Debbie Hewitt – Wagamama deal creates ‘raft of new opportunities’ for TRG: The Restaurant Group (TRG) chairman Debbie Hewitt has said its acquisition of Wagamama creates a “raft of new opportunities” for the company to capitalise on. The £559m deal was approved by shareholders on Wednesday (28 November) after 60% voted in favour. TRG will use a combination of cash, debt and a £315m fully underwritten rights issue to fund the acquisition. Hewitt said: “The acquisition of Wagamama creates a raft of new opportunities for us to capitalise on in the months and years ahead. We look forward to welcoming the Wagamama team into the business post-completion and thank them alongside all our TRG colleagues for keeping focused on delivering for our customers. We have engaged extensively with investors throughout this transaction and appreciate the time all have given. We are pleased the majority of our shareholders have approved the acquisition and the associated rights issue and would like to thank them for the support they have shown. We are confident the deal will create significant long-term value.” TRG said it had noted 40% of shareholders had voted against the deal and would continue to engage with investors to address concerns.
Ivy Collection opens Manchester site, first featuring Asian restaurant: The Ivy Collection has launched its latest site, in Manchester, which has seen the company debut an Asian restaurant concept. The Ivy Spinningfields has opened across four floors of a timber-framed space within new Manchester development The Pavilion. The venue offers a brasserie on the ground floor, while The Dalton Room provides private dining for 20 guests on the floor above with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and views across Spinningfields. On the second floor, new bar restaurant concept Ivy Asia offers Asian-inspired cocktails alongside dishes such as flamed wagyu beef with ponzo truffle dressing; sesame-seared salmon with cucumber, daikon and black bean dressing; and raw scallop with caviar. The space features a green, semi-precious stone floor, an antique gold-mirrored bar, a gold-gilt ceiling and Asian fabrics. On the same floor, the Geisha Room is a private room with bespoke mirrored artwork that is available to hire. On the top floor, the roof garden features a fully retractable roof, allowing the space to open all year round. Guests can enjoy food and cocktails alongside greenery, fire pits and colourful fabrics. The Ivy brand is expanding rapidly, with recent brasserie openings in Leeds, Birmingham, Cheltenham, Guildford, York, King’s Cross, Norwich and Winchester. In July it opened its first site outside the UK, in Dublin.
Adventure Bar appoints head of people: Adventure Bar, the London cocktail group led by Tom Kidd, has appointed Charlie Freeth to the newly created role of head of people, Propel has learned. Freeth has joined the company from cocktail bar brand Be At One, where she was head of recruitment and retention. She will be responsible for recruitment, retention and employee engagement at Adventure Bar. Kidd said: “We are extremely pleased to welcome Charlie into the team. She will help us on our journey to become an employer of choice and position us strongly for our forthcoming expansion.” Adventure Bar operates seven sites in the capital. Earlier this year the company secured a £1.4m debt finance deal from OakNorth, bringing the bank’s total lending to Adventure Bar to £3m in three deals since 2015.
BrewDog to open first Draft House site under its ownership this week, brand to make Scottish debut next year: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog will open its first site under the Draft House format this week since acquiring the brand earlier this year. Meanwhile, Draft House is set to make its Scottish debut with an opening in Glasgow in 2019. The first opening under BrewDog’s ownership will be on Friday (30 November), in Farringdon, central London. The site in Charterhouse Street was part of the six-strong Grand Union business Draft House acquired in 2017. The venue has been transformed to feature an underground beer hall with four exposed brickwork caves. The basement has a capacity of 200. There will be 15 keg draft beers and three cask ales, while the food menu will feature traditional pub dishes such as pie, sausage and mash, fish and chips, and burgers. Retail managing director David McDowall said: “We are excited to bring Draft House to Farringdon and invite the community to enjoy a warm welcome and our carefully curated range of craft beer and pub food.” The last Draft House to open was in Paddington in autumn 2017. BrewDog acquired the business from founder Charlie McVeigh in March and has converted what was the only site outside London – in Milton Keynes – to its eponymous format, leaving it with 12 Draft House-branded sites. The Grand Union venue in Farringdon has been operating as a standalone concept.
