Handmade Burger Co name set to be resurrected: The Handmade Burger Co name is set to be resurrected after the company behind Thai chain Lemongrass acquired the intellectual property for the brand, Propel has learned. Topbright is believed to be planning to bring back the Handmade Burger Co brand, after the business fell into administration for the second time in three years at the start of 2020. It is thought the company, which includes backing from Nasim Kayani, whose family previously operated the French brasserie concept Cafe de Amis in Covent Garden, has already agreed a deal to take on the brand’s former site in Sheffield’s Meadowhall scheme. It is also thought to be trying to agree deals on the former Handmade Burger Co sites in Reading, Leicester, Lincoln and Birmingham. Propel understands Topbright is also the current backer of the south east-based, Thai chain Lemongrass, which it is believed to have acquired last year. Lemongrass currently has ten sites across the south east, and had been looking for investment pre-pandemic to fund further growth. Burger Chain, the previous owner of the 18-strong Handmade Burger Co brand, was placed into administration, with all sites closing in January last year. Leonard Curtis Recovery was appointed administrator to the business following a failed sales process. Handmade Burger Co operated sites in Aberdeen, Edinburgh Ocean Terminal, Glasgow Braehead, Glasgow St Vincent Street, Birmingham Brindleyplace, Birmingham Bullring, Leicester Highcross, Lincoln Brayford Wharf, Peterborough, Solihull Touchwood, Gateshead Metrocentre, Hull, Leeds Trinity, Sheffield Meadowhall, Bath, Bournemouth, Reading, Southampton West Quay and Wembley. Nine of the group’s sites closed under an insolvency process in 2017. A report by Companies House showed the then 20-strong chain was sold to Burger Chain out of administration for more than £1.45m.
Knighton to step down as YO! CFO: Edward Knighton is to step down as chief financial officer at YO!, the multi brand, multi-channel Japanese food group, at the end of January to pursue new opportunities, Propel has learned. Knighton joined the business in 2017 from sofa.com and during his tenure the business evolved from a restaurant operator into a multi-brand multi-channel Japanese food group following the acquisitions of Bento in Canada and Taiko in the UK, and the merger with Snowfox in the US. Knighton was understood to have been instrumental in helping the group adapt to this change and integrate and build out a finance team across London, Houston and Toronto. Richard Hodgson, group chief executive, told Propel: “Edward has been a key member of the team throughout the diversification from a casual dining group to a multi- brand multi-channel food group. He leaves behind him a very different finance function than when he joined – one that now encompasses four different finance teams across multiple geographies. On a personal level I have very much enjoyed working with him and we wish him every success in his future endeavours.” The group is thought to be finalising its search for Knighton’s successor and expects to make an announcement in due course. In the meantime, Paul Reading from the group’s investors, Mayfair Equity Partners, is managing its finance function.
Azzurri Group ramps up Coco di Mama delivery kitchen roll out as brand makes regional city debut: Azzurri Group, the TowerBrook Capital-backed business, has further ramped up the roll out of its Coco di Mama delivery kitchens across its Zizzi restaurant estate, debuting the brand in regional cities, including Brighton, Oxford, Cambridge and Reading, Propel has learned. Pre-pandemic, the company operated 30 Coco di Mama sites across London. It has now introduced the brand into a further circa 40 sites through its Zizzi restaurants. The move has allowed the company to launch the brand regionally, including into the Midlands for the first time, with a delivery kitchen opening in Nottingham. It has also added further delivery kitchens within the south east, and Coco di Mama is now available from Zizzi sites in Basingstoke, Sevenoaks, Winchester and Wokingham. Propel revealed in November the Italian food-to-go brand was to trial delivery in new locations prepared through its sister-brand’s kitchens, starting in London suburbs. It began the trial in Bromley, Sutton and Kingston, and then extended that to the Zizzi sites in Beckenham, Greenwich and Chiswick.
