Morrisons announces StarStock link-up: StarStock’s online marketplace, launched last month as a one-stop shop for independent hospitality operators to order directly from major drinks brands, has agreed a partnership with supermarket giant Morrisons. Pubs, bars and restaurants across the UK will now have direct access to 1,500 products from Morrisons’ Market Street counters, its own brand range and branded items. The agreement signals Morrisons’ first move into the pub, restaurant and hotels foodservice sector, using StarStock’s new ecommerce platform to give operators direct access to its range. Sam Ulph, StarStock Group founder and chief executive, said: “We are fully committed to making StarStock the platform of choice for pub, bar and restaurant operators when purchasing their food and drinks range. For too long, these businesses have been restricted by how and when they can order food and it’s time to shake this up. We’re thrilled to be working with Morrisons to give on-trade businesses access to high-quality, competitively priced food, as they continue to bounce back from what has been a devastating 18 months for the sector. The StarStock platform brings some long overdue modernisation to the hospitality supply chain as, through ground-breaking partnerships like the one we now have in Read More
McGovern – Gail’s is at the early stages of becoming an iconic British brand:Henry McGovern, one of the new backers of Bread Holdings, the parent company of Gail’s Bakery, has told Propel the cafe and bakery chain is at the “early stages of becoming an iconic British brand”. On Tuesday (14 September), Bain Capital Credit working in partnership with Ebitda Investments, the food ecosystem fund backed by McGovern and Steven K. Winegar, bought a stake in Bread Holdings in a deal valuing the company at more than £200m. The deal backs the existing management team led by Tom Molnar and sees Luke Johnson retain a 15% stake in the 73-strong business and on the board. McGovern is the founder and former chief emotional officer of AmRest, the European restaurant company and operator of brands, including KFC, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Starbucks, La Tagliatella, Blue Frog, Bacoa and Sushi Shop, with more than 2,100 restaurants across 26 countries. He becomes the company’s new chairman. He told Propel: “We had been looking at the brand for a while. It is a great business with a number of parts, which we believe all have opportunity to grow, whether that is its store estate, Read More
Junkyard plans further London sites and US debut: Crazy golf brand Junkyard Golf Club is in advanced talks to open a further site in London and to make its international debut in the US. Speaking at Propel’s recent Multi-Club Conference, Junkyard managing director Sam Jones said the five-strong business was in advanced discussions on a site in London, and in initial talks on a further site in the capital and one in Birmingham. He said the company planned to open one or two sites a year for the next three years. He also said the group, which will open its next site in Newcastle in November, was in “relatively advanced talks, although the travel is difficult at the minute”, on a site in the US. He said: “In 2023 we will open a site internationally, almost certainly in the US, which is exciting. We are looking to open sites in London and Birmingham in the next year. We are always looking at opportunities to add to our pipeline, but in ways that don't overstretch the business. We might do three openings a year but we won’t do more than that, and two a year is our sweet spot. We will Read More
Oakman Group to launch innovative finance ISA offer to fund freehold expansion plans: Oakman Inns, the Dermot King-led pub-restaurant operator, is to launch an innovative finance ISA offer aimed at its existing investors, allowing them to earn tax free interest while backing the group’s freehold expansion plans, Propel has learned. The company is understood to be building its own bespoke funding platform for the offer, as it looks to further cement its relationship with its customers. The innovative finance ISA works by participants lending money to borrowers in return for a set amount of interest. The offer will be solely aimed at existing investors in the business, and will see the company cut out third-party platforms. The company invests an average of about £4m per freehold investment and is looking to add four to five freehold sites a year to its estate. It will look to raise £12m to £15m a year through the innovative finance ISA offer, which will be offered on a site-by-site basis. It is thought the first such offer will be for £3.2m and used to fund the development of a site in Buckingham. Steven Kenee, chief investment officer at Oakman, told Propel: “The single most Read More
