Hawthorn has at least £250m available for acquisitions, more than doubles planned capex spend in third quarter: Hawthorn, the community pub arm of NewRiver, has at least £250m available for acquisitions and has more than doubled its planned capex spend in its third quarter – investing a total of £9.4m. Speaking ahead of NewRiver’s trading update on Thursday (21 January), Hawthorn chief executive Mark Davies told Propel: “Hawthorn’s overwhelming priority is to protect our people and to protect our pubs. We’re continuing to support our pub partners to help them stay afloat and to ensure they can thrive again and bounce back when their pubs reopen. We more than doubled our planned capex spending for the quarter, investing a total of £9.4m on 270 projects, increasing our average spend per-project by almost 60%, and adding an extra 61 additional sites to our investment programme with a clear focus on outdoor scheme investments and creating more capacity. We also expect to acquire more pubs in 2021. Hawthorn is a dynamic, ambitious company with a proven track record of acquiring pub portfolios, and we have circa £250m of cash and available liquidity to the business, with additional funds available when required.” Davies has also called on the government to provide a clear roadmap for reopening and to ensure further financial support for a sector that is under “real pressure”. He added: “We remain bullish about the role community pubs will play in people’s lives once lockdown is lifted. We urge the government to provide us with a clear roadmap for reopening, and ensure significantly more financial support is urgently prioritised, particularly on business rates and VAT to ensure these vital community establishments can survive.”
Burger King generated positive Ebitda since May 2020, secures £25m bank facility: Burger King UK has reported it has generated positive Ebitda since May 2020 and has continued to generate a strong performance in the period since, despite a second national lockdown in November. During the year, a new bank facility of £25m was secured. “This was used to continue to expand the UK estate,” a Companies House filing stated. “The group remained compliant with its banking facility covenants throughout the year. In the light of the impact of covid-19, the lending bank has agreed to make certain amendments and waivers in relation to the original facilities agreement. Covenants have been waived until September 2021 as part of the amended agreement.” The company reported like-for-like sales increased 7.8% in the year to 31 December 2019. Operating loss for the year was £13.7m (2018: £13.1m loss) and “is largely due to the upfront investment in scalability incurred as the group positions itself for growth”. The company opened 15 restaurants during the year and bought out two franchisees, Banquets and KPG Quickserve, on 27 November 2019 and 30 December 2019 respectively. Adjusted Ebitda for the year was £5.5m (2018: £4.8m). Revenue grew 10% to £101m and would have been £143m if the two franchise acquisitions had been included.
Birley buys back Birley Sandwiches via pre-pack administration: Robin Birley, owner of the Mayfair private member’s club 5 Hertford Street, has bought back his London-based Birley Sandwiches business for £580,000 via a pre-pack administration process, Propel has learned. Propel revealed in November advisers from Lambert Smith Hampton had been appointed on an accelerated sales process. The 15-strong company subsequently fell into administration before the end of 2020, as the covid-19 crisis and the work from home U-turn in September severely impacted the business. The second lockdown proved terminal to the business, which by that point was making six-figure monthly losses. The company, which reported turnover of £13.4m for the year to the end of 2019, appointed administrators from Kallis Insolvency to oversee the administration process. The accelerated sales process led to 35 parties returning signed non-disclosure agreements, however, the offer received from the connected party was the only formal offer. Birley’s, which was founded in 1990, operates sites across the City and the capital’s financial district, including stores in Cannon Street and New Street Square in the City, and Churchill Place and Bank Street in Canary Wharf. As part of its business plan for the company going forward, Birley said it would complete the rebranding of the business. He said: “Once all the stores begin to open with trade increasing, further jobs will be created again and once stabilised, a planned expansion into the west end of London will be implemented.”
