TRG bringing Barburrito and Shake Shack to Gatwick, launches new concept in Aberdeen: The Restaurant Group (TRG) is to add US better burger brand Shake Shack to its portfolio with an opening at Gatwick’s North Terminal this autumn. The burger concept will open its debut UK airport site with TRG Concessions at the former EAT venue. It will be Shake Shack’s 11th UK site overall and second outside London. At the same time, Barburrito will replace the Shake-A-Hula unit at North Terminal. The Barburrito site will be the brand’s third partnership with TRG Concessions following venues in Bristol and Edinburgh airports. Meanwhile, TRG Concessions has launched new concept Bocco Italian Kitchen & Bar at Aberdeen airport specialising in “pasta, sourdough pizza and spritz”. On Tuesday (3 September), TRG reported sales through its Concessions business continued to trade ahead of passenger growth to maintain its “strong track record of retaining sites with at least 85% having received contract renewals beyond the term of the initial contract”. TRG Concessions expects to open at least five sites in 2019, with two having already launched including its Sonoma site at Gatwick, which is the company’s largest Concessions restaurant at circa 7,000 square feet and accommodating more than 300 covers. The company has also secured six sites in the planned Manchester airport “super terminal”, which is due to open in 2020. TRG said it was also exploring opportunities in adjacent markets outside travel hubs in the UK and at international airports.
Innis & Gunn to grow pub estate in Scotland and expand into England, set for ‘strong’ profit in 2019: Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn plans to grow its pub estate north of the border and expand into England, while it is set to return to profitability in 2019. The announcement comes as the company revealed losses of about £2m for the year ending 31 December 2018 as it ploughed cash into the business and pulled the plug on loss-making operations. Founder Dougal Gunn Sharp said the company was set to report a “strong” profit in 2019 following last year when turnover increased 6.5% to reach £23.9m. Sharp said: “2018 was a year in which we used our balance sheet strength to prepare for the future. Planned investments combined with the costs of winding up of some loss-making business units reflected in our profitability in the year, but the changes we made in 2018 are bearing fruit in 2019 as expected.” Innis & Gunn reviewed its loss-making retail business in 2018, buying out its retail joint-venture partner and revamping its food and drink offering to introduce its new taproom concept, which Sharp said was now ready to roll out. He added: “The recently relaunched Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee taprooms are performing strongly, with year-on-year sales increasing by about 30% in the current year and each unit returning to month-on-month profit. We’ll certainly seek to expand our offer in Edinburgh and Glasgow but clearly there are other sites in Scotland we would consider as well as potentially sites in England in due course.” The company’s total beer volume increased 14.8%, driven by lager growing 38%. Volume has risen 69.6% during the past five years and group turnover by 51.4% over the same period. Innis & Gunn also wound up a loss-making distribution business in France last year, switching to a simpler model in the market. Sharp said the company’s headcount in 2018 grew “substantially” from 2017 in anticipation of further growth, while he also touched on plans to build a brewery – the first large-scale facility of its kind to be built in Edinburgh for more than 150 years. The company aims to apply for planning in the final quarter of this year and become operational in early 2021.
Taco Bell’s Chris Palmer joins Hero Brands as franchise director: Hero Brands, which operates German Doner Kebab and the soon to launch Choppaluna, has appointed Chris Palmer as franchise director to spearhead its franchise recruitment strategy throughout Europe. Palmer joins from Yum Brands where he was franchise director for Taco Bell, overseeing the opening of 50 restaurants in the UK and Europe in 18 months. He has more than 15 years’ experience in the franchising sector, including being part of the management team that transformed Harry Ramsden. Palmer will be charged with developing and growing brand partnerships across the region. Flagship brand German Doner Kebab is currently being rolled out across Europe, the Middle East and the US, with more than 700 franchises already signed up globally, Hero Brands stated. Meanwhile, the company will launch healthy fast-casual concept Choppaluna in Bloomsbury, London, in October. Billed as a “new way to eat and a great-tasting and healthy alternative to classic fast food”, Choppaluna has already “signed-up 12 franchises with another 60 ready to go”. Hero Brands global franchise director Jon Cullen said: “Our fast-casual brands will be the stars of tomorrow, responding to the needs of Generation Z who demand better, healthier food in nicer places but still at a great price. Chris joins us as we embark on significant growth and his experience will be crucial in developing new multi-site partnerships that will expand the reach of our brand portfolio.” Palmer added: “It’s exciting to join Hero Brands as it forges ahead with plans to disrupt the fast-casual space. We are building amazing brands of the future and I look forward to moving at pace with our multi-franchise partners.”
