Gravity to debut in London with ‘future of the high street offer’: Experiential leisure operator Gravity is make its London debut at Southside Shopping Centre, Wandsworth, for an 80,000 square foot entertainment venue set to launch in the former Debenhams in summer 2021. Gravity started as a trampoline park company in 2015 and has since expanded into innovative entertainment concepts, helping to revitalise shopping centres and the high street across the UK. The Southside site will feature gaming experiences such as e-karting, augmented reality bowling, crazy golf, pool, ping-pong and shuffleboards. It will also offer an array of dining and drinking options, including a noodle kitchen, American diner and cocktail bar. The Southside joint venture (a joint venture between Landsec and Invesco Real Estate) and Gravity are investing £4m to redevelop the former Debenhams department store unit as part of a combined strategy to reimagine the destination and incorporate new and innovative concepts. David Heaford, managing director, development, at Landsec, said: “Leisure is an increasingly important component of a complete destination and Gravity is a significant addition that complements Southside’s existing offer. Southside is designed to offer everything the community needs, and this signing, at a challenging time for the industry, is a testament to the strength of our customer base and the centre’s appeal. Gravity’s exciting concept will inspire locals and draw people from across London, so we are excited to see this prominent site come to life later this year.” Harvey Jenkinson, co-founder and chief executive at Gravity, added: “This is a huge milestone for Gravity as we look to not just grow our business, but also the types of venues we are creating. We believe concepts like this will be the future of the high street and shopping centres, offering a solution for landlords who are looking to diversify and secure the future of their assets. This exciting entertainment hub will showcase Gravity’s ability to create venues that cater to a varied audience, which is so immersive they will feel like they could be in a completely different place in the world.”
 
The Breakfast Club appoints Be At One co-founder as interim MD: All-day concept The Breakfast Club has appointed Steve Locke, co-founder of the Be At One cocktail chain, as its interim managing director, Propel has learned. Locke, who remains committed to Lockes, the bar he launched in 2019 in Covent Garden, left Be At One in 2018 after the 33-strong chain’s circa £50m sale to Stonegate Pub Company. Locke formed Be At One with Rhys Oldfield and Leigh Miller in 1998. Propel revealed The Breakfast Club had begun the search for a managing director last November as it looks to grow the Charlie McVeigh-chaired, 12-strong business to 30-plus sites. Co-founder Jonathan Arana-Morton told Propel: “In November, I signed up to a LinkedIn premium account and made my first ever LinkedIn post, a speculative job advert for a managing director. The response (more than 3,000 views and 70 applicants) from people in and outside this industry was phenomenal and completely unexpected. I had the pleasure of spending most of December meeting some wonderfully talented people. This industry is in good hands. A process like this leads you to a solution you weren’t necessarily expecting. We are delighted to announce the appointment of Steve Locke as managing director of The Breakfast Club. The appointment is initially on an interim, part-time basis, to help set the business on a course to fly out of the post-pandemic traps. Steve comes from a background that puts ‘arms wide open’ hospitality front and centre. I’ve always maintained great hospitality will be the key driver as we move out of a covid eat-at-home, delivery-driven world. Steve is also one of only a handful of people in our sector who has made the exact journey we’re embarking on. His experience in scaling a business our size is priceless and as I said to him after our first meeting ‘you had me at Be At One’ – I’m a huge fan. Steve will be tasked with building the structure to enable The Breakfast Club to scale over the next five years. But this is not just about the next five years, he is also here to help us build a vision for a business we can be proud of 30 years from now. This is about building a legacy brand – we want to be the nation’s best-loved ‘caf’ and we hope these are the next steps on that journey.” Locke said: “Jonathan’s post really resonated with me as it had so many parallels with the Be At One journey. Everything I have ever done has been about working with great people and building personal relationships and Jonathan evidently sees things the same way. Together, we see plenty of opportunities in the hospitality industry as we move into 2021.” McVeigh added: “Our great challenge for 2021 is to remake The Breakfast Club into a business that is ready to grow to 30-plus sites when we bounce out of this crisis. Steve’s job is to get us ‘set for success’ on people, systems and mindset as we prepare to navigate the new normal that awaits.”
Kitchen space provider Foodstars sees losses increase on the back of expansion: Foodstars, which provides kitchen space for food companies and is backed by former Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick, saw losses increase from £420,000 to just under £2m last year on the back of the expansion of its estate in the capital. Filings released by the company revealed it had incurred losses of almost £2m for 2019, compared with just £420,000 for the prior period, which ran from 1 April 2018 to 31 December 2018. This comes despite revenues increasing slightly to £175,000 from £129,000. The company said administrative expenses had spiked between the two periods. The company, which operates nine kitchens in London, opened a site in Mitcham Lane, Streatham, last month. It will follow this with an opening in Greenock Road, Chiswick Park, this month, which will take its kitchen estate to 15 sites. Propel revealed last year the company was to increase its regional presence with openings in Leeds and Manchester. The business, which was founded by William Beresford, Daniel Abrahams and Roy Shaby in Bethnal Green in 2015, launched a site in the Burley area of Leeds last month. It followed this with an opening in Manchester’s Dark Lane. Both new kitchens are based close to busy student districts. Last year, the company made its regional debut with the opening of a kitchen in Manchester Street, Birmingham. The company leases kitchen space to restaurants that sell food through delivery apps. City Storage Systems, which trades as Cloud Kitchens in the US, quietly invested in Foodstars in 2019, according to documents filed at Companies House. The investment marked Kalanick’s first expansion outside the US.
