Coyote Ugly lines up Swansea for fourth UK site: Coyote Ugly, the rowdy, western-themed bar that celebrates the wild side of American culture, is lining up its fourth site, in Swansea. Steve Lewis opened the first British branch of the brand in Cardiff in 2016 and has since added venues in Liverpool and Manchester. Now he is looking to open a site in Wales with Lewis calling Swansea a “natural choice”. The venue is set to open in Wind Street in the summer on part of the former Aspers Casino site, creating 50 jobs. Lewis told Wales Online: “The support we have been shown in Wales is outstanding and Swansea is a natural choice for us. The mix of beautiful scenery and city developments is hard to ignore and makes Swansea one of the most attractive cities in the UK.” Coyote Ugly currently has 26 sites in seven countries – the US, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Japan, the UK and Kyrgyzstan.

Mojo Bar returns to Yorkshire for fifth site, in Harrogate: Leeds-based operator Mojo Bar has opened its fifth site, in Harrogate. The company has opened the venue in Parliament Street. The 2,400 square foot bar is split across ground level and mezzanine, while also offering a second-floor “Rhum Room” – a feature introduced at the company’s Leeds bar as a “civilised area for a quiet drink”. The room doubles as a private events space for cocktail masterclasses and dancing on tables. As a first for the group, Mojo has also introduced a 300 square foot terrace that will be used for alfresco dining and drinking, with barbecues and events held throughout the summer. Director Mal Evans told the Harrogate Advertiser: “After the successful launch of our bar in Nottingham, we’re bringing Mojo home to Yorkshire where the idea was first born.” Mojo operates a flagship venue in Leeds and subsequently opened bars in Manchester, Liverpool and Nottingham.
Ivy Collection reveals more details of Glasgow city centre launch: The Ivy Collection has revealed more details of its plans to launch a brasserie in Glasgow city centre. The company has had planning permission granted for a site at 106 Buchanan Street that is currently occupied by Nationwide Building Society and near Royal Exchange Square. The Ivy Collection originally hoped to launch the brasserie this spring but has now pencilled in an early 2019 launch. The extensive renovation of the building will create a bar and restaurant on the ground floor with a second restaurant space on the floor above. The opening will create 150 jobs. A spokesman told the Glasgowist: “Each location is carefully hand-picked to value, reflect and add to the local area.” The Ivy brand is expanding rapidly into other UK cities and opened its first site in Scotland last September in Edinburgh. Recent brasserie openings include Birmingham, Cheltenham, Guildford, York and King’s Cross, with further launches lined up this year in Brighton, Dublin, Leeds, Norwich and Winchester.
Ten Entertainment Group owner and executives to sell up to 15% stake: The owner and executive members of Ten Entertainment Group are to sell up to a 15% stake in the tenpin bowling operator. Private equity firm Harwood Capital, along with chief executive Alan Hand, chairman Nick Basing and chief commercial officer Graham Blackwell, plan to sell a total of 9.74 million ordinary shares. Ten Entertainment Group stated: “Harwood intends to sell up to 8.94 million shares, Nick Basing up to 0.45 million shares, Alan Hand up to 0.22 million shares, and Graham Blackwell up to 0.13 million shares. The placing shares are being offered by way of an accelerated book-build, which will be launched immediately. Numis Securities and Peel Hunt are acting as joint book-runners for the sellers in connection with the placing. The remainder of the company’s ordinary shares held by each of the sellers following the placing will be subject to a lock-up. The lock-up will end seven days after the publication by Ten Entertainment Group of its 2018 interim results with respect to Harwood and Nick Basing, and separately the lock-up will end 365 days after completion of the placing with respect to Alan Hand and Graham Blackwell (in each case subject to waiver by the joint book-runners and to certain exceptions). The final number of placing shares to be placed and the price at which the placing shares are to be placed will be agreed by the joint book-runners and the sellers at the close of the book-build process, and the result of the placing will be announced as soon as practicable thereafter. The placing is subject to demand, price and market conditions. The company will not receive any proceeds from the placing.”
