Hakkasan secures new $110m loan and negotiates rent agreements: UK-based restaurant and nightclub company Hakkasan Group has secured a new $110m loan with its parent company and “negotiated rental agreements with several landlords” to help it deal with the impact of coronavirus. Hakkasan also revealed its US subsidiary had terminated 90% of staff and temporarily reduced base compensation for the remainder, although they continue to receive medical benefits. It said it would look to rehire employees depending on the phased reopening of venues. Planned capital expenditures have been delayed “indefinitely”, while non-essential contracts have been cancelled or amended. The company provided the update in its accounts for the year ending 31 December 2019 but said it was “too early” to know the full impact on the company’s financial position. It said it had reopened its London restaurants for takeaway and delivery and launched a pop­up version of its Mexican-based Casa Calavera restaurant for delivery. In addition, various managed restaurant venues across the globe have been offering delivery to alleviate lost revenues that, Hakkasan said, had an impact on the group’s management fee revenue. The company stated: “On 13 April 2020, the group amended and restated various loan agreements with Aabar Investments PJS (the parent company) with an effective date of 1 January 2020. The outstanding shareholder loans at 31 December 2019 were rolled into one agreement, with Hakkasan as the borrower. The amended agreement consists of two loans – a term facility with an initial principal amount of $88.4m at a rate of 3.5% plus LIBOR and a revolving facility with an initial principal amount of $22m at a rate of 2.5% plus LIBOR. The group can draw up to $58.1m on the revolving facility, which was extended an additional $36.0m. The final maturity date of both loans is 31 October 2031. As of the date through which the financial statements were issued (on 25 June), the group has taken one draw of $4.0m on the revolving facility at 11 June 2020. In February this year, the group closed an owned Yauatcha brand restaurant in Houston, Texas, and relinquished the lease, which meant it recorded a loss on disposal of about $0.5m. The group also entered into a termination agreement with an owner-partner to close a managed Ling Ling brand restaurant in Greece. The settlement totalled $0.6m, which included past due fees as well as a one-time termination payment. In April, the company closed an owned Hakkasan brand restaurant and the supporting satellite office in Shanghai, China, which are represented by the subsidiary Hakkasan Shanghai. The group also decided not to reopen two of its owned restaurants – Hakkasan NY in New York City and Hakkasan SF in San Francisco.” The company, which now operates 37 sites, reported turnover of $283.9m for the year ending 31 December 2018 compared with $152.4m for the six months ending 31 December 2018 when the company changed its accounting period. Operating losses stood at $25.3m at the year end from a loss of $3.4m the previous year. Pre-tax losses were $36.6m, compared with $4.4m the year before. The company said restaurant revenue fell primarily due to a reduction in food and beverage sales at owned venues, a majority of which was attributable to venues in London (minus 7%), Shanghai (minus 11%) and the US (minus 7%). Nightlife venues also saw a reduction in overall sales, while management fee revenue decreased 27% year-on-year because of the sale of certain management contracts for seven restaurants, two bar lounges and one day club, all of them in Las Vegas. During the year, a partner also decided to close an underperforming managed restaurant in Mexico.
Vincent – we need to keep all options open: Leon co-founder and chief executive John Vincent has told Propel the natural fast food brand has agreed new rental terms with many of its landlords but, “given the uncertainty of what is going on” it needed to “keep all options open”. Vincent was responding to a question from Propel regarding whether the company may have to explore a restructure. Leon appointed consultancy firm Quantuma in early June to help it engage with its landlords and push to change to a turnover-based rent model. Vincent told Propel: “Quantuma is principally employed to work on getting to a win-win solution with landlords. Many have already agreed new terms and we are constructively working with the remainder ahead of the critical end of September rent quarter date. Given the uncertainty of what’s going on we need to keep all options open but anticipate most landlords will come to the table.” Earlier this week Leon reopened seated areas in nine of its sites and also reopened its sites in Stansted airport and at Beaconsfield and Strensham service stations. Last week Propel revealed that Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, had appointed advisers as it looked to step up conversations with landlords and explore possible restructuring options. It follows the news rival Pret will undergo a restructure that will see 30 of its UK sites close permanently. Earlier this month Propel revealed Wasabi, the sushi and bento chain led by Henry Birts and backed by Capdesia, was looking to secure new investment that could include a sale of the business. The company appointed restructuring adviser KPMG in May to explore a full range of strategic options, which now include seeking new investment partners or a purchaser for the business alongside raising funds from existing investors.
