Pesto reports turnover passes £10m mark: Pesto, which focuses on Italian food in a pub setting, has reported turnover increased to £10,186,648 for the year ending 30 June 2017, compared with £9,468,348 the previous year. Pre-tax profit fell to £62,230 compared with £197,151 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In a report filed with the accounts, the directors stated: “During the year the company opened its ninth and tenth sites in Marton in Cheshire and Oakerthorpe in Derbyshire respectively. All sites continue to perform well and the management team is focused on opening more in the coming year. The operating profit for the year was £236,050 (2016: £381,502) with the decrease from the prior year reflecting the costs associated with opening two new sites in the financial year.” At the end of the period, the number of employees increased to 331 from 307 the previous year. Pesto, which is owned by Sara Edwards and Neil Gatt, operates restaurants across the Midlands and north west.

Innis & Gunn appoints director of operations for Beer Kitchens business: Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn has appointed Stephen Drew as its new director of operations for its Beer Kitchen business, Propel has learned. Drew has joined from YO! Sushi, where he was an operations manager. He previously worked for G1 Group and The Diner, which is owned by Good Life Group. Dougal Gunn Sharp, Innis & Gunn founder and master brewer, said: “Stephen brings a wealth of operations experience to the company and we look forward to working together as we grow our business.” In September, Innis & Gunn secured a £15m investment from L Catterton, the largest consumer-focused private equity firm in the world, as it sold a 27.9% stake in the business. Innis & Gunn currently operates four Beer Kitchen sites – in Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews.

Ghia Holding to bring Lebanese brand Abd El Wahab to UK next month for first international site: Middle East restaurant group Ghia Holding is to make its UK debut next month – its first international site. The company is bringing its Lebanese brand Abd El Wahab, which has 18 locations across the Middle East, to Belgravia in west London. The two-storey, 120-cover restaurant will open in Pont Street on Friday, 2 March. It will offer a la carte and set Middle Eastern and Lebanese menus, including mezze starters, salads, grilled meat and oven-roasted dishes. Ghia Holdings operates 45 restaurants and its other brands include Beirut by Grill and Fabrk lounge bar. Manchester-based agency Mason Williams has been appointed to manage PR surrounding the launch of Abd El Wahab. Mark Dickinson, UK director for Abd El Wahab, told Prolific North: “London is one of the most exciting cities in the world and we wanted to work with an agency that matched our passion and fast-paced way of operating, as well as being an agency that is a PR and communications expert within the hotel and restaurant sector.”

Online brewing industry market place BrewBroker launches: BrewBroker, which describes itself as an online market place for the global brewing industry, has launched. The company, which raised £390,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube last year, has signed up more than 85 industry suppliers across the UK and Europe, including Brewhouse & Kitchen and Kegstar, and more than 70 buyers to bring the platform to market. The aim of BrewBroker is to enable businesses to search, sell and buy brewing services from each other. It likens itself to Airbnb and Uber by “taking an established industry at a certain stage and disrupting it using a sharing economy model”. The company was founded last year by drinks marketing expert Toby Chantrell and Ben Morgan-Smith, a digital industry veteran. They have been advised by Craft Beer Rising founders Daniel Rowntree and Chris Bayliss. The team has spent a year working with breweries and suppliers to build, test and bring the concept to market. Morgan-Smith said: “Seeing first-hand the challenge of bringing a new beer to market, we could see there was a real need for a solution providing increased levels of access and demystifying the process of creating a beer brand. Our huge brewing industry currently has no way to easily communicate and trade within itself. From giant brewers at the top to the small craft and entrepreneur brewers in their infancy, there is no one place to go to expand or make their brewing dreams come true.”

Sugar Hut to close Liverpool site: Sugar Hut, the brand launched by The Only Way Is Essex star Mick Norcross, is to close its Liverpool site. The company opened the venue in Victoria Street in 2016 following the launch of the brand’s nightspot in Brentwood. It told Your Move: “Liverpool Sugar Hut is closing to focus on its highly acclaimed flagship business in other areas. After being enthusiastically welcomed by the city, the local team created an award-winning, safe and well-reputed entertainment venue, bringing hugely positive regeneration to the Victoria Street area. Sugar Hut wants to thank its staff, clientele and the community of Liverpool for their support and is proud to have been a part of such a great city’s continued growth.”

