Young’s chief financial officer steps down: London pub retailer Young’s has announced chief financial officer Steve Robinson has resigned and left the business to pursue other interests. The company said it expects to appoint an interim chief financial officer in the new year while the board searches for a permanent successor. Robinson joined Young’s in June 2009 and became head of finance in September 2013. He joined the board in September 2016 when he succeeded Peter Whitehead as chief financial officer. Young’s chairman Stephen Goodyear said: “On behalf of the board I would like to thank Steve for his contribution to Young’s during the past nine-and-a-half years, especially in the role of chief financial officer since September 2016. We wish him well for the future.”
Abokado moves outside central London heartland for 24th store, first site to trade at weekends: Healthy eating chain Abokado, which is backed by Kings Park Capital, has moved outside its central London heartland to open a store in Hammersmith. The site is the brand’s first to trade at weekends and to offer its new look, developed with London design agency Mystery, which focuses on providing a “comfortable, calm and elevated feel”. Abokado said the move demonstrated its ability to “attract a different customer mix”, while investment to stretch the daypart beyond lunch into the morning and evening had led to two-fifths (40%) of customer visits now being outside lunchtime, driven principally by breakfast and coffee sales. The company said its customer base had also broadened considerably thanks to the success of ranges such as poke salads and yakisoba noodles, with its core range of sushi now representing only one-fifth (20%) of total sales. Operations director Kara Alderin said: “Our arrival in Hammersmith marks an exciting time for the business, stepping into a new territory outside our Zone 1 heartland. We’re delighted to be trading ahead of expectations, with a fresh brand feel and trading space designed for all dayparts.” Chief executive Mark Lilley and wife Lindsay launched Abokado in 2004. In October, the company reported record profits for the year ending 31 March 2018. Profits increased 24% to £726,000, while site Ebitda increased to £1.7m.
Neapolitan pizza brand Proove starts opening larger sites as it aims to show attractiveness of model to potential investors: Neapolitan pizza brand Proove has started opening bigger sites to show it can maintain the quality of its food at speed as it looks to make itself attractive to potential investors. Co-founder Deepak Jaiswal told Propel the company was keen to expand in Yorkshire, the north west and the Midlands. Proove has just opened its third site, and largest to date, at the Centertainment leisure park in Sheffield having taken on a former Prezzo unit. Jaiswal founded Proove with Rob Engledow in 2015, opening its first restaurant in Sheffield and another in West Didsbury in March 2017. The company also operates two dark kitchens with Deliveroo – in Leeds and Salford – and a mobile business, which is “going strong”. Jaiswal said: “Our model works well for a high-volume site without compromising quality, authenticity or service. Naturally, if we want to be attractive to a potential investor we need to show we can maintain this. Centertainment is a much bigger site than our others and we’ve been able to serve 180 to 200 covers an hour while maintaining the quality of our product, which is made on-site every day to order. We are working with Centertainment to drive footfall to the park as our model relies on high traffic.” Regarding expansion, Jaiswal said: “We have used the mobile business to build the brand. It gives us a way into the community, then draws people into the restaurants. The Leeds location has opened a new market for us and Manchester has the potential for another two or three sites. We’re also looking at Liverpool, Chester and Nottingham among other locations but want to be realistic in terms of our company size and infrastructure so the number of openings per year will reflect that. One of the biggest challenges we have is staffing – it’s all well and good opening sites but you need the right people to run them. High service standards and product knowledge are a priority so we’re keen to nurture and train new team members as they are our main ambassadors. The other way we will explore growth, particularly if we want to go international, is through franchising but I don’t feel we’re ready to go down that route yet.” He added: “One of the things we are trying to do is be transparent. An example of this transparency is fair pricing for all customers, rather than the need for guests to acquire discount codes or hunt for vouchers. I want our brand to continue to stand for quality, authenticity and value.”
 
Manchester-based bar brand Liquid Art Group launches £250,000 crowdfunding campaign to open 12 sites in three years: Manchester-based bar brand Liquid Art Group has launched a £250,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open 12 sites in three years. Liquid Art Group founders Oliver Calveley and James Fennell are offering 6.75% equity in return for investment, which gives the company a pre-money valuation of £3.4m. The group operates three venues in Manchester – The Drawing Room, The Shack and The Cellar – and has developed its own craft gin, Calveley’s. The company said it had seen 144% turnover growth between FY2017 and 2018, with £128,000 Ebitda for 2017/18. The pitch states: “Research shows cocktail connoisseurs are on the rise. A survey conducted last year found 77% of drinkers are happy to pay more for a premium cocktail. With our themed bars, cocktails, craft beer and our own brand of gin, it is a market we understand well. Well established in highly desirable locations across Manchester, we are now looking to expand our brand across the UK. Sticking to our proven model, we have successfully carved our own niche in Manchester’s thriving cocktail and craft beer scene. This phase of investment will enable the Liquid Art Group to open 12 more sites. Following our successful formula, these venues will be intimate, full of atmosphere and with location at their core. In addition to growing our chain of cocktail bars, we also plan to expand our craft gin brand. The first offering from the Calveley’s gin range is an infusion of thyme and orange, with a London dry gin to follow.”
