YO! begins concessions trial with David Lloyd Clubs: YO! Sushi, the Richard Hodgson-led group, is to extend the concessions side of its operation after launching a trial within health and leisure business David Lloyd Clubs, Propel has learned. The group, which is currently in the midst of a two-site concessions trial with Tesco, has launched units in five David Lloyd sites in the UK – Beckenham, Cheadle, Hatfield, Milton Keynes and Leeds. The company told Propel the trial was “going exceptionally well”, with gym-goers appreciating the “high-quality fresh and healthy Japanese food we are providing”. The trial is part of the company’s focus on developing opportunities with retailers and health clubs. Late last year, YO! agreed a deal with Tesco to pilot YO! To Go counters at two UK stores – in Surrey and Bournemouth. Earlier this week, YO! announced it was to eliminate the conveyor belt from some of its restaurants in an attempt to broaden its appeal. It will establish its first restaurant without the kaiten belt snaking around the premises at Westfield shopping centre in east London. It will also remove the belt at its Manchester Piccadilly station site. Hodgson said the change was “probably the biggest Read More
Caravan team to launch new concept in Chelsea: The team behind London-based restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept Caravan is to launch a new venture in Chelsea’s Duke of York Square. Founders Laura Harper-Hinton, Miles Kirby and Chris Ammermann will launch the venture at The Pavilion this autumn, complete with new name, menu and design. Active Partners-backed Caravan currently operates five London sites – in King’s Cross, the City, Exmouth Market, Bankside and Fitzrovia. In February, Harper-Hinton told Propel current trading at those sites was “fantastic”, with like-for-like sales up about 10%. For the year to 30 June 2018, the company saw like-for-likes grow 1.3% against a “challenging backdrop of strong sales in the previous year” and disruptive weather. Total sales in the year grew 31.7%, from £7,186,391 to £9,435,682. The company took a small step back in terms of Ebitda year-on-year, down from £284,281 to £173,751, due to a one-off investment in additional head office capability and the “ongoing backdrop of cost increases affecting the businesses in our sector”. Speaking in February regarding potential expansion, Harper-Hinton said: “We are looking at a couple of things. We’re keen to keep growing but at a sensible pace while making sure we’re picking Read More
The Restaurant Group appoints new people and finance directors: The Restaurant Group (TRG) has appointed Bridget Hutchinson, formerly of Whitbread, Bill’s and Prezzo, as its new people director, Propel has learned. Hutchinson joins the Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s operator after brief stints as interim people director at both Bill’s and Prezzo. Previous to that, she was interim head of HR shared services at Sainsbury’s and at Whitbread. TRG has also appointed Matt Crumpler as its new finance director. Crumpler only joined the business as financial controller in January, before being promoted at the start of this month. He was previously financial controller at Virgin Active for more than five years and before that a senior group reporting manager at Whitbread for more than two years. TRG is currently seeking a new chief executive, after announcing earlier this year current boss Andy McCue was to leave the business. One new name linked to the search process is former Spirit Pub Company chief operating officer Alan Morgan, who will leave the Rank Group later this summer. The listed casino and bingo operator confirmed the departure of Morgan as managing director of its UK retail business earlier this month. Morgan tendered his Read More
TRG boss sees remuneration fall after missing out on bonus: The Restaurant Group chief executive Andy McCue saw his remuneration drop in 2018 after missing out on his annual bonus, the company’s annual report has revealed. McCue, who announced in February he would step down for personal reasons, was paid a total of £729,500 for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £1,116,000 the previous year. This consisted of £515,500 salary, £113,000 in taxable benefits and £101,000 pension. In relation to bonus, the remuneration committee set adjusted profit before tax targets and like-for-like sales targets, which were not met, and stretching employee engagement targets, which were met in part. However, for any bonus potential to be paid the threshold of £57m adjusted profit before tax had to be achieved and, since this wasn’t reached, there was no bonus paid. McCue’s salary was raised 1.98% on 1 January 2019 to £525,500, while the average increase for managerial employees across the group was 2.1%. Meanwhile, Kirk Davis received total remuneration of £394,000 in his first full year in office, which consisted of £320,000 salary, £10,000 in taxable benefits and £64,000 pension. Davis has received a 2% salary increase to £362,100. For Read More
Bill’s reports like-for-likes up 12.2% in March as it rolls out next wave of new-look sites: Bill’s Restaurants, owned by Richard Caring, has reported like-for-like sales rose 12.2% in March as the company rolls out the next wave of new-look sites across its estate and eyes new sites. Bill’s has already converted 13 restaurants to the upgraded format and the company said these were all “significantly outperforming” the rest of the estate in like-for-like sales. A further 11 upgraded restaurants will open in the second quarter of this year, starting in Leeds. Bill’s founder Bill Collison, who is overseeing the new-look roll-out, said: “My aim is to create a welcoming and vibrant environment that transcends all dining times but, importantly, provides a trusted space customers feel comfortable in to have an evening meal.” Executive chairman David Campbell added: “The past six months have seen strong growth for Bill’s as we renewed our focus on healthy and indulgent seasonal food. The interior of the restaurants is also integral to our customer experience so with the new-look sites outperforming the rest of the estate, we are keen to expand the programme. We are also looking at some exciting new locations.” Collison founded Read More
TRG Concessions launches all-day grab-and-go concept for Eurostar passengers at St Pancras: The Restaurant Group (TRG) Concessions has opened a new all-day grab-and-go kitchen and bar concept, at the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras International in London. The company has launched The Station Pantry in a 1,416 square foot unit in the departure lounge, which has been developed with "Eurostar’s passengers and current food trends in mind". The Station Pantry is "premium, fast and fresh", offering speciality coffee, craft beer on tap and ample vegan and vegetarian food options. There is also a digital food and drink pre-ordering facility available to passengers via the Eurostar website and app. TRG Concessions managing director Nick Ayerst said: “We are delighted to add a new brand to our portfolio that will resonate with Eurostar’s passengers and provide great 'take on board' and sit-down meal options in the busy departure lounge.” Jonathan Fletcher, head of procurement and property at Eurostar, added: “We are thrilled to see our ongoing partnership with TRG Concessions bring a fresh dining and bar concept to the Eurostar lounge.” East Coast Concepts considers appeal after Neighourhood site in Manchester has licence revoked: East Coast Concepts is considering an appeal after Read More
Beannchor Group reports turnover passes £25m: Northern Ireland hospitality company Beannchor Group has reported turnover increased 9% to £25,811,900 for the year ending 30 June 2018, compared with £23,682,580 the previous year. Operating profit almost doubled to £11,196,442, compared with £5,670,818 the year before. Pre-tax profit was down to £2,054,680 compared with £3,183,296 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “Competition in the market place remains strong. That said, turnover increased by £2,129,320 (9%) in the year following the opening of a hotel in October 2017 and the acquisition of a number of licensed establishments. The directors consider the results for the year to be satisfactory. The external commercial environment is expected to remain competitive. While the directors expect a difficult trading year ahead they will continue to seek every opportunity to increase turnover and operating profit where possible.” Beannchor Group owns pubs, hotels and restaurants across Northern Ireland including National Grande Cafe/sixty6 and The Dirty Onion as well as eight Little Wing Pizzeria sites. Hubbox begins eastern promise after securing Portsmouth site: Hubbox, the Richard Boon-led restaurant business, is to make a first move out of its Read More
Azzurri Group appoints new finance directors for ASK and Zizzi: Azzurri Group, the Bridgepoint-backed operator, has appointed new finance directors for its two casual dining brands, ASK Italian and Zizzi, Propel has learned. Karen Sweetman has joined Zizzi as finance director from Navitas, having previously worked at Homebase as head of trading finance and business accounting services. The appointment follows the recent promotion of Chris Webb to finance director of ASK Italian. Azzurri chief executive Stephen Holmes told Propel: “Karen’s appointment reflects the brand’s ongoing success in the UK as well as its continued expansion into Ireland and, most recently, China. Chris has worked for Azzurri Group for seven years and his appointment as finance director is a reflection of ASK’s leading position in the Italian casual dining sector and its ability to develop talent through to senior positions within the business.” Both roles continue to report into Lindsay Dunsmuir, Azzurri Group chief financial officer. Dunsmuir joined Azzurri last year from Maplin replacing Jim Pickworth, who had been with Azzurri for 11 years. Pickworth subsequently joined New World Trading Company as its chief financial officer. Operators secured for new Westfield London food court: The first tranche of operators, including Pizza Read More
Coaching Inn Group reports turnover and Ebitda boost: Coaching inn operator The Coaching Inn Group has reported a 24% increase in sales as turnover hit £24.7m for the 52 weeks to 31 March 2019. The company saw turnover reach £24.7m, up from £20.0m in the previous year. Like-for-like sales were up 8.3% during the period, with weekly net sales averaging £32,200 per site across the estate. While audited accounts have yet to be produced, the company is forecasting a 52% increase in underlying Ebitda to £3.2m, up from £2.1m in 2018, as well as an increase in site Ebitda to £5.7m – an annualised average of more than £385,000 per site – as the business grew to 15 sites after acquiring the Swan Hotel in Stafford at the end of June, bringing the estate to 431 bedrooms in total. The company also announced plans for further investment in its estate with more than £750,000 to be spent in the next three months on refurbishment projects at the Feathers Hotel in Ledbury and the Talbot Hotel in Oundle. Chief executive Kevin Charity said: “It has been another excellent year for the company and we have achieved a great deal over the Read More
Wagamama appoints new chief marketing officer: Wagamama, The Restaurant Group-owned business, has appointed Ross Farquhar as its new chief marketing officer, Propel has learned. Farquhar was previously managing partner at Grey London, looking after key accounts such as Lucozade Ribena Suntory and acting as the European business lead for Proctor & Gamble. He also spent more than six years at the creative agency as managing partner. Farquhar will report into Emma Woods, who stepped up to chief executive of Wagamama at the turn of the year on completion of its acquisition by The Restaurant Group. In September, Woods’ former role of chief growth officer was taken by Caroline Cromar, Pret A Manger’s former brand director. Earlier this month, Wagamama reported turnover increased 13.2% to £81.6m in quarter three to 3 February 2019, with 9.1% UK like-for-like sales growth and 10% US like-for-like sales growth. Grind closes crowdfunding campaign after hitting £3.5m capped target: Coffee and cocktail brand Grind has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after hitting its capped £3.5m target. The company’s initial target of £1.35m was smashed within 24 hours of the campaign going public. Grind was offering 6.12% of its equity for the £1.35m investment, giving Read More
True financial position of Patisserie Valerie prior to administration still not determined: The true financial position of Patisserie Valerie prior to its collapse into administration has still to be determined, according to a new document. A progress report by its administrators, KPMG, said analysis by a team of forensic accountants had concluded the accounts had been overstated by about £94m – more than twice the previous estimate of £40m. But the true financial position is still not fully known, according to a notice of the statement of affairs, which has just been filed at Companies House. In his statement of concurrence, former chairman Luke Johnson said: “Serious accounting irregularities were discovered in the company’s and group’s accounts in October/November 2018. These resulted in the corruption of the group’s accounting record and possible significant accounting misstatements in its past audited financial statements, including thousands of historic erroneous bookkeeping entries. According to the forensic accountants investigating the matter, the misstatement of the company’s accounts was extensive, involving significant manipulation of the balance sheet and profit and loss accounts. As a result it is my understanding it hasn’t been possible to complete the statement of affairs for the company to the normal required Read More
Deep Blue Restaurants expects further expansion in 2019, turnover up 59.5%:Fish and chip brand Deep Blue Restaurants has taken its UK portfolio to 35 sites and expects further expansion this year. The company has added sites in Paulsgrove in Hampshire; Bridlington, Catterick and Helmsley, all in Yorkshire; and Barnard Castle in County Durham to the estate over the past 12 months. The group said its acquisition pipeline remained strong while the rebranding programme relating to the eight outlets that don’t carry the Deep Blue brand would continue in 2019, funded by cash flow. The announcement comes as Deep Blue Restaurants reported sales increased 54.5% to £11,649,226 for the year ending 25 September 2018, compared with £7,541,402 the year before. Ebitda, including central costs, rose 68.9% to £908,384, compared with £537,598 the previous year following the acquisition of ten stores during the period and the disposal of its Harrogate outlet. Site Ebitda was up to £1,919,938 compared with £1,381,789 the year before, while like-for-like sales grew 2.2%. Gross margin reduced to 67.3% compared with 68.5% the previous year due to the “continued effects of food inflation and reduction in the value of sterling”. Due to a combination of £4.19m debt conversion Read More
