Industry leaders secure debut site for quick service chicken brand Chiktopia:Chiktopia, the better chicken concept led by former Ole & Steen UK operations director Alastair Gordon and backed by a group of senior industry figures, has secured its debut site. The concept will open at the new multimillion-pound leisure extension at Intu Lakeside, Essex, in July. The 120-cover site will serve fried and grilled chicken burgers and tenders, skinny fries, salads, wraps, vegan and vegetarian options and thick dairy shakes. Gordon told Propel the team would be concentrating on the Lakeside site this year to make sure the offer was “absolutely right” before looking at potential expansion. He said: “We think we have a compelling offer with an excellent price point that I think will surprise a lot of people, but the rest of this year will be about spending the time working out what works and what doesn’t. We’ve been in this game long enough to know we can’t just start a mass roll-out. When you look at our competitors – Nando’s, KFC and McDonald’s – they are flourishing in the current market, so we think this is a great time to be launching.” Chiktopia’s advisers include Dan Einzig, founder of Mystery Design; Mark Lilley, chief executive of healthy eating chain Abokado; and Richard Morris, managing director of Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed restaurant group. A Chiktopia spokeswoman said the team was delighted to have been chosen by Intu Lakeside to launch in the flagship leisure scheme, with its bosses impressed by the number of senior restaurant figures who had personally invested or were advising the company. Gordon said: “We are so excited Chiktopia will open soon. A huge amount of work has gone in over the past few months, all focused on giving British consumers the best possible chicken experience imaginable. Intu Lakeside, with its mix of couples and families and driven by state-of-the-art leisure experiences and a well-established retail destination, is the perfect platform on which to demonstrate the broad appeal of our brand and our philosophy of fast food to feel good about.” Rebecca Ryman, regional managing director for Intu, added: “Competition for space within our new leisure development has been high. This has allowed us to select the brands we believe will offer the best possible experience to our customers and thrive at Intu Lakeside as a result.”
Leelex secured creditor facing funding shortfall of more than £750,000: The secured creditor of London and Leeds bar operator Leelex, which went into administration last year, is facing a shortfall of more than £750,000 in its lending, a new report has revealed. HSBC was owed circa £1,196m when David Costley-Wood and Owen Jeffery, of KPMG, were appointed joint administrators in October. In their progress report the administrators said that based on current estimates they currently anticipate a shortfall on HSBC’s lending of about £757,310. Preferential creditor claims of £6,444 are expected to be paid in full. As previously reported, unsecured creditors are owed £750,407 and it is uncertain whether a dividend will be paid. Leelex operated Leeds venues Neon Cactus, Jake’s Bar and Cielo Blanco along with The Distillery in London. In their latest report, the administrators said a sale of the stock, fixtures and fittings of Cielo Blanco raised a total consideration of £7,228. There was no value in the leasehold premises so the lease has been surrendered and handed back to the landlord of the Trinity Centre. Prior to the administrators’ appointment a sale of The Distillery to Good Harbour Trading was completed for £400,000 and a separate sale of Neon Cactus, Jake’s Bar and Oporto was completed to Akito. Leelex went into administration after a “slowdown in the casual dining sector resulted in the company finding it increasingly difficult to service its current debt levels, leading to cash flow issues for the company as a whole”.
Bleecker set for Westfield London’s new food court: Bleecker, the burger concept founded by Zan Kaufman in 2012, is to join the line-up at Westfield London’s new food court. Propel understands the three-strong concept has exchanged on a deal to open at The Café Court. Bleecker is set to open at the scheme alongside Pizza Pilgrims, which will launch a slimmed-down version of its concept; Laura Sheffield-led Corazon, which will open Tacos Corazon; Master Bao, a concept by the team behind Daddy Bao in Peckham; and Pascal Aussignac’s fish restaurant Catch Me. The Café Court will also house units from operators currently based at Westfield London such as Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho; Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed restaurant group; Comptoir Libanais, the Lebanese canteen specialising in fresh Middle Eastern dishes; and Indian street food brand Indigo. Bleecker is named after the street in New York that connects East Village to West Village. The brand launched its first permanent site in Old Spitalfields Market in 2014 followed by a second outlet, in Victoria, and a third at Bloomberg Arcade in the City of London, its biggest site to date. DCL is understood to be acting for Westfield on The Café Court.
