TRG paid £895,000 to buy back three Food & Fuel sites: The Restaurant Group (TRG) paid £850,000 to buy back three sites from the 11-strong Food & Fuel business, which was placed into administration in March, Propel has learned. On 24 April this year, TRG exchanged on a deal for Coco Momo sites in Marylebone and Kensington, The Queens in Crouch End, The Roebuck in Chiswick and The Queens Arms in Pimlico, with completion due to have taken place by 12 June, for a sum of £1.6m. However, Propel has learned the company eventually paid £895,000 to acquire the Coco Momo site in Kensington, The Queens in Crouch End and The Queens Arms in Pimlico. It has since also agreed a deal to acquire the Roebuck in Chiswick. However, the company’s interest in the Coco Momo site in Marylebone failed to progress and its was subsequently acquired for £200,000 by Santi & Santi, the company behind Marylebone Leisure Group, and Marmalade Pubs, a joint venture with Ei Group’s Managed Investments segment. In June, Propel revealed London pub operator Market Taverns had acquired another four sites from the former Food & Fuel estate – The Sporting Page in Chelsea, The Queens Head in Holborn, The Lots Road Pub & Dining Room in Chelsea and The Prince Of Wales in Putney. In the administrator’s report, a consideration of £200,000 was received from Market Taverns and a deal for The Lots Road Pub & Dining Room, The Prince Of Wales and The Sporting Page was completed in May. The sale of The Queens Head was completed in June. Of the two remaining pubs placed into administration, The Duke in Richmond and The Grosvenor in Hanwell have been taken back by their respective landlords – Tavern Propco and Rose Six. The Steam Packet in Chiswick wasn’t included in the administration but transferred to TRG’s gastro-pub brand Brunning & Price. TRG acquired the then 11-strong Food & Fuel in September 2018 for £14.9m.
The Breakfast Club seeks managing director: All-day concept The Breakfast Club has begun the search for a managing director as it looks to grow the Charlie McVeigh-chaired, 12-strong business. In a LinkedIn post, co-founder Jonathan Arana-Morton said the business is looking for someone to take the group up to 30 sites. He said: “So, first things first, a bit of honesty. I need an MD because I’m not quite good enough for us right now. In fact, I haven’t been quite up to it for a few years. What 2020 showed me is the weight of responsibility that comes with having the livelihoods of 340 people and their families on your shoulders. You can never take that responsibility lightly. There comes a time when you realise they deserve better than you. You see this business, The Breakfast Club – it’s bloody wonderful. The potential for it is huge, I mean off-the-scale huge and we need somebody to help us realise that potential. Tell me a brand that occupies a space so magnificently and so unequivocally theirs. We are a ‘caf’. Not a cafe, not a shop, not a branch, not a unit, not a restaurant, just a caf. But what a caf! But it’s not only that, it’s a business with a huge heart, it’s community focus has not just been sector-leading but all-industry-leading and I can talk your ears off about this when we meet. And don’t get me wrong, we’ve continued to open cafs, 12 profitable, successful cafs, but it feels like we’ve been in a holding pattern. When this plane should be supercharged, I’ve flown it round in circles. The reason why now is so important is the year 2021. Because 2021 is an open goal for the right business, this business. The opportunity that will exist for businesses that survive will be incredible. So what about you? I need someone to help me fly this plane through 2021 and land it at ‘30 Caf Airport’. I need a leader with drive, determination and a fighting spirit so evident that you could be sat on a horse, wearing blue and white face paint, screaming ‘freedom!’ (not George Michael silly, William Wallace). I’m only interested in the right person – not your background and not whether you’ve been on the hospitality merry-go-round – the same old faces don’t interest me, just the right face. You will be given full support by me. I’ll help you keep this business special. But don’t worry about an ego, a protective ‘nothing must change’ founder, I’ve moved on, I’ve realised this is bigger than me now.”
