UKHospitality calls on prime minister to support sector with common sense immigration policy: UKHospitality has called on prime minister Theresa May to apply common sense to future migration for the “sake of the British economy” as she heads to Brussels for Brexit negotiations. In a letter to May, Brexit minister Dominic Raab and home secretary Sajid Javid, the trade body warned growth in the hospitality sector would be severely hampered without suitable access to non-UK workers, at least in the short term. The letter states that unless the UK’s future immigration policy allows workers of all skill levels to work in the UK easily and affordably, hospitality businesses would be unable to meet projected growth. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Hospitality businesses are putting considerable effort into providing opportunities for UK workers. Three-quarters of our workforce is home-grown and we invest significant amounts into apprenticeship schemes to build the workforce of the future from here in the UK. The reality is, though, that hospitality businesses do need to supplement their workforces with non-UK workers, particularly given the record employment rate, if they want to keep pace with projected growth. If following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU there is no system in place to ensure employers can access labour, businesses will struggle and consumers will suffer through higher prices and falling service levels. We need to see a mutually beneficial migration policy established as part of trade deals following Brexit. This should go hand-in-hand with reforms to tier two migrants who are coming to the UK to work. The government should seriously reconsider thresholds for all migration otherwise hospitality businesses on our high streets will struggle to provide further jobs and investment in local communities.”
Hawthorn Leisure reports return to profit in year before its acquisition by NewRiver for £106.8m: Hawthorn Leisure has reported a return to profit in the year before it was acquired by NewRiver for £106.8m. Hawthorn Leisure saw pre-tax profit of £1,934,000 for the year ending 31 December 2017, compared with a loss of £10,699,000 the year before. Revenue increased to £42,396,000, compared with £41,534,000 the previous year. Adjusted Ebitda was up to £9,928,000 compared with £8,990,000 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. There were no acquisitions during the period (2016: 11 pubs). During the year, the group sold 20 pubs (2016: 32 pubs), resulting in an estate of 301 sites as of 31 December 2017. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “In June 2017 the group successfully renegotiated its key wet supply contracts. This has improved drink margins across the group as well as providing working capital benefits as payment terms became more favourable. Improvements have been in trading performance as well as through the reduction in finance costs and net reversals of impairments of £2,827,000 (2016: impairment charge of £3,417,000). The group continued to enhance tenant and operator relationships and invested a further £3,322,000 (2016: £2,890,000) in the pub estate during the year. At 31 December 2017, three-quarters of the trading estate had received significant capital investment and the group is well positioned to develop its business model and continue the programme of investment over the coming years. Noah Bulkin, a former Merrill Lynch and Lazard banker, founded Hawthorn Leisure in 2014 when he bought 275 pubs from Greene King and 88 from R&L, the pub portfolio that previously belonged to Robert Tchenguiz’s property estate. NewRiver acquired Hawthorn Leisure from an affiliate of Avenue Capital Group in May for an enterprise value of £106.8m. This represented a net initial yield based on the value of the pub portfolio of 13.6%.
Punch appoints Russell Danks as new marketing and strategy director:Punch has appointed Russell Danks as its new marketing and strategy director. Danks, founder of business strategy, trends and change agency Future Factory London, joins the Punch team this month and will take over the leadership of its marketing team and strategy implementation. Chief executive Clive Chesser said: “This is a really exciting time for Punch as we build a bold and dynamic business and I am thrilled Russell will be joining the team. Russell’s energy, leadership and experience in the hospitality sector will help us to deliver plans that are relevant and that add significant value to our publicans running pubs up and down the country.” Before founding Future Factory London, Danks held senior executive roles with brewer and retailer Greene King, KFC and P&O Cruises. Danks added: “This is an awesome opportunity to work with the Punch team on its exciting and ambitious plan. I am looking forward to working with the teams and getting to know our publicans and pubs across the country to help them create epic pubs at the heart of their communities.”
BrewDog raises £26.2m as it closes Equity for Punks V campaign: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has raised £26.2m in its Equity for Punks V crowdfunding campaign. The company has closed its latest funding round, which included a return to Crowdcube to tap into its investors. BrewDog was aiming to raise a minimum of £22m through Equity for Punks V. About 50,000 people invested in the latest campaign, bringing the total number of shareholders across the five rounds to 94,000. The funds raised through Equity for Punks V will support BrewDog in expanding its breweries in Ellon, Scotland, and Columbus, Ohio, as well as accelerating the construction of its brewery in Brisbane, Australia, and its plans to build a brewery in China. Last week BrewDog unveiled its blueprint, which outlines its plans for the next ten years. It includes starting a bar franchise programme and relaunching its Development Fund, with up to £200,000 available each year to help small craft brewers and startups become established. Co-founder James Watt said: “Equity for Punks V is the most successful equity crowdfunding round the world has ever seen. We’re thrilled to have expanded our awesome global community, which is the lifeblood of our business.”