Titanic Brewery to roll out Bod cafe bar concept as fourth site nears launch:Titanic Brewery is drawing up a five-year plan to roll out its Bod cafe bar concept as the finishing touches are made to its fourth site. The new venue will open in Newport, Shropshire, on Monday (9 September) in a former NatWest bank branch in High Street. The move follows the opening of Bod sites in Stafford, Stoke and Trentham. Titanic Brewery launched the concept in 2018. The venues operate as a cafe during the day with craft beer and real ale available from lunchtime onwards. Co-owner Dave Bott told The Business Desk: “We have been looking at the town for some time and, when the NatWest bank came available, it represented an ideal opportunity. We believe we have created something special in the Bod cafe concept and customers at our other sites have been very enthusiastic. We are currently developing a medium-term plan to find the right development sites across the Midlands and north west.” Titanic Brewery was founded by Keith and Dave Bott in 1985 and has grown to produce more than four million pints of beer a year. The company also operates eight pubs.
Iddon joins Le Pain as chief information officer: Belgian restaurant and boulangerie brand Le Pain Quotidien has appointed Simon Iddon, formerly of The Restaurant Group (TRG), as chief information officer, Propel has learned. Iddon stepped down as group chief information officer at TRG last June after eight years with the company. Since then he has been consulting for a number of sector operators including Boparan Restaurant Group and Drake & Morgan. Iddon will lead the technology strategy, innovation, delivery, service and support across Le Pain’s 280 sites in 22 markets to instil “effective use and benefits for customers, teams and the wider business”. In June, the Adrian Johnson-led UK part of the Le Pain business reported turnover fell 4.0% to £37,955,443 for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £39,528,269 the previous year. It reported a pre-tax loss of £711,200 compared with a profit of £1,211,235 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Gross profit margin fell to 13.8% compared with 16.1% the previous year, which “highlighted the tough trading conditions”. Le Pain Quotidien paid no dividend to its Belgian parent company. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “It was a challenging year, with the company facing the continued challenging trading conditions the whole of the UK high street is seeing, with reduced footfall and increased cost pressures.” Staff numbers reduced from 895 to 806 during the year.
Leon lines up Bishopsgate launch: Natural fast food brand Leon is to increase its presence in the City of London with an opening in Bishopsgate. The company, which recently opened its second site in the US, in New York Avenue, has lined up an opening at 154 Bishopsgate for later this year. The company will further strengthen its presence in London with a pair of openings, in Wimbledon and on the South Bank, in the coming months. The company, which signed a five-year exclusivity agreement with motorway services operator Roadchef in the summer, will open sites in Wimbledon Hill Road and at Southbank Place respectively. Earlier this year, Propel reported the company had up to 20 restaurants planned for its current financial year – more than half of them overseas. In the UK, this will include a restaurant in Leeds.
