UK loyalty scheme ‘impossible’ for Domino’s Pizza because customers don’t order frequently enough, incremental opportunity around collection in London:Domino’s Pizza Group chief executive David Wild has said having a loyalty scheme in the UK like the company does in the US is “impossible” because customers do not order frequently enough. In a presentation to analysts following the company’s interim results, Wild said the frequency in the UK was about a third of that in the US. He added: “The average customer in the US orders 18 times a year. In the UK, it is five or six times. With the US scheme it effectively works as a free pizza after someone has ordered six times, so in the US that would take about three months. Over here, that would take about a year, which makes it impossible. That’s why we have taken the approach of using single customer view marketing rather than a loyalty scheme. We have made further customer segmentation to allow us to deliver more appropriate marketing messages and hopefully drive sales that way.” Wild said there was an incremental opportunity in London around collection and the company was trialling various offers around the capital in a bid to entice customers. This includes a lunch deal of a pizza and a drink for £4.99. He added: “London is of course a more challenging environment rather than other parts of the country so we need to think a bit differently and that’s what we are trying to do. Overall, £20 remains a key price-point for us and our autumn promotion will be based on that. Nothing has changed on that score.” The Domino’s Pizza app in the UK has now been downloaded 24 million times and the conversion rate to sales has risen to 48.2%, compared with 46.5% last year. Mobile and the company’s app now accounts for two-thirds of sales. Meanwhile, the company has now sold more than two million of its cheeseburger pizzas that it introduced at the end of last year while sales of its Tabasco stuffed crust pizza launched in April were “going well”. Domino’s Pizza said it was a “big year” for the international business, which continues to make losses, but the company would not be drawn on whether it might withdraw from any markets. Summing up, Wild said: “We have seen a strong performance from our UK and Ireland business. Active discussions with our franchisees continue and while we are confident we will reach a win-win solution, this will take time and is likely to be into 2020. We are focused on improving operational capabilities and performance in our international business.”
Shake Shack’s UK operation narrows losses as turnover rises to £27m: Shake Shack’s UK operation has reported turnover increased 27% to £27,106,021 for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £21,367,650 the year before. Operating losses reduced to £6,249,235, compared with £8,315,457 the previous year while pre-tax losses fell to £6,633,288, compared with £7,748,120 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Shake Shack’s UK operation has received additional funding from its parent company since the end of the period. The UK business indicated further funding would be required from its parent company to remain a going concern in the current financial year, but said it had received assurances this would be forthcoming. The company paid royalties of £1,657,894, compared with £1,274,929 the previous year. Gross profit percentage increased from 63% to 66%. In his report accompanying the accounts, director Bassam Assaad said he was satisfied with the results as they were “within expectations”. He added: “The business continues to expand with one new site opening in the year. The company continues looking for the right opportunities to expand in new areas and has several sites being evaluated for 2019 openings with the continued support of its immediate parent undertaking. The director continues to seek opportunities for investment and development that fit with the company’s strategic objectives.” The number of employees increased during the period from 481 to 515. There are currently ten Shake Shack sites operating in the UK – eight of them in London. Diverse Dining is overseen by parent company Assaad Food and Beverage, based in Lebanon.
Mike Rainer confirmed as EAT managing director: EAT, the food-to-go retailer acquired by Pret A Manger in June, has confirmed chief executive Andrew Walker has left the business to pursue other interests, with Mike Rainer promoted to replace him. Rainer, who has been EAT’s chief financial officer since October 2016, will assume additional responsibilities as its new managing director, while the business continues to trade as a separate entity. Walker said: “I am unbelievably proud of my past three years leading EAT through a significant period of change. Helped by the fantastic team from the ground up, we were able to turn around the business – evidenced by our last financial year where we saw a significant improvement in our trading performance sparking Pret’s interest. Mike was a key part of this success so I leave EAT in very capable hands. I now look forward to taking a much-needed break before considering my options.” Rainer added: “I would like to thank Andrew for his leadership and vision over the past few years and I’m pleased to continue his work by steering EAT through the next stage as we integrate with Pret. The vast majority of our colleagues will be staying on at the combined group and our customers will continue to benefit from our creativity and drive for excellence.” Pret, the JAB Holdings-owned chain, reached an agreement to buy the circa 90-strong EAT at the end of May. Pret said in response to growing consumer demand for more vegetarian and vegan options on the high street, it plans to convert as many of EAT’s stores as possible to Veggie Pret – 75% of EAT’s estate is in London, with many close to an existing Pret.