Incipio secures approval for The Palmhouse in Putney: Incipio Group, which received £5m from entertainment and leisure investor Edition Capital earlier this year to open six sites in the next 18 months, is to open The Palmhouse in Putney town centre later this year after a planning application for the development was approved. The site will be on the rooftop of Putney Exchange. The Putney Exchange website states: “The Palmhouse will operate from midday to 11pm catering to customers meeting for brunch, lunch and afternoon tea as well as evening dining. A family friendly element and menu is a key part of this new concept and its aim is to be green and environmentally conscious, recycling all materials where possible. This includes living plants to create a green space in a previously underused area of the car park.” Incipio is also believed to be working on a site at Brixton Market. Launched in 2015, the group aims to transform dead spaces into large, social venues concentrated around food and drink. So far it has launched Pergola Olympia London, Pergola Paddington, The Prince in West Brompton Crossing, Feast in Hammersmith and W12 Studios in White City. The funding secured from Edition Capital, which values the business at £20.5m, will also be used for large-scale sites in Wimbledon and Brixton, with venues also planned for Mayfair and Fulham. Later this year, Incipio Group will open its first outside London, in Birmingham.
JW Lees appoints new director of operations for hotel and inns division: North west brewer and retailer JW Lees has appointed David Grosfils to succeed Tony Spencer as director of operations – hotels and inns. Grosfils has extensive experience in the hospitality sector at senior level, most recently as managing director of Hallmark Hotels. Before that he was chief operating officer of GLH Hotels (formerly Thistle Hotels) after starting his career as a graduate trainee at Whitbread. He has also held a number of senior operations roles at TGI Friday’s and David Lloyd Leisure. Spencer will retire from JW Lees at its annual general meeting in July after four years with the company. The JW Lees hotels and inns division was created in 2018 following the acquisition of The Stanneylands hotel in Wilmslow and the Bluebird Inn in Samlesbury. The division currently comprises 14 hotels and inns, totalling 291 bedrooms, and is in 31% year-on-year growth, with turnover of £20m and unit Ebitda of £5m. JW Lees managing director William Lees-Jones said: “We are sad to see Tony retire but delighted to welcome David as we embark on the next chapter of JW Lees’ 191-year history, with our hotels and inns division forming an important and growing part of our wider business interests. We anticipate the acquisition of more hotels and inns of an AA four-star standard with 20-plus bedrooms and substantial food and beverage businesses.”
Charles Wells to open first Pizza, Pots & Pints in East Midlands next week:Bedford-based brewer and retailer Charles Wells is to open its first Pizza, Pots & Pints site in the East Midlands, next week. The company will bring the concept to Nottingham by opening The Playwright in Shakespeare Street on Thursday, 23 May. It will be the first of three openings Charles Wells plans for Pizza, Pots & Pints having acquired sites in Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham from independent pub group The Orange Tree last year. The Orange Tree pub in Nottingham has undergone a major refurbishment to become The Playwright, which will feature a bar and dining area with 100 covers, two adaptable events spaces and a beer garden. Charles Wells operations director Benjamin Smith said: “The acquisition of The Orange Tree pubs last year gave us an opportunity to accelerate the growth of our managed estate, making the launch of The Playwright a real milestone. We’re looking forward to introducing Nottingham locals to the Charles Wells family ethos and continuing our expansion into the East Midlands throughout 2019.” The Playwright will be the seventh Pizza, Pots & Pints site, with the portfolio reaching nine when the two other Orange Tree sites relaunch before the end of the year. Charles Wells previously revealed an ambition to expand Pizza, Pots & Pints, which launched in Cambridge in 2015, to 25 sites in the next two to three years.
