YO! appoints new chairman: YO!, the global, multi brand Japanese and Asian food group, has appointed John Walden, formerly of Naked Wines, Holland & Barratt and Argos, as its new chairman, as the company sees “significant opportunities” to further progress its multi-channel strategy. Eric Nicoli, who joined YO! as chairman in 2015 following the acquisition of the company by Mayfair Private Equity, is stepping down to pursue other interests. YO! said Walden has been at the “forefront of multi-channel, consumer-driven retailing for more than 20 years”. As well as advising consumer-facing businesses and private equity investors through Inversion LLC, the US based retail focused management and strategy consultancy he founded 13 years ago, he has extensive board experience of multi-channel consumer focused businesses in the UK and US. Previous roles include chairman at Naked Wines, where he oversaw the sale of Majestic Wines and its enhanced focus on the US market, and executive chairman at Holland & Barratt following the acquisition by LetterOne. From 2012 to 2016, he was managing director of Argos and then chief executive of its parent company Home Retail Group, where he led the digital transformation and sale of Argos to Sainsbury’s. During his time at YO!, Nicoli helped lead the transformation into a global multi brand, multi-channel food group, with 75% of revenues now coming from North America. Richard Hodgson, chief executive of YO!, said: “The past 12 months have demonstrated the value in our diversified multi-channel strategy. Against the backdrop of a very difficult year for hospitality businesses across the globe, we have been able to grow thanks to our retail business in North America, which has remained open throughout. As we now start to emerge from the pandemic, we see significant opportunities to further progress our multi-channel strategy and I am delighted John has agreed to join our board as chairman at this time. He brings with him extensive experience from both sides of the Atlantic which will be invaluable as the group moves to the next phase of growth. I want to thank Eric for his role in the transformation of the group over the past six years and wish him all the best with his future projects.” Walden said: “Richard and the team have created a food group like no other, and there is still a lot to play for. I am excited about bringing my experience to the board and supporting Richard and the management team as they look to capitalise on this opportunity.”
Costa extends Deliveroo link up to 500 sites: Costa Coffee has signed a new delivery partnership with Deliveroo, which will see it extend its delivery offer to across 500 of its sites from Monday (1 March). The partnership will allow those with the Deliveroo app in England, Scotland and Wales to order coffee and selected hot and cold food items from Costa’s menu. Becky Brock, commercial and customer director for Costa Coffee UK & Ireland, said: “Our customers are at the heart of what we do and over the past 12 months, they have continually fed back that they want to enjoy their favourite Costa Coffee, their way – whether through click and collect via our stores, at one of our Costa Express machines, collected through one of our drive-thrus, but also delivery is key as they juggle home-life. We’re pleased to offer an expanded service.” Costa initially began a delivery trial with Deliveroo through six of its London-based sites in 2019.
 
Domino’s Pizza reports global sales up 21.7% in fourth quarter and 12.5% for 2020: Domino’s Pizza has reported global sales increased 21.7% in its fourth quarter ending 3 January 2021 and 12.5% for the full year. Like-for-like sales were up 11.2% in the US in the quarter and 11.5% in 2020. The international division saw like-for-like sales grow 7.3% during the quarter and 4.4% for the full year. The figures marked the 108th consecutive quarter of international like-for-like sales growth and the 39th consecutive quarter in the US. Total revenue in the quarter increased 17.9% to $1.36bn, with full-year revenue up to $4.12bn. The company added 388 net new stores during the fourth quarter – 272 internationally and 116 in the US. In the full year it opened net 624 stores – 395 internationally and 229 in the US. Diluted earnings per share in the quarter were up 23.4% to $3.85. Chief executive Ritch Allison said: “We celebrated our 60th year as a company in 2020, and while it was a challenging year in so many ways, it was also a year that saw the Domino’s brand rise to the occasion all over the world. This past year, a year like none other, reminded me once again Domino’s has the best group of global franchisees and team members in the restaurant business.”
