Shoreditch Bar Group among interested parties for Deltic Group: Shoreditch Bar Group, which last year acquired the remainder of London bar and restaurant operator Novus’ late-night business, is one of the parties running the rule over the Deltic Group, Propel understands. The Peter Marks-led Deltic, which is the UK’s largest nightclub chain, began working with advisers from BDO last month, as it seeks investment to help support the business through the extended period of closure. BDO is currently overseeing a sales process for the business, which is thought to have attracted interest from private equity firms and trade buyers. Propel understands the Shoreditch Bar Group, which earlier this year acquired The Hoxton Pony in Hackney, is one of the trade players and is thought to be working with Steve Thomas, the founder of Luminar, the at-one-time circa 300-strong chain, from which Deltic was born, on a possible bid. Deltic was founded in 2011 after Marks and a group of investors bought the Luminar nightclub group after it went into liquidation. Speaking to Propel last month, Marks said that no nightclub business would survive unless outside financial support “is received from somewhere”. He warned the industry was at a “critical point” and the next month would be crucial. Marks said the business was going through “all options in case government support wasn’t forthcoming” – and by doing nothing, the business was unlikely to see beyond the end of 2020. Marks said: “We’ve got to make sure we have a plan B, plan C and plan D – so assessing all the options at this stage is the sensible thing to do. We want to make sure we do the right thing by our landlords, our suppliers and our employees. We thought we were going to be able to reopen in September and, from there, we have just gone backwards. No nightclub company will survive at all unless there is outside help from somewhere.”
Newcastle-based pub operator Sir John Fitzgerald on the market: Sir John Fitzgerald, the Newcastle-based operator, which has 16 managed pubs spread across the north east, has been placed on the market, Propel has learned. It is understood the company, which was founded after its namesake moved to Newcastle from Ireland in the 1850s, is working with accountancy firm PwC on the sales process that commenced last month. The company, which operates a mix of community, food-led pubs and city centre, wet-led pubs, is believed to have generated Ebitda of just under £3m for the year to January 2020. Sir John Fitzgerald’s pubs include Newcastle venues The Bacchus, The Bodega and The Bridge Hotel, as well as Fitzgeralds in Newcastle and Sunderland, and the 29 Bar and Kitchen in Tynemouth. Real estate investment firm Aprirose, which acquired north east-based managed operator Wear Inns for £22.4m in August 2018, has been linked as a possible buyer for the business. In July, Blackrose, the pub management company launched Aprirose last year, made five senior appointments as part of its expansion strategy of 200 new site acquisitions by the end of 2021. It currently manages 43 pubs. Aprirose has also been linked to the 42-strong package of pubs, which were originally placed on the market at the end of last year to address competition concerns surrounding Stonegate Pub Company’s £3bn acquisition of Ei Group.
Shepherd Neame – the priority is to stabilise the business but we have long-term growth opportunities in our heartland: Shepherd Neame boss Jonathan Neame has pointed to growth opportunities for the business in its north and central Kent heartland that will flow from infrastructure development projects, which are expected to increase the population by 20% by 2031. He told Propel he thought the current crisis is “likely to accelerate infrastructure development”. Neame said the current priority is to stabilise the business, which is likely to take the large part of 2021 and look for opportunities thereafter. The company is to sell three of its leasehold City of London pubs – it has 15 pubs in the City and west of London, which are now unlikely to reopen until 2021. In his results presentation, he stated: “The hospitality market will evolve rapidly as a result of covid-19. It is likely many secondary or city centre outlets may close for good. In that context, many of our pubs may benefit, particularly suburban and community pubs, which is the core base of our estate.” He added: “The sector will need ongoing support. We are hopeful the government now recognises the importance of hospitality to jobs and the British economy, and will reflect this in future policy making. We will continue to make the case for lower overall taxation on the sector, such as extended business rates holiday and lower rates of excise duty.” Neame told Propel he felt the government is making a mistake in hitting a low-risk part of the economy while keeping a high-risk part of the economy – education – open. “My real concern is that the government is shutting down parts of the economy that are safe,” he said.
Hall & Woodhouse has ‘extremely strong’ balance sheet to weather coronavirus storm: Dorset-based brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse has said it has an “extremely strong” balance sheet to help it weather the storm caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The company provided the update on its position as it filed its accounts for the year ending 25 January 2020. Executive chairman Anthony Woodhouse said: “The team has done a fantastic job in getting the business into battle formation. We are in a privileged position of owning the vast majority of our pubs and with relative limited borrowings and excellent relationships with our lenders, we have an extremely strong balance sheet and sufficient liquidity, based on our forecasts. When the world recovers, our superb high-quality pub estate and teams will be well positioned to rebuild trade. In my first year as chairman, it has been my privilege to work with a team of such talent and dedication, and I would like to put on record my thanks for everything they have achieved in this year of change. It is they who put us in as strong a position as we are to ride out this current storm.” The company reported turnover for the full year increased 1.5% to £116.6m, compared with £114.8m the previous year. Pre-tax profit was down 1.7% to £5.9m, compared with £6m the previous year. Operating margin was down slightly to 7.6% from 7.8% the year before. Net debt reduced to £50.6m from £56.5m. Woodhouse added: “We always planned 2019 would be a year of change for the company, with some senior departures, the transition to the next generation of leaders and the next iteration of our long-term strategy. It is testament to the planning, skill and hard work of the team under Matt Kearsey’s leadership this has been achieved so smoothly. During periods of change, it is easy for the business to be distracted from the day-to-day. It is particularly pleasing to report, therefore, the team has delivered profits in line with the previous year’s (in which they had achieved substantial growth). This was despite a challenging trading environment, particularly during the autumn when poor weather and the chronic political uncertainty adversely affected trading.” Hall & Woodhouse operates more than 200 pubs across the south of England.
