Caring closes in on £200m deal to sell 25% stake of empire: Richard Caring is closing in on a deal to sell 25% of his entire empire to the former prime minister of Qatar. Caring, whose interests include Annabel’s, the private club in London’s Mayfair, and the Ivy restaurant chain, is understood to have agreed the outlines of a £200m deal with Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani. It would put a valuation of £800m on Caring’s empire, reports The Sunday Times. Thani would have an option to buy a further 25% of the group, depending on its performance. The prospect of a stake sale, first reported by The Sunday Times last month, comes after the renovation of Annabel’s. Caring spent about £65m moving the club – opened in 1963 by Mark Birley and named after his wife – to a refitted grade I-listed townhouse two doors down in Berkeley Square. Caring owns Annabel’s via Mark Birley Holdings, which also owns George, Harry’s Bar and Mark’s Club in London. It posted pre-tax losses of £6.6m on sales of £23.4m in 2017. He owns the original Ivy restaurant and J Sheekey, in Covent Garden, through Caprice Holdings, which made pre-tax profits of £23.8m on sales of £76.8m, and the Ivy chain through Troia, which made pre-tax losses of £3.5m on sales of £98.5m last year. A deal with Thani would help Caring pay down debt and fund further expansion. The talks were first thought to cover Mark Birley Holdings only, but are now said to involve Caring’s entire business operation. Thani was prime minister of Qatar between 2007 and 2013. He oversaw a string of controversial and eye-catching deals, including Qatar’s bailout of Barclays and its swoop on Harrods. As well as the relaunch of Annabel’s, Caring has focused on turning the Ivy into a nationwide chain. There are now about 35 sites, loosely based on the flagship in Covent Garden.
200 Degrees set to open ten new venues in next two years: Nottingham-based coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees is planning to open a further ten venues in the next two years. Co-founder Rob Darby said he wanted the company to continue its “steady growth” and “doing things well” was better than “growth for growth’s sake”. Darby added he wanted to see the company’s high street and coffee roasting sides of the business grow “side by side”. 200 Degrees will open its ninth site, in Liverpool next month and is set for three more before the end of 2019. Darby told The Business Desk: “We don’t want to be too big – but we want to be bigger than we are.”
Aaron Mellor secures licence for ‘high-end cabaret venue’ in Manchester:Entrepreneur Aaron Mellor has secured a licence to open a “high-end cabaret venue” in Manchester. Mellor, founder of bar and nightclub operator Tokyo Industries, will launch Whiskey Down in Lloyd Street after being granted a licence by the city council following a negotiation over opening hours. The club will close at 4.30am on weekdays and 6.30am on Fridays and Saturdays. Mellor told the council’s licensing panel the club would be “exclusive” and mirrored on Crazy Horse Paris and The Box in London. The venue will be set across two floors, one offering theatre-style cabaret performances. Mellor said the club would be a big shift from other Manchester offerings, while he is investing £1m in the nightspot. The club is expected to open in July, reports the Manchester Evening News. Tokyo Industries’ portfolio includes 36 sites in the UK and an increasing number of international projects including in Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Ibiza, Dubai and a private island in Croatia. It also co-owns boutique music festival Lost Village. Last week the company bought smokehouse brand Red’s True Barbecue from administration.
Leon to strengthen presence in London with pair of openings: Natural fast food brand Leon is to further strengthen its presence in the capital, with a pair of openings, in Wimbledon and on the South Bank over the summer. The company, which last month signed a five-year exclusivity agreement with motorway services operator Roadchef, will open new sites at Southbank Place and in Wimbledon Hill Road. Earlier this year, Propel reported up to 20 new restaurants are planned over its current financial year – more than half of them overseas. In the UK, this will include a restaurant in Leeds.
