Deal for GBK would see at least nine sites close: A group of nine sites has been earmarked for closure by the current management team of Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) if a successful deal for the 67-strong business is completed, Propel understands. Propel revealed earlier this week, the brand’s current owners – Famous Brands – had pushed the button on a sale process for the better burger chain. First-round bids for the business were due on Wednesday (16 September), and Propel understands a mixture of trade players and investment groups has shown an interest in GBK, including Calveton UK, which recently acquired rival Byron via a pre-pack administration. Deloitte, which has been advising the business on its options since April, is carrying out an accelerated sale process, with second-round bids due next Friday (25 September). It is believed, unless a solvent sale can be concluded, a deal via pre-pack administration will be explored. Propel understands the sites earmarked for closure are in Aylesbury, Angel, Clink Street, Maidstone, Cardiff Library, Sheffield, Southampton, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The business is thought to have performed well in the full year to 23 February 202, with the group generating £69m of revenue, £7.1m of restaurant Read More
Itsu opens ‘Store of the Future’ concept, ‘we will lead and many will follow’ says Metcalfe: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, has opened its first site under its “Store of the Future” concept using the latest robot technology, which it believes sets a template for high street and fast food dining to spark a post-covid recovery. As revealed by Propel last month, the first site under the new concept has opened in London’s Great Portland Street, and the company said there are more to follow across the UK. It said the new store design was completely reimagined in secret during lock-down, specifically for today’s post-covid world. “Leaner and healthier than any Itsu store before it”, the store is the brainchild of Metcalfe and was designed to limit touchpoints in part thanks to the use of sushi robots and digital ordering technology. Unlike any other Itsu, the Great Portland Street store is completely digital. There is a single customer collection point and no front-of-house fridge so multi handling is reduced. The new order-and-pay screens use the latest technology with card only payments, and enable customers’ orders to be placed in under 40 Read More
Pheby Food Concepts signs deal to introduce Crepe Delicious concept to the UK: Pheby Food Concepts Group, which is behind the Wok&Go and Dough Dough brands, has signed a master development deal to launch the Crepe Delicious concept in the UK. Crepe Delicious currently has more than 60 locations globally, with the move into the UK becoming the ninth country outside of the US and Canada where the brand will have a presence. The first Crepe Delicious is set to open in the UK later this autumn and is projected to have 28 sites by 2025. Elik Farin, chief operating officer of Crepe Delicious Holdings, said: “We have had great success worldwide and seek to continue growth. International consumers really enjoy all that our brand has to offer and we look forward to bringing the great concept and variety.” Founded in 2004 by chef and entrepreneur Oded Yefet, Crepe Delicious crepes can be filled with any assortment of “fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses and lean meats in order to create a balanced meal”. Des Pheby, founder of Pheby Food Concepts Group has expressed his excitement at being a part of this new opportunity and looks forward to supporting the growth and development Read More
Adventure Bar Group launches ‘Show Must Go On’ immersive experiences:London bar operator Adventure Bar Group is launching a series of West End, theatre-themed, immersive evenings in its The Lost Alhambra cocktail bar in Leicester Square. The Show Must Go On experiences will feature West End stars and take place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday starting on 8 October, beginning with Chicago: The Musical, starring Laura Tyrer as Velma (Chicago, 9 to 5), Hayley Flaherty as Roxie (Matilda, Rocky Horror) and Oliver Tompsett as Billy Flynn (& Juliet, Kinky Boots). Later weekends in the run will include songs and stars from Hairspray; Mamma Mia; Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; and The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a Halloween Villains’ Night special, offering performances over the last weekend in October. For every ticket sold, £1.50 will go to the Acting For Others group of charities that help theatre workers with financial and emotional support throughout the pandemic. In addition to three hours of performance, the evening will include a two-course meal with vegan options, bubbles and cocktails, all in a safe environment, putting the social into social distancing. Tyrer who starred as Velma Kelly in Chicago: The Musical said: “Like most people Read More
Osmond’s Broadstone Acquisition Corp announces pricing of $300m IPO: Broadstone Acquisition Corp, the “blank check” company from serial sector investor Hugh Osmond, has announced the pricing of its initial public offering of 30,000,000 units (shares) at a price of $10.00 per unit. The units are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and trade under the ticker symbol BSN.U. The company began trading on Friday (11 September) and closed the day with a price of $9.86 per unit. Each unit consists of one class A ordinary share and one half of one redeemable warrant, with each whole warrant exercisable to purchase one class A ordinary share at a price of $11.50 per share. After the securities comprising the units begin separate trading, the class A ordinary shares and the warrants are expected to be listed on the NYSE under the symbols "BSN" and "BSN WS," respectively. The offering is expected to close on 15 September, 2020. The new company aims to find a combination target in the UK or other European markets that has been adversely affected by the covid-19 outbreak but is otherwise fundamentally healthy. It is led by chairman and director Osmond; chief executive and director Marc Jonas, who Read More
Busaba looks to exit four leases as it launches CVA process: Busaba, the Thai chain founded by Alan Yau, is looking to exit four leases as it launches its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposal, Propel has learned. The company, which earlier this summer was acquired by Tnui Capital – the London-based private equity firm – launched its CVA process this week, working with advisory firm Duff & Phelps. Propel understands the 13-strong group is looking to exit its site in Eastcastle Street, Oxford Circus, which it placed on the market earlier this year; plus the lease of its former site in Manchester; the lease of its former site in St Albans; and on the site it was set to take in Reading’s Jackson’s Corner development. The company has so far reopened seven of its sites since 4 July. Managing director Terry Harrison said in a letter to staff: “These extraordinary times have brought extraordinary challenges for everybody and, as you’ll be aware, the casual dining arena has particularly suffered as a consequence of the covid-19 pandemic. The knock-on effect of the outbreak continues and this unfortunate, but necessary measure, is the only real option we believe we have left to Read More
Loungers thanks employees for EOTHO efforts with ‘Eat Out Because You Missed Out’ initiative: Cafe bar operator Loungers has moved to thank its employees across both its Lounge and Cosy Club brands for their efforts in making the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme a success by launching a “Eat Out Because You Missed Out” reward, Propel has learned. Under the initiative, every “Lounger or Cosy Clubber” who worked a shift in August is entitled to £50 off food and drink (including alcohol) in any Lounge or Cosy Club, free of charge. The £50 voucher is for every one of the group’s employees who worked a shift in August and can be used on one occasion on Mondays to Thursdays between 15 September and 22 October. The group has brought in the initiative for its circa 5,000 employees, to recognise their hard work and that they were unable to benefit fully from the EOTHO scheme while working. Chop’d begins gradual reopening of its estate: Chop’d, the Eddie Holmes-led salad bar chain, has begun the gradual reopening of its 18-strong estate, with the opening of five sites in London. The group has, this week, reopened its sites in St Paul’s, Read More
The Avocado Show to launch in London as it signs on 19 franchise locations in UK and Europe: The Avocado Show restaurant franchise will launch a site in London within six months. The brand, which has three restaurants in Amsterdam and one in Brussels, will open another venue in Calle Colmenares, Madrid, at the end of October – and also plans to launch in London and Paris. Founded by Ron Simpson and Julien Zaal, the restaurant serves sustainable avocado-based dishes and has signed on 19 franchise locations in the UK and Europe, with the possibility of sites in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, Guildford and Brighton. Simpson said: “We are very excited to see our dream becoming a reality in all these amazing new markets and are happy to have found these great partners to work with and are looking forward to establishing The Avocado Show across the globe as a socially responsible and profitable venture that will bring joy to avo lovers for years to come.” The company has produced a cookbook, merchandise, a hologram app, its own line of avocado fries and filmed a documentary about its supply chain. The Apartment Group adds two hotels to Read More
Itsu looks to the future after CVA approved: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, has told Propel it is looking to, and investing in the future, after its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) was approved. Propel revealed in July that Itsu had appointed AlixPartners as it looked to step up conversations with landlords and explore possible restructuring options, including the possibility of a CVA. It was also set to receive £4.3m of new funding and begin an operational turnaround plan if its CVA proposals were approved. Propel understood that Itsu’s shareholders, which includes Ambrosia Investments, had provided a letter of comfort to the company confirming their intention to support the additional funding needed should it not be successful in obtaining the finance from an external source. However, this additional funding was conditional on approval of the CVA proposal. It is thought the company will now exit five sites in Chancery Lane, Lime Street, Ludgate Hill, Old Broad Street and Sackville Street, which were trading at a loss, were close to expiry or were wholly sub-let. An Itsu spokesman told Propel: “The successful vote is proof of the confidence that our landlords, suppliers and our Read More