New-York based hotdog concept Nathan’s Famous lines up UK sites: New-York based hotdog concept Nathan’s Famous is heading to the UK. Sites have been lined up in Bournemouth and Southampton with RBA Restaurants UK, which has a registered address in Christchurch, leading the roll-out in Britain. RBA Restaurants UK has applied to Bournemouth Council to move into the former Heroes karaoke bar in Jaycee House in Old Christchurch Road, reports the Daily Echo. In its planning statement, RBA Restaurants UK said an outlet was also proposed in Southampton. The application stated: “The vibrancy and the popularity of the area has encouraged the American restaurant chain Nathan’s Famous to venture into the UK. It is a worldwide company founded in Brooklyn, New York, in 1916. The original Nathan’s Famous hotdog stand has opened every day and still operates in Coney Island.” That stall was founded by Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker and launched with a Fourth of July hotdog eating contest that survives to this day. Splendid Restaurants transforms two former Jack & Alice sites into new concept Coluco: Splendid Restaurants is transforming two former Jack & Alice sites into cafe bar concept Coluco. The company has launched the format in Tring, Read More
Pret A Manger rolls out free filtered water fountains to 250 UK stores: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned group, has further rolled out filtered water fountains to its UK stores in a bid to help customers cut their use of plastic bottles. The move means 250 of Pret’s UK stores now offer free filtered water through the initiative. All the stores are listed on the Refill app and anyone can “fill up for free”, regardless of whether they make a purchase at Pret. There are plans to install 35 more units this year, which would make free filtered water available in more than 95% of Pret stores. In the 90 sites where it wasn’t operationally possible to install fountains, free filtered water is available behind the counter for people to want to refill their water bottles. Laura Gutowski, Pret A Manger director of strategy and sustainability, said: “We have installed filtered water fountains in all our shops with enough space front of house. The fountains are easy to spot and we want everyone – not just Pret customers – to feel able to come in and fill up for free without hesitation. If each of our water stations is Read More
Le Pain Quotidien to give entire service charge to staff: Belgian restaurant and boulangerie brand Le Pain Quotidien is ending its practice of pocketing some of the service charge left by customers for its staff. Currently, all bills have a 12.5% service charge added as standard – but 40p in every £1 of this is kept by the company. That rate was cut from 60p in the £1 in November. From next month, the whole service charge will be distributed in a “fair” way among staff in Le Pain Quotidien’s 30 UK sites in and around London. The government has promised to pass laws to end the practice of restaurants keeping tips – but these have yet to materialise. Dave Turnbull, Unite regional officer, told The Mail on Sunday: “It’s good [Le Pain Quotidien] has at last woken up to the need to be fair and transparent on tips and service charge. We very much hope other companies will follow Le Pain Quotidien’s lead.” A Le Pain Quotidien spokeswoman said: “We have been working with an independent management company to distribute the service charge in total in a fair and equitable way for all participants.” Young joins Wadworth as operations Read More
YO! seeks to consolidate restaurant estate: YO! Sushi, the Mayfair Equity Partners-backed group, has placed a package of six UK sites on the market as it looks to consolidate its restaurant estate and further pivot towards becoming a multi-channel, multi-platform business. Propel has learned the Richard Hodgson-led group has appointed property advisor GCW to market its sites in Aberdeen Bon Accord, Bath, Chelmsford, Glasgow Fort, Oxford and in the Whiteley Shopping Centre, Hampshire. The company, which operates circa 70 sites in the UK, has already closed the sites in Aberdeen, Bath and Oxford. During the past 18 months the company has moved to diversify its business model by acquiring Bento Sushi, one of the largest sushi brands in North America, and leading wholesaler Taiko to meet growing demand for sushi via restaurants, kiosks and supermarkets. A YO! Sushi spokesman said: “As is normal with a large and established brand, we continually review our estate to make sure we have the best proposition in the right site and right location. In line with the wider company strategy to focus on building a multi-brand, multi-platform business, we have decided to consolidate parts of the current restaurant estate, including these six restaurants.” Late Read More
YFM in advanced talks to back Tonkotsu: Leeds-based investment firm YFM Equity Partners is in talks to back Tonkotsu, the Emma Reynolds and Ken Yamada-founded ramen concept, Propel has learned. It is understood YFM, which also backs Friska, Bagel Nash and leisure brand Go Outdoors, is in advanced talks to take a stake in ten-strong Tonkotsu and back its ongoing expansion. Tonkotsu, which is led by Stephen Evans, former development director of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, appointed advisers in October as it looked to secure new investment to fund its next stage of growth. The group appointed Grant Thornton and Dow Schofield Watts to oversee the funding process. London-based Tonkotsu, which was founded by Reynolds and Yamada in Soho in 2012, is believed to have generated full-year turnover close to £7m. The business opened its latest site, at Dicken’s Yard, Ealing, in November. Tonkotsu also operates two concessions at Selfridges in Birmingham and London’s Oxford Street. It is thought to be close to opening a further site in Peckham, while a further opening for this year has been mooted for Shoreditch. YFM acquired a minority stake in healthy eating brand Friska for £3m in summer 2017 to support its expansion plans. Read More
Department for Coffee and Social Affairs takes on Nordic Bakery business:Department for Coffee and Social Affairs (DoCaSA), the fast-growing coffee chain and wholesaling group, has further strengthened its presence in central London by acquiring the Nordic Bakery business, Propel has learned. Scandinavian baker and coffee shop Nordic Bakery was sold out of administration last year for £40,000 to one of the company’s directors, Markku Launonen. It has disposed of three sites – in Covent Garden, New Cavendish Street and Dorset Street – but continued to trade from its flagship site in Golden Square, Soho. DoCaSA has now taken on the business from Launonen and will run the Golden Square site. The company’s parent company, Coffeesmith Collective, recently took a majority stake in Brighton-based, seven-strong Small Batch Coffee, which was previously backed by sector investor Luke Johnson. During the past few months it has also acquired Baker & Spice, the Patisserie Holdings brand; Bea’s of Bloomsbury; Tap Coffee; mobile coffee brand Café 2 U; and two Bristol-based independent coffee shops. The company has also acquired the Urban Tea Rooms business, which has sites in London’s Kingly Street and St James’s Market. At the same time, it has taken stakes in Bristol-based Read More
TRG enters supermarket concessions sector: The Restaurant Group (TRG) has become the latest operator to expand into the supermarket concessions sector with the trial of Lebanese and salad bar counter concepts with Sainsbury’s. The trial includes the launch of salad bar concept Grains and Greens in Sainsbury’s stores in Merton, south west London; Heyford Hill, Oxford; and Springfield, Chelmsford. At the same time Lebanese concept Mezze Box is being trialled at two of the retailer’s London stores, in Clapham High Street and Richmond. TRG follows YO! Sushi, Patisserie Valerie, Wasabi, Crussh and Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi in trialling counter concessions in UK supermarkets. As revealed by Propel last week, Zizzi recently ended its partnership with Sainsbury’s in which it piloted an in-store concession. The company launched the trial at the supermarket’s store in Balham, south London, at the end of 2017. Azzurri chief executive Steve Holmes told Propel: “We were testing to see if a ‘hot food to eat imminently’ occasion through this channel was a growth one as customers are increasingly looking to replicate restaurant experiences at home, as we see in the rapid growth of Deliveroo. Unfortunately, it seems customers are still very much in ‘grocery mode’ while shopping Read More
West Berkshire Brewery launches £3.5m fund-raise for next stage of growth:West Berkshire Brewery, the David Bruce-chaired group, is looking to raise up to £3.5m to aid further growth of its brewing and pub operations, Propel has learned. The fund-raise is understood to be the last chance to invest in the business under the Enterprise Investment Scheme. The funding will be used to support working capital demands, drive profitability through existing operations and additional capital expenditure where necessary, and pub acquisitions. Forecast revenues for the company for the year to the end of March 2019 are £6.6m, up 97% on the prior year, with the company targeting full-year turnover of more than £13m to the end of March 2020 with Ebitda of circa £1.3m. The company currently operates three pubs under its own vehicle – The Depot in Holloway; The Grapes in Oxford; and the Taproom & Kitchen at its brewery development – plus two London pubs, The Old Suffolk Punch in Hammersmith and The Oxford Tavern in Kentish Town under its Downing Pubs joint venture Maverick Pubs. Earlier this year, the group acquired The Grapes in Oxford’s George Street from City Pub Group. Last year, the company appointed long-time finance Read More
Zia Lucia founders plan pasta concept: The founders of the Zia Lucia pizza format plan to launch a pasta concept in Islington, north London. The pasta restaurant, Berto, will feature an open kitchen, 40-plus covers and a large counter. It is set to open in May close to the group’s Zia Lucia site in Holloway Road. Zia Lucia, which is Italian for “Auntie Lucia”, is the brainchild of Claudio Vescovo and Gianluca D’Angelo and launched in Holloway Road in 2016. It has since opened sites in Brook Green and Boxpark Wembley. It’s thought a fourth Zia Lucia site is set to open this summer, with Aldgate a mooted destination. The group is understood to have plans to open five restaurants in London during the next four years. Zia Lucia offers wood-fired pizza, with bases made from 48-hour fermented dough. The menu also features Italian-style starters, seasonal specials, salads and desserts. The drinks menu focuses on spritzers, negronis, bottled beer from Italy and local brewers, and wine and prosecco sourced from small Italian producers. VQ trials takeaway and delivery concept: VQ Restaurants, the extended-hours restaurant concept, is trialling a takeaway and delivery concept in Clapham, south west London, which it will Read More
Herman ze German to open first UK site outside London, in Birmingham next month: Sausage specialist Herman ze German is to open its first UK site outside London and fifth in total, in Birmingham next month. The 42-cover, 700 square foot site will launch in Grand Central on Monday, 1 April offering the brand’s authentic German sausages sourced from the Black Forest. The Herman ze German menu includes currywurst and schnitzel with a choice of toppings alongside German beer such as Fruh, Kolsch, Erdinger and Schneiderweisse. Herman Ze German co-founders Azadeh Falakshahi and Florian Frey said: “With its line-up of leading retailers and restaurateurs and location near New Street Station, Grand Central was the obvious choice for our first site outside London.” Iain Mitchell, UK commercial director at Grand Central landlord Hammerson, added: “Herman Ze German will be a great addition to Grand Central’s already strong restaurant line-up. The fact the brand has chosen Grand Central and Birmingham for its first site outside London is a real vote of confidence in the city.” Herman ze German’s London sites are in Charing Cross, Fitzrovia, Soho and White City.   Humble Grape passes £560,000 milestone in crowdfunding campaign to accelerate growth: Humble Read More
Teddy Sagi weighs up Supper bid: Billionaire Teddy Sagi, who owns Camden Market in north London, is looking at a potential route into the delivery arena with an outright purchase or substantial investment in premium London delivery service Supper. Propel has learned talks are in the early stages. Camden Market has more than 200 food and beverage offerings and would therefore benefit from a partnership with a delivery company. Supper has gained a loyal following with its premium delivery service and currently works with a wide range of restaurants across London. Since its creation in 2015 by Peter Georgiou, Supper’s fleet of scooters and directly employed drivers has “set it apart” from sector heavyweights Deliveroo and UberEats. In June last year, Supper sold a substantial stake to PK Wang, the driving force behind Yi Fang, which has more than 600 stores worldwide and other Taiwanese brands coming to the UK. Sagi was born in Tel Aviv and has a range of business interests. He is founder of online gaming software company Playtech, which is listed on London’s main stock exchange. Sagi began divesting and diversifying his portfolio in 2016 and his stake in Playtech has reduced through several transactions, with Read More
Tortilla begins planning for next stage of growth: Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed restaurant group, has begun the process of planning the next stage of its growth, with the appointment of advisors to aid in setting out a roadmap for the business over the next 12 to 18 months, which may lead to a sale. The 36-strong company, which Quilvest has backed since 2012, has begun working with advisors at Spayne Lindsay, to determine the best strategy for its long-term future. It is understood discussions on what those options should be are at a very early stage and talk of a sales process starting is believed to be, for now, wide of the mark. It is understood the company is keen to see more clarity around Brexit before pursuing a formal process. The company, which is led by Richard Morris, is currently one of the standout performers in the sector, with like-for-likes up 6% over the course of 2018, with trading understood to have continued to be strong since the turn of the year. Last month, Morris told Propel he believed there’s scope to add to the number of sites the company currently operates. Morris said the business planned to open six Read More
Patisserie Valerie's new owner trialling earlier opening as it looks to capitalise on breakfast trade: Patisserie Valerie's new owner is trialling earlier opening hours as it looks to capitalise on breakfast trade. Matt Scaife, a partner at Irish private equity firm Causeway Capital, told Propel it had begun opening earlier at a handful of sites in London. He said: "Patisserie Valerie is known for its lunchtime and afternoon trade in particular but people like to grab a pastry and a coffee at breakfast and we see a real opportunity in that area as we look to improve the take-out offer." Scaife said the immediate priority was improving the customer proposition, which would involve investing in the 96 sites in the estate, and which Causeway Capital was prepared to fund. He said a programme of refurbishment would begin shortly as soon as discussions with landlords were concluded with a target completion by the end of the year, which is by when he hoped the business would be generating enough cash to be put back in the business. Scaife said there was also some "taste testing" going on in the central production kitchen as it looked to introduce new products, particularly in Read More
