Coffee shops and restaurants ‘could be first to re-open’ to rescue economy:Conservative peer Lord Gadhia and GlaxoSmithKline chairman Sir Jonathan Symonds have advised government ministers to consider re-opening sectors with ‘greatest multiplier effects’ such as restaurants and estate agents. The new thinking is laid out in a report – seen by The Sun – authored by Lord Gadhia and Symonds, which calls for a limited reopening of high streets. The pair state that Britain must “learn to live with covid” as it can’t be fully defeated until a vaccine is mass produced in 12 to 18-months time. According to The Sun, the report says that the re-opening of coffee shops, estate agents and restaurants is deemed to offer the greatest boost to the crippled economy, but the smallest risk of transmitting the disease. In the report, which is understood to be being circulated across Whitehall, the pair argue that: “The initial focus for reopening the economy should be on sectors that have the greatest multiplier effects with minimum risks – such as coffee shops and restaurants which support agriculture. The property market is another that has wide multiplier effects. We need to avoid a stop-start economy which would sap public morale and damage business confidence yet further.” The report goes on to says that to ensure they are safe, all premises will first have to undergo revamps to ensure social distancing, by installing screens or big distances between tables.

Hornby earns £268,000 in first five months leading TRG after forgoing bonuses:
The Restaurant Group (TRG) chief executive Andy Hornby earned £268,000 in his first five months leading the business, the company’s annual report has revealed. Hornby, who joined on 1 August and succeeded Andy McCue, received the entire amount as fixed pay for the year ending 31 December 2019. He was also due to receive a £98,000 bonus relating to the “stretching” synergy targets being fully met for the Wagamama integration and £5,000 as part of an employee share scheme. This was due to be paid at the end of March but he has volunteered to forgo these as announced by the company earlier this month. Due to his recent arrival, Hornby’s salary remained at £630,000 – although he has volunteered to take a 40% pay cut from 1 April for three months. Meanwhile, chief financial officer Kirk Davis earned a total of £446,000 in 2019, compared with £394,000 the year before. This also consisted of fixed pay. Davis was due to earn a bonus of £109,000 as well as £5,000 under the employee share scheme, but has also volunteered to forgo those. Davis received a 2% salary increase – in line with wider head office team – on 1 January that took his salary to £369,342. He has also volunteered to take a 20% pay cut over the same three-month period. The smaller reduction reflected the “exceptional workload for the finance function”, the company said this month. Last week TRG raised £57m in a share placing to support the business during the coronavirus crisis and anticipated a phased reopening of sites over the remainder of this year.
Canaccord – JD Wetherspoon may need to raise £250m to survive liquidity crisis:JD Wetherspoon may need to raise up to £250m to survive the liquidity crisis, according to analysts at Canaccord Genuity. Issuing a ‘Hold’ note on the shares and reducing the target price from 1,500p to 900p, they stated: “Wetherspoon’s long-standing, capable management team and outstanding ‘value-for-money’ proposition should stand it in good stead when the country starts to reopen for business. In the meantime it has withdrawn guidance, but our scenario suggests it may need to raise up to £250m to survive the liquidity crisis – not only to cope with closure but also potentially a sustained period of weak demand that does not suit its high-volume, high-cost, low-margin business model.” Canaccord said it expects the company is talking to the government about its Coronavirus Corporate Financing Facility and its bankers. It added investors should not fully discount an equity fund-raise, which would “likely not be the preferred route”. Canaccord’s case is based on Wetherspoon being closed for three months, reopening in July. This reduces Canaccord’s sales forecast for Wetherspoon by £460m to £1.35bn for FY20 and by £470m to £1.42bn for FY21. “We admit there could be a wide variation to this scenario but the direction feels right,” the analysts said.