McDonald’s eyes Rutland for final frontier: McDonald’s is eyeing a site in Rutland – the only county in Britain that doesn’t feature one of its restaurants. The company has earmarked land on the corner of Lands End Way and Hackamore Way in the county town of Oakham to build the restaurant, which would create 65 jobs. McDonald’s will submit an application to Rutland County Council with a public exhibition of its plans held at Victoria Hall in Oakham on Wednesday, 22 May, reports Insider Media.
Secret Pub Company takes on second site with Star Pubs & Bars: Nottingham-based operator The Secret Pub Company has taken on its second site with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. David Hage and Mark Osborne founded The Secret Pub Company in 2016 to “breathe new life into village pubs”. The company opened The Railway in Lowdham in 2017 following a £400,000 refurbishment with Star Pubs & Bars. The companies have joined forces again with a £450,000 refurbishment of The New Trent in Radcliffe-on-Trent under way that will see it reopen as The Radcliffe at the end of July with a new bar and two dining spaces totalling 80 covers. There will also be an outside bar for private parties and two terraces seating 80 in total. Hage said: “The success of The Railway surpassed even our expectations. We’ve done what we set out to do which is build a brand and business famous for offering consistent, great-quality service, food and drinks, and an exciting calendar of events. It was always our intention to open three pubs in the area in four years. We’ve bided our time waiting for the right opportunity.” Star Pubs & Bars regional operations director Alun Johnson added: “David and Mark have an excellent track record at The Railway and a passion for excellence. They know how to make a village pub a success.”
Durham-based Lebanese restaurant to open fourth site, in Yarm: Durham-based Lebanese restaurant Lebaneat is to start expansion outside the city with a fourth site, in Yarm. The company, which specialises in authentic Lebanese cuisine, will open a site this month in a former Lloyds Bank branch in High Street. Lebaneat operates a restaurant in Durham as well as the newly opened Lebaneat Wrap House and an express takeaway in the city, reports Gazette Live.
Brixton-based The Wine Parlour starts expansion with second site: Brixton-based wine bar and shop The Wine Parlour has started expansion by opening a second site. The venue has launched in Brixton Village arcade with customers able to drink wine on-site or take away. Encouraging a “try before you buy” culture, the bottle shop’s focus is on sustainable wine and lesser known grapes from small, family-run vineyards, many of which exclusively supply The Wine Parlour. It also offers craft beer and spirits to buy. The venue offers eight bar seats inside with a further 15 outside, set around barrels. Chix Chandaria, a former dancer who spent years travelling across Europe, launched the debut Wine Parlour in nearby Atlantic Road in 2012. She said: “We love the vibrancy of Brixton Village, the variety of cultures and the open-minded people who are willing to try anything. We’re looking forward to sharing some incredible wine and continuing to add to the community spirit.” Alistair Maddox, director of Hondo Enterprises, the landlord of Brixton Village and Market Row, added: “The Wine Parlour opening its second business with us embodies our commitment to work with local business and the community.”
Kerb extends inKERBator to St Katherine Docks: Street food business Kerb is extending its inKERBator initiative to London’s St Katherine Docks. The company will launch weekly market Kerb St Kats on Thursday (16 May) showcasing up-and-coming talent nurtured by its street food accelerator and incubator programme. Gourmet hotdog concept Dapper Dogs, Afghan-inspired 2 Lads Kitchen, Mexican concept Dos Mas and Pakistani-focused Baba Dhaba will be among the initial 11 street food traders to showcase their offer every Thursday and Friday. Each trader is embarking on the three-month inKERBator programme, which aims to provide aspiring street food entrepreneurs with the training and tools needed to kick-start their business.
