Coaching Inn Group seeks funding to double size of business: Coaching Inn Group, which has 431 bedrooms across 15 venues in market towns in England and Wales, has told Propel it will seek funds for investment to grow the business in the coming months to “build on the strong platform that has been created”. The company said it had already identified a number of suitable coaching inns to “accelerate its development and double the size of the company”. Coaching Inn Group has appointed Sapient Corporate Finance to assist in finding suitable investors. Last month, Coaching Inn Group reported a 39.1% rise in group Ebitda to £2.1m from turnover up 17.2% to £20m in the year to 31 March 2018. Turnover is forecast to pass £24m this year. Drink sales rose 17% to £5.9m, food was up 19.2% to £8m and room sales rose 17.7% to £5.8m. Profit before interest was £506,000 (2017: loss £146,000). A post year-end debt facility of £16.5m was put in place to secure future growth. Coaching Inn Group founder Kevin Charity said it cost between £3m and £5m to buy and refurbish venues. The company has added nine sites in the past three years, the most recent being the Feathers Hotel in Ledbury, Herefordshire, and the Swan Inn Hotel in Stafford. Coaching Inn Group is backed by the Business Growth Fund.
Harry Ramsden’s reports £4.9m loss: Fish and chip chain Harry Ramsden’s, owned by Boparan Restaurant Group, has reported a £4,971,684 loss for the 52-week period ended 31 December 2017, compared with a profit of £1,354,921 for its previous financial year (a 53-week period). The company generated total revenues of £14,866,991, compared with £16,323,453 the previous year. The company blamed the fall on tougher trading conditions and a reduction in store numbers. The underlying Ebitda loss was £293,633 compared with a loss of £1,173,366, according to accounts filed at Companies House. The company stated: “Following the strategy of opening new sites throughout the UK in late 2015 and into 2016, the business continues to review the most appropriate locations and formats for the trading estate. During the year the business made a number of decisions on a number of locations that were not viable in the longer term resulting in an impairment charge provision of £2,390,952 (1 January 2017: £1,547,794). Operating loss excluding impairment charges improved to £2,515,056 (1 January 2017: £3,065,877). The outlook for the continuing estate is on target to deliver on its planned budget in 2018. The company continues its positive franchise relationship with Welcome Break and now operates 19 sites across its network. Internationally, the business operates franchises in two countries and continues to see international growth as an opportunity.”
Antic puts 11 pubs on the market: Antic, the Downing-backed London pub operator led by Antony Thomas, has put 11 pubs on the market. Antic and Downing have instructed agent Fleurets to market 11 of the 48 London sites the pub company operates. Fleurets said the limited life funding structure in the 11 sites had matured so the pubs were being offered for sale with either vacant possession or on a leased/managed contract with Antic remaining in situ. The remaining Antic sites are unaffected by the marketing process and the company continues to grow with a strong pipeline in place, it added. Andy Frisby, of Fleurets, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for buyers to acquire commercial property investments underpinned by a proven industry operator or buy the sites with vacant possession and add value through development and trade at the units. There are some really popular locations in this portfolio, including Elephant and Castle, Dalston and Streatham, and we expect demand for these assets to be strong.” Last month, Antic opened the latest pub in its estate, Arkstar, in Holloway Road, north London, close to Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. The pub is housed in a railway arch, with a restaurant to follow in an adjacent unit in early 2019. Arkstar takes its name from a combination of the words “arch” and Telstar – the hit sixties song written by record producer Joe Meek at a site close to the pub.
 
Patisserie Valerie board finds overdrafts of almost £10m run up on ‘two secret facilities’: The board of Patisserie Valerie has discovered overdrafts of almost £10m were run up on two secret facilities, The Sunday Times has reported. Company overdrafts had been set up with Barclays and HSBC, with £9.7m used by the time they were discovered last week. On Friday (12 October), Patisserie Holdings saved itself from administration after raising £15.7m from a share placing. The funds, together with a £10m interest-free loan from chairman Luke Johnson, gave the company the “at least” £20m required to allow it to continue trading under its current format. The placing saw more than 34 million shares sold at a heavily discounted price of 50p. The price was 429p prior to the shares being suspended on Wednesday (10 October) when the company revealed the discovery of significant and possibly fraudulent accounting irregularities. Johnson is lending £10m on a fee-free and interest-free basis. He has also provided a bridging loan of another £10m to fund the group’s immediate outstanding liabilities. That loan will be repaid from the funds raised by the placing. Johnson told the Sunday Times: “I believe in the business as an economic entity so I don’t think it was a wholly emotional decision, but I think there was a moral obligation. There were 2,800 jobs at stake, there was 12 years of effort I and colleagues had put into the business and the board was determined not to allow the business to go into administration.” Johnson said he planned to scale back his other commitments to focus on Patisserie Valerie. He said: “I can’t afford to get distracted. There was criticism I was stretched too thin – fair criticism. We’ve got to rebuild, we’ve got to hire new talent and we’ve got to restore confidence in the business among suppliers and landlords. We’ve got to do better all round. There’s a lot of work to be done.” The company’s future has been in doubt since the accounting irregularities were discovered. Chief financial officer Chris Marsh was suspended. He has subsequently been arrested and released on bail without charge.