 
Goodbody – Marston’s update confirms sufficient liquidity to trade through the latest lockdown: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has expressed satisfaction at Marston’s liquidity level even though it is likely to have zero revenue for at least two months this year. He said: “Marston’s issued a first quarter update for the 13 weeks to 2 January. Revenue for the quarter was £54m. We do not have a revenue figure for this period last year, but it appears to be down circa 70% year-on-year. It notes all its pubs are currently closed and anticipates this will be the case until March at the earliest, with some restrictions remaining in place post-reopening. The vast majority of its staff are now on furlough, and it will apply for the recently announced grant aid (up to £9,000 per unit), subject to state aid rules. Importantly on liquidity, bank drawings net of cash were £104m of a £280m facility, so it has £176m of bank facility headroom post the receipt of the £233m from the brewing JV disposal. Cash burn in a full lockdown is £3m to £4m weekly before securitised debt service of circa £1.5m, so cash burn is £18m to £22m per four-weekly period. It also notes that there is sufficient cash within the securitisation scheme to pay scheduled debt repayments of £18m in mid-January. Within the securitisation, there is only £10m drawn of the £120m facility. The group is confident of achieving continued waivers and amendments to covenants when necessary. Having sufficient liquidity to survive the latest lockdown is a positive for Marston’s. We believe last week’s statement is likely in response to Mitchells & Butlers update that highlighted it is likely to embark on an equity raise to solve for liquidity during the lockdown. The statement also highlights that there is no near-term refinancing requirements. We continue to have concerns about the level of net debt/Ebitda (circa 7x FY22). We will reduce forecasts for the current year to reflect the highly disrupted first quarter and a second quarter that, at this point, looks like will be zero revenue for at least two months.”
Malhatra Group saw turnover near £40m prior to start of the pandemic: Turnover has edged closer to the £40m milestone at Malhotra Group, with pre-tax profits also rising, newly filed financial results have revealed. Malhotra was incorporated as UGC Holdings in 1991. It now operates a specialised healthcare group, a national property portfolio and a leisure arm incorporating restaurants, bars and hotels. Accounts for the year to 31 March 2020 revealed Malhotra Group turned over £38.1m, up from £34.8m 12 months earlier. Pre-tax profits also climbed to £5.4m from £4.8m. A statement accompanying the figures said all three Malhotra divisions “contributed positively” to the group’s overall performance, with a “significant capital expansion programme” in its care and leisure businesses. The division saw turnover drop £500,000 to £8.4m and Ebitda reduce to £100,000 from £1.2m the year before, after divestment of non-core venues. The company reported it had made improvements to the quality of its Three Mile and Great North Hotel, a 64-bedroom hotel that will open once covid-19 restrictions are lifted.
Boom: Battle Bar to start work on five sites this month, 15 in pipeline: Boom: Battle Bar, the adventure bar concept from the team behind trampoline park business Flip Out, has announced it is to start work at five new sites this month with a further six planned for February and March, and nine more throughout 2021. Its bars combine food and drink with unique games and are typically about 10,000 square foot spaces that consist of six to ten games, a central bar and street food-style offerings. Work will start this month on sites at The O2, London; Lakeside Shopping Centre, Essex; Aldgate East, City of London; Oxford; and Eastbourne. Boom: Battle Bars co-owner Richard Beese said: “The pandemic has created unthinkable problems for many industries and none more so than hospitality, leisure and retail. Boom: Battle Bar has looked to leverage its unique offering to continue its rollout in some of the biggest retail schemes in the UK, which are helping to reshape the landscape of experience-led retailing. With 20 bars being rolled out in 2021 – 16 of them franchised – we anticipate more than 1,000 jobs will be created, which makes us very proud to be pioneers in this sector at a time of crises.” The bars have a total of 21 different games to choose from; some concepts can be seen in alternative venues, like axe throwing, electric darts, shuffleboard. Other games are proprietary, such as Boom Ball, Indoor Curling, Rage Rooms, Escape Rooms, Marble Tarble, Hammerschlagen, Augmented Bowling and Crazier Golf.
Neat Burger secures Canary Wharf site, eyes regional launch: Neat Burger, the Lewis Hamilton-backed, plant-based concept, has secured its fourth site in the UK, in Canary Wharf, as it looks to have ten sites open in the UK before the end of this year. Propel understands the company has exchanged on a split of the former PizzaExpress in Cabot Place, Canary Wharf and is in legals on a further three sites, including one in Victoria. The company, which opened its third London site in Soho’s Old Compton Street, is aiming to open further sites both within London and also outside including in Brighton, Manchester, Liverpool, major airports and train stations. Marc Rogers at MKR Property has been appointed as sole agent for Neat Burger, to aid in the expansion and securing key locations. Neat Burger’s co-founder and head of operations, Stasi Nychas, said: “Neat Burger has plans for rapid expansion throughout the UK and abroad, we have had a great launch and look to continue expansion in high footfall locations throughout the UK. We have shown adaptability and resilience through the pandemic, opening a further two locations (Camden and Soho) as well as two dark kitchens, donating burgers to the NHS as well becoming official sponsors of Extreme E”. The brand opened its first site in September 2019, just off Regent Street in London. It operates Deliveroo Edition sites in Battersea and Whitechapel.