Premier Inn adds 13 new sites across Germany after acquisition from Centro Hotel Group, flagship hotel opens in Southwark: Whitbread, the owner of the Premier Inn and Hub by Premier Inn hotel brands, has completed the acquisition of 13 hotels across Germany from the Centro Hotel Group. The acquisition grows Whitbread’s network of trading and pipeline hotels to 68 locations across Germany and more than 12,000 bedrooms. Whitbread now operates 29 hotels, with a total open and committed pipeline of 68 hotels in Germany and sees the potential to operate around 60,000 bedrooms across the country. The acquisition of the 13 hotels from the Centro Group adds 1,934 bedrooms to Whitbread’s growing network in Germany. Six of the acquired sites (759 bedrooms) are trading hotels and seven sites (1,175 bedrooms) are either under construction or are secured development sites. Mark Anderson, managing director for Property and International at Whitbread, said: “Our ambition is for Premier Inn to be the number one budget hotel operator in Germany, offering business and leisure travellers the high-quality, good-value accommodation the Premier Inn brand is so well known for in the UK. The hotels match our network requirements and bring Premier Inn to many locations where we do not yet have a presence, including into a number of key towns and cities where we expect a strong demand for hotel rooms when the market recovers. This deal demonstrates the structural opportunities that now exist in the German market, which we believe we are very well-placed to take advantage of.” Except for new sites in Cologne and Hamburg, all the hotels acquired from the Centro Hotel Group are in new markets for Premier Inn. They include hotels that were trading under the NinetyNine, FourSide, Centro and Boutique 009 brands. The conversion of the operating hotels to Premier Inn branding is expected to occur in the first half of 2021. In the meantime, the open hotels will continue to operate in the Premier Inn estate under their existing branding. Meanwhile, Whitbread will open a 274-bedroom Premier Inn off The Cut in Southwark on Thursday (3 December). The Premier Inn will also house a Bar + Block restaurant. The Southwark hotel is one of three significant central London openings for Whitbread in its 2020-21 financial year. A new 110-bedroom Hub by Premier Inn hotel is scheduled to open on Berwick Street in Soho in early 2021 while a 246-bedroom Hub by Premier Inn will open on Quaker Street in Shoreditch in February 2021.
Papa John’s opens six stores across UK, creates 90 jobs: Papa John’s has opened six new pizza shops across the UK, generating more than 90 new jobs. The sites are located in Kempston in Bedford, Pallion in Sunderland, Stockton-on-Tees, Swadlincote in Derbyshire, Holborn in London and New Milton in Hampshire. Papa John’s UK director of business development Justin Gilbert said: “These new store openings add to our high street presence and offer even more convenience to our customers as we now have well over 450 Papa John’s in the UK. We currently have Papa John’s at multiple holiday parks in the UK plus other venues such as stadiums and ice rinks and this can work very well. The six new store openings, like our non-traditional outlets, are all managed by franchisees as their own businesses, backed up by Papa John’s extensive training and support. Help is provided with location selection, growth incentives and full turnkey opening of stores.” Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1984 and operates more than 5,000 stores in over 40 international markets and territories.