McDonald’s franchisee adds two Walsall restaurants to 17-strong portfolio: West Midlands-based McDonald’s franchisee Wright Restaurants has added two sites in Walsall to its 17-strong portfolio. Owner Douglas Wright has added venues in Rushall and Reedswood to the estate following funding from Royal Bank of Scotland. Wright is a long-standing McDonald’s franchisee, setting up his first outlet in Lichfield in May 2003. He has also just reopened his outlet in Solihull following a refurbishment. The revamped 250-seat restaurant in High Street has been updated as part of McDonald’s “Experience of the Future” project and benefits from self-order kiosks as well as traditional table service. Wright told the Express & Star: “I am delighted to be able to continue my investment across the region and create modern restaurants that embrace technology. The new-look restaurant ensures we continue to improve the customer experience and address the trend of customisation and personalisation customers expect when ordering. The acquisitions in Walsall are part of my growth strategy to expand the number of outlets we operate.” In its latest available accounts at Companies House, Wright Restaurants reported turnover of £31,014,300 for the year ending 31 December 2016, compared with £25,982,783 the previous year.

Jamie Oliver franchisee eyes Dublin restaurant launch: The man behind Jamie Oliver’s Irish business is eyeing the launch of a second Dublin restaurant despite the chef’s business problems in the UK. Gerard Fitzpatrick, who launched Jamie’s Italian in Dundrum in 2012, is “nearly there” with negotiations for a city centre restaurant as he dismissed fears that trouble in Britain would have an impact on international operations. Fitzpatrick told the Irish Times: “It’s a fantastic business. We’re very confident in its future.” He said he had also taken a look at a “possible restaurant in Cork”. The plans for expansion in Ireland come as Oliver’s wider businesses face significant challenges. Earlier this week, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group announced Barby, the parent company that owns Barbecoa sites in St Paul’s and Piccadilly in London, had been placed into administration. The assets and lease of the St Paul’s site were bought by another division of Oliver’s restaurant group. That news came in the wake of the Jamie’s Italian UK business having its Company Voluntary Arrangement approved by creditors, which is set to lead to the closure of 12 sites. However, Jamie’s Italian International, which has revenues of about £4m and outlets in more than 20 countries, most run as franchises, had pre-tax profits of £2m in 2016 with plans to open 20 restaurants this year.

Searcys sees 11% rise in bookings at 30 Euston Square: Searcys has reported an 11% rise in bookings at its 30 Euston Square events space in central London. The grade II-listed conference centre in Euston also saw a 12.5% increase in direct corporate bookings in 2017 compared with the previous year. Of the 1,735 enquiries converted into events, about 35% were repeat bookings. The figures resulted in a 5% year-on-year revenue rise during its most successful year to date, the company said. 30 Euston Square general manager Yvette Chatwin said: “With a 25% increase in the number of Christmas parties, we finished 2017 on a real high. We wanted to grow our direct business focusing on optimising efficiency, client support and customer service. This strategy has clearly paid off and I am delighted it has been reflected across a host of metrics including revenue, number of events and footfall. For me, the most important statistic is the number of returning clients. Such a high rate of repeat business demonstrates clients want to return.”

Dipna Anand expands family legacy by opening Chelsea restaurant: Dipna Anand, whose family launched Brilliant restaurant in Southall in 1975 that became synonymous with celebrity patrons such as Prince Charles, has opened “laid-back Punjabi cafe” Dip In Brilliant in Chelsea. The venue has launched in Fulham Road at a site formerly occupied by Persian restaurant Kishmish, with diners eating from a thali (metal round platter to share) and encouraged to eat with their hands. As the name suggests, the concept means customers can “dip in and out within 30 minutes” or stay for a more leisurely meal. Anand told Hot Dinners: “It was an opportunity I could not resist and it could not have come at a better time. Brilliant customers often ask us when we are opening in central London, well here we are. My motive is to take my Brilliant cuisine to wherever people demand it. We are a curry-loving nation and it’s my duty to continue to fly the flag of Punjabi food as high as possible.” Anand also collaborates with Compass Group, operates a cookery school in Southall and appears on her own television series – Dip in Kitchen.