Bruce Group reports turnover and Ebitda boost: Edinburgh-based multi-site pub and hotel operator Bruce Group has reported turnover increased to £7,578,451 for the year ending 30 June 2018, compared with £6,288,897 the year before. Ebitda jumped to £1,007,858, compared with £624,683 the previous year. Pre-tax profit dropped to £607,744 compared with £1,822,371 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The focus of the group remains in Edinburgh’s Old Town but it made its first foray into the student town of Stirling with the purchase of Dusk. This was acquired as part of a package that included two units in Edinburgh’s Old Town. The directors are confident it will prove to be a valuable asset as it benefits from steady trade in an area where it has limited competition. The group also ventured outside Edinburgh to make acquisitions to grow its tenanted estate and this will be an area of focus over the forthcoming year. The major new units acquired had no significant impact on sales as these were acquired close to the financial year end. More than £4m was spent in acquiring the units and maintaining the current estate, with the refurbishment of the George IV being the major project completed during the year. This saw a complete remodelling of the unit leading to an increase in useable floor space and early results after reopening are promising. The flagship venue, Stramash, continues to go from strength to strength, with sales increasing 25% on the prior year. Additional loan funding of £3.2m was taken on to help fund the expansion while £228,738 of capital was repaid. The group completed a restructuring during the year to segregate its tenanted and managed estates into separate legal entities. This has had no impact on overall group numbers but has been completed to improve internal operational management. The business is still predominantly focused on the Old Town area of Edinburgh and this will remain a key trading area. Expansion into other geographic areas will be considered but this is most likely to be driven by expansion of the tenanted estate.”
Wright & Bell to open Lino next month as it heads to City for third venue:Restaurant and bar company Wright & Bell, which is backed by the Imbiba Partnership, is to open its third site next month. The company will launch Lino on Friday, 9 November in a former carpet warehouse in the Square Mile that is a stone’s throw from St Bart’s Hospital and tucked behind Smithfield Market. The centrepiece of the room will be a clover-shaped, tulipwood bar. Decorated in shades of peach, salmon pink and rustic green with antique brass fixtures, the space takes cues from minimalist Finnish design. The bar will be lined with shelves of craft spirits and jars of house ferments to be mixed into cocktails including witty takes on favourites such as the snowball. The kitchen will use low-waste ingredients across the all-day menu. Dishes will include Belted Galloway wing rib of beef, and oxtail and potato tart. Managing director Sarah Clark said: “We are opening Lino in an incredible space – a beautiful building with an industrial heritage. Both a bar and restaurant, Lino has been designed with its guests and team in mind, taking a new, considered approach to drinking and dining in the City.” Wright & Bell also operates The Kitty Hawk and The Back Room Wine Bar, both in Finsbury Park, north London.
Jason Atherton launches three restaurants at Shanghai hotel: Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton has launched three restaurants at The Shanghai Edition hotel in China. It is Atherton’s third venture with hotelier and designer Ian Schrager. The hotel consists of two towers and incorporates the refurbishment of Shanghai Power Company’s former headquarters, which houses one of Atherton’s new restaurants, Shanghai Tavern. The restaurant is on the ground floor, is similar to London sibling Berners Tavern and offers a brasserie-style menu. The new tower features 145 bedrooms and suites accompanied by Atherton’s other restaurants – HIYA, a Japanese restaurant on the 27th floor, and Canton Disco, a Cantonese-style restaurant on the third floor. HIYA, which translates as “clouds in the sky” in Japanese, takes inspiration from The Social Company’s flagship izakaya-style restaurant Sosharu in London and features a rooftop bar with views of the Huangpu river. Canton Disco is Atherton’s first partnership with Hong Kong-based restaurant group Black Sheep. It offers traditional Cantonese-inspired dishes with a contemporary twist. All three outlets are being overseen by chef-de-cuisine Scott Melvin, who has worked with Atherton for the past 14 years. Atherton said: “Ian has been a very important figure in my life since embarking on our partnership, first with Berners Tavern in London and then The Clocktower in New York, which was awarded a Michelin star in 2017. For us to bring our flagship restaurants to Shanghai is incredible.”
