Hugh Osmond – restaurant industry shake-out ‘well overdue with plenty of closures still to come’: Various Eateries chairman Hugh Osmond has said a shake-out in the restaurant industry has been “well overdue” with plenty of closures “still to come”. However, he added tough times would leave the best venues “stronger” while, for the first time for several years, the company, which operates the Strada and Coppa Club brands as well as cafe concept Above and Below, is seeing good properties available at realistic rents as it prepares for further expansion. The restaurant industry is witnessing tough times with companies such as Carluccio’s, Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Jamie’s Italian undergoing company voluntary arrangements. The continued pressure on the sector was highlighted in the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker, with casual dining operators seeing like-for-like sales decline 0.3% in October. Speaking on the back of Various Eateries’ results for the year ending 1 October 2017, which saw pre-tax losses increase to £23.6m following the closure of a number of Strada sites, Osmond said: “A shake-out in the restaurant industry was well overdue and, although we have taken some pain in a few expensive properties we should have sold more quickly, I welcome the creative destruction every downturn brings. I am sure a lot more mediocre offerings will go out of business so there are still plenty of closures to come. However, tough times will leave the best venues stronger and, for the first time for several years, we are seeing good properties available at realistic rents. Bring it on!”
Costa launches contactless coffee cup: Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee has partnered with Barclaycard to launch a reusable coffee cup that features contactless technology. The Clever Cup will be made available in Costa Coffee stores later this month, with its £14.99 retail price including a £1 donation to the Costa Foundation. The cup has a silicon base with a contactless chip that can be detached before the cup is washed. Owners can use the cup not only in Costa stores but with any operator that accepts contactless payments. The cup is powered by Barclaycard’s bPay technology, allowing users to track spending, top up their balance, and block or cancel the contactless payment element online or using a dedicated app. Costa is rolling out a reusable range to encourage customers to ditch single-use takeaway cups. Costa Coffee managing director Jason Cotta told Finextra: “Contactless technology has become increasingly prominent in our daily lives and, through the launch of the Clever Cup, we hope to appeal to those tech-savvy customers to help facilitate and drive environmentally friendly behaviour.” Barclays head of sales and partnerships Rob Morgan added: “Shoppers are looking for seamless and ‘to hand’ ways to pay. Our wearable chip technology allows almost any accessory to be transformed into a smart payment device, unlocking the benefits of speed and ease in everyday purchases.”
Trend for dining out on Christmas Day has risen 240% in five years: The trend for UK diners eating out on Christmas Day shows no sign of slowing, with bookings in 2017 rising 240% compared with five years ago, according to research by restaurant booking platform OpenTable. The company said operators needed to ensure an efficient and enjoyable experience for customers as on any other day of the year. Recommendations include operators securing reservations via credit card to avoid losses resulting from no shows or last-minute cancellations. Regular guests should also be rewarded for their loyalty throughout the year with festive treats on the house, while making bar or counter seats available to book online during the festive period allowed restaurants to capture last-minute reservations and maximise dining numbers. OpenTable also recommends operators obtain contact details of festive diners to invite them back the following Christmas. OpenTable vice-president EMEA Adrian Valeriano said: “Dining out on Christmas Day is becoming increasingly popular and will continue to rise.”
Patisserie Holdings gets more time to agree on loan with main lenders:Patisserie Holdings has secured more time to strike a loan agreement with its principal lenders that will allow it to cover existing debt. The company originally had 45 days starting from 12 October to agree on a loan facility with lenders, but now has until 18 January to do so, it said. Patisserie Holdings has been under pressure since a £40m “black hole” was discovered in its accounts in October, which led to the company suspending its shares on AIM. Earlier this month, shareholders backed a £15.7m rescue plan for the company. Chairman Luke Johnson stepped in after the discovery of the black hole pushed the company to the brink of collapse. The £20m investment from Johnson secured the future of 2,800 staff and 206 sites. The sale of £15m in new shares was used to pay Johnson back £10m of his emergency loan. Finance director Chris Marsh, who was arrested and released on bail, resigned from the company in October, while Paul May stepped down as chief executive last week and was replaced by Stephen Francis, a turnaround specialist. Francis was recently chief executive of Tulip, the UK’s largest integrated farmer and producer of pork, where he led its rapid return from significant losses, rebuilt the management team and completed a major growth acquisition. Before that, he led the turnaround of Danwood Group as group chief executive, restoring its credibility with stakeholders, rebuilding the management and transforming the company’s profitability. He has also held turnaround roles at Vion Food Group and Vita Group.