Dairy founder Matt Wells partners with Dan Wilson to relaunch cafe concept Dandy, raises £50,000 on first day of crowdfunding campaign:Dairy co-founder Matt Wells has partnered with chef Dan Wilson to relaunch cafe concept Dandy in Bermondsey, east London. A fund-raise launched on crowdfunding platform Seedrs raised more than £50,000 on its first day. Wells and Wilson are offering 5.73% equity in return for investment, which gives the venture a pre-money valuation of £1.2m. If the £75,000 target is reached, funds will be used to fit out a site in Maltby Street that was formerly occupied by Monmouth Coffee. Wells founded The Dairy and Counter Culture with Robin and Sarah Gill, created Knife Steakhouse, and recently backed 24 The Oval. Dandy will be the seventh restaurant he has been involved with. Wells said: “Bermondsey is an incredible, lively hub, buzzing with innovation and creativity. It offers established restaurants and new concepts and is the ideal spot for Dan’s seasonally driven, comforting dishes. We’re dedicated to great beer so it seemed the perfect fit and we’ll be making the most of our location on the beer mile – partnering with neighbouring brewers and we’ve plans to open our own in late 2019. Wilson launched Dandy as a pop-up in London Fields before opening a semi-permanent spot in Newington Green in late 2017. They have both since closed. Wilson said: “The journey to Dandy ‘3.0’ has been an incredible one. I can’t wait to finally open the doors to a permanent site.”
Edinburgh-based operator Quiet Man Taverns makes first foray into restaurant sector for third site: Edinburgh-based operator Quiet Man Taverns has made its first foray into the restaurant sector for its third site. The company, owned by brothers Daniel and Finbarr McNally, has launched The Perch following the £120,000 refurbishment of former Hanover Street restaurant The Dogs. The revamp has increased the number of covers to 68, while there is also a private dining room that can seat 20. Quiet Man Taverns has owned The Kilted Pig in Colinton Road for ten years, while in 2015 it took on the Scotsman’s Lounge in Cockburn Street. Daniel McNally, a former operations director at Festival Inns, told Scottish Field: “The Dogs was a well-known restaurant in town for a long time but we are excited about what the future holds for The Perch. It’s not often something comes up in Hanover Street that isn’t snapped up by the big chains. It was just a great opportunity. We have kept some of the dishes that have proved popular in recent times and they form part of a new and exciting menu using the best Scottish produce.”
Bristol-based cafe company Spicer+Cole to open fourth site: Bristol-based cafe company Spicer+Cole is to open its fourth site. Owners Carla and Chris Swift will open the venue in mid-January at Finzels Reach – the mixed-use development site that connects Castle Park with a former Courage brewery. Spicer+Cole offers coffee alongside tarts, salad, cakes and pastries. Carla Swift told Bristol Live: “As Bristol’s city centre goes from strength to strength, we’re looking forward to moving to Finzels Reach.” Spicer+Cole has sites in Clifton Village, Gloucester Road and Queen Square Avenue, where the original cafe opened in 2012.
Goodbody – expect Greene King to show signs of improvement but growth remains challenged: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has said he expects Greene King to show signs of improvement in its first half results, although growth remained challenged. Issuing a ‘Sell’ note on the shares with a target price of 455p, Ruddy said: “For the group we forecast first-half revenue of £1,036m, broadly flat year-on-year, and Ebit down 2% year-on-year to £184m. We have trimmed our FY19 and FY20 forecasts for Ebit by between 1% and 3% to reflect slightly higher cost assumptions and higher site disposals. Pubco trading was good in the first 18 weeks of FY18, with like-for-like growth of 2.8% as hot weather and England’s extended run in the World Cup drove performance. We expect a slight moderation in the pubco trading as weather normalised but expect good first-half like-for-like growth of 2.4%. Overall pubco revenue will be circa +0.5% in the first half due to the continued disposal programme (we expect ten disposals in the first half and 30 for FY19). We expect a margin decline of 40 basis points, driving half-year pubco Ebit estimates of £134m, down 2% year-on-year, as sales growth and mitigation fail to fully offset the ongoing cost inflation (guided at £15m at the mid-point for the group post mitigation). Pub Partners’ like-for-like net profit was down 0.4% during the first 18 weeks. We expect Ebit to decline by 3% year-on-year to £42.2m as pub disposals and cost headwinds offset underlying growth. In Brewing and Brands, we expect Ebit to be broadly flat year-on-year as volume growth is offset by margin pressure due to mix. While we would not be surprised to see some positive trends in the first-half performance, we retain our cautious stance on Greene King. The reasons for this is it has significant leverage (4.2 times Ebitda); free cash flow post all capex does not cover the dividend; and negligible profit growth owing to cost headwinds. Trading on 7.5 times 12-month forward EV/Ebitda, it is broadly in-line with the peer group.”
