Pret to reopen further 200 sites on Monday: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned business, is to reopen a further 204 shops from Monday (1 June). The company will take the number of reopened stores to more than 300 with sites in towns and cities across the UK such as Bath, Bournemouth, Newcastle, Exeter and Liverpool among those to start trading again. As per government guidelines, these shops will be open for takeaway and delivery only with extensive social distancing and safety procedures in place. Pret will be offering a limited menu of some of its most popular sandwiches, salads, and baguettes, as well as hot and cold drinks, bakery items, fruit, and snacks. Pret has also expanded its delivery operation, with the service available through Deliveroo, Just Eat and UberEats, dependent on the shop’s location. Pret said it is adapting its business to an environment where more people are working from home and earlier this month the company launched its first retail coffee range, including three organic coffee products now on sale on Amazon UK and in Pret shops. Customers can also buy its new “Heat Me at Home” macaroni cheese range and a selection of “Heat Me at Home” soup. Chief executive Pano Christou said: “We’re rapidly transforming our business in light of the pandemic and the dramatic drop in city centre footfall. The changes we’ve been making include new ways to serve customers and bring Pret’s products to our customers’ homes safely. It’s going to continue to be tough for Pret in the months ahead, and I’d like to thank our team members who are returning to work and making reopening possible.”
Boston Tea Party boss – the biggest challenge will be striking a balance between safety and core business values: Sam Roberts, chief executive of all-day casual dining cafe Boston Tea Party, has said the biggest challenge for the business as its gears up to reopen will be striking a balance between providing a safe environment for staff and consumers, and making sure that isn’t out of line with the company’s core values. Speaking as part of Propel’s “navigating the coronavirus” series, Roberts said: “The biggest challenge, and this came out from the work we did with our teams, is one of balance. So how do we make sure we are providing a safe and sound environment for our teams to come into work, giving them the confidence that it is okay? Equally how do we do that for our customers? But how do we make sure we do this so it isn’t out of line with our overarching values and core business? How do we do that in an inimitable Boston fashion?” This week the 24-strong company started trialling click-and-collect from two of its sites, with a delivery trial to begin next week. Roberts said: “That has been challenging, but we are working really hard to make sure we can bring in some of those Boston characteristics and USP into those extra sales avenues. We have been toying with these things for a couple of years now and always been a bit nervous about it, because of the lack of control and relying on aggregators to deliver our experience into people’s homes. But this does gives us an opportunity to trial it and see what sales lever that it can be. And we all know when we are finally given the green light to come out of this, we are probably going to need all the sales we are going to get.” The business is well known for its sustainability values, but Roberts fears for the sector as a whole this issue will go on the backburner. He said: “When it is about survival and there is fear about people’s jobs, ultimately and understandably people will start to focus on short-termism and short-term profits above everything else and I think that would be a mistake. We believe if you look after people and the planet then profit looks after itself.” Roberts will share more of his thoughts in the video, which will be released on Friday (29 May)
Costa reopens another 97 stores: Costa Coffee, which is owned by Coca-Cola, has reopened a further 97 stores, taking the total to 316. The company has reopened the remaining 58 drive-thru sites that were closed along with 39 stores trialling takeaway only. Costa has been gradually reopening its estate over the past month having initially reopened four sites – in Manchester, Bristol and Mansfield – two of which were delivery only and two drive-thru.
Papa John’s seeing best sales period in history: Papa John’s has said it is currently seeing the best sales period in its history. Like-for-like sales grew 26.9% in North America for the first four weeks of the second quarter, while international sales – where 15% of stores are still closed – lagged behind at 1.4% growth. During the second four weeks of the quarter, North America like-for-like sales improved to 33.9% and 7% internationally. Updating on Papa John’s preliminary results for the second quarter, chief executive Rob Lynch said: “In May, for the second straight month, Papa John’s team members and franchisees delivered the best sales period in the company’s history. We entered the pandemic with strong growth and momentum, and are fortunate our delivery and takeout model has enabled us to meet an essential need for high-quality food, safely delivered to consumers’ homes. As states and communities slowly reopen, we continue to show strong performance.” Lynch said the company’s successful contactless delivery model as well as the introduction of new menu item – Papadias – contributed to the sales growth.
Lupins to launch at-home delivery service after rethinking business model:Lupins in London’s Flat Iron Square is to launch delivery service “Lupins at Home” on Monday (1 June) followed by a new deli and kitchen shop later in the month. Restaurant owners and chefs Lucy Pedder and Natasha Cooke said they had to rethink their business model to adapt to the current circumstances, and the changes to their restaurant may well be permanent. The new “at-home” offering will include many of the restaurant’s sharing plates; some new recipes developed during lock-down; an extensive deli to include homemade quiches, sandwiches and seasonal salads; plus a kitchen shop selling unique tote bags, handcrafted goods plus freshly baked bread and kombucha. Cooke said: “With the likely social distancing regulations it makes no business sense for a small restaurant like ours to reopen. Apart from not being financially viable we would lose that unique cosy Lupins vibe, which is what our regulars love about us. We know our customers are missing us and while we cannot reopen we can offer Lupins meals at home. We had also always planned to open a deli and I think the current situation has just been the perfect opportunity to bring those plans forward.”
