NewRiver set to buy Hawthorn Leisure estate: NewRiver, which owns about 300 community pubs, is set to double the size of its estate by buying Hawthorn Leisure in a deal worth more than £100m, The Times has reported. Hawthorn, which is owned by its management and Avenue Capital, an American private equity firm, was put up for sale recently via Sapient Corporate Finance with a price tag of more than £115m. It was formed four years ago when it acquired 275 Greene King pubs for £75.6m. It quickly followed that deal with the purchase of 88 pubs from R&L Properties. The company has since taken over two small packages of managed pubs from Nectar Taverns and JD Wetherspoon, and has sold off about 100 non-core sites. Meanwhile, Hawthorn has opened two pubs in partnership with PG Taverns. The move is part of Hawthorn’s “ongoing commitment to Scotland”, with plans to invest £1.8m in its 106 pubs in the country during 2018. The Jolly Gin And Craft in Falkirk has reopened after a £300,000 internal refurbishment to feature a redesigned bar and an indoor gin garden with its own wisteria tree. The only pub in East Calder – The Grapes – has also reopened following a seven-month, £310,000 refurbishment. Hawthorn chief executive Gerry Carroll said: “Scotland is very important to us as a business and, as one of the major pub companies operating in the country, we have a responsibility to pub owners and managers based there. In recent months we have been in conversation with the Scottish Beer and Pub Association regarding a number of issues, including the Bibby Bill and rates, and we fully support its stance on these matters.”
Whitbread to revise remuneration policy in light of Costa demerger: Whitbread is set to revise its remuneration policy in light of the plans to demerge the Costa Coffee business. Writing in the company’s annual report, remuneration committee chairman Deanna Oppenheimer told shareholders: “Further to the announcement about the future restructuring of the group, the committee believes the current approved remuneration policy, and in particular the long-term incentive plan, will no longer be appropriate. Given the complexity of managing the demerger, it will be necessary to put in place a long-term incentive arrangement that will retain and incentivise executives to execute the strategy effectively, and to protect and create shareholder value over this critical period. We will be consulting with our major shareholders over the next few weeks on proposals for a new long-term incentive plan, and we will be asking shareholders to approve a revised directors’ remuneration policy as soon as practically possible. In the event the revised policy is approved by shareholders the 2018 long-term incentive plan awards, which will be made under the current policy, will be substituted with awards under the new arrangements.” Meanwhile, chief executive Alison Brittain saw her total remuneration for the year to 1 March 2018 fall to £2,336,000 compared with £2,509,000 in her first full year in charge of the company. The total consisted of £808,000 basic salary, benefits worth £22,000, an annual incentive scheme payment of £869,000, a long-term incentive payment of £435,000 and a pension payment of £202,000. Finance director Nicolas Cadbury earned £1,437,000 compared with £1,487,000 the previous year while group human relations director Louise Smalley received £957,000 compared with £988,000 the year before. Each of the executive directors received a 4% salary rise on 1 May 2018, which was “within the same range as the increase given to employees across the group”.
TRG Concessions to take over F&B offer at London Southend airport: The Restaurant Group (TRG) Concessions is to take over to the running of the food and beverage offer at London Southend airport next month. The takeover is part of TRG’s investment of £5m-plus to develop the airport’s food and beverage offer over the next ten years. The sites were previously operated directly by the airport. The development of the catering offer is expected to create further jobs in the airport over the coming year with all current staff being offered contracts with TRG Concessions. TRG Concessions managing director Nick Ayerst said: “We are delighted to have acquired sites at London Southend airport and look forward to trading them with a view to developing further award-winning new concessions at the airport over the next few years. We welcome our new team members into the business and will be investing in them to help support future growth in our Southend business.”