Findlay – our cash burn rate was running at about £4m a week: Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marston’s, has said that by the end of October, the company’s cash burn rate was running at about £4m a week, including “net of all government assistance”. Talking on Tuesday (17 November) to the BEIS Select Committee to discuss the impact of covid-19 on businesses and workers, Findlay said that of his 1,300 pubs in England, 800 were in tier one at the end of October, 250 in tier two, and 250 in tier three. In Wales, Marston’s had 100 pubs closed at the end of October, and in Scotland it had 21 shut. He said: “If I take the 21 in Scotland, each one is a £2m to £3m investment, each employing 50 to 60 people, so [they are] sizable and significant businesses. The figures I am quoting, bad though they are, may be at the upper end of what you may hear as we are, predominantly, a suburban business. Up to the end of September, our business, with the guidelines and restrictions that were in place, was running at minus 10% year-on-year, which was better than I had expected it to be. Then we went into further restrictions, including the rule of six, table service and 10pmcurfew, which reduced sales again by a further, on average, 10%. As much as anything, it deflated consumer confidence. We then had the tier one, two and three restrictions. As we moved into tier two, there was a further 10% reduction in like-for-like sales, and as we moved into tier three, again another 10% reduction. In tier three, if you were shut, you were 100% down, if you were open at the better end, you were 40% down and if you were a city centre bar, you were somewhere between 50% to 90% down year-on-year. Our cash burn rate was running at about £4m a week, that includes net of all government assistance.”
Thwaites chairman – covid-19 has burdened the business with more strain and uncertainty than I can remember at any time in the past two decades: Rick Bailey, executive chairman of brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites, has said the covid-19 crisis has “burdened the business with more strain and uncertainty than I can remember at any time in the past two decades”. Writing in the company’s annual report he said it was likely people’s habits have “changed for good” but remained positive there is a place for Thwaites in the “new environment we face”. He said: “The drive towards quality within our properties puts them in a good position to be the place of choice should customers choose to go out less frequently. We have good representation in rural locations and national parks, places that people will seek out. The geographic diversity of our properties also provides some resilience should there be localised lockdowns as we continue to respond to the threat of covid-19. It is, therefore, with optimism that we look to the next year and the future, even if the path for the moment is a bit uncertain. I am confident we will navigate this coming year with dynamism and agility to rebuild our teams, our sales and our profitability in order to allow the company to thrive once more.” Bailey said the company had been “having a good year” until the final month of its financial year ending 30 March 2020. In the first 11 months, turnover was up 5% with operating profit running 12% ahead of the year before. Turnover for the full year rose 1% to £98.1m, compared with £96.9m the year before. Underlying operating profit was down to £12.6m from £13m the previous year, reflecting the impact of the downturn in trade from the second week of March and full closure of the business from 20 March. The impact saw profit in that month reduce £2.5m compared with the prior year. Ebitda stood at £19.5m compared with £20.5m the previous year. Profit before tax fell to £3.6m from £4.5m the year before. The company reduced its capital investment programme to £10.8m from £19.5m the previous year and had property disposals of £6.3m. It acquired three sites for a total of £1.8m. Net debt decreased in the year to £65.4m from £69.7m the previous year. Bailey added: “We have suffered several months of losses and are prepared for a slow recovery. We have used the time while not trading profitably to think about how we continue to improve our customer experience as we relaunch the business and start to recover. We have also considered our structures and cost base across all areas of the business, stripping out unnecessary expenditure and streamlining processes to make the business leaner.”
Freeman steps down as All Star Lanes finance director: Charles Freeman has stepped down as finance director at All Star Lanes, the boutique bowling alley operator backed by Luke Johnson, after just a year with the business, Propel has learned. Freeman, who was finance director of the circa 290-strong Orchid Pub Group for seven years, replaced Meera Depala, who stepped down from All Star Lanes last November. Freeman also previously worked at circa 120-strong pub company Tom Cobleigh. On Freeman’s departure, chief executive Graham Cook told Propel: “Following Charles’ decision to explore new opportunities, we have used the change as an opportunity to restructure the finance department. As a result, we’re delighted to announce that Linda Bulloch, Charles’ former deputy, has taken over as head of finance at All Star Lanes. We’d like to thank Charles for his insight and expertise, and wish him the best for the future.” Johnson acquired the then five-strong All Star Lanes out of administration for £2.325m in September through his Risk Capital Partners vehicle. Since launching its debut venue in Holborn, All Star Lanes has opened sites in Westfield Stratford City, Westfield White City, Brick Lane and Manchester. The company now operates four sites in London having closed its Manchester outlet in September, which was subsequently acquired by Lane7, the bowling alley, ping pong and karaoke concept.
