Bids in for Stonegate/Ei Group CMA package: Several parties have submitted bids to acquire the entire 42-strong package of pubs, which were originally placed on the market to address competition concerns surrounding Stonegate Pub Company’s £3bn acquisition of Ei Group. Propel understands bids were due on Monday (19 October) for the package, which Stonegate agreed to sell at the end of last year to get Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) approval for its £3bn acquisition. The package comprises 30 freehold and 12 leasehold sites and consists of 32 Ei Group-owned properties and ten Stonegate. The pubs, which are being marketed by CBRE, need to be divested in a maximum of three packages unless otherwise agreed in writing by the CMA. Propel understands Admiral Taverns and real estate investment company Aprirose are among the parties interested in the pubs. Last year, Aprirose launched Blackrose, its pub management company. Blackrose has circa 40 pubs under management with 12 operating under the Blackrose brand, and set out plans earlier this summer to have 200 new site acquisitions by the end of 2021. Stonegate declined to comment.
Pret appoints Tom Mackay as new chief financial officer: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned brand, has appointed Tom Mackay, formerly of Virgin Atlantic and Marks & Spencer (M&S), as its new chief financial officer, Propel has learned. Mackay joins Pret after five years as chief financial officer of Virgin Atlantic. Previous to that he was head of finance at M&S. Last month, Laura Grant, also formerly of Virgin Atlantic, joined Pret as its new global procurement director. Earlier this month, Pret announced it was to make 400 more staff redundant and close six further London stores as it continued to deal with the impact of coronavirus. It comes after the company made almost 2,900 of its 8,800 employees redundant in August.
Azzurri Group to begin reopening of Coco di Mama estate: Azzurri Group, the TowerBrook Capital-backed owner of ASK Italian and Zizzi, is to begin the reopening of its 30-strong, London-based Coco di Mama brand next month. The Jim Attwood-led brand will begin its reopening programme with the relaunch of five sites on Wednesday, 4 November. The five sites will be in Margaret Street, Holborn, More London, Cheapside and Fleet Street.
Crussh permanently closes seven sites: London-based healthy food and juice brand Crussh has permanently closed seven of its circa 30-strong estate, Propel has learned. It is understood Crussh, which, earlier this summer, appointed Simon Foster, formerly group managing director of Yorica, as its new chief executive, has permanently closed its sites in Ludgate Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Broadwick Street, Strutton Ground and Hounslow, plus its two sites at Kensington Olympia. The company has so far reopened 13 of its sites across the capital and in St Albans.
Chef Nico Simeone launches at-home food and drink platform Home-X, 50 jobs to be created: Scottish-Italian chef Nico Simeone is launching a new operation that will create 50 jobs. Home-X is a permanent extension of Simeone’s lock-down food delivery service – Home by Nico – and will be available across the UK. Home by Nico was born after Simeone’s original Six by Nico restaurants were forced to close when coronavirus restrictions began in March. Home-X has gone live for registration and will begin home deliveries within the next month. It will start by offering a total of six experiences for customers, including Home by Nico, which serves the tasting menu offered at Six by Nico restaurants. The other experiences are: Stem wine club, which offers a bespoke collection curated by Six by Nico chief operating officer Rachael Rafferty; The Cheese Club, a selection of five artisan cheeses from cheesemongers IJ Melis, paired with chutneys and relishes; Chateau-X will deliver seasoned cuts of pre-prepared chateaubriand fillet with three side dishes; 24-Carrot is an offer of vegan tasting dishes; and E.Eatery, which is a collaboration with other independent restaurants. Simeone, who has created the project with marketing partner Michael Sim, said: “When we were forced to close the Six by Nico restaurants across the UK, we gave fans of the brand a chance to make our signature tasting menu at home and the feedback was phenomenal.” Sim added: “We have listened to the Six by Nico community continuously and worked incredibly hard to build Home-X. Our new business also opens up the whole of the UK as a customer. Prices vary from £50 to £70 and ranges from two to four servings.” A new 7,000 square foot facility at Glasgow’s Anniesland Industrial Estate will create at least 30 jobs across the kitchens and distribution business, with 20 more employed in the digital team at the company’s head office in Miller Street.
