Wagamama strengthens finance leadership team for next stage of growth: The Restaurant Group-owned brand Wagamama has made changes to its finance leadership team ahead of its next wave of growth, Propel has learned. David Di Cello has been appointed chief financial officer. He will join the business at the end of the first quarter of 2020 from Pret A Manger, where he is leading the EAT integration and previously served as finance director and interim chief financial officer. Di Cello has also held senior finance roles at Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and BT. Laura Wood, currently interim finance director, will be promoted to strategy director on Di Cello’s arrival. Her new role will see Wood responsible for growth initiatives and Wagamama’s transformational change agenda. Chief executive Emma Woods said: “We have enjoyed more than five years of market outperformance thanks to the huge contribution of our teams and leaders across every function and a relentless focus on guest-led innovation. As we enter what will be a tough market in 2020, I’m delighted to have such a strong finance team supporting our next wave of growth.” Di Cello added: “I have loved working with the Pret and EAT teams over the past 18 months but am delighted to be given this leadership opportunity at Wagamama, which is a business that embodies the same great people and food values.”
Sky News – Luke Johnson appoints bankers for Gail’s Bakery sale: Sector investor Luke Johnson has hired bankers to prepare a sale of Gail’s Bakery. Johnson, who invested in the business in 2011, has appointed Nomura to oversee a review of strategic options for Gail’s parent company Bread Holdings, reports Sky News. A sales process is expected to launch in the next few months that could value the business at more than £150m. As well as Gail’s, which trades from more than 50 sites, Bread Holdings owns wholesale business Bread Factory and a string of other subsidiaries. The precise value of Gail’s parent company is unclear but the most recent accounts – for the year to the end of February 2018 – show pre-tax profit of £1.07m on turnover of £86.4m. Johnson’s Risk Capital Partners holds a big stake in Bread Holdings alongside management team members that include chief executive Tom Molnar. Johnson’s renewed exploration of a sale of Bread Holdings comes two years after he initiated a previous auction. However, the process was put on hold at the end of 2018.
German Doner Kebab reports like-for-likes leap 49.6%: German Doner Kebab (GDK), the flagship brand of Hero Brands, has reported like-for-like sales increased 49.6% in the past 12 months. The brand now hits £1m in kebab sales in its restaurants every week in the UK, with plans under way to open a further three stores by the end of the year. It has opened 36 outlets during the past two years. Daniel Bunce, GDK managing director for the UK, Ireland and Europe, said: “Our innovative blend of fast-casual dining has resonated with the needs of an ever-evolving market, which is being reflected in the phenomenal success of our stores throughout the UK and abroad. GDK is ahead of the curve and our results speak for themselves as we respond to the needs of our consumer base. Restaurant-goers no longer want or have the time to spend hours on their dining experience. Younger consumers are demanding shorter waits, great-tasting healthier food and an aspirational experience they can capture across social streams.” The UK growth plan follows news the brand is expanding into Saudi Arabia. The Ajlan and Brothers Group has signed as master franchisee with a development agreement of 100 stores in the next ten years. Further growth has also been announced in North America with franchises signed in Canada’s Ontario and British Columbia provinces, while negotiations are under way to open outlets in New York’s Manhattan and New Jersey.
St John’s Hill-based Story Coffee signs for Young’s brewery redevelopment for third London site: St John’s Hill-based Story Coffee has signed to open at Ram Quarter, Greenland’s redevelopment of the former Young’s brewery in Wandsworth, for its third London coffee shop. Story Coffee, which was founded by Sof Alam and Jo O’Sullivan in 2015, has signed a 20-year lease to open a 1,411 square foot cafe and wine bar at Ram Quarter. As well as Story Coffee, the family-run business operates sister cafe Story Works, which is also in St John’s Hill and specialises in smoothies and juice. Story Coffee’s new site will face Ram Quarter’s High Street entrance and offer lunch and brunch menus and a shop that will turn into a wine bar in the evening. The concept refuses to operate Wi-Fi and restricts laptop use at its St John’s Hill sites with an aim to “create a social environment away from screens”. Meanwhile, modern fine-dining restaurant London Stock has also taken a 2,333 square foot unit on a 15-year lease at Ram Quarter, in a restored listed brewery building. Led by Le Cordon Bleu-trained Assem Abdel Hady, the London Stock team has worked at two Michelin-starred restaurants – Umu and Dinner by Heston – and one-starred restaurants Nobu, Pollen Street and Hind’s Head. The 80-cover London Stock will celebrate the “best of British ingredients”. Chris Daly, deputy director – commercial at Greenland, said: “Greenland’s vision is to provide a distinctive retail, leisure and F&B experience set within the atmospheric surroundings of the former Young’s brewery. Our partnership with London Stock and Story Coffee reflects this aspiration.”