Jonathan Neame – still plenty of room for growth in Kent heartland: Jonathan Neame, chief executive of brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame, has told Propel there is still plenty of room for growth in its Kent heartland. About two-thirds of its 322 pubs are in the county but Neame said the economic development it has planned means there are good opportunities for the company. He added that the group continued to look at “high-quality acquisitions” on a site-by-site basis but didn’t rule out a group deal. Meanwhile, the company also continues to explore potential growth in London, where it has about 40 sites. Shepherd Neame secured a new and extended £107.5m financing structure in October to “support the business for the long term and take advantage of opportunities that may arise over the next few years”. Speaking following the company’s interim results, Neame said: “Because we are investing in big capital projects and building the estate for the long-term, we are really looking at high-quality single-site acquisitions. Kent is our heartland and we continue to see opportunities there but last year we secured a pub in Farnham, Surrey, so we are pushing out a little bit. We’re also looking at Read More
Restaurateur David Moore branches out into pub sector with acquisition of central London site: David Moore, owner of Michelin-starred restaurant Pied-à-Terre, has entered the pub sector after acquiring The Devereux, just off the Strand. The former Greene King-owned pub closed in early 2017, although the grade II-listed building in Devereux Court dates to 1676 when it housed the Grecian Coffee House. It was remodelled as a pub in 1843. Moore plans to restore the property in collaboration with business partner Tony Bennett – they have taken a new 20-year lease at the property. The site covers about 3,000 square feet over ground, basement and first floors with A3/A4 planning consent. Moore has been an eminent figure in the hospitality industry for more than 30 years and said he had been searching for the right project in the pub sector since meeting Bennett 14 years ago. He added: “I have always loved the idea of owning a traditional pub with a proper publican at the wheel. Having been an iconic London pub since the 19th century, Tony and I feel obliged to honour the history and tradition of The Devereux. Above all, we just want to run a ‘proper pub’ with Read More
Tom Crowley – Giraffe and Ed’s CVA ‘only way to protect company’: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) chief executive Tom Crowley has said a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) for its Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner brands is the “only way to protect the company”. BRG has confirmed its intention to enter into a CVA for the two brands, as exclusively revealed by Propel on Monday (4 March). If the CVA is agreed, 27 of the 87 Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner sites will shut. BRG, which had appointed KPMG to review options for the two businesses, said sales had improved at the chains since they were acquired in 2016 but several sites remained unprofitable. Crowley said: “The CVA is the only option to protect the company. The combination of increasing costs and oversupply of restaurants in the sector and a softening of consumer demand have all contributed to the challenges both these brands face.” BRG acquired the then 54-strong Giraffe business from Tesco in summer 2016 in a deal valued at circa £13m. Later that same year, the company paid almost £10m to acquire 30 Ed’s Easy Diner sites in a pre-pack administration agreement. The company brought the brands together in Read More
Full-year turnover up at Brasserie Bar Co: Brasserie Bar Co, the operator of White Brasserie and Brasserie Blanc, saw annual turnover increase by 15.8% to £54m for the year ending 1 July 2018, with restaurant Ebitda reaching £7.3m. The company said despite well documented industry uncertainties its performance was in line with the previous year “reflecting the strength of the brands and the management team”. Between Brasserie Blanc and the White Brasserie Co the company served nearly 1.9 million meals – up by more than 250,000 on 2017 – a result it said was “built on a robust, quality-led and stable business”. The Mark Derry-led business, which currently operates 19 Brasserie Blancs and 17 White Brasseries, said its strategy to focus on White Brasserie pubs and Brasserie Blanc hotel locations had taken shape and represented a move away from the “congested high street and a focus on more captive audiences within local communities”. The company, which had previously been in the mix to acquire Peach Pub Company, said this approach had been key in enabling it to buck current market trends. Two new pubs were added to the White Brasserie portfolio in December 2017 and February 2018, in Thame and Read More
Whitbread to bring Bar + Block to Northern Ireland as brand hits double figures:Whitbread is to bring its Bar + Block steakhouse brand to Northern Ireland as part of a double opening in April. The launch in Belfast on Wednesday, 24 April and another in Bristol the day before will see the brand hit double figures, with an 11th site scheduled to open in Reading later this year. The all-day, casual dining concept places an emphasis on high-quality steaks at affordable prices. The Belfast and Bristol sites will feature contemporary interiors by Harrison Design, including the brand’s trademark open kitchen and copper feature bar as well as decorative finishing touches such as the Bar + Block neon cow. Whitbread Restaurants chief marketing officer Nathalie Pomroy said: “We are delighted to open our first site in Northern Ireland and celebrate Bar + Block venues reaching double digits. This is a great milestone for the brand and we look forward to further growth throughout the year.” Stonegate begins Be At One conversions: Stonegate Pub Company is to start expansion of its Be At One brand by converting three former Novus sites in central London in the next month. The company, which acquired Read More
Thunderbird Fried Chicken opens maiden permanent site, in Brixton: Thunderbird Fried Chicken, the wings and fried chicken concept founded by former Nascar driver Matt Harris, has opened its first permanent site, in Brixton, south London. The company received investment from private equity firm TriSpan in January through its dedicated restaurant fund Rising Stars, enabling it to launch the restaurant in Brixton Village. The 42-cover venue is split over two floors and offers a takeaway service. The stripped-back, electric blue interiors are inspired by Harris’ racing days. All chicken can be purchased as part of a box or bucket deal, while halloumi replaces chicken for a selection of Veggie Buns. Drinks include American milkshakes, Brixton beer and soft drinks. Thunderbird Fried Chicken gained a cult following at London Union street food locations Dinerama in Shoreditch and Giant Robot in Canary Wharf. Harris said: “I’m eternally grateful to everyone who has tasted my chicken and taken a chance on me. To open my first permanent site in one of London’s most exciting food destinations is an amazing opportunity.” The TriSpan investment saw Marcel Khan, who played a key role in the launch and expansion of US better burger brand Five Guys in Read More
Deliveroo to double business team as it hits 10,000-company milestone, expands hotel partnerships programme: Deliveroo has said the team behind its business service will double in size this year. Deliveroo said companies were increasingly seeing food delivery as an important offering to attract and retain staff alongside traditional perks such as gym memberships and health insurance. More than 10,000 companies have signed up for the Deliveroo for Business service in 14 markets worldwide. Deliveroo said it would also expand its hotel partnerships programme this year, in which guests order room service exclusively through Deliveroo for Business. The company said analysis of Deliveroo for Business orders revealed distinct food trends among different industries, with lawyers the most selective eaters while consultants liked to order protein-heavy food such as lean meat and modern Greek cuisine. Meanwhile the UK’s technology workforce, which makes up more than one-third of all Deliveroo For Business orders, opt for Japanese food, particularly sushi, ramen and noodle dishes. Data also revealed more than three-fifths (63%) of orders are for workers staying late at the office, with 7pm the most popular time to select a meal. Deliveroo UK managing director Dan Warne said: “Deliveroo for Business has grown as Read More
The Halal Guys – plenty of scope for UK growth beyond initial 20-site agreement ‘given opportunities in market’: The restaurant operator behind the launch of US street food brand The Halal Guys in the UK has told Propel there is plenty of scope for growth beyond its initial 20-site agreement “given the opportunities in the market”. ITICO F+B partner Jan van Delden said the plan was to grow small clusters of restaurants in cities across the UK, starting in London. The debut site will open in the capital’s Irving Street on Saturday, 30 March. ITICO F+B has “all but signed” on a second site in central London, which will open in late May or early June, with a third to follow later this year. Egyptian immigrants Mohammed Abouelenein, Ahmed Elsaka and Abdelbaset Elsayed launched The Halal Guys as a street cart in New York 28 years ago. An expansion into restaurants in 2015 has led to 85 outlets under The Halal Guys brand across North America and Asia, with 400 more in the pipeline. The brand has a short menu of griddled chicken and beef gyro served on a platter over rice or in a pitta or wrap with signature Read More
Ichibuns team to launch high-end restaurant in White City next week: Endo Kazutoshi, director of ramen and burger concept Ichibuns and former executive sushi chef at Knightsbridge restaurant Zuma, is to launch a high-end restaurant in White City, west London, next week. Endo at Rotunda will open at the Television Centre development on Friday, 1 March. The venue will be in the rotunda at the BBC’s former home and, although offering only 15 covers, Kazutoshi told Hot Dinners he harbours ambitions to “obtain Michelin-starred status”. The third-generation sushi chef has 20 years’ experience, having worked at El Bulli in Spain and Zuma restaurants in London, New York and Miami. Kazutoshi is known for menu item the “umami bomb”, which features oysters, sushi rice, Parmesan and truffles. Kazutoshi is joining forces for the venture with his partners at Ichibuns – Benjamin Goldkorn and former Nobu head chef Robin Leigh. Kengo Kuma, who designed Alan Yau projects Sake No Hana and Cha Cha Moon, will be in charge of decor. Other operators at the £8bn Television Centre development include Indian small plates concept Soho House, better pizza brand Homeslice, D&D London’s Bluebird and better burger brand Patty & Bun. Glendola Leisure expands Read More
Marston’s to open 15th Revere site, in Chesham next month: Revere Pub Company, the premium arm of Marston’s, will launch The Lazy Pig In The Pantry in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, next month. The company is investing £500,000 in the venue, which will be Revere’s 15th in total with the creation of 35 jobs. The bar and restaurant will span more than 4,100 square feet, accommodate 346 covers and is on the site of Marston’s pub The Bellcote in Chesham Road. It will feature a mix of contemporary and traditional decor complemented by an Instagrammable orangery and terrace. The seasonally changing menu will offer pub classics, wood-fired pizza, Josper-grilled steak, Sunday roast, wine and cocktails. Revere Pub Company managing director Colin Sadler said: “We are delighted to be adding another site to the Revere portfolio, taking us to a total of 15. This opening demonstrates the commitment to our continued growth as a brand and its premium offering. We want The Lazy Pig In The Pantry to be at the heart and hub of the Chesham community and we can’t wait to welcome our guests.” Basque cookery school and experiential dining concept to launch debut UK site, in Borough Market: Basque cookery Read More
Six face arrest in Patisserie Valerie accounts scandal: Up to six people face arrest over the Patisserie Valerie scandal. Their names are highlighted in a report by the accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers into the alleged fraud at the company. They are said to have signed fraudulent cheques and sent emails discussing fabricating invoices, reports The Sunday Times. Patisserie Valerie collapsed into administration last month, three months after discovering a £40m hole in its accounts. Trading of its shares was suspended in October and it was revealed cheques worth millions of pounds had been used to artificially inflate the company’s cash reserves. The Serious Fraud Office has already made one arrest. A further five people are understood to be under investigation. Three are said to have been junior staff. They do not include the former executive chairman Luke Johnson, or non-executive directors Lee Ginsberg and James Horler, who are understood to have been interviewed as witnesses and not suspects. According to a source, the suspected fraud involved the double-counting of voucher sales to inflate revenues and the manipulation of costs, with business rates and VAT bills going unpaid. Between £10m and £12m was owed to HM Revenue & Customs. Up to 15 secret Read More
Caravan boss – we want to champion industry through collaborations and by mentoring next generation of female entrepreneurs, like-for-likes up 10%: Laura Harper-Hinton, chief executive of London-based restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept Caravan, has told Propel the company is looking to participate in more collaborations to help “champion the industry”. Caravan has just begun a partnership with co-working company The Office Group to supply a bespoke single-origin coffee. The partnership will also include running coffee counters at six of its locations and Harper-Hinton said she was keen to run similar ventures. She is also exploring the possibility of Caravan hosting supper clubs for Devi’s, a Silk Road-inspired vegan and vegetarian concept that combines Mediterranean, North African, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. Harper-Hinton has begun mentoring Devi’s founder Tanya Gohil after the pair featured on BBC show My Million Pound Menu. While Gohil failed to attract the investment she was looking for, Harper-Hinton was impressed enough by Gohil and her concept to make the alternative offer. Harper-Hinton said: “Tanya is so passionate and talented in everything she does and realises running a street food stall is quite different to opening a bricks and mortar restaurant. She’s also into her food writing Read More