York-based brewer launches crowdfunding campaign to open city’s ‘biggest beer venue’: Brew York has launched a fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder in a bid to create the “biggest beer venue in the city”. Wayne Smith and Lee Grabham launched their brewery, taproom and events space in Walmgate in 2016 and now plan a major expansion into an adjacent premises. So far, 195 investors have pledged £18,555 with nine days of the campaign remaining. Those who back the project can receive one of eight rewards. At entry level, people contributing £50 will receive £100 back in beer vouchers, while at the top end, those who invest £3,000 can invent and brew their own beer, design packaging, receive ten cases and bring 50 guests to the official launch party. Brew York’s plans include trebling brewing capacity, setting up a permanent street food kitchen and bar in the former Jack Raine boxing club, offering the largest on-tap beer range in York with 40 beers available at any one time, launching a hoptail lounge serving beer cocktails and hosting masterclasses, and installing a pilot brewery kit for more experimental beers and to allow groups to brew their own beers for events. There would also be a new lift to make the space fully accessible and a canning machine to improve quality control and increase production. Grabham told York Mix: “Our first two years have been incredible. When we were home-brewing a few years ago we dreamt of having our own brewery but we couldn’t have imagined just how popular Brew York and our beers would be. We’ve loved getting to know our new customers and, now we are ready to expand, we want them to be part of it.”
Absurd Bird scraps Newcastle opening: Absurd Bird, the Southern US-inspired chicken restaurant brand from Splendid Restaurants, part of the Splendid Hospitality Group, has scrapped plans to open a site in Newcastle. The company was granted a premises licence last year to open the venue at Intu Eldon Square in the Grey’s Quarter restaurant development. However, Intu confirmed Absurd Bird had decided not to take the launch forward, while it was in talks with “other” brands about the few remaining empty units at the development. A spokesman told Chronicle Live: “We’re always working hard to refresh our line-up with new and exciting brands to give our visitors the best possible experience.” Absurd Bird offers food and drink inspired by the southern US states, with a brand look that has been built up around a story of two “unruly birds” that have escaped London and fled “deeper south”. It has three sites in London as well as one each in Bath, Exeter and Leeds.
Douglas Jack – M&B’s momentum from reinvestment programme continuing to build: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said Mitchells & Butlers’ momentum from its reinvestment programme is continuing to build. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 325p, Jack said: “Like-for-like sales are critical due to high operational leverage, which includes £0.6bn of annual wages (equivalent to 28% of turnover, and rising). With circa £26m of the £60m of incremental cost pressure being mitigated, we estimate Mitchells & Butlers needs 2.5% like-for-like sales to hold like-for-like profits, and that every 1% difference in like-for-like sales equates to a 5% change in profits. The fruits of labour are starting to be reflected in like-for-like sales via spend per head and premiumisation. Like-for-like drink sales have outperformed like-for-like food sales over the past two years, and total like-for-like sales have outperformed the Coffer Peach Business Tracker (CPBT) during each of the past six quarters. In the first quarter of 2018, the 2.2% increase in like-for-like sales compares with a 0.4% increase in the CPBT, despite Mitchells & Butlers being less dependent on discounting than many competitors. Drivers of like-for-like sales and cost mitigation include electronic labour time-monitoring, which saves management time; pre-night preparation, auto-ordering and better stock control reducing stock take times, improving accuracy, reducing wastage and freeing up management time; and investment in technology making at-table ordering available and helping online bookings to treble in the past two years. We believe estate reinvestment has had the biggest impact on like-for-like sales. This includes repositioning many sites to the 100-strong Miller & Carter brand, raising spend per head from £9 to £20 in Harvester conversions, resulting in lower volume but “dramatically” higher profits. The shortened refurbishment (reduced from ten to 12 years to six to seven) should drive like-for-like sales over the next three years, during which the share of sites that are uninvested should drop from 44% to just 20% of the estate. Indicators of the progress Mitchells & Butlers made last year were a 2.6% improvement in like-for-like sales, a 7.8% improvement in net promoter score, a 24% increase in the TripAdvisor response rate, and a 5.8% increase in double five safety ratings. Mitchells & Butlers is valued on 7.8 times EV/Ebitda for a circa 85% freehold, circa 40% south east England-based estate. It would be 6.8 times if we exclude the pension deficit, which we believe would be wiped out if bond yields rise by 150 basis points. In our view, growing like-for-like sales can drive attractive growth and re-rating upside, increasing the £4 a share net asset value through asset (£4.4bn gross) appreciation and net debt (£1.75bn) reduction.”
