Burning Night Group appoints new financial director: Burning Night Group has promoted Darren Harvey to financial director as it restructures the business as part of its expansion strategy, Propel has learned. Harvey is a qualified chartered accountant and has worked as finance controller alongside former financial director Chris Pickles for more than three years. Burning Night Group said Harvey had gained a wealth of experience at the company and “proved himself extremely competent in accounts preparation”. Pickles will remain at the company’s head office and lead business development and funding for other businesses outside Burning Night Group. He will not remain part of the company’s board. Chief executive Allan Harper said: “We have implemented these appointments as part of our expansion strategy. Chris and Darren play important roles in our organisations and this restructure will mean they can both focus on certain aspects of the business.” Burning Night Group operates six sites under The Bierkeller Entertainment Complex banner, which houses three concepts under one roof – Bierkeller Bavarian bar, sports bar Shooters and Around the World. It also operates American-style barbecue concept Smokin’ Bar & Kitchen in Leeds and last year secured private investment to launch its Sportskeller concept. It also locates, develops and manages Potting Shed and Fire Pit-branded bars on behalf of the Potting Shed Group.
Taco Bell targets 20 restaurant openings in England in 2018 under new regional manager: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell has said it plans to open 20 restaurants in England in 2018 following the appointment of Jorge Torres as general manager for the region. Yum! Brands-owned Taco Bell currently has a presence in seven European markets – Cyprus, England, Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Romania and Scotland. The company is targeting 30 openings in Europe – 20 in England, three in Finland, three in the Netherlands, three in Romania and one in Cyprus – towards its goal of becoming a $15bn company with 9,000 restaurants globally by 2022. Torres joined Taco Bell from Nestlé Waters Company, where he led global business strategy. Prior to that, he was international brand director for Nestlé Pure Life Global Business Unit, where he led a team responsible for more than $2bn in net sales and a presence in more than 40 markets. Torres is based in Taco Bell’s Woking office with responsibility to drive innovation and new store and new market development. Taco Bell International president Liz Williams said: “Already in the short time Jorge has been with us he has overseen the launch of chicken nachos in the UK, one of the market’s most successful product launches to date.” Earlier this week Caskade Caterers, the Taco Bell and KFC franchise business, secured a £29.4m funding package from HSBC to support its expansion plans, including the roll-out of Taco Bell restaurants across London and southern England.”
Two Heads Beer Co launches £350,000 crowdfunding campaign to open four sites: Independent craft beer retailer Two Heads Beer Co has launched a £350,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open four stores. The company, which is led by former BrewDog head of retail acquisitions James Hickson, is offering 10.0% equity in return for investment. Two Heads Beer Co trades as The Beer Boutique and We Brought Beer brands and currently operates six stores – in Balham, Putney, Clapham, Tooting, Wandsworth and Tunbridge Wells. The company generated revenue of more than £958,000 in 2017. The pitch states: “Across our six sites we sell more than 800 beers, host numerous events and help customers discover a new favourite beer each time they visit. With a focus on quality not quantity, we started the business to share our love of beer and because we want anyone, anywhere in the country to have the best beer on the planet available just around the corner. Two Heads is a fast-growth company with 2017 revenue of £958,991 and Ebitda of minus £103,008. Craft beer is booming, growing at twice the rate of the mainstream beer market. Meanwhile, off-trade consumption overtook on-trade in 2016 for the first time. We believe we are firmly in the right part of a growing market. We are looking to raise investment to expand our concept to more areas in London and the south east, where we believe a beer-thirsty population is underserved. The way people drink beer is changing and we see ourselves at the forefront of this change.” Hickson founded We Brought Beer in 2014. It merged with fellow bottle shop business The Beer Boutique in January, with founder Jon Kaye becoming executive chairman of Two Heads Beer Co.
Starbucks to expand UK community cafe programme to 20 sites by launching 16 venues: Starbucks is to expand its community cafe programme by opening 16 sites across the UK. The expansion, launched in partnership with social platform Neighbourly, will see the not-for-profit cafes added to the four launched since the programme piloted in August. All 20 cafes will be able to place regular orders for essentials such as tea, coffee and milk for their community space. Sites for the new cafes will include Glasgow, Lincoln, Loughborough, Newcastle, Plymouth, Edinburgh and London. Starbucks EMEA communications director Clare Walker said: “Since our earliest days we have recognised the importance Starbucks stores play in the communities they serve. Our community cafe programme in the UK is a great way to celebrate this and collaborate with vital cafe spaces. In Starbucks’ 20th year in the UK, we’re proud to extend our programme to 20 community cafes, linking them to local stores and supporting the invaluable work they do in their communities.”
