Sticks ‘n’ Sushi promotes Andreas Karlsson to chief executive: Denmark-based Sticks ‘n’ Sushi has promoted group chief operating officer Andreas Karlsson, who has overseen the company’s expansion in the UK, to chief executive and hired former TDC Group vice-president Jens Aalose as chairman of the board. Aalose will replace Erik Holm, managing partner of Danish private equity firm Maj Invest, while Rod McKie’s place will be taken by Karlsson. McKie told Propel: “After many years of leading the UK successfully it’s time for Andreas to take the helm. Taking the challenge to lead the business and coming off the board, after 15 months it is time for me to step back on to the board and Andreas’ considerable international experience will ensure the business continues to expand in all three countries.” Karlsson told Propel: “I am delighted to be given the trust and support from the board to continue to lead our teams on this exciting journey and further develop Sticks ‘n’ Sushi.” Maj Invest took a 49% stake in Sticks ‘n’ Sushi in 2013, while the founders remained the majority shareholders with a 51% stake. At the time, Maj Invest’s aim was to expand the chain’s presence internationally. Earlier this year the company’s founders sold a further part of their stake to Maj Invest, which now has a 79% holding in the business. The company has 12 branches in Copenhagen, six in London and one each in Oxford, Cambridge and Berlin. Karlsson told Propel its next London site would open in Beak Street, Soho, on Wednesday, 9 October. Brothers Jens and Kim Rahbek launched the brand about 25 years ago along with Thor Andersen. In the financial year 2017-2018, the company reported sales of €66m (£59m), while Ebitda was circa €3.4m.
MCA and Restaurant magazine publisher William Reed reports turnover and profit boost: William Reed, the family-owned publisher of MCA and Restaurant magazine led by Charles Reed, has reported underlying turnover grew 3% to £39m in the year to 31 March 2019. Ebitda increased 11% to £4.1m, while Ebitda margin was up 0.6% to 10.6%. Profit before tax was £4,323,000, up from £1,046,000 the year before. An interim dividend of £7,968,000 was paid. The company reported “strong growth in international and face-to-face revenues offset by a modest decline in magazine and insight revenues”. Digital income was £13,411,00 (2018: £12,428,000), face-to-face income was £16,234,000 (2018: £12,789,000), insight income was £2,756,000 (2018: £1,596,000), licensing produced income of £237,000 (2018: £175,000) and traditional magazines produced revenue of £8,640,000 (2018: £8,894,000). Turnover of £29,884,000 was derived from the UK (2018: £28,242,000), Europe produced turnover of £3,905,000 (2018: £2,988,000) and the rest of the world produced sales of £7,489,000 (2018: £4,652,000).
Bill’s appoints chief financial officer as it returns to acquisition trail: Richard Caring-backed business Bill’s Restaurants has appointed Nick Gray, formerly of Fuller’s, as chief financial officer, Propel has learned. Gray was with Fuller’s for almost four years up to the £250m sale of its brewing business to Asahi earlier this year. He is a chartered accountant who trained with PwC before moving to Deutsche Bank, spending almost eight years in investment banking before taking on principal investment roles at Babcock & Brown and CVC Private Equity. He replaces Colin Berry, who joined the business last April after two and a half years as group financial controller. It’s thought Berry is leaving 78-strong Bill’s to join Urban Outfitters. Bill’s executive chairman David Campbell told Propel: “I am delighted Nick has joined us. He is already adding to the positive momentum in the business. I also want to thank Colin Berry for all the hard work he has put in during the past 18 months and wish him well in his exciting new opportunity.” Gray’s appointment comes as Bill’s returns to the acquisition trail. It recently acquired the former Giraffe site in Manchester’s Spinningfields, which will reopen as a Bill’s next month, while Propel understands it has also secured the Giraffe unit at Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays. It is expected to announce a further acquisition shortly, with the company understood to be in talks to open at Cheshire Oaks. Bill’s is in the midst of a series of restaurant enhancements, with a third of its 78-restaurant estate refurbished already and more being transformed before the end of the year. Last week Propel revealed Bill’s had exited its site in Battersea, which would be replaced by Rosa’s Thai Café. In July, Bill’s reported continued growth, with like-for-like sales up 8% in the first half of 2019. The company said performance had been consistently ahead of the CGA Peach Tracker every month since late 2018.
