End hospitality lock-down and ridiculous two-metre rule by Hugh Osmond The reasons we have 40,000 coronavirus deaths in the UK are very simple and have nothing to do with catching the virus down the pub on a Saturday night. Restaurants, pubs, shops, cinemas and socialising are not responsible for the UK’s death toll – this is obvious from the fact soft-lock-down Japan has so few deaths. Instead, this is what really happened: Despite warnings from China, in mid-February, the virus started to be carried into in-patient hospital wards by unwitting, asymptomatic medical staff, where it exploded. Covid-19 is perfectly adapted for nosocomial (in-hospital) transmission and it ripped through the wards with infection and fatality rates never seen in non-medical settings. By early March, deaths were mounting up, way ahead of the complacently made forecasts of Public Health England, which had based its response on flu. Critical care beds were in short supply; it panicked and, with the NHS, ordered the discharge of as many patients as possible into care homes. The wave of deaths of hospital inpatients was followed by an even bigger and more sustained second wave in care homes, which still continues. This is the scandal and the Read More
KFC UK reaches 700-site mark in restaurant reopenings: KFC has said it has now reopened 700 of its circa 950 sites in the UK and Ireland. It said as well as delivery and drive-thru, more than half are now back open for takeaway as well. KFC re-emphasised it was being careful in how it managed reopenings, with strict new rules and hygiene measures in place as well as a limited menu. It stated: “The restaurants will look a little different to how they did before. We’ve made a few changes to ensure we’re offering takeaway in a way that’s responsible as it is convenient. These include protective screens, gloves and face masks for our teams as required and social distancing guidance clearly marked on the floor. Ultimately, the well-being of our guests and teams remains the most important thing – so if we can’t reopen a restaurant responsibly, we won’t.” The company said the newly opened restaurants also mean it can donate more of its food to the NHS and key workers. Cote secures extra space to match at-home service demand: Cote, the 96-strong French brasserie chain, has moved to match the increasing demand for its delivery service, Cote At Read More
Pret to reopen further 200 sites on Monday: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned business, is to reopen a further 204 shops from Monday (1 June). The company will take the number of reopened stores to more than 300 with sites in towns and cities across the UK such as Bath, Bournemouth, Newcastle, Exeter and Liverpool among those to start trading again. As per government guidelines, these shops will be open for takeaway and delivery only with extensive social distancing and safety procedures in place. Pret will be offering a limited menu of some of its most popular sandwiches, salads, and baguettes, as well as hot and cold drinks, bakery items, fruit, and snacks. Pret has also expanded its delivery operation, with the service available through Deliveroo, Just Eat and UberEats, dependent on the shop’s location. Pret said it is adapting its business to an environment where more people are working from home and earlier this month the company launched its first retail coffee range, including three organic coffee products now on sale on Amazon UK and in Pret shops. Customers can also buy its new “Heat Me at Home” macaroni cheese range and a selection of “Heat Me at Read More
Hospital Club in Covent Garden consults on closure: Hospital Club, the private members' club in London's Covent Garden, is consulting on closure, Propel has learned. Managing director Rob Seals has written to members and said: “The coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating effect on the hospitality industry and is creating an uncertain future globally. Due to this and other extenuating circumstances within our organisation, we are writing to inform you, we are now entering a period of consultation with all staff at H Club London regarding the possible closure of the business. In addition, we have made the very difficult decision to close H Club Los Angeles. Our founding principle has been to create a social space that connects and supports creatives. We are proud of the incredible community we have built together over this time. We couldn’t have done this without your contribution as a member. We will be in contact with you once we have reached a conclusion to our consultations with the staff, and a final decision regarding closure has been made.” H Club London was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen through his investment company Vulcan and musician Dave Stewart, formerly of the band Eurythmics. It Read More
GBK generating about a fifth of revenue prior to lock-down through delivery, 19 of its 72 sites currently capable of the service: Famous Brands has said its Gourmet Burger Kitchen estate is generating about a fifth of the revenue it was prior to lock-down through delivery. Speaking at a presentation of the company’s full-year results, Famous Brands chief executive Darren Hele said he currently expected a total of 19 of the 72-strong portfolio to offer delivery, with 12 outlets open to date. He added the company plans to continue reopening those sites capable of delivery at a rate of three per week. At the beginning of April, Famous Brands said it had taken the decision to not provide any further financial assistance to GBK, and accordingly the board of GBK is considering the options available to the business, but did not provide any further update. Famous Brands said its decision to withhold further financial support for GBK may result in an impairment of the full value of Famous Brands’ investment in GBK of £119m. Hele said while Famous Brands had hit its targets for GBK for the full year, it was unlikely to able to do so going forward following Read More
Balans places entire estate on the market: London-based casual dining group Balans Soho Society has placed all seven of its sites on the market, Propel has learned. The company, which opened its first venue in Old Compton Street, Soho, in 1987, is understood to be marketing the seven sites through CDG Leisure. Offers are being invited on the Balans sites in Ealing, Victoria, Kensington, Westfield London and Westfield Stratford, plus the group’s two venues in Soho’s Old Compton Street. It is thought the sites are available individually. Earlier this year, the business, which is led by founder David Taylor, sold its site in Clapham Common to the team behind the Little Yellow Door concept. The house parties-style bar and restaurant concept, backed by Edition Capital, reopened the site as The Little Orange Door. Honest Burgers launches chicken concept: Active Partners-backed Honest Burgers has launched new concept, Honest Chicken out of its King’s Cross site, Propel has learned. Honest Chicken is currently a takeover of the group’s King’s Cross, delivering to King’s Cross, Camden, Clerkenwell, Highbury, Islington, Kentish Town, Holborn and Bloomsbury, with contactless delivery available from Deliveroo and UberEats. The company said there was plans in progress to open further Read More
TGI Friday’s sees Ebitda grow to £27.7m prior to lock-down, reopening 12 more sites, restaurant footprint means business 'well positioned to trade under social distancing': Electra, which is looking to sell its assets and return cash to shareholders, has reported Ebitda in its TGI Friday’s business increased to £27.7m in the past 12 months prior to the lock-down, with like-for-like sales up 3% in January and February. The private equity firm said the value of the business stood at £119m as of 31 March 2020, down from £141m in September last year. Electra said it considered the significantly reduced valuation to be “reasonable” given all the circumstances in effect, and anticipated it would recover “as we emerge from covid-19 disruptions adapted to future market conditions and opportunities”. Electra paid £142m for its 99% ownership in TGI Friday’s, having made its initial investment in 2014. TGI Friday’s will open another 12 sites next Wednesday (27 May) for click-and-collect and delivery having been “very encouraged” by the performance of the 24 sites that reopened at the start of May. Selected outlets will also offer alcohol. TGI Friday’s closed all 87 sites in March as the country went into lock-down. In its half-year Read More
Incipio Group appoints Ed Devenport as company's first chief executive: Incipio Group has positioned itself for its next stage of growth with the appointment of co-owner Ed Devenport as chief executive. Devenport, who joined the company in January 2016, will become the company’s first chief executive since it was founded by Charlie Gardiner in 2015. The appointment follows significant growth plans for the six-strong London-based business, which in 2019 announced a £5m investment by Edition Capital as well as building its executive leadership team with the recent hires of Tom Brand as finance director and Anthony Knight as sales and marketing director. In the newly created role, Devenport will be responsible for steering Incipio Group through the next phase of its ambitious growth plans and will continue to work closely with Gardner and Incipio Group’s executive leadership team to further strengthen the company’s presence in London and across the UK. Taking a step back from day-to-day running of the business to focus on the sourcing and development of future openings, Gardiner will remain active in the company’s strategic leadership through his position on its board, alongside Edition Capital. Gardiner said: “Ed’s contribution to the success of the business over the past Read More
Anglian Country Inns reopens sites for takeout as it begins ‘scenario planning’ for ‘new normal’: Anglian Country Inns, the pub and restaurant operator led by James Nye, has begun reopening sites for takeout as it begins scenario planning for life after lock-down, Propel has learned. The company has reopened The Jolly Sailors in Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk, and The Cricketers in Weston, Hertfordshire, serving pizza and ribs. Meanwhile, it will reopen its coffee shop at the Hermitage Rd Bar & Restaurant in Hitchin on Wednesday (20 May), offering takeaway coffee and chicken burgers. Nye said: “We are starting to look at how we can reopen our sites safely and how things might look in the future. We are starting our covid-19 training for our staff, which we think is really important because we think if they feel safe then it will rub off on the customers. It’s also an opportunity for us to begin restarting our supply chain and also to try reducing our cash burn rate. It’s all about scenario planning at the moment.” Nye said given the location of many of its sites and large beer gardens, he hopes the company will benefit “to a degree” from the expected Read More
Boparan Restaurant Group set to complete deal for Carluccio’s: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), the Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner and Slim Chickens operator, is on the verge of completing a deal for the Carluccio’s brand and 30 of its sites. The deal is expected to see the jobs of just under half of Carluccio’s 2,000 staff saved. Geoff Rowley and Phil Reynolds, partners at FRP Advisory, were appointed joint administrators of Carluccio’s at the end of March. Propel understands BRG is paying about £2m for the brand, its online shop and 30 sites. It is thought it will look to convert some of the Carluccio’s sites to its Slim Chickens brand, of which it is the master franchisee in the UK. It is thought it had been initially looking to take up to 47 of Carluccio’s 71 sites. Propel understands offers have been put forward for smaller packages and individual sites from the remaining 41 that remain with the administrators. KFC to have 500 sites reopened by the end of this week: KFC is to have 500 sites reopened across the UK – about 50% of its restaurants – by Friday (22 May), for delivery only. The company, which has already Read More
Oakman tests safety measures in bid to reopen: Oakman Inns and Restaurants, led by Peter Borg-Neal, has developed safety measures that it said could allow pubs to reopen safely this summer. The new measures include a one-way system to allow two-metre social distancing and Perspex screens around tables. The measures are being tested by Oakman at The Betsey Wynne in the village of Swanbourne in Buckinghamshire – one of 28 sites the company operates. Other measures include hand gel dispensers placed throughout the venue to enhance hygiene, and people order via an app for table service instead of at the bar. While there had previously been seating for 204 at The Betsey Wynne, this had been reduced to 146 with the social distancing measures in place. But Borg-Neal believed the measures could work as a blueprint for larger pubs and will submit the scheme for approval to the cabinet office via UKHospitality. He told Sky News: “We have to meet standards for food hygiene, health and safety and fire. Just tell us to meet the covid-19 standards and leave it to us. As far as we are concerned we have a number of pubs that can be safely opened now.” Read More
Stonegate announces multimillion-pound support package for Ei publicans:Stonegate Pub Company has announced a multimillion-pound support package for licensees within the recently acquired Ei Publican Partnerships leased and tenanted business. The company, which completed its circa £3bn acquisition of Ei Group at the start of March, said all tied publicans operating on substantive agreements that are not in receipt of government grants would receive a three-month rent credit for the period April to June. To further support those publicans who are entitled to grants of between £10,000 and £25,000, and to enable them to “restart their business with confidence and ease cash flow”, trade credits of either 75% or 50% of the value of three months’ rent will be provided. Publicans in receipt of the £25,000 government grant will receive 50% trade credit for stock purchases. Those in receipt of the £10,000 government grant will receive 75% trade credit for stock purchases. In addition, tie release fees and fixtures and fittings rentals are cancelled for the same period regardless of a publican’s entitlement to grants. May’s planned price rise on tied products delivered to pubs has also been postponed until further notice. Stonegate said the support plan follows a detailed analysis Read More
Gunewardena – use this time to rethink your business: D&D London chairman and chief executive Des Gunewardena has said the covid-19 lockdown is a one-off opportunity for operators to rethink their businesses. Speaking as part of Propel’s “navigating the coronavirus” series, Gunewardena said: “It is an old saying but never waste a good crisis. This is your one-off opportunity to look at every one of your restaurants – use this time to really rethink your business. In our business we have got 43 restaurants, some are successful and some are not so successful, so now we have this time to rethink and change all those things that didn’t work, which during normal times might have been a bit of an evolution and taken some time. If there are restaurants where the existing concept cannot pay the rent, look to get that reduced or say to the landlord you will have to take the lease back.” Gunewardena said the company was trying to create “our post-covid ideal restaurant” and the detail in whether people had to stay two metres or one-metre apart would be crucial. At two metres Gunewardena said capacity would be down to as much as 35% to 40%, Read More