Wetherby Whaler chain reports turnover and profit boost: Yorkshire fish and chip operator Better Fish, which operates the original Harry Ramsden’s site in Guiseley and four others under the Wetherby Whaler brand, has reported a turnover and profit boost. The company saw turnover increase to £8,997,836 for the year ending 31 October 2017, compared with £8,837,083 the previous year. Restaurant sales rose to £5,437,588 compared with £5,325,739 the year before, while takeaway revenue increased to £3,560,248 compared with £3,511,344 the previous year. Pre-tax profit was up to £1,586,669 compared with £1,472,594 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In a report accompanying the accounts the directors stated: “At the Guiseley branch the company has invested in a new coffee shop, which opened in December 2017. The company shows reduced cash reserves for the year of £0.8m (2016: £1.4m) due to expenditure on the new coffee shop and accelerated corporation tax payments. This is against secured debt of only £0.10m (2016: £0.14m).” The number of employees at the end of the period fell to 225, compared with 239 the previous year.
Almost quarter of shareholders vote against re-election of Ten Entertainment Group non-executive chairman: Almost one-quarter of shareholders at ten-pin bowling operator Ten Entertainment Group voted against the re-election of Nick Basing as non-executive chairman at the company’s annual general meeting. A total of 12,437,603 (23.46%) of votes were received against the resolution out of a total of 53,014,309 cast. Meanwhile, more than 20% of shareholders voted against the re-appointment of Christopher Mills as a non-executive director. A total of 10,674,498 (20.38%) of votes were received against the resolution out of a total of 52,384,309 cast. Ten Entertainment Group was floated in April 2017, two years after the company was taken private in a £40m deal led by Harwood Capital, a vehicle headed by Mills. Basing was previously chief executive of the business before becoming non-executive chairman in March 2017.
The Secret Dining Company acquires fifth site: Derby-based The Secret Dining Company has acquired its fifth site. The company has bought The Devonshire Arms in Belper in a deal brokered by agents Everard Cole. The Secret Dining Company said it would refurbish the venue and reopen it to focus on cask ale and food, introducing a “robust selection of quality Derby and district cask ales as well as an on-trend keg and packaged offer”. Everard Cole director Jon Heald told The Business Desk: “The Devonshire Arms is an attractive pub with enormous potential and we received tremendous interest from a number of operators. Despite a number of offers our client was understandably keen to ensure we secured the right operator for the business and we’re confident they have that with The Secret Dining Company. It has a great reputation with some fantastic outlets in the region and we’re sure it will make the pub a great success.” The Secret Dining Company also operates The Crossing in Burton-on-Trent, the Silk Mill Ale & Cider House and Exeter Arms, both in Derby, and The Rectory in Chesterfield.
Healthy restaurant and dry bar concept Redemption closes crowdfunding campaign after raising £360,000 to open central London sites: Healthy restaurant and dry bar concept Redemption has closed its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after passing its £300,000 target to open two central London sites. Redemption Bar, which is London’s only vegan, sugar-free, wheat-free and alcohol-free restaurant, currently operates sites in Notting Hill and Shoreditch. The company was offering 10.71% equity in return for investment, with funds going towards opening sites in Covent Garden and Southbank Place and a goal of global expansion through franchising. In total, 359 investors pledged £362,680 and the campaign has closed. Former Virgin marketing chief Catherine Salway and restaurateur and chef Andrea Waters opened the first Redemption Bar in Notting Hill in 2015, followed by a Shoreditch sister site in January 2016 that “broke even within the first three months and now generates a 10% net profit per week”. Salway said: “We are on the cusp of a really exciting growth plan. As well as launching two sites in central London, we are very optimistic about ethical franchising across the globe.”
Spanish boutique hotel operator Unico eyes London market: Spanish boutique hotel operator Unico has appointed agent HVS to seek sites in London as it looks to enter the UK market. The Barcelona-headquartered company is seeking purpose-built sites or locations fit for conversion. HVS is looking for sites in London’s Zones 1 and 2 that range from 30 to 120 bedrooms. Unico operates the Grand Hotel Central in Barcelona, and The Principal and Hotel Unico, which are both in Madrid.
Freehold of Cardiff shopping parade that houses Starbucks and KFC on market for £19m: The freehold of a mixed-use parade in Cardiff that is home to Starbucks and KFC has gone on the market for offers in excess of £18,920,000. The 54,122 square foot site, which is on the junction of Queen Street and Dumfries Place, is being marketed through agents Allsop and comprises four retail units anchored by a Sainsbury’s and three floors of office space. The other retail unit is let to Poundland. The site produces an annual rental income of £1,375,741. The weighted average unexpired lease term is 6.3 years to expiry, 4.72 years to break. The price reflects a net initial yield of 6.75% after purchaser’s costs of 7.69%.
Freeths reports turnover up 9.5% to £78.9m: Sector law firm Freeths has reported turnover increased 9.5% to £78.9m for the year ending 31 March 2018, compared with £74.7m the previous year. During the period staff numbers increased significantly, from 158 partners and directors to 183 and a total staff rise from 784 to 844. The firm opened its 12th regional office, in Liverpool last month. It is based in the city’s 20 Chapel Street building. Office relocations also took place in Leeds and Sheffield to acquire more space for the growing legal teams in those locations. Chief executive Peter Smith said: “We are very proud we have continued to grow organically and attract high-calibre lawyers in all our office locations. The financial results are testament to the work our teams put in throughout the year and we recognise this wouldn’t be achievable without everyone’s valuable input so all staff will be rewarded with a bonus payment amounting to 7% of salaries.”