Domino’s Pizza reports global sales up 8.3% in third quarter: Domino’s Pizza has reported global sales increased 8.3% in its third quarter. Like-for-like sales were up 6.3% in the US and 43.3% in the international division. The quarter marked the 99th consecutive quarter of international like-for-like sales growth and the 30th consecutive quarter in the US. Total revenue increased to £785,965,000, compared with £643,642,000 the previous year. The company added 253 stores during the period – 192 internationally and 61 in the US. It shut 21 sites – 19 internationally and two in the US. Diluted earnings per share was up 65.3% to $1.95. Chief executive Ritch Allison said: “Our US business once again executed at extremely high levels in the third quarter. Our global business, driven by strong retail sales growth and franchisee economics that outperformed the industry, continued its strong momentum.”
Nando’s drops plans to convert historic London library: Nando’s has dropped its plans to take over a library in east London where the GMB was born after pressure from the trade union. The company had applied to Newham Council to convert the ground floor Canning Town library, which is grade II-listed, and the neighbouring public hall that hosted political speakers such as trade unionist Keir Hardie and suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst. After a meeting there in 1889, Will Thorne formed the National Union of Gasworkers and General Labourers, which later became the GMB. Thorne also helped organise the London Dock Strike of the same year. The GMB fought Nando’s plans, saying it was “bird-brained” and showed an “utter disregard for east London’s proud history”. It wants to turn the building into offices for its staff. Commenting on Nando’s withdrawing its plan, GMB London regional secretary Warren Kenny told the Evening Standard: “There is a time and a place for chicken, but a historic library that forms part of the fabric of Newham’s community was never it.” The council argued the building was costing “£2,000 per week to maintain” and Nando’s was its “preferred occupier”. A Nando’s spokesman said: “It has become clear the history of the library building and its deep association with certain groups in the community means there are very strong feelings about how it should be used. As a result of these unique circumstances, we have decided not to proceed with our application.”
Vaulkhard Group gets licence for third Barluga, takes over Ponteland pub:Newcastle leisure firm Vaulkhard Group has been granted a licence for a third site for its Barluga brand, in Gosforth. The company has had its application approved by Newcastle City Council for a former Loch Fyne restaurant, which brewer and retailer Greene King closed in July. Vaulkhard Group’s six-month refurbishment of the former church, which is more than 100 years old, will include a new bar and toilets. Meanwhile, the company has taken over management of The Diamond Inn in Ponteland. The group intends to run the pub in Main Street as it is, although it plans to invest in an interior refit in mid-2019. Ollie Vaulkhard, joint-owner and director, told Insider Media: “We are delighted our reputation and track record helped secure the licence for Barluga in Gosforth and to take over The Diamond in Ponteland. We’re excited about welcoming customers into these venues.” Vaulkhard’s other Barluga bar restaurants are in Grey Street in Newcastle city centre and Morpeth. The company’s portfolio consists of 16 sites in the north east including three venues for its Central Bean coffee shop concept and two for its Blakes Tea Room brand.
Timothy Taylor puts Harrogate Brasserie on market as it focuses on brewing interests: Keighley-based brewer Timothy Taylor has put its Harrogate Brasserie on the market as it focuses on its brewing interests. The company, which operates 19 sites across Yorkshire, is marketing the property through agents Christie & Co. Occupying a stone-built, three-storey building, the property features a restaurant as well as 14 bedrooms and apartments. In addition to the main Harrogate Brasserie building, there is a terraced townhouse currently used by hotel guests that is also included in the sale. Timothy Taylor purchased Harrogate Brasserie from Richard Finney to develop it as a flagship outlet in the Yorkshire town. After two years the operator has decided to sell the site without planned developments going ahead to focus on significant investment in its brewery. Chief executive Tim Dewey said: “While many breweries have evolved to place more focus on their pub estate, our main efforts have always been on brewing. Since acquiring Harrogate Brasserie we have come to realise our limitations in this area, given our size and expertise. As a result, our hope is to sell Harrogate Brasserie to a leisure specialist that can do this fantastic outlet justice. In the meantime, we look forward to continuing to offer our beer to our strong Harrogate following through the many outlets that stock our beer in the town.” Harrogate Brasserie has an asking price of offers in excess of £1.35m for the freehold interest of the main building and offers in excess of £1.675m for the freehold interest of the main building plus the house on a share sale basis with Harrogate Brasserie.