Taylor steps down as Wagamama CFO, Mamago debut location revealed:Wagamama, The Restaurant Group (TRG)-owned brand, has started hunting for a new chief financial officer following the departure of Nick Taylor, Propel has learned. Taylor, who has left the business to pursue other opportunities, joined Wagamama in June 2017 after three years as director of operational finance at Travelodge. Propel understands Laura Wood, who joined the business at the start of April 2018 as director of financial planning and analysis, has stepped up to finance director and is supporting the finance team in the interim while the company completes the process of appointing Taylor’s replacement. At the same time Propel has learned Wagamama will open the first site for its new food-to-go concept Mamago on the ground floor of the Fen Court building at 120 Fenchurch Street before the end of the year. The property features more than 30,000 square feet of office space and before the end of the year will include 14 Hills, the new rooftop restaurant from D&D London. TRG said the Mamago proposition has been inspired by the Wagamama core business, with a menu of “made to order pan-Asian cuisine ranging from grab-and-go adaptations of Wagamama classics such as katsu to new and innovative, nutritionally balanced and flavour-packed dishes built for breakfast and lunch”.
Dim sum concept to replace Wild Honey in Mayfair: A dim sum concept from a new company backed by the co-founder of Burger & Lobster is to replace Wild Honey in Mayfair, Propel has learned. Novators Hospitality, which is backed by Misha Zelman and led by Tim Mills, former operations director at Pho and head of operations at Paul UK, plans to open the yet to be named concept on the site in St George Street at the start of next year. Agent Seb Howard Property acted on the deal. Last week, Propel reported the Mayfair site, which formerly housed chef proprietor Anthony Demetre’s Wild Honey, had been sold. The 2,267 square foot unit achieved a rent of £103,000 per annum and a six-figure premium. The site comprises a 1,104 square foot ground-floor area and a 1,163 square foot basement. The lease runs until 2033. Demetre put Wild Honey on the market in January this year, closing the restaurant on 1 March before reopening it at the Hotel Sofitel London St James on the corner of Waterloo Place and Pall Mall.
Buzzworks hires Carole Lombard as people director: Buzzworks Holdings, one of Scotland’s fastest growing independent restaurant and bar operators, has recruited a new people director. Carole Lamond, who has more than 20 years’ experience in personnel and people development, has joined the family-owned business to help oversee employee development and retention as Buzzworks focuses on its continued growth strategy. With its head office in Prestwick, Buzzworks currently operates 11 venues across Ayrshire and the east coast, employing more than 500 team members. As the business expands further, including two venues set to open in the near future, employee levels will continue to rise and Buzzworks is “keen to ensure it continues to deliver a positive working environment for all its workforce”. As people director, Lamond will be tasked with building a people structure fit for growth, encouraging the continued development of all employees while attracting and developing Buzzworks’ leaders of the future. Lamond, from Glasgow, joins Buzzworks from Tesco Bank, where she held a number of HR positions including a business-partnering role. She has worked in financial services for more than 20 years in strategic and operational roles including talent acquisition, talent management, business transformation, reward and capability. Buzzworks Holdings managing director Kenny Blair said: “Securing Carole as our new people director is a fantastic coup for the business, with the role our most senior appointment to date. This is testament to our ambition to grow Buzzworks. Our philosophy is simple, if we look after our people, they will look after our customers. This practice of enlightened hospitality is integral in creating the foundations of a long-term, successful hospitality business.” Buzzworks has been on the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies To Work For In The UK list for the past four years.