Brewhouse & Kitchen to raise further funds for working capital and continue expansion plans: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the 22-strong brewpub group, is to raise further funds to provide working capital and continue with its expansion plans. The company, which has 13 company-owned sites and nine that it operates under a franchise and management agreement with Puma investments, has launched a limited rights issue to raise circa £2.5m from existing shareholders only, with which – alongside additional current cash reserves – the company intends to continue to invest into the current estate to develop its first brewpub with rooms in Worthing, as well as a further 24 rooms in Bristol and Bournemouth. Chief executive Kris Gumbrell told Propel: “The uptake has been excellent and we are on course to be oversubscribed. We aim to continue to improve the estate, have sufficient reserves to manage through the current uncertainty, and also look to acquire again should the right sites become available.” Given the social distancing measures in place, the group estimated its brewpubs , which were gradually reopened from 6 July, are operating at 86% of original internal cover levels. The business has traded “well ahead” of expectations and has demonstrated real Read More
Stonegate to absorb Bermondsey Pub Company into existing managed estate, Fairbanks leaves business: Bermondsey Pub Company, the Ei Group-managed format, is to be incorporated into Stonegate Pub Company’s managed estate, Propel has learned. It means the 65 pubs that sit within the Bermondsey portfolio will be converted into one of Stonegate’s existing pub formats. As a result, Bermondsey Pub Company operations director Henry Fairbanks has left the business. Ei Group’s other managed formats, such as the 300-strong Craft Union group, are unaffected by the change. Following the acquisition of Ei Group in March for £1.27bn, Stonegate Pub Company is the largest pub company in the UK. Its portfolio comprises 1,270 sites within the managed division and 3,200 leased and tenanted businesses. In July, Stonegate sold £1.2bn of bonds to partly finance the acquisition. The financing package, which consisted of five-year sterling and euro tranches worth £950m and €300m respectively, marked one of the biggest sterling-denominated “junk” bond deals ever. Stonegate paid relatively high rates of interest compared with recent debt deals in a sign of investors’ caution about an industry that has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. The sterling bond maturing in 2025 offered investors a coupon Read More
David Gough joins Boxpark as COO: Boxpark has appointed David Gough as its chief operating officer to lead company strategy, Propel has learned. The former operations director at Fuller’s brand the Stable will also oversee all commercial aspects of the business, enhance the customer experience, and focus on training and employee development. Gough said: “I’ve been a huge fan of Boxpark for a number of years so it really is a privilege to come on board and join the team. This is an exciting opportunity for me to use my experience on a thriving brand that is on the cusp of a transformational stage in its growth. Despite the struggles facing the hospitality industry, I’m looking forward to bringing Boxpark’s vision to life and building a solid strategy to achieve our goals.” Boxpark chief executive and founder Roger Wade added: “As we focus on our growth strategy, David will be instrumental in ensuring everything is in place and that we are meeting our commercial objectives.” Gough has also previously worked for Good Company Inns, Olivo Restaurants and PizzaExpress. Last month, Boxpark appointed Simon Bishop as property director to drive the company’s development plans during the next five years. Read More
East Coast Concepts acquired out of administration: Manchester-based restaurant and bar group East Coast Concepts has been acquired through a pre-pack administration by an investment group, led by Naveen Handa of leisure company The Cairn Group, Propel has learned. The deal for the five-strong business protects more than 250 jobs and its existing Neighbourhood and Victors sites will continue to trade as normal. The Handa-led group said the deal for East Coast Concepts was a “strategic acquisition to enhance their premium restaurant and bar offering”. Propel revealed in July that East Coast Concept, which is led by John Hammond and operates sites in Hale, Alderley Edge, Liverpool, Leeds and Oxford, was working with FRP Corporate Finance, with options thought to include securing a further equity injection. It is thought a competitive bidding process was subsequently generated. Propel understands the Handa-led vehicle has committed £1m post-investment in the business to safeguard it against any further “sector shocks” and will look to aid its expansion plans going forward. Handa also recently led a consortium to become the new joint venture partners for London and UK franchisees of Vapiano Restaurants. Ben Woolrych and Anthony Collier of FRP were appointed as joint administrators of Read More
Byron to reopen majority of its estate over the next week: Better burger brand Byron, which earlier this month was sold via pre-pack administration to investment vehicle Calveton UK under newly formed company Famously Proper for £4m, will reopen the majority of its estate over the next week. The Simon Wilkinson-led group will have 18 of the 20 sites it acquired out of administration by 9 September. Last week, the company reopened its sites in Waterloo and Old Brompton Road. On Tuesday (1 September), it opened its two sites in Edinburgh, plus restaurants in Manchester, and Bury St Edmunds. This week, it will also open restaurants in locations including Oxford, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Leeds, Liverpool and Milton Keynes. Propel reported last month that the company would initially focus on reopening its circa 20-strong estate but would also examine consolidation possibilities, which could include long-time rival Gourmet Burger Kitchen. It’s thought to be currently in negotiations regarding a handful of sites, which would make up its final estate. At the same time, the new company is expected to ramp up its delivery strategy. To mark its reopening plans, the company has brought back one of its favourite specials of all time – Read More
Inn Collection Group buys 15th site: The Inn Collection Group have taken its pubs with rooms portfolio to 15 with the purchase of a fifth Lake District site. The north of England operator has acquired the 20-bedroom Churchill Inn in Ambleside. The multimillion-pound deal is the group’s second Lakes acquisition of 2020 and its second venue in Ambleside. The Churchill Inn will be closed temporarily before trading independently until the start of a major redevelopment, which is set to take place later this year, to bring the site into the group’s “eat, drink, sleep and explore” philosophy. The Inn Collection Group’s managing director Sean Donkin said: “We’re looking forward to unlocking the venue’s full potential and investing in what will be a valuable new addition for locals and visitors to the Lake District here in Ambleside as we continue to grow our customer base and group foothold across the north of England.” The group’s existing Ambleside venue, The Ambleside Inn, opened in December following a major refurbishment, while the company’s 42-bedroom The Coniston Inn in Coniston opened on 1 August, following an 18-month redevelopment. Elsewhere, the group’s trading portfolio includes sites in Northumberland, County Durham and Yorkshire with a 40-bedroom Read More
The Alchemist brings forward opening of new Cheltenham site after being buoyed by post-lock-down trading: The Alchemist, the 18-stong Simon Potts-led bar and restaurant concept, has brought forward its planned opening of its new site in Cheltenham after being buoyed by post-lock-down trading. The company had pushed back the opening of the 4,500 square foot venue in The Brewery Quarter to the end of year, but this has been brought forward to Friday (28 August). Potts told Propel: “Along with everyone else, we’ve had a stellar August – the Eat Out To Help Out scheme has been an astonishing success, providing a real shot in the arm in revenue terms with a number of the venues in double-digit growth in recent weeks, but far more crucially in reminding the general public that not only is eating and drinking out a safe thing to do – it is also incredibly good fun.” Potts said its offer was “working well” in line with the current guidance, with both dwell time and average spend up on last year. He added growth was being seen across all dayparts, which is helping to smooth out the impact of the capacity restrictions at what would have previously Read More
TRG announces further leisure brand reopenings: The Restaurant Group (TRG) is set to reopen more Chiquito, Frankie & Benny’s, Coast to Coast and Filling Station sites. A further 12 Chiquito venues – including Liverpool Edge Lane and Manchester Printworks – are set to reopen for click and collect, delivery and dine-in from bank holiday Monday (31 August) following the restart of three sites on Monday (24 August). Frankie & Benny’s in Bury St Edmunds will open Thursday (27 August) for click and collect, delivery and dine-in along with delivery options from 14 other sites, including Tamworth and Oxford. Meanwhile two Coast to Coast and three Filling Station operations began full reopening on Monday (24 August). Leisure division chief executive Mark Chambers said: “We are delighted to be reopening more of our restaurants and very much look forward to welcoming back our guests. Our priority will be to ensure the health and safety of our teams and guests while providing a first-class experience. We are very pleased with the feedback we have received from returning guests so far and we will be monitoring feedback very closely to ensure we continue to deliver a great and safe experience.” All dine-in outfits in Read More
Gerry’s double deal makes it UK’s largest Costa franchisee: Gerry’s Offshore Incorporation UK has acquired two franchise companies, to become the UK’s largest Costa franchisee. The business has acquired Coffee Snob and South West Coffee, comprising 24 stores in total. This is in addition to the existing 33 Costa Coffee stores it operates spanning across eight counties. The acquisitions bring the total number of Costa Coffee stores managed by Gerry’s Offshore Incorporation to 57, which is the largest number of stores operated by a single franchise partner. Group managing director Akram Wali Muhammad said: “It is a proud moment for us, this acquisition of Coffee Snobs and South West Coffee is the next exciting chapter in Gerry’s ambitious expansion plan within the UK. Our primary objective is to bring all the 57 Costa Coffee stores together into a single business entity with a view to maximise our combined strength. This could not have been possible without the trust of the board of directors, the UK team headed by Triloc Seebundhun and the support staff.” Gerry's Offshore Incorporation has been a Costa UK individual franchise for more than 15 years. Stonegate extends tenant support package, now worth more than £32.5m: Ei Read More
