Former Druckers boss David Scott refutes Patisserie Valerie takeover claims: Former Druckers boss David Scott has refuted suggestions he intends to make a takeover bid for Patisserie Valerie, the company whose shares have been suspended since a £40m black hole was found in its accounts. The Sunday Times reported Scott, who used to run Druckers Vienna Patisserie, a Birmingham-based group of cafes sold to Patisserie Valerie in 2007, had backing from a family-run private equity firm and was “gently” speaking to some of the shareholders. But Scott has said he has no intention of making an offer or otherwise acquire shares in Patisserie Valerie. He said: “Despite the media reports, I have not appointed nor do I intend to appoint a company to liaise with shareholders on my behalf and I have no interest in making an offer for or acquiring shares in Patisserie Valerie or any related companies.” Patisserie Valerie’s shares have been suspended since it discovered “significant, and potentially fraudulent, accounting irregularities” on 10 October. Finance director Chris Marsh, who was suspended and then arrested before being released on bail, resigned on Friday (26 October). Chairman Luke Johnson stepped in with a rescue deal after the discovery of the “black hole” pushed the company to the brink of collapse. A £20m investment secured the future of 2,800 staff and 206 sites. Shareholders will meet on Thursday (1 November) where they are expected to approve the £15.7m rescue share issue that has been previously proposed.
Casual Dining Group signs exclusivity deal for Las Iguanas, Oriel and Bella Italia in UAE: Casual Dining Group (CDG) has agreed a new franchising deal for its Las Iguanas, Bella Italia and Oriel Grande Brasserie brands in the United Arab Emirates. The deal with RELAM Investment gives exclusivity to open and operate the brands in the UAE for the next four years and stipulates it will open a minimum of 11 restaurants over the period. The partners are currently looking at several high-profile locations in Dubai for the debut site, and are also keen to explore opportunities in Abu Dhabi for further openings. The agreement represents a partnership between RELAM Investment and CDG, which will become its primary food and beverage partner in the region. The partnership is Dubai-based RELAM Investment’s first food and drink investment. The deal sees the first franchise for Oriel Grande Brasserie, CDG’s premium all-day restaurant concept, which currently operates three sites, all of which are at airports. While the food across all of the brands will be reflective of their UK counterparts, all the sites will be “dry”, but will serve a range of specially created mocktails. The move adds further momentum to CDG’s growing overseas franchise portfolio, which includes agreements in Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Ireland. The group is also exploring further franchising opportunities in Asia, Europe and North Africa. RELAM Investment chairman and managing director Ali Rashed Lootah said: “When we look for partners, we don’t just want well-known brands, we want operational experts who are the best in class and reflect our company values. CDG specialises in creating unique and memorable customer experiences and we are confident there is significant demand for its brands across the UAE, as the taste for European cuisine rises. The food scene across the UAE, particularly in Dubai, is vibrant and exciting at this moment in time and we are very much looking forward to working together on this new partnership.”
Carluccio’s appoints Graham Ford as commercial director: Carluccio’s, the Italian all-day restaurant group led by chief executive Mark Jones, has appointed Graham Ford as commercial director. The appointment comes as Carluccio’s gears up to implement its £10m investment programme, which will see the estate fully refurbished, new product development and an enhanced guest experience. Ford, who begins his new role on Monday (5 November), brings a wealth of hospitality experience to Carluccio’s, joining from Bill’s where he was chief operating officer. During his two-and-a-half years with Bill’s, he led the format transformation project that is currently being rolled out across the estate. Prior to that, Ford was managing director of Jackson & Rye, which was sold to French brasserie Cote in 2017. He has also held senior roles at Tragus (now Casual Dining Group). Jones said: “I’m delighted to secure someone of Graham’s experience for our business at this vital time. His strong industry knowledge and insight will be hugely valuable as we embark on a programme that will revitalise the brand and provide a solid platform for the future.” Ford added: “I am incredibly excited to be joining Carluccio’s at this time of reinvestment and new thinking. I am looking forward to working with Mark and the senior management team to reaffirm Carluccio’s credentials as one of the country’s leading Italian casual dining brands.”
