KFC UK reaches 700-site mark in restaurant reopenings: KFC has said it has now reopened 700 of its circa 950 sites in the UK and Ireland. It said as well as delivery and drive-thru, more than half are now back open for takeaway as well. KFC re-emphasised it was being careful in how it managed reopenings, with strict new rules and hygiene measures in place as well as a limited menu. It stated: “The restaurants will look a little different to how they did before. We’ve made a few changes to ensure we’re offering takeaway in a way that’s responsible as it is convenient. These include protective screens, gloves and face masks for our teams as required and social distancing guidance clearly marked on the floor. Ultimately, the well-being of our guests and teams remains the most important thing – so if we can’t reopen a restaurant responsibly, we won’t.” The company said the newly opened restaurants also mean it can donate more of its food to the NHS and key workers.
Cote secures extra space to match at-home service demand: Cote, the 96-strong French brasserie chain, has moved to match the increasing demand for its delivery service, Cote At Home. The company, which launched the service in response to closing all of its sites due to government restrictions, is converting a newly acquired warehouse space into a refrigerated order fulfilment warehouse solely to cope with new demand. Meanwhile, it is creating a new production kitchen to keep up with volume. Now available nationwide, Cote At Home offers consumers the chance to order main meals, sides, desserts, wine and items from the company’s butchery. It requires a £40 minimum order. There is free delivery with purchases of more than £80 and £4.95 on all other orders. Deliveries are made Monday to Saturday, between 7am and 6pm.
Black Sheep Coffee reopens three sites for delivery and takeaway: London-based speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee has begun a phased reopening of its circa 35-strong estate. The company has reopened three of its sites in London – in Aldgate, Victoria and Southwark. It is working with UberEats and Deliveroo on its delivery offer. Earlier this year, it made its debut in Oxford and opened a fourth site in Manchester. The group operates circa 30 sites in the capital and two franchise sites in Manila in the Philippines.
Tim Hortons plans new Belfast drive-thru due to demand: Canadian cafe and bake shop Tim Hortons is planning a new drive-thru in south Belfast amid a spike in demand during the coronavirus pandemic. SK Group, which is leading the UK roll-out of the brand, is eyeing a site at the Balmoral Plaza Retail Park in the Boucher Road area of the city. The application from Boucher Developments centres on an area at the north west end of the site, currently used for parking. A report produced by Gravis Planning has confirmed, subject to approval by the city council, the unit will be occupied by Tim Hortons, reports The Irish News. Tim Hortons currently operates three stores in Northern Ireland – two drive-thru outlets in Glengormley and the Connswater Retail Park and a coffee shop close to Belfast City Hall. Two other outlets in Coleraine and Portadown are in the planning process. Last year SK Group indicated it wanted to open 25 Tim Hortons outlets in Northern Ireland.
Restaurant Brands International reports Popeye’s like-for-likes up more than 40%: Restaurant Brands International has said like-for-like sales for its Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen brand were up more than 40% in the third full week of May compared with last year. Restaurant Brands International, which also owns the Burger King and Tim Hortons brands, provided the update as the company reopened restaurants in many markets as coronavirus restrictions eased. Earlier in May, Restaurant Brands International said despite stay-at-home coronavirus orders broadly affecting US restaurants in March, Popeyes posted like-for-like growth of 29.2% in the market during the first quarter. Despite Popeyes’ strong performance in the third week of May, Restaurant Brands International said its Tim Hortons Canada like-for-like sales were trending in the “negative mid-20s”, but up from the “negative mid-40s” in the second half of March, and its Burger King units in the US were trending in “negative mid-single digits”, up from the “negative low-30s” in the second half of March. Restaurant Brands International stated: “Sequential improvement in comparable sales in our home markets has primarily been driven by the continued strength of our safe and convenient drive-thrus; the acceleration of our digital platforms, particularly in home delivery; growth in group orders and family bundles as an attractive and affordable dining option; and an overall improvement in guest perception of how our restaurant brands have positively responded to this crisis.” The company also noted its monthly like-for-like sales were calculated with the exclusion of any restaurant closed for a significant portion of a month. It added substantially all restaurants in its home markets remained open. In other markets, the company said about 60% of its restaurants were open in Europe, the Middle East and Africa; more than 85% were open in the Asia Pacific region – including 98% of restaurants in China; and about 50% were open in Latin America. Many continue to operate with limited service.
