Anglian Country Inns looking to return to expansion trail in September in ‘big year’ rebuilding the business: Anglian Country Inns, the pub and restaurant operator led by James Nye, is looking to return to the expansion trail in September as the business rebuilds post-covid-19. Nye told Propel that Anglian Country Inns aims to pay down part of the £3.3m it secured through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) last June in the next six to 12 months, while it is close to the disposal of its Water Lane cocktail bar and restaurant in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, which will leave the business with eight sites. Nye said: “I think we have a big year coming up as we rebuild the business, but I am very optimistic for the future. We were planning a refinance of the business before covid, so we had new deals in place, which meant our covenants were easier to meet. Our planned capital expenditure became survival capital in the form of a CBILS but it has enabled to get us through. But that refinancing work has been critical in positioning the business to now not only pay back the CBILS, but to also start expanding again.” Despite the expected increase in availability of sites resulting from the fallout of the pandemic, Nye said he believed there would be plenty of competition for them. He said: “There’s a huge amount of capital that’s ready to be spent in the sector so there won’t be a shortage of operators waiting in the wings to pounce. We have a few sites in mind. It’s going to be hard finding good sites at good value but, come September, we hope to be in a position to do so. Looking back, we have learned so much about ourselves – and we are going to be a lot stronger for it.” Nye also said the company was planning to reopen all its available outside areas on Monday, 12 April. He spoke as Anglian Country Inns reported turnover was down 3% to £11.2m for the year ending 5 April 2020, compared with £11.6m the previous year due to the impact of closures caused by lockdown. The company said turnover would have been up 3% otherwise. Group Ebitda, excluding the Farmhouse, stood at £850,000, while there was a 5% improvement in labour and overhead costs.
Deliveroo flotation price to be at bottom of target range: Deliveroo has said it will price shares for its stock market listing towards the bottom of its planned range. Deliveroo now expects to be valued at between £7.6bn and £7.85bn, whereas its original price range had indicated it could be valued at up to £8.8bn. It said it had chosen the lower price due to “volatile” market conditions. Last week, the company estimated a price range of between £3.90 and £4.60 per share for the float on Wednesday (31 March). However, on Monday (29 March), it trimmed the price range to between £3.90 and £4.10 per share. In a statement, it said: “Deliveroo has received very significant demand from institutions across the globe.” It added the deal is covered multiple times throughout the range, “led by three highly respected anchor investors”. But, referring to “volatile global market conditions for initial public offerings”, Deliveroo said it was “choosing to price responsibly within the initial range and at an entry point that maximises long-term value for our new institutional and retail investors”. Last week, a number of leading fund managers said they would reject the listing. Managers such as Legal & General, Aviva, Aberdeen Standard and M&G expressed concerns over workers’ rights, the company’s business model and regulatory concerns. Deliveroo riders are self-employed, meaning they are not entitled to earn a minimum wage from the company, or holiday and sick pay. Investment firms have also raised concerns over the proposed share structure that will see founder Will Shu have 20 votes per share, compared with one per share for other investors, giving him a majority position in shareholder votes. Deliveroo, which was founded in 2013, has said it will hand its riders bonuses of between £200 and £10,000 when it floats, depending on the number of orders they have delivered.
Joseph Holt acquires Manchester city centre pub: North west brewer and retailer Joseph Holt has acquired the Lower Turks Head & Scuttlers Wine Bar in Manchester city centre. Joseph Holt, which owns 127 pubs, plans to drop the name Scuttlers Wine Bar so the pub will become known as Lower Turks Head, offering the full range of Joseph Holt cask ale and lager at the Shudehill pub – with plans to introduce a food offer later in the year. The site, which also includes accommodation, will be renovated, retaining all its original features, ahead of a planned reopening in June. The Lower Turks Head joins Joseph Holt’s established stable of city centre pubs, which includes the Ape and Apple, the Crown and Anchor, the Old Monkey, the Eagle Inn and The Shamrock, which the company purchased in 2018 and plans to reopen following a full redevelopment in 2022. Joseph Holt marketing manager Paul Longmire said: “Joseph Holt is deeply entrenched in the history of Manchester and sees the Lower Turks Head as part of that heritage too. Our brewery has a keen sense of nostalgia but as much as we treasure the past, Joseph Holt regards it as a way of guaranteeing the future of the city too. We’re sure the Lower Turks Head, along with our other central Manchester pubs, will lead the way in bringing drinkers back into the city.”