Pret UK MD – ‘it is critical that businesses share what is and what isn’t working’:Clare Clough, UK managing director of Pret A Manger, has said it is critical for the sector that people share what is working and not working, and what they are learning, about reopening their sites. Pret this week reopened a further 71 shops, taking its total reopened to more than 100, having initially reopened ten sites in the capital. Speaking to Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott as part of Propel’s “navigating the coronavirus” series, Clough said: “I feel similar to this, as how I felt with some of the allergy processes, the more consistent we can be for consumers the better it is for all of us as well. It will help consumers understand how to behave consistently in different outlets if we all use some of the same tools, communications and ways of supporting them.” Clough said one of the features of Pret has always been the “amazing communication we have between our teams in our shops and the teams in our support centre”. She said: “We have a really good muscle in Pret on listening to our teams and how they feel. So Read More
Government – venues ‘crowded by design’ unlikely to reopen in July: Venues that are “by design, crowded” and where it may prove difficult to “enact distancing” may not be able to reopen in July, or only in part, according to further details in the government’s covid-19 recovery strategy. The circa 50-page document, called Our Plan To Rebuild, reiterates some hospitality businesses could reopen as early as 4 July but venues where social distancing will be difficult to carry out will not be able to open fully at this time. The report also states “in order to facilitate the fastest possible reopening of these types of higher-risk businesses and public places” the government will “carefully phase and pilot reopenings to test their ability to adopt”. All businesses that are eligible to reopen will need to meet the government’s new ‘”covid-19 secure” guidelines, which it said will be released later this week. The government said it also plans to monitor carefully the effects of reopening other similar establishments elsewhere in the world and will “establish a series of taskforces to work closely with stakeholders in these sectors to develop ways in which they can make these businesses and public places covid-19 secure”. Read More
S&P – PizzaExpress ‘highly likely’ to launch capital restructuring: Credit rating agency Standard & Poor has said the recent agreement of a new £70m loan facility by PizzaExpress is only an “additional step toward a likely broad restructuring of the group's capital structure”. In March the Hony Capital-backed PizzaExpress announced the issuance of a £70m super senior term loan facility, which has been fully drawn to redeem the £20m revolving credit facility and a £10m super senior loan, both due in August 2020. S&P stated: “Although, after close examination of the new debt documentation, we do not consider this transaction distressed – because the terms of the existing debt documentation have been respected – we believe the issuance of this new super senior debt is only an additional step toward a likely broad restructuring of the group's capital structure. We expect to revisit our ratings on PizzaExpress when the terms of the ongoing restructuring plan are defined and published, including the terms of any potential debt-for-equity swap, or other restructuring transactions.” PizzaExpress’ capital structure currently comprises the new £70m facility due March 2023, the £465m senior secured notes due August 2021, and the £200m senior unsecured notes due August 2022. Read More
Greene King launches staff support fund: Brewer and retailer Greene King has launched a support fund for staff affected by the coronavirus crisis. The Team Member Support Fund has been set up with an initial donation of £300,000 from Greene King. The funds have been raised from a combination of voluntary salary sacrifices from the executive board and directors and a company donation. Team members can also donate to the fund via a Gofund page. Subject to meeting certain criteria, all 38,000 staff will be eligible to access the fund with grants of up to £400 for those most in need of financial support. To help manage the process, Greene King has partnered with the Licensed Trade Charity, which has been supporting workers from pubs, bars and breweries with practical advice, emotional support and financial grants since 1793. Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie said: “I am incredibly proud of the way our team members have handled this situation. But I know it has not been easy and in some cases our team members are facing real financial difficulties, through no fault of their own. The Team Member Support Fund aims to ease some of the burden our people are Read More
Jeremy King – ‘social distancing in a restaurant is impossible and implausible’:Corbin & King co-founder Jeremy King has said “social distancing in a restaurant is impossible and implausible”. King, who with Chris Corbin, operates London-based restaurants such as The Wolseley in Mayfair, said: “Chris and I always had as our guiding light the premise that we opened restaurants we would like to go to. I am afraid I certainly have no interest in going to a place where I am sitting in isolation, surrounded by Perspex screens and served by someone in a mask and gloves – where’s the fun in that? Restaurants are generally social hubs that depend on the conviviality of community and we need to understand this. Many say that people will be scared to go to restaurant but from everything I hear that is not the case for all. Indeed, while the YouGov poll last week said 57% of those asked would be apprehensive about going to a restaurant, what I took from that is 43% would be happy to – and that can only grow over the next month or two until we get to the point we can contemplate reopening. We are fortunate though Read More
Turtle Bay to reopen four sites for delivery and collection: Turtle Bay, the Caribbean restaurant brand backed by Piper, is to reopen four sites for delivery and collection later this week, Propel has learned. The 44-strong company will reopen its outlets in Bristol’s Cheltenham Road, Crawley, Colchester and Nottingham on Thursday (4 May). It shuttered all sites across the country in March. At the start of March, Jon Temple stepped down as the company’s chief operating officer to pursue other interests. Temple, who joined Turtle Bay at the start of 2016 as finance director, has since joined nursery operator N Family Club as its chief financial officer. Deep Blue to reopen one site in ‘controlled experiment’: Deep Blue Restaurants, owner of the Deep Blue and Harry Ramsden brands, is working on plans to reopen its sites with social distancing measures in place and will begin with just one of its 50 locations. The Bedhampton store in Havant, Hampshire, will open for online orders for delivery and collection on Wednesday (6 May) and will be used to shape the gradual reopening of the remaining locations over the coming weeks. Social distancing measures will be in place along with sanitising stations for Read More
Azzurri Group appoints advisors to help navigate coronavirus crisis: Azzurri Group, the ASK Italian, Zizzi and Coco di Mama operator, has become the latest sector operator to appoint advisors as it seeks to navigate its way through the lock-down and out the other side. The Bridgepoint-backed business, which operates circa 300 sites, has appointed KPMG as it looks to “take action to secure the future of the business”. Like the majority of the sector, the company has already suspended payments to landlords and is using the furlough scheme to pay most of its staff. However, like some private equity-backed companies, it is yet to discover whether it is eligible for a business interruption loan. It is thought one option that might be considered is a trimming of both its ASK and Zizzi estates. Chief executive Steve Holmes told Propel: “As you know, before the crisis we were a very successful business delivering consistent like-for-like sales and profit growth. Since lock-down we have acted very quickly to put the business into hibernation and take out all costs possible, making sure particularly we did everything we could for our teams. Now hibernation has been successfully achieved we need to take action to Read More
Honest Burgers to reopen eight London sites next week: Active Partners-backed Honest Burgers plans to reopen a number of sites for delivery only over the coming month, including eight in London next week, Propel has learned. The 37-strong group will reopen eight sites within the capital on Tuesday (5 May), to be followed by a number of further sites in London over the following week. Later in the month, it also plans to open a number of its seven sites based outside the capital. The group has also reopened its delivery kitchen through the Deliveroo Editions site in Swiss Cottage and hopes to add a further kitchen at the Editions site in Canary Wharf. It is also in talks to take space at the Foodstars kitchen site in Colindale. Honest Burgers will not be doing click-and-collect or takeaway in the short-term. The group is introducing a range of safety measures at each site to protect customers and staff, including pre-shift temperature checks, social distancing where possible and the wearing of personal protective equipment. Through its internal bot messaging system, the group asked its staff for feedback on returning to work, and many highlighted their mental health as a reason for Read More
KFC to have 100 UK restaurants reopen for delivery by Monday, sales up 14% in first quarter: KFC has said it will have 100 of its restaurants open for delivery by Monday (4 May) – and is working to open more. The company said it was reopening “in a responsible way”, with stringent processes and hygiene measures in place. It is serving a limited menu to help the smaller kitchen teams maintain social distancing. KFC said by opening the restaurants it would also be able to increase the number of meals being delivered to NHS and key workers – aiming to deliver 10,000 a week in partnership with Deliveroo. Among the latest restaurants to open are Martineau Place in Birmingham, Honey Wood Retail Park in Dover, Towcester Road in Northampton, Penny Street in Lancaster and St Georges Crescent in Wrexham. The company began reopening sites earlier this month – starting with 11 of its 900-plus restaurants – and has been gradually adding more on a daily basis. It added: “If you’re not near one of the 100 never fear – we’re working hard to reopen more over the coming weeks.” Staff have returned on an opt-in basis, and only those Read More
TGI Friday’s to trial click-and-collect and delivery from next week: TGI Friday’s is to trial click-and-collect as well as relaunch delivery from 24 of its 87 stores from next week, Propel has learned. The click-and-collect service, which will be introduced on Wednesday, 6 May, will be available from sites where TGI Friday’s has its own dedicated car park and will be a “controlled” test. Customers will book a collection slot and order online and when they arrive at the car park their food will be put straight into the boot of their vehicle by a member of TGI Friday’s team. There will be a queuing system in place using clear signage. At the same time, TGI Friday’s will relaunch its delivery service at the 24 locations with Deliveroo and Just Eat, where applicable. The menu in both cases will be limited to guest favourites including its traditional burgers and ribs along with a selection of appetisers. Strict social distancing measures will be in place to keep employees safe, including the use of protective screens between staff and pick-up drivers. There will also be regular cleaning of surfaces and equipment. TGI Friday’s chief executive Robert B Cook said the website will Read More
Krispy Kreme UK reopens drive-thrus, begins return to supermarkets: Krispy Kreme UK has reopened all its drive-thrus and begun a gradual return to supermarkets across the country with a limited-range of its doughnuts. The company reopened its first drive-thru, in Manchester, on 16 April, serving NHS, police and fire workers, who are eligible to receive complimentary hot drinks and one of its three-packs of original glazed doughnuts. It has now reopened all nine drive-thrus. Chief executive Richard Cheshire said: “I wanted to update you on our ongoing mission to serve half a million ‘smiles’, in the form of our original glazed doughnuts, via contactless drops, to hospitals, charities, food banks, police stations, carers and other critical key worker groups. We have already served more than 350,000 smiles to our critical services, thanks to the tremendous effort from our Krispy Kreme staff. Our retail and food delivery partners are enthusiastic about Krispy Kreme returning to their stores and apps, so we are gradually returning to supermarkets throughout the country with a more limited pre-packaged range of doughnuts. This will enable us to significantly reduce our manufacturing footprint during this crisis. I want to reassure you the safety and well-being of our Read More
Sector operators begin ramping up reopenings, Greggs plans limited trial: A number of sector operators, including Burger King, Pret A Manger and healthy fast food brand Leon, have begun ramping up reopening parts of their estates. The Alasdair Murdoch-led Burger King, which earlier this month reopened four drive-thru sites, plans to reopen ten more sites a week for deliveries, including sites in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Dundee and London’s Merton. The brand, which operates circa 550 sites in the UK, has seen strong demand at the sites it has so far reopened. The Sunday Times reported Leon plans to reopen six London restaurants for delivery and click-and-collect, in addition to the 16 it has kept open and in part turned into grocery stores. Propel understands the John Vincent-led brand is also gearing up to open its third delivery kitchen in a link with Deliveroo Editions, in Manchester. Leon opened its first delivery kitchen in Reading last month, with a further site opening in Leeds a week ago. Pret reopened ten of its London-based sites earlier this month and now plans to open a further ten nationwide this week. Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell has reopened sites in Plymouth, Cardiff and in Read More