Conrad Hotels & Resorts to launch four new F&B concepts at St James property in partnership with Michelin-starred chef Sally Abé: Conrad Hotels & Resorts is to launch four new food and drink concepts at its Conrad London St James property. The hotel is investing £1.75m in a new signature restaurant inspired by pioneering women; a contemporary take on the traditional London pub; an afternoon tea lounge; and the addition of the hotel’s first cocktail bar. Michelin-starred chef Sally Abé, of the Harwood Arms in Fulham, has been appointed as consultant chef. The first concept, the Blue Boar Pub, is set to open in December and will reflect a modern take on a classic London pub. The other concepts are scheduled to open in spring 2021. Conrad London St James general manager Beverly Payne said: “We have an iconic location and we are expanding our concepts to equally offer delicious food. Our new concepts will provide the ideal settings for Sally to demonstrate her versatility and to continue to champion and empower women in hospitality.” Abé added: “The partnership with Conrad London St James gives me a chance to fulfil my ambitions to create dishes and menus that show every aspect of my passion for seasonal British food.”
C&C Group warns of challenging outlook given hospitality restrictions, provides €7m support to Admiral Taverns: Drinks company C&C Group has said the business has returned to profit following the reopening of pubs and restaurants after lock-down. The company has also provided liquidity help of €7m for Admiral Taverns “to support tenants and the on-trade”. C&C Group said Admiral Taverns now has sufficient liquidity to manage further restrictions. But interim executive chairman Stewart Gilliland also warned further restrictions on the hospitality sector meant the outlook for the business remained “challenging” in the near term. He said: “We expect to see reduced volumes in the on-trade continue for the near term partially offset by increases in the off-trade. We are adapting to this temporary change in consumption dynamics and while it will, invariably, reduce short-term profitability, we fundamentally believe in the medium and long-term outlook for the on-trade channel. The scale, reach and customer focus of the group’s brand-led distribution model should, in time, enable us to translate any improvement within this channel into superior profitability.” C&C Group reported net revenue declined 55.4% to €386.7m in the six months to 31 August, resulting in an operating loss of €11.7m. Adjusted Ebitda fell to €4.9m from €79.9m the previous year. Gilliland added: “Importantly, in terms of ensuring the group’s ability to trade effectively through this extraordinary period, we have enhanced our liquidity position, diversified our sources of funding, extended our borrowing facilities while reducing operating costs and maximising available cash flow. We remain confident in the inherent strength of our local brands, our unparalleled route to market and the medium to long-term prospects for C&C.”
Gusto bids to fund 10,000 free meals for the NHS: Italian casual dining group Gusto has launched a campaign to fund 10,000 free meals for NHS staff in December. Gusto has signposted four mains dishes on its autumn-winter menu at its 13 restaurants and if diners choose one, they can opt to donate an additional 50p that will go towards funding the NHS meals in the business’ Pledge1Cook1 initiative. Pledge1Cook1 gifts have also been created on Gusto’s Toggle gift card platform, these include contributions by partners and brands from Bombay Bramble, Nuttal’s, Slingsby Gin, Disaronno, Ginato Italian Gin, Lyre’s Non Alcoholic Spirits, and Liberty Wines. Gusto chief executive Matt Snell said: “The hospitality industry is full of passionate and selfless people who, in times of difficulty, pull together, put others first and show their true mettle by doing great things. It was incredible to see the acts of kindness back in April, where many operators provided free meals and support for our brilliant front-line heroes. The past six months have been extremely challenging and there’s no doubt more difficult times lie ahead but we want to give back to the local communities we serve and say thank you to the NHS. We’re so grateful to our fantastic partners who’ve stepped up to donate, and I have no doubt thousands of our generous guests will also do us proud and show their support.”
Amity Brew Co to open first brewpub: Yorkshire-based craft brewer Amity Brew Co will open its first brewpub in December. Amity has signed a ten-year lease on an iconic mill site at Sunny Bank Mills in Farsley to produce beer and sell to the public too. The brewery and bar will be set in a 2,500 square foot area along with an outdoor paved beer garden, which will complement the new developed £2m Weavers Yard facility. Since Amity launched in June, it has created six jobs and consistently sells out its beer, which is currently produced via partner breweries. The brewery has also caught the eye of BrewDog, which has stocked its beer on draught in more than 30 of its pubs as part of its Up and Coming Festival and has co-brewed a beer that will be on tap in BrewDog bars for its Collabfest in November. Amity co-founder and director Richard Degnan said: “The community support over the past few months has been incredible. We can’t wait to get on-site and start brewing.” William Gaunt, joint managing director of mill owners Edwin Woodhouse and Co, added: “We have always been interested in having a micro-brewery here at Sunny Bank Mills, and when Amity Brew Co came to us, we immediately knew they would be the perfect fit. We are about to start work and hope the brewery and taproom will be open before Christmas.”