Everards acquires Northamptonshire canal-side pub: Leicestershire brewer and retailer Everards has acquired award-winning canal-side pub The Admiral Nelson in Braunston, Northamptonshire. The building dates to 1730, before the Grand Union Canal was even created, while the pub was nominated as one of the top ten waterside pubs in the UK by the Guardian. The Admiral Nelson features a lounge and bar, games room, 30-cover dining room and beer garden seating 100 people. Previous owners, Mark and Pam David and Liam Evans, are looking to retire from the industry. Everards managing director Stephen Gould said: “We are delighted to bring The Admiral Nelson into the Everards family. We have more than 175 pubs across the East Midlands and this will join our other six pubs in Northamptonshire. All Everards pubs are run as independent, tenanted businesses and we are already seeking a business owner for this well-located, historic pub.” Joshua Sullivan, business agent at Christie & Co, which handled the sale, added: “The Admiral Nelson is a strategic acquisition for the company given the fact it is easily accessible from the main brewery due to strong transport links. The level of interest we saw for this asset demonstrates the strength in the current market place for destination venues.”
Gino D’Acampo expands debut My Coffee & Deli Bar site, looks to roll out new online ordering service across restaurant portfolio: Chef Gino D’Acampo has expanded his debut My Coffee & Deli Bar site due to demand while he is looking to roll out its new online ordering service – Gino2Go – across his restaurant portfolio. D’Acampo launched the concept eight weeks ago on the lower ground floor of his My Pizza & Prosecco Bar in Manchester, which is located in fashion retailer Next. He has now acquired further floor space within the store to add 25 covers. D’Acampo has also introduced Gino2Go, which enables guests to pre-order their lunch and collect it to avoid queues. D’Acampo said: “Italian fast-casual dining is a popular concept in Italy and has been well received in London. I had no doubt it would prove popular in Manchester. People’s lifestyles have changed – they’re looking for great-quality hot food that can be enjoyed on the move or in an easy, relaxed environment. My Coffee & Deli Bar delivers exactly that, morning, noon and night. It is early days for Gino2Go but the initial response has been great and we’re looking forward to rolling it out across our wider restaurants. If you want to be successful in this industry you’ve got to be agile, you’ve got to listen to what people want and embrace new advancements in technology, it’s not just about delivering great food.” My Coffee & Deli Bar is D’Acampo’s third venue in Manchester sitting alongside his original restaurant at the Corn Exchange and his My Pizza & Prosecco Bar, which is on the first floor of Next. D’Acampo made his move into restaurants when he teamed up with friend and business partner Steven Walker, founder of Manchester-based restaurant group Individual Restaurants. They plan to open more restaurants in 2019 to build on venues in Harrogate, Hull, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and London.
Other Side Fried to launch kiosk format for fifth site: Chicken burger concept Other Side Fried is launching a kiosk format for its fifth site. The company will open the venue in Cranbourn Street, just outside Leicester Square tube station, on Friday, 21 December. The kiosk will act as a takeaway-only venue with the menu consisting of burgers, wraps and sides including a honey butter burger (fried chicken, smoked honey butter, bacon, pickles and lettuce), and a fried chicken wrap with smoked cheese sauce. Other Side Fried began operating from the back of a converted British ambulance, which it still operates at Kerb Camden, going on to open permanent sites at Pop Brixton, Dirty South in Lewisham and Peckham Levels.
Tim Barrett – TRG’s valuation is ‘compelling’: Numis Securities leisure analyst Tim Barrett has argued The Restaurant Group’s valuation is “compelling”. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 225p, Barrett said: “The Restaurant Group’s share price has fallen 43% on an ex-rights basis since the acquisition of Wagamama was announced in October. This is a reduction in value of £300m, equivalent to a de-rating of 3.2 times Ebitda. On our analysis, the share price is discounting a 0.4 times multiple to the 381 leisure outlets, which make outlet-level Ebitda of £60m. We view Wagamama as one of the best-quality assets in UK casual dining by virtue of its consistently strong like-for-like sales growth (9.6% four-year average, 12.2% in past 11 weeks), leading net promoter score and consistent roll-out (circa 6% per annum unit growth). The Restaurant Group has paid a full price for the business at 13 times 2018A Ebitda, although the multiple compresses quickly given the expected 20% four-year compound annual growth rate we model (8.9 times by FY20). Excluding US startup losses and pre-opening costs would bring the multiple down by one times Ebitda as well. The Restaurant Group recently confirmed its own like-for-like sales had returned to growth in the second half and were +1.4% in the 14 weeks following the end of the World Cup (weeks 28 to 42). This was expected given the anniversary of a sharp price reset in 2017 and will need to accelerate further given the ongoing cost pressures across the sector (National Living Wage +4.9% from April 2019). The valuation is compelling. Following the recent pullback, The Restaurant Group now trades on an FY19 EV/Ebitda of 6.1 times and price-to-earnings ratio of 9.7 times. The free cash flow yield pre-growth capex is 12% and at the new (lower) payout ratio of 50% the implied dividend yield is 5.1%.”