Qoot Restaurant Group looks to appoint operating partner as it pivots business to delivery: Qoot Restaurant Group, which operates a number of fast-growing brands in London, is looking to appoint an operating partner as it pivots its model to delivery. The company, which is bringing Kuwait chef Ahmed Al Bader’s hot sandwich concept 77 Josper Bar to the UK, is opening a number of delivery kitchens for its various brands. These include The Lebanese Bakery, which has launched in Wandsworth and Belgravia. Plant-based brand By Chloe has opened a kitchen in Wandsworth with two more launching in Islington and Crouch End. A kitchen will also be opening for Vegan Dough Co – the vegan pizza concept that was launched last year and has been operating as a virtual brand from Erpingham House’s site in Norwich. To support the delivery kitchen plans, Qoot is hiring an operating partner to lead that part of the business. As a member of the senior leadership team, they will liaise with partners Deliveroo, Seamless and Food Stars to grow revenue “as well as maintain quality standards for all of our brands and help in the strategy and growth in the other markets that we operate”. Vice-president of operations Scot Turner told Propel: “We are adapting the business by opening delivery kitchens so we can continue serving our customers and we are looking for someone who can use our operating and investment platform to grow our brands while developing new concepts and opportunities to achieve the overall profitability for the business. We are also continuing to hire for some of our other brands, including a baker for Dominique Ansel Bakery. I think it’s important to show at what is tough times for the industry we are still open for business.”
Deliveroo extends free meal offer to NHS workers after raising £1.5m: Deliveroo has raised more than £1.5m from customer donations and corporate funding to support free meals for NHS workers through its restaurant delivery partners. The support will allow Deliveroo to extend its offer, now allowing NHS workers to order free meals to their homes instead of just hospitals. NHS workers will be eligible to receive a £20 voucher for Deliveroo, which will cover both the cost of the meal and delivery, up to a value of £20. A total of 50,000 vouchers will initially be made available. Deliveroo has already delivered almost 60,000 meals to NHS hospitals. Food has been donated by Deliveroo’s restaurant partners, led by Pizza Hut, and also including German Doner Kebab, KFC, healthy Asian food chain Itsu, Burger King, Lewis Hamilton’s Neat Burger and Casual Dining Group brand Bella Italia. In total, the value of food donated to the initiative and the money raised from consumers and corporates amounts to more than £3.5m.
Craft Union creates online operator community: Craft Union Pub Company, part of Ei Group’s managed operations, has created an online community to engage and support its operators. The virtual community, which is called the Crafty Squad and run on Facebook, has seen the organic growth of a number of pub-based events created by operators. Members of the closed group can get involved in everything from virtual quizzes, photo competitions and live music performances to brainstorming fund-raising ideas. A number of operators have taken the opportunity to share best practice around operational activities, such as tips for spring cleaning the pub, as well as cleaning lines. Craft Union Pub Company operations director Frazer Grimbleby said: “The true grit, determination and passion of your business really shines through when times are tough, and I couldn’t be prouder of the actions of our operators over the past few weeks. It’s fantastic to see the support network our pubs provide, not just in the heart of the communities they serve, but also for one another.”
Coal Rooms team relaunches as delivery service Fat Boy BBQ: The team behind Peckham restaurant Coal Rooms has relaunched it as delivery service Fat Boy BBQ. Available via Deliveroo from Thursday to Saturday, the concept serves American-style barbecue food including The Peckham In & Out Burger consisting of a single or double beef patty, house burger sauce, Gruyere cheese, Monterey Jack, burnt onion, lettuce and tomato; and Wing & Tings – six deep-fried chicken wings and Jerk barbecue glaze. There is also a combo box featuring two Peckham In & Out Burgers, a portion of wings, a side and sauce of their choosing.
Collectiv Food launches direct-to-consumer offer in partnership with Deliveroo:Collectiv Food, the restaurant produce supply chain and delivery company, has entered into partnership with Deliveroo to bring its produce direct into consumers’ homes for the first time. Called Farmshop, the new company will build on Collectiv Food’s existing direct relationships with farmers and fishermen to provide domestic homes with restaurant-quality food in a time-efficient way. It said the whole process, from ordering to receipt, would take no longer than an hour. With its restaurant clients, such as The Big Easy and Megan’s on temporary hold, Collectiv Food founder Jeremy Hibbert-Garibaldi has developed the sister brand. He said: “Most of these fantastic producers are mainly selling to the foodservice industry, and with restaurant closure – having no direct route to consumers – would either shut down or die, putting families and staff at risk. To help as much as we can and try to prevent this from happening, we have worked hard to find a way to redirect their produce to consumers’ homes. We are masters of restaurant supply chain and delivery but know little about the consumer market. Working with this trusted partner means we can get on with making sure the product is perfect without having to worry about the delivery.”