Chipotle UK reports losses increase to £6m as turnover falls, like-for-like decline improves to 5.4%: Chipotle UK has reported losses increased to almost £6m as turnover fell at its six-strong operation, with trading “adversely impacted” by terrorism and food-borne illness incidents associated with its sister restaurants in the US. The company saw turnover fall 7.2% to £7,203,437 for the year ending 31 December 2017, compared with £7,782,351 the previous year. Pre-tax losses increased to £5,875,069 compared with a loss of £4,313,288, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “Comparable restaurant sales for the year were minus 5.4%, compared with minus 6.8% in 2016. Our sales and profitability were adversely impacted throughout 2017 because of many terrorist activities that occurred throughout Europe as well as a foodborne illness incident associated with a Chipotle restaurant in the US. Comparable restaurant sales increases were driven by the menu price increase taken in all our restaurants. Our cost of sales for the full year of 2017 was £8.4m (2016: £9.6m), primarily consisting of restaurant-level expenses. Refining our long-term supply strategy for our European locations remains an important objective. We also continue to focus on labour costs as we strengthen our teams and become more efficient in serving our customers. Gross loss for the full year of 2017 was £1.2m (2016: £1.8m), a decrease in loss of 33.7% from the prior year. Administrative expenses for the full-year 2017 were £5.3m (2016: £2.8m), an increase of 103%, primarily resulting from a non-cash impairment charge to write down a substantial portion of the associated long-lived asset value for several underperforming locations. We will continue to develop opportunistically as our brand gains traction and we create a deep pipeline of future restaurant leaders. We have partnered with Deliveroo and started delivery in our UK restaurants in January.”
First two restaurants sign for new development at Chinatown London: The first two restaurants have signed to open at Central Cross, a 48,000 square foot mixed-use development at the eastern gateway to Chinatown London. Sichuanese restaurant JinLi, which won the best in England category at the Golden Chopsticks Awards, will open its second restaurant in the area after taking a 150-cover, 4,300 square foot unit. The venue will open in the winter offering modern Sichuan dishes with traditional core elements. Dishes will include sliced pork with sizzling rice crust, and JinLi fragrant rabbit. New dishes and recipes will be developed every six months. The interiors will feature fittings and tableware imported from China and a digitalised menu. JinLi owner Yi Fei said: “2018 has been a significant year for our brand’s expansion. This Chinatown London location will offer innovative and exclusive new dishes with the aim of playing a big role in redefining London’s Sichuanese culinary landscape.” Meanwhile, casual noodle and dumpling concept Modern Shanghai will open a 4,000 square foot restaurant featuring interiors inspired by Shanghai, including wooden panelling, grey marble tables and gold finishing. Chefs will prepare fresh dumplings and noodles at the front of the restaurant, including roast duck noodles and grilled Chinese tapas. Julia Wilkinson, head of group restaurant strategy at London Chinatown landlords Shaftesbury, said: “JinLi and Modern Shanghai are both creative new concepts from Chinatown operators that perfectly reflect our strategy to introduce new flavours to Chinatown London.”
The Restaurant Group steps up ‘crazy’ discounting at Frankie & Benny’s: The Restaurant Group is continuing to step up discounting at its Frankie & Benny’s sites with one industry source telling Propel the level had become “crazy”. The brand is offering two-for-one on mains until Wednesday (17 October), while kids were able to eat free during the weekend for every main meal purchased. One voucher covered an entire table and was valid at all Frankie & Benny’s restaurants, apart from airport locations. Meanwhile, vouchers were also issued on Friday (12 October) offering unlimited nuggets for £5.99 – for one day only. The promotion had no limits on the number of reorders but the maximum stay people were allowed in the restaurant was 90 minutes. The offer was also not valid at its 02 or airport locations. The industry source said: “This level of discounts is crazy and is going to destroy The Restaurant Group. It’s extreme, January-style, loss-making-type stuff.” The brand has been promoting a number of discount offers since the end of last year, including 50% off mains.
