain's most valuable tech businesses, with a likely market value of up to £7.5bn. Deliveroo, run by founder Will Shu, has appointed half a dozen investment banks to work on the flotation. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan will lead the company's stock market debut. It comes just weeks after Deliveroo raised a further $180m from investors. The company recently announced plans to expand into a further 100 towns and cities across the UK, enabling it to reach an additional four million people. The float will come after Lord Hill, the former EU commissioner, completes a review of London's listings regime with the objective of attracting high-growth technology companies to Read More
THE INNOVATIVE INITIATIVES OF THE UK BASED RECRUITMENT COMPANY GORDON CHARLES IN THE GLOBAL LABOUR MARKET Unquenchable love, unquenchable passion for work, endless hours of work in order to achieve the expected result, creativity and innovation! Indicatively, these words reflect the groundbreaking energy and action of the English employment company Gordon Charles to enrich the services it offers to employers and employees of the world labour market and to provide them with groundbreaking means and methods, that will motivate them to adopt the company’s motto of "bringing people together". In particular, as revealed in an interview with the Business Travel blog by the head of the innovative initiative, Associate Director of Gordon Charles, Mrs. Maria Davies, << in October 2020, the new project called the Gordon Charles Alchemists was launched. This is a global first in the job market as after thorough research I performed to find out if there is something similar globally, I was very happy to conclude that Gordon Charles Alchemists is the only tool which enables all those interested to be a part of the global job market to enrich and support their offering with a personal two- to three-minute video in order to “sell themselves” or their business. Without hiding her enthusiasm for this Read More
Brighton Pier Group receives £1.4m business interruption insurance payout:Brighton Pier Group, which owns and trades Brighton Palace Pier, as well as 12 bars and eight indoor mini-golf sites nationwide, has reported it has received a £1.4m business interruption insurance payout. The company stated: “As announced on 2 November 2020 (together with the company's final results for the 52 weeks to 28 June 2020), the group has lodged claims with its insurers for business interruption losses arising from closures of the group's venues. The High Court judgement on 15 September 2020 found the group's ‘Marsh resilience’ insurance policies are capable of responding to covid-19 business interruption claims. Furthermore, the group's advisers have indicated the Supreme Court ruling on 15 January 2021 does not change the fundamental principle these policies can respond to claims, subject to appropriate discussion and agreement over the quantum of the arising losses and any applicable policy caps. The group has to date received from its insurers interim payments totalling £1.4m in respect of these losses. While these payments do not satisfy the entirety of the group's claims, they nevertheless support the group's overall liquidity which continues to be strong. The company will provide further updates as appropriate. Read More
Wendy’s lines up Oxford site; begins franchisee search: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, is lining up a site in Oxford as part of its plans to re-enter the UK market. The company has applied to the city council to open a site in the city’s Magdalen Street, in the premises that formerly housed shoe shop Schuh. Wendy’s has already secured a site in Reading as it makes a new attempt to break into the British fast-food market. Meanwhile, Propel understands Wendy’s has begun the search for suitable UK-based franchisees. The company plans to enter the UK with company-owned and operated restaurants in the first half of 2021 and, in its second phase, it will launch in priority areas with multi-unit franchisee operators. The business is believed to be working with franchise consultancy Platinum Wave on its franchisee search, while it has retained Savills UK to aid its site selection. In July last year, Wendy’s announced it would return to Britain, 20 years after it closed its UK outlets to focus on its North America base. The company opened restaurants in the UK in 1992 but pulled out seven years later due to high real estate Read More
Honest Burgers lines up Windsor opening, shareholders inject further funds into business: Active Partners-backed Honest Burgers will further add to its growing regional presence with an opening in Windsor, Propel has learned. The company has secured a site in the town’s Thames Street for an opening later this year. Earlier this week, Propel revealed the circa 40-strong business had taken on the former Carluccio’s site in St Albans’ Christopher Place shopping centre. Propel understands Honest Burgers will operate the site initially as a pop-up after taking a short-term lease on the unit. It comes as the group’s annual accounts showed its shareholders had injected £2.7m into the business at the end of last year. It said the funds were intended to aid the group in taking advantage of new opportunities and enable it to deliver its rollout plan. Last year, the company secured £3.5m via the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and agreed a revised covenant position with its banks to July 2021. The accounts said the company anticipates a renegotiation of this over the spring. In the year to 26 January 2020, Honest Burgers saw a 32% uplift in turnover year-on-year, up £9.7m to £40.4m, while Ebitda before exceptional Read More
RedCat Pub Company continues to strengthen head office team, including new MD: RedCat Pub Company, the new investment vehicle from ex-Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, has continued to strengthen its head office team, including the appointment of Kamran Aziz, formerly of Wessex Taverns and Oxford Hotels & Inns, as its new managing director, Propel has learned. Aziz has been in the hospitality industry for more than 30 years. He entered the pub industry in 1996 with Wessex Taverns and then embarked on a 25-year period in pubs and hospitality. RedCat, which on Tuesday (9 February) announced the appointment of Chris Hill, the former head of New World Trading Company, as chief executive, has made a further four appointments alongside that of Aziz. Donald Stevenson, former group property director at Greene King, becomes RedCat’s property director, while David Brown, who spent 18 years at Greene King, including time as its corporate finance director as well as interim group finance director, becomes the new vehicle’s investment advisor. The business has appointed a further two advisors, with David Pearson, who was a partner for more than 20 years at Clifford Chance, the international law firm, taking the role of general counsel; and Read More
