Sushi Shop plans franchise expansion across UK: Sushi Shop, part of the AmRest family, is looking to secure a number of regional master franchisees across the UK, as part of its expansion plans here, Propel has learned. Founded in 1998 by Grégory Marciano and Hervé Louis, Sushi Shop is a European chain of restaurants for premium sushi, sashimi and other Japanese specialties. The brand has established an international network of company-operated and franchised stores across 12 countries, having been part of AmRest, the European multi-brand franchise restaurant group, since 2018. Sushi Shop, which currently operates five sites in London, said that built largely on a digital, delivery and takeaway concept, its “innovative business model has proven remarkably resilient throughout the pandemic, growing by double digits in 2020”. The pandemic has driven a rise in delivery and takeaway services, as customers were forced to change their dining habits during lockdowns, which the brand said worked in its favour, and it is now looking to build on this success by expanding in key regional UK cities. On behalf of the group, Christie & Co has been solely retained to seek ambitious hospitality operators who would be interested in becoming a multi-site franchisee of the brand. There are four regions where the business is seeking new Sushi Shop partners, each of which has the opportunity to open at least ten sites in the coming years. These are London, the Midlands, north of England, and Scotland, all where “suitable trade zones are ready to get started”. The company said: “The Sushi Shop brand offers opportunity for rapid expansion in towns and cities throughout the UK, especially as with limited hot food options, the stores can operate in A1 (retail) space in most cases. The business itself has high margins with controllable costs, giving exceptional returns. Since Sushi Shop has its London team in place already, the set-up, as well as the ongoing support, can be given to incoming franchises at all times.” Simon Chaplin, senior director of corporate pubs and restaurants in Christie & Co’s hospitality team, said: “We are delighted to be working with AmRest in this exciting project, to help expand the Sushi Shop brand across the UK. While Sushi Shop operates in a niche market, it has a wide appeal by providing a fresh, healthy food option that is well suited to all meal categories.”
Christie & Co is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Flat Iron refinances £3.2m of existing facilities, trading since 17 May above expectations: Flat Iron, the eight-strong steak concept backed by Piper, has said earlier this summer it refinanced £3.2m of its existing facilities into new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) facilities. The Tom Byng-led group also said it secured a capital repayment holiday and an extended term on its remaining non-CBILS facility, thus providing “significant additional liquidity”. In an update to Companies House for the 53 weeks to 30 August 2020, the company said: “Having already drawn a further £1.5m on our existing facilities in October 2019, in September 2020 the company further strengthened its liquidity through an additional £1.8m CBILS loan facility secured through Thincats expiring on 30 September 2025. Furthermore, in May 2021, the company refinanced £3.2m of its existing facilities into new CBILS loan facilities and secured a capital repayment holiday and an extended term on its remaining non-CBILS facility, thus providing significant additional liquidity to the company.” The business said prior to the emergence of covid-19 it was performing well, with continued year-on-year sales and adjusted Ebitda growth. The company said: “From 17 May our restaurants were permitted to reopen, albeit with restrictions, and trading to the date of signing of these financial statements (24 August 2021) has been above expectations.” Turnover for the 53 weeks stood at £12.36m against £18.16m the previous year, with a pre-tax loss of £5.86m versus a loss of £4.56m in 2019. The company is set to return to the expansion trail with an opening in London’s Bankside. Earlier this summer it secured the former Gourmet Burger Kitchen site in Clink Street. Propel understands Flat Iron is looking at a possible further two or three openings in the capital over the next nine months.
Various Eateries secures Haslemere site for Coppa Club: Various Eateries, the AIM-listed Andy Bassadone-chaired business, has secured a site in the Surrey town of Haslemere for an opening under its Coppa Club brand, Propel has learned. The 12-strong group has secured the former Georgian Hotel in the town for an opening next spring. The business, which opened its eighth Coppa Club earlier this summer in Clifton, Bristol, will open its next site under the brand in November, in Putney. The group will open a site in Brewhouse Lane, Putney Wharf. Last September, Various Eateries raised £25m through an initial public offering and said it believed there was potential to open up to 100 sites under its fledgling Tavolino brand, and capacity for more than 50 Coppa Clubs across the UK.