Pret in talks to raise ‘€100m urgent loan’: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned business, is seeking a “€100m urgent loan from global banks”, reports the FT. The company is reportedly in discussions for the emergency loan as part of measures to make up for lost sales once stores reopen after the coronavirus crisis. Pret chief executive Pano Christou told the FT that Pret had enough cash to make it through the current lock-down but it needed funds for a “test and learn stage” to develop the operation once restrictions have been lifted. He said: “As a business coming out of this, we might look different, possibly smaller. I wish I could tell you in six months what size Pret will be. What I can tell you is Pret will still be there.” He also stated Pret had not attempted to access any government loan schemes. The FT said it was likely BNP Paribas, HSBC and Santander were in discussions with Pret, after the three banks helped to fund JAB Holdings’ £1.5bn-takeover of the business in 2018. Wahaca working with advisors on financing options: Mexican restaurant brand Wahaca is working with advisers to review its financing options, including its ability Read More
Loungers extends bank facilities and places new shares: Cafe bar brand Loungers has extended it bank facilities and is placing 9,250,000 new ordinary shares of 1p each. The company said this would provide additional liquidity headroom should closure be enforced for an extended period of time, together with growth capital “to enable it to emerge strongly from lock-down and recommence its roll-out at the appropriate time”. The company reported 99% of the company's employees have been furloughed via the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. A skeleton staff of business-critical employees has been retained to administer the company during the closure period and to prepare for the reopening of sites. Meanwhile, all capital expenditure and other non-discretionary spend has been paused and creditor payment terms for the duration of the site closure period have been re-negotiated. It is negotiating with landlords in respect of waiving March quarter rent payments. The base salaries/fees of the directors of the company have been reduced by 50% while the sites are closed (as a result of a 20% deduction and 30% deferral until sites reopen). As at 17 April 2020, the company had £4.1m of cash on its balance sheet, undrawn facilities of £3.0m and Read More
Comptoir Group in ‘reasonably healthy’ cash position with ‘minimal’ bank debt:Comptoir Group, the owner and operator of Lebanese and eastern Mediterranean restaurants, has said it is in a “reasonably healthy” cash position with “minimal” bank debt while all its venues are shuttered following lock-down rules. The company deferred all rent payments for the three months to June; postponed all non-essential capital expenditure, including a new site opening; and cut directors’ salaries. The government’s business rates relief will save Comptoir circa £1.4m over 12 months while the company is applying for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to pay furloughed employees. It comes as the company reported revenue dipped 3% to £33m for the year ending 31 December 2019 due to temporary extended closures for refurbishment at three London sites. Loss before tax narrowed 20% to £520,000, while cash at year-end was £5m. The company said it would not recommend a dividend in line with previous years. Chief executive Chaker Hanna said: “The board believe the group's current restaurant estate continues to have potential for further organic growth through selective new owned sites and opportunities with our franchise partners when the right economic conditions return. Setting the coronavirus outbreak and the related Read More
BrewDog brings back door-to-door beer delivery service, David McDowall to feature in latest ‘navigating the coronavirus’ video: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is bringing back its door-to-door beer delivery service. The first BrewDog locations to offer the on-demand beer drops will be in Aberdeen, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Reading and Sheffield. Sites will also be offering a limited food menu featuring BrewDog classics such as burgers and wings. The fresh beer offering will initially be BrewDog’s flagship Punk IPA and Lost Lager, with other canned and bottled beer available. NHS workers will receive 50% off their order along with a bottle of hand sanitiser. The decision to relaunch the delivery service has allowed some of the company’s staff, who live locally to their BrewDog bar, to opt into returning to work. BrewDog will provide each team member with masks and gloves, as well as refresher training on sanitation protocol, and physical distancing measures. Meanwhile, BrewDog chief operating officer David McDowallwill feature in the latest of Propel's video interviews with leading operators about navigating the coronavirus crisis. McDowall talks to Propel insights editor Mark Wingett about how the business went on the front foot to survive, learning from Read More
Tortilla plans to reopen selected sites from next month: Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed fast-casual Mexican concept, has started planning for the reopening of some of its sites for delivery and takeaway only from next month, Propel has learned. The Richard Morris-led business shuttered its entire 42-strong estate on 23 March, but has started to engage with staff and suppliers about reopening up to 12 of its sites. KFC, Burger King and Pret A Manger recently reopened selected sites for delivery only and more operators are understood to be considering following their move. Morris told Propel: “We feel it’s time to get moving again, albeit in a few locations with strong delivery and take away trade. To reopen a hibernated business takes time and process, so this will get us moving as the lock-down hopefully softens over the coming months. Employees and customers will be the priority, so we will be maintaining social distancing in all restaurants.” Liberation Group unveils tenant support package: Channel Islands and West Country-based brewer and retailer Liberation Group has unveiled a series of measures designed to support its tenants. The company said it would not collect any rent for the duration of pubs being closed for a Read More
Almost half of Wimpy’s 68-strong estate operating takeaway or delivery, opens new site: Burger brand Wimpy is bucking the downward trend on the high street having opened a new restaurant this week, while also adding to the number of sites now offering home delivery and pushing ahead with refurbishment plans. Almost 50% of its 68-strong estate nationwide is now operating home delivery or takeaway services and general manager Chris Woolfenden said the company was “well placed” to keep serving customers. “Since the lock-down was announced, our franchisees have really stepped up to the mark,” he said. “The fact many of them are family-owned businesses means they are already working together under one roof and they simply want to make sure they can meet demand and give their customers what they want. In addition to takeaways, working with our home delivery partners has been a game changer. It’s clear consumers are turning to delivery services to brighten up their mealtimes and remind them of the ‘good old days’ by enjoying the brands they love in their own home.” Wimpy opened in Orpington on Easter Monday (13 April), marking a return to the town after 35 years. Joint franchisee Nico Sokoli, an Read More
Coffee shops and restaurants ‘could be first to re-open’ to rescue economy:Conservative peer Lord Gadhia and GlaxoSmithKline chairman Sir Jonathan Symonds have advised government ministers to consider re-opening sectors with ‘greatest multiplier effects’ such as restaurants and estate agents. The new thinking is laid out in a report – seen by The Sun – authored by Lord Gadhia and Symonds, which calls for a limited reopening of high streets. The pair state that Britain must “learn to live with covid” as it can’t be fully defeated until a vaccine is mass produced in 12 to 18-months time. According to The Sun, the report says that the re-opening of coffee shops, estate agents and restaurants is deemed to offer the greatest boost to the crippled economy, but the smallest risk of transmitting the disease. In the report, which is understood to be being circulated across Whitehall, the pair argue that: “The initial focus for reopening the economy should be on sectors that have the greatest multiplier effects with minimum risks – such as coffee shops and restaurants which support agriculture. The property market is another that has wide multiplier effects. We need to avoid a stop-start economy which would sap public Read More
Patty & Bun’s produces lock-down kit: Patty & Bun, the better burger concept led by Joe Grossman, has joined forces with its meat supplier, butcher HG Walter, to produce “The Lockdown DIY Patty Kit”. The initiative has sold 3,000 kits in just ten days, with both businesses adapting their websites and using existing drivers and vans to facilitate the deliveries. The kit, which is available anywhere within the M25, features Patty & Bun’s HG Walter beef patties, brioche buns, a mini squeezy bottle of smokey Patty & Bun mayo, cheese slices, and the home-made pickled and smokey onions. Three different burger boxes are available four Ari Gold cheeseburgers; four Smokey Robinson; and two Ari Gold and two Smokey Robinson. Carluccio’s staff to be furloughed after landmark legal ruling: Unite, the union for hospitality workers, has secured clarification the government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) can be used by companies in administration in its first legal test. Carluccio’s was placed into administration last month, casting doubt over whether its circa 2,000 staff were eligible for the scheme. Administrators were appointed to oversee the collapse of the restaurant chain on 30 March, four days after the Treasury had published details of CJRS. Read More
Starbucks sets up relief fund for UK employees as part of $10m global programme to help staff: Starbucks is setting up a relief fund for its UK employees as part of a $10m global programme to help staff during the coronavirus crisis. The commitment marks the first time both company-operated and international licensed market store employees across Starbucks can access hardship grants. Support from the Starbucks Global Partner Emergency Relief Programme will be made available to staff in licensed store markets through the Emergency Assistance Foundation; to employees in company-operated markets through the established Caring Unites Partners (CUP) fund; and to partners in Europe through the Starbucks EMEA Partner Relief Fund, which has been established for European company-operated markets including the UK, Austria, Switzerland, as well as the company’s roastery in Italy and roasting plant in the Netherlands. Categories for fund grants include, but are not limited to, housing and utilities, sudden loss of home, death of a family member or partner, and related funeral expenses. Starbucks $10m commitment to the Global Partner Emergency Relief Programme will also create a pathway for international licensed markets to set up their own funds with Starbucks contributing an initial investment, a first for Read More
Goodbody – latest TRG action indicates group would now survive on existing facilities until year end in event of very prolonged shut-down: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has said the latest action by The Restaurant Group (TRG) indicates the group would now survive on existing facilities until the year end in the event of a very prolonged shut-down. Ruddy said: “As of year-end the group had cash net debt of £287m and more than £160m of cash and facilities. Working capital was made up of £188m of payables offset by £48m of receivables and prepayments. We would assume there was negligible cash burn in January and February so the group entered this crisis with good room in facilities. TRG set out a scenario at the end of March encompassing a ten-week shut-down in leisure before normalising in the second half, and a 92% decline in concessions with a recovery to minus 32% in the second half. In this scenario net debt would be in a range of £209 to £263m on an Ebitda range of £95m to £105m. It would retain £75m of cash liquidity throughout the remainder of the 2020 financial year. This assumed concession rents are turnover based Read More
Peach confirms all staff to keep jobs, directors sacrifice salaries until pubs reopen: Gastro-pub operator Peach has confirmed all staff will keep their jobs as it launched a series of measures to support the team while its 19 pubs are closed. Every team member will be paid in full for the first three weeks of the current pay period – from Monday, 16 March to Sunday (5 April). From Monday (6 April), everyone will be placed on furlough and receive 80% of their wages, whether they are salaried or paid hourly. The only exception to this is a skeleton team working to support the team and the pubs during the closure, and the Peach directors who have agreed not to draw a salary until the pubs reopen. Additionally, Peach will top up the monthly pay of anyone whose salary is more than the maximum government grant of £2,500 a month, so everyone gets the 80%, and pay both individual pension contributions and those from Peach into every team member's pension pot. The company has also set up The Peach Hardship Fund – a pot of money to help any of its team in need. It is also keeping in touch Read More
Byron places entire workforce on job retention scheme, directors take pay cut:Byron, the better burger brand led by Simon Wilkinson and backed by Three Hills Capital, has placed its circa 1,200 staff on the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) while directors have taken a “substantial” pay cut. The 51-strong business, which completed a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in 2018, appointed KPMG last week to explore ways to shore up its balance sheet including options to access emergency funding. Wilkinson told Propel: “Byron has worked with employees during this hibernation period and put everyone on the CJRS. The directors have taken a substantial pay cut to remain with the business and work with KPMG to review options and steer the company through these challenging times.” This week sector peer Carluccio’s, which also completed a CVA in 2018, was placed into administration. Last week both brands held emergency talks regarding a merger, which came to nothing. The CJRS pays up to 80% of employees’ wages with a ceiling of £2,500 a month. About 20% of Bella Italia sites remain open for delivery and collection: Casual Dining Group (CDG) has kept about 20% of its circa 115 Bella Italia restaurants open for Read More
Deliveroo pledges 500,000 free meals for NHS workers: Deliveroo has pledged to give 500,000 free meals to front-line NHS workers. The company has secured donations of 350,000 free meals from restaurants to date, led by Pizza Hut, which has pledged 300,000 meals using its network of 700 UK stores. Other meal donations include a substantial offer from healthy Asian food chain Itsu, while Pizza Hut has also donated funding to help cover the cost of deliveries. Deliveroo said it would initially focus on London and Manchester before expanding the service, with any excess funds donated to the NHS. Pizza Hut is also offering free deliveries to hospitals and 50% discounts to NHS staff, while Deliveroo is changing its app to enable customers to buy a meal for a doctor or a nurse. Deliveroo will also continue to deliver free food to the vulnerable during the crisis via London-based charities. Founder and chief executive Will Shu said: “Those in the NHS working night and day to save lives are the real heroes of this crisis and we want to do our bit to support them and the vulnerable who aren’t able to leave their homes. Thanks to our dedicated riders, the Read More