McDonald’s to begin reopening UK and Ireland restaurants for walk-in takeaway with new safety measures: McDonald’s is set to reopen the majority of its UK and Ireland restaurants for walk-in takeaway from Monday, 22 February. The company said it would follow a trial this week at a “small number” of sites with the introduction of new safety measures. McDonald’s UK and Ireland chief executive Paul Pomroy said: “A month ago we made the voluntary decision to temporarily close walk-in takeaway while we reviewed our safety measures to ensure they reflect the evolving nature of the covid-19 pandemic. We identified a small number of changes to further enhance our procedures, and we are currently in the process of rolling these out to restaurants. New safety measures being introduced include visors as well as face coverings for customer facing employees, revised guidance and processes for our couriers to support their safe working and enhanced processes for managing customer and courier flow in restaurants. The well-being of our people, as well as our suppliers, couriers and our customers remains our top priority, and we are confident the new processes in place will further enhance our already robust safety measures.” Due to government restrictions, Read More
Hop acquired through pre-pack administration for £80,000: London-based Vietnamese street food concept Hop was acquired by a new vehicle set up by founder Paul Hopper, via a pre-pack administration for a total consideration of £80,000, Propel has learned. Hopper told Propel last month: “Due to the ongoing impact of the covid-19 pandemic, we appointed advisers in late 2020 to explore all options for the brand. It became clear that, unlike many other great brands in our sector, a company voluntary arrangement was not an option due to the inflexible stance on rent concessions taken by several of Hop’s landlords. As a result, FRP Advisory led a robust and independent accelerated mergers and acquisitions process in December/January and several bids for the business and/or assets were received.” An administrator’s report showed 15 parties had an interest in the five-strong business, which led to three offers, including one from Hopper. The administrators concluded Hopper’s bid, through new vehicle Cau Lau Holdings, provided the greatest return to creditors due to it being the highest offer received and that it ensured all employees retained employment. The total consideration of £80,000 paid, included £79,000 for equipment and £750 for the brand, goodwill and any associated trademarks Read More
Company News: Five Guys appoints Rob Murray as new finance director: Five Guys, the fast-growing burger concept backed by Sir Charles Dunstone, has appointed Rob Murray, formerly of MOD Pizza and Carphone Warehouse, as its new finance director, Propel understands. Murray previously spent five years as finance director of MOD Pizza UK, which went into liquidation last year and was also backed by Dunstone. Murray was also previously head of finance at Carphone Warehouse. Propel revealed last month Holly Elliott had stepped down as group finance director of Five Guys. The better burger brand has strengthened its 2021 UK openings pipeline, with the recent addition of a number of leisure park-based sites. The circa 100-strong brand has secured the former Frankie & Benny’s sites in Crest Road, High Wycombe, and at the Gate Leisure Park, Chichester, for openings later this year. The company has also taken on the ex-Pizza Hut site at Stevenage Leisure Park, Hertfordshire. It is also believed to have taken the former Chiquito site at Teesside Park, Stockton-on-Tees. Last month, Propel revealed Five Guys had secured a site in London’s Brixton. It has also secured a site at the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet West Midlands, which is due Read More
Casual Dining Group administrators anticipate lease assignment process to be completed by July: AlixPartners, the administrators of Casual Dining Group, has said it anticipates the lease assignment process of 154 sites will be completed by July. Last summer, private equity company Epiris paid £18m to buy the bulk of Casual Dining Group, operator of the Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas brands, out of administration, paying £9m up front with a further £9m deferred until assignment of its leasehold portfolio. In an administrators report update, 32 individual leases and 12 sites based at various Center Parcs with a total consideration of £5.7m have so far been assigned successfully. The report stated: “The deferred consideration is not yet payable however the administrators anticipate this process will be completed by the anniversary of the administrations.” As part of the sale, the administrators granted a Licence to Occupy (LTO) for 154 sites while Epiris and the newly formed The Big Table group negotiated ongoing occupation arrangements with the relevant landlords. Of the remaining LTO properties to be assigned, 86 are at advanced negotiation stage with an aggregate value of more than £8m and assignments are expected imminently. Heads of terms are still Read More
Former EAT chief executive Andrew Walker joins Farmer J board: Andrew Walker, the former chief executive of EAT, has joined the board of all-day market concept Farmer J, as a non-executive director, Propel has learned. Walker stepped down from EAT in 2019, after the circa 90-strong business was acquired by rival Pret A Manger in a deal valued in excess of £60m. Walker, who was previously UK managing director of Pret, spent three years leading EAT, turning the business around in that time, including overseeing more than 12 months of consecutive like-for-like growth before its sale. Farmer J, which is backed by Imbiba, currently has four sites in London, and has been linked to a further opening at London Bridge station. Soho House submits application for second Manchester opening: Soho House Group has submitted a licensing application to open another concept in Manchester, as part of Allied London’s £1.2bn regeneration of the Old Granada Studios property in the city. The Nick Jones-led business had previously submitted plans to open a 210-bed hotel and restaurant under its Mollies Motel & Diner concept at the scheme. It has now submitted a separate application for floors seven to nine of the scheme. It Read More
