Hawthorn Leisure signs off £4.5m investment in estate ‘to signal commitment to sector’: Mark Davies, chief executive of Hawthorn Leisure, the pub operations arm of NewRiver, has told Propel it has just signed off £4.5m worth of investment for the estate, including in outside areas. While many companies have cut back or curtailed capital expenditure in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Davies said it was making the investment because it “believed in the future of the sector” and it “will bounce back stronger than ever”. Hawthorn plans to invest in “lots of little projects”, including improvements to outside space that Davies said would help pubs take advantage of the postponed Euro 2020 tournament that will now take next summer. About 70% of the circa 720-strong Hawthorn estate currently has outside gardens. Speaking following the company’s full-year results, Davies added: “We have no debt and are very well financed and we think it’s very important to be showing our commitment to pubs by making these investments. Having bought Bravo Inns at the end of last year, one thing we noticed is it does outdoor space very well and we think we can replicate that. While we are making this initial investment, we hope we can increase it depending how trading goes once the lock-down lifts.” Davies said the company was continuing to support its tenants once they reopen by providing then with a grant that equates to effectively a two-month rent-free period in July and August. While a total of 75% of its tenants have so far indicated they will reopen on 4 July if the government gives the green light, the company expects that figure to increase once Whitehall issues the long-awaited guidelines. The company also expects all its 130-strong operator managed estate will reopen. Davies said it was imperative the guidelines for reopening were published by the end of the week to give pubs adequate time to prepare for reopening – and said the whole situation was “very frustrating”. About 70% of its pubs have now cleared their beer cellars ready for fresh deliveries, which the company expects to start ordering from next week. And while the business is currently working on reopening under two-metre social distancing, Davies said he was confident the government would “see sense” and reduce this to one metre in line with World Health Organisation guidelines. Davies said while the focus was on the current estate, he expected acquisition opportunities to surface in the autumn, which the company would be ready to act on where appropriate. He added while the group continued to be “inundated” with queries about opening “dark kitchens” within its pubs that project had also been put on the back burner. “Before coronavirus our like-for-likes were up 5.9%, and we were still up 2.3% for the year,” said Davies. “It’s going to take some time and normal trading might not resume until next spring but we want to get back to those levels.”
Caffe Nero to have half of estate reopen by 5 July, hits 35,000 free coffee milestone for NHS staff: Caffe Nero has said it will have more than 400 of its sites back open by 5 July. The company, which has more than 800 outlets across the UK, has so far reopened about 250 stores, It has also given 35,000 free coffees to NHS workers since initially reopening eight stores on a trial basis at the start of May. Founder and group chief executive Gerry Ford said: “These coffees are our way of saying thank for the amazing job NHS staff have been doing. As we reopen more and more stores, it’s great to be able to bring the offer to more and more people.” With the NHS’s 72nd anniversary taking place on 5 July, Caffe Nero will again be offering free coffee and hot drinks to NHS staff for the day to honour them and mark the occasion.
Supper sees ARR increase as 50 new restaurants prepare to come online:London-based premium food delivery service Supper has seen its annualised revenue increase by 15 times since its raised circa £1.5m of new funding in November. Venture capital fund Moscar Capital, which led that fund-raising round, said since that investment Supper’s investment had grown to an annual recurring revenue of £12m. On top of that, it is thought 50-plus restaurants are waiting to come on to the platform. Founded by Peter Georgiou in 2015, Supper uses a fleet of specially adapted scooters and directly employed drivers to cater for the premium end of the market, setting it apart from sector heavyweights such as Deliveroo and UberEats. It currently works with restaurants including Zuma, Hide, and Roka.
McDonald’s and Subway plan hiring spree: McDonald’s and Subway has announced plans to hire more staff across their restaurants in North America this summer. McDonald’s is expecting to take on 260,000 more employees while Subway has revealed it will recruit 50,000 workers, with job opportunities available ranging from entry-level to management. McDonald’s said it has also implemented almost 50 new safety procedures to protect staff and customers. These include wellness and temperature checks, social distancing floor stickers, protective barriers at order points, masks and gloves for employees with the addition of new procedures, and training for the opening of dine-in areas. Subway also said it had put in place similar procedures. Through a summer job at a McDonald’s restaurant, individuals not only learn work readiness skills on the job, they will also have the chance to further their education. This year marks the five-year anniversary of Archways to Opportunity and so far McDonald’s has given out more than $100m in tuition assistance and supported more than 55,000 restaurant workers and corporate employees.