TGI Friday’s chief executive joins Valley Ridge Holdings board to advise on £500m staycation project: TGI Friday’s chief executive Robert Cook has joined developer Valley Ridge Holdings as an adviser to the board. Cook, who was formerly chief executive of Malmaison hotel group – where he drove the development of both the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin brands – is joined as a board adviser by real estate veteran David Church. Church is known for advising on the £1.7bn sale of the Broadgate office and retail complex in London while he was managing director and head of real estate and lodging at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Valley Ridge Holdings is the developer of a 284-acre site in Suffolk that was formerly known as SnOasis, which is on course to become a leading premium leisure resort in the UK’s growing staycation market. The £500m destination site is scheduled to open in 2023-24. It will offer self-catering accommodation including eco-friendly wooden lodges; sports and retail facilities; a snow dome housing a range of winter sports facilities including one of the largest indoor ski slopes in the UK; a state-of-the-art water park, spa and cinema; a 350-key four-star hotel with conference facilities and bars, restaurants, cafes and a country club. It is expected to attract 1.4 million visitors annually given the surge in the staycation market. Valley Ridge Holdings director Cameron Ogden said: “David and Robert are highly experienced in their fields and bring a stellar track record in delivering major projects.” Cook added: “The vision for Valley Ridge is that of a truly differentiated destination resort. The combination of sport, fitness and well-being coupled with a thoughtful and relevant culinary offering to suit all tastes is exceptional. The quality of accommodation and ease of access will ensure that Valley Ridge will become the go-to for UK staycations.” Church said: “Valley Ridge represents a tremendous opportunity to create a very special destination, one of very few like it in the UK, in a supply-constrained market.”
Chilango makes regional dark kitchen debut: Mexican restaurant brand Chilango, which earlier this summer was acquired out of administration by investment group RD Capital Partners for £1m, has made its regional dark kitchen debut in Reading. The ten-strong company has launched a unit at the Deliveroo Editions site in the Berkshire town. It is set to follow this up with an opening at the Deliveroo Editions in Canary Wharf next week. The brand made its dark kitchens debut earlier this year, with an opening at the Deliveroo Editions site in Battersea. The deal for the business secured ten of Chilango’s 11 restaurants and preserved about 130 jobs, with managing director Richard Franks, who took over running Chilango in February, continuing to lead the business. Chilango currently has five of its ten restaurant sites open for delivery, takeaway and click and collect.
Pub group Rosewell Estates secures £2.5m to safeguard 24 sites and 200-plus jobs: Independent pubs operator Rosewell Estates has secured £2.5m funding from Barclays, which will protect more than 200 jobs. The Liverpool-based company, which has 24 venues, said the finance will help it get through this difficult time and give a boost to bounce back strongly when operations open again. The package also includes the lending of £900,000 in the form of the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme. The company’s turnover is just over £9m with 225 members of full and part-time staff employed across the group. Christian Caine is managing director of the family business, which has been in operation for more than 20 years, and works alongside father Ian, who is group chairman. Christian Caine said after Barclays was chosen in 2019 to refinance and restructuring the group, the provisional completion target date was March 2020. He said: “The pandemic then struck, throwing both the deal and the hospitality industry into a tailspin of uncertainty. Rob Morland and his [Barclays] team never wavered in their support to the business and his adaptability and tenacity enabled us to achieve our ultimate goals.” Rob Morland, relationship director for Barclays Corporate Banking who led the transaction added: “The new facility will secure over 200 jobs within the local community and provide vital liquidity to the business to build again once the restrictions are lifted.”