Just Eat unveils €1bn convertible bond offer: Just Eat has launched a two-tranche convertible bonds offering, totalling €1bn. The company said it was offering two tranches of bonds, due August 2025 and February 2028. The notes will be issued at between 101.50% and 103.75% for the 2025 tranche and 100% of nominal value for the 2028 tranche and will be redeemed at 100% of nominal value. The 2025 bonds will not bear interest, while the 2028 bonds will be offered with a between 0.125% and 0.625% per annum interest rate. The company plans to use the funds for general corporate purposes and to increase its financial flexibility, allowing Just Eat “to act on strategic opportunities that may arise”. The business is expecting further order growth acceleration in the first 2021 financial quarter after three consecutive quarters of the same thanks to its growth strategy, investment in legacy Just Eat markets, and covid-19 tailwinds. The company said it is intending to continue heavy investment and prioritising market share over adjusted Ebitda. It stated: “The company believes that a stronger balance sheet provides additional financial flexibility to act on strategic opportunities that may arise.” Other uses of the proposed funds Read More
Handmade Burger Co name set to be resurrected: The Handmade Burger Co name is set to be resurrected after the company behind Thai chain Lemongrass acquired the intellectual property for the brand, Propel has learned. Topbright is believed to be planning to bring back the Handmade Burger Co brand, after the business fell into administration for the second time in three years at the start of 2020. It is thought the company, which includes backing from Nasim Kayani, whose family previously operated the French brasserie concept Cafe de Amis in Covent Garden, has already agreed a deal to take on the brand’s former site in Sheffield’s Meadowhall scheme. It is also thought to be trying to agree deals on the former Handmade Burger Co sites in Reading, Leicester, Lincoln and Birmingham. Propel understands Topbright is also the current backer of the south east-based, Thai chain Lemongrass, which it is believed to have acquired last year. Lemongrass currently has ten sites across the south east, and had been looking for investment pre-pandemic to fund further growth. Burger Chain, the previous owner of the 18-strong Handmade Burger Co brand, was placed into administration, with all sites closing in January last year. Leonard Read More
Deliveroo appoints chief marketplace officer: Deliveroo has appointed Eric French as chief marketplace officer, Propel has learned. French will have responsibility for the newly-created Marketplace Org within Deliveroo. He will have responsibility for the rider operations, customer care, restaurants, grocery and Editions functions. He will report directly to chief executive Will Shu, and also sit on the executive team. French joins Deliveroo from Amazon, where he worked for more than 15 years, holding a variety of finance and operating roles. Most recently, he was the vice-president for Amazon’s US Consumables business. In this role, he had responsibility for category leadership, product, technology, and private brands across the household, beauty, baby, and personal care product lines. The appointment comes at a time when Deliveroo is growing rapidly. The company now works with 140,000 restaurants and 110,000 riders across 12 markets. The company is focusing on areas including expanding its Editions delivery-only kitchens globally; working with more restaurants and grocery stores; and investing in new tools to help restaurants grow their business. A Deliveroo spokeswoman said: “We are excited Eric has joined in this new and important role at the company. He brings a huge amount of valuable knowledge and experience. He Read More
Bowley – it was a really tough journey for us last year but we have come out of it a lot stronger: Zoe Bowley, managing director of PizzaExpress, has said 2020 was a really “tough journey” for the 56-year-old chain, but it has come out of it “a lot stronger”. Last year, the business secured a restructuring deal, which included a recapitalisation of its debt. It also underwent a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which saw 73 sites closed, and saw its management team bolstered with David Campbell, who led the turnaround at Wagamama, joining as chief executive, and former Asda chief executive and ex-Wagamama chairman Allan Leighton, becoming chairman. Talking on Propel’s Lessons & Learning for Lockdown Three video, Bowley said: “Where we are now from where we were at the end of last March, we are in a pretty good place with a much stronger balance sheet, thanks to the recapitalisation last November. Our toughest financial days are probably behind us, but it was a really tough journey for us last year and I think we have come out of it a lot stronger. We’ve also had some exciting additions to the team in David and Allan, and recently a Read More
Caring confirmed for new venture at former Porsche Garage in Mayfair: Serial sector investor Richard Caring is set to open a new restaurant venture in Mayfair, after it was confirmed he had secured the former Porsche Garage in North Audley Street. Propel revealed last year Caring was in talks to take the space, with rumours it could be a new location for his Le Caprice restaurant, which closed last year. However, it is thought Caring could be planning a new Greek-influenced restaurant for the space. It has also been confirmed Caring has secured a new lease on the former Le Pain Quotidien site at 201-203 Kings Road, Chelsea. Propel revealed earlier this month the site will be operated as an Ivy Asia, next door to Caring’s existing Ivy Chelsea Garden. Davis Coffer Lyons advised landlord Grosvenor on the former Porsche Garage site and Martins Properties on the Chelsea site. Propel reported earlier this month that Caring, who backs Caprice Holdings, the Ivy Collection and Bill’s, was believed to have secured the La Brasserie site in Brompton Road, which closed in 2017, for a yet unspecified, new restaurant project. He currently operates two Ivy Asia sites in St Paul’s and Manchester Read More
Subway appoints Nigel Doughty to oversee UK and Ireland business: Global sandwich franchise Subway has appointed Nigel Doughty, the former managing director of Paul UK, to oversee its circa 2,500-strong UK and Ireland business, Propel has learned. Doughty replaces Colin Hughes, formerly of Pret A Manger and EAT, as the brand’s country director for the UK and Ireland. Doughty joins Subway after more than ten years with the Middle East-based Alshaya Group, where he was vice-president of its food retail division – premium casual brands. Prior to that, he spent four years as managing director of Paul UK. He has also had stints at Maison Blanc and Costa Coffee. Hughes, who also served as a non-executive director at Barburrito for two years, had led Subway in UK and Ireland since the summer of 2018. Pre-covid, the business has been rolling out its new-look Fresh Forward store format across its UK and Ireland estate. JD Wetherspoon – Guardian article stating company ‘looking to buy smaller pubs on the cheap’ is ‘completely untrue’: JD Wetherspoon has said statements by The Guardian that said the company was looking to “buy smaller pubs on the cheap amid the covid crisis” and “is targeting pubs Read More
