Castle Rock Brewery sees pre-tax profit more than double as turnover passes £10m, trading ‘very positive’ in current financial year: Tynemill, the Nottingham-based brewer and pub operator that trades as Castle Rock Brewery, has reported turnover increased 8.1% to £10,347,026 for the year ending 31 March 2018, compared with £9,570,631 the previous year. Pre-tax profit more than doubled to £568,482, compared with £280,924 the year before. Gross margin was 55.3% compared with 56.9% the previous year. The group continued to pay down its long-term debt, which stands 5.8% lower than last year, and is operating well within its banking covenants. Managing director Colin Wilde told Propel the company had traded “very positively” in the first part of new financial year. In his report accompanying the accounts, he said: “We were excited during the year to enter into a jointly controlled operation with CGC Events, set up after a successful tender to operate the newly refurbished Theatre Royal & Concert Hall. The directors are more than happy with the initial results. It was an ambitious project, which included the opening of Yarn Bar in the complex in September 2017 and provision of the entire food and beverage service on-site. The operation is strong and has returned the investment made by the year-end. During the year the group also took on the opening and management of a couple of additional sites owned by The Beer Consortium and the total now operated under this agreement is five sites, plus the Lady Bay Inns contract, which continues to go from strength to strength. The group has further invested in its brewery sales team and the sales footprint in direct deliveries continues to grow. Alongside this the pub stock continues to be supported on an ongoing basis with larger investments made into the Stratford Haven and the Vat & Fiddle, with great success. The directors are confident both sites will be able to grow their revenues. Further improvements have also been made in our finance and IT provisions. The Castle Rock training division is strong and we remain very optimistic this initiative will stay on track to deliver the projected bottom-line results by this time next year. The benefits of the investment are already coming through and we are seeing better staff training, knowledge, engagement and retention. The group is in good control of its cost base and has an envied and varied stock income producing assets (pubs!) and a revamped and ‘on-point’ beer portfolio of high quality. All this will help give the group every opportunity to excel in the coming year.”
Nottingham-based McDonald’s franchisee reports return to pre-tax profit as turnover passes £20m: Nottingham-based McDonald’s franchisee Blades Restaurants has reported a return to pre-tax profit as turnover passed the £20m mark. The company saw turnover increase 30.44% to £21,453,150 for the year ending 31 December 2017, compared with £16,446,662 the previous year. It had a pre-tax profit of £340,163, compared with a loss of £18,985 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Blades Restaurants, which is owned by Jerry Nicholls, operates seven McDonald’s sites across Nottingham and employs more than 800 staff. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “We believe the trading environment in which we operate is challenging. However, the company remains optimistic and has continued its reinvestment with an additional major refurbishment at one of our restaurants during the year.”
Usain Bolt to bring Tracks & Records to London for first UK site: Olympic multi-gold medallist and world record holder Usain Bolt is bringing his Jamaican bar, restaurant and late lounge concept Tracks & Records to the UK. The venue will open on Wednesday, 10 October in Middlesex Street, London. Split across two floors, the space will feature a mix of “bold flavours” alongside sports memorabilia and a soundtrack of reggae and dub courtesy of live DJ sets. The menu will include jerk chicken and pork, and fried fish and bammy, while the rum bar will offer more than 150 rums, 100 of them Jamaican. There will also be a range of signature cocktails including a selection exclusively created for London. Bolt said: “London is my second home and a place very close to my heart so it’s brilliant to share a taste of Jamaica in the capital.” The other three Tracks & Records restaurants are in Jamaica – in Kingston, Ocho Rios and Montego Bay – founded by Kingston Live Entertainment Group. Chief executive Gary Matalon said: “After much success with our Tracks & Records restaurants, we’re delighted to be opening in the UK. Our new location, in the heart of the capital, is the perfect spot for friends to get together and embrace Jamaican culture by enjoying traditional flavours while dancing the night away.”