Black and White Hospitality begins recruitment drive ahead of reopening: Black and White Hospitality, which owns the rights to restaurant brands belonging to Marco Pierre White, has started a recruitment drive as the sector gears up for reopening. The company is expecting a “feeding frenzy” following the enforced lockdown and believes “pent-up demand will mean restaurateurs will need to hit the ground running”. Black and White Hospitality, which owns and manages the franchise rights to eight Marco Pierre White-inspired brands, is searching for an experienced operations manager to oversee the day-to-day running of its franchised venues located across London, the south of England and south Wales. Nick Taplin, chairman and chief executive of the group, said: “There’s no denying the hospitality sector, like many others, has been hit hard over the past 12 months. However, with the vaccine programme well under way and cases of the virus dropping, we’re expecting restrictions will start to be lifted during the spring. Last summer, when restaurants were allowed to reopen, demonstrated guests were keen to dine out and those venues that did open enjoyed a very successful few months trading. Because of this, we now want to strengthen our team ready for when this happens. There’s no point waiting to see what happens. It will happen, so we need to be ready and operating at full tilt from day one and is why we’re recruiting now.”
BrewDog secures go-ahead for first beer hotel in England: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has been given the go-ahead to open its first beer hotel in England, in Manchester. The company and Bruntwood Works have exchanged contracts, and have been granted planning approval by Manchester City Council to bring a bar, restaurant and hotel to Bruntwood Works’ new Bloc development in Fountain Street. Called Doghouse Manchester, the new bar, restaurant and hotel are set to open in mid-June, and will become BrewDog’s third site in the city. The 18-bedroom hotel will be set over three floors. At reception, guests will receive a welcome beer on arrival. Rooms will be furnished with shower beer fridges, draft beer taps while room service will offer food and drink from the restaurant and bar. A rooftop terrace will host another bespoke bar plus a taco food offering. The ground floor will comprise a 3,512 square foot bar and restaurant featuring a large outdoor terrace with 28 taps of draft beer. James Brown, head of bars at BrewDog, said: “We are excited to open our first UK hotel in Manchester, a city we have loved operating in for more than ten years. We’ve really upped the ante offering our guests an unforgettable experience – they’ll never want to leave.”
Adventure park Ninja Warrior UK to open ninth site in autumn: Adventure park Ninja Warrior UK, which is inspired by the ITV show, will open its ninth site, and its first in West Yorkshire. The business has taken a two-storey unit at The Broadway in Bradford and is set to open in the autumn. Located in the Petergate Mall section of The Broadway, Ninja Warrior UK will feature an assault course with obstacles such as ring sliders, carriage wheels, quad steps, spider walls, cliff hanger and ending with the “beat the wall” challenge. The venue will include the brand’s new “Ninja Warrior Air Park” inflatable obstacle course, as well as a merchandise store, party rooms and a food and drink area. The Broadway general manager Ian Ward said: “The Broadway is evolving and adapting and we’re delighted to be supporting the night-time economy in the shopping centre and in Bradford.” Ninja Warrior UK director Mike Anderson added: “The Broadway was the ideal location for our next adventure park. It’s ideally located in the city and well positioned to serve West Yorkshire and beyond. We considered a number of retail venues across the north and Bradford really resonated with us.” Ninja Warrior UK has sites in Cardiff, Eastbourne, Edinburgh, Gloucester, Sheffield, Southampton, Stoke-On-Trent and Wigan.