Carrick joins Davy’s as its new chief financial officer: Mark Carrick, formerly of Comptoir Group and Ten Entertainment Group, has joined Davy’s Wine Merchants, as its new chief financial officer, Propel has learned. Carrick stepped down as chief financial officer of Comptoir Group, the listed owner and operator of Lebanese and eastern Mediterranean restaurants, earlier this autumn after joining the business in April 2018. He was formerly director of operational finance with Ten Entertainment Group and started his career in hospitality at JD Wetherspoon in 1999. Comptoir Group announced last month the appointment of Michael Toon, formerly of Casual Dining Group (CDG) and Chopstix, as its new finance director.
Jollibee grows UK pipeline, secures Leicester Square site: Jollibee, the Philippines fast food group, has continued to build its UK openings pipeline, lining up openings in Edinburgh, Leeds, Cardiff and a flagship site in London’s Leicester Square. The company, which will open its third UK site this Friday (20 November) in Leicester, is understood to have secured the Bella Italia site in Leicester Square for an opening in the first half of next year. This will be followed by openings in Edinburgh, Leeds, Cardiff and “other major cities across the UK”, as the brand looks to open 50 sites in the UK, over the next three to five years. The company, which launched in the UK in Earl’s Court in 2018 and in Liverpool earlier this year, is also thought to have lined up openings in Nottingham, Newcastle and Reading. The new Leicester restaurant will open on Humberstone Gate, within the city centre’s pedestrianised zone, with a seating capacity of 134. It will be the first Jollibee in the UK to sell all Halal meat. The company said it has ambitious plans to establish Jollibee as a household name in the UK, which is a key market for expansion. It said that the British spend €1.2bn on quick-service chicken per year (compared to €652m in Germany and €700m in France). Adam Parkinson, market head of Europe for Jollibee, said: “We’re pushing forward with our continued growth plan across Europe because we believe that both the high streets and people’s livelihoods need the support once we come out the other side of this pandemic. I’m proud to say that our Leicester restaurant will create 50 new jobs, supporting the local economy.”
Sumosan Twiga and Crazy Pizza operator launches high-end virtual restaurant delivery concept: Billionaire Life, the group behind London restaurants Sumosan Twiga and Crazy Pizza, has launched a virtual restaurant delivery concept that has introduced five new brands to the capital. Virtual de Lux operates from kitchens in Knightsbridge and Marylebone. The five brands under its wing are Manhattan Kitchen, Bacàn, The Forgotten Vegetable, The Noble Tsar and Volzhenka Caviar – the latter of which will launch later this year. Manhattan Kitchen offers “premium comfort food taken to the next level”, with dishes including deep-fried tiger prawns and wagyu burgers. Bacàn offers “fresh and contemporary Peruvian plates, perfect for sharing”, with the menu featuring Croquetas de Cassava and char-grilled octopus. The Forgotten Vegetable champions “vegetable greats” and includes teriyaki-roasted aubergine and a vegan stew. The Noble Tsar provides “a curated selection of authentic and wholesome Russian dishes” such as herring salad and Pierogi – traditional Russian dumplings filled with meat and served with sour cream. Volzhenka Caviar will be dedicated to “honouring the age-old traditions of Astrakhan’s rich caviar culture”. Billionaire Life chief executive Brian Bendix said: “Billionaire Life is first and foremost an experience curator within luxury lifestyle, so there are significant challenges in bringing our experiences into the home delivery world. However, with the incredible data of local audience’s culinary preferences through platform algorithms, coupled with a very talented and diverse culinary team, we have been able to develop a range of incredible virtual restaurants catering to the London luxury market. More than accommodating the London lockdown 2.0, this is also an ambition in testing the Virtual de Lux model for all of our global destinations.” Billionaire Life was founded in Italy in 1998 by former Formula One boss Flavio Briatore.
