Wells & Co trials sales sharing tenancy agreement: Bedford-based brewer and retailer Wells & Co is trialling a new sales sharing tenancy agreement, Propel has learned. With no payable rent, a “low” security deposit and all utilities paid for by Wells & Co, the company said the agreement allowed “newcomers to the industry to gain a foothold in the world of hospitality”. The first pub to operate under the agreement is the Rose & Crown in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire. The pub has reopened after being closed for eight months and is being run by Robin Smith and Lynn Reeves. A Wells & Co spokesman told Propel: “We have decreased the personal investment and risks typically associated with opening a new pub venture. By removing barriers to entry, we aim to attract talented entrepreneurial individuals who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity. Once on board, all pub partners taking up the agreement will also benefit from a comprehensive support package from Wells & Co including a full retail induction programme as well as marketing, financial and licensing support, leaving our partners free to focus on growing their business. The sales sharing agreement will allow our pub partners to be their own Read More
Deliveroo strengthens management team with former Restaurant Brands hire:Deliveroo has moved to strengthen its management team by appointing a senior executive from Burger King and Tim Hortons owner Restaurant Brands International (RBI). Propel understands the company has appointed Stephen Goldstein, former senior vice-president – head of business development/mergers and acquisitions, RBI EMEA, as head of global business development and strategic partnerships. Goldstein spent more than four years at RBI including a stint as senior vice-president – president at Tim Hortons USA. He follows the appointment earlier this year of Cengiz Rahmioglu, former strategy director at Leon, as Deliveroo’s new head of restaurant strategy. Propel revealed last week that Dan Warne, Deliveroo managing director for UK and Ireland, had unexpectedly left the business. Warne had led the UK and Ireland business since August 2014 and was also vice-president for global strategic partnerships. Warne is understood to have played a key role in the growth of the business in the UK and building key operator relationships. Deliveroo is believed to be searching for a successor for Warne. Connection Capital takes stake in Rosa’s Thai Cafe as brand targets 45-strong UK portfolio in next five years: Private equity firm Connection Capital has acquired Read More
Sticks ‘n’ Sushi promotes Andreas Karlsson to chief executive: Denmark-based Sticks ‘n’ Sushi has promoted group chief operating officer Andreas Karlsson, who has overseen the company’s expansion in the UK, to chief executive and hired former TDC Group vice-president Jens Aalose as chairman of the board. Aalose will replace Erik Holm, managing partner of Danish private equity firm Maj Invest, while Rod McKie’s place will be taken by Karlsson. McKie told Propel: “After many years of leading the UK successfully it’s time for Andreas to take the helm. Taking the challenge to lead the business and coming off the board, after 15 months it is time for me to step back on to the board and Andreas’ considerable international experience will ensure the business continues to expand in all three countries.” Karlsson told Propel: “I am delighted to be given the trust and support from the board to continue to lead our teams on this exciting journey and further develop Sticks ‘n’ Sushi.” Maj Invest took a 49% stake in Sticks ‘n’ Sushi in 2013, while the founders remained the majority shareholders with a 51% stake. At the time, Maj Invest’s aim was to expand the chain’s presence internationally. Earlier Read More
  Pret A Manger chooses Canary Wharf EAT for first Veggie Pret conversion: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed chain, has chosen the EAT store in London’s Canary Wharf as the first to become a Veggie Pret since it acquired its 90-strong fresh food-to-go rival in June, Propel understands. At the time the deal was agreed, Pret said it planned to convert as many of EAT’s stores as possible to Veggie Prets – 75% of EAT’s estate is in London with many close to an existing Pret. It has since placed circa 15 EAT sites on the market, including 13 in London. A Pret spokesman said: “Yes, the Canary Wharf EAT site will be the first one to become a Veggie Pret. We continue to want to convert as many as we can and are currently finalising a review of the EAT estate to assess which ones can be converted.” The first permanent Veggie Pret launched in September 2016 and the concept has expanded to three further locations in London and Manchester. Pret’s then-chief executive Clive Schlee said at the time of the EAT acquisition: “The purpose of this deal is to serve a growing demand of vegetarian and vegan Read More
Wagamama appoints director to oversee international expansion, Hornby acquires shares: Wagamama, The Restaurant Group (TRG)-owned brand, has appointed Daniel Blasco Fernandez to oversee its international expansion. Blasco Fernandez joins Wagamama as director of international franchise. He previously worked for franchise operator Grupo Vips, which operates Wagamama in Spain and Portugal, for 15 years. He takes over from Brian Johnston, who stepped down as Wagamama’s international managing director earlier this summer. Johnston oversaw the expansion of Wagamama outside the US. During the past few years he has put franchise deals in place for the brand to make its debut in Italy, France and Spain. It currently operates 57 franchises sites around the world. Meanwhile, new TRG chief executive Andy Hornby has acquired shares worth circa £300,000 in the Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s operator. Hornby bought 232,471 shares at a price of 128.40p each, totalling £298,493. His stake following the purchase was not given. Hornby took over as chief executive of TRG at the beginning of last month. Last week TRG reported like-for-like sales rose 4% in the 26 weeks to 30 June 2019. Group like-for-like sales were up 3.7% for the first 34 weeks of the financial year, benefiting from Read More
Azzurri Group to open first Pod conversion site: Azzurri Group, which acquired 13 sites of the 22-strong Pod business out of administration earlier this year, is set to open the first to be converted to its Coco di Mama brand. Propel understands the company is on-site at the Pod in More London for what will become its 24th Coco di Mama site in the capital when it reopens early next month. It’s thought Azzurri will look to complete a few more Pod to Coco di Mama conversions before the end of the year. The majority of the Pod estate was sold to Azzurri Group, owner of the ASK Italian, Zizzi and Radio Alice brands, in a pre-pack administration for a total consideration of £1.6m – more than £1m below its original offer that failed to gain shareholder approval. The pre-pack sale of sites came four days after Pod’s shareholders failed to approve a £2.7m sale to Azzurri Group in a deal that was worth 5p a share. Azzurri has subsequently continued to operate the sites it acquired as Pod, with the intention of converting a number to Coco di Mama during the next 12 months. Azzurri Group chief executive Steve Read More
Childs steps down as YO! people director, brand changes name to highlight menu diversity: Jo Childs has stepped down as people director at YO!, the global multi-brand, multi-channel Japanese food group, after three years with the Richard Hodgson-led business, Propel has learned. Childs joined YO! from Tesco Hospitality, where she spent more than three years as head of people and talent. Before that she had stints at Spirit Group and Living Ventures. For part of her time at YO!, Childs also oversaw the operational side of the business. On her departure, Alyson Hancock has been promoted from head of people to HR director, while Emma Deabill has stepped up from head of operations to director of operations restaurants. A YO! spokeswoman said: “Jo has contributed a large amount during her time at YO! and will be sorely missed. However, we respect her decision to take a break and wish her the best in her future endeavours.” Meanwhile, YO! has changed its name for a limited time from three characters to 121 to highlight the scale of its menu. Visitors to the brand’s Richmond branch are confronted by a sign extending more than 12 feet, with the name combining 17 menu Read More
Warrington-based multiple operator eyes wider north west expansion after acquiring tenth site: Warrington-based multiple operator Priory Inns North West is eyeing wider expansion across the region after growing its portfolio to ten sites. The company has taken its second property with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars – The Gardeners in the village of Timperley. With the pubs located in or around Warrington, Priory Inns North West is now looking to broaden its geographical spread. Director Neil Sparkes said: “We have got no finite number for the size of our business. Our expansion plans will be determined by getting the right team to work for us. Finding pubs for our expansion plans shouldn’t be a problem as there are a lot of good pubs such as The Gardeners and we’ve got a strong record so pub companies like working with us.” The Gardeners has reopened following a £380,000 joint refurbishment and the introduction of food. The interior has been opened up to create an open-plan space seating 120 with an island bar. A new garden has been created at the back with seating for 80 people. David Pritchard, Star Pubs & Bars regional operations director, said: “We are delighted Neil and Read More
TRG bringing Barburrito and Shake Shack to Gatwick, launches new concept in Aberdeen: The Restaurant Group (TRG) is to add US better burger brand Shake Shack to its portfolio with an opening at Gatwick’s North Terminal this autumn. The burger concept will open its debut UK airport site with TRG Concessions at the former EAT venue. It will be Shake Shack’s 11th UK site overall and second outside London. At the same time, Barburrito will replace the Shake-A-Hula unit at North Terminal. The Barburrito site will be the brand’s third partnership with TRG Concessions following venues in Bristol and Edinburgh airports. Meanwhile, TRG Concessions has launched new concept Bocco Italian Kitchen & Bar at Aberdeen airport specialising in “pasta, sourdough pizza and spritz”. On Tuesday (3 September), TRG reported sales through its Concessions business continued to trade ahead of passenger growth to maintain its “strong track record of retaining sites with at least 85% having received contract renewals beyond the term of the initial contract”. TRG Concessions expects to open at least five sites in 2019, with two having already launched including its Sonoma site at Gatwick, which is the company’s largest Concessions restaurant at circa 7,000 square feet and Read More
Trio of south London operators sign for Elephant Park: Three south London-based operators have signed to open at the new Elephant Park development. Ethiopian restaurant Beza, founded by Beza Ethio, is evolving its existing concept to become a 100 % vegan eatery. It will serve a range of dishes, including the national food “teff injera” – 100% gluten-free sourdough flatbread – alongside coffee sourced from Ethiopia. Tasty Jerk, founded by Rayon and Linda Johnson, will offer classic Caribbean dishes such as jerk chicken, curry goat, and ackee and saltfish. Meanwhile, pan-Asian cuisine operator Pot & Rice will be serving rice pot selections, rice pastry (cheung fun) mochi, yuzu cheesecake, fruit tea, and milk tea. The trio will open in Sayer Street at Elephant Park, the £2.3bn regeneration project being delivered by Lendlease and Southwark Council. Beza and Tasty Jerk were previously tenants at Artworks Elephant, Lendlease's pop-up retail park at Elephant Park. The signings follow the launch of the leasing of the next phase of Elephant Park, which comprises 16 food and beverage units totalling 37,000 square feet clustered in two distinct districts – Ash Avenue and New Kent Road, and Chatteris Quarter. Guy Thomas, head of retail at Lendlease, Read More
Incipio Group to take over former Mahiki site in Kensington: Incipio Group, which received £5m from entertainment and leisure investor Edition Capital earlier this year to open six venues in 18 months, has secured a further central London site, after acquiring the former Mahiki site in Kensington. Davis Coffer Lyons (DCL) completed the deal on behalf of the outgoing tenant, David Phelps and Piers Adam, who took on the site in 2012 when it was the former Casino at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington. Since then they reopened the space as the high-end restaurant bar and nightclub, Bodo’s Schloss, and later rebranded it as the west London outpost of their infamous Mahiki brand. Upon signing a new 20-year lease for their flagship site Mahiki in Dover Street, Mayfair, they decided to sell the site in Kensington. The leasehold interest was assigned with the lease expiring July 2037. A premium was paid for the 6,000 square foot site on the ground floor of the property, which has a late licence until 3.30am. Jonathan Moradoff, senior director, at DCL, said: “There has been much chatter in the market about the tough trading conditions in the branded restaurant sector and waning consumer Read More
MEATLiquor reports strong quarter of growth: MEATLiquor, the Scott Collins-led concept, has seen a strong quarter of growth, partly driven by a successful first three months of trading from its new West End site. Opened at the start of June, the 11-strong company’s new W1 site in Margaret Street near Oxford Circus, which replaced its original site in Welbeck Street, is believed to have seen consistent growth from £33,000 net sales a week up to more than £79,000 a week. At the same time, its Queensway-based site also managed to top more than £70,000 for a couple of weeks during the same 12-week period and was 50% up on a like-for-like basis against the same period last year. For the past six months, the company, as a whole, is understood to have generated a 10% increase in like-for-like sales. The uptick in sales has also been attributed to the group’s vegan menu options, which it has had in place for more than three years, continuing to gain traction. The company stated: “Despite a difficult economic and political backdrop, it is now a great time to expand. Landlords are being very helpful with rents and cash contributions towards fit-outs. Following the Read More
Old Rope Walks acquires fourth Liverpool site: Liverpool-based pub group Old Rope Walks has acquired its fourth site in the city. The company has taken on the Roscoe Arms, which belongs to Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. The Oldham Street property is set to undergo a £750,000 refurbishment during the next 11 weeks, which will see the venue renamed The Butterfly & The Grasshopper and reopen in mid-November. The investment will transform the building, expanding the pub across three floors to include a ground-floor bar and dining area, and a top-floor gin and cocktail bar. The new name is inspired by William Roscoe’s poem The Butterfly’s Ball And The Grasshopper’s Feast. Old Rope Walks director Mike Girling told the Liverpool Echo: “I discovered the poem many years ago. It’s beautiful and I’ve wanted to celebrate it in a pub or bar since. This is the perfect opportunity because of the connection with William Roscoe. The renaissance of this part of the city is not before time, and it’s fantastic to be able to contribute to it.” Phil McWilliam, area manager for Star Pubs & Bars, said: “Mike is well-known in the city for his brilliant pubs and bars and we’re Read More