Yorkshire-based Jinnah Group secures six-figure loan to safeguard future:Yorkshire-based Jinnah Group is safeguarding jobs and looking to the future with the support of a six-figure Bounce Back loan from Lloyds Bank. Jinnah Group runs eight restaurants across north and west Yorkshire, seven under the group name and also The Viceroy of India in York. It also owns one retail outlet – United Cash & Carry. The company closed its doors in accordance with government guidelines in March, operating only a takeaway service from its restaurants at weekends and for limited hours at its retail store. Jinnah Group employs just over 100 full-time staff across the eight restaurants, 95% of whom have been placed on furlough, and a further 65 under its retail arm, of whom about half have been furloughed. Chief executive Saleem Akhtar told the Yorkshire Post: “When we had to close our restaurants, it was the lack of clarity that was the most worrying thing – not knowing what was coming next. There is still uncertainty, of course, but Lloyds Bank has helped to put us in a position where we can sit tight and wait and see, without constantly fearing for our future.” Jinnah Group started off as just a small corner shop in Bradford in 1983, before becoming predominantly a restaurant group in 1991.
Chipotle launches Facebook and group ordering functions: Chipotle has expanded the functionality of its digital platforms by adding the option for its US customers to order through Facebook Messenger and in groups. From Monday (22 June), consumers on Facebook will be introduced to Chipotle’s new concierge bot, Pepper, which will navigate the customer through the ordering process – from finding a restaurant for pick-up or delivery to customising a bowl or burrito. Chipotle said the ordering experience mirrors the in-restaurant process, allowing guests to personalise each meal with light, standard or extra ingredient quantities and sides. Chief technology officer Curt Garner said: “It is critical we meet customers where they are spending time online and give guests ordering options that best fit their needs.” Group ordering is now available on its website. The feature allows customers to share a group order link so others can participate in the ordering process simultaneously. The order is handled by the host, and everyone can track its progress. In the first quarter, digital sales reached a record $372m. The company also added four million rewards members, many of whom have been the heaviest users during the pandemic.
DSC Group plans double opening for The Tapas Room: DSC Group is to open two new sites for its The Tapas Room concept, in Brixton and Battersea. The first of the outlets is set to launch in Brixton Village on 4 July, as long as government restrictions have been lifted. DSC Group started out in Brixton under the name of the Donostia Social Club in Pop Brixton, and is now returning with a slightly larger space inside the village. Next up will be Battersea, with a Tapas Room inside the new Battersea Spanish school. Along with the wine shop, tapas bar and delicatessen, the Battersea site will also offer wine tasting as well as cookery classes, reports Hot Dinners. DSC Group already operates The Tapas Room venues in Deptford and Tooting.
EasyHotel secures third French site: EasyHotel, the owner, developer, operator and franchisor of “super budget” branded hotels, has signed a renewable 12-year lease with property firm Icade for a 180-bedroom hotel in Aubervilliers near Paris – its third in France. EasyHotel expects the hotel, located opposite the Front Populaire metro station, to be ready to open in the fourth quarter of 2022. Chief executive François Bacchetta said: “This is an exciting development that demonstrates EasyHotel’s commitment to growing in France and wider Europe. This will be our third hotel in the country, following the opening of our Nice hotel last year and the news we are developing a site near Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport. The hotel we have signed in Aubervilliers near Paris is a fantastic, lively location, attracting tourists, students and business people.”