Bettys & Taylors Group reports turnover soars past £200m ahead of centenary year: Family-owned Bettys & Taylors Group has reported turnover increased 10% to £208,073,000 for the year ending 31 October 2018, compared with £189,653,000 the year before. Operating profit fell to £11,161,000, compared with £15,084,000 the previous year due to increased costs and “difficult market conditions”, while the company began a major investment programme. Pre-tax profit was down to £10,585,000 compared with £16,038,000 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “During the year we started a major investment programme to ensure we remain able to satisfy the growing demand for our products. We are expanding our tea and coffee manufacturing site in Harrogate and investing in new equipment and our operating systems. As we approach our centenary year, we are building on the achievements of the business and are passionate in our desire to continue to develop products that will delight our customers for years to come. Overall there has been investment in plant, machinery and IT systems of £8.9m in the year (2017: £3.9m). At the end of the year, the group had cash balances of £32.5m, a reduction of £5.5m from the end of October 2017, and total shareholders’ funds of £126.2m.” Based in Harrogate, Bettys & Taylors comprises six Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms, tea and coffee merchants Taylors of Harrogate, Bettys Cookery School and its online business.
Megan’s lines up sixth site: Megan’s, the south London-based cafe and deli concept owned by Tossed founder Vincent McKevitt, has lined up a sixth opening, in Wimbledon. The company, which earlier this year opened a site at the Battersea Power Station development, is understood to have secured the unit at 86 High Street, Wimbledon, for an opening this summer. The dog-friendly cafe concept focuses on all-day brunch, switching to dishes such as pan kebabs, charcuterie boards and home-made baklava in the evening. Earlier this year, Propel learned the company was looking to raise circa £6m with the goal of operating 17 sites by the end of 2021. Megan’s was founded in 2004 as a daytime cafe in King’s Road and was acquired by McKevitt in 2014. It also has sites in Fulham, Parsons Green, Balham and Clapham.
Red’s True Barbecue founders ‘fought off rival bid from Temper to secure majority of business after it went into administration’: The founders of smokehouse brand Red’s True Barbecue fought off a rival bid from Imbiba-backed Temper to secure the majority of the business after it went into administration, Propel understands. The eight-strong company was subsequently bought last week by Tokyo Industries, with its Liverpool restaurant closed. The investment will allow Red’s True Barbecue to expand into the UK festival and international markets. Founders James Douglas and Scott Munro, who will remain with the business, are believed to have explored a number of options in the past few months in a bid to avoid administration. Writing in his latest column for Premium subscribers, Propel insights editor Mark Wingett said: “It’s thought this included a potential seven-figure deal with a global food manufacturer for a retail range. By February, the company had started a long-term residency at BrewDog’s bar in Friar Lane, Leicester, subsequently taking over the ground floor of the venue as a restaurant. Again, this was viewed as another possible long-term solution for the business, with BrewDog understood to be keen to explore the relationship further. However, the spectre of administration was thought to have closed both those avenues. I understand Douglas had been working tirelessly to secure the business’ future, which came to a head in the past month. He fought off a rival bid by Imbiba-backed Temper to secure the majority of the business and made sure Munro and himself would continue to play a role in it.”
Restaurant and cafe operators gear up to open at Royal Wharf development: A host of restaurant and cafe operators are gearing up to open at the Royal Wharf waterside development in London’s Royal Docks in Newham. Japanese concept Sushinoen will add to its Whitechapel High Street site. It offers an omakase menu of sashimi and nigiri alongside grilled dishes and donburi. Coffee shop operator Triple Two will add to its portfolio with an outlet next to Royal Wharf’s Clubhouse. The menu will include toasted sandwiches, wraps and salad boxes alongside coffee. L’Atelier, an all-day cafe, bar and restaurant focusing on classic French cuisine, will open as will New York-inspired Little Hudson Cafe. They will be joined by Taiwanese concept Azuma and Kaboom Lounge, which will serve a Mediterranean menu with a “contemporary twist on classic dishes”, reports Hot Dinners. The venues will open this summer with the exception of L’Atelier and Kaboom Lounge, which will open later in the year.