BrewDog in talks over rooftop bar in Las Vegas: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is in negotiations to open a rooftop bar in Las Vegas. Co-founder James Watt said: “BrewDog Las Vegas anyone? Currently in talks for this amazing rooftop terrace location in the heart of the neon-soaked Las Vegas strip. Watch this space.” BrewDog has been steadily expanding its bar network in the US since it launched its brewery in Columbus, Ohio, in 2017, and is due to open a site in Cleveland.
Giggling Squid co-founder builds pipeline for new Thai fast-casual concept:Pranee Laurillard, the co-founder of Giggling Squid, has begun building an openings pipeline for her yet-to-launch new Thai fast-casual concept, called Lime Squeezy Thai Kitchen, after securing a site in Brighton. Propel has learned that Laurillard has secured the PizzaExpress site in Jubilee Street for the new venture, which is a separate business to Giggling Squid. As revealed by Propel in November, Lime Squeezy Thai Kitchen will open its first site in the former Wahaca restaurant in Chichester, West Sussex. The new concept will have a lower price-point than Giggling Squid, feature a takeout offer and communal tables. Laurillard, who founded Giggling Squid with her husband Andy in 2009, told Propel in November: “This is something I have wanted to do for a very long time, even before we launched Giggling Squid. The concept will be more in the fast-casual category, with everything focused on the meal being in one dish. I am very excited to be working on something new and looking forward to launching it next year. My focus is getting everything ready for the first one, but I know there will be opportunities regarding other sites next year, and it is something I will keep my eye on.”
Thunderbird Fried Chicken makes regional dark kitchen debut: Thunderbird Fried Chicken, the wings and fried chicken concept backed by TriSpan, has made its debut outside London, with the opening of a third dark kitchen site, in Croydon. The site joins Battersea and Shoreditch as the company’s third Foodstars kitchen and will be delivered by Deliveroo and UberEats. Chief executive Paul Gilchrist said: “We’re excited to be able to deliver outside of London for the first time and to expand through dark kitchens during this lockdown.” Propel revealed earlier this month Thunderbird Fried Chicken had launched a vegan delivery brand based around burgers and wings called Jackfruit Junkie, through the Shoreditch delivery kitchen. The Foodstars kitchen in Croydon will also deliver the plant-based virtual delivery brand. The vegan menu is all produced in separate vegan fryers on site. Founder Matt Harris said: “Jackfruit Junkie is enabling us to showcase our newly developed indulgent vegan food offering. Based on the same principles I had when setting up Thunderbird Fried Chicken, we strive for perfection in delivering the most crave-worthy plant-based food you can find. We hope people will agree.” Thunderbird Fried Chicken also operates in Charing Cross, Paddington and The O2.
Simulation shooting range concept Point Blank secures third site: Point Blank, the simulation shooting range concept, has secured its third site, in Liverpool, Propel has learned. The brainchild of Mark Rushton and Phil Hale, the company is set to take the ex-Olive Press restaurant site in the city’s Castle Street, which was previously owned by Living Ventures. Point Blank, which was founded in 2018, also operates sites in Deansgate, Manchester, and in The Gate, in Newcastle. It offers more than 200 shooting scenarios, bespoke cocktails, beers, wines, soft drinks and food menu. The concept was born from co-founders Ruston and Hale’s love of skill set shooting. The pair would visit live fire ranges in eastern Europe and the US and decided to bring the next best thing back to the UK – a system that “allows the fun of a live shooting range without real ammunition”.
