Wadworth to sell 21 pubs to Liberation Group: Devizes-based brewer and retailer Wadworth has exchanged contracts for the sale of 21 pubs to Channel Islands and West Country-based brewer and retailer Liberation Group – owners of Butcombe Brewing Co – for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition will deliver an additional 140 rooms to the Liberation Group’s managed estate, taking the total number of rooms to 223. Liberation will incorporate the acquired sites, and associated employees, into Butcombe’s existing 39-pub portfolio and intends to invest substantial capital into many of the businesses to support future growth. Liberation will finance the entire cost of the acquisition by way of a new equity investment from its ultimate shareholder, Caledonia Investments. Wadworth chairman Charles Bartholomew said: “We are working with our teams in each pub to enable the seamless transition to Liberation to take place over the next four weeks. I am in no doubt these pubs will continue to thrive under their new ownership and remain central to the local communities they serve.” Liberation Group chief executive Jonathan Lawson added: “Although the challenge posed by covid-19 on Liberation, and the wider hospitality sector, continues to be substantial, it has not impacted our longer-term strategic ambition for Liberation, or the strength of customer demand for the exceptional experiences that we provide. We have been encouraged by the strength of Liberation’s trading performance post-lockdown, up to and including October half term, with our Managed pubs successfully offsetting the impact of lower drink revenues with double-digit food and accommodation growth.” The pubs in the deal are Avon Causeway Hotel, Christchurch; Badminton Arms, near Bristol; Beckford, Beckford; Beehive, Caterton; Bird in Hand, Reading; Cotswold Gateway, Burford; Crown Tolldown, Dyrham; Dean Park Inn, Bournemouth; Fish, Ringwood; Fleet, Tewkesbury; Fleur De Lys, near Bath; Fox and Hounds, Theale; George Norton St Philip, near Bath; Goat & Tricycle, Bournemouth; Hadley, Bowling Green; High Corner, Ringwood; Kings Arms Hotel, Melksham; Mill, Haslemere; Penny, Bristol; Victoria Arms, Old Marston; and White Hart, Wroughton. Liberation Group was advised on the transaction by Sapient Corporate Finance.
Shepherd Neame brings to market four freehold pub investment opportunities:Kent-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has brought to the market four freehold, “free-of-tie” pub investment opportunities, which have a combined guide price of £1.76m, Propel has learned. The portfolio, which is being marketed by Savills, comprises the Horse & Groom in Rushlake Green; the Fisherman’s Arms in Maidstone; The Pig & Whistle in Chignal Smealy; and the Chequers in Tunbridge Wells. The pubs, which are available as a portfolio or individually, have a total rent roll of £116,250 per annum and are let to “good individual operators”. The guide price for the portfolio reflects a 6.22% net initial yield and a reversionary yield of 7.76%.
GSG Hospitality expands to Manchester with second Salt Dog Slims bar and speakeasy: Independent restaurant and bar business GSG Hospitality has secured a venue for its Salt Dog Slims brand. GSG Hospitality, which was previously Graffiti Spirits Group, acquired the site close to King Street and the Northern Quarter and Spinningfields in Manchester. The new venture is set open in early 2021. The original Salt Dog Slims, which specialises in steins, cocktails and American-style chilli dogs, opened in 2012 in Liverpool. Like the Liverpool version, the new Manchester site will also have a hidden speakeasy bar, which will be underground and will require a secret code for entry and only open to guests “by appointment only”. GSG Hospitality co-founder Matt Farrell, said: “We’ve been considering expansion into other northern cities for a while now and we’ve finally found a venue that is perfect for us and the concept it will be home to. Salt Dog Slims is a much-loved bar for its music, drinks and unique atmosphere, and we’re looking forward to bringing it to Manchester.” Co-founder John Ennis added: “The new venue is in the centre of the city’s buzzing nightlife. We can’t wait to open in early 2021 and introduce Salt Dogs and our new underground, exclusive speakeasy to Manchester and beyond.” GSG Hospitality also operates Duke Street Food and Drink Market, Bold Street Coffee, Maluco, Slim’s on Bold Street, Santa Chupitos and Super Megabite.