Parent company of JKS Restaurants secures new growth capital during crisis: Yum Midco, the parent company of the Sethi family-led JKS Restaurants, agreed deals with new investors to provide growth capital in exchange for a share of equity over the past year, Propel has learned. In accounts filed at Companies House this weekend, the company said: “In November 2020 and August 2021, separate deals were agreed with new investors to provide growth capital in exchange for a share of equity. At the date of signing of these accounts, £1.7m has been received. These funds have been used to fund new sites across 2021 and support the working capital requirements of the group.” The company, which backs the Bao and Hopper concepts and the Michelin-starred Kitchen Table, Lyles and Sabor, secured a new £5m facility through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme with its existing bankers, Barclays, last June. Capital and interest repayments begin in this month with a final repayment date of 25 June 2026. This loan is cross guaranteed across all companies within the group. In May, JKS Restaurant Holdings acquired 18.75% of shares in Lyle's Restaurants from director and co-founder John Ogier, who stepped away from the business. The Read More
Sushi Shop plans franchise expansion across UK: Sushi Shop, part of the AmRest family, is looking to secure a number of regional master franchisees across the UK, as part of its expansion plans here, Propel has learned. Founded in 1998 by Grégory Marciano and Hervé Louis, Sushi Shop is a European chain of restaurants for premium sushi, sashimi and other Japanese specialties. The brand has established an international network of company-operated and franchised stores across 12 countries, having been part of AmRest, the European multi-brand franchise restaurant group, since 2018. Sushi Shop, which currently operates five sites in London, said that built largely on a digital, delivery and takeaway concept, its “innovative business model has proven remarkably resilient throughout the pandemic, growing by double digits in 2020”. The pandemic has driven a rise in delivery and takeaway services, as customers were forced to change their dining habits during lockdowns, which the brand said worked in its favour, and it is now looking to build on this success by expanding in key regional UK cities. On behalf of the group, Christie & Co has been solely retained to seek ambitious hospitality operators who would be interested in becoming a multi-site franchisee Read More
Papa John’s to open its 500th UK store next week: Papa John’s will open its 500tjh UK store, in Ormskirk, Lancashire, on Monday (13 September). The company is opening the outlet in the former Coral betting shop in Aughton Street. Papa John’s, which was founded in the United States in 1984, opened its first UK restaurant 21 years ago. Earlier this year, the company announced it would be targeting small UK towns as part of its expansion strategy and to reach more communities. To celebrate the landmark, Pappa John’s is offering a free limited supply of pizza-style cakes to its customers, mimicking its most popular flavours but with a rice crispy base, strawberry jam and icing replacing the dough, tomato sauce and toppings. Giles Codd, Papa John’s UK’s senior director of marketing, said: “We’re delighted to announce the opening of our 500th store in Ormskirk, and there’s no better way to mark the occasion than handing out complimentary cakes to our loyal customers across the UK.” Itsu appoints chief customer officer, looks to open 20 new restaurants this year: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain created by Julian Metcalfe, has brought in former McDonalds digital expert Neil Miller, as it Read More
Revolution Bars Group to launch new competitive socialising concept Playhouse this autumn: Revolution Bars Group, the operator of 65 premium bars, is set to launch its new competitive socialising concept, which will be called Playhouse, in Northampton later this year, Propel has learned. In April, the Rob Pitcher-led business said it planned to launch an experiential seaside fairground-inspired bar with pizza offer and a “community hub for entrepreneurs” with plans to grow the concepts alongside its two core brands – Revolution and Revolución de Cuba. Pitcher told Propel at the time they would be opened within existing sites. Propel understands a November opening is planned for the competitive socialising concept, in the group’s existing site in Northampton’s Bridge Street. The new bar concept will be based on retro games from the seaside fairground such as whack-a-mole and the 2p slots alongside retro arcade games. This would sit alongside a bar and pizza food offering. Propel understands the new food offer will be called Sliceshop and will be a stand-alone New York-style pizza concept. The second concept is described as a community market for young entrepreneurs to operate their business with mentorship from the Revolution Bars Group team. The concept will Read More