Fred Sirieix to open restaurant in Wormwood Scrubs prison: Fred Sirieix, former general manager of Galvin at Windows and presenter of BBC show My Million Pound Menu, is to open a restaurant inside Wormwood Scrubs prison. It marks the second opening from The Right Course – a charity programme founded by Sirieix. It aims to train up prisoners in hospitality giving them the skills they need to get jobs on their release from prison. The Right Course transforms staff canteens in prisons, aiming to run them like high street restaurants. Its first opening was at Isis prison in Thamesmead. Sirieix tweeted: “Very excited to announce the opening of our second The Right Course #charity #restaurant @ Wormwood #Scrubs in early April.” The Wormwood Scrubs project will feature a coffee shop and a full table service restaurant. Sirieix said: “The aim is to ensure offenders learn the skills and values of hospitality so that upon release they can gain employment thus reducing reoffending (currently about 50%) and helping to solve the skills and staff shortage in the restaurant hospitality business.” Prisoners taking part get the chance to cook alongside chef from some of London’s top restaurants, with Jose Pizarro and Chris Galvin among those to have taken part.
Nestlé agrees acquisition of recipe box business SimplyCook: Nestlé has agreed to acquire recipe kit business SimplyCook after announcing in November last year that it took a majority stake in Mindful Chef – a similar business. SimplyCook, which was founded by Oli Ashness in 2014, will continue to be led by its founding team with the support of Nestlé. The business has helped households cook more than 20 million recipes and will now have Nestlé’s expertise behind it. Nestlé UK & Ireland chief executive Stefano Agostini said: “There is a growing demand for great tasting, nutritionally balanced food and this move underlines our focus on investing in businesses with attractive growth prospects and acting on current trends.” Ashness added: “The more we got talking to Nestlé, the more we realised our ambitions and vision for the business aligned with what Nestlé sees as the right path for the SimplyCook business. Nestlé’s experience, operational expertise, and international know-how gives us the opportunity to expand further in the UK and beyond, making cooking more accessible for millions more consumers in far less time than we previously imagined.” Oghma Partners, a corporate finance house focused on the consumer industries, acted as the exclusive financial adviser to the shareholders of SimplyCook. Nestlé agreed to acquire a majority stake in healthy recipe box service Mindful Chef to help boosts its food offerings in the UK and Ireland as private equity firm Piper exited the business last year.
Staycity reports UK bookings surge on back of recovery roadmap announcement: Aparthotel operator Staycity has seen UK bookings surge this week on the back of the government’s recovery roadmap announcement. Bookings across the group’s 11 UK properties rose 333% in the 24 hours after the announcement, compared with the previous week, with £312,000-worth of business taken on Tuesday (23 February) alone. London, Birmingham and Manchester proved the most popular destinations. Hotels in England are expected to reopen on 17 May, according to the government’s roadmap for recovery. Staycity co-founder and chief executive Tom Walsh said: “This demonstrates the pent-up demand for travel and the fact guests are keen to book trips and to have something to look forward to. It’s a huge relief to us, and the hospitality industry as a whole, to have this clear evidence people are keen to make up for lost time – and also that they have confidence in the stringent hygiene protocols the industry has put in place.” At the end of last year, Staycity announced a €70m debt and equity refinancing to ensure the privately-owned company was fully capitalised post-pandemic, and ready to continue with its European plans to almost double its size over the next 18 months. This year, Staycity will open nine properties across Europe, with a further six in 2022 including sites in Manchester, Dublin, Bordeaux, Paris, London and Frankfurt.
Merlin to open world’s first standalone Peppa Pig theme park: Merlin Entertainments has partnered with Hasbro to launch the world’s first standalone Peppa Pig theme park, at Legoland in Florida. Opening in 2022, the venue, which will be a separately ticketed theme park, will feature multiple rides, interactive attractions, themed playscapes, water play areas and live shows daily. Merlin has an exclusive multi-territory licencing agreement with Hasbro, owner of the Peppa Pig brand, to build and operate the Peppa Pig attractions, targeted at the pre-school market, as part of its broader strategy to engage in intellectual property partnerships with some of the world’s most popular brands. Merlin group chief development officer Mark Fisher said: “We have already had great success with our immersive Peppa Pig World of Play attractions in the US and in Asia. Working with our partners at Hasbro, we are excited to be taking the next step in creating this fully immersive theme park, which will bring to life even more of the sights, sounds and experiences that family audiences know and love so much from Peppa’s world.”