Beannchor Group opens eighth Little Wing Pizzeria, in Newtownards as it continues roll-out: Northern Ireland hospitality company Beannchor Group has opened its eighth Little Wing Pizzeria, in Newtownards. The company has invested £650,000 in the 50-seat venue in Conway Square, creating 20 jobs. Little Wing managing director Luke Wolsey revealed there were plans for further outlets in the “near future”. He told the Irish News: “As a thriving company we felt this was the right time to grow the business again and expand our opportunities in 2018. We are determined to continue to roll out the Little Wing brand across Northern Ireland and further afield and to explore further opportunities to expand our portfolio of restaurants in the near future.” Beannchor Group owns pubs, hotels and restaurants across Northern Ireland, including National Grande Cafe and The Dirty Onion.

KFC ‘shouldn’t make workers suffer’ for chicken crisis, union warns: KFC “shouldn’t make its workers suffer for the company’s current chicken crisis”, the GMB union has warned. KFC has been forced to close hundreds of its UK outlets following “teething problems” surrounding its new delivery contract with DHL. The GMB said the decision had led to the loss of 255 jobs at former delivery company Bidvest and left hundreds of KFC workers “in limbo”. GMB national officer Mick Rix said: “Our members in KFC franchises are missing out on shifts with no idea when their stores will reopen. They’ve told us they’re now being advised to use their holiday entitlement to cover the working time they’ve lost as a result of this mess. We demand KFC and DHL make sure affected workers are paid for the hours they’ve lost.” Propel tried to contact KFC for a comment but was unable to do so.

Dirty Bones launches vegan concept: US comfort food and cocktails brand Dirty Bones has launched a vegan concept in Shoreditch. Dirty Vegan will start with two initial sessions at Dirty Bones’ Shoreditch site on 5 and 12 March offering plant-inspired vegan twists on Dirty Bones’ signature dishes and a vegan drinks list. The menu will include cauliflower “chicken” with buckwheat waffles, mac ‘n’ cheese made with cashew and almond milk, and a vegan spin on Dirty Bones’ signature buffalo hot wings. The drinks list will feature a Dirty Viña Colada and a selection of vegan-friendly wine and beer. Dirty Bones founder and operations director Cokey Sulkin said: “There’s been a huge uptake in the demand for vegan and vegetarian options in London and we wanted to challenge ourselves to accommodate more of these tastes and preferences while staying true to what Dirty Bones does best. Comfort food will always be our focus and Dirty Vegan is our way of making sure anyone can indulge in it.” Dirty Bones operates four sites in London and one in Oxford.

Deliveroo launches global campaign to showcase breadth of brands available: Deliveroo has launched a global campaign as it looks to showcase the breadth of brands and cuisine available on its service. The Eat More Amazing campaign features traditional takeaway foods such as curry and pizza alongside more unconventional offerings including poké, sushi and healthier options. Deliveroo hopes this will be the start of a long-term proposition that will encourage people to “eat more amazing at every food occasion”. Emily Kraftman, UK and Ireland head of marketing, said: “We now have more than 15,000 UK partners that span more than 80 cuisine types. With Eat More Amazing we want to make sure the whole world knows Deliveroo is all about getting your favourite restaurant food delivered, when and where you want it.”

Tim Hortons continues rapid roll-out with third Cardiff venue: Tim Hortons, the Canadian cafe and bake shop owned by Restaurant Brands, has continued its rapid UK roll-out by opening a third site in Cardiff. The venue has opened in Albany Road. Kevin Hydes, chief finance and commercial officer of the Tim Hortons franchise in the UK, said: “Our two current Cardiff restaurants are proving exceptionally popular so it’s a great time to be announcing our continued expansion!” Earlier this week, Tim Hortons opened its seventh Scottish site, in Ayr. After making its UK debut in Glasgow in June last year, the brand has added three venues in the city with other Scottish sites in Hamilton and Dunfermline. Five sites are earmarked for the Manchester area, including the brand’s first UK drive-thru, which will take the company’s portfolio in the region to 15 sites as part of plans for up to 100 in total. Tim Hortons was founded in 1964 by its namesake, a professional ice hockey player who wanted to create a space where “everyone would feel at home”.