Stonegate to launch Popworld in Morecambe next month for 29th site: Stonegate Pub Company is to open a venue for its party brand Popworld in Morecambe, Lancashire, next month. The company will launch the venue in Marine Road Central on Wednesday, 21 November following an £800,000 conversion of its Kings Arms pub. The site will be the brand’s 29th. Popworld features a soundtrack from the nineties and noughties alongside cocktails, bookable booths and cocktail masterclasses. Popworld brand manager Jamie Rosenfeld said: “We are so excited to bring Popworld to Morecambe for the first time. We have had such great success over the past few years and are continuing to grow as a brand, throwing unforgettable parties across the UK. With this new site we can’t wait to show off what we are all about and provide a great party for all!” In August, Stonegate said it would have 35 Popworld sites open by the end of 2018.
SSP Group launches Bazzar Caffè at Düsseldorf airport: SSP Group, the operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, has brought a taste of Italian coffee culture to Düsseldorf airport in Germany with the launch of its first site with franchise partner Bazzar Caffè. The 84-cover venue is at one of the airport’s departure lounges and spans 200 square metres. The steam punk-styled outlet features an interior that blends “retro and futuristic elements”. The concept offers breakfast, cakes, tapas and salads, while Bazzar-themed merchandise is available to buy from an adjacent retail store. The concept is the brainchild of Aydin Kirici, who said: “This concept has been exclusively designed from the ground up for passengers at Düsseldorf airport. All furniture is tailor-made and each element is bespoke. Italy is famous for the highest level of espresso coffee culture and this venture continues the tradition.” With the addition of Bazzar Caffè, SSP now operates 11 restaurants and food outlets at Düsseldorf airport, as well as an on-site conference centre. Jan Kamp, director business development and properties, SSP DACH region, said: “High-quality products and outstanding culinary concepts are key criteria when selecting our franchise partners – Bazzar Caffè features those characteristics.” Pia Martina Klauck, head of commercial operations at Düsseldorf airport, added: “We seek a mix of internationally known brands and regional, individual concepts so we are delighted to open Bazzar Caffè in co-operation with SSP.”
Hook co-founder to open debut solo restaurant, at Pop Brixton: Simon Whiteside, chef and co-founder of seafood restaurant Hook in Camden, is to open his first solo venture. Whiteside will launch Roe at Pop Brixton on Wednesday, 7 November. Located in a shipping container, the restaurant will seat 32 guests including a terrace. The stripped-back interiors will feature two communal tables made from reclaimed wood, each seating eight guests, vintage-style bulkhead lights along the wall and an open kitchen. Roe will focus on sustainable seafood from the British and Irish coast using small, independent suppliers only. The ever-changing menu will offer small and larger plates drawing on Whiteside’s Irish heritage. Dishes will include ray wing with Jerusalem artichoke and wild mushrooms; and confit sea trout with sea greens and oyster and sorrel emulsion. The drinks list will feature a small flight of cocktails alongside wine, beer and soft drinks. Whiteside said: “My wife Cairene and I have been talking about the Roe concept for a while and we’re looking forward to serving tasty and affordable food. Opening a place without investors is daunting but it will give us the freedom to do so much more than before.”
TGI Friday’s to open Greater Manchester restaurant: TGI Friday’s is to open a restaurant in Greater Manchester. The company has secured a site at Middlebrook Retail Park. TGI Friday’s has agreed a 15-year lease with landlord Orbit Developments for a 10,500 square foot unit previously occupied by Next, which has relocated to a bigger site at the complex. The restaurant is set to create more than 80 jobs when it opens next year. Mark Hanna, Orbit Developments senior retail leasing, told Insider Media: “We are very pleased Middlebrook continues to attract such strong operators. We’re always working to include new brands in an effort to enhance the line-up and drive footfall.”
Team behind Brixton restaurant Salon to launch sister site in Peckham this month: The team behind Brixton restaurant Salon will launch a sister site in Peckham this month. Nicholas Balfe, Mark Gurney and Matt Bushnell will open Levan on Wednesday, 31 October in Blenheim Grove. It will focus on contemporary European dishes and take inspiration from “new-wave bistronomy”. Levan will be housed in a converted warehouse and consist of two main spaces – a large dining area and a bar with high tables for walk-ins. The restaurant will offer pastries and croque monsieur in the morning, while the lunch menu will reflect European bistro classics such as potato, chanterelle and vacherin pie. The evening menu will consist of smaller sharing plates and heartier dishes such as smoked pollack with spinach and 50-day aged rump with wild garlic aioli. The drinks list will include French wine and bespoke cocktails. Balfe said: “I am looking forward to bringing our sustainable approach to cooking to a more European-style restaurant. We picked the name because we’re all huge fans of Larry Levan, an iconic music producer and DJ who essentially tore up the rulebook and wrote the blueprint for what dance music would become. It’s this sense of freedom of expression that ties the work of Larry to the work of our favourite left-field wine-makers today, which will be a huge focus at the new restaurant. He changed the way people thought about music and we’re seeing the beginning of a shift in the way people think about wine.”