SSP set to open first Pret A Manger sites in Belgium: SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, is set to open the first Pret A Manger sites in Belgium. The sites are due to launch in August, both at railway stations in Brussels. The first opening will be at the Eurostar terminal, where it will occupy a spot formerly occupied by Sam’s Club. The second restaurant will be underground at Brussels Central Station, according to Belgian newspaper L’Echo. SSP Group already operates 40 outlets in Belgium, including Panos, The Coffee Club and Deliway. Although the news has yet to be officially confirmed, a spokesman said SSP, which operates more than 2,600 restaurants worldwide, was eyeing development opportunities in Brussels. Pret A Manger operates 530 sites in nine countries – China, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the US. JAB Holding acquired Pret A Manger from Bridgepoint in May last year in a deal reported to be about £1.5bn. Loungers launches Cosy Club in Norwich: Loungers, the operator of circa 140 neighbourhood cafe-bar-restaurants trading under the Lounge and Cosy Club brands, has opened a site in Norwich. The company has launched a Read More
M&B launches dietary requirements app: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has launched an app across its circa 1,600-strong estate that consolidates all dietary requirements such as allergies into one place, Propel has learned. The free app, Glass Onion, is available across the company’s brands including Harvester, Premium Country Dining and All Bar One. It will provide guests with booking information and menus as well as allergen information for M&B’s pubs, restaurants and bars. The app is downloadable through Apple App Store and Google Play Store. A M&B spokesman told Propel: “We have seen a growth in consumers with specific dietary requirements, prompting the need for guests to be able to quickly and accurately source information about ingredients and dishes. Glass Onion consolidates food sensitivities and lifestyle choices into one place, making dining out and choosing where to dine easier for our guests.” Turtle Bay trials brunch menu: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay has started trialling a brunch offer at its two sites in Bristol. The Piper-backed business has launched its Caribbean brunch menu through the entire week at its Bristol Broad Quay restaurant and on Saturdays and Sundays at Turtle Bay Cheltenham Road. The offer starts at 10am on weekdays and at Read More
Firezza founder launches Neapolitan pizza concept in Norway: Firezza founder Edin Basic has launched a Neapolitan pizza concept in Norway, Propel has learned. Basic, who sold Firezza to PizzaExpress in 2016, has opened Mano with plans for up to ten sites across Scandinavia in the next two to three years. The concept is similar to Firezza, with pizzas freshly made and sold by the metre. The debut restaurant, which has 20 seats, is in the south western Norwegian city of Stravanger. Basic said the company already had funds in place for growth and had identified potential locations in Oslo for the next site. Regarding the decision to launch in Norway, Basic said: “The people there eat more pizza per capita than anywhere else in the world. We just felt this was the right time. Domino’s has come into the market and our site is about 50 metres from them – but overall the pizza market in Norway is well behind London so there’s a great opportunity for us. It has started really well – we sold out on the first two days. We will open the next one in Oslo and take it from there.” Basic said there were no Read More
Caravan chief to mentor My Million Pound Menu winner: Caravan chief executive Laura Harper-Hinton is to mentor this week’s winner of My Million Pound Menu. Devi’s, the brainchild of Tanya Gohil, triumphed over fellow sustainable food brands Skaus and Sustainable Food Story in this week’s episode of the BBC series. Devi’s operates at Bermondsey food market offering Silk Road-inspired vegan and vegetarian food that combines east Mediterranean, North African, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. Gohil also operates Hackney supper clubs under the Devi’s name, while she employs a mainly female team and invests in projects that target gender equality, the refugee crisis and women’s rights. Caravan, which operates five London sites, launched a partnership last week to run coffee counters at a number of sites operated by co-working company The Office Group. SSP brings healthy eating concept Dean & David to Düsseldorf: SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, has opened a site for fresh food brand Dean & David at Düsseldorf Central Station. The 100 square metre site seats 40 diners, while the brand offers “healthy and nutritious meals that can be tailored to customers’ individual preferences”. The daily changing menu includes made-to-order salads, Asian curries, soup, hand-twisted Read More
Honest Burgers teams up with Brighton businesses ahead of restaurant launch: Honest Burgers, which is backed by Active Partners, is teaming up with Brighton businesses ahead of the launch of its restaurant in the city later this month. The company will open its venue on Monday, 25 February at a site in Duke Street previously occupied by restaurant Pascere. In the run-up to the launch, founders Philip Eeles and Tom Barton will take over the kitchen at the West Hill Tavern and operate the Honest Burgers Field Kitchen – a converted Land Rover Defender – at Holler Brewery’s Brighton base, with the companies partnering to create their own beer, The Duke, for the restaurant. The new venue will feature the brand’s signature burgers and rosemary fries, while the soundtrack will be created in partnership with local independent store Resident Records. The launch will be a homecoming of sorts for Barton and Eeles, who met in the city and served their first burgers at the Brighton Food Festival in 2010. Barton said: “We met some great people who helped us open a tiny restaurant in Brixton, and then a few more. Eight years later we’re back here opening a restaurant in Read More
KPMG – ‘number of options’ on the table for Patisserie Valerie: Patisserie Valerie’s administrator KPMG has said there are a “number of options” on the table for the chain. Proposals from prospective buyers range from the purchase of the entire business to smaller parts of it, KPMG said. Bidding for Patisserie Valerie, which has been grappling with the fallout of an accounting fraud since October, moves into a second round this week with management presentations set to take place in London and Birmingham. David Costley-Wood, partner at KPMG and joint administrator, said: “We are encouraged by the scope of offers received from trade and finance buyers for all and for parts of the business. We will now take a number of these offers forward and hope to be able to make progress in short order. We’d like to thank employees, suppliers, creditors and Patisserie Valerie’s loyal customers for their invaluable support in helping us continue to trade the business over the past two weeks.” Patisserie Valerie’s parent company and main trading subsidiaries were placed into administration last month when it failed to renew its banking facilities after revealing the £40m black hole discovered in its accounts in October was worse Read More
London Cocktail Club reports festive like-for-likes up 7.8% to hit £1m revenue milestone for first time: London Cocktail Club, the wet-led operator founded by John James Goodman and James Hopkins, with Dragons’ Den star Sarah Willingham and chef restaurateur Raymond Blanc on the board, has said trading during the Christmas period broke all its records with four consecutive weeks of growth reaching £1m of revenue in December for the first time. Like-for-like sales during December were up 7.8%, with like-for-like Ebitda for the same period up 25%. Total revenue for the second half of calendar 2018 was up 15.3%, with site Ebitda up 14.5% and company Ebitda increasing 17.9% driven by consistent sales, new openings and cost control at head office. London Cocktail Club said its three latest venues – in Bristol and in London’s Liverpool Street and Old Street – all traded significantly ahead of expectations, while the board said it was also delighted to announce the recent signing of what could become its flagship site, in Clapham. Improvement in Ebitda performance is expected to continue in calendar 2019 as the new sites start to mature along with the opening of the Clapham site. Last month, The Sunday Times Read More
Gerry Ford – there’s potential to at least double the size of Coffee#1 in the UK: Caffe Nero founder and group chief executive Gerry Ford has told Propel there is potential to at least double the size of Coffee#1 in the UK. Caffe Nero has acquired a 70% stake in Coffee#1 with Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain, which had owned Coffee#1 since 2011, retaining 30%. Ford said it would look to grow the 92-strong Coffee#1, which will remain a standalone business, outwards from its base across Wales, Midlands and southern England. He said: “It has a lot of brand awareness within the area it covers so it makes sense to push out from the edges and continue growing that way. In the short term, the next three to five years, our focus will be on growth in the UK. I’m not sure it can grow to the 750 sites Caffe Nero has in the UK but I think there’s potential to have a least double what we have now.” Ford revealed Caffe Nero started having conversations with SA Brain about three years ago, shortly after it began looking at strategic options for Coffee#1. He said: “Over the years we’ve Read More
PizzaExpress hits 300-site milestone in Deliveroo partnership: PizzaExpress has launched its 300th live delivery site in its partnership with Deliveroo. The company said the partnership would remain an “important element” of the PizzaExpress growth strategy. As part of the collaboration, PizzaExpress managing director Zoe Bowley and Deliveroo chief executive Will Shu spent an afternoon exploring how the partnership operates at ground level, providing valuable insights into what makes it tick. Bowley said: “It is really important to me to spend time with our restaurant teams and understand the invaluable work they do. It was great to experience this with Will and see first-hand how orders are fulfilled through delivery. It’s critical we continually evolve the experiences we create for our customers, both dine-in and delivery, to ensure our processes are seamless for our customers and teams and the pizzas are as our customers expect. Our focus remains on enabling customers to enjoy their favourite pizza wherever and whenever they want one so Deliveroo continues to play a vital role in our business. Thanks to Will for being such a sport and demonstrating some impressive flaring skills too!” PizzaExpress said its recent launch of a vegan menu had been a “great success” Read More
Rockfish appoints Dave Strauss as restaurant director: Rockfish Group, the sustainable fish and chip brand led by Mitch Tonks, has appointed Dave Strauss as restaurant director. Strauss, former managing director of Burger & Lobster and London steak restaurant group Goodman, will oversee Rockfish’s expansion. Founded by Tonks, Rockfish has five sites in the south west and also owns the Seahorse restaurant in Dartmouth. The company, which will open its sixth Rockfish restaurant in Exeter Quays in March, has identified a number of locations along the south coast. Strauss will join the company next month and work with operations director Mat Prowse, helping with the Exeter launch and subsequent openings, beginning with Poole later this year. Strauss said: “Rockfish is a rare thing – something expanding while maintaining standards and ethics and with an excellent reputation among the foodie community across the country. I’m excited to get started and help build a business on the south coast, where I grew up and now live once more.” Tonks added: “Rockfish has been a great employer for the people on the south coast since we first opened and from time to time has also attracted some fantastic people from the London restaurant scene Read More
Auditor faces grilling over failures leading to Patisserie Valerie collapse:Grant Thornton faces questions over whether it examined Patisserie Valerie’s accounting journals, which could have provided clues about the suspected fraud that brought down the chain. The auditor may have failed to look at journal entries, according to someone familiar with a report commissioned by Patisserie Valerie from the accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The journals show the names, dates and amounts of transactions. Grant Thornton audited the company until the discovery of a £40m black hole in its accounts, caused by “significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities”, Patisserie Valerie said. The chain, chaired by sector investor Luke Johnson, went into administration last week after failing to renew its banking facilities with Barclays and HSBC. A total of 71 sites have closed with the loss of 900 jobs. The accusation against Grant Thornton comes after a report the suspected fraud involved several finance staff and a supplier enlisted to provide fake invoices. The PwC review contains details of how the staff discussed whether they should adjust fake ledgers to take account of roadworks outside shops, reports the Financial Times. Each store had its own ledger, and would have its figures adjusted to ensure Read More
Patisserie Valerie owner faces legal threat from investors: Patisserie Holdings, the company that owns Patisserie Valerie, could face legal action from investors over the cafe chain’s collapse. Chris Boxall, co-founder of Fundamental Asset Management, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he was “flabbergasted” by the situation and was considering legal action as a “moral duty” to his clients. Administrators KPMG are closing 70 stores and looking for buyers for the brand’s remaining 122 sites. Sector investor Luke Johnson, who bought the business in 2006, has committed more money to ensure staff are paid this month. Nevertheless, Boxall said he was “staggered” and had questions about Johnson’s oversight of the business. He asked: “What has he and the board been doing? What questions were they asking at meetings, what things were they looking at, did they ever roll up their sleeves and have a look at the heart of the business? This business has gone from half a billion pounds’ valuation to nothing in a matter of months. We’re very angry.” A total of 920 of the 2,800-strong workforce have been made redundant following the closure of 27 Patisserie Valerie and 19 Druckers stores along with 25 Patisserie Valerie concessions in Read More
The Ivy in Dublin stops staff processing payments following tips row: Staff at The Ivy in Dawson Street, Dublin, have been told they won’t be allowed to process payments from customers after management alleged some waiters were asking for tips in cash rather than on a credit or debit card. Management at the restaurant posted a staff notice claiming certain members of staff “consistently asked for cash”, while cash tips weren’t being shared with other staff members, The Journal reports. The notice stated a new system would mean no team member could handle cash or card from a guest “until trust is rebuilt”. The notice said management would process all payments, while no bonuses would be paid while the situation was “dealt with”. In a statement, The Ivy explained when a tip was paid by credit card it went towards a shared gratuity per hour, which all restaurant staff received. It added: “This is paid in addition to their hourly wage and is guaranteed by the company in that the company will make up any shortfall and is, therefore, regardless of whether any tips are paid by patrons.” Former Fuller’s and Faucet senior manager acquires London pub as debut site Read More
