Wingstop secures five new UK sites, ups regional expansion play: Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out US chicken brand Wingstop across the UK, has secured five further sites, including three in prominent shopping schemes across the country, Propel has learned. The company has agreed a “trilogy” deal with landlord Hammerson to open three new regional locations at its Bullring (Birmingham), the Oracle (Reading) and Cabot Circus (Bristol) schemes. Following the opening of its tenth UK location in Gloucester Road, South Kensington, late last year, Wingstop UK is now set to open sites in the former EAT at the Bullring, the former Chick-Fil-A at the Oracle, and the former Dorothy Perkins in Bristol’s Cabot Circus. With plans to reach 20 locations in the UK by the end of 2021, Wingstop is also set to open this year in Canary Wharf and Kingston-upon-Thames, where the brand will be occupying the former Pizza Hut located in Kingston town centre. The brand, which operates more than 1,500 locations worldwide, is expected to announce further regional openings in the coming month. Tom Grogan, director of Lemon Pepper Holdings, said: “We are delighted to have agreed this significant three site deal with an institutional partner such as Hammerson, this trilogy provides us with accelerated regional presence in high-profile locations over the next two quarters. Since covid-19 hit early last year, our business has evidently faced challenges yet our team and model has been able to quickly adapt for accelerated growth in off-premises transactions. We are now well capitalised to take advantage of an adjusted real estate market and we are on track to open ten locations this year.” In 2020, Wingstop’s system-wide sales increased to $2bn, marking its 17th consecutive year of same-store sales growth. Lemon Pepper Holdings opened Wingstop’s debut UK site in Shaftesbury Avenue in London’s West End in 2018. Sammy Weinbaum at CDG Leisure acted for Lemon Pepper Holdings.
Cricket-based concept Sixes secures second London site: Sixes, a cricket-based competitive socialising concept from the founders of Mac & Wild, has secured its second London site, in Fitzrovia, and is eyeing a regional launch, Propel has learned. The concept is the brainchild of Mac & Wild founders Andy Waugh and Calum Mackinnon, but run as a separate business from their restaurant operation. Launched briefly last December in Fulham, the business is backed by a number of former professional cricket players, including ex-England captain Sir Andrew Strauss. Propel understands the company has secured the former Villandry site in Great Portland Street for an opening in May, which is when it will also reopen its debut site in Farm Lane, Fulham. It is thought the company is in advanced talks for the concept, which features a cricket simulator, restaurant and bar, to make its regional debut later this year. Will Biggart, of Torridon, acted for Sixes.
Honi Poké secures Fulham site: Hawaiian poké specialist Honi Poké has secured its eighth site in London by acquiring a unit in Fulham. The company, which is led by founder Vladimir Martynov and Richard De La Cruz, formerly of two Michelin-starred Sergi Arola and three Michelin-starred Quique Dacosta, has secured a site in Jerdan Place, with an opening scheduled for April. The acquisition complements Honi Poké’s sites in Soho (Dean Street), Fenchurch (New London Street), Marylebone (Margaret Street), Battersea Park Road, Chancery Lane, Hammersmith (Lillie Road) and in the Oxford Street Selfridges. Davis Coffer Lyons advised on the Fulham deal.
Mercato Metropolitano secures first site in Germany: London-community food market Mercato Metropolitano, which earlier this year unveiled plans for a £35m expansion into Europe and the US, with ten more markets creating 2,000 jobs, has secured its first site in Germany. The company, which is currently looking to raise about £5m towards its expansion push, is to become an anchor tenant in the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden in Berlin. The company plans to deliver ten more markets around the world, focused on some of the biggest cities, with three more London sites plus ones in Atlanta, Boston, Miami and New York in the US and Berlin, Lisbon and Milan in Europe, creating about 2,000 jobs by 2025. Longer term, further markets are planned for secondary cities in the UK and globally. The company will open a Canary Wharf site and a second market in Elephant and Castle this summer, followed by a new site in Ilford in the autumn. The business ratcheted up sales of almost £10m last year despite its two sites being closed for four months with limited opening for a further six months due to the pandemic – it puts its success down to its unique business model. Managing director Amedeo Claris said the secret lies in creating a business that is truly inclusive, sustainable in every aspect and firmly rooted in the communities it serves. The company is understood to have lined up institutional investors, landlords and high-net-worth individuals to take part in the funding round. P-Three acted on the Berlin deal.
