D&D London appoints new chief financial officer: Restaurant operator D&D London has appointed Alan Clark as chief financial officer. Clark has held a number of board-level financial positions for luxury hotel groups with substantial food and beverage operations. He was finance director for Malmaison and Hotel du Vin and Rocco Forte Hotels in the UK. In his most recent roles, Clark was chief financial officer for The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels and latterly group chief financial officer for Sandals Resorts International. D&D London chairman and chief executive Des Gunewardena said: “Alan joins us at a very exciting time. Our business continues to expand. We have opened a number of restaurants in the UK and in New York in the last year and we have a substantial pipeline of UK and overseas projects. Alan’s knowledge and international experience will be a big asset.” Clark added: “I am incredibly excited to join the group and look forward to contributing to expanding the business further.”
Leon secures second US site as it doubles up in Washington DC: Natural fast food brand Leon has secured its second US site. The company is doubling up in Washington DC after signing a lease to open a venue in New York Avenue. The restaurant is due to open in late spring. The space was originally constructed in 1874 for the George M Barker Company, a lumber, coal and wood distribution warehouse. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Leon will occupy part of the 768,000 square foot building newly redeveloped by Douglas Development in a joint venture with Brookfield Properties. Leon managing director Glenn Edwards said: “Since our successful opening in L Street earlier this year, we have been searching for our next great location in DC and are thrilled to have found it in Mount Vernon Triangle. We’re excited to expose the beauty of the original building as a second major milestone in bringing the future of fast food to DC.” As with its London restaurants and L Street location, the new restaurant will be powered by sustainable energy, in this case 100% wind power. Leon has also proactively removed plastic straws and cutlery, with all packaging compostable or recyclable. Leon has grown to 61 restaurants since 2004, with locations in the UK, Oslo, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Gran Canaria and plans to grow in other cities across Europe and the US.
 
Duck and Rice in talks over first overseas licensing deal: Duck and Rice, the classic Chinese food in a pub concept set up by Wagamama founder Alan Yau in Soho, has said it is in talks over its first overseas licensing deal now the concept has become profitable and ready for growth. Director Ted Kennedy said: “We have a great management team and they have focused on creating the magic and making guests happy. We expect good sales growth, great margins and robust costs and so we are ready to push the button on the licensing opportunities available to us. We see opportunities to grow a licensing platform in London, the Nordics, mainland Europe and the Middle East and are actively assessing potential licensing partners with local geographic knowledge to develop and grow our brand with us. Duck and Rice also appeals to local drinkers and diners making it ideal for hotels and mixed-use developers. We see real value for all stakeholders.”
Goodbody – Domino’s Pizza franchisee ‘war’ puts timing of 1,600-store target at further risk: Goodbody leisure analyst Rachel Fox has said she expects the conflict between Domino’s Pizza and its franchisees to put the timing of the company’s 1,600-store roll-out target at further risk. The Sunday Times reported some franchisees have written to the Domino’s Pizza board threatening to “declare war” on the company if they are not handed a greater share of profits. The article also said the Domino’s Franchisee Association UK & Ireland, which was recently set up by 11 of the biggest franchisees, would boycott the company’s annual pizza-making festival in March if their demands were not met and they could also refuse to open new stores. Fox said: “The conflict centres around franchisee profitability, with the underlying stores facing severe headwinds of labour, rates and food inflation in the past number of years with the article quoting a source that said a ‘huge amount of profits have moved from the franchisees to the plc’. The franchisees appear to be demanding the company shares some of the brunt of these escalating costs. The economics of opening stores is also being questioned. Overall, we expect this continued conflict between the franchisees and the company to remain an overhang and would indicate further risk to roll-out targets. To recap, the group cut its 2018 UK store roll-out from between 65 and 75 down to 60 at the time of its interim results in August, stating this was due to using smaller/medium franchisees to roll out stores to reduce dependence on the larger franchisees (for example two franchisees operate circa 200 stores each). Relying on smaller and newer franchisees could lead to a lower roll-out run rate as these operators are less experienced and more capital constrained, which does imply some risk to the timing of the 1,600-store roll-out target.”
Jonathon Swaine – Fuller’s has reinvented the railway station pub:Jonathon Swaine, managing director of Fuller’s Inns, has said he believes the company has “reinvented the railway station pub” following the opening of its latest site, in Euston. The company has launched The Signal Box upstairs in the station’s terrace featuring a bar and dining space and an outside bar with seating. Swaine said: “We have seen great success in our other transport hub pubs, such as The Parcel Yard at King’s Cross and The Three Guineas at Reading station. We believe we’ve reinvented the railway station pub – from being tired old bars where people begrudgingly went when their train was delayed, to exciting and vibrant pubs that are visited by all. With the transformation of the surrounding area and HS2 opening in the future, we hope The Signal Box becomes a regular spot for one-time and regular visitors. The team has done an excellent job creating a modern but comfortable space. The outside bar and seating area – which is still within the walls of the station – is a fantastic setting. It’s a great achievement from our designers who have managed to create an indoor space that feels alfresco.”