Pesto reports record year: Pesto, the Italian casual dining business led by Neil and Sara Gatt, has reported record results for its full year to June 2019. “It has been a really strong year for us,” said chief executive Neil Gatt. “Turnover reached £13m for the first time and site Ebitda has broken the £2m barrier for the first time as well.” Pesto, established in 2006 operates ten converted pub sites and one site within the Trafford Centre, all offering a “piattini” menu based around small plates of Italian cuisine. Gatt added: “It’s great to finish the year with so many positives, every site has a five-star food hygiene rating, all the former pubs have a 4.5 TripAdvisor score and we will be paying out our biggest year-end general manager bonus pot to date. We have a fantastic team of hard-working committed people at Pesto and it’s great to see one general manager earning almost £14,000 in bonus this year.” Pesto has four sites in the Midlands and seven in the north west. The company switched strategies in 2012 and began to move away from the challenged and crowded high street and shopping centre markets. “I’m not saying that we wouldn’t go back into those types of locations in the future, but for now our priority is to continue to search for great pub sites to reinvent,” added Gatt.
The Real Greek set to open in The Strand: The Real Greek, the Fulham Shore-owned business, is set to further increase its presence in central London, after securing a site in The Strand, Propel has learned. The sister brand of Franco Manca has started converting 397 The Strand for what will become its 17th site. The property previously traded as The Diner. The Real Greek has taken a new lease, granted directly from the landlord. The site is on the southern edge of Covent Garden. The Real Greek already has a site in the north east corner of Covent Garden where Long Acre meets Bow Street. Christos Karatzenis, who oversees The Real Greek, told Propel: “We are looking forward to opening our second restaurant in Covent Garden situated in The Strand. The Real Greek business is thriving and we are serving more customers than before. They love the quality of our food.” Propel understands The Real Greek is in advanced negotiations on a further site in the capital, near the Tower of London.
Giggling Squid to replace Cote in Weybridge: Giggling Squid, the 32-strong Thai restaurant brand founded by Andy and Pranee Laurillard that recently ended discussions regarding attracting external investment, has further added to its openings pipeline, with a site in Weybridge, Surrey. Propel understands the BGF-backed business has secured the Cote site in Church Street for an opening later this year. Earlier this week, the company said although it had received considerable interest from potential investors, this was not at a level its board believed “sufficiently reflects the company’s track record to date and future prospects”. BGF, which invested £6.4m in the then 13-strong Giggling Squid in 2015, remains supportive of the company’s self-financed roll out strategy and is said to be looking forward to further growth. The pipeline for new sites remains strong as Giggling Squid looks to open between six and ten restaurants each year, as well as embarking on a refurbishment programme of its more mature restaurants. Sites in Cambridge and Leicester have recently been added to the group’s pipeline. It has also signed for the former CAU site in Leamington Spa, which is due to open in the autumn subject to planning permission. AG&G is understood to have acted on the Weybridge deal.
Planet Organic launches first new site in five years as it plans ten openings:Planet Organic has opened a 2,300 square foot site in Queens Studios in Salusbury Road, Queen’s Park, London – part of a plan to have ten new stores opened in the next five years. The Queen’s Park store is the first new opening since Tottenham Court Road in 2014. Al Overton, Planet Organic’s buying director, said: “Planet Organic is firmly community-based in each of its locations. And Queen’s Park, with its strong community ties, is an ideal fit for us. We’ve been in business since 1995, which makes us the original and oldest organic supermarket chain in the country. The trend towards healthier eating is only increasing and we are expanding to meet that demand. Our original mission, eat well, live better, is more pertinent now than ever, and we remain committed to it. Increased awareness in ethical retail is growing too, so more and more shoppers are coming to us. For example, we’ve been plastic bag free for 12 years and have always sold most fruit and vegetables with zero produce packaging. Those things, always important to Planet Organic, are now more widely important to shoppers.”