Brunning & Price kicks off new expansion push: Brunning & Price, the pub operator owned by The Restaurant Group (TRG), has begun a push for new sites. Propel has learned the 80-strong Brunning & Price has again retained Christie & Co to acquire suitable new sites for its expanding destination pub-restaurant portfolio in the UK. Brunning & Price’s ambitious expansion plans were put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, following its recapitalisation of £175m this year, TRG has given the brand the green light to commence a new proactive search for acquisition opportunities. On behalf of the group, Christie & Co is seeking large and period or characterful leasehold or freehold sites in affluent rural, town and city centre locations across England and Wales. Suitable properties could include either trading or closed licensed premises, or commercial buildings that may be suitable for conversion. Small to medium-sized hotels could also be considered. The acquisition project is being led by Simon Chaplin and Noel Moffit, senior directors of corporate pubs and restaurants in Christie & Co’s hospitality team. They said: “We are delighted to pick up where we left off in the search for further Brunning & Price sites. The net has now widened as TRG seeks to expand outside Brunning & Price’s traditional heartland, and we are now able to review suitable properties throughout England and Wales, opening up many more opportunities for Brunning & Price and those wishing to sell.”
Atul Kochhar to launch Kanishka Kitchen at Heathrow airport: Two Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar is to open a new site at Heathrow airport, later this year, Propel has learned. The chef is set to open a version of his Mayfair-based Kanishka restaurant in the airport’s Terminal 5, landside. Kanishka Kitchen is expected to feature a restaurant, bar and grab and go option. It is thought the new venture will again be a collaborative project with Kanishka Holdings managing director Tina English, with whom Kochhar opened the original Kanishka restaurant in Mayfair in 2019. In July, Kochhar announced he planned to open a restaurant at Wembley Park, north west London, and launch a site in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. Kochhar agreed a deal with Quintain to launch Masalchi, which means “the spice master”, later this year. Masalchi will be on the corner of Olympic Way and Wembley Park Boulevard. Kochhar also secured the former Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi premises in Aylesbury End, Beaconsfield, to launch Riwaz this year. Propel understands Kochhar was keen to strengthen his presence in the county, having launched Hawkyns in nearby Amersham, and Sindhu and Vassu – both in Marlow. Kochhar also operates Indian Essence in Petts Wood, Kent.
Chef Nigel Haworth buys pub back from Brunning & Price, announces autumn opening: Michelin-starred chef Nigel Haworth has bought the Three Fishes in Mitton, Lancashire, back from the group he sold it to three years ago, and is planning a mid-November opening. The move sees Haworth’s career come full circle, having originally opened the pub in 2004 before it became the flagship venue of his Ribble Valley portfolio, which was in turn part of the Northcote Leisure Group he ran with wine expert Craig Bancroft. Ribble Valley, including the Three Fishes, was then sold to Brunning & Price, the Restaurant Group’s gastropub arm, in 2018 in a deal which included three other pubs in the region. A Brunning & Price spokeswoman told Propel: “The pub never reopened under our ownership and we thought for a while about what to do with it and how it might fit into the portfolio. We have another pub close by so in the end we decided it was better for someone else to have a crack at it.” Formerly joint managing director and chef patron at Northcote Hotel, where he started out in 1984, Haworth has spent most of his career in the Ribble Valley. He has recruited Danielle Strain to advise on establishing sustainable planting and harvesting techniques, while more details on his menu are expected to be revealed in the near future. Keeping it in the family, interior design at the pub will be handled by Haworth’s wife Katherine, with whom he launched an environmentally-focused food and beverage consultancy in 2019. The pair’s children, Kirk and Keeley, are also involved in the trade, having opened the plant-based concept Plates in Shoreditch in 2018.
Tortilla strengthens partnership with SSP, opens first airport site: Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed fast casual Mexican concept, has further strengthened its partnership with travel hub foodservice company SSP Group with two new sites, including its first at an airport. The Richard Morris-led business, which earlier this summer appointed advisers to explore a possible initial public offering, opened this week at Gatwick airport. This will be followed by Tortilla Leeds Skelton Lake Services on Wednesday, 6 October. The business first linked up with SSP at the end of 2019 to explore opening in transport hubs, which led to an opening at London’s Euston station. Propel understands the two businesses are still looking at converting more of SSP’s Mi Casa sites in train stations to the Tortilla brand, although there is no timescale on this. Following the two new sites, Tortilla will operate across rail, road and airport services for the first time. Tortilla has opened three sites in recent months in Exeter, Edinburgh and Windsor, with Gatwick airport and Leeds Skelton Lake Services being the company’s 52nd and 53rd site in the UK and 63 globally, including delivery kitchens. Morris said: “Both sites provide an excellent opportunity to showcase our highly adaptable, fast-casual product proposition to customers within locations that benefit from significant footfall.” Richard Lewis, chief executive of SSP UK & Ireland, added: “Tortilla is a much-loved high street brand and has already proven to be a hit with travelling customers at our Euston station unit. We’re excited to now be bringing the brand to air and motorway services locations, and we look forward to further developing our partnership and opening more sites in the future.” Last month, Tortilla extended its partnership with Deliveroo. The new agreement means Tortilla’s menu will be exclusively available for delivery across the UK via Deliveroo. In addition, Tortilla will launch in several new Deliveroo Editions kitchens to service new regions that were previously outside of its coverage area.