Star Pubs & Bars to give tenants 100% rent concession during lockdown:Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is to give its pubs on core leased and tenanted agreements a 100% rent concession during the lockdown in England. Pubs will receive the concession regardless of whether or not they choose to operate a takeaway service. The move takes Star Pubs & Bars investment in rent reductions to more than £30m since March. Should the national lockdown continue beyond 2 December, the company will move to a 90% rent reduction for its leased and tenanted pubs until the national restrictions are lifted in England. It will also review its latest tier support in the coming weeks, based on guidance received from government about post lockdown regional restrictions and any further grants or support made available. Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens, said: “This second lockdown is devastating for pubs throughout England and the on-trade as a whole. It is also extremely frustrating given the time and money spent making pubs safe, and the corresponding very low levels of infection currently linked to pubs. From the outset of this crisis we have said we will continue to review our support in line with the changing regulatory landscape, and hope the actions we’re taking allows for some surety in these very uncertain times. Clearly we all hope pubs will reopen on 2 December as the run-up to Christmas is such a critical trading period for the industry.”
Inn Collection Group acquires debut Lancashire site: The Inn Collection Group has acquired its debut site in Lancashire as it strengthens its pubs-with-rooms estate. The company has added The Lindum Hotel in Lytham St Annes to its portfolio. The acquisition of the 88-bedroom site takes the group’s site tally to 16. The undisclosed deal is the group’s fifth acquisition this year as it continues to drive its “buy and build” strategic growth plans forward. Managing director Sean Donkin said: “The Lindum Hotel has, in buckets and spades, everything we look for in an Inn Collection Group venue – vibrant, multifaceted destinations, a wow factor element and somewhere we would like to eat, drink, sleep and explore from with our own families and friends. Despite the challenges covid-19 continues to throw at the sector, 2020 continues to be a year of growth for our group. As well as mounting up our operations in the Lake District and Yorkshire, the purchase of The Lindum Hotel will see us expand our offering across the border into Lancashire.” The Lindum Hotel will continue to trade in its current format securing the jobs of all employees at the site. Completing the sale was property adviser, Christie & Co, while The Inn Collection Group was advised by Newcastle-based law firm Ward Hadaway on the transactions, with Bradley Hall on pre-acquisition diligence.
Urban Village Pubs secures £1.2m funding package: Urban Village Pubs has received £1.2m to support working capital and refinance from alternative lender to mid-sized businesses, ThinCats. Urban Village Pubs aims to take the best characteristics of village pubs and blend them with the environment of an urban pub. The business was founded by Ian Grundy and Gavin Drew in 2017, and operates eight sites across the south of England. It works with small, local breweries, and specialises in offerings such as self-service fridges and craft beer walls. The food is delivered from open kitchens and focuses on hand stretched pizzas, sharing platters and pub classics. Most sites have table tennis and the business is looking to introduce further competitive socialising measures in some venues such as interactive darts and shuffleboard. Drew said: “We have been impressed by the flexible approach adopted by ThinCats and its desire to support our business, especially in a sector that has largely been ignored by high street banks despite Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme availability. After the initial summer lockdown, our sites responded exceptionally well with strong like-for-like growth. Obviously, the further national lockdown is very frustrating for our industry but hopefully it will be short lived and we can respond in a similar fashion when we reopen for a second time.” Stuart Thompson, director, regional business development at ThinCats, added: “The team at Urban Village is passionate and experienced, and its vision for the pubs under its umbrella is impressive.”
England’s only McDonald’s-free county gets restaurant: The only English county without a McDonald’s restaurant now has one. The fast food chain has opened the doors at a site in Rutland, East Midlands, after plans to build a diner and drive-thru were approved in January. The restaurant, which is located near Oakham, will move to a drive-thru only service on Thursday (5 November) as the country goes into a second lockdown. McDonald’s said the store will create more than 65 jobs. Before Rutland County Council approved the plan for the fast food chain, there was some resistance among residents. According to the BBC, among the 55 objections made to the authority, one person wrote: “I’m proud Rutland is the only county not to have a McDonald’s.” While others expressed concerns about the impact a McDonalds’s would have on smaller, independent businesses in Oakham. Positively, licensee of the Crown Tavern pub, Lindsay Taylor, said the restaurant “could bring people to Oakham and help shops on the high street”, once lockdown had lifted. She added: “People are worried about littering and that sort of stuff, but that’s not McDonald’s fault. People think we live in a posh area, because it’s Rutland, but there’s a split.” Franchise owner Glyn Pashley, who operates the new restaurant, said he was “delighted to be opening in Oakham” and holding the mantle of “the first [McDonald’s] restaurant in Rutland”.