BrewDog to open Swansea site while Revolution moves out: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is set to open a site in Swansea. The company is to take over Wind Street bar The Bucket List, which offered live music, finger-style food and 120 beers. The American-style bar had only been open for three years and offered a membership option giving customers exclusive access to an upstairs room with beer pong, basketball hoops, a ping pong table and retro arcade games. Meanwhile Revolution Bars Group, the operator of 79 premium bars trading across the UK under the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, is to close its Revolution site a few doors down in the same street. The venue is set to become a nightclub called Liberate. A spokesman for Revolution Bars Group told Wales Online: “This closure is part of our ongoing active management of our trading estate. Earlier in the year we announced our intention to focus resources on our existing estate and revitalising the Revolution brand. This has resulted in the decision to discontinue trading at Revolution Swansea. We expect to sub-let or assign the lease in due course. We are still consulting with our team members who are affected by this closure and we expect to be able to offer them similar or alternative roles elsewhere in the group.” The nearest Revolution bar to Swansea is in Cardiff. BrewDog’s latest Equity for Punks campaign, which aims to raise £7m and has a stretch goal of £50m, has seen more than 29,500 investors pledge more than £6.2m.
London club Studio 338 to host world’s first escape room experience on an aircraft: Greenwich nightclub Studio 338 is to host two immersive experiences including the world’s first escape room set on an aircraft. The club has partnered with immersive experiences company The Riddle Within and the team behind Brighton-based escape rooms firm Bewilder Box to create two experiences. Flight 338 will be set inside a decommissioned jet in the grounds of the club. The storyline will begin with participants donning prisoner uniforms and handcuffs before boarding the aircraft and finding a way to escape. The second experience – Chernobyl: 10 Seconds To Midnight – has been inspired by HBO drama Chernobyl with participants having to work together to decipher codes, uncover conspiracies, access the core and work against a 60-minute clock to prevent the nuclear reactor’s meltdown. Flight 338 will launch in November, while Chernobyl will take place from January 2020. Both escape rooms will remain in London for three months before moving to their next location in the UK. A spokeswoman said the two experiences would take the “escape room industry to the next level”.
Health Club Collection launches fitness concept in City of London as sector demand rises: The Health Club Collection has launched a dedicated studio for its new class-based concept CIRQ in the City of London as demand for basement space in the area continues to rise alongside the growth of the health and fitness sector. The concept has launched in 3,660 square feet of basement space at Ludgate House in Fleet Street. CIRQ focuses on high-intensity interval and strength circuit training combined with on-screen technology. Ross Kirton, head of UK leisure at Colliers International, which brokered the deal, said: “This acquisition reaffirms the competitive nature of the central London studio gym market and continues the trend of fitness groups seeking space in prime City locations.” Recent research by Colliers identified people like to fit work-outs around professional commitments. Of 2,000 Londoners surveyed, more than one-third (34%) like to work out in the morning, while 35% go to the gym after work and 15% during their lunch break. Kirton said: “Our research also found 45% of people like to work out more intensely during the week making Ludgate House, which is home to a number of densely populated office developments, the ideal location for CIRQ’s flagship.” CIRQ founder Robert Burstein added: “We are excited to bring this new concept to the City.”
Simmons Bars to open 16th site, in Monument next week: London operator Simmons Bars will open its 16th site, in Monument next week. The company will launch a venue in Eastcheap, next to Monument tube station, on Thursday, 12 September. It will be the third venue Simmons Bars has opened this summer following launches in Golden Square, near Piccadilly Circus, and in Wardour Street, Soho, which is its biggest site to date. Nick Campbell founded Simmons Bars in 2013.
Sunset Hospitality Group to launch Sweet Chick into UK this month: Sunset Hospitality Group, the Dubai-based boutique investment and hospitality management company, will open a debut UK site for US fried chicken and waffle concept Sweet Chick this month. As revealed by Propel in July, the company will launch at the former Carluccio’s in Market Place, Fitzrovia, on Thursday, 26 September. Sweet Chick was founded in 2013 by John Seymour and is backed by rapper Nas. The London venue will follow a similar format to Sweet Chick’s US restaurants – four in New York and one in Los Angeles. Alongside fried chicken and waffles, the menu offers shrimp, grits, biscuits and cornbread. Desserts include a doughnut ice-cream sandwich. It’s thought the company is also looking at sites in Birmingham for the concept, while Sunset Hospitality Group has hired Christine Chung, formerly of Bill’s and Cote brands Jackson & Rye and Limeyard, as operations director for its UK arm. It’s thought the company may look to introduce further concepts it works with into the UK, including US burger, shake and craft beer concept Black Tap. Seymour said: “The food scene is massive in London but we hope we can offer something fresh.” Shelley Sandzer secured the site on behalf of Sweet Chick.