BrewDog extends crowdfunding campaign for sustainability projects after raising £15m: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has extended its Equity for Punks Tomorrow fundraise after passing the £15m mark – twice its initial target. The campaign, which launched in September and was due to end on Thursday (28 January), will now run until Wednesday, 31 March – and has a stretch target of £20m. The company said it would fund projects including direct wind power for its breweries, carbon dioxide recovery, electric vehicle fleets and zero-waste bars. The campaign raised £1m in less than 48 hours of launch, and passed its initial £7.5m target at the end of October. To date, more than 39,000 people have invested in Equity for Punks Tomorrow, bringing the total number of BrewDog investors to more than 180,000. BrewDog stated: “The response from our community has been astounding – the support we have for our sustainability initiatives proves that collectively, we can achieve incredible things and change the course of history when it comes to climate change. Given the demand for investment in BrewDog, and the potential upper limits of how much investment we can accept, we have decided to extend the end date for Equity for Punks Tomorrow, allowing more people to invest and push our stretch target further. Our new stretch goal is £20m, with every single penny backing projects that will support and enhance the world around us, and you will have until 31 March to invest.”
Culpeper Group appoints first managing director: London-based pub company The Culpeper Group has appointed Sandy Jarvis as its first managing director. Jarvis joined the four-strong business prior to The Culpeper, near Spitalfields, opening in 2014 to lead the kitchen. Following him becoming a partner and then joining the board as operations director in 2017, he will now lead the company. The Culpeper Group is also on track to be B-Corp certified in 2021. These companies are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. Co-founder Nico Tréguer said: “Sandy has not only been instrumental in the growth of the business but also an absolute joy and inspiration to work with for me personally. His commitment to lead happy and fulfilled teams, passion for our industry, strive for consistent quality and making a difference in our communities and beyond while looking after our planet could not have been a better fit for the kind of business and people we want to be in society. Past the current storm, the future is very bright.” The Culpeper Group also operates The Buxton in Brick Lane, The Green in Clerkenwell and The Duke of Cambridge in Islington.
Whitbread partners with Engie to begin rollout of electric vehicle charging points: Whitbread, the owner of Premier Inn and restaurants Beefeater and Brewers Fayre, will deliver the “sector’s biggest rollout of high-powered electric charging points” for cars. Whitbread, which has more than 800 UK hotels, aims to install up to 1,000 GeniePoint Network rapid charging points after agreeing a deal with energy firm Engie. It plans to install 600 points during the next three years as part of its Force for Good sustainability scheme. Access to charging points will be for guests as well as members of the public, and will be enable to replenish the energy in a car in about 30 minutes. Simon Leigh, group procurement director at Whitbread, said: “We’re pleased to help drive this goal forward with what we believe is the UK’s biggest rollout of rapid charging points to date.” The rollout will include installations across the Whitbread network of brands including its Premier Inn hotels and restaurant brands including Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Cookhouse + Pub and Whitbread Inns.
Tim Hortons submits plans for first Welsh drive-thru: Canadian quick service restaurant brand Tim Hortons has submitted plans to open its first drive-thru site in Wales. The brand, which has 25 branches open across the UK, is targeting Broughton Retail Park for its latest venture. The site in Flintshire used to be a Carphone Warehouse store. A planning statement submitted to Flintshire Council said: “Tim Horton’s is an iconic Canadian coffee shop brand, best known for coffee and doughnuts. In 2017, Tim Horton’s began opening stores in the UK in locations such as Cardiff, Glasgow and London. The Tim Horton’s franchise is currently being rolled out across the UK, with the proposed Broughton operation forming the first drive-thru unit in Wales. In terms of direct employment, each drive-thru store typically provides up to 40 to 50 jobs, offering roles such as managers, baristas, maintenance operatives and cleaners. Indirect job opportunities will also arise during the construction/fit-out stage and in terms of servicing the unit.”