Cote appoints Lisa Buckley as new managing director: Cote, the circa 90-strong French brasserie chain backed by the Partners Group, has appointed Lisa Buckley, formerly of Wagamama, as its new managing director, Propel has learned. Buckley joins the Jane Holbrook-chaired business, after almost five years at Wagamama, where she was most recently UK operations director. Previous to that she spent nine years at the Casual Dining Group (now The Big Table Group), including a stint as operations director for Bella Italia. Buckley is reunited with former Wagamama chief executive Holbrook, who took over as Cote’s executive chairman in September, replacing ex-The Restaurant Group chief executive Andrew Page. Holbrook’s appointment coincided with global private markets investment manager Partners Group acquiring the French brasserie chain via a pre-pack administration. Alex Scrimgreour, who stepped down as Cote chief executive in October after 12 years of leading the business, took up the role of chief executive at cinema operator Everyman this week. Papa John’s introduces new flexible franchising formats in UK: Papa John’s is introducing new flexible franchising formats in the UK. Following the continued success of its franchised high street stores, Papa John’s is now aiming to expand its reach by providing even Read More
Hawthorn has at least £250m available for acquisitions, more than doubles planned capex spend in third quarter: Hawthorn, the community pub arm of NewRiver, has at least £250m available for acquisitions and has more than doubled its planned capex spend in its third quarter – investing a total of £9.4m. Speaking ahead of NewRiver’s trading update on Thursday (21 January), Hawthorn chief executive Mark Davies told Propel: “Hawthorn’s overwhelming priority is to protect our people and to protect our pubs. We’re continuing to support our pub partners to help them stay afloat and to ensure they can thrive again and bounce back when their pubs reopen. We more than doubled our planned capex spending for the quarter, investing a total of £9.4m on 270 projects, increasing our average spend per-project by almost 60%, and adding an extra 61 additional sites to our investment programme with a clear focus on outdoor scheme investments and creating more capacity. We also expect to acquire more pubs in 2021. Hawthorn is a dynamic, ambitious company with a proven track record of acquiring pub portfolios, and we have circa £250m of cash and available liquidity to the business, with additional funds available when required.” Davies Read More
London-based Vietnamese street food concept Hop acquired by new vehicle: London-based Vietnamese street food concept Hop has been acquired by a new vehicle set up by founder Paul Hopper, after going through a sales process, Propel has learned. Hopper, which launched the business in 2015, set up Cau Lau Holdings to oversee the acquisition, although as yet it is unclear how many of the group’s five sites will transfer to the new vehicle. Hopper told Propel: “Due to the ongoing impact of the covid-19 pandemic we appointed advisors in late 2020 to explore all options for the brand. It became clear that unlike many other great brands in our sector, a company voluntary arrangement was not an option due to the inflexible stance on rent concessions taken by several of Hop’s landlords. As a result, FRP Advisory led a robust and independent accelerated mergers and acquisitions process in December/January and several bids for the business and/or assets were received. Ultimately an offer submitted by Cau Lau Holdings was successful. All existing Hop employees will be retained as part of the transaction. I’m really pleased to have agreed a way forward for the Hop brand and our incredible team. It was Read More
Coffee#1 co-founder to launch coffee concept: James Shapland, the co-founder of Coffee#1, the Caffe Nero-owned brand, is to launch a coffee concept called Coffi Lab, Propel has learned. In line with the growth of Coffee#1, Shapland is currently seeking sites for the new concept in neighbourhood centres and high street market towns across south Wales and the south west. Propel understands Hannah Gillard, current finance director at SA Brain. will become the managing director of the new venture from next month. Coffi Lab, which is working with property advisor EJ Hales to find suitable sites, plans to be “a heart-warming, authentic retail coffee brand in a neighbourhood setting”. Shapland co-founded Coffee#1 in 2000 and went on to grow it to 15 sites across Wales and the south west, with an annual turnover of £5m a year, before selling it for an undisclosed sum to SA Brain in 2011. Caffe Nero paid almost £30m to acquire a majority stake in Coffee#1, which now operates more than 100 sites, in February 2019. Domino’s Pizza UK merges digital and marketing teams, appoints new CMO:Domino’s Pizza UK is bringing its digital team under the remit of marketing for the first time as it looks Read More
Deliveroo secures $180m of new funding ahead of proposed IPO: Deliveroo has secured $180m (£132m) in new funding, pushing its valuation to more than $7bn (£5.1bn) ahead of its long-anticipated float. The delivery firm’s latest funding round was led by existing investors Durable Capital Partners and Fidelity Management & Research Company. It comes after the company announced plans to expand into about 100 new towns and cities across the UK in 2021. The company said the new funding would contribute to expanding its Editions delivery-only kitchen sites worldwide and its on-demand grocery service. It also plans to extend its Plus subscription service to “new geographies” and offer its Signature service to restaurants, which enables customers to order for delivery via businesses’ own websites. The company said “new initiatives” would also support its delivery riders. Will Shu, Deliveroo’s founder and chief executive, said: “At Deliveroo, we are always focused on developing the best proposition for consumers, riders and restaurants. This investment will help us to continue to innovate by developing new tech tools to support restaurants, to provide riders with more work and to extend choice for customers, bringing them the food they love from more restaurants than ever before. We Read More