Redcomb founders set to double Prospect Pubs & Bars estate in first part of 2021, looking for up to five more sites next year: Dan Shotton and Mark Draper, the former owners of Redcomb Pubs that was sold to Young’s Brewery last year, are set to double their Prospect Pubs & Bars estate in the first part of next year, Propel has learned. The duo have two free-of-tie destination food-led sites in progress. One is in Buckinghamshire, due to open in February while the other, in north Oxfordshire, will hopefully open around Easter. Shotton told Propel they are also looking for up to another five sites for next year as “we see some great opportunities in our target sector”. It comes as the second site under the Prospect Pubs & Bars banner opens on Thursday (3 December). The duo have undertaken a joint £580,000 refurbishment of The Victoria in Woodham, Surrey, with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. The pub features a covid-safe, 100-cover restaurant and bar plus alfresco eating and drinking area for up to 160 customers. The menu features mains such as pan-fried, grass-fed calves’ liver with maple smoked bacon; and free-range pork and leek sausages served with buttered mash, crispy leeks and rich onion gravy. The drinks offer includes beer and ale, alongside cider, and spirits. There is also an extensive wine menu alongside an array of low and no-alcoholic options. Draper said: “The Victoria has been an integral part of Woodham for well over 100 years, and is a fabulous addition to our expanding pub company. Myself and Dan Shotton, have spent a number of years creating and developing a strong portfolio of independent pubs, all very much centred around the communities in which they thrive. Never before has this community focus been more important, and it remains an integral part of our future expansion plans.” Dugald Macer, Star Pubs & Bars regional operations director, added: “The Victoria has had a chequered history, having closed on more than one occasion in recent years. It is fantastic to have operators of this calibre taking The Victoria forward because it will transform the pub’s future and the area.”
Star Pubs & Bars invests further £5m in rent support for December: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is investing a further £5m in continuing rent concessions in December to support its pubs on core leased and tenanted agreements. The reductions are being offered to reflect tiers in England, with similar support aligned to pubs facing restrictions in Scotland and Wales. Tier one licensees are being offered a 30% rent concession, leaving 70% payable. Tier two licensees are being offered a 75% rent concession, leaving 25% payable if they choose to open or a 90% rent concession leaving 10% payable if they close or if they operate as a takeaway only. Tier three licensees are being offered a 90% rent concession leaving 10% payable if they close or if they operate as a takeaway only. The move takes Star Pubs & Bars’ investment in rent reductions to £40m since March. The company said its rent concessions will continue to remain under constant review, and will depend on any government policy alterations such as changes to tier restrictions and additional government support for the pub sector. Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “We are doing what we can to support our licensees through hugely challenging times, but the pub industry needs real meaningful government support to counter the draconian unjustified restrictions being imposed on it.”
Tim Martin sells £5m of shares: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has sold £5m worth of shares in the company. Martin offloaded 431,500 of the company’s shares at a price of £11.66 each on Tuesday (1 December), leaving the firm’s founder with a 27% stake. He also sold £5m worth of shares in the summer.
Bleeding Heart Restaurants completes CVA: Bleeding Heart Restaurants has successfully completed its company voluntary arrangement (CVA), advised by restructuring firm ReSolve. The four-strong restaurant group operates all its sites in central London. ReSolve advised Bleeding Heart to pursue a CVA, which would allow two of the restaurants, The Bleeding Heart Tavern and The Bleeding Heart Bistro, to continue trading. More than 94% of creditors agreed to the move. ReSolve partner Lee Manning said: “As a result of the very hard work and financial sacrifices by the group’s owners, together with the support of its long-standing creditors, two iconic restaurants will survive among the economic destruction effected by covid-19. While the pandemic has been catastrophic for the hospitality industry, there are still viable solutions available. However, those avenues will only be available to those operators that take action to assess their options sooner rather than later. We commend the Bleeding Heart group for making the tough decisions in a timely manner instead of waiting until the very end. This made all the difference.”
TRG updates opening statuses on Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquito and Firejacks in England: The Restaurant Group (TRG) has updated the opening statuses on its Frankie & Benny’s, Chiquito and Firejacks brands as England exits lockdown and enters the new tier system. It has also announced its Christmas menus at Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito sites. TRG is reopening 38 Frankie & Benny’s venues, seven Chiquito branches and three Firejacks sites in tier two areas for dine-in, click and collect and delivery. It will also reopen 38 Frankie & Benny’s and eight Chiquito locations in tier three for delivery and click and collect. Guests at Frankie & Benny’s in tier two will be able to tuck into Quattro Formaggi Ravioli, Camembert and Cranberry Burger, Pulled Turkey Pizza and Baileys Cheesecake. Vegans can enjoy Tuscan Soup, Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni and Orange and Chocolate Cake. These items are available as part of a set menu offering two courses for £14.99 or three for £17.99. At Chiquito, guests can get two courses for £15.99 and three for £17.99. Festive food twists include Turkey Tostada, Cranberry and Chorizo Nachos and Christmas Burrito – a beetroot and chia tortilla packed with pulled turkey, rice, beans, sour cream and cranberry salsa. For restaurants in tier three, festive dishes are available for click and collect and delivery.
