3Sixty Restaurants returns to profit following turnover rise: 3Sixty Restaurants, led by James Horler and backed by Luke Johnson, has reported a return to profit following a rise in turnover. The company saw turnover increase to £17,398,572 for the year ending 31 March 2016, compared with £15,031,691 the previous year. It saw a pre-tax profit of £327,388 compared with a loss of £63,062 the year before. The company stated: “During the year, group turnover has increased 15.7% as a result of new sites, focus on customer offering and delivery, and a confidence in the business model. Overall gross profit of 70.6% has remained stable compared with last year, as has labour percentage. Ebitda has increased by £488,854 in the year, a significant improvement, and has set the foundations for further growth in 2016/17. The group has had another improved year, with more positive like-for-like sales and improved Ebitda. The focus in 2016/17 will be to increase sales further throughout the group and expand with the introduction of four new pub sites – Ego at Tumbledown Farm in Cannock, Ego at the Knowles Arms in Blackburn, Ego at the Old Ashfield in Sutton in Ashfield, and Ego at the Dorset Arms in West Bridgford, with further sites to follow. The group’s net position and continued operational cash generation is expected to provide the platform for the group to achieve its goals in the coming year.” Earlier this month, 3Sixty Restaurants sold three Rocket Restaurants sites in London – at Canary Wharf, Adam’s Court and Bishopsgate – while the Nottingham Rocket site was assigned to Ego Restaurants.
Zizzi reports 150% increase in vegan dish sales: Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi has reported a 150% increase in sales of vegan dishes in what it hails as the “rise of the high-street vegan”. The brand said it had already sold 30,000 vegan dishes in 2017 as diners continued to embrace Veganaury, a month-long campaign aimed at getting more people to try giving up animal products. Zizzi added it planned on adding more vegan dishes to its menu after the success of its existing options, which include pizzas with a dairy-free cheese made from rice. Marketing director Jo Fawcett said vegan dishes were once considered niche but were now “accepted and enjoyed” up and down the country. The company launched its vegan menu early last year, with nine dishes and a range of wines. Fawcett told the Shields Gazette: “We are so pleased our vegan menu has been such a hit with diners. The dishes are so great we’re seeing people who aren’t even committed vegans choose them. Our customers now want more choice and flexibility so we are continuously evolving our menus, including our vegan offering, with more new dishes launching in March.” She added that January 2017 was Zizzi’s strongest ever for vegan and vegetarian dishes, with its most popular vegan dishes being rustica margherita pizza, spaghetti pomodoro, and lentil ragu.
Wahaca co-founder reveals takings plunged in aftermath of norovirus outbreak: Thomasina Miers, co-founder of Mexican restaurant brand Wahaca, has revealed that takings plunged in the aftermath of the norovirus outbreak last November, particularly at sites such as Canary Wharf, but were now recovering. The outbreak left more than 300 customers ill and led to the temporary closure of nine restaurants. However, Miers is proud the company tackled the crisis head on. She told the Evening Standard: “We threw everything we had at it. It cost us an absolute fortune but we were determined not to jeopardise anyone we didn’t have to.” The norovirus crisis and Wahaca’s ten-year anniversary have also given Miers a chance to scrutinise the business – including the menu. She said: “I have been trying to shrink it for ages but the team always says ‘No, I love that’. Now I’ve got carte blanche to tuck it in.” The other impetus for change has been new Mexican rivals such as Soho’s Corazon and El Pastor in Borough Market. Miers said she also wants Wahaca to keep adapting and regularly visits Mexico for ideas – she is heading there in April. She added that she believed childcare was the biggest barrier to female career advancement. She said: “It’s prohibitively expensive. I know so many women who would love to jump back into work who can’t afford it.” Miers has also called on the government to stop “crippling” the restaurant industry. She said: “Rents and service charges are extortionate. The living wage is a difficult one because people have to afford to live but the problem is that successive governments failed to build housing as our population increased.”