McDonald’s top UK marketer steps down: McDonald’s UK vice-president of marketing and food development Emily Somers has left the company to set up her own brand consultancy. Somers had been at McDonald’s for more than three years and became the group’s most senior marketer in the UK following the promotion of Alistair Macrow, formerly chief marketing officer, to a global role earlier this year. She has left to set up her own marketing and communications consultancy. Somers helped McDonald’s launch a campaign to mark the 50-year anniversary of the Big Mac and an advertising push that sought to debunk myths surrounding McDonald’s products. Before joining McDonald’s, Somers held a variety of roles in the industry including managing director at Havas London, client services lead at Leo Burnett, and consultant for the BBC. A McDonald’s spokesman told The Drum: “We would like to thank Emily for the energy, passion and creativity she has brought to the role and the outstanding work delivered under her leadership.” Meanwhile, McDonald’s has kicked off its Christmas campaign. The 90-second advert features Father Christmas and his reindeer and continues last year’s #ReindeerReady theme. While visiting each house, Santa enjoys a steady supply of mince pies, while his reindeers go without. He makes a quick stop at a McDonald’s to pick up bags of “reindeer treats” – carrot bags – to refuel his helpers. Reindeer treats will be sold in McDonald’s across the country during the Christmas period alongside the brand’s festive menu.
Innventure returns to expansion trail as it secures Bury St Edmunds site owned by former Greene King finance director: Innventure, the Cambridgeshire-based gastro-pub operator, has returned to the expansion trail after securing a site in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. The company has acquired the lease of The Old Cannon in Cannon Street, which is owned by former Greene King finance director Michael Shallow and his wife Judith. Beer has been brewed in the bar of the pub since The Old Cannon was established in the former St Edmund’s Head pub in 1999. Innventure operates The Cross Keys in Saffron Walden and dArry’s in Cambridge. It also owns the Wellington in Welwyn and The Rusty Gun at St Ippolyts, both in Hertfordshire. The Old Cannon has been brewing a bespoke ale for The Rusty Gun for the past nine years and as a result of the brewery joining the Innventure portfolio, Old Cannon beers will shortly be found across the six-strong collection of pubs and restaurants. Innventure is led by former Mitchells & Butlers executive Chris Gerard, who said it would be business as usual at The Old Cannon with brewer Tris Avis and managers Craig and Julie Nichols continuing to run proceedings. Gerard added: “Our first six-week strategy is to be the same, but better! Change is afoot, however, and the seven bedrooms will be our first priority for a refresh. We will introduce some new wine and freshly made coffee and tea to provide contrast to the brilliant beer.” The acquisition of the lease marks a return to expansion for Innventure, which previously said it was putting its plans on hold as it developed models that were “substantially less people-sensitive”. It said earlier this year when filing its latest accounts at Companies House: “Further investment into new sites remains on ‘idle’ as the leisure property market remains overheated.”