One of England’s oldest inns on market for £1.1m: One of the oldest inns in England has gone on the market for £1.1m. Believed to have been licensed as long ago as 1384, The Shaven Crown in the village of Shipton-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire, is being marketed by Colliers International following an extensive refurbishment. Originally constructed as a hospice for monks at nearby Bruern Abbey, the grade II-listed building retains many of its medieval features including the Great Hall, which now serves as a lounge. A staircase leads to seven letting rooms. The bar seats 30 drinkers and features a beamed ceiling and fireplace, a snug and an 18-cover breakfast room. The 30-cover restaurant has a huge open fireplace, while the private dining room can seat ten. Peter Brunt, a director with the hotels team at Colliers International, said: “The present owners set about an ambitious refurbishment. They enjoyed the process of creation but the operation, great as it is, has sadly had a greater-than-expected effect on family life. For this reason alone, they have decided to sell, giving purchasers an opportunity to acquire a fully refurbished business with an opportunity to further develop trade.”
Edwardian Hotels launches shared dining concept in Manchester:Edwardian Hotels has opened a restaurant at its Manchester site that embraces the “art of shared dining”. Peter Street Kitchen “spearheads” the food and beverage offering at the revitalised Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel. Guests can choose small plates from two cuisines – contemporary Japanese and Mexican – including shredded crab with spicy ginger mayo tostadas, and yellowtail sashimi with spicy yuzu soy. The Bar And Rikyu Lounge complements the restaurant, offering yuzu-flavoured sake and cocktails. Edwardian Hotels London service excellence director Amir Jati, who has overseen the project, said: “This concept has proved enormously popular in London, with Leicester Square Kitchen in the top five of both Peruvian and Mexican restaurants. We know Peter Street Kitchen will be a similar game-changer in Manchester’s booming restaurant scene.
Peel Hunt – cost growth is eclipsing recovery at Merlin Entertainments:Peel Hunt leisure analyst Ivor Jones has said cost growth is eclipsing recovery at Merlin Entertainments. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 450p following the company’s trading update for the 40 weeks to 6 October and an analysts’ meeting, Jones said: “There has been much focus on the labour-cost pressures flagged by management and the potential pressure on margins in FY19. With continued post-terrorism underlying recovery and the benefit of capex, FY19 has the potential to be a solid year despite increased costs. We are not changing our bottom-of-range £512m FY19E Ebitda forecast at this stage but we can see the risks to the downside. This time last year London saw the impact from terrorism and management was expecting a year or so to recover. This appears to have been an accurate prediction. Management expects to update on the growth plans for Midway at the prelims, which could imply a further slowdown in the roll-out or, perhaps equally likely, success with new formats. It is expecting ten to 12 openings in 2019 as a result of delays in 2018. Management believes Legoland New York (park number nine) is on track to open in 2020 and park number ten will open perhaps two years behind that. Seemingly interminable discussions about financing a park in Korea continue and progress is being made in relation to parks in China. In relation to cost growth, management highlighted National Minimum Wage, Apprenticeship Levy and business rates (which alone added circa 1% to costs). In addition, almost full employment and reduced immigration in key markets is adding to the cost base and this is an upside risk for FY19, which could see cost growth rise above ‘2% to 3%’ in FY19, before the productivity agenda offsets this from the end in 2019. However, management will not risk customer satisfaction and flagged a willingness to see margins come under pressure in FY19 (a ‘pinch point’) if necessary before seeing relief coming through from the productivity agenda in terms of technology, structure and back office systems. Looking forward, management noted Halloween was the single biggest week of the year and highlighted Legoland had a solid pipeline for growth. Management expects to see like-for-like growth accelerate in FY19 based on current trading trends.”
Airship launches gift card and experience platform aimed at operators: CRM agency Airship has launched Toggle, a gift card and experience platform with the aim to take gift cards “beyond the big guns” and make them accessible for pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels. Airship said Toggle would allow businesses to set up their own online shop within minutes and start selling gift cards and experiences. It said Toggle allowed operators to take menu items and package them into experiences for customers to buy, while it integrates with Zonal, Comtrex, Polaris and Orbis, with “other providers lined up”. Airship chief executive Dan Brookman said: “More operators are looking for additional options to generate revenue. Consumers are also looking to share and enjoy experiences together. During the past 12 months we’ve seen a shift from customers buying gift cards to buying experiences. Everyone’s looking for an Instagramable moment.” Airship said it would roll out tools to help customers repurchase and top up and it is offering a 30-day free trial.