Italian pasta concept Miscusi to make UK debut: Italian pasta concept Miscusi is to make its UK debut, after securing a site in London’s Covent Garden. The business, which was founded in 2017 and operates 12 restaurants in Italy, will open its first site outside its homeland in November, at The Yards – 23 Slingsby Place. It is thought this will be the first of a number of sites the brand will look to open here. Propel understands the launch here is being overseen by Marcel Khan, formerly of Five Guys, Nando’s and Thunderbird Fried Chicken, who is the brand’s head of international development. Khan played a key role in the launch and expansion of US better burger brand Five Guys in the UK. Originally launched in Milan, Miscusi champions a Mediterranean diet and the brand’s ethos is “rooted in respecting the planet through the power of food”. It runs a regenerative agriculture project just outside of Milan, to help understand and reverse the effects of climate change through biodiversity. Earlier this year, the business obtained B-Corp certification. At the beginning of 2021, the business, which was founded by Alberto Cartasegna, secured a €20m investment from MIP, a venture capital fund, and the American fund Kitchen Fund, which includes SweetGreen as an investment. Cartasegna said: “London is where I took my first steps as a kitchen assistant at 18 years old, and as a brand it’s been our dream for a long time to bring the Miscusi experience to the UK. Italian hospitality is based around being welcoming and generous – and for me this also means creating a space where Londoners from a diverse range of backgrounds and ages can feel comfortable coming together. After having served more than one million plates of pasta over the past four years, I’m happy to say the Italians are coming to London!”
McDonald’s to launch ‘McPlant’ vegan burger, plans for nationwide rollout by January: McDonald’s will start selling its new McPlant vegan burger at ten sites in Coventry by the end of this month, with a further 250 to follow by mid-October, and hope it will be available across the UK from January 2022. Production of the £3.49 burger, which is modelled on a Quarter Pounder Deluxe but weighs in at only 420 calories, was delayed after McDonald’s spent months trying to find a suitable plant-based cheese. The company said it tried “hundreds” of options from around the world before working with its existing dairy supplier, Kerry Foods in Ireland, to create a vegan cheese made from pea protein. With the vegan patty already being produced by the US-based alternative meat brand Beyond Meat, the cheese slice was the final step in the process. McDonald’s food and innovation director Grainne Allen said: “The cheese was the most complex and challenging element. It took us months, it became the real focus. We tried hundreds of different options but none worked. In the end we worked with Kerry Foods to create our own. Covid also delayed things because we have to assign dedicated space in kitchens to ensure the burger is vegan-approved.” The move comes after the launch of Greggs’ vegan sausage roll back in 2019 sparked a scramble among fast food outlets to increase their vegan options.
Frisco Group disposes of Horsham site: Frisco Group, the pub business led by award-winning licensee Heath Ball, has disposed of its site in Horsham, West Sussex, to focus on its remaining three-strong estate. The company has sold the Anchor Tap in Horsham, which it acquired last year, to Sam Clayton, the owner of the Malt Shovel pub in the town. Frisco Group acquired the Anchor Tap, alongside the Lockhart Tavern in Haywards Heath, last summer. Both sites were previously operated by Sussex brewer Dark Star. Ball acquired The Red Lion & Sun in London’s Highgate in 2007 and, in 2013, The Wenlock Arms near London’s Old Street. He told Propel: “We used the lockdowns as an opportunity to really look at our businesses and while we were very much in survival mode, we got it crystal clear in our minds as to what we are really good at and where the future of the group and our people lay. To that end, the decision was made to sell The Anchor Tap in Horsham. The decision was made due to the wet-led nature of the site, which made it very much an outlier against our future plans. We of course wish Sam and his team the very best with it and we’re sure under his stewardship, the site will flourish.”