YO! Sushi to close Bath city centre site: YO! Sushi is to close its restaurant in Bath city centre. The company has decided to shut the venue in Milsom Place after “reviewing the lease”. A spokesman told Somerset Live: “As is normal with a large and established brand, we continually review our estate to make sure we have the best proposition in the right site. With the Bath site, it was time to review the lease and we have decided to exit that site. We remain committed to the south west and have two sites in Bristol. We love Bath and may look to return in due course.” In the past year, YO! Sushi has significantly changed its business model. The acquisitions of Bento, one of the largest sushi brands in North America, and Taiko Foods, a manufacturing group and supplier to Waitrose, has created a “global multi-channel, multi-format Japanese food platform”. YO! Sushi has also started trialling counters in two Tesco stores under the name YO! To Go.
Whitbread secures permission for Premier Inn and Bar + Block in Finsbury Park: Whitbread has secured planning permission for a Premier Inn and steak restaurant concept Bar + Block in Finsbury Park, north London. Adding to its growing portfolio in Zone 2, Whitbread will create an eight-storey, 192-bedroom hotel in Seven Sisters Road with the restaurant operating on the ground floor. Work on the site is expected to start before the end of the year, with a targeted opening date of early 2020. The hotel and restaurant will create more than 80 jobs. Louise Woodruff, acquisition manager (outer London) for Whitbread, said: “Bringing Premier Inn to Finsbury Park is very exciting for us and we are delighted with Islington council’s positive decision.”
Black and White Hospitality launches joint Pierre Koffmann and Marco Pierre White venture for seventh brand: Black and White Hospitality, which owns the rights to six restaurant brands belonging to chef Marco Pierre White, has launched a seventh by opening a debut site under its new joint venture with fellow Michelin-starred chef Pierre Koffmann. The chefs, who have six Michelin stars between them, have worked with The Abbey Hotel in Bath to create Koffmann & Mr White’s. The concept is a brasserie-style eaterie offering a mix of English and French classics from the chefs’ repertoire. Black and White Hospitality plans to roll out Koffmann & Mr White’s during the next two years following a year’s exclusivity for The Abbey Hotel. Koffmann was awarded three Michelin stars at his La Tante Claire restaurant in London, where White trained before moving on to attain his own three stars at Harvey’s and The Restaurant Marco Pierre White at the Hyde Park Hotel. Black and White Hospitality chief executive Nick Taplin said: “Nothing like this has happened before and it’s exciting to see the restaurant open. The energy between these great friends is amazing and they are bursting with ideas, while the combined knowledge of these culinary giants is phenomenal. As we approach our 50th restaurant, the opening of Koffmann & Mr White’s heralds another amazing chapter in the Black and White story.” Koffmann & Mr White’s is Black and White Hospitality’s seventh brand alongside Steakhouse Bar & Grill, New York Italian, Wheeler’s of St James, Mr White’s English Chophouse, Bardolino Pizzeria, Bellini & Espresso Bar, and Marconi Coffee and Juice bar.
North west-based brothers to open third site for tapas bar brand Porta, fourth venue in total: North west-based brothers Joe and Ben Wright will open a third site for their tapas bar brand Porta, in Salford in November, which will be their fourth venue in total. The Wrights launched the concept in Chester as a sister site for their Altrincham bistro Joseph Benjamin, opening a second Porta, in Altrincham, in 2016. The 60-cover Salford venue will open in Chapel Street at a former bank branch offering the same formula of “laid-back tapas and drinks”. The main dining area will be on the ground floor, with a bar upstairs. The menu will mirror that of Chester and Altrincham, where dishes and bar snacks include salted Catalan almonds, patatas bravas, and fried Andalucian-style squid with aioli. Behind the bar, the venue will offer a range of specially selected Spanish wine, cava, beer and sherry. Joe Wright said: “Opening our third Porta site in Salford will be a dream come true for us. Our head chef, Jose Garzón, is extremely talented and has a brilliant instinct for flavour. We are eager to maintain the vibe of informal and fun, staying true to the ethos of a relaxed, independent neighbourhood restaurant.”