Deltic seeks sites in Cambridge, Plymouth and Southampton: Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs, is looking to source venues in Cambridge, Plymouth and Southampton, Propel has learned. Deltic Group has appointed agent Fleurets to find sites in the three cities. Deltic Group is seeking sites within city centres, near a student population with a target demographic of 18 to 30 years old. The company will consider new leases, assignments or freehold purchases. Sites must be part of an existing food and beverage circuit and a minimum of 12,000 square feet with a 3am licence. They must have D2 planning status or the possibility of achieving that. A spokesman for The Deltic Group said: “We are always looking for great venues that allow us to bring our exciting offer to customers across the UK.” Tom Cormie, of Fleurets, who is seeking the sites on behalf of Deltic Group, said: “Deltic Group is a dynamic, innovative and highly competent nationwide operator. It provides excellent covenant strength for landlords and helps to drive footfall.” Deltic Group already operates Ballare and Vinyl in Cambridge, Pryzm and its Bar & Beyond and Steinbeck & Shaw concept in Plymouth, and Read More
Busaba Eathai restructures finances, tackles legacy issues: Busaba Eathai, which operates 13 sites, restructured its finances in May in the wake of its acquisition by Muzinich Private Debt, which resulted in a reduction in loan note debt and additional facilities of £1.4m to support the ongoing development of the business and restructuring costs. The company reported it had sub-let a closed site in Manchester and assigned the lease of a closed site in St Albans – a leasehold site in Liverpool was previously assigned. The company said the business has refocused on London operations. The company reported turnover decreased 3% to £28.4m in the year to 26 May 2018, but management action saw adjusted Ebitda increase 342% to £897,000. Losses increased by 12% to £11.2m after an impairment of £3.7m on the book value of assets, a £600,000 write-down in the value of stock and £3m of onerous lease provisions. Speaking exclusively to Propel, managing director Terry Harrison, said: “Our FY18 results, which we were late in publishing due to the change in ownership, refinancing and the restructuring of our balance sheet, are a clear indication our decision to focus on our core London business was the correct one. The Read More
200 Degrees doubles up in Birmingham to hit double-figure estate: Nottingham-based coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees has opened its second site in Birmingham and tenth in total. The 65-seater coffee shop has launched in Lower Temple Street, close to Birmingham New Street station, creating 20 jobs. Located in the former Midland Hotel, the 1,830 square foot shop retains many period features as well as a split bar for takeaway services. The move follows the brand’s coffee shop and barista school, which opened in Colmore Row in Birmingham’s business district in 2016. Tom Vincent, co-founder and director of 200 Degrees, said: “The decision to open a second coffee shop in Birmingham was an easy one. Its location near Birmingham New Street is ideal. Birmingham is only the second location in which we’ve opened a second coffee shop and we’ve installed a split service area to serve busy commuters and time-starved workers quickly.” Vincent and Rob Darby founded 200 Degrees in 2012. It also operates coffee shops in Nottingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Leicester, Cardiff, Lincoln and Liverpool, and a roast house in Nottingham. The company plans further openings this year. Tonkotsu to hit 11 sites with Peckham Market opening next month: Tonkotsu, Read More
Vanessa Hall appointed interim Vapiano chief executive, in running for role full time: Vanessa Hall is in the running to become chief executive of restaurant group Vapiano after Cornelius Everke announced he would resign for personal reasons on Saturday, 31 August. Everke’s employment has been terminated by mutual consent and the company’s supervisory board intends to appoint current chairman Hall in the interim to replace him. Hall’s new position relies on her being reappointed to the supervisory board in the company’s annual general meeting but she has declared she is prepared to run the company until at least the end of April 2020. The supervisory board said it would immediately initiate a structured process for the appointment of a new chief executive in which Hall would “also be considered as a candidate for long-term succession”. The board said it would also extend Lutz Scharpe’s term as chief financial offer to June 2023. Everke became chief operating officer in May 2018 to manage the rapid growth of the fast casual restaurant concept in international markets. Following the resignation of Jochen Halfmann, he assumed responsibility as chief executive in December 2018, where he contributed to the company’s completion of its refinancing and strategic Read More
Inception Group to launch Soho site: Inception Group, which operates an eclectic collection of London bars and restaurants including Mr Fogg’s, Bunga Bunga and Cahoots, will open its latest site in London, in Soho’s Kingly Street in October. The Ticket Hall & Control Room will be spread across two floors and open opposite the original Cahoots. The company has been operating a pop-up – Casa Bonita – on the former Cinnamon Soho site since the start of the year. The original Cahoots, designed to resemble a 1940s underground station, launched in Kingly Court in 2015. Earlier this year Propel revealed Inception Group had appointed advisers as it looks to assess its growth options. The 11-strong, London-based business, which was founded in 2009 by Charlie Gilkes and Duncan Stirling, appointed advisory firm Tamweel Capital to aid the process, although it is understood the company is in “no rush” to make a decision on its growth plans. Whittard of Chelsea promotes Smith to chief executive: Hot drinks retailer Whittard of Chelsea has promoted chief financial offer Nathan Smith to replace Mark Dunhill, who stepped down as chief executive last month following five years in the role. Smith has worked for the company Read More
Incipio Group to launch first in-house restaurant at The Prince: Incipio Group, which received £5m from entertainment and leisure investor Edition Capital earlier this year to open six sites in 18 months, is to launch its first in-house restaurant at The Prince in West Brompton. Wildcard Kitchen will open at the venue in Lillie Road, which Incipio launched in November 2017. Until now, The Prince’s four restaurants have been concessions. Incipio describes Wildcard Kitchen as sourcing the “best British produce to create the most flavour-packed dishes inspired from around the world”. An advert for chef positions states: “With an adaptable menu and one-off specials, Wildcard goes all-in for taste.” Earlier this month Incipio launched Lost In Brixton, a 440-capacity bar in a hidden corner of Brixton Village. Using technology from the Tablesnapper platform, guests can order food from restaurant traders in Brixton Village and Market Row. Customers scan a QR code on their table, order food from the restaurant listed, pay online and receive their food from a runner – making Lost the world’s first kitchen-less restaurant. Since 2015, Incipio Group has specialised in creating large social venues focusing on food and drink, transforming sites to provide “fashionable and out-of-the Read More
Monty’s Deli signs for Kerb’s Seven Dials Market: Jewish soul food trader Monty’s Deli has signed to open a site at Kerb’s Seven Dials Market, which will launch in London’s West End next month. Monty’s Deli started as a market stall at Kerb’s King’s Cross site in 2012 and the Seven Dials opening will be its third permanent venue following the recent closure of its much-loved Hoxton restaurant. Founded by Mark Ogus and Owen Barratt, Monty’s Deli is renowned for Jewish comfort food such as its reuben salt beef or pastrami sandwiches, with meat produced in-house alongside freshly baked bagels and homemade mustard. Ogus said: “After the heartbreak of closing our restaurant in Hoxton, it’s really great to announce we are reuniting with Kerb at Seven Dials Market. The area has an incredible heritage for some of London’s finest salt beef and we want to bring some of those wonderful flavours and Jewish deli traditions to a whole new generation.” Seven Dials Market is Kerb’s first bricks-and-mortar site and will “occupy the space between street food and the full-service restaurant experience”. The 22,000 square foot market is housed in a 19th century banana warehouse. Monty’s Deli, which has sites in Read More
TRG launches exam results offers for Chiquito and Frankie & Benny’s: The Restaurant Group (TRG) has launched offers for students celebrating their exam results for its Chiquito and Frankie & Benny’s brands. A-level students will receive their results on Thursday (15 August) and GCSE students a week later. On those days they can claim a free tortilla dish from Chiquito, regardless of their grades. Students can choose chimichanga, tacos, enchilada or a burrito by showing their results and student ID between 15 and 17 August and 22 and 24 August. Chiquito managing director Angelo Gabrilatsou said: “For 30 years we’ve supported students with our ‘always on’ 25% off for students. This year we wanted to give something back so all Higher, A-level and GCSE students will receive free food on results day.” Meanwhile, Frankie & Benny’s will give away free main courses to A-level students when they order a bottle of Coca-Cola or pint of Budweiser. TRG is also encouraging students to discuss job opportunities at its Frankie & Benny’s sites. Frankie & Benny’s senior brand and partnerships manager Gabriele Barysaite said: “Commiserate with friends, family and treat yourself to your Frankie’s favourites. While you sink your teeth into your Read More
Boxpark hires advisers to help with expansion: Boxpark has hired KPMG Corporate Finance to find an investment partner to support its expansion. The company has sites in Shoreditch, Croydon and Wembley. Boxpark has previously unveiled plans to expand nationwide with a further ten sites during the next five years. The expansion will also see the launch of two new concepts – BoxOffice and BoxHall. BoxOffice is a co-working space that will be incorporated into new Boxpark sites. The Boxpark and BoxOffice schemes will be between 50,000 and 150,000 square feet. The developments will feature the traditional Boxpark street food and bars on the ground floor with leisure operators such as virtual reality, cinemas, crazy golf and karaoke on the first floor and between two to four floors of co-working space above. Boxpark will work alongside existing co-working companies on the launch and operation of the new BoxOffice concept. In addition, Boxpark will roll out new food hall concept BoxHall. The smaller, 10,000 to 20,000 square foot food and beverage destinations will be based on existing sites within city centres across the UK, featuring between six and 12 street food vendors at each site. Laine makes two key hires for brewing Read More
Tossed promotes Neil Sebba to managing director: Tossed, the London-based healthy eating brand, has promoted Neil Sebba to managing director, Propel has learned. Sebba joined in 2010, when Tossed had just five sites, and worked for eight years as finance director. He became business development director of the now 35-strong Tossed at the start of this year. Vincent McKevitt, who remains in situ as founder, said: “The board and I are delighted to promote Neil to the role of managing director to lead the next stage of the business’ development. Our recent innovations in hot food, technology, vending and delivery have laid the foundations for the next few years of growth. I’m immensely proud of where Neil and the senior team are taking the business; on average they have been with Tossed for more than six years, and ultimately it’s their hard work that has got us to where we are.” Sebba added: “This wonderful business sits at the forefront of health and technology in food-to-go. Working with Vincent, Angelina Harrison (commercial director) and the senior leadership team to bring healthy, customisable, made-to-order food to more people is an honour, and I am excited about us delivering on its next Read More
Award-winning multiple operator eyes growth to five sites: Award-winning multiple operator Dianne Irving is eyeing growth to five sites after taking on her third venue – and second with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. Irving has co-invested £330,000 with the pub company in The Howard Arms in Carlisle. The pub now commemorates the period from 1916 to 1972 when the government took Carlisle’s pubs into state management in a bid to curb excessive drinking in the city. Everything in the pub from the menu to the furniture harks back to the early days of that time and has a 1920s feel. The idea was the brainchild of Irving, who has two other pubs in the area, including the White Mare at Beckermet, which is also with Star Pubs & Bars. She said: “It’s a fascinating and little known part of pub history that changed the face of Carlisle’s pubs. Civil servants ran all pubs following strict rules; beer’s alcoholic content was reduced, food and activities introduced, coffee and cakes stocked and women encouraged to visit. As one of the last remaining traditional pubs in the city centre I thought it would be fun to recreate those days and give The Read More
UK loyalty scheme ‘impossible’ for Domino's Pizza because customers don't order frequently enough, incremental opportunity around collection in London:Domino's Pizza Group chief executive David Wild has said having a loyalty scheme in the UK like the company does in the US is “impossible” because customers do not order frequently enough. In a presentation to analysts following the company's interim results, Wild said the frequency in the UK was about a third of that in the US. He added: “The average customer in the US orders 18 times a year. In the UK, it is five or six times. With the US scheme it effectively works as a free pizza after someone has ordered six times, so in the US that would take about three months. Over here, that would take about a year, which makes it impossible. That's why we have taken the approach of using single customer view marketing rather than a loyalty scheme. We have made further customer segmentation to allow us to deliver more appropriate marketing messages and hopefully drive sales that way.” Wild said there was an incremental opportunity in London around collection and the company was trialling various offers around the capital in a bid Read More