Goals Soccer Centres reports UK like-for-likes up 10.8% but provides no further update on VAT investigation: Goals Soccer Centres, which suspended trading of its shares on AIM in March while it investigates a £12m VAT misdeclaration, has reported UK like-for-like sales are up 10.8% for the 25 weeks to 22 June 2019. In a trading update ahead of its annual general meeting, the company said: “As stated previously the company is performing well and is cash generative. Goals operates a total of 49 small-sided soccer centres, 45 in the UK and four in the US. Across the 45 sites in the UK like-for-like sales were up 10.8% and the game count had increased 12.8% year-on-year. The company’s US sites are trading strongly. Net debt levels remain around £29m. As reported on 8 March 2019, while Goals has exceeded one of its covenant thresholds, the company continues to work positively with the bank within its existing facilities.” However, Goals Soccer Centres provided no further update on the VAT investigation or whether it had managed to complete its 2018 full-year audit by the deadline on Sunday (30 June) as per AIM rules. The company has appointed Deloitte to help “assess its options”. All resolutions were passed at the annual general meeting despite shareholder Sports Direct calling for a vote of no confidence in the Goals Soccer Centres board over its handling of the VAT investigation.
SSP wins contracts for new F&B operations at Helsinki and San José airports:SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, has won a tender to open four new cafes and restaurants at Helsinki airport in Finland. SSP will open champagne bar Helcin; tearoom Oh My, it’s tea time, which offers a high-quality tea selection; and Finnish café concept Café Koivikko. There will also be a juice bar called Helsinki Smoothery that serves fresh smoothies and juice. Finnish airport operator Finavia is currently carrying out a €1bn development programme at Helsinki airport. Meanwhile, SSP America has been awarded a new food and beverage contract by the City of San José to develop and operate six restaurant concepts at Norman Y Mineta San José International airport. They are Mexican concept Olla Cocina, a restaurant with James Beard Award winner David Kinch, a regional food market, American-style tavern The Farmers Union, California-based Peets Coffee and Jim Stump’s Taproom & Kitchen.
Wok to Walk franchisee eyes north west expansion after opening second site:Asian fusion chain Wok to Walk franchisee Ismail Adam has opened a second site and is eyeing further expansion in the north west. Adam has opened a restaurant in Manchester’s Barton Arcade with support from HSBC UK. The new branch is expected to bring in £800,000 in sales over the next 12 months. Adam, whose other site is in Leeds, told Insider Media: “This is the north west’s second Wok to Walk and it’s a privilege to bring it to the heart of Manchester. The franchise offers the ability to create our own stamp on the business and we see great potential for further expansion across the north west with the support of HSBC UK.” Wok to Walk was established in Amsterdam in 2004 and has circa 20 sites in the UK.
London gay nightclub XXL faces closure to make way for £1.3bn development:One of London’s biggest gay nightclubs is facing closure to make way for a £1.3bn apartment, hotel and office development. Developers backed by investors from Malaysia and Singapore have given XXL, which has been operating in Southwark for 19 years, three months to wind up after its owners lost a court appeal. The development that will be built above the club’s railway arches and on neighbouring land will include towers rising to 34 storeys with 489 apartments, a hotel, offices and shops. The club’s arches will be occupied by independent shops and put to as-yet-undecided cultural uses, developer Native Land has said. James McNeil, who co-runs the club, told The Guardian: “It was the only LGBT bar or venue left in Southwark. It is like we have been socially cleansed of LGBT venues. We are one of the few venues serving the 30-plus community.” McNeil and fellow owner Mark Ames said they had proposed an LGBTQ cultural venue in the new development but the plan had not been adopted. A Native Land spokesman said: “The consented redevelopment will open up a previously inaccessible quarter of Bankside to the public, delivering a mix of offices, independent shops, three cultural venues, apartments and a minimum of £65m of affordable housing for Southwark.” Night tsar Amy Lamé said she would try to save XXL, which she described as “a crucial part of the city’s LGBT+ nightlife”.