Abokado appoints new head of food as it looks to grow morning trade: Healthy eating chain Abokado has appointed a new head of food to further its growth in 2019, particularly during the morning daypart. The company, which recently opened its 24th store in Hammersmith, extending the brand outside its central London heartland, has welcomed Ellie Hopkins, who holds a professional chef’s diploma. She brings a wealth of expertise to the company having previously worked as a concept developer for Ferndale Foods, developing fresh products for brands such as Waitrose and Co-op. Prior to Ferndale, Hopkins worked for Greencore, helping to create new food lines for clients such as Sainsbury’s. Abokado chief executive Mark Lilley said: “We are starting the new year on a high by appointing Ellie as our new head of food. Over the past few years my team has done a great job in broadening our range to work in different dayparts and appeal to a broader demographic. Mornings are now a busy daypart across a majority of our estate, with plenty of room for growth. Ellie brings some new and exciting ideas to Abokado and I’m looking forward to seeing our menu develop further in 2019.” Read More
Vulture funds circle PizzaExpress: The Sunday Times has reported so-called vulture funds are believed to be stalking PizzaExpress, buying up the company’s debt on the cheap in an attempt to seize control. The company’s bonds, which are trading at 47p in the pound, compared with 90p a year ago, saw a surge in trading at the end of last week, suggesting opportunists view the chain as vulnerable. One investor said he had been tracking PizzaExpress for the past nine months with a view to taking a position. “If you could get a decent percentage of the bonds at 50p in the pound, you could get control of the whole chain for between £400m and £500m,” he said. A source told the newspaper: "It looks very much like somebody is trying to take control of the business, buy it for cheap via controlling the debt then flip it on to someone who is willing to invest. There is some sort of deal to be done." Patisserie Valerie teeters on the brink: The Sunday Times has claimed Patisserie Valerie could go bust on Monday (21 January) if emergency talks between leading shareholder Luke Johnson and its banks fail. It stated: "The entrepreneur Read More
Mayfair restaurant Wild Honey goes on market: Mayfair restaurant Wild Honey has been put up for sale, Propel has learned. The site in St George Street is being advertised on Restaurant Property’s website. Premium offers are being invited for the 2,267 square foot space, which has a rent of £103,000 per annum. Chef Anthony Demetre and Will Smith launched Wild Honey in October 2007 as a sister restaurant to Arbutus in Soho. It won a Michelin star within a year of opening but lost it in 2016. In the same year, Demetre and Smith sold Arbutus and Smith moved to Scotland to pursue private ventures. Demetre now runs Wild Honey as an independent solo business. Its menu showcases classic French techniques matched with British seasonal ingredients. Pure reports vegetarian and vegan sales rise more than 30%: Pure, the healthy food-to-go concept, has reported sales of its vegan and vegetarian range increased 30% this month. The announcement comes as Pure released research showing almost three-fifths (57%) of Londoners have been eating more vegetarian and vegan food since the start of the year. Slightly more women (58%) said they had been eating more vegetarian food in January compared with men (56%), while Read More
Individual Restaurants reports Ebitda boost and narrowed losses despite turnover drop: Individual Restaurants has reported an Ebitda boost and narrowed losses despite a drop in turnover. The company, which operates 30 sites under the Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill brands, saw its second-best Ebitda figure on record – increasing to £7.1m for the year ending 31 March 2018 compared with £7m the year before. Turnover fell to £61,849,000, compared with £67,008,053 the previous year. Directors said the decrease was driven by three main factors. The prior year included three sites that had been subsequently disposed of, accounting for £3.04m of the decline. They estimated the severe winter weather had an impact of £0.7m, while the remainder was a result of a general decline in consumer confidence. The company reported pre-tax losses narrowed to £240,877 compared with a loss of £951,553 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Gross margin was up to 78.4%, compared with 75.3% the previous year. Membership of its customer loyalty programme increased 41% to 1.1 million and 40% of the company’s weekly sales are now generated by members. A report by the directors accompanying the accounts stated: “Finance costs in the year Read More
Brasserie Bar Co to fund ‘settled status’ for non-British EU staff: Brasserie Bar Co, the 36-strong group behind Brasserie Blanc and the White Brasserie Company, is to pay for its 591 non-British EU employees to apply for “settled-status” in the UK following Brexit. Under the EU Settlement Scheme, all EU citizens living in the UK will need to apply for the right to remain in the UK post-Brexit. The application fee is £65 and will give workers who have lived in the UK for five years or more “settled status”. Founder and director Raymond Blanc said: “Being a Frenchman and a UK resident for the past 35 years, this issue is very close to my heart. With the continued uncertainty over the nightmare that is Brexit, the hospitality industry is facing a staffing crisis. Pre-Brexit, there was a shortage of young people entering the industry. Britain’s decision to leave the EU has resulted in a huge decline in the number of people applying for hospitality jobs. Our 1,200-strong team is integral to the success of our business and, by granting them settled status, we will be protecting ‘our family’ and providing them with much-needed security. We are sending out a Read More
Rosa’s Thai Cafe aims for up to eight sites a year as it reports turnover and Ebitda boost: Thai restaurant group Rosa’s Thai Cafe is aiming to open up to eight sites a year as it looks to grow outside its main London heartland. The company revealed its plans as it reported a turnover and Ebitda boost in the full year before private equity firm TriSpan acquired a majority stake in the business. Turnover rose to £11,754,000 for the year ending 31 March 2018, compared with £8,198,000 the year before. Ebitda was up to £1,647,000, compared with £1,380,000 the previous year. Pre-tax profit was down slightly to £705,375 compared with £722,496 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. During the period the company opened four sites – in West Hampstead, Seven Dials, Hackney and Tooting – and since the year end a further three sites have opened – in Ealing, Tower Bridge and Bluewater, Kent – taking the total to 15 sites. The company also has a site lined up in the Albert Docks area of Liverpool, which managing director Gavin Adair previously told Propel would act as a “bulkhead for a cluster of restaurants in the Read More
Benito’s Hat appoints new directors: Mexican restaurant brand Benito’s Hat has appointed two new directors to its board. Colin Clarke has been appointed to the newly created role of operations director, while Jakina Matthews is the company’s new finance director. The appointments follow the £1m funding raised through existing investors in August, the “overwhelming” early success of Benito’s new-format store in St Albans and the planned opening of a flagship store in the O2 arena. Clarke previously worked with Whitbread, Spirit Pub Co and Paramount restaurants before taking on senior roles at Smiths of Smithfield, where he led a successful turnaround and exit for investors. Matthews has a wide breadth of experience across a number of sectors and takes over from Georgina Cavendish, who has left to pursue other opportunities. Benito’s Hat managing director Michael Pearson said: “Colin and Jakina will ensure our focus on core performance, customer experience and shareholder return is unfaltering, allowing us to concentrate on delivering on our exciting growth plan. Our new flagship store in the O2, which opens in the first quarter of 2019, will be our tenth and represents a significant milestone in our brand’s journey.” Following the financing deal, Pearson told Propel Read More
D&D London to open site in new regional UK city, reports record December trading: Des Gunewardena, chairman and chief executive of restaurant operator D&D London, has told Propel the company will expand its UK presence by opening a new regional site later this year. Gunewardena would not reveal the location of the restaurant but said it was a new city for the company, building on its regional sites in Leeds and Manchester. It is set to be one of three openings in 2019, with the launch of Queensyard – the company’s second restaurant in New York – and a 10,000 square foot rooftop restaurant at 120 Fenchurch Street in London. Gunewardena revealed the new opening on the back of record December trading for the company, with like-for-like sales up 6%. Overall revenue was up 11% compared with the previous year while like-for-like sales on Christmas Day were up 20%. Six of its venues achieved net revenue of £1m-plus over the four-week period, including 20 Stories in Manchester, which opened at the start of last year. Its Quaglino’s and 100 Wardour Street sites in London achieved net revenues in excess of £1.4m. Established venues saw double-digit sales growth with revenues at Read More
Research reveals extent of industry reliance on foreign workers, particularly in restaurant sector: The huge extent the hospitality industry relies on foreign workers, particularly in the restaurant sector and seasonally in pubs, has been highlighted by new research. The findings by software provider Fourth revealed that as of November 2018, more than two-fifths (42%) of staff in the industry were from the EU, while 10% came from the rest of the world. The percentage of British workers was down from 50% in July to 48%. However, the numbers spike significantly for quick service restaurants, with almost two-thirds (65%) of workers coming from outside the UK – 54.5% from the EU and 10.5% from the rest of the world. While the reliance on foreign workers remains high, there has been a significant influx of UK workers to the sector, rising 8% since September. On the other hand, the restaurant industry’s reliance on foreign workers is increasing further, particularly in skilled back-of-house roles. In July, almost one-third (30%) of restaurant workers in back-of-house roles were from the UK but this number has now fallen to 26%, with EU workers climbing from 58% in July to 62% in November. As rest of the Read More
Young’s chief financial officer steps down: London pub retailer Young’s has announced chief financial officer Steve Robinson has resigned and left the business to pursue other interests. The company said it expects to appoint an interim chief financial officer in the new year while the board searches for a permanent successor. Robinson joined Young’s in June 2009 and became head of finance in September 2013. He joined the board in September 2016 when he succeeded Peter Whitehead as chief financial officer. Young’s chairman Stephen Goodyear said: "On behalf of the board I would like to thank Steve for his contribution to Young’s during the past nine-and-a-half years, especially in the role of chief financial officer since September 2016. We wish him well for the future.” Abokado moves outside central London heartland for 24th store, first site to trade at weekends: Healthy eating chain Abokado, which is backed by Kings Park Capital, has moved outside its central London heartland to open a store in Hammersmith. The site is the brand’s first to trade at weekends and to offer its new look, developed with London design agency Mystery, which focuses on providing a “comfortable, calm and elevated feel”. Abokado said the move Read More
D&D London appoints new chief financial officer: Restaurant operator D&D London has appointed Alan Clark as chief financial officer. Clark has held a number of board-level financial positions for luxury hotel groups with substantial food and beverage operations. He was finance director for Malmaison and Hotel du Vin and Rocco Forte Hotels in the UK. In his most recent roles, Clark was chief financial officer for The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels and latterly group chief financial officer for Sandals Resorts International. D&D London chairman and chief executive Des Gunewardena said: “Alan joins us at a very exciting time. Our business continues to expand. We have opened a number of restaurants in the UK and in New York in the last year and we have a substantial pipeline of UK and overseas projects. Alan’s knowledge and international experience will be a big asset.” Clark added: “I am incredibly excited to join the group and look forward to contributing to expanding the business further.” Leon secures second US site as it doubles up in Washington DC: Natural fast food brand Leon has secured its second US site. The company is doubling up in Washington DC after signing a lease to open a Read More
Gaucho shows first signs of recovery since administration with 8% year-on-year covers rise in November, further strengthens leadership team:Steak brand Gaucho has shown its first signs of recovery since exiting administration with an 8% year-on-year rise in covers during November. It comes as the company said cover numbers had been minus 7% in the year to date on a like-for-like basis. Martin Williams, M Restaurants founder and a former managing director of Gaucho, was brought in to lead the brand as it exited administration in October after its acquisition by Lomo Bidco, an entity owned by Investec Bank and SC Lowy. He immediately brought in a new menu featuring “classic” and “nuevo” sections that offer a preview of how the management team plans to develop the business during 2019 as well as cut prices. It appears the moves are beginning to pay dividends. Williams said: “We are delighted to see nearly 80,000 diners returned to Gaucho last month to try the new, higher-quality, lower-priced menus. The feedback from guests has been amazing and we are welcoming back many regulars as well as seeing a new, younger demographic try Gaucho for the first time.” Williams has also strengthened Gaucho’s leadership team Read More
Chilango extends bond offer to support expansion plans into 2019: Mexican brand Chilango has extended its Burrito Bond 2 offer into 2019 to support its expansion plans. The company launched the offer in October and surpassed its initial £1m target within 24 hours. It increased that target to £2.5m, with the offer due to have closed on Sunday (2 December). However, it has decided to extend the offer into next year as it looks to raise more funds with “new site opportunities on the horizon”. So far, the bond has raised £2,380,500 – exceeding the £2.1m it raised in 2014 from more than 700 investors through its inaugural mini-bond offer on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. Investors this time around include former Itsu managing director David Haimes, ex-Domino’s Pizza chief executive Chris Moore and former McDonald’s UK marketing vice-president Laurie Morgan. The Burrito Bond 2 is offering 8% interest annually over four years, with bondholders offered the opportunity to redeem their bond in full at maturity. The minimum investment is £500. The funds will be used to open restaurants at a circa cash outlay of £500,000 per site and refinance existing debt. Chilango had net sales of £10.7m for the year ending Read More
