Deliveroo appoints chief marketplace officer: Deliveroo has appointed Eric French as chief marketplace officer, Propel has learned. French will have responsibility for the newly-created Marketplace Org within Deliveroo. He will have responsibility for the rider operations, customer care, restaurants, grocery and Editions functions. He will report directly to chief executive Will Shu, and also sit on the executive team. French joins Deliveroo from Amazon, where he worked for more than 15 years, holding a variety of finance and operating roles. Most recently, he was the vice-president for Amazon’s US Consumables business. In this role, he had responsibility for category leadership, product, technology, and private brands across the household, beauty, baby, and personal care product lines. The appointment comes at a time when Deliveroo is growing rapidly. The company now works with 140,000 restaurants and 110,000 riders across 12 markets. The company is focusing on areas including expanding its Editions delivery-only kitchens globally; working with more restaurants and grocery stores; and investing in new tools to help restaurants grow their business. A Deliveroo spokeswoman said: “We are excited Eric has joined in this new and important role at the company. He brings a huge amount of valuable knowledge and experience. He Read More
Bowley – it was a really tough journey for us last year but we have come out of it a lot stronger: Zoe Bowley, managing director of PizzaExpress, has said 2020 was a really “tough journey” for the 56-year-old chain, but it has come out of it “a lot stronger”. Last year, the business secured a restructuring deal, which included a recapitalisation of its debt. It also underwent a company voluntary arrangement (CVA), which saw 73 sites closed, and saw its management team bolstered with David Campbell, who led the turnaround at Wagamama, joining as chief executive, and former Asda chief executive and ex-Wagamama chairman Allan Leighton, becoming chairman. Talking on Propel’s Lessons & Learning for Lockdown Three video, Bowley said: “Where we are now from where we were at the end of last March, we are in a pretty good place with a much stronger balance sheet, thanks to the recapitalisation last November. Our toughest financial days are probably behind us, but it was a really tough journey for us last year and I think we have come out of it a lot stronger. We’ve also had some exciting additions to the team in David and Allan, and recently a Read More
Caring confirmed for new venture at former Porsche Garage in Mayfair: Serial sector investor Richard Caring is set to open a new restaurant venture in Mayfair, after it was confirmed he had secured the former Porsche Garage in North Audley Street. Propel revealed last year Caring was in talks to take the space, with rumours it could be a new location for his Le Caprice restaurant, which closed last year. However, it is thought Caring could be planning a new Greek-influenced restaurant for the space. It has also been confirmed Caring has secured a new lease on the former Le Pain Quotidien site at 201-203 Kings Road, Chelsea. Propel revealed earlier this month the site will be operated as an Ivy Asia, next door to Caring’s existing Ivy Chelsea Garden. Davis Coffer Lyons advised landlord Grosvenor on the former Porsche Garage site and Martins Properties on the Chelsea site. Propel reported earlier this month that Caring, who backs Caprice Holdings, the Ivy Collection and Bill’s, was believed to have secured the La Brasserie site in Brompton Road, which closed in 2017, for a yet unspecified, new restaurant project. He currently operates two Ivy Asia sites in St Paul’s and Manchester Read More
Subway appoints Nigel Doughty to oversee UK and Ireland business: Global sandwich franchise Subway has appointed Nigel Doughty, the former managing director of Paul UK, to oversee its circa 2,500-strong UK and Ireland business, Propel has learned. Doughty replaces Colin Hughes, formerly of Pret A Manger and EAT, as the brand’s country director for the UK and Ireland. Doughty joins Subway after more than ten years with the Middle East-based Alshaya Group, where he was vice-president of its food retail division – premium casual brands. Prior to that, he spent four years as managing director of Paul UK. He has also had stints at Maison Blanc and Costa Coffee. Hughes, who also served as a non-executive director at Barburrito for two years, had led Subway in UK and Ireland since the summer of 2018. Pre-covid, the business has been rolling out its new-look Fresh Forward store format across its UK and Ireland estate. JD Wetherspoon – Guardian article stating company ‘looking to buy smaller pubs on the cheap’ is ‘completely untrue’: JD Wetherspoon has said statements by The Guardian that said the company was looking to “buy smaller pubs on the cheap amid the covid crisis” and “is targeting pubs Read More
Cote appoints Lisa Buckley as new managing director: Cote, the circa 90-strong French brasserie chain backed by the Partners Group, has appointed Lisa Buckley, formerly of Wagamama, as its new managing director, Propel has learned. Buckley joins the Jane Holbrook-chaired business, after almost five years at Wagamama, where she was most recently UK operations director. Previous to that she spent nine years at the Casual Dining Group (now The Big Table Group), including a stint as operations director for Bella Italia. Buckley is reunited with former Wagamama chief executive Holbrook, who took over as Cote’s executive chairman in September, replacing ex-The Restaurant Group chief executive Andrew Page. Holbrook’s appointment coincided with global private markets investment manager Partners Group acquiring the French brasserie chain via a pre-pack administration. Alex Scrimgreour, who stepped down as Cote chief executive in October after 12 years of leading the business, took up the role of chief executive at cinema operator Everyman this week. Papa John’s introduces new flexible franchising formats in UK: Papa John’s is introducing new flexible franchising formats in the UK. Following the continued success of its franchised high street stores, Papa John’s is now aiming to expand its reach by providing even Read More
Hawthorn has at least £250m available for acquisitions, more than doubles planned capex spend in third quarter: Hawthorn, the community pub arm of NewRiver, has at least £250m available for acquisitions and has more than doubled its planned capex spend in its third quarter – investing a total of £9.4m. Speaking ahead of NewRiver’s trading update on Thursday (21 January), Hawthorn chief executive Mark Davies told Propel: “Hawthorn’s overwhelming priority is to protect our people and to protect our pubs. We’re continuing to support our pub partners to help them stay afloat and to ensure they can thrive again and bounce back when their pubs reopen. We more than doubled our planned capex spending for the quarter, investing a total of £9.4m on 270 projects, increasing our average spend per-project by almost 60%, and adding an extra 61 additional sites to our investment programme with a clear focus on outdoor scheme investments and creating more capacity. We also expect to acquire more pubs in 2021. Hawthorn is a dynamic, ambitious company with a proven track record of acquiring pub portfolios, and we have circa £250m of cash and available liquidity to the business, with additional funds available when required.” Davies Read More
London-based Vietnamese street food concept Hop acquired by new vehicle: London-based Vietnamese street food concept Hop has been acquired by a new vehicle set up by founder Paul Hopper, after going through a sales process, Propel has learned. Hopper, which launched the business in 2015, set up Cau Lau Holdings to oversee the acquisition, although as yet it is unclear how many of the group’s five sites will transfer to the new vehicle. Hopper told Propel: “Due to the ongoing impact of the covid-19 pandemic we appointed advisors in late 2020 to explore all options for the brand. It became clear that unlike many other great brands in our sector, a company voluntary arrangement was not an option due to the inflexible stance on rent concessions taken by several of Hop’s landlords. As a result, FRP Advisory led a robust and independent accelerated mergers and acquisitions process in December/January and several bids for the business and/or assets were received. Ultimately an offer submitted by Cau Lau Holdings was successful. All existing Hop employees will be retained as part of the transaction. I’m really pleased to have agreed a way forward for the Hop brand and our incredible team. It was Read More
Coffee#1 co-founder to launch coffee concept: James Shapland, the co-founder of Coffee#1, the Caffe Nero-owned brand, is to launch a coffee concept called Coffi Lab, Propel has learned. In line with the growth of Coffee#1, Shapland is currently seeking sites for the new concept in neighbourhood centres and high street market towns across south Wales and the south west. Propel understands Hannah Gillard, current finance director at SA Brain. will become the managing director of the new venture from next month. Coffi Lab, which is working with property advisor EJ Hales to find suitable sites, plans to be “a heart-warming, authentic retail coffee brand in a neighbourhood setting”. Shapland co-founded Coffee#1 in 2000 and went on to grow it to 15 sites across Wales and the south west, with an annual turnover of £5m a year, before selling it for an undisclosed sum to SA Brain in 2011. Caffe Nero paid almost £30m to acquire a majority stake in Coffee#1, which now operates more than 100 sites, in February 2019. Domino’s Pizza UK merges digital and marketing teams, appoints new CMO:Domino’s Pizza UK is bringing its digital team under the remit of marketing for the first time as it looks Read More
Deliveroo secures $180m of new funding ahead of proposed IPO: Deliveroo has secured $180m (£132m) in new funding, pushing its valuation to more than $7bn (£5.1bn) ahead of its long-anticipated float. The delivery firm’s latest funding round was led by existing investors Durable Capital Partners and Fidelity Management & Research Company. It comes after the company announced plans to expand into about 100 new towns and cities across the UK in 2021. The company said the new funding would contribute to expanding its Editions delivery-only kitchen sites worldwide and its on-demand grocery service. It also plans to extend its Plus subscription service to “new geographies” and offer its Signature service to restaurants, which enables customers to order for delivery via businesses’ own websites. The company said “new initiatives” would also support its delivery riders. Will Shu, Deliveroo’s founder and chief executive, said: “At Deliveroo, we are always focused on developing the best proposition for consumers, riders and restaurants. This investment will help us to continue to innovate by developing new tech tools to support restaurants, to provide riders with more work and to extend choice for customers, bringing them the food they love from more restaurants than ever before. We Read More
Caring eyes new openings, lines up former La Brasserie site in South Kensington: Serial sector investor Richard Caring has lined up at least three new openings, including plans to open on the former La Brasserie site in London’s South Kensington, Propel has learned. Caring, who backs Caprice Holdings, the Ivy Collection and Bill’s, is believed to have secured the La Brasserie site in Brompton Road, which closed in 2017, for a yet unspecified, new restaurant project. Propel has learned he has also secured the former Le Pain Quotidien site next door to the Ivy Chelsea Garden in the Kings Road, to open an Ivy Asia. Caring currently operates two Ivy Asia sites in St Paul’s and Manchester and is thought to be looking at further opportunities to expand the concept, either as standalone sites or adjacent to existing Ivy Collection restaurants. Propel understands Caring is also closing in on announcing what he plans to launch on the ex-Porsche Garage site in Mount Street, Mayfair. He is still working on plans to reopen the former Princess Garden of Mayfair site in North Audley Street, which he acquired in 2016. It had previously been earmarked for a Caprice Café concept but may Read More
Morris – we are in the eye of the storm like never before, signs on Edinburgh site:Richard Morris, managing director of Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed fast casual Mexican concept, has said the business was managing the ongoing challenge of covid “better than most” in the industry, but believes “we are now in the eye of the storm like never before”. Morris said: “Last year was unprecedented for everyone in the hospitality sector and the new year has started out even more challenging. We are fortunate our business was able to adapt to the restrictions of the pandemic, with a large focus on delivery. While we’re not through it yet, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and are gearing the business up for an exciting pipeline of opportunities.” In preparation, the company has appointed current finance director Andy Naylor to the new role for the business, of commercial director, while making a number of additions to its operational team. The company said Naylor will oversee all areas of business development, working alongside franchise partners and reviewing the “many alternative revenue driving opportunities”. Chris Nunn, currently the brand’s financial controller, has been promoted to head of finance, and Read More
Company News: Creams to open debut Wales site this month: Dessert parlour operator Creams is to open its first site in Wales, and 91st in total. Set to open in Cardiff’s Queen Street on Monday, 25 January, the company-owned store will initially offer takeaway and delivery only via Just Eat, Deliveroo and UberEats, opening for dine-in when restrictions allow. Creams chief executive Adam Mani said: “Despite the challenges of 2020, I am immensely proud the brand has been able to continue with its expansion plans.” Creams successfully pivoted its business in 2020 through the introduction of an online experience for delivery and click and collect. In October, the group reported a record-breaking October with sales of more than £4m across the estate. The brand has also opened three new stores since March 2020 with another five or six planned for the first quarter of 2021. Creams was founded in 2008 by Balal Aqil and Mani. The brand employs more than 1,400 staff and works with a variety of franchise partners across the UK. Wadworth hires executive development chef to relaunch and manage food offer within managed estate: Devizes-based brewer and retailer Wadworth has hired Andrew Scott as executive development chef Read More