Eggslut makes UK debut, lines up second site: US egg-in-bun concept Eggslut will open its first site in the UK, in London’s Notting Hill, on Wednesday (7 August). The West Coast concept will launch at the former Pix Pintxos unit in Portobello Road. Propel understands the concept, which is operated in the UK under franchise by ITICO F+B, is in talks on a second site in Shoreditch. In April, Propel reported ITICO F+B planned to open a handful of sites in the UK in the next 12 months. Eggslut offers cage-free eggs in brioche buns and the UK site will feature a fast food version of the concept. Eggslut was founded in Los Angeles in 2011 and currently has five sites in the US – four in California and one in Nevada – plus one in Beirut. ITICO F+B is also rolling out US street food concept The Halal Guys in the UK. Sammy Weinbaum, at CDG Leisure, is acting for ITICO F+B.
D&D London to open new restaurant in Bristol: Restaurant operator D&D London is to open a 13,000 square foot restaurant and events venue within the Quakers Friars piazza at Hammerson’s flagship destination in Bristol, Cabot Circus. This will be D&D’s second venture with Hammerson, following the openings of Issho and East 59th at Victoria Gate, Leeds in 2017. The venue, which is set to open in early 2020, will contain new concepts developed for the building to include a restaurant, bars, extensive private dining and a large outdoor terrace. The restaurant and bars will be contained within the listed 18th century Friary Building. Propel revealed D&D London was in talks about the site last month. Des Gunewardena, chairman and chief executive of D&D London, said: “Following our Leeds openings and most recently the launch of our rooftop restaurant 20 Stories in Manchester, our Cabot Circus venture in Bristol reflects our continuing commitment to expansion in the UK outside of London. We are very pleased to be working again with Hammerson.” Iain Mitchell, UK commercial director at Hammerson, added: “D&D continues to innovate in the restaurant scene and we are thrilled to have secured its first venture in the south west. We have some exciting plans that will transform this part of Cabot Circus.”
New dessert parlour concept secures debut site: Gooey, a new dessert parlour concept, has secured its debut site, in Uxbridge, west London. Gooey, which is the brainchild of Taimur Ahmed, has taken a new 15-year lease at the 2,300 square foot site in Belmont Road, which immediately adjoins Prezzo. The site is ground floor only with an outside courtyard. Gooey’s menu will include a range of gelato, crepes, sundaes, waffles, shakes, smoothies and other hot and cold drinks. The company said it has several other openings in the pipeline and was looking to acquire more sites. Louie Gazdar, agency and leasing, Davis Coffer Lyons, which acted for the private landlord on the Uxbridge deal, said: “Dessert bars remain a very strong trend in the market. Barriers to entry are low and low fit-out costs and high mark-up on the products available has made them very appealing, and operators can often fit into more affordable units.” Business Property Solutions acted for the tenant.
Bear to open fifth site, at Intu Derby: Midlands-based cafe bar concept Bear is to open its fifth site, at the Intu Derby shopping centre. Bear brands itself as an “alternative to the traditional coffee house or bar” and harbours ambitions to open up to 30 sites in major cities and market towns in the next five years. It already operates a site in Derby – in Iron Gate – but is doubling up in the city next month. Bear also operates outlets in Stone, Uttoxeter and within Jack Wills’ flagship store off Carnaby Street, Soho. The Intu Derby venue will be on the first floor between Carluccio’s and Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi. Bear co-founder Craig Bunting told Derbyshire Live: “Our recent partnership with global fashion retailer Jack Wills and our offering at Intu Derby sees us punching well above our weight. This excites us because we are at the forefront of a growing change in the retail landscape.”