Franco Manca operator reports one of its highest weekly turnover figures following Eat Out To Help Out boost: Fulham Shore, operator of Franco Manca and The Real Greek, has reported the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme has helped it record one of its highest weekly turnover figures. Following the trading update chairman David Page told Propel group weekly sales approached £1.5m in the second week of August. In the update Fulham Shore said trade in the first two weeks of this month was “markedly up” on last year despite some sites still being shut. The company has reopened two more The Real Greek restaurants and is planning to welcome customers back to another Franco Manca next week, next to the new Harrods store in Westfield London. This will mean 50 of the 51 Franco Manca and 16 of the 18 The Real Greek sites will have reopened. But Fulham Shore said the three remaining closed sites – in the Strand, Aldwych and Spitalfields – will remain shut until office tenants and theatre-goers return to the capital. Footfall in the City and West End has been hurt by travel restrictions keeping tourists away, and numerous people continue to work Read More
Lasan Group to expand to Leicester with Fiesta Del Asado off-shoot: Birmingham-based restaurant group Lasan is to expand to Leicester. The company has taken the lease of 4 St Martin’s – a grade II-listed former bank that stands on the corner of Grey Friars, next to the Richard III visitor centre. The group runs its eponymous restaurant in Birmingham as well as Indian street food cafe Raja Monkey and two Argentinian steak restaurants under the Fiesta Del Asado brand, in Edgbaston and Solihull. The Leicester restaurant, which is due to open later this year creating 40 jobs, will be an off-shoot of Fiesta Del Asado and called Sonrisa, which group founder Jabbar Khan believes will be more suited to the location. He told The Business Desk: “We love the cool and quirky feel of St Martins and its wide range of independents, which is a perfect fit for the Sonrisa concept – a Latin cocktail bar and restaurant with bustling atmosphere and full-flavoured food. It’s Argentinean-style eating with rustic small plates of meat, seafood and vegetables served throughout the day.” Joe Reilly, associate director at Innes England, who arranged the deal, said: “To get one of Birmingham’s best-known culinary teams Read More
Robinsons unveils host of board changes: North west-based brewer and retailer Robinsons has announced changes to its board. In a letter to the company’s employees, chairman Peter Robinson said prior to his brother David passing away last week, he along with Dennis Robinson had decided to retire from the board after more than 180 years of combined service. He also announced Neil Robinson-Stanier, Veronica Robinson and Paul Robinson would be stepping down from the board as part of a strategic restructure. He said they had played very significant roles in the business and thanked them for the positive contribution they had made in their respective areas over the past 17 years as board members. He added: “I have pleasure in announcing Philip Moody will take on the role of non-executive chairman. Philip has been working with the board as an advisor for the past three years and has retired as a senior partner with Smith & Williamson to enable him to accept this position. The board believes Philip’s extensive experience advising family businesses, his leadership responsibilities over his career, and his numerous non-executive and chairman positions held over the past 30 years make him ideally placed to lead our family Read More
Fitch assigns Stonegate bonds a ‘stable outlook’: Ratings agency Fitch has assigned Stonegate Pub Company a final long-term issuer default rating of B-, with a stable outlook. A note by Fitch stated: “Fitch expects the enlarged UK pub group Stonegate, following its recent acquisition of the Ei Group portfolio, to return to its pro-forma run rate Ebitda by FY22 (end of September 2022) post-pandemic. This, together with realised synergies, should result in a lease-adjusted net debt/Ebitdar below 6.5 times. As at July 2020, more than 80% of the enlarged group's pubs were trading, but some Stonegate's high-Ebitda pubs remain closed. The enlarged group, primarily wet-led, is diversified across the UK, with a 48% weighting in the south. The diversification, with Stonegate weighted towards town centre outlets while EI Group towards unbranded suburban pubs, many of which are with outdoor facilities and closer to those working from home, aids the group's profile. The enlarged portfolio combines Stonegate's 761 managed formats yielding an average Ebitdar of £270,000 per pub versus Ei Group's larger 3,988 leased and tenanted portfolio averaging £70,000 per pub. Using pro-forma annualised Ebitda figures, the Ei Group/Stonegate profit split is approximately 60:40.” Bubble tea brand brews up third UK Read More
Star Pubs & Bars invests further £4m in rent reductions: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is investing a further £4m in rent reductions for its leased and tenanted pubs in September and October. The move brings the total rent support offered by the company to £25m until the end of October. The group said with most pubs open and benefiting from government support such as a business rates holiday, VAT cut, loans and furlough scheme, the company was tapering its rent relief in September and October. The company’s 50%, 75% and 90%-plus rent reductions will reduce to 40%, 55% and 70% in September and 30%, 35% and 50% in October. Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “We have invested heavily in helping licensees through these difficult times. Throughout, we have been transparent and consistent with the rent reductions we have offered. We hope this latest tapered rent relief will help licensees plan ahead as much they are able to and we’ll continue to review our overall support as we have done since the beginning. Now seems the right time to offer tapered support as the feedback from our estate has been encouraging overall, with consumer confidence growing Read More
Princi London rescued via pre-pack administration, Starbucks sells stake in holding company: The business behind the UK operation of boutique bakery and cafe concept Princi has been saved via a pre-pack administration, Propel has learned. The deal for its sites in London’s Wardour Street and Shaftesbury Avenue saw its holding company, Princi UK, acquire both sites for a total consideration of £185,000. Meanwhile, a separate transaction saw Angel Capital Management and Pekepan Investments, which each hold a 12.5% shareholding in Princi UK, acquire the 25% shareholding in the business previously held by Starbucks EMEA. Rocco Princi founded the concept, renowned for its bread made using family recipes, in 1986. Four years ago Starbucks became global licensee and investor in Princi, which had five locations in Milan and London at the time, stating it would expand the number of standalone Princi locations worldwide. Alan Yau brought the concept to London by opening a site in Wardour Street before adding a second site at his former Babaji restaurant in Shaftesbury Avenue. Joint administrators KPMG said several parties were interested in the sites but not the business, with one party making a minimal offer of £1,000. Of the other interested parties, only one Read More
Joule’s reports first loss in 20-year history but returns to profit in July: Shropshire brewer and retailer Joule’s, which is headed by Steve Nuttall, has reported the first loss in its 20-year history because of lock-down. Nuttall told Propel the business lost £600,000 compared with the previous year for its first quarter covering April to June. Nuttall said: “These figures show the impact of lock-down and exclude the stock losses we incurred in March. Our business has been operating for 20 years and we have incurred our first loss. It shows the impact of closing and, of course, the support we have needed to provide. The effect of the pandemic has been epic, way beyond anything anyone could have imagined.” Since July the company has reopened 90% of its 42-strong pub estate and managed to break even, “which is good enough for now and well worth celebrating the milestone”, Nuttall said. He added: “We have been aided by a strong group of dedicated franchisees. In our sector we all talk about partnerships – in a crisis this really tests what that actually means. In our case we’re stronger rather than weaker and I feel we are set for whatever shape Read More
Itsu to receive £4.3m of new funding and begin operational turnaround plan if CVA approved: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, is to receive £4.3m of new funding and begin an operational turnaround plan if its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposals are approved, Propel has learned. It’s understood Itsu’s shareholders, which include Ambrosia Investments, have provided a letter of comfort to the company confirming their intention to support an additional funding need of up to £4.3m should it not be successful in obtaining this financing from an external source prior to the funding need arising. However, this additional funding is conditional on approval of the CVA proposal. If the additional funding isn’t made available, this would leave the company with a substantial funding deficit and no ability to address that. The CVA proposal document states: “The directors are firmly of the view the company has now exhausted all solvent options available to it and, unless the CVA is approved, it will be likely to file for administration or liquidation. The proposed restructuring terms in the CVA provide the only bridge to a sustainable and profitable future for the company.” As part of Read More
Roseacre aims to double estate after opening ninth site, business model boosted by work from home trend: Midlands-based Roseacre Pub Company is aiming to double its estate after opening its ninth site – and fourth with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. The company said its business model had been boosted by the trend of commuters working from home more regularly. The Beacon Hotel in Burton-on-Trent has launched following a joint £500,000 investment, creating 40 jobs. The interior has been opened up to create a bar and open-plan restaurant, with the reconfiguration allowing covers to increase from 86 to 110 inside and from 52 to 200 outside. Because of its size and the function room being incorporated in the restaurant, capacity has only had to be cut by 25% to enable social distancing. The Beacon offers a carvery alongside a new menu of traditional pub food. Michael Thomas, who founded Roseacre Pub Company in 2014, formerly held senior operations roles at Chef & Brewer, Premier Inn, Vintage Inns and Fayre & Square. He said: “I am optimistic about the future as our pubs are all located in suburbs and doing well. The covid effect – people spending more time at home Read More