McDonald’s and Pizza Hut Delivery to introduce plant-based items: McDonald’s and Pizza Hut Delivery are introducing plant-based items to their menus. McDonald’s has announced it will offer a line of plant-based meat alternatives called “McPlant” in 2021. McDonald’s said it would offer plant-based burgers, chicken substitutes and breakfast sandwiches. Ian Borden, who heads McDonald’s international operations, said: “We are excited about the opportunity because we believe we have a proven, delicious-tasting product.” McDonald’s has previously tested a plant-based burger in Canada with Beyond Meat. Meanwhile, for a limited time, Pizza Hut is trialling Beyond Meat plant-based meat pizzas in the UK to meet customer demand for more plant-based, vegetarian and flexitarian options. Pizza Hut will be the first national pizza chain in the UK to offer Beyond Meat toppings. The Beyond Meat toppings – Beyond Pork Crumbles, Beyond Beef Crumbles and Beyond Italian Style Sausage – have been developed “to have the same taste and flavour profile as the regular meat toppings from Pizza Hut”. They are available for a limited time only – in five locations in Luton, Liverpool and London – while supplies last. Regina Borda, managing director of Pizza Hut UK & Europe, said: “We know consumers are looking for more plant-based options for health, environmental and lifestyle considerations, and aim to ensure they have access to these new options while maintaining our great tasting pizza.”
Award-winning licensee Heath Ball acquires two sites, eyes further growth:Award-winning licensee Heath Ball has acquired two sites previously operated by Sussex brewer Dark Star. The Lockhart Tavern in Haywards Heath and The Anchor Tap in Horsham will join The Frisco Group, Ball’s new hospitality business. Ball acquired The Red Lion & Sun in London’s Highgate in 2007 and, in 2013, The Wenlock Arms near London’s Old Street. Ball said he was looking to add further to his now four-strong estate despite the challenges the industry currently faces. He said: “Having created these pubs from scratch, hand-in-hand with Dark Star some years back, I’m pleased to finally have 100% control and take them to the next level as part of the group. While the world is on its head, we’ve managed to innovate and keep The Red Lion & Sun trading through a newly formed takeaway part of the business. I’ll be looking to grow the estate further in both London and across the south east as we exit lockdown.”
Northgate MD Frank Hayes joins Honest Burgers board: Frank Hayes, the current managing director of Northgate, the commercial vehicle rental and disposal company, and a former managing director of pubco Spirit Group, has joined the board of Honest Burgers as a non-executive director, Propel has learned. Hayes, who has led Northgate in the UK and Ireland since June 2017, was also previously commercial director at Wyevale Garden Centres and a consultant with Burger King. At Spirit Group, he was responsible for the food-led half of the managed pub company, which at the time had circa 2,000 pubs. He supported the successful sale of the business to Punch in 2006. The Active Partners-backed Honest Burgers currently has 30 sites open for delivery and click and collect, plus its Cardiff site for dine in. It has also kept its Honest Chicken site in Waterloo open for delivery and click and collect.
Cafe business secures funding to expand into holiday park market: Deep Beat Entertainment, which operates from 13 cafes across the UK in parks and leisure centres, has secured funding to support its expansion into the holiday park market. The business, founded by Louis Dixon, has received £550,000 from Leeds-based Fresh Thinking Capital towards the acquisition of Watermouth Lodges in Ilfracombe from a private vendor. The north Devon holiday park will be the first site to operate under the new Park Life Resorts brand. Dixon said: “We have big plans over the next few years with continued growth in the cafe industry and UK staycations. Consumers are seeking to make the most of their leisure time and seek out a premium product and service. Our approach is a proven model that provides growth and creates much-needed jobs.” Deep Beat Entertainment was established in 2018 after a gap in the market was identified for a socially conscious cafe that could operate sustainably in seasonal trading environments such as public parks. The company has expanded from its first cafe in West Park, Macclesfield, and is on track record turnover of more than £3m this year.
Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito sign up to partnership to combat food waste:Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito, owned by The Restaurant Group (TRG), have partnered with Too Good To Go to combat food waste. Too Good To Go is a food app with the aim of reducing food waste. It allows users to buy surplus food from restaurants, retailers and producers rather than letting it go to waste. Selected restaurants from the TRG duo have signed up with more expected to do so in the future. TRG leisure and concessions chief executive Mark Chambers said: “This is an excellent initiative that will help us reduce waste and work closer with our communities, particularly as we go into our second lockdown.” Too Good To Go UK country manager Paschalis Loucaides added: “Wasting good food doesn’t make sense at any time, let alone during a pandemic. That’s why we’re thrilled Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito have joined us, and our community of more than 4,000 partner stores, to fight food waste in the UK. As our first national restaurant brand partnerships, Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito are showing real leadership in tackling food waste. We will also be preventing harmful emissions that occur when food goes to landfill.”
Michelin-starred chef opens 30-cover restaurant in Wales: Michelin-starred chef James Sommerin has opened a 30-cover restaurant with backing from a Welsh bank and tourism authority. The Shed by James Sommerin has been set up by Sommerin, wife Louise and investors Liam Murphy and Sarah Weaver, and is based in the Goods Shed in Barry, south Wales. A £50,000 loan has been secured from the Development Bank of Wales and a £60,000 grant from Visit Wales. James Sommerin said: “With the help of the Development Bank of Wales and Visit Wales, we have now opened our next venture with contingency plans to ensure that we can adapt to social distancing measures as they evolve. This includes offering a takeaway and delivery service alongside the main restaurant.”
Eco-friendly Planet Organic offers nationwide delivery: Health-focused retailer Planet Organic has launched nationwide delivery for its products. Following a spike in demand for online groceries due to the pandemic, the London-based business with 11 sites accelerated work on its online shop because its city centre locations have suffered. Chief executive Peter Marsh said: “If you would have asked me about our plans for e-commerce in January, I would have said it was an important area but not necessarily a priority. It’s an area that has been historically difficult to make profit. Covid-19 has created a set of circumstances where we wanted to offer as much as possible outside of our stores.” Despite its locations in London suburbs faring “solidly” through the pandemic, its food-to-go business and city centre stores had a “disastrous” few months. Products available online include fresh and chilled products, from London-brewed kombucha to organic pineapples, vegan cauliflower pizza to dairy-free coconut kefir, plus eco living and health and beauty ranges. Packaging used is from sustainable company Woolcool.
Subway Christmas menu features six-inch pigs in blanket roll: Subway’s Christmas menu launches on Wednesday (11 November) and includes a six-inch pigs in blanket sub. Also on its festive menu are a selection of sandwiches and hot drinks. The pigs in blanket roll, which has been labelled the “Tiger Pig”, is served in a new crusty tiger bread sub and covered in Southwest sauce. Subway has circa 1,600 UK franchise sites, with those open offering the festive menu for delivery or collection until the end of the year or while stocks last. Pigs in blankets will also be available in bite-size format too for the first time. The Turkey Breast SubStack has hash browns included in its ciabatta roll with melted cheese. The Chocolate Orange Cookie and Mince Pie Cookie are also back on the festive listing while hot drinks feature Honeycomb Latte, Honeycomb Coffee and Hot Chocolate.
TV star chef Nancy Silverton on board for DIY pizza kit with Passo: Italian-inspired restaurant Passo has teamed up with Netflix TV star chef Nancy Silverton for a DIY pizza kit. The Old Street restaurant has called on Michelin-starred Los Angeles-based chef Silverton, having worked with her two years ago for a residency. Silverton, who is on the TV show Chef’s Table, has designed a pizza for the business’ Passo To Go range that customers can make at home via nationwide delivery. The one-off item is a sourdough pizza with panna, mozzarella, fennel sausage, spring onion and red onion. The pizza, along with other flavour options available (plus pasta dishes), arrives in dough form at customers’ homes with instructions on cooking it either in the oven or frying pan.