Charles Wells buys four Orange Tree pubs as it expands Pizza, Pots & Pints estate: Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells has bought four sites from independent pub group The Orange Tree to allow for expansion of its Pizza, Pots & Pints concept. The pubs are The Orange Tree in Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham as well as Kelso’s in Loughborough. The deal will enable Charles Wells to extend its reach into new areas of the UK, marking its first sites in Leicester, Nottingham and Loughborough. As part of the acquisition, Charles Wells will continue to trade the Orange Tree pubs, retaining all 82 employees across the sites ahead of making the investment to introduce its Pizza, Pots & Pints format in the spring. Kelso’s will continue to operate in its current form. The sale, which included a combination of lease assignments and freehold disposals together with the associated business at the properties, was brokered by agent Davis Coffer Lyons for an undisclosed figure. Charles Wells chief executive Justin Phillimore said: “We are delighted to acquire these four excellent pubs and welcome their teams to the Charles Wells family. It is an exciting time for Charles Wells as we accelerate the growth of our managed house estate in both the UK and France. Our ambition for the Pizza, Pots & Pints format is to grow it by another 15 sites in the next two to three years so acquisitions such as this, with like-minded regionally-based multiples, are crucial for accelerating our expansion.” Including the new purchases, Charles Wells now has nine Pizza, Pots & Pints sites in the UK, and has plans to increase that figure to 25 over the next two to three years.
Seven-strong Manchester bar and restaurant company MAD goes into liquidation: Manchester-based operator Mark Andrew Developments (MAD) has gone into liquidation with its seven bars and restaurants closing with immediate effect. Walrus, The Blue Pig, Tusk and Rosylee in the Northern Quarter, and three Hula venues, were all shut by MAD on Tuesday (30 October). MAD director Jonathan Hawkins told the Manchester Evening News: “I can confirm after 15 years the business has gone into liquidation.” Hawkins said staff were informed of the closure either in person or via email on Tuesday. He said 125 members of staff have lost their jobs. MAD was established in 2004 by managing director Mark Andrew and started with the opening of a small bar in West Didsbury known as M20, but now called Hula. The company is managed by Andrew and Hawkins. Manchester’s night tsar Sacha Lord tweeted after hearing the news: “It (MAD) has great bars in the Northern Quarter with some big profit generators within that group. I do expect a package quite quickly in terms of a sale.”
Shoreditch Bar Group acquires Barworks site in Islington: Shoreditch Bar Group has acquired the leasehold of the Wenlock & Essex in Islington from London-based bar and pub operator Barworks. Spread over 7,000 square foot of ground floor and basement, the Wenlock & Essex currently has a passing rent of £218,000 per annum and is held on a 20-year free-of-tie lease expiring in April 2030. An undisclosed premium was paid for the benefit of the lease. Shoreditch Bar Group, which is led by chief executive Mark McEvoy, currently operates 15 venues in east London, including Cargo, The Shoreditch, The Kings Head Private Members Club and Trafik. Agents AG&G acted on behalf of Barworks having earlier this year advised the operator on the sale of the Electricity Showrooms in Shoreditch to Adventure Bar Group. AG&G director Michael Penfold said: “The Wenlock & Essex was the subject of competitive bidding from a number of bar operators. The premises has a licence until 2am Friday and Saturday and it is well located fronting Essex Road, which is a popular trading location within Islington.”