PizzaExpress appoints chief business officer and chief customer officer:PizzaExpress, the David Campbell-led business, has appointed Jo Bennett as its new chief business officer, and Shadi Halliwell as its new chief customer officer. Bennett joins from Hilding Anders Group – the international sleep group with about 1,200 stores and sales in more than 60 countries – where she was group chief financial officer. Before this, she was a director of KKR Capstone, chief financial officer of retailer Jacques Vert Group, and worked in the operations group of TPG Capital. Halliwell was most recently chief marketing officer of Three UK, and from 2014 to 2017 was group marketing and creative director of Harvey Nichols. She also played a leading role in the marketing success of O2 for 15 years, most recently as head of brand and marcomms. Bennett and Halliwell will report to PizzaExpress chief executive Campbell, and will join managing director Zoe Bowley and people director Kate Daines on the PizzaExpress executive committee. Campbell said: “I am thrilled Jo and Shadi are joining the team. Their respective track records speak for themselves, and I am sure, alongside the already strong team at PizzaExpress, they will ensure that 2021 ends up as Read More
Gravity to debut in London with ‘future of the high street offer’: Experiential leisure operator Gravity is make its London debut at Southside Shopping Centre, Wandsworth, for an 80,000 square foot entertainment venue set to launch in the former Debenhams in summer 2021. Gravity started as a trampoline park company in 2015 and has since expanded into innovative entertainment concepts, helping to revitalise shopping centres and the high street across the UK. The Southside site will feature gaming experiences such as e-karting, augmented reality bowling, crazy golf, pool, ping-pong and shuffleboards. It will also offer an array of dining and drinking options, including a noodle kitchen, American diner and cocktail bar. The Southside joint venture (a joint venture between Landsec and Invesco Real Estate) and Gravity are investing £4m to redevelop the former Debenhams department store unit as part of a combined strategy to reimagine the destination and incorporate new and innovative concepts. David Heaford, managing director, development, at Landsec, said: “Leisure is an increasingly important component of a complete destination and Gravity is a significant addition that complements Southside’s existing offer. Southside is designed to offer everything the community needs, and this signing, at a challenging time for the Read More
Star Pubs & Bars extends 90% rent reduction for tenanted and leased pubs:Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars has announced it will continue its 90% rent reduction for its leased and tenanted pubs forced to shut during lockdown in January. The move brings the pub company’s total investment in rent support to more than £44m since March 2020 – including over £4m this month for pubs in England, Scotland and Wales. The concession is still valid for affected pubs whether they choose to operate a delivery service or not. Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “The prime minister needs to help pubs weather the months ahead by working with our sector on a roadmap to recovery. While the grants announced this week are welcome, their impact is temporary and limited. Pubs need an extension of the business rates holiday and a cut in VAT to survive the coming months. More immediately, the government needs to review the ban on sales of takeaway alcohol. This is unnecessary and damaging to many pubs for whom these sales provide a small lifeline during lockdown. Pubs, through no fault of their own, are being put in jeopardy by this latest lockdown and Read More
Albert Roux passes away: The Roux family has announced the passing of Albert Roux OBE KFO, who had been unwell for a while, at the age 85, on Monday (4 January). Albert is credited, along with his late brother Michel Roux, with starting London’s culinary revolution with the opening of Le Gavroche in 1967. His son, Michel Roux Jr, said Albert’s sheer love of life and passion for making people happy through his food will be greatly missed: “He was a mentor for so many people in the hospitality industry and a real inspiration to budding chefs, including me.” The Roux family has requested their privacy at this time be respected. Over the years, chefs such as Gordon Ramsay, Marco Pierre White, Marcus Wareing, Pierre Koffmann, Monica Galetti, Jun Tanaka, Bryn Williams, Phil Howard, Stephen Terry, Rowley Leigh, Paul Rankin and Brian Maule have all earned their stripes in the Le Gavroche kitchen before going on to make their own contributions to the UK culinary scene. Vagabond appoints Matthew Fleming as new MD, eyes international launch:Imbiba-backed wine bar business Vagabond has appointed Matthew Fleming, formerly of Be At One and Stonegate Pub Company, as its new managing director, Propel has Read More
Reilley – Rent situation the government’s Trojan horse: Loungers chairman Alex Reilley has said that the rent situation facing the sector is the government’s “Trojan horse” and unless it comes up with a plan it “will have wasted billions of pounds keeping people employed by businesses that you will have allowed to fail”. In a twitter thread, Reilley said: “The vast majority of hospitality businesses will have traded between 0-14 days since 4 November. On the (optimistic) basis they can trade again by early March, that’s 0-14 days trade in four months. That’s on top of more than three months of full lockdown. That’s at least seven months out of 12 where hospitality businesses have been ordered to close. The debt moratorium is going to end at the end of March. Thousands of hospitality businesses, who won’t have been able to trade for seven out of 12 months will be exposed to landlords who won’t accept anything less than 12 out of 12 months’ rent. They will serve winding up petitions, locks will be changed, and some will cut their nose off to spite their face. That will be the end for thousands of businesses. @AlokSharma_RDG @scullyp @RishiSunak @BorisJohnson this Read More
Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay volunteered a 56% reduction in salary during four months of lockdown: Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay volunteered to reduce his salary by 56% to £250,000 during the four months of closure that followed the first lockdown in 2020. Findlay earned a total of £592,423 in the year to 3 October 2020 compared to £722,432 the year before. Finance director Andrew Andrea earned £445,365 compared to £486,062 the year before. In the company’s annual report, Octavia Morley, chairman of the remuneration committee, stated: “During the period of the first UK lockdown from March until July 2020, whilst 93% of the group’s workforce was furloughed under the government’s CJRS, those employees who continued to work to support the business were asked to accept a 20% reduction in their salary during the period from April to July 2020, with normal salaries paid from August 2020. The chief financial officer and the non-executive directors also volunteered to accept the same 20% reduction in their respective salary and fees. The chairman volunteered a 50% reduction in his fees and our chief executive reduced his salary to £250,000 over the same four-month period of closure; a 56% reduction in salary. These Read More
No decision made on future of Brains management team following Marston’s pub operation deal: No decision has been made on the future of the management team at Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain following the operation of its pubs being taken over by Marston’s, Propel has learned. The deal sees Marston’s operate 141 freehold pubs under the Brains brand on a leasehold basis, with effect from February, with rent chargeable from 1 April. In addition, Marston's will operate the remaining 15 short-leasehold sites on a management contract basis for a period of two years. The circa 1,300 people currently employed in the pub business will transfer across to Marston's and an initial incremental central overhead of up to £2m will be required to operate the additional pubs. The deal has led to questions over the future of Brains chief executive Alistair Darby, who joined the business in July 2018, and the rest of the management team. In response, a Brains spokesman told Propel: “The job today is to communicate the news with the pub teams and the business. There is no decision on the management team at this stage.” Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has described the deal as Read More
PCA makes eight recommendations to Star Pubs & Bars after pubs code breaches and £2m fine: The pubs code adjudicator (PCA) has published a list of eight recommendations Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars must fulfil after it was fined £2m for “unreasonable stocking terms in proposed market rent only (MRO) options tenancies”. An investigation by the PCA found Star Pubs & Bars had committed 12 breaches with the result it had “frustrated the principles of the pubs code”. As well as identifying how the company had offered stocking terms that had acted as a deterrent to tenants pursuing a free-of-tie tenancy, the PCA highlighted systemic corporate failures by Star Pubs & Bars in its approach to compliance. Along with the eight recommendations, it also said Star Pubs & Bars must publish a letter on its website explaining the findings of the investigation, what Star Pubs & Bars will do in response to the recommendations and how these measures will affect tenants. The recommendations were: 1. When making an MRO proposal, Star Pubs & Bars must follow PCA guidance, have evidence why its offer is reasonable, take into account and record factors it has relied on; 2. When serving an MRO Read More
Pure secures £3m CBILS, CVA links majority of rent costs to sales over a two-year period: Healthy food-to-go concept Pure has secured £3m from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) with Lloyds Bank to help it through the crisis, Propel has learned. The 21-strong company, which launched a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in September, said it entered into the agreement on 7 October with its creditors, which has linked the majority of rent costs to sales over a two-year period. On 23 March, in response to UK government guidance to close all hospitality and shops, the company announced it would temporarily close all of its 21 sites in London. It began a phased reopening of shops beginning in July and by September, 20 shops were trading. However, turnover was only at 30% of pre-pandemic levels. On launching the CVA, co-founder Spencer Craig told Propel: “We really did not want to do a CVA. It was the last option we considered. We took every other possible measure but, in the end, the lack of people in central London has led to an unsustainable position for us.” News of the CBILS came as the business saw its full-year turnover break through Read More
PizzaExpress to restructure management team, CFO Pellington to stand down: PizzaExpress, the David Campbell-led business, is to restructure its management team, which will include the creation of two new roles, a chief customer officer and a chief business officer, Propel has learned. As part of the restructure, current UK managing director Zoe Bowley will see her remit expanded to also oversee the group’s international restaurant division. Andy Pellington will step down as chief financial officer, a role he has held for seven years, next March, after overseeing the recapitalisation of the business earlier this autumn. The finance role will come under the new chief business officer’s remit, as well as overseeing the group’s supply chain and procurement functions. The group’s new chief customer officer will also oversee the brand’s marketing function, as part of their remit, with the business currently without a marketing director. Both roles are currently being advertised for, with appointments expected early next year. The group’s management team is completed by Kate Daines, who joined from Costa in 2018 to become PizzaExpress director of people for UK and Ireland, was appointed people director for the region and promoted to the UK leadership team last year. Campbell, the former Read More
Revolution loses third of workforce with staff leaving due to uncertainty as boss warns government action is ‘forcing people out industry they love’: Rob Pitcher, chief executive of Revolution Bars Group, which operates the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, has told Propel the government’s actions are “forcing people out of the industry they love”. Speaking after the company’s full-year results were posted, Pitcher said while the company had made 200 staff redundant, the business had actually lost nearer to 1,000 employees because they had been forced to look for work elsewhere due to the uncertainty. He added that with businesses across the sector in a similar position, the number of jobs lost in the industry since the pandemic began was around 660,000 rather than the 300,000 the Office for National Statistics reported this week. And with the vaccine now being rolled out, Pitcher said the government had no excuses not to end the tier system at the start of February. He said: “Before the pandemic, we employed 3,200 people and now it’s about 2,200. We’ve lost a third of the jobs we support. People say they love working here but with all the uncertainty they can’t afford to pay Read More
Wagamama seeing better Ebitda on lower sales, delivery worth £77,000 per month per site: Numis leisure analyst Tim Barrett has said Wagamama is seeing better Ebitda despite lower sales while delivery is now worth £77,000 per site. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on TRG’s shares following Wagamama’s third quarter bondholder update, Barrett said: “Wagamama UK like-for-like revenues grew 7.4%, with reported revenues falling from £89m to £70m, reflecting the phased reopening of the estate post-lockdown. The main new information is Ebitda increased from £15.7m to £18.0m on lower sales. This was inflated by a £4m rent credit (relating to a deal subsequently agreed for the second quarter), but even excluding this, there was an improvement in Ebitda margin from 17% to 20%. In part this reflects business rate savings, but is also due to the focus on cost efficiency (and some synergy with TRG). The revenue pass-through was limited to only 9% whereas in contrast in the first half, the pass-through was 30.2%. We believe the strong sales recovery reflects the customer proposition (net promoter score is more than 40), effective marketing post-reopening and customer demographic (younger, less risk-averse consumer). Importantly, Wagamama brings impressive delivery/collection expertise to TRG where delivery reached 24% Read More
Tasty achieves rent reductions and lease concessions on more than half of estate: Wildwood operator Tasty has reported it has now achieved rent reductions and lease concessions on more than half of its estate. The company said it is continuing consensual negotiations with landlords and other creditors in respect of outstanding rents and anticipates the process will now be completed in January. In a trading update, Tasty said 38 restaurants had reopened after the latest lockdown with an additional five sites providing takeaway and delivery services only, due to government restrictions. It is expected a further nine outlets will move to providing takeaway and delivery services only with the additional tier three restrictions being introduced in London and Essex on Wednesday (16 December). Tasty stated: “Certain restaurants within the company’s estate have remained closed due to poor trading conditions in their locality. The company continues to monitor developments affecting both the open and closed restaurants in line with the continually changing UK tier restrictions. Trading across the business continues to be challenging with Christmas parties cancelled and the differing levels of restrictions significantly reducing the number of customers eating out and related restaurant capacity restrictions. The company will again be Read More
