Comptoir Group announces board changes: Comptoir Group, the operator of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean restaurants, has announced changes to its board. The company stated: “The company announces the appointment to the board of Mark Carrick as chief financial officer with immediate effect. Mark joined the group in April as chief financial officer and was formerly director of operational finance with Ten Entertainment Group. Mark started his career in hospitality at JD Wetherspoon in 1999, where he qualified as an accountant and has since held several senior roles within a diverse range of multi-site leisure businesses over the past 19 years providing finance, commercial and operational expertise. In addition, Jonathan Kaye has notified the board of his resignation as a non-executive director to focus on his other business interests, with his resignation to take immediate effect. The company has commenced the search for a suitably qualified independent non-executive director and will make a further announcement in due course.” Non-executive chairman Richard Kleiner said: “On behalf of the board I would like to thank Jonathan for his valuable support and contributions to the company over the past couple of years and we wish him well for the future.”
Liberation Group reports managed like-for-likes up 8%: Liberation Group, the West Country and Channel Island pub company, has reported like-for-like sales at its 44 managed pubs are up 8% during the past ten weeks. The company said its 21 managed pubs in the West Country, located from Dorset to Gloucestershire, have seen a 12.9% uplift in like-for-like sales as they benefited from the warm weather and England’s run to the semi-finals of the Fifa World Cup. Sales in its managed pubs in Jersey and Guernsey saw like-for-like rises of 7.7% and 5.3% respectively. The company stated: “We anticipate we will have seen incremental profit per pub throughout our entire 117-strong estate, including our 73-strong pub tenanted estate, as they will have embraced the exceptional weather and the football.” Chief executive Mark Crowther added: “We have focused heavily on ensuring our sites offer the best and most welcoming atmosphere, be it for the good weather or the football. We worked hard to make our pubs the place to be with outdoor television screens, additional well-stocked bars and barbecues to support the growing numbers and entertain those watching the beautiful game during the tournament. Our pub teams have been exceptional, going the extra mile each day, and we are extremely proud of the hard work and dedication shown.”
Austin Whelan to open fourth pub for Whelans brand, in Croydon, sixth site with Star Pubs & Bars: Multi-site operator Austin Whelan is to open a fourth pub for his Whelans brand, in Croydon, at the end of August. Having just opened a Whelans site in Kingston, the new venue will be his sixth with Star Pubs & Bars. Whelan and Star Pubs & Bars will jointly invest £400,000 to transform Baskervilles in Selsdon Road, which has been closed since October. As at other Whelans sites, the Croydon pub will feature cabinetry designed to look like an Irish street and a palette of emerald green, black and gold. Alongside wine, craft beer, Irish malt whiskey and gin, there will be light bites for lunch, Irish-influenced dishes and a Sunday roast. The pub will show live sport on 16 screens, plus live music three nights a week. Austin Whelan said: “Having two successful pubs in Croydon already, I know the area well. South Croydon needs a good-quality, affordable pub and its own entertainment spot. Whelans will provide that.” Star Pubs & Bars regional operations director Dugald Macer added: “Austin is very professional and has high standards for himself and his staff. This is his sixth pub with Star Pubs & Bars, two of which are Whelans. His Irish bars are great for bringing communities together to share conversation and enjoy food, drinks and entertainment. Local talent is also given a boost on the back of the live music the pubs host. It’s a win-win all round.”
 
BrewDog opens fifth Swedish bar, in Norrköping: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has expanded its presence in Sweden by opening its fifth bar in the country, in the eastern city of Norrköping. Sweden is the company’s longest-standing and largest export market in Europe and has more bars than any country outside the UK. The first opened in Kungsholmen, Stockholm, in 2013 and BrewDog has added bars in Göteborg, Malmo and a second site in Stockholm. BrewDog Norrköping is the company’s ninth bar to open in 2018. The venue has room for 100 people indoors and 80 on a terrace. The bar has 20 beers on tap alongside burgers and wings. Co-founder James Watt said: “Norrköping has been on our radar for a while now – we’ve been excited by the city’s vibrancy and pace of growth. We’re proud to add to an already buzzing beer scene.” BrewDog has so far raised almost raised £19.5m in its Equity for Punks V fund-raise, which the company launched in October to support growth in the UK and overseas.