Honesty Group plans two new coffee shops as part of expansion: Honesty Group, the company led by cookery writer Romilla Arber, is planning two new coffee shops in the Berkshire area in the next year and expansion of its wholesale artisan bakery products into new markets. The group currently spans eight coffee shops, a cookery school, the Honesty Bakery and kitchen, and The Crown and Garter restaurant with hotel rooms in Berkshire. In the past 12 months, the group’s workforce has increased by 28 and year-to-date projected growth for 2019 for Honesty Bakery is 28.6%. Located in Turnpike, Newbury, the group’s flagship bakery produces a range of artisan bread, pastries, tarts, cakes and biscuits for wholesale. The expansion plans aim to increase its supply and distribution to operators in the south west in particular. Arber said: “Our business all started with bread and wanting to take a different approach to food and how it gets to the consumer. To be focusing on expanding Honesty Bakery ahead of our fifth anniversary in September is really exciting and something that is very close to my heart.”
The Gentlemen Baristas confirms ninth site: Coffee shop company The Gentlemen Baristas has confirmed it is launching its ninth site, in New Oxford Street in late-August. The new coffee house will use beans from The Gentlemen Baristas’ nearby Shadwell roastery, alongside an all-day menu, with the option to take away. The Gentlemen Baristas co-founder Ed Parkes said: “We’re incredibly excited to be bringing well-mannered coffee to New Oxford Street this summer. The area is new to us and we’re looking forward to becoming a big part of the ever expanding community in WC1.”
Reel Cinemas reports turnover boost: Independent cinema operator Reel has reported turnover increased 2% to £11,204,693 for the year ending 27 December 2018, compared with £10,975,157 the year before. Operating profit was down to £1,085,815, compared with £2,017,560 the previous year while pre-tax profit fell to £758,005, compared with £1,561,539 the year before. During the period, the company closed its Grantham site, leaving it with 11 cinemas and a total of more than 50 screens. Attendance figures dropped slightly from 1,417,898 to 1,415,465, while the average ticket price increased from £4.86 to £4.94. Average concession per head was up to £2.27 from £2.11 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The group has had another successful year and although there have been reductions in attendances, turnover has increased 2%, which is considered to be in line with industry expectations. This has been attributable to increases in ticket prices and the successful box office film releases in the second half of the year. The group continues to benefit from investment made in digital equipment, the reorganisation and refurbishment of some of its concession stands, and a focused sales drive in the prior period. The principal strategy for achieving its objectives is continued investment in all its sites, improving the quality of the facilities, the design of layouts, and investigating potential expansion of existing sites through increased screen numbers.”
Neighbourhood restaurant Julie’s brings in Michelin-starred chef ahead of reopening: Neighbourhood restaurant Julie’s, based in London’s Holland Park, has brought in Michelin-starred chef Shay Cooper ahead of its reopening. Cooper, formerly executive chef at The Goring hotel where he had a Michelin star, will take over the kitchen in September, which coincides with the restaurant’s 50th anniversary. The property’s owners Tim and Cathy Herring took over the running of the restaurant in 1972 from Julie Hodgess, who is responsible for the restaurant’s new design. Cooper will serve a menu of modern British cuisine, with dishes including glazed ox cheek and aged sirloin of beef. He said: “I am excited to contribute to preserving and building upon the legacy of the restaurant. Julie’s has always had a loyal following for its ambience and atmosphere, and it is my ambition for the restaurant to gain a reputation for great food.”
Barons Eden puts Cotswolds portfolio on the market: Barons Eden, which is rebranding to Be, has brought a portfolio of four sites in the Cotswolds to the market. They are Huxleys Restaurant and Island House, both in Chipping Campden; The Dial House Hotel in Bourton-on-the-Water and The Old Bank in Moreton-in-Marsh. The portfolio is available to purchase either individually or as a whole through agent Savills. Housed in a 17th century building, Huxleys offers 100 covers, including two private dining rooms. Island House, in Chipping Campden’s high street, provides an opportunity to create a new food and beverage offering. The Dial House Hotel provides 15 en-suite boutique rooms alongside two recently renovated dining areas and a bar lounge. The Old Bank in Moreton-in-Marsh town centre has planning to convert to a ten-bedroom hotel with restaurant and bar. Barons Eden managing director Adrian Pearson said: “We are choosing to sell our Cotswold assets in order to concentrate on expanding our portfolio of larger hotels and spas.”