Rosa’s Thai Cafe announces opening date for Finsbury Park site, 50% off offer:Rosa’s Thai Cafe will launch its latest restaurant at Finsbury Park on Monday, 30 November. It will be offering 50% off food only, in excess of £10, for click and collect and Deliveroo orders (within 2.5 miles of the site) on Saturday and Sunday, 28-29 November. The latest site is located at Wells Terrace, making the total of Rosa’s Thai Cafes in London, Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester 22. The Gavin Adair-led business is also believed to be in talks to take the former Saigon restaurant unit on Nelson Road, Greenwich.
London-based family-run Italian deli Vallebona to open luxury shop in Wimbledon Village: London-based family-run Italian deli Vallebona is to open a luxury shop in Wimbledon Village on Saturday (21 November). The High Street site will feature a walk-in cheese and charcuterie room, as well as a dining space that will launch once lockdown ends. It will feature more than 50 types of cheese from 15 regions, a large collection of hand-selected wines, pastas, antipasti, local Italian spirits, artisan kitchen accessories and hampers. The produce on offer is the same it supplies to many of London’s restaurants, including The River Cafe, Le Gavroche, Alain Ducasse, Bocca di Lupo and Trinity. The site replaces its shop at its Weir Road headquarters, which shut earlier this month.
St Austell appoints Andrew Turner to board: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has appointed Andrew Turner – who is managing director of beer and brands – to its board of directors. Turner joined the company in March of this year, leaving his role as trading director at Heineken UK to lead St Austell Brewery’s own beer and wholesale drinks business. Chairman Will Michelmore said: “I’m delighted to welcome Andrew to the board. With almost 20 years of experience and success at Heineken, he has brought valuable industry knowledge to the business since he joined in March, and will complement the diverse experience of our existing board members. In the face of significant challenges, Andrew has shown great leadership this year while steering our beer and brands business into its next exciting chapter. His appointment to the board will stand us in good stead for the future as we look to consolidate our position as the south west’s most successful beer and pub company.”
Virtual restaurant brand operator launches £100,000 crowdfunding campaign to support growth: Peckwater Brands, which runs virtual restaurant brands from existing kitchens, has launched a £100,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to support its growth. The company, whose teams includes alumni from Deliveroo and UberEats, is offering 5.88% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £1.6m. The business has launched more than 40 virtual restaurant brands and has had in excess of £250,000 of sales since June. The pitch states: “We give our partners everything they need to get trading. Menus, listings on the UK’s leading delivery platforms, access to ingredients through our supply chain, training and ongoing operations management. We set up a second brand in parallel to their existing business – adding much-needed sales with no extra overheads. Revenues go up, but rent, rates and staff costs stay the same. We want to reach food lovers everywhere so we are raising the funds to do three things. We need sales support to reach restaurants, and operations people to train and manage those sites – especially as we move into new geographies. We will use part of the investment to fund the salaries of sales and operations heads to sign and set up new partners. Our concepts need to meet customer expectations of quality, taste and trends, which means constant development. We will use part of the investment to develop new brands, as well as continuing development of our existing brands to ensure the product is as good as we can make it. To date, all of our sales have been organic. We want to be able to fund marketing to promote trials – because we know that once customers have tried our food, they’ll love it as much as we do. The final use of funds will be in-app marketing (promotions and preferential listings) on delivery platforms.”
Baz & Fred pizzeria announces second site opening: Pizza specialist Baz & Fred is set to double up with a new site in Brixton Village. After picking up glowing reviews for their pizzas in the south west of England, Harry Henriques and Fred Hicks opened a permanent residence in street food market Flat Iron Square, London, and have now announced a move into south London’s Brixton close to the railway station. The chefs will be opening in the unit that used to be Studio 73’s picture framing business. Baz & Fred’s website said: “Baz and Fred have been making pizzas since 2012. Championing both the revolutionary Chadwick pizza oven and the rotating wood-fired oven, they spin the most delectable dough and cook their pizzas to perfection.” The company’s licensing application seeks to serve food and alcohol from 10am until 11.30pm.
