Coppa Club reports 8.9% growth in like-for-likes for second quarter as it ramps up expansion: Coppa Club, the Hugh Osmond-backed concept, has reported an 8.9% growth in like-for-like sales in its second quarter as it ramps up expansion. The period covering January to March was boosted by the launch of summer igloos at Coppa Club Tower Bridge, which led to a 75% increase in pre-booking sales during the opening weekend compared with the same period last year. The brand, which operates five sites in London and the south east, is set to open its next venue in Berkshire in July as part of the £12m refurbishment of Osmond’s Thames-side venue The Swan at Streatley. The venue will be the biggest club to date, with a riverside terrace, library, lounges, gym and 47 bedrooms. As reported by Propel last week, another Coppa Club will launch in Brighton in August. Various Eateries group chief executive Sue Walter said: “Despite the challenges and uncertainty in our sector there remains one constant – people want to feel a sense of belonging and connection. We work hard to understand and integrate into our communities. This, along with our focus on delivering the best possible guest experience, is what makes Coppa Club so special. Our community-first mindset sits at the heart of our expansion plans and we are working with a number of residents and businesses in each location as well as recruiting locally to evolve and grow in line with the needs of our communities. We have had an amazing response to all our openings and it’s great to see guests continue to love what we do.” Coppa opened its debut site in Sonning-on-Thames in Berkshire in 2015 and also operates two London sites and one each in Maidenhead and Henley-on-Thames. Osmond acquired The Swan in 2012 under the Rare Birds vehicle.
Tokyo Industries sells Church nightclub in Leeds: Tokyo Industries, the bar and nightclub operator led by Aaron Mellor, has closed its Church Leeds venue to the city’s university. The venue went out with a bang with a closing line-up featuring Carl Cox, The Martinez Brothers and Nina Kravitz. Church Leeds is set in an 18th century deconsecrated church and Leeds University will extend the site to use it as a library. Mellor said: “The fact a normal person can own a building of such historic proportion has been incredible – if Hogwarts did nightclubs. The building is architecturally outstanding and the coolest thing we’ve ever owned. However, with constantly increasing headwinds of 300% increases in PPL/PRS rates, the National Minimum Wage and general maintenance of an 18th century church, the time seemed right to move on. We will miss the love we have for this venue and Leeds.” Church Leeds was voted the second-best venue in UK in DJ Mag’s “Best of British” poll and has collected numerous design awards for Tokyo Industries and joint venture operating partner Dave Beer, of legendary Leeds club Back To Basics. Tokyo Industries’ portfolio includes 36 sites in the UK and an increasing number of international projects including in Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Ibiza, Dubai and a private island in Croatia. It also co-owns boutique music festival Lost Village.
Wagamama commits to gender-neutral toilets: Wagamama has said it will introduce gender-neutral toilets in 50 of its UK restaurants in time for the inaugural London Transgender Pride on Saturday, 14 September. The company has also pledged that all new Wagamama restaurants will incorporate gender-neutral toilets as a standard design feature. The first site to be converted will be its test kitchen, Noodle Lab, in Soho. Wagamama will also host a series of “mentor match-ups” ahead of London Pride in July. Chief marketing officer Ross Farquhar said: “As the world moves on and in the spirit of good change – or ‘kaizen’ – we have to keep updating what that means for our colleagues and guests. Stonewall estimates there are about 600,000 people in the UK who identify as transgender or non-binary and those people should feel as at home in Wagamama as the rest of the LGBTQ+ community has for the past two-and-a-half decades.”
Soho Coffee Co to launch first international site outside travel hub, opens Marylebone outlet: Artisan food-led coffee company Soho Coffee Co is set to open its first international site outside a travel hub, Propel has learned. It is understood Soho Coffee Co will open the outlet in Qatar within a premium retail mall with a local partner in early autumn. Meanwhile, Soho Coffee Co has opened a site in Marylebone – the first of three new stores due to launch by early September. A second store is launching in the City of London that will “showcase new food concepts”, while a third unit is due to open in Birmingham at the same time. The company has opened its latest outlet in Wigmore Street, which features an extended jacket potato and toastie menu to “reinforce its freshly prepared hot food credentials”. Jacket potatoes include vegetarian chilli with melted cheese and chicken mayonnaise with crispy bacon. Toasties feature the Smokin’ Rooster, a blend of barbecue chicken, bacon and melted Applewood cheese, alongside the Wigmore Yorker, which features turkey breast, peppered pastrami, Jarlsberg cheese and gherkins. With food accounting for an increasing proportion of Soho Coffee Co’s sales mix, the outlet also has the usual grab-and-go chiller offering fruit pots and sandwiches. It also offers triple-certificated coffee, dairy-free and vegan smoothies, and freshly squeezed orange juice.