Giggling Squid appoints Nick Backhouse as chairman: Giggling Squid, the Thai restaurant brand founded by Andy and Pranee Laurillard, has appointed Nick Backhouse as non-executive chairman with immediate effect. Backhouse is currently a senior independent director at Hollywood Bowl Group and Loungers. He was formerly senior independent director at Guardian Media Group, while other non-executive roles have included All3Media and Marston’s. Backhouse has also been deputy chief executive of David Lloyd Leisure Group; group finance director of NCP; and chief financial officer of Laurel Pub Company. He replaces former Carluccio’s chief executive Simon Kossoff, who stepped down as Giggling Squid chairman last August after four years in the role. Backhouse said: “Over the past few months I’ve had the chance to speak with many people in the Giggling Squid family and I’m impressed not only by what the brand has achieved to date but also by its resilience and potential. I look forward to bringing my experience to support its continued success.” Andy Laurillard said: “We are delighted to welcome Nick to the company. His knowledge and expertise, particularly in the multi-site leisure sector, is hard to match and we’re thrilled he has decided to join us as we move forward from the most challenging period in hospitality.” Meanwhile, the company has promoted Vikas Agarwal to chief commercial officer from head of food, a move that sees him join the board. The group reopened all its 35 sites for dine-in earlier this month apart from Leicester because of local lock-down restrictions. Last month it secured its immediate future after obtaining a £5m loan through Barclays.
Young’s to start phased reopening programme with six pubs this week: London pub retailer Young’s is to begin the phased reopening of its managed house estate on Friday (17 July). The Patrick Dardis-led business will reopen six pubs – The Adam & Eve in Fitzrovia; The Red Barn in Lingfield; The Northcote near Clapham Junction; the Leather Bottle in Earlsfield; the Cutty Sark in Greenwich and the Clock House in East Dulwich. The company said a phased reopening would give the business a chance to trial its service cycle and fully-integrated “on tap” app. Young’s previously said it was eyeing reopening its pubs on Monday, 3 August although some larger pubs with gardens could open in mid-July. Late last month the company reported the completion of an equity issue raising gross proceeds of £88.4m.
Doma Hospitality to enter fast casual market with ‘better for you’ pizza concept: Doma Hospitality, part of BHL Global, which operates The Stafford London and Game Bird restaurant, Sicilian restaurant Norma London, and Michelin-starred Northcote in Lancashire, is to enter the fast casual market by launching “better for you” pizza concept Gallio. The brand will launch from a south east London kitchen in mid-August as delivery only, with plans to open a full-service restaurant in central London and three more delivery kitchens by the end of 2021. Gallio will be inspired by the Mediterranean and also offer sharing bowls, salads and desserts. The menu has been developed in collaboration with Ben Tish, chef and culinary director of The Stafford London and Norma. Dough will be made using a mix of ancient grains, sea salt, natural yeast, extra virgin olive oil and filtered water. Each batch will be prepared daily and left to prove for 36 hours before being turned into thin and crispy 12-inch bases. Toppings will focus on Mediterranean flavours such as spiced lamb, labneh, rose harissa and pickled chilli, while a seasonally changing special will begin with red prawn, grezzina courgettes, red chilli and wild fennel. Salads will include vegan quinoa with green lentils, spinach, avocado, spring onions, mint and parsley. Bowls will include beetroot borani with yogurt, dill, dates, feta and walnuts. The two desserts will be a sweet pizza and a bitter chocolate almond cake alongside Hackney Gelato ice cream. Gallio operations director Chantal Nell said: “We are passionate about provenance and quality and can’t wait to bring a slice of Mediterranean sunshine to Londoners.” Gallio will offer delivery within a radius that will include Lambeth, Waterloo, Elephant and Castle, Vauxhall, South Bank and Southwark.