SSP Group boss receives remuneration of more than £2.6m following £1.5m annual bonus: Kate Swann, chief executive of UK transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group, saw her remuneration increase to more than £2.6m in 2016, the company’s annual report has revealed. For the period ending 30 September 2016, Swann received a total of £2,608,000 compared with £2,547,000 the year before. This included an annual bonus of £1,530,000 – 200% of salary – that was based on the company’s underlying group operating profit, which exceeded budget by 7.1%, and the committee’s assessment of her performance during the year. The remainder of her remuneration consisted of £750,000 salary and fees, £57,000 in benefits, £270,000 pension, £1,530,000 annual bonus and £1,000 of “other” pay. Meanwhile, chief financial officer Jonathan Davies saw his total remuneration increase to £921,000, compared with £896,000 in 2015. This consisted of £411,000 salary and fees, £15,000 in benefits, £86,000 pension, £408,000 annual bonus and £1,000 in “other” pay. Both Swann and Davies received a 2% salary increase from 1 June 2016. Remuneration committee chairman John Barton said: “Following a review during the year, our executive directors’ base salaries were increased by 2% effective 1 June 2016, in line with the average salary increases awarded to UK employees who are paid on a monthly basis. This resulted in base salaries of £780,300 for Kate Swann and £416,160 for Jonathan Davies. The group delivered a strong financial performance in the year with good like-for-like sales, net gains and improvement in operating margin. There was continued progress against the group’s strategic objectives, with new contract openings across the globe and the continued successful implementation of the programmes of operational improvements. In this context, based on a combination of the financial performance of the business and personal performance achieved in the financial year, the committee awarded an annual bonus of 200% of salary to Kate Swann and 100% of salary to Jonathan Davies.”
Just Eat bolsters technology team with new senior roles: Just Eat, the online food delivery business, has bolstered its technology team by creating two new senior roles. The company has promoted director of technology, service operations and assurance Dave Williams to the new position of chief information officer. Williams will lead the newly formed information services department and report directly to chief product and technology officer Fernando Fanton. Williams’ team will ensure Just Eat’s products and services are “increasingly reliable and possess the best information securely”. Meanwhile, the company will appoint a chief data officer to “drive the benefits of enhanced insights from its products in real-time to understand what’s driving trends across its customer and restaurant partner bases”. Fanton said: “The creation of these two new senior roles – and several others – will extend our capabilities in important areas and enable us to innovate faster so we continue to improve our products for customers and restaurants. We’ve also brought in other senior personnel, including in-product development and user experience and design, building out our capabilities right across the team and positioning us strongly for the year ahead.”
Ponti’s Italian Kitchen to open third site, in Gainsborough: London-based Ponti’s Italian Kitchen is set to open its third site, in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. The company is looking to open the restaurant on the ground floor of the former Sun Inn on the corner of Market Street and North Street, creating 20 jobs. The site would also be home to a 56-bedroom Travelodge. Family-owned Ponti’s has a site in Oxford Circus in London and at Fox Valley in north Sheffield. Developer Dransfield Properties is partnering West Lindsey Council on a wider regeneration scheme of the area and the first phase will be to deliver the new Travelodge and the Ponti’s Italian Kitchen restaurant. Dransfield Properties managing director Mark Dransfield told Lincolnshire Live: “We are delighted to be working with West Lindsey District Council to improve the public realm and shopfronts in the area. This is an important site in the town and that is certainly reflected in the quality of design and architecture. We want to deliver a high-quality building that is sympathetic with the area and using high-quality materials that will stand the test of time.”
Starbucks debuts voice ordering: Starbucks has launched voice-ordering capabilities on its Apple app and Amazon Alexa platforms. The features are an extension of Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay, which allows customers to order and pay ahead for items. A beta test of the new iOS feature – My Starbucks barista – will initially be available to 1,000 US customers with Apple devices, with plans for a phased roll-out until summer 2017 and an Android version to follow later this year. The new Starbucks Reorder Skill feature for Amazon’s Alexa platform leverages Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay technology. Customers simply need to say “Alexa, order my Starbucks” into their device to order items. Starbucks chief technology officer Gerri Martin-Flickinger said: “The Starbucks experience is built on the personal connection between barista and customer so everything we do in our digital ecosystem must reflect that sensibility. These initial releases are easy to use, providing a direct benefit to customers within their daily routine and we are confident this is the right step in creating convenient moments to complement our more immersive formats. We expect to learn a lot from these experiences and to evolve them.” Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay currently accounts for more than 7% of transactions in US company-operated stores.
Bone Daddies to open fifth London site, next month: Japanese ramen bar concept Bone Daddies will open its latest London site next month, in Marylebone. The company, founded by chef Ross Shonhan, will open its fifth site in the capital in James Street, featuring new robata and wok dishes exclusive to the site. Interiors have been overseen by B3 Designers, with the upstairs space featuring sake crates as stools, a nine-seater bar and overlapping layers of timber, tiling and metal grille lining the walls. Downstairs, a hand-painted mural will create a downtown urban vibe, with a communal table seating 14 guests as the focal point. The drinks list will feature Japanese beer, cider, sake and wine, alongside cocktails and freshly squeezed juices. Shonhan said: “I am particularly excited about the new robata and wok dishes (group executive chef) Tom (Moxon) and I have been developing for James Street – working with charcoal grills has been something we have been looking to build into the menu for some time.” Bone Daddies’ other sites are in Bermondsey, Kensington, Old Street and Soho. A sixth site is set to launch in the Nova development in Victoria in spring. Shonhan also operates Asian fusion restaurant Shackfuyu in Soho and Japanese pub concept Flesh & Buns in Covent Garden.