Rhubarb to run food-led market at 22 Bishopsgate: Food experience brand and events caterer Rhubarb and grass-roots champion The Young British Foodies (YBF) will operate a 20,000 square foot food hub at next-generation work space 22 Bishopsgate in the City of London. The Market will be run in partnership with building owners and developers AXA IM – Real Assets. Occupying communal spaces across the second floor of 22 Bishopsgate, The Market will include a restaurant and adjoining terrace, a wine bar, and a rotating selection of food and drink offerings in street food-style kiosks. The 450-cover market will also house an events space for talks, music and private events. While The Market will only be accessible to the 22 Bishopsgate community during the day, it will open to the public outside business hours and on Saturdays. It will also offer food and catering services to the 12,000 occupants in the “vertical village” development. YBF will source operators for the kiosk elements of The Market, working with “culinary stars of the future”, while Rhubarb will oversee the wider culinary offering and venue management. The design of the market by New York’s The MP Shift and Brighton’s Design LSM will take inspiration from London’s historic guild halls. Harry Badham, UK head of development at AXA IM – Real Assets, said: “We want the offer to stay relevant, adapting and evolving in response to trends and tastes.” YBF co-founder Lily Jones said: “22 Bishopsgate is creating a permanent platform to incubate concepts from the food and drink stars of the future.” Currently under construction, 22 Bishopsgate will also feature an innovation hub, business club, cycle hub and London’s highest free public-viewing gallery. Rhubarb’s portfolio includes London restaurants Fenchurch and Darwin Brasserie, while it is caterer at more than 60 venues in the UK. In March the company opened its first international site, Wild Ink restaurant and bar in New York.
Whitbread proposes tender offer to return £2bn to shareholders: Whitbread has announced the proposed return of up to £2bn to shareholders by way of a tender offer as the second phase of a potential three-phase return of capital programme. The company stated: “On 3 January 2019, the group completed the sale of Costa to Coca-Cola for an enterprise value of £3.9bn. After adjustment for transaction and separation costs, the net cash proceeds from the disposal were £3.8bn. At the company’s capital markets day held on 13 February, Whitbread announced its intention to return a total of at least £2.5bn of the net cash proceeds to shareholders, subject to any more value-creating alternative uses for the cash, through a three-phase programme. The first phase has now been completed, with about £480m returned to shareholders through the repurchase of ordinary shares pursuant to the company’s share buyback programme, which ended on 10 May. The board has decided the appropriate second phase is to conduct a tender offer to return a maximum of £2bn. This phase of the return of capital programme is designed to balance efficiency with recognising the interests of continuing versus exiting shareholders, rather than being designed solely to maximise the amount returned. Shareholders may decide not to participate fully or partially in the tender offer for a number of reasons, including their view of the potential for the value of the company to increase in the future. If less than £2bn is returned through the tender offer, the board will consider a possible third phase to return any remaining surplus cash following completion of the tender offer.”
Chinese chain Happy Lamb Hot Pot to make UK debut, in Bloomsbury: Chinese chain Happy Lamb Hot Pot is set to make its UK debut this summer, in Bloomsbury, London. Originating in Mongolia, Happy Lamb Hot Pot has sites across the US and Canada and has now set its sights on the London restaurant scene. The company will open a restaurant in The Office Group building in Bloomsbury Way, Hot Dinners reports. The concept offers meat, fish and vegetables to dunk in your pot, with cuts of meat such as pork belly, lamb shoulder and offal. Combination platters on offer in the US include a seafood version (white fish, squid, scallops and whole shrimp) and a vegetarian version featuring spinach, lettuce, daikon wedges and mini corn on the cob. There are four soup bases – “milky” bone marrow broth; spicy bone marrow broth; a half-and-half pot featuring a combination of those; and a pickled cabbage broth.