JD Wetherspoon commits its largest investment ever into a pub and hotel, at more than €33m: JD Wetherspoon has made its largest ever investment, in excess of €33m (£29.9m), to buy and develop a new pub and hotel in Dublin. The site – Keavan’s Port – is in Camden Street Upper and Lower will have 89 en-suite bedrooms and employ 200 full-time and part-time staff. The investment of €6m to purchase the property and €27.4m to redevelop it is “the single largest investment” made by Wetherspoon in its 41-year history. Although there is no official opening date for the pub and hotel, if a licence is granted then the company is aiming to open the pub on 15 January 2021. The pub will be managed by Fillip Mordak, who has worked for Wetherspoon since 2007 and has managed two of its sites in Ireland – The Forty Foot in Dun Laoghaire and The Silver Penny in Dublin. Wetherspoon has developed a series of eight Georgian townhouses (seven of which are protected), a chapel and added a substantial modern extension featuring a 12-metre-high glazed atrium. The pub covers 9,000 square foot of customer space over two floors, plus a 3,800 square Read More
Tokyo Industries opens second Impossible site with £3m investment: Tokyo Industries, led by entrepreneur Aaron Mellor, has made its biggest investment ever of £3m to open its second Impossible venue, in York. The Impossible WonderBar and Tea Rooms, which features a bar, restaurant and cafe and cocktail bar, opened at the weekend in the former Carluccio’s site in St Helen’s Square. The huge investment also includes the transformation of the site next door into a boutique 18-bedroom hotel with another restaurant inside that is slated to open in September 2021. The project will create 200 jobs when completed. A Tokyo Industries spokesman told The Press: “Impossible York brings a totally new drinking and dining experience to the city, set across its three floors in York’s St Helen’s Square. Located in the historical Terry’s of York building, Impossible York breathes new life into the incredible property, complete with ground-floor tea room and brasserie and opulent first-floor cocktail bar.” General manager of the site, Stephanie Powell, said: “This will include a restaurant bar and tea room – with a British-Bavarian food menu for the restaurant, and an exceptional tea room experience that uses local providers. As well as a beautifully crafted central Read More
Tequila Mockingbird ramps up expansion plans, secures Wimbledon site: South London-based bar operator Tequila Mockingbird has opened two new sites and is in talks on two more, Propel has learned. The company, which was founded in 2015 by cousins Jon Bas and Jake Brennan, opened its sixth site earlier this month in Wimbledon, after securing the former Smash site in The Broadway. It is currently running the site as a pop-up, before closing it in January for a refurbishment and a full opening in February. Earlier this autumn, the group added a fifth site to its estate, after securing the former Graffiti Bar site in Earlsfield. Bas told Propel the company was in talks on two more sites in south London. He said the business had traded exceptionally well after the end of the first lockdown over the summer, and would be looking at further expansion opportunities through 2021. Michael Penfold at AG&G acted on the Wimbledon deal. Elite Pubs adds former The Woodman site to estate: Kent-based Elite Pubs will add a tenth site to its pub estate in February after securing the former The Woodman site near Sevenoaks. The company, which was founded in 2004 by Martial Chaussy, Read More
Fleet to step down as Flat Iron managing director: Jo Fleet is to step down as managing director of Flat Iron, the ten-strong “single steak” dining concept backed by private equity firm Piper, in the new year, to “pursue other opportunities within the sector”, Propel has learned. Fleet joined the then five-strong Flat Iron in 2017, from Wahaca, where she had been managing director since 2010. Previous to that, she spent more than ten years at ASK Italian and Zizzi, part of the then Gondola Group, as chief executive. Flat Iron will continue to be led by founder and chief executive Charlie Carroll. Fleet said: “I have enjoyed my time immensely at Flat Iron working with a really fun and creative team. The pandemic has obviously been hugely disruptive but Flat Iron is now in a good place and I feel now is the right time for me to move on and pursue other opportunities within the sector.” Carroll said: “Jo is an industry legend and we have been incredibly lucky to have the benefit of her talent and experience over the past few years. We will all miss her greatly but are excited to see what she does next.” Read More
Pheby Food Concepts Group plans expansion drive to create more than 1,000 jobs: Pheby Food Concepts Group, which is behind the Wok&Go and Dough Dough brands, has set out plans to open circa 130 sites, creating more than 1,000 jobs over the next five years. The company said despite a challenging year, it is set to add quick-service pizza, noodle and pancake outlets to its portfolio. The group said its plans include launching 100 Wok&Go outlets, creating 800 jobs. Wok&Go was launched more than ten years ago and now has more than 15 sites in the UK, as well as outlets in Portugal and Bahrain. Alongside that, the company plans to open 25 new Crepe Delicious sites, employing 200 British workers, over the next seven years. It signed a deal to bring Crepe Delicious across the pond earlier this year, which will see the first store open in 2021. Come the end of 2020, Pheby Food Concepts will have opened a further three Dough Dough eateries, employing an additional 60 staff. Its site in Liverpool will be officially open on Friday, 18 December after much delay over the prior few months, while further openings in Warrington and Derby sites “continue Read More
Cooplands bakery secures £7.7m BGF funding to open 30 new stores per year:South Yorkshire-based bakery and cafe chain Cooplands has secured £7.7m funding from the Business Growth Fund (BGF) to roll out 30 more stores per year. The bakery has grown to more than 165 stores, 12 cafes and 36 sandwich vans thanks to an £8.5m injection three years ago from the BGF. Cooplands, the 135-year-old business, has opened seven new stores since March 2020. Cooplands chief executive Belinda Youngs said: “This year we’ve continued to open stores, create jobs and develop new products. This month, we’ve opened a new shop in Lincoln which created eight new jobs for the city and launched a new cheese bake to meet consumer demand.” In 2019, Cooplands was one of the first high street bakery chains to sell 100% vegan bread and rolls. Barry Jackson, BGF investor added: “BGF is committed to backing the growth economy businesses that will help to drive economic recovery in every corner of the UK.” Earlier this year, Julie Turnbull was hired as chief financial officer for Cooplands, following financial director roles at Omega and Finsbury Food Group. David Salkeld was introduced as non-executive chair in 2018. The Read More
BrewDog passes £10m mark in crowdfunding campaign for sustainability projects: Scottish craft brewer BrewDog has passed the £10m mark in its crowdfunding investment programme, Equity for Punks Tomorrow. The company recently announced its carbon negative status as it continues to break from conventional business models and become the world’s most sustainable beer business. Equity for Punks Tomorrow launched on 10 September with the initial goal of raising £7.5m. It raised £1m in less than 48 hours, and passed its target at the end of October. The company said it would fund projects including direct wind power for its breweries, carbon dioxide recovery, electric vehicle fleets and converting waste into energy. Having secured more than £73m from previous crowdfunding rounds, BrewDog has now set its sights on raising £15m before the campaign is scheduled to close on 28 January. Piano Works to reopen this week, one of the only venues in London permitted to operate until midnight: Dining, drinking and live music concept The Piano Works is to reopen this week – and will be one of the only venues in London permitted to operate until midnight. The government is allowing grass roots live music venues to remain open until the Read More
Scandinavia’s largest nightlife group in battle for Deltic: Rekom, Scandinavia’s largest nightlife group, has not given up in its bid to acquire The Deltic Group, the UK’s biggest nightclub operator, Propel has learned. Earlier this week, Propel revealed private equity group Greybull Capital had secured preferred bidder status for the Peter Marks-led, 52-strong group. However, it is thought that during the past 48 hours, Rekom has returned with an improved bid for Deltic, and is set to battle it out with Greybull, which has backed companies such as Monarch Airlines and British Steel, for the business. It is thought that if successful in their respective bids, Greybull and Rekom will look to back the existing management team and take on the majority of the group’s existing estate. It is thought the company may still need to go through a restructuring process as part of any deal. Rekom’s interest in Deltic, whose brands include Atik, Bar & Beyond, Eden and Vinyl, is part of its international growth strategy to become the largest nightlife group in Europe. The company currently operates circa 120 bars and nightclubs across Denmark, Norway and Finland. Propel revealed in October, Shoreditch Bar Group, which last year acquired Read More
Premier Inn adds 13 new sites across Germany after acquisition from Centro Hotel Group, flagship hotel opens in Southwark: Whitbread, the owner of the Premier Inn and Hub by Premier Inn hotel brands, has completed the acquisition of 13 hotels across Germany from the Centro Hotel Group. The acquisition grows Whitbread’s network of trading and pipeline hotels to 68 locations across Germany and more than 12,000 bedrooms. Whitbread now operates 29 hotels, with a total open and committed pipeline of 68 hotels in Germany and sees the potential to operate around 60,000 bedrooms across the country. The acquisition of the 13 hotels from the Centro Group adds 1,934 bedrooms to Whitbread’s growing network in Germany. Six of the acquired sites (759 bedrooms) are trading hotels and seven sites (1,175 bedrooms) are either under construction or are secured development sites. Mark Anderson, managing director for Property and International at Whitbread, said: “Our ambition is for Premier Inn to be the number one budget hotel operator in Germany, offering business and leisure travellers the high-quality, good-value accommodation the Premier Inn brand is so well known for in the UK. The hotels match our network requirements and bring Premier Inn to many locations Read More
Black Sheep Coffee looks to tempt Caffe Nero landlords to switch brands:London-based speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee has sent out an email aimed at Caffe Nero landlords, looking to tempt them to change to its brand. In the email seen by Propel, Black Sheep Coffee said: “Are you a Caffe Nero landlord? Have you been served with a CVA notice and can’t help but think you’re getting the short end of the stick? Then you probably are, but don’t worry, we are here to help. At Black Sheep Coffee, we’re raising money to take over Caffe Nero’s sites to save jobs and continue on our mission to rid the world of boring, average-tasting coffee.” The email also puts out a call to possible investors: “If you are an investor looking for a young and hungry company that wants to help make the world a better place by getting rid of plastic and supporting our homeless communities, then click the button below to find out how you can get involved and become part of the Black Sheep Coffee family that, every day, is growing bigger and stronger.” Black Sheep, which operates circa 35 sites – with the majority in Read More
Natural Kitchen managing director buys back majority of business under new vehicle: Justin Green, managing director of London-based deli and cafe concept The Natural Kitchen, which was placed into administration in October, has bought back the majority of the business as part of a pre-pack administration process, Propel has learned. Propel revealed in September the nine-strong company was working with property advisers Lambert Smith Hampton in regards to the marketing of its business. It was subsequently placed into administration with Quantuma overseeing the process. All The Ducks, a new company set up by Green, is believed to have fought off competition from another party to acquire the company’s goodwill, equipment, business contracts, intellectual property, domain names and websites for £187,222 (exclusive of VAT). It is yet unclear how many of the brand’s nine sites have been transferred to the new vehicle. According to the administrator’s report, Natural Kitchen had its most profitable year in 2019, reporting a total profit of £323,204, on turnover of £13.6m. However, the impact of covid-19 on trade and the subsequent lockdown, which forced the company to keep its sites in the capital closed, saw sales drop from circa £300,000 net per week to zero. The Read More
Birley Sandwiches set for administration process: Birley Sandwiches, the City fast-food chain owned by Robin Birley, owner of the Mayfair private member’s club 5 Hertford Street, is on the brink of collapse after it revealed plans to file for administration. According to The Telegraph the company had been trading well prior to the pandemic and was profitable. However, the shift to home working during the pandemic and harsh restrictions imposed on the hospitality sector have hit sales. The ten-strong company has been forced to make 75% of its 220-strong workforce redundant as a result. Birley said it was with “huge sadness” he had been forced to prepare the firm for administration. He said: “I have been self-funding its losses since the restrictions imposed by the government in March, but the continuing series of lockdowns and ever tighter restrictions means I cannot justify continuing down that route. When businesses as long-standing and robust as Birley Sandwiches’ futures are in jeopardy, it says something extremely meaningful as to the ultimate long-term economic impact this government’s response to coronavirus is going to wreak on our country.” Propel revealed earlier this month Birley Sandwiches had become the latest London-based food-to-go operator to be placed Read More