Caring eyes new openings, lines up former La Brasserie site in South Kensington: Serial sector investor Richard Caring has lined up at least three new openings, including plans to open on the former La Brasserie site in London’s South Kensington, Propel has learned. Caring, who backs Caprice Holdings, the Ivy Collection and Bill’s, is believed to have secured the La Brasserie site in Brompton Road, which closed in 2017, for a yet unspecified, new restaurant project. Propel has learned he has also secured the former Le Pain Quotidien site next door to the Ivy Chelsea Garden in the Kings Road, to open an Ivy Asia. Caring currently operates two Ivy Asia sites in St Paul’s and Manchester and is thought to be looking at further opportunities to expand the concept, either as standalone sites or adjacent to existing Ivy Collection restaurants. Propel understands Caring is also closing in on announcing what he plans to launch on the ex-Porsche Garage site in Mount Street, Mayfair. He is still working on plans to reopen the former Princess Garden of Mayfair site in North Audley Street, which he acquired in 2016. It had previously been earmarked for a Caprice Café concept but may Read More
Morris – we are in the eye of the storm like never before, signs on Edinburgh site:Richard Morris, managing director of Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed fast casual Mexican concept, has said the business was managing the ongoing challenge of covid “better than most” in the industry, but believes “we are now in the eye of the storm like never before”. Morris said: “Last year was unprecedented for everyone in the hospitality sector and the new year has started out even more challenging. We are fortunate our business was able to adapt to the restrictions of the pandemic, with a large focus on delivery. While we’re not through it yet, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and are gearing the business up for an exciting pipeline of opportunities.” In preparation, the company has appointed current finance director Andy Naylor to the new role for the business, of commercial director, while making a number of additions to its operational team. The company said Naylor will oversee all areas of business development, working alongside franchise partners and reviewing the “many alternative revenue driving opportunities”. Chris Nunn, currently the brand’s financial controller, has been promoted to head of finance, and Read More
Company News: Creams to open debut Wales site this month: Dessert parlour operator Creams is to open its first site in Wales, and 91st in total. Set to open in Cardiff’s Queen Street on Monday, 25 January, the company-owned store will initially offer takeaway and delivery only via Just Eat, Deliveroo and UberEats, opening for dine-in when restrictions allow. Creams chief executive Adam Mani said: “Despite the challenges of 2020, I am immensely proud the brand has been able to continue with its expansion plans.” Creams successfully pivoted its business in 2020 through the introduction of an online experience for delivery and click and collect. In October, the group reported a record-breaking October with sales of more than £4m across the estate. The brand has also opened three new stores since March 2020 with another five or six planned for the first quarter of 2021. Creams was founded in 2008 by Balal Aqil and Mani. The brand employs more than 1,400 staff and works with a variety of franchise partners across the UK. Wadworth hires executive development chef to relaunch and manage food offer within managed estate: Devizes-based brewer and retailer Wadworth has hired Andrew Scott as executive development chef Read More
PizzaExpress appoints chief business officer and chief customer officer:PizzaExpress, the David Campbell-led business, has appointed Jo Bennett as its new chief business officer, and Shadi Halliwell as its new chief customer officer. Bennett joins from Hilding Anders Group – the international sleep group with about 1,200 stores and sales in more than 60 countries – where she was group chief financial officer. Before this, she was a director of KKR Capstone, chief financial officer of retailer Jacques Vert Group, and worked in the operations group of TPG Capital. Halliwell was most recently chief marketing officer of Three UK, and from 2014 to 2017 was group marketing and creative director of Harvey Nichols. She also played a leading role in the marketing success of O2 for 15 years, most recently as head of brand and marcomms. Bennett and Halliwell will report to PizzaExpress chief executive Campbell, and will join managing director Zoe Bowley and people director Kate Daines on the PizzaExpress executive committee. Campbell said: “I am thrilled Jo and Shadi are joining the team. Their respective track records speak for themselves, and I am sure, alongside the already strong team at PizzaExpress, they will ensure that 2021 ends up as Read More
Gravity to debut in London with ‘future of the high street offer’: Experiential leisure operator Gravity is make its London debut at Southside Shopping Centre, Wandsworth, for an 80,000 square foot entertainment venue set to launch in the former Debenhams in summer 2021. Gravity started as a trampoline park company in 2015 and has since expanded into innovative entertainment concepts, helping to revitalise shopping centres and the high street across the UK. The Southside site will feature gaming experiences such as e-karting, augmented reality bowling, crazy golf, pool, ping-pong and shuffleboards. It will also offer an array of dining and drinking options, including a noodle kitchen, American diner and cocktail bar. The Southside joint venture (a joint venture between Landsec and Invesco Real Estate) and Gravity are investing £4m to redevelop the former Debenhams department store unit as part of a combined strategy to reimagine the destination and incorporate new and innovative concepts. David Heaford, managing director, development, at Landsec, said: “Leisure is an increasingly important component of a complete destination and Gravity is a significant addition that complements Southside’s existing offer. Southside is designed to offer everything the community needs, and this signing, at a challenging time for the Read More
Star Pubs & Bars extends 90% rent reduction for tenanted and leased pubs:Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars has announced it will continue its 90% rent reduction for its leased and tenanted pubs forced to shut during lockdown in January. The move brings the pub company’s total investment in rent support to more than £44m since March 2020 – including over £4m this month for pubs in England, Scotland and Wales. The concession is still valid for affected pubs whether they choose to operate a delivery service or not. Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “The prime minister needs to help pubs weather the months ahead by working with our sector on a roadmap to recovery. While the grants announced this week are welcome, their impact is temporary and limited. Pubs need an extension of the business rates holiday and a cut in VAT to survive the coming months. More immediately, the government needs to review the ban on sales of takeaway alcohol. This is unnecessary and damaging to many pubs for whom these sales provide a small lifeline during lockdown. Pubs, through no fault of their own, are being put in jeopardy by this latest lockdown and Read More
