Bill’s reports like-for-likes up 12.2% in March as it rolls out next wave of new-look sites: Bill’s Restaurants, owned by Richard Caring, has reported like-for-like sales rose 12.2% in March as the company rolls out the next wave of new-look sites across its estate and eyes new sites. Bill’s has already converted 13 restaurants to the upgraded format and the company said these were all “significantly outperforming” the rest of the estate in like-for-like sales. A further 11 upgraded restaurants will open in the second quarter of this year, starting in Leeds. Bill’s founder Bill Collison, who is overseeing the new-look roll-out, said: “My aim is to create a welcoming and vibrant environment that transcends all dining times but, importantly, provides a trusted space customers feel comfortable in to have an evening meal.” Executive chairman David Campbell added: “The past six months have seen strong growth for Bill’s as we renewed our focus on healthy and indulgent seasonal food. The interior of the restaurants is also integral to our customer experience so with the new-look sites outperforming the rest of the estate, we are keen to expand the programme. We are also looking at some exciting new locations.” Collison founded Bill’s as a fresh produce store and cafe in Lewes, East Sussex, in 2000. It currently operates an 81-strong estate.
Deltic Group strengthens senior team: The Deltic Group has strengthened its senior team. Alex Millington has been promoted to chief financial officer following two years in his previous role as group finance director. He will oversee property, IT and procurement as well as finance. Millington has been with Deltic since 2013, when he joined the group as head of finance. Jason Thorndycraft has been promoted to chief operations officer from his position as operations director. His remit will now include marketing as part of a broader strategic move to bring the department closer together with operations and sales. Meanwhile, head of procurement Nicola Romeo becomes procurement director after leading the department through a transitional period in the past two years while strengthening brand relationships and delivering a record year of sponsorship. Deltic Group chief executive Peter Marks said: “These promotions recognise the ongoing contribution to the business from Alex, Jason and Nicola and the expanding nature of their roles as the business continues to grow.” The Deltic Group is the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs.
BrewDog to open first overseas airport bar as SSP secures Alicante-Elche deal:Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is to open its first bar at an overseas airport. The company has partnered with UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group to open the site at Alicante-Elche airport in Spain. The move follows the launch in November of BrewDog’s first airport bar, at Edinburgh airport, in partnership with The Restaurant Group Concessions. The Alicante-Elche airport bar will be in the departures area as one of seven food and beverage units SSP will open after it secured an eight-year contract worth circa €203m (£175m). SSP will also launch a mix of international brands and local concepts airside and landside under the new deal. Burger King was the first brand to launch, with three units opening in March. In June, SSP will launch its debut Häagen-Dazs ice cream shop in Spain and open a site for Canadian cafe and bake shop Tim Hortons. A new outlet from Spanish charcuterie Enrique Tomas will follow in November. SSP Spain managing director Blanca Ripoll said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this new contract at Alicante-Elche, which reaffirms our position as a leading operator in the travel market in Spain. We look forward to opening these on-trend and exciting brands.”
Ei Group opens 300th Craft Union site: Craft Union Pub Company, part of Ei Group’s managed operations, has opened its 300th site and has a pipeline of venues across the UK. The company has launched the Tivoli Tavern in Grimsby following a £130,000 refurbishment project. Marie Moran, who has worked behind the bar of the pub in Old Market Place for more than 20 years, is now operating the venue. Craft Union Pub Company operations director Frazer Grimbleby said: “We are excited to have opened our 300th pub, which marks a significant milestone in our growth journey. Every decision we make is with the community and our operators in mind, that’s why Craft Union is such a success story. We recognise the fundamental role our operators play in achieving that so we’re delighted to have Marie at the helm of the Tivoli Tavern – her appointment epitomises that commitment.” Moran added: “The opportunity to become operator came out of the blue. I’ve only ever worked behind the bar but I know this pub inside out and the support I’ve had from Craft Union has been incredible. I’m looking forward to the challenge.” Craft Union opened its first pub in May 2015 and, while its roots are in the north of England, it has now opened nationwide. About half of Craft Union operators have joined the pub company from Ei Publican Partnerships, the leased and tenanted division of Ei Group.
Star Pubs & Bars rolls out recycling agreement to leased estate: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is offering its leased pubs the same commercial terms for recycling and waste collection it has negotiated for its Just Add Talent (JAT) managed operator pubs. The company said the move could save licensees more than £1,000 a year by increasing the amount of waste recycled. The three-year arrangement, negotiated with waste company Biffa, will see food-led pubs profit most due to the increased weight-related collection costs incurred from food waste. The service, which has been used by JAT pubs for the past eight months, includes guidance on waste management designed to reduce landfill waste and improve recycling rates. Data is provided on the levels and type of waste at each pub, which means Star Pubs & Bars can provide bin sizes appropriate to each pub, leading to lower charges. Star Pubs & Bars buying director Steve Dancer said: “We are able to leverage the size and scale of our business to negotiate some great deals for licensees, passing all savings direct to them. Not enough waste is correctly recycled so anything we can do to reduce landfill will be good news for licensees’ bottom lines and good news for the environment. With our JAT pubs alone, we’ve saved two tonnes of waste going to landfill a month.”