Marston’s receives waiver approval from noteholders: Marston’s has received approval from holders of its secured class A notes for a limited number of technical waivers and amendments. The company announced 96.12% of holders voted in favour of the resolution, which Marston’s made as a consequence of the enforced temporary closure of its pubs by the UK government because of coronavirus. A total of 950 of Marston’s 1,400 pubs are held within the security scheme. Last month Marston’s announced a joint venture partnership with Carlsberg UK to create a “best in class, brand-led UK brewer of scale”. The move will allow Marston’s to focus on its “high-quality, well-invested pub and accommodation business while retaining a 40% interest in a larger, more attractive brewing business”.
Travelodge landlords plot to seize control in rent row: Travelodge landlords are plotting to seize control of the hotel chain amid claims rent cuts proposed by its hedge fund owners would leave some facing financial ruin. The Travelodge Owners Action Group, which claims to represent owners of more than 400 of the chain’s 580 hotels, is threatening to block the rent cuts and effectively shut down the company to create “Travelodge 2.0”. The landlords said they could evict Travelodge, owned by GoldenTree, Avenue Capital and Goldman Sachs, and establish a new hotel operator to run their properties instead. Viv Watts, who leads the group, told The Sunday Telegraph he has lined up financial backers and the support of at least 150 landlords. He said: “Travelodge does not own its hotels, so they are reliant on other landlords to invest in the real estate. We have more than £100m in commitments from other private investors to create a Travelodge 2.0. which would give landlords a stake in the company.” The plans represent an escalation of a row between Travelodge and its landlords that erupted as the pandemic forced hotels to close. Travelodge withheld quarterly rents due at the end of March and proposed rent reductions until 2021. Nick Leslau, Travelodge’s biggest landlord with 120 hotels, and Watts claim the company is trying to force through a restructuring under the cover of emergency covid-19 laws that prevent landlords from taking action over unpaid rent. Travelodge wrote to landlords on 13 May appealing for their support, saying it expected to miss out on £350m in lost revenue due to coronavirus. It also warned if landlords did not accept lower rents it would attempt an insolvency process such as a company voluntary arrangement, a court process Watts said he has the necessary support to block.
Camden Market owner expects 80% of F&B tenants to be part of reopening:Camden Market owner LabTech has said it expects up to 80% of its food and beverage traders to be part of the venue’s gradual reopening from Monday (1 June). The market is reopening in phases with retail traders starting to join from Monday, 15 June. A strict one-way system will be enforced across the market site with queuing spots outside shops and directional wayfinding arrows. Maps outlining the correct flow of traffic will also be available at hand sanitiser stations that will be positioned at key points throughout the market. For the foreseeable future, traders will also be expected to adhere to factors in line with government recommendations, including limiting the number of customers entering at any one time; maintaining a strict cleaning regime; and accepting card payments only, where possible. LabTech said it was also extending the rent-free period for all traders it introduced to the market three months ago. While timings are to be confirmed, LabTech’s Buck Street Market is likely to follow the phased reopening approach in the coming weeks.
Barclays – Whitbread compelling in the long term but short-term challenges:Barclays leisure analyst Vicki Stern has said Whitbread is compelling in the long term but has short-term challenges. Issuing an ‘Equalweight’ rating on the shares with a target price of 2,500p, Stern said: “With the £1bn raise, we see a compelling long-term opportunity for the group to accelerate the German roll-out via portfolio mergers and acquisitions such that this could become a meaningful part of the equity story in coming years. We also see scope for the group to transform its UK opportunity by taking advantage of independent hotel weakness as well as the higher leverage of some competitors, which are at the very least likely to be more cash-constrained going forward. While we see some structural long-term risks relating to reduced business travel, we also see opportunity for some of this to be mitigated in Whitbread’s case via share gains. So why not upgrade to ‘Overweight’? For us this is simply a question of time-frames and the unprecedented scale and nature of the near-term uncertainty for a business with such high operating leverage. Being positive here requires ‘looking through’ what we expect to be a very difficult 12 to 18 months for the group in light of social distancing requirements, consumer caution, higher unemployment and reduced business travel budgets, all of which make projecting the pace of revpar recovery exceptionally difficult. Valuation becomes interesting, however, when we look out to 2022-23, which will be possible for some investors, though less so for others. The stock is trading on a pre-IFRS16 price to earnings ratio of 35 times or 12.3 times EV/Ebitda on our base case February 2022E. This falls to 22 times and 9.1 times, respectively, by February 2023E and compares with the group’s historical average one-year forward EV/Ebitda of ten times. We retain our 2,500p target price based on ten times 2022-23E EV/Ebitda (25 times price-to-earnings ratio multiple).”