Ma Pub Group invests £250,000 in new site, targets Easter opening: Ma Pub Group, which operates Ma Boyle’s and Ma Egerton’s in Liverpool and Bock Cafe Manchester, is investing £250,000 to open a new site in Liverpool’s business district. Tempest on Tithebarn will take over the site that was Hus cafe-bar in Capital & Centric’s Tempest Building in Tithebarn Street – with an opening date slated for Easter. The new venture is likely to employ up to 40 staff. Tempest on Tithebarn will look to recreate the atmosphere of the iconic restaurants in New York’s meatpacking district and will offer brunch, lunch, cocktails and craft beer. Owner Iain Hoskins said: “The cafe-bar unit at the Tempest building is an incredible space, with the addition of some fantastic outside areas that are an absolute premium for the times we are living in right now. It will be an exciting addition for the business community, with which we already have a long-standing relationship, having run Ma Boyle’s locally for the past six years. It’s so diverse – you have the commercial element interwoven with a heavy student offering as well as the great variety of residential, hotels and leisure mix. Most other central business districts are incredibly dry – full of chains and tend to become ghost towns during the evenings or weekends. Liverpool’s offering is very different.”
Lancashire-based peri peri restaurant concept to open third site: Lancashire-based peri peri restaurant concept Fusion is to open its third site, in Morecambe. Owner Marcus Harrington currently operates two takeaways – Fusion Heysham in Morecambe and Fusion Lancaster in Church Street, Lancaster. Now he is launching a restaurant with the outlet in Pedder Street due to open in early April depending on lockdown restrictions. The premises, which were formerly occupied by The Grove restaurant, are currently being refurbished. It will have between 50 and 60 covers and a private dining area. Fusion offers similar food to Nando’s, with a peri peri Portuguese background. The two takeaways have the same menu but Harrington said the restaurant would have “more choice”. He told the Lancaster Guardian: “We are pretty hopeful the restaurant will be a success. We’ve had good feedback on social media for the takeaways. We think we have a niche product that no one else is doing in the area.”
Global recognition for waste-tackling measures at Marston’s: Marston’s success in tackling waste at its sites has received global recognition. It has been rewarded by winning gold at the 2020 Green World Awards in the Food & Drink/Waste Management category for the Setting the Bar entry. The award follows the company’s gold award win at the Green Apple Environment Awards in 2019. Marston’s has received further recognition for its partnership work with UK Waste Solutions (UKWS) on waste reduction across its national estate of pubs. The collaborative partnership began in 2016 with the aim to recycle Marston’s food waste at 80% of its food-led pubs, segregate dry mixed recycling across 80% of the estate and recycle glass bottles at 95% of pubs. Marston’s achieved all targets and became the first pub group to achieve zero waste to landfill in 2018 – two years ahead of schedule. Marston’s energy manager Chris White said: “We are extremely proud to receive recognition for our work and achievements in improving our environmental practices. We continuously review our operations and both Marston’s and UKWS are fully committed to strive forward and further innovate our waste management.” Marston’s “Wise Up to Waste” staff culture campaign promotes waste segregation and waste associated e-learning modules.
Greene King recognises teams’ efforts at virtual awards: Brewer and retailer Greene King has recognised its teams following the challenge of the pandemic at the Pride of Greene King Awards, The company held the virtual awards, which were hosted by chief executive Nick Mackenzie and comedian and Virgin Radio presenter Johnny Cochrane, to mark the achievements of teams and individuals. The awards, based on each of Greene King’s five values, recognised the stars of the company, along with honours for team of the year, outstanding contribution and the happiness award. Winners include the Kings Arms pub team in Bagshot, which won the We Care award for playing a pivotal role in supporting the lives of its locals, including raising £2,000 to provide free Christmas Day meals to those who were struggling. The overall team of the year award was voted for on the night by Greene King employees and the prize went to the Chef & Brewer team, which was nominated for its work when pubs were able to reopen last year. Mackenzie said: “2020 was a really tough year but we wanted to recognise our teams and individuals for their outstanding examples of commitment and brilliance. We’ve seen incredible stories all around the business of our teams doing really great things in their communities during lockdown and felt it was important to celebrate some of the amazing things that happened during an extraordinary year.” All of Greene King’s 40,000 team members were invited to the virtual event.