The Breakfast Club to launch virtual delivery brand ahead of rolling out offer to restaurants: All-day concept The Breakfast Club is to launch a virtual delivery brand this week, Propel has learned. Saint Elmo’s Late Night Sandwich Bar will go live on Thursday (6 August) via Deliveroo before being rolled out across the 12-strong group during the next month. The company, which is led by Jonathan Arana-Morton, will give the brand a physical presence at its site in Berwick Street in Soho from September, with the venue turning into Saint Elmo’s Late Night Sandwich Bar from 5pm including a change of signage and lighting. Arana-Morton told Propel: “We worked hard during lock-down to ensure we came out fighting. We felt it was important to take steps to control our own destiny rather being at the mercy of uncertainty. We’ve thrown talent at the problem with not just one but two executive chefs. During lock-down we brought back Chris O’Neil on a consultancy basis to work with current executive chef James Brown. They’ve delivered a small but beautiful menu. It has been like having Ronaldo and Messi in the same team. In Breakfast Club style we’re playing the nostalgia card and Read More
Tony Macaroni reveals £50m expansion plans for a restaurant in every UK town and city: Scottish restaurant company Tony Macaroni is to expand its business model to create franchises in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Sep Marini, boss of the Glasgow-based, family-run chain of Italian restaurants, said his ambitious plans could see £50m invested in the hospitality sector during the next three years, creating 2,000 jobs and 100 restaurants, with a Tony Macaroni restaurant in “every UK town and city”. Part of the Viva Italia Group, Tony Macaroni opened its first restaurant in 2007 and now has 19 venues. It employs about 500 staff in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Marini said: “The next year to 18 months will be exciting for everyone at Tony Macaroni. We are perfectly positioned to come out of the covid-19 storm stronger and better than ever. Our restaurants have already seen pleasing levels of trade since lock-down eased because of the strength of our brand and quality of food and service. Ultimately, I want the brand to become a prized fixture in every city and large town across the UK. While we’ll continue to open more restaurants ourselves across Scotland the time is right for Read More
Itsu to roll out ‘store of the future’ model: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, it to roll out a “store of the future” model, including self-checkout kiosks, Propel has learned. The first iteration will open in London’s Spital Square later this year, after the format development was completed during lock-down. The company, which confirmed last week it will undergo a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) that will see 53 of its 77 sites get a rent cut and only two close, will also launch a new pre-order for collection function via a new Itsu mobile app this week. The new Itsu store model fitting into 1,000 square foot will open in Great Portland Street, with self-checkout kiosks and no fridge out front – a move the brand is describing as a “significant departure” from its traditional model. The company believes this model will open a “wealth of new site options” both in the UK and with international partners. The move comes as the business starts a gradual reopening of its UK estate, which includes a new streamlined menu of “customer favourites” that has been trialled and rolled out on reopening. A lot Read More
Kerb ‘taking plunge’ to reopen Seven Dials Market: Street food business Kerb is to “take the plunge” and reopen Seven Dials Market next week – the first major food hall in London to welcome back customers since lock-down. The reopening on Friday, 7 August follows research by the group that revealed two-fifths (40%) of Londoners are eager to visit central London to eat out, while more than two-thirds (70%) are fully behind supporting independent food and drink businesses. Seven independent traders will return to Seven Dials Market – Matthew Carver’s Pick & Cheese; Club Mexicana, the Mexican-inspired vegan street food restaurant founded by Meriel Armitage; Japanese soul food restaurant Nanban; bao concept Yum Bun; Strozapretti, the pasta restaurant from the team that founded Franco Manca; Truffle; and Venezuelan fried chicken expert El Pollote. Seven Dials Market has adapted to allow for bookings, cashless orders via click and collect, all-new table service, sanitising stations and spacious table seating. The venue will open on Fridays from 5pm to 10pm, Saturdays from midday to 10pm, Sundays from midday to 6pm and Mondays from midday to 10pm during August. Kerb founder Petra Barran said: “We have got this gorgeous, soaring, double-height space that’s been Read More
SA Brain launches additional support package for pub partners: Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain has launched an additional package for its pub partners to support them “all the way into 2021”. Measures include a phased rent plan, discounted draught pricing and an enhanced staff training programme. The move comes ahead of venues in Wales being allowed to open fully on Monday, 3 August. Brains said it would initially reopen 40 of its managed pubs on the day and expects the majority of its 60 partners to follow suit. Chief executive Alistair Darby said: “As we entered lock-down we suspended all rent for our partners and our intention is to support them all the way into 2021 as they adapt to the ‘new normal’ and its impact on trading. Our support is tailored to give us flexibility to ensure our partners’ businesses and our own business will be sustainable in the long term.” Founded in 1882, Brains operates more than 160 pubs in Wales and recently moved into its multimillion-pound Dragon Brewery in Cardiff Bay. Brains decided not to reopen its managed pubs on Monday, 13 July when hospitality businesses in Wales were allowed to open outdoor spaces only. The Read More
Oakman Inns sees like-for-like sales up 20% after launching version of Eat Out To Help Out: Oakman Inns and Restaurants said it has seen like-for-like sales up 20% year-on-year since the company launched its own version of the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme earlier this week. Oakman’s vouchers are available until Wednesday, 29 July and, like the government scheme, are valid from Monday to Wednesday. The vouchers entitle customers to 50% off food and non-alcoholic drinks up to a maximum value of £10 per person. The chancellor’s initiative doesn’t start until August. When Oakman launched its scheme, chief executive Dermot King said: “Frankly, we thought we all needed a bit of cheering up ahead of August. With prospects of good weather and some lovely pub gardens to visit, this is our way of thanking our friends and loyal regulars for supporting us since we reopened.” As well as the 20% spike in the past week, King told the Guardian the company had seen like-for-like sales up year-on-year since it reopened its 28-strong estate. He said: “With social distancing issues – reduced capacity and no standing at the bar, for instance – we expected to take a hit but like-for-like Read More
PizzaExpress to reopen 150 more sites, joins Eat Out To Help Out: Hony Capital-backed PizzaExpress is to reopen a further 150 restaurants. The phased programme will see the company reopen 71 pizzerias on Thursday, 30 July, including sites in Bournemouth, Blackpool, Huntingdon and Lincoln. A further 88 sites will reopen on Thursday, 6 August including venues in Aberdeen, Exeter, Glasgow, Manchester and London’s Leicester Square. The reopening plan follows “test and learn” trials of delivery, click-and-collect and dine-in services at selected pizzerias since 9 July. The company said further reopening phases would be announced shortly. Each pizzeria will take part in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme, which will offer diners 50% off food and soft drinks on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August to the value of £10 per person. PizzaExpress will apply the offer to all menu items excluding alcohol and in conjunction with existing offers. Safety measures include a new online booking service, digital menu and cashless payment. PizzaExpress managing director Zoe Bowley said: “It has been exciting to welcome customers back into our restaurants in the past fortnight and our teams look forward to reopening hundreds more pizzerias in the next few weeks. The Read More
Tasty reopens more than half of estate: Tasty, the AIM-listed operator of the Wildwood and Dim T brands, has reopened 33 sites for dine-in across both its brands. The company, which earlier this month revealed it was exploring ways to strengthen its balance sheet as it announced 284 redundancies, has now reopened 29 of its 51 Wildwood restaurants for dine-in. At the same time, ten of its Wildwood sites are offering delivery through Deliveroo, while its Whiteley restaurant is offering click and collect. Tasty has also reopened four of its five Dim T restaurants for dine in, with only its site in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, still closed. At the start of the month, the company said it was exploring ways to minimise costs and strengthen the balance sheet including investigating the possibility of new debt and/or equity capital and discussing terms with landlords and trade creditors. Island Poké sets out expansion plans for France as it reports encouraging initial trading: White Rabbit Fund-backed concept Island Poké has said it plans to have eight sites open in France by the end of this year after being encouraged by the first few weeks’ trade at its debut site in Paris. The company Read More
Company News: Stonegate launches own version of Eat Out To Help Out with no spending cap:Stonegate Pub Company has launched its own version of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme – but with no spending limit. Customers will be given 50% off their bill when they dine at any Stonegate site on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. The offer will be automatically applied to customers’ bills on all food, tea and coffee orders. The scheme will operate until the company switches to Eat Out To Help Out next month. Stonegate has opened the majority of its estate with new safety measures including enhanced cleaning regimes, single-use menus, contactless payment, hand-sanitiser stations and revised layouts. Customers have been encouraged to book because of reduced venue capacity. Stonegate managing director Helen Charlesworth said: “I am excited to launch this campaign two weeks ahead of the government initiative. We’re committed to providing the best possible customer experience and this is just the start of many initiatives and campaigns that will roll out across Stonegate in the coming weeks and months to benefit our customers.” Meanwhile, Stonegate will reopen the majority of its cocktail bar chain Be At One this week. Be At Read More