Bill’s appoints operations director: Bill’s, the 78-strong Richard Caring-backed group, has appointed Joel Claustre, formerly of Searcys, as operations director, Propel has learned. Claustre joins Bill’s after 16 years with Searcys, where he was retail operations director and latterly beverage ambassador and account director. He joins Bill’s as it gears up to reopen circa 30 sites in England on Friday (17 July) after reopening its first six restaurants last week. Safety measures will include thermal cameras for temperature checks on arrival and new seating arrangements in line with social distancing guidelines. Each restaurant has also implemented tracking software that logs employees’ temperature readings over a seven-day rolling period.
Bob & Berts reopens three-quarters of estate following funding boost: Northern Ireland-based coffee company Bob & Berts has reopened almost three-quarters of its cafes across Northern Ireland and Scotland after navigating the pandemic with the help of financial support. Founded in Portstewart in 2013, the company operates 20 stores – 15 in Northern Ireland – and employs more than 400 staff. During lock-down it secured funding from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and additional support measures from Ulster Bank. Bob & Berts has invested some of the funding in social distancing and hygiene measures across its estate. David Ferguson, co-owner of the business with his brother-in-law Colin McClean, said: “Turning the tap back on across all our stores is a huge undertaking and has incurred significant costs. The support Ulster Bank has provided has ensured the business is in a good place to reopen and has allowed us to resume in-store trading quickly and efficiently.”
The Coconut Tree to start phased reopening next week: Sri Lankan restaurant group The Coconut Tree is to start a phased reopening of its six-strong estate from next week. The group will reopen its Cardiff restaurant – its only venue in Wales – on Wednesday, 22 July. In line with guidelines set out by the Welsh government, this will be outdoors-only until Monday, 3 August. Customers will be able to use the restaurant’s outdoor seating in Mill Lane or order dishes via mobile ordering platform Yoello to be delivered to a designated dining area the local authority has created in the grounds of Cardiff Castle. The Coconut Tree in Bournemouth will reopen on Friday, 24 Julyfollowed by both Bristol sites – in Gloucester Road and the Bristol Triangle – on 29 July. Bristol Triangle will initially offer a takeaway service only. The Oxford restaurant will reopen on Friday, 31 July and the Cheltenham restaurant on 3 August. Brand director Anna Garrod said: “We have been working on some new recipes during lock-down and can’t think of a better way to reveal them than with a Sri Lankan feast in the grounds of Cardiff Castle!” The Coconut Tree also confirmed it would take part in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme during August. Last month The Coconut Tree secured a £60,000 loan from not-for-profit company SWIG Finance, supported by Triodos Bank and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, to safeguard 160 jobs and sustain the business during the coronavirus crisis.
Honest rolls out burger kits nationwide: Active Partners-backed Honest Burgers has rolled out its Honest At Home burger kits for delivery nationwide. The company originally made a limited number of kits during lock-down as part of a charity fund-raise. Each kit includes four chuck steak and rib cap patties, four Cheddar slices, four dry-cured smoked bacon rashers and four buns along with relish, pickles and salt seasoning. The kits are available from 9am to 1pm, Sunday to Thursday, and cost £30, including delivery. Kits are delivered two days after ordering and should be consumed the day they arrive. Honest Burgers co-founder Tom Barton said: “Online retail for restaurants was born through lock-down and the support we’ve seen from our customers has been mind-blowing. Thanks again to all those who’ve helped our industry get through these tough few months.” Honest Burgers operates 37 UK restaurants and its own butchery.
Junkyard Golf gets go-ahead for Newcastle site: Crazy golf operator Junkyard Golf has been given the go-ahead to open a site in Newcastle. The company has been granted permission by the city council for the change of use of units one and two at 30-42 Newgate Street. The application covers the conversion of the building’s ground and first floors, with a combined floor area of 16,000 square feet. The indoor crazy golf course would be on the ground floor together with a storage area and toilets. The first floor would be used for serving drinks and food as well as additional storage, toilets and an office, reports Insider Media. Junkyard Golf operates sites in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Oxford. Chris Legh, Bart Murphy, Lyndon Higginson and Mat Lake launched the concept as a pop-up in Manchester in 2015.
Bettys & Taylors to begin phased reopening of cafes this month: Family-owned Bettys & Taylors Group will begin a phased reopening of its cafes at the end of this month. The company’s Harrogate outlet in Parliament Street will return on Monday, 27 July along with its Northallerton site. This will be followed by its cafe at RHS Harlow Carr in Beckwithshaw and its Ilkley outlet on Monday, 3 August. In York, the Stonegate cafe will stay closed for eat-in but still serve takeaway, while the York St Helen’s Square venue will reopen on 3 August. Customers will have to book ahead and provide contact details for the NHS test and trace system. Bettys & Taylors said there would be a reduced menu to begin with that would be expanded in August but traditional afternoon tea would still be served.