Friends of Ham went into administration after being unable to meet loan repayments as hot weather slashes turnover in half: Leeds-based bar and charcuterie brand Friends of Ham went into administration after being unable to meet loan repayments that funded the rebranding of one of its sites when hot weather saw turnover slashed in half, newly filed accounts have revealed. A statement of proposals by administrators Charles Brook and Michelle Chatterton, of Huddersfield-based Poppleton & Appleby, showed Friends of Ham spent about £280,000 in March to convert its unprofitable Ham & Friends venue off Merrion Street into New York-style beer and sports bar Lucky No. 7. The report showed the directors decided against closing the site permanently due to the liability of the lease agreement. However, a long spell of hot weather led to turnover falling by almost 50% compared with the previous year as a consequence of its flagship Friends of Ham site in Leeds having no outdoor area. That, coupled with “heavy” finance and loan commitments of the refurbishment, led to the company having insufficient cash flow. The company also operated a Friends of Ham site in Ilkley, which was profitable “but not as much” as Leeds. Accounts for the year to 28 February 2017 showed the business had turnover of £1,716,621, with a pre-tax loss of £25,483. For the year to 28 February 2016, the company turned over £1,709,396 with a pre-tax profit of £85,142. As previously reported, Friends of Ham was bought out of administration last month by Glentrool Estates, which has 25 years’ experience in the corporate sector and drinks industry. The report showed it paid a consideration of £81,384,13. Meanwhile, secured creditors HSBC Bank and Affandari Private Equities are owed £125,344 and £52,800 respectively. HSBC ranks above Affandari and is expected to receive a payment. Affandari was paid £5,180,70 plus VAT from the proceeds of the sale but is not expected to receive further funds. Preferential claims are still to be submitted but it is understood there will be a claim for unpaid pension contributions and holiday. No other claims are expected as employees were transferred to Glentrool Estates at the point of sale. Unsecured creditors claims totalling £796,729.31 have been received so far but the administrators expect there will be insufficient funds to enable a distribution. As well as the loan repayments they include HMRC, which is owed £214,344, while trade and expense creditors are owed £270,112.31. The estimated total deficiency is £869,765.33.
International food bowl concept to launch in Soho: A concept based on internationally inspired food bowls is to make its debut in London. Bowls will launch in a 1,830 square foot unit in St Anne’s Court in a deal brokered by agents CDG Leisure. The venue will feature an all-day dining menu showcasing food bowls inspired by flavours from around the world but using British ingredients. Breakfast bowls, Buddha bowls, poké bowls and burrito bowls will be on offer harnessing the growing demand for healthy food. At lunchtime, diners will be able to build their own bowl. Bowls is the brainchild of Zarifa Ragimova, a chef and television presenter in Russia who trained at Le Cordon Bleu, London. CDG Leisure’s Tom Crosthwaite, who acted on behalf of previous tenant Billy And The Chicks, a fried chicken restaurant that is relocating, said: “Soho will always be a prime destination for restaurateurs and Bowls will be a fantastic addition.” Jake Bernstone, of Stonebrook, acted on behalf of the buyer.
Arc Inspirations to launch Manahatta in Manchester next month: Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of a number of fast-growing brands, is to launch its Manahatta cocktails concept into Manchester next month. The venue will open in Deansgate on Friday, 5 October and will be the fourth Manahatta in total and first across the Pennines, with two cocktail bars in Leeds and one in Headingley. The group, which is led by chief executive Martin Wolstencroft, agreed a new facility with Santander last month that will double its funding to almost £7m and enable the group to expand its portfolio. Arc Inspirations also announced it would launch a £1.4m experiential site for its The Box concept in Leeds close to its Banyan Bar & Kitchen and Manahatta sites. Other Arc concepts include The Pit and Kith & Kin.