Black and White Hospitality to bring Mr White’s English Chophouse to Samlesbury: Black and White Hospitality, which owns the rights to eight restaurant brands belonging to Marco Pierre White, is to open a Mr White’s English Chophouse at the Mercure Preston Samlesbury Hotel in Lancashire. The restaurant will open at the end of June and follows a deal between KRO Hospitality, which bought the hotel out of administration in February, and Black and White Hospitality, which also operates a Chophouse at KRO’s Velvet Hotel in Manchester. The brand focuses on steak, chops and grilled meat, combining “English classics with French flair”. Black and White Hospitality managing director Brandie Deignan said: “We are delighted to work again with KRO Hospitality. This clearly demonstrates how Black and White Hospitality looks to develop long-term relationships with its partners and franchisees.” KRO Hospitality owner Kim Eivind Krohn said: “Guests will be able to dine alfresco and enjoy a new terrace menu. The hotel has built an enviable reputation as being a first-class venue for celebrations, weddings, events and conferences. The arrival of Marco will reinforce this position.” Pierre White said: “Chophouses go back centuries so it’s not about inventing something new, more refining something good.”
Former Novikov development chef to open gourmet fish bun restaurant: Former Novikov Group development chef Giacomo Uzzo is to open a restaurant specialising in gourmet fish buns. Uzzo, who worked for Novikov Group for seven years, has partnered with Federico Ciampolini to launch Molo, which will open on Saturday (18 May) in Netil Market in London Fields. Using sustainable seafood with a mix of Mediterranean and Asian flavours, the menu will centre on three fish buns – soy butter-poached king crab; salmon with gravlax, fried zucchini, roasted aubergine and feta cream; and a “vegano” featuring a rice-and-nori patty with shredded carrot and Chinese cabbage salad dressing. There will also be rotating specials such as Galician octopus and roasted padrón pepper with homemade houmous and pimenton mayonnaise, reports Hot Dinners.
Operators sought for development located between Harvey Nichols and Harrods:Operators are being sought for ground floor and rooftop restaurant and bar spaces at the K1 development, between Harvey Nichols and Harrods in the Knightsbridge estate. Property advisor Distrkt has been appointed sole restaurant advisor for Chelsfield and The Olayan Group on the 340,000 square foot, mixed-use development that fronts Brompton Road and Sloane Street. K1 will comprise retail, office and residential space as well as a major upgrade and transformation of Knightsbridge tube station. The ground floor and rooftop restaurant/bar opportunities are being brought to the market for an opening in 2021.
Island Poké opens seventh London site, in Victoria: Island Poké, the White Rabbit Fund-backed concept, has continued expansion by opening its seventh London site, in Victoria. The venue has launched in Victoria Street at a site formerly occupied by Doughnut Time and offers the brand’s signature poké bowls, fresh fast food and takeaway options. It also has space for 12 diners to eat in, with swing seating, wooden benches, stools and tables. Founded in 2015 by James Porter, the other Island Poké sites are in Bank, Broadgate Circle, Kingly Street, Canary Wharf, Great Titchfield Street and Shoreditch. The company also plans to launch its biggest site to date, in Waterloo, in July. In March, Island Poké geared up for growth by strengthening its management team. Propel revealed it had appointed Georgina Stevens, previously of Benito’s Hat, as finance director and Richard Zivkovic, formerly of Abokado, Costa and Pret A Manger, as operations director.
Fishworks opens new-look flagship site, in Covent Garden: Boparan Restaurant Group-owned brand Fishworks has returned to the expansion trail with an opening in Covent Garden. The venue has launched a new-look flagship site at the former Loch Fyne restaurant in Catherine Street. As part of a wider rebrand, the 110-cover restaurant features a 30-cover private dining room and the group’s first dedicated oyster bar, allowing guests to “pop in for oysters and a glass of fizz or a light bite”. The oyster bar is also bookable for larger parties. Fishworks chief executive Tom Crowley said: “Catherine Street is perfect because of its prime location for tourists and theatre-goers as well as Covent Garden residents who want to dine out on the freshest fish, sometimes taking some home. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved with the design and hope our guests enjoy the new look and feel.” Fishworks currently has sites in Swallow Street and Marylebone, down from a peak of 12 in 2006 when it was listed on the AIM stock exchange. Founded by Rockfish operator Mitch Tonks, the fishmonger and restaurant concept was bought out of administration by Boparan in 2009, with five sites continuing to trade at the time. Earlier this year, Boparan promoted Caroline Hoyle to head of operations for the brand.