Liberum – Wagamama acquisition is ‘strategically a sound deal but many questions remain unanswered’: Leisure analysts at Liberum Capital have questioned whether the Wagamama deal leaves management overstretched. Moving its price recommendation from ‘Buy’ to ‘Hold’, they stated: “The deal makes strategic sense. We are big fans of Wagamama and it does indeed transform The Restaurant Group (TRG). However we have number of concerns. Firstly, the price looks rich at circa 13 times pre synergy EV/Ebitda. Secondly, with imperfect information we calculate this deal is dilutive in year one (versus guidance of enhancing) and return on invested capital exceeding weighted average cost of capital by year three is hardly overwhelming. Thirdly, gearing up to more than two times does increase risk. Then there’s the stretch on management. Executing a turnaround, integrating a large deal, investing in new digital channels, expanding internationally and embedding pub deals (with more deals likely), all cumulates to an awful amount for the management team to execute on. The deal structure is confusing, which raises further questions. If all this can be executed then we see upside to valuation, but with many questions remaining, we move to ‘Hold’ and place our target price under review. Under a typical scenario, we would likely be more negative but we are fans of the Wagamama brand, the highly cash generative nature of the group and acknowledge the management has done a good job so far in the turnaround of the core TRG business. However, the management stretch and execution risk is of concern as is the much higher leverage at a time when the market dynamics are not ideal. We note the departure of the managing director of Leisure (Murray McGowan) and Jane Holbrook (ex-chief executive of Wagamama) as indicators of potentially more pressure on senior management. Lastly, management states £22m of synergies and Wagamama’s will be run autonomously from TRG. How do you achieve these synergies if the businesses are run autonomously and how will management protect the Wagamama business from culture creep?” Liberum noted 12% of Wagamama sales currently come from delivery and Wagamama plans to open two more sites in New York in the next seven months to add to its existing five sites.
Burlison Inns acquires 12th site, in Windsor: Burlison Inns, the multiple pub operator headed by Gary Burlison, has acquired its 12th site, in Windsor. The company has bought The Windsor Trooper off an asking price of £850,000 through agents Christie & Co. The three-storey pub and hotel features an open bar area with up to 20 covers, a restaurant area with space for 26 covers, plus two outside trade areas – the largest of which sits to the rear and caters for a further 18 covers. In addition, there are nine en-suite bedrooms with separate access from the pub entrance. Tom Orchard, business agent at Christie & Co’s Reading office, said: “We received a high number of offers, with two going over the guide price. The accepted offer came from a cash buyer with vast experience of the pub industry.”
Nice Bars disposes of third and final site: London-based operator Nice Bars has disposed of its third and final site – The Ship, in the City. The company has sold the lease to Tracy Bird, the former operator of the Newman Arms in Fitzrovia. A premium of circa £200,000 was paid for the tied lease of the pub located in Hart Street. The site, which has two trading floors, is held on a 25-year tied lease expiring October 2038, with a passing rent of £55,700 per annum. This is the third and final deal agents AG&G has conducted for Nice Bars this year as the owners have decided to move abroad. The other two pubs were The Lion and The Pepys. The latter became Kent-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame’s first riverside pub in the City. It is housed in a converted tea warehouse and has a balcony with views across the Thames. AG&G director Michael Penfold said: “The three leasehold sales for Nice Bars demonstrate there is strong demand for tied and free-of-tie leasehold pubs situated in the City of London, which is increasingly benefiting from ‘seven day’ trading as a result of the proliferation of licensed leisure premises opening within the City.”
Shepherd Neame unveils new £107.5m financing structure: Kent brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame, which owns and operates 321 pubs, has announced a new and extended financing structure to “support the business for the long term and to take advantage of opportunities that may arise over the next few years”. The company stated: “The new structure gives the company £107.5m of committed long-term facilities and is attractive because it provides certainty of funding as the business looks for growth. Major infrastructure and housing development is forecast to take place in the company’s heartland between now and 2030 and Kent’s population is anticipated to grow by 20% in that time. The company has recently agreed to build a new pub hotel in Castle Hill in the Ebbsfleet Garden City development zone and anticipates further opportunities will arise in the medium term. The facility also has a lower rate of interest than the debt being replaced; an improved debt maturity profile with a revolving credit facility expiring in 2023, and private placement expiring in 2038; and new debt partners who share and support our long-term focus and strategy. Specifically, the key features of this new financing structure are a private placement raising £35m. BAE Systems Pension Funds Investment Management, which supports many long-term strategic businesses, will receive loan notes at a fixed interest rate of 3.99% for 20 years. These loan notes replace part of the current term loan that is due to expire in 2026. As a result, £37.5m of this loan has been cancelled and repaid. Swap contracts of £35m associated with this loan have been terminated at a cash cost of about £9.4m (£7.6m net of tax). The cancellation of the swaps will have no impact on net asset value per share, but will increase net debt in the short term and lead to an exceptional charge in the current financial year. For the 53 weeks ended 30 June 2018 net debt stood at £74.8m and the leverage ratio of net debt to underlying Ebitda was 3.0 times at the balance sheet date. There is also a new five-year revolving credit facility of £50m with Lloyds Bank and Santander UK. This matures in 2023 replacing the existing facility of £45m that was due to expire in 2020. The terms of this facility are Libor plus bank margin of between 1.35% and 2.50% depending on the leverage ratio of net debt to Ebitda. The rate of Libor on the first £20m of the drawings on this facility has been capped at 2.0%.” In addition, an off-balance sheet directors’ valuation of its licensed property assets has been undertaken showing a surplus over current book value of £24m.