Oakman to seek plc status to widen investor pool: Oakman Group is to re-register as a plc to widen its investor group. The funding round for the Oakman Group is closing on Friday, 10 September. In an email to investors, Oakman chief investment officer Steve Kennee said: “The reason for the closure is, while the last two rounds have been a great success with more than 500 new investors having been welcomed to the Oakman family and applications for £6m of equity having been received, the current offer is limited to applicants that meet the eligibility criteria on the investor portal. This restriction has meant some of our customers have been excluded from becoming investors and, given we want to give all of our customers the opportunity to own part of their local, the Oakman Group is re-registering as a plc and launching a new prospectus later in the year – something which will allow these restrictions to be removed. While you will of course be more than welcome to invest in the new round, it is important to note given the strong performance of the company, the share price will be higher than the current offer of £3 per Read More
Gail’s lines up five more openings, rent levels appear to be stabilising: Tom Molnar, chief executive and co-founder of Gail’s Bakery, has told Propel rent levels now appear to be stabilising – but at lower prices to before the pandemic. Molnar said more “sensible” deals were allowing the business to continue its growth. Gail’s, which has just opened in the Buckinghamshire town of Beaconsfield for its 71st outlet, has five more openings lined up. The company will launch in Kew, south west London, on Friday (3 September) having secured a former bank in Station Parade. That will be followed by a site in Sevenoaks, Kent, later in the month with Gail’s having signed for the ex-Phase Eight women’s clothing store premises in Blighs Court. Gail’s is also set to extend its footprint in London with sites in Finsbury Park and Paddington while the business has also secured premises in Cobham in Surrey. Molnar said: “We’re finding rents are now stabilising but at a level that attracts us and makes it affordable. A lot of properties we are being offered are former banks. There’s still a reasonable amount of supply in the market.” In June, Molnar told Propel that Gail’s, which Read More
EG Group ‘pleased’ with Leon performance and planning ten openings before end of year as it reports revenue up 60% in latest quarter: The acquisition of natural fast food brand Leon and a continued resurgence from the covid-19 pandemic has helped forecourt and roadside operator EG Group’s revenue rocket by almost 60% during its latest financial period. EG Group said Leon’s performance had been “pleasing” during its latest quarter and that it plans to open in the region of ten locations by the end of 2021. EG Group, which was founded by the billionaire Issa brothers in 2001, has reported total revenue of $6.5bn for the three months to 30 June 2021, up 57.7% from $4.1bn. The second quarter figures also reveal the group’s Ebitda increased by 23.7% from $307m to $380m over the same period. For the first half of its financial year, the group reported total revenue of $11.8bn, a rise of 20.2% from $9.9bn. Its group Ebitda over the same period increased by 15.7% from $557m to $645m. Its foodservice gross profits jumped from $46m to $153m in the second quarter and from $91m to $263m in the first half. In a statement, the TDR-backed company said Read More
We’re looking for single people with experience of working in hospitality, either as chefs, cooks or alternatively serving food, or drink, front of house, or another customer service role, as well as managers, to take part in a brand-newtelevision pilot. The pilot will be filmed next summer in a beautiful, romantic, overseas restaurant, where our restaurant staff, will be the stars of the series as they work and date through the summer. Think “Below Deck,” crossed with “First Dates.”   The project is in the development stage for the SVODs (Netflix, Amazon Prime), and we’re looking to speak to people who might be interested taking on a role in our location restaurant? They can be from the UK or elsewhere, as we know that Hospitality is an international industry.   We plan to put together a glossy casting tape during September 2021, of the staff we’d like to film with next summer.  Initial chats would be on the phone and then online, but those selected, would be asked to come to our London location to be filmed by our experienced team, in person with full hair and make-up given and all expenses paid.  If selected for a position in the Read More