Simon Emeny – order and pay has worked well for us, Cotswolds acquisition was timely: Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny has lauded the benefits of order and pay across the estate. He stated: “We launched order and pay – a web-based solution that asks customers to scan a QR code displayed on the table, allowing them to browse the menu, choose items, and order and pay their bill without the need for interaction with a team member. We started in a handful of sites when we reopened in July, where it proved popular and successful. It is now operational in about 75% of our managed pubs and hotels, with the rest of our managed sites due to come online over the coming months. It has led to some interesting insights into consumer behaviour, with customers choosing dishes and drinks they have not tried before, now they have the luxury of carefree browsing time, and our team members have more quality time to spend with customers as they serve the customers’ tables.” Emeny also highlighted the impact of working from home on its central London sites. He said: “On 17 October, when London was moved into tier two and people were Read More
Giggling Squid co-founder to launch new Thai fast-casual concept: Pranee Laurillard, the co-founder of Giggling Squid, is to launch a new Thai fast-casual concept in the new year, called Lime Squeezy Thai Kitchen, Propel has learned. The new venture, which is a separate business to Giggling Squid, will open its first site in the former Wahaca restaurant in Chichester, West Sussex, with an opening scheduled for early February. The new concept will have a lower price-point than Giggling Squid, feature a takeout offer and communal tables. Laurillard, who founded Giggling Squid with her husband Andy in 2009, told Propel: “This is something I have wanted to do for a very long time, even before we launched Giggling Squid. The concept will be more in the fast-casual category, with everything focused on the meal being in one dish. I am very excited to be working on something new and looking forward to launching it next year.” Laurillard believes the concept will have the potential to be rolled out. She added: “My focus is getting everything ready for the first one, but I know there will be opportunities regarding other sites next year, and it is something I will keep my eye Read More
Cake Box maintains positive sales growth: Cake Box, the specialist retailer of fresh cream cakes, has reported it has maintained its positive sales growth into the second half of its financial year. Franchisee like-for-like sales were up 12.7% in October and 2% for the first two weeks of November following the imposition of a second national lockdown. Following the launch of its Cake Box home delivery service to complement its existing partner offer, online sales have continued to increase in the second half, up circa 56.5% in the six weeks since the end of September versus last year. Five new stores have also opened since the end of September, with encouraging initial trading, including a new first-week sales record, in Staines. Cake Box provided the update as it reported revenue jumped 30% to £8.6m for the 20 weeks to 30 September, compared with £6.6m the previous year. Ebitda was up 0.5% to £1.98m over the six-month period from £1.97m the year before, with pre-tax profit down 4% to £1.66m from £1.74m the previous year. Gross margin improved to 48.4% over the half-year, up from 45% in March. Like-for-like sales in franchise stores grew 12.1% in the 20 weeks to 30 Read More
Company News: Administrators for failed bakery Patisserie Valerie slap lawsuit on auditors Grant Thornton over ‘negligent audits’: Administrators for collapsed bakery chain Patisserie Valerie have slapped a lawsuit on auditors Grant Thornton at the High Court for “negligent audits” of its accounts. Patisserie Valerie collapsed last year after a £40m hole was found in its accounts, possibly as a result of fraud. Grant Thornton is also being investigated by the accounting watchdog over the collapse. FRP Advisory, the administrator, confirmed the liquidators have “issued a claim for damages against Grant Thornton in respect of their negligent audits of the group companies’ financial statements”. Grant Thornton said: “We are aware a claim has been filed but it has not been served. We will, however, be rigorously defending the claim once we receive it.” Patisserie Valerie began in 1926 as a bakery shop in Soho, before it was bought by entrepreneur Luke Johnson in 2006. David Dunckley, chief executive of Grant Thornton UK, stated last year at a hearing with MPs it was not the role of the auditor to uncover fraud. The audit watchdog, the Financial Reporting Council, revealed plans last month to increase the onus on accountants to spot fraud. Read More
AB InBev to fully integrate Camden Town Brewery, managing director Keary to step down: Camden Town Brewery, which was acquired by AB InBev in an £85m deal in 2015, is to be integrated into the global brewing company from January, in a move that will see the brewery’s current managing director Adam Keary step down. Keary, who initially joined the business as its sales director in April 2017, before becoming managing director in August 2019, will step down in March next year, while founder Jasper Cuppaidge will move into a consultative role with AB InBev. On possible redundancies, AB InBev said it anticipates retaining “most of the talent from Camden, and we are aiming to reduce any potential total impact to a minimum by reviewing alternative opportunities for any employees within the company”. Keary said: “Camden is about to turn the next exciting chapter in our story, by integrating fully into the UK arm of our parent company AB InBev, Budweiser Brewing Group. We have achieved a huge amount over the past ten years, and by making the transition, our brand and our breweries will be well positioned to continue that into the next ten and beyond. We will be Read More
TRG paid £895,000 to buy back three Food & Fuel sites: The Restaurant Group (TRG) paid £850,000 to buy back three sites from the 11-strong Food & Fuel business, which was placed into administration in March, Propel has learned. On 24 April this year, TRG exchanged on a deal for Coco Momo sites in Marylebone and Kensington, The Queens in Crouch End, The Roebuck in Chiswick and The Queens Arms in Pimlico, with completion due to have taken place by 12 June, for a sum of £1.6m. However, Propel has learned the company eventually paid £895,000 to acquire the Coco Momo site in Kensington, The Queens in Crouch End and The Queens Arms in Pimlico. It has since also agreed a deal to acquire the Roebuck in Chiswick. However, the company’s interest in the Coco Momo site in Marylebone failed to progress and its was subsequently acquired for £200,000 by Santi & Santi, the company behind Marylebone Leisure Group, and Marmalade Pubs, a joint venture with Ei Group’s Managed Investments segment. In June, Propel revealed London pub operator Market Taverns had acquired another four sites from the former Food & Fuel estate – The Sporting Page in Chelsea, The Queens Read More
YO! to trial franchise model for Panku concept: YO!, the Richard Hodgson-led global multi-brand, multi-channel Japanese food group, is to launch a trial of a franchise model for its pan-Asian street food concept Panku, Propel has learned. YO! currently acts as the master franchisee for the concept, which was founded by Neil Nugent and Andy Upton. It now plans to trial the franchise model across a select number of sites, before assessing whether to roll it out further. It currently operates 35 Panku concessions in Asda stores across the UK, with another two set to open soon. David Hampton, managing director of Retail at YO!, said: “We’ve been really pleased with the reaction to our Panku kiosks. With 35 sites up and running, and more in the pipeline, we are now looking at what the next phase of development might look like. Drawing from our experience with Snowfox and Bento, our highly successful kiosk brands in the USA and Canada, we will be trialling a franchise model across a handful of Panku sites in the UK.” Last month, the company began trialling a new Indian street food concept called Kulaba Kitchen with retailer Asda. The company launched the trial in Read More
Pret launches new dinner range for delivery and new Order Ahead service: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned chain, has further diversified its offer with the launch of new Dinners by Pret delivery range and a new Order Ahead service. Available from 30 Pret sites from Thursday (19 November), the new Dinners by Pret range comprises focaccia pizzas; pigs in blankets; mac ’n’ cheese; hot rice bowls, including curry and chili; and milkshakes. The new dinners menu also includes three new vegan-friendly hot rice bowls. Briony Raven, UK food and coffee director at Pret, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to offer more customers new (and freshly made) Pret Dinners for their evening takeaways. With many of us having tried to take up cooking during the last lockdown, we decided it’s time to let our customers sit back and relax while Pret handles dinner – you’ve seen enough of your kitchen this year. We’ve worked hard to take some of the nation’s most beloved comfort foods and give them a Pret twist, including our new focaccia pizzas. Not only have we created new items to add to our dinners menu range but we have expanded the delivery services to be Read More
Caffe Nero had been trading at 55% to 65% of pre-pandemic levels in recent weeks: Caffe Nero had been trading at 55% to 65% of pre-pandemic weeks before the second lockdown – and is forecasting a funding requirement of £26m. The company, which currently operates 800 sites across the UK, has also said it doesn’t consider 69 of its outlets, in its recently launched company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposals, to be viable based on historical performance and expectation of future trading. These are thought to include central London-based sites in Piccadilly Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Central St Giles and Covent Garden (Maiden Lane). It is understood prior to the recent takeaway-only restrictions, overall sales in recent weeks were between 55% and 65% of levels prior to the pandemic, which the company said represented an “unsustainable drop”. Some stores are understood to be trading at as little as 25% to 40% of pre-covid levels. After taking advantage of support provided by the government, between March and September the business is thought to have lost £110m of sales and £36m of Ebitda versus the same period in the prior year. Propel understands even with the significant and ongoing actions taken by the Read More
Company News: TGI to launch ‘Friday’s for grown-ups’ bar focused concept: TGI Friday’s is to launch a bar-focused concept, which harks back to the heritage of the brand as it looks to re-engage with older consumers. The first site under the new concept, which is being pitched at a more grown-up demographic, is set to open early next year in Cobham, Surrey. The company is about to start work on the former Carluccio’s premises with the concept inspired by TGI Friday’s original site, which launched in New York’s 63rd and 1st in 1965 and that it might take its name from this location. Speaking at Propel’s final Multi Club event of the year, TGI Friday’s chief executive Robert Cook said: “It’s cocktail-led but still has all the attributes that one would expect from Friday’s. When the first one opened in New York, it was a cocktail bar with a small food offering. Rather than a small food menu, we’re going to have a sharing menu. I would describe it as Friday’s for grown-ups – people aged 40 to 55. We’re looking at where those people have gone as Friday’s fans and how can we re-engage with them. It will be a Read More
McPhee steps down as Soho House Group chief financial officer: Peter McPhee has stepped down as global chief financial officer of Soho House Group, Propel understands. McPhee joined the Nick Jones-led business at the start of 2016 from retailer Fresh & Easy, where he had been its chief financial officer. Previous to that, he was UK chief financial officer for General Merchandise, Clothing and Digital Entertainment at Tesco. He also had a stint at Yum! Brands. In 2017, McPhee oversaw Soho House’s £275m refinancing deal with Perimira Debt Managers, while last year he oversaw a $100m fund-raise, which was to be used to double the size of the company’s chain of hotels and private members’ clubs around the world. Goodbody – JD Wetherspoon’s liquidity remains healthy and cash burn appears to be ‘negligible’: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has said JD Wetherspoon’s liquidity remains healthy and cash burn appears to have been “negligible”. Speaking after the company’s first quarter trading update, in which it reported like-for-like sales fell 27.6% for the 15 weeks to 8 November, Ruddy said: “As of 25 October, the group had liquidity of £234m. In late July, the group had £194m of cash and cash equivalents Read More
Wadworth to sell 21 pubs to Liberation Group: Devizes-based brewer and retailer Wadworth has exchanged contracts for the sale of 21 pubs to Channel Islands and West Country-based brewer and retailer Liberation Group – owners of Butcombe Brewing Co – for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition will deliver an additional 140 rooms to the Liberation Group’s managed estate, taking the total number of rooms to 223. Liberation will incorporate the acquired sites, and associated employees, into Butcombe’s existing 39-pub portfolio and intends to invest substantial capital into many of the businesses to support future growth. Liberation will finance the entire cost of the acquisition by way of a new equity investment from its ultimate shareholder, Caledonia Investments. Wadworth chairman Charles Bartholomew said: “We are working with our teams in each pub to enable the seamless transition to Liberation to take place over the next four weeks. I am in no doubt these pubs will continue to thrive under their new ownership and remain central to the local communities they serve.” Liberation Group chief executive Jonathan Lawson added: “Although the challenge posed by covid-19 on Liberation, and the wider hospitality sector, continues to be substantial, it has not impacted our longer-term Read More
McDonald’s to test loyalty programme as part of new ‘Accelerating the Arches’ strategy: McDonald’s is to test a loyalty programme for customers and launch a new crispy chicken sandwich next year as it refocuses its long-term strategy after the coronavirus pandemic. The company plans to prioritise marketing next year as part of its “Accelerating the Arches” strategy, including new packaging globally with a “modern, refreshing feel and playful touches to unify branding in markets all over the world,” it said in a statement. McDonald’s will focus on core products such as burgers, coffee and chicken, including a new crispy chicken sandwich – something some franchisees have long sought in order to compete with the success of similar products at Popeyes and Chick-fil-A. It will also soon include another growth driver that other companies have long had – loyalty programmes. “My McDonald’s” digital programme will allow customers who sign up to get tailored offers, the company said. A loyalty programme using the My McDonald’s programme will start as a pilot in coming weeks in Phoenix in the US. McDonald’s will also accelerate technology innovation its customers have a “fast, easy experience”. Its global sales fell 2.2% in the third quarter – Read More