Papa John’s launches three stores to pass 450-site milestone in the UK: Papa John’s has opened three stores to take the brand past the 450-site milestone in the UK. The new venues are in Gosport in Hampshire, Maidstone in Kent and Wednesbury in the West Midlands. Phil Gaffer, Papa John’s UK franchise sales and business development manager, said: “The stores are being managed by some of our most experienced franchisees and their teams, who have all run multi-unit operations for several years. By being able to support and deliver to our communities safely in line with government advice, we’re proud of how our network of franchisees and their staff across the country have been able to continue to deliver hot food to those needing to stay at home in recent months.” The company said it was seeking franchisees to develop businesses in the north west, north east, Nottinghamshire and the south west. Earlier this month Papa John’s reported like-for-like sales increased 24% in its North America stores in June, with like-for-likes up 6% internationally. Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1984 and has 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets and territories. Azzurri Group begins reopening ASK Read More
Pret to launch vegan bakery counter: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned group, is to overhaul its bakery range and launch Veggie Pret’s Vegan Bakery in all its Veggie Pret shops from Tuesday (21 July). The company said the move would see it “veganising” its entire bakery counter, meaning only vegan bakery products will be sold. The move adds eight new items to the menu – three vegan croissants, two vegan brownies and three vegan muffins. It is also removing all non-vegan bakery products from sale. Clare Clough, UK managing director of Pret, said: “We’re really proud to be the first high street food-to-go retailer to launch a concept like this. Expanding Veggie Pret’s offering for our vegan customers has been a huge focus of our food development over the past year and moving to an entire vegan bakery is very much the result of that. Our previous vegan bakery products, such as the dark chocolate and almond butter cookie; and the very berry croissant have always been big hits with customers – vegan and non-vegan alike. In the first few weeks of the very berry croissant being on sale, it sold more than double the amount per day of Read More
Costa Coffee to pass on full 15% VAT cut to customers: Costa Coffee, which is owned by Coca-Cola, is to pass on the government’s full 15% VAT cut to customers for all food and drink at its owned stores. The move covers 1,500 Costa Coffee stores and more than 9,000 Costa Express machines. In-store reductions include a latte, which was £2.55 and will now cost £2.23; a flat white (was £2.70, now £2.36); ham and cheese toastie (was £2.95, now £2.58) and salted caramel brownie (was £2.25, now £1.97). Diners will still receive a 25p discount for using a reusable cup. A regular-size Costa Express coffee was £2.40 but will now cost £2.10. Costa Coffee said it had also recommended its franchise partners passed on the saving. Managing director Neil Lake said: “It is important to us our customers benefit from the VAT reduction, not just on selected core coffee products but across all Costa food and drink, in-store and from Costa Express machines. As we continue to safely welcome customers back into our stores for takeaway and eat-in, we hope the reduction encourages more customers to enjoy their favourite Costa Coffee, for less.” Regarding reopening its estate, Costa Coffee Read More
Turnaround funds run early rule over Prezzo: Turnaround funds RCapital and Endless are believed to be among parties to have run an early rule over Prezzo, Propel understands. Earlier this month the Karen Jones-led chain became the latest sector operator to push the start button on a sale process. Until recently, Endless was believed to be working on a bid for Casual Dining Group brand Las Iguanas with former Revolution Bars Group chief executive of Mark McQuater. The turnaround expert formerly backed West Cornwall Pasty Co and was also in the running to acquire Jamie’s Italian. RCapital, former backer of Little Chef, also ran the rule over Busaba and Bistrot Pierre recently. Earlier this week Propel revealed Prezzo is looking to secure £15m of funding to restart the business and accelerate sales growth. Before the pandemic the business is thought to have been posting like-for-like sales growth of 3% and, with its 180-strong estate weighted towards the south east and smaller towns and cities, the company believes it is well positioned to benefit from the growing trend of working from home as the sector reopens. Propel understands about 80% of its estate is generating positive branch Ebitda and, out of Read More
Hakkasan secures new $110m loan and negotiates rent agreements: UK-based restaurant and nightclub company Hakkasan Group has secured a new $110m loan with its parent company and “negotiated rental agreements with several landlords” to help it deal with the impact of coronavirus. Hakkasan also revealed its US subsidiary had terminated 90% of staff and temporarily reduced base compensation for the remainder, although they continue to receive medical benefits. It said it would look to rehire employees depending on the phased reopening of venues. Planned capital expenditures have been delayed “indefinitely”, while non-essential contracts have been cancelled or amended. The company provided the update in its accounts for the year ending 31 December 2019 but said it was “too early” to know the full impact on the company’s financial position. It said it had reopened its London restaurants for takeaway and delivery and launched a pop­up version of its Mexican-based Casa Calavera restaurant for delivery. In addition, various managed restaurant venues across the globe have been offering delivery to alleviate lost revenues that, Hakkasan said, had an impact on the group’s management fee revenue. The company stated: “On 13 April 2020, the group amended and restated various loan agreements with Aabar Read More
Greene King appoints chief marketing officer: Brewer and retailer Greene King has appointed Maria Sebastian to the new role of chief marketing officer. Sebastian will report to chief executive Nick Mackenzie and join the executive board. In her most recent role, Sebastian was senior vice-president for marketing, product and brand at Starbucks EMEA, where she led product innovation, category management, marketing and loyalty, shaping the brand experience across 42 countries and almost 3,200 stores. She joined Starbucks after 20 years in the airline industry, including at Virgin Atlantic and American Airlines. Mackenzie said: “I am delighted to welcome Maria to Greene King. Her broad experience in brand development, pricing, digital marketing and CRM, customer experience and customer insight will be invaluable as we implement our new strategy.” Sebastian added: “I am delighted to join at such an important time as the business reopens after lock-down, with a renewed focus on delivering an improved customer experience and advancing the digital offering. Greene King has distinctive brands and amazing locations and I look forward to further developing the brand propositions.” New Vapiano UK owners plan further expansion, deal includes Edinburgh site:UK VAP, a subsidiary of Love & Food Restaurant Holdings, which recently Read More
Byron set to shed circa 20 sites under possible pre-pack administration: Better burger brand Byron could shed circa 20 sites from its 51-strong estate, if as predicted it undergoes a pre-pack administration. At the end of last month, Byron filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators and it reportedly held talks with three potential buyers. Sources said Byron's board remained confident of sealing a deal in the coming weeks, with the likeliest outcome a pre-pack administration. Propel understands that process could see between 20 and 25 sites dropped, with the majority based inside the capital. It is thought some of these sites are already being marketed. The group currently operates 32 sites inside London and 19 outside. For the 12 months to the end of 2019, the group’s revenue is thought to have stood at circa £65m, with restaurant Ebitda at £3.5m. Central costs for the year were thought to be north of £6m, although it is thought cost cutting here has already been implemented, including a new payroll system. In terms of who is bidding to take on the business, speculation suggests current backer Three Hills Capital is one of the bidders, while a management buyout led by Read More
Costa Coffee trials return of eat-in: Costa Coffee, owned by Coca-Cola, has begun trialling the return of eat-in at 44 of its sites. Costa said it would look to reintroduce an eat-in option across a further 1,000 stores by the end of the month following feedback and adjusting its operations in line with strict government guidelines. Seating will be limited and operate on a first come, first served basis. On arrival customers will be greeted by a Costa Coffee team member and, if choosing to eat-in, will be allocated a table specifically for their use ahead of being guided to the counter to place their order behind a Perspex screen. If there are no tables available, the customer will be encouraged to use the takeaway service or wait outside the store until a table becomes free. As with current procedures across takeaway stores, hand-sanitiser stations will be made available for customers to use, while all team members will be provided with personal protective equipment. The move comes as the company reopened a further 467 stores for takeaway, meaning the company now has more than 1,800 outlets back in operation. The company began gradually reopening its estate at the end of Read More
BrewDog builds openings pipeline in India: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is building an openings pipeline for its international bars estate in India. The company’s first bar in the country is under construction and opening soon in Kamala Mills, Mumbai. The company has now secured locations for a further five BrewDog bars in Pune, Gurgaon (two sites), Bengaluru and another in Mumbai. The company opened its entire estate of bars in England on Saturday (4 July) and external areas in its Scottish bars on Monday (6 July). To ensure a covid-secure reopening in line with government guidance, the company said it had implemented its own ten-point safety plan, including contactless ordering and cashless payments via its order to table app, sanitiser stations and social distancing signs. All staff will be required to wear masks and gloves, while they will also monitor site capacity continually and carry out surface cleaning every 15 minutes. The sites will also feature single-use menus, while table screens will be available on request. Oakman Inns considers options for equity raise: Oakman Inns and Restaurants is considering options including attracting a strategic investor and holding a retail fund-raising to deliver equity funding and strengthen its balance sheet. Read More
Street Food Favourite The Athenian Launches in London Bridge This July, Greek street food brand, The Athenian, is launching a new site in London Bridge. Following on from hugely successful pop ups and venues across the UK, the brand is now bringing their authentic street food and delicious Souvlaki to one of London's most bustling districts. The Athenian London Bridge is set to launch on Wednesday 26th August and they will be offering 15% off the entire menu for in-store customers for the opening week, as well as 20% off Deliveroo orders for new customers (until 16th September). Continuing its tradition for naming each site after a vibrant Athens neighbourhood, the new London Bridge site will be called Mikrolimano after a district in Piraeus, and its distinctive design will be inspired by a typical Greek urban market stall. Located in a prime position within the station, The Athenian will be the perfect place for a pita stop, to grab a quick lunch or enjoy a light snack with a cold refreshing Hellenic craft beer. The Athenian will continue to take daily measures to ensure they continue to trade in a safe environment in the current climate, with the health and Read More
