Individual Restaurants – reopening sales and profits have exceeded expectations: Individual Restaurants, which operates circa 30 sites under the Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill brands, has said since reopening, sales and profits have exceeded its expectations. In its group accounts filed at Companies House, the business stated: “As for all of us in the sector, lock-down was a painful and worrying time. Since reopening, sales and profits have exceeded our expectations. The size of our restaurants has allowed us to meet demand even with strict social distancing and dine-safe measures in place. We have limited exposure to central London, which has been the hardest hit and our affluent suburban locations have traded very well with the shift change towards home working and staycation Britain. Online continues to beat expectations. As we look to the winter with this second wave of the virus and restrictions imposed on eating out, there are challenging and uncertain times ahead. However, we are ready to weather the storm with the same resilience the business has delivered in lock-down, reopening and performance to date.” Earlier this year, the business launched its own premium collection and delivery service. It said: “The business goes from strength to strength, and with the changing consumer behaviour towards online it will be a further focus for our growth in the future.” Post the group’s year end to 30 March 2019, the business finalised a new £36m banking facility and acquired a majority stake in Gino D’Acampo Worldwide Restaurants. In 2015, the company entered into a joint venture with the chef, to launch new restaurant brand Gino D’Acampo – My Restaurant. The combined group comprises 37 restaurants (21 Piccolino, eight Bar & Grills and eight Gino D’Acampo). It is understood Individual Restaurants backer Sir Malcolm Walker, the founder of frozen food chain Iceland, supported the Gino D’Acampo chain with a loan that was registered earlier in October. This came after the business led by the chef posted full-year sales of £12.4m, but losses of £2.9m. Sales in the 12 months to 30 March 2019 for Individual Restaurants declined from £61.8m to £58.4m, while group Ebitda fell from £7.1m to £6.5m.
Hawthorn extends rent support as government package is ‘insufficient’: Hawthorn Leisure, the pub operations arm of NewRiver, has extended its rent support in response to local lock-downs because it does not feel the government’s financial package is sufficient. The additional support will see pubs affected by the Welsh “fire break” and tier three restrictions in England and the equivalent in Scotland will have their rent credited at 100% for up to an initial four-week period. Pubs within tier two areas will be offered rent relief ranging from 33% to 80%, based on the affordability of their rent against their turnover. Pubs in tier one continue to be eligible for its support grant where operators can apply for individual support where they are not able to meet all outgoings. Chief executive Mark Davies said: “The government support offered to pubs in tier three in England, and to those affected by widespread closures in Scotland, and the ‘fire break’ in Wales from this Friday, simply does not go far enough. Pubs still have to cover all normal overheads and ensure there is food on the tables of their own families at the end of the week. The grants made available by the various governments, while welcome, fail to cover the weekly overheads most businesses encounter. We are also offering all of our partners the chance to co-invest with us through our ‘Partner Investment Fund’ where we will match every £1 spent up to £5,000 each, which does not need to be repaid. This is to help improve outside space and increase internal covers to enable our pubs to maximise their trading opportunity against the ever-changing restrictions in place.”
The Natural Kitchen in administration: Deli and cafe concept The Natural Kitchen has become the latest London-based operator to be placed into administration. Propel understands restructuring firm Quantuma has been appointed as administrator to the nine-strong brand’s parent company TNK. Propel revealed last month, the Justin Green-led business was working with property advisers Lambert Smith Hampton in regards to the marketing of its business. It is thought that a deadline for offers had been set for Monday, 21 September. The company opened its latest site, at St Katharine Docks, in summer 2018 after taking over the former Tom’s Kitchen site. Earlier this year, it was linked with taking a site on the ground floor at 100 Bishopsgate. The company also operates sites in Angel Court, Marylebone High Street, Tudor Street, Baker Street, New Street Square, Waterloo Station, Aldersgate and Trinity Square. All of the sites remain temporarily closed. Posting on the company’s website on the continued closures, managing director Green said: “With the continued uncertainty surrounding the covid-19 virus crisis, The Natural Kitchen will remain closed beyond the 4 July government reopening date. The reasons for this decision are the challenging social distancing restrictions and the continuing advice to you, our customers, to work from home whenever possible. Therefore, without the majority of our customers back in the city, The Natural Kitchen cannot trade successfully and opening too early could jeopardise the whole business. After such a long and enforced lock-down and, so far, surviving this crisis, we believe it foolhardy to reopen just yet with the persisting uncertainty.”
