Marston’s – we will reopen 80% to 85% of pubs on 4 July: Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay said he expects it will reopen 80% to 85% of its 1,400 premises from 4 July after being given the go-ahead to open sites with “one metre-plus” distancing in place. He said: “If two-metre distancing had stayed in place we would have only been able to reopen about 25% of our pubs. This is a positive step, but I think there is also now a case for some kind of stimulus to help consumer spending. Personally I feel a VAT cut, which has been touted, would work.” Meanwhile TGI Friday’s has told customers it will reopen on Monday, 6 July while Rob Pitcher, chief executive at Revolution Bars Group, told PA it would reopen 10% of sites on 4 July but he does not expect these to be profitable with current restrictions in place. He said: “We don’t think it will really be profitable for us, but it is important for us to test our procedures and safety protocols, and gauge demand as well. We’ve had very high levels of bookings so we are confident things are pulling in the right direction.” JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin added: “We are extremely pleased pubs are reopening on 4 July after a long hiatus. We are going to discuss the precise government proposals with our pub managers and staff before we comment further on the details.”
Reuters – Stonegate plans debt issue to finance Ei Group acquisition: Stonegate Pub Company, the TDR Capital-backed group, is set to raise money via a high-yield debt issue in the coming weeks to help to finance the purchase of Ei Group. Stonegate’s acquisition of Ei Group for £2.97bn including debt turned it into the UK’s largest pub owner and was completed just before the coronavirus crisis shut down the hospitality sector. Reuters reported Stonegate could launch a high-yield bond soon to help to take out a £2.725bn bridge loan agreed in February to finance the Ei Group purchase. Stonegate is rated B3 by Moody’s. Barclays and Goldman Sachs, which also worked on the original bridge loan, are among the banks leading the debt plans. Stonegate declined to comment. Stonegate has been affected by Britain’s coronavirus lock-down, but discussions with investors have shown there is sufficient market demand for the company’s debt, sources told Reuters. “What investors want to see is a clear roadmap and contingency plan for the reopening of pubs – they don’t necessarily need to wait until they are actually operational,” one of the sources said. “It’s beautiful and sunny out there and pubs are about to reopen – what better time to launch this bond?”
Itsu to begin reopening parts of its UK estate: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, is to begin reopening parts of its circa 70-strong UK estate on Friday (26 June) for delivery and takeaway. The company, which previously reopened two of its kitchens to serve meals to NHS workers in London in April, will reopen its sites in Bicester, Brighton, Bristol and Kingston as well as its Kings Road and Notting Hill outlets in London. More sites will reopen over the coming weeks. The business is putting in a number of safety measures in line with its reopening plans including installing sanitising stations, limiting the number of customers inside, staying closed for dine-in, and only taking card and contactless payment. It will also offer contactless delivery ordering through Deliveroo, UberEats and Just Eat.
Oakman Inns – we’ve taken 3,000 bookings already: Oakman Inns & Restaurants chief executive Peter Borg-Neal has reported 3,000 bookings for the reopening date of 4 July. He said: “There is substantial public enthusiasm for us to reopen and we have already taken more than 3,000 bookings for 4 July with two of our 28 pubs already fully booked. The critical impact for us will be the reduced capacity – not a lack of public demand. The significant challenge will be to ensure everyone who visits us and works for us has a safe and enjoyable time.” To comply with the new regulation to collect customers’ contact details, Oakman Inns has created a bespoke mobile app that allows customers to make reservations and then order drinks and food from their phone without leaving their table. Borg-Neal added: “Apart from our reopening, my greatest delight, is two households can meet inside or outside in groups of up to six, although there is still some clarification needed. It will be part of the normalisation process that will help bring the country back together, as families and neighbours are able to meet up and celebrate birthdays and anniversaries that have been on hold. However, for some of our colleagues in the hospitality industry it will be impossible for them to open economically until the distancing requirement has been removed. Those businesses are going to require continued financial and legislative support to give them a breathing space.” Borg-Neal believes the entire sector still requires a package of fiscal interventions as businesses that have effectively been halved or terminated by the government – through no fault of their own – will have increased operating costs as well as reduced capacities as a direct result of the distancing rule. He added: “For example, we’d like the chancellor to immediately cut the headline rate of VAT and would like the government to make a full root and branch reform of business rates ahead of April 2021.”