TRG keeping 77 sites in England open for click and collect and delivery: The Restaurant Group (TRG) is keeping 77 of its leisure sites in England open for click and collect and delivery during lockdown. The company is offering the services at 58 of its Frankie & Benny’s sites, 17 Chiquito outlets and its Firejacks venues in Basildon and Stevenage. They are available Monday to Thursday between 4pm and 9pm, and Friday to Sunday from noon to 9pm. It means 32 leisure sites have temporary shut – 25 Frankie & Benny’s, three Chiquito, its Coast to Coast outlets in the Metrocentre in Gateshead and the Trafford Centre in Manchester, Firejacks in Northampton and Est Est Est in the Trafford Centre. The group is also offering a series of ongoing promotions including 20% off all click and collect orders as well as a meal deal bundle for Frankie & Benny’s – pasta meal deal for two for £19.99 and a family feast for £29.99. TRG will also reopen its seven leisure sites in Wales on Monday (9 November) and two in Northern Ireland on Friday (13 November) in line with the lifting of lockdown in those countries. The company’s 16 leisure Read More
BrewDog appoints Niall McCallum as chief financial officer: Scottish craft brewer BrewDog has appointed Niall McCallum as its chief financial officer, Propel has learned. McCallum brings a raft of experience at the cutting edge of international and private equity-backed businesses. He held both chief financial officer and finance director positions at Element where he spent the past three years. Prior to that, he worked at KPMG, Caird Capital and Capita. McCallum is passionate about helping BrewDog build on the company’s success and continue to evolve its finance function as the business’ global business evolves. Neil Simpson, who had been holding the interim chief financial officer position, will move into the business development director role, which he previously held, to focus on international expansion across BrewDog’s key export markets. TGI Friday’s and Turtle Bay to offer takeaway and deliveries: TGI Friday’s, led by Robert Cook, will offer click and collect and home deliveries while its restaurants are shut in England until 2 December. It confirmed sites in Scotland and Jersey will stay open and will reopen in Wales on Monday (9 November) when the 17-day “firebreaker” ends. Deliveries in England will be available through the company’s Fridays Delivered app and Deliveroo Read More
Shoreditch Bar Group among interested parties for Deltic Group: Shoreditch Bar Group, which last year acquired the remainder of London bar and restaurant operator Novus’ late-night business, is one of the parties running the rule over the Deltic Group, Propel understands. The Peter Marks-led Deltic, which is the UK’s largest nightclub chain, began working with advisers from BDO last month, as it seeks investment to help support the business through the extended period of closure. BDO is currently overseeing a sales process for the business, which is thought to have attracted interest from private equity firms and trade buyers. Propel understands the Shoreditch Bar Group, which earlier this year acquired The Hoxton Pony in Hackney, is one of the trade players and is thought to be working with Steve Thomas, the founder of Luminar, the at-one-time circa 300-strong chain, from which Deltic was born, on a possible bid. Deltic was founded in 2011 after Marks and a group of investors bought the Luminar nightclub group after it went into liquidation. Speaking to Propel last month, Marks said that no nightclub business would survive unless outside financial support “is received from somewhere”. He warned the industry was at a “critical point” Read More
Greggs to remain open during lockdown but expects losses: Food-to-go operator Greggs has confirmed it will remain open for business during lockdown but the period is likely to result in losses. In an update to employees, the company said while sales had recovered to circa 76% of prior year levels during the month of September, the latest restrictions imposed in the UK are likely to see a reduction in demand across its store network. Goodbody leisure analyst Jason Molins said: “Greggs has not provided any guidance around potential losses, however, we estimate that assuming sales fall to 50% of prior year levels during the month of November, this would see profits impacted by circa £10m to £15m. Similar to Wales, which went into full lockdown last week, Greggs expects footfall in stores to decline but expects continued demand from people who cannot work from home. We would also highlight the delivery service through Just Eat is being rolled out across the country, supported by television advertising. Greggs announced the extension of the furlough scheme will help protect critical jobs that will be impacted in the short term by lower demand, but will be needed later in the year when lockdown Read More
Pandemic pushes St Austell to £10m first-half loss, profitable since lock-down easing at lower level: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has reported a “positive” improvement to trading since reopening and a return to profitability – but the first lockdown saw the business lose in the region of £10m in the first half of 2020. The company, which operates circa 180 pubs, inns and hotels, is also in the process of completing a review of the business, which will “inevitably result in some people leaving the business”. Speaking prior to news about the second national lockdown, chief executive Kevin Georgel said: “During the first few months of 2020, our pub estate had delivered like-for-like sales performance ahead of the market and beer sales had also started the year well, once again showing growth on last year. Although we continued to produce and sell our own beer at record levels to supermarkets and through our online shop, the closure of all our pubs on 20 March saw our turnover fall to approximately 10% of expected levels, in the period up to the end of June. Although most of our teams were placed on furlough, which helped to offset some of our costs, we Read More
Mowgli secures Cheshire Oaks site for opening next year: Indian street food concept Mowgli has secured a site in Cheshire Oaks for an opening next year. The 11-strong group, which is backed by the Foresight Group and chaired by Karen Jones, has secured a site in the McArthurGlen Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet, with the opening scheduled for spring 2021. Founder Nisha Katona said: “So happy to be able to share some good news/green shoots of growth and hope nudging up through these autumn days. Mowgli Cheshire Oaks will be coming to you this spring. I searched high and low for a place to take Mowgli to my home crowds of Wirral, Cheshire and north Wales. Cheshire Oaks sits slap bang in the middle of the places I hang out.” The company, which has reopened its 11 restaurants across the country, already has a site secured in Bristol’s Corn Street that was due to open this year. Earlier this summer, the company shelved its plan to open in Preston city centre – and said it was reviewing plans for an opening in Edinburgh. Katona said: “I’m afraid Mowgli Preston is now not on because the overall Fishergate project is mothballed. I Read More
Gordon Ramsay to launch third Street Pizza site: Gordon Ramsay has announced he will open a third site in London under his £15 all-you-can-eat Street Pizza brand next month, in Southwark. The new site will open on Thursday (5 November) under the chef’s Union Street Cafe site in Great Suffolk Street. He also operates Street Pizza sites in St Paul’s and at his York & Albany site in Camden. Ramsay said: “This project has been in the pipeline for the past 12 months. You may think it is crazy to open a restaurant across these torrid times, but we are going to bounce back, and we have to get this economy kick-started and back to where it was.” In August, accounts for Ramsay’s restaurant business showed it made a profit of more than £15m last year and was still planning to open 50 venues across the UK. The chef is also planning a major expansion into Asia with 200 sites in the next five years. His ambitions to “create a billion-dollar dining proposition” are unaffected by the covid-19 pandemic. Ramsay believes the restaurants will create around 2,000 jobs in the UK including some in head office. “We have big dreams, Read More
Busaba secures CVA approval: Busaba, the Thai chain founded by Alan Yau, has secured approval for its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposal, Propel has learned. The 13-strong company, which earlier this summer was acquired by Tnui Capital – the London-based private equity firm – launched its CVA at the start of last month, working with advisory firm Duff & Phelps. Propel understands the CVA was approved by more than 85% of the group’s creditors. It will see the company exit its site in Eastcastle Street, Oxford Circus, which it placed on the market earlier this year; plus the lease of its former site in Manchester; the lease of its former site in St Albans; and the site it was set to take in Reading’s Jackson’s Corner development. The Terry Harrison-led company has so far reopened nine of its sites since 4 July, with its restaurants in Covent Garden, Leicester Square and the O2 still closed. Jamie Oliver’s parents sell Essex pub to the Chestnut Group: Trevor and Sally Oliver, the parents of high-profile chef Jamie Oliver, have sold their pub, The Cricketers in Clavering, Essex, to East Anglian-based pub and restaurant company The Chestnut Group. After owning the pub for Read More
Company News: BrewDog hits latest £7.5m crowdfund target: Scottish craft brewer BrewDog has hit its initial crowdfunding target of £7.5m for its crowdfunding investment programme, Equity for Punks Tomorrow, which launched in September. The brewer recently announced its carbon negative status as it continues to break from conventional business models and become the world’s most sustainable beer business. Equity for Punks Tomorrow launched on 10 September with the initial goal of raising £7.5m. It raised £1m in less than 48 hours, and has now hit its target in just over a month as investors show their belief in the brewer’s commitment to state-of-the-art sustainability projects. With its initial target surpassed, the brewer will be able to fund projects including direct wind power for its breweries, CO2 recovery, electric vehicle fleets and converting waste into energy. James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, said: “As investors continue to join our thriving community of Equity Punks, it proves people believe in our ambition for the business and want to be a part of our story. Announcing our carbon negative status earlier this month was the first step in ensuring that, as a business, we’re holding ourselves accountable for how our actions impact the environment. Read More
Edin Basic to launch new pizza concept, Pizza Madre: Edin Basic, founder of Firezza, the gourmet pizza delivery company that was acquired by PizzaExpress, is launching a new pizza “al metro” concept called Pizza Madre. The new concept is to be launched at The Red Lion in Ealing, which has been home to the Santa Maria pizza offering for the past two years. Basic told Propel: “This is just one of many sites we are going to open. We will donate £1 from each of our three best-selling pizzas to support local struggling musicians during the covid-19 restrictions. We have many friends in the music industry and most are struggling at the moment. The Pizza Madre name means mother’s pizza and is chosen having in mind what we stand for: community, support, sharing our metre-long pizzas with the family and friends, care and love. In British pub context, we felt this is what people want – we rarely have individual people coming to eat alone. However, if they do we will do individual pizzas. I have put all 25 years of my experience of creating Neapolitan pizza concepts here in UK and abroad (Pizza Mano in Norway) into this concept, Read More
Prominent London members’ club The Conduit placed into administration: The Conduit, the prominent London members' club that opened just two years ago following a reported £38m investment, has been placed into administration. Quantuma has been appointed to oversee the administration process, which has come about after negotiations about the future of the business with its bank Metrobank broke down. In a letter to its members, seen by Propel, The Conduit said: “After emerging from lock-down, our business has shown real resilience and we had been increasingly confident we had weathered the storm. Over the past weeks, as many businesses during this period have been doing, we have been in detailed negotiations with our landlord, our shareholders, and our bank, to establish a strategy to buy out our debt and secure the future of the business. While negotiations appeared to have been progressing well, and before considering a revised offer, to our complete surprise and dismay the bank closed negotiations abruptly and appointed administrators. We are therefore devastated to be writing to inform you The Conduit will cease trading and The Conduit on 40 Conduit Street will be permanently closed. The Conduit team is completely committed to finding a new way Read More
Company News: Birbeck steps down as Whitbread Restaurants MD: Phil Birbeck has stepped down as managing director of Whitbread’s circa 400-strong restaurant division, Propel has learned. Birbeck, formerly of Dixons Carphone, joined the Brewers Fayre, Bar + Block and Beefeater operator in June 2015, after a year and a half as operations director of Dixons Carphone, where he was the Dixons lead in the merger integration with Carphone Warehouse. He also spent time as president director general of Pixmania and previous to that he was director of DSG Business, which at the time included PC World. Birbeck leaves Whitbread following a restructure of its operational reporting lines. Its restaurants and central operational teams will now be overseen by Simon Ewins in his new role as managing director, UK Hotels and Restaurants. A Whitbread spokesman told Propel: “Phil played a huge part in shaping the restaurant brands into the businesses that currently exist today as well as delivering excellent market performance.” Birbeck was also the company’s representative on the board of healthy food-to-go concept Pure. His position there has been taken over by Whitbread group transformation director Nigel Jones. Lussmanns restructures business via new company JL20: Lussmanns Fish & Grill, the Read More
Bids in for Stonegate/Ei Group CMA package: Several parties have submitted bids to acquire the entire 42-strong package of pubs, which were originally placed on the market to address competition concerns surrounding Stonegate Pub Company’s £3bn acquisition of Ei Group. Propel understands bids were due on Monday (19 October) for the package, which Stonegate agreed to sell at the end of last year to get Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) approval for its £3bn acquisition. The package comprises 30 freehold and 12 leasehold sites and consists of 32 Ei Group-owned properties and ten Stonegate. The pubs, which are being marketed by CBRE, need to be divested in a maximum of three packages unless otherwise agreed in writing by the CMA. Propel understands Admiral Taverns and real estate investment company Aprirose are among the parties interested in the pubs. Last year, Aprirose launched Blackrose, its pub management company. Blackrose has circa 40 pubs under management with 12 operating under the Blackrose brand, and set out plans earlier this summer to have 200 new site acquisitions by the end of 2021. Stonegate declined to comment. Pret appoints Tom Mackay as new chief financial officer: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned brand, has Read More