The Pepper Collective reopens Soane’s Kitchen with star chef residency: Salt’s restaurant division, The Pepper Collective, has reopened its 70-cover Soane’s Kitchen with a host of chef partnership tie-ups planned. The west London cafe-restaurant, which is located in the original walled kitchen garden at Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery in Ealing, will welcome award-winning chef Hayden Groves for a month-long residency beginning on Thursday (3 December). His all-day dining menus will champion British ingredients and feature seasonal, colourful dishes. In addition to the menu in Soane’s Kitchen, Soane’s Kitchen Courtyard will be serving a selection of flatbreads from the outdoor pizza oven and drinks. The Pepper Collective group chief executive Andrew Fishwick said: “We are extremely excited to open the doors to Soane’s Kitchen once more and we are delighted to work together to shine a light on some of the UK food scene’s top talent. Hayden’s residency is a fantastic way to start Soane’s Kitchen’s new life and we look forward to welcoming back diners in the weeks to come.” Groves was named National Chef of the Year in 2013, Craft Guild of Chef’s Chef of the Year in 2006 and is four-time gold medallist in the Parade Des Chefs. The Pepper Collective works with a variety of industry-leading chefs including José Pizarro, Gizzi Erskine, Tom Brown, Alyn Williams and Jasmine Hemsley, with plans to launch a variety of dining concepts across the UK in 2021.
Edyn Group announces new site for its Locke brand will include brewery, distillery and Le Bab restaurant: Aparthotel operator Edyn Group has announced it will open the fourth London site of its Locke brand, in Dalston in January 2021. Kingsland Locke will house 124 of Locke’s signature studio apartments, as well as an on-site micro-brewery and gin distillery, all-day restaurant, working space, workout studio and coffee shop. The lower ground floor of Kingsland Locke boasts a large, naturally lit space that will transition from a relaxing atmosphere by day to a lively restaurant and bar at night. Edyn Group chief executive Stephen McCall said: “Kingsland Locke marks our fourth property to open in London and is a particularly exciting launch for us all. We are aiming to celebrate Dalston’s unique creative landscape and, in doing so, create an environment in which both travellers and locals feel at home.” The restaurant and drinks concept, Kraft Dalston, is a collaboration between German Kraft Brewery, Jim and Tonic Distillery and Le Bab. German Kraft Brewery was formed in 2017 by four school friends with a passion for craft beer. Jim and Tonic Distillery has operations in Elephant & Castle and Mayfair, and produces a variety of gins. Le Bab runs Middle East kebab-focused restaurants in Soho and Covent Garden, and this will be its fourth site.
The River Cafe to open new restaurant Sylvia’s in west London: West London stalwart restaurant The River Cafe, owned by Ruth Rogers, will open a new restaurant called Sylvia’s on Thursday (3 December). It is named after Rogers’ mother – a librarian and trade unionist – and will be located at the former meeting rooms of Richard Rogers Architects on Rainville Walk in Hammersmith. The food will be similar to The River Cafe but with a greater emphasis on winter vegetables as a main course, such as baked ricotta, roasted trevise, artichokes “alla romana”. Pasta, risotto and soup will be staples as expected plus The River Cafe desserts list. There will also be a pianist at the new site.