Nottingham-based McDonald’s franchisee reports profit boost as turnover passes £25m: Nottingham-based McDonald’s franchisee Blades Restaurants has reported turnover increased 24% to £26,556,162 for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £21,453,150 the previous year. Operating profit was up to £653,639, compared with £397,968 the year before while pre-tax profit rose to £564,424, compared with £340,163, the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Blades Restaurants, which is owned by Jerry Nicholls, operates nine McDonald’s sites across Nottingham having added two outlets to its portfolio during the period. In his report accompanying the accounts, Nicholls said: “We believe the trading environment in which we operate is challenging. However, the company remains optimistic and has continued its reinvestment with two additional store purchases during the year.” Bell to leave Red’s for The Apartment Group: Craig Bell is to step down as finance director at Red’s True Barbecue to join north east-based bar operator The Apartment Group in the same role, Propel has learned. Bell joined Red’s at the start of 2015, and played a key role in the group’s subsequent growth, including securing new equity and bank funding. His departure comes after the eight-strong group underwent a restructure and Read More
TGI Friday's reports like-for-like sales down 6.7% in 2018: TGI Friday's has reported like-for-like sales dropped 6.7% in the year to 30 December 2018. Total sales were down 3.3% to £208.8m after four sites opened in the year. Ebitda was £24.7m, compared with £33m the year before. Exceptional items, including one onerous lease unwind and a number of lease impairments, cost £8,927,000, compared with £1,172,000 the year before. Operating profit before exceptional items was £85,000, compared with £8,564,000 the year before. Spudulike shuts all 37 sites after buyer withdraws from pre-package administration deal at last minute: Baked potato specialist Spudulike has shut all 37 of its sites after a prospective buyer withdrew from a pre-packaged administration deal at the last minute. Joint administrators Neil Bennett and Alex Cadwallader, of Leonard Curtis, said they were “very disappointed” with the outcome after working for several weeks firstly preparing a company voluntary arrangement, which was rejected by Spudulike’s creditors, and subsequently pursuing the sale of all or part of the group’s business and assets with a number of prospective purchasers. The situation has resulted in all the group’s outlets, plus its head office, being closed and all 298 employees made redundant with immediate Read More
Mackay to step down as Benihana MD: Richard Mackay, formerly of Wagamama and Nozomi, is to step down as managing director of Benihana, the worldwide Japanese teppanyaki restaurant chain, Propel has learned. Mackay joined Benihana last year on the back of new investment from Minor International, which acquired a 75% stake in the company, to spearhead the business and oversee its expansion programme. He is leaving the company to head up Matal Eatery in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year, Benihana, which operates three sites in London, launched a 100-cover restaurant at the former Carluccio’s site in Glasgow’s West Nile Street. It was the first new Benihana restaurant in the UK for more than 20 years. In April, Benihana signed a host of international franchise deals, which will see it open five restaurants in Egypt, three in Pakistan, and one in in Mexico, creating a total of 29 across its global portfolio. Founder Hiroki Aoki opened the first Benihana in 1964. Benihana’s London restaurants are in Chelsea, Piccadilly and at The Grange hotel in St Paul’s. Upham Pub Company reduces debt levels after completing sale and leaseback deal on 14 pubs: Upham Pub Company has completed the sale and Read More
Comptoir Group chief financial officer resigns: Comptoir Group, the owner and/or operator of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean restaurants, has announced chief financial officer Mark Carrick has resigned. Carrick will remain with the company until the end of October “to ensure an orderly handover of his role and responsibilities”. Comptoir Group said the board has begun a process to identify a successor and a further announcement would be made in due course. Last week, the company announced trading for the 26-weeks to 30 June 2019 “was in line with management expectations and ahead of the same period in 2018”. It operates 25 managed restaurants and four franchise sites. Koh Thai appoints Sykes as group COO: Koh Thai, the tapas chain, has appointed Jeremy Sykes, formerly of Wagamama and Boston Tea Party, as its new group chief operating officer, Propel has learned. Sykes, who has been a business consultant for the past three years, spent almost 15 years at Wagamama as a regional director. He also spent just under 18 months as director of operations at Boston Tea Party. He joins up again with former Wagamama chief executive Steve Hill at Koh Thai. Established in 2009 in Bournemouth, Koh Thai currently operates Read More
Corbin & King to close Bellanger, secures Notting Hill Gate site: London-based restaurant group Corbin & King is to close its Bellanger site in Islington next month, after more than three years of trading. Co-founder Jeremy King said although the company had “loved being in Islington, we just couldn’t make it the success we aspired to”. He said: “Much as it had been a great critical success this wasn’t matched financially. And although we continued to trade for much longer than less patient operators might have persevered there came a point where we had to be pragmatic and move on to concentrate on new projects – the birth of Manzi’s in Soho, Notting Hill and indeed another rather interesting opportunity on the horizon.” King confirmed the company had acquired a new site in Notting Hill Gate but wouldn’t divulge any further information on where and what it would be. One possible location is the former RBS bank site at 78 Notting Hill Gate. Corbin & King’s new Soho seafood restaurant Manzi’s is set to open next year in the Bateman’s Buildings, just off Soho Square. The proposed Manzi’s takes its monikor from the previously popular, but long-time closed, Leicester Square Read More
Jamie Oliver – I spent £25m trying to save restaurant business: Jamie Oliver has revealed he ploughed £25m of his own money into his restaurant group in a failed attempt to save the business from collapse. Oliver admitted there had been no “plan B in case it goes down the toilet” as he described the devastating experience, which he said he took full responsibility for. He called rental costs, business rates and the cost of labour “our worst enemies”, adding the business had not responded quickly enough to changes in the industry. Speaking for the first time about the collapse in an interview with The Times magazine, Oliver said poor advice meant the “wool had been pulled over his eyes” over the extent of the crisis that began in 2017. The group, which included Jamie’s Italian, Barbecoa and Fifteen, collapsed into administration in May, making about 1,000 staff redundant. At the time it was believed Oliver spent £12.7m of his own money trying to save the business, but he revealed it was twice that amount. He said: “When it was all going wrong it felt like a colander – the business was full of holes and there was nothing we Read More
Open House and Brewhouse & Kitchen receive Puma VCT investment: Open House, the London-based restaurant and bar operator, has secured new growth funds from investment house Puma VCT, Propel has learned. Puma has invested £1.8m in the business, which operates The Lighterman and Percy & Founders in the capital, as part of a £5m transaction, investing alongside its Puma Alpha EIS fund. The business was launched by the team behind Cubitt House in 2015 and the new investment will support plans for growth though further flagship units across London. Earlier this year, Puma invested a further £847,000 in Knott End Pub Company, which last year entered into a franchise agreement with Brewhouse & Kitchen to roll out a portfolio of pubs offering “on-site craft micro-brewing activities and good-quality food”. Knott End opened its first two pubs, in Milton Keynes and Horsham, West Sussex, last year. Puma said both were trading well. Puma had previously invested £2.4m in Knott End Pub Company. Ole & Steen appoints Ward-Nicholson as managing director: Danish baker Ole & Steen has appointed SSP operations director Simon Ward-Nicholson as managing director, Propel has learned. Ward-Nicholson spent the past four years at the travel concessions company, with stints Read More
Red Oak takes lead on Wadworth pubs package: Red Oak Taverns is believed to be in advanced talks to acquire the majority of sites placed on the market earlier this year by Devizes-based brewer and retailer Wadworth, Propel has learned. In May, Propel revealed Wadworth had put 24 of its tenanted pubs on the market through agent Christie & Co – nine pubs on an individual basis and 15 as part of a package. It’s thought Red Oak, which operates circa 160 pubs, has agreed to acquire the majority of those pubs with a deal expected to complete during the next month. Wadworth said in May the sites no longer fitted its “long-term plans” following a review of its estate. The nine individual sites, which were being marketed under the name Project Swordfish, are located in the south and west of England. The package of 15 pubs consists of Beckets Inn in Glastonbury, Somerset; The Boot Inn in Berwick St James, Wiltshire; The Cricketers Inn in Longparish, Hampshire; The Crown Inn in Bishop Cannings, Wiltshire; England’s Glory in Gloucester; the New Inn in Bath; The Oak in Andover, Hampshire; The Plough in Shalbourne, Wiltshire; The Princes Motto in Barrow Gurney, Somerset; Read More
TRG launches south east Asian delivery concept: The Restaurant Group (TRG), the Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s operator, has further ramped up its portfolio of delivery brands by launching south east Asian concept Jumping Pans, Propel has learned. The concept joins the group’s other delivery brand – Pyjama Hotel – in being made available through UberEats and Just Eat out of the Foodstars unit in Battersea, south London. A TRG spokesman said research for Jumping Pans had seen its team venture across south east Asia “cherry-picking the best, most flavourful recipes”. He added: “Inspired from real insights, local culture and pan-Asian energetic cooking methods, our dishes allow you to travel through taste within one order, enjoyed in the comfort of your own home.” Chinese mains include, beef and black bean, and kung pao beef (both £9.95); Thai and Malaysian mains include pad kra pao chicken (£9.95) and Massaman duck curry (£10.95); while vegetarian and vegan mains include chow mein (£7.50) and vegan coconut jungle curry (£7.95). Last week, Propel revealed TRG had added a further burger delivery concept through its Frankie & Benny’s brand. The group has started to roll out Stacks, which comes with the slogan: “Stack it up, Read More
Starbucks thought to have closed 35 sites in London: The Mail on Sunday has reported Starbucks has closed dozens of outlets in London, marking a retreat from a city where it once dominated the coffee shop scene – as many as 35 stores across the capital have closed in the past 18 months. The newspaper stated: "The closures appear to be continuing and a number have been directing customers to other stores in recent weeks. The emergence of the rout in London follows a recent financial statement that it had set aside £20m for 'lease provisions' in Britain. It complained of 'ongoing pressures' and 'the changing consumer landscape, high rents and political uncertainty'. London has also been hit hard by a rapid rise in business rates. Starbucks UK, which has repeatedly come under fire for its tax planning, plunged to a £17.2m loss for the year to September 2018 as a result of provisions for renegotiating leases and store closures. Despite the closures in London, Starbucks is understood to have increased overall coffee shop numbers in the UK by around 50 since 2017. It has opened smaller shops and drive-thru outlets outside central London to adapt to changing consumer habits. Read More
Tattu appoints advisors for growth plans: Contemporary Chinese restaurant group Tattu has started working with advisors to map plans for growth, Propel has learned. The company, which was founded in 2015 by brothers Adam and Drew Jones, is understood to be working with advisor Clearwater International on options that could include bringing in a strategic partner to help it with plans for expansion in the UK and overseas, with the US a possible destination. The group operates sites in Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, with the latter 160-cover restaurant opening earlier this year. It is currently on-site on a fourth restaurant, in Edinburgh. After the success of its initial three openings, it is understood the business has received a number of enquiries from landlords to join and anchor schemes across the UK. Tattu launched in Manchester in 2015 with a second site opening in Leeds city centre in June 2017. The Birmingham restaurant opened in The Grand development in Barwick Street. The ground-floor space hosts a bar and private dining rooms while there is a main restaurant downstairs. Speaking to Propel last year, Jones said: “Every restaurant we open is unique and at this stage we are keeping growth in-house – Read More
San Carlo Group reports like-for-likes up 2% in current financial year as it aims for return to profit: San Carlo Group has reported like-for-likes are up 2% in its current financial year, with total sales increasing 12% as the group aims to return to profitability. The company, which operates the San Carlo and Fumo restaurants, said profit has climbed 87% so far in the current financial year. The announcement comes as the company saw full-year turnover pass the £50m mark, although “investment in new sites and difficult trading conditions” led to the business slipping to a loss. Revenue was up 8% to £53,943,097 for the year ending 30 September 2018, compared with £49,946,472 the year before. However, pre-tax profits slipped to £3,745 compared with £1,278,435 the previous year, while the company reported an overall loss for the year of £133,678 compared with a profit of £941,449 the year before. The company opened four sites during the year including its first San Carlo in London, in Regent Street. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The group has recorded a loss in the year, which can be attributed to investments in new sites as well as difficult trading conditions Read More
The Alchemist secures Cheltenham site, eyes Bristol opening: The Alchemist, the 16-strong Simon Potts-led bar and restaurant concept, is looking to open a cluster of sites in the south west after securing a site in Cheltenham, Propel has learned. The company, which recently secured the remaining Smollensky’s site in Reuters Plaza, Canary Wharf, has secured a 4,539 square foot site in the town’s Brewery Quarter for an opening next May. Potts told Propel: “I am really pleased to have acquired the Cheltenham site, it’s a lovely part of the world with plenty of key calendar events driving guests in. Following our success in Cardiff over our first trading year in the city and with a second Birmingham venue opening next month, it’s a strategic move to consolidate an important geographical region for us. Bristol has long been on our target location list and I hope to tie something up there in the next few months to tie the south west together.” The company had previously been linked to a site in Bristol’s Queens Road that formerly housed Rise Records. The business, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, has further openings lined up in Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth and Embassy Read More