Prezzo chief financial officer steps down: Prezzo chief financial officer Wayne Arthur has stepped down, Propel has learned. Arthur joined Prezzo in September 2016 from Whitbread-owned Premier Inn and replaced Alan Miller. Prezzo executive chairman Karen Jones said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Wayne for all he has done. During his time at Prezzo he has seen us through some major events, including reshaping the estate and stabilising the financial structure, leaving us in a much stronger position as we look ahead to 2019 and beyond. Wayne will always be a friend of Prezzo and its people and we wish him every success in the future.” Earlier this month Prezzo, which is owned by private equity firm TPG, reported an operating loss of £65m for 2017 after it closed more than 100 restaurants, restructured its debts and its main backer wrote off two-thirds of its investment. The company now has 186 rather than 300 restaurants.   Boston Tea Party sees ‘marked uplift in customers drinking in’ six months on from single-use coffee cup ban: All-day casual dining cafe Boston Tea Party (BTP) has seen a “marked uplift in customers drinking in” six months on from the Read More
Debbie Hewitt – Wagamama deal creates ‘raft of new opportunities’ for TRG: The Restaurant Group (TRG) chairman Debbie Hewitt has said its acquisition of Wagamama creates a “raft of new opportunities” for the company to capitalise on. The £559m deal was approved by shareholders on Wednesday (28 November) after 60% voted in favour. TRG will use a combination of cash, debt and a £315m fully underwritten rights issue to fund the acquisition. Hewitt said: “The acquisition of Wagamama creates a raft of new opportunities for us to capitalise on in the months and years ahead. We look forward to welcoming the Wagamama team into the business post-completion and thank them alongside all our TRG colleagues for keeping focused on delivering for our customers. We have engaged extensively with investors throughout this transaction and appreciate the time all have given. We are pleased the majority of our shareholders have approved the acquisition and the associated rights issue and would like to thank them for the support they have shown. We are confident the deal will create significant long-term value.” TRG said it had noted 40% of shareholders had voted against the deal and would continue to engage with investors to address Read More
Pizza Hut launches first UK loyalty programme that rewards delivery customers: Pizza Hut is to launch its first UK loyalty programme that rewards delivery customers as competition in the market continues to grow. The Hut Rewards programme will enable customers to earn a special reward currency – “slices” – with one slice earned for every £10 spent. The rewards will be split into three levels – consumers will receive a free side dish for five slices, a free medium pizza for seven slices, and a free large pizza for ten slices, at which point the programme restarts. Hut Rewards will only be achieved on delivery orders placed online or via the Pizza Hut app, which currently make up 80% of total orders. The roll-out across more than 400 sites nationwide makes the UK the first market in Europe to introduce the rewards programme following its launch in the US and Canada last year. Stephan Croix, chief sales and brand officer at Pizza Hut Europe and UK, told Marketing Week: “The ambition is to make Hut Rewards the easiest and richest loyalty programme in the food delivery segment. We have spent a lot of time simplifying and making it easier and Read More
Malmaison and Hotel du Vin commission virtual tours: Malmaison and Hotel du Vin have commissioned 3D virtual tours of 12 of their hotels. The tours, created by Venue View, will allow prospective customers to fully explore hotel facilities, restaurants, and private meeting and events spaces. Venue View specialises in creating tours for the hospitality industry using Matterport technology to provide a “realistic and interactive virtual experience”. Tours will be created for six Malmaison boutique hotels – in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Brighton and Oxford – and six Hotel du Vins – in Birmingham, Glasgow, Brighton, Henley-on-Thames, Wimbledon and Bristol. Malmaison head of meetings and events Andrew Picketts said: “I can’t wait to start sharing the finished tours. They will form a key part of our long-term strategy of ramping up our efforts to establish ourselves as a market leader for meetings and events, with our added benefit of superb food and beverage, which elevates events to the next level.” Venue View managing director Keith McMahon said: “Along with a smooth and immersive 3D walkthrough, we will add key information throughout each tour to include menus, room offerings, and meetings and events facilities to instantly give guests and visitors access to Read More
ETM Group reports Ebitda jumps 202.6% as turnover hits £27m: ETM Group, the 14-strong bar and restaurant company, has reported turnover grew 34.7% to £27m for the year ending 29 February 2018, driven by positive like-for-like growth, an increase in events and pre-booked sales and continued site expansion. Group Ebitda jumped 202.6% to £2.7m, compared with £0.9m the year before – underpinned by sales growth, gross margin improvements and a focus on direct costs. The company opened two new City of London sites in 2018 – Long Arm Pub & Brewery and Broadleaf, which the company said were trading successfully. In April, the business secured a £10m funding package with HSBC to secure its growth plans. ETM Group also opened Maple at Westfield London in the summer and further sites have been secured for 2019, including Redwood, the company’s fourth sports-led venue, at London Bridge. ETM Group said there was a strong pipeline of additional sites in place and, as previously stated, is committed to expand significantly over the next five years. The group’s sports-led venues, Greenwood, Broadleaf and Long Arm, supported with strong marketing and digital campaigns, experiencing significant sales uplift over major sporting events such as the Six Read More
SA Brain appoints Kate Ablett as head of people: Cardiff-based brewer and retailer SA Brain has appointed Kate Ablett to its new head of people role, Propel has learned. Ablett, who is also company secretary of the South East Wales CIPD, joined SA Brain earlier this year after a career in HR in the retail sector, most notably with Sainsbury’s. She will take responsibility for all aspects of people strategy within SA Brain as well as direct day-to-day management of the people function. SA Brain, which employs 3,000 people in its head office and 104 managed pubs across Wales, recently relocated to Cardiff Bay, where it is building a brewery. Ablett said: “Traditionally this is an industry where people, people development and training can make a real impact on the success or failure of an organisation and I’m determined we will set an example in the years ahead.” SA Brain operations director Jon Bridge added: “Kate is an outstanding individual with a track record of success in a demanding retail environment. I am sure she will make a great contribution to our future prosperity.” Yorkshire-based La Casita to open fifth site in county: Yorkshire-based Spanish bar and restaurant concept La Read More
Ralph Findlay – ‘I can’t remember a time when I’ve seen more opportunities presented’: Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay has told Propel a number of factors have led to a record number of businesses being put on the market. Factors that have prompted vendors to hoist “for sale” signs include uncertainty surrounding Brexit and an unprecedented rise in costs for operators. “I can’t recall a period where I’ve see more opportunities presented to us,” he said. Marston’s has previously announced it is taking a prudent approach to capital plans in 2019, with a £30m net capex reduction. It still has plans to open ten pubs, restaurants and bars and five lodges. Findlay said this year had been an “extraordinary one”, with the Beast From The East wiping £3m from its profits, the collapse of its major meat supplier and a severe Co2 shortage among the challenging events it faced. After Wednesday’s full-year results, Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack said: “We are holding our forecasts. These expect circa 1% like-for-like sales and slight margin reduction in D&P and Taverns’ combined managed pubs, with management expecting to mitigate most cost increases. We estimate the company’s plans to maintain dividends and reduce Read More
Hugh Osmond – restaurant industry shake-out ‘well overdue with plenty of closures still to come’: Various Eateries chairman Hugh Osmond has said a shake-out in the restaurant industry has been “well overdue” with plenty of closures “still to come”. However, he added tough times would leave the best venues “stronger” while, for the first time for several years, the company, which operates the Strada and Coppa Club brands as well as cafe concept Above and Below, is seeing good properties available at realistic rents as it prepares for further expansion. The restaurant industry is witnessing tough times with companies such as Carluccio’s, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Jamie’s Italian undergoing company voluntary arrangements. The continued pressure on the sector was highlighted in the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker, with casual dining operators seeing like-for-like sales decline 0.3% in October. Speaking on the back of Various Eateries’ results for the year ending 1 October 2017, which saw pre-tax losses increase to £23.6m following the closure of a number of Strada sites, Osmond said: “A shake-out in the restaurant industry was well overdue and, although we have taken some pain in a few expensive properties we should have sold more quickly, I welcome Read More
Azzurri Group – 'we have national roll-out plans for Coco di Mama': Azzurri Group, which operates Zizzi and ASK Italian, has reported it has national roll-out plans for it 21-strong coffee and quick-service Italian brand Coco di Mama. In it annual report the company stated: "The next chapter will see the brand lay the business foundations to scale-up, with national roll-out plans on the horizon. The year ahead will see sales growth delivered via further site expansion in London, as well as continued focus on the sales delivery channels." The company reported the six openings in the previous year "have experienced a strong maturity curve and delivered strong year-on-year growth”. In its early years, Coco Di Mama's sales were primarily driven by coffee and fast pasta in the City. Over the past year, the business has explored new sales channels and broadened the brand proposition ready to scale-up beyond its heartland. A strong focus on the delivery sales channel is seeing structural growth, through both third-party platforms and its own direct model. Azzurri Group said new store openings in the West End and west London were the foundations for growing the brand’s presence outside of the City and proving the Read More
Patrick Dardis – Brexit deal ‘far from perfect’ but ‘ticks the right boxes’, performance is proof we don’t need to change our strategy: Patrick Dardis, chief executive of London pub retailer Young’s, has told Propel the Brexit deal is “far from perfect” but “ticks the right boxes”. He said: “What we need is to have an orderly exit but I fear that is not going to happen. We need politicians on all sides of the spectrum to support this – but I don't think they will. If MPs vote this down, I don’t think the people of this country will forgive them. It’s far from perfect but it was nigh on impossible to get exactly what we wanted and this deal does tick the boxes businesses need. The alternative is no deal and I’m not sure that’s right for us. I hope common sense prevails.” Dardis said Young’s consistent performance was proof there was no need to change its strategy. He said like-for-like sales had, on average, been up 5.6% over the past seven years, while sales were growing in all areas of the business. Drink sales in the first half of the current financial year were up 10.2%, with Read More
Kate Nicholls outlines Brexit deal:   UK Hospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has outlined the major points of the Brexit deal agreed by the cabinet yesterday. She told members: “I have just come off a call with No 10 on the detail and the team and I have met with ministers from BEIS and DEFRA. The following is a summary.   We will go through this with a fine tooth comb to provide a more detailed briefing in due course. Chancellor described today’s cabinet agreement as a ‘decisive step forward’ in agreeing in principle the terms of our orderly withdrawal from EU and the broad terms of our future trading arrangement. We understand that there was not full cabinet unanimity but there is collective agreement. Full legal text (585 pages) has been agreed with the European Commission and guarantees EU citizens rights for those working in the UK – as per previous briefing any EU citizen entering before the end of the transition period would have a right to remain to gain settled status. There are new right for tourists and visitors between the EU and UK to move without visa or additional checks. Time limited implementation period agreed and Read More
All-natural deli and meal delivery service Detox Kitchen launches £550,000 crowdfunding campaign: All-natural meal delivery service Detox Kitchen has launched a £550,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to meet growing demand. The company is offering 7.28% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £7m. Private equity-backed Detox Kitchen has delivered more than one million meals to thousands of customers in the capital and also operates two central London delis, which serve more than 2,500 customers a week between them. Funds raised would be used to increase kitchen capacity, invest in a technology platform for delivery services, and grow its marketing team. The pitch states: “Detox Kitchen aims to be one of the most disruptive brands in the diet and healthy food markets in the UK. From humble beginnings, founder Lily Simpson and her team have built a globally recognised, profitable and forward-thinking brand. We passionately believe healthy food should be as delicious as it is nutritious so we create real food from real ingredients. We conveniently deliver meals directly to our customers’ doors as well as serving an array of fresh salads at our two central London delis and in selected retail outlets. Since our launch Read More
