Shepherd Neame announces further rental concessions for tenants: Kent brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has announced further rental concessions for its tenants over the next few months to allow a phased recovery for licensees from the current crisis. This follows its cancellation of all pub rent for licensees throughout the period of closure, totalling more than £2.5m to date. The new temporary policy will provide licensees with a 70% discount on their prevailing contractual rent, effective for four weeks from the date pubs are allowed to reopen. This will then be followed by a 50% discount in month two, a 40% discount in month three and a 30% discount in month four. This is on the assumption pubs open with two-metre social distancing, reduced to one metre by the end of July. If the social distancing guidelines result in licensees being unable to open their pub due to the small nature of their premises, further individual support will be considered. Shepherd Neame will issue a further communication during October on the proposed rent concessions from 2 November until April 2021 when it is anticipated full rent will recommence. In addition, Shepherd Neame is also providing covid-19 risk assessment templates, signage and thermometers to help licensees reopen safely, and assistance in processing beer ullage. Chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “We want to ensure we continue to support our licensees financially in the reopening process, to protect their businesses for the future.” Shepherd Neame has also resumed brewing cask ale having focused its efforts on producing bottled beer for supermarkets and its online shop during lock-down.
D&D London begins reopening estate as Bluebird Chelsea and German Gymnasium offer takeaway and delivery: Restaurant operator D&D London has begun reopening, with its Bluebird site in Chelsea and German Gymnasium restaurant in King’s Cross offering takeaway and delivery. Bluebird is offering a selection of dishes from Wednesday to Sunday between noon and 9pm including half or whole rotisserie Lancashire chicken, served with potato salad, spring coleslaw and gravy; and its Bluebird burger, cheese, gem lettuce, house sauce, pickles and fries. There is also a range of drinks to purchase, including beer, wine and champagne. Meanwhile, German Gymnasium is offering its Mittal-European-inspired menu from Wednesday to Sundaybetween noon and 8.30pm. Dishes on the menu include Käsekrainer – smoked and grilled cheese pork sausage, sauerkraut, truffled potato puree and crispy onions; and Chicken Jäger Schnitzel – breaded chicken breast, mushroom sauce and chips. There is also a selection of German beer as well as soft drinks and wine. Delivery is being offered via Deliveroo.
Creams click-and-collect sales up almost 11% week on week: Dessert parlour operator Creams has said in the week to 12 June its click-and-collect sales through Just Eat increased almost 11% on the prior week. It said this increase built on “steady week-on-week growth” in click-and-collect orders through May and into June. Since the beginning of April, Creams said it had achieved a 67% increase in year-on-year delivery sales, supported by increased geo-targeted digital marketing. Since early May, an increasing trend for click-and-collect fulfilment has emerged, which the company said it believed could be an important indicator that consumers are ready to return to restaurants once lock-down ends. Chief executive Adam Mani said: “While we have achieved exceptionally strong year-on-year growth in delivery sales since April, we are particularly encouraged by the noticeable and consistent growth trend in click-and-collect orders in recent weeks. The near-11% week-on-week growth last week was achieved despite wetter and colder weather up and down the country. This gives us real confidence there has been a shift in consumers’ mindsets, which can only be positive for restaurants when we are able to reopen.”
Comptoir Libanais starts reopening for delivery and takeaway: Comptoir Group, the owner and operator of Lebanese and eastern Mediterranean restaurants, has begun the reopening of its Comptoir Libanais estate for delivery and takeaway. Propel understands the company has reopened its site in London’s Gloucester Road for delivery and takeaway through Deliveroo and UberEats. It is thought other sites will come online over the next few weeks.