Center Parcs launches apprenticeship programme: Center Parcs has launched an apprenticeship programme. The company said the scheme, in partnership with HIT Training, would help staff develop their interpersonal skills, gain a deeper understanding of organisational strategy, and learn how best to support and develop individuals. Building on its existing management training, the new scheme will support 56 apprentices across Center Parcs’ five villages and company headquarters. It will welcome delegates from a variety of roles including leisure, housekeeping and food and beverage, with successful learners being accredited with a level 3 team leader apprenticeship award and Institute of Leadership and Management level 3 diploma in management. Tracey Anderson, performance and development manager at Center Parcs, told Hotel Owner: “We have always offered great management and leadership programmes at Center Parcs and this is a great addition to what we offer. Our apprentices will learn from this great programme and be able to share their experiences with colleagues and become role models for other members of the team.”

Stonegate ramps up Slug and Lettuce refurbishments: Stonegate Pub Company has ramped up refurbishments across its Slug and Lettuce estate with its Bath site reopening and the Isle of Wight and Derby venues to follow shortly. All three sites will feature new minimal decor and revamped outside seating areas, plus the addition of a cocktail masterclass station and new-look bar. A £350,000 investment at the Bath site in George Street has created 20 jobs, while the Slug and Lettuce in High Street, Newport, on the Isle of Wight, will reopen on Sunday (25 February) following an investment of more than £330,000. Meanwhile, the Slug and Lettuce in Irongate, Derby, will reopen on Sunday, 4 March following a £325,000 investment and the creation of 15 jobs. The venue will also launch a new payday weekend event that will take place on the first Friday and Saturday of every month. Louise Williams, general manager of Slug and Lettuce Derby, said: “Our-new look site is going to be something spectacular. With our extensive refurbishment we are excited to be giving something back to our key customers.” Stonegate Pub Company operates more than 690 pubs split into two divisions – Branded (Slug and Lettuce, Yates’s, Walkabout, Common Room and Venues) and Traditional (Proper Pubs, Town Pub & Kitchen, and Classic Inns).

JD Wetherspoon lodges plans for 47-bedroom hotel on Barkingside pub car park: JD Wetherspoon has lodged plans for a four-storey, 47-bedroom hotel at its pub in Barkingside, east London. The company has applied to Redbridge Council to build the hotel on a car park at the New Fairlop Oak in Fencepiece Road. In its application, Wetherspoon said: “The car park to the south and west of the pub is under-used. We are confident there is an established need for hotel accommodation at an affordable price to visitors to Barkingside and the surrounding area.” If approved, the number of parking spaces at the site would reduce from 29 to seven. However, Wetherspoon said there were in excess of 1,200 pay-to-park spaces available within 500 metres of the pub and “considerable on-street private car parking available” in nearby streets.

Irish craft brewer Porterhouse launches €6m brewery to feature immersive visitors’ centre: Independently-owned Irish craft brewer Porterhouse Brewing Company has launched its €6m brewery in Dublin to keep up with rising demand in the UK and Europe. The brewery will eventually feature a visitors’ centre that will include an events space hosting live music, parties, street food markets and corporate functions. Founding partner Liam LaHart said: “It won’t be your typical brewery visitors’ centre which, to be honest, are more like museums. We want to create a bit of theatre, an immersive experience that is all about getting involved in the process and having fun.” Head brewer and director Peter Mosley added: “The increased brewing and storage capabilities will give us flexibility to produce and experiment further with flavour variation, and create limited edition and seasonal brews that will appeal to a wider audience of beer drinkers while still meeting the demand for our established beers.” Porterhouse was founded in response to the “bland and mass-produced beer from multinational companies that dominated the Irish market in the 1990s”. In 1996, it opened Ireland’s first brewpub, The Porterhouse in Temple Bar, and in 2017 Porterhouse Brewing Company launched as a brand internationally.

Australian fitness franchise F45 launches Here East studio for ninth London site: Australian fitness franchise F45 has launched its ninth studio in London – at Here East Canalside, the dining and drinking area on the site of the former 2012 Olympic Games press centre. F45 offers high-intensity circuit training classes accompanied by live DJs. The company said it would announce deals and offers with a number of operators at Here East, including The Breakfast Club and plant-based smoothie and juice bar Mother Works. Sam Gregory, of F45 Stratford, told BDaily: “We look forward to helping ensure the Here East community is fit, healthy and happy in 2018.” F45 was founded in Bondi in 2013 and operates more than 500 venues across the globe. Alongside its nine London venues, the company’s website lists another 11 sites in the capital as “coming soon”. In 2016, the company instructed agent Savills to secure at least 50 new sites in the UK following the success of its first venue at London Bridge