Super 8 starts reopening plan with Smoking Goat: Super 8 Restaurants, which is led by Brian Hannon and Ben Chapman and operates three London venues, has started to reopen its estate. Smoking Goat, the Thai barbecue restaurant and bar in Shoreditch, is the first to reopen and offers new dishes created by Chapman during lock-down using lobster and crab to support the UK’s fishermen. The new dishes are krua curry of lobster and celtuce – a “complex dry red curry with lots of char aroma from a hot wok” – and curried whole Cornish crab. Super 8’s other restaurants will reopen this month. Brat, the Basque-inspired concept in partnership with Michelin-starred chef Tomos Parry, will reopen in Redchurch Street on Wednesday, 22 July. Kiln, which is also influenced by the cuisine of northern Thailand, will reopen in Soho two days later. Brat also launched a residency at in the outdoor space at events hub Climpson’s Arch in Hackney on Monday (13 July). In 2019, Super 8 Restaurants ranked 31st on The Sunday Times Fast Track 100 list. The company buys many of its ingredients from Cornwall and butchers animals in-house. Sales grew to £7.2m last year.
James Cochran offers franchise opportunity for pubs: Great British Menu winner James Cochran, who co-owns Islington restaurant 12:51, is looking to franchise his lock-down business, Around The Cluck, so pubs can benefit from the government’s VAT cut and kick-start scheme. Cochran said in the three months of lock-down his fried chicken concept was seeing 200 orders a week, initially Thursday to Sunday, which had meant the difference between “12:51 surviving or being another casualty of covid-19”. The franchise scheme would offer a full set-up with the pub’s kitchen manager, a week’s training in Islington with Cochran and his team, and three days’ training ahead of launch day. It would also offer a full set-up with his own suppliers at fair prices, four seasonal menu changes to keep the offering fresh, PR support and mystery shopping quality checks. Cochran’s in-house design team would also offer full branding, menus and templates to use online as well as tutorial videos. As an investment for their time and resources, Cochran would take a 10% cut of their total monthly earnings during the six-month contract. He said: “My signature fried chicken propelled me to winning Great British Menu and ensured 12:51 is still around. I hope it can provide a safety blanket for businesses around the country, especially now times are tight.”
Fletchergate Industries launches seventh Nottingham venue at former Jamie’s Italian: Fletchergate Industries, which is behind Nottingham venues The Hockley Arts Club and Das Kino, has launched its seventh venue in the city. Magic Garden bar has opened at the former Jamie’s Italian in Low Pavement in the city centre. Fletchergate has made the most of the grade II-listed Georgian building’s garden for the “post-covid world” as the space features Chinese lanterns, glitter balls, ribbons and bunting. The site has been empty since the sudden closure of Jamie’s Italian in May 2019, when the chain went into administration. General manager Jamie Barnes told Nottingham Live: “As you come into the outdoor space, it’s like watching kids on Christmas morning – people’s faces light up. It’s such a good space.” Tables and chairs have been spaced out for social distancing, with room for 196 people in total. Magic Garden offers cocktails, beer, cider and spirits alongside pizza and chips. Ordering is done via an app. Fletchergate Industries’ other venues are Penny Lane, The Walrus, The Bowery Club and Pom Pom nightclub.
Vittoria Group sets out reopening plans: Edinburgh-based Vittoria Group has set out reopening plans for its six-strong restaurant portfolio. The company will bring Taste Of Italy, La Favorita and Vittoria On The Walk back into operation on Wednesday (15 July). Vittoria On The Bridge and the group’s flagship site, Bertie’s Restaurant & Bar, will reopen on Wednesday, 22 July. Italian restaurant Divino Enoteca will be the final restaurant in the estate to reopen, on Friday, 31 July. The restaurants will offer reduced capacities, which will be monitored continuously in line with Scottish government guidelines. Staff will wear gloves and masks and all surfaces will be cleaned and disinfected between sittings. The company, owned by Tony and Angela Crolla and their sons Alberto and Leandro, marks its 50th anniversary this year. Leandro Crolla told the Edinburgh Evening News: “It has been an uncertain few months for the Scottish hospitality sector but during these trying and challenging times we have been encouraged by the incredible support of our customers. Like many businesses we are adapting and learning every day but count ourselves lucky to have restaurants where social distancing is relatively easy.”