Timpson family buys 16 Hospitality sites out of administration: The Timpson family, which operates the nationwide shoe repair chain, has saved almost 100 jobs after a pub group it previously owned was bought out of administration, for an undisclosed sum. Wythenshawe-based 16 Hospitality operated four pubs – the Timpson family was a minor shareholder in the company and bought the remainder of the company shortly before coronavirus prompted the forced closure of UK pubs and restaurants. It already owned the freeholds. Two pubs are in Cheshire – The Partridge in Stretton and The Old Hall Hotel in Frodsham – while the other two are on Anglesey – The White Eagle in Rhoscolyn and The Oyster Catcher in Rhosneigr. It was announced in April that 16 Hospitality had been put into administration when Sarah O’Toole and Jason Bell, of Grant Thornton UK, were appointed joint administrators to 16 Hospitality and its subsidiaries on 9 April. Now the administrators have announced the business and assets of the group have been acquired by Flock Inns, a new Timpson family vehicle, and about 100 staff have been transferred as a result of the sale. Sarah O’Toole, advisory partner at Grant Thornton UK, said: “The impact of coronavirus on this sector has been significant and, therefore, we are delighted to have achieved a sale that preserves almost 100 jobs.”
Just Eat – lock-down produced a temporary demand shock: Just Eat’s UK boss Andrew Kenny has told MPs on the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee the company saw a “demand shock” immediately after lock-down was announced. Demand for takeaways “dived sharply immediately after lock-down restrictions were introduced,” Kenny said. “We saw a demand shock in those initial couple of weeks, where customers weren’t there as regularly as usual on our platform, although that came back relatively quickly,” he told the committee. “The challenge was that still only 50% of restaurants we typically see on our platform were open, so we had it as our responsibility to encourage as many to stay open as possible.”
Birmingham restaurateur partners with Deliveroo to develop virtual chicken wings brand, plans expansion through franchising: Birmingham restaurateur Faheem Badur has partnered with Deliveroo to develop virtual chicken wings brand Dirty Wild Wings – with plans to expand across the UK through franchisees. Dirty Wild Wings operates three sites in Birmingham and has this week launched one in Newcastle and another in Brixton, south London. It is on-track to be operating in 20 sites across the UK soon, making it the country’s largest virtual chicken wings brand. Now Badur, who owns a number of restaurants and franchises in and around Birmingham, and Deliveroo are looking to open further sites through franchising. Based on fried chicken wings, Dirty Wild Wings has six “explosive, and very distinct flavours”. The wings are fried fresh-to-order in a secret blend of 14 herbs and spices. Each of the flavours is paired with a quirky character – an animated cartoon chick. Badur said: “The concept can be bolted-on to any existing kitchen, making it easily accessible to a wide customer base. This is a fantastic opportunity for fast food operators while the UK delivery market is increasingly growing.”
Sessions Market to open ‘UK’s first socially distanced food hall’ in Brighton:Sessions Market, the ethically-driven and immersive food hall concept that is backed by Imbiba, will open its debut site, in Brighton on 4 July after the government gave the go-ahead for hospitality businesses to reopen. Led by Dan Warne, former managing director at Deliveroo, the former Shelter Hall on the seafront has been transformed into Shelter Hall Raw – described as the UK’s first socially distanced food hall. It will provide a dining experience that meets social distancing and safety guidelines. Originally due to open ahead of lock-down, Shelter Hall Raw has had safety measures built into the infrastructure while ensuring the concept can be easily adapted as guidelines change in the future. Safety measures include mobile app orders, screens fitted at tables and a one-way entrance system. Each of the Shelter Hall Raw operators is Sussex-based and the venue is creating 100 jobs. Warne said: “The hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit in the pandemic and we’re thrilled to see this innovative concept open on the Brighton seafront. Shelter Hall Raw is an ethically-driven business and we’ve worked alongside the forward thinking local authorities and the Brighton community to create a food hall for the covid-19 era.”
Morrisons launches takeaway service at more than 400 cafes: Supermarket Morrisons has launched a takeaway service at more than 400 of its cafes across the country. Among the meals featuring on the menu will be fish and chips with bread and butter, pizza, plus an afternoon tea with prosecco. All items will be prepared by hand in Morrisons cafes and packed into new cardboard takeaway boxes. Customers can order their takeaway by calling a new national takeaway hotline number where they are transferred to their local store. All meals will be ready for collection half an hour later while delivery via Deliveroo is also available in a selected number of locations. Collections are available from Monday to Saturday between 8.30am and 8pm, and on Sundays between 10.30am and 3pm. Marianne Jones, head of cafe operations at Morrisons, said: “Our customers love our cafes. Some dine with us a number of times a week and many have told us they’ve been waiting for their return. So we’ve been working behind the scenes to bring back some of our most popular dishes at great prices as we continue to feed the nation.” Morrisons closed its cafes in March in line with government guidelines.
Homeslice reopens further sites: London-based better pizza brand Homeslice has reopened two more of its sites in the City and White City. The company, which had already reopened its sites in Shoreditch and Marylebone, is offering delivery and collection through its White City site. At its site in the City, in Queen Street, the company is offering “pints and pizza slices to go”, from Wednesday to Friday between 4pm and 9pm.