Honest Burgers makes Manchester debut: Honest Burgers, the Active Partners-backed chain, has opened a restaurant in Manchester. The company has launched the venue in Bridge Street at the former Garage bar. The site – its 33rd in total – has been transformed with its signature British racing green colour scheme appearing on tabletops, bricks and potted plants. Inside, a large blackboard displays the burgers on offer including a Manchester special made with Bury black pudding and beer cheese sauce. A mixture of wooden booth seating, tall tables with stools and banquette seating fills downstairs, while on the mezzanine there is a communal table and more booths. Local brewer Runaway hosts a taproom from Thursday to Sunday in a third-floor space that leads to a roof terrace. Co-founder Philip Eeles told Manchester Evening News: “For cities outside London, Manchester was one of the first that sprang to mind but we knew the sensible thing would be to stay quite close to London first – we didn’t want to overextend. There’s no doubt in my mind Manchester is the right city for us. We came across this site pretty quick and it was a slam-dunk – there was no debate. This was the right site for us – location, size and great character in the building.” Last month Propel reported Honest Burgers saw turnover break the £30m mark for the year ending 31 January 2019. Like-for-like sales were up 7.9%.
Cornwall-based operators take on second pub as they extend St Austell Brewery partnership: Cornwall-based operators Rob and Nat Liddicoat have taken on their second pub by extending their partnership with St Austell Brewery. The couple have run the Lanivet Inn in the village of Lanivet since 2015. Now they are taking on The Swan Hotel in Wadebridge, which is currently closed for refurbishment, reports Cornwall Live. In a Facebook post, the Liddicoats said: “We have some exciting plans for 2019. From the beginning of May we will be taking over The Swan Hotel in Wadebridge as a second site. Before you ask we will not be leaving Lanivet and we are looking forward to the new challenge. Having worked hard at Lanivet to build a good reputation for good-quality food at affordable prices, we plan to do the same at The Swan Hotel.”
Bank Top Brewery opens third pub: Bolton-based Bank Top Brewery has opened its third pub. The company has relaunched The Old England Forever in Clayton-le-Moors having acquired the Church Street site last year. Six hand-pulls are on offer at the bar with a rotating guest ale and cider, reports the Lancashire Telegraph. The company also owns the Bank Top Brewery Tap in Bolton and the Bank Top Brewery Ale House in Horwich.
Yorkshire-based pub operators acquire former coaching inn for second site in county: Wayne Lerigo and Erkan Balon, who operate The Black Bull Inn in Pickering, have acquired the Coachman Inn in the village of Snainton, near Scarborough, for their second site in Yorkshire. They have bought the freehold of the grade II-listed former coaching inn off an asking price of £550,000. The venue was recently refurbished and comprises a 20-cover bar, a 16-cover snug, a restaurant with 50 covers and a 15-capacity private dining room. The inn also offers six en-suite letting rooms, a beer garden and large car park. Lerigo and Balon said: “We have redesigned the menu to include traditional home-cooked dishes, fine dining and homemade Turkish dishes, offering something for everyone. ” David Cash, senior business agent at Christie & Co, which handled the sale, added: “Coaching inns and pubs with rooms are proving popular as buyers seek security from multiple income streams in food, beverage and accommodation sales.”
JD Wetherspoon lines up first north east hotel, in Newcastle: JD Wetherspoon is lining up its first hotel in the north east, next to its Mile Castle pub in Newcastle. The company has owned and run the Westgate Road venue for the past ten years. Earlier this year it acquired the neighbouring grade II-listed Gibb Chambers building. Now Wetherspoon has submitted plans to the city council to convert the property, built in the 1800s, into a 26-bedroom hotel. About £2m is set to be invested into the plan, which would also see the creation of a two-storey beer garden. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon told Chronicle Live: “We have submitted a planning application to build a 26-bedroom hotel alongside the pub. This is in addition to the beer garden. The overall investment is £2m. We are confident the hotel and beer garden will be a great addition to the pub and the city itself.” JD Wetherspoon opened its first hotel in 1998 in Shrewsbury and now has 54 around the UK.