Former Gino D’Acampo right-hand man to open Italian restaurant in Belsize Park:Andrea Casasola, who previously oversaw Gino D’Acampo’s restaurant business, is set to launch his first venture. Casasola plans to launch Calici in Belsize Village, north west London. Based in the former XO premises in Belsize Lane, Calici’s menu will focus on fresh pasta and affordable wine. Casasola told the Ham & High: “We are excited to get going in Belsize Village. Our aim is to bring simple and delicious Italian food and try to make it easier to try fantastic wine that isn’t too expensive. We’re going to have really reasonable prices.” Casasola said pending a successful licensing application – replicating the conditions that were attached to XO before it closed in 2017 – and an extensive internal refurbishment, Calici would open in the summer.
Cake Box founder – we stopped advertising for new franchisees five years ago:Sukh Chamdal, the co-founder of Cake Box, the specialist retailer of fresh cream cakes, said the company hasn’t needed to advertise for new franchisees for five years because of the 70 to 80 applications it receives each month, it turns down 95%. “It’s about quality, not quantity,” Chamdal told The Sunday Times. From the first site that opened in east London, Cake Box now has 115 stores run by 63 franchisees. The recipe for success is simple – fresh cream sponges are baked at Chamdal’s base in Enfield, north London, and delivered weekly to franchisees, where they are decorated. The average annual gross profit of a Cake Box shop is £98,000 so franchisees quickly make back their initial investment, co-founder Pardip Dass said. However, franchisees have little entrepreneurial freedom as big decisions are left to the central office. “We want followers rather than leaders,” said Dass. “We don’t want people using their initiative and developing different products for us.” If a potential franchisee has previously run a big franchise brand such as Subway or Domino’s Pizza, they are rejected because “they will have their own ideas of how businesses should be run”. “We want them to do it the Cake Box way,” Dass said. Chamdal and Dass listed their business on the junior AIM market in June last year, crystallising a combined £50m fortune. Franchisees own 10% of the shares, offered to them at a pre-float discount, and the value of Cake Box has risen by more than 25% since, giving it a market capitalisation of £64m.
Boparan to open fourth Slim Chickens, in Birmingham this month with conversion of former Ed’s site: Boparan Restaurant Group is to open its fourth Slim Chickens, in Birmingham this month. The company is transforming its former Ed’s Easy Diner at the Grand Central shopping centre. The new-look, 1,151 square foot venue will accommodate 61 covers and create 30 jobs, six of which have been offered to former Ed’s Easy Diner employees. Boparan closed 27 Ed’s Easy Diner and Giraffe sites after creditors agreed to its company voluntary arrangement in March. Boparan chief executive Tom Crowley told Insider Media: “The feedback on our previous Slim Chickens UK launches has been overwhelmingly positive so we’re thrilled to open our fourth location, in Birmingham. Our restaurant will offer a true Southern US hospitality experience and we look forward to welcoming our first customers when we open our doors on Tuesday, 25 June.” Boparan holds the master franchise rights for Slim Chickens in the UK and currently operates two sites in London and one in Cardiff, with plans to open further outlets for the brand. Slim Chickens opened its first location in Arkansas in 2003 before expanding to other US southern states to quickly reach the 80-site milestone.
Burger & Lobster opens first Singapore site: Burger & Lobster has opened its first restaurant in Singapore. The venue has launched at Jewel, the new mixed-used development at Changi airport. The 81-cover restaurant is at Canopy Park on the top floor of the development overlooking the Rain Vortex, which is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall at 40 metres. Alongside Burger & Lobster’s core menu, new dishes have been introduced, inspired by local flavours. The decor mixes “nature with urban energy” and features marble, handmade crackle-glazed tiles and live lobster tanks. The move is part of the company’s global expansion plan, with further restaurants scheduled to open in the US and Asia. Owner Misha Zelman said: “We have secured an iconic Singapore location in Jewel and we’re excited to evolve the Burger & Lobster brand in such a ground-breaking global innovation at the heart of south east Asia. The partnership marries perfectly with Burger & Lobster’s obsession with offering products in the most fascinating locations across the world.” Burger & Lobster operates nine sites in London, two in New York and one each in Bangkok, Dubai, Genting and Kuwait City. In October, the company reported a return to profit a year after pre-tax losses hit almost £11m as the company closed four UK restaurants to focus on London and international expansion. The company said it would use London as a “test kitchen” for concepts it could roll out internationally.