Roxy Ball Room bids for Birmingham launch: Roxy Ball Room, the Leeds-based, competitive socialising concept, is set to open a site in Birmingham this year. The company has applied for planning permission to open at 58-60 Heath Mill Lane in Digbeth. Roxy Ball Room’s Birmingham site is likely to host leisure facilities such as tenpin bowling, mini-golf, ping pong, pool, beer pong, shuffleboard and arcade games. The planned opening comes as ping pong bar and nightclub Serve suddenly closed in the city centre. Competitive socialising competition in Birmingham is fierce, with Flight Club, Ghetto Golf, DropShot Digbeth and Lane7 all operating in the city. Roxy Ball Room has applied for a licence to open from 12pm to 1.30am seven days a week, Birmingham Live reports. Roxy Ball Room operates seven venues in the north – two in Manchester, two in Liverpool and three in Leeds. In July, Propel revealed Roxy Ball Room had appointed advisors to review its options as it looked to secure new investment. The business, which is run under the Roxy Leisure company and led by Matthew Jones, is believed to be working with advisory firm Sedulo to assess options that could include the sale of a stake in the business. Last year Jones Bar Group became a separate entity from sister company Roxy Leisure and relaunched as Concept Taverns, which focuses on a “fast-growing estate of freehold Yorkshire pubs”. Concept Taverns is led by managing director Ben Jones and operations director Ben Warren, while Matthew Jones became managing director of Roxy Leisure supported by operations director John Crowe.
Lincolnshire hotel and golf course changes hands in pre-pack administration: A total of 30 jobs have been saved at a hotel and golf course in Lincolnshire after a pre-pack administration sale was agreed. The deal with Giri Golf Ltd, which has taken over Toft Country House Hotel and Golf Course in Bourne, was led by Begbies Traynor. As well as retaining the entire workforce, Giri Golf Ltd has also acquired all the assets in the sale, which includes the leasehold of the 20-bedroom hotel and par 71 golf course, with a club membership in excess of 300. Marco Piacquadio, of Begbies Traynor, who led the rescue process as joint administrator with colleague Julie Palmer, said: “We are delighted to have achieved this sale. Not only has it saved the jobs of the entire workforce but it has also safeguarded the golf club members’ contracts ensuring there is no disruption to their membership. From the very first discussions, Giri Golf appeared to be an excellent fit for the business as it already had experience in running similar leisure facilities across the UK and we have every confidence it will be able to take it forward successfully. Key negotiations were held with the secured creditor and landlords and consideration was also given to key suppliers and club members’ requirements as part of the negotiation and sale process. Begbies Traynor strives to promote the rescue culture and protect employees’ jobs wherever possible and we are pleased to see such an outcome in this instance.”
Soho House opens largest site, in Hong Kong, four more openings next year:Soho House has opened a 120,000 square foot site in Singapore, its largest ever House. The 120,000 square foot space in Sheung Wan features a skyscraper with panoramic city views. Founder Nick Jones said: “We had been looking for ten years. It’s been a long journey and a challenge to find the right length of lease. Hong Kong is famous for short leases. This one is more than 25 years. We love the area, a typical Soho House-type area, on the cusp of changing and central enough. It’s amazing to work with a skyscraper. In our eyes it’s a skyscraper but for the people of Hong Kong and Shanghai it’s probably nothing. The only other building we have similar to this is West Hollywood, where we’re on the top floor. I’m nervous about opening in Hong Kong. It’s new to this region, it’s new to this culture. We open next year in Rome, Tel Aviv, Paris and Austin, Texas. I think it will be super exciting. It will add more flavour to the community. We’d love to be in Shanghai – we’re looking hard – Tokyo and lots of other cities in Asia. We’re opening in Mexico. South America has big potential for us to open. The other thing we’re opening is more farm houses. We’re just about to do one in upstate New York. We might eventually add a Little House, a beach house in Hong Kong. Mumbai as well. It takes such a long time to get from A to B because of the traffic so I would say Mumbai would be great for another house – a Little House. What we’re doing is more of what we’ve done for a long time – creating great spaces for our members in lots of cities around the world. The more cities we go into, our community gets more diverse and interesting. Our members love that we open in new cities around the world. I know our members do everything in that space – they work from our space and meet in our space. More people have hooked up and had relationships, more people have created companies or made ideas from Soho House – and that’s what a community is. If our members can, we want to try to fill every minute of their day. Even if they go home, they can buy furniture from Soho Home. It’s a way of life.”