Bohemia to become first UK Michelin-starred restaurant to reopen: Bohemia, on the island of Jersey, reopens on Saturday (20 June) and in doing so becomes the only Michelin-starred restaurant in Great Britain to be welcoming diners. Al fresco eating has been allowed in Jersey since May and from this week all restaurants have been allowed to reopen with social distancing measures in place and in adherence with government guidelines. Owner Lawrence Huggler said: “We have spent this past week preparing our new season menus and bringing the team up to speed on the new operating procedures. We are excited to welcome our customers back and were surprised when we realised, we will be the only Michelin-starred restaurant open in Great Britain. It really brings home how tough the lock-down has been and still is on the hospitality industry in particular. We hope it won’t be long before many more restaurants across the UK can reopen as we are this weekend and we can all start the road to recovery.” Bohemia has held a Michelin-star for 16 years. Now led by head chef Callum Graham, the venue showcases local and seasonal ingredients from Jersey in his modern-European dishes and tasting menus. Bohemia will relaunch with a new summer menu. The opening weekend will only offer guests a seven-course tasting menu with guests able to choose from the à la carte, a three-course set lunch menu, or one of the tasting menus from next week. Bohemia is located at The Club Hotel & Spa, which was also allowed to reopen this week.
Hotel operator Suite Hospitality enters administration: Suite Hospitality, which operates hotels in Exeter, Windsor and Belper, has entered administration after negotiations with landlords and creditors stalled. Ian Walker and Julie Palmer, of Begbies Traynor, have been appointed as administrators by company directors. The company operates three hotels – the Buckerell Lodge Hotel in Exeter, the Harte and Garter Hotel in Windsor and the Makeney Hall Hotel in Belper in the Peak District. All are operated under leases. It employs 110 staff, most of whom are currently under furlough. Bookings have been suspended until further notice. According to the administrators, Suite Hospitality suffered a disappointing 2019 and had been in talks with its major creditors and landlords as it sought to safeguard the future of the business. However, two of its larger landlords could not agree terms, leading to the decision to appoint administrators. Walker said: “We are working hard to transfer the business to new owners and preserve as many jobs as possible at the three hotels.” In its latest accounts, Suite Hospitality reported turnover of £7.7m from continuing operations for the year ending 30 December 2018, with gross profit of £3.7m and an operating loss of £105,851. Its fixed assets were valued at about £2.4m, with current assets at £772,736 and creditors of £2.6m.
Wi5 partners with host of new operators: Mobile order and pay company Wi5 has added a host of new operators to its books as the sector gears up for reopening. Multi-site operators including Aubaine, Boxpark, Drake & Morgan, Ole & Steen, Pho, Pizza Pilgrims and Puttshack are among the latest to have signed up. With the technology currently live for pick-up with a number of operators, including Pho and Crêpeaffaire, Wi5 is seeing usage increase daily and is expecting a surge in orders as its technology rolls out to more locations, including those offering order to table, with the industry set to reopen fully next month. Chief executive Prask Sutton said: “With reopening tentatively set for 4 July, we’re excited to partner with so many great restaurants, bars, pubs and hotels whose customers will imminently be ordering and paying safely and securely from their own devices, while adhering to the industry’s new social distancing and hygiene guidelines.” Wi5 is now working with a growing roster of international operators and will be rolling out in a number of new geographies from the third quarter of this year.
Peter Spanton Drinks set for voluntary liquidation: Drinks mixer company Peter Spanton Drinks is being placed into voluntary liquidation, Propel has learned. Directors of Peter Spanton Drinks have appointed Steven Butt and James Money, of Rollings Butt, to oversee the process. The proposed liquidation will be approved unless 10% in value of the company’s creditors object by Thursday, 25 June. Peter Spanton launched Peter Spanton Drinks in 2011 while running the Vic Naylor’s restaurant in London’s Clerkenwell.
Devon-based hotel and country club goes on the market for excess of £5m:Devon-based the Highbullen Hotel, Golf & Country Club has been put up for sale for in excess of £5m.The Chapman family, which has owned the businesses since 2012, is marketing the site through agents Christie & Co and Savills. Occupying more than 115 acres of land, the hotel and wider estate comprise 39 en-suite bedrooms, four self-catering cottages, two restaurants – Laura Ashley and The Tea Room – along with a billiard room and guest lounges. The range of leisure facilities includes an 18-hole USGA specification golf course, outdoor tennis courts as well as an indoor and outdoor swimming pool. Outline planning permission has been granted for the development of 58 holiday home lodges within the grounds and an extension of 16-bedroom suites to the existing hotel. Reserved matters applications have also been submitted for four guest accommodation tree houses and 15 holiday lodges.