Whitbread launches 40% off all mains deal for Beefeater brand: Whitbread has launched a deal offering 40% off all main meals for its Beefeater brand. The offer will run until Sunday, 2 December and include any of Beefeater’s “celebratory specials”. Vouchers apply to the main restaurant menu, with one voucher per party redeemable up to a maximum party size of six. A minimum purchase of two main meals is required. The brand’s Festive Set Menu, Daytime Saver Menu, Evening Value Menu, Breakfast and Premier Inn Meal Deal are excluded from the offer. Meanwhile, this year’s Beefeater festive menu includes turkey with all the trimmings; truffled steak burger; mushroom, spinach and truffle oil tart; and Christmas pudding with brandy sauce, custard or ice cream.
West Country operator heads back to Bristol for second site: West Country operator Louis Lewis-Smith is heading back to Bristol to open his second site next month. Lewis-Smith, who owns the Dark Horse bar in Bath, is launching Crying Wolf in Cotham Hill, Bristol, on Friday, 7 December. The 75-seat bar is set over two storeys, and will offer seasonal drink menus using handmade syrups, cordials and shrubs made from locally grown ingredients and regionally produced spirits. A bar menu will complement the drinks list, offering local specialties such as pork pie with a red ale chutney and a Bristol rarebit that uses Moor Beer. Lewis-Smith, who began his career in hospitality in Bristol more than 20 years ago, said: Everything is handcrafted and bespoke, and we are really looking forward to welcoming guests to this special environment. The downstairs bar is made from a single, naturally felled English oak from the New Forest. The upstairs bar features a supporting bar station that will allow us to run an apprenticeship scheme in order to offer young people with an interest in hospitality the chance to train across both bar and kitchen disciplines.” Lewis-Smith has established a parent company for The Dark Horse and Crying Wolf – Wild West Group – the banner under which he plans to run future food and drink ventures in the south west.
Pretzel brand Auntie Anne’s to open first site in Manchester, on Monday:Pretzel brand Auntie Anne’s is to open its first site in Manchester, in the Arndale Centre on Monday (3 December). Auntie Anne’s was founded in 1988 by “Auntie” Anne and husband Jonas Beiler in Pennsylvania. The brand, which has 1,800 stores worldwide, came to the UK in 2003. The UK franchise was bought in 2008 by Freshly Baked – led by the Burton family – and currently has 35 sites in the UK and Ireland. Auntie Anne’s offers “simple, wholesome ingredients” with all dough made, hand-rolled and baked on-site. The menu also includes pretzel pizzas and breakfast buns alongside gelato and milkshakes. Auntie Anne’s became part of US-headquartered Focus Brands in November 2010.
Milton Pubs and Taverns shuts Penarth site: Milton Pubs and Taverns, the company formed by real estate investment firm Aprirose when it acquired 73 pubs from Mitchells & Butlers last year, has closed its site in Penarth, Wales. The company has shut Barons Court Carvery in Penarth Road with all staff made redundant. An Aprirose spokesman told Wales Online: “Regrettably, after being unable to find a buyer for Barons Court Carvery as a going concern, we can confirm it has closed. It is unfortunate for the loyal, dedicated staff and customers but we believe The Barons Court offers a good investment opportunity for the right investor.” Last month, Propel revealed Milton Pubs and Taverns had put 26 sites on the market as it looked to trim its estate and sell a number of bottom-end sites. Barons Court Carvery was not on the list of properties the company instructed agent Fleurets to market.
Home Grown opens applications for founding members of Marylebone club: Home Grown, a private club for high-growth entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders that will launch in Marylebone in April, has opened applications for Founders, a cohort of members who will “shape the ethos and lay the foundation of the Home Grown community”. Founders will receive a lifetime annual membership offer with the club’s £299 joining fee waived. The project is the brainchild of the team behind private members’ club Home House and will blend the values of a luxury club with an events programme that will include business talks, leadership seminars and invitation-only “entrepreneur-meet-investor” dinners. Home Grown will also host activities such as sound meditation, yoga brunches and a drinks club. Located across four grade II-listed Georgian townhouses in Great Cumberland Place, Home Grown will also offer 35 boutique bedrooms, a brasserie-style restaurant, study cafe and several bars, business lounges and meeting rooms. Home Grown chief executive Andrew Richardson said: “While we want a diverse range of people they will all have something in common – a passion for business and genuine ambition – whether they come from finance or fashion.”