AB InBev integrates Camden Town Brewery into UK business: Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has begun to fully integrate Camden Town Brewery into its UK business following “strong growth in 2020”. AB InBev also revealed Camden Hells was its top-selling craft beer across the UK in 2020. Paula Lindenberg, president for UK & Ireland at Budweiser Brewing Group, the UK arm of AB InBev, said: “We’re excited to welcome the innovative and creative Camden team to the business, which will be a key part of our long-term strategy. This move will better combine capabilities and teams to pave the way for future growth.” AB InBev also saw global revenue in the final quarter of the year grow 4.5%. For the full -year, like-for-like revenue, stripping out the impact of acquisitions and disposals, dropped 3.7% to $47bn, while the volume of drinks it sold fell 5.7% as the covid-19 pandemic cut into drinking and socialising globally. Chief executive Carlos Brito said: “We finished the year with momentum in our key markets by leveraging our fundamental strengths as a company and capturing the benefits of investments we have been making for several years in our portfolio. We are now more closely connected than ever to the six million-plus customers and two billion-plus consumers we serve worldwide through our clear commercial strategy, revamped innovation process, digital platforms and ongoing operational excellence.”
Dot Bagel doubles up in Newcastle: Newcastle-based bagel shop Dot Bagel has secured its second site in Newcastle. The Craig Robinson-founded business, which specialises in made-to-order bagels, will open its sequel site in Acorn Road in Jesmond. Robinson’s original Dot Bagel site launched in Chillingham Road, Heaton, in September last year, and he also operates Brew & Bite coffee shop in the same street. He claimed his businesses are eyeing a £1m turnover in the next 12 months and said: “After working in America for two years as district manager for Pret A Manger, I was inspired by house special bagels we used to enjoy in the city and my vision was to bring bagels to the Newcastle food scene. During lockdown, I experimented with a range of bagel flavours and promoted them on Instagram. They were popular and a few months later we had our own shop selling our handmade bagels.”
Nottingham soft play centre shuts permanently: Nottingham-based indoor soft play centre Jungletastic has been forced to shut permanently after citing covid-19 restrictions as the cause for closure. Although the business will formally cease trading in May, it is unlikely the business will reopen before then meaning 14 jobs have also been lost. The business was open most recently in September. Jungletastic director Sarah Simmonds told The Business Desk: “The decision to permanently close has been the hardest one we have had to make after all these years but due to covid-19 and the foreseeable restrictions, we are no longer able to sustain the business.” Administrator Smith Cooper has been appointed to wind the business up, led by partner and insolvency practitioner, Michael Roome. He said: “Many businesses within the leisure sector have been facing existential pressures in the past year and Jungletastic is no exception. It was difficult, if not impossible, for the owners of Jungletastic to adapt. While the owners sought advice early on, sourcing financial support and optimising the resources available, it unfortunately wasn’t enough to future-proof the business.”
Plans for multimillion-pound whisky distillery development and visitor experience in Northumberland get go-ahead: Plans for a multimillion-pound whisky distillery development and visitor experience in Northumberland have been given the go-ahead. Ad Gefrin, located in Wooler on the edge of the Northumberland National Park, will celebrate the region’s Anglo-Saxon heritage. The development is expected to open in 2022 with the creation of 50 jobs. The project has been backed by £3m from the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, as well as £1m from the North East Rural Growth Network – Strategic Economic Infrastructure Fund through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, and £600,000 through Northumberland County Council. Helen Golightly, chief executive of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Ad Gefrin is one of the most important economic and tourist developments for many years in north Northumberland and will undoubtedly boost economic activity in Wooler and the wider Glendale community.” Northumberland National Park chief executive Tony Gates added: “To have a new visitor destination that will foster rural economic growth and that reflects the rich heritage of our landscape at a key gateway to Northumberland National Park is a significant boost for the area.”