Dog-friendly restaurant brand Megan’s to open third London site, in Balham: Dog-friendly restaurant brand Megan’s is to open its third site in London. Megan’s On The Hill will launch at a former Starbucks site in Balham next month. It will be the company’s first site south of the Thames, joining sister venues in Chelsea and Parsons Green. The venues operate as a cafe by day and transform into a restaurant in the evening, with dogs welcome at any time. Additions to the menu at the new venue in Bedford Hill will include sourdough pizza, shakshouka and “deconstructed kebabs”, Hot Dinners reports.
Douglas Jack – JD Wetherspoon’s asset quality improving as it continues to shift capital away from expansion: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said JD Wetherspoon’s asset quality is improving as it continues to shift its capital away from expansion. Issuing a ‘Hold’ note on the shares with a target price of 1,200p following the company’s third-quarter results, Jack said: “Like-for-like sales slowed to 3.5% in the third quarter versus 6.0% in the first half and 3.8% during the first six weeks of the second half against a slightly tougher comparable of 4.0% (versus 3.3% in the first half). If one adjusts for the early May bank holiday being in the third quarter last year but not in the third quarter this year, third-quarter like-for-like sales would have been up 4.0%. Nevertheless, the company has retained its 4% like-for-like outperformance over the managed pub sector and extended its lead over managed restaurants to more than 6%. There is no update on margins, although we expect them to have been flattish given the pace of like-for-like sales growth versus higher costs (in areas such as labour, utility levies, business rates and the sugar tax). Wetherspoon has opened five pubs and sold 19 pubs year-to-date, and is now guiding to six openings (previously ten) this year. Instead, the company has stepped up the capital being spent on freehold reversions incurring £7.9m in the third quarter versus £7.5m in the first half. Despite this, net debt fell slightly, from £756m to £754m in the third quarter, and is expected to fall to circa £740m at year-end. Wetherspoon’s asset quality is improving as a result of investment, tail-end disposals and freehold reversions (freeholds should now account for circa 60% of the estate). This, combined with growth in machine and accommodation sales, should support full-year margins. Nevertheless, with the shares valued at 9.6 times EV/Ebitda, our recommendation remains ‘Hold’.”
Regional Italian concept La Mia Mamma to launch in Chelsea this month: Regional Italian restaurant concept La Mia Mamma is to launch in Chelsea this month. The 65-cover restaurant will open in King’s Road featuring dishes inspired by the mothers of founders Peppe Corsaro, Corrado Mozzillo and Luca Maggiora. The menu will feature dishes from 20 regions across Italy, and each season a new chef, or “mamma”, will highlight produce from their region. The first mamma will be Lidia Romeo, from Sicily, who will operate a three-month residency and meet and greet guests, meaning dining at La Mia Mamma will be like “having lunch or dinner at her house”. There will also be Sicilian-inspired cocktails and an extensive Italian wine list. Executive chef Marco Giugliano, who has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants and Mayfair’s Il Baretto, will oversee proceedings with masterclasses and demonstrations led by the mammas themselves.
Liana Collection launches best-selling US cachaça brand into UK market:London-based drinks agency The Liana Collection has launched Avuá Cachaça into the UK. Cachaça is Brazil’s national drink and third biggest-selling spirit globally. However, the spirit represents less than 2% of the UK market. Avuá, produced on a small family farm in Brazil, is the best-selling cachaça brand in the US. The Liana Collection director David Wood said: “The market in London and the UK has never been more receptive to exploring new categories and brands they might never have heard of. The founders of Avuá, Nate Whitehouse and Pete Nevenglosky, have done an incredible job of educating consumers in the US about how good cachaça can be and have changed the nation’s conceptions of the category. I believe we have the tools and market to do the same here.” Wood, a former Aspall executive, launched The Liana Collection in January, introducing four spirit brands and one cider to the London market.
Seren Collection completes Grove of Narberth refurbishment: The Seren Collection, operator of luxury hospitality venues in south west Wales, has completed the refurbishment of its boutique hotel, The Grove of Narberth, in partnership with Martin Hulbert Design. Following the team’s transformation of garden cottages into six suites in 2016, the latest work has seen refurbishment of the ground-floor reception, lounges, and restaurant and bar areas drawing inspiration from the Narberth Hills. The interiors champion local materials and craftsmanship including coal, slate, steel, wool, wood and stone. There is also Pembrokeshire artwork and photography, hand-made furniture, vintage lace and quilts, and local pottery. Seren Collection managing director Neil Kedward said: “This is a hugely exciting chapter for us and working with the Martin Hulbert team is always so much fun. His passion to bring the outside in is something that has elevated the spaces and inspired our team.” The Seren Collection’s other sites are Coast and The Kiosk Cafe, both in Saundersfoot, and the Beach House at Oxwich Bay.