Burning Night Group to open £2.6m combined Potting Shed and Firepit site in Southport next month: Bar company Burning Night Group is to open a £2.6m venue in Southport next month that will house a sixth site for its Potting Shed brand and a first housing two concepts under one roof. Ormsborough, parent company of Potting Shed Trading, which was founded by the Burning Night management team and backed by funds managed by Downing, has transformed The Sandgrounder in Lord Street. The venue will feature a Potting Shed Bar & Gardens on the ground floor, a Firepit Smokehouse & Sports Bar on the first floor and a roof garden with retractable roof and function room. The pub is due to open on Wednesday, 13 June creating more than 50 jobs. The Potting Shed concept features an outdoors-to-indoors garden theme, while Firepit’s Americana decor includes a custom-built Airstream-style caravan for private dining. Isaac Mayne, head of marketing and promotions, said: “Potting Shed and Firepit offer something very different in looks and atmosphere but we believe they’ll work really well together. This is something new for us as a company so we’re pleased to be bringing it to Southport first.” The other Potting Sheds are in Bingley, Beverley, Guiseley, Harrogate and Northallerton, while a seventh site is due to open in Leeds this summer.
Oakman eyes Welwyn Garden City for fifth Beech House site: Oakman Inns and Restaurants has submitted plans to open a fifth site for its Beech House brand, in Welwyn Garden City. The company has applied to convert a three-storey commercial unit on the corner of Howardsgate and Wigmores North in the Hertfordshire town. The unit, which has been vacant since October 2016, was previously used as a post office and convenience store operated by Costcutter. The site extends to about 184 square metres and is part of a much larger block that features two restaurants, a barbers, a nail parlour and an insurance broker. The building is within Welwyn Garden City’s conservation area but is not listed. A statement accompanying the planning application states: “An unsuccessful 18-month marketing campaign has demonstrated there is no realistic prospect of reuse for A1 retail and a previous proposal to change the use of the building to a gymnasium was refused. Planning permission is sought for a change of use to a restaurant/drinking establishment – a use for which there is an identified need within Welwyn Garden City town centre.” Oakman Inns and Restaurants opened its 21st site –The Cherry Tree in Olney in Buckingham – in March.
Remarkable Pubs acquires 15th site: Remarkable Pubs, the privately-owned east London-focused pub company, has acquired the freehold interest of the Boleyn Tavern in Barking Road, bringing its estate to 15 predominantly freehold businesses. Managing director Elton Mouna said: “I am delighted to announce on behalf of chairman Robert Thomas and family, after fractious negotiations, we have exchanged contracts on the Boleyn Tavern. Sincere thanks go to agent AG&G, the sterling work of Naomi Jones of solicitors’ TV Edwards and the Remarkable Pubs headquarters team led by Liz Pallace.”
German Doner Kebab to open 19th site, in Coventry: German Doner Kebab will be opening its19th branch in the UK in Coventry, at the former Cashino fruit machine venue in the Burges. Earlier this year, planning permission was granted, to change the use of the premises from an adult gaming centre to a class A3 restaurant. A new application has been put in place, to install new signage on the front of the property. First opened in Berlin in 1989, the kebab specialists have since expanded across the globe, with restaurants in the UK, the United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Bahrain, and the Oman. Further branches are expected to open in Egypt, the USA and Canada. The meats are imported directly from Germany, and fresh, locally produced vegetables are delivered and used daily. On its website it states: “Our tried and tested methods are totally different to the way other operators make their kebabs. The result is a nutritionally sound gourmet food experience that contains virtually no preservatives or additives and can be consumed day or night.”
New York-style pizza chain NY Fold opens second UK site, in London Fields: New York-style pizza chain NY Fold has opened its second site in the UK, in London Fields, Hackney. The concept is the brainchild of US master pizzaiolo Bruno DiFabio and offers large, thin-crust, hand-tossed pizzas that come in wide slices designed for folding before eating. The 70-cover restaurant has opened in the new Monohaus apartment building in Sidworth Street and features a courtyard. Pizzas include the Pitt Master (pulled pork, bacon and caramelised onion on a brushed crust), while the bar offers beer from several local brewers such as Five Points and 40 Foot, alongside margaritas and espresso martinis. The London Fields site has also seen the company launch a breakfast offering focusing on egg dishes and panzerotti – an Italian pasty stuffed with ham or cheese. Other new dishes include skillets with chicken parm, eggplant parm and lasagne, Hot Dinners reports. The brand launched its first London site in Charing Cross Road in 2015. DiFabio appears regularly on US television, operates ten pizzerias in the country and has won six world pizza championship titles. The NY Fold website states: “Our pizzas are cooked in gas ovens rather than wood or coal-fired ovens, which gives them an awesome and memorable crunch!”