Neville and Giggs submit plans for £200m Manchester city centre development: A partnership that includes former Manchester United footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs has lodged plans for a £200m, 700,000 square foot mixed-use scheme in Manchester city centre. The St Michael’s Partnership aims to transform the Jackson’s Row area of the city with a 201-bedroom, five-star hotel and 30,000 square feet of retail and leisure space, including two sky bars/restaurants. The development also includes 159 apartments, 138,000 square feet of Grade A office space and three public spaces. Neville told The Business Desk: “Having worked on this site for over ten years, it is extremely exciting to finally reach this milestone and submit the planning application for St Michael’s. The scheme will transform an underused part of the city and offer an incredible statement in architecture and development for Manchester. We have undertaken extensive public consultation and have taken comments on board wherever possible from Historic England, PlacesMatter and the general public.”
Real Burger Co starts expansion with second site, in Grantham: The Real Burger Co, which operates a restaurant in Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire, has started expansion by opening a second site, this time in Grantham, Lincolnshire, creating more than 25 jobs. The new restaurant is in a former Greenwoods clothing store in High Street and features a kitchen, bar and dining areas. The Real Burger Co was launched in December 2014 by Leanne Hull and Martyn Kirby. Area manager Tim Morris said the business was looking to expand its operations further. Hull told the Grantham Journal: “Grantham doesn’t have anything like The Real Burger Co and this was a good opportunity we didn’t want to turn down.”
TGI Friday’s appoints interim head of marketing: TGI Friday’s UK has appointed Victoria Searl as interim head of marketing, covering Jennifer Martin’s maternity leave. Searl has held a number of senior marketing positions across the sector, including with Casual Dining Group. She said: “I’m delighted to be joining the Friday’s family. With Friday’s currently rolling out its next-generation restaurants at sites including Bournemouth and Southampton, it’s a very exciting time to join the brand.”
Bel-Air begins expansion with first sit-down restaurant in Farringdon, second London site: Healthy fast food brand Bel-Air, which operates a grab-and-go site in Shoreditch, has started expansion by opening a sit-down restaurant in Farringdon. Bel-Air has taken a 1,032 square foot unit at the new UK headquarters of law firm Bird & Bird in New Fetter Lane. The 40-cover restaurant has extra room for 16 diners outside, while new additions to the breakfast menu include the Egg Sidecar – two organic eggs, poached or scrambled, with a choice of eight sides. The lunch menu includes salads and “hot stuff”, alongside bottomless filter coffee from Ozone and Sandows Nitro cold-brew on tap. There are also homemade juices on tap and “Warrior Shakes”. The venue features a curved marble counter, palm trees and a mixture of banquettes and natural pine stools. Founder Andrew Bredon, who returned to the UK from Los Angeles with an ambition to bring a “slice of the Californian way of life to London”, said: “Everything at New Fetter Lane will be bigger, better, faster and, for the first time, our customers can eat-in too.” Bel-Air joins Black Sheep Coffee and Nusa Kitchen as the first operators to lease leisure units at the site.
Beavertown seeks head brewer: London-based brewer Beavertown is looking for a head brewer. The job description states: “The head brewer is responsible for all aspects of the beer production process and day-to-day operations of Beavertown Brewery. Their duties will include leading all day-to-day activities necessary to produce high-quality, consistent beer; manage all brewery operations of our 55HL brew system crafting 40,000HL-plus per year; and lead, manage and schedule the brewers, cellaring, barrel programme and packaging team. The head brewer may have to advise the brewery owner on how to best increase production capability and may also play a role in helping plan capital expenditure. The successful candidate will have the tenacity to strive for the best and gravitas to make a huge difference and be part of our incredible journey.”
Stonegate installs ‘confession wall’ at Popworld in Derby: Stonegate Pub Company has installed a “confession wall” at its Popworld site in Derby. The wall was erected to provide those holding on to a secret from the previous year – or those who fell at the first hurdle and broke their new year’s resolution during the first couple of weeks – with somewhere to confess their sins. “Confessors” remain guilt-free as the confessions are only visible under UV lighting, with the beholder’s identity concealed. Admissions so far have included making bad decisions, confessions of love, and pledges to do everything from learning to cook to making drastic hairstyle changes. Popworld marketing manager Jamie Rosenfeld said: “Popworld has always been a place where people come to let their hair down and have a good time, so this wall was installed so people could let go of their troubles without having secrets stuck at the back of their mind. Now these confessions are out in the open – some of them very cheeky indeed – it’s up to the individuals themselves to reveal themselves and come clean!”