Walmart to add British-born Steve Easterbrook to board: Walmart is to add British-born McDonald’s chief executive Steve Easterbrook to its board in a bid to bring in an adviser with experience abroad. Easterbrook will replace Instagram founder Kevin Systrom, who is departing after four years to prioritise work and other outside commitments. Easterbrook started as an accountant but has spent most of his career in the restaurant industry. He joined McDonald’s in 1993, working his way up from financial reporting manager to run its European operations. He left McDonald’s in 2011 to run UK chains PizzaExpress and Wagamama but returned to McDonald’s in 2013, becoming chief executive two years later.
Nail, coffee and cocktail bar concept London Grace to launch Chelmsford site, first outside capital and seventh in total: Nail, coffee and cocktail bar concept London Grace is to launch its first site outside the capital and seventh in total. The venue will open soon in Chelmsford’s Bond Street shopping centre in a unit adjacent to international cafe restaurant brand Jamaica Blue. The concept encourages people to visit in groups for pedicures and manicures and stay for a drink and chat at the bar afterwards. Kirsten White took inspiration from New York’s thriving “nail bar scene” and launched London Grace in 2015 after being unable to find anything similar when she returned to England. She opened the first London Grace near her home in Putney, expanding to the Angel, Canary Wharf, Clapham, Leicester Square and Marble Arch. Alongside cocktails and mocktails, London Grace bars offer wine, prosecco, champagne, spirits and soft drinks. Fellow director Lauren Williams told Essex Live: “We hadn’t really considered expanding outside London so soon but Kirsten and I came to have a look around Bond Street and loved it. We are near the restaurants and cinema and there’s a lifestyle feel here, with people popping in after work and dropping by with their friends. As we are open late, customers can pop in before a night out and go on to a restaurant or bar. This is a place we want people to come to chat, catch up with their friends and have a bit of pampering at the same time.”
Stonegate Pub Company relaunches Colchester Irish bar as The Centurion: Stonegate Pub Company has reopened former Irish bar Molloy’s in Colchester as “current and quirky new bar” The Centurion following a £250,000 transformation. The pub in North Hill is aimed at students and young professionals, with innovative interiors featuring wall-to-wall murals, mood lighting, and designated workspaces with Wi-Fi hot spots and charging points. The venue will feature live music from Essex artists, while sports fans are catered for alongside speed quizzes, retro games and a “hot wing challenge” where entrants to all events can earn a place in the pub’s “hall of fame”. The 11-strong craft beer and cider wall includes Hop House 13, Brewdog’s Punk IPA and Lilley’s ciders, alongside three cask ales and a selection of niche craft beer, lager and stout as well as tin-can cocktails. General manager Daniel Davis said: “We wanted to create a fun, interactive atmosphere. We can boast the best place in Colchester for live sports viewing but we also offer something for everyone, with food, drink and entertainment on offer all day, every day.” The venue is open from 8am for breakfast, with sharing options served throughout the day. Regular visitors can use the MORE loyalty card to earn points to save money on food and drink. On Saturday (28 April), Stonegate will launch The Birkett Tap in Bristol city centre following a £400,000 refurbishment. It will offer 20 craft beers and ciders from a neon-lit back wall alongside a menu of sourdough pizza and tapas.
Ayrshire-based burger bar 7 Saints to open second site, in Kilmarnock: Ayrshire-based burger bar 7 Saints is set to open its second site, in Kilmarnock. Owner Nick Livingstone launched the concept in Prestwick. Now he is heading to Kilmarnock with the new venue set to open in John Finnie Street. Work has yet to get under way on the property but Livingstone hopes to open the outlet in September. The venue will have two floors, with the upper part of the building used as a smaller bar. As well as burgers, 7 Saints offers “quirky” cocktails and snacks. Livingstone told the Daily Record: “7 Saints Kilmarnock will have its own identity and different features – it won’t be a carbon copy. I saw this as a huge opportunity to offer something different in Kilmarnock.”