 
All-natural deli and meal delivery service Detox Kitchen hits £550,000 crowdfunding target: All-natural meal delivery service Detox Kitchen has hit the target in its £550,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to meet demand. The company is offering 7.28% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £7m. So far, 258 investors have pledged £550,790 and the campaign is currently “overfunding”. Private equity-backed Detox Kitchen has delivered more than one million meals to thousands of customers in the capital and also operates two central London delis, which serve more than 2,500 customers a week in total. Funds raised will be used to increase kitchen capacity, invest in a technology platform for delivery services, and grow its marketing team. The pitch states: “Detox Kitchen aims to be one of the most disruptive brands in the diet and healthy food markets in the UK. From humble beginnings, founder Lily Simpson and her team have built a globally recognised, profitable and forward-thinking brand. We passionately believe healthy food should be as delicious as it is nutritious so we create real food from real ingredients. We conveniently deliver meals directly to our customers’ doors as well as serving an array of fresh salads at our two central London delis and in selected retail outlets. Since our launch in 2012 we have built a business that has delivered average monthly revenue of £243,000 in the current financial year, showing 32% year-on-year sales growth and positive Ebitda of £42,000 (April to August 2018); a thriving home delivery business that accounts for nearly 50% of revenue and has grown 70% year-on-year in the past six months; and published two best-selling cookbooks.”
Remarkable Pubs adds Forest Gate site to portfolio for 16th venue: Remarkable Pubs, the privately owned east London-focused pub company, has added a site in Forest Gate for its 16th venue. The company has acquired the Holly Tree in Dames Road in an off-market deal. Managing director Elton Mouna said: “The Holly Tree is just two miles from our other 2018 freehold acquisition – the Boleyn Tavern – and gives us a strong foothold in an exciting, fast-changing part of London. The Holly Tree is a substantial pub with a conservatory and large garden. A detailed and sympathetic refurbishment will take place in 2019, when the pub will be fully integrated into the Remarkable collection of wonderful London pubs.”
Moody’s downgrades PizzaExpress rating due to ‘declining profitability’: Ratings agency Moody’s has reduced its rating on PizzaExpress because of “declining profitability”. David Beadle, Moody’s lead analyst for PizzaExpress, stated: “The downgrade to the ratings of PizzaExpress reflects declining profitability and therefore deteriorating credit metrics during 2018. While we expect the negative like-for-like sales trend in the company’s home market to abate somewhat next year, fierce competition and sustained cost pressure means a turnaround during 2019 is unlikely. The company’s current struggles reflect the weak and highly competitive operating environment in the UK casual dining industry and the continued cost pressures faced by operators, as well as challenges in key overseas markets of PizzaExpress, notably rising competition in China. The combination of these factors means the company’s reported Ebitda of £56.6m is 16.4% lower than in the first nine months of 2017.” Moody’s said it expected pressure on the company’s like-for-like revenues to ease in 2019 and for improvement in international performance but added that cost pressures would continue to weigh on profit margins. Moody’s base case for 2019 includes further year-on-year deterioration in company-reported Ebitda to about £75m against its expectation of £80m in 2018.
Joule’s restores historic Wellington pub to portfolio: Shropshire brewer and retailer Joule’s, which is headed by Steve Nuttall, has acquired the Cock Hotel in Wellington, near Telford. Joule’s, which owned the pub in Holyhead Road from the 19th century to 1974, has bought it for a second time after landlords Peter and Liz Arden decided to retire. Nuttall said: “We have been keen to have a pub in Telford for years and Wellington was always our first choice. We are thrilled and very proud to take the reins of this historic pub once again. The pub has always had something extraordinary about it – it has a unique warm atmosphere, which comes from such a long history. More than half our pubs are listed so we understand what’s required in managing buildings with such important heritage. We would like to restore the pub to how it was when it was first a Joule’s Taphouse.” Peter Arden added: “It is a great story to turn the clock back and let the pub go back to where it all started. The icing on the cake is it’s a Shropshire pub and a Shropshire brewery, the brewery is just a few miles away.” Joule’s operates almost 40 pubs, with its brewery in Market Drayton.