Sushi brand Maido opens debut site, in Tottenham Court Road: Sushi brand Maido has opened its debut site, in Tottenham Court Road, London. Maido Sushi has partnered with the Planet Organic store to create London’s “first sushi bar that uses only sustainably sourced fish and organic ingredients, free from preservatives, MSG and artificial additives”. All fresh fish comes from organic farms or Marine Stewardship Council-certificated sustainable fisheries. All tuna has been caught using short fishing lines to protect dolphin populations. All vegetables, rice and condiments, including soy sauce, are organic, while chefs at Maido and Planet Organic have created a range of all-natural sauces. Plastic-free packaging is sustainable and 100% compostable. Orders are created in front of customers at the sushi bar, with sets also available from the fridge. Maido was established in 2016 by founding members of Atari-Ya, which distributes sushi-grade fish to Michelin-starred restaurants in London. Maido sushi is also available at select grocers in the capital.
Douglas Jack – Ei Group moving into Ebitda growth: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said Ei Group is moving into Ebitda growth thanks to managed conversions and a slowdown in disposals. Issuing an ‘Add’ note on the shares with a target price of 230p following the company’s first-half results, Jack said: “Pub partnership’s like-for-like net income grew 1.9% in the first half versus a 0.6% comparable. The first quarter benefited from good trading conditions over the festive trading period, while the second quarter has had favourable year-on-year weather. Like-for-like rent growth was up £1m, with no worsening in the impact of Market Rent Only (MRO) regulation. To date, there have been 1,415 MRO trigger events, from which only 34 have resulted in new mutually agreed free-of-tie terms. Like-for-like net income in pubs that have had a MRO trigger event is up 1.1% versus 1.9% for the total estate, reflecting the former boosting lessees’ negotiating position. Profit from product sales was also up £1m, reflecting price, with volumes flat. In the managed estate, like-for-like sales grew 6.0% (outpacing the pubs constituent of the Coffer Peach Business Tracker’s up 1.6%; wet-led up 1.8%; food-led up 0.5%), helped by a strong Christmas period and uplifts from the conversion programme. A total of 64 pubs were converted to managed in the first half, hence the company is on track for 105 to 115 sites to convert over the full year, of which 70 to 75 should be Craft Union. The company achieved an average return on investment of 18% (2018: 17%) on growth-oriented capex on schemes delivered in the year to 31 March 2019. We are holding our 2019E profit before tax forecast (£115.7m versus consensus’ £113.7m), which assumes 3.5% growth in average tenanted/leased pub profitability after tail-end disposals, versus a 2.7% increase in the first half. Disposal proceeds were £22m in the first half (excluding commercial lease deals) versus £34m the previous year. Over the full year, there should be circa £45m of disposal proceeds versus last year’s £66m. In the first half, tail-end disposals were sold on an average multiple of circa ten times Ebitda. The pace of tail-end disposal activity should slow further to £35m to £40m of annual proceeds from 2020E. The company has announced an extra £30m of share buy-backs, bringing this year’s total to £85m. Excluding the commercial lease disposal, Ebitda is moving into growth, helped by managed conversions and a slowdown in the disposal rate. With the EV/Ebitda at 9.5 times September 2019, we believe the benefit of this year’s debt reduction is reflected in the company’s equity value but our ‘Add’ recommendation reflects Ebitda growth now becoming part of the story.”