Lasan Group opens second Fiesta del Asado: Birmingham-based restaurant group Lasan has opened a second site for its Argentinian-inspired concept Fiesta del Asado. The company, which launched the concept in Edgbaston in 2012, has opened the 100-cover venue in Shirley at a former Marks & Spencer food hall in Stratford Road. Lasan Group chief executive Jabbar Khan told Birmingham Live: “This new Fiesta del Asado represents our most ambitious and exciting project to date. It’s something we’re most proud of and we’re going to wow our guests with an inimitable Argentine entertainment experience.” Fiesta del Asado’s website states: “Asado is a broad Spanish term not only for a range of barbecue techniques but also describes the social event of having or attending a barbecue. Food is placed on grills and lowered over the embers of special applewood chips, where it acquires its distinct smoked taste by absorbing the aromas and sealing in flavours. Entertaining family and friends at mealtimes is essentially how Asado dining culture emerged in Argentina, and the life-affirming feeling of togetherness it creates is why it has become so popular around the world.” All steaks are dusted with a house dry rub and served with fresh chimichurri, a tangy Argentinian relish typically made with green herbs, garlic and vinegar. Lasan Group’s other restaurants include Indian fine dining restaurant Lasan in the Jewellery Quarter and Raja Monkey in Hall Green.
Former Wadworth general managers form pub company and take on NewRiver property for debut site: Two former general managers at Wiltshire-based brewer and retailer Wadworth have formed a pub company and taken on their first site. John and Ali Williams, who worked for Wadworth for six years, have teamed with Martin Davies to launch The Bearded Badger Pub Company. Its first site is The Lamb & Flag, in Ottery St Mary, Devon, which is owned by NewRiver. The Williams’ have signed a five-year agreement to run the pub and said their longer-term ambitions include taking on more sites. The Lamb & Flag in Batts Lane has undergone a £100,000 refurbishment. It features an expanded drinks range, including 25 gins, alongside home-cooked food made from locally sourced ingredients. John Williams said: “People here want to keep this pub alive, it’s steeped in tradition, and we want to maintain that traditional feel, while at the same time keeping up with current trends so there’s something for everybody to enjoy. We’re putting all our time and our heart and soul into it.” David Shipton, corporate development and strategy director for NewRiver’s pub portfolio, added: “The Lamb & Flag had been closed for some time, so it needed people like John, Ali and Martin, who between them have many years’ pub and hospitality experience, to take it on and turn it around.”
Dishoom announces Manchester opening date: Indian restaurant Dishoom’s first Manchester venue, located within the grade II-listed Manchester Hall, will open on Thursday, 6 December. It will have 231 covers spread between two dining rooms and a cocktail bar, The Permit Room, reports the Manchester Evening News. As with all its restaurants, Dishoom will donate a school meal to a child in need for every meal purchased at the new site. The company works with the Akshaya Patra Foundation in India and Magic Breakfast in the UK and has so far donated more than five million meals.
Yorkshire Brewing Company owner joins forces with Hull licensee to open brewpub: Yorkshire Brewing Company owner Guy Falkingham has joined forces with Hull licensee Lee Kirman to open a brewpub in the city. The duo are investing £150,000 launching The Taphouse Brewpub in the regenerated Fruit Market in December. It will offer a changing choice of more than 30 draught real ales, craft lager and cider, as well as bottled and canned beer, wine and artisan spirits. The venue will have 4,000 square foot of space, including a mezzanine level, with the floor space split between the bar and the production area. The Taphouse Brewpub will stage a series of drinks festivals and also bring an innovative approach to its food offering. During the week the menu will focus on platters while, at the weekend, street food operators will bring their own tastes to the venue’s kitchen. The site will have a stripped-back industrial look and feel, with original features conserved, revealed and restored, including exposed beams. Falkingham said: “It’s been a long-held ambition to create a venue like this and I’ve been talking with Lee about it for more than a year. Now it’s all coming together.” Kirman co-owns the Minerva pub and Humber Street Distillery Co gin bar in the Fruit Market with his partner Charlotte Bailey.