BrewDog opens US AGM to general public: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has opened its US Annual General Mayhem Festival, taking place on Saturday, 24 August, to the general public for the first time in its four-year history. The event is held at the BrewDog DogTap in Canal Winchester. “This is kind of what we work up to and look forward to every year,” said Cassandra Zahran, social media and marketing manager for BrewDog USA. “It’s going to be a day full of community elements – and it really just touches on how we can give back to all these people and have our biggest branded event of the year.” The festival will feature ten bands, more than 25 craft brewers from across the country and more than 15 food trucks.
Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter goes on market: The site of the Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter, which was destroyed in a serious fire three years ago, has been put up for sale. The hotel, thought to be the oldest in the UK, partially collapsed following a fire that broke out in an adjacent building on Cathedral Green in October 2016. Owner Andrew Brownsword Hotels has completed significant works to protect and restore the site’s historic fabric. With enabling works set to be concluded, it will now be offered for sale. Andrew Brownsword said: “The extensive recovery and preparation work that has been completed at the site means it now offers an excellent opportunity for the next stage of development and I have had to concede this will be realised by others. It was always my vision to deliver a new hotel at the level of luxury and quality as others within our group, however, the financial and resource investment made in the demolition, historic restoration and enabling works has been significant and this has meant it is regretfully unviable for us to develop the level of hotel we had envisaged. This has been a heartbreaking decision for us to take, but, alongside the residents of Exeter, we want to see this corner of Cathedral Yard resorted to its former glory. We believe selling the site now to a group that operates to a different business model to ours, will enable it to start building, unencumbered by all of the challenges and costs already overcome by us, and is the only way we can conclude to make the rebuild happen quickly and viably.” Planning permission is place for the rebuild.
Paddy & Scott’s to take over food and beverage operation at University of Suffolk: Coffee company Paddy & Scott’s is to take over the food and beverage operation for The University of Suffolk this month. Based on the Waterfront in Ipswich, the University of Suffolk offers 45 food and beverage outlets throughout its campus buildings and Paddy & Scott’s is set to undertake a complete overhaul, introducing its coffee and food menus. “This is a hugely exciting project for us,” said Jon Reed, brand director at Paddy & Scott’s. “We are incredibly proud of our high energy, entrepreneurial approach to business – and we really hope the students at the University of Suffolk will engage with our strong story of provenance and love testing out some new coffee-inspired concepts for us.” Paddy & Scott’s has future plans to create a barista training centre on site and extend barista training to university students. Reed added. “Our aim is to launch a programme that gives students a stepping stone into the industry, but also highlight how much hard work and love goes into each and every cup of coffee.”
Lancaster-based operator puts city centre pub on the market to concentrate on other hospitality interests: Lancaster-based operator Martin Horner has put his city centre pub on the market as he looks to concentrate on his other hospitality interests. Horner is marketing the freehold of The Britannia for £345,000 plus VAT through agent Christie & Co, having acquired the wet-led pub in 2017. The property has seating for up to 70 guests across the open plan lounge, dining area, and separate games room. There is also a beer garden at the back. Horner is also behind The Borough in Dalton Square and the attached Borough Brewery in Lancaster as well as The Lodge at Slyne-with-Hest on the outskirts of the city.
Glasgow-based operator to open retro bowling alley and cocktail bar for second site: Glasgow-based operator Ian McColm is to launch a retro bowling alley and cocktail bar for his second site in the city. McColm is opening Bowlarama in the former Tiger Tiger premises in Glassford Street. It will feature four full-sized bowling lanes, a cocktail bar and restaurant, function space and dance floor. McColm told Glasgow Live: “I’ve been in the drinks industry for 20 years – I’ve been waiting a long time to bring this to Glasgow. There are plenty of boutique bowling alleys opening further south, in London and Manchester. I’ve been looking for a place for years – and now we’re doing it.” McColm also operates Tiki Bar in the city.