Dundee-based restaurateur lodges plans for second site: Dundee-based restaurateur Michael Chan has lodged plans for his second site in the city. Chan, who owns Rama Thai in Dock Street, has applied to the city council to convert a derelict tyre-fitting garage in Broughty Ferry Road into a Malaysian restaurant. The design for the building shows a sloping roof inspired by traditional Malay houses with the venue expected to be called Penang Dragon, reports the Evening Telegraph. A planning statement accompanying the application reads: “It was considered the design could represent contemporary Scottish architecture while reflecting elements of traditional Malay buildings. It would be Dundee’s first Malaysian restaurant.”
Norwich-based micro-brewer pulls £250,000 crowdfunding campaign: Norwich-based micro-brewer Redwell Brewing has pulled its £250,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube – but hopes to return later in the year. The company, led by Ben Hopkins, who was responsible for the growth of Naked Wines in its first four years, launched the campaign last month to expand its facilities, range and reach. It was offering 7.50% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £3,085,000. The company stated: “There are several reasons for taking this decision. Firstly the current climate has led a number of our previously committed investors to invest less than they intimated, which has put pressure on the success of our campaign from the outset. Secondly, our business under its new ownership and management is still young and needs to progress a number of key developmental projects, which deserve more focus and priority than we have been able to afford them during the crowdfunding campaign. We will be back with a new crowdfunding campaign, we hope later this year, once we have further honed our business plans, revisited commercials and polished our offering and confirmed some of the new partnerships expected soon while allowing the team to bed in and stabilise the business’ profitability for the long-term.”
EasyHotel starts search for partners to support expansion: EasyHotel, the owner, developer and operator of “super budget” branded hotels, is on the hunt for partners to support its expansion across the UK and further afield. St John Harvey, franchise development director at EasyHotel, said the brand was targeting UK-wide growth with major cities and towns of particular interest alongside key tourist destinations. In the past 12 months, EasyHotel has opened franchises in Belfast, Edinburgh and Reading, expanded in Europe and completed deals to open in Brighton and Blackpool in 2020. Harvey told Insider Media: “We have everything you need and you don’t pay for anything you don’t need. That allows you to personalise your visit according to your budget. It is important to us our hotels are in the centre of a city or town, no more than a five-minute walk from food and beverage, because typically our hotels don’t have restaurants, bars and cafes, and no more than ten to 15 minutes’ walk from the nearest bus station or main train station.”
Taiyaki concept Yaki Yaki launches in Covent Garden: Yaki Yaki, a concept inspired by Japanese taiyaki waffles, has launched in Covent Garden. The concept is the brainchild of Lucy Abdullah and Jaff Lakhani and has opened at 4 New Row. Yaki Yaki offers four types of the traditional fish-shaped waffles – mini taiyaki (bite-sized waffles filled with vanilla custard, Nutella or cheese and jalapeno); taiyaki (larger waffles filled with pulled beef or mushroom and spinach plus shredded cabbage, emmental, omelette and sriracha); ice cream taiyaki (with soft-serve ice cream, fillings and toppings); and croiyaki (a cross between a taiyaki and croissant). Abdullah is a trained chef having qualified in 2015 from Leiths School of Food & Wine. She also runs chef and consultancy business Magnum & Larder. Davis Coffer Lyons is thought to have acted on the deal.
East Kent-based pub operators take on second site: East Kent-based pub operators Barrie and Paul Thompson have taken on their second site. The brothers, who own The Red Lion in Hythe, have acquired the Dukes Head in the nearby village of Sellindge. The Dukes Head had been empty since closing in September, leaving the village without a pub, but the Thompsons have refurbished the property, installing new kitchen equipment. The Dukes Head offers traditional pub food as well as stone-baked pizza, reports Kent Online.
New wine bar Chez Maiss to open in Hammersmith this month: New wine bar Chez Maiss is to open in Hammersmith, west London, at the end of April. Chez Maiss will open in a 1,200 square foot unit in Broadway Shopping Centre West offering a wide selection of wine and hosting tasting events and experiences. Customers will be able to use a top-up card to try smaller quantities of wine before purchasing. There will also be a rotating all-day menu with tasting platters, cheeseboards and dishes inspired by global cuisine alongside signature cocktails. Chez Maiss founder Maiss Zghaybe said: “We are in the heart of Hammersmith, which sees footfall of millions per week, plus those who live and work in the area will be able to enjoy our exclusive wine and food.” Sammy Weinbaum, of CDG Leisure, who brokered the deal on behalf of the buyer, added: “This is the perfect location for Chez Maiss, with its close proximity to several notable offices and a thriving residential community. The bar will make a great addition to Hammersmith’s burgeoning leisure scene.”