Bakery company Greenhalgh’s sees pre-tax losses almost treble as turnover dips: Family-owned bakery Greenhalgh’s has seen pre-tax losses almost treble and a dip in turnover as the company felt the effects of struggles on the high street. The company saw revenue fall to £26.2m for the year ending 31 January 2019, compared with £27.3m the previous year. Pre-tax losses increased to £1.7m, compared with £591,000 the previous year. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The company closed the year with net current assets of £3.33m (2018: £4.78m) and shareholders’ funds of £14.47m (2017: £15.77m) which, in a volatile financial climate, the directors consider to be satisfactory. The company has faced a challenging year with the well-publicised deterioration of the high street and rising costs. The company continues to seek out suitable retail opportunities to expand its portfolio of shops. In 2018-19, the company opened two further retail shops, repositioning its store in Fishergate Shopping Centre in Preston and consolidating in its home town of Bolton, in Crompton Way. A further shop opened in Clapgate Lane, Wigan, in May. Funds were also set aside for significant investment in the plant and machinery.” Greenhalgh’s, which was founded in 1957, has more than 60 stores and also serves the wholesale market. The company is majority owned by Kathleen Smart.
YO! rolls out Yumpingo across UK sites including QR code-enabled reviews for Tesco stores: YO!, the Richard Hodgson-led global multi-brand, multi-channel Japanese food group, is to roll out restaurant intelligence platform Yumpingo across its 70 UK sites. Yumpingo allows customers to rate their dining experience on a YO!-branded device when they receive their bill. YO! will also introduce Yumpingo on all hot and cold dishes sold in its Tesco kiosks via a QR code on packaging that leads to a one-minute review. YO! chose Yumpingo’s one-minute digital review platform following a competitive tender process and a six-site pilot. YO! operations director Emma Deabill said: “The Yumpingo platform will play a critical role in helping us accurately gauge what’s working well for our guests and what’s not. That way we can optimise each guest experience to keep them coming back. We have already started to use the data to adapt menus and dishes across the estate and Yumpingo was invaluable when launching our YO! Kitchen concept in Westfield White City and Dundrum this month.” Yumpingo chief executive Gary Goodman added: “YO! is harnessing the voice of its guests across operations, including the grocery sector, which is incredibly exciting.” Earlier this week YO! launched a standalone YO! To Go site at Manchester’s Piccadilly station kiosk featuring interactive technology that allows customers to build their own meals by choosing from different-sized dishes and bases.
Mark Jarvis to open restaurant at hospitality members’ club Trade: Mark Jarvis, chef patron of Anglo in Farringdon, is to open a restaurant at Trade, the Soho members’ club for hospitality professionals run by restaurateurs and master sommeliers Xavier Rousset and Gearoid Devaney. The opening of Anglo @ Trade on Monday (11 November) will see the club open to non-members for the first time through a limited number of tables made available to book during set times. Taking the reins is newly appointed head chef Anthony Raffo, who has previously been in charge of kitchens at Texture, Pied a Terre, Stocks Hotel and Auberge du Lac. Anglo @ Trade will offer an all-day menu of small plates plus à la carte dishes and a five-course tasting menu. Jarvis said: “I am excited to be involved in this new venture, bringing Anglo to Soho. I’m looking forward to providing something new for Trade’s members and any Anglo fans who manage to snag one of the limited non-member tables.” Rousset added: “We can’t wait for our members to try Mark’s eclectic new menu.” Last month Rousset and Jarvis joined forces to reopen the Gunmakers pub in Marylebone. The pair worked together at Texture restaurant in Marylebone.
Innis & Gunn gears up for £3m crowdfunding campaign towards Edinburgh brewery: Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn is launching a £3m fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs towards its planned brewery in Edinburgh, Propel has learned. The campaign, under the banner This Is Beer Money, will open to pre-registered investors on Thursday (7 November) before going public on Monday (11 November). The pre-pitch states: “We’re aiming to raise £3m so we can build Edinburgh’s biggest brewery to best enable our continued growth. We have been doing our thing since 2003 and last year was our 15th consecutive year of double-digit volume growth. We’ve got three craft beer bars and secured £15m investment and the backing of L Catterton, one of the worlds largest private equity firms. When everyone else is worried about the future we are embracing it – and growing.” In September, Innis & Gunn said it was set to return to profitability in 2019 following losses of about £2m for the year ending 31 December 2018 as the company ploughed cash into the business and pulled the plug on loss-making operations. The company said it aimed to apply for planning permission for the brewery in the “final quarter of this year and become operational in early 2021”. Innis & Gunn raised £2.37m on Crowdcube from more than 1,900 investors in late 2016.
