Punch plans wet-led growth as it re-enters the market for pub acquisitions:Punch has said it is focusing on wet-led growth as part of its acquisition strategy. Following the sale of 1,900 pubs to Heineken last year, Punch, which was acquired by Patron and May Capital last August, is beginning a strategy of growth through acquisition to add to its current estate of 1,300 pubs. The news follows the acquisition last week of the 54-strong Gavin George-led Laine Pub Company by Vine Acquisitions, backed by Patron Capital and May Capital. Agents Everard Cole, James A Baker and Matthew Phillips Surveyors have been retained to seek new sites for the company. Everard Cole director Jon Heald said: “Punch is committed to growing its estate through selective acquisitions and is back in the market to acquire businesses and property that will complement and enhance the current estate. Our exciting brief is to acquire wet-led pubs that are suitable for the managed or leased estate, doing at least circa 250-plus barrels a year and minimum net sales of more than £6,000 per week.”
Cote looks to dispose of Limeyard and Jackson & Rye sites: French brasserie Cote is examining plans to dispose of restaurants trading under its Limeyard and Jackson & Rye brands. Cote, which is owned by private equity firm BC Partners, said the plans had yet to be finalised but stressed they did not include the main Cote-branded operation, which has 92 sites, which it said was performing resiliently in tough market conditions. Propel understands all options are being considered for the six restaurants still open, including continuing to trade. A Cote spokesman said: “As a result of recent and well-documented headwinds for the restaurant sector, we have taken the decision to explore a range of options for a very small number of Jackson & Rye and Limeyard restaurants. In some instances we have closed or sold outlets and we are working hard to find viable options for others while continuing to support those that are trading well. Our Cote restaurants continue to perform well, which is testament to the strength of that offer in what remains a very challenging environment.” Last month, Cote closed its last remaining Jackson & Rye site outside London – in Guildford – three months after closing its Kingston site and scrapping plans to take the brand to Birmingham. The four remaining Jackson & Rye sites are in Bank, Chiswick, Richmond and Soho. Cote bought Jackson & Rye in January 2016 alongside all-day California kitchen brand Limeyard, which has sites in Ealing and Staines. Jackson & Rye was originally led by Gordon Ramsay Holdings head chef Mark Askew and former Hakkasan operations chief Hannah Bass and was initially backed by restaurateur Richard Caring.
Caravan to open Fitzrovia site for fifth venue, launching ‘to go’ concept as part of offer: Caravan, the restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept, is to open its fifth site, in Fitzrovia, central London, which will include a new Caravan-To-Go concept. Founders Miles Kirby, Laura Harper-Hinton and Chris Ammermann will open the venue in July in the former BBC Radio 1 recording headquarters. Caravan Fitzrovia marks the group’s first shift towards a more centrally based location. In a nod to the building’s history, the basement will house a “record room” hosting private dining. Upstairs, a large bar will weave through three dining rooms. Caravan-To-Go is the new expansion of the take-out offer. The company’s in-house sourdough bakery and croissanterie, based at its soon-to-open flagship roastery near King’s Cross, will create a weekly changing patisserie range. There will be a variety of breakfast and lunch dishes alongside healthy drinks and craft coffee. All Caravan-To-Go transactions will be cashless. Alongside Caravan-To-Go, the team will launch a reusable lunchbox and coffee cup scheme. Meanwhile, new dishes on the main restaurant’s all-day menu will include green falafel with pickled and grilled cauliflower, radish, garlic sesame and chilli; and crispy duck with taramind caramel, celery, shallots, cucumber and coriander. The wine list will focus on organic and biodynamic producers.
Brighton-based Indian restaurant The Chilli Pickle to start expansion with Guildford launch: Award-winning, Brighton-based Indian restaurant The Chilli Pickle is to start expansion by opening a second site, in Guildford, Surrey. Husband-and-wife team Alun and Dawn Sperring, who launched the concept ten years ago, will open the 125-cover restaurant in High Street at a site that housed the last venue outside London for Cote’s Jackson & Rye brand but closed last month. Replicating The Chilli Pickle’s Brighton venue, the Guildford site will offer an Indian market-inspired feel and feature hand-painted Tamil stencil graphics and roadside-style posters. Last year, The Chilli Pickle partnered with investment and advisory firm Imagine Capital to inject funds into expanding the brand. The Sperrings said: “The key for us is to retain the essence of who we are with a creative edge and attention to detail and to keep it as a family vocation. Our regular Indian research trips enable us to keep our brand fresh and retain the confidence of our customers – wherever we are.”