Wendy’s begins building team for UK launch: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, has started building its team ahead of a proposed UK launch early next year. Propel understands the company, which operates more than 6,000 sites worldwide, has appointed Michael Clarke, formerly of Pizza Hut Restaurants and Firezza, as UK director of operations. At the same time Rhodri Jones, former property director at Soho House joint venture Quentin Restaurants, has joined Wendy’s as UK real estate manager. Propel revealed last year the company had started searching for sites in the UK to “kick-start a broader expansion plan across Europe”. The group has been working with property agent Savills to find sites and has submitted plans to open a site in an empty unit in Station Road, Reading. A Wendy’s spokeswoman told Propel: “We plan to enter the market with company owned and operated restaurants in early 2021. The brand is excited about the future as we enter this market.” The group attempted to break into the UK market before the end of the last millennium but surrendered ten leases in 2000. YO! delighted by weekend trading at new-format sites: YO! chief executive Richard Hodgson told Read More
Two-thirds of Pret closures outside London: The majority of the 30 sites Pret A Manger will close as a part of a restructure of the business will be based outside London, Propel understands. The JAB Holdings-backed company announced earlier today (6 July) it would undergo a restructure that would see 30 of its UK sites close permanently. The move came after the company experienced a 74% drop in sales year-on-year because of a “significant impact of covid-19 on operating costs and cash flow”. The company, which has so far reopened 339 of its 410 UK sites, said it would start a consultation to reduce headcount across remaining UK stores to reflect lower footfall, rental costs and new safety measures. It also said it planned a reduction in the number of support roles and a sale of the lease of its main support office in Victoria, London. Of the 30 sites that will close, one-third are in London, including those at 421 Strand, The Cut – Southwark, 109 Fleet Street and Centre Point. The group’s site at Heathrow Terminal 3 landside will also close. Sites earmarked for closure outside the capital include venues in Worcester, Lion Yard in Cambridge, Albert Street Read More
Pret A Manger to close ‘5% to 10%’ of UK estate: Pret A Manger chief executive Pano Christou has said the company could close “5% to 10%” of its UK stores as it suffers amid the coronavirus crisis. Sales at its site in Paternoster Square, near St Paul’s Cathedral, are thought to be down 90%, while the cafe below its head office in Victoria had average daily sales of £1,000 last week compared with the usual £6,000. In Manchester and Liverpool trade was said to be 70% below normal levels and 60% down in Bristol. Pret expects sales to creep up to no more than 60% of normal levels in the coming months. The week before last it had sales of £2.7m, compared with £16.5m in normal times. Christou told The Sunday Times he was having “sleepless nights” about having to tell staff of impending job losses. “There’s no easy way round this,” he said. “It depends come September if the business recovers or not. Clearly we can’t keep people on what we would have if business was back at 100%. We could see 5% to 10% of our stores close in the UK.” Since May, the company has been Read More
The Restaurant Group begins reopening Frankie & Benny’s estate: The Restaurant Group (TRG) will begin reopening its Frankie & Benny’s estate with the launch of a click and collect and takeaway offer through six sites from Friday (3 July). The company, which saw creditors approve a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) for its leisure business including Frankie & Benny’s earlier this week, will reopen its sites in Chesterfield, Doncaster, Dudley, Lincoln, Merryhill and Peterborough. Delivery will be available through UberEats and Just Eat. In terms of reopening for dine-in, the brand said: “Unfortunately we are unable to confirm the status of individual sites until the restructuring process is complete. We will start to open after 4 July and will confirm individual restaurant details nearer the time.” TRG’s leisure estate comprises 313 branded restaurants, with Frankie & Benny’s, Coast to Coast, Joe’s Kitchen, Chiquito, Garfunkel’s and Firejacks as the primary brands. As exclusively reported by Propel earlier this month, the 214-page CVA document sets out four lease categories with the largest (category 4) comprising 148 sites, mostly under the Frankie & Benny’s brand, earmarked for closure as part of the proposals. Talking to Propel earlier this week, TRG chief executive Andy Hornby Read More
Mission Mars secures Birmingham site for beer hall and garden concept: Mission Mars, the north west-based operator of fast-growing concepts such as Albert’s Schloss and Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza, is to open a site in Birmingham, Propel has learned. The company will launch Zumhof Bierhalle & Garten in Digbeth on Saturday (4 July). It will occupy the former nightclub Air in Heath Mill Lane and 4,000 square feet of an adjacent car park. The 1,200-capacity venue will feature two live performance stages, a food shack, fire pits and a tepee. Zumhof, which translates as “come to the yard”, will be Digbeth’s first Tankovna, which will offer unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell delivered from Pilzen once a week. The rotating taps will offer beer from Europe as well as offerings from local brewers. The food shack will offer speciality pretzels, bratwursts and burgers alongside Rudy’s Neapolitan pizza. When regulations allow, the stage will feature performances from touring bands, queer cabaret, DJs, drag artists and live art installations. Chief executive Roy Ellis said: “We have been looking for a perfect site in Birmingham for a long time so the decision was straightforward. It’s a pop-up to start with – it will allow us to feel Read More
Hornby – we will have all our pubs reopen by end of August: Andy Hornby, chief executive of The Restaurant Group (TRG), has told Propel the company plans to reopen all 80 of its pubs by the end of August, and take a gradual approach to the reopening of the rest of its business, including Wagamama. Hornby said: “All 80 of our pubs will be open by the end of August, and we will open at least 50 in July, including 20 to 25 next week. We are obviously going quickest with pubs with large gardens. Wagamama will be much more gradual. We are already open in 100 sites for delivery and click-and-collect, but we will be opening gradually for dine-in over the next three months, and it won’t be far off opening a third, a third, a third through July, August and September, so we are fully open going into October. We are incredibly positive about what we hope to see in what I call residential areas. What we have already seen from the five weeks we have been doing delivery and click-and-collect is really promising, significant increases in say the Home Counties, places like St Albans; Reigate and Read More
Anglian County Inns secures £3.3m to safeguard business: Anglian Country Inns, the pub and restaurant operator led by James Nye, has secured £3.3m through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) from Cynergy Bank. The loan will be used by Anglian Country Inns, which operates nine pubs throughout Hertfordshire and Norfolk, to refinance existing debt and provide emergency working capital funding caused by the impact of coronavirus. While the government guarantee is for six years, Cynergy Bank is amortising the loan over a 25-year period. Nye said: “We were delighted to have completed the CBILS funding of both Anglian Country Inns and our sister-company The Farmhouse, which together means we are able to protect the business and ensure we come out of the pandemic stronger than ever.” Steve Crosswell, relationship director, hospitality, Cynergy Bank, added: “The Nye family has built a robust and solid business with high-performing assets and it typifies all that is good in a family-led business.” Inception sets our reopening plans, £25,000 bar tab for NHS workers spread across sites: Inception Group, which owns and operates concepts including Cahoots and Mr Foggs, will begin the reopening of its estate with Mr Fogg’s Residence in Mayfair on Saturday Read More
TGI Friday’s to reopen 66 restaurants for dine-in from 6 July as it reveals fresh new brand: TGI Friday’s is set to reopen 66 restaurants for dine-in from Monday, 6 Julyand will reveal a fresh new brand. The changes will be showcased at six specially selected restaurants, dubbed “Famous at Friday’s”, with elements introduced across the rest of the estate. An investment and upgrade in “quality, fresh ingredients and a focus on provenance” are core to the new food offer, which has been simplified along with its cocktail menu. The Famous at Friday’s restaurants will be Covent Garden and Leicester Square in London; Birmingham Hagley Road, which was the first Friday’s in the UK, in 1986; Nottingham, Manchester Royal Exchange and Glasgow Buchanan Street. Chief executive Robert B Cook said: “Our new Famous at Friday’s restaurants take us back to what we are famous for. We have invested in the return of classic dishes made with quality ingredients, re-energised bars full of energy and theatre, all of which will be complemented by consistently brilliant and iconic Friday’s service and spirit of generosity.” TGI Friday’s said it would implementing the same strict safety measures for in-restaurant dining as it had for Read More
Stonegate extends tenant support package, now worth more than £28m: Ei Publican Partnerships, the leased and tenanted business of Ei Group – now owned by Stonegate Pub Company – has extended its support for publicans, creating an overall support package, which has been implemented during the lock-down, in excess of £28m. The latest provision, in light of new government guidance and confirmation all pubs in England will be able to reopen from 4 July, includes rent credit equivalent to 75% for July and 50% for August for all tied publicans on substantive agreements. In addition, such credits have also been applied to tie release fees and fixtures and fittings rental charges, and to assist with future cash flow over the next 12 months all rent invoices will be produced weekly instead of monthly or quarterly. The company is also using its scale as a managed house operator to offer its publicans “some significant non-contractual discounts on wine, spirits and minerals for a promotional period”. This package follows the multimillion-pound rent and credit support Ei Publican Partnerships provided to publicans from April to June. Nick Light, managing director of Ei Publican Partnerships, said: “We have consistently taken a measured approach to Read More