French chef Philippe Conticini to open new patisserie in South Kensington:French pastry chef Philippe Conticini is to open a new patisserie and cafe in London’s South Kensington, Propel has learned. Conticini will open at 24-25 Cromwell Place after agreeing a new ten-year lease from South Kensington Estates. He currently operates two sites in Camden, four in Paris and one in Tokyo. Earlier this year, he opened a dedicated production kitchen and cafe, supplying his existing Camden Market and Buck Street Market outlets. The deal for the Cromwell Place site was brokered for Conticini by new property agency ARC, which has been formed by Jamie Harvie-Austin, formerly of leisure property agent Davis Coffer Lyons, and Tom Richards, previously of Restaurant Property. Kate Taylor from Davis Coffer Lyons acted on behalf of the landlord. Robinsons acquires Cheshire village pub for managed division: North west brewer and retailer Robinsons has acquired The Swettenham Arms in the Cheshire village of Swettenham to add to its portfolio. The pub has been operated by the Cunningham family for the past 28 years. The addition of the Swettenham Arms adds to Robinsons’ growing number of managed pubs and inns, taking the collection to 23 properties. William Robinson, Read More
Full-year profits at Jamie Oliver more than halve as chef counts cost of pandemic: Full-year profits at Jamie Oliver’s holding company more than halved in 2020, as the chef counted the cost of the pandemic, including on his international restaurant business. Jamie Oliver Holdings, which also handles the chef’s TV rights, books and endorsements posted pre-tax profits of £1.7m on sales of £24m in 2020, according to newly filed accounts. In the previous year, profits were £4.1m on sales of £30m. Ebitda in 2020 fell to £8.7m from £10.5m the previous year. The international restaurant arm posted turnover of £1.6m, which was down from £2.7m the year before. There were impairment losses on franchise and development contracts of £3.6m. The company stated: “The principal drivers of the contraction in profitability were the travel restrictions, temporary closures and social distancing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which negatively impacted our restaurant franchises as well as TV production and distribution performance. We have, however, successfully delivered new Jamie Oliver titles in both book and TV formats during the year and there has been a continued strong performance from back catalogue book titles, ongoing revenue flows from our endorsement contracts and our Read More
Chik’n to return to the expansion trail: Chik’n, the fried chicken concept backed by Sir Charles Dunstone, is set to return to the expansion trail with an opening in London’s Notting Hill Gate. Propel has learned the business, which currently operates sites in Angel, Soho and Marylebone, is set to open at 88 Notting Hill Gate. Propel revealed earlier this year that Dunstone, the backer of Five Guys UK, had become the majority backer of Chik’n, with plans to ramp up its rollout. Chik’n also currently operates out of dark kitchens in Battersea, Park Royal and Wandsworth. In May, Propel revealed John Nelson, formerly of MOD Pizza UK and Nando’s, had joined Chik’n as its new chief executive. This was followed by the appointment of Rob Cooper, formerly of Sage and TalkTalk, as the brand’s new finance director. Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen to replace Kitty Hawk in the City: Chef Gordon Ramsay is to open a Bread Street Kitchen on the former Kitty Hawk site in the City of London. His new Bread Street Kitchen & Bar will open at the end of this month in South Place. Of the new site, the company said: “A bustling and breath-taking Read More
BGF and Coaching Inn Group hail £60m-plus partnership: The BGF and The Coaching Inn Group, led by Kevin Charity, have hailed a partnership that led to a £60m-plus sale to RedCat Pub Company last Friday (13 August). BGF backed the group with an initial £4.5m investment in 2015, before providing follow-on funding of £10m a year later to support a planned £50m expansion across the UK. In the past six years, The Coaching Inn Group has significantly expanded its portfolio, acquiring 11 sites. These include The Rutland Arms in Bakewell, The Golden Fleece in Thirsk and The Three Swans in Hungerford. Gurinder Sunner, head of BGF in the Midlands, said: “BGF’s Birmingham team backed The Coaching Inn Group in 2015 to support its planned multimillion-pound expansion across the UK. During this time, the company has gone from strength to strength and substantially improved the profitability of every site, thanks to a strong and energetic management team, which has extensive experience in the hotel and hospitality market. We’re extremely proud to have supported the company in helping to accelerate the growth of the business and wish the team all the best on the next exciting stage of their journey.” As part Read More