Extra MSA unveils first tenants for £60m ‘new concept’ service station on M1: Extra MSA Group has unveiled the first tenants to operate at its £60m “new concept” motorway service station at Junction 45 of the M1. Natural fast food brand Leon, PizzaExpress, fish and chip chain Harry Ramsden’s, which is owned by Boparan Restaurant Group, and noodle brand Chopstix are among the restaurants that will open in the food court. Starbucks, Burger King, KFC, Upper Crust, Mi Casa, The Pasty Shop and Urban Express will also join the line-up at the site near Leeds. SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, has been “contracted” for a number of the leases. SSP UK & Ireland chief executive Simon Smith told The Business Desk: “We are delighted to be working with Extra MSA Group to bring a fantastic portfolio of brands to the new food court. There will truly be something for everyone, and we look forward to the summer 2019 opening date.” The services will also house a 100-bedroom Ramada Hotel, while leisure and gaming facilities will be operated by Playnation. Extra MSA Group chief executive Andrew Long said: “Extra MSAs across the UK already feature leading brands and Read More
Tim Martin – average sales in Ireland higher than in the UK: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has told Propel average sales per pub at his five venues in the Republic of Ireland are now higher than in the UK. The company plans to open four further pubs in Ireland before summer 2019 – two in Dublin, one in Carlow and one in Waterford. Martin sees parallels with the Brexit situation. Diageo declined to supply Guinness in the Republic at the same price as in the UK so Wetherspoon opted to stock Beamish instead – with no obvious effect on sales. Martin said: “My dad worked for Diageo for many years – they effectively paid for my education – but I said at the time Diageo declined to supply I would never speak to them about it again, ever. But it’s important to stay friends. We took the same approach when the supplier of Peroni declined to supply us with Peroni on draught – it’s important to stay friends. Our approach to Brexit should be to say ‘sorry, quite busy at the moment and we’re not going to pay you anything – that’s the end of negotiations’. When you prioritise Read More
Dirty Martini on the market: Dirty Martini, the 12-strong cocktail brand that is 80% owned by David Coffer and family, has been put on the market after unsolicited approaches, The Sunday Times has reported. It is operated by CG Restaurants and Bars, which has total revenues of £22m and also operates Tuttons in Covent Garden and pizza restaurant Fire & Stone. Stonegate Pub Company, which acquired another cocktail bar brand, Be At One, in July for an undisclosed sum, is among a number of companies thought to be interested. Sourced Market hits £750,000 target on Crowdcube: Sourced Market, the hybrid deli and dining brand with four London locations, including a flagship site at St Pancras station, has hit its £750,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube – and is now “overfunding”. Investors are offered 6.98% of the equity for their investment, which gives the company a £10m pre-money valuation. Sourced Market is backed by Pembroke VCT and had £6.4m net revenue last year. On average, more than 11,000 customers per week are served at its St Pancras store. The company previously raised £1m of investment through a Crowdcube bond in 2016. Chopstix unveils ‘next-generation’ design format with Westfield Stratford launch: Noodle Read More
Immersive bingo experience to launch in east London next month: An immersive bingo experience is to launch in east London next month. Dabbers Social Bingo will aim to reinvigorate the experience, replacing cups of tea with cocktails, bingo callers with comedians and “dreary prizes” with “incredible experiences”. Entrepreneur Ed Wethered will team up with the brains behind Musical Bingo, Gospeloke, and Comedy House Party, with backing from the founder of Picturehouse Cinemas, to launch the venture in Houndsditch. Dabbers will “repurpose and modernise” bingo via interactive game show elements and a new food and drink offering. The menu will feature a contemporary take on all things round, including melon balls wrapped in ham, and round waffles with crumble and cinnamon sugar. Drinks will include craft beer, cocktails and wine. Guests will be able to tuck into treats as they play bingo, with drinks and dishes served at table. The experience will include classic bingo on Tuesday nights hosted by veteran callers “coaxed out of retirement”. Bingo Voyage on Fridays will offer an exclusive weekend away as the main prize. Disco Bingo on Saturday nights will feature UV lights, while comedians will host Family Brunch bingo on Sundays. A spokeswoman said: Read More
Bill's marketing director steps down, third senior departure in recent weeks: Camilla Katte has stepped down as marketing director of Bill's Restaurants, owned by Richard Caring – its third senior departure in recent weeks, Propel has learned. Katte has been replaced by Lesley McIlroy, who was previously group marketing manager at Comptoir Group. Prior to that she worked for companies including Peach Pub Company, brewer and retailer Greene King and Dorset brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse. Katte joined Bill's from Thai restaurant group Giggling Squid in May this year. A Bill's spokeswoman told Propel: "Camilla Katte has decided to move on from Bill’s marketing team to focus on new opportunities. The team welcomes Lesley McIlroy as its new head of marketing." In recent weeks, Bill's has seen former chief executive Duncan Garrood leave to join Ten Entertainment Group while Graham Ford left as chief operating officer to join Carluccio's as commercial director. BrewDog strengthens team with three senior appointments: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has strengthened its team with three senior appointments. Propel has learned the company has appointed Jon Evans as chief marketing officer for its global business. Evans has joined after two years as marketing director for Read More
Inn Collection Group appoints new chairman: The Inn Collection Group, which is owned by Alchemy Partners, has appointed Ian Goulding as its new chairman as the nine-strong operator enters its next stage of growth and development. Goulding is co-founder and former chief financial officer of 26-site QHotels. The Inn Collection Group chief executive Sean Donkin said: “Ian has a wealth of commercial experience and specific experience in hospitality that will be of great value to us at a crucial time as we begin the next phase of our buy-and-build growth plans. Expansion brings with it a number of challenges – not only finding properties that meet our pubs with rooms blueprint of providing quality accommodation, food and beverages in contemporary inn environments, but ensuring the business can accommodate the increased portfolio. Having achieved this with great success on several occasions with QHotels, we will draw on Ian’s wisdom and experience as we progress the continual evolution of The Inn Collection Group.” Goulding, who also co-founded and was chief financial officer of Paramount hotels for ten years, added: “What The Inn Collection Group has brought to the industry is unique and its approach excited me. For more than a decade we Read More
Casual Dining Group appoints advisers to help cut rents: Casual Dining Group has called in advisers as it looks to negotiate cutting rents at a handful of sites with landlords. The company said it faced a “tough operating environment” and needed to reduce costs further. Casual Dining Group, which has nearly 300 restaurants under brands such as Las Iguanas and Bella Italia, is working with Alvarez & Marsal. Propel understands Casual Dining Group has performed particularly strongly over the past quarter, and there is no prospect of the business entering into a company voluntary arrangement, as it did in 2014. However, it is looking at cutting high rents being paid at a handful of sites to protect the core business and brands, and to ensure it is well positioned for the future. A spokesman said: “Like many other businesses we are facing a tough operating environment, and are focused on reducing costs where possible. A small number of our sites are loss-making due to high rents and rates, and we are taking action to ensure the core business is in good shape for future growth. Talking to landlords is commonplace and good business practice.” Luke Johnson relinquishes Patisserie Holdings salary, Read More
Black and White Hospitality appoints former Tesco head of restaurants as managing director: Black and White Hospitality, which owns the rights to seven restaurant brands belonging to chef Marco Pierre White, has appointed Brandie Deignan as managing director to head its franchising division. Deignan will oversee growth of the company’s franchising business while ensuring venues deliver a “consistent and high-end service”. Deignan joins Black and White Hospitality from British Airways, where she led the business transformation team focusing on the airline’s food, lounge and in-flight elements. Before that she was head of operations for Tesco’s hospitality brands, covering the UK and Ireland with responsibility for the Giraffe and Harris + Hoole brand conversions as well as Tesco’s cafe offering. Her CV also includes extensive experience at Whitbread, Travelodge and the Hilton Group. The number of Black and White Hospitality franchises will pass 50 by the end of 2018. Deignan said: “Black and White Hospitality is a young, dynamic business that is expanding rapidly. It has a very strong portfolio of brands and the business model of aligning the restaurant brands with hotels has proved very successful. With 50 sites, I’ll be looking to ensure consistency is maintained across all venues, Read More
Former Druckers boss David Scott refutes Patisserie Valerie takeover claims: Former Druckers boss David Scott has refuted suggestions he intends to make a takeover bid for Patisserie Valerie, the company whose shares have been suspended since a £40m black hole was found in its accounts. The Sunday Times reported Scott, who used to run Druckers Vienna Patisserie, a Birmingham-based group of cafes sold to Patisserie Valerie in 2007, had backing from a family-run private equity firm and was “gently” speaking to some of the shareholders. But Scott has said he has no intention of making an offer or otherwise acquire shares in Patisserie Valerie. He said: "Despite the media reports, I have not appointed nor do I intend to appoint a company to liaise with shareholders on my behalf and I have no interest in making an offer for or acquiring shares in Patisserie Valerie or any related companies." Patisserie Valerie's shares have been suspended since it discovered “significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities” on 10 October. Finance director Chris Marsh, who was suspended and then arrested before being released on bail, resigned on Friday (26 October). Chairman Luke Johnson stepped in with a rescue deal after the discovery of Read More
The Restaurant Group shares crash after Wagamama deal unveiled: Shares in The Restaurant Group (TRG) fell 14% at one stage on Tuesday (30 October) after the group announced it is to acquire Wagamama for £559m. The Restaurant Group will buy the pan-Asian restaurant chain from its private equity owners Duke Street and Hutton Collins using a combination of cash, debt and a rights issue. TRG chief executive Andy McCue said the deal would "create substantial value" for shareholders – who however were not impressed by the news, with shares falling 14% to 256p in morning trading. Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said the acquisition was a "brave move", given the high street was saturated with casual dining restaurants and the "iffy consumer outlook". He said: "Growth is about more than getting bigger and while the deal would add a little under 200 new restaurants to its 509-strong portfolio, there have to be serious question marks over the scope to expand Wagamama – even if it is a successful operator. The fact Wagamama is being bought out of private equity ownership is not necessarily a positive either. While it is not always the case, private equity assets can often Read More
Benugo owner appoints people and talent director: Westbury Street Holdings (WSH), the parent company of hospitality brands including Benugo, Searcys, BaxterStorey and Caterlink, has appointed Maria Stanford as people and talent director. Stanford will join the company in January, leading HR teams across the entire WSH portfolio. She joins WSH following a successful career in HR, including 11 years at luxury retailer Selfridges Group. During her tenure, Stanford held senior HR roles in the businesses and became the first group HR director, working across all four brands in Europe and Canada. In addition to her previous roles at Selfridges, Stanford has held senior positions at Marks & Spencer and Pret A Manger, as well as providing consultancy work for Wagamama, PizzaExpress, Chanel and Fenwick. WSH chairman and chief executive Alastair Storey said: “Maria brings with her a wealth of experience of successfully leading teams at a number of coveted businesses. We have seen a 35% increase in our teams, with employee numbers growing by more than 6,000 since 2014. These people are at the very heart of WSH and Maria’s passion for driving career development makes her ideally placed to lead our committed, growing workforce.” Stanford added: “WSH continues to Read More
Fleurets markets nine Revolution freeholds with £20.2m asking price: Agent Fleurets has been instructed by real estate investment firm Aprirose to market nine pub freehold investments, currently let to Revolution Bar Group. Ed Sandall, from Fleurets, said: “Each of the nine properties marketed have identical FRI leases, with 14 years unexpired. Marketed off a total guide price of £20,200,000, the portfolio’s total rental income amounts to £1,461,430 per annum, reflecting a 6.78% net initial yield.” Located across the north of England and the Midlands, the investment opportunities are all located in prime leisure pitches, and available as a package or individually. Sites are located in Huddersfield, Lancaster, Leicester, Lincoln, Liverpool, two in Manchester, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Wolverhampton.   Gary Pettet steps down as executive chairman of Laine Pub Company:Long-serving Laine Pub Company executive chairman Gary Pettet has stepped down. The company said: “Gary Pettet has stepped down as executive chairman of the Laine Pub Company in order to focus on his other business interests. Originally appointed by Graphite Capital in 2002 to oversee its investment in late-night bar operator C-Side, he led a 2007 merger with Brighton pub operator Zelgrain to create the business that now trades as Laine Pub Company Read More
Le Bistrot Pierre reports turnover and profit boost: Le Bistrot Pierre has reported turnover rose to £32,531,323 in the year to 30 June 2018, up from £25,762,307 the year before. Profit before tax was £182,108, compared to a loss of £966,795 the year before. Trading Ebitda was £2.5m, compared to £1.81m the year before. In August 2017, the company secured additional investment of £3m from its shareholders in the form of loan notes and share capital. The company stated: “This investment demonstrates the confidence the group’s investors continue to have in the Bistrot Pierre brand, offering and management team.” Nick White took over as chief executive in May 2018, stepping up from chief operating officer. His promotion came as chief executive John Whitehead, who co-founded the business with Robert Beacham in 1994, stepped down. The company opened sites in Middlesbrough and Southport during the year and has opened venues in Preston and Coventry since the year-end. It has also opened a first site for sub-brand Rooms by Bistrot Pierre, with a 14-bedroom property at Royal William Yard in Plymouth. Eataly to open sixth US site, in Las Vegas, featuring more ‘immersive and interactive experience’: Eataly, the largest Italian food hall Read More