Shutov opens Bob Bob Ricard sister site, in the Cheesegrater: Leonid Shutov has opened a much-delayed sister site for his renowned restaurant Bob Bob Ricard. Located on level eight of the Leadenhall building – also known as the Cheesegrater – Bob Bob Cité “breaks new ground” in design and menu, with the latter overseen by Michelin-starred chef Eric Chavot. The 190-cover restaurant is accompanied by a collection of private rooms for a further 50 diners, seating four to 18 guests, with Bob Bob Ricard’s “press for champagne” buttons also an integral part of the new site. Chavot’s menu will feature “French country-cooking classics in London’s most urban, all-booth luxury dining room”. Reputed to have cost £25m, the restaurant offers 50 Armagnac vintages by the glass and stock 200 methuselahs of Champagne in the wine cellar. Shutov told Harden’s: “Good things come to those who wait. One concierge service told us they’ve had more than 5,000 reservation requests for Bob Bob Cité since it has been delayed. I am thrilled we will be able to welcome everyone to enjoy Eric’s outstanding food in a restaurant I hope will become as much a City of London landmark as the Cheesegrater itself.”
Henry McGovern invests in Curtice Brothers: Entrepreneur and AmRest founder Henry McGovern has invested in Curtice Brothers. The investment will help Curtice Brothers support its growth plans. Co-founder and chief executive Mario C. Bauer said: “We are proud and honoured Henry believes so strongly in the Curtice Brothers. His entrepreneurial spirit, positive energy and network will help us continue to grow the company.” McGovern added: “I am pleased to be a part of the Curtice Brothers. The company has everything I have always believed in, which is great food and a great culture. I’m simply honoured to become a brother. The quality and taste of the products are extraordinary.” Simeon and Edgar Curtice founded Curtice Brothers in 1868 in Rochester, New York, but the name was abandoned in the 1940s. Bauer revived the brand in early 2014 and it has since launched an organic ketchup and mayonnaise.
Marston’s to open new-build Clacton pub and hotel this month: Marston’s is to open a new-build pub and 38-bedroom hotel in Clacton, Essex, this month. The company will open the site at Brook Retail Park West on Tuesday, 28 May, creating more than 70 jobs. The pub, which can seat 180 customers, will also feature an outdoor play area, reports the Daily Gazette. The pub will offer a daily carvery alongside its main menu. The hotel and pub is the latest addition to Brook Retail Part West, a £75m retail, leisure and housing complex approved in 2017. The plans include up to 200 homes and a Lidl supermarket.
Sector tech provider Korubu sets out growth plans, hires non-executives: Korubu, the Manchester-based specialist provider of IT infrastructure, energy technology and software for hospitality venues, has outlined ambitious global expansion plans. Founded in 2016 by managing director Chris Xavier, the company has built a client base of 150 sites across the north west in the past three years and said it was now well placed to accelerate growth with ambitions to grow to 1,500 sites in the next two years. Korubu has established a new partnership with London-headquartered JT Global Enterprise, the business-to-business division of JT, which delivers managed data, voice, unified communications, smart retail and contact centre solutions. This will provide Korubu with the large-scale support and infrastructure to facilitate growth targeting national pub groups and international operators. The company said the appointment of non-executive directors Thom Hetherington and Daniel Cornwell and headline sponsorship at this year’s Northern Restaurant & Bar Show would enable the business to continue to expand its network in the north. Xavier said: “Our partnership with JT Global Enterprise provides us with the necessary infrastructure for those rapid, large-scale roll-outs and to go for opportunities that were previously out of reach. Having Thom and Daniel on board provides us with invaluable insight and connections within the industry.” Hetherington said: “We get a lot of approaches from startups and fast-growth businesses looking for advice, advocacy and investment, but Korubu was the one that caught our eye. It’s an elegant, agile system in a sector that will see a huge amount of change and scale. We see a major opportunity to work with Chris and his team to bring our knowledge and contacts to bear.”