Fulham pub investment let to Stonegate on market for £2.69m: The freehold of a property in Fulham, south west London, that is let to Stonegate Pub Company has gone on the market for a guide price of £2.69m. Agent Savills has brought the freehold investment of The Temperance in Fulham, London, to market on behalf of a private vendor with the price reflecting a net initial yield of 4.25%. The 6,121 square foot, grade II-listed building in High Street dates to 1910 and is let to Stonegate Pub Company on a 35-year lease expiring in 2029. Stuart Stares, associate in the licensed leisure team at Savills, said: “This is an excellent opportunity to acquire a freehold investment let to a leading pub operator in a high footfall location close to Craven Cottage (home of Fulham FC). The business operating within will be unaffected during and after the sale process.”
Goodbody – TRG’s shift towards pubs and concessions business should lead to re-rating: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has said a shift by The Restaurant Group (TRG) to focus on its pubs and concessions business should “lead to a re-rating”. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 370p, Ruddy said: “We update our forecasts post the first-half trading statement to reflect a weather-impacted first half. Profit before tax for the first half was £20m versus our forecast of £22m as snow in the first quarter and extremely hot weather in the second quarter hurt the eating out sector in the UK. This leads us to reduce our FY18 profit before tax forecast by 5% to £51.9m and our FY19 by 4% to £55.2m. At the first-half update we were impressed by the upwardly revised opening target of 39 sites made up of 17 concessions, 21 pubs and a leisure site. It now expects 10% sales growth in concessions next year. The concessions business is trading well with TRG outperforming the strong growth in airport passenger numbers. The pub estate continues to outperform the market on a like-for-like basis. Management also noted encouraging momentum in the leisure business and we believe the positive 2.4% like-for-like increase, when the weather and World Cup headwinds subsided, marks an important inflection point for the group. A central part of our positive thesis on TRG is the reweighting of the group towards the attractive concessions and pubs businesses, which should attract a significantly higher multiple. We roll forward our sum of the parts to reflect our FY19 forecasts and, including the increased weighting towards pubs and concessions, our price target moves up to 370p. We retain our ‘Buy’ recommendation.”
Star Pubs & Bars launches health and safety system for licensees: Star Pubs & Bars has partnered with Shield Safety to offer a tailor-made food, fire, and health and safety system for its leased and tenanted licensees. The service includes audits, a helpline with access to Environmental Health officers, compliance software, and cloud-based storage of compliance records. The system enables licensees to remotely monitor a pub’s compliance and flags issues via a traffic light system. It can be used across any number of sites, whether with Star Pubs & Bars or not, making it a valuable tool for multiple operators. The Shield Safety package is an optional service for licensees and provides three levels of cover – food safety, health and safety, and the two combined. Star Pubs & Bars property director Chris Moore said: “Fines for non-compliance increased earlier this year and can now be 5% of turnover, while poor food hygiene ratings – which are often due to weak management and inadequate record-keeping rather than hygiene practices – can have a serious impact on trade and take up to two years to correct. This new package simplifies an increasingly complex area for licensees.”
JD Wetherspoon to open £2m pub at St Pancras next week: JD Wetherspoon will open its “unbranded” pub at St Pancras International on Monday, 1 October, creating 145 jobs. The company has invested £2m to develop The Barrel Vault, which takes its name from the station’s undercroft where beer barrels were stored in the late 19th century. In the 1870s, more than 200,000 barrels arrived in St Pancras each year from the Bass Brewery alone. The Barrel Vault will open from 6am to midnight, Monday to Thursday, from 6am to 1am on Fridays and Saturdays, and 7am to midnight on Sundays. Food will be served daily until 11pm. The Barrel Vault will specialise in real ale as well as craft and world beer on draught and in bottles. The pub will be set across one floor with a single bar and a feature barrel display. Meanwhile, Wetherspoon has opened its pub in Midsomer Norton, Somerset, following a £2.8m development project. North East Somerset and Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg attended the opening, with Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin taking the opportunity to discuss the issue of tax inequality for pubs.