Cotswolds Distillery to open first off-site shop as it hits £2m fund-raise target: The Cotswolds Distillery, which produces artisan gin and whisky, is to open its first off-site shop as it hits its £2m fund-raise target. The distillery has signed a lease on a site in Bourton-on-the-Water. The company launched the campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube last week to “build brand awareness and long-term growth”. The company is offering 6.23% equity in return for investment. So far, 464 investors have pledged £2,001,460 and the campaign is now overfunding with 22 days remaining. A company spokesman said: “One of the elements of our plan for growth is to open our first off-site shop in a key strategic location in the Cotswolds. As our first off-site location, the shop will focus on our core products – Cotswolds Dry Gin, Cotswolds Single Malt Whisky and Cotswolds Cream Liqueur – but we’ll also introduce some new products and formats including miniatures and gift packs. Even though Bourton-on-the-Water is a beautiful, small, quintessentially British town, it receives huge numbers of international tourists every day, especially in the summer. We are incredibly excited about the prospect of meeting visitors from all over the world and introducing them to our spirits so they can take home a taste of the Cotswolds.” The Cotswolds Distillery was founded by chief executive Dan Szor, while directors include Richard Watling, former senior director at Allied Distillers and Diageo. The distillery’s products are sold in Harrods, Majestic Wine and Waitrose in the UK and exported to 28 countries with average sales growth exceeding 100% per annum. The Cotswolds Distillery’s sales growth was £280,000 in 2015 rising to £3.4m in the past 12 months. Ebitda was £145,000, while the company’s destination distillery in Stourton attracted 28,000 visitors in 2017, an 85% rise compared with the previous year.
Try Market Halls launches ‘next-level’ Fulham food hall: Try Market Halls, the company launched by former property investor Andy Lewis-Pratt and Simon Anderson, the restaurateur behind London’s Pitt Cue Co, has opened the first of its “next-level” food halls. Market Hall Fulham has launched in Fulham Broadway tube station entrance hall featuring nine operators, a bar and a 180-capacity communal dining area. Operators include Calcutta Canteen from chef Asma Khan, who operates Carnaby restaurant Darjeeling Express; Thima by Farang, a first permanent site for former Smoking Goat head chef Seb Holmes’ concept; Asian-inspired ice-cream parlour Soft Serve Society (second site); Yard Sale Pizza (fifth site); Press Coffee (fourth site); smoked meat brand Hot Box (second site); chicken sandwich concept Butchies (second site); Fanny’s Kebabs; and Hawaiian poké specialist Ahi Poké (fifth site). Anderson told Hot Dinners: “We studied the local area and pulled together a varied roster of traders, from local favourites to street food stars, which we hope will please everyone.” Try Market Halls is looking to open two further sites in London – in Victoria and Oxford Street – and is also eyeing sites in Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh and York.
Plant-based restaurant concept CleanSlate begins £150,000 fund-raise to launch and grow brand: Plant-based restaurant concept CleanSlate has begun a £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowcube to launch and grow the brand. Founder Zoey Henderson, who has previously opened juice bar and coffee shop ventures in London, is offering a 16.67% equity stake in return for the investment. The pitch states: “CleanSlate will bring plant-based eating into the London cafe culture – a creative menu and an inclusive environment that champions the ingredients used, not the ones left out. From your morning coffee and a gooey brownie to flavourful pasta and a glass of wine, CleanSlate will be a destination for all. Due to ethical, environmental and health benefits, we feel adopting a plant-based diet is not a fad or trend that will go out of fashion. We see this as the beginning of a more sustainable lifestyle movement that is here to stay. I have started two businesses in the artisan coffee and fast casual sector and now wish to develop into the plant-based market by showcasing an all-day dining concept that puts plant-based eating into the mainstream using artisan products and innovative twists on healthy, delicious and familiar foods.”
Whitbread appoints new senior independent director: Whitbread has appointed Richard Gillingwater as a non-executive director and senior independent director with effect from Wednesday, 27 June. Gillingwater will fill the vacancy left by Adam Crozier’s appointment as chairman in March. Gillingwater has spent much of his executive career in corporate finance and investment banking with Kleinwort Benson, BZW and Credit Suisse First Boston, where he rose to become chairman of European investment banking. In 2003 he moved out of banking and became chief executive of the Shareholder Executive, a body set up to manage the government’s portfolio of investments. He has considerable board experience and is currently chairman of Janus Henderson Group and SSE, non-executive director of Helical, and pro-chancellor of the Open University. Crozier said: “Richard has played a key role in guiding many boards through periods of growth, M&A activity and restructuring. His experience will be of great value to Whitbread as we continue the transformation of our two businesses, Premier Inn and Costa, and as we pursue the demerger of Costa, which will provide shareholders with investments in two distinct, focused and market-leading businesses.”