Ole & Steen lines up Chiswick opening: Danish baker Ole & Steen is set to further add to its presence in London, with an opening in Chiswick. Propel understands Ole & Steen has secured the former GAP Kids site at 260-262 Chiswick High Street for an opening later this year. Earlier this year, the company opened on the former Cafe Rouge in Hampstead High Street, which became its 13th site in the capital. At the time, chief executive Jason Cotta said the business was in a robust shape coming out of the UK lockdown and was planning to continue its accelerated new openings programme throughout this year and into 2022. Ole & Steen features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which was updated on Friday (13 August) for Premium subscribers. Ole & Steen has turned over an average of £10.9m in the past four years. The Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks the 351 companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors and now includes Propel insight editor Mark Wingett’s “Propel Pick” – his Read More
Stonegate begins rollout of new bar concept Live Social: Stonegate Group, the UK’s largest pub company, has begun the rollout of a new bar concept under the umbrella Live Social. Described as a unique sports and gaming bar, the first variation of the format launched last year as The Hideout, on the former Walkabout site in Derby’s Market Square. Stonegate has now converted its Squares bar in Nottingham’s The Poultry area to the Huddl concept, with a Popworld housed above it. The new destination offers live sport “like you’ve never seen it, top bar gaming experiences and craveable, fuss-free food”. Alongside screens showcasing the best of sport, Huddl also offers private gaming booths and interactive darts. Three private booths feature an Xbox Series S console complete with the “Ultimate Game Pass”. The booths also come with lighting that consumers can adjust themselves. The concept also offers two new Smarts augmented darts lanes, featuring dart tracking technology. The sports booths with banquette seating also house large HD TV screens. The concept also features a street food-inspired menu and a “darts bottomless brunch”. “It’s all about people coming out socialising, not just a group coming in and ordering a drink,” general manager Read More
Deliveroo hires Amazon executive Devesh Mishra as new chief product and technology officer: Deliveroo has announced the appointment of Devesh Mishra as chief product and technology officer. Mishra will have responsibility for Deliveroo’s engineering, data science, design and product development functions. He will report directly to chief executive Will Shu and will sit on the executive team. Devesh will start at Deliveroo in early September. Mishra joins from Amazon, where he has worked for the past 16 years and held a number of senior roles. Most recently, he has been vice-president, global supply chain at Amazon, overseeing a team of thousands, made up of engineers, data scientists and product managers, operating a supply chain spanning 185 markets. In this role, he has built and operated the world’s most technologically advanced supply chain, using data analytics, predictive technology and machine learning to scale Amazon’s retail and marketplace business. Mishra and his team have leaned heavily on innovation and cutting-edge technology to develop a highly bespoke and automated real-time supply chain management system, allowing Amazon to operate with great efficiency. His team manages a multibillion-dollar inventory, one of the largest inventory pools in ecommerce globally. Before this, Mishra was director for Amazon’s Read More
Potts – Starting to think about what we might do laterally, looked at smaller businesses: Simon Potts, chief executive of The Alchemist, the 20-strong bar and restaurant concept backed by Palatine, has said that the business is starting to think about what it might do laterally, including exploring the opportunity to invest in smaller businesses. Speaking on Propel’s Friday Wrap series, Potts said that there is a “hard cap” on the amounts of Alchemists the business could do in the UK. He said: “Expansion will continue to happen and we have obviously had to slow that rate down, and we haven’t been going at a crazy rate anyway and been averaging four new sites a year, but importantly we have been quite tactical about how we have done that growth. We used London as a bit of a platform to lift off from pre-pandemic and we got a fifth site open there and that remains our focus as we are going about the acquisition of new venues, which we are starting to do quite actively now. We are on site in Edinburgh, which we signed for at the end of 2019, and that’s bringing quite a lot of zip to Read More