Easyhotel acquires site for Blackpool hotel: Easyhotel, the owner, developer and operator of “super budget” branded hotels, has acquired a site in Blackpool. The company has also opened three further owned hotels – in Leeds, Sheffield and Barcelona – as well as two franchised hotels, in Reading and Belfast. This takes Easyhotel’s total number of owned rooms that are open to 1,130, with a further 1,938 franchise rooms now open. All five hotels are trading strongly and “in line with management expectations”. Of the Blackpool deal, the company stated: “The group has conditionally acquired a 999-year lease on a site at 429 The Promenade, Blackpool, to develop a purpose-built 103-room Easyhotel, subject to receiving planning permission. Located on the city’s promenade, the site is ideally situated, less than 500 metres from Blackpool South station. With more than ten million visitors per year, Blackpool is famously dominated by small unbranded hotels and bed and breakfasts, 93% of which have no quality grading. Easyhotel said this created an opportunity to deliver a “guaranteed standard of accommodation” to those visiting Blackpool. The site will be developed for a purpose-built hotel and two A3 units for restaurants or cafes on the ground floor, which are expected to be sold once the development has completed and the units have been let. The hotel is expected to open during the group’s 2020/21 financial year. The total forecast (net) cost of acquisition and construction will be £7.6m. Guy Parsons, chief executive of Easyhotel, said: “The five hotels we recently opened have traded strongly from day one and we are delighted with the positive customer reaction to our stylish new brand format. I am also pleased to announce our intention to open an Easyhotel in Blackpool. Blackpool is a prosperous and lively city and is hugely popular with UK and international visitors. Once open, Easyhotel will make a major contribution to the local hospitality trade. Our super-budget offer will enable visitors to have affordable, comfortable, stylish accommodation at the heart of Britain’s seaside culture.”
Mediterranean cafe concept Beam starts expansion with second London site: Mediterranean cafe concept Beam has started expansion by opening a second site in London. The venue has launched in Highbury at a site in Blackstock Road formerly occupied by Italian restaurant Il Bacio. Beam offers Mediterranean food with British influences. Main dishes include salad, wraps and burgers as well as grilled kofta with bulgur wheat kisir, and salmon with grilled asparagus and sauteed potatoes. Brunch dishes include buttermilk pancakes and French toast alongside Allpress coffee, Hot Dinners reports. The debut Beam in Crouch End has won the Time Out neighbourhood cafe award three times, while the Highbury site offers a dedicated evening menu drawing on the “flavours, tastes and ingredients of the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean”.
Leeds-based Mint Club to shut next year: Leeds-based nightclub Mint Club has revealed it is to shut next year. The venue in Harrison Street in the city centre has been operating for 20 years. The club said with the area around the club being comprehensively redeveloped, it was unable to “renew or extend the lease”. A series of shows is now planned to celebrate the club’s history, which started with DJ Derrick Carter playing at a Back To Basics night in 1998. In 2009 the team behind System took over the club and along with Louche hosted many of the world’s foremost underground artists. A spokesman said: “The Mint brand now powers onwards. It is time for Mint Warehouse to get the refurbishment treatment. Look out for that and some other big projects and events coming your way in 2019. Exciting times.”
Yorkshire-based craft brew company hits £140,000 crowdfunding target:Yorkshire-based craft brew company Play Brew has hit its £140,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The company, founded by Phil Layton, is offering 20.5% equity in return for the investment. So far, 202 investors have pledged £146,490 with 18 days remaining. Founded last year with four core beers, Play Brew has been using contract brewing until now to “help it gain traction”. The pitch states: “To date, we have produced about 5,500 cans and our beers have been sold in 33 outlets. We want to be the first to open a brewery and taproom in our local area, providing our community with a place to drink and socialise while also providing outlets in the vicinity with fresh local craft beers for retail. Play Brew recognises securing the right location is the key to success. Being the only brewery within a 19.5-mile radius, connecting and engaging the local community through a taproom will be instrumental to the business growth and profit. On the back of our soft launch, we have a number of outlets that are keen to become full-time stockists. Having our own brewery and taproom will not only allow us to grow our sales, it will also give us the opportunity to create new flavours to add to our range.”