Macs Adventure secures loan to safeguard future: Internationally focused tour operator, Macs Adventure, has received a £1m Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL) from Barclays to safeguard the future of the business. The company specialises in self-guided, tailor-made walking and cycling holidays across 40 destinations, 90% of which are in the UK and across Europe, with the remaining 10% in longer haul locations such as Australia and South America. It organises upwards of 700 tours every year with about 30,000 customers travelling with the bespoke operator annually. Neil Lapping, founder of Macs Adventure, said: “As an internationally focused tour operator Macs Adventure was hit early and hard by the coronavirus outbreak and faces a long road back to business as normal. The loan we have secured from Barclays will enable us to continue to trade through 2020, protect jobs and restart and rebuild our business in 2021. This will allow us to continue to serve our community of travellers and to serve our purpose, which is to make a positive impact on people’s lives and the planet through transformative active travel.”
Pepe’s Piri Piri Grill opens site in Withington: Flame-grilled chicken chain Pepe’s Piri Piri Grill has opened a site in Withington, Greater Manchester. The company has opened the premises in Wilmslow Road. The property, which has sat unused for two years, has undergone eight months of renovations to transform it into a 30-cover restaurant, complete with a new kitchen and seating area. The restaurant is currently offering only takeaway in line with the government restrictions. Franchisee Santhosh Kodari has used an £187,000 package from NatWest to purchase and renovate the premises. He told Insider Media: “I have worked in the food and drink sector for more than ten years in managerial positions, so it was the logical next step for me to open my own business.”
Legacy appointed to take over operation of 30 James Street hotel in Liverpool from Signature Living: Legacy Hotels and Resorts has been appointed by the receivers of the 30 James Street hotel in Liverpool to operate the site. The company said it was seeking to preserve as many of existing jobs as possible at the four-star property “despite the challenging economic situation”. It has also confirmed aparthotel operator and developer Signature Living, which opened the property in 2014, would have no further links to the management of the hotel. The hotel, themed around the White Star Line shipping company that once occupied the historic building, contains 63 nautical-themed rooms, as well as a rooftop terrace bar, a restaurant, events space and spa facilities. Jim Gordon, managing director of Legacy Hotels and Resorts, said: “This is a new beginning for this historic and beautiful building. The hotel is a key asset for Liverpool’s visitor economy, and it is important we reopen it as soon as possible as the city begins to open up again after the coronavirus pandemic.” Legacy Hotels and Resorts already operates the Pullman Hotel in the city and is opening a Novotel at the new Paddington Village near the University of Liverpool. The company has a portfolio of hotels across the UK and Europe. Julian Clarke and Matthew Nagle, of Savills, have been appointed as receivers of the hotel. Administrators have already been appointed to various parts of Signature Living’s business although the rest of its trading operations are unaffected.
Barbecue street food concept Smokestak to launch DIY box: Barbecue street food concept Smokestak is to launch a DIY box. Customers in London will be able to order the boxes from Friday, 3 July with nationwide delivery being available from the end of that month. Everything will be smoked at the restaurant in Shoreditch, for up to 15 hours over kiln-dried English oak in a wood-fired smoker before being vacuum-packed and sent out overnight. The menu will include 15-hour beef brisket, brined and pulled pork shoulder, dry-rubbed pork belly and chilli and fennel sausage alongside barbecue sauces and house pickles. There will also be a selection of pre-made cocktails available, reports Hot Dinners.
Newcastle-based US-inspired restaurant Meat:Stack to open first permanent bricks and mortar site: Newcastle-based US-inspired restaurant Meat:Stack is to open its first permanent bricks and mortar site. Meat:Stack has secured the former George Rye and Sons building in the Bigg Market. Meat:Stack is aiming to open in July, serving “smashed and steamed” cheeseburgers and breakfast. The team has spent the past few years perfecting its offer at No.28, the Dog and Parrot and at a Grainger Market unit, reports Insider Media.
Budweiser Brewing Group becomes number one brewer by volume in UK:Budweiser Brewing Group, the UK and Ireland arm of the UK and Ireland arm of Anheuser-Busch InBev, has become the number one brewer by volume in the UK, in total trade year to date. The company said the result reflected the strength of its brands and it has “continued to invest in activations and campaigns that resonate with consumers”. Budweiser Brewing Group president Paula Lindenberg said: “People are choosing the brands they know and love, and we’re proud the quality of our beer portfolio and our iconic brands meet the demands of Britain’s beer drinkers today. We have ambitious plans to grow in the on-trade, and we look forward to the reopening of the sector. We’ll be harnessing the strength of our brand portfolio and the dedication of our teams to play a leading role in the recovery.” The company launched its Save Pub Life initiative in March to support pubs, bars and restaurants across the country. It enables pub-goers to buy a gift card to spend at their local pub once it reopens, with Budweiser Brewing Group matching the value of the gift cards. So far, the programme has directly contributed more than £1m.