TRG launches further burger delivery concept: The Restaurant Group (TRG) has added a further burger delivery concept thought its Frankie & Benny’s brand, Propel has learned. The group has begun to roll out Stacks, which comes with the slogan – “Stack it up, pack it in and we'll begin”, and offers eight types of burger, including chicken katsu, buffalo blue and smoky beet, priced between £5 and £8. Last year, TRG launched virtual brands Burger Burger and Kick Ass Burrito through its Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito concepts respectively. Earlier this year, Propel revealed it had added a further two virtual brands to its portfolio. Through Chiquito it now offers the Cornstar Tacos virtual brand in circa 40 sites, while the new Birdbox brand, which focuses on chicken and burgers, is available through Frankie & Benny’s. In May, the company launched a new delivery brand called Pyjama Hotel out of the Foodstars unit in Battersea. Pyjama Hotel describes itself as offering “a festival of Indian flavours, bringing colourful, vibrant, Indian favourites and new dishes to your door”. Tokyo Industries relaunches online radio station Openlab: Tokyo Industries, the bar and nightclub operator led by Aaron Mellor, has joined a management buyout Read More
Wagamama applies to open dark kitchen in London Fields: Wagamama, owned by The Restaurant Group (TRG), has applied to open a dark kitchen in London Fields, Propel has learned. Propel understands the brand is looking to take space at the Railway Arches in Mentmore Terrace and has applied to open a dark kitchen to prepare takeaway food and alcoholic drinks for delivery only. However, it is believed the plans have received objections from local residents. On acquiring Wagamama last year, TRG pledged to invest in more delivery-only kitchens. It said it recognised delivery as a significant area of opportunity, particularly as Wagamama was already one of the top brands on Deliveroo. Wagamama launched in a Deliveroo Editions site in Battersea last year. At the same time, Wagamama is understood to be in talks on a site in the City for its new grab-and-go concept Mamago after passing up on a former Starbucks site in Coleman Street. The brand is also set to strengthen its London presence with an opening in Old Street. Propel understands the Emma Woods-led group will open a restaurant at The Bower mixed-use development later this year. TRG, which acquired Wagamama for £559m last year, said it Read More
Lluch steps down as Wasabi managing director: Frederic Lluch has stepped down as managing director of Wasabi, the sushi and bento chain, with a search for his successor in advanced stages, Propel has learned. Lluch joined the company, in which private equity firm Capdesia acquired a minority stake earlier this year, in March 2016 as operations director and was promoted to managing director in June 2017 where he led the business alongside the company’s founder Dong Hyung Kim. Names previously linked to the business include former Pizza Hut Restaurants deputy managing director Henry Birts and ex-Gourmet Burger Kitchen chief operating officer Keith Bird. The recent investment from Capdesia is being used to support the company’s next phase of growth, including expansion of the UK portfolio, extensive refurbishment programme of existing stores, further expansion of its US presence and development of other commercial opportunities for the brand. Capdesia told Propel in May it saw “amazing potential” for the sushi and bento brand. Capdesia invested in the 60-strong business, with co-investment coming from Sushiro Global Holdings, Japan’s largest publicly listed sushi chain operator, and Regis Group, a leading US and UK asset manager. Ashton Crosby, co-founder and managing director of Capdesia, told Read More
200 Degrees to double Birmingham presence with tenth site: Nottingham-based coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees will double its presence in Birmingham next month. The company, which is backed by Foresight Group, has confirmed it will open a site in the city’s Lower Temple Street, as revealed by Propel in May. 200 Degrees already operates a site in the city’s Colmore Row. The new 65-seater venue is located in the former Midland Hotel and the 1,830 square foot store retains many period features and will also offer a split bar for takeaway service. The new Birmingham venue is 200 Degrees’ tenth coffee shop to open since 2014. Co-founder Tom Vincent said: “Birmingham is the first location outside Nottingham in which we’ve opened two coffee shops. We’re excited to contribute further to the fantastic food and drink scene across the city and be part of this area’s rapid regeneration. Our Colmore Row coffee shop has been well received since we opened and the new Lower Temple Street store will give our customers somewhere closer to visit by New Street Station.” 200 Degrees, which was set up by Vincent and Rob Darby in 2012, has coffee shops in Nottingham, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Read More
Young’s secures Individual Restaurants site in Kent: London pub retailer Young’s is set to take its first foray into Kent for a while after securing a site in Tunbridge Wells, Propel has learned. The listed pub operator is understood to have completed the freehold investment purchase of Tunbridge Wells Bar & Grill and simultaneously bought out Individual Restaurants’ interest in in the site. The Patrick Dardis-led group will now undertake a comprehensive capital expenditure scheme on the site before reopening it as The White Bear, its name when it was a Whitbread-owned pub. Young’s stated: “Young’s is incredibly excited to be in Tunbridge Wells. After a stunning refurbishment, we hope to open by the end of August.” Earlier this year, Dardis told Propel the company had at least £70m available for acquisitions and could raise “more if required”. He said the company, which bought 15-strong Redcomb Pubs at the start of the year for £34m, was eyeing “various opportunities” ranging from companies with a “couple of sites” to “slightly larger” businesses. UberEats halfway to UK virtual restaurants target: UberEats has said it is halfway to its target of launching 400 virtual restaurants in the UK. Speaking to Bloomberg TV, Rodrigo Read More
  Caring acquires former Barbecoa site in St Paul’s: Sector investor Richard Caring, who backs Caprice Holdings, The Ivy Collection and Bill’s, has acquired Jamie Oliver’s former Barbecoa site in London’s St Paul’s, Propel has learned. Caring has secured the site in the One New Change scheme out of administration and is believed to be in talks to acquire up to a further three sites formerly operated by the high-profile chef. One New Change Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, purchased the assets and lease of Barbecoa St Paul’s out of administration last year. That company was subsequently placed into administration earlier this year as part of the collapse of Oliver’s UK restaurant business, including 18 Jamie’s Italians, which are being marketed by Christie & Co. It is unclear what Caring intends to do with the One New Change site, although there has been speculation a second The Ivy Asia might be part of his plans. He has also been looking for sites for his fledgling Harry’s Bar concept and for a mooted Sexy Elephant restaurant. Last month, Giggling Squid acquired the former Jamie’s Italian site in Cambridge, while chef Simon Shaw acquired the Jamie’s in Read More
Marmalade Pubs reports £1.7m sales in first full trading year, Ei Group made £796,000 profit from Hunky Dory stake sale: Marmalade Pubs, the joint venture between Marylebone Leisure Group and Ei Group’s Managed Investments segment, has reported sales of £1,717,000 for the year ending 30 September 2018 – its first full year of trading. Although the company was incorporated in June 2016, the company had no pubs in its portfolio during the prior period. Marmalade Pubs made an operating loss of £132,000 and a loss before tax of £164,000, according to accounts filed at Companies House. During the period Marmalade Pubs operated three sites but now trades from two having sold The Compton Cross in Soho to Shepherd Neame in April. Marmalade Pubs now operates the Portobello Star in Notting Hill and the Crown & Treaty in Uxbridge. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The loss before tax for the year amounted to £164,000 (2017: zero) primarily due to administrative costs incurred establishing the business operations. The directors don’t recommend the payment of a dividend.” Meanwhile, new accounts have revealed Ei Group made a profit of £796,000 on the sale of its 51% stake in Hunky Dory Read More
Pizza Pilgrims plans training academy: Pizza Pilgrims, founded by brothers Thom and James Elliot, is planning to launch a training academy in London next year, Propel understands. Speaking at the Global Restaurant Investment Forum in London, Thom Elliot said the company hoped to open the academy next year and was in talks regarding a possible site. He said: “Everyone is looking for fantastic staff and launching an academy would be part of our attempt to find a solution to that problem and add another layer of attraction for future team members. It would allow us to train our staff in a kitchen and front-of-house environment and allow them to test what they have learned on the public – a kind of throwback to the old catering schools.” The company currently operates 11 sites – ten in London and one in Oxford. It opened its latest site earlier this year at Westfield London’s new food court. Elliot said the company had raised further funds from existing investors earlier this year but it would “continue to take a steady approach to expansion”. Wagamama to close New Zealand restaurants: Wagamama, The Restaurant Group-owned chain, is closing its New Zealand sites. The company posted Read More
Cabana seeks new investment: Cabana, the Brazilian barbecue group founded by Jamie Barber and David Ponte, has appointed advisers as it reviews options to secure new investment. As reported at the weekend the seven-strong group is working with KPMG to assess funding options, which could include a further internal fund-raise or, more likely, securing a new investment partner. Propel understands the company spent last year doing a lot of “heavy lifting”, including speaking to landlords and rebalancing its offer to ensure the business was more robust. It is thought that although trading remains challenging and it may explore exiting one or two sites, like-for-like sales have been good. The business closed three sites last year – in Islington, Brixton and Newcastle. Speaking to Propel earlier this year about changes to the concept’s offer, Barber said: “There was obviously a significant bias towards meat but we have rebalanced that to incorporate more vegan and vegetarian dishes and taken a more flexitarian approach. It has paid off and we have seen an uplift in performance.” Boost Juice Bars reports Ebitda boost and substantial narrowing of losses in ‘transitional’ year: Boost Juice Bars, which operates circa 30 sites and is backed by the Read More
Shamel to step down as Las Iguanas managing director: Mos Shamel is to step down as managing director of Las Iguanas after 16 years of leading the Casual Dining Group (CDG)-owned restaurant bar brand, Propel has learned. Shamel is understood to be stepping down from the 55-strong brand to pursue a fresh challenge outside the group. CDG acquired the then 41-strong South American-themed restaurant group in July 2015 in a deal valued at circa £85m. Shamel oversaw the brand’s smooth transition to its new owner and its continued growth, which has played a key part in the sales performance of CDG during the past four years. CDG, which also operates Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia, plans to announce a successor to Shamel in the “coming months”. James Spragg, who was promoted to chief executive of CDG earlier this year, said: “We would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Mos for his immense contribution to Las Iguanas, which has grown into one of the UK’s leading restaurant bar businesses and one that’s consistently placed in the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies To Work For list. He leaves Las Iguanas in great shape, with a really strong and motivated Read More
Caring closes in on £200m deal to sell 25% stake of empire: Richard Caring is closing in on a deal to sell 25% of his entire empire to the former prime minister of Qatar. Caring, whose interests include Annabel’s, the private club in London’s Mayfair, and the Ivy restaurant chain, is understood to have agreed the outlines of a £200m deal with Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani. It would put a valuation of £800m on Caring’s empire, reports The Sunday Times. Thani would have an option to buy a further 25% of the group, depending on its performance. The prospect of a stake sale, first reported by The Sunday Times last month, comes after the renovation of Annabel’s. Caring spent about £65m moving the club – opened in 1963 by Mark Birley and named after his wife – to a refitted grade I-listed townhouse two doors down in Berkeley Square. Caring owns Annabel’s via Mark Birley Holdings, which also owns George, Harry’s Bar and Mark’s Club in London. It posted pre-tax losses of £6.6m on sales of £23.4m in 2017. He owns the original Ivy restaurant and J Sheekey, in Covent Garden, through Caprice Holdings, which made pre-tax Read More
Rosa’s founders launch Chinese noodles concept at St Katherine Docks: Rosa’s Thai Cafe founders Alex and Saiphin Moore have launched Chinese noodles concept Hoh Sek Noodles in London’s St Katharine Docks. Hoh Sek, which is Cantonese for “delicious”, is housed in a waterside pavilion in the heart of the marina. It offers a grab-and-go concept during the day with a core menu – Saiphin’s Six – consisting of six noodle dishes primarily Chinese but with Asia-wide influences. In the evening, Hoh Sek transforms into a 40-cover sit-down restaurant, including eight seats at the kitchen bar counter and a further 44 on a terrace outside. Saiphin Moore also plans to offer a weekly specials board with some of her own home recipes, and will host supper clubs and menu tastings. She said: “My first noodle shop, which I set up when I was 14 in Thailand, started me on my career as a chef. Years later, Alex and I met in Hong Kong and we fell in love with the street food noodles there. They’re a symbol of the city’s thriving food scene and what we want to bring to London and share with everybody.” Danny Egan, senior portfolio manager at Read More