JD Wetherspoon installs new CCTV outside Sherwood pub after politicised graffiti attacks: JD Wetherspoon has installed new CCTV cameras outside a pub in Sherwood after it was targeted in politicised graffiti attacks. The Samuel Hall, in Mansfield Road, has been daubed with spray paint twice in under a year. The first incident happened on 28 March last year, when the pub was tagged with the words “pay your staff”, following backlash over staff pay during the coronavirus pandemic. More recently, on 2 January, the pub’s window was vandalised with a bright-yellow tag that read “70,000 dead”. On the same window was an advertisement for the pub company’s magazine, Wetherspoon News, in which boss Tim Martin criticises the current lockdown measures. The graffiti tag was thought to reference the UK’s coronavirus death toll at the time, which stood at about 70,000 people. A Wetherspoon pub in Beeston, The Last Post, was also vandalised on 12 January. Black paint was sprayed over posters that raised questions as to the effectiveness of lockdowns. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told Nottinghamshire Live: “The Samuel Hall pub already has comprehensive CCTV in place. However, the company has added two additional cameras to increase coverage of the pub’s external areas.”
Rudy’s lines up seventh site: Rudy’s, which is owned by Mission Mars, has lined up its seventh site, in Stockton Heath, Cheshire. The company is looking to open in the former Barclays Bank premises in the Church Farm shopping precinct in Walton Road. The restaurant will have 50 seats in the main dining area and include a downstairs kitchen, reports the Warrington Guardian. Rudy’s makes its dough on-site each day, taking 24 hours to double ferment and 60 seconds to cook. It operates two sites in Manchester as well as one in each of Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds and Sale.
The Liquor Store founders shift model to open dining and drinks site Prestwich Social: Experienced operators Doug Waldron and Brett Collier, who run The Liquor Store cocktail bar in Manchester, will open an all-day cafe and bar in Prestwich village this spring. Taking over the Orange Tree pub site, which has been vacant for 18 months, Prestwich Social is plotting an opening in early April. A licensing application has been lodged by Waldron and Collier, formerly of Deltic Group and Luminar Group respectively. According to the Manchester Evening News, although the pair initially planned to expand their popular bar concept to the suburbs, the number of restrictions placed on wet-led hospitality venues during covid-19 prompted them to explore a restaurant concept instead. Prestwich Social will be an all-day “chameleon” serving coffee, breakfast and brunch in the mornings, operating as a relaxed cafe-bar in the afternoon, and running with late-night opening hours at the weekend. The site, which will neighbour Panama Hatty’s and Croma, will have space inside for 129 diners, plus an extra 24 on the outdoor terrace. Waldron said Prestwich has been on his radar for a new business venture for a long time, and was feeling “fairly positive” about the future. He said: “I think the location’s bang on, it seems to be quite vibrant and busy round there and we really think Prestwich is on the up, a bit like how Altrincham and Chorlton did ten years ago.”
Paragon Hospitality eyes Brighton for steak restaurant: Paragon Hospitality, owned by Adam Elliott and television chef Barry Vera, is eyeing a site in Brighton. The company wants to open a steak restaurant in the former Cath Kidston shop in East Street, reports the Brighton & Hove Independent. Paragon Hospitality operates the Petrichor Restaurant at London’s Cavandish Hotel and the Hideout Bar and Grill in Manchester. The company has submitted a licensing application for the premises to Brighton and Hove City Council. Paragon Hospitality stated: “The development of the restaurant is still ongoing and, as part of this development, noise insulation will be installed to prevent the risk of public nuisance by way of noise. The entertainment that will be provided is ancillary to dining, provided to enhance the atmosphere, not dominate it.”
Taco Bell to open Swansea restaurant next month for second Welsh site: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell will open its second Welsh restaurant next month. The company will open the outlet – its 54th – in Swansea on Monday, 1 February. Taco Bell has converted an empty unit in Oxford Street, next to H&M, into the restaurant. The company made its debut in Wales when it opened in Swansea last year. Taco Bell UK marketing lead Lucy Dee told Wales 24/7: “Wales has been crying out for more Taco Bells and we’re pleased to be able to deliver; creating local jobs despite challenging circumstances. We look forward to feeding residents whether it be via home delivery, click and collect or takeaway.” There are more than 7,500 Taco Bell sites across the globe with Glen Bell having opened the first in Downey, California, in 1962.