‘We are on the verge of breakdown’ says Castle Rock boss, pleads for six-month furlough extension: Nottingham-based brewery and pub operator Castle Rock has urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to take action to support the hospitality trade in the city or thousands of jobs will be lost, as the company revealed revenue is down 50%. Managing director Colin Wilde wrote to Sunak urging a continuation of the furlough scheme to help pay staff wages and for the removal of employers’ national insurance payments and a VAT rate on beer so the playing field is levelled with supermarkets. Nottingham has been placed in tier two, which means it has more restrictions than tier one but without the potential financial assistance available to sites in tier three. Wilde, whose 22 Castle Rock pubs have not been responsible for a single positive coronavirus case, said in his letter: “Our own revenues across 22 pubs and a brewery are 50% down, but our costs have gone up. Rent and loan interests still need to be met, and the expense of being covid-compliant is extensive. Castle Rock has been a successful business since 1977 but that is now changing. It is not unrealistic to ask for continued help that will see visible businesses like our through the next stage of the pandemic, which will, in turn, secure our considerable contributions to the economy in the future. As a pub group and brewery, operating for nearly 45 years in Nottinghamshire, we are on the verge of breakdown. The entire supply chain is impacted by every unfair restriction placed on pubs, with businesses operating in an array of industries taking a resulting hit, from food suppliers to electricians, to marketing professionals, to breweries like ourselves. The list is long and devastating.” Wilde has made ten members of staff redundant and reduced his own wages in March in a bid to help the company and retain jobs.
German Doner Kebab to open 12 new UK sites and create almost 500 jobs, August like-for-likes up 46%: German Doner Kebab (GDK), the flagship concept of Hero Brands, has pledged to open 12 new UK sites by the end of 2020. The move is expected to create 480 new jobs while GDK eyes further growth in Canada, Sweden and Saudi Arabia. The company’s UK branches enjoyed a boost in sales during the Eat Out To Help Out initiative in August with sales up 46% versus the same period in 2019; while total sales, which includes new sites that have opened since September 2019, saw this figure increase to 139%. Locations targeted for new stores include Liverpool, Nottingham, Bradford, Plymouth and further sites in London and Edinburgh. GDK has opened 35 venues during the past three years with 350 in the pipeline for the next seven years. GDK chief executive Imran Sayeed said: “We have found ourselves in very challenging times, however, there continues to be a huge demand for the GDK experience throughout the UK and our international growth regions. We are excited to build further momentum in our plans for growth and to create hundreds of new jobs throughout the country as we maintain our mission of building the fast-casual brand of the future.” The business remained open during lock-down for delivery and click and collect. Its partnership with Deliveroo also resulted in 30,000 free meals being made available to front-line NHS workers and vulnerable people. Sayeed added: “We have been primarily a dine-in consumer proposition. However, in line with the UK government’s guidance during lock-down, we quickly remodelled to expand our click and collect takeaway offer and had a huge response to the Eat Out To Help Out scheme, which has reflected in our sales performance during August.” GDK is based in Glasgow, Scotland, but opened its first restaurant in Berlin in 1989.
Zia Lucia to open site in Wandsworth: Zia Lucia is set to open a fifth site under its eponymous concept in London’s Wandsworth. Propel understands the company, which was founded by Claudio Vescovo and Gianluca D’Angel, has secured the former Chit Chaat Chai site in Old York Road for an opening before the end of the year. Earlier this year, Zia Lucia made its debut in the City, with an opening at Piazza Walk in Aldgate. Zia Lucia offers four types of slow-fermented dough – vegetable charcoal, wholemeal, gluten-free and traditional – alongside starters and desserts. The brand operates other eponymous restaurants in Islington, Hammersmith and Boxpark Wembley as well as pasta concept Berto, also in Islington. Marc Rogers, of MKR Property, acted on the Wandsworth deal.