Italian restaurant Forza Win to start expansion next week with second Peckham site: South London-based Italian restaurant Forza Win is to start expansion next week by opening its second site in Peckham. Forza Wine will launch at the top of the Market building on Tuesday (10 September) offering Italian small plates, flatbread and wine. Forza Wine will join Tonkotsu, the Emma Reynolds and Ken Yamada-founded ramen restaurant group, at Peckham Market, a newly refurbished Edwardian building that is also a co-working space. Forza’s new restaurant will offer 40 covers inside, with 60 on a terrace. The menu will include grilled friggitelli peppers and chicken Milanese with aioli, alongside grilled flatbread with tomato sauce/sausage and onion ragu/courgette and basil. House wine will be on tap on the 36-strong list alongside Italian cocktails in the “unpretentious room with beautiful views”, Hot Dinners reports. Forza Win began as a pop-up wood-fired pizzeria on another Peckham rooftop in summer 2012 before opening a permanent restaurant in the borough, in Copeland Road.
CH&Co reports 19% increase in turnover as equity partner supports growth:Independent caterer CH&Co has reported a 19% increase in annual turnover to £286m for the financial year ending 31 December 2018, in line with the previous year’s projections, while CH&Co chief executive Bill Toner said new equity partner Equistone Partners Europe would support its “growth ambitions”. The results for CH&Co Catering Group (Holdings), lodged at Companies House, showed an increase in profits to £17.2m Ebitda, representing 6% of turnover. In contrast to previous years, there was no merger and acquisitions (M&A) activity in 2018 but the integration of the 2017 mergers with Harbour & Jones and Concerto Group were completed. Toner said: “2018 was another strong year for CH&Co and all the M&A growth of previous years was successfully bedded in. We introduced a simplified group structure and undertook a complete rebranding to focus on seven core areas – workplaces, destinations, events, livery, venues, education and healthcare – and this was well received by clients and team members alike. The performance of the company continues to be strong and we have a good track record of growing our business through merging with like-minded companies. Economic uncertainty, particularly surrounding Brexit, continues to be a challenge for us and many of our clients but we are a resilient company in a resilient industry and I am confident we can weather any storms that may come our way. Of course 2019 has also been an exciting year for us so far with the merging of our Scottish business with Stirling-based Inspire Catering and last month’s acquisition of Gather & Gather and Creativevents from Mitie. We’ve also been delighted to welcome our new equity partner, Equistone Partners Europe, which shares our vision for the company’s future in foodservice and will support us in our growth ambitions.”
Yorkshire Wildlife Park reports turnover and Ebitda boost, revenue above budget in current financial year: Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster has reported a boost in turnover and Ebitda while revenue in the current financial year is above budget. The company, which has started work on a £50m expansion of the attraction, saw turnover rise 5% to £12,940,598 for the year ending 30 November 2018, compared with £12,214,687 the previous year. Ebitda was up to £5.2m, compared with £5m the year before. Operating profit was down to £3,163,937, compared with £3,309,159 the previous year. Pre-tax profit fell to £3,049,274 compared with £3,350,217 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the results, the directors stated: “2018 was a year of two halves with the continuing bad weather up to the end of May resulting in turnover at the start of the second half of the year being £1m behind budget. Then the sun came out and by the end of the year turnover had slightly exceeded budget, being 5% up on the previous year. There is further good news in relation to early trading for the current year, with turnover to the date of signing these accounts being circa £1.35m above budget.” Yorkshire Wildlife Park’s expansion plan includes new restaurants and a hotel. The scheme, which has been approved by Doncaster Council, will see 150 acres of neighbouring land transformed. The park was founded 80 years ago and employs 300 people.