JD Wetherspoon corrects slew of Businessweek false statements: JD Wetherspoon has corrected a slew of false statements that appeared in a Businessweek article about the company. The article said Wetherspoon plays “host to drunken students”. The company stated: “This is a serious allegation to make about a pub company. ‘Playing host’ in this way would be unlawful, since pubs have a legal obligation, enforced by the licensing authorities, to prevent drunkenness. Pub liquor licences can be lost if legislation is not adhered to. Wetherspoon has never, in its history, lost a licence on these grounds.” The article says Wetherspoon is “sacrificing worker pay for affordable prices”. The company stated: “However, average Wetherspoon pay, excluding management grades, is 12% over the minimum wage. In addition, Wetherspoon paid bonuses and free shares to employees equivalent to 55% of its profits after tax in the past 15 years – 15,032 employees own shares in the company. Since the share scheme was introduced, Wetherspoon has awarded 20.6 million free shares to employees, approximately 16% of the shares in issue today.” The article said Wetherspoon “took advantage of a beer supply surplus to secure cheap contracts”. The company stated: “This is untrue. The company has never been made aware of a ‘beer surplus’ and believes ‘taking advantage’ would be impossible since beer is produced in short cycles in line with current demand.” The article said Wetherspoon “unlike traditional pubs, divides its pubs into grid-like seating plans, reducing the frequency of chance interactions”. The company stated: “This claim is completely untrue. There is no observable difference between Wetherspoon seating layouts and those of many competitors. The reference to reducing interactions is entirely fictional.” The article said Wetherspoon “leverag(ed) its scale to beat out smaller competitors”. The company stated: “This is misleading. There are far more competitors now in the hospitality industry than there were in the past – coffee shops, restaurants and cafes, which sell many of the same products as Wetherspoon, have grown exponentially. Many smaller pub competitors, trading in close proximity to Wetherspoon, like Loungers, Fuller’s, Young’s and St Austell have grown substantially.” The article referred to Wetherspoon as the “most-hated” pub company. The company stated: “This is untrue. An independent market research survey by CGA BrandTrack of 5,000 consumers in 2018, for example, reported that Wetherspoon is ‘the preferred brand to eat out at’. A similar survey in 2019 also by CGA BrandTrack, found Wetherspoon was the ‘stand-out choice for branded drinking occasions’.”
Fuller’s finance director to step down: Fuller’s has announced Adam Councell has informed the board of his intention to step down from his current position as the company’s finance director. The company stated: “Adam has decided to return to the services sector to take up a role with Marlowe in due course, where he has been given the opportunity to rejoin a former colleague from Restore. The search for his replacement is under way and shareholders will be kept updated, as appropriate. In the meantime, Adam will remain with the company in the role of finance director, and on the board, until such time as his successor has been identified and in order to ensure an orderly handover. While the board is naturally disappointed with Adam’s decision, it would like to take this opportunity to express its appreciation for the contribution that he has made during his tenure with the company.”
Taco Bell to open drive-thru restaurant on former Pizza Hut site in Lincoln:Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell is to open a site in Lincoln. Taylor Lindsey has been granted permission from the city council to convert the former Pizza Hut restaurant on land to the south east of Nettleham Road into a Taco Bell, along with a new drive-thru lane. The restaurant is expected to create almost 60 jobs, reports Insider Media. A statement submitted on behalf of the applicant said: “As well as bringing a well-known national operator to Lincoln, the proposals will lead to direct and indirect employment opportunities.” A council document said: “The design of the development is acceptable, complementing the architectural style of the local surroundings.” Taco Bell operates more than 50 sites in the UK. The company has more than 7,500 restaurants across the globe with Glen Bell having opened the first in Downey, California, in 1962.
Butcher & Brew opens second London site: Craft beer and butchery Butcher & Brew has opened a site in Islington, north London. The business has been established in Streatham for a few years and has now opened on Islington’s Upper Street. The site was open very briefly before the current lockdown but has returned to serve craft beer and meat. When restrictions ease, it will also offer in-store drinking and dining. Its current lunch menu offers customers the likes of aged beef steak sandwiches and pork belly sandwiches, plus roasted cauliflower and truffle soup, beef chilli bowls and bacon rolls. Hot Dinners reports the menu is likely to change regularly during the coming weeks. Butcher & Brew is also selling steaks from its ageing cabinet at the front of the shop. When it opens fully, beer, wine and small plates will be the central dining-in offer, using the space it has outside at the rear of the store.
Pizza specialist Mozza signs for debut England site at White Rose Shopping Centre: Pizza specialist Mozza will open its debut England site at White Rose Shopping Centre in Leeds. Mozza, which has sites in Aberdeen, Dundee, St Andrews, Silverburn and two in Glasgow, has agreed to take a 2,273 square foot space at the West Yorkshire destination venue from commercial property landlord Landsec, which owns White Rose. It will join the likes of burger brand Frankster’s and international restaurant brands such as Five Guys and Wagamama. Mozza serves Neapolitan pizzas cooked in wood-fired ovens. Mozza owner Sep Marini said: “It’s extremely exciting to be opening up our first site in England, highlighting the strength of Mozza as a brand.” Mozza will open to the public when restrictions are eased. Pudney Shuttleworth and JLL acted as joint agents for Landsec at White Rose. Reis Short & Co acted for Mozza.