Yorkshire-based Ambiente Tapas opens fourth site, in Hull: Yorkshire-based independent tapas restaurant Ambiente Tapas has opened its fourth site, this time in Hull. The company, which offers “gourmet Mediterranean tapas with a Yorkshire twist”, has opened the 3,000 square foot restaurant in the Fruit Market. It has invested £300,000 to convert a former fruit and vegetable warehouse into the 160-cover venue, which includes an outdoor seating area in Humber Street with views of Hull Marina. Co-owner Tim Sinclair said: “There’s so much potential in Hull. It’s a massive market. We’ve been able to create our ideal flagship restaurant from a blank canvas, designed exactly as we wanted it. We believe the quality of the environment, food, drinks, service and experience we offer will set the bar high and help to keep it high. We’re really looking forward to the challenge of introducing the people of Hull to what we do and also bringing people from outside the city here.” The restaurant has opened after Ambiente Tapas agreed a deal with Wykeland Beal, the joint venture company formed by developer Wykeland Group and housebuilder Beal Homes, which is transforming the Fruit Market with new and refurbished commercial, retail and leisure space centred on Humber Street. The commercial units will be complemented by a development of more than 100 mews-style homes around private courtyards. Ambiente Tapas currently operates two sites in York and one in Leeds.
The Hotel Collection sells Blackpool site for £12.8m, seventh of ten being marketed: The Hotel Collection, represented by agent Savills, has sold The Imperial Hotel in Blackpool to Singapore-based Fragrance Group for £12.8m. The four-star hotel, which is in the town’s North Promenade, was built in the 19th century and features a restaurant, bar, health club and 14 conference rooms catering for up to 600 delegates. The sale of The Imperial is the seventh from the ten-strong portfolio of regional UK hotels, known as Project Solstice, which Savills is marketing on behalf of The Hotel Collection. Martin Rogers, head of UK hotel transactions at Savills, said: “We are pleased to have secured a new owner for The Imperial Hotel. It is one of the town’s most recognisable buildings and steeped in heritage. The hotel’s prominent beachside position with spectacular sea views and four star status ensures it is popular with tourists and business bookings alike.”
Omar Allibhoy scoops award for his part in UK’s tapas revolution: Tapas Revolution founder and celebrity chef Omar Allibhoy has been granted the International Tapas Award – Gold in recognition of his commitment to Spanish cuisine throughout his career in the UK. Allibhoy was recognised by independent, non-profit organisation the Tapas Academy of Madrid, which has previously given the award to two Michelin-starred chef José Andrés. Allibhoy, who operates six Tapas Revolution restaurants in the UK alongside managing director Mac Plumpton, said: “It’s an honour to receive such a prestigious award from The Tapas Academy of Madrid. Tapas is more than just food, it’s a way of life in Spain. I’m passionate about bringing this easy, convivial style of eating and socialising to the UK.
Whitbread adds two Premier Inn sites to Germany pipeline: Whitbread-owned Premier Inn has added two sites to its development pipeline in Germany. Premier Inn has completed a deal to purchase the freehold of a 190-bedroom hotel at Essen’s main station and a 180-bedroom hotel in Freiburg. The sites will bring the total secured development pipeline to about 930 rooms. Mark Anderson, managing director for property at Premier Inn International, told Insider Media “We’re very excited to be adding these sites in excellent locations as Premier Inn continues to grow in Germany. Each of these hotels will provide great options for our customers and a fantastic opportunity for Premier Inn to build its brand in Germany.” Premier Inn added the deals would build on the sites secured in Hamburg, Munich and Leipzig last year, all of which are set to open in 2018. The company hopes to have eight hotels trading in Germany by 2020.
Frankie & Benny’s aims to raise £250,000 for charity partner Together for Short Lives: Frankie & Benny’s, the brand owned by The Restaurant Group, has chosen Together for Short Lives, which supports seriously ill children and their families, to be its charity partner. The restaurant brand has committed itself to raise £250,000 for the charity during the 12-month partnership. Together for Short Lives provides support to 54 UK children’s hospices, all of which rely heavily on donations from the public. Each Frankie & Benny’s restaurant will be directly fund-raising for its local children’s hospice. Frankie & Benny’s managing director Spencer Ayres told UK Fundraising: “To begin a partnership with a charity that touches so many lives is one I’m extremely proud of and is a cause the whole team at Frankie’s will be behind.” In 2014, Frankie & Benny’s partnered with blood cancer charity Bloodwise, where it planned to raise £150,000 but went on to raise £275,000 in six months