Brewhouse & Kitchen reports 21% sales growth to £14m as it appears on inspirational list: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the UK’s largest brewpub group, has reported sales up 21% to £14,142,802 for the year ended September 2018, as it appeared on Stock Exchange Annual’s 1,000 Companies That Inspire Britain list for the first time. Gross margin hit a new high of 73%, although the company made an operating loss of £532,219. The company said it had expanded its headquarters team to ensure it was ready for opportunities that would “arise from a more competitive and challenging food market and a dynamic acquisition market”. It also said it would ensure it could “recruit and develop the best people available in a tough recruitment market”. In 2017, Brewhouse & Kitchen brought its finance system in-house by recruiting financial controller and management accountant roles. Other roles created during the year included an operations director, a food operational support team, brand trainer and head of recruitment. There were a number of other “large exceptional costs due to the implementation of new systems”. Later this year, the company will open its first hotel within a brewpub, with plans to open three more in the next 18 Read More
Giggling Squid secures Jamie’s Italian in Cambridge: Giggling Squid, the 32-strong Thai restaurant brand founded by Andy and Pranee Laurillard that was placed on the market earlier this year, has further strengthened its pipeline by securing a site in Cambridge. The business has exchanged on the Jamie’s Italian site in Wheeler Street, Propel has learned. In the 12 months to April 2019, the group opened eight restaurants, including in Bishop’s Stortford, Cheltenham, Chichester, Harpenden, Kingston-upon-Thames and Windsor. In April, the company opened restaurants in Oxford and Chislehurst, with both sites trading well and to expectations. The pipeline for sites into 2019/20 is strong as Giggling Squid looks to open six to ten restaurants a year as well as embarking on a refurbishment programme of its more mature restaurants. Giggling Squid has signed for the former CAU site in Leamington Spa, which is due to open in the autumn subject to planning permission. Propel also understands Giggling Squid is close to securing a site in Weybridge. First-round bids for the BGF-backed Thai chain are due at the start of July, with CBPE, which acquired Cote for circa £100m in September 2013 before selling it in July 2015 to BC Partners for Read More
New look drives sales at PizzaExpress as company shuffles management team:PizzaExpress, the Hony Capital-backed chain, has seen an impressive sales uptick at the first batch of sites updated to its new format, managing director Zoe Bowley has told Propel. The company launched future-proofing strategy “Future Express” at the start of this year. The move includes refurbishments, updates and innovation across its portfolio, with its Langham Place and Leeds Arena sites the first to be updated. A further handful of sites have now been upgraded, including Putney, Loughton and Blackheath, with sales significantly up on pre-refurbishment performance and running ahead of expectations. The new look and feel is themed around the “sociable pizzeria”. The company runs circa 490 restaurants in the UK and about 60 overseas. At the same time, the company has widened the remits of Lee Homer and Matt Ward as it looks to streamline its management team. Homer, who has been with the business for five years, the past two as brand director, becomes brand and operations director. At the same time Ward, who has been with the company for more than four years, the past two and a half as commercial director also takes over responsibility for Read More
Azzurri Group appoints new managing directors for ASK and Zizzi: Azzurri Group, the Bridgepoint-backed restaurant company, has reshuffled its management team, with Harry Heeley moving across from ASK Italian to become managing director of Zizzi and Chris Holmes, formerly of KFC, set to replace him, Propel has learned. Heeley joined Steve Holmes-led Azzurri as managing director of ASK at the start of 2016 after spending more than seven years at the National Trust, including four and a half years as hospitality director. Holmes will join the company as managing director of ASK later this summer after five-and-a-half years at KFC, latterly as chief development officer. Before that he had stints at Boots, EMI and PwC. Azzurri currently operates 112 ASK restaurants; 158 Zizzi sites in the UK plus three in Ireland and one in China; 22 Coco di Mamas and will open its third Radio Alice on Monday (24 June). At the same time Phil Boyd, who has been operations director at Zizzi for the past three years, has seen his role expanded to include overseeing the brand’s fledgling overseas operation. He will report into Heeley. Azzurri is also set to start a search for a marketing director, with Jo Read More
Morty & Bob’s set for further growth after securing investment: Cafe and bar concept Morty & Bob’s is set for further growth after securing new investment from Edition Capital, the backer of Incipio Group, Propel has learned. The concept, which is the brainchild of Charlie Phillips and Jesse Bliss, has secured a £650,000 investment from Edition. Morty & Bob’s opened a site at Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross last year having closed its original site in Hackney. The new funding will help it open a site in October inside the newly refurbished food court opposite the Apple store in Westfield White City. It is also thought additional sites have been identified for this year and beyond. Formed in 2013 as a street food stall appearing at festivals and food markets across the UK, the business matured to pop-up sites in Soho and west London before settling on permanent sites in Hackney and Coal Drops Yard. The latter site offers the brand’s grilled cheese toasties, salads and weekend brunches alongside hot sandwiches. The Coal Drops Yard site heralded a new era for Morty & Bob’s, with an upgraded evening offer of small plates, bar snacks, cocktails, wine and beer. The Read More
CDG rebrands Café Rouge delivery concept: Casual Dining Group (CDG), the James Spragg-led company, has rebranded one of two delivery concepts attached to its Café Rouge brand, Propel has learned. The company has rebranded its Chef & Rooster concept as Wonder Chicken after a revamp of the chicken-focused virtual brand’s menu. A CDG spokesman told Propel: “We are committed to innovating, trialling and evolving all our offers to meet the changing wants and needs of consumers. As such, when we revamped the menu for our chicken-focused delivery concept Chef & Rooster, the second delivery brand operating from Café Rouge sites, we also took the decision to rebrand the concept as Wonder Chicken.” CDG also operates virtual brand Stack & Grill out of its Café Rouge estate. CDG has also rolled out virtual brand Blazing Bird across about 40 of its Las Iguanas sites and launched a further brand – Bang Bang Burritos – out of a similar number of restaurants. It also operates virtual delivery brand Mac N Shack out of some of its Bella Italia restaurants. Knight steps down from Jamie’s: Jon Knight has stepped down from Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group after being chief executive of Jamie’s Italian for Read More
Wade to swap Prezzo for Roadchef: Darrell Wade has stepped down as chief commercial officer at Prezzo to join motorway services operator Roadchef, Propel has learned. Wade joined Karen Jones-led Prezzo at the start of last year. Before that he spent almost ten years at TGI Friday’s UK working across a number of executive functions including marketing director, commercial director and most recently chief operating officer. Prior to joining TGI Friday’s Wade spent seven years at Yum! Brands in marketing roles for KFC and Pizza Hut UK spanning brand, retail, new product development, advertising, media and channel management. He will join Mark Fox-led Roadchef at the beginning of July in the newly created board-level position of chief commercial officer. Last month, Prezzo appointed Dean Challenger, formerly of David Lloyd Leisure and Premier Inn, as finance director. Earlier this year Propel revealed Paul Barton had stepped down as operations director of Prezzo after more than two-and-a-half years with the business. Propel understands the company won’t replace Barton but its regional operations directors will report straight into executive chairman Jones. Earlier this month, natural fast food brand Leon signed a five-year exclusivity agreement with Roadchef as it prepares to open two more Read More
  Taylor St Baristas launches £750,000 crowdfunding campaign to expand wholesale arm and cafe partnerships: Taylor St Baristas has returned to crowdfunding platform Crowdcube in a bid to raise £750,000 as it expands its wholesale arm and cafe partnerships, Propel has learned. Founded in 2006 by siblings Nick, Andrew and Laura Tolley, Taylor St Baristas has opened more than 60 cafes through partnerships. Now having raised more than £1.8m in its previous Crowdcube campaign, the company has returned to the platform to support its strategy. It is offering 6.38% equity in return for the investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £11m. The campaign is currently in “stealth mode”, meaning it’s only open to select investors rather than the public. The Tolley siblings also founded the Harris + Hoole coffee chain with Tesco, selling their share to the supermarket company in 2016. Harris + Hoole has subsequently been bought by Caffe Nero. The pitch states: “As the market shifts, Taylor St aims to lead the charge by partnering with global companies. The first is a global partnership with Sodexo, which by cups sold is one of the world’s largest coffee retailers, selling circa one billion hot beverages annually. Over Read More
Patisserie Valerie’s new owner says business back on track as it laid bare state of company at takeover: Patisserie Valerie’s new owner has said the business is back on track as it laid bare the state of the company it bought in January. Matt Scaife, a partner at Dublin-based private equity firm Causeway Capital Partners, which bought Patisserie Valerie out of administration for £5m, described the shock at finding broken ovens, unpaid suppliers, and a leak in the roof at a key bakery site. Patisserie Valerie shocked investors last year when it revealed a multimillion-pound black hole in its accounts that soon sank the business. Scaife told The Guardian: “As soon as we arrived the extent of the under-investment became increasingly apparent. There were ovens that had been broken for several months, and there was a leak in the bakery roof. Suppliers were often left unpaid, while new ones were sought. When someone decides to stop using butter in the puff pastry – in a patisserie - you know that something serious has happened." Six months on from the buyout the “new” Patisserie Valerie is looking much brighter, Scaife said, with plans to replace the outlets’ salmon and brown colour Read More
  Burger King UK looks to ramp up expansion: Burger King UK, the Bridgepoint-backed chain, is looking to open at least 90 sites during the next three years. The Alasdair Murdoch-led group, which currently operates more than 500 sites, has appointed agent Lunson Mitchenall to aid its expansion plans. Lunson Mitchenall ’s occupier representation team will work with a group of joint agents to expand the UK business and its franchise partnerships. The fast food chain aims to open at least 30 outlets per year for the next three years. Sites are being sought ranging from 1,600 to 3,000 square feet in high footfall areas that don’t currently have a Burger King presence. Locations on the target list include transport interchanges, drive-thrus, retail parks, high-street locations and shopping centre food courts. Lunson Mitchenall will be responsible for sourcing outlets in East Anglia, the south east, south west and South Wales. Burger King UK property director Marc Balding said: “These are exciting times for the Burger King brand in the UK at present and I look forward to Lunson Mitchenall continuing to advise Burger King UK on our expansion.” Lunson Mitchenall director Matt Maynard added: “It is a really interesting time Read More
Tokyo Industries looks to exit four sites in ‘smaller UK towns’ as it focuses on international projects: Tokyo Industries, the bar and nightclub operator led by Aaron Mellor, is looking to exit four sites in “smaller UK towns” as the company focuses on international projects, Propel has learned. The company is seeking operators for its Tokyo venues in Bradford, Huddersfield, Lincoln and Oldham. Mellor told Propel: “Tokyo Huddersfield was one our first venues, in 2005. It is set in an incredible 1820s courthouse and has done amazing business for us but it’s time to change the offer. DJ-led talent alone in a town like Huddersfield can’t really work in terms of fees versus market capacity. We had also become heavily student dependant so a summer closure felt right. It’s a massive venue, built over a number of rooms and floors, and that needs volume to drive it – the local market is looking for something more commercial. As we become more excited on international projects, it seems the right time to move away from the smaller towns we operate in and look to lease on these original sites in Huddersfield, Lincoln, Bradford and Oldham. While the sites aren’t being formally Read More
Foxlow to close remaining sites: Foxlow, the neighbourhood restaurant from the founders of high-end steak brand Hawksmoor, is to shut its two remaining sites. Co-owner Will Beckett said the venues in Balham and Clerkenwell would close on Friday, 28 June as the company focuses on Hawksmoor. The group closed Soho Foxlow in April and sold the lease following the closure of Foxlows in Chiswick and Stoke Newington last year. Beckett, who owns both businesses with Hugh Gott, said: “After a fantastic six years we have made the decision to close the two remaining Foxlow restaurants. Once Soho closed, we started to receive further offers. We decided to sell Foxlow Clerkenwell and simultaneously close the Balham restaurant, which seems better to us than continuing to trade and leaving staff, suppliers and customers in a period of uncertainty. We’ll now focus on making sure those people are looked after in the right way. In the end we couldn’t see a future where Foxlow grew as a business. With Foxlow closed we will be able to focus exclusively on Hawksmoor, which continues to be extremely successful, and we are very proud it continues to thrive and grow. Many of the people who worked Read More
  Tonkotsu secures new investment as it eyes next phase of growth: Tonkotsu, the Emma Reynolds and Ken Yamada-founded ramen restaurant group, is planning further expansion after securing new investment from YFM Equity Partners, Propel has learned. YFM, which also backs healthy eating brand Friska, is investing £5m in the ten-strong Tonkotsu for a minority stake in the business. Reynolds and Yamada, who founded Tonkotsu in Soho in 2012, will continue to be involved in the business. At the same time, Propel understands entrepreneur and Dragons’ Den star Sarah Willingham, formerly of PizzaExpress and Bombay Bicycle Club, will become chairman of the business, which is led by managing director Stephen Evans and operates nine restaurants in London and one in Selfridges Birmingham, with two more due to open later this year in Peckham and Shoreditch. The company, which hopes to add a further three sites next year, is believed to have generated full-year turnover close to £7m. The company appointed advisers in October as it looked to secure new investment to fund its next stage of growth. The group appointed Grant Thornton and Will Baxter, of Dow Schofield Watts’ London office, to oversee the funding process. Propel revealed earlier this year Read More