Signature Living acquires landmark Liverpool shopping centre for hotel and restaurant plans: Aparthotels developer and operator Signature Living has announced plans to transform Liverpool’s Cavern Walks shopping centre into a hotel with restaurants and bars, creating 150 jobs. The company, which is behind the 30 James St and Shankly hotels in the city, has exchanged contracts on the 80,000 square foot site. The building mainly consists of office space and shops, with the majority empty for more than a decade. Alongside a luxury hotel, Signature Living’s plans would see the ground floor occupied by restaurants and bars. Cavern Walks, which lies between Matthew Street and Lord Street, was once Liverpool’s main shopping centre. Signature Living chairman Lawrence Kenwright told The Business Desk: “We believe Signature Living’s expertise at giving large buildings a new reason to live again will be integral to not only adding many hotel guests to the new Cavern Walks but also ensuring the tone of the street is geared to a higher standard. This will be the key ingredient to helping it thrive again while creating jobs and driving footfall into a part of the city centre in need of regeneration.” Cavern Walks is Signature Living’s 20th acquisition in Liverpool, giving it a total of 1.5 million square feet, which equates to an overall investment of £285m in the city. Meanwhile, Signature Living will launch a restaurant at The Exchange Hotel Cardiff on Friday (30 November). The restaurant is named after Welsh philanthropist RP Culley and is part of Signature Living’s £42m investment in the former Coal Exchange, where the price of world coal was once set and the first £1m cheque was signed. The menu will focus on Welsh produce with dishes such as steamed Welsh mussels with smoked garlic, chilli cream and bread. It will also offers its own range of RP Culley & Co wine and craft beer alongside cocktails, while there will be a 40-cover private dining room.
Angela Hartnett-mentored chef to launch debut restaurant, in Marylebone in February: Chef Carlo Scotto is to launch his debut restaurant, in Marylebone in February. Scotto will open Xier in Thayer Street, off Oxford Street. The restaurant will be split into two distinct spaces – 62-cover, ground-floor casual dining concept XR, which will offer lunch and dinner menus, and Xier, a 38-cover, first-floor dining room offering an evening tasting menu. XR’s menu will feature dishes such as yellowfin tuna tartar with aubergine caviar and taro chips, while the tasting menu at Xier will include rose-cured salmon with foie gras and burnt figs. The decor will be inspired by Scotto’s experience in kitchens across Europe and Asia. Aged only 13, Scotto took a job as an apprentice chef at Michelin-starred restaurant Don Salvatore in Naples. He moved to London where he worked with Corbin & King before joining Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin-starred Murano under Angela Hartnett, who he credits as his mentor. He then moved to Michelin-starred Galvin La Chapelle before taking his first head chef role, at Italian restaurant Babbo in Mayfair. He said: “It has always been my ambition to open a restaurant showcasing what I love about food from around the world. London is a place that has brought me incredible opportunities so it felt right to open here and showcase fantastic British produce. I’m excited to open a venue that will take people on their own culinary journey.”
Supercity to open Chancery Lane aparthotel, on Monday: Serviced apartment company Supercity Aparthotels will open a site in Chancery Lane, London, on Monday (3 December). The company is launching The Chronicle in Norwich Street, which features 53 one and two-bedroom apartments and studios. There will be an all-day restaurant and bar, 24-hour reception, on-site gym and weekly housekeeping service as well as two floors of dedicated members’ co-working space. The Chronicle will join Supercity’s three other aparthotels in London – Templeton Place and Nevern Place in Earl’s Court and The Rosebery in Clerkenwell. The company will also open a site in Church Street, Manchester, next month along with Q Square in Brighton early next year.
Everyman confirms Manchester city centre plans: Everyman has confirmed plans to open its first Manchester city centre venue at The ABC Buildings next year. The company will take 10,500 square feet at Allied London’s Enterprise City cluster. The venue will feature three screening rooms as well as a bar and restaurant. Everyman chief executive Crispin Lilly told Insider Media: “Opening a venue in Manchester will be an important step for us. Manchester is a city steeped in entertainment history and we can’t wait to be part of it.” Allied London chief executive Michael Ingall added: “It is great to introduce Everyman and its unique style to this part of the city. Everyman is an experience that is especially relevant to what we do and who our developments attract.” The wider Enterprise City development has been created for media, tech and creative industries and includes a redevelopment of the former Granada TV studios