London-based whisky brand Milroy’s to launch multi-bar venue in Spitalfields for second site, this month: London-based whisky brand Milroy’s is to open its second bar, next month. The company, which has a basement whisky bar at its Soho shop, will launch Milroy’s Townhouse in Spitalfields on Thursday, 26 September. The 140-capacity venue in Commercial Street will span three floors and house three bars – a cocktail bar, a whisky bar and an exclusive members’ bar and tasting room – along with a roof terrace. Milroy’s opened its shop in Soho’s Greek Street in 1964, which holds the largest collection of whisky in the capital.
Searcys announces company-wide menu waste management targets: Searcys has announced company-wide menu waste management targets across its venues to coincide with Zero Waste Week. The company has introduced a new set of menu planning procedures, with the hope of reducing food and packaging waste by 20%. It has also put together a new low-waste Harvest menu for the autumn events season. Alongside the menu, Searcys chefs are also encouraged to order produce daily and reduce stock holding for perishable food. Also, where safe, leftovers will be repurposed including coffee grounds turned into compost, jams and relishes made with fruit or vegetables soon to expire, and leftover bread transformed into salad croutons. In 2018, Searcys announced a set of sustainability pledges, which were expanded in 2019 to incorporate 24 commitments to sustainable practices. Since the implementation of these pledges, Searcys has received a two-star “Food Made Good” rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association. Searcys chef director Darren Deadman said: “We feel it is our responsibility to reduce our food and packaging waste across Searcys to make sure we can be as sustainable and waste-free as possible. To assist this we have established a list of simple, manageable steps for our chefs, which we hope will help make the task of reducing waste a realistic objective.”
Sheffield-based Abbeydale tables taproom plans: Sheffield-based Abbeydale has tabled plans to create a taproom at its brewery. The company has applied to the city council for the change of use of part of its site in Aizlewood Road. Abbeydale plans to develop a taproom that would also host tasting sessions, reports Insider Media. In a statement accompanying the application, Abbeydale said: “The development of a tasting room and events space would benefit not only ourselves but also the local area as a whole. If successful, more jobs would be created.” Abbeydale, established in 1996, currently employs more than 20 staff and operates two pubs – The Devonshire Cat in the city centre and The Rising Sun in Nether Green. The brewery acquired an additional 7,426 square feet of space in units adjoining its Aizlewood Road site towards the end of last year.
KFC UK puts media planning and buying account out to tender: KFC UK has put its media planning and buying account out to tender. Blue 449 has handled the business for 16 years and parent Publicis Media will be defending the account. The review is in its early stages and is being run by Ebiquity. Meg Farren, chief marketing officer at KFC in the UK and Ireland, told Campaign: “We have a strong, long-standing partnership with Blue 449, which is testament to the significant contribution it has made to our business over the past 16 years. However, after such a lengthy period and with so much change within the media environment and our category, we believe now is the right time to review the relationship to help us determine the right partner going forward.” Mother works on KFC’s above-the-line advertising account.
Startle partners with Owdoo to digitalise Rock and Roll Bingo: Interactive music service provider Startle has partnered with Rock and Roll Bingo founder Owdoo to create a fully digitised version of the pub music game. The paper-free version will save operators time and result in a better, slicker experience, Startle stated. Games can be launched or pre-scheduled using Startle Player, which connects to a venue’s Wi-Fi and sound system. Quizzers can download the free Rock and Roll Bingo app to play solo or as part of a team, with digital bingo cards appearing on smartphones and players crossing off songs that appear on their cards. Startle chief executive Adam Castleton said “Using our vast database of music, we’ve helped create over 40 genres and themes for operators to choose from, bringing Rock and Roll Bingo to a new generation.” Owdoo owner and managing director Michael Laing said: “Bringing together Startle’s unrivalled knowledge of technology, music and creating engaging experiences for consumers with the fun and excitement of Rock and Roll Bingo helps to put us at the forefront of pub entertainment.”