Hawthorn Leisure promotes three senior leaders to executive committee:Hawthorn Leisure, the community pub company of NewRiver, has promoted three senior leaders to its executive committee. Ed Little, Andy Parker and Mark Brooke will all take up new positions, joining chief executive Mark Davies, chief financial officer Matt Ward and chief operating officer Edith Monfries. Parker is promoted to director of leased and tenanted operations. Having previously held the role of operations director, north, he will now oversee Hawthorn Leisure’s entire leased and tenanted portfolio of almost 600 pubs across the UK. Brooke, who joined Hawthorn Leisure earlier this year, becomes director of managed operations. Previously working at Ei Group, where he had been divisional director, running the Beacon division, Brooke’s promotion will see him continue to take responsibility for Hawthorn’s growing operator managed division, which now constitutes more than 100 pubs across the UK. Property director Little was a founding member of the Hawthorn Leisure team, and is promoted to the executive committee having returned to the business in 2019 after a year at MOD Pizza as head of acquisitions. Davies said: “We pride ourselves on developing great people right throughout our business, and it’s a sign of real strength and depth we’ve been able to promote three people from within to join our executive committee. I’m looking forward to the fresh perspectives and insight they will bring to the executive committee as we and our tenants and partners navigate a period that will present challenges and opportunities in the future.” In addition, Davies has recently joined the board of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), as well as taking up the role of chairman of the BBPA finance committee.
Wrapchic reopens first batch of sites for delivery and takeout: Fusion fast-food business Wrapchic has begun a phased reopening of its 18-strong estate, with four of its sites launching delivery and takeaway from Monday (15 June). Propel understands the company, which was acquired out of administration last year, has initially reopened its sites in Watford, Birmingham’s Bullring, Milton Keynes and Wembley. The company collapsed into administration last year after shareholders refused to lend further funds as it continued making losses as a result of being responsible for franchisees’ liabilities. The business, which at one point operated 27 sites across the UK, was purchased by Zampor, with the company’s intellectual property being assigned to Fairway Commerce. Both companies are registered at the same address as Wrapchic. The director of the companies is Atul Patel, who is also a director of Wrapchic.
200 Degrees shelves expansion plans: Nottingham-based coffee roaster and retailer 200 Degrees has said it has shelved its plans for further expansion following the coronavirus pandemic. The company, which has 11 outlets across the UK, has reopened a number of its outlets for takeaway, but said any new sites have been mothballed. Speaking at a webinar organised by PR firm Cartwright Communications, 200 Degrees co-owner Rob Darby said: “We reopened with a range of measures to keep our customers and staff safe and we have found leaner ways of working but the foundations of our business are built on personal service and our relationships with our customers, which we will never want to let go of. While we’ve seen massive growth in the last number of years, a few sites we were in agreement on with landlords have all now been mothballed. We are not looking to expand now, just to get through this, come out the other side, and reach a point where we are trading profitably again. Once we’ve found the platform of stability, then hopefully we’ll continue our expansion in the future.”
Uber abandons delivery kitchens plan: Uber has abandoned a plan to run its own food delivery kitchens. Since November 2018, Uber had run an “Eats Delivery Hub” in Paris, renting kitchen space to restaurateurs to make delivery food for its Eats business. But as part of a drive to cut costs and focus on profitability, it quietly closed the operation. Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, head of Uber Eats, told the FT: “At this point, we don’t have a desire ourselves to own real estate. We’ve had a few pilots, but no intention at this stage to start our own proprietary network of dark kitchens, or warehouses or however you call them.” Uber said it would focus on persuading existing restaurants to create new menus and brands to be cooked at the same location.
JD Wetherspoon to consider name change for Wrexham pub due to slave trade links: JD Wetherspoon has said it will consider a change of name for a Wrexham pub due to links to the slave trade. It follows the launch of a petition asking for The Elihu Yale in Regent Street to be retitled in light of the Black Lives Matters movement, which saw hundreds turn out to a peaceful protest against racism in the Welsh town. As an official for the East India Company in Madras, Yale presided over a key part of the Indian Ocean slave trade, and is better known as the benefactor of Yale University in the United States. A Wetherspoon spokesman told Wrexham.com: “We were not aware of any connections with the slave trade. We called it The Elihu Yale because he was involved in the foundation of what is now Yale University in the US, as we understand it. We will look into these allegations, which are very concerning. Wetherspoon is certainly willing to consider a change of name.”
The Columbo Group confirms first regional opening for The Blues Kitchen, in Manchester: The Columbo Group, led by Steve Ball and Riz Shaik, has confirmed the first regional opening for its The Blues Kitchen concept, in Manchester. As revealed by Propel earlier this month, The Columbo Group has secured the former Walkabout site in Quay Street, in the Deansgate area of the city. Launching in early 2021, the venue will have capacity for 600 people. Ball said: “When we decided to spread our wings it had to be Manchester – it’s such a cool city. It’s the only other city we’d consider doing anything in.” The Columbo Group, which was founded in 2006, currently operates three sites under the bar, restaurant and live music concept – in Camden, Brixton and Shoreditch. The company’s other London-based venues include the Jazz Café, XOYO, Phonox, The Old Queens Head and The Camden Assembly.
