Prominent London members’ club The Conduit placed into administration: The Conduit, the prominent London members’ club that opened just two years ago following a reported £38m investment, has been placed into administration. Quantuma has been appointed to oversee the administration process, which has come about after negotiations about the future of the business with its bank Metrobank broke down. In a letter to its members, seen by Propel, The Conduit said: “After emerging from lock-down, our business has shown real resilience and we had been increasingly confident we had weathered the storm. Over the past weeks, as many businesses during this period have been doing, we have been in detailed negotiations with our landlord, our shareholders, and our bank, to establish a strategy to buy out our debt and secure the future of the business. While negotiations appeared to have been progressing well, and before considering a revised offer, to our complete surprise and dismay the bank closed negotiations abruptly and appointed administrators. We are therefore devastated to be writing to inform you The Conduit will cease trading and The Conduit on 40 Conduit Street will be permanently closed. The Conduit team is completely committed to finding a new way forward. In recent days we have been extremely gratified by significant shareholder support and we intend to write to you again in due course with our next steps on how we, and your membership, will continue in a new form. We are now starting our search for a new home and we’d welcome any leads or suggestions from members of the community.”
Mcilroy joins SEV as new marketing director: Social Entertainment Ventures (SEV), the US and UK experiential leisure operator, has appointed Lesley Mcilroy, formerly of Bill’s and Comptoir Group, as its new UK marketing director. Mcilroy, who has spent ten years in the hospitality industry, stepped down as marketing director at Bill’s earlier this year. She has also had stints at gastro-pub operator Peach Pub Company and brewer and retailer Greene King, and initially joined SEV with a remit to manage the Bounce brand relaunch. Mcilroy joins SEV as it is investing in a refresh of its Bounce brand and launching new technology to support Wonderball, its digitally enhanced gaming platform. With the brand fast approaching its tenth anniversary, and with an expanding pipeline of new sites, the company said Bounce was entering a new phase of growth. SEV chief executive Toby Harris said: “I’m delighted Lesley has joined the team. She’s an excellent fit with our concepts and she’s already delivering valuable insights. We’re excited to be freshening up the Bounce brand and it’s great to have someone of Lesley’s calibre driving it.”
KFC to create 5,400 jobs across UK and Ireland restaurants: KFC is planning to create 5,400 jobs across its 965 restaurants in the UK and Ireland by the end of the year. The company said the new roles are in addition to the 4,300 created since March. Boosted by a surge in demand for online deliveries and takeaway meals during the coronavirus pandemic, KFC is currently on track to hire 10,000 people by the end of the year. The new jobs will be partly supported by the government’s “Kickstart Scheme”, which helps employers create opportunities for 16 to 24-year-olds at risk from long-term unemployment. Launched last month, the programme offers businesses funding to pay staff the national minimum wage in a bid to get young people into work. It is expected to run until December 2021. However, KFC confirmed the roles will be on a permanent basis – either full-time or part-time and offering a minimum of 25 hours per week. Paula MacKenzie, UK and Ireland general manager, said: “With new regional and national lock-downs coming into effect, it’s an uncertain time for many businesses – but due to the phenomenal support from our teams and fans, as well as the governments of the UK and the Republic of Ireland, we’re excited to be able to welcome more than 5,000 new team members ahead of Christmas.”
 
St Austell to cut up to 100 jobs: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery is to cut up to 100 jobs from its workforce. The company said the pandemic has had a significant financial impact on its business with a 90% fall in revenue during lock-down. It’s now consulting with staff. St Austell, which owns more than 180 pubs across the West Country, began its organisational review in July and it is expected to be finalised by the end of November. Chief executive Kevin Georgel said: “Thanks to government support we’ve been able to keep all of our people employed throughout the crisis. However, as the furlough scheme tapers out, we can no longer maintain our current staffing levels. Like all companies in the hospitality sector we must adapt to how the market has changed. Therefore, we need to simplify our business to become more sustainable, overcome the financial challenges we face and safeguard St Austell’s future.”