Historic Bath hotel brought to market for more than £2m: Tasburgh House Hotel in Bath has been brought to market by agent Savills on behalf of a private client at a guide price of more than £2m. The 15-bedroom boutique hotel was built by the royal photographer to Queen Victoria in 1891. It offers views of the city of Bath and Avon Valley with a lounge, dining room and bar and sits in 5.8 acres of terraces and a meadow park. The grounds go down to the edge of The Kennet and Avon Canal, while the property is only about two miles from Bath city centre. James Greenslade, associate at Savills hotels, said: “The historic Tasburgh House Hotel presents a fantastic opportunity for a new owner to acquire an established business. The property benefits from a fantastic location in one of the UK’s most popular tourist destinations.”
Wireless Social reports 65% rise in turnover driven by GDPR: Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social has reported a 65% increase in its first quarter 2018 turnover compared with last year, as the trend towards using GDPR-compliant data for personalised communications continues to grow. Wireless Social, which now has more than five million active users, allows operators to better understand customer likes and interests through data collected during social Wi-Fi log-ins. So far in 2018, Wireless Social has introduced its Fully-Managed-Service – a bespoke email marketing solution that is “helping operators increase footfall by 32%” – as well as marketing measurement tool Presence, which tracks individual devices through social Wi-Fi log-in. Wireless Social has also seen contract wins this year that include TGI Friday’s, Paul UK and The Rum Kitchen as it “continues to make huge strides in the hospitality space”. Wireless Social managing director Julian Ross said: “We’re very proud and grateful to all the operators that have trusted in us already and promise to continue to pedal even faster to delight them!”
Signature Living misses out in plan to convert Denbigh hospital into luxury hotels: Aparthotel developer and operator Signature Living has missed out on its plans to transform Denbigh hospital in North Wales. The company applied to Denbighshire County Council to convert the grade II-listed building into two luxury hotels. However, the local authority has opted for plans by predominantly housing-based Jones Bros instead. Signature Living chairman Lawrence Kenwright told Insider Media: “I feel it is a sad day for Denbigh. It has lost an amazing opportunity to give 450 jobs to the local community and bring a huge amount of tourism to an area that desperately needs a catalyst to bring it back to its former glory.” The former mental hospital has been closed since 1996. Signature Living currently operates five hotels in the UK and has a further eight in development, including its latest Shankly Hotel in Preston.
North east London-based Mediterranean restaurant opens second site: North east London-based Mediterranean restaurant Acoustic has opened a second site, in Stoke Newington. Owners Sefika Erdal and Adil Kolcak have added to their original site in Newington Green by opening the new venue in Church Street. Kolcak told the Hackney Gazette: “I like the area and the client profile is something we are targeting. We know in our Newington Green restaurant that customers come from this area, so we thought it was a good idea to come here.”
Staycity opens first site for its Wilde premium brand: Staycity Aparthotels has opened a first site for its premium brand – Wilde – in London’s the Strand. The 106-bedroom aparthotel offers guests a choice of studios, superior studios and double rooms over eight floors, including three sky-level studios. The company intends to roll out the Wilde Aparthotels by Staycity brand across gateway city centre locations throughout Europe. The Strand opening will be followed by a 123-apartment site in Edinburgh’s King’s Stables Road at the end of 2019, two properties in Berlin opening in 2019/20, and a 256-apartment site in Manchester’s St Peter’s Square opening in 2020. The Strand venue was officially opened by Staycity chief executive and founder Tom Walsh and Merlin Holland, the only grandson of Oscar Wilde. The Irish playwright and poet has been a major inspiration for the concept. Walsh said: “It is fitting that our first Wilde is close to where Oscar lived in London. It is also opposite the Vaudeville Theatre, currently hosting an Oscar Wilde season, and is a short walk from the Oscar Wilde memorial near Charing Cross.” Holland added: “I’m delighted to be involved with the opening of Wilde. My grandfather took a great interest in aesthetics, particularly in interior design. He memorably said ‘have nothing in your house that is not useful or beautiful’.”