Jewish soul food trader Monty’s Deli to embark on £150,000 crowdfunding campaign for roll-out: Jewish soul food trader Monty’s Deli is to embark on a £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube at the end of the month to roll out Monty’s sites in a number of new indoor food markets across London and the UK. Mark Ogus and Owen Barratt, who launched the concept as a market stall in 2012, raised £50,000 in late 2016 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to open the first bricks and mortar site, at a former bakery in Hoxton Street, Hackney. They have since opened a second site – in the new “Kitchens” development at Old Spitalfields Market. Now Monty’s, which is named after Ogus’ grandfather, is planning further expansion and will launch the fund-raise on Friday, 27 July to support its plans. The company stated: “The idea was to give London something it had been lacking for a very long time – a real ‘kosher-style’ Jewish deli, where the meat and mustard, bread and pastries are all made on-site. This place would hold all the secret recipes that make a great deli. We call this ‘Jewish soul food’ because, in essence, soul food is all about roots.” Ogus said: “Our experience in markets is proven and our love for the food we make is unrivalled. We have spent years perfecting recipes and we now have a year under our belts as restaurateurs. The stage is set for us to roll out Monty’s Deli across London.”
 
Subway reveals plans to extend partnership with Spar operator: Subway has revealed plans to extend its partnership with Gillett’s Callington, which operates 69 stores in the West Country under the Spar banner. There are nine Subway outlets within Gillett’s Callington Spar stores, with further sites planned. Venues are in development at stores in Pinhoe, Exeter and Bugle, near St Austell, with others planned for Wool and Wareham in Dorset later this year. Gillett’s Callington has been a Subway partner since 2012. Kevin Graham, regional development agent for Subway in the south west, said: “Gillett’s Callington is a valued partner for Subway in the south west and we are delighted with its ongoing commitment.” Gillett’s Callington operations director Phil Darch added: “We were attracted to Subway as we felt it would be a good, complementary fit for our stores and appeal to a younger demographic.” Subway recently unveiled its Fresh Forward format, which includes digital menu boards, free charging ports, and a revamped fresh vegetable display. The new look can be seen at Gillett’s Callington stores in Launceston and Hayle and will be extended to further sites. Through its partnerships, Subway has more than 800 stores in non-traditional locations in the UK and Ireland, including hospitals, transport hubs, universities and colleges, petrol forecourts and convenience stores.
Two Heads Beer Co eyes Gipsy Hill site as it reports ‘very strong’ trading period: Independent craft beer retailer Two Heads Beer Co, which is currently fund-raising on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube, is eyeing a site in Gipsy Hill, south London, as it reports a “very strong” period of trading. The company, which is led by former BrewDog head of retail acquisitions James Hickson, is also set to introduce pizza by the slice to its sites and plans to expand its coffee pop-up, launched in Putney, to other stores. It stated: “June was a bumper month of sales and July is shaping up to be even bigger as we continue to grow the momentum we’ve built going into the summer. Our coffee pop-up in Putney is proving very popular. Its initial performance has vindicated our belief our customers and locals were crying out for good coffee and we will be putting it into a couple of other stores. Meanwhile, we are working on our plan to introduce pizza by the slice into our stores, something we think would enhance the customer experience and grow incremental revenue. This is something we are really excited to introduce, initially in our Clapham Junction store, followed by Tunbridge Wells. Beer and pizza is a match made in heaven. We are also actively looking for new sites and have entered very early negotiations on a new site in Gipsy Hill.” Two Heads Beer Co has so far raised £372,800 from 311 investors in its crowdfunding campaign as it looks to open four stores. The company, which operates six sites, was initially looking to raise £350,000 and was offering 14.9% equity in return for the investment. The company remains in negotiations over potential sites in Herne Hill and Surbiton. Hickson founded We Brought Beer in 2014. It merged with fellow bottle shop business The Beer Boutique in January, with founder Jon Kaye becoming executive chairman of Two Heads Beer Co.
Hakkasan finds new home for Dubai venue: UK-based restaurant and nightclub company Hakkasan Group has found a new home for its Dubai venue. The company will open the restaurant at Atlantis, The Palm in September before moving to Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences after its completion at the end of 2019. The restaurant was previously located at Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel before the location closed on 1 July. The venue will offer Hakkasan signature dishes such as Peking duck and charcoal-grilled silver cod, as well as a number of menu items unique to Atlantis. Hakkasan Group chief executive Nick McCabe told Arabian Business: “We are excited to start this journey with Atlantis.” Timothy Kelly, general manager and senior vice-president, operations, for Atlantis, The Palm, added: “Hakkasan has redefined the approach to modern Chinese fine dining and, in turn, Atlantis has redefined what guests can expect from a world-class destination resort. It’s an exciting addition to the resort’s already diverse collection of restaurants and we see great synergy between the brands.”
Fledgling casual dining concept opens debut site, plans UK expansion:Fledgling casual dining concept Yoh Burger has opened its debut site with plans to expand across the UK. The company has launched at Fitzwilliam Services in Rotherham creating 20 jobs. The 25-seat retro restaurant features a dedicated dessert counter with fresh cakes, ice cream, milkshakes, waffles and cookie dough. A company spokeswoman said the Rotherham site was just the start of a planned UK-wide push for the concept. She told The Business Desk: “We genuinely believe our build-your-own burger concept and emphasis on fresh, quality, locally sourced products is something the region has never experienced. As a company we have ambitious plans to take this concept across the UK, not only to forecourts but also the high street as a standalone concept. Our aim is to drive our expansion in Yorkshire and we want this Fitzwilliam site to be the first of a long chain in the region.”