McDonald’s unveils unique design at Sydney airport: McDonald’s has unveiled a new Sydney airport site, where food is delivered to customers via a conveyor belt from a glowing yellow glass box dubbed its “kitchen in the sky”. The “Instagrammable” new restaurant features a see-through kitchen raised high above International Terminal One, with design firm Landini Associates briefed with creating an “iconic, memorable customer experience, like nothing seen before”. “The McDonald’s restaurant in International Terminal One has become one of the most Instagrammed places at Sydney airport,” said general manager of retail Glyn Williams. “And why wouldn’t it? It’s a piece of theatre, full of colour, movement and surprises. People have started arriving early for their flights just to see it.”
Junkbars lodges plans for pizza-focused restaurant, in West Bridgford:Nottingham-based operator Junkbars has lodged plans for a restaurant and cafe in West Bridgford. The company, owned by Nigel Garlick and Sam Dean, has applied to Rushcliffe Borough Council to convert the former Spokes & Co cycle cafe in Trent Boulevard. The restaurant and bar would have pizza as its main focus. If the proposals are approved the mezzanine floor – previously used for fixing and selling bikes – would become part of the planned 150-seat dining area, reports the West Bridgford Wire. Junkbars currently operates three sites in Nottingham – craft beer and deli food venue Junkyard, The Herbert Kilpin pub and the Boilermaker cocktail bar.
MasterChef finalist to start expansion of Woky Ko’s concept this week:MasterChef finalist Larkin Cen is to start expansion of his Woky Ko’s concept by opening a second site in Bristol. Cen launched the concept in Cargo boxpark at Wapping Wharf, winning the best Asian restaurant category at this year’s Bristol Good Food Awards. He will open his new venue – Woky Ko: Kauto – at a much larger site in Queens Road on Tuesday (22 May). The expanded space will allow Cen to extend the menu, with a bar upstairs where diners can enjoy a drink while waiting for a table. Dishes will include Korean fried chicken with ramen noodles, soy egg and umami broth; and shrimp and tiger prawn with lemon and pickled daikon bao. Kauto will also offer new cocktails created by Gary Roper, of Wapping Wharf neighbours Little Victories, and kitchen seating that will allow diners to watch their food being prepared. Larkin told Bristol Live: “Cargo is the core of our culinary and cultural values and our Wapping Wharf base is still very much part of the business. Kauto takes on these values but in a different atmosphere and will enable us to show the breadth of a cuisine I truly love. We want to be more than a restaurant to our customers – we want to be a connection to the culture this food is from.”
Splendid Hospitality Group to launch first venue with Easyhotel in August:Splendid Hospitality Group is to launch its first venue with Easyhotel in August. Work has begun to transform Rainbows Lodge in Reading into a 53-bedroom hotel. The building contract has been awarded to TW Construct, while the interior design project will be led by Axiom Architects. Splendid Hospitality Group signed a franchise agreement with Easyhotel in November 2016. Splendid Hospitality Group chief executive Stuart Bailey said: “This will be our first ‘super budget’ hotel with Easyhotel so we are naturally thrilled at welcoming a new brand to our portfolio. It’s great to be able to bring something fresh and super-affordable to business and leisure travellers coming into the Reading area.” Easyhotel chief executive Guy Parsons said: “We are delighted to expand the Easyhotel portfolio to include Reading. This exciting project takes our pipeline of owned and leased development projects to 1,150 rooms and 1,857 franchise rooms under development.” Splendid Hospitality Group has 19 hotels in its portfolio.