Koh Thai founder to launch new brand Nusara: Andy Lennox, the founder of the Koh Thai brand, is to re-enter the Thai food market with a new high-end concept called Nusara. Lennox said the new concept will combine the “age-old tradition of fire grilling alongside time-honoured recipes with a balanced Thai menu of meat, fish and plant” to deliver “an innovative healthy, fresh menu for Thai lovers everywhere to explore”. The first Nusara will open next month, on the former Koh Thai site in Christchurch, Bournemouth. The launch will see Lennox who founded the Koh Thai brand in 2009, then sold and exited the business in 2018, going on to found Zim Braai, re-enter the Thai market after two years. He will be joined in the new venture by chef Thammanoon Thurasan and Zim Braai operations director Sophie Cox, who will also take up the position of group operations director. Lennox said: “What’s in a name? Nusara is a labour of love, born to create something truly special, a safe home, and a mecca for Thai Lovers everywhere. Nusara is about family, about exploring Thai food to its next level and delivering a truly exceptional dining experience.” Lennox currently operates Read More
Individual Restaurants – reopening sales and profits have exceeded expectations: Individual Restaurants, which operates circa 30 sites under the Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill brands, has said since reopening, sales and profits have exceeded its expectations. In its group accounts filed at Companies House, the business stated: “As for all of us in the sector, lock-down was a painful and worrying time. Since reopening, sales and profits have exceeded our expectations. The size of our restaurants has allowed us to meet demand even with strict social distancing and dine-safe measures in place. We have limited exposure to central London, which has been the hardest hit and our affluent suburban locations have traded very well with the shift change towards home working and staycation Britain. Online continues to beat expectations. As we look to the winter with this second wave of the virus and restrictions imposed on eating out, there are challenging and uncertain times ahead. However, we are ready to weather the storm with the same resilience the business has delivered in lock-down, reopening and performance to date.” Earlier this year, the business launched its own premium collection and delivery service. It said: “The business goes from strength to Read More
Tim Martin – government has been ‘shooting from the hip’ on coronavirus restrictions: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has told Propel the government needs to stop “shooting from the hip” and constantly “chopping and changing” when it comes to its latest coronavirus restrictions. Speaking following the company’s full-year results, Martin said: “When respiratory infections started to rise in autumn, it (the government) panicked and started abusing emergency powers, and started shooting from the hip. The messaging is being chopped and changed on a weekly basis. How as an operator can you possibly be able to change at the same rate? As we get just barely used to one set of new measures another one, two or three are added.” Martin said with that level of uncertainty it is hard to plan ahead, whether that was in terms of investment or new openings. He said: “We can’t give out that kind of guidance at the moment, especially on new openings. Where is the certainty to be able to say we can open, say 20 new pubs next year? We are on site on five, which we will push ahead on, but after that it is hard to predict.” Speaking before the Read More
Pret signs new partnership deal with Moto: Pret A Manger has announced a new partnership with Moto, which will see Pret expand its motorway service estate back to three shops in the UK. The first shop under the new deal will be at Cherwell Valley services and is scheduled to open its doors in December, with a second shop planned at Moto’s new Rugby service area, opening in early 2021. Both shops will serve a menu of freshly prepared salads, sandwiches, baguettes and breakfasts, and organic coffee and tea, all prepared in the shop’s on-site kitchens throughout the day. Pret currently operates a site with Welcome Break at its South Mimms services. Until earlier this year, it also operated two sites with Roadchef, at its Chester services on the M56 and at Clacket Lane westbound on the M25. Both these sites have since closed. Clare Clough, UK managing director of Pret A Manger, said of the new Moto partnership: “Working with Moto is an exciting step for Pret as we begin to expand our estate at motorway services. We know many Moto customers are looking for freshly prepared food, which they can pick up on the go, and Pret can Read More
BrewDog has 20 new bars in construction: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has 20 new bars in various stages of construction around the world. The company is currently working on openings in the UK, in Plymouth, Exeter, Manchester (Font Street), Chelmsford, Basingstoke, Bath, Ealing, Headingley, Huddersfield, Bradford, Lincoln and Belfast. Propel revealed last week that the company was to extend its franchise agreement with smokehouse brand Red’s True Barbecue to four further sites. The two groups that first teamed up at the BrewDog site in Call Lane, Leeds, will open new sites over the coming months in Headingley, Lincoln, Huddersfield and Bradford. In terms of international openings, the company plans to open in Cleveland (US), Shanghai, Frankfurt, Bangalore, Wiesbaden, Mumbai and a second site in Paris. Co-founder James Watt said: “Feels like a crazy time to be expanding but we currently have 20 brand new bars at various stages of construction. These bars will all be carbon negative and will create more than 400 new jobs at a time when job creation is badly needed all over the world.” Tonkotsu to hit dozen in London with Walthamstow site: Ramen restaurant group Tonkotsu is to add to its presence in London Read More
TRG launches bao virtual brand; appoints Farrer as head of change: The Restaurant Group (TRG), the Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s operator, has added a further virtual delivery brand to its portfolio called Bao Now, Propel has learned. The new pan-Asian concept, which offers “steamed buns and range of tasty fillings”, is understood to have been launched through its concession’s restaurant and bar site 1751 at the Hilton Hotel near More London. The new virtual brand is available through Deliveroo and UberEats. Speaking to Propel last week, TRG chief executive Andy Hornby said he believed there was more in the delivery and takeaway market for the company’s leisure division to go after, especially with Frankie & Benny’s, and that the sales mix for delivery and takeaway could grow to 20% during the next year. The company has developed and launched a number of new virtual delivery brands over the past 18 months, although it is thought not all will be revived. At the same time, TRG has appointed Rebecca Farrer, formerly of SSP and PizzaExpress, as its new head of change. Farrer stepped down as brand director at PizzaExpress in 2014 to join SSP as its new international head of Read More
Papa John’s investigates alleged Eat Out To Help Out fraud by franchisee: Papa John’s is investigating allegations taxpayer cash was fraudulently claimed during the Eat Out To Help Out scheme. Franchisee Raheel Choudhary claimed more than £250,000 in non-existent meals during the scheme, the Daily Mail has alleged. Choudhary has denied all the allegations. Papa John’s said it was investigating the allegations “thoroughly”. A spokesman told the BBC: “All of Papa John’s UK stores are run by franchisees and we made it very clear to all franchisees we felt it unlikely they would be eligible to participate in Eat Out To Help Out.” The Mail said it conducted its investigation with the help of several whistleblowers who worked for Choudhary’s stores. The Mail claimed Choudhary instructed staff to process thousands of fake meals under the scheme across 57 of the 61 branches he owns, resulting in hundreds of thousands of pounds being wrongly claimed. It added Choudhary had instructed his staff to record payments made by “phantom covers” as voucher payments. A representative for Choudhary disputed the value of the claims made under the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, stating it was £185,015 and not the alleged £250,000. Choudhary Read More
Deep Blue secures £3m CBILS, sees sales recovery hampered by 10pm curfew, paid £7.3m for Harry Ramsden business: Deep Blue Restaurants, owner of the Deep Blue and Harry Ramsden’s brands, has secured £3m from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to support the business through the coronavirus pandemic. Founder and chief executive James Low told Propel sales have broadly “recovered” but the latest government restrictions were hampering progress. The company also paid £7.3m to acquire the Harry Ramsden’s brand from Boparan Restaurant Holdings in August last year, which now consists of ten sites following the restructuring of the business and 17 franchises, and £921,000 for Fish & Chips @149, which has a portfolio of three outlets in Yorkshire and County Durham, in February 2019. The details were revealed in accounts filed by Deep Blue Restaurants for the year ending 24 September 2019. Low told Propel like-for-like sales in September this year were at 98.5% of 2019 levels but expressed concerns the government’s latest restrictions were hampering the recovery. He said: “We are delighted with the speed at which our business has recovered since the lock-down restrictions were eased. Our investment in training and other measures that were designed to Read More
Hornby – the next six months will be about cash preservation: Andy Hornby, chief executive of The Restaurant Group – the owner of Wagamama, Frankie & Benny’s and Brunning & Price – has told Propel he is cautiously pleased with the progress the business has made, but the focus for the next six months will be “cash preservation” and ramping up the delivery and takeaway capabilities of its leisure division. Hornby said: “As Boris Johnson said, the next six months are going to be bumpy so, for us, it is all about trading, trading and trading, being the best we can be and also preserving cash. We can’t be complacent especially with a number of different new rules coming in at various stages, impacting the sector both nationally and regionally. The next few months are going to still present lots of challenges.” Hornby told Propel he was particularly pleased with the performance of the group’s pub business, Brunning & Price, with Q3 like-for-like sales up 14%. A performance he described as “outstanding”. In the three weeks to 26 July, Brunning & Price like-for-like sales were down 13% but were up 20% in the four weeks to 23 August and up Read More
Steamin’ Billy boss – restrictions have left business’ future looking ‘very bleak’:Billy Allingham, managing director of Leicestershire-based Steamin’ Billy Brewing, has told Propel the restrictions on the sector have left the future of the business looking “very bleak”. Steamin’ Billy operates eight traditional pubs across the county, three of which are wet-led. Seven of the eight sites have now reopened and trade had been steadily rising to 65% of last year’s like-for-like sales. However, Allingham said the introduction of the 10pm curfew has seen like-for-likes at its wet-led pubs drop to 50.6% of last year and are down 35.9% at the food-led outlets. Allingham, who also operates the Caddyshackers crazy golf concept in Leicester, has secured £1m from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and also received £200,000 in grants in a bid to keep the business afloat. But he said: “At this rate, survival as we currently operate doesn’t look viable. Why should I take on an extra £1m of debt to my existing borrowings knowing we are losing between £50,000 to £70,000 a month? For three months, with grant support and furlough it looked achievable but for 12 months… what’s the point? We have had to make some Read More
Deliveroo picks bankers for potential IPO, unveiling new services: Deliveroo has appointed investment bankers to oversee a long-awaited flotation as it unveils a series of innovative features that it hopes will provide a compelling growth story for public market investors. Sky News reported the food delivery app, which last week said it was preparing to add 15,000 riders to its fleet by the end of year, has begun working with Goldman Sachs on its plans for an initial public offering. A float is expected to take place in London next year, and is likely to value the company at more than £2bn, according to insiders. Deliveroo declined to comment on Goldman's appointment, and sources close to the company insisted there was no definitive timetable for a public listing. Further banks are expected to be appointed in the coming months. Sources said Deliveroo now had 44,000 restaurants on its platform in the UK, as well as 16 on-demand convenience and grocery partnerships with companies such as Waitrose, Morrison's, Aldi and the Co-op. Deliveroo is now preparing to launch a series of other features aimed at strengthening its appeal to customers, restaurants and riders. These will include post-order tipping – allowing customers Read More
East Coast Concepts acquired out of administration for £520,000: Manchester-based restaurant and bar group East Coast Concepts was acquired out of administration for £520,000, Propel has learned. The five-strong business, which operates the Victors and Neighbourhood concepts, was acquired last month via a pre-pack administration by an investment group led by Naveen Handa of leisure company The Cairn Group. The deal protected more than 250 jobs. Propel understands the Handa-led group fought off five other offers for the business, which generated turnover of £13.7m in 2019. Management’s plan was to continue to roll out both the Victors and Neighbourhood concepts to more locations and grow the brand in line with increases to central overheads. However, this was put on hold after the Manchester site closed in April 2019 due to the loss of its licence. Manchester was the company’s most profitable site and, combined with operational issues at the newly opened Alderley Edge site and increased central overheads, the closure of Manchester accelerated the company’s losses, resulting in a pre-tax loss of £1.7m in the 12 months to the end of February 2020. Following the closure of Manchester, further support was provided by backer NorthEdge with the intention of giving Read More