Hampshire-based pub operator takes on Southsea brewpub for third site: Hampshire-based Giles Babb, who runs The Star & Garter in East Dean and the Blue Bell in Emsworth, has taken on his third pub in the county – The Greenwich brewpub in Southsea. Makemake Brewing Company, which operates from the Osborne Road site, will continue to supply beer to the pub as well as Babb’s other premises. However, the landlord intends to change the food menu. Babb told The News: “It has always been a popular venue and is a good opportunity for us. I think one of the biggest things for me was the brewery made the site very attractive. We are reviewing the menu and looking to expand the food offering to a wider demographic. We will no longer be doing pizzas – it seems the area is flooded with pizza offerings. We are looking to invest in the kitchen and eyeing naval history to update the decor.” The Blue Bell was set to reopen on 4 July but the move had to be postponed after a pipe burst in the loft. The Ahoy Fish & Chip van, owned by Babb, is on the site from 5pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The Star & Garter will reopen on Friday, 24 July.
McCain profits fall as turnover dips in full year due to potato shortage: Food producer McCain has reported turnover dipped 0.3% to £509.9m for the year ending 30 June 2019, compared with £511.6m the year before. McCain said the decline in sales was because of demand being “actively managed” due to the shortage of potatoes during the year following a poor harvest. Pre-tax profit dropped to £37.0m, compared with £56.8m the previous year, partly because of restructuring costs associated with the investment in its Scarborough facility. Operating profit margin fell to 4.2% from 11.3% the year before, while employee retention year-on-year was 96.9%, compared with 99.8% the year before.
Glasgow-based Platform to turn indoor food hall into Scotland’s largest restaurant and bar: Events and hospitality brand Platform is to transform its indoor food hall beneath Glasgow Central station into Scotland’s largest restaurant and bar. Platform will open in Argyle Street Arches on Friday (17 July) offering street food and 350 seats, even accounting for social distancing guidelines. Glasgow street food traders such as Gallus Pasta, Tiny Dancers and Ginger & Chilli will collaborate to serve “flavours from across the world” in conjunction with Platform owner Scott McCormick. Safety measures will include thermal scanners, ordering apps and increased ventilation within the arches. The menu will be dedicated to street food from Asia, Italy and the US with dishes such as sticky Korean fried chicken bites, homemade pizza and hand-cut pasta. Platform will initially operate Fridays and Saturdays from midday until late as part of a transitional opening. Guests can book a table online for three hours with an option to stay longer. Its bar will offer cocktails and beer alongside Scottish gin, whisky and craft soda. McCormick told Glasgow Live: “Like most businesses we’ve had to evolve and adjust to a new normal and the opportunity to create Scotland’s largest casual dining restaurant and street food kitchen will hopefully be one of the few positives to come out of this pandemic. We’ve spent months planning and creating a new concept we’re extremely proud.”
Japanese restaurant Taka to reopen in Mayfair on Friday with new menu: Restaurateur Andrey Datsenko and sister Anastasia will reopen their Japanese restaurant Taka in London’s Mayfair on Friday (17 July). Having launched a delivery service during lock-down, Taka will offer a la carte and signature tasting menus while adhering to government guidelines. The site in Shepherd Market will feature a new menu by executive chef Taiji Maruyama, which will combine a farm-to-table approach with “shun”, the traditional Japanese concept that food should only be eaten in season and at the peak of its flavour. The menu will focus primarily on sushi and sashimi with the concept revolving around aged tuna and fish from Cornish fishermen together with speciality hot dishes focusing on the “shun” philosophy. There will also be a range of drinks including cocktails, wine, saké, Japanese beer and whiskey, and spirits. A second Taka site is set to open in the premises in Marylebone formerly occupied by Peter Gordon’s The Providores.