Leon – keeping business open for NHS workers is right thing to do, no matter the cost: Natural fast food brand Leon has said it is costing the company more to keep the business open but it would continue to serve NHS workers as it was the “right thing to do”. The company also said if it “accidentally” made any profit during the coronavirus outbreak, the money would be spent on feeding hospital teams. Leon stated: “In line with government advice and support, Leon remains open to customers where NHS teams and essential workers need us. In the past week we have served 13,843 takeaway and delivery meals to NHS workers alone. All meals served to the NHS were at 50% discount. We have to do the right thing and continue to serve them. We have once again explained to our team members that no Leon person should work if they don’t wish to. Whatever each team member decides, we support them. If they choose to remain at home, we are helping them to access the government furlough scheme. The decision isn’t financial. In fact, it’s costing our business more to stay open. We have been inundated with requests from Read More
Leon to launch Ocado-style home delivery: Leon is to launch an Ocado-style home delivery site as it reinvents itself to survive the coronavirus crisis. Following the government's order all restaurants must close, Leon will turn its 57 UK sites into shops selling groceries and takeaway meals. Customers will be able to order online or on their phones and either collect in person or order a delivery from UberEats or Deliveroo. The chain's e-commerce site, which will launch on Wednesday (25 March), will initially sell Leon groceries and ready-meals made by two of the chain's biggest suppliers. It plans to widen the net to sell food from other restaurants and suppliers, in a bid to become “the Ocado of the restaurant industry”. Mexican restaurant group Wahaca has already held discussions with Leon about joining the venture in the coming weeks. In a further twist, Hammerson, which is landlord of the Brent Cross in north London, last week offered Leon a free site in the shopping centre. Leon has already started converting the 8,000 square foot site, which was occupied by retailer Mothercare before it went bust, into its flagship shop. John Vincent, Leon's founder and chief executive, has drawn up the Read More
BrewDog has ‘lost 70% of revenue overnight’ and is ‘adapting in fight to survive’:James Watt, co-founder of Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, said the company had lost “70% of its revenue overnight”, while the business is adapting as it “fights to survive”. Speaking on the Ian King show on Sky News, Watt said: “It is a very difficult time and our thoughts are with everyone – it’s also a difficult time for our business. We essentially lost 70% of our revenue overnight and we’re doing all we can to adapt and think about our resources differently to try to survive and save as many jobs as we can. We’re also trying to help the country as we do this so we’re using our distillery to make hand sanitiser and giving it away. It’s going to come at a cost to the business but I think it’s the right thing to do at this time, which is a challenging time for everyone. As well as doing our best to survive we want to do what we can to help the country get through this quickly and in the best shape possible. We’ve been using some of our team members to go Read More
Government has given sector ‘breathing space’ with £330m support package but further help needed – and urgently: The chancellor’s £330bn package to help businesses gives the sector “breathing space” but further support for employees is needed – and urgently. That’s the message from UKHospitality and sector operators after Rishi Sunak announced a series of measures to support the economy amid the coronavirus crisis. This included extending the 12-month business rates relief announced in last week’s Budget to all hospitality companies, with the government hinting further support would be made to the industry. Sunak branded coronavirus a “public health emergency but also an economic emergency”. His measures included a package of direct support to businesses that is worth more than £20bn. This includes a new lending facility agreed with the Bank of England for larger businesses and a big extension of the business interruption loan scheme, which was announced last week. There will now be loans of up to £5m available instead of £1.2m, with no interest due for the first six months, and the scheme will be “up and running by next week”. The £3,000 cash grant for 700,000 small businesses in the Budget has been increased to £10,000. Sunak Read More
UKHospitality – catastrophic move means government has shut sector without support: The government has effectively shut the hospitality industry without any support by telling people to avoid pubs, restaurants and hotels in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, UKHospitality has said. Prime minister Boris Johnson announced the move as part of measures to “start avoiding all unnecessary social contact” to try to prevent the rapid spread of the virus. However, he stopped short of ordering hospitality venues to close – leaving the industry “in limbo”. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls called the move “catastrophic” and said it would lead to “thousands of businesses closing for good and hundreds of thousands of job losses”. She said: “Over the past few weeks the industry has suffered unprecedented drops in visits and many business are already on their knees. This latest advice leaves the industry in limbo, with no recourse to insurance. The government must act now to stop them going under and protect jobs. These venues play a unique role as community hubs and it’s in all our interests to protect and preserve them so they are still there once we emerge from this crisis. We need immediate and far-reaching support from Read More
Ei Group warns tenants insurance policies don’t cover for coronavirus: Ei Group, the UK’s biggest pub group with more than 4,000 pubs, has warned its publicans their existing insurance policies will not cover them for loss of business because of coronavirus (covid-19). According to The Guardian, the company has told its managers covid-19 is not included in the group’s policy with the insurer Zurich and has advised them to consider seeking further cover elsewhere. In a letter sent to publicans last week, which has been seen by the Guardian, Ei Group said: “It has been confirmed Zurich is not including covid-19 in its notifiable diseases section. As such, any business affected by covid-19 will not be able to claim for loss of trade.” Earlier this month, the government bowed to pressure by changing its stance on insurance to declare coronavirus as a “notifiable disease” – a formal classification required by many insurance policies. However, many of these existing policies cite specific diseases that businesses can claim for. As coronavirus is so new, it is not included in most of the lists. Giggling Squid opens debut delivery-only kitchen: Giggling Squid, the Thai restaurant brand founded by Andy and Pranee Laurillard, has Read More
Sector pays tribute to Michel Roux Sr as iconic chef passes away aged 79: Tributes to chef Michel Roux Sr have poured in from across the restaurant industry at news he has passed away aged 79. His death was announced by his nephew and fellow chef Michel Roux Jr on his Instagram page. He wrote: “We are deeply saddened to have lost our founding father, Michel Roux OBE. We are grateful to have shared our lives with this extraordinary man and we’re so proud of all he has achieved. A humble genius, legendary chef, popular author and charismatic teacher, Michel leaves the world reeling in his wake. For many he was a father figure inspiring all with his insatiable appetite for life and irresistible enthusiasm. But, above all, we’ll miss his mischievous sense of fun, his huge, bottomless heart and generosity, and kindness that knew no bounds. Michel’s star will shine forever, lighting the way for a generation of chefs to follow.” Michel Roux made his name in the UK with his brother Albert in 1967 when they launched Le Gavroche, which is now run by Michel Roux Jr. He opened The Waterside Inn in Bray in 1972, which remains Read More
Sector like-for-likes fall 3.3% in February as floods and coronavirus take toll:Britain’s managed pub and restaurant groups saw like-for-like sales fall 3.3% in February compared with the previous year as flooding and coronavirus took its toll on the industry, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker. Managed pub groups saw collective like-for-like sales fall 4.2%, with restaurant groups down 1.8% and bar chains down 2.8%. Regionally, London had a tougher time, seeing like-for-likes down 3.7% compared with a 3.2% decline outside the M25. Pubs saw falls in food and drink sales of 3.9% and 4.6% respectively. While restaurant groups recorded a relatively smaller decline in sales, the number of covers served in the month fell 4.9%. The last week in February, when coronavirus started escalating, saw a 4.4% drop in like-for-like sales across the industry. “The month started with flooding hitting sales in parts of the country, with pubs and restaurants closed in some areas,” said Karl Chessell, business unit director of food and retail at CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the Tracker in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM. “But as the month progressed the impact of the coronavirus emergency began to take its toll Read More
Chilango promotes operations director Richard Franks to MD: Mexican restaurant brand Chilango, which earlier this month had its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposals approved, has promoted its operations director Richard Franks to managing director, Propel has learned. Franks, who joined the business from Gather & Gather four years ago, was formerly managing director of Apostrophe Cafes. He also spent a year at Harris + Hoole, and before that almost eight years at EAT. Last September, Chilango’s founders Eric Partaker and Dan Houghton, acting as directors, decided to make their co-chief executive roles redundant and the search process for a managing director started in October. Houghton’s co-chief executive role was made redundant on 1 October, with his notice period ending on 31 December. Partaker was to remain chief executive until the new managing director joined the business, at which point his role would also be made redundant. Partaker and Houghton both remain as non-executive directors and major shareholders in the business. Houghton was to explore interim head of data roles going forward, and is currently working with Vita Mojo and City Pantry. As part of the CVA proposal, the company will exit leases for unopened sites in Bristol, Leeds and Brighton, Read More
Pizza Pilgrims secures Camden site for convertible restaurant and training academy: Pizza Pilgrims, founded by brothers Thom and James Elliot, has secured a site in Parkway, Camden, for a convertible restaurant and training academy, Propel has learned. The company, which recently opened its 12th site, in London’s Victoria, has acquired the 40 Zero site from Various Eateries for an opening next month. During the day the site will house a 20-cover restaurant and two training rooms, transforming in the evening to a 100-cover restaurant. As well as training staff, the space will also host talks by experts from inside and outside the sector. The Elliots said they hoped the academy would champion the hospitality industry and provide people with a range of skills to pursue a long-term career. Thom Elliot told Propel: “The academy will offer training to anyone who wants to build a career in the sector, whether that’s someone who is homeless or an ex-offender as well as delivering training for Pizza Pilgrims employees. We also want to put on talks for people in the sector but outside our own business. Moving into a ‘village location’, we know we won’t need to offer a traditional restaurant space during Read More
Stronger disposable income levels continue to drive leisure spending as consumer confidence lifts: Stronger levels of disposable income have continued to drive leisure spending while consumer confidence has lifted. UK consumer confidence rose 0.5% in the final quarter of 2019, according to the latest Deloitte Consumer Tracker. The quarterly survey of more than 3,000 UK adults found consumer spending in the leisure sector, while flat in the final quarter of 2019, was “on par with the exceptional growth seen this time last year”. Deloitte said as consumers continue to favour experiences over goods, the colder weather saw notable growth in in-home leisure such as food delivery services. Confidence in disposable income was up 5% overall at minus 16%. The survey revealed sentiment on job security was three points higher year-on-year, at minus 5%. Confidence around job opportunities and career progression was down 3% compared with the previous year, at minus 6%. Simon Oaten, partner for hospitality and leisure at Deloitte, said: “An increase in spending in the eating and drinking out and culture and entertainment categories indicate that, despite tightening their belts, consumers continue to favour experiences over goods when deciding what to do with their spare cash. Looking ahead, Read More
Chick-fil-A to push ahead with plans for ‘permanent’ UK site: Chick-fil-A, the largest chicken and third-largest US fast food restaurant chain, is pushing ahead with plans to open a “permanent” outlet in the UK – despite a backlash over its funding of anti-LGBT causes. Chick-fil-A closed its only Scottish location, a “pilot” at Macdonald Aviemore, at the weekend while its site at the Oracle shopping centre in Reading won’t run beyond its initial six-month period. Both restaurants opened in October but attracted criticism after it emerged Chick-fil-A pumped millions of dollars into organisations that actively oppose same-sex marriage. The company has since changed its charity-giving policy. Chick-fil-A said the Aviemore outlet didn’t close as a result of public pressure but was “in line” with its plans to trial the franchise. A spokeswoman told Herald Scotland: “These insights will help us immensely as we look to have a permanent location in the UK.” Tootoomoo to explore franchise route for expansion: London-based, pan-Asian tapas concept Tootoomoo is to explore a franchise route for further expansion in the UK. Propel understands the business, which was founded by Philip McGuinness, has started working with Seed Consulting to find suitable franchisees. A Tootoomoo restaurant can Read More