Tom Kitchin launches pub with rooms on Scotland’s east coast for fifth site: Kitchin Group, led by Michelin-starred chef Tom Kitchin, has launched a pub with rooms, The Bonnie Badger, in the village of Gullane on Scotland’s east coast for its fifth site. The venue, near Muirfield golf course, dates to 1836 and was previously The Golf Inn. The property has undergone a full refurbishment to feature a 60-cover dining room, bar and 12 bedrooms. The decor – by Burns Design and Kitchin’s wife and business partner Michaela – blends Scandinavian and Scottish influences, while the kitchen only uses seasonal produce from local suppliers, with the menu following Kitchin’s “from nature to plate” ethos. Kitchin said: “Michaela and I have dreamt of having a pub with rooms for years and we’ve always been particularly fond of the East Lothian area, having spent time here at weekends with the kids. When this opportunity came up it just felt it was meant to be. We have always loved the feel of the old hotel and we want to ensure we keep the heart of the building while enhancing the offering.” Kitchin Group also operates four restaurants in Edinburgh having launched Southside Scran in the city last month.
Bristol-based cafe operator opens third site, at Colston Hall: Liz Haughton, who operates cafes at the Folk House and Spike Island in Bristol, which both champion local produce, has opened a third site, at the redeveloped Colston Hall. The music venue will fully relaunch in 2020 but Haughton has opened Bowl Of Plenty in the foyer. Iconic Colston Hall gig posters dominate one wall, with all food advertised on blackboards. Bowl Of Plenty offers pizza, toasties, soup, sandwiches, homemade cakes and daily specials, Bristol Live reports.
Premier Inn to operate 400-bedroom, 28-storey hotel at Canary Wharf, brand’s tallest and one of largest in London: Whitbread-owned Premier Inn is to operate a 400-bedroom hotel at London’s Canary Wharf. The 28-storey hotel will be the tallest Premier Inn and largest in London outside its airports. The company has taken a 30-year lease of the hotel and restaurant within Rockwell Property’s 30-storey mixed-use scheme next to Westferry DLR station. The development will also include a Whitbread-branded restaurant on the ground floor alongside shops, homes and community space in a landscaped public area. Rockwell Property was granted planning permission for the site, which has been derelict for more than a decade, by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in October. Premier Inn acquisitions manager Louise Woodruff told Insider Media: “Aside from our hotels at Gatwick and Heathrow airports, this 400-bedroom hotel will be the largest Premier Inn in London, which reflects the strong demand we’re experiencing in east London and especially around Canary Wharf.” Construction is due to begin in summer 2019.
North west-based bar and restaurant concept opens third site: North west-based bar and restaurant concept Retreat has opened its third site, in Bromley Cross, near Bolton. The company has opened the venue in a former village hall in Darwen Road, reports the Bolton News. The building dates to 1888 but two years ago it was announced it would close along with Birtenshaw Methodist Church next door. The 143-year-old church was demolished in August to make way for the restaurant’s car park despite local interest groups campaigning against it. Retreat’s other branches are in Heaton and Adlington.
Nottingham-based brewer turns pub into micro-brewery and bar for second site: The Angel Micro-brewery owner Ben Rose has turned a Nottingham pub that dates to the 1800s into a micro-brewery and taproom for his second site. The Golden Fleece in Mansfield Road has some of the city’s deepest caves running three storeys beneath the grade II-listed building, which Rose will use to brew beer and host live music nights. Rose, who also founded Alley Cafe in the city, which has since closed, will operate the venue for family-owned development company Carlton Street Trading, which purchased the empty pub. Carlton Street Trading director Sam Burt told Insider Media: “The Golden Fleece is a historic pub that’s in a really good location. It would have been a shame to leave the pub empty so we bought it and started marketing it soon afterwards – we had five offers to take over the pub in just two days, showcasing what a great venue it is. The pub is three storeys high and goes three storeys below. Historically, caves were created for brewing and storing beer and ale due to their consistently cool temperature all year round. An idea of how deep the caves run can be seen through a glass panel over the old barrel drop cut into the floor.” The Angel is a freehouse pub and micro-brewery in Nottingham’s historic Lace Market area.
North Wales-based brewer launches debut bar, in Colwyn Bay: North Wales-based Great Orme Brewery has opened its debut bar, in Colwyn Bay. Sheldon’s has opened at a former stationery shop of the same name in Penrhyn Road. Great Orme Brewery founders Lorna and Jon Hughes have launched the project with another couple, Julian and Kate Roberts. Julian Roberts told North Wales Live: “We are very confident if we create something really nice it will draw people in from Colwyn Bay and the surrounding area, which is good for the whole town.”