London-based macaron ice cream sandwich pop-up Yolkin goes permanent: London-based macaron ice cream sandwich pop-up Yolkin has opened a permanent site. Founder Sammie Le first started selling her ice cream macarons at Rupert Street’s Street Food Union market in 2015. Now she has returned to the same street to open her first bricks and mortar site having previously agreed a deal with landlord Shaftesbury. The 450 square foot site, which has seating for 18, features vintage reclaimed wood and biodegradable cutlery. The macaron ice cream sandwiches are inspired by south east Asia flavours with a western twist. These include matcha and oreo, pandan and coconut, lychee, black sesame, purple yam and Hong Kong milk tea. Julia Wilkinson, head of group restaurant strategy at Shaftesbury, said: “Yolkin has already proved to be an exciting addition to Chinatown London and is a huge hit with our visitors. The brand has amassed an impressive following on social media with its brightly coloured, highly-Instagrammable desserts and added to the buzz of the opening by implementing a successful launch through these platforms. Its attractive macaron sandwiches fit in perfectly with Chinatown London’s growing offer of Asian-inspired dessert operators.”
Drinks group Pure Wild Spirits passes 50% mark in £500,000 fund-raise to accelerate growth: Drinks group Pure Wild Spirits has passed the 50% mark in its £500,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Growthdeck. The company is seeking a combined investment through Growthdeck and capital investment company 24 Haymarket to fund expansion into premium retailers, bars and restaurants and initial exports to New York. So far, six investors have pledged £255,000. The company launched the UK’s first birch sap spirit, Freya, in 2016, releasing a second flavour last November. The group owns the rights to all aspects of its products, including branding, recipe and bottle designs, and said it has opportunities to add new lines to its range. Birch sap has been listed as a new spirits category, and Pure Wild Spirits founder David Wallwork said Freya was showing signs of “disrupting” the market, with strong traction in premium bars in London, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and an imminent launch into Italy and New York.
Kent-based operator acquires Dartford pub for second site: Kent-based operator Yvonne Rickards has acquired her second site. Rickards has taken on the lease of The Court House in Dartford in a deal brokered by agent Christie & Co. Rickards, who owns the Merry Chest Café in nearby Bean, said: “I am very happy to have completed on The Court House and added it to our other business located only a few miles away. We aim to bring back a good pub to the local community.” James Hughes, business agent at Christie & Co, who handled the sale, added: “I was delighted to facilitate the leasehold transaction on behalf of Garry Simpson, which will see this iconic pub reopen with a successful operator at the helm. Pubs that are still viable businesses are all too often snapped up by developers to be converted into housing or other alternative uses so it’s fantastic in this case to be assisting in reopening the doors on what is a magnificent pub.”
Manchester-based Turkish restaurant to open second site, in Rawtenstall: Manchester-based Turkish restaurant La Turka is to open its second site, in Rawtenstall. Owners Zaf Kesici and Ishan Guler will open the venue in Bank Street. The restaurant, which will create about 20 jobs, will cater for up to 100 people across two floors and include function rooms on the upper floor. The menu will include mezze, tapas, kebabs, seafood dishes and pasta risotto, along with Turkish wine and cocktails. It will also offer live entertainment including belly dancers and musicians. Kesici, who moved from Turkey to England in 1997 and now lives in Manchester, told the Lancashire Telegraph: “We set up the concept for the people who have visited Turkey on their holidays and want them to get the same feeling when they are here – a holiday feeling.”
Scotch distilling returns to Borders after near 200-year absence: Distilling has returned to the Scottish Borders for the first time since 1837 with the official opening of The Borders Distillery in Hawick. Three Stills Company (TTSC), founded by former William Grant & Sons employees Tim Carton, John Fordyce, Tony Roberts and George Tait, raised £10m in investment in 2015 to build the distillery on a 1.3-hectare site overlooking the River Teviot, creating 19 jobs. The distillery comprises a visitors’ centre, shop, events space and bar with lounge seating. At full capacity it can produce up to two million litres of pure alcohol. Barley used for distilling is entirely grown in the Scottish Borders, while process water is drawn from the water table and cooling water from the river. TTSC already has two brands on the market – blended scotch Clan Fraser and Lower East Side, a blended malt scotch. Carton said: “This is a seminal moment for our business. In addition to being the first scotch whisky distillery to operate in the Scottish Borders since 1837, we are now in a position to contribute to the growth of this fine industry. Scotch whisky is again experiencing exciting times, with growth fuelled by new and more mature markets.”
Norwich-based Gotts Leisure lines up second city site: Norwich-based Gotts Leisure is lining up its second site in the city. The company has submitted a licensing application to the city council to launch the Red Rock Cafe in Prince of Wales Road. The application stated: “The target age group is the over-25s, although the music, lighting, decor and furniture is intended to appeal to an older demographic so the average age of our customers will be 35-plus. The business model is purposely different from what is currently available in this part of Norwich and aims to broaden the make-up of people attracted to the city centre late into the night.” The venue would be open daily from 10am until 4am, reports the Eastern Daily Press. Gotts Leisure currently operates the Fluke bar in the same street.