Hastings Hotels reports pre-tax profit boost as turnover nears £40m:Hastings Hotels, which owns and operates seven venues across Northern Ireland, has reported turnover increased 7.8% to £39,632,526 for the year ending 31 October 2017, compared with £36,763,548 the year before. Pre-tax profit was up to £5,235,783, compared with £4,918,796 the previous year. Gross margin rose to 85.98% compared with 85.79% the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors described the financial results as “satisfactory” and pledged to continue to “seek every opportunity to increase profitable turnover”. They also paid tribute to group founder Sir William Hastings, who died in December at the age of 89. The group opened the £53m, 300-bedroom Grand Central Hotel in Belfast last month and the venue includes a Sir William Suite. Its other hotels include Belfast’s Europa, Stormont and Culloden hotels, while it also owns a 50% stake in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel.
St Andrews Brewing Company launches £400,000 crowdfunding campaign to expand pub estate and brewery: Craft brewer St Andrews Brewing Company has launched a £400,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to expand its pub estate and brewery. The company, owned by Philip Mackey and Tim Butler, is offering 5.06% equity in return for the investment. It plans to use the funds towards the cost of its new venue in Dundee – Caird Hall – as it adds to its pubs in St Andrews and Edinburgh. It will also use the investment to expand production at its brewery. The pitch states: “Our vision is to establish our brand worldwide as a creator of brilliant beers and the perfect places to enjoy them. Running great venues in tandem with our brewery provides a showcase for 25% of our beer. Our St Andrews and Edinburgh pubs will soon be joined by our Caird Hall venue near Dundee’s new V&A museum and £1bn waterfront redevelopment. With this raise we aim to make this a flagship destination for the best of Scottish beer, food and hospitality. Since returning brewing to St Andrews after a 100-year absence, we’ve scooped a World Beer award, plus Society of Independent Brewers and Great Taste awards. To meet growing demand, we need to expand our brewery. Investment will fund kit capable of quintupling our production to one million pints in 2019.”
Former Tamarind executive chef to launch first solo venture, in Chelsea: Peter Joseph, former executive chef at the world’s first Michelin-starred Indian restaurant, is to launch his first solo venture. Joseph, who was in charge of the kitchen at Mayfair’s Tamarind for ten years, will launch Kahani in Chelsea in September. Inspiration for the 90-cover restaurant comes from the chef’s upbringing in Tamil Nadu in southern India, with diners encouraged to forgo the formalities of fine dining for the first course by using their fingers. Seasonal British ingredients will be cooked on a central Robata grill and in an Indian tandoor oven. The menu will focus on grilled meat, fish and vegetables, with only three or four ingredients used per dish and only two curries. The restaurant, which will also include a private dining room with ten covers above the main dining area, will make use of brightly coloured Indian-style fabrics for decoration. The drinks menu will feature a selection of carefully sourced wines from around the world as well as spice-infused cocktails. Joseph said: “Kahani means ‘story’ and I am thrilled to be embarking on this new chapter in my life. Love for food and a pursuit of excellence has taken me on a fascinating journey and I want to keep innovating and pushing boundaries with my food to ensure people keep following my story and coming back for more.”
Creams Cafe franchisee opens debut site, plans further venues: Franchisee Khawaja Hassan has opened his debut Creams Cafe – in Epsom in Surrey – and is planning further venues. Hassan funded the opening of the dessert parlour in High Street with a £284,000 finance package from HSBC. Creams serves waffles, milkshakes, freakshakes and 36 varieties of Italian gelato-style ice cream. It also offers a wide range of sundaes, including the hot chocolate fudge volcano, and crepes such as the Belgian banana burrito. Hassan said: “I am excited to be opening Epsom’s first Creams franchise with HSBC’s support. I can’t wait to hear what our customers think of the cafe and our Italian and American-inspired desserts.” David Hamblin, HSBC’s area director for south London business banking, added: “My team has worked closely with Khawaja to secure the most suitable funding package for this new outlet. He has big plans to open more sites in the future and we hope to continue our support.” Creams Cafe was founded in 2008 and operates more than 70 sites in the UK.