Malthotra Group announces £150m development plans for founder’s hometown:Meenu Malhotra, chair and founder of Newcastle-based pub, restaurant and hotel operator Malhotra Group, has announced a £150m plan to build restaurants, a hotel, cinema, shopping mall and 11 housing towers in his Indian hometown. Malhotra said he has long held an ambition to give something back to his hometown of Ludhiana, Punjab, which would create jobs as well as boost its economy through a raft of facilities. The proposal represents one of the largest investments in the company’s 40-year history, set on a 12 to 15-acre plot of land he has owned for a number of years. The secure and gated complex will also offer sports facilities including swimming pool, badminton and tennis courts, snooker and table tennis rooms and walking tracks. Malhotra said: “I have always referred to Newcastle as my adopted home and am very grateful to the people of the north east for their continued support. But at the same time I have always been a patriotic Indian, proud Punjabi and my home town of Ludhiana remains very close to my heart.”
Dominvs Group secures £68.5m to develop two hotels: Dominvs Group, the privately owned group of companies focused on the hospitality, residential and commercial real estate sectors in the UK, has secured £68.5m to develop two hotel sites. About £48m will be used to develop its new 118,000 square foot Hampton by Hilton London City hotel in Aldgate in east London while the remaining funding will go towards its Courtyard by Marriott branded hotel in Oxford. The Aldgate hotel will comprise 278 rooms as well as meeting, dining and events space including a cinema room and large function room, and is set for build completion by June 2023. Dominvs Group director Preeptal Ahluwalia said: “Dominvs Group is delighted to have successfully secured £68.5m of fresh bank funding, which allows for the development of our new Hampton by Hilton branded hotel in London’s Aldgate and has refinanced our Courtyard by Marriott branded hotel in Oxford. The successful funding reflects our good banking relationships and confidence in the group’s development and operational capabilities, alongside rising optimism in the UK hotel industry following the start of the covid-19 vaccination programme in the UK. It is excellent to see confidence in the hotel industry returning and these two hotels are well-placed to benefit from the gradual return of both domestic and overseas visitors to London and Oxford.”
Experienced operator targets spring opening for Middle Eastern restaurant Yafo:Middle Eastern restaurant Yafo is set to replace the now-closed Shake Express in Bristol’s North Street in March. Yafo will serve Middle Eastern dishes such as falafel and mezze platters. Everything will be made from scratch on site excluding the pitta bread, which will be sourced from the Abunoor bakery in St Philips, and the majority of the menu will be vegan. Restaurant owner Gal Almoznino, who has 20 years’ experience in the catering industry, also runs the Sandwi coffee shop chain in Bristol. “We’re really excited to get going,” Almoznino told Bristol Live. “It’s a challenging time to open a new restaurant but we’re confident we’ll still be able to make it work even if we open when the national lockdown is still ongoing thanks to the takeaway nature of the site.”
Subway protein bowls to stay on US menu: Subway will extend its protein bowls trial into a permanent fixture at selected sites in the US. Introduced in December, the bowls have all the ingredients of sandwiches but without the bread. A Subway spokesman said the brand offers 11 signature protein bowls based on some of its most popular menu items. He added: “Guests are able to build any footlong into a protein bowl with the same portion of protein, vegetables, cheese and sauce (excluding vegan options), just without the bread. Each bowl can be customised to match guest preferences.”
Manchester-based street food trader specialising in fried chicken and waffles to open permanent restaurant: Manchester-based street food trader South Manny Flavaz, which specialises in fried chicken and waffles, is to open a permanent restaurant. Founder Aaron Lee is launching the venue in Deansgate in a former office unit that is part of the Great Northern Warehouse development. South Manny Flavaz started life in a back garden in Longsight, with Lee using Snapchat to promote his food. Since then he’s gone on to host kitchen takeovers across the city and launch a food stall within the Arndale food market, which is currently closed because of a dramatic loss in footfall during lockdown. The Deansgate site, which is expected to be ready to open for takeaway in the next few weeks, will also have a podcast studio on a mezzanine level. As well as fried chicken, the restaurant will be selling dessert waffles, milkshakes, and signature dishes such as the Manny Cheese Steak, which is a twist on the world-famous American dish. Lee told the Manchester Evening News: “It’s nice to finally find somewhere that’s our own – somewhere we can really dig our heels in and make some real Mancunian food. It’s time for a new generation of street food and we’re happy to be leading the charge.”