Former Gino D’Acampo right-hand man to open Italian restaurant in Belsize Park on Friday: Andrea Casasola, who previously oversaw Gino D’Acampo’s restaurant business, will launch his debut venture on Friday (20 September). Casasola will “tap into the casual dining scene” by launching Calici in Belsize Village, north west London. Based in the former XO premises in Belsize Lane, Calici’s menu will celebrate regional Italian food and wine. The restaurant will be split into three areas – a 90-cover restaurant, a separate ground-floor bar, and a basement featuring low lighting and antique-style chairs that will host larger parties. Casasola has partnered with wine import and distribution company True Terroir to create a Venetian-style restaurant offering a 200-stong wine list, including 70 by the glass. The kitchen will be led by head chef Enzo Bucema, whose “fuss-free dishes” will reflect Italian home-style cooking. The menu will focus on pasta alongside regional small plates and fish, meat and vegetarian dishes.
Reading brewery to open debut pub: Reading-based brewer Wild Weather Ales is to open its first pub. It will reopen The Eldon Arms in Eldon Terrace as the Weather Station on Friday (20 September). The company brews in Silchester and draws inspiration from new-world hops, German malt, and beer styles from across the globe. It produces IPA, stout and American pale ale alongside fruity beer such as peach sour.
Handmade Burger Co closes Manchester restaurant: Better Burger brand Handmade Burger Co has closed its restaurant in Deansgate, Manchester. The 80-cover restaurant opened inside the Old Courthouse building on the edge of Spinningfields in 2014 and survived when the company collapsed into administration three years later. Nine of the group’s sites shut under the insolvency process in 2017. The remaining 20 were saved from closure when the chain was bought out of administration.
M&B to open 23-bedroom hotel in Liverpool: Mitchells & Butlers is to open a 23-bedroom hotel in Liverpool above its All Bar One site in Derby Square. The All Bar One is currently undergoing its own extensive refurbishment. A Mitchells & Butlers spokesman told the Liverpool Echo: “We are pleased to announce we will open an Innkeeper’s Collection hotel in Liverpool. The first Innkeeper’s Collection to open in Liverpool city centre will offer 23 bedrooms with powerful walk-in showers.” The hotel will open on Thursday, 24 October, according to the company’s website.
KFC – healthy food didn’t work for us despite £8m investment: KFC has repeatedly attempted to move away from fried food but abandoned the project because sales of healthier alternatives were so bad, the company has admitted. The fast food giant spent £8m installing ovens in its outlets so it could start selling baked and grilled meals rather than the fattier deep-fried meals for which it is famous. However, a senior executive at the company admitted it has given up after poor sales of three products – the Brazer grilled chicken sandwich launched in 2011, the Rancher sandwich in 2012 and a pulled chicken product launched in 2015. “It didn’t go brilliantly well. We tried and failed to launch a non-fried product,” said Jenny Packwood, head of brand engagement at KFC UK and Ireland. “We were unable to sustain sales. They were just not selling,” she told Public Health England’s annual conference in Warwick. It’s no good launching a product that looks good nutritionally but nobody buys. It doesn’t improve the health of the nation and in terms of sustainability it is a disaster. The firm has also tried to make its French fries healthier by making them thicker, meaning there’s a lower surface area to soak up oil, resulting in an 18% reduction in calories and 12% in fat. “Frankly it has been controversial and we get a lot of grief about our fries,” she said. The company has had more success with a healthy rice box, which includes a single piece of fried chicken surrounded by salad and rice, coming in at less than 500 calories. “It is giving people a little bit of what they love but wrapping it in something healthier.” She described the best tactic as a “health by stealth” approach – gradually removing fat, calories and salt so customers didn’t notice.