A Rule of Tum closes crowdfunding campaign after raising more than £510,000: Herefordshire-based steak and burger company A Rule of Tum has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube having raised more than £510,000. Brothers Edwin and Dorian Kirk were aiming to raise £400,000 to launch two concepts and were offering 11.11% equity in return for the investment, which gave the company a pre-money valuation of £3.2m. They have now closed the campaign with 363 investors pledging £510,320. A Rule of Tum operates The Bookshop restaurant in Hereford and two Burger Shop joints – in Hereford and Worcester – as well as a fledgling events division. The company will use the funds to buy both properties in Aubrey Street that house its Hereford venues, refurbish and relaunch all its restaurants, open a butcher’s shop, and launch a small plates concept in an arch next to its Worcester site. The pitch states: “When we started A Rule of Tum in 2013 we had no idea what we set out to do would resonate with so many people. A Rule of Tum has never been about creating a faceless chain – it’s about great food, individuality, building a community and inspiring change. During the past five years we’ve constantly invested back into the business and our community – opening restaurants and our annual food festival – leading to our highest annual turnover of £1.6m to the year ending March 2018 and £96,000 Ebitda. We are now crowdfunding to take the business to the next level. We are generating capital with the aim to purchase and reimagine our Hereford sites. We hope this will allow us to accelerate our plans to launch two more concepts by 2020 – a butcher’s shop and another restaurant space in Worcester.”
The Naked Deli opens fifth site, in Newcastle city centre: Newcastle-based The Naked Deli has turned two empty shops in Newcastle’s city centre into its fifth site. The store has opened in Grey Street next to Central Arcade and is the brand’s second opening since The Naked Deli received £2.5m of growth capital from independent infrastructure, private equity and investment manager Foresight Group in June. As part of the investment, John Upton joined The Naked Deli as chairman. He is former managing director of healthy fast food brand Leon and a member of the senior team at McDonald’s UK. The Naked Deli chief executive Chris Jones said: “Being able to cater for those in the centre of town is an important step for us in our mission to bring a balanced and nutritious diet for people in the north east and further afield. Following our successful venture at Newcastle International airport, this is an important step as we expand into the wider UK market.” Foresight Group investment manager John Cordrey added: “This is a huge opportunity, positioning the brand as a true north east success story and is a positive mark for further UK expansion.” The Naked Deli’s other stores are in Gosforth, Heaton, and Fenwick’s Food Hall.
BrewDog takes global estate to 80 as it opens second site in Finland: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has expanded its international presence by launching its second site in Finland. The opening in Tampere is the company’s 15th in 2018, bringing its global estate to 80 bars. The 50-capacity bar offers 18 draught lines of beer including BrewDog’s own brews and those from local and international craft brewers. A deli fridge is stocked with a broad range of bottled and canned craft beer alongside coffee from a local artisan roaster and a menu of local cheese and charcuterie boards. A terrace will open in the spring to more than double total capacity. BrewDog opened its first Finnish bar in Helsinki in 2014.
Papa John’s rolls out new rewards programme: Papa John’s is to roll out its newly revamped rewards programme where, instead of earning points towards specific rewards, users can convert dollars spent into “Papa Dough”. Members get one point for every dollar spent at Papa John’s, with every 75 points translating to $10 in “Papa Dough”. Rewards programme members can also access specials they can use in addition to their everyday Papa Dough balance, including free desserts and sides. Papa John’s has been struggling amid fallout from its row with founder and former chief executive John Schnatter. In its third-quarter earnings call, Papa John’s North American like-for-like sales fell 9.8% but there was a two-percentage point improvement in September after the company launched its Voices Of Papa John’s marketing campaign, which showcased team members and franchisees. The rewards programme is launching on the back of that success. Papa John’s president and chief executive Steve Ritchie told Nation’s Restaurant News: “We see this as a major milestone in the new direction we’re taking the brand. It’s a very customer-centric, modern direction and this loyalty programme is about making it as rewarding as possible.”
Ei Group widens January free drinks offer to include gin and no alcohol options: Ei Group’s leased and tenanted division Ei Publican Partnerships has widened its January drinks giveaway this year to include gin and tonic, soft drinks and a greater choice of low and no alcohol beers. The company will team up with leading UK brewers and drinks companies in an initiative that will see up to 45,000 free drinks given away during the month. Partners this year include Molson Coors, Heineken, Diageo and Britvic. The promotion will be available in about 1,000 Ei Publican Partnership pubs in the UK from 2 to 20 January and will be accompanied by a “Cheer Up January” social media campaign, online advertising and point-of-sale products for participating pubs. Customers will redeem their free drink via a web-based app. Ei Group launched the initiative last year, with the offer limited to beer. Customer director Helen Cook said: “We know people want to cut down after the indulgences of the festive season so we are delighted to have extended the offer this year to include a broader range of drinks that makes the offer more accessible to more people. Feedback from our publicans last year was incredibly positive, with more than 80% of participants saying they’d like to do it again.”