Sato extends Japanese food delivery service to south London: Yatai, the Japanese food delivery service created by Angelo Sato, has been extended to south London. The concept was brought to life in 2019 by Japanese-born Sato, following a bento box pop-up, Mission Sato, in Old Street, and the launch of his first permanent grab-and-go concept, Omoide, in 2018. Previously operating as a residence at Market Halls in the West End, Yatai is now available to Battersea residents for delivery via Deliveroo as well as click-and-collect. The menu features a selection of sushi and donburi bowls, katsu curries and sandos. Sato worked in Michelin-starred restaurants in Tokyo and New York before making the move to London where he worked under chefs including Adam Byatt and Tom Sellers.
Buzzworks helps deliver more than 40,000 meals to vulnerable residents: Scottish bar and restaurant operator Buzzworks Holdings has helped deliver more than 40,000 meals to vulnerable Ayrshire residents through the lock-down. Chefs and front-of-house staff from the company have joined forces with Ayrshire charity Centrestage to feed locals, with ingredients gifted by charity Fareshare, public donations and Buzzworks’ own suppliers. So far, meals have ranged from mac ‘n’ cheese to Sunday roasts along with daily fresh soup and even pheasant. Alongside providing volunteers to help Centrestage, Buzzworks has also given use of its Bakehouse premises to store cooked meals safely, while its refrigerated van has helped distribute thousands of meals to those who require them. Buzzworks chairman Colin Blair said: “Supporting charities and communities where we operate has always been a key pillar for Buzzworks for many years. However, it has never been more important to give back and we have been truly inspired by our selfless team going above and beyond to help those who require it.”
Group of Derbyshire hotels secures six-figure sum through CBILS: A group of Derbyshire hotels has secured a six-figure sum through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) from Lloyds Bank. The Boar’s Head in Draycott-in-the-Clay, The Lion Hotel in Belper and The Littleover Lodge Hotel in Littleover are owned and run by John Crooks. Crooks, who runs the sites with his wife Gail and their five children, bought The Boar’s Head in 1984, a building originally part of the Vernon estate, which he transformed into a 23-bedroom hotel with an a la carte restaurant to seat 80. The family business now employs 140 people across its three sites, with all staff currently furloughed. Crooks said: “This is the most challenging time our business has faced but we know we’re not alone. Pubs, restaurants and hotels across the region are feeling the same effects that we are and planning for the future is particularly difficult given the uncertainty surrounding when we’ll be able to open again. We must remain optimistic and we’re doing everything we can to ensure we’re ready to provide our customers with the quality and experience they have come to expect from us, when the time comes.”
Plans lodged to transform Nottingham’s Guildhall into £120m hotel and rooftop restaurant: Plans have been submitted for the £120m redevelopment of the Guildhall in Nottingham city centre into a hotel and rooftop restaurant. Locksley Hotels and hotel group Ascena have lodged an application with the city council for a 162-bedroom hotel. It is seeking to demolish parts of the building to construct a hotel set over 13 storeys. The hotel would also include a rooftop restaurant, conference facilities, a bar and spa. The work would take two years to complete. Ascena owns and operates a number of luxury hotels and restaurants in Birmingham and the south west. Aktar Islam, who is a business partner at Ascena and runs Michelin-starred restaurant Opheem in Birmingham, is set to run the rooftop restaurant at the new hotel.