Gordon Ramsay flies Plane Food To Go into Hong Kong: Chef Gordon Ramsay has taken his Plane Food To Go concept to Hong Kong. Ramsay has partnered with SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, to open the site at Hong Kong International airport. The outlet is in the East Hall on the seventh floor of Terminal 1. The all-day menu integrates British and Asian flavours and features some of Ramsay’s signature dishes such as the short rib burger as well as a full English breakfast. There are also a number of items exclusive to the Hong Kong site, including lobster thermidor mac ‘n’ cheese. The opening follows the launch in 2008 of the debut Plane restaurant at Heathrow airport’s Terminal 5. The restaurant was reconfigured to the Food To Go concept in 2017. Ramsay said: “As someone who spends a lot of time in airports I know how important it is to deliver fresh and tasty food super quick! SSP’s important infrastructure has allowed this launch to happen and I’m delighted the company is our partner in this exciting new adventure.” Three Joes secures fourth site, at Intu Lakeside: Sourdough pizza restaurant Three Joes, co-founded by Tim Hall, Read More
Oakman Inns reports like-for-likes up 7.3%, launches £10m fund-raise: Oakman Inns and Restaurants has reported like-for-like sales increased 7.3% for the 15 months ending 30 June 2019. Turnover for the period was £46.7m, while site Ebitda was £8.6m and group Ebitda was £4.2m. Despite inflationary pressures margins have been maintained, with average sales per core site running at more than £35,000 net of VAT per week. The company, led by Peter Borg-Neal, opened four sites during the period – The Four Alls in Welford-upon-Avon; The Royal Foresters in Ascot; The Beech House in Hampton Hill and The Polecat in Prestwood. Additionally, The Beech House in Beaconsfield was doubled in size while significant investments were made at The Globe in Warwick and The Anchor in Hullbridge. Since the year end, the company has opened its 24th site – The Lost Boy in Farnham. Oakman Inns significantly strengthened its balance sheet during the period via two significant deals with Ei Group and Downing Fund Management, which resulted in bringing the ownership of £25m of freehold assets within the group. Borg-Neal said: “Overall we have maintained our corporate momentum despite an unhelpful environment with the uncertainty around Brexit having an impact on consumer Read More
David Page – we’ve identified 40 towns and cities for Franco Manca openings, most opportunities coming through new-build given landlord incentives: Fulham Shore chairman David Page has told Propel the company has identified 40 towns and cities for Franco Manca openings, which would take the brand to 90 sites in five years. The company opened its 51st Franco Manca on Monday (16 December), off Bishopsgate in London. Speaking following the company’s half-year results in which revenue grew 9.3% to £36.0m, Page said it was also looking to strengthen the management team to gear up for the next stage of growth. He said the openings were planned across the UK, including further growth in London. Page added: “We are looking at places where we already have a restaurant as well as new locations. We want another in Manchester and then there’s Newcastle and York, for example. In some cases we’ve also identified the exact physical location of these restaurants.” Page said most of its opportunities were coming through new-build sites rather than existing restaurants, with landlords providing financial incentives. He added: “We plan to open nine restaurants in the financial year and with two of those we’re getting help from landlords Read More
Drake & Morgan sees ‘challenging market conditions’ affect first half of financial year, full-year adjusted Ebitda up 24.9%: Drake & Morgan, the London-based bar and restaurant group backed by Bowmark Capital, has said “challenging market conditions” have affected the first half of its current financial year. The company said it expects a strong Christmas period, with bookings “well ahead” of last year. It comes as the company announced like-for-like sales rose 2.8% for the year ending 31 March 2019. Turnover increased 12% to £56.0m, compared with £49.7m the previous year. Adjusted Ebitda was up 24.9% to £6.3m compared with £5m the year before, while adjusted pre-tax profit rose to £1.9m from £1.3m the previous year. The company launched The Anthologist at One St Peter’s Square in Manchester in July 2018. Two further conversions from the former Corney & Barrow Bars estate took place, with the Little Fable in November 2018 and The Moniker in April 2019. A new central London site has been secured for 2020, which will take the portfolio to 23 bars in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. Propel understands this is the former Cooperage Bar in Tooley Street, which was previously operated by Davy’s Wine Bars. Drake & Read More
Turtle Bay reports turnover and profit drop amid ‘significant headwinds’:Caribbean restaurant brand Turtle Bay, backed by Piper, has reported turnover and profit dropped in the year to 2 March 2019 as the company battled with “significant headwinds”. Sales decreased 2.5% to £66.9m while pre-tax profit was £2.2m, compared with £5.9m the year before. The company stated: “As well as the continued over-supply in the sector and the general weakness of consumer demand, sales were also adversely affected by a number of one-off events such as the FIFA World Cup. In light of the environment we slowed site growth and only opened one site during the year. Our belief is there is still a large number of good potential sites around the UK – however, their cost is likely to fall over the next couple of years. In Germany, sales increased during the year by 31.5% due to the full year impact of the restaurant that opened part-way through the prior year. Adjusted Ebitda of £7.6m (2018: £12m) is down, but we are happy our adjusted Ebitda margin of 11.4% balances the needs of the company and its customers. The company continues to generate cash from operating activities in excess of Read More
Potting Shed acquired out of administration by John Leslie: Potting Shed Trading, the eight-strong bar and restaurant group, has been acquired out of administration by a third party company led by former Intertain chief executive John Leslie, Propel understands. Ormsborough, a company backed by funds managed by Downing, confirmed its wholly owned subsidiary, Potting Shed Trading, was placed into administration on Tuesday (3 December). Alan Coleman and James Fish, of Royce Peeling Green, were appointed joint administrators. Propel understands the entire business has been acquired with Leslie appointed as non-executive chairman and John Creighton leading the company as managing director. All eight sites, which are located across Beverley, Bingley, Guiseley, Halifax, Northallerton and Southport, will continue to trade under the Potting Shed and Firepit brands, securing the jobs of all employees. Burning Night Group was responsible for the management of the Potting Shed and Firepit pubs until the company went into administration in 2018. This caused disruption to the Potting Shed Trading business, which had to deal with a succession of legacy issues relating to the period under Burning Night Group’s management. Downing stepped in and appointed a new management team to assist with the business’ turnaround but were unable Read More
Loungers’ sustained growth being driven by ‘volume rather than price’, evolves regional operating structure: Nick Collins, chief executive of cafe bar brand Loungers, has told Propel the company’s continued growth is being driven by “volume rather than price”. Collins said while the high-street landscape was undoubtedly changing, it had “never really been unstable” from his business’ point of view. Speaking following the company’s interim results in which like-for-like sales increased 5.4%, Collins said: “We haven’t really seen any change in the way consumers are behaving towards us. A lot of the reasons we are able to sustain our like-for-like growth is because we make sure we continue to innovate. We trade through all dayparts so there’s always something we can get better at. Looking to improve has always been the Loungers way and a key part of our success.” Loungers has been evolving its regional operations structure to ensure it is “fit for the future”. Collins said this included increasing the number of operational areas to accommodate the company’s geographical expansion as it continues to open 25 sites a year. He added: “One of the strengths of the business is we’re always looking where we need to be in, say, Read More
New World Trading Company restructures operational team as it views further growth: Graphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group The New World Trading Company has restructured its operational team as its gears up to open six sites next year, Propel has learned. The Chris Hill-led, 27-strong business has created three regional director roles as part of the restructure filled by Bruce Millington, formerly of Zizzi and Marston’s; Aideen Byrne, formerly of PizzaExpress; and Leane King, who has been with New World Trading Company for the past seven years. The restructure sees the group’s operation director Matt Bamber oversee all the company’s “Unique Brands”, which comprises everything apart from The Botanist brand, including The Florist and House sites. The company opened its 19th Botanist site earlier this week, in Warrington, Cheshire. It launched the 10,000 square foot venue at the £142m Time Square development, which is being delivered by Warrington & Co on behalf of Warrington Borough Council, with Muse Developments appointed development manager. The new Botanist has space for 170 diners across two floors and circa 100 people at the bar. The company is scheduled to open further Botanist sites next year in Cardiff (February), Lincoln (April), and Preston (June). It is Read More
Former ETM operations director and ex-Ivy head chef start expansion of Brucan Pubs venture, plan third site towards end of 2020: Former ETM operations director James Lyon-Shaw and ex-Ivy head chef Jamie Dobbin have started expansion of their Brucan Pubs venture by acquiring a second site – with a third planned towards the end of 2020, Propel has learned. Brucan Pubs, which opened its debut site, The Greene Oak, in Windsor in September 2018, has acquired the lease of The Mayford Arms in the village of Mayford, near Woking in Surrey. Both sites are with brewer and retailer Greene King. The Mayford Arms will reopen in late January as The Drumming Snipe, offering “robust British cooking in a traditional country pub setting”. The Drumming Snipe’s menu will feature “hyper-seasonal specials” including British game, meat and fish. Meat will be butchered, prepared and aged on-site, while fish will come from Brixham day boats. Dishes will include St Mary’s Bay plaice with samphire and shrimps, and a butcher’s plate that will include kid goat, cockerel, Iron Age bacon, beef short rib, lamb, ox liver and kidney, and trencher. The site will undergo a refurbishment to create new kitchens, terraces, dining areas, open Read More
Industry pays tribute to Gary Rhodes: The industry has been paying tribute to Michelin-starred chef Gary Rhodes following the shock news he passed away in Dubai on Tuesday (26 November) at the age of 59. Rhodes, who moved to Dubai in 2011, where he ran two restaurants, died peacefully with wife Jennie by his side. A family statement read: “The Rhodes family are deeply saddened to announce the passing of beloved husband, father and brother, Gary Rhodes OBE.” Gordon Ramsay tweeted: “We lost a fantastic chef today in Gary Rhodes. He was a chef who put British cuisine on the map. Sending all the love and prayers to your wife and kids. You’ll be missed.” Jamie Oliver posted on Instagram: “Gary was a fantastic chef and incredible ambassador for British cooking. He was a massive inspiration to me as a young chef. He reimagined modern British cuisine with elegance and fun. Rest in peace, chef.” The Michelin Guide called Rhodes an “inspirational chef”, adding: “British gastronomy owes him a huge debt.” Rhodes trained under Brian Turner at the Capital before becoming head chef of the Greenhouse restaurant in Mayfair in 1990, where he gained his second Michelin star six years Read More
Japanese fusion cafe concept Sushi Cupcake to take over Dayrooms Café space in Holborn: Japanese fusion cafe concept Sushi Cupcake is to launch in Holborn, central London, before Christmas. The grab-and-go venue will open in Theobalds Road, catering to the area’s large demographic of office workers. As well as sushi cupcakes, the concept will offer noodle bowls, sides, smoothies, a matcha bar, desserts and Japanese-style breakfast. The 355 square foot venue was formerly occupied by The Dayrooms Café, which will now focus on its venue in Kensington Park Road, Notting Hill. The lease for the unit is on assignment. Danielle Agami and Gabriella Sether, surveyors at Restaurant Property, both acted on the deal. They said: “Sushi Cupcake will open its first site in a beautifully refurbished unit perfect for its innovative concept and in line with its trendy fit-out plans.” No other agents were involved in the deal. Australian boutique lifestyle brand The Dayrooms launched its debut café in Notting Hill in July 2017, expanding to Theobalds Road for a second site a few months later. Zumrud Mammadova and Aytan Mehdiyeva launched The Dayrooms to provide a “UK stage for rising stars and emerging young Australian talent”, opening a womenswear Read More
Turtle Bay boosts executive team as it reports full-year turnover of £66.9m:Caribbean restaurant chain Turtle Bay has made two senior appointments to its executive team – Steve Robinson as chief financial officer and Jo Cole as head of people – as the company reported a significant boost in Ebitda and sales in its financial year. Robinson brings a wealth of experience in the hospitality sector having previously been chief financial officer at Young’s, where he worked for almost a decade. He qualified with Deloitte in 2004 before moving on to The Walt Disney Company, where he held a number of finance roles. Cole also brings a great deal of hospitality experience, starting out as a chef before managing restaurants for Stonegate Pub Company brand Slug & Lettuce and Tootsies. Since 2007 she has worked exclusively in HR and training and development, most recently leading the people function at Gourmet Burger Kitchen. The appointments come as Turtle Bay prepares to file accounts at Companies House for the year ended 28 February 2019. The group posted sales of £66.9m despite the well-documented challenges within the sector”. The company said it had avoided discounting to focus on “great-value Caribbean food and drinks” and Read More
Pho reports 5.4% increase in full-year like-for-like sales: Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho saw a 12.8% increase in turnover to £34.4m in the year to the end of February 2019, driven by a 5.4% increase in like-for-like sales, Propel has learned. The Gresham House Ventures-backed, 29-strong group has continued to generate a positive sales performance, with like-for-like sales in the nine months of its current financial year understood to be up 6.5%, driven by strong eat-in numbers and continued growth outside London. It is understood the delivery side of the business also continues to perform “very strongly”. Propel understands the business is close to securing a site in Sheffield, while further openings are believed to be in the pipeline in Edinburgh and the Midlands. Stephen Wall, who founded the business with wife Juliette in 2005, told Propel: “During these challenging times it’s good to report Pho’s proposition remains strong and our customer experience is increasingly appealing to the health-conscious and value-driven generation, in London and increasingly across the UK”. Ebitda in the year to the end of February 2019 was positive but stable, which the company said was the result of a “challenging summer period and investment in the Read More