Soho Coffee Co opens Bristol site with student social focus: Artisan coffee chain Soho Coffee Co has launched a site in Bristol the company hopes will appeal to students. The company has opened the venue in Queen’s Road in the Clifton Triangle area of the city. Clifton Triangle has a large student population and the new outlet features a “graffiti wall” for them to use. A spokeswoman said: “We want the students to make this their own. They can be far from home and feeling lonely and we have designed the new store with a ‘student Soho social’ in mind and a sharing ethos.” The outlet also offers the brand’s extended, customised hot food range that was first introduced at its site in Bedford Street, Covent Garden, less than two months ago. The Bristol site also features Soho Coffee Co’s new autumn menu that includes The Hog Roast, which is accompanied by house apple sauce, sage-and-onion stuffing and crackling. Sticky barbecue chicken with homemade coleslaw is also part of the new hot sandwich range. Vegan options include a hot pea and mint falafel sandwich served with pickled red cabbage and crowned by a coconut yogurt and mint dressing.
Pizza Hut names new president of international division: Pizza Hut, owned by Yum! Brands, has appointed Vipul Chawla as president of its international division. Chawla will replace Milind Pant, who had held the role for three years and leaves in November to “pursue other opportunities outside the company”. Chawla, currently managing director of Pizza Hut Asia-Pacific, will start on Monday, 3 December and will be responsible for driving Pizza Hut’s strategy and performance outside the US. He will report to Yum! Brands chief executive Greg Creed. General managers of Pizza Hut restaurants outside the US will report to Chawla, who joined Yum! Brands in 2011 after spending 20 years with Unilever. He previously served as general manager of Pizza Hut Asia and chief marketing officer of KFC Asia. Creed said: “Vipul Chawla is an extraordinarily talented leader and highly respected global marketer, with a proven track record of growing Pizza Hut across the Asia-Pacific region with our franchise partners. He’s the ideal person to take Pizza Hut International to the next level.” Pizza Hut’s international division has reported a 2% drop in like-for-like sales for the past two quarters.
The Cheese Bar hits £200,000 crowdfunding target on final day as it bids to open Covent Garden site: The Cheese Bar has hit the £200,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube on the final day of its campaign. Mathew Carver, who traded at music festivals as The Cheese Truck, opened the first Cheese Bar in Camden Market in March 2017 after raising £126,000 on Crowdcube. He returned to the platform in a bid to open a site in Covent Garden and offered 6.78% equity in return for the investment. A total of 403 investors pledged £204,000 for the project. The ground-floor Covent Garden space will be lined with display fridges showcasing maturing cheese. The varieties of cheese will be British only, while small plates will include smoked mozzarella sticks with chilli jam alongside larger dishes such as blue cheese raclette with salt beef and crispy leeks. In a nod to The Cheese Truck, the restaurant will also offer cheese toasties. The candlelit basement wine bar will offer cheese boards and charcuterie alongside a 70-bottle wine list to complement the cheese.
Thai Leisure Group launches street bar concept: Thai Leisure Group, which operates restaurant brands Thaikhun and Chaophraya, has launched its Thaikhun Street Bar concept at Liverpool ONE. The 3,000 square foot bar overlooks Chavasse Park with decor paying homage to the company’s roots including traditional bric-a-brac, a tuk-tuk and artefacts imported from Thailand. The concept serves cocktails using Thai spirits, Singha beer on draught, frozen alcoholic cocktails, and a non-alcoholic menu including ice-cream smoothies. The site also offers traditional Thai bar snacks and bowls. Thai Leisure Group founder Kim Kaewkraikhot said: “As the first project of its kind, the new bar concept is very exciting for us all. Offering unique Thai experiences is something we’re hugely passionate about and, with this fantastic offer, I have no doubt it will succeed.”
Subway increases number of US restaurants offering delivery to 10,000 following Postmates partnership: Subway has increased the number of US restaurants offering delivery to 10,000 restaurants following a new partnership with Postmates. The company said it had now established partnerships with four of the nation’s largest third-party delivery operators – UberEats, Grubhub, DoorDash and Postmates. Subway senior director of global convenience Michael Lang said: “We are committed to providing a world-class guest experience both in-restaurant and in-home by offering guests delivery options. We are thrilled to partner with Postmates to offer this new Subway experience and make our food more accessible to our guests. Our delivery partnerships demonstrate our commitment to give customers more of what they want while driving restaurant profitability for our franchise owners.” Dan Mosher, Postmates senior vice-president, merchant lead, added: “We have been testing delivery with Subway for quite some time. This official partnership enables it to bring on-demand delivery to more customers faster, delivering their favourite subs right to their door.”