JD Wetherspoon continues hunt for more Republic of Ireland sites as work on new Dublin pub begins: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has said the company will continue to look for further sites in the Republic of Ireland as it starts development work on a new pub in Dublin. The company is investing €4m in the new pub in Lower Abbey Street, which will create 75 jobs. It is the third Wetherspoon pub in development in the Republic of Ireland, with the others in Dublin and Carlow. The Silver Penny – a name inspired by early Irish coins – is due to open in May. The pub will consist of adjacent local landmarks – an Italianate-style former bank that dates to 1839 and a chapel. The scheme will feature two bars, the main one on the ground floor serving a two-storey space surrounded by a first-floor gallery with a large roof-light. This area will form the main hub while a second bar will be in an ornate former banqueting room upstairs. A terrace will link the spaces while the former chapel will be accessed via a glazed link building and feature a retractable glass roof to provide an outdoor dining space. Martin said: “We have enjoyed great success with our five pubs in the Republic of Ireland and we’re pleased we now have three sites in development. We will continue to look for others.” Last week, Martin told Propel average sales per pub at its five venues in Ireland had become higher than in the UK.
Siren Craft Brew extends crowdfunding campaign with new £1.3m target: Independent brewer Siren Craft Brew has extended its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to aid expansion after passing its £750,000 target. The company is offering 6.38% equity in return for investment, which gives it a pre-money valuation of £11m. The target has been increased to £1.3m and so far 991 investors have pledged £766,820 and the campaign is “overfunding” with 20 days remaining. Siren founder Darron Anley said the funding would be used to “accelerate an exciting next stage of growth”, including launching beer in cans, expanding capacity and improving efficiency. He said: “For those who met me at our Q&As or had a look through some of the more detailed questions in the discussion part of our pitch, you will know our minimum capex spend for the projects we have been crowdfunding for is £1.2m to £1.3m. It was always our belief we had put together a pitch and valuation that should allow us to exceed the base £750,000 target we set. Essentially, everything we can raise between now and when we close enables us to do two things. Firstly, the more we can raise, the better equipment choices we can make. This will further future-proof the assets. Secondly, a higher crowdfunding raise means we’ll need less asset finance, which will minimise pressure on the business in the next few years. We’re still attracting lots of activity on the pitch and very consistent investment levels. We are keen to get on with the projects at hand and I know many of our investors are keen to close out too, especially those who pledged in the early days before we went public. With all that in mind, we have decided to extend for just two weeks and two days. This will make our final deadline Sunday, 9 December.
Pub operator triples takings after taking on Hawthorn Leisure site in Bedfordshire for fifth venue: Pub operator Paul Gould and a business partner have “trebled sales” at a Bedfordshire pub three months after taking it over. Gould, who has many years’ experience in the pub industry, has revived the fortunes of The White Hart Hotel in Shefford since taking on the Hawthorn Leisure pub with Shanna Richards at the end of August. Hawthorn Leisure led a £123,500 three-way investment project to rejuvenate the Northbridge Street venue. The pub offers a traditional English pub menu alongside beer, wine and cocktails. Plans for 2019 include improving the pub’s outside areas and letting bedrooms. Gould, who has worked for brewer-pub companies such as Scottish & Newcastle, Spirit, Orchid Group and Punch, has a five-strong pub portfolio – a mix of community, food and sports-focused venues. Gould said: “After years of turning around pubs for others, I went solo seven years ago. I’ve worked with Shanna for five years and encourage my team to take ownership of the pubs they run. I go into partnership with them and it’s then up to them to drive the business. We were looking for a pub for Shanna and, through my relationship with Hawthorn Leisure, we found The White Hart.” Hawthorn Leisure chief executive Gerry Carroll said: “Paul is a hugely experienced local pub operator with a proven track record of turning pubs around. He’s already revived the fortunes of another of our pubs, which has since been taken on by another operator, and he and Shanna have done another superb job here.”