Aikens closes Tom’s Kitchen site in Birmingham: Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens has closed his Tom’s Kitchen site in Birmingham. Replying to a customer query about booking a table, the chain tweeted: “Unfortunately, we have now closed in Birmingham.” The Mailbox restaurant was Aikens’ first UK venue outside London when it opened in January 2017. A Mailbox spokeswoman said: “The Mailbox and the operators of Tom’s Kitchen are in discussions and we hope to be able to provide an update soon.” In an interview with Birmingham Live in January, chef Glynn Purnell, who owns two restaurants in the city, Michelin-starred Purnell’s and Purnell’s Bistro, said: “The last time I remember it being this bad for restaurants was in 2008 when the recession hit. The problem is there are too many restaurants now and not enough weekday demand to fill them.” Aikens now has two Tom’s Kitchen sites in London, in Chelsea and Canary Wharf, while he also operates restaurants in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Hampshire-based distillery hits target in £375,000 fund-raise to expand production and move into rum and whisky markets: Hampshire-based Winchester Distillery has hit target in its £375,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand production and move into the rum and whisky markets. The company, founded by Paul Bowler in 2014, is offering 8.11% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £4,250,000. So far, 448 investors have pledged £375,660 and the campaign is “overfunding”. The pitch states: “With an average sales growth of 82% year-on-year to £714,085 in November 2018 (profit: £68,055), the business has grown organically over five years – with no external finance – from just one gin brand to a portfolio of more than ten premium gins and a Hampshire wasabi vodka. Production is up to 1,000 bottles per week and brands are sold throughout the south of England, online and nationally. UK trade customers include Majestic Wine, Fuller’s and Matthew Clark, plus a vast portfolio of independent retailers. Winchester Distillery’s distilling equipment is now at capacity and investment will allow us to increase production, install a brewhouse, develop whisky and rum, increase UK marketing, explore export opportunities and open an on-site gift shop.”
Rank Group strengthens online offering with £115m acquisition: The Rank Group, which owns Mecca Bingo and Grosvenor Casinos, has strengthened its online operations by agreeing to acquire Stride Gaming for £115.3m. Rank Group said its 151p-a-share offer had been recommended by the Stride board and been backed by investors covering 61% of the shares. The deal would be funded entirely by debt, the Telegraph reports, although its net debt of £130m is “expected to reduce quickly”. The Rank Group operates 63 casinos and 82 bingo halls. Chief executive John O’Reilly said after completion of the deal, online revenues would account for 25% of the company’s business, with that figure “set to grow”.
Touro exits regions as it shuts Brighton site: London-based Brazilian steakhouse restaurant Touro has shut its only regional site, in Brighton. The company, which operates three venues in the capital, has closed the outlet in West Street six months after being targeted by vegan activists, reports Kent Live. A sign in the window stated: “Dear customers. We regret to inform you Touro Brighton is now closed. You can still enjoy Touro in London. The Touro family apologises for any inconvenience caused.” The Brighton restaurant hit the headlines in November when 20 vegan activists from Direct Action Everywhere entered and showed footage of cows being slaughtered while diners carved through steaks. Touro’s other restaurants are in Clapham Common, Kensal Green and Wimbledon.
Wine producer Boutinot reports revenue nears £140m as on-trade UK sales ‘continue to forge ahead’: Manchester-based wine producer, importer and distributor Boutinot has reported turnover of almost £140m as on-trade UK sales “continue to forge ahead”. The company also repaid the final tranche of its post-buyout finance in the first quarter of 2019, “putting it in a strong position to further fund its expansion in the UK and internationally”. The announcement comes as Boutinot reported turnover increased to £139,557,656 for the year ending 31 August 2018, compared with £133,541,200 the year before. UK sales were up to £119,816,581, compared with £115,383,786 the previous year. In the rest of Europe turnover rose slightly to £10,948,747, compared with £10,753,126 the year before, and in the rest of the world it was up to £8,792,328, compared with £7,404,288 the previous year. Pre-tax profit grew to £3,272,424 compared with £2,192,569 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. The company said it had continued to see growth since the year end. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The year saw steady growth in the UK market with sales to the on-trade sector continuing to forge ahead despite the challenging environment for restaurants. Strategic focus on independents also helped maintain the group’s strong position within this important sector. The group repaid the final tranche of its post-buyout finance in the first quarter of 2019 putting it in a strong position to further fund its expansion in the UK and internationally and to continue investing in its winery projects.”