Albert Roux passes away: The Roux family has announced the passing of Albert Roux OBE KFO, who had been unwell for a while, at the age 85, on Monday (4 January). Albert is credited, along with his late brother Michel Roux, with starting London’s culinary revolution with the opening of Le Gavroche in 1967. His son, Michel Roux Jr, said Albert’s sheer love of life and passion for making people happy through his food will be greatly missed: “He was a mentor for so many people in the hospitality industry and a real inspiration to budding chefs, including me.” The Roux family has requested their privacy at this time be respected. Over the years, chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Marcus Wareing, Pierre Koffmann, Monica Galetti, Jun Tanaka, Bryn Williams, Phil Howard, Stephen Terry, Rowley Leigh, Paul Rankin and Brian Maule have all earned their stripes in the Le Gavroche kitchen before going on to make their own contributions to the UK culinary scene. Vagabond appoints Matthew Fleming as new MD, eyes international launch:Imbiba-backed wine bar business Vagabond has appointed Matthew Fleming, formerly of Be At One and Stonegate Pub Company, as its new managing director, Propel has Read More
Reilley – Rent situation the government’s Trojan horse: Loungers chairman Alex Reilley has said that the rent situation facing the sector is the government’s “Trojan horse” and unless it comes up with a plan it “will have wasted billions of pounds keeping people employed by businesses that you will have allowed to fail”. In a twitter thread, Reilley said: “The vast majority of hospitality businesses will have traded between 0-14 days since 4 November. On the (optimistic) basis they can trade again by early March, that’s 0-14 days trade in four months. That’s on top of more than three months of full lockdown. That’s at least seven months out of 12 where hospitality businesses have been ordered to close. The debt moratorium is going to end at the end of March. Thousands of hospitality businesses, who won’t have been able to trade for seven out of 12 months will be exposed to landlords who won’t accept anything less than 12 out of 12 months’ rent. They will serve winding up petitions, locks will be changed, and some will cut their nose off to spite their face. That will be the end for thousands of businesses. @AlokSharma_RDG @scullyp @RishiSunak @BorisJohnson this Read More
Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay volunteered a 56% reduction in salary during four months of lockdown: Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay volunteered to reduce his salary by 56% to £250,000 during the four months of closure that followed the first lockdown in 2020. Findlay earned a total of £592,423 in the year to 3 October 2020 compared to £722,432 the year before. Finance director Andrew Andrea earned £445,365 compared to £486,062 the year before. In the company’s annual report, Octavia Morley, chairman of the remuneration committee, stated: “During the period of the first UK lockdown from March until July 2020, whilst 93% of the group’s workforce was furloughed under the government’s CJRS, those employees who continued to work to support the business were asked to accept a 20% reduction in their salary during the period from April to July 2020, with normal salaries paid from August 2020. The chief financial officer and the non-executive directors also volunteered to accept the same 20% reduction in their respective salary and fees. The chairman volunteered a 50% reduction in his fees and our chief executive reduced his salary to £250,000 over the same four-month period of closure; a 56% reduction in salary. These Read More
No decision made on future of Brains management team following Marston’s pub operation deal: No decision has been made on the future of the management team at Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain following the operation of its pubs being taken over by Marston’s, Propel has learned. The deal sees Marston’s operate 141 freehold pubs under the Brains brand on a leasehold basis, with effect from February, with rent chargeable from 1 April. In addition, Marston's will operate the remaining 15 short-leasehold sites on a management contract basis for a period of two years. The circa 1,300 people currently employed in the pub business will transfer across to Marston's and an initial incremental central overhead of up to £2m will be required to operate the additional pubs. The deal has led to questions over the future of Brains chief executive Alistair Darby, who joined the business in July 2018, and the rest of the management team. In response, a Brains spokesman told Propel: “The job today is to communicate the news with the pub teams and the business. There is no decision on the management team at this stage.” Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has described the deal as Read More
PCA makes eight recommendations to Star Pubs & Bars after pubs code breaches and £2m fine: The pubs code adjudicator (PCA) has published a list of eight recommendations Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars must fulfil after it was fined £2m for “unreasonable stocking terms in proposed market rent only (MRO) options tenancies”. An investigation by the PCA found Star Pubs & Bars had committed 12 breaches with the result it had “frustrated the principles of the pubs code”. As well as identifying how the company had offered stocking terms that had acted as a deterrent to tenants pursuing a free-of-tie tenancy, the PCA highlighted systemic corporate failures by Star Pubs & Bars in its approach to compliance. Along with the eight recommendations, it also said Star Pubs & Bars must publish a letter on its website explaining the findings of the investigation, what Star Pubs & Bars will do in response to the recommendations and how these measures will affect tenants. The recommendations were: 1. When making an MRO proposal, Star Pubs & Bars must follow PCA guidance, have evidence why its offer is reasonable, take into account and record factors it has relied on; 2. When serving an MRO Read More
Pure secures £3m CBILS, CVA links majority of rent costs to sales over a two-year period: Healthy food-to-go concept Pure has secured £3m from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) with Lloyds Bank to help it through the crisis, Propel has learned. The 21-strong company, which launched a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in September, said it entered into the agreement on 7 October with its creditors, which has linked the majority of rent costs to sales over a two-year period. On 23 March, in response to UK government guidance to close all hospitality and shops, the company announced it would temporarily close all of its 21 sites in London. It began a phased reopening of shops beginning in July and by September, 20 shops were trading. However, turnover was only at 30% of pre-pandemic levels. On launching the CVA, 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.” News of the CBILS came as the business saw its full-year turnover break through Read More