Fuller’s to open pub restaurant at Wembley Park: London brewer and retailer Fuller’s is to open a pub restaurant at Wembley Park. The two-storey, 8,200 square foot venue is due to open in Wembley Park Boulevard in the spring as part of Quintain’s £3bn development of the area surrounding Wembley Stadium. The pub will offer premium beer, wine and spirits alongside seasonal dishes served throughout the day. It will also offer a garden and terrace with views across Wembley Park, while the upper floor will be flexible to provide a large open space on event days or smaller areas that can host work spaces and private dining to appeal to residents and office workers. Fuller’s property director Peter Turner said: “We are under-represented in this part of London and the location will give us a presence in the heart of this great new development.” Quintain retail director Matt Slade added: “Fuller’s pub will be a great addition to our food and beverage mix that already features London’s largest Boxpark, a new food hub at Wembley Park Market and 30 restaurants and bars at London Designer Outlet.” Nash Bond and Cushman & Wakefield are agents for Wembley Park. Live music venue Read More
Pret A Manger in talks over Israeli franchise: Pret A Manger is in talks with Israel’s largest restaurant group Café Café, which is looking to open as many as 70 franchises in the country. The Café Café group, controlled by Ronen Nimni, wants to open 50 to 70 branches across Israel of about 100 square metres each. Café Café currently operates 15 brands, including Café Café, Fresh, Ruben, Hasushia, Lehem Erez, Kaspi, Nagisa and Sahbak. In recent months Café Café said it had considered franchising Starbucks but negotiations had been unsuccessful. The Israeli restaurant sector has become crowded in recent years, while challenges in the coffee and restaurant sector have become even more acute due to regulatory changes such as an increase in the minimum wage, laws on bottle deposits and tips, and a crackdown on foreign workers. A Café Café spokesman said: “We are Israel’s largest restaurant group, with more than 300 cafes and restaurants nationwide under 15 leading brands. The group assesses business proposals from time to time and neither confirms nor denies reports about its business policy.” Chick-fil-A changes charity policy following restaurant protests: Chick-fil-A, the largest chicken and third-largest US fast food restaurant chain, has made Read More
Byron unveils new dining experience ahead of UK-wide roll-out: Better burger brand Byron has unveiled its new look featuring a reimagined design and menu and first brunch offer. The company’s original High Street Kensington restaurant has been redesigned to feature large communal tables and “social spaces for brunchers” as well as sofas for laptop workers and working lunches. The site features the brand’s new-look logo and signage ahead of the “new dining experience” being rolled out across Byron’s 53-strong UK estate next year. The new breakfast and brunch menu, created by food and drink director Sophie Michell, takes inspiration from the US west coast including chicken and waffles (cornflake-coated, buttermilk-fried chicken breast with thick-cut bacon, butter and maple syrup), while for the main menu Michell has reinvented Byron’s signature burger as The New Byron. Other new burgers on the menu include a blue cheese version and one with barbecue bourbon sauce, while new desserts include American vanilla chess pie. Byron has partnered with Paddy & Scott’s for coffee. Michell said: “It is so exciting to witness a new era for Byron. As a long-term fan, to be able to breathe a new lease of life into the brand is thrilling. Read More
Rosa’s Thai founders hope to grow Ceviche after acquiring it out of administration: Alex and Saiphin Moore, the founders of Rosa’s Thai Cafe, plan on growing Ceviche, the Peruvian-inspired business, they have acquired out of administration. The Moores, which sold a majority stake in Rosa’s to private equity firm TriSpan last summer, have acquired the original Ceviche site in Frith Street in Soho, Andina in Shoreditch and Casita Andina in Great Windmill Street, also in Soho. Ceviche Old Street, Ceviche Notting Hill and Andina bakery, also in Notting Hill, closed earlier this month. The Moores bought the Ceviche business out of administration in a management-led buy-out deal through Atomex – the turnaround company they set up by last year. Alex Moore told Propel the plan was to run the business as was until after the festive period, before looking to engage with previous shareholders, which included Michael Acton Smith, the founder of Moshi Monsters; and Alex Chesterman, the founder of Zoopla; who had their stakes wiped out through the administration process, to see if they wanted to get involved again. Propel understands the Moores started talking to Ceviche founder Martin Morales last year about where the business needed to go Read More
Former TRG directors to open third site this weekend as they target 12-strong estate: Former Chiquito managing director Jason Green and Frankie & Benny’s brand director David Salmon are to open their third site, this weekend, and are targeting a 12-strong estate in the next five years. Their company, Green & Salmon, which operates two sites under its bar and kitchen concept CockNBull.Co (CnB), will launch Coal & Cotton in Boothstown, Worsley. They have taken on The Greyhound, which is their first site with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. Following a more than £750,000 joint refurbishment, the former wet-led pub has been transformed to feature a gin distillery incorporated into the bar producing its own Boothstown Gin. Green said: “We are delighted with the look of Coal & Cotton, a new concept we’re developing to sit alongside our CnB brand. It will allow us to grow more quickly. Before we have even opened the doors we’ve had more than 2,000 bookings from people wanting to eat with us.” Charlie Gale, Star Pubs & Bars investment manager, said: “It is a stunning pub now, unlike anything else in the area. With an experienced team such as Jason and David driving it Read More
Tortilla to explore ‘dark kitchens’ as future growth opportunity: Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed, fast-casual Mexican concept, has begun exploring the possibility of opening a “dark kitchen” to tap into areas of the country in which the brand is under-represented. Managing director Richard Morris told Propel that off the back of the growth of the delivery side of its business and the success of a smaller “Baby Tortilla” format the company was to begin the search for a possible dark kitchen site, but had yet to decide which location or approach it would take. Morris said: “Clearly our business has proved itself as a hugely popular delivery item. Whist our in-house sales have remained strong, we have benefited from the extra revenue driven by delivery and take away. Dark kitchens have been on our radar for a while – we just need to be sure these are in the right locations, either as test areas for new sites, or to help in areas where our restaurants are over trading with delivery. There are areas within the London area we currently don’t service, and outside London would also present great opportunities for us. The revenues of dark kitchens are generally lower than restaurants, Read More
Patty & Bun to open Liverpool Street 2.0 next month as brand returns to double figures: Patty & Bun, the better burger concept led by Joe Grossman, will return to Liverpool Street next month but in a larger space. The company’s original Liverpool Street site had to close because of a redevelopment. Patty & Bun Liverpool Street 2.0 will open on Monday, 9 December at twice the size of the original and featuring a 50-cover restaurant and 15-cover takeaway area. The venue will also feature additions to the menu including a stronger vegan presence and the return of the brand’s breakfast menu on Fridays. Grossmann said: “I couldn’t be more excited about re-entering the Liverpool Street fray. It has always been part of the Patty identity.” The Liverpool Street opening and another in Kingly Street, Soho, later this month will bring Patty & Bunn’s portfolio back to double figures. The company also operates concessions in Swingers’ two London sites plus three with Incipio Group. Pizza Hut Restaurants launches virtual delivery brand: Pizza Hut Restaurants has launched its first virtual delivery brand, WingStreet, Propel has learned. The virtual brand is available through Deliveroo and at select restaurants, including sites in Durham Read More
Sbe to make first foray into coffee shop market with London launch: Sbe, the international hospitality group that develops, manages and operates brands, is to make its first foray into the coffee shop market with a launch in London. EllaMia will make its debut at the St Martins Lane hotel in Covent Garden on Monday, 18 November. Further openings in key markets such as New York, Doha and Dubai are in the pipeline, with more than 20 locations expected globally by 2021. Sbe founder and chief executive Sam Nazarian said: “I am proud to launch EllaMia in London – one of the culinary capitals of the world. The style and elevated atmosphere of St Martins Lane hotel is the perfect setting for EllaMia’s debut. At Sbe we constantly strive to provide extraordinary, innovative experiences and can’t wait to see our latest concept grow into a successful brand with locations around the world.” EllaMia is named after Nazarian’s two daughters. It will offer barista coffee, tea, kombucha and freshly made smoothies and protein shakes. A selection of light bites, freshly made sandwiches and savoury dishes will also be on offer. Sbe said EllaMia would be an integral part of the company’s Read More
PizzaExpress lenders order £100m cash injection: PizzaExpress’ lenders are demanding a cash injection of at least £100m despite China-based owner Hony Capital’s attempts to buy back tens of millions of pounds of debt. Hony Capital announced on Wednesday (6 November) it would buy back heavily-discounted debts with a face value of £80m. However, insiders have urged Hony Capital to pour cash directly into the company rather than buying back bonds, The Sunday Telegraph reports. One insider told the newspaper: “This is Hony seeing bonds that are cheap and picking them up. It’s not Hony fixing the balance sheet. It’s not Hony giving comfort it can get over the refinancing wall. We want it to address the balance sheet.” PizzaExpress is struggling to repay £1.1bn of loans amid spiralling losses. Of those, £665m is owed to bondholders, which must start being paid in 2021. The bonds are trading at a heavy discount and being bought by hedge funds. They could seek to wrestle control of the company and cause fresh complications to what are already expected to be difficult restructuring discussions. PizzaExpress has appointed restructuring experts from Holihan Lokey and lawyers from US firm Kirkland & Ellis to assist with restructuring Read More
Crosstown Doughnuts appoints advisers as it eyes investment options:Crosstown, the artisan doughnut and speciality coffee concept, has appointed advisers as it looks at investment options following multiple approaches, Propel has learned. The concept, which was founded by JP Then and Gourmet Burger Kitchen co-founder Adam Wills, is understood to have appointed advisory firm BDO to aide it in securing new growth funding. Crosstown operates 11 stores across London plus nine market stalls and kiosks. It has been one of the fastest-growing concepts in London since its inception in May 2014. The group’s products are also stocked in Harrods, Planet Organic and Whole Foods. It is thought any new investment would be used to further expand the brand’s physical store estate and aide its multi-channel approach with a focus on digital sales, which account for 20% of Crosstown’s business. The company has also developed its own delivery e-commerce solution, Slerp. Crosstown piloted Slerp in its own stores before launching it to market as a separate entity and it is now available to other operators. Last year the company launched its first vegan-only outlet, in Picton Place, Marylebone, while this year it launched a smaller kiosk at Hammersmith Broadway station with hopes Read More
Wagamama strengthens finance leadership team for next stage of growth: The Restaurant Group-owned brand Wagamama has made changes to its finance leadership team ahead of its next wave of growth, Propel has learned. David Di Cello has been appointed chief financial officer. He will join the business at the end of the first quarter of 2020 from Pret A Manger, where he is leading the EAT integration and previously served as finance director and interim chief financial officer. Di Cello has also held senior finance roles at Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and BT. Laura Wood, currently interim finance director, will be promoted to strategy director on Di Cello’s arrival. Her new role will see Wood responsible for growth initiatives and Wagamama’s transformational change agenda. Chief executive Emma Woods said: “We have enjoyed more than five years of market outperformance thanks to the huge contribution of our teams and leaders across every function and a relentless focus on guest-led innovation. As we enter what will be a tough market in 2020, I’m delighted to have such a strong finance team supporting our next wave of growth.” Di Cello added: “I have loved working with the Pret and EAT teams over the Read More
Patty & Bun to open second Soho site after securing former Breddos Tacos venue: Better burger brand Patty & Bun is to open its second Soho site. The company has secured the former Breddos Tacos site in Kingly Street for an opening this month. The restaurant will seat 65 upstairs and offer Patty & Bun’s classic menu of burgers and collaboration dishes. Founder Joe Grossmann said: “We are pumped to open at this iconic London landmark! It’s amazing to be part of the Shaftesbury estate with so many great restaurants and shops. We can’t wait to get open and become part of the community.” Patty & Bun currently operates eight sites in London including its other Soho venue, in Goodge Street, as well as a series of concessions. Erpingham House to proceed with Brighton opening despite unsuccessful £250,000 crowdfunding campaign: Erpingham House, the UK’s largest plant-based restaurant, will push on with plans to launch in Brighton despite failing to raise £250,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube towards the project, Propel has learned. Erpingham House founder Loui Blake said the project would still go ahead after he agreed terms on a site in Duke Street. Blake was offering 15% equity for the Read More