McDonald’s UK promotes ‘world-class leader and marketer’: McDonald’s UK and Ireland has appointed Michelle Graham-Clare to senior vice-president, chief marketing officer. The company stated: “Since joining the business in January 2015, Michelle has played a pivotal leadership role in the UK & Ireland marketing team, holding a number of key roles across all categories, most recently in the role of VP, marketing and food development. Michelle, who worked as a crew member at McDonald’s earlier in life, will take ultimate responsibility for all food strategy and marketing campaigns as well as continuing to lead her marketing teams and agency partners. Her leadership over the past 18 months has been pivotal as she helped the business through the pandemic, with award-winning work, delivering record-breaking brand scores for the UK and Irish business. When McDonald’s faced the challenge of closing and reopening more than 1,400 restaurants in 2020, connecting with customers, understanding their concerns and providing reassurances around the steps the business had taken was paramount, and, ultimately, played a significant role in successfully welcoming customers back. The quality of work delivered by both internal teams and agency partners speaks volumes to Michelle’s long-term emphasis on developing the talent around her. She Read More
Whiteside – delivery channel is our primary way into trading in the evening: Roger Whiteside, chief executive of Greggs, has said the business is going to use the delivery channel as its primary way into trading in the evening. Speaking after the group’s interim results, Whiteside said he expected delivery would keep growing as more people view it as the most convenient channel. He said: “Combining delivery with walk-in customers makes addressing that part of the day much more viable for us more quickly. Pre-ordering is a market trend we believe will support, in particular, our ambition to grow sales in the evening daypart, a segment of the market where we are currently underrepresented. Delivery will also have a role to play here, giving customers convenient access to Greggs’ products wherever they are throughout the day.” Whiteside said expanding delivery means more shop capacity will be needed and more product innovation. He said the business was developing new offers in the delivery channel including sharing-box combinations and additional pizza toppings. Greggs, which operates more than 2,100 stores nationwide, now has Just Eat available across 837 stores. Revenues from company-run stores hit £488.3m in the first half. It said home delivery Read More
Bulk of Friska business sold for £260,000: Renroc Capital, a turnaround investment vehicle, acquired the bulk of Friska, the Bristol-based healthy eating brand, for a total consideration of £260,000, Propel has learned. Under a subsidiary, Renroc Retail, the investment group, which is led by Daniel Corner, acquired five of Friska’s best sites in Bristol, via a pre-pack administration. At the same time, Friska founders Griff Holland and Ed Brown acquired two of the remaining Friska sites in The Eye and Rivergate (OVO Energy) schemes in Bristol, for a total consideration of £15,000 through new vehicle Vela Venture Yard. Holland and Brown have already relaunched The Eye site at the city’s Temple Quarter, under new venture Double Puc Café. The Friska inside the Here building in Bristol – formerly the Bath Road studios at Arnos Vale – has been closed permanently. It is also thought the brand’s franchise site in Luton airport will shut. On the sale, Brown said: “When Griff and I started Friska 12 years ago, we knew that, like our colleagues, at some point, our time with Friska would come to an end, like any journey. We just never thought the journey would end like this. As a Read More
Brindisa Kitchens confirms Richmond opening as it moves into suburbs for sixth London site: Spanish restaurant group Brindisa Kitchens has confirmed the opening of its sixth London site. As revealed by Propel earlier this month, the company, founded by Monika Linton and Ratnesh Bagdai, will open on the former Jackson & Rye site in Richmond, in October. Tapas Brindisa Richmond, which will be in Heron Square, marks a move into the capital’s suburbs for the brand. The restaurant will have an open kitchen with 150 covers inside and 60 on the outside terrace. The Bodega Room, which will offer tastings and private dining, will have capacity for 20 seated or 40 standing. Bagdai said: “After our successful riverside venture at Brindisa Battersea Power Station, we have, for a while, set our eyes on another river-side eatery. While the hospitality industry remains challenging, this Richmond site offers our estate a great opportunity to continue our timely, well-paced growth and provides another solid step forward for our talented teams and leaders.” As well as Battersea, Brindisa Kitchens operates sites in London Bridge, Shoreditch, Soho and South Kensington. After the administration of parent company Cote last year, Jackson & Rye’s remaining few sites Read More