Collins watching Arcadia situation closely as Loungers continues to build pipeline: Nick Collins, chief executive of cafe bar brand Loungers, has told Propel he’s keeping a close eye on the situation at Arcadia as his company continues to build its pipeline. Speaking on the back of Loungers’ full-year trading update, Collins said the pipeline for 2020 was “looking good”, while he was eyeing opportunities on an almost daily basis for the Lounges and Cosy Club brands, which now total 148 sites. Arcadia, owned by Sir Philip Green, is looking to shut 48 stores across brands such as Topshop and Miss Selfridge under seven different company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) as it bids to avoid administration. A proposed vote on the CVAs has been adjourned for a week while discussions continue with a “few landlords” and Collins said he was watching developments “with interest”. He added: “We are where we would expect to be in terms of the pipeline. We’re watching the Arcadia process closely. Given we mostly convert A1 sites to A3, there are certainly properties that might provide more opportunity for us, as may other CVAs that arise. We’re going through those opportunities and we’re in a good position to Read More
Flat Iron seeks further restaurant opening before August as it reports turnover boost: Flat Iron, the “single steak” dining concept backed by private equity firm Piper, is seeking a further opening before August while its mature sites are delivering “very strong” sales. Flat Iron said its two most recent restaurant openings – in London’s Caledonian Road and Tooley Street – were both trading ahead of expectations. The company, which has seven sites in the capital, has also made significant investment in its operations team to support growth. The announcement comes as Flat Iron reported turnover increased 23.6% to £14,476,916 for the year ending 26 August 2018, compared with £11,715,100 the year before despite not opening any sites. Adjusted Ebitda was down slightly to £1,303,054 compared with £1,352,083 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Gross profit margin fell to 31.4%, compared with 33.5% the previous year. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “As noted in last year’s report, having witnessed other restaurant operators struggling in the sector the directors decided to slow the opening of sites to monitor the increased availability of prime locations being offered to the company. This, together with construction delays Read More
O’Riordan becomes Caravan chairman: Jane O’Riordan, former group strategy director at Nando’s, has joined London-based restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept Caravan as chairman, Propel has learned. Earlier this year, O’Riordan became chairman of Caribbean restaurant chain Turtle Bay and also of Flight Club. O’Riordan has extensive knowledge of the leisure and hospitality space. She was managing director of Yellowwoods Associates (formerly Capricorn Associates) – a private equity and venture capital advisory firm involved in the strategic development of companies such as Nando’s and PizzaExpress. She was also director of strategy on the main board of Nando’s and is currently a member of the advisory board of Piper, the private equity company that backed Turtle Bay in 2013. O’Riordan also founded Antipodean-style cycling cafe and restaurant concept The Dynamo in Putney, south west London. Active Partners-backed Caravan operates five London sites – in King’s Cross, the City, Exmouth Market, Bankside and Fitzrovia. In February, co-founder Laura Harper-Hinton labelled trading at those sites as “fantastic”, with like-for-like sales up about 10%. Caravan founders Harper-Hinton, Miles Kirby and Chris Ammermann will launch a venture at The Pavilion in Chelsea this autumn featuring a new name, menu and design. Provenance Inns returns to pre-tax Read More
Coco di Mama experiencing ‘strong’ like-for-like growth, plans at least six sites in next 12 months: Azzurri Group-owned quick service Italian concept Coco di Mama is currently seeing "strong" like-for-like growth and aims to open another six sites in the next 12 months, Propel has learned. The announcement comes as Coco di Mama prepares to open its 22nd site, in Bishopsgate in the City of London, on Wednesday (5 June), with another outlet opening in Southbank next month. Head of brand Sara McCraight said the company had strong expansion plans, with growth remaining focused on London for the moment. She added: “We are currently seeing strong like-for-like sales growth and looking at various options in terms of our expansion as we continue to grow our brand awareness. We’re aiming for at least another six new sites over the next year.” Coco di Mama is best known for its made-to-order pasta that is customisable. The brand also serves Italian-inspired breakfast, salads, sandwiches and Allpress speciality coffee. The design of the Bishopsgate store features Milan-inspired modern interiors and features a hand-painted art wall by a local artist. Coco di Mama has chosen Bishopsgate for its latest site because it is a “high-energy Read More
Coppa Club reports 8.9% growth in like-for-likes for second quarter as it ramps up expansion: Coppa Club, the Hugh Osmond-backed concept, has reported an 8.9% growth in like-for-like sales in its second quarter as it ramps up expansion. The period covering January to March was boosted by the launch of summer igloos at Coppa Club Tower Bridge, which led to a 75% increase in pre-booking sales during the opening weekend compared with the same period last year. The brand, which operates five sites in London and the south east, is set to open its next venue in Berkshire in July as part of the £12m refurbishment of Osmond’s Thames-side venue The Swan at Streatley. The venue will be the biggest club to date, with a riverside terrace, library, lounges, gym and 47 bedrooms. As reported by Propel last week, another Coppa Club will launch in Brighton in August. Various Eateries group chief executive Sue Walter said: “Despite the challenges and uncertainty in our sector there remains one constant – people want to feel a sense of belonging and connection. We work hard to understand and integrate into our communities. This, along with our focus on delivering the best possible guest Read More
Pret to make Belgian debut: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned chain, is to make its debut in Belgium. Pret has partnered with SNCB/NMBS, which is the national railway company of Belgium, and UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group to open sites in two Brussels railway stations. The outlets at Brussels Midi and Brussels Central will open this year offering Pret’s traditional menu. Michael Haley, partnerships managing director at Pret, said: “We are delighted our first shops in Belgium will open soon. Our partnership with SSP began in France several years ago and we’re looking forward to working with it to open our first shops in Brussels.” Gérard d’Onofrio, managing director of SSP France and Benelux, added: “We are thrilled to partner with SNCB/NMBS and Pret to introduce an innovative new food and drink concept to Brussels. We’re looking forward to working with Pret to provide passengers at busy train stations in the city with Pret’s organic coffee and freshly prepared baguettes, salads and hot food.” Last week, Pret agreed a deal to buy circa 90-strong rival EAT, which was placed on the market earlier this year. Pret said in response to growing consumer demand for more vegetarian and Read More
TRG launches Indian delivery concept: The Restaurant Group (TRG), the Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s operator, has launched a new delivery brand called Pyjama Hotel, Propel has learned. Propel understands TRG has taken space at the Foodstars unit in Battersea to produce the new Indian-style concept, which can be ordered through Just Eat or UberEats. Pyjama Hotel is describes itself as offering “a festival of Indian flavours, bringing colourful, vibrant, Indian favourites and new dishes to your door”. Propel understands TRG is also working on a further concept, which has the working title Jumping Pans. TRG already operates a number of virtual brands out of its Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito estates, including Burger Burger and Kick Ass Burrito. Wagamama also operates out of the Deliveroo Editions site in Battersea. Earlier this year, it was revealed City Storage Systems, the delivery company run by former Uber boss Travis Kalanick, had acquired London “dark kitchens” company Foodstars last year. Foodstars, which was founded in Bethnal Green in 2015, now operates kitchen spaces across London, which it leases to restaurants focusing on selling food through delivery apps. Westbourne Leisure reports turnover and profit boost: West Midlands-based pub, restaurant and hotel operator Westbourne Read More
Patrick Dardis – Young’s has at least £70m available for acquisitions: Patrick Dardis, chief executive of London pub retailer Young’s, has told Propel the company has at least £70m available for acquisitions and can raise more if required. The funds will be available in July and Dardis said the company, which bought 15-strong Redcomb Pubs at the start of the year for £34m, was eyeing “various opportunities” ranging from companies with a “couple of sites” to “slightly larger” businesses. Speaking following Young’s full-year results, Dardis said: “We have got plenty of firepower to do deals and if something came up that needed a bit more money, we could raise those funds if needed. A lot of these opportunities are coming up from people approaching us rather than the other way round, and I think that says a lot about our reputation.” As well as potential deals and reopening previously acquired sites, Dardis said the company had a number of major capital projects planned, including a £4.6m investment in the Dog & Fox in Wimbledon, south west London. Dardis added Young’s also planned to revamp the Redcomb sites – “probably half this year and the other half next year” – meaning Read More
Jamie Oliver’s UK restaurant business ‘lost more in one year than it ever made in profit’: Jamie Oliver’s UK restaurant business lost £29m in one year – £5m more than it ever made in profit. The findings by the Daily Mail led to a high-street expert claiming the business “should have hit the panic alarm years ago”. The £29m loss in 2017 came to light after it emerged banks and suppliers could pursue Oliver personally for debts built up after he provided guarantees following a restructure two years ago. Oliver put his UK restaurant business into administration on Tuesday (21 May), which resulted in 22 of the 25 sites being shut and 1,000 staff made redundant. The latest accounts for Oliver’s main restaurant business, Jamie’s Italian, show the company made a loss of more than £29m on a turnover of £100m in 2017. However, in all its seven years in the black – 2009 to 2015 – the firm netted only £24m. In fact, despite turning over more than three quarters of a billion pounds between 2008 and 2017, Jamie’s Italian made a net loss of £15m during the period. Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant in Hoxton was operated by a different Read More
Coffeesmiths Collective appoints Willson-Rymer as chairman: Coffeesmiths Collective, the parent company of Department of Coffee and Social Affairs (DoCaSA), has appointed Darcy Willson-Rymer, former managing director of Starbucks UK and Ireland and current chief executive of convenience store chain Costcutter, as non-executive chairman, Propel has learned. Willson-Rymer, who spent more than four years as head of Starbucks UK and Ireland, was previously chief executive of Clinton Cards. Professor Stefan Allesch-Taylor, group chairman of Coffeesmiths Collective, said: “With his extensive experience in the coffee and retail sectors coupled with a passion for coffee, Darcy understands the opportunity the sector represents. Having Darcy as non-executive chairman of Coffeesmiths Collective, our rapidly growing UK retail business, means we’ll benefit from his expertise and guidance at this exciting time in our business’ development.” Willson-Rymer said: “The consumer love affair with coffee continues to grow. I see that every day from our retailers at Costcutter and I’m excited by the considerable opportunity for Coffeesmiths Collective to service the growing trend for speciality coffee shops. I look forward to working with the board at Coffeesmiths Collective as we look to build the business further in the UK and beyond.” Coffeesmiths Collective has made a number of Read More
Byron appoints Sophie Michell as food and drink director: Better burger brand Byron has appointed chef and food writer Sophie Michell as food and drink director. In her new role, Michell will use her extensive experience to develop all of Byron’s food and drink recipes, driving the brand’s menus in an “exciting new direction”. She joins Byron, which is backed by private equity firm Three Hills Capital, having worked in professional kitchens for more than 20 years, including executive chef of Belgraves Hotel and Home House. Michell is also part of the team behind Gorgeous Kitchen at Heathrow Terminal 2. Michell has also forged a career as a food writer and television presenter, publishing eight cookbooks and hosting television shows such as Cook Yourself Thin. Byron chief executive Simon Wilkinson said: “Sophie’s appointment is the first key strategic initiative in our overall plan to position the brand to be the best in what is a rapidly changing market. Sophie has forged an impressive career and we’re delighted she will join Byron as food director. Sophie’s expertise, passion and enthusiasm for food will put new ideas and energy into Byron’s recipes and menus as we drive the brand forward.” Michell added: Read More
Established sector operators ramp up virtual brands roll-out: The Restaurant Group (TRG) and Casual Dining Group (CDG) have both made significant inroads into the virtual delivery sector, including the launch of a couple of brands. At the same time, PizzaExpress has launched a dedicated PizzaExpress Vegan delivery option out of a number of its sites across the country. CDG has already rolled out virtual brand Blazing Bird across about 40 of its Las Iguanas sites and has quietly launched a further brand – Bang Bang Burritos – out of a similar number of restaurants. The James Spragg-led company also operates virtual brands Stack & Grill and Chef & Rooster out of some of its Cafe Rouge sites, and Mac N Shack out of some of its Bella Italia restaurants. At the same time TRG, which launched virtual brands Burger Burger and Kick Ass Burrito last year through its Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito concepts respectively, has added a further two virtual brands to its portfolio. Through Chiquito it now offers the Cornstar Tacos virtual brand in circa 40 sites, while the new Birdbox brand, which focuses on chicken and burgers, is available through Frankie & Benny’s. Wasabi ‘trading strongly’ so Read More