Various Eateries sees potential for 100 Tavolino sites, plus smaller formats:Various Eateries, the recently AIM-listed Andy Bassadone-chaired business, believes there is potential to open up to 100 sites under its fledgling Tavolino brand, and capacity for more than 50 Coppa Clubs across the UK. To date, one Tavolino, at More London, has opened, but the group’s two remaining Strada sites at Royal Festival Hall and Dockside are scheduled to be converted to the new brand within the next 12 months. The company believes there is potential to roll out up to 50 sites under the full-service version of Tavolino, and also to launch smaller pasta-only and pizza-only sites under the concept. The company currently operates six Coppa Club sites, with a seventh set to open this November in Cobham, Surrey. Like-for-like sales at the existing Coppa Club sites were up 2% to the end of August. The group is looking at opening six new sites over the next year, plus the two Strada conversions. The company’s shares began trading on AIM last week. It raised £25m (before expenses) by way of a placing of 34,246,576 new ordinary shares with institutional and other investors at a price of 73p per ordinary Read More
BrewDog to extend franchise agreement with Red’s to four new sites: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is to extend its franchise agreement with smokehouse brand Red’s True Barbecue to four further sites, Propel has learned. The two groups that first teamed up at the BrewDog site in Call Lane, Leeds, will open new sites over the coming months in Headingley, Lincoln, Huddersfield and Bradford. In each, BrewDog will open a bar, with Red’s overseeing the kitchen operation. The Headingley site will see a conversion of the existing Red’s site, while the two companies will also take over the Brew Haus sites in Bradford, Lincoln and Huddersfield. Early this summer, Red’s, which was founded by James Douglas and Scott Munro, launched a site focused on takeaway food in Wilmslow Road, Fallowfield. The group’s other sites are in Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Leicester. A BrewDog spokesperson told Propel: “We are delighted to be entering a new phase in our long partnership with James and Scott at Red’s True Barbecue, previously their team have supplied the food to our Call Lane, Leeds, bar and took over the food operation of our Leicester bar in 2018. We love working with James, Scott and the Read More
Buzzworks increases staff engagement levels as it lays foundations for recovery post-lock-down: Scottish bar and restaurant operator Buzzworks Holdings has increased its staff engagement levels, which is helping lay the foundations for the company’s recovery post-lock-down. Managing director Kenny Blair told Propel the company has seen a 7% rise in it scores based on staff members’ confidence in the leadership skills of the management team and the organisation being run on strong values and principles. He said, during lock-down, the leadership team held a meeting every evening to discuss the next steps and how to keep the team as settled and as informed as possible, with Blair also writing a daily blog to keep employees updated. Blair said: “Without our people we are not really anything and that’s why we thought it was really important we took these steps to look after our teams. We want to capitalise and improve on the great communications work we’ve managed so far. We want to use video calls to have more face-to-face conversations and talk more about our well-being strategy to really get it out there. Our people are an important part of our culture and they are the ones that will help Read More
Pure launches CVA process: Healthy food-to-go concept Pure has become the latest sector operator to launch a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). Propel understands the 22-strong company is working with advisors RSM on the proposals and expects the CVA process to complete on Wednesday, 7 October. Co-founder Spencer Craig told Propel: “We really did not want to do a CVA. It was the last option we considered. We took every other possible measure but in the end, the lack of people in central London has led to an unsustainable position for us. And with government guidance on working from home changing again last week, there is now unlikely to be any improvement until 2021. We have been a little surprised by how many people have not wanted to return to see their colleagues or enjoy the wonders of central London. We love both of these things. London is an ecosystem of the demand created by the people that work here, visit from its suburbs, and international tourists. There are so many wonderful restaurants, shops, theatres, museums, live events and a public transport infrastructure to support this demand. But if you remove office workers from this system, there will be far, far Read More
Mexican restaurant brand Chilango acquired out of administration for £1m:Mexican restaurant brand Chilango was acquired out of administration last month by investment group RD Capital Partners for £1m, Propel has learned. The deal secured ten of Chilango’s 11 restaurants and preserved about 130 jobs, with managing director Richard Franks, who took over running Chilango in February, continuing to lead the business. The £1m paid for the business includes £829,991 in goodwill (£402,407 consideration, £427,584 secured debt rollover). The administrator’s report showed ten parties made an offer for the business, which underwent a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) at the start of this year, but that follow-up conversations were held with just six of these. Interested parties in all or part of the business were thought to include RCapital, Imbiba and Tortilla. Following further discussions, administrator RSM concluded the preferred bidder was RD Capital Partners. The report stated: “It was subsequently confirmed by the secured creditors and, as such, they would only look to roll over their debt in respect of this offer.” It also states the purchaser had committed a further £375,000 investment to assist with the business’ working capital requirements following completion of the deal. Pre-administration, the company had engaged Read More
Ayerst joins Leon as managing director: Natural fast food brand Leon has appointed Nick Ayerst, formerly of The Restaurant Group (TRG), as its new managing director, Propel has learned. Ayerst stepped down as managing director of TRG Concessions earlier this year. He had been with TRG for almost 14 years, including the last seven as managing director of its successful Concessions arm. Ayerst will oversee the company’s managed and franchised operations in the UK and overseas. Shereen Ritchie continues as the UK managing director for Leon Restaurants. At the same time, Propel understands the company is set to trial order-at-table at a select site, as it continues to evolve its trading model. On Wednesday (23 September), the company announced the launch of 13 new grocery products, including six ready meals as part of its exclusive partnership with Sainsbury’s. Following the recent launch of its Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets, Brown Seeded Sourdough and Waffle Fries, the company has launched three product ranges that will span three new categories. This includes six new gluten-free ready meals, which are priced at £4 each. Leon chief commercial officer Charlotte Di Cello said: “With our first grocery anniversary around the corner, expanding our range will Read More
Gusto secures approval for CVA: Italian casual dining group Gusto, which has been backed by Palatine Private Equity since 2014, has secured approval for its company voluntary agreement (CVA) proposal, which secures the future of the business and more than 600 jobs, Propel has learned. The 18-strong group’s CVA proposals were supported by the overwhelming majority of creditors as 98% voted in favour. As a consequence of the restructuring, the group’s restaurants in York, Lytham, Leamington Spa and Mere Green in the West Midlands, will close permanently with the loss of 105 jobs. Gusto said it has sought to mitigate the impact of the closures on its staff and has been able to redeploy 40 members of the team to alternate restaurants. A package of support for those impacted has also been provided. The Matt Snell-led business said that going forwards, it will be “well-funded and in a strong position to resume a growth strategy at a time that the board thinks is appropriate”. It said the CVA agreements it now has in place with its landlords gave it “confidence to weather any further covid-related challenges”. Snell, chief executive of Gusto, said: “The past six months have been the most Read More
Brakspear owner JT Davies & Sons registers record Ebitda and turnover up 11%, post-covid ‘better than feared’: Henley-based pub operator and brewer Brakspear’s parent company JT Davies & Sons has increased its turnover by 11% to £35.3m up to the end of its financial year to 29 December 2019 – and trade has not been as bad as expected since lock-down was lifted. This figure also generated record Ebitda, before exceptional items, of £10m – up 15% on its previous year. Meanwhile profit before tax rose by 18% to reach £6.4m. Sales growth was driven by its managed house division, which now consists of 15 pubs, restaurants and inns. Like-for-like performance was up 2%, two site acquisitions generated an extra £2m and another £1.5m from the full-year growth of The Frogmill, near Cheltenham. The company’s tenanted and leased estate saw a 1% reduction in turnover as a result of one site transferring to the managed house division and the sale of another site. The improved Ebitda is a result of higher managed house sales supported by improved management, efficiency and productivity across the managed house estate. On recent trading, chief executive Tom Davies said: “Since July, trading has been better Read More
Soho Coffee Co to make rail station debut with new TRG partnership: Artisan food-led coffee company Soho Coffee Co is to make its entry into the rail market, in Liverpool Street station, through a new partnership with The Restaurant Group (TRG). The franchise partnership features a new format exclusively developed by Soho Coffee Co for TRG, designed for rail travellers to “offer quick, fresh, handmade food across all day-parts”. A strong hot food range is at the core of the offer, building upon the customised hot food range already available across Soho Coffee Co’s high street stores. TRG Concessions said the new unit, originally due to open as the UK went into lock-down, represented its “strong ongoing commitment” to its partnership with Network Rail and provided “a specially developed experience that will exceed guest expectations in a travel environment”. Soho Coffee Co managing director Penny Manuel said: “We are thrilled to be at the start of a new partnership with TRG and opening our first rail Soho. Despite all the challenges 2020 has presented the hospitality industry, we are pleased to be looking ahead, tackling new market places and retail opportunities. We have a highly energetic, opinionated and committed team Read More
Deal for GBK would see at least nine sites close: A group of nine sites has been earmarked for closure by the current management team of Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) if a successful deal for the 67-strong business is completed, Propel understands. Propel revealed earlier this week, the brand’s current owners – Famous Brands – had pushed the button on a sale process for the better burger chain. First-round bids for the business were due on Wednesday (16 September), and Propel understands a mixture of trade players and investment groups has shown an interest in GBK, including Calveton UK, which recently acquired rival Byron via a pre-pack administration. Deloitte, which has been advising the business on its options since April, is carrying out an accelerated sale process, with second-round bids due next Friday (25 September). It is believed, unless a solvent sale can be concluded, a deal via pre-pack administration will be explored. Propel understands the sites earmarked for closure are in Aylesbury, Angel, Clink Street, Maidstone, Cardiff Library, Sheffield, Southampton, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The business is thought to have performed well in the full year to 23 February 202, with the group generating £69m of revenue, £7.1m of restaurant Read More
Itsu opens ‘Store of the Future’ concept, ‘we will lead and many will follow’ says Metcalfe: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, has opened its first site under its “Store of the Future” concept using the latest robot technology, which it believes sets a template for high street and fast food dining to spark a post-covid recovery. As revealed by Propel last month, the first site under the new concept has opened in London’s Great Portland Street, and the company said there are more to follow across the UK. It said the new store design was completely reimagined in secret during lock-down, specifically for today’s post-covid world. “Leaner and healthier than any Itsu store before it”, the store is the brainchild of Metcalfe and was designed to limit touchpoints in part thanks to the use of sushi robots and digital ordering technology. Unlike any other Itsu, the Great Portland Street store is completely digital. There is a single customer collection point and no front-of-house fridge so multi handling is reduced. The new order-and-pay screens use the latest technology with card only payments, and enable customers’ orders to be placed in under 40 Read More
Pheby Food Concepts signs deal to introduce Crepe Delicious concept to the UK: Pheby Food Concepts Group, which is behind the Wok&Go and Dough Dough brands, has signed a master development deal to launch the Crepe Delicious concept in the UK. Crepe Delicious currently has more than 60 locations globally, with the move into the UK becoming the ninth country outside of the US and Canada where the brand will have a presence. The first Crepe Delicious is set to open in the UK later this autumn and is projected to have 28 sites by 2025. Elik Farin, chief operating officer of Crepe Delicious Holdings, said: “We have had great success worldwide and seek to continue growth. International consumers really enjoy all that our brand has to offer and we look forward to bringing the great concept and variety.” Founded in 2004 by chef and entrepreneur Oded Yefet, Crepe Delicious crepes can be filled with any assortment of “fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses and lean meats in order to create a balanced meal”. Des Pheby, founder of Pheby Food Concepts Group has expressed his excitement at being a part of this new opportunity and looks forward to supporting the growth and development Read More
Adventure Bar Group launches ‘Show Must Go On’ immersive experiences:London bar operator Adventure Bar Group is launching a series of West End, theatre-themed, immersive evenings in its The Lost Alhambra cocktail bar in Leicester Square. The Show Must Go On experiences will feature West End stars and take place every Thursday, Friday and Saturday starting on 8 October, beginning with Chicago: The Musical, starring Laura Tyrer as Velma (Chicago, 9 to 5), Hayley Flaherty as Roxie (Matilda, Rocky Horror) and Oliver Tompsett as Billy Flynn (& Juliet, Kinky Boots). Later weekends in the run will include songs and stars from Hairspray; Mamma Mia; Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; and The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a Halloween Villains’ Night special, offering performances over the last weekend in October. For every ticket sold, £1.50 will go to the Acting For Others group of charities that help theatre workers with financial and emotional support throughout the pandemic. In addition to three hours of performance, the evening will include a two-course meal with vegan options, bubbles and cocktails, all in a safe environment, putting the social into social distancing. Tyrer who starred as Velma Kelly in Chicago: The Musical said: “Like most people Read More