PizzaExpress to restructure management team, CFO Pellington to stand down: PizzaExpress, the David Campbell-led business, is to restructure its management team, which will include the creation of two new roles, a chief customer officer and a chief business officer, Propel has learned. As part of the restructure, current UK managing director Zoe Bowley will see her remit expanded to also oversee the group’s international restaurant division. Andy Pellington will step down as chief financial officer, a role he has held for seven years, next March, after overseeing the recapitalisation of the business earlier this autumn. The finance role will come under the new chief business officer’s remit, as well as overseeing the group’s supply chain and procurement functions. The group’s new chief customer officer will also oversee the brand’s marketing function, as part of their remit, with the business currently without a marketing director. Both roles are currently being advertised for, with appointments expected early next year. The group’s management team is completed by Kate Daines, who joined from Costa in 2018 to become PizzaExpress director of people for UK and Ireland, was appointed people director for the region and promoted to the UK leadership team last year. Campbell, the former Read More
Revolution loses third of workforce with staff leaving due to uncertainty as boss warns government action is ‘forcing people out industry they love’: Rob Pitcher, chief executive of Revolution Bars Group, which operates the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, has told Propel the government’s actions are “forcing people out of the industry they love”. Speaking after the company’s full-year results were posted, Pitcher said while the company had made 200 staff redundant, the business had actually lost nearer to 1,000 employees because they had been forced to look for work elsewhere due to the uncertainty. He added that with businesses across the sector in a similar position, the number of jobs lost in the industry since the pandemic began was around 660,000 rather than the 300,000 the Office for National Statistics reported this week. And with the vaccine now being rolled out, Pitcher said the government had no excuses not to end the tier system at the start of February. He said: “Before the pandemic, we employed 3,200 people and now it’s about 2,200. We’ve lost a third of the jobs we support. People say they love working here but with all the uncertainty they can’t afford to pay Read More
Wagamama seeing better Ebitda on lower sales, delivery worth £77,000 per month per site: Numis leisure analyst Tim Barrett has said Wagamama is seeing better Ebitda despite lower sales while delivery is now worth £77,000 per site. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on TRG’s shares following Wagamama’s third quarter bondholder update, Barrett said: “Wagamama UK like-for-like revenues grew 7.4%, with reported revenues falling from £89m to £70m, reflecting the phased reopening of the estate post-lockdown. The main new information is Ebitda increased from £15.7m to £18.0m on lower sales. This was inflated by a £4m rent credit (relating to a deal subsequently agreed for the second quarter), but even excluding this, there was an improvement in Ebitda margin from 17% to 20%. In part this reflects business rate savings, but is also due to the focus on cost efficiency (and some synergy with TRG). The revenue pass-through was limited to only 9% whereas in contrast in the first half, the pass-through was 30.2%. We believe the strong sales recovery reflects the customer proposition (net promoter score is more than 40), effective marketing post-reopening and customer demographic (younger, less risk-averse consumer). Importantly, Wagamama brings impressive delivery/collection expertise to TRG where delivery reached 24% Read More
Tasty achieves rent reductions and lease concessions on more than half of estate: Wildwood operator Tasty has reported it has now achieved rent reductions and lease concessions on more than half of its estate. The company said it is continuing consensual negotiations with landlords and other creditors in respect of outstanding rents and anticipates the process will now be completed in January. In a trading update, Tasty said 38 restaurants had reopened after the latest lockdown with an additional five sites providing takeaway and delivery services only, due to government restrictions. It is expected a further nine outlets will move to providing takeaway and delivery services only with the additional tier three restrictions being introduced in London and Essex on Wednesday (16 December). Tasty stated: “Certain restaurants within the company’s estate have remained closed due to poor trading conditions in their locality. The company continues to monitor developments affecting both the open and closed restaurants in line with the continually changing UK tier restrictions. Trading across the business continues to be challenging with Christmas parties cancelled and the differing levels of restrictions significantly reducing the number of customers eating out and related restaurant capacity restrictions. The company will again be Read More
JD Wetherspoon commits its largest investment ever into a pub and hotel, at more than €33m: JD Wetherspoon has made its largest ever investment, in excess of €33m (£29.9m), to buy and develop a new pub and hotel in Dublin. The site – Keavan’s Port – is in Camden Street Upper and Lower will have 89 en-suite bedrooms and employ 200 full-time and part-time staff. The investment of €6m to purchase the property and €27.4m to redevelop it is “the single largest investment” made by Wetherspoon in its 41-year history. Although there is no official opening date for the pub and hotel, if a licence is granted then the company is aiming to open the pub on 15 January 2021. The pub will be managed by Fillip Mordak, who has worked for Wetherspoon since 2007 and has managed two of its sites in Ireland – The Forty Foot in Dun Laoghaire and The Silver Penny in Dublin. Wetherspoon has developed a series of eight Georgian townhouses (seven of which are protected), a chapel and added a substantial modern extension featuring a 12-metre-high glazed atrium. The pub covers 9,000 square foot of customer space over two floors, plus a 3,800 square Read More