Street food Indian wraps concept Chapati Man to make overseas debut after selling Sri Lankan franchise rights: London-based street food Indian wraps concept Chapati Man is to make its debut overseas, in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan consortium – Chapati Man Lanka – is headed by former first-class cricketer and commentator Roshan Abeysinghe. The company has purchased the Chapati Man licence to open fixed grab-and-go sites and food trucks across the country. The first Chapati Man fixed premises will open in Colombo in December. Chris Rai, who founded Chapati Man in 2007 with wife Andrea, said it was a “huge coup for the Chapati Man concept”. He added: “It is the next logical step to take the brand from a national level to a worldwide audience and is yet another exciting step in the already hugely successful Chapati Man journey. The Sri Lankan economy is currently booming and for Chapati Man to be part of this is a huge achievement.” Andrea Rai said she believed the master franchise sale would be the “first of many”, adding: “It’s a brand and concept that can adapt and fit into various markets. Watch this space as this is only the beginning.” Abeysinghe said: “We consider this to be an excellent opportunity for the Sri Lankan consumer, who is bound to enjoy a wholesome and healthy meal at an affordable price. Our thanks to Chris and Andrea for the confidence placed in us on their first overseas appointment.” Chapati Man is a regular pop-up on the network of London sites run by street food trading platform StreetDots. It has also appeared at street food markets and music festivals.
Bermondsey-based brewer launches £400,000 crowdfunding campaign to triple production: Bermondsey-based brewer Anspach & Hobday has launched a £400,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to triple production and expand taproom space. The company is offering 11.76% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £3m. Anspach & Hobday exports its beers to 11 countries and plans to increase production to meet 50% year-on-year wholesale growth and expand the range of brews at its Bermondsey taproom. The pitch states: “We aim to brew and curate a better beer experience through a mix of classic styles and modern beers. The UK craft beer sector is growing 7.3% annually (May 2018) and so are we, with 50% year-on-year wholesale growth (from £195,000 in 2017 to £294,000 in 2018; overall Ebitda minus £50,900). Rapidly approaching capacity, we are fund-raising to triple production and expand our retail presence. Founded in 2012 by Paul Anspach and Jack Hobday, we produce keg, cask, and bottle and are moving on to cans. This year we’ve brewed 55 distinctive styles, from traditional brews for Oktoberfest to specials. UK accounts include Oddbins and Fuller’s, with orders lined up from Majestic Wine and JD Wetherspoon. We export to Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Spain and the US.”
Rudy’s expands to Liverpool with third site: Neapolitan pizza concept Rudy’s, which is owned by Mission Mars, the north west-based operator behind Albert’s Schloss, has opened its third site. Rudy’s, which has two restaurants in Manchester, has expanded to Liverpool with a venue at the Queen Avenue building in Castle Street. The company has opened a 120-cover restaurant with industrial-style decor and a traditional pizza oven at its heart. Queen Avenue is Liverpool’s sole remaining Victorian arcade and is part of Queen Insurance Buildings, which is owned by Bruntwood. The new Rudy’s occupies a 6,000 square foot space that previously housed CAU, the Argentinian-inspired brand operated by Gaucho Group that collapsed in July. Rudy’s makes its dough on-site each day, taking 24 hours to double ferment and 60 seconds to cook. Andrea George, head of retail and leisure at Bruntwood, said: “Rudy’s has come a long way in a short space of time, evolving from humble beginnings to quickly establish itself as a top-class artisan pizza retailer. I have no doubt it will continue its success in Liverpool.” Rudy’s, which was acquired by Mission Mars last year, has sites in Ancoats and Peter Street in Manchester.
The Sushi Maki to double up with Basingstoke opening: The Sushi Maki is to open a second site, this time at Festival Place shopping centre in Basingstoke, Hampshire. The 48-cover venue will launch in early December at a site formerly occupied by hot drinks retailer Whittard of Chelsea. The Sushi Maki already has an outlet in Newbury, Berkshire, which caters for 24 people and has been open for three years. Restaurant manager Maria Frade said: “We are all about fresh and flavoursome Japanese food – sushi is at the heart of what we do. We have a wide range of dishes designed and created by our chefs. We take great pride in the food and service we provide. Newbury and Basingstoke are both fairly small restaurants. The idea is to offer a cosy atmosphere where customers interact with each other and staff.”