Osmond’s Broadstone Acquisition Corp announces pricing of $300m IPO: Broadstone Acquisition Corp, the “blank check” company from serial sector investor Hugh Osmond, has announced the pricing of its initial public offering of 30,000,000 units (shares) at a price of $10.00 per unit. The units are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and trade under the ticker symbol BSN.U. The company began trading on Friday (11 September) and closed the day with a price of $9.86 per unit. Each unit consists of one class A ordinary share and one half of one redeemable warrant, with each whole warrant exercisable to purchase one class A ordinary share at a price of $11.50 per share. After the securities comprising the units begin separate trading, the class A ordinary shares and the warrants are expected to be listed on the NYSE under the symbols "BSN" and "BSN WS," respectively. The offering is expected to close on 15 September, 2020. The new company aims to find a combination target in the UK or other European markets that has been adversely affected by the covid-19 outbreak but is otherwise fundamentally healthy. It is led by chairman and director Osmond; chief executive and director Marc Jonas, who Read More
Busaba looks to exit four leases as it launches CVA process: Busaba, the Thai chain founded by Alan Yau, is looking to exit four leases as it launches its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposal, Propel has learned. The company, which earlier this summer was acquired by Tnui Capital – the London-based private equity firm – launched its CVA process this week, working with advisory firm Duff & Phelps. Propel understands the 13-strong group is looking to exit its site in Eastcastle Street, Oxford Circus, which it placed on the market earlier this year; plus the lease of its former site in Manchester; the lease of its former site in St Albans; and on the site it was set to take in Reading’s Jackson’s Corner development. The company has so far reopened seven of its sites since 4 July. Managing director Terry Harrison said in a letter to staff: “These extraordinary times have brought extraordinary challenges for everybody and, as you’ll be aware, the casual dining arena has particularly suffered as a consequence of the covid-19 pandemic. The knock-on effect of the outbreak continues and this unfortunate, but necessary measure, is the only real option we believe we have left to Read More
Loungers thanks employees for EOTHO efforts with ‘Eat Out Because You Missed Out’ initiative: Cafe bar operator Loungers has moved to thank its employees across both its Lounge and Cosy Club brands for their efforts in making the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme a success by launching a “Eat Out Because You Missed Out” reward, Propel has learned. Under the initiative, every “Lounger or Cosy Clubber” who worked a shift in August is entitled to £50 off food and drink (including alcohol) in any Lounge or Cosy Club, free of charge. The £50 voucher is for every one of the group’s employees who worked a shift in August and can be used on one occasion on Mondays to Thursdays between 15 September and 22 October. The group has brought in the initiative for its circa 5,000 employees, to recognise their hard work and that they were unable to benefit fully from the EOTHO scheme while working. Chop’d begins gradual reopening of its estate: Chop’d, the Eddie Holmes-led salad bar chain, has begun the gradual reopening of its 18-strong estate, with the opening of five sites in London. The group has, this week, reopened its sites in St Paul’s, Read More
The Avocado Show to launch in London as it signs on 19 franchise locations in UK and Europe: The Avocado Show restaurant franchise will launch a site in London within six months. The brand, which has three restaurants in Amsterdam and one in Brussels, will open another venue in Calle Colmenares, Madrid, at the end of October – and also plans to launch in London and Paris. Founded by Ron Simpson and Julien Zaal, the restaurant serves sustainable avocado-based dishes and has signed on 19 franchise locations in the UK and Europe, with the possibility of sites in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, Guildford and Brighton. Simpson said: “We are very excited to see our dream becoming a reality in all these amazing new markets and are happy to have found these great partners to work with and are looking forward to establishing The Avocado Show across the globe as a socially responsible and profitable venture that will bring joy to avo lovers for years to come.” The company has produced a cookbook, merchandise, a hologram app, its own line of avocado fries and filmed a documentary about its supply chain. The Apartment Group adds two hotels to Read More
Itsu looks to the future after CVA approved: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, has told Propel it is looking to, and investing in the future, after its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) was approved. Propel revealed in July that Itsu had appointed AlixPartners as it looked to step up conversations with landlords and explore possible restructuring options, including the possibility of a CVA. It was also set to receive £4.3m of new funding and begin an operational turnaround plan if its CVA proposals were approved. Propel understood that Itsu’s shareholders, which includes Ambrosia Investments, had provided a letter of comfort to the company confirming their intention to support the additional funding needed should it not be successful in obtaining the finance from an external source. However, this additional funding was conditional on approval of the CVA proposal. It is thought the company will now exit five sites in Chancery Lane, Lime Street, Ludgate Hill, Old Broad Street and Sackville Street, which were trading at a loss, were close to expiry or were wholly sub-let. An Itsu spokesman told Propel: “The successful vote is proof of the confidence that our landlords, suppliers and our Read More
Brewhouse & Kitchen to raise further funds for working capital and continue expansion plans: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the 22-strong brewpub group, is to raise further funds to provide working capital and continue with its expansion plans. The company, which has 13 company-owned sites and nine that it operates under a franchise and management agreement with Puma investments, has launched a limited rights issue to raise circa £2.5m from existing shareholders only, with which – alongside additional current cash reserves – the company intends to continue to invest into the current estate to develop its first brewpub with rooms in Worthing, as well as a further 24 rooms in Bristol and Bournemouth. Chief executive Kris Gumbrell told Propel: “The uptake has been excellent and we are on course to be oversubscribed. We aim to continue to improve the estate, have sufficient reserves to manage through the current uncertainty, and also look to acquire again should the right sites become available.” Given the social distancing measures in place, the group estimated its brewpubs , which were gradually reopened from 6 July, are operating at 86% of original internal cover levels. The business has traded “well ahead” of expectations and has demonstrated real Read More
Stonegate to absorb Bermondsey Pub Company into existing managed estate, Fairbanks leaves business: Bermondsey Pub Company, the Ei Group-managed format, is to be incorporated into Stonegate Pub Company’s managed estate, Propel has learned. It means the 65 pubs that sit within the Bermondsey portfolio will be converted into one of Stonegate’s existing pub formats. As a result, Bermondsey Pub Company operations director Henry Fairbanks has left the business. Ei Group’s other managed formats, such as the 300-strong Craft Union group, are unaffected by the change. Following the acquisition of Ei Group in March for £1.27bn, Stonegate Pub Company is the largest pub company in the UK. Its portfolio comprises 1,270 sites within the managed division and 3,200 leased and tenanted businesses. In July, Stonegate sold £1.2bn of bonds to partly finance the acquisition. The financing package, which consisted of five-year sterling and euro tranches worth £950m and €300m respectively, marked one of the biggest sterling-denominated “junk” bond deals ever. Stonegate paid relatively high rates of interest compared with recent debt deals in a sign of investors’ caution about an industry that has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. The sterling bond maturing in 2025 offered investors a coupon Read More
David Gough joins Boxpark as COO: Boxpark has appointed David Gough as its chief operating officer to lead company strategy, Propel has learned. The former operations director at Fuller’s brand the Stable will also oversee all commercial aspects of the business, enhance the customer experience, and focus on training and employee development. Gough said: “I’ve been a huge fan of Boxpark for a number of years so it really is a privilege to come on board and join the team. This is an exciting opportunity for me to use my experience on a thriving brand that is on the cusp of a transformational stage in its growth. Despite the struggles facing the hospitality industry, I’m looking forward to bringing Boxpark’s vision to life and building a solid strategy to achieve our goals.” Boxpark chief executive and founder Roger Wade added: “As we focus on our growth strategy, David will be instrumental in ensuring everything is in place and that we are meeting our commercial objectives.” Gough has also previously worked for Good Company Inns, Olivo Restaurants and PizzaExpress. Last month, Boxpark appointed Simon Bishop as property director to drive the company’s development plans during the next five years. Read More
East Coast Concepts acquired out of administration: Manchester-based restaurant and bar group East Coast Concepts has been acquired through a pre-pack administration by an investment group, led by Naveen Handa of leisure company The Cairn Group, Propel has learned. The deal for the five-strong business protects more than 250 jobs and its existing Neighbourhood and Victors sites will continue to trade as normal. The Handa-led group said the deal for East Coast Concepts was a “strategic acquisition to enhance their premium restaurant and bar offering”. Propel revealed in July that East Coast Concept, which is led by John Hammond and operates sites in Hale, Alderley Edge, Liverpool, Leeds and Oxford, was working with FRP Corporate Finance, with options thought to include securing a further equity injection. It is thought a competitive bidding process was subsequently generated. Propel understands the Handa-led vehicle has committed £1m post-investment in the business to safeguard it against any further “sector shocks” and will look to aid its expansion plans going forward. Handa also recently led a consortium to become the new joint venture partners for London and UK franchisees of Vapiano Restaurants. Ben Woolrych and Anthony Collier of FRP were appointed as joint administrators of Read More
Byron to reopen majority of its estate over the next week: Better burger brand Byron, which earlier this month was sold via pre-pack administration to investment vehicle Calveton UK under newly formed company Famously Proper for £4m, will reopen the majority of its estate over the next week. The Simon Wilkinson-led group will have 18 of the 20 sites it acquired out of administration by 9 September. Last week, the company reopened its sites in Waterloo and Old Brompton Road. On Tuesday (1 September), it opened its two sites in Edinburgh, plus restaurants in Manchester, and Bury St Edmunds. This week, it will also open restaurants in locations including Oxford, Cambridge, Chelmsford, Leeds, Liverpool and Milton Keynes. Propel reported last month that the company would initially focus on reopening its circa 20-strong estate but would also examine consolidation possibilities, which could include long-time rival Gourmet Burger Kitchen. It’s thought to be currently in negotiations regarding a handful of sites, which would make up its final estate. At the same time, the new company is expected to ramp up its delivery strategy. To mark its reopening plans, the company has brought back one of its favourite specials of all time – Read More
Inn Collection Group buys 15th site: The Inn Collection Group have taken its pubs with rooms portfolio to 15 with the purchase of a fifth Lake District site. The north of England operator has acquired the 20-bedroom Churchill Inn in Ambleside. The multimillion-pound deal is the group’s second Lakes acquisition of 2020 and its second venue in Ambleside. The Churchill Inn will be closed temporarily before trading independently until the start of a major redevelopment, which is set to take place later this year, to bring the site into the group’s “eat, drink, sleep and explore” philosophy. The Inn Collection Group’s managing director Sean Donkin said: “We’re looking forward to unlocking the venue’s full potential and investing in what will be a valuable new addition for locals and visitors to the Lake District here in Ambleside as we continue to grow our customer base and group foothold across the north of England.” The group’s existing Ambleside venue, The Ambleside Inn, opened in December following a major refurbishment, while the company’s 42-bedroom The Coniston Inn in Coniston opened on 1 August, following an 18-month redevelopment. Elsewhere, the group’s trading portfolio includes sites in Northumberland, County Durham and Yorkshire with a 40-bedroom Read More
The Alchemist brings forward opening of new Cheltenham site after being buoyed by post-lock-down trading: The Alchemist, the 18-stong Simon Potts-led bar and restaurant concept, has brought forward its planned opening of its new site in Cheltenham after being buoyed by post-lock-down trading. The company had pushed back the opening of the 4,500 square foot venue in The Brewery Quarter to the end of year, but this has been brought forward to Friday (28 August). Potts told Propel: “Along with everyone else, we’ve had a stellar August – the Eat Out To Help Out scheme has been an astonishing success, providing a real shot in the arm in revenue terms with a number of the venues in double-digit growth in recent weeks, but far more crucially in reminding the general public that not only is eating and drinking out a safe thing to do – it is also incredibly good fun.” Potts said its offer was “working well” in line with the current guidance, with both dwell time and average spend up on last year. He added growth was being seen across all dayparts, which is helping to smooth out the impact of the capacity restrictions at what would have previously Read More