Electric Star Pubs launches eighth venue as historic Hackney pub reopens: Rob Star’s Electric Star Pubs has added an eighth pub to its London portfolio with the reopening, after 26 years, of Hackney Wick’s Lord Napier. Renamed the Lord Napier Star, the pub features a huge 80-seater roof terrace and two first-floor function rooms. Food will be provided by KraPow, a relatively new food collective focusing on Thai flavours, while DJ sets and regular music nights are also planned. Star said: “I’ve spent the past six years trying to reopen this historic building, so pouring that first pint and drinking it on the sun-soaked roof terrace felt extra special. I used to go to parties at the Lord Napier in the early 2000s, and for many years it has been my dream to turn it back into a proper boozer. Sometimes I still can’t quite believe it’s actually happening. It’s the only pub in Hackney Wick, so I will be making sure it appeals to as many people in the community as possible.” Star’s first pub, the Star of Bethnal Green, opened in 2008, since when seven others have followed across the capital. Star has always said he has no plans to expand his empire outside of London, but would consider opening a site in his home town of Leicester if the opportunity arose.
SSP launches new premium bar and restaurant at Gatwick airport: UK-based travel hub foodservice company SSP Group has opened Juniper and Co, a bespoke bar and eatery created just for Gatwick, at the airport’s North Terminal. Offering a broad range of drinks and a locally-inspired food menu, Juniper and Co has added to a growing dining scene at the airport. Gatwick’s director of retail Rachel Bulford said: “It’s exciting to not only have a new food and beverage offering for our passengers to enjoy, but for it to be unique to Gatwick really demonstrates the pull of the airport.” Richard Lewis, SSP UK & Ireland chief executive, added: “With the steady return of passengers to Gatwick, we’re delighted to be opening our doors at Juniper.” SSP’s recent involvement at Gatwick includes partnering with Warrens Bakery to open an outlet there in November 2019.
Unsecured creditors of company behind Drayton Manor receive final dividend of 2.5p in pound: Unsecured creditors of the company behind Staffordshire theme park Drayton Manor have received a final dividend of 2.5p in the pound, a new report has revealed. Mike Denny and Peter Dickens, of PwC, were appointed as joint administrators in August last year and Drayton Manor was subsequently sold for £15m to Looping Group, which owns 15 parks in Europe, including West Midlands Safari Park and Pleasurewood Hills in the UK. The transaction includes all of the business and assets of the group, with 599 employees transferring across to the new business. According to the administrators’ progress report, the total paid to unsecured creditors is almost £150,000 having been owed more than £2.4m. Secured creditor NatWest was owed £18.9m, which the administrators said had been 77% repaid. Lombard NC, which was owed £600,000, has been repaid in full. The report also showed the administrators secured £195,000 through a business interruption insurance claim. Drayton Manor had been operated by the Bryan family since it was established in 1950.
West Midlands-based hotel Hampton Manor boosts F&B offer including restaurant headed by MasterChef The Professionals winner: West Midlands-based hotel Hampton Manor has boosted its food and beverage offer with the opening of a new restaurant, headed by MasterChef The Professionals winner Stuart Deeley, and a bakery and shop. The Solihull hotel, which is owned by the Hill family, is already home to Michelin starred restaurant Peels. Now it has been joined by Smoke, which is on the edge of the walled garden. Headed up by Deeley, who won the BBC show in 2019, Smoke sees the food cooked over coals in the old furnace house using “seasonal produce, sustainable farming and simplicity”. The menu includes oak-smoked British trout, dill pickled kohlrabi and horseradish; and Dunwood Farm rib-rye (for two to share). Meanwhile, The Bakery has also launched. Min Go, who joined Hampton Manor earlier this year from Myers Bageri in Copenhagen where she was lead baker, makes her loaves using UK stone ground grains. The shop also offers a range of organic produce, including tarts and pastries, cheese, coffee and bottles of wine. The Hill family has been running Hampton Manor and its 45-acre estate since 1986.
Restaurant Association of Great Britain president buys 16th century Devon property from Heritage Hotels: Robert Walton, president of the Restaurant Association of Great Britain, has bought the grade ll-listed four-star Langdon Court Hotel in Wembury, near Plymouth, from Heritage Hotels. He and wife Donna Ida Thornton, the highly regarded fashion designer, plan to invest in the Jacobean building, which closed almost 18 months ago, to restore it to its former glory. Walton hopes once the venue is up to scratch, its “elegant surroundings will be matched by its food offering”. He said: “When Donna and I first saw Langdon we were completely blown away by the beauty of the building and the grounds, and immediately agreed this was the one we had been looking for. It’s something that we had been wanting to do for some time – to create a venue that offers the best in food and accommodation, supporting up-and-coming chefs in stylish surroundings. We had been looking all over for our next project and the south west has so many things going for it, with top quality local produce from both land and sea, along with a growing reputation for dining out and for high-end holidays.” The sale was handled by property consultancy Vickery Holman. Heritage Hotels placed Langdon Court on the market for £1.85m last November, the venue having closed seven months previously at a loss of 20 jobs.