Tokyo Industries opens second Impossible site with £3m investment: Tokyo Industries, led by entrepreneur Aaron Mellor, has made its biggest investment ever of £3m to open its second Impossible venue, in York. The Impossible WonderBar and Tea Rooms, which features a bar, restaurant and cafe and cocktail bar, opened at the weekend in the former Carluccio’s site in St Helen’s Square. The huge investment also includes the transformation of the site next door into a boutique 18-bedroom hotel with another restaurant inside that is slated to open in September 2021. The project will create 200 jobs when completed. A Tokyo Industries spokesman told The Press: “Impossible York brings a totally new drinking and dining experience to the city, set across its three floors in York’s St Helen’s Square. Located in the historical Terry’s of York building, Impossible York breathes new life into the incredible property, complete with ground-floor tea room and brasserie and opulent first-floor cocktail bar.” General manager of the site, Stephanie Powell, said: “This will include a restaurant bar and tea room – with a British-Bavarian food menu for the restaurant, and an exceptional tea room experience that uses local providers. As well as a beautifully crafted central Read More
Tequila Mockingbird ramps up expansion plans, secures Wimbledon site: South London-based bar operator Tequila Mockingbird has opened two new sites and is in talks on two more, Propel has learned. The company, which was founded in 2015 by cousins Jon Bas and Jake Brennan, opened its sixth site earlier this month in Wimbledon, after securing the former Smash site in The Broadway. It is currently running the site as a pop-up, before closing it in January for a refurbishment and a full opening in February. Earlier this autumn, the group added a fifth site to its estate, after securing the former Graffiti Bar site in Earlsfield. Bas told Propel the company was in talks on two more sites in south London. He said the business had traded exceptionally well after the end of the first lockdown over the summer, and would be looking at further expansion opportunities through 2021. Michael Penfold at AG&G acted on the Wimbledon deal. Elite Pubs adds former The Woodman site to estate: Kent-based Elite Pubs will add a tenth site to its pub estate in February after securing the former The Woodman site near Sevenoaks. The company, which was founded in 2004 by Martial Chaussy, Read More
Fleet to step down as Flat Iron managing director: Jo Fleet is to step down as managing director of Flat Iron, the ten-strong “single steak” dining concept backed by private equity firm Piper, in the new year, to “pursue other opportunities within the sector”, Propel has learned. Fleet joined the then five-strong Flat Iron in 2017, from Wahaca, where she had been managing director since 2010. Previous to that, she spent more than ten years at ASK Italian and Zizzi, part of the then Gondola Group, as chief executive. Flat Iron will continue to be led by founder and chief executive Charlie Carroll. Fleet said: “I have enjoyed my time immensely at Flat Iron working with a really fun and creative team. The pandemic has obviously been hugely disruptive but Flat Iron is now in a good place and I feel now is the right time for me to move on and pursue other opportunities within the sector.” Carroll said: “Jo is an industry legend and we have been incredibly lucky to have the benefit of her talent and experience over the past few years. We will all miss her greatly but are excited to see what she does next.” Read More
Pheby Food Concepts Group plans expansion drive to create more than 1,000 jobs: Pheby Food Concepts Group, which is behind the Wok&Go and Dough Dough brands, has set out plans to open circa 130 sites, creating more than 1,000 jobs over the next five years. The company said despite a challenging year, it is set to add quick-service pizza, noodle and pancake outlets to its portfolio. The group said its plans include launching 100 Wok&Go outlets, creating 800 jobs. Wok&Go was launched more than ten years ago and now has more than 15 sites in the UK, as well as outlets in Portugal and Bahrain. Alongside that, the company plans to open 25 new Crepe Delicious sites, employing 200 British workers, over the next seven years. It signed a deal to bring Crepe Delicious across the pond earlier this year, which will see the first store open in 2021. Come the end of 2020, Pheby Food Concepts will have opened a further three Dough Dough eateries, employing an additional 60 staff. Its site in Liverpool will be officially open on Friday, 18 December after much delay over the prior few months, while further openings in Warrington and Derby sites “continue Read More
Cooplands bakery secures £7.7m BGF funding to open 30 new stores per year:South Yorkshire-based bakery and cafe chain Cooplands has secured £7.7m funding from the Business Growth Fund (BGF) to roll out 30 more stores per year. The bakery has grown to more than 165 stores, 12 cafes and 36 sandwich vans thanks to an £8.5m injection three years ago from the BGF. Cooplands, the 135-year-old business, has opened seven new stores since March 2020. Cooplands chief executive Belinda Youngs said: “This year we’ve continued to open stores, create jobs and develop new products. This month, we’ve opened a new shop in Lincoln which created eight new jobs for the city and launched a new cheese bake to meet consumer demand.” In 2019, Cooplands was one of the first high street bakery chains to sell 100% vegan bread and rolls. Barry Jackson, BGF investor added: “BGF is committed to backing the growth economy businesses that will help to drive economic recovery in every corner of the UK.” Earlier this year, Julie Turnbull was hired as chief financial officer for Cooplands, following financial director roles at Omega and Finsbury Food Group. David Salkeld was introduced as non-executive chair in 2018. The Read More
BrewDog passes £10m mark in crowdfunding campaign for sustainability projects: Scottish craft brewer BrewDog has passed the £10m mark in its crowdfunding investment programme, Equity for Punks Tomorrow. The company 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 passed its target at the end of October. The company said it would fund projects including direct wind power for its breweries, carbon dioxide recovery, electric vehicle fleets and converting waste into energy. Having secured more than £73m from previous crowdfunding rounds, BrewDog has now set its sights on raising £15m before the campaign is scheduled to close on 28 January. Piano Works to reopen this week, one of the only venues in London permitted to operate until midnight: Dining, drinking and live music concept The Piano Works is to reopen this week – and will be one of the only venues in London permitted to operate until midnight. The government is allowing grass roots live music venues to remain open until the Read More
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