Team behind Brixton restaurant Salon to launch sister site in Peckham: The team behind Brixton restaurant Salon is to launch a sister site in Peckham. Levan will launch in October focusing on contemporary European dishes and taking inspiration from “new-wave bistronomy”. The restaurant will offer breakfast favourites such as pastries and croque monsieur in the morning, while the lunch menu will reflect European bistro classics such as potato, chanterelle and vacherin pie. The evening menu will consist of smaller sharing plates and heartier dishes such as smoked pollack with spinach and 50-day aged rump with wild garlic aioli. The drinks list will include French wine and bespoke cocktails, the Evening Standard reports. Levan will be housed in a converted warehouse and consist of two main spaces – a large dining area and a bar with high tables for walk-ins. As at its sister restaurant, Levan will be committed to sustainability with more than 90% of waste reused or repurposed. Unused food such as herb stalks will be incorporated into infusions, while spoilt milk will be used to make cheese curd.
Brewhouse & Kitchen to open Hoxton site this week: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the brewpub business led by Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn, will open its latest site – in east London’s Hoxton – this week. The site, which is the company’s 21st, housed former restaurant, cafe and bar The Beagle and is next to the newly developed Hoxton train station. The venue has been refurbished ahead of its opening on Thursday (19 July) and will feature a 50-capacity restaurant and outdoor seating. It will also feature two seated bars – one outside. The venue will offer the company’s new summer menu, complete with seasonal beer pairing suggestions and 23 vegan and vegetarian options. Bunn said: “We are excited to open a brewpub in Hoxton and look forward to making lots of local friends, providing a service to the growing community.” In May, Brewhouse & Kitchen exchanged contracts to buy the freehold of Wabi restaurant in Horsham, which will be its first site in West Sussex. The company told Propel it was also “in legals on two further venues”.
Purity Soft Drinks chief steps down: David Bell, chief executive of Black Country-headquartered Purity Soft Drinks, has stepped down from his role. Bell had held the position since 2014, when he succeeded Garry Nield having previously held roles at Mars and Young’s Seafood. Purity was founded in 1892 and has been backed by private equity firm Langholm Capital since 2012. Langholm Capital declined to comment on the news but a spokesman told Insider Media the split was “amicable”, describing the move as a “parting of the ways”. Purity did not respond to requests for a comment. Purity Soft Drinks owns tonics brands Juice Burst and Firefly. In April, the company reported an increase in turnover from £18.5m to £19.8m for the year to 31 March 2017. However, pre-tax profits fell from £1.3m to £928,961 during the same period. At the time, Purity blamed the decline in profit on the impact of the Brexit vote on currency and further investment in its brands.
Kensington-based Indian restaurant Chakra starts expansion with Kingston riverside site: Kensington-based Indian restaurant Chakra has started expansion by opening a second site in London, in Kingston-upon-Thames. The restaurant is perched on the banks of the river and offers a contemporary fine-dining take on Indian cuisine. Arjun Varma launched Chakra’s Kensington restaurant seven years ago. The site underwent a refurbishment and reopened last month sporting a new look and menu. The brand’s menu features dishes such as Chakra Channa (Assam tea-infused chickpea with channa masala and tomatoes), and fish moile (Kerala-style sea bream in coconut milk gravy). In May, Propel reported Chakra was looking to expand across London by launching a number of key delivery kitchens under the brand Chakra To Go and rolling out restaurants. The first delivery kitchen opened in Wimbledon in June.
Fish and seafood restaurant inspired by Wright Brothers opens in Hull: A new fish and seafood restaurant has opened in Hull inspired by the city’s maritime heritage and London’s Wright Brothers concept. James and Paula Stockdale have launched Humber Fish Co in the regenerated Fruit Market waterside district. Humber Fish Co features chilled seafood and fish displays, with customers dining at marble-topped tables or around a counter surrounding the open kitchen. The 1,350 square foot restaurant has 50 covers inside and 36 outside. The restaurant’s decor features an upturned “clinker” fishing boat. The venue also takes inspiration from Wright Brothers’ restaurant in London’s Borough Market. Stockdale said: “We want to bring the quality of food and surroundings you get at Wright Brothers and other leading seafood restaurants around the country to Hull.” The £80m Fruit Market regeneration is driven by Wykeland Beal, a joint venture formed by commercial developer Wykeland Group and housebuilder Beal Homes in partnership with Hull City Council.
Novus triumphs at UK Digital Experience Awards: Novus, the London bar and restaurant operator, has won the customer review and feedback category at the UK Digital Experience Awards. The company also took third place in the digital change and transformation – software category at the awards final in London. The customer review and feedback award identifies companies that have used customer reviews to generate sales. Novus developed a customer experience dashboard to review, respond to and analyse customer feedback from one central place, allowing it to track online review sites, customer surveys and social media. The digital change and transformation – software category recognises companies that are making huge changes across their customer and internal channels while retraining or transforming their capability and skills. Novus customer experience director Simon Gaske said: “As a business we are committed to revolution, with our customers at the heart of every decision we make. It is so important to us we take on board every piece of feedback and make the late-night experience as fantastic as possible.”