Pure launches CVA process: Healthy food-to-go concept Pure has become the latest sector operator to launch a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). Propel understands the 22-strong company is working with advisors RSM on the proposals and expects the CVA process to complete on Wednesday, 7 October. Co-founder Spencer Craig told Propel: “We really did not want to do a CVA. It was the last option we considered. We took every other possible measure but in the end, the lack of people in central London has led to an unsustainable position for us. And with government guidance on working from home changing again last week, there is now unlikely to be any improvement until 2021. We have been a little surprised by how many people have not wanted to return to see their colleagues or enjoy the wonders of central London. We love both of these things. London is an ecosystem of the demand created by the people that work here, visit from its suburbs, and international tourists. There are so many wonderful restaurants, shops, theatres, museums, live events and a public transport infrastructure to support this demand. But if you remove office workers from this system, there will be far, far less for everyone to enjoy and then we are into self-fulfilling decline. But we have faith in London to return. Landlords have been very supportive. They recognise we are in this together. We have been talking for more than six months and their support has got us to this point and will continue to allow us to recover. Although we had no option other than a CVA in the short-term, we are confident about what the future holds. In February this year, Pure was an award-winning, high growth food-to-go business opening our first site in an airport. We had invested significantly in our older estate with refits and had an ambitious expansion plan over the next 24 months. Over the medium and long-term we will find a solution to this crisis because of our incredible team. Their spirit during the early stages of lock-down and their desire to improve since our estate has reopened has been inspiring. We will innovate and come back a stronger business over the next few years.”
Polpo files notice of administration: Polpo, the restaurant business founded in Soho in 2009 by Russell Norman and Richard Beatty has filed a notice of administration, according to The Times. The restaurant chain, which operates sites in Soho and Chelsea, declined to comment on the report. Last month, Norman stepped down as director of Polpo. The business underwent a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) last year. Propel had exclusively revealed the business was seeking a CVA and would sell two loss-making central London sites as it faced a £500,000 tax bill and a deteriorating trading position. Earlier this year, Propel revealed the business had placed two of its sites in the capital, in Farringdon and Covent Garden, on the market through property adviser CDG Leisure. It also closed its remaining regional site, in Brighton. Last year the company put its Polpetto site in Soho’s Berwick Street and eponymous restaurant in Notting Hill Gate up for sale, with the former taken over by all-day concept The Breakfast Club.
Andrew Wong’s City restaurant Kym’s Bloomberg Arcade closes permanently: Andrew Wong’s Kym’s restaurant at London’s Bloomberg Arcade has closed permanently after just two years trading. Backed by the White Rabbit Fund, Kym’s was an attempt by Wong to move into more mainstream territory. A spokesman for the business said: “It is with a heavy heart we have decided not to reopen Kym’s. The decision comes after careful consultation with all partners and staff. We’re extremely proud of the Kym’s team and everything we’ve achieved since opening our doors in the City. It has been a fantastic journey and we’re grateful to Bloomberg for their support.” Wong’s other restaurant, the Michelin-starred A Wong in Victoria, which he opened in 2012, remains open.
Social Entertainment Ventures remains committed to expansion: Social Entertainment Ventures (SEV), the US and UK experiential leisure operator, has said it remains active in pursuing new opportunities for its brands in both countries. The company, which saw revenue for the 12 months to the end of 2019 increase year-on-year by 27% to £19.1m and adjusted Ebitda up 39% to £1.8m, said it continued to review opening plans for its pipeline of new sites in the US and UK. The group’s latest update includes the first full year’s trading from Flight Club Chicago, which SEV operates under licence in North America. The company opened its second Flight Club in Boston in December 2019, which pre-pandemic had traded “very successfully”. In the UK, its new bingo concept Hijingo was set to open in mid-March but its launch remains on hold due to coronavirus. SEV chief executive Toby Harris said: “What happened in 2019 seems a lifetime ago but it was a great year for us. Current trading during this period appears to be in line with our peers and both our US and UK teams are working very hard to navigate their way through all the challenges. London and Chicago have been tough given the lack of city centre action and we have only this week reopened in Boston. On a positive note the spacing between playing areas and the spaciousness of our venues certainly means that our guests feel safe and can still have fun.”