Feast It partners with chefs to provide live virtual demos and interactive cooking classes: Feast It, the event booking marketplace, has exclusively partnered with some of the country’s most recognised chefs to provide live virtual demos and interactive cooking classes. Feast It is now working with chefs including Tom Kerridge, chef-patron at the two-Michelin starred The Hand and Flowers; José Pizarro, Spanish chef and founder of the José Pizarro restaurant; Neil Rankin, head chef of Temper; and Cyrus Todiwala, founder of Cafe Spice Namasté. They are now bookable for bespoke events on the Feast It platform. Co-founder Hugo Campbell said: “The virtual events market isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and we couldn’t be happier to welcome these big-name chefs on board. Feast It at its core is all about offering quality options for those looking to book events and we’re excited to be able to offer what are undeniably the most entertaining virtual experiences around.” Earlier this month the company raised £1.7m from investors in a funding round led by MAHR Projects; former Co-op chief executive Richard Pennycook; and Tim Score, ex-chief financial officer of Arm Holdings to accelerate its growth in the burgeoning virtual events market. These investors join the likes of Ascension Ventures; Guy Berryman, of Coldplay; and Sarah Willingham, chief executive of bar company Nightcap.
Thrive Gym to double up at former supermarket site: Non-contract fitness group Thrive Gym is set to open a site at a former Rochdale supermarket. Manchester-based Hurstwood Holdings has let Orient One – a 19,668 square foot building in Rawtenstall town centre – to gym fit-out specialists DSC Building and Maintenance on a ten-year lease. Quoted rental level for the building was at £120,000 per annum. Bolton-based DSC, which counts JD Sports among its clients, plans to convert the former supermarket to create its second Thrive gym, a state-of-the-art facility providing the latest work out equipment, a pilates and spinning studio as well as a healthy cafe. Hurstwood Holdings acquired the building, complete with 150 car parking spaces, in 2006 when it was operating as a Kwik Save supermarket before becoming a retail discount store.
James Clay narrows losses as turnover rises: Craft beer importer James Clay and Sons has reported narrowed losses as it saw a slight rise in revenue. The company had a pre-tax loss of £352,000 for the year ending 31 March 2020, compared with a loss of £528,000 the previous year. Turnover was up 1.5% to £22.4m, compared with £22.0m the year before. James Clay and Sons, which has been operating since 1974, imports, distributes and builds speciality craft beer brands from Europe, America, Japan and the UK. During the period a major rebrand of the business was created, which saw James Clay take over as managing director from his father and company founder Ian, who remains a director and part of the leadership team. In terms of the covid-19 pandemic, the company stated: “The business forecasts the sales decline in the on-trade will be partially offset by growth in the off-trade, which is made possible due to our broad customer base. The business plans to use government job support scheme(s) where possible to reduce costs during the crisis before assessing any longer term right-sizing of the business.”
Bristol pub surviving thanks to Sunday roast that had three-year waiting list before lockdown: Fans of Sunday roast dinners can skip a “three-year waiting list” by ordering a takeaway or delivery from the Bank Tavern in Bristol. And the finish-at-home kits have proved to be vital in keeping the independent freehold site alive. At the peak of its popularity, reserving a table at the pub operated by licensee Sam Gregory, meant going on to a list that stretched three years into the future after it was rated as the best roast in the UK by The Observer Food Monthly. Since the pandemic hit, the Bank Tavern has taken to delivery and takeaway orders to keep money coming in while it cannot welcome dine-in customers. Its £15 meal is delivered free within certain postcodes with an extra £5 charge for farther afield. Delivery kits come with meat and all the trimmings, along with clear instructions outlining how to easily finish it all off at home. Gregory told Bristol Live: “The delivery service is proving to be a real lifeline for us in paying the rent and other fixed costs. Having run it off and on for almost a year, we’ve had loads of good feedback. We also now have a team of four drivers delivering across the city.” Drinks available include Bristol Beer Factory beer, wine and Proper Drop cider.
Intu Derby renamed as Derbion: The former Intu Derby shopping centre has been renamed Derbion after Intu entered administration in July last year. According to its new management, the new name not only reflects the centre’s geographical location, but also “a sense of motion, inspired by Derby’s history of ingenuity and innovation, coupled with an ambition to continually move forward and evolve”. Derbion is home to hospitality brands including Showcase Cinema de Lux, Hollywood Bowl, Paradise Island Adventure Golf, Wagamama and Nando’s. Opened in 2007, the shopping centre normally attracts more than 21 million visitors a year.