Brindisa Kitchens begins reopening for takeaway and delivery: Spanish restaurant group Brindisa Kitchens has begun reopening for takeaway and delivery, Propel has learned. Brindisa has reopened its Battersea site with its London Bridge outlet scheduled to follow on Tuesday, 9 June. It is the first step for the company in reopening all six sites. The company said it has taken all possible steps to ensure the well-being of staff and customers. Opening hours are noon to 7pm from Tuesday to Sunday. All its classic dishes are available along with some new summer additions.
Leon launches content channel to inspire change in way people think about food: Natural fast food brand Leon is aiming to inspire change in the way people think about food, with the launch of a new digital platform combining a refreshed consumer website for its restaurant, grocery and delivery businesses with multi-media content. Leon has collaborated with a number of notable names in the industry to create a variety of podcasts, films, and articles, designed to inform, inspire and entertain. The “Leon Presents” channel is dedicated to celebrating the power of food and the value it offers to individuals and communities as well as their relationships with the planet. The website will also present stories that cover some of the initiatives Leon has been involved with; including FeedNHS, which helps feed critical care teams, and Feed Britain – Leon’s online delivery service that offers a range of boxes containing “essential grocery items as well as restaurant quality meals”. Leon chief executive and founder John Vincent said: “Now more than ever we need to value the role food plays in our lives and the importance of environmental sustainability and responsibility. The new content channel will engage and inspire change in the way we think about food by mobilising action from like-minded people. We are creating a movement that demonstrates the power of food to save the human and make change.”
Leicester-based operators take on second Everards pub: Leicester-based operators John and Moira Rossiter have secured their second pub with Leicestershire-based brewer and retailer Everards. The Rossiters, who have been running The Sir Robert Peel pub in the city since 2016, will take on The Western from Tuesday, 9 June. John Rossiter said: “We are passionate about proper pubs and want to keep another traditional pub alive and within its community, especially as pubs are and will continue to disappear and because of the current circumstances. We want to put The Western back on to the ‘real ale’ and pub circuit in the local vicinity, just like we have done at the Peel.” Everards business relationship manager Martin Bailey added: “We are delighted John and Moira will be taking on The Western. We have no doubt with their careful consider business sense along with their tenacity and fabulous personalities, they will guide the pub back to its rightful place at the heart of the local community.”
Padella to launch DIY pasta kits for delivery: Pasta restaurant concept Padella is launching DIY pasta kits for delivery from this weekend. Customers are able to order two pasta kits to cook at home in less than five minutes – its pappardelle beef shin ragu, and tagliarini with tomato sauce. The service is only available to people in either Hackney or Islington – the boroughs where Padella’s two restaurants are based – with deliveries being made by staff on eco-friendly Pedal Me bicycles, reports Hot Dinners.
Cineworld reports lenders have waived leverage covenant: Cineworld has announced its lenders have agreed to waive the leverage covenant in respect of its credit facility for the June 2020 testing date and has increased its leverage covenant to nine times net debt to Ebitda for the December 2020 testing date. The company stated: “The group has also agreed the terms of $110m of additional liquidity through an increase in its revolving credit facility. In addition, the company has secured credit committee approval to apply for an additional $45m through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme in the UK and expects shortly to commence a process to access $25m through the US government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. Cineworld expects this additional liquidity, to the extent required, will provide it with sufficient headroom to support the group even in the unlikely event cinemas remain closed until the end of the year.” Cineworld said it expected government restrictions related to cinemas will be lifted in each of its territories by July and has put in place procedures “to ensure a safe and enjoyable cinema experience for employees and customers”.
Social enterprise takeaway seeks new home in Lambeth or Southwark: Medleys, a social enterprise pilot takeaway business providing healthier, affordable meals to lower income families, is seeking a new home. The initiative is run by Shift Design, supported by the Guys and St Thomas’ Charity Childhood Obesity Programme. The project is seeking a new kitchen space to call home for its dark kitchen operation, with an option to share a space with another operator or to rent a small fitted-out space. Anyone who can help can email
Boutique Hotel Group positions itself for growth with refinancing deal: Chester-based boutique hotel operator Boutique Hotel Group has secured a five-year refinancing deal with Barclays as it looks to position itself for growth. Boutique Hotel Group operates three sites – Peckforton Castle, Nunsmere Hall and Inglewood Manor. The deal – advised on by JMW Solicitors – concludes a lengthy process that began in 2019 in readiness of Boutique Hotel Group existing arrangement with Santander coming to an end. Boutique Hotel Group managing director Christopher Naylor said: “We’re delighted to have gotten the deal over the line – it really illustrates the strength of our business and it’s a very positive indicator of market confidence in the ability of our industry to battle through this unprecedented situation.”