KFC adds new sharing buckets and Krushem to festive menu: KFC has announced more items for its Christmas menu in the form of three sharing buckets and a Viennetta Krushem. KFC, which previously announced it would offer a gravy burger for the festive period, has added three new gravy-themed sharing buckets. There are two Gravy Double buckets – each one contains six pieces of Original Recipe chicken, one regular popcorn chicken, four bags of chips, four sides of gravy, plus a drink – then customers can choose to add either eight hot wings or six mini fillets. And the third bucket is the Gravy Triple that comes with both options of hot wings and mini fillets. The new Viennetta Krushem contains creamy vanilla Krushem mix with dark chocolate shards to mimic a Viennetta.
Kew Green Hotels targets international growth with director of development appointment: Kew Green Hotels has appointed Sam Barrell as director of development to focus on its growth overseas. The hotel group with more than 50 sites in its portfolio said Barrell will drive domestic and international strategy as Kew Green expands into south east Asia having signed seven hotels plus a partnership with Light Human Hotels to launch hotels from the end of 2021 in eight international destinations. Barrell has joined Kew Green from his role as development manager for UK and Ireland at IHG. Kew Green Hotels chief executive Chris Dexter said: “I am delighted to welcome Sam to Kew Green Hotels to support with our continued ambition to become the leading international hotel management company, continuing to provide outstanding performance and industry-leading profit delivery for our hotels, owners and partners across the world.”
Michelin-starred chef Tommy Banks to launch Lord’s restaurant: Michelin-starred chef Tommy Banks, who is behind The Black Swan in Oldstead and Roots in York, is to launch a restaurant at Lord’s cricket ground in London. Banks will be in charge of the new Edrich restaurant – part of the new Compton and Edrich stands that are opening in spring 2021. However, people will have to be a debenture-seat holder in the new stands to eat there. The restaurant will be open for “major international match days” with a menu curated by Banks. He’s previously cooked at Lord’s for its dining club. Banks said on Instagram: “I’m honoured to head up the new restaurant of such an exciting development at the iconic ground. I love cricket, and Lord’s is the pinnacle ground for any fan – it is such a special place. Food is a huge part of a day at the cricket; after all, this is the only sport that still pauses for lunch and tea. That’s why it’s so important to create the highest quality dining experience. I can’t wait to get started on producing a cutting-edge menu to match the contemporary new stands.”
Experienced Launceston operators acquire hotel: Launceston operators Lisa and Mike Howard have bought The White Hart Hotel to increase their portfolio in Cornwall. The Howard family also recently purchased the Racehorse Inn in North Hill, just outside Launceston. They owned the White Horse Inn Launceston until 2008 when it was sold to St Austell Brewery. The 17th century White Hart Hotel is the only hotel in the town and is a grade II-listed building with many ancient features, including a Norman doorway. Lisa Howard said: “Our intention is to restore the hotel to its former glory. We have big plans, which include moving the bar, a new coffee lounge and improvements throughout the building. We have not yet set a date for reopening but hope to be in a position to do a partial opening by Christmas.” The hotel was sold by former owners Mike and Clarissa Jordan through Christie & Co, who purchased it via the same property adviser in 2018, but were were forced to close in 2019 following a fire in the roof annex. The hotel has three storeys, with the ground floor housing a bar, dining area, snooker room, conservatory, function rooms and a large ballroom. The upper floors house 20 en-suite rooms and a manager’s flat. There is a car park to the rear of the building.
Creams upgrades operations in lockdown: Dessert parlour operator Creams has implemented hospitality checklist app Trail to streamline communication between its sites and head office. Creams commercial and operations director Elton Gray said: “Trail has helped us cope with the ever-changing covid world. Covid has meant teams are working in silos with reduced field visits making it harder to communicate to them and ensure key, regular tasks are done. Trail bridges the gap between teams and head office, making sure everyone knows what they need to do. We can cascade information down through our business quickly and roll out changes in procedure seamlessly.” Trail co-founder Joe Cripps added: “We’re seeing hospitality businesses using lockdown to reflect on their operations and use this downtime to build a more effective and productive business. This is now more important than ever and key for survival.”