Research reveals Bullring’s value to Birmingham: The Bullring Estate attracts more than £362m of indirect investment to the city of Birmingham every year, according to new research by landlord Hammerson. To coincide with the estate’s 15th anniversary, the True Value Of Retail report also found the Bullring, Grand Central and Link Street account for 4,322 full-time jobs, with 85% going to local people and half to under-25s. Hammerson managing director UK and Ireland Mark Bourgeois said: “This research highlights how retail and leisure destinations act as economic hubs for cities.”
The Bullring sees footfall of more than 36 million a year.
North London-based Redemption Brewing Company closes crowdfunding campaign after raising more than £400,000: North London-based Redemption Brewing Company has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising more than £400,000 to support growth plans. The company, founded in 2010 by Andy Moffat and Sam Rigby, initially looked to raise £300,000 and was offering 13.64% equity in return for investment. It has now closed the campaign, with 591 investors pledging £406,030. The pitch stated: “In 2017 our sales have organically grown to more than £500,000 (net profit minus £48,919). We have built Redemption with our own blood, sweat and tears, our small but tight dedicated team, and the enthusiasm of our growing customer base. Our portfolio has expanded to seven core beers, which we complement with seasonal beers and collaborations with our brewing friends. Now we’re settled in our new, bigger, more efficient brewery we have the capacity and ambition to brew more than two million pints a year. We want to grow our brand and build sales locally, regionally, nationally and internationally by building our team and bolstering our sales and marketing function. We plan to invest in tanks to launch a new keg product and can format. We also want to improve our taproom with the aim of making it a go-to venue for north London’s discerning beer drinkers.”
Gusto unveils ‘customer-first’ website: Italian casual dining group Gusto has unveiled its new website. Gusto said the new site puts its “customers first” and includes a streamlined booking system. The website was developed for the 18-strong restaurant group by Manchester-based Cube3. Gusto head of digital Phil Leather said: “The new site is already exceeding expectations and we can’t wait to see what our guests think of it in the coming weeks and months.” Cube3 managing director Mark Bailey added: “By undertaking an extensive UX audit, we were able to create detailed wireframes for all possible user journeys and then work closely with the client to bring all this to life with visuals and integrated animation design.” Cube3 will now help Gusto to promote the website online via a targeted pay-per-click strategy.
Abba star appoints Rhubarb as contract caterer for immersive dining experience at London’s O2: Abba star Björn Ulvaeus has appointed food experience brand and events caterer Rhubarb as caterers for his immersive theatrical dining experience Mamma Mia! The Party in London. Launching in a bespoke venue within The O2 London on 29 August 2019, the contract will see Rhubarb cater for more than 500 guests per show across eight performances each week. Diners will sit in a recreation of a taverna on the island of Skopelos, where most of the first film was shot, and tuck into Greek cuisine while a live immersive show plays out in front of them full of Abba songs. Rhubarb has worked with Ulvaeus and producer Ingrid Sutej to devise a Greek menu that will reflect the show’s guest experience. The menu will offer a three-course meal featuring handmade mezze dips; traditional Greek salad; charred octopus and orange cake. Rhubarb chief executive PB Jacobse said: “We are elated to be partnering with Mamma Mia! The Party for this extraordinary immersive venture that combines music, romance and dancing with gourmet food, reflecting the show’s Greek roots. It is an honour to be working with one of the world’s biggest music legends and his production team.”
Yorkshire-based craft brew company closes crowdfunding campaign after raising almost £160,000: Yorkshire-based craft brew company Play Brew has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising almost £160,000. The company, founded by Phil Layton, was offering 20.5% equity in return for the investment. In total, 292 investors pledged £159,510. Founded last year with four core beers, Play Brew has been using contract brewing until now to “help it gain traction”. The pitch states: “To date, we have produced about 5,500 cans and our beers have been sold in 33 outlets. We want to be the first to open a brewery and taproom in our local area, providing our community with a place to drink and socialise while also providing outlets in the vicinity with fresh local craft beers for retail. Play Brew recognises securing the right location is the key to success. Being the only brewery within a 19.5-mile radius, connecting and engaging the local community through a taproom will be instrumental to the business growth and profit. On the back of our soft launch, we have a number of outlets that are keen to become full-time stockists. Having our own brewery and taproom will not only allow us to grow our sales, it will also give us the opportunity to create new flavours to add to our range.”