Bob & Berts opens first Belfast city centre site: Northern Ireland coffee company Bob & Berts, which is backed by the Business Growth Fund, has opened its first Belfast city centre store. The company has invested £200,000 in the 3,000 square foot outlet in Fountain Street, which can seat 100 customers inside and another 30 outside, creating 35 jobs. Bob & Berts was founded in Portstewart in 2013 by Colin McClean, with his brother-in-law David Ferguson joining the business two years later. McClean told the Irish News: “We’re now located opposite Belfast City Hall in an area of high footfall and good brand visibility.” In August last year, Bob & Berts announced it was to open 30 stores across the north, Republic of Ireland and Scotland in the next four years having secured £2m from the Business Growth Fund. Its first Scottish outlet will open in Falkirk next month, with another seven outlets planned in the country.
Nando’s to open Birmingham city centre site: Nando’s is set to open a site in Birmingham city centre. The company has submitted plans to convert a former Halifax bank branch on the corner of Victoria Square and New Street. A planning application to create a sunken plant deck, condenser units and extraction flue in the Colmore Row and Environs Conservation Area has been submitted to Birmingham City Council, with public comments required by Thursday, 7 June. The basement will be converted to a gym to be run by a separate company. Halifax closed the branch almost a year ago. Nando’s will be in close proximity to other major restaurant names in the city centre, including Tasty brand Wildwood, better burger brand Byron, Wagamama, Azzurri Group-owned ASK Italian and Michelin-starred Adam’s restaurant. Meanwhile, Nando’s will open its latest site – in Clydebank in Scotland – on Wednesday, 30 May. The company has more than 1,000 restaurants across the globe, with almost 400 in the UK and Ireland.
Friends of Ham to relaunch Leeds wine bar as Irish American concept:Leeds-based bar and charcuterie brand Friends of Ham is to launch an Irish American concept at the sister site it closed in March. The Merrion Street venue, called Ham & Friends, closed less than a year after opening, leaving the company with two Friends of Ham sites, in New Station Street, Leeds, and Ilkley. Now the venue will reopen as Lucky Number 7 this month offering 20 beers on draught, the Yorkshire Evening Post reports. The bar will screen live US college and Irish sports, while it will also offer darts, shuffleboard and an American street food menu with regular kitchen takeovers from local vendors. The owners also plan to host live music nights, beer launches and happy hours.
Starbucks appoints Havas Helia as first European-wide customer engagement agency: Starbucks has appointed Havas Helia as its first European-wide customer engagement agency, following a competitive pitch. The agency will support Starbucks’ regional headquarters in the UK and “provide alignment and share best practices” with 41 markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and “celebrate and amplify how Starbucks connects digitally with its customers”. The review, which kicked off in January, was run through Creativebrief, reports Campaign. Starbucks appointed Iris as its creative agency across the EMEA region last year. When launching the advertising review, the brand said it wanted an agency to help it “celebrate how Starbucks’ coffee leadership comes to life across a diverse region”. Iris was Starbucks’ first specialist creative agency to work across the region. The brand also works with Oliver, which provides an in-house unit that manages in-store and point-of-sale activity.
Malhotra Group relaunches two Tyneside pubs following £500,000 investment: Newcastle-based pub, restaurant and hotel operator Malhotra Group has relaunched two of its Tyneside pubs following a £500,000 investment. The Duke of Northumberland in Newcastle and The Butchers Arms in Byker have both been given a contemporary look, including wood-panelling, exposed brickwork and tiled walls. The company said great care had also been taken to preserve original features and celebrate the pubs’ heritages. Both now stock draught and bottled lager, cider, beer, spirits, cocktails, wine and prosecco. Malhotra Group operations director Atul Malhotra said: “The aim was to retain the unique character and atmosphere of each pub while ensuring they are as relevant to customers now as they as were when they first opened. While we’ve been sympathetic to the buildings, we’ve made sure there’s plenty to entertain 21st century customers. Both venues show live sport and hold various entertainment and karaoke nights.”