Robinsons sees increased managed investment and external sales fuel growth: North west brewer and retailer Robinsons has reported an increase in continued operations turnover of £4.4m, with total group turnover of £75.0m for the year ended 31 December 2019. During the year Robinsons sold its free trade business to LWC, allowing it to focus on its tenanted and managed pubs, contract brewing and bottling businesses. The company – which operates 257 pubs, inns and hotels across the north west – had a “progressive” year in which it acquired seven pubs, including the Individual Inns business in December. This acquisition has contributed towards the doubling of the number of managed pubs to 20 by the end of the year, with 165 bedrooms. Additionally, following a record investment year in the pub estate during 2018, the company invested a further £7.6m including significant investments at 19 pubs alongside many smaller developments. Robinsons also reported an increase in total group operating profit of 13.5% to £3.7m. The company said results were boosted by a strong trading performance and effective cost management across the business. In particular, the managed pubs increased their turnover contribution by 28.8% to £14.3m. Turnover in the tenanted estate grew 2.0% and profit by 2.5% despite a reduction of nine in the number of pubs, through one disposal and eight transfers to the managed estate. The year saw modest like-for-like growth across wine, spirits and soft drinks as well as the beer category. William Robinson, managing director (pub division), said: “Over the past five years we have developed a managed estate with pubs in exceptional locations; we remain acquisitive for the right opportunities. However, the ongoing development and success of our tenanted estate underpins our business. Our family business is well-funded and we secured independent bank funding outside the government backed loans. Presently the hospitality sector looks towards this autumn and winter with understandable concern and we will have to plan for 2021 with caution. Longer term, we remain optimistic about the opportunity for growth while remaining committed to supporting our great licensees and team members at the brewery and within our pub estate as much as possible.”
Japan Centre to open Heddon Yokocho ramen bar: Japan Centre is to launch Heddon Yokocho ramen bar in Mayfair on Monday, 12 October. The group said its new site, which is taking over the spot of former Japan Centre restaurant Sakagura in Heddon Street, is inspired by the yokocho alleyways of Japan and will have a 1970s feel through its use of retro signage and bright coloured lanterns. The menu will showcase ramen broths from across Japan, including tonkotsu; Sapporo Miso – miso-based chicken and pork; Hakodate Shio – salt and miso-base; Vegan Napoli – tomato-based with grilled tomato and mushroom; and The Yokocho – soy-based chicken and pork with slices of barbecued pork, topped with manma bamboo shoots, naruto fish cake, nitamago egg and nori seaweed. Also on the menu are karaage, buns, gyoza and maki roll sushi. Drinks include Japanese draught beer, highballs, sake and chu-hi – traditional Japanese alcoholic drinks made with shochu.
Decimo and Le Comptoir Robuchon among 1 October reopenings: Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’ restaurant Decimo is set reopen on Thursday, 1 October. Decimo, located on the tenth floor of The Standard hotel in central London, will initially open for dinner only on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with the full à la carte menu available from 6pm to 10pm. Mayfair restaurant Le Comptoir Robuchon, which endorses the legacy of “chef of the century” Joël Robuchon who died in 2018, will also reopen on 1 October. It will continue to showcase modern, innovative and seasonal recipes – now through new head chef Dario Avenca, who will also oversee Le Deli Robuchon. Executive chef David Alves has developed the menu at the Clarges Street site, which includes highlights such as Le Thon – smoked tuna tart with avocado guacamole and citrus dressing, while the Plates Degustation a Tendance Japonaise comprises a selection of five sushis, a salad of green beans with sushi rice and girolles and a flat-iron steak glazed with soya sauce, aubergine and garlic. Yopo at The Mandrake hotel, near Tottenham Court Road underground station, is also set to reopen on 1 October. It will have a new menu inspired by executive chef George Scott-Toft’s travels through Argentina, Chile and Peru, in South America in late 2019. Dishes include octopus, artichoke and olive empanadas; and prawn ceviche, tepache and nasturtium. Larger sharing plates include roast pork belly, grilled spring onions, salad of pickles and onion seed taco; while desserts include Guatemalan chocolate mousse, coconut, buckwheat and almond.