Yorkshire-based escape rooms business expands following funding package:Yorkshire-based escape rooms business The Escapologist has expanded after securing funding. The Escapologist has launched in four new locations, including two outside Yorkshire, after receiving a £65,000 funding package from HSBC. The funds have enabled the company to create escape rooms in bars including The Works at High Wycombe and The Old Courthouse in Consett. The Escapologist will also open a site at the White Rose Shopping Centre in Leeds this month. The Escapologist chief operating officer Oliver McClaren told BDaily: “This is a really pivotal moment in our growth. We’re delighted to have HSBC support us as we expand from a small business with two regional venues in Selby and Xscape Yorkshire and 20 employees into a national franchise.” Scott Johnston, relationship manager for business banking direct at HSBC UK, added: “We are delighted to support the growth of The Escapologist. The company has tapped into a rapidly growing market and identified growth opportunities by working in partnership with existing businesses to create a unique experience for customers.”
 
Tyneside-based operators reopen South Shields bar for second site: Tyneside-based operators Michael Jeffels and Gillian Grainge have taken on a South Shields bar for their second site. They have relaunched Can Can Bar in Ocean Road, which closed earlier this year. Jeffels and Grainge also own The Rose Inn in Wallsend, which is known in the area for its live entertainment. They now plan to replicate that formula at Can Can Bar. Manager Josh Marr told The Shields Gazette: “There doesn’t seem to be anything else like this in the area. Through The Rose Inn, we’ve built really good relationships with some of the UK’s number-one tribute acts.”
Merlin Entertainments to open Legoland resort in Shanghai: Merlin Entertainments has entered into a partnership agreement to develop a Legoland resort in the Jinshan district of Shanghai, China. Under the terms of the agreement Merlin Entertainments, the Shanghai Jinshan district government, entertainment content creator CMC and Kirkbi, a company operated by the Danish family that controls Lego, will fund the £500m project. Scheduled for completion in 2023, it will be one of the largest Legoland resorts in the world and incorporate a themed 250-bedroom hotel. Merlin Entertainments chief executive Nick Varney said: “Shanghai is already home to many Merlin brands and it has been our ambition for some time to build a full-scale theme park that offers the people of Shanghai and visitors to the area the opportunity to immerse themselves in a Legoland experience.” Last month Merlin Entertainments, which returned to private ownership this week following completion of its £6bn sale, entered into an agreement to open a Legoland resort in the Sichuan province of western China.
London restaurateur Sam Harrison launches riverside venue with Rowleigh Leigh as culinary director: Sam Harrison, who owned London restaurants Sam’s Brasserie in Chiswick and Harrison’s in Balham, has launched a new venture at Hammersmith Bridge. Harrison opened Sam’s Brasserie in 2005 and Harrison’s two years later before closing both in 2015. Now he has opened Sam’s Riverside as part of the multimillion-pound Riverside Studios redevelopment with Rowleigh Leigh, former chef at Kensington Place and Parabola, as culinary director and former Ritz chef Harvey Trollope running the kitchen. The 90-cover restaurant also features a private dining room and a cocktail bar that offers counter dining and a separate bar menu. The terrace has room for 40 to 50 diners. Roberts told Hot Dinners: “When Riverside opens it’s going to be London’s premier television studios. It’s a television centre and an arts centre. We’ve taken 4,000 square feet in the building but we have our own separate entrance and identity. It’s a grown-up version of Sam’s in Chiswick.”
Hartnett to open third Cafe Murano site, in Bermondsey this month: Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett is to open a third site under her Cafe Murano brand, in Bermondsey, south east London, this month. In June, Propel revealed Hartnett would open at the site in Bermondsey Street formerly occupied by restaurant Zucca. The 110-cover Cafe Murano will launch on Wednesday, 27 November and feature a 14-cover private dining room, open kitchen and counter seating. Hartnett said: “We have been looking to open a new Cafe Murano for some time and we’re excited to launch at this site – Zucca was a restaurant I loved visiting. I’ll bring Adam Jay to head up the kitchen. He has worked with me for more than eight years and is head chef at St James’s. James Cardy will also join us from St James’s to run Bermondsey’s front-of-house team.” Hartnett is chef proprietor of Michelin-starred restaurant Murano, which she opened in Mayfair in 2008. She opened the first “little sister” Cafe Murano in November 2013 serving “simple and seasonal” Italian food at a site in St James’s Street formerly run by her mentor, Gordon Ramsay. A second Cafe Murano opened in Covent Garden in June 2015 next to Hartnett’s pasta factory, wine shop and deli Pastificio. Zucca was run by former River Café chef Sam Harris. It opened in 2010 and served a “progressive interpretation” of traditional Italian food.