Dairy founder hits crowdfunding target to relaunch cafe concept Dandy:Dairy co-founder Matt Wells has hit his fund-raising target on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to relaunch cafe concept Dandy in Bermondsey, east London. Wells has partnered with chef Dan Wilson for the project. They are offering 5.73% equity in return for the £75,000 investment, which gives the venture a pre-money valuation of £1.2m. So far, 40 investors have pledged £80,383 and the campaign is now “overfunding”. The funds will be used to fit out a site in Maltby Street that was formerly occupied by Monmouth Coffee. Wells founded The Dairy and Counter Culture with Robin and Sarah Gill, created Knife Steakhouse, and recently backed 24 The Oval. Dandy will be the seventh restaurant he has been involved with. Wells said: “Bermondsey is an incredible, lively hub, buzzing with innovation and creativity. It offers established restaurants and new concepts and is the ideal spot for Dan’s seasonally driven, comforting dishes. We’re dedicated to great beer so it seemed the perfect fit and we’ll be making the most of our location on the beer mile – partnering with neighbouring brewers amid plans to open our own in late 2019.” Wilson launched Dandy as a pop-up in London Fields before opening a semi-permanent spot in Newington Green in late 2017. They have both since closed. Wilson said: “The journey to Dandy ‘3.0’ has been an incredible one. I can’t wait to finally open the doors to a permanent site.”
Islington-based coffee house Maison d’Etre to start expansion with sister site: Islington-based coffee house Maison d’Etre is to start expansion by opening a sister site nearby. Maison d’Etre opened in Canonbury Road in May 2011 after operating at a market in Brick Lane. Sister site Maison Bleue will open at a larger venue in Calabria Road offering the brand’s coffee, cakes, sandwiches and specials, Hot Dinners reports. Dishes on the Maison d’Etre breakfast menu include coconut chia pudding with seasonal fruit and yogurt, while the lunch menu includes a Maison bowl featuring ingredients such as quinoa, aubergine and grilled asparagus. Alongside coffee and tea, the drinks list includes botanical soft drinks and smoothies.
Siren Craft Brew closes crowdfunding campaign after raising £1.25m: Independent brewer Siren Craft Brew has closed its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to aid expansion after raising £1.25m. The company initially aimed to raise £750,000 and offered 6.38% equity in return for investment, which gave it a pre-money valuation of £11m. It has now closed the campaign with 1,546 investors pledging £1.25m. Siren founder Darron Anley said the funding would be used to “accelerate an exciting next stage of growth”, including launching its beer in cans, expanding capacity and improving efficiency. The company said it had already brewed two million pints in 2018 and had seen 28% growth in revenue. The brewer has distribution worldwide and has been profitable every year since 2014. The pitch states: “Siren first landed in 2013 with a flagship range of four brands. Built on the passion, skill and efforts of a dedicated team and the finances of the founders, Siren employs 28 people with turnover of £2.82m last year and Ebitda of £200,000. We are raising finance to accelerate the next phase of our growth. The primary step is to package into cans. We have identified a top-rate canning line that will meet our current bottling quality standards and future-proof our packaging options. Any overfunding will allow us to increase capacity and improve efficiencies. Raise more than £1.5m and we’ll also fast-track plans to bring our taproom experience to new locations.”
Wadworth head brewer becomes a master: Rob Jacobson, of Wiltshire-based brewer and retailer Wadworth, has qualified as a master brewer with the Institute of Brewing and Distilling. Jacobson joined Wadworth as head brewer early this year following seven years with brewing companies in South Africa. He graduated from the University of Cape Town with a Bsc (Hons) in biomedical sciences and subsequently a postgraduate in enterprise management. He said: “I am grateful to the many people who have taught and trained me, made sacrifices and put their energy into supporting this journey. I’m looking forward to further building my career in the UK and with Wadworth.” Chris Welham, Wadworth chief executive, added: “It is fantastic to have Rob on board with his energy, innovative and creative skills, and knowledge of brewing. This qualification is testament to his skill set and ability. We are immensely proud to have him at the helm of our brewing team and brewery.”
Aparthotel steeped in ‘science of sleep’ opens in Shoreditch: An aparthotel rooted in the “science of sleep” has opened in Shoreditch, east London. The Zed Rooms features boutique apartments designed to counteract the “first night effect”, in which half the brain acts as a “night watchman” in unfamiliar surroundings leading to a poor night’s sleep. Each serviced apartment features two spaces – the Woom Room and Loom Room. Woom features a cocoon-like bed designed to mimic the safety and security of a womb, while Loom has a four-poster bed draped with “ethereal” fabrics and “designed for dreaming”. Both spaces feature muted lighting, blackout blinds and sound-absorbing curtains. The project is a partnership between accommodation provider Cuckooz, design company Studio Stilton and mattress manufacturer Simba. Cuckooz co-founder Fabienne O’Neill said: “The disruption of the accommodation sector – how we travel, where we stay and what we accept as the norm when spending time away from home – has been a long time coming.”