Sushi Me Rollin secures second site: Japanese concept Sushi Me Rollin has secured a second site with a plan to open in Whitley Bay’s Station Road. Sushi Me Rollin is currently located at Newcastle’s Stack complex. The original venue was forced to close due to the covid-19 pandemic, but tweaked its model to offer a takeaway service. Simon Whitehead, who set up the business with head chef Kurt Toulson, said: “We seem to have developed something of a cult following with customers ordering early each week to get our fresh sushi during lockdown and we would like to thank these loyal customers for their support. Sushi Me Rollin’ combines our passion for flavours with fresh local ingredients and an artistic flair. We want to put the fun back info fine dining and are so excited to bring our fresh ready-to-order sushi concept to the taste buds of Whitley Bay.” Sushi Me Rollin’ is expected to launch as a takeaway in Whitley Bay in March. Once government restrictions are lifted it will then offer eight to ten covers along with a “secret garden” for al fresco dining.
Goodbody – forecast revised for Dalata Hotel Group but recovery prospects positive: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has revised forecasts for Irish hotel operator Dalata, which has a growing presence in the UK, to reflect its pre-close trading statement last month but remains positive on its recovery prospects. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of €4.25, Ruddy said: “FY20 revenue is down almost 70% as a result of government lockdowns, the near cessation of international travel, and wider impacts of the pandemic. The loss before tax will be contained to circa €66m as a result of good operational control and government support. Importantly, bank net debt reduces from €374m to €280m as the equity issuance and sale and leaseback of the Charlemont hotel more than offset the operational cash burn. Ireland and the UK are currently in the midst of the third lockdown, which will severely impact revenue in the first half of 2021. We expect occupancy to be at very low levels until the end of March. As a result, FY21 revenue forecasts reduce from €310m to €212m, and we expect an operating loss of €15m. This leads to a year of cash outflow, before the group again turns quite cash generative in FY22. In FY23, Dublin revpar of €98 remains circa 12% below prior peak (FY18 €111), owing to its reliance on overseas travel and new hotel supply. Regional Ireland revpar reverts to prior peak in 2023, and the UK remains slightly lower. We apply 12 times to 2023 Ebitda and discount by two years, blended with our discounted cash flow, our new price target is €4.25. With a good runway of growth and an attractive freehold asset base, we retain our positive view. Leverage including leases is high but reduces to a more palatable 5.0 times by FY23 or 1.9 times on a pre-IFRS16 basis. Importantly, the group will have greater than €200m of liquidity at year-end 2021. It currently offers a 9.5% free cash flow yield in FY23, before development capex.”
Brewery trades as off-licence to sell takeaway beer: Stonehouse Brewery is continuing to sell takeaway beer while pubs and bars have been banned from doing so during the third national lockdown. The Oswestry-based brewer in Shropshire has used current legislation to classify its business as an off-licence. Stonehouse Brewery director Alison Parr told the Shropshire Star: “We are allowed to do takeaway beer because we can trade as an off-licence. We’ve been selling it to supermarkets and shops. But, like other breweries, our main trade is selling to pubs. Our turnover is 80% down. Pubs have been able to get support because they’re in the hospitality sector. We are considered to be in the manufacturing sector, so we still have to pay our rates. We have had support from Shropshire Council but not everyone is so lucky. Many breweries have closed and many more will close over the coming months. If we can make it to spring and things can start opening up again, then we should make it through.”