Gladwin Brothers make West End debut at former Arbutus site in Soho: Gladwin Brothers, which operates London restaurants The Shed, Rabbit and Nutbourne, has opened a fourth site in the capital. Richard, Oliver and Gregory Gladwin have taken on the site in Soho’s Frith Street that formerly housed Anthony Demeter’s Arbutus and, before that, Bruno Loubet’s first solo restaurant, Bistro Bruno. Gladwin Brothers’ first West End project is called Sussex and celebrates the county’s countryside. Some ingredients are sourced directly from the Gladwins’ family farm and vineyard in Nutbourne, near Pulborough in West Sussex. The new venture marks a move away from Oliver Gladwin’s sharing dishes and features home-cured charcuterie and Sussex cheese and wine served from a counter in the main dining room. The downstairs kitchen offers private dining including a 20-cover chef’s table. The Shed is in Notting Hill, Rabbit is in King’s Road and Nutbourne is in Battersea.
Mimo team to launch pintxos bar at Borough Market this month: Jon and Nicole Warren, the husband-and-wife team who operate four sites for their Basque cookery school and experiential dining concept Mimo, are to launch a pintxos bar at London’s Borough Market this month. The Warrens operate three sites for Mimo in Spain and brought the concept to the UK by opening at Borough Market in April. They will now launch pintxos bar Batera at new communal dining space Borough Market Kitchen on Monday, 18 November. Meaning “together” in Basque, Batera will be inspired by the pintxos bars of San Sebastian and focus on Basque specialities using produce from the market. Headed by executive chef Joseba Lasa and head chef Ander Macho, traditional recipes will be accompanied by cider and beer from San Sebastian and Spanish and European wine. Jon Warren said: “Batera’s emphasis will be on fantastic produce, respect for everyday dining and a convivial approach to eating.” Mimo’s Spanish sites opened in Seville (2016), Mallorca (2017) and the Algarve (2018). Mimo London’s experiences range from tapas and family cooking classes to chef’s table dinners, wine tasting and market tours. Borough Market Kitchen will open this month featuring more than 20 food brands including Levantine bar and kitchen concept Arabica, Indian street food trader Horn OK Please, and Mei Mei by chef Elizabeth Haigh.
Brixton-based wine bar operator launches bistro at former laundry: Melanie Brown, who operates wine bar New Zealand Wine Cellar in Pop Brixton, has transformed the former Walton Lodge Laundry in Coldharbour Lane into a two-storey bistro and bar. The venue offers banquettes alongside bar and counter seating, with private dining rooms accommodating 25 guests. A south-facing, Parisian-inspired terrace offers cafe seating, while interiors feature antique mirrors and vintage furniture. The menu includes Hereford beef tartar with fermented chilli, prawn oil, mustard seeds, beer pickled onion and beef fat potato chips. A selection of 50 wines are on offer including Brown’s first collection, New Press. Brown has also worked as a chef at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and Vinoteca.
Bill’s launches guest experience solution: Richard Caring-backed business Bill’s Restaurants has launched a guest experience solution to support its growth strategy. Bill’s has worked with guest experience management expert HGEM to build a multi-faceted platform for managing the experience of its guests that fits with the brand’s culture. The solution involves tracking social reviews, capturing guest feedback, measuring dish performance, assessing operational standards and integrating guest data with their customer relationship management team. Bill’s menu and customer manager Lizzie Ahern said: “We are already starting to see the positive impact the HGEM Hub will have on our business when it comes to understanding what our guests are saying and how we can improve our overall guest experience.”
Esquires Coffee opens Darlington shopping centre site: Esquires Coffee has opened a site in Darlington. The company has launched the outlet at the Cornmill Shopping Centre, reports The Northern Echo. The store offers the brand’s range of ethically sourced coffee, tea and chocolate alongside healthy, vegan and locally sourced food. Doug Williamson and Gary Buckland founded Esquires Coffee in Vancouver in 1993, expanding to the UK in 2000 where it now operates more than 40 sites.
Brakspear recognises tenants at annual awards: Henley-based pub operator and brewer Brakspear has recognised licensees from its tenanted and leased pubs at its 2019 Hospitality Awards. At an awards ceremony held at The Little Angel in Henley, the eight winning tenants were presented with a plaque and £500, which Brakspear will double if they choose to spend it on refurbishing their pub. The winners included Adam and Niki Fortes and Colin Savory, of the Heron On The Ford in Charvil, near Reading, who were named best newcomers, while best all-rounder went to Lee Cooper, of The Connaught in Hove. Meanwhile, a new award for best customer service was won by Nicola Hickey, of The Six Bells in Warborough, Oxfordshire. Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said: “Judging the awards every year reminds us of the talent within our company and we are proud to have some of the best operators in the business running Brakspear pubs.”