Peach confirms all staff to keep jobs, directors sacrifice salaries until pubs reopen: Gastro-pub operator Peach has confirmed all staff will keep their jobs as it launched a series of measures to support the team while its 19 pubs are closed. Every team member will be paid in full for the first three weeks of the current pay period – from Monday, 16 March to Sunday (5 April). From Monday (6 April), everyone will be placed on furlough and receive 80% of their wages, whether they are salaried or paid hourly. The only exception to this is a skeleton team working to support the team and the pubs during the closure, and the Peach directors who have agreed not to draw a salary until the pubs reopen. Additionally, Peach will top up the monthly pay of anyone whose salary is more than the maximum government grant of £2,500 a month, so everyone gets the 80%, and pay both individual pension contributions and those from Peach into every team member’s pension pot. The company has also set up The Peach Hardship Fund – a pot of money to help any of its team in need. It is also keeping in touch with staff and customers through Zoom calls, sharing news and recipes from chefs on Facebook and throwing house parties on Facebook Live. Managing director Hamish Stoddart said: “Apart from health, we all share huge concern about our jobs and wages in the months ahead and have been doing everything we can as a company to negotiate with our banks, suppliers and landlords so that we can keep the Peach team together and secure the future of the business. Despite having no income at all, we can continue to pay this level of wages by taking advantage of government and bank support and sacrificing director salaries. Staying true to our values has never been more important than now.”
Vagabond reopens Clapham site for takeaway and delivery: Imbiba-backed wine bar business Vagabond has reopened its Clapham-based site for takeaway and free local delivery, and is assessing whether to do the same in a couple more, Propel has learned. The Stephen Finch-led business had shuttered all of its eight sites in the capital when the government told all bars, pubs and restaurants to close. Finch told Propel: “When it said off-licences were essential we started to look into the viability of doing takeaway and online orders. We’ve now reopened our Northcote branch for takeaway and free local delivery and we’re getting our Battersea unit back up to fulfil online orders. We’ll see how Northcote does and if it’s encouraging, we’ll open Fulham and Battersea for customers along similar lines. Those are probably the only three we’d look to do that for. However, and we are evaluating things on a daily basis.”
Burger King pledges free meals to NHS workers and vulnerable groups as part of Deliveroo initiative: Burger King UK has become the latest restaurant company to pledge free meals to front line NHS workers and vulnerable groups. It has joined the growing list of companies working with Deliveroo, which has secured donations of more than 350,000 free meals from restaurants to date. Other partners that came on board this week include Casual Dining Group brand Bella Italia, German Doner Kebab and Lewis Hamilton’s Neat Burger. They join Pizza Hut, which has pledged 300,000 meals using its network of 700 UK stores, and a substantial offer from healthy Asian food chain Itsu. A new function allowing customers to donate in app has raised more than £130,000 so far – equivalent to almost 35,000 meals. Deliveroo, which is targeting a total of 500,000 free meals, said it would initially focus on London and Manchester before expanding the service, with any excess funds donated to the NHS. This week Deliveroo will deliver almost 20,000 meals to the NHS. Deliveroo is also working with natural fast food brand Leon and providing free delivery to restaurants who are supporting the “FeedNHS” initiative.
 
Hawthorn Leisure creates dedicated operator managed division: Hawthorn Leisure, the pub operations arm of NewRiver, has undertaken an operational restructure that has seen the creation for the first time of a dedicated operator managed division, Propel has learned. As part of the restructure, Mark Brooke has joined Hawthorn in the new role of operations director – operator managed. He joins from Ei Group, where he was a divisional director, running the company’s Beacon division. At the same time, Elaine Kennedy has been promoted to the role of operations director – Scotland and north east England. Kennedy and Brooke join existing operations directors Andy Parker (north) and Ash Lovett (south), reporting in to managing director of operations Mark McGinty. Hawthorn owns more than 700 pubs across England, Scotland and Wales, with the newly created operator managed division accounting for more than 100 of those pubs. McGinty said: “This restructuring is all about planning for the future and ensuring we’re best set up to support our pub partners going forward. We’re delighted to have secured somebody with Mark’s experience to head up our new operator managed division, and Elaine’s promotion to operations director is richly deserved after the fantastic job she has done with our team of business development managers in Scotland.”
Former Crussh chief executive Kavanagh returns to Benugo: Shane Kavanagh, the ex-chief executive of London-based healthy food and juice brand Crussh, has rejoined Benugo as its new commercial director, Propel has learned. Kavanagh, who was previously managing director of Benugo’s cafe operation, joined Crussh in April 2016. During his four years at the helm, Kavanagh led Crussh from a 28-store London high-street business to an estate of 35, including the brand’s first sites outside London, in Birmingham and Bristol. He also forged franchise partnerships with SSP and Sodexo, initiated an exclusive retail range with Sainsbury’s and introduced workplace catering in WeWork across London. He left earlier this year, to “take on a new challenge”.