Incipio reports more than 2,500 bookings in 24 hours: Incipio Group, which is backed by Edition Capital, has reported more than 2,500 bookings in 24 hours after announcing it will reopen three of its sites. The company, which is reopening Pergola Paddington, The Prince and Lost In Brixton from 4 July, said it has also seen a huge spike in traffic to its websites and more than 23,000 enquiries. Changes to the venues are taking place to accommodate social distancing measures and the safety of customers and staff. As part of reopening guidelines, all guests have to give their details beforehand. Sales and market director Anthony Knight said: “Following the government issued guidelines we are now able to start booking in the 23,450 guests that have made enquiries to join us in July. Being able to quickly identify if a guest is able to enter while securely collecting their information in line with the government requirements gives both our teams and employees the reassurance needed we are taking all measures to ensure we are able to open safely while being able to provide information to the NHS test and trace service if need be.” Incipio Group operates six sites across Read More
Marston's – we will reopen 80% to 85% of pubs on 4 July: Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay said he expects it will reopen 80% to 85% of its 1,400 premises from 4 July after being given the go-ahead to open sites with “one metre-plus” distancing in place. He said: “If two-metre distancing had stayed in place we would have only been able to reopen about 25% of our pubs. This is a positive step, but I think there is also now a case for some kind of stimulus to help consumer spending. Personally I feel a VAT cut, which has been touted, would work.” Meanwhile TGI Friday's has told customers it will reopen on Monday, 6 July while Rob Pitcher, chief executive at Revolution Bars Group, told PA it would reopen 10% of sites on 4 July but he does not expect these to be profitable with current restrictions in place. He said: “We don’t think it will really be profitable for us, but it is important for us to test our procedures and safety protocols, and gauge demand as well. We’ve had very high levels of bookings so we are confident things are pulling in the right direction.” Read More
YO! to launch new fast-casual, covid-safe format: YO!, the Richard Hodgson-led business, is to launch a fast-casual, covid-safe format, next month, which brings a more personalised take to its iconic conveyor belt technology that it hopes to roll out across the majority of its 70-strong estate, Propel has learned. The new format, which is being tested at its Guildford site, see the conveyor belt speeded up, but also allows it to be stopped and started. Unlike previously when consumers just took the food off the belt, they now take a picture of a QR code on their table, order through their phone and the food is freshly prepared. Lights on individual tables are set to red, then when the order is on its way the light goes amber and when it arrives the belt stops and the light goes green. Diners have seven seconds to take their order before the belt starts again, and if it isn’t the order goes around again and they get a second chance. If it isn’t taken this time it goes back to the host who brings it to the table. The new format make interaction minimal. Guildford and another 11 of YO!’s UK sites will Read More
Hawthorn Leisure signs off £4.5m investment in estate ‘to signal commitment to sector’: Mark Davies, chief executive of Hawthorn Leisure, the pub operations arm of NewRiver, has told Propel it has just signed off £4.5m worth of investment for the estate, including in outside areas. While many companies have cut back or curtailed capital expenditure in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Davies said it was making the investment because it “believed in the future of the sector” and it “will bounce back stronger than ever”. Hawthorn plans to invest in “lots of little projects”, including improvements to outside space that Davies said would help pubs take advantage of the postponed Euro 2020 tournament that will now take next summer. About 70% of the circa 720-strong Hawthorn estate currently has outside gardens. Speaking following the company’s full-year results, Davies added: “We have no debt and are very well financed and we think it’s very important to be showing our commitment to pubs by making these investments. Having bought Bravo Inns at the end of last year, one thing we noticed is it does outdoor space very well and we think we can replicate that. While we are making this initial investment, Read More
Costa to have more than 1,100 stores open by end of June, introduces contactless hatch at drive-thru sites: Costa Coffee, owned by Coca-Cola, has said it will have more than 1,100 of its stores across the UK reopen by the end of June. The company, which has so far reopened almost 650 sites, has introduced bespoke serving hatches at its drive-thru outlets designed so customers can collect their order with no contact. The hatches, which lower items from the service hatch down to customer’s vehicles, have a built-in acrylic hygiene screen to provide maximum protection for both customers and Costa team members. Staff are equipped with personal protective equipment, hand sanitiser stations have been introduced and each store will continue to operate with contactless payment. Perspex screens have been installed at all counters across takeaway sites, with designated pick-up points for delivery and mobile order collections. Both inside and outside stores, two-metre floor signs have been carefully placed to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Costa is also offering coffee on the go via its 8,400-plus Express machines and its ready-to-drink and at-home ranges. The company has delivered more than 861,000 ready-to-drink Costa cans and 1,200 coffee packs to key workers. Read More
Pret trials click-and-collect at five London sites: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned business, is trialling click-and-collect at five sites in London. The company is piloting the service at its Aldgate, Hammersmith, Kingston, Putney and Stratford outlets. Pret has so far reopened about 300 of its sites for takeaway and delivery. Earlier this month the company appointed advisors as it looks to undertake a “comprehensive transformation plan”, which could it see it push to change to a turnover-based rent model and lead to a limited number of permanent stores closures across its circa 430-strong UK estate. Wimpy trials dark kitchen, 84% of estate now reopen: Wimpy UK is trialling a dark kitchen as it continues to adapt to new ways of reaching customers during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Slough site is delivering via Deliveroo, UberEats and Just Eat, and in its first week of operation exceeded its target by 15%. Previously there were three Wimpy outlets in Slough, with the last one closing in 2004. Like the rest of the 69-strong Wimpy estate, the new venture is a franchise operation, headed this time by joint franchisees, father and son Herjit and Del Ghosal. The pair made a large investment Read More
Shepherd Neame announces further rental concessions for tenants: Kent brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has announced further rental concessions for its tenants over the next few months to allow a phased recovery for licensees from the current crisis. This follows its cancellation of all pub rent for licensees throughout the period of closure, totalling more than £2.5m to date. The new temporary policy will provide licensees with a 70% discount on their prevailing contractual rent, effective for four weeks from the date pubs are allowed to reopen. This will then be followed by a 50% discount in month two, a 40% discount in month three and a 30% discount in month four. This is on the assumption pubs open with two-metre social distancing, reduced to one metre by the end of July. If the social distancing guidelines result in licensees being unable to open their pub due to the small nature of their premises, further individual support will be considered. Shepherd Neame will issue a further communication during October on the proposed rent concessions from 2 November until April 2021 when it is anticipated full rent will recommence. In addition, Shepherd Neame is also providing covid-19 risk assessment templates, signage Read More
Creams to introduce QR code menus and ice-cream handwashing jingle as it prepares for dine-in: Dessert parlour operator Creams is introducing QR code menus and pay at table as part of a number of safeguarding and social distancing initiatives as it readies its 88-strong estate for sit-in customers. Diners will be asked to use a sanitisation station at the entrance before being guided via signage to their socially distanced table. Once the customer completes their mobile order, they will be encouraged to approach Creams’ long service counters to pick up their dish along with single-use compostable bamboo cutlery. Throughout the day, customers will hear a quirky ice cream van jingle that will play at frequent intervals and serve as a prompt to all Creams team members to wash hands and sanitise surfaces. The initiatives have also been developed to “create a fun and engaging experience that encourages customers back into store when doors reopen”. Creams will be undertaking a review of all sites with the aim of implementing a bespoke social distancing programme, unique to the floor plans at each location, over the coming weeks. Marketing director Lauren Haslewood said: “Over the past weeks we have been exploring how to Read More
Corbin & King launches delivery service with all profits used to top up furloughed staff salaries: London restaurant operator Corbin & King has launched a delivery service with all profits being used to top up the salary of furloughed staff. The company is offering a selection of dishes “that just need finishing off at home” from all of its restaurants, including Manzi’s – its forthcoming seafood venue in Soho. The menu features Soutine's coq au Riesling, Colbert's duck confit with bean cassoulet and The Wolseley's wiener schnitzel. A curated selection of wine is also available. Orders can be made on weekdays between 9am and 6pm and delivery is available within a four-mile radius of the West End. The company stated: “Home dining meals are prepared by our chefs to our restaurant recipes, saving you time and effort in cooking at home. The meals arrive refrigerated and can be stored for three days.” The delivery service has launched after Corbin & King asked customers to buy dining vouchers in advance. The company is giving 50% directly to staff to help “alleviate the desperate situation many are finding themselves in”. Co-founder Jeremy King previously said the “overwhelming” generosity of customers buying dining Read More