BrewDog opens first US bar outside Ohio: BrewDog has launched its bar in Indianapolis, the Scottish brewer and retailer’s first US site outside its Ohio brewing heartland. The 4,000 square foot bar has opened in the Forte Building in Fountain Square offering 24 taps, sour and wild ale from BrewDog Overworks, craft spirits, patio seating and an “upscale food menu”. BrewDog is focusing its US expansion efforts on cities where it received financial support from more than 500 people in its Equity for Punks USA fund-raise. Indianapolis was one of 14 US cities on the brewer’s “hit list” for new sites, with the opening to be followed by launches in Cincinnati next month and a brewpub in Pittsburgh in November. BrewDog operates two bars in Columbus, Ohio, as well as a 42-acre development that houses a beer museum, brewery, taproom and restaurant.
Experiential cinema Backyard opens permanent site as part of Young’s brewery redevelopment in Wandsworth: Experiential cinema concept Backyard has opened its debut permanent site, as part of the redevelopment of Young’s brewery in Wandsworth, south west London. The move follows six years of immersive pop-up cinemas in venues across London, entertaining more than 300,000 customers. The 250-capacity cinema offers seasonal screenings with food and drink provided by London restaurants. Backyard agreed a five-year lease to open the venue at the former Capital Studios building at Ram Quarter, Greenland’s redevelopment of the former Young’s brewery. Backyard founder and creative director Dominic Davies said: “We have experienced incredible growth in recent years, building a loyal fan base across London and beyond. Our new home at Ram Quarter gives us the freedom and artistic licence to create more exciting, innovative experiences for film-goers. We have ambitious plans for the site and we’re already in conversation with a range of partners.” Greenland senior commercial manager Chris Daly added: “Backyard’s offer fits perfectly with our vision to put Wandsworth on the map as a thriving cultural and leisure destination.”
Southampton-based baker to start expansion with cafe at new £3m heritage centre: Southampton-based Hoxton Bakehouse is to start expansion by opening a cafe at the city’s new £3.1m arts and heritage venue, God’s House Tower. The grade I-listed venue, a 700-year-old former jail and part of the city’s medieval defence walls, will open this autumn. Hoxton Bakehouse is led by Florence Hellier and Darren Bland and operates a bakery in Southampton that supplies more than 60 hotels and restaurants as well as its debut cafe, in Winchester. The God’s House Tower menu will include the company’s signature sourdough bread, croissants, Nordic buns and sandwiches alongside speciality coffee from Winchester-based River Coffee Roasters. Bland said: “I am delighted to open a cafe in such a cool space packed with history.”
Red Dog Saloon founder launches Indian-inspired, charcoal barbecue concept in Nottingham: Tom Brooke, founder of Red Dog Saloon and Louie’s Hot Chicken, has launched an Indian-inspired, charcoal barbecue concept in Nottingham. The 70-cover Burra Khana is inspired by the streets of Delhi and Jaipur and countries such as Persia, Turkey and Lebanon. Small plates include taley aloo ki chaat (fried potato in green peppers, tomato and spices on a bed of iceberg lettuce). All bread is freshly made. Middle Eastern dishes include skewers cooked on a charcoal pit and a jumbo king prawn kebab marinated in a yogurt-based paste and cooked in a clay oven. Drinks include signature cocktails and Masala chai tea. Brooke said: “The name Burra Khana comes from Hindi and means ‘great entertainment or feast’, hence the menu is based on conviviality.”