Japanese restaurant & cocktail bar concept Nanban eyes Greenwich opening: Nanban, the Japanese restaurant and cocktail bar concept from MasterChef winner Tim Anderson, is lining up an opening in Greenwich. Propel understands Nanban, which operates sites in Brixton and Covent Garden, is in talks to take space at the former Al Pancino/Spread Eagle site in Stockwell Street. Anderson, who won the BBC television show in 2011, opened his first permanent restaurant in Brixton’s Coldharbour Lane, south London, in 2015. The concept also operates a site in Seven Dials Market, Earlham Street.
Pret appoints Jane Walker as new global brand and communications director:Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed business, has appointed Jane Walker, formerly of Eurostar, Domino’s Pizza and Merlin Entertainments, as its new global brand and communications director. Walker will join Pret after more than a year and a half as commercial planning and GTM director at Eurostar. She has also had stints at Merlin Entertainments, where she was its global brand marketing director and at Domino’s UK & Ireland, where she was its head of marketing. Walker has also worked at Carphone Warehouse and KFC UK & Ireland.
Imbiba-backed arcade bar concept NQ64 plans second Manchester site: NQ64, the immersive retro-arcade bar concept, which earlier this year received backing from hospitality investor Imbiba, is planning to open a second site in Manchester. The three-strong concept, which was founded by Matt Robson and Andy Haygarth, is believed to have lined up the former Club Liv unit in the city’s Peter Street for a new opening. It already operates a site in Short Street, in the city’s Northern Quarter. At the start of February, Propel revealed Imbiba had invested £1.4m in NQ64 to aid its further growth plans. As part of the investment, David McDowall, chief operating officer at BrewDog, became its new chairman, with Andrew Stones, ex-managing director of Be At One, representing Imbiba on the company’s board. It also operates sites in Liverpool and Birmingham. Imbiba said the new investment would fund the development of a strong property pipeline of sites in Newcastle, Leeds and Edinburgh.
WatchHouse appoints Andrew Walker to its board: Edition Capital-backed coffee concept WatchHouse has appointed Andrew Walker – former chief executive of EAT and ex-managing director of Pret A Manger – to its board. Walker will serve as a non-executive director and advise the board, including chief executive and founder Roland Horne, as it expands across London during the next year. In addition to Pret and EAT, Walker has previously worked at executive levels within Virgin Atlantic, Casual Dining Group and Platopus Systems. He is currently an adviser at fintech company Flux and a non-executive director at Java House Africa and Farmer J. He will join WatchHouse on 1 April. WatchHouse operates six sites within central London, at Bermondsey, Maltby Street, Tower Bridge, Spitalfields, Fetter Lane and Somerset House.
Ten Entertainment – we’ve transformed our digital offer so we can get right message to customers ahead of reopening: Ten Entertainment Group chief executive Graham Blackwell has told Propel the company has transformed its digital offer so it can get the right message to customers ahead of reopening. Speaking after the company’s full-year results, Blackwell said the company had invested heavily in its CRM systems as part of its plans to prepare the business for the future. He said: “The key thing is communicating with the customer – making sure we get our messaging right and tailoring the right offers. We want them to know this is a place they can have fun but is covid-secure. Customers also want to know whether they are going to pay for your covid closure – and we want to let them know we have no intention of doing so.” Blackwell said he was confident the business would be cash flow-generative “reasonably quickly” again after being able to reopen its sites in England on Monday, 17 May. He added: “We were still at 83% of our previous year’s like-for-likes when we reopened last summer at 50% less capacity and we’re just looking forward to coming back in May and serving our customers again.” Blackwell also believes there will be plenty of competition for sites that come on the market as a result of the pandemic and “a lot of questions remain” over what happens about the rent moratorium. He said: “We’ve got £18m of headroom so we’re in a strong position. We’re also lucky in that we have a good relationship with our landlords so we were able to move very quickly once we realised we were facing closure – we’ve done seven re-gears and negotiated some deferrals, for example. But there are a lot of operators out there that have not been so lucky, and when the moratorium ends, you do wonder what is going to happen unless the government steps in.”