Bistrot Pierre appoints advisors to help it navigate lock-down and beyond: Bistrot Pierre, the Livingbridge-backed group, has appointed advisors to help it navigate the lock-down period and put it in a good position for when the sector reopens fully, Propel has learned. The 25-strong, Nick White-led group is understood to be working with KPMG as it looks to unlock government support schemes and understand new legislation. It is also helping the company in its discussions with various stakeholders, including its bank and Livingbridge, to find the best solution to secure the funds its needs to reopen and get through the next few months. KPMG has been working with the company for the past eight weeks, and the business is believed to be keen to see its appointment as not a “kneejerk reaction”. Propel understands none of the group’s sites, which are spread across England and Wales, are loss making, have no onerous leases or are tied to corporate landlords. One source close to the business said: “Government help is available, getting it is complex. To that end it is working with KPMG to frame its thinking on what the best approach is to unlocking that help and securing new funds.” Read More
Osmond – government needs to help oil the wheels of landlord/tenant negotiations: Hugh Osmond, serial sector investor and current backer of Coppa Club, has told Propel the government needs to help with “a bit of financial oil to the wheels of landlord/tenant negotiations” over the rent issue. Osmond, the founder of Punch Taverns, said: “After all, it was government that closed us down and hence stopped the income, so it does need to contribute to the losses it caused. If it doesn’t step in, I fear wrangling could last for years and more groups will fail.” Osmond’s warning came as UKHospitality said unless the government provides fiscal support to overcome the stand-off between landlords and tenants over unpaid rent, hospitality business failures and significant job losses will follow. The trade body has written to the government, warning hospitality businesses hammered by coronavirus and facing difficult trading for the foreseeable future, will be unable to come to rent settlements without support. UKHospitality warned, unless financial support is forthcoming, the reopening of hospitality businesses after months of lock-down will be at risk. Its letter sets out measures to resolve the deadlock, including the possible introduction of tax credits to incentivise rent waivers, Read More
Pubs and restaurants show signs of recovery in May as they adapt businesses:Pubs and restaurants showed signs of recovery in May as more sectors adapted to social distancing restrictions to keep their doors open, according to the latest Barclaycard data. While eating and drinking saw an overall decline of 70.3% year-on-year, there was a smaller fall in spending than in April, when it was down 79.1%. This coincided with more restaurants, pubs and cafes being able to offer delivery and takeaway services. More than one in ten (14%) of Brits are now buying food and drink from a pub or restaurant, and 10% are purchasing takeaway coffee. Overall, consumer spending contracted 26.7% compared with the previous year. Consumers have remained loyal to local specialist food and drink outlets, such as greengrocers and independent convenience stores, with the category seeing growth of 42.5% – the highest increase since restrictions were introduced. Spending on essential items growing slightly by 0.9%, bolstered by a 24.5% rise in supermarket spend. The upsurge in supermarket expenditure helped to offset a 49.7% fall in fuel. Spending on non-essentials decreased 36.9% compared with the year before. However, this drop was less steep than April’s, which saw non-essential Read More
Ministers identify 22 June as re-opening date for pubs and restaurants serving customers outdoors: Ministers have identified 22 June as the date when they hope to reopen England’s pubs and restaurants serving customers outdoors, amid fears of mass job losses if the hospitality sector misses out on the lucrative summer season. Chancellor Rishi Sunak is among half a dozen ministers – calling themselves the “save summer six” – seeking to accelerate the reopening of the economy, according to the FT. The hospitality sector was not due to open until 4 July. Downing Street said no date had been set for the reopening of beer gardens, terraces and marquees, but three senior Whitehall officials said the target date was 22 June. The cabinet will discuss the plan on Tuesday. Business secretary Alok Sharma has been asked by the prime minister Boris Johnson to make the case for cutting Britain’s 2m social distancing rule to allow for more customers to be served in commercial premises. The business secretary spoke to his Danish counterpart on Sunday to discuss the operation of that country’s 1m rule. Robert Jenrick, housing and local government secretary, is reviewing planning rules to make it easier for pubs and Read More
Douglas Jack – majority of Loungers’ sites can reopen profitably under two-metre social distancing: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has argued the majority of cafe bar brand Loungers’ sites can reopen profitably under two-metre social distancing. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 200p, Jack said: “Management believes the company's strong culture has been enhanced. It remains in regular communication with employees, supported by a new app that allows teams to communicate more easily. Customer engagement has continued with competitions and acts of kindness in the community. Its customer survey indicated out of 6,000 respondents, only 2% of customers said they would not be comfortable resuming their normal visits when government restrictions are lifted. The company has incorporated feedback into its physical distancing and hygiene measures. Loungers is trialling order-at-table technology and going cashless, which may make a minority of customers feel more comfortable. Smaller menus are likely to be adopted while the kitchens are operating under physical distancing restrictions. The company has opened 17 Lounge sites for takeout and plans a further ten sites over the next week. This should enable employees to return and the supply chain to get back up and Read More
Pret founder backs new Vapiano vehicle, signs Germany licence agreement:Sinclair Beecham, the co-founder of Pret A Manger, is one of the group investors backing the new owners of the Vapiano brand. The group of investors, which also includes AmRest founder Henry McGovern, has backed Mario C Bauer, who was Vapiano's former head of international franchising, to restart the brand, after it filed for insolvency due to liquidity problems as a result of declining sales earlier this year. The new vehicle – Love & Food Restaurant – has already agreed to acquire Vapiano’s 29-strong operation in France and Luxembourg. It has followed this up by forming a partnership with the Leipzig family entrepreneur Falk Johne and real estate developer Bernd Ehret (Skyland Group) to become the new master licensees for the brand in Germany. The joint venture will operate about 20 of the German Vapiano restaurants on its own and will act as a franchisor towards the German licensees of the brand. It also plans to hand over another 15 locations to franchise partners in each respective region. Bauer said: “The reconstruction of Vapiano in Germany is a big task. It therefore makes sense to us to rely on the support Read More
Dishoom begins reopening sites for delivery: Indian restaurant concept Dishoom has begun reopening sites for delivery. The company has reopened its Kensington, King’s Cross and Shoreditch outlets, which are offering the service via Deliveroo daily between 11.30am and 10.30pm. The menu includes its vada pau, keema pau, chicken ruby and house black daal alongside cocktails such as Pallonji’s Raspberry Soda. Everyone who orders will also get a recipe in their delivery on how to make the Dishoom masala chai at home. Dishoom closed all seven of its restaurants in March. Billy Allingham realigning crazy golf venture to attract families, gets go-ahead for second site: Billy Allingham, managing director of Leicestershire-based Steamin’ Billy Brewing, has told Propel he is realigning his Caddyshackers crazy golf venue to accommodate and attract families post-lock-down – and has been given the go-ahead for a second site, in Nottingham. The existing venue in Leicester city centre was aimed at the 18 and over market, but Allingham is changing tact – at least temporarily – as he believes families will be “looking to get out and enjoy themselves in a safe and fun environment”. He added: “We are also creating a treasure hunt nature walk near to Read More
WHO – keeping one metre apart slashes coronavirus risk by 80%: Keeping just one metre apart reduces the risk of catching coronavirus by 80%, a major WHO study has revealed. The new research, funded by the World Health Organisation (WHO), will add to calls for Britain’s two-metre rule social distancing rule to be relaxed. Scientists found that people have just a 2.6% chance of catching coronavirus if they stand one metre away from an infected patient. This means the disease would spread to fewer than three out of 100 people, whereas 13 out of 100 would catch the virus if no distancing rule was in place. The study found that standing two metres apart was slightly more effective at preventing transmission, reducing the risk to around 1.3%, but that nothing can provide complete protection. They added that face masks have a strong protective effect, reducing the risk of catching the virus by up to 85 per cent. Business leaders have claimed the small increased risk from relaxing the two-metre restriction would be worth the economic benefits of allowing more businesses to reopen. Writing in The Daily Mail, former chancellor Norman Lamont said halving the rule to one metre was ‘the Read More
Leon working with advisors and landlords to find ‘right solution’: Natural fast food brand Leon has become the latest sector operator to confirm it is working with advisors and landlords in regards to its current rental levels. A Leon spokesman told Propel: “We are working collectively with consultancy firm Quantuma and our landlords to find the right solution for everyone.” It is thought the business will follow peer Pret A Manger in pushing to change to a turnover-based rent model. Pret, the JAB Holdings-owned business, announced at the weekend it had appointed advisors as it looks to undertake a “comprehensive transformation plan”, which could it see it try and change to a turnover-based rent model. It is thought this may lead to a limited number of permanent stores closures across Pret’s circa 430-strong UK estate. The company is working with professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal and property agent CWM to advise on aspects of the plan and to examine the best options to “adjust its business model in a new retail environment”. West Berkshire Brewery launches £750,000 fund-raise to support growth, including ‘ambition plan’ for Maverick Pubs portfolio: West Berkshire Brewery, the David Bruce-chaired group, has launched a £750,000 Read More
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