Red Mist Leisure to ‘give back’ additional cash to apprentices: Pub operator Red Mist Leisure, founded by Mark Robson and Mark Williams, is to “give back” the additional government cash bonus grants to its apprentices to promote and actively support a new generation coming into the hospitality industry. The government is providing additional grants to businesses as part of its recent economic plan. For all new apprenticeships commencing between 31 August 2020 and 31 January 2021, Red Mist Leisure will be giving back the full, additional, cash bonus – between £500 and £2,000 per trainee – to the apprentice, which will be granted in two instalments over the course of the first successful year in placement. The company offers apprenticeship programmes for levels one to five in kitchen, front of house and management positions having launched the programme in September 2018. Robson said: “We recognise the landscape has changed and recruitment in the hospitality industry has been highly affected by the covid-crisis, but we remain committed to the development of our teams and giving opportunity to those who want to enter into this remarkably resilient industry. We have had great success in nurturing incredibly talented apprentices since launching our scheme more than two years ago and I hope, by giving the additional grant bonus back to apprentices, Red Mist will help lead the way by encouraging even more talent into the sector.” New candidates will receive training programmes that vary between 12 and 36 months with a guaranteed full-time role upon completion. Anyone can apply so long as they are aged 16 and over and are eligible to work in the UK.
Chipotle tests raising delivery prices by up to 17%: Chipotle is testing raising its delivery menu prices by up to 17% as bosses predicted sales from delivery could exceed $2.5bn in 2020. The increases vary by test market, company leaders told analysts during the brand’s third-quarter results call. After experiencing a severe decline in like-for-like sales in the second quarter, which reflected the full impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Chipotle posted positive third-quarter results. It reported an 8.3% increase in like-for-likes – compared with a 9.8% decline in the previous quarter. “We’re getting close to being back to where we were performing pre-covid, even though we’re still in a covid world,” chief executive Brian Niccol said. About 85% of the brand’s 2,710 restaurants are operating at limited capacity for dine-in and/or patio seating. Chipotle said ten restaurants, most of which are in shopping centres, remain temporarily closed. The company opened 44 restaurants and closed three sites during the quarter. For next year the brand projects it could open as many as 200 restaurants. Digital sales grew 202.5% to $776m, accounting for 48.8% of sales during the quarter. That’s up from 18.3% from last year. “We believe digital sales could exceed $2.5bn in 2020 – more than double what we did last year,” Niccol said.
Revolution Bars Group to reopen fourth further sites: Revolution Bars Group, which operates the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, is to reopen four more of its sites. The Revolution venues in Blackpool, Cheltenham, Milton Keynes and Newcastle-Under-Lyme will welcome customers back from Monday (26 October). Chief executive Rob Pitcher said: “By taking a phased approach to opening our venues we can ensure our guest and teams are as safe as possible, and team members are trained to the highest quality on safe operating procedures. This is a critical time for the hospitality industry and the reopening of venues has to be done in a measured and calculated way to ensure the lowest risk, and longevity of our plans.”
Chop and Wok opens Wellington site: Birmingham-based wrap and noodle brand Chop and Wok has opened a site in Wellington, Shropshire. The company has opened the outlet in Bridge Road, with the help of a £10,000 grant from Telford & Wrekin Council through its Pride in Our High Street initiative. The site has capacity for about 15 people to eat in and also offers takeaway and delivery. Owner Anil Dass said the decision to open in Wellington was made after identifying a need in the town, and the council grant played a major role in helping the business get up and running. Chop and Wok, which opened its debut restaurant in 2009, operates six sites in Birmingham and one in Wolverhampton. The brand offers dishes such as noodles, rice, soup, curries and a range of sides.
Carver opens cheese and wine shop Funk: Mathew Carver, founder of Pick & Cheese and The Cheese Bar, has launched cheese and wine shop Funk. The outlet in Columbia Road, Hackney, offers more than 30 hand-selected cheeses from across the UK. The shop also features a seasonally rotating line-up of low intervention wine, cider and beer. Mixed cheese boxes are available for collection or delivery too. Carver said: “After the incredible success of our lock-down cheese deliveries and the amazing support our customers showed for British cheese, we knew we wanted to find a way to keep our retail cheese sales alive and a cheese shop felt like the perfect next step. Funk isn’t going to be just another cheese shop, it’s a chance for people to ask questions, try something new and discover what British cheese is all about.”