Polpo placed into administration: Polpo, the restaurant business founded in Soho in 2009 by Russell Norman and Richard Beatty, has been placed into administration. Edward Avery-Gee and Jonathan Avery-Gee, of CG&Co, have been appointed joint administrators for the business, which operated sites in Soho and Chelsea. It is thought Beatty and his wife, chef Florence Knight, may have already bought back both sites under new vehicles The Polpo Chelsea Trading Company and The Polpo Soho Trading Company. Earlier this summer, Norman stepped down as director of Polpo. The business underwent a company voluntary arrangement last year. Earlier this year, Propel revealed the business had placed two of its sites in the capital, in Farringdon and Covent Garden, on the market through property adviser CDG Leisure. It also closed its remaining regional site, in Brighton. Last year, the company put its Polpetto site in Soho’s Berwick Street and eponymous restaurant in Notting Hill Gate up for sale, with the former taken over by all-day concept The Breakfast Club.
SSP signs four-year deal at Hobart airport: UK transport hub foodservice company SSP Group has penned a four-year deal to develop a local food at Hobart airport. The contract is worth circa £15m and SSP has partnered with local brands Liv-eat, Coal River Farm and Cascade to offer Tasmanian food and drink to customers using the island airport off the coast of south east Australia. Liv-eat is a fresh and healthy eating quick service concept; Coal River Farm offers modern Australian cuisine and award-winning cheese and chocolate; and Cascade is Australia’s oldest operating beer brewery. SSP has also introduced mobile ordering for the first time at the airport. SSP Asia Pacific chief executive Mark Angela said: “We’re proud to continue our close partnership with Hobart Airport, spanning well over five years now, especially with the introduction of such prominent local brands Hobart has to offer. We are confident that passengers will come to love the new look and feel of the airport, especially the food on offer and the new brand line-up.” Hobart Airport acting chief executive Matt Cocker added: “We’re really proud to be supporting local businesses and producers after what has been a particularly challenging year. Our team is always striving to improve the customer experience and we’re looking forward to continuing our partnership with SSP to create a space that Tasmanians can be proud of.”
Geek Retreat bucks downturn trend of UK high streets: Geek Retreat, which combines retail space with cafes and areas to play games and hold events, has claimed it will open 100 more stores during the next two years. The Scottish-based retailer has 14 sites that offer refreshments to its customers who enjoy “all things geeky” from comics to table-top games to trading cards. Geek Retreat boss Peter Dobson told the BBC: “During the pandemic, while our gaming events have had to stop and the hospitality side of our business is more difficult, our stores still have loyal communities who support our retail side. We have made sure all of our stores are welcoming and accessible to gamers whatever their interests, providing a place for our loyal customers to get out of the house and play safely post-lock-down.” The retailer said it expected to open sites in Bournemouth, Northampton and Liverpool in coming months, followed by Southampton, Dumfries, Cardiff and Sutton in Greater London. The chain, which operates as a franchise, aims to open five stores per month from the beginning of 2021.
Birmingham-based Vietnamese restaurant swaps Brindleyplace for Bullring:Birmingham-based independent restaurant Vietnamese Street Kitchen is to open a site at the Bullring shopping centre. The family-run business is taking over the premises previously occupied by Handmade Burger Co chain that closed at the start of the year. The new Vietnamese Street Kitchen outlet will replace its now closed Brindleyplace venue and joins the company’s restaurant at Resorts World. Due to open in November, the new Bullring site will be set over two floors and includes an upstairs cocktail bar as well as large dining space below. There will also be a heated outdoor terrace. Vietnamese Street Kitchen’s operations manager Oliver Ngo told The Business Desk: “The decision to move from Brindleyplace to Bullring makes sense in the current climate, with less people working in offices, but actually I’ve been looking to have a restaurant in Bullring for some time. It’s exciting seeing it all coming together.”