Administrators’ investigations into Burning Night provide ‘foundation for action against third parties’: Administrators of bar company Burning Night Group have revealed their ongoing investigations have “provided the foundation for actions against third parties that could lead to recoveries for the benefit of the estate”. In their progress report Andrew Mackenzie and Julian Pitts, of Begbies Traynor, said the administration process was “complex”, while a “significant number of matters needed to be dealt with”. The report stated: “We have a duty to examine the conduct of the company and its directors to identify what assets are available to realise for the benefit of the creditors, including any actions against directors or other parties, such as challenging transactions at undervalue or preferences. Detailed forensic investigations have been carried out (and are ongoing) into the conduct of the company, its directors and other connected third parties. This has included examining the company’s books and records in our possession, both electronic and hard copy, information provided by third parties, creditors and the company’s advisors. Our in-house forensic team has carried out detailed investigations and forensic analysis of the company’s records, including bank statement analysis and forensic review of the company’s accounting systems. Considerable investigative Read More
Industry leaders secure debut site for quick service chicken brand Chiktopia:Chiktopia, the better chicken concept led by former Ole & Steen UK operations director Alastair Gordon and backed by a group of senior industry figures, has secured its debut site. The concept will open at the new multimillion-pound leisure extension at Intu Lakeside, Essex, in July. The 120-cover site will serve fried and grilled chicken burgers and tenders, skinny fries, salads, wraps, vegan and vegetarian options and thick dairy shakes. Gordon told Propel the team would be concentrating on the Lakeside site this year to make sure the offer was "absolutely right" before looking at potential expansion. He said: "We think we have a compelling offer with an excellent price point that I think will surprise a lot of people, but the rest of this year will be about spending the time working out what works and what doesn't. We've been in this game long enough to know we can't just start a mass roll-out. When you look at our competitors – Nando’s, KFC and McDonald's – they are flourishing in the current market, so we think this is a great time to be launching.” Chiktopia’s advisers include Dan Einzig, Read More
The Restaurant Group to open first Food & Fuel site since acquisition: The Restaurant Group (TRG) will open its first Food & Fuel site since it acquired the 11-strong business last year in a circa £15m deal. The company is transforming its Cafe Rouge site in Strand On The Green, Chiswick, ahead of relaunching it in July as The Steam Packet. The Cafe Rouge venue closed on 17 March having been at the location since 2005. Previously the site was occupied by Dome restaurant and the venue will revert to its former guise in the 1870s as the Steam Packet pub. Food & Fuel also operates The Roebuck in Chiswick High Road. Meanwhile, TRG-owned pub business Brunning & Price will open the Plough & Harrow in the Malvern Hills and The Roe Deer near Kidderminster this summer. At its full-year trading update last week, TRG said its six single-site Brunning & Price acquisitions were trading well and it expects to open at least seven venues in 2019. It added: “We have now refurbished three of the Ribble Valley sites and these are delivering a sales uplift in excess of 30% post-refurbishment. The Food & Fuel sites are trading in line Read More
Capdesia sees ‘amazing potential’ in Wasabi, eyes franchising: London-based private equity firm Capdesia, which late last week acquired a minority stake in Wasabi, has told Propel its sees “amazing potential” for the sushi and bento brand in the UK and internationally. Capdesia invested in the 60-strong business last week, with co-investment coming from Sushiro Global Holdings, Japan’s largest publicly-listed sushi chain operator, and Regis Group, a leading US and UK asset manager. Ashton Crosby, co-founder and managing director of Capdesia, told Propel the immediate focus would be to make the business even more robust, with new processes set to implemented. He said the new investors were convinced there were a “significant amount of opportunities for the business, both in the UK and overseas”. He said: “With a price point just north of McDonald’s, strong customer loyalty and a healthy product, the potential for expansion is enormous.” Propel understands Capdesia will look to complement the existing management team led by founder Dong Hyun Kim and has already appointed Randeep Bansal, who was previously head of estates at Pret A Manger, as Wasabi’s new property director. Propel understands the company will also look to hire someone in franchising when it starts to explore Read More
Strong sales across board driving Wetherspoon like-for-like growth: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has told Propel strong sales across the board are helping drive its like-for-like growth. Like-for-like sales increased 7.6% and total sales were up 8.4% in the 13 weeks to 28 April 2019. Year to date, like-for-like sales have increased 6.8% and total sales have risen 7.6%. Martin said: “Gin, craft beer, coffee, ale and soft drinks have all been strong. The ‘old favourites’ such as fish and chips are doing well but so are smashed avocado muffins and vegetarian meals. We try to keep price rises as modest as possible.” Martin said the company has now spent about a quarter of a billion pounds on freehold reversions in the past six or seven years, with £70.9m in the current financial year. He added: “It increases financial risk through exposure to banks but makes modest savings on rent versus interest. I believe further spending on that front for the rest of the year will be modest.” Wetherspoon is set to open five pubs in the current year and Martin hopes the rate will eventually step up again as the company reorganises its estate having previously over-expanded in some Read More
Last-minute restaurant deals app Wriggle returns to Seedrs in bid to raise £600,000: Last-minute restaurant deals app Wriggle has returned to crowdfunding platform Seedrs in a bid to raise £600,000 for its next stage of growth. The company, which was launched in Bristol in 2014 by Rob Hall, acts as a restaurant discovery tool and offers users same-day discounts to fill excess capacity. It is offering 10.45% equity in return for the investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £5,140,320. At time of going to press, the campaign was already 85% funded after 155 investors pledged £510,555. The pitch states: “Wriggle is a market-leading eat-out transactional platform in three cities – Bristol, Brighton and Cardiff – with a model currently generating more than 20,000 transactions per month (March 2019). After keeping things tight and proving our model, Wriggle is ready to scale up and attack our vision of creating a national consumer champion, supporting the best eat-out establishments across the country. This round of investment is to achieve three things. Firstly, geographic growth with launches in new cities across the UK. Secondly, to grow revenue within existing cities. We have only just begun in existing markets and will continue Read More
Corbin & King lines up second Wolesley site, gets go-head for Soho seafood restaurant: London-based restaurant group Corbin & King is set to open a second Wolesley restaurant in the city. The company is planning to open the venue in a former House of Fraser store near London Bridge. The 98,000 square foot building in King William Street has been bought by US private equity firm Ares Management, which plans to convert the ground floor of the building to a restaurant, which will be the second London location of the Wolseley. The upper floors of the nine-storey building will be refurbished as offices, reports Biznow. Meanwhile, Corbin & King has also been granted permission for a proposed seafood restaurant in Soho. Westminster Council has given the go-ahead for the company’s plans at 1-8 Bateman’s Buildings, which will also incorporate 55 Greek Street. According to the planning documents, Corbin & King is proposing a 241-cover restaurant, with 44 additional covers on an outdoor terrace; a ground floor bar and dining room, and another, “more formal” dining room above, together with a private dining room. Last week, Corbin & King opened Soutine in St John’s Wood for its ninth venue in the Read More
BrewDog updates on bars pipeline, rolls out hot-desking initiative, crowdfunding campaign passes £2m: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has updated on its bar pipeline while it has begun rolling out its hot-desking concept, DeskDog. The company has also seen its latest Equity for Punks crowdfunding campaign pass the £2m mark. BrewDog’s next bar will open in Market Street, Inverurie, on Friday, 17 May. On the same day it will unveil the new-look taproom for Hawkes Cider at its home in Druids Street, London. BrewDog invested in the cider producer last year. BrewDog’s next European site will open in Hamburg in June followed by its second French bar, in Nice. Meanwhile, its second brewpub – in Oxford Road, Manchester – is set to be its third opening of the month. BrewDog is also planning refurbishments for its two Leeds sites as well as venues in Japan, Brussels and Oslo. Renovations are also set to take place at two Draft House pubs – Tower Bridge and Columbia Road. Meanwhile, having trialled DeskDog at four sites, the company has rolled it out to about 30 venues, including Barcelona, Bristol, Oxford and York. Remote workers can pay £7 for access to Wi-Fi, unlimited coffee and Read More
Whitbread plans hub by Premier Inn trials in regional cities, UK growth focusing on returns rather than speed: Whitbread chief executive Alison Brittain has said the company is planning trials of its hub by Premier Inn format in regional cities and is focusing UK growth on “returns rather than speed”. The company has only opened hub by Premier Inns in London and Edinburgh so far, with ten sites across the two capitals. However, in a presentation to investors and analysts Brittain said the company would bring the format to other locations, with Bath, Manchester and Oxford among places identified as suitable. She said it was part of Whitbread’s plans to expand hub by Premier Inn as well as its new ZIP format, which gives the company a potential runway for growth in the UK beyond the 10,000 bedrooms announced at the capital markets day in February. Brittain said the debut ZIP site, which launched in Cardiff in February, was showing “promising signs” and was proving particularly popular on Saturday nights. She added: “We have got very clear line of sight in terms of growth and I don’t think we are reaching saturation point. In Germany we would like to accelerate Read More
Doughnut Time to hit dozen with latest London launches as it eyes further sites:Australian chain Doughnut Time has launched its latest London site, in Finsbury Avenue Square. The brand is catering to busy workers in the City from its food truck, Beverly. Doughnut Time will follow this by opening its 12th site in the capital, in Upper Street, Islington, on Saturday (4 May) as it looks to open more permanent sites as well as pop-ups. Owner Tom Anderson said: “Our London-wide roll-out continues at pace. We’re delighted to bring our food truck Beverly to City workers in Finsbury Avenue Square and can’t wait to bring all the hype and hysteria around Doughnut Time to the great people of Islington too. We now have a dozen stores and agreements in place to open many more in the coming months. We’re continually looking for additional permanent sites as well as pop-up locations across the capital.” Doughnut Time is known for its pop culture-inspired doughnuts such as the Bueno Mars and Snicki Minaj. Damian Griffith founded Doughnut Time in 2015. It operates 23 sites in Australia. The company also operates the world’s first doughnut academy above its flagship Soho store. Paul looks at Read More
Olivier Blanc to launch ‘eco’ street kitchen concept in Wandsworth next month:Olivier Blanc, son of Raymond Blanc, is to launch an “eco” street kitchen concept in Wandsworth, south west London, in partnership with chef and food sustainability consultant Pascal Gerrard. StreetCube will open in the piazza of the Southside Centre next month. The concept will serve sustainable food to go while being committed to reducing CO2 levels, eliminating plastic waste and developing a food system that’s “regenerative, sustainable and healthier for people and the planet”. StreetCube kitchens will be placed in high-footfall locations in the UK, allowing chefs to open quickly on affordable, easy-in/out licences ranging from six months to more than five years and avoiding “crippling rents and premiums that force more than 95% of restaurants to close within the first year”. Blanc said: “We want to bridge the gap between cooking from a gazebo and struggling to open an A3 premises, which few independent chefs can afford. We want to facilitate and support better creativity, individuality and character for young independent chefs who can experiment and try new ideas in sustainable gastronomy.” Gerrard added: “We also want to make sure people have access to more affordable, organic, locally Read More
Adnams reports trading in pubs ahead of last year: Suffolk brewer and retailer Adnams has said trading in its pubs in the first quarter of 2019 has been ahead of last year. The company, which operates circa 45 managed and tenanted pubs in and around East Anglia, also said a new system aimed at countering cost and margin pressures in its drinks business had now “gone live”. It added the project, along with “continuing economic and political uncertainty” would have an impact on its first-half results. At its annual general meeting, the company stated: “In the first quarter of 2019 our beer volumes were ahead of the equivalent quarter of 2018 although the margin pressure we have reported in recent periods has continued. Our low-alcohol Ghost Ship (0.5% ABV) has made an excellent start in a fast-growing market and has very good prospects. Spirits volumes were down on 2018 as, despite strong market growth, our gins have faced increasing competition from a rapidly rising number of producers and a fast-expanding range of flavoured drinks. Our shops and pubs have traded well in the first quarter and are ahead of last year despite a smaller estate. We were pleased to launch Read More
YO! begins concessions trial with David Lloyd Clubs: YO! Sushi, the Richard Hodgson-led group, is to extend the concessions side of its operation after launching a trial within health and leisure business David Lloyd Clubs, Propel has learned. The group, which is currently in the midst of a two-site concessions trial with Tesco, has launched units in five David Lloyd sites in the UK – Beckenham, Cheadle, Hatfield, Milton Keynes and Leeds. The company told Propel the trial was “going exceptionally well”, with gym-goers appreciating the “high-quality fresh and healthy Japanese food we are providing”. The trial is part of the company’s focus on developing opportunities with retailers and health clubs. Late last year, YO! agreed a deal with Tesco to pilot YO! To Go counters at two UK stores – in Surrey and Bournemouth. Earlier this week, YO! announced it was to eliminate the conveyor belt from some of its restaurants in an attempt to broaden its appeal. It will establish its first restaurant without the kaiten belt snaking around the premises at Westfield shopping centre in east London. It will also remove the belt at its Manchester Piccadilly station site. Hodgson said the change was “probably the biggest Read More