Cyclone Leisure to reopen former JD Wetherspoon pub in Newcastle as pizza restaurant and sports bar: North east-based operator Cyclone Leisure is to reopen a former JD Wetherspoon pub in Newcastle as a pizza restaurant and sports bar. The company is converting The Union Rooms in Westgate Road in a multimillion-pound facelift with the new venue set to open on Thursday, 22 November. Dating to 1877, the venue began as a gentleman’s club called The Union Club. The grade II-listed building’s original features are being retained and refreshed. The work includes refurbishment of the main bar areas to create more space, alongside a stronger emphasis on food. A pizza area will take advantage of Cyclone Leisure’s experience of operating Italian restaurants. The company also operates San Lorenzo restaurants in Gosforth and Washington.
Dame Kelly Holmes to shut Kent cafe: Double Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes is to shut her Kent cafe as she looks ahead to a fresh start. Dame Kelly has revealed Café 1809 in Hildenborough, near Tonbridge, will close on Sunday, 25 November. The retired middle distance runner won two gold medals in Athens in 2004 and opened the café in 2014. Making the announcement on Twitter, she said: “I would like to thank all our customers, suppliers and friends for their support over the past four years. My vision of 15 years was achieved by providing a space for people to ‘eat, drink, relax and smile’. However, I now have other ambitions and want to bring a new energy into my life and the village. We will be opening again but as a different venture, providing space and a place for events, pop-ups, community gatherings and more. Watch this space for new developments.” A sister branch of the cafe in Gravesend was opened in June 2017 but shut just three months later.
French chef and nutritional therapist opens matcha and coffee bar in Chelsea: French chef and nutritional therapist Olivia Nottin has opened a matcha and coffee bar in London. Nottin has launched Matcha And Beyond in King’s Road, Chelsea. The venue offers matcha beverages and treats, going “beyond” with speciality coffee, infusions and healthy bites. The decor features natural wood, soft furnishings and plants, while there is seating areas, counter service and a private space. Matcha-based drinks reflect a traditional coffee made by a dedicated “matcharista”. Coffee comes courtesy of Square Mile Coffee. The food menu features sweet treats, healthy snacks, breakfast pots, sandwiches and salad bowls. All packaging is biodegradable or compostable, while customers can purchase a reusable cup entitling them to a discount on their drink.
Revolution Bars Group opens Revolución de Cuba site in Bristol:Revolution Bars Group has opened a Revolución de Cuba site in Bristol. The company has opened the venue on the harbourside at a site formerly occupied by Bordeaux Quay restaurant, which closed at the end of 2017. Covering two floors, the bar and restaurant is downstairs with a private function room for 200 people on the first floor, reports the Bristol Post. Revolution Bars Group operates 76 premium bars trading under the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands. Chief executive Rob Pitcher previously told Propel that Revolución de Cuba was generating average weekly sales per site of £50,000.
Safestay acquires Vienna site: London-headquartered hostel operator Safestay has secured a site in Vienna, Austria. The company has acquired the 52-bedroom La Prima hotel in Schönbrunner Strasse 41 on a 20-year lease, with an option to extend for a further ten years. Safestay intends to convert the property into a 234-bedroom branded hostel at a cost of fewer than €300,000. The work should be completed in three months. The company now has four sites in the UK – two in London and one in York and Edinburgh – and nine in Europe – Brussels, Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, Prague, Vienna and three in Barcelona. There are 3,400 bedrooms across the 13 hostels. Chairman Larry Lipman said: “Vienna has long been on our target list of cities given its global appeal. The site is ideal for our purposes and will become an attractive premium hostel in the heart of this famous city. We are confident it will quickly be an earnings enhancing transaction and as importantly be a significant and popular addition to our expanding network.”