Adnams cancels rent for tenants during latest lockdown: Suffolk brewer and retailer Adnams has cancelled rent for its tenants during the latest lockdown in England. In an update, chief executive Andy Wood said: “From the outset of this pandemic, we have always looked to our values, what we can control and being adaptive to the environment in which we operate. We always start whatever we do with the question ‘what is the right thing to do?’ This latest lockdown will save lives, it will change the way we do business and we, like others, will face difficult decisions. However, we have been planning for such eventualities and we will continue to do all we can to support one another. Our guiding principles are as they were back in March. Protect the health of each other, our customers and our communities, ensure we navigate the business healthily through lockdown, save our pubs and, importantly, save jobs. We have, once again, cancelled rents for our pub tenants as we do all that we can to help them. Together, we did this before and the more we all follow the rules, the sooner we will be out the other side of this. Let’s all support one another, stay positive and stay safe.” The company’s bottle shops and online store will remain open during lockdown.
Unsecured creditors of All Star Lanes not expected to receive dividend:Unsecured creditors of bowling alley operator All Star Lanes are not expected to receive a dividend, a new report has revealed. In their progress report, joint administrators Lee Causer and Neville Side, of BDO, said unsecured creditor claims of £1.5m have been received to date. But based on present information, it is not anticipated there will be any funds available for distribution to unsecured creditors, they said. The report also showed secured creditor HSBC, which was owed £1.6m plus accruing interest and charges, had now been repaid in full following the sale of the company last year. As previously reported, sector investor Luke Johnson paid £2.325m to acquire All Star Lanes out of administration. The company now operates four sites in London having closed its Manchester outlet in September, which as subsequently been acquired by Lane7, the bowling alley, ping pong and karaoke concept.
Time Out to launch Dubai market in first quarter of 2021: Time Out Group, the global media and entertainment business, has announced it will open its latest market in Dubai in the first quarter of 2021. The Dubai site is joined by three more in the pipeline – Porto (fourth quarter 2021), London Waterloo (2022) and Prague (2023). Dubai will mark the seventh site for the “food and cultural market rooted in editorial curation”. Time Out Market Dubai, as part of a management agreement with Emaar Malls, will join sister sites in Lisbon (2014), Miami, New York, Boston, Montreal and Chicago (2019). After temporary closures in March 2020 due to the pandemic, several Time Out Market locations have reopened with enhanced health and safety protocols. Time Out Market Dubai will be the first in the Middle East, located in Souk Al Bahar, an Arabic-style retail, entertainment and dining destination in the heart of Downtown Dubai. The market has a unique waterfront position on Burj Lake, next to The Dubai Mall and the iconic Burj Khalifa. It will be 30,000 square foot, featuring 17 of Dubai’s top chefs and celebrated restaurateurs, three bars and dedicated spaces for cultural experiences. Time Out Market chief executive Didier Souillat said: “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Emaar Malls on the new opening in the beautiful Souk Al Bahar. The Time Out brand has a strong presence in Dubai with ITP Media Group whose editors were instrumental in selecting and tasting the very best curated mix from the city’s top culinary talent.”
Rosa’s Thai makes regional Editions debut: TriSpan-backed Rosa’s Thai Cafe has made its regional Deliveroo Editions debut, with an opening in the delivery firm’s Reading kitchen. The Gavin Adair-led business already operates two Editions sites in London – in Blackwell and Crouch End. Earlier this week, US better burger brand Shake Shack announced it had launched in the Reading Editions kitchen. Rosa’s is set to keep the majority of its sites open for delivery and takeaway during the second lockdown. Last month, Propel revealed the business had secured a restaurant site in the City North development next to Finsbury Park Station, for a planned opening before the end of the year. The company is also believed to be in talks to take the former Saigon restaurant unit on Nelson Road, Greenwich. The business recently opened in Queensway, as part of the West Walk Estate, and The Cut, Waterloo.
Caffe Nero launches festive menu plus chance to win free coffee for a year: Caffe Nero has launched its festive menu and the chance for customers to win free coffee for a year. The vast majority of Caffe Nero stores in England will continue to offer takeaway, click and collect and delivery via Uber Eats, and each time a customer pays via the Caffe Nero app, a prize could be revealed including the chance of winning free coffee for a year. The business’ winter menu offers savoury products such as a Vegan Feast Panini and a Brie, Bacon and Cranberry Panini. Sweeter dishes include Salted Caramel Billionaires Cake and the returning mince pie, which comes with a family box option to take home this year. Drinks include two new flavours: the Gingerbread Latte with Cinnamon dusting, and the Mint Hot Chocolate. Caffe Nero is launching gift sets too, starting with the Discovery Box at £20, which contains Nespresso compatible capsules and ground coffee.