The Wine Cellar team opens 163 Upper Street wine bar and kitchen: The team behind The Wine Cellar on Highgate’s Swain’s Street – Jay Turner and Oliver Beetlestone – opened 163 Upper Street wine bar and kitchen on Friday (25 September). The Islington site serves a broad choice of wines, priced from £14 to in excess of £100, reports Hot Dinners. Turner and Beetlestone previously worked at Wild Food Cafe and Cafe 41. At 163 Upper Street, customers can expect bar snacks such as homemade Scotch eggs and hasselback potatoes, plus small plates such as beef tartare and burrata with black truffle. Other drinks available include cocktails and eight beers on tap.
Burger specialist Truffle opens permanent site in Soho: Truffle has opened its first bricks-and-mortar burger restaurant in Soho. The Tom Bickers-run pop-up burger site located in Seven Dials Market now has a permanent fixture in Bateman Street, Soho – a location that used to be home to Bonnie Gull Seafood Shack. On the menu is the classic Truffle burger – beef and smoked bacon patty, fig jam, crispy onions, raclette cheese and truffle mayo – at £8.50. Also included are aged beef burger (£9), double patty cheeseburger (£10), a vegetarian version of the Truffle burger using a Beyond Meat patty (£9) and Truffalo chicken burger (£9). Extras include Truffle and Parmesan chips as well as a range of drinks.
Shoot The Bull to convert York pub to Solita brand: Yorkshire-based event and food and beverage operator Shoot The Bull is converting its Old House pub in York to Solita having acquired the brand earlier this year. The venue in Low Petergate is being transformed to the bar and grill format having originally opened under the Old House concept in February, reports York Mix. The Solita business fell into liquidation in February 2019. Shoot The Bull subsequently acquired the Solita brand and its restaurants in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and Didsbury while it has since opened a restaurant in Hull Marina. Shoot The Bull also operates The Old House pub in Hull, Shoot The Bull in Hull Truck Theatre and the Rotisserie & Grill at the Kommune food court in Sheffield.
Pizza Hut Delivery partners with Startle to take over Rock and Roll Bingo as it bids to increase brand engagement: Pizza Hut Delivery has partnered with Startle to take over the interactive music provider’s Rock and Roll Bingo for a month as it looks to drive more brand engagement. The takeover will see promotions of Pizza Hut Delivery displayed to players and graphical adverts will run in and around the game. All players during this time will be eligible for 50% off pizza when they spend £30 at Pizza Hut Delivery, with overall winners being awarded “Hut Rewards Slices” that can be used to unlock free items from the Pizza Hut Delivery menu. The fully digitised Rock and Roll Bingo game gives a new twist on bingo by replacing the standard format with much-loved music clips. Mandeep Kaur, digital customer acquisition – assistant manager at Pizza Hut Delivery, said: “This link up with Startle’s Rock and Roll bingo game gives us an opportunity to drive more brand engagement through dedicated exposure during the games, develop brand loyalty through trackable campaign codes and increase the chance of potential uplift in midweek sales through impulse buying.” Since lock-down, Rock and Roll Bingo has launched four games every Sunday, live at 8pm, 8.30pm, 9pm and 9.30pm. Each game lasts an average of 15 minutes with winners required to successfully mark off a line or full house.
Startle is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Park Leisure appoints new chief executive to team as sales soar: York-based holiday park operator Park Leisure has appointed Richard Bates as its new chief executive as sales are growing. Park Leisure has seen a 74% boost in summer holiday bookings and a 47% rise in the sale of caravans and lodges. Bates joins the group – which has 11 parks across the UK with its headquarters at York Business Park, Nether Poppleton – with 30 years’ experience under his belt, including 16 years at Haven Holidays and managing director roles at both Butlins and Warner Leisure. Bates said: “The business has a unique five-star business model and is recovering well following the restrictions, offering families a true sense of safety and security in uncertain times for travel. I look forward to working with the team to complete this recovery and further develop the huge potential in the business, to the benefit of all our stakeholders.” Park Leisure chairman Andrew Bracey added: “Richard has a wealth of experience in the sector and I look forward to working with him as we take Park Leisure to the next stage of its development.”