Former The Dairy head chef opens bakery and grill in Brentford: Ben Rand, former head chef at The Dairy in Clapham, has opened a bakery and grill in Brentford, west London. Rand has teamed up with Janine Edwards, former head pastry chef at Little Bread Pedlar in Bermondsey, to launch Rye By The Water. The venture is backed by The Dairy founders Robin Gill and Dan Joines. The venue in Catherine Wheel Road is part bakery, part restaurant. On the bakery side, the menu offers naturally leavened sourdough as well as croissants, pain au chocolat and seasonal fruit Danish pastries – all made in-house. It also serves coffee, sandwiches and salads courtesy of London-based restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept Caravan. In the evening, the menu changes to dishes from the grill along with pizza. Drinks-wise, as well as beer, wine and cocktails, there is Joines’ Vault Vermouth, reports Hot Dinners.
Merlin Entertainments chairman – ‘City failed to value us’: The chairman of Merlin Entertainments blamed the markets and “uninformed sell-side analyst notes” for undervaluing the theme park operator after it accepted a £4.8bn bid from a consortium led by the Danish billionaire owners of Lego. Sir John Sunderland, 73, chairman of the leisure group behind Alton Towers and the London Eye since 2009, told The Sunday Times: “Any news flow, either from the company or because of factors like the terrorism incidents in London – or indeed some fairly uninformed sell-side analyst notes – can all have quite a volatile effect on the share price, which is disproportionate for the underlying value of our company. That’s been our frustration, both for the long-term shareholders and for the management of the business.” Sunderland’s complaint came as Merlin recommended a 455p-a-share offer from a group led by its biggest shareholder, Lego owner Kirkbi, and including private equity giant Blackstone and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Kirkbi and Blackstone jointly controlled Merlin for eight years before it listed in London in 2013. The offer, worth £6bn including debt, is a 15% premium to Thursday’s (27 June) closing price and 37% above the share price last month when New York activist ValueAct penned an open letter to the board urging it to take the group private. Sunderland said ValueAct, which has a 9.3% stake and is supporting the deal, had not influenced the board’s decision. Merlin had knocked back three earlier offers of 425p, 435p and 450p from the consortium. Despite welcoming the deal, shareholders echoed Merlin’s complaints. Richard Buxton, of Merian Global Investors, which owns 1.4% of Merlin, said: “The current, frustratingly short-term nature of markets means the share price has never reflected the future opportunity for the business. After 18 months of stasis, we reluctantly accept that going private is the correct approach at this time.”
JD Wetherspoon takes Cornish pub off market after Tim Martin has change of heart following visit: JD Wetherspoon has taken a pub in Cornwall off the market after chairman Tim Martin had a change of heart following a visit to the site. The Chapel An Gansblydhen in Bodmin, which operates under the company’s Lloyds banner, was one of 16 sites put up for sale by Wetherspoon in March. But the company has confirmed the pub in Fore Street has been removed from sale. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told Cornwall Live: “It is no longer for sale. The pub will continue to trade as normal. Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin visited last week and had a change of heart.”
Paris-based Italian trattoria brand Big Mamma doubles up in London: Paris-based Italian restaurant brand Big Mamma has opened a second London site. The company, which launched Gloria in Shoreditch in February for its UK debut, has opened Circolo Popolare, or Circolo for short, in Rathbone Square, Fitzrovia. Circolo offers Italian cuisine inspired by summer days in Sicily and is Big Mamma’s ninth restaurant. Co-founder Victor Lugger said Circolo showcases a home-made and “slightly over the top” menu, including metre-long pizza, pasta dishes served in hollowed-out cheese, skewers from a Sicilian grill and a one-litre sundae with giant cookie chunks. More than 20,000 bottles of spirits line the walls of the restaurant, which is 9,000 square feet and accommodates 280 diners. There are large sharing tables and 60 seats on a terrace.