Michelin-starred Imperial Treasure Group to make European debut in London next month: Michelin-starred Imperial Treasure Group will make its UK and European debut when it opens in London’s Waterloo Place on Monday, 3 December. The 140-cover, 8,500 square foot venue will launch in a grade II-listed building in the St James’s conservation area offering a main restaurant, bar and three private dining rooms. The menu will feature Chinese specialities and live seafood, while the bar will offer Asian-inspired cocktails, sake, champagne and rare whisky. Imperial Treasure founder Alfred Leung said: “We are delighted to bring Imperial Treasure to the capital. London has become one of the most exciting cities in the world for gastronomy and we are looking forward to showcasing our authentic fine dining Chinese cuisine.” Imperial Treasure Group owns restaurants in Singapore, Hong Kong and China, with its Shanghai restaurant holding two Michelin stars, and its Singapore and Hong Kong venues holding one each.
Edinburgh Gin unveils plans for multimillion-pound distillery: Spirits brand Edinburgh Gin has revealed plans for a multimillion-pound distillery in Edinburgh city centre. The development includes the acquisition of large-scale premises in East Market Street in the heart of the city’s historic Old Town. First-stage plans for the three-floor premises include a glass-fronted entrance providing a street-side view of the stills, a rooftop terrace and private gin-tasting rooms. Visitors will also have a chance to make their own gin as part of the experience. The expansion will see Edinburgh Gin increase production capacity by more than 200%, in line with demand. The existing Edinburgh Gin visitors’ centre and distillery is in the West End of the city, while it has a second distillery in Leith. The brand, founded in 2010, was acquired by Ian Macleod Distillers in 2016. Neil Mowat, UK marketing director of Ian Macleod Distillers, said: “This is the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the evolution of Edinburgh Gin and this investment is our commitment to continued innovation and growth. We are confident this will be a stunning distillery that offers a gin experience unlike any other.”
 
Derbyshire-based operator acquires former Punch site for second pub:Derbyshire-based operator Neale Chandler has acquired a former Punch site for his second pub. Chandler, who runs The Kings Arms in Eccleshall, has taken on The Plough in Uttoxeter. The pub in Stafford Road is undergoing refurbishment and will reopen early next month. It is now a free house having recently been sold by Punch. Chandler told Derbyshire Live: “We are delighted to get our hands on The Plough. We’ll have a selection of cask ale and keg products and a choice of gin, spirits and softs as well. In addition to this we’ll also have a pub menu with an emphasis on homemade and fresh food. Like our other pub, The Kings Arms in Eccleshall, the Plough will simply be a proper pub with consistent opening hours and aimed squarely at the local community, which we hope will support our endeavours.”
‘Skinny’ drinks brand Thomson & Scott passes halfway mark in £300,000 crowdfunding campaign: Thomson & Scott, which has a portfolio of low-calorie, vegan sparkling wine such as Skinny Champagne and Skinny Prosecco, has passed the halfway mark in its £300,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The company is offering 3.61% equity in return for investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £8m. So far, 101 investors have pledged £154,980 with 22 days of the campaign remaining. Thomson & Scott is expanding rapidly in major territories including the US, South Africa, New Zealand and South America. The company was founded by Amanda and Ian Thomson, while Patrik Franzen, who co-owns London bar group Barworks, is a key investor and advisor. The company will use funds raised to “challenge the drinks industry again in 2019” by launching an alcohol-free, organic, vegan sparkling wine.
Brothers launches Mallets cider: Cider-maker Brothers Drinks Co has launched Mallets, a premium draught cider aimed at millennials. The company will launch a national advertising campaign next year under the banner “cider for gods”. The drink will come in two varieties – 4.5% ABV Mallets Original and Mallets Dark Fruit, a 4.0% ABV cider featuring blackcurrant and blackberry flavours. All apples used to make Mallets come from within a ten-mile radius of Brothers’ Showering Cider Mill in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. Last month, Brothers Drinks Co reported turnover increased to £25,164,280 for the year ending 31 December 2017, compared with £16,064,146 the year before. The family-run company, now in its 14th generation, saw pre-tax losses, excluding exceptional items and revaluations, of £1,816,543 compared with £2,507,054 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House.