UKHospitality presses prime minister over Brexit concerns: UKHospitality has pressed prime minister Theresa May over sector concerns regarding post-Brexit migration and food supply. Attending the prime minister’s briefing to business leaders and trade bodies on the outcome of the EU Council meeting and Brexit negotiations, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “For the first time hospitality was included and I was able to press the PM on the sector’s concerns. I raised the issue of migration and access to labour and the PM reiterated previous proposals to allow freedom of movement during transition and to allow workers arriving before 31 December 2020 to apply for settled status remained on track and in the withdrawal agreement. On post-Brexit migration, she recognised there was a high degree of concern and said new migration rules would be developed in consultation and adopted after transition and emphasised they would allow the British economy to ‘access the talent it needs’ – an interesting alternative message to the one on skills suggesting there may be a willingness to talk sensibly about lower or semi-skilled workers. The PM accepted it was important to talk about fresh food supplies and the impact on hospitality and retail rather than Read More
Villandry had accumulated losses of £7.3m when it went into administration, creditors owed £8.2m: Villandry, the restaurant chain run by the former Le Pain Quotidien director Philippe Le Roux, had accumulated losses of £7.3m when it went into administration after “consistent and significant operating losses” in recent years, a new document has revealed. A statement of proposals by administrators Martha Thompson and Sarah Rayment, of BDO, filed at Companies House, showed creditors were owed £8.2m. The report revealed Villandry’s financial position “significantly worsened” after it was issued with a notice to terminate its lease at its Bicester Village site in April 2017, which provided almost half the company’s turnover. The administrators said increased rent, business rates and labour costs as well as increased competition also contributed to the operating losses. Accounts showed for the year ending March 2016 turnover was £10,295,505 with a loss after tax of £683,564. In March 2017, the company had turnover of £10,378,839 but the loss after tax had more than doubled, to £1,482,459. Accumulated losses at this point stood at £7,338,980. The report revealed secured creditor Santander is owed £1.1m. Any distribution will be dependent on a sale of the company’s assets and restaurant leases. Read More
Redcomb Pubs reports turnover and profit boost: Multi-site operator Redcomb Pubs, founded by Dan Shotton and Mark Draper, has reported turnover increased to £16,756,797 for the year ending 30 June 2018, compared with £15,155,421 the previous year. Pre-tax profit was up to £707,720 compared with £632,367 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “During the year, two acquisitions were made. The freehold of a site in Instow was purchased in December 2017 and reopened in June 2018 as The Boathouse. In spring 2018 a site in Islington was purchased and converted into Alphabet Bar serving Mediterranean food and cocktails. It reopened in August 2018. The company continues to make good progress with the expansion and profitability of its existing sites. The Station and The Bickley continue to trade well but, after review, it was decided to sell the Crown & Horns due to its size. A refurbishment was carried out at The Old Manor in Potters Bar in November and, on reopening, the pub increased its performance.” The number of employees during the period increased to 217 from 127. Redcomb currently operates 16 venues in London and surrounding Read More
Abokado reports like-for-likes up 6% in current financial year on back of record profits, 24th site to open next month: Healthy eating chain Abokado, which is backed by Kings Park Capital, has reported like-for-like sales up 6% in its current financial year. The announcement comes as the company revealed record profits for the year ending 31 March 2018. Profits increased 24% to £726,000, while site Ebitda increased to £1.7m. Founder and chief executive Mark Lilley said: “I am pleased with this set of results, which have been achieved in the toughest market conditions we’ve experienced since we started Abokado. Our formula is simple – everything we do revolves around bringing Londoners the freshest and healthiest options for breakfast and lunch – and it’s great to be getting a resounding thumbs up from our customers. Our current-year sales growth is particularly pleasing as this comes entirely from in-store sales. Delivery still represents a tiny proportion of Abokado’s sales but with the delivery market established and fast growing and with a menu that lends itself extremely well to delivery, we’re excited about the growth opportunity this presents over the coming years.” Abokado, which currently operates 23 sites across the capital, has also Read More
UKHospitality calls on prime minister to support sector with common sense immigration policy: UKHospitality has called on prime minister Theresa May to apply common sense to future migration for the “sake of the British economy” as she heads to Brussels for Brexit negotiations. In a letter to May, Brexit minister Dominic Raab and home secretary Sajid Javid, the trade body warned growth in the hospitality sector would be severely hampered without suitable access to non-UK workers, at least in the short term. The letter states that unless the UK’s future immigration policy allows workers of all skill levels to work in the UK easily and affordably, hospitality businesses would be unable to meet projected growth. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Hospitality businesses are putting considerable effort into providing opportunities for UK workers. Three-quarters of our workforce is home-grown and we invest significant amounts into apprenticeship schemes to build the workforce of the future from here in the UK. The reality is, though, that hospitality businesses do need to supplement their workforces with non-UK workers, particularly given the record employment rate, if they want to keep pace with projected growth. If following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU there is Read More
Famous Brands makes £46m impairment charge as GBK operating losses increase to £2.6m: Famous Brands has reported Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) has seen operating losses increase to £2.6m for the six months ended 31 August 2018, compared with £872,000 the year before. As a result of GBK’s “continued adverse trading conditions and sustained underperformance”, the board has decided to recognise a (pre-tax) impairment of 874 million rand (£46m) at group level. Famous Brands bought GBK in 2016 but its contribution to group profitability has taken longer than the company initially anticipated, hampered by lower consumer spending in the context of Brexit as disposable incomes come under pressure. At the same time higher property rates in Britain and increased input costs and declining foot traffic in shopping centres, exacerbated by oversupply of restaurants as landlords continue to replace failing retailers with more food offerings, has contributed to GBK’s estimated larger operating loss. In a trading update to the Johannesburg stock exchange, Famous Brands said: “The group’s results for the six months ended 31 August 2018 were expected to be stronger than those reported in the prior comparable period, primarily due to an improved performance by the SA and AME operations, which Read More
Coaching Inn Group seeks funding to double size of business: Coaching Inn Group, which has 431 bedrooms across 15 venues in market towns in England and Wales, has told Propel it will seek funds for investment to grow the business in the coming months to “build on the strong platform that has been created”. The company said it had already identified a number of suitable coaching inns to “accelerate its development and double the size of the company”. Coaching Inn Group has appointed Sapient Corporate Finance to assist in finding suitable investors. Last month, Coaching Inn Group reported a 39.1% rise in group Ebitda to £2.1m from turnover up 17.2% to £20m in the year to 31 March 2018. Turnover is forecast to pass £24m this year. Drink sales rose 17% to £5.9m, food was up 19.2% to £8m and room sales rose 17.7% to £5.8m. Profit before interest was £506,000 (2017: loss £146,000). A post year-end debt facility of £16.5m was put in place to secure future growth. Coaching Inn Group founder Kevin Charity said it cost between £3m and £5m to buy and refurbish venues. The company has added nine sites in the past three years, the most Read More
Brunning & Price paid £900,000 for Ribble Valley Inns, newly filed accounts reveal: Brunning & Price, the gastro-pub brand owned by The Restaurant Group, paid a consideration of £900,000 to acquire Ribble Valley Inns from Northcote Leisure Group earlier this year, newly filed accounts have shown. The figure paid for the four pubs in May was undisclosed but accounts for Brunning & Price for the year ending 31 December 2017, filed at Companies House, revealed the amount. They also showed turnover increased to £72,540,000 compared with £64,323,000 the previous year, while pre-tax profit was up to £10,085,000 compared with £5,375,000 the previous year. During the period the company opened three pubs. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “Our business is well positioned in the market with a compelling, differentiated food-led offer that consistently outperforms the pub restaurant sector. Strong operational execution, along with locally sourced produce, has attracted a loyal and increasing customer base that rates the offering highly. The business delivers consistently good and growing returns, with recent openings consistently delivering Ebitda returns in excess of 20% (on an assumed leasehold cost base). Our estate is largely freehold asset backed with a book value in excess Read More
The Deltic Group – ‘compelling financial case’ remains for Revolution merger: The Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs, has said there remains a “compelling financial case” for a merger with Revolution Bars Group despite the latter ending acquisition talks. The companies were reported to be in early-stage discussions over a potential transaction but yesterday (10 October) Revolution said discussions regarding a transaction involving a possible acquisition of The Deltic Group had been “terminated” as it would “not be in the best interests of the company’s shareholders”. A spokesman for The Deltic Group said: “Deltic still believes there is a compelling financial case for a merger between the companies but respects the decision of Revolution’s board. Deltic remains a shareholder in Revolution Bars Group and will follow developments closely. The board would also like to reiterate Deltic is a well-run business with a strong financial performance over many years. The Revolution merger proposal was only one of several routes the Deltic directors were exploring to take the company forward. It continues to believe the late-night economy is a good investment and the doubling of profits over the past six years, with about the same number Read More
Hall & Woodhouse reports turnover and profit boost: Dorset brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse has reported turnover increased 2.2% to £110,110,000 for the year ending 27 January 2018, compared with £107,713,000 the previous year. Ebitda was down 2% to £14.5m, compared with the year before. Pre-tax profit was up 42.9% to £9,286,000, compared with £6,499,000 the previous year. Exceptional items were in surplus by £3,281,000 due to £3,262,000 gained from the sale of its old brewery site. This was against a loss of £639,000 the year before. In his statement accompanying the accounts, chairman Mark Woodhouse said: “The year has delivered a strong performance from our managed houses and business partnerships, despite challenging market conditions. We have continued to invest heavily behind our brands, our teams and our core offering to ensure the future success of our business. The impact all these factors have had on our underlying business performance is that while turnover has increased 2.2% on the previous year to £110.1m, Ebitda fell 2.0% to £14.5m. Once we look at the exceptional items, which include the sale of the old brewery, our profit has increased year-on-year by 42.9% to £9.3m. This has enabled us to reduce our Read More
Pachamama Group to launch third London site, in Shoreditch next month:Restaurant operator Pachamama Group is to launch its third London site, in Shoreditch next month. Pachamama East will open in Great Eastern Street on Thursday, 1 November offering a different experience to Peruvian-style sister sites Chicama and Pachamama. The new venue will focus on fresh seasonal produce and “applying the bold flavours, aromas, textures and spices that make Asian food so tasty”. The 85-cover site will be split over two floors, with the main restaurant featuring plants, pastels, reclaimed wood, exposed concrete walls and an open kitchen providing views of chefs cooking over a coal fire. A staircase will lead to a 16-cover private dining room on the lower ground floor, which will also host a series of chef collaborations. The group’s new executive creative chef Mikkel Gregersen, formerly of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and AOC in Copenhagen, has placed an emphasis on sharing at Pachamama East, with dishes such as grilled hispi cabbage and smoked aubergine, whole jiang-glazed chicken, and ceviche. The snacks menu will include Sichuan fried chicken and pork belly chicharron. Brunch will include Peruvian waffles with a choice of toppings. The main, sunken bar will offer Read More
Glee Club to open fifth site and first in Scotland: Comic Enterprises, which was founded in 1994 by Mark Tughan and operates three Glee Club comedy and music venues in Birmingham, Cardiff and Nottingham alongside a weekly night in Oxford, will open its fifth venue, in Glasgow in February. The Renfrew Street site will be part of the Cineworld complex that also houses a newly refurbished Walkabout and is the location of the 13,000 square foot former Highlight Comedy Club, which closed in 2009. It has a seated capacity of 400 and a standing capacity of 800. Comic Enterprises famously sued 21st Century Fox over the Glee name and trademark, which was registered by Comic in the 1990s, winning in both the High Court and Appeal Court. Tughan said: “With this episode now behind us, we have also benefited from a substantial recovery in sales and profits, with all sites trading profitably and reporting positive like-for-likes. With site availability improving and less competition from other comedy operators, now seems the ideal time to expand. Like the tortoise and the hare, we seem after 24 years to have become the market leader! We are looking for sites in Leeds and Bristol Read More