Lendlease launches next phase of F&B leasing at south London development:Lendlease has released details of its plans for local independent businesses to operate alongside established London brands within the Elephant Park development emerging in Southwark. Food and beverage, leisure and retail units will form part of phase two of the development at Elephant Park. The 16 units total 37,000 square foot and are clustered in two distinct areas – Ash Avenue, which will be a run of large format cafes and restaurants; and New Kent Road and Chatteris Quarter, which will have a mixed retail offer with a health, fitness and well-being focus. The initial aim will be to secure a range of businesses from the local area. Working with its partner, Southwark Borough Council, Lendlease will host an open day at Elephant Park on Wednesday, 10 July. London-based operators with a footprint in the capital that would potentially add to the character of Elephant Park are also being targeted. That continues the approach taken during phase one, where a number of established brands are opening alongside independent local businesses, such as Mercato Metropolitano’s new MM Factory concept. Lendlease has been working in partnership with Southwark Borough Council to deliver a £2.3bn regeneration project in Elephant & Castle since 2010. The development is across three sites – Elephant Park, Trafalgar Place and One The Elephant – with a final completion date of 2025. CF Commercial, Nash Bond and Shelley Sandzer are the agents for phase two of the Elephant Park development.
 
Black Sheep Coffee launches summer menu as it adds to City presence: Black Sheep Coffee, the speciality coffee shop operator, has launched its summer menu to coincide with its latest City opening. The 35-strong group has opened the outlet in Cutler Street in Houndsditch. The company has also launched its summer menu, which includes a limited-edition summer Belgian waffle, featuring strawberries and cream. There is also the Haugesund Dreamer – a savoury treat with Norwegian brown cheese. The updated menu also includes a number of new cocktails. Brand and franchise director James Sarjeant said: “A seasonal menu is important in our industry – it lets us be creative while keeping our customers satisfied with a range of new options.” Black Sheep Coffee recently raised £13m in a new funding round to support growth.
Kent business Macknade to open food and drink hub at Ashford scheme: Kent business Macknade will launch a food and drink hub in Ashford. The company will open the 5,123 square foot venue at the Elwick Place development in the town centre. Building on its Faversham food hall, Macknade’s new outlet will offer an all-day dining experience, bar and delicatessen. There will be a mix of individual and communal tables located centrally among the service counters. Macknade managing director Stefano Cuomo told Insider Media: “My family business started life at Macknade, near Faversham, more than 170 years ago and this year we celebrate 40 years of retailing. It is an honour for me to see Macknade grow and for the whole team to be part of the exciting development of Ashford and its wider community.” Macknade joins Travelodge and cinema operator Picturehouse at the scheme.
Midlands-based Indian street kitchen and bar concept to open second site:Midlands-based Indian street kitchen and bar concept Indico is to open its second site. Owner Faheem Badur plans to add to his venue in Parkgate Shopping Centre in Shirley with a site at the Mailbox in Birmingham. Indico’s menu is inspired by the north Indian street food scene and features chaats and curries. The interior at the Mailbox venue will, like its sister site, feature customised artwork and graffiti. Badur told The Business Desk: “We opened our restaurant three years ago and since then have made a name for ourselves for serving high-quality Indian street food in a unique, artistic atmosphere. We’ve grown in popularity quicker than we thought possible, making now the ideal time for our next venture. Quality, authenticity and overall service is at the heart of everything we do and we feel a real connection with the Mailbox in this respect.” The Mailbox reopened in 2015 following a £50m refurbishment and is a mix of restaurants, retail outlets and offices.
Operator behind proposed Kent theme park signs deal with Paramount: The operator behind a proposed Kent theme park has struck a deal with Paramount Pictures, the studio behind films such as The Godfather and Mission: Impossible. The London Resort will feature two parks set over 535 acres and is expected to feature 3,500 hotel rooms. Paramount joins BBC Studios and ITV Studios at the destination and will work with The London Resort to create a range of attractions. London Resort Company Holdings chief executive Py Gerbeau told Insider Media: “The partnership with Paramount is fantastic news for everyone. Now the best of Hollywood will join the best of British from BBC Studios and ITV Studios to create amazing experiences for the whole family.” Kevin Suh, president of themed entertainment and consumer products at Paramount Pictures, added: “The London Resort represents a truly global resort opportunity and we’re delighted to play our part in bringing iconic movies to life in immersive experiences and rides.” The London Resort will be on the Swanscombe Peninsula and is forecast to create 30,000 jobs when it opens in 2024.