Game of Thrones studio attraction to open this summer after securing £10m funding: Linen Mill Studios is to open its Game of Thrones studio tour attraction in Northern Ireland this summer after securing £10m of funding from Barclays. Coinciding with the tenth anniversary of Game of Thrones, the new tourist attraction, which is being developed under licence with Warner Media, will transform the 10,000 square metre film studio into an interactive visitor attraction that will house iconic and authentic set pieces, props and costumes from the multi-award winning TV series. The official tour will also highlight and promote the creative industries behind Game of Thrones including design, art, make-up, prosthetics and CGI technology. The deal sees Barclays agreeing a £10m term loan to part fund the £36.5m development of the attraction. Linen Mill Studios is owned by two family-run businesses, Northern Ireland group John Hogg and Company and the US-based Stephens family. Linen Mill Studios director Andrew Webb said: “With Barclays’ support, we are now gathering momentum towards opening one of the most exciting visitor attractions in Northern Ireland’s history later this year. Just the prospect of a Game of Thrones Studio Tour has already generated huge excitement and interest among fans around the world and we expect our opening to play a significant part in underpinning Northern Ireland’s economy and rejuvenating the tourism sector on the island of Ireland in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.” Barclays relationship director Gavin Campbell added: “We have been impressed by the management team’s dedication and foresight to deliver an eco-friendly, world-class attraction, which will celebrate the impact Game of Thrones has had on Northern Ireland, and are delighted to have played our part in this iconic venture.”
Costa, Leon and Starbucks among operators to join Just Eat: Costa Coffee; natural fast food brand Leon; Starbucks; Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed fast casual Mexican concept; and Chipotle have partnered with Just Eat. The brands have begun rolling out across key cities in the UK and will continue to arrive in more towns and cities nationwide in the coming months. Costa is available to order on the Just Eat app from more than 100 shops nationwide, Leon is available to order from 16 restaurants across the UK, Starbucks can be ordered from more than 230 shops nationwide, Tortilla from more than ten restaurants across the UK and Chipotle from five restaurants across London. Amy Heather, UK strategic accounts director at Just Eat, said: “We want to make sure we can offer our customers what they want, when they want it and having these fantastic brands on our platform means we can offer the best range to customers to suit any occasion.”
Adam Handling to launch pub venture The Loch & The Tyne: Chef Adam Handling is to launch a sustainability-focused pub restaurant with rooms in May, in Berkshire. The Loch & The Tyne, which will open in Old Windsor on 17 May, will be Handling’s first project outside the capital. The new venture will feature Steven Kerr, Adam Handling Restaurants group executive chef, and Adam Handling Chelsea head chef Jonny McNeil. Handling said: “I’ve always dreamed of having a pub as part of the group and so have Steven and Jonny. They aren’t just my team, they’re my best friends and have helped me to build my restaurant group.” Handling told the Evening Standard: “We’re trying to make it the most sustainable pub in the UK. So, we’re building our own eco-garden, where we grow our own stuff, we’ll grow fruit trees, we’re going to get solar panels put in, a recycled water system. We’ll do composting, food recycling and that kind of thing. The motto is ’sustainable British luxury’, and that’s exactly what we’ll do.”
The Apprentice winner Alana Spencer to open second By The Sea cafe, eyes further rollout: The Apprentice winner Alana Spencer is to open a second site under her By The Sea cafe concept next month, in Cardiff’s Mermaid Quay. The new cafe, which is set to open in April/May 2021, will be the first of a Wales-wide rollout of up to ten new By The Sea venues in 2021. Work has already started on fitting out the new 2,230 square foot venue that sits at one of Mermaid Quay’s main entrances. Spencer, who won the BBC One show The Apprentice in 2016, securing a £250,000 investment from Sir Alan Sugar in the process, opened the first By The Sea cafe in Aberystwyth in October 2020. She is now looking to roll out the concept to key locations across Wales. She said: “After a successful six months at our first By The Sea concept store, we decided it was time to expand. Our key points to look for were beautiful waterfront spots that are on walking routes. Cardiff Bay ticked all these boxes for us. It’s a big jump for us but one we are excited to make. Bring on the next chapter of Ridiculously Rich By The Sea.”
Melt Pub Company to open fourth site, eyes ten-strong estate: Warwickshire-based Melt Pub Company is to open its fourth pub in Stratford-upon-Avon as part of ambitions to grow to a ten-strong estate. The company, led by Chris Creassy, is taking on The Salmon Tail, which is owned by Ei Group. Melt Pub Company is set to reopen the Evesham Road property on Monday, 17 May as an Irish pub under a new name of The Paddock, in a nod to the nearby racecourse. Creassy launched the company in January last year and operates the Keys in Eli Street, The Bull in Bull Street and the Snitterfield Arms in Bearley Road. He has ambitious plans to open ten pubs in total, five in Warwickshire and five in the Bath area. Creassy told the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald: “It’ll be Stratford’s first Irish pub, I used to work in the export business and when you went somewhere you’d always search Irish bar or jazz bar to see if there was one nearby. I’m giving it a complete overhaul and I’m also planning to reopen it as a bed and breakfast, like it used to be.”