Hall & Woodhouse defends decision to sell Poole pub to developer: Dorset brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse has defended its decision to sell a pub in Poole to a developer. Plans have been put forward by AJ Developments to Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council to demolish The Sloop in Commercial Road and replace it with a block of 77 flats. The plans have attracted criticism from nearby residents. However, Hall & Woodhouse property director Mark James said despite “significant investment” the pub has been unprofitable for “many years”. James told the Daily Echo: “A number of measures have been put in place over the past six years to help support The Sloop, including a significant investment of £172,000 to update the pub and create a new garden, and ongoing rental subsidy. Despite these and other steps, the pub has proven unviable for many years due to a variety of factors. The sale of the site to AJ Developments will enable Hall & Woodhouse to reinvest in existing and new public houses in Poole and the surrounding area.”
Old Amersham Hotels sells only pub: Old Amersham Hotels, which operates four hotels in the Cotswold and Chiltern regions, has sold the only pub in its portfolio. The company has sold the Horse & Groom in the Gloucestershire village of Upper Oddington to Drunken Sailor Holidays in a deal brokered by Colliers International. The Horse & Groom, which dates to 1580 and has seven bedrooms, was purchased off an asking price of £850,000. The property is grade II-listed and can seat up to 86 people. Drunken Sailor Holidays director Norman Liu told Insider Media: “We loved the idea of running an English country pub. Having entered the hospitality business we will bring our enthusiasm and excitement to create a unique visit. We want to create a memorable dining experience mixing fusion cuisine with fantastic local produce such as Gloucester Old Spot pork.” Old Amersham Hotels acquired the Horse & Groom in 2016.
Brighton beachfront leisure space lease brought to market: The lease of Brighton beachfront leisure space Shelter Hall has been brought to market by agent Savills on behalf of Brighton & Hove City Council. Regeneration of the iconic space began in late 2015 and is set for completion in November. The beachfront and mezzanine level offers 14,629 square feet of restaurant space with seating in front of the property facing the sea. Shelter Hall sits between Brighton Palace Pier and the British Airways i360. Carlene Hughes, leisure director at Savills, said: “Shelter Hall represents an opportunity to acquire premium leisure space in an unrivalled location.” Cllr Nick Hibberd added: “The rebuilding of Shelter Hall will double the commercial space of the original and, as part of our Seafront Investment Programme, provide an opportunity to become a centrepiece of our vibrant tourist offer that attracts 11 million visitors a year.” In addition, a 1,239 square foot new building is available to lease on the street level directly above Shelter Hall.
Craft beer events company We Are Beer launches £300,000 crowdfunding campaign for expansion: Craft beer events company We Are Beer has launched a £300,000 campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube for expansion. The company is offering 11.32% equity in return for investment, which gives the company a pre-money valuation of £2.35m. We Are Beer operates craft beer festivals in London, Bristol and Edinburgh, with a fourth launching in Birmingham in July. The company aims to use funds to launch Bigfoot – a national festival where “music meets craft beer and world-class food”. Last year, We Are Beer’s events attracted more than 16,000 visitors, a 50% year-on-year growth since 2016, while the company saw turnover of £781,000 and Ebitda of £102,000 in 2018. The company said it had also seen 4.9 times growth in brand partnership revenue between 2016 and 2018. The pitch states: “We are looking to accelerate the growth of our audience and brand by launching Bigfoot – the first national camping festival to show equal love for live music, artisan beer and world-class food. We are raising £300,000 to get this festival off the ground, book the headline music acts and secure our location for 2020. Once in overfunding we’ll be able to expand our growth plans for our current events as well as the new Beer Central festival in Birmingham, which will tap into the burgeoning Midlands beer scene.”
Suffolk-based operator opens fish restaurant in Ipswich for second site: Suffolk-based operator Hasan Orman has opened a fish restaurant in Ipswich for his second site. Orman, who runs Huffers in Sudbury, has launched the Ocean Fish Basket in Upper Brook Street. He has transformed the former Browne’s men’s outfitters shop, which closed in August 2015, for his new venture. The 86-cover restaurant’s menu includes platters, fish kebabs and shellfish. Orman told the Ipswich Star: “It is a big venture for us and for the town. I think we are the only sit-down fish restaurant in the town centre.”
High Street Hospitality lodges plans to bring Hotel 52 brand to Sunderland: High Street Hospitality, a subsidiary of Newcastle-based The High Street Group, is looking to bring its Hotel 52 brand to Sunderland. The company has lodged plans with the city council for a 58-bedroom hotel to serve the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP). The site sits in Washington Road, which splits the Nissan Motor Factory to the south and the IAMP to the north, next to The Three Horseshoes pub and within The Hub – an area at the centre of the scheme earmarked for commercial, leisure and retail use. The proposal comprises 58 double and twin rooms across three floors, reports Insider Media. A planning statement with the application reads: “The new hotel will present a fitting gateway to the new technology park, which will ensure sustainable growth of the area as a centre of excellence for the design and manufacture, of motor vehicles in the north east of England.” High Street Hospitality operates Hotel 52 sites in Whitley Bay and Stanley.