Danieli Holdings plans ship container leisure hub in Sunderland: North east-based Danieli Holdings is proposing to build a seafront leisure hub in Sunderland using repurposed shipping containers. The company, which operates a similar scheme called Stack in Newcastle, has been working with Sunderland City Council on the mixed-use development at a site opposite Seaburn promenade. Seaburn’s Stack will host food and drink outlets, retailers and live entertainment within a structure built using “stacked” shipping containers. Designs show a predominantly two-storey structure surrounding a central courtyard with a small three-storey section to the front. The inner ground floor will include seating and a stage, while the first floor will provide a decked area offering sea views. Danieli Holdings is ready to submit a planning and licensing application and trading could begin by the end of the year. Director Neill Winch told Insider Media: “Much like Newcastle we want this Stack to be a relaxed, creative environment with activities, food, drinks and music that appeal to people of all ages.” Danieli Holdings also operates pan-Asian restaurant and cocktail bar The Muddler, Hadrian’s Tipi and the Duke of Wellington in Newcastle, and Yolo bars in Ponteland and Newcastle.
Euro Foods Group to enter budget hotel sector with three South Wales sites:Gwent-based food distribution company Euro Foods Group is planning to break into the budget accommodation sector and will open its first three hotels in Newport and Cwmbran. The company said it hoped to address the shortage of accommodation in and around Newport once the International Convention Centre Wales opens at Celtic Manor resort later this year. The first hotel in Newport is planned above Euro Foods’ cash and carry on the Reevesland Park Industrial Estate. Plans have been submitted to convert the first and second floors into accommodation, with 14 en-suite bedrooms and a self-service breakfast bar. The cash and carry would remain open with parking spaces shared between hotel guests and wholesale customers. A spokeswoman told the South Wales Argus: “The hotel will be a budget hotel but aimed at the three to four-star hotel market and business users.” If planning permission is granted by Newport council, the company said it would turn its attention to opening a hotel in the city centre. A third hotel is earmarked for empty offices at the company’s headquarters in Llantarnam.
Moonshine Bars bids to start expansion of Bavarian concept, in Canary Wharf:Moonshine Bars, which operates The Rose gastro-pub in Chelsea and The Loose Box Bar & Kitchen in Westminster, has submitted plans to open a second site for its German bierkeller concept, Munich Cricket Club. Moonshine Bars opened its debut 350-cover Munich Cricket Club in Victoria in April 2016. The concept offers German food such as currywurst, schnitzels and sauerkraut alongside traditional Bavarian beer in two-pint steins, cocktails, wine and schnapps. The company has applied to take over a space previously occupied by tapas restaurant La Tasca in a listed former warehouse in Hertsmere Road. Munich Cricket Club has applied to stay open until midnight, Sunday to Wednesday, and 1am at weekends, the East London Advertiser reports.
Paul Heathcote to open high-end restaurant in Bolton’s Albert Halls this month:Former multi-site chef Paul Heathcote is to open a high-end restaurant in Bolton’s Albert Halls this month in what will be the final piece of the venue’s multimillion-pound refurbishment. The restaurant will be called The Northern and launch in a space formerly occupied by canteen Dido Suite after the chef’s catering company, Heathcote & Co, signed a ten-year partnership with Albert Halls last year. The Northern will offer “much-loved traditional dishes updated to cater for modern tastes”. Heathcote told The Bolton News: “The Northern’s logo is inspired by Bolton’s heritage of a working class town – honest, solid, strong, reliable and down to earth but with vision and foresight to develop and change. The restaurant will feature all these characteristics, with food drawing inspiration from the past, reinventing dishes for 2019.” Heathcote closed the last of his 12 restaurants in 2016.
Long lease of Macdonald-operated Cambridgeshire hotel put on market for £1.4m: The long leasehold of the Haycock Hotel, a grade II-listed property in the village of Wansford in Cambridgeshire, has been brought to market for an asking price of £1.4m. Set in almost ten acres of grounds on the river Nene, the hotel is a 16th century former coaching inn with 48 en-suite letting rooms, bar and dining areas, and a business centre with a 300-cover function room and various meeting rooms. The property also has several patios and car parking for 300 vehicles. The hotel has been owned by Judith Carter since 2003. Tim Gooding, director at Christie & Co’s Ipswich office, who is handling the sale, said: “The Haycock is one of the best-known hotels in the region. Its iconic status, history and scale will undoubtedly attract interest from across the market.”