Eight freehold properties in Bloomsbury on market for £37m: Eight freehold properties in Bloomsbury have been placed on the market at £37m. Real estate company Colliers International has put the “Bloomsbury Portfolio” up for sale. The properties have circa 250 rooms in total and, until recently, were used as staff accommodation by a hotel operator. They range in size from a dozen bedrooms to 50 bedrooms, with prices ranging from £1.75m to £10m. They predominantly have planning consent for use as hotel or hostel accommodation, but also offer potential for a wide range of alternative uses, subject to planning permission. Colliers International, which is representing the private owner, is inviting offers for the entire collection, or for groups of properties or individual sales. Colliers International head of London Hotels Agency Colin Hall said: “It has taken our clients 40 years to assemble this portfolio, which now provides the very rare opportunity of eight freehold buildings becoming available at one time in the highly desirable neighbourhood of Bloomsbury. These properties are, in effect, superb blank canvasses for future development across a range of uses, including boutique hotel accommodation, hostels/poshtels, offices and residential development.” The eight properties in the Bloomsbury Portfolio are: Ferndale House in Argyle Square – two adjoining buildings with 34 bedrooms, guide price £4m; Florida House in Argyle Square– three adjoining buildings with 47 bedrooms, guide price £6m; 27 Argyle Square – single building with 12 bedrooms, guide price £1.75m; Oxford House in Tavistock Place – two adjoining buildings with 27 bedrooms, guide price £3.5m; 37 Tavistock Place – single building with 12 bedrooms and small shop unit (currently let), guide price £2m; 6 Coram Street – corner building with 21 bedrooms and 14 offices, guide price £5.25m; 64-65 Guildford Street – two adjoining buildings with circa 33 bedrooms; guide price £4.5m; and William Martin Court in Margery Street – modern building with 51 bedrooms and basement car parking, guide price £10m.
Paella Shack opens a permanent site in north London: Spanish street food concept Paella Shack has opened a permanent site in north London. The street food arm of the London Paella School has opened the venue in Highbury. Paella Shack founder Xavier Meroño has confirmed its dishes will still be available at markets across the capital while the new venue in Blackstock Road will be operating from Thursdays to Sundays, 11.30am to 9.30pm. According to Hot Dinners, the paella range includes rabbit, chicken, lobster, cod, cauliflower and garlic sprouts. The tapas line-up includes patatas bravas with brava and allioli sauces; trio of croquettes – prawn, spinach and cheese and serrano ham; padron peppers with spicy marinated halloumi cheese and crispy onion; calamares a la andaluza; and glazed spicy rosario chorizo in cider and garlic with butternut squash. Churros with chocolate are also available. All dishes were for available takeaway only but dining in became an option from Wednesday (2 December).
Hampshire-based operators acquire freeholds of three New Forest pubs they run:Hampshire-based operators Duane and Debbie Lewis have acquired the freeholds of three pubs that run in the New Forest. The couple have been in charge of The New Forest Inn in Emery Down for 12 years, The Trusty Servant in Minstead for almost a decade and The Royal Oak in Hilltop for five years. Now they have acquired the freeholds of the pubs, which all have bedrooms, in a deal brokered by agent Fleurets. The Lewises were able to secure funding from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme through Cynergy Bank to help them with the purchase. They said: “With the ongoing situation with covid-19, we are confident with the support of our loyal customers and our amazing staff we will safely get through to ‘the other side’ of this pandemic and come back better and stronger than before.”
Chef Emily Scott goes from pop-up to permanent at Cornwall hotel: Chef Emily Scott is opening a permanent restaurant at Watergate Bay, in north Cornwall, following the success of a pop-up at the hotel there. Scott built her reputation heading the kitchen at St Tudy Inn and, this summer, took over the former Fifteen Cornwall building, offering her “hyperlocal” cuisine. Now Emily Scott Food, which will first open as a series of private festive pop-ups in December, ahead of a full launch on 31 March, will serve similar locally focused food to the pop-up. The hotel team is taking over space on the sea wall previously occupied by the Watchful Mary bar. The space is being customised with a retractable glass canopy to create more room for year-round dining, and a full kitchen. Scott told Insider Media: “The pop-up experience was one of the highlights of my career. We were fully booked two to three weeks in advance all summer, and I got to do everything I love – bringing people together, and making them happy with food and wine. But it was especially lovely because, with everyone’s lives so disrupted by the pandemic, people were really happy to be out together again.”