Papa John’s founder reduces stake to less than 4%, company sees first-quarter like-for-like sales rise: Papa John’s founder and former chief executive John Schnatter has reduced his stake in the company to just 4% – a threshold low enough that he will no longer have to file public disclosures of further sales or buys. Over the past ten months, Schnatter has shed 87% of his remaining shares in the company, dwindling from a 30% stake in May 2019 to under the reporting prerequisite of 5% for the week of 30 March. Papa John’s has separately updated its financial outlook during the coronavirus crisis. The company has withdrawn its financial outlook for 2020 in light of the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic. Papa John’s said for the first quarter ended 29 March like-for-like sales have increased 5.3% in North America and 2.3% internationally as its delivery business thrived due to lock-downs. However, sales in March have been hit by the cancellation of sports events. Almost no stores have closed in North America, but the situation is different overseas where out of 2,100 franchised locations, about 17% are shut. They are mostly in Ireland, Peru and the Philippines, due to government restrictions, but a few locations in China and Korea also remain closed. Papa John’s has introduced free virtual doctor’s visits for staff, and emphasised its already-existing free mental health support, health insurance plan options, and access to the employee-supported team member emergency relief fund. It has not commented on whether it would change or increase its paid sick leave options in light of the crisis, reports Nation’s Restaurant News.
Applegreen reports Welcome Break demonstrates ‘good growth’ in 2019: Roadside retailer Applegreen has said its Welcome Break business demonstrated “good growth” in 2019 as it saw revenue top €3bn (£2.7bn). Applegreen said significant additional synergies from the Welcome Break acquisition in 2018 had been delivered, with £2.5m delivered in 2019. It plans to deliver at least £13m per annum by the end of 2021 assuming normal market conditions return. Applegreen, which trades from more than 550 locations, saw revenue rise to €3.07bn in the year to 31 December 2019, compared with €2bn the previous year. Pre-tax profit jumped to €37.2m from €15.3m. Chief executive Bob Etchingham said: “We successfully integrated a number of important acquisitions, expanded our footprint in the US and significantly reduced our reliance on fuel by continuing a shift in focus to convenience retail and food on the go. Welcome Break has demonstrated good growth, particularly through its core catering brands, driven by the roll-out of self-service kiosks and new drive-thru services that improve the customer journey.” Applegreen said the company had “traded strongly” in the first ten weeks of 2020 but the coronavirus outbreak had an impact on footfall and volumes. The company expects a “material reduction in profitability” for its current financial year. “The scale of this will depend on how the situation develops and over what time-frame together with the impact of any further measures taken by national governments to mitigate the disruption,” Applegreen added.
The Athenian to live-stream cooking classes: Greek street food restaurant The Athenian is launching a series of cooking classes on Instagram. Co-founder Tim Vasilakis will be live-streaming classes via the company’s page every Saturday at 7pm. Vasilakis will teach viewers to make favourites from The Athenian menu starting with tzatziki. Other recipes will include Santorini tomato croquettes, spicy feta dip, homemade gyros and Greek dessert, Mosaico.
Halewood introduces voluntary redundancy scheme: Halewood Wines and Spirits is introducing a scheme of voluntary redundancies as the business looks to navigate the coronavirus crisis. The company noted it had taken immediate steps to safeguard jobs and attempt to secure the long-term future of the business. However, it had also had to close its US operations and downsize the Australian business. Senior management are also taking significant pay cuts, while operations have been adjusted to reduce working hours and overheads. Chief executive Stewart Hainsworth told Insider Media: “As a business, Halewood Wines & Spirits remains committed to its successful strategy of building a range of artisanal spirits brands with strong provenance. However, like many companies, we’ve been hit very hard financially by the impact of covid-19. We’ve lost important sales revenue from bars, restaurants and pubs across the UK and the duty-free trade, while also experiencing a sizeable downturn in export sales. We are looking at government measures to attempt to minimise the financial disruption caused by covid-19 and will continue to take any steps we can to protect jobs and help steer the company through this difficult and uncertain period.”
Domino’s Pizza to hold virtual annual shareholder meeting in US: Domino’s Pizza has announced its annual meeting of shareholders in the US will be held virtually. The meeting will take place on Tuesday, 21 April. Shareholders will be able to vote or ask questions by following the instructions available on the meeting website during the event. Whether or not shareholders plan to attend the meeting, the company urged them to vote and submit their proxy in advance by one of the methods described in the proxy materials.