Drake & Morgan and Antic alumni launch Deptford pub: Calum McKinnon, formerly of London-based bar and restaurant group Drake & Morgan, and James Ross, previously of London pub operator Antic, have joined forces to launch a pub in Deptford. The duo have opened Badger Badger in Deptford High Street, offering a yakitori and fried food menu alongside a selection of beer and board games. The idea of yakitori as the focus came from McKinnon, who felt it wasn’t reaching its full potential in the UK as the “ultimate bar food”, reports Hot Dinners. The menu includes miso-glazed salmon, smoked duck breast and charred cucumber, and tempura broccoli and potato skins. The pub is also be a workspace during the day and Tanuki Gaming runs its gaming room with more than 100 board games available to rent.
Culinary stars on board for virtual-led set of cooking experiences: RA Group, a collection of specialist food and guest services companies, has launched a four-pronged virtual hospitality service that shares culinary experiences and delivers food and drink too – with some of the industry’s biggest names on board. The scheme is called The Restaurants Associates Experience and is split into Experience Events, Experience Masterclasses, Experience Hampers and Experience Hospitality. Experience Events offers customers an online service on different themes, for example, there are tutorials on cocktail shake-a-longs, wine tasting and olive oil and premium ingredients, which include a hamper of products delivered that are needed for each event. Experience Masterclasses are online tutorials – which could be a live stream or pre-recorded – with food delivered that give details on how to make a three-course meal. Expert chefs include Jason Atherton, Michel Roux Jr, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and River Cottage and RA Group culinary director David Simms. Experience Hampers offers fresh produce that is packaged and delivered. Experience Hospitality caters to the workplace with a premium offering for meetings and team building occasions. Each package can be personalised. RA Group managing director Alice Woodwark said: “We’re excited to launch The Restaurant Associates Experience, working with our network of experts and chefs, to offer world-class catering that meets a range of consumer needs in this current climate.”
North west-based CM Fitness opens site on shopping parade: CM Fitness has opened a ground-floor unit in Timperley’s Charles Court shopping parade, Altrincham. The 500 square foot unit has been taken on a three-year lease deal, reports Insider Media. Owner Charlotte Mack said: “This unit met our criteria of being able to offer the ideal judgment-free space and to provide one-to-one sessions, group training and small classes.” Daniel Lee, director of Regional Property Solutions, which manages Charles Court on behalf of the landlord Taylor Anderson Developments, added: “This is a much sought-after parade and we had plenty of enquiries for this unit, which became available due to the previous tenant’s expansion and was let without any void.”
Empire Cinemas to be anchor tenant at £50m leisure development scheme:Independently owned cinema operator Empire Cinemas will be the anchor tenant at the £50m Seaway leisure development scheme in Southend. The project in Essex, which was submitted by Turnstone Estates, was given the go-ahead by the government after years of wrangling. Work is expected to begin in 2021 on the proposal that will include Empire Cinemas’ 11-screen complex with IMAX, and 80-room Travelodge hotel, a 20-lane Hollywood Bowl and other leisure and restaurant offers. The leisure park is expected to create 550 jobs and generate £15m per year. Empire Cinemas chief executive Justin Ribbons said: “Despite the current difficulties caused by the pandemic across the leisure and hospitality sector, Empire Cinemas remains confident that cinema will continue to be at the heart of the community. Watching a film on the big screen is a truly immersive experience like no other – an escape from the ‘everyday’, something that cannot be replicated in home or on mobile devices. We look forward to bringing a new era in cinema to Southend.” Turnstone Estates director Tim Deacon added: “Despite the economic impact of covid-19, we are as committed as ever to delivering the Seaway Leisure scheme, which still meets the needs of Southend in a post-covid world. There has been much speculation on the future of the cinema industry after recent announcements and the ongoing uncertainty caused by covid-19. Fortunately, Empire Cinemas is committed to opening in Southend.”
North east-based urban winery secures second investment: North east-based urban winery Laneberg Wine, which is on the wine lists of restaurants in the region and stocked by a range of high-end retailers, is scaling up its operations after securing a second investment from the North East Small Loan Fund. The company, based in Gateshead, is the most northerly winery in the UK and released its first vintage of white and rosé wine last year using grapes grown at a vineyard in Gloucestershire. Laneberg Wine, founded by Elise Lane, has worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to bring in a further £10,000 investment after securing £35,000 last year. The new investment will help increase production from 9,000 to about 14,000 bottles this year. Lane told Insider Media: “Widening the range of wines we produce will help build brand awareness among an ever-growing range of customers and we’re really excited by the potential of the 2020 vintage.” The North East Small Loan Fund is supported by The European Regional Development Fund.