CPL Learning launches Aspire channel: CPL Learning, the learning and development partner to the hospitality sector, has launched its new Aspire channel for hospitality team members. Covering a wide range of topics, individuals will be able to attend webinars, access a library of video content, read inspirational blogs and more. The first Aspire webinar, on Tuesday (17 November), will focus on providing practical ways for people to look after mental health during lockdown and beyond. CPL Learning has teamed up with mental health organisation The Mind Map to cover the topic. CPL Learning chief operating officer Jamie Campbell said: “When the pandemic took hold, we knew we had a part to play in keeping teams engaged and motivated. We saw a huge demand for our learning resources, and those working in hospitality expressed their desire for more opportunities to learn and develop. We committed during the last lockdown to continue to make learning accessible to all and Aspire is the latest development to ensure we make that happen.”
CPL Learning is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Former service station operators acquire Cumbria hotel: Former service station operators Chris and Rob Vincent have acquired the Crooklands Hotel in Cumbria for an undisclosed sum. The brothers have bought the three-star hotel near Kendal, which was run for 18 years by the Horrax family, in a deal brokered by agents Colliers International. Crooklands Hotel has 31 en-suite bedrooms, a traditional restaurant and bar dating to the 1700s as well as a second restaurant in a more contemporary style. The Vincents previously owned nearby Mossdale Services in Carnforth, which they sold last year. Rob Vincent said: “The service station was a family business that was set up by our mum and dad. We like the fact that we’ve bought another family business, and our plan is to keep the hotel’s family-friendly atmosphere and family values.”
St John begins lockdown takeaway pie offer, £1 goes to charity: St John Bread and Wine is offering a lockdown takeaway pie service. The Spitalfields restaurant revealed its intentions on Instagram and the schedule will change weekly. Pies will only be available on Fridays during lockdown and must be collected in person. For each pie sold, the east London restaurant will donate £1 to charity StreetSmart, which helps support homeless and vulnerable people across the UK.
Food waste business to turn leftover pumpkins into fuel and heat source: Food waste firm Warrens Group will recycle leftover Halloween pumpkins to fuel its fleet of vehicles and heat homes in the north east. The County Durham business, established more than 70 years ago, has devised a plan to use recycled squashes and save them from going to landfill. Warrens Group commercial director Kevin Quigley said more than ten tonnes of edible pumpkins are likely to end up at its recycling plant in Newton Aycliffe this year while, nationally, 12.8 million pumpkins will go to waste. Quigley told Business Live: “After Halloween is over, most pumpkins are thrown into landfill or on a compost heap. That is a lot of waste when they could be turned into something much more sustainable, such as renewable energy. We use our fleet of collection vehicles to gather food waste. From there, the pumpkin waste is placed in our anaerobic digesters, which are filled with bacteria that then breaks it down. As the pumpkins decompose, they release methane gas, which can be turned into an environmentally friendly fuel. We use this to fuel our vehicles and the rest goes to the National Grid to heat people’s homes with clean energy.”
Carlsberg UK signs ten-year lease for new office HQ: Carlsberg UK has agreed a ten-year lease for offices at Temple Point Office Park in Leeds. The 13,134 square foot building has two floors and will be home to about 140 staff members at its new office headquarters. Carlsberg UK head of procurement David Hawkins said: “Our relocation to Temple Point will provide us with a welcome upgrade from our current office space and the owner tailored the refurbishment to meet our requirements. The offices occupy a prime business location and provides a fit-for-purpose, high-quality space with comfort cooling suitable for its predominant use as a contact centre.” Richard Dunn, head of office agency at property consultant Sanderson Weatherall, said: “We’re delighted to have assisted Carlsberg UK with its office search. 9 Temple Point was a rare self-contained option available in the market and perfect to facilitate their future plans. After an unavoidable downturn in the market during the second quarter, it’s great to see the completion of deals like this.” Sanderson Weatherall acted on behalf of Carlsberg and JLL acted as agents for the landlord at Temple Point.