Starbucks reverses stance over ban on Black Lives Matter gear: Starbucks has reversed its stance banning baristas from wearing Black Lives Matter gear. In a letter to employees, the company said it was designing T-shirts for baristas to wear to “demonstrate our support and show we stand together in unity”. Until then, Starbucks employees will be permitted to wear Black Lives Matter pins and shirts, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. Starbucks has outwardly promoted the Black Lives Matter movement, and donated $1m to organisations that promote racial equality. But in the original internal memo, Starbucks expressed concern wearing gear in support of Black Lives Matter was against the company dress code policy, which specifically bans pins or buttons that “advocate a political, religious, or personal issue”. A Starbucks spokesman told BuzzFeed on Friday (12 June) the company was “dedicated to helping end systemic racism”, but the dress code would be remaining in place because it wanted to “create a safe and welcoming” work environment for employees and customers. In the revised letter to employees, Starbucks said: “Together, we’re saying: Black Lives Matter and it’s going to take all of us, working together, to affect change. That means using our voice to vote in our elections, volunteering in our black communities, joining local peaceful protests, ensuring our diverse slates of job candidates translate into diverse hires, mentoring and sponsoring partners of colour so they can reach their maximum potential and taking steps to build greater understanding with empathy. Most importantly, it means ensuring we create a safe third place where you are seen, heard and valued.”
Peel Hunt – we’re more confident Cineworld can trade profitably post-lock-down, expects Cineplex acquisition to still proceed: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Ivor Jones has said he is more confident Cineworld can trade profitably post-lock-down and expects its acquisition of Canadian operator Cineplex to still proceed “when tempers have cooled” Cineworld has said the $2.1bn deal will not go ahead on the previously agreed terms, claiming Cineplex is in breach of certain covenants, which the Canadian operator denied. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the Cineworld shares with a target price of 180p, Jones said: “We believe this is positive news from a Cineworld point of view. In the best case it does not complete a deal which, with the benefit of covid-19-adjusted hindsight, was agreed at the wrong price. Worst case – Cineworld is compelled to pay very material damages such that it would have been better off completing the acquisition but presumably it has taken advice on this risk. Cineplex’s shares were trading at C$15 and the cash offer was C$34, so termination will, presumably, not come as a surprise to investors. Other positive news from last week for Cineworld was fellow operator AMC’s first quarter 2020 discussion about how it could trade profitably at low levels of occupancy. AMC and Cinemark both commented on the strength of the upcoming slate, noting a mix of sequels and new releases. Marvel will release another film into its popular ‘Cinematic Universe’ with Black Widow, while rival DC has a followup to the well-received Wonder Women (Wonder Women 1984). Pixar’s Soul and the live-action remake of Disney’s Mulan, both scheduled for release this year, will offer entertainment for younger generations. Post the AMC news, we are more confident management will be able to bring the business back to cash flow positive trading post-lock-down. We are increasing our target price to 180p from 140p to reflect this additional confidence. At 180p, the shares would be trading on 8.4 times recovered earnings and would be 37% off their 52-week high reached on 17 June 2019.”
Pan Pacific moves London hotel opening to early 2021: Hotel group Pan Pacific has announced its new London hotel – its first in Europe – will now open in early 2021. The 237-bedroom hotel within the mixed-use development opposite Liverpool Street station had been slated to open in the autumn. It will feature two restaurants and bars as well as a well-being floor with treatment rooms. General manager Anne Golden said: “The covid-19 pandemic has brought the world of travel and hospitality to an abrupt standstill. Every opening is a challenge and as we ride through covid-19, this is certainly a new one we’re facing. Gradually, and in line with directives from local authorities, construction operations are now continuing on site and early 2021 is a realistic time-frame for opening.” Pan Pacific is owned by Singapore’s UOL Group. It manages almost 50 hotels, resorts and serviced suites.