Supper raises £1.5m: London-based premium food delivery service Supper has closed a Series A funding round of circa £1.5m. Before that, Supper had taken angel investment from a handful of investors including PK Wang, of Yi Fang. Tim Marchant, co-founder of Moscar Capital, which led the round, said the company made the investment because Supper was already showing “great potential upside with a clear path to profitability”. He added: “Delivery can be done better – and Supper has proved it.” Founded by Peter Georgiou in 2015, Supper uses a fleet of specially adapted scooters and directly employed drivers to cater for the premium end of the market, setting it apart from sector heavyweights such as Deliveroo and UberEats. Georgiou told Propel: “Delivery is the fastest-growing area in food and beverage, with differing levels of quality and service that often don’t match the operator. This investment underpins what we’ve set out to achieve at Supper – offer the best of both. We’re in talks with a number of prominent operators that want to enter the ‘on demand’ space but require a service more in keeping with their brands. This funding couldn’t have come at a better time to expand our profile.” Read More
Loungers appoints new property director: Loungers, the operator of 160 neighbourhood cafe-bar restaurants that trade under the Lounge and Cosy Club brands, has appointed Tom Trenchard as property director, Propel has learned. Trenchard, who replaces Rob Walls, was previously head of acquisitions at The Restaurant Group-owned Wagamama and prior to that head of property development at Sainsbury's. A Loungers spokeswoman said: “Tom is a fantastic hire for Loungers. His blend of roll-out experience in both the leisure and retail sectors is a great fit with our business as we look to maximise the significant opportunity we have with both brands across the UK.” Loungers continued its programme of openings in October by launching Cosy Club in Plymouth and Lounges in Carmarthen and Buxton. The group previously reported like-for-like sales grew 5.4% for the 24 weeks ending 6 October 2019. Total revenue for the period was up 22% over the prior year, to £79.8m. The group said it was on track to open 25 sites in the financial year and the pipeline remains “strong”. Rockfish reports turnover up 15% in year that was ‘real turning point’ for business: Rockfish, the south west-based seafood restaurant group run by Mitch Tonks, has reported Read More
St Austell adds pub on outskirts of Bristol to tenanted portfolio: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has acquired The Rising Sun in Pensford, on the outskirts of Bristol. The pub will become part of St Austell Brewery’s tenanted estate and be run by Lisa Faulkner and Becca Fricker. The Rising Sun has a large riverside garden and is nestled at the foot of Pensford Viaduct by the River Chew. It serves fresh home-cooked food as well as local cask ale and cider. Steve Worrall, retail director at St Austell Brewery, said: “The Rising Sun is a wonderful acquisition for the company and a natural fit with the rest of our tenanted pub portfolio in the Bath and Bristol area, which also includes The Albion in Clifton and The Lamplighters in Shirehampton. As a business, we have an ongoing strategy to strengthen our award-winning estate of pubs and hotels across the south west. With more than 160 years’ experience of championing the pub as the focal point of the community, we look forward to developing the Rising Sun’s offering in partnership with Lisa and Becca.” In total, including its managed houses, St Austell Brewery owns more than 175 pubs, inns and hotels Read More
Healthy bowls concept Beiriso launches £300,000 crowdfunding campaign for expansion: Healthy bowls concept Beiriso has launched a £300,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand to “prime London locations”. The company, founded by restaurant designer Roya Andrews, is offering 10.71% equity in return for investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £2.5m. Beiriso offers click and collect and delivery services from its kitchen in Holborn, north London. The pitch states: “After opening our London kitchen four years ago, serving food to more than 240 customers a day, we are seeking funding to expand our community by adding retail outlets in other prime locations. We focus on fresh healthy food made fast and know presentation is paramount. We believe packed lunches are old-fashioned and, as income levels stand still while living costs rise, students and office workers want value for money without losing taste. We have managed to fine-tune serving made-to-order breakfast and lunch to two to three minutes. A good-portion size with high-quality ingredients has been accomplished at affordable prices and we intend to maintain this with our streamlined operational processes. We propose to increase opening times to seven days and extend operating hours to include evening meals. We Read More
Soho House secures $100m from US property investors to expand private members’ club empire: Soho House has secured $100m (£78m) of funding from US property investors to expand its private members’ clubs empire. The operator of 26 clubs has sold a circa 5% stake to a group led by New York-based entrepreneur Bippy Siegal’s Raycliff Capital, including a significant investment from malls landlord Simon Property Group. Founder Nick Jones, restaurateur Richard Caring and American billionaire Ron Burkle remain the majority owners of Soho House, which is now valued at $2bn. The new funds will aid growth, with plans to open sites in 2020 and 2021 including in London, Paris and Mykonos. Chief commercial officer Andrew Carnie, who joined this year from US retailer Anthropologie, will also lead Soho House’s push to launch more Soho Works venues, which feature office and events space for entrepreneurs and startups. Soho House recorded a statutory pre-tax loss of £65m million in 2018, widened from a £60m loss a year earlier. That was due to expansion costs. Underlying profits rose to £56.4m from £50.5m. Turnover leapt 20% to £432.5m and comparable sales increased 9%. Jones told the Evening Standard: “2018 was an extremely busy year Read More
Incipio Group appoints Brand as finance director: Incipio Group, which received £5m from entertainment and leisure investor Edition Capital earlier this year to open six venues in 18 months, has appointed Tom Brand, formerly of Jascots Wine Merchants and Amnesty International, as its new finance director. Brand spent more than a year and a half at Jascots as its head of finance. Previous to that, he spent more than three years at Amnesty, including a stint as its head of management accounts and procurement. Incipio will launch its latest site in Kensington next month. The company will open Bloom in Kensington High Street on Friday, 8 November, having acquired the site that was previously occupied by Mahiki. Bloom will have room for 350 people and feature two bars, a restaurant and a “secret dance floor”. Incipio’s estate consists of Lost in Brixton, Pergola On The Roof in White City, Pergola Olympia, Pergola Paddington, The Prince in West Brompton Crossing, Feast in Hammersmith and W12 Studios in White City. In the next 18 months the group will launch sites in Putney, Wimbledon and Birmingham, the latter being its first outside London. The company recently launched Wildcard Kitchen – its first in-house Read More
YO! to launch ‘grab ‘n’ perch’ concept: YO!, the Richard Hodgson-led global multi-brand, multi-channel Japanese food group, is to make a return to the grab and go market by launching a standalone YO! To Go site in Manchester’s Piccadilly station early next month. Described by the company as a “grab ‘n’ perch” concept, consumers can take away products or enjoy them in-store. The site will also look to ramp up the group’s sustainability credentials and feature sushi trays that use ground-breaking, water-based technology that means they can be processed by any recycling facility. A second site under the standalone format is expected to launch next year in Brunel Square, Bath. The group previously trialled a standalone YO! To Go unit at London’s Charing Cross station but it closed a few years ago. The company is currently extending its YO! To Go trial with Tesco following a two-store pilot, with plans to open counters in up to 40 stores by the end of February. Hodgson told Propel: “Following the work we did on the YO! To Go offer a few years back the range has seen amazing growth with like-for-like to-go sales up 23% last year. We’re excited about trialling this Read More
Whitbread plans more than 2,000 Premier Plus rooms in next 18 months: Whitbread has said it plans to have more than 2,000 rooms operating under its new Premier Plus format within the next 18 months. The company has introduced the model at two central London hotels, where 38 rooms are operating in total on separate floors to standard rooms. Whitbread said so far it had tested a daily rate uplift of between £10 and £20 and was seeing “very strong demand and high satisfaction scores” from business and leisure customers alike. The company will have more than 500 rooms in trial before the end of 2019 and has identified in excess of 2,000 rooms to be converted to the model. Premier Plus features include an improved workspace, a rainfall shower with luxury toiletries and a Nespresso machine with pods supplied. Whitbread chief executive Alison Brittain told analysts during a presentation of its interim results that not every Premier Inn was suited to the upgraded room format. She said where it was introduced, about 10% to 15% of rooms in the hotel would be Premier Plus. She added: “I wouldn’t encourage anybody to model 76,000 rooms with a £20 uplift and Read More
Crussh expects return to positive Ebitda on back of FY sales growth as diversification strategy starts to deliver, launches honesty kiosk trial: London-based healthy food and juice brand Crussh expects to return to positive Ebitda levels in its current financial year while it has launched a trial of “honesty kiosks”, Propel has learned. Crussh, which has seen full-year sales grow more than 10% as its diversity strategy starts to deliver, has partnered with shared workspace company WeWork to offer unmanned tills and fridges of food and drink at four of its sites in the City of London. Meanwhile Crussh, which has also seen full-year site Ebitda almost double to £1.5m from £822,000 the year before, has further strengthened its partnership with Sodexo and its footprint outside London with a site at the University Of The West Of England in Bristol – their third site together. Crussh also recently raised circa £700,000 from new and existing shareholders to continue the refit of its company-owned stores to the brand’s “new look”, with nine stores revamped so far in its current financial year. Chief executive Shane Kavanagh told Propel he was focusing on growing the partnership and product supply strands of the businesses Read More
Gail’s reports like-for-likes up more than 8%: Gail’s Bakery, which is backed by sector investor Luke Johnson, has seen like-for-like sales grow more than 8% in the first half of this financial year, Propel has learned. The company, which has 53 outlets, is set to open four sites in the next month with further plans to develop a grab-and-go coffee offer within transport hubs as it looks to double its number of premises in three years. Gail’s managing director Marta Pogroszewska told Propel the business, which specialises in freshly baked bread and pastries alongside a premium coffee offer, is feeling “quietly confident current growth is sustainable in the mid to long-term”. She said: “We are operating in a difficult climate and acknowledge things can go wrong but, having looked carefully at our business model, we feel confident we can continue to increase our volumes year on year.” The company is set to be trading from 60 sites by the end of its financial year, March 2020, including Willesden Green in north west London, which will launch on Friday, 1 November. This will be followed in quick succession by Gloucester Road in Kensington, Cambridge and Islington, north London. Pogroszewska said: “We Read More
Barburrito cuts London estate as it refocuses operation: Barburrito, the BGF-backed Mexican chain, has exited two of its three London sites, Propel has learned. The circa 20-strong company has exited its sites in Hammersmith and Farringdon, leaving it with a venue at Paddington station. The company recently opened a site with TRG Concessions in Gatwick airport in Sussex and has signed up to launch a site in the Manchester airport extension. Founder and chief executive Morgan Davies told Propel: “Hammersmith and Farringdon were nice sites but, at the end of the day, weren’t suited to our model. In the end, we received good offers to exit and took the opportunity to refocus our operation. All staff have been given the option to relocate and we have strengthened the team at Paddington, which continues to trade well. We are committed to London and will open stores in the capital in due course. In the meantime, it’s great to be operating in two of the capital’s strongest transport hubs. Overall trade remains strong and ahead of sector benchmarks.” Amber Taverns makes Scottish debut, bulk of acquisitions coming from retail:Community pub operator Amber Taverns has made its debut in Scotland while the bulk Read More
German Doner Kebab brings in former TGI Friday’s International marketing boss as global CMO: German Doner Kebab, the flagship brand of Hero Brands, has appointed Murray Willows as global chief marketing officer to spearhead its growth and development. Willows joins from TGI Friday’s International and will be tasked with continuing to develop consumer awareness of German Doner Kebab and building on its growing profile. The brand is now rolling out aggressively throughout Europe, the Middle East and the US, with more than 700 franchises already signed up to the German Doner Kebab project globally. Willows’ appointment comes as German Doner Kebab forges ahead with plans to open 100 stores in Saudi Arabia in the next ten years. Chief executive Imran Sayeed said: “Murray’s wisdom, experience and know-how speak for themselves and I believe his appointment is a powerful statement about the direction the company is taking.” Willows was chief marketing officer at TGI Friday’s International with responsibility for marketing, food and beverage development, and restaurant design in 52 international markets. Willows’ career also includes a number of roles at Yum! Brands, where he was vice-president and chief marketing officer for Pizza Hut in the UK, vice-president marketing for Pizza Hut Read More
Marston’s boss – finding good people has got tougher, Pitcher & Piano off the market: Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay told Propel it has become tougher to find and retain chefs and general managers. The company is increasing investment in training in the coming year to strengthen its pipeline of internal general managers. Speaking following the company’s full-year trading update, Findlay said: “Cost pressure has remained pretty relentless for a number of years. One area were it has got tougher is in relation to people – the sector has a real challenge in finding good labour. We are operating in an environment where we pretty much have full employment – people have got choices.” Findlay told Propel the company has been working to ensure continuity of supply ahead of Brexit, with a focus on identifying alternative suppliers in the event of problems. Meanwhile, Findlay reported he was seeing strong market demand for assets the company was lining up for sale, with sales proceeds expected to be £70m rather than the £40m previously targeted. However, Findlay indicated he didn’t expect to sell Pitcher & Piano, which has been on the market and operates circa 20 sites in England and Wales. Reflecting Read More