Flat Cap Hotels opens third Cheshire site: Cheshire-based Flat Cap Hotels has opened The Bridge in Prestbury for its third site in the county. The grade II-listed building retains a number of original features uncovered during the three-month refurbishment, including stone and parquet flooring and wooden beams. The venue offers a new bar and restaurant alongside a revamped lobby and reception. The restaurant has taken inspiration from the gardens at the rear, which overlook the River Bollin, while the new Garden Room features botanical print chairs. The bar has been renovated to feature a mirrored wall. The group’s executive chef, Steven Tuke, has created a menu that includes 12-hour cured salmon, English fillet of beef, cauliflower cheese risotto and Buttercross Farm pork steak. Flat Cap Hotels co-founder Oliver Heywood said: “The Bridge holds special memories for many people who have held weddings and birthdays there over the years. We wanted to uncover the heritage of the building and at the same time invest in the hotel’s future.” A second phase of refurbishment will concentrate on the hotel’s 23 bedrooms. Heywood founded Flat Cap Hotels with his brother Oliver in 2015. The group’s other sites are The Vicarage in Holmes Chapel and The Courthouse in Knutsford.
Boutique cinema and casual dining concept Tivoli to launch in Bath: Boutique cinema and casual dining concept Tivoli is to launch in Bath. The venue will open in the SouthGate leisure complex in December featuring a luxury cinema, cafe and bar. Branded a “charismatic neighbourhood destination”, the cinema will show blockbuster, art-house and independent films in four, 50-seat studios offering extra-wide sofas, tables for food and drink, and all-laser projection. A 20-seater directors’ lounge will be bookable on request. The cafe bar and lounge will offer cakes, pastries, coffee, wine, beer and cocktails with a menu that will include wild boar hotdogs, burgers, pizza, sharing platters, grilled cheese sandwiches and takes on movie-night favourites. Chief executive Justin Ribbons said: “Tivoli is set to redefine the cinema experience.” SouthGate is jointly owned by Aviva Investors and British Land. Ben Grose, British Land head of national leasing, said: “Tivoli will deliver a fantastic customer experience and will be a huge attraction for consumers in Bath. Our focus is on creating outstanding places and this letting reflects our strategy of providing people with more reasons to visit.”
HJUK partners with Harri for hospitality jobs: Hospitality Jobs UK (HJUK) has teamed up with Harri. The partnership will provide a seamless integration between both hospitality job boards, offering Harri’s clients a greater variety of choice when posting a job. HJUK is an advertising platform that offers a comprehensive hub of industry news, training information and career opportunities. It also offers a dedicated support team tasked with attracting talent and partnering with industry associations such as Job Centre Plus. HJUK said the partnership highlighted the “evolution of the recruitment industry”, with more ways to attract talent than ever. A spokesman said: “Harri is committed to establishing relationships that will help its clients attract the best talent in the industry and, with this partnership, Harri and HJUK are confident it will do exactly this.”
Frenchgate nears capacity for new grab-and-go offering with cheese shop launch: Artisan cheese shop The Chuckling Cheese has launched in Eat Street, the new dedicated grab-and-go food destination in Frenchgate Shopping Centre, Doncaster. The Chuckling Cheese has opened a 1,000 square foot shop having agreed a deal with centre owner The Frenchgate Partnership, leaving only one unit left to fill. The outlet offers a range of cheese produced in Skegness and the surrounding area as well as artisan drinks, chutney, sweet treats and cheese wedding cakes. It joins other local independent businesses in Eat Street including LCafe, which opened a 2,600 square foot site earlier this year. The Chuckling Cheese director Emma Colclough said: “We began our journey towards taking a store in Frenchgate when we visited a local food festival. We were so impressed by Doncaster’s heritage as a market town and the potential at Frenchgate we signed for a store in Eat Street.” The Frenchgate Partnership asset manager Paul Devlin added: “We are delighted with how successful Eat Street has been and with only one unit remaining, we look forward to completing the grab-and-go offer.” Time Retail and Rawstron Johnson acted on behalf of Frenchgate, which is managed by Lambert Smith Hampton’s Belfast office. Stuart Colclough acted on behalf of The Chuckling Cheese Company