Caravan team to launch new concept in Chelsea: The team behind London-based restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept Caravan is to launch a new venture in Chelsea’s Duke of York Square. Founders Laura Harper-Hinton, Miles Kirby and Chris Ammermann will launch the venture at The Pavilion this autumn, complete with new name, menu and design. Active Partners-backed Caravan currently operates five London sites – in King’s Cross, the City, Exmouth Market, Bankside and Fitzrovia. In February, Harper-Hinton told Propel current trading at those sites was “fantastic”, with like-for-like sales up about 10%. For the year to 30 June 2018, the company saw like-for-likes grow 1.3% against a “challenging backdrop of strong sales in the previous year” and disruptive weather. Total sales in the year grew 31.7%, from £7,186,391 to £9,435,682. The company took a small step back in terms of Ebitda year-on-year, down from £284,281 to £173,751, due to a one-off investment in additional head office capability and the “ongoing backdrop of cost increases affecting the businesses in our sector”. Speaking in February regarding potential expansion, Harper-Hinton said: “We are looking at a couple of things. We’re keen to keep growing but at a sensible pace while making sure we’re picking Read More
The Restaurant Group appoints new people and finance directors: The Restaurant Group (TRG) has appointed Bridget Hutchinson, formerly of Whitbread, Bill’s and Prezzo, as its new people director, Propel has learned. Hutchinson joins the Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s operator after brief stints as interim people director at both Bill’s and Prezzo. Previous to that, she was interim head of HR shared services at Sainsbury’s and at Whitbread. TRG has also appointed Matt Crumpler as its new finance director. Crumpler only joined the business as financial controller in January, before being promoted at the start of this month. He was previously financial controller at Virgin Active for more than five years and before that a senior group reporting manager at Whitbread for more than two years. TRG is currently seeking a new chief executive, after announcing earlier this year current boss Andy McCue was to leave the business. One new name linked to the search process is former Spirit Pub Company chief operating officer Alan Morgan, who will leave the Rank Group later this summer. The listed casino and bingo operator confirmed the departure of Morgan as managing director of its UK retail business earlier this month. Morgan tendered his Read More
TRG boss sees remuneration fall after missing out on bonus: The Restaurant Group chief executive Andy McCue saw his remuneration drop in 2018 after missing out on his annual bonus, the company’s annual report has revealed. McCue, who announced in February he would step down for personal reasons, was paid a total of £729,500 for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £1,116,000 the previous year. This consisted of £515,500 salary, £113,000 in taxable benefits and £101,000 pension. In relation to bonus, the remuneration committee set adjusted profit before tax targets and like-for-like sales targets, which were not met, and stretching employee engagement targets, which were met in part. However, for any bonus potential to be paid the threshold of £57m adjusted profit before tax had to be achieved and, since this wasn’t reached, there was no bonus paid. McCue’s salary was raised 1.98% on 1 January 2019 to £525,500, while the average increase for managerial employees across the group was 2.1%. Meanwhile, Kirk Davis received total remuneration of £394,000 in his first full year in office, which consisted of £320,000 salary, £10,000 in taxable benefits and £64,000 pension. Davis has received a 2% salary increase to £362,100. For Read More
Bill’s reports like-for-likes up 12.2% in March as it rolls out next wave of new-look sites: Bill’s Restaurants, owned by Richard Caring, has reported like-for-like sales rose 12.2% in March as the company rolls out the next wave of new-look sites across its estate and eyes new sites. Bill’s has already converted 13 restaurants to the upgraded format and the company said these were all “significantly outperforming” the rest of the estate in like-for-like sales. A further 11 upgraded restaurants will open in the second quarter of this year, starting in Leeds. Bill’s founder Bill Collison, who is overseeing the new-look roll-out, said: “My aim is to create a welcoming and vibrant environment that transcends all dining times but, importantly, provides a trusted space customers feel comfortable in to have an evening meal.” Executive chairman David Campbell added: “The past six months have seen strong growth for Bill’s as we renewed our focus on healthy and indulgent seasonal food. The interior of the restaurants is also integral to our customer experience so with the new-look sites outperforming the rest of the estate, we are keen to expand the programme. We are also looking at some exciting new locations.” Collison founded Read More
TRG Concessions launches all-day grab-and-go concept for Eurostar passengers at St Pancras: The Restaurant Group (TRG) Concessions has opened a new all-day grab-and-go kitchen and bar concept, at the Eurostar terminal at St Pancras International in London. The company has launched The Station Pantry in a 1,416 square foot unit in the departure lounge, which has been developed with "Eurostar’s passengers and current food trends in mind". The Station Pantry is "premium, fast and fresh", offering speciality coffee, craft beer on tap and ample vegan and vegetarian food options. There is also a digital food and drink pre-ordering facility available to passengers via the Eurostar website and app. TRG Concessions managing director Nick Ayerst said: “We are delighted to add a new brand to our portfolio that will resonate with Eurostar’s passengers and provide great 'take on board' and sit-down meal options in the busy departure lounge.” Jonathan Fletcher, head of procurement and property at Eurostar, added: “We are thrilled to see our ongoing partnership with TRG Concessions bring a fresh dining and bar concept to the Eurostar lounge.” East Coast Concepts considers appeal after Neighourhood site in Manchester has licence revoked: East Coast Concepts is considering an appeal after Read More
Beannchor Group reports turnover passes £25m: Northern Ireland hospitality company Beannchor Group has reported turnover increased 9% to £25,811,900 for the year ending 30 June 2018, compared with £23,682,580 the previous year. Operating profit almost doubled to £11,196,442, compared with £5,670,818 the year before. Pre-tax profit was down to £2,054,680 compared with £3,183,296 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “Competition in the market place remains strong. That said, turnover increased by £2,129,320 (9%) in the year following the opening of a hotel in October 2017 and the acquisition of a number of licensed establishments. The directors consider the results for the year to be satisfactory. The external commercial environment is expected to remain competitive. While the directors expect a difficult trading year ahead they will continue to seek every opportunity to increase turnover and operating profit where possible.” Beannchor Group owns pubs, hotels and restaurants across Northern Ireland including National Grande Cafe/sixty6 and The Dirty Onion as well as eight Little Wing Pizzeria sites. Hubbox begins eastern promise after securing Portsmouth site: Hubbox, the Richard Boon-led restaurant business, is to make a first move out of its Read More
Azzurri Group appoints new finance directors for ASK and Zizzi: Azzurri Group, the Bridgepoint-backed operator, has appointed new finance directors for its two casual dining brands, ASK Italian and Zizzi, Propel has learned. Karen Sweetman has joined Zizzi as finance director from Navitas, having previously worked at Homebase as head of trading finance and business accounting services. The appointment follows the recent promotion of Chris Webb to finance director of ASK Italian. Azzurri chief executive Stephen Holmes told Propel: “Karen’s appointment reflects the brand’s ongoing success in the UK as well as its continued expansion into Ireland and, most recently, China. Chris has worked for Azzurri Group for seven years and his appointment as finance director is a reflection of ASK’s leading position in the Italian casual dining sector and its ability to develop talent through to senior positions within the business.” Both roles continue to report into Lindsay Dunsmuir, Azzurri Group chief financial officer. Dunsmuir joined Azzurri last year from Maplin replacing Jim Pickworth, who had been with Azzurri for 11 years. Pickworth subsequently joined New World Trading Company as its chief financial officer. Operators secured for new Westfield London food court: The first tranche of operators, including Pizza Read More
Coaching Inn Group reports turnover and Ebitda boost: Coaching inn operator The Coaching Inn Group has reported a 24% increase in sales as turnover hit £24.7m for the 52 weeks to 31 March 2019. The company saw turnover reach £24.7m, up from £20.0m in the previous year. Like-for-like sales were up 8.3% during the period, with weekly net sales averaging £32,200 per site across the estate. While audited accounts have yet to be produced, the company is forecasting a 52% increase in underlying Ebitda to £3.2m, up from £2.1m in 2018, as well as an increase in site Ebitda to £5.7m – an annualised average of more than £385,000 per site – as the business grew to 15 sites after acquiring the Swan Hotel in Stafford at the end of June, bringing the estate to 431 bedrooms in total. The company also announced plans for further investment in its estate with more than £750,000 to be spent in the next three months on refurbishment projects at the Feathers Hotel in Ledbury and the Talbot Hotel in Oundle. Chief executive Kevin Charity said: “It has been another excellent year for the company and we have achieved a great deal over the Read More
Wagamama appoints new chief marketing officer: Wagamama, The Restaurant Group-owned business, has appointed Ross Farquhar as its new chief marketing officer, Propel has learned. Farquhar was previously managing partner at Grey London, looking after key accounts such as Lucozade Ribena Suntory and acting as the European business lead for Proctor & Gamble. He also spent more than six years at the creative agency as managing partner. Farquhar will report into Emma Woods, who stepped up to chief executive of Wagamama at the turn of the year on completion of its acquisition by The Restaurant Group. In September, Woods’ former role of chief growth officer was taken by Caroline Cromar, Pret A Manger’s former brand director. Earlier this month, Wagamama reported turnover increased 13.2% to £81.6m in quarter three to 3 February 2019, with 9.1% UK like-for-like sales growth and 10% US like-for-like sales growth. Grind closes crowdfunding campaign after hitting £3.5m capped target: Coffee and cocktail brand Grind has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after hitting its capped £3.5m target. The company’s initial target of £1.35m was smashed within 24 hours of the campaign going public. Grind was offering 6.12% of its equity for the £1.35m investment, giving Read More
True financial position of Patisserie Valerie prior to administration still not determined: The true financial position of Patisserie Valerie prior to its collapse into administration has still to be determined, according to a new document. A progress report by its administrators, KPMG, said analysis by a team of forensic accountants had concluded the accounts had been overstated by about £94m – more than twice the previous estimate of £40m. But the true financial position is still not fully known, according to a notice of the statement of affairs, which has just been filed at Companies House. In his statement of concurrence, former chairman Luke Johnson said: “Serious accounting irregularities were discovered in the company’s and group’s accounts in October/November 2018. These resulted in the corruption of the group’s accounting record and possible significant accounting misstatements in its past audited financial statements, including thousands of historic erroneous bookkeeping entries. According to the forensic accountants investigating the matter, the misstatement of the company’s accounts was extensive, involving significant manipulation of the balance sheet and profit and loss accounts. As a result it is my understanding it hasn’t been possible to complete the statement of affairs for the company to the normal required Read More
Deep Blue Restaurants expects further expansion in 2019, turnover up 59.5%:Fish and chip brand Deep Blue Restaurants has taken its UK portfolio to 35 sites and expects further expansion this year. The company has added sites in Paulsgrove in Hampshire; Bridlington, Catterick and Helmsley, all in Yorkshire; and Barnard Castle in County Durham to the estate over the past 12 months. The group said its acquisition pipeline remained strong while the rebranding programme relating to the eight outlets that don’t carry the Deep Blue brand would continue in 2019, funded by cash flow. The announcement comes as Deep Blue Restaurants reported sales increased 54.5% to £11,649,226 for the year ending 25 September 2018, compared with £7,541,402 the year before. Ebitda, including central costs, rose 68.9% to £908,384, compared with £537,598 the previous year following the acquisition of ten stores during the period and the disposal of its Harrogate outlet. Site Ebitda was up to £1,919,938 compared with £1,381,789 the year before, while like-for-like sales grew 2.2%. Gross margin reduced to 67.3% compared with 68.5% the previous year due to the “continued effects of food inflation and reduction in the value of sterling”. Due to a combination of £4.19m debt conversion Read More
New-York based hotdog concept Nathan’s Famous lines up UK sites: New-York based hotdog concept Nathan’s Famous is heading to the UK. Sites have been lined up in Bournemouth and Southampton with RBA Restaurants UK, which has a registered address in Christchurch, leading the roll-out in Britain. RBA Restaurants UK has applied to Bournemouth Council to move into the former Heroes karaoke bar in Jaycee House in Old Christchurch Road, reports the Daily Echo. In its planning statement, RBA Restaurants UK said an outlet was also proposed in Southampton. The application stated: “The vibrancy and the popularity of the area has encouraged the American restaurant chain Nathan’s Famous to venture into the UK. It is a worldwide company founded in Brooklyn, New York, in 1916. The original Nathan’s Famous hotdog stand has opened every day and still operates in Coney Island.” That stall was founded by Polish immigrant Nathan Handwerker and launched with a Fourth of July hotdog eating contest that survives to this day. Splendid Restaurants transforms two former Jack & Alice sites into new concept Coluco: Splendid Restaurants is transforming two former Jack & Alice sites into cafe bar concept Coluco. The company has launched the format in Tring, Read More