Tipping law changes would add ‘another unwanted burden’ on sector businesses: The government’s proposed changes to tipping legislation threaten to add “another unwanted burden” on businesses, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls has said. The proposed new law, outlined in the Queen’s Speech, would require employers to pass on all tips to staff in full. Nicholls said: “Legislation on tipping threatens to add another unwanted burden on businesses at an already hectic time. Any new measures need to have full input from businesses that will be affected. We already have a transparent and fair voluntary code of practice regarding the collection and sharing of tips. The code makes it clear to businesses, employees and customers how tips can be fairly shared so all team members get what they deserve and customers can be confident the money they tip is going to the correct place. Deductions are sometimes made to service charges as hospitality businesses are charged by banks to process payments. If the full amount is to be passed on, hospitality businesses are going to be forced to foot the bill. If there’s a new legal obligation to pass on the full amount of a service charge, there needs to be Read More
PizzaExpress refutes report on site closure numbers: PizzaExpress has moved quickly to refute a report over the weekend it could be forced to close about 40% of its circa 470 sites in the UK. The Sunday Telegraph reported the Hony Capital-backed chain could be forced to close two-fifths of its restaurants, putting thousands of jobs at risk. One source told the newspaper bondholders were considering entering into a company voluntary arrangement, which would see more than 150 restaurants and about 3,300 jobs under threat. However, a PizzaExpress spokesman told Propel: “95% of our UK and Ireland restaurants are profitable and there are no plans for closures outside the normal course of business.” Earlier this month PizzaExpress hired adviser Houlihan Lokey ahead of debt talks with creditors. Separately, a group of secured bondholders started working with Perella Weinberg Partners after appointing law firm Latham & Watkins in July. The restaurant group has £465m of secured bonds due in August 2021 and £200m of unsecured notes due a year later, indicated at 84p and 23p in the pound respectively. Earlier this summer it was thought PizzaExpress and China-based Hony were reviewing its capital structure, with a restructuring of the business likely. Sector Read More
Patty & Bun to open two sites before year-end: Patty & Bun, the better burger concept led by Joe Grossman, plans to open two sites in London by the end of the year. The group, which operates eight venues under its core brand, is set to take over the Breddos Tacos site in Kingly Street, Soho, with an opening planned for late November. The move will be followed by a return to Liverpool Street. The company opened its second site in Liverpool Street but had to close it for more than a year because of a redevelopment. It now plans to reopen at a larger site in Liverpool Street in December. The company also operates concessions in the two London-based Swingers sites, plus three with Incipio Group. The sale of the Kingly Street site would leave Ennismore-backed Breddos Tacos with one venue – in Goswell Road, Clerkenwell. Stack & Still opens third site as it marks first anniversary: Glasgow-based operators Paul Reynolds and Graham Swankie have opened a third site for their pancake house concept Stack & Still. The venue has opened at the Glasgow Fort shopping centre – a year after the debut site launched. Having opened the inaugural Read More
Imbiba invests £2.5m more in Farmer J: Imbiba, the specialist investor in the UK leisure and hospitality sector, has invested a further £2.5m into London-based, all-day market concept Farmer J, Propel has learned. The new funds follow the £1.9m Imbiba invested in the Jonathan Recanati-led business at the start of the year. Imbiba’s latest investment is joined by a further £250,000 cash injection from other existing shareholders to support Farmer J’s expansion across the UK. It’s thought Farmer J has a strong pipeline of sites coming to market, with an immediate focus on central London areas with a high density of workers. Propel understands since the initial investment the company, which features build-your-own grab-and-go “field trays”, has continued to thrive. In the past year Farmer J reported double-digit like-for-like sales growth at its two sites in the City and opened a site in Canary Wharf. The company recently opened a fourth site, near Liverpool Street station. Recanati founded Farmer J in 2016 and is joined by creative chef Nick Sandler, former development chef at Pret A Manger; operations director Noel D’Arcy; marketing director Ali Recanati; and Kevin Todd, non-executive director and former group managing director of Mitchells & Butlers. Shareholders Read More
Gusto to resume expansion after rise in FY sales: Italian casual dining group Gusto, which has been backed by Palatine Private Equity since 2014, is to resume its roll out and explore non-traditional locations for the brand after reporting a slight rise in full-year sales. Managing director Matt Snell told Propel that as the 18-strong group entered the second year of its three-year strategic plan, expansion was back on the table, with the company already in discussions on several potential sites. He told Propel: “We would hope to open two to three sites in the next year. We are looking at opportunities in the south and want to develop hubs. Gusto has traditionally been in high streets but we want to start exploring new types of location and look at shopping centres, new schemes and transport hubs.” For the year to 31 March 2019, turnover climbed from £32.2m to £32.35m, while Ebitda was maintained at £3.2m. Pre-tax losses at the group narrowed from £2.4m to £2.06m, while operating losses narrowed from £759,000 to £11,000. The company labelled the results a “very good performance in a pressurised market”. Snell said: “We are one year into our three-year strategic plan and it’s Read More
Burger & Lobster plans US openings, group Ebitda up 13%: Burger & Lobster is planning up to ten openings globally as the company reported an increase in group Ebitda and turnover. The 17-strong company saw group Ebitda climb 13% in the year to the end of 2018 to £7.16m, with total group turnover rising 28% to £53.6m. In the UK, full-year turnover fell 10% to £37.9m, with Ebitda down from £6.17m to £5.68m. In the US, where the group operates two sites in New York, turnover climbed 15% to £11.9m. The company told Propel the focus of its openings would be in Europe, Asia and the US. In the latter, it is looking at Dallas, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia. Regarding its UK business, chief financial officer Dasha Ovchenkova told Propel: “Gross profit margin increased to 65% from 61%. The success is attributable to better labour and food and beverage cost controls. Group turnover decreased 10% due primarily to the sale of our Manchester site but our obligations relating to all closed property has come to an end. Overall Ebitda is £5.7m versus £6.2m in 2017 due to a challenging operational environment in London for casual dining.” Regarding the US business, Read More
CG Restaurants & Bars reports turnover boost: CG Restaurants & Bars, which operates the Dirty Martini brand, has reported turnover increased 18.5% to £26,414,561 for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £22,296,624 the year before. Ebitda was down 5.6% to £889,664, compared with £940,000 the previous year. Operating losses rose to £538,733 compared with £273,579 the year before, while pre-tax losses were up to £903,889 compared with £579,702 the previous year, when the group sold one of its sites. Gross profit margin was up slightly to 56.4% from 56.3%, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The group’s turnover rose as a result of a bar acquired in the year in Birmingham and there was a full year of trading at the Manchester and Leeds sites. On an underlying basis, the group results improved this year as last year’s results include a gain of about £736,000 for the sale of one of its bars. Comparing like-for-like, last year’s group loss, excluding the gain from this sale, would have been £1,174,000 compared with this year’s loss of £903,000.” CG Restaurants & Bars operates 11 Dirty Martini sites – seven in Read More
Rick Stein sees sales rise 4.3% at restaurant business in first half of 2019 as it reports full-year profit drop, agrees new £7m banking facility: Chef Rick Stein has seen sales at his restaurant business rise 4.3% in the first half of 2019 and agreed a new £7.0m banking facility. The announcement comes as the company reported a dip in full-year profits, with increased regulatory costs taking their toll. Turnover was down 0.6% to £16,784,000 for the year ending 30 December 2018, compared with £16,879,000 the year before. Ebitda fell to £1,032,000, compared with £1,447,000 the previous year. Operating profit dropped to £381,000 compared with £986,000 the year before, while pre-tax profit was down more than half to £489,000 compared with £1,008,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Capital expenditure reduced to £497,000, compared with £1,418,000 the year before. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “Turnover was down last year and profitability was down largely due to increased regulatory costs – the Living Wage, business rates, Apprenticeship Levy and pension audit enrolment. Wage costs were up 5% to £7,564,000 (2017: £7,234,000) with a wages to sales ratio of 45.1% (2017: 42.9%). Sales for Read More
Hakkasan Group plans ten openings in Mexico through new partnership: UK-based restaurant and nightclub company Hakkasan Group plans to open ten venues throughout Mexico as part of a new partnership with hospitality and development company Dinar. The openings, which follow Hakkasan’s launch of Omnia dayclub in Los Cabos last year, will be in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey between 2020 and 2026. The partnership will begin with the opening of Hakkasan’s Cantonese dining concept Ling Ling in Mexico City in the latter part of 2020. Ling Ling Mexico City will be on the top floor of Chapultepec Uno, a mixed-use, 58-storey skyscraper that will be Mexico City’s third-tallest building on completion. “We have had great success with our openings in Los Cabos and have been eager to continue the momentum throughout the country,” said Michael Ryan-Southern, chief financial officer of Hakkasan Group. “As an international hub that attracts epicurean and discerning travellers, Mexico City has been on Hakkasan Group’s radar for quite a while. We’re thrilled to work with the visionaries at Dinar to bring Ling Ling to the city next year and introduce further restaurants in the coming years.” Javier Romo, managing partner and owner of Dinar, added: “We Read More
M&B sites converted to Ego restaurants under joint venture seeing 80% sales uplift: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) sites that have been converted to Ego venues under its joint venture with 3Sixty Restaurants, led by James Horler, are seeing an 80% uplift in sales on average, Propel has learned. Seven sites have opened since M&B formed the partnership in August last year when it bought sector investor Luke Johnson’s minority share in 3Sixty. The eighth venue since the joint venture – Manor Farm in Worcester – will launch next month. Work is currently under way to transform the former Stonehouse Pizza & Carvery to the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant and bar concept, taking it to 20 venues in total. Horler told Propel: “We are seeing a considerable sales uplift from the new M&B sites – 80% in fact. We’ve seen strong like-for-like performance this year and we’re running ahead of budget. For example, total sales in August were up 39% on last year. We’ve got 67 staff with more than five years’ service and 30 have been with us more than ten years. We’re also working on developing our offering further and we’ve got 241,000 Ego Club members.” Horler said following the Worcester Read More
Shepherd Neame boss – sector corporate activity sparks more opportunity not sales talk: Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Kent brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame, has told Propel he believes recent corporate activity in the sector will lead to even more opportunities for the business. Ei Group and Greene King have both been bought in multibillion-pound deals in recent months, while Fuller’s sold its beer business to Asahi earlier this year. Speaking following Shepherd Neame’s full-year results, Neame said he had “no intention” of going down the same path and, while he admitted he had been “surprised” by the level of activity, he believes it will prove advantageous to his business in a “number of ways”. He said: “I think it makes our position in the market more distinct, unique and will lead to more opportunities for our beer and pubs businesses. Consumers are looking for independent, community-focused businesses that are authentic and run by people they can associate with. That’s why our model works and will continue to work. We see continued growth in all three areas of the business – beer, pubs and accommodation – and we only see those opportunities getting bigger as a result of those deals. Read More
Premium Indian restaurant concept Copper Chimney to make UK debut: Copper Chimney, a premium Indian restaurant concept, is to make its UK debut this autumn at Westfield London. Propel understands the concept, which was founded by JK Kapur in Bombay in 1972, is taking a space at the scheme’s extension, joining Puttshack, All Star Lanes and ETM Group. Davis Coffer Lyons is acting on behalf of Westfield London on its F&B lettings. In a job spec for the new sites, the concept states: “Copper Chimney is an award-winning, internationally renowned restaurant brand coming to Westfield London this autumn. Copper Chimney is an ode to secret recipes and cooking techniques from across undivided North India. Copper Chimney serves a flavourful melange of its signature Indian dishes, flavours and ingredients to deliver an unforgettable dining experience.” The company operates 16 restaurants across India. Le Cordon Bleu to launch flagship London restaurant after acquiring Prescott & Conran site in Fleet Street: Le Cordon Bleu is to open a flagship London restaurant after acquiring the lease of the site in Fleet Street that housed Prescott & Conrans’ Lutyens. Davis Coffer Lyons, acting for administrators Stephen Clancy and Benjamin Wiles, of Duff & Phelps, completed Read More