LabTech reopens eco-led Buck Street Market: Camden Market owner LabTech has reopened its eco-led sister development Buck Street Market for 80% of its traders. Rooftop restaurant Ethika, Spirited Craft Drinks and first floor fine-dining concept Wildflower from chef Adrian Martin will open on Saturday (18 July). Buck Street Market consists of 88 recycled shipping containers and hosts Camden’s largest rooftop, spanning 500 square feet. As with Camden Market, safety measures for reopening will include a strict one-way system with queuing spots outside containers and directional arrows. Hand-sanitiser stations will be positioned at key points throughout the market. For the foreseeable future, traders will also be expected to adhere to factors in line with government recommendations, including limiting the number of customers entering at any one time; maintaining a strict cleaning regime; and accepting card payments only where possible. The relaunch of Buck Street Market will be followed later in the year by the opening of Hawley Wharf Camden, a 580,000 square foot mixed-scheme development.
London-based hot doughnut bar to go from pop-up to permanent: London-based hot doughnut bar Treats Club is going from pop-up to permanent. Following a series of residencies across the capital, treats bar will open a site at Netil Market in Hackney on Saturday, 25 July. Doughnuts will be cooked to order with flavours such as Biscoff salted caramel and vanilla bean as well as a variety of toppings. There will also be ice cream bars, hot doughnut sundaes and shakes, reports Hot Dinners.
Former City Social executive chef to launch vegetable-centric dining experience at Borough Market: Tomas Lidakevicius, former executive chef at Jason Atherton’s City Social, is to launch a vegetable-centric dining experience at London’s Borough Market on Thursday (16 July). Lidakevicius has teamed up with Turnips, a family run stall at Borough Market for the past 30 years, to “join the disconnect between quality produce and the restaurant experience”. Casual plates and cocktails will be offered in the space where Turnips normally trades, while a five-course tasting menu will be served under the arches with Lidakevicius cooking from a shipping container converted into a kitchen. The menu will be driven by Turnips’ daily delivery of fruit and vegetables. Initial dishes are likely to include Yorkshire beans and peas with 48-hour short rib; and sweet and sour cauliflower with sesame seeds. Turnips With Tomas Lidakevicius will operate from 7pm to 10pm, Thursday to Saturday, and 2.30pm to 8pm on Sundays. Charlie Foster, son of Caroline and Fred Foster, who founded Turnips, said: “The juxtaposition between fine dining and buzzy market atmosphere is second to none and we’re so excited to be working with Tomas. The meal I had at City Social when Tomas was in the kitchen was one of the best I’ve ever had and he shares our vision of joining the disconnect between market produce and restaurant food.”
Crieff Hydro launches adventure park in grounds of Perthshire hotel: Crieff Hydro, the seven-strong Scottish hotel operator led by Stephen Leckie, has launched a £250,000 custom-built adventure park at its 900-acre Perthshire estate. The hotel and its grounds already hosted adventure centre Action Glen, which offers more than 25 outdoor activities, but the new facility – Glen’s Adventure Park – is the biggest of its kind in the region. Glen’s Fort, an eight-metre structure with slides, climbing walls, crawl tunnels, ladders and spider webs, is at the heart of the adventure park, which also features 30m racing zip wires, swings, jumping pillows and peddle karts. A custom-built area for toddlers will be added in the coming months. Action Glen manager Richard Leckie said: “It has been our ambition for some time to create an impressive adventure park at the centre of Action Glen so we’re delighted to finally open our doors and show visitors what we’ve been working on. We are fortunate to have acres of land our guests can explore. After months in lock-down, we’re sure this will be welcome news for families looking for somewhere to visit that will keep the kids entertained.”
Kent-based distillery Copper Rivet to continue producing sanitiser: Kent-based Copper Rivet is to continue producing hand sanitiser alongside its beer and gin. The company is producing about 2,000 bottles a day for local police forces and councils and has produced more than 60,000 500ml bottles so far. Co-founder Steve Russell told Propel: “We make our own spirit from beer and have a science-heavy distilling team. We noticed in February that hand sanitiser was becoming scarce at retail outlets so we asked our team to look into it. Over the next few weeks it became clear there was a big shortage and we thought about how we could help. We’ve decided to continue producing sanitiser alongside our other products when the lock-down ends.” Kent brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has supported the effort by supplying high-strength beer to be turned into sanitiser. Russell, his father Bob and brother Matthew carried out the first distillation at its Chatham base in 2016.