Doppio Malto begins building UK pipeline, secures first site in England: Italian restaurant chain Doppio Malto has begun to build its UK opening’s pipeline, after securing its first site in England. The brand, which currently operates 28 restaurants across seven Italian regions and one in France, has secured a site in the Metrocentre, Gateshead, for an opening before the end of the year. In April, Doppio Malto announced it had chosen Glasgow for its first opening in the UK, the first of 100 planned sites for the brand in the UK. The brand will launch in the city’s George Square, in the 8,000 square foot site formerly occupied by Jamie’s Italian. It is currently undergoing a significant refurbishment, which will include the creation of a basement bar and a 180-seat restaurant. Doppio Malto, which translates as “double malt”, specialises in craft beer and “hearty” Italian food. The Italian business will be joined at the Metrocentre by Slim Chickens – the US brand that is operated in the UK by Boparan Restaurant Group. It will open at the scheme next month. Ben Cox of Sovereign Centros, senior asset manager for Metrocentre, said: “Both brands have chosen Metrocentre to make their regional Read More
Stonegate Group launches senior secured notes offering to raise £165m:Stonegate Group, the UK’s largest pub company, has launched a senior secured notes offering as it looks to raise £165m, Propel has learned. The new notes will constitute a further issuance of the issuers – Stonegate Pub Company Financing 2019 – £1,070,000,000 8.25% senior secured notes due 2025. Upon completion, the proceeds from the offering of the new notes will be used to (i) finance capital expenditure in pubs owned by the Stonegate Group, (ii) for other general corporate purposes and (iii) pay certain transaction fees, expenses and costs. In July last year, Stonegate’s backer, private equity group TDR Capital, sold £1.2bn worth of bonds to finance its purchase of Ei Group. The main tranche of debt, a £950m sterling bond that matures in 2025, has a high coupon rate of 8.25%. The group also received £50m of direct funding from TDR Capital and, in November, issued a further £120m in bonds at the same rate and maturity. As of the end of September 2020, Stonegate said it had a cash balance of £294m. Rating agency Fitch said: “The November 2020 £120m bond tap enhanced group liquidity, whereas this planned issue Read More
BrewDog reports £13.1m pre-tax loss as online sales fail to offset impact of bar closures: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog swung into the red last year as booming sales of its craft beer online during covid-19 pandemic lockdowns failed to offset the impact of bar closures. The company reported a £13.1m pre-tax loss in 2020 despite reporting revenues of £238m for the year, 10% higher than in 2019. Co-founder James Watt called the revenue increase during the year “the most significant achievement in our short history”. After the pandemic closed hospitality venues around much of the globe, BrewDog switched to selling its beer through its online shop. Its e-commerce revenues were up 900% compared with 2019, as it shipped 750,000 orders in 12 months. BrewDog called its online shop one of the most important divisions of our entire global operation” during 2020, and has further rolled out its e-commerce platform to Europe, the US and Australia. Before the pandemic took hold, the brewer had expected to make 40% of its revenue from more than 100 bars, located around the world. BrewDog, which employs 1,600 people globally, reiterated the pandemic had not dented its plans to continue opening more venues. It Read More
Paolo Peretti appointed interim managing director of AMT Coffee: AMT Coffee, which operates concessions at transport hubs, has appointed Paolo Peretti, formerly of Leon, Vital Ingredient and Patisserie Valerie, as its new interim managing director, Propel understands. At the same time, Propel understands property entrepreneur David Maxwell has joined the board of the circa 50-strong business, which was formed by the McCallum-Toppin family. Peretti previously held senior roles with Pret A Manger, Leon, BHS, SSP and Vital, where he was managing director. In 2019, he was appointed managing director of Patisserie Valerie’s retail business, stepping down from the role last spring. In its most recent accounts to 5 January 2020, AMT posted turnover of £20.8m, down from £22.9m in the previous year, with like-for-like sales down 3%. Pre-tax loss widened from £42,964 to £1.1m. It said the fall in sales could be attributed to difficult trading conditions and the closure of key locations due to station redevelopment works. Since its year end, the business obtained £350,000 under the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Last year, it was reported AMT Coffee owner Alistair McCallum-Toppin faced bankruptcy over a £1.5m debt to his sister-in-law. Alistair McCallum-Toppin, who was the company’s managing Read More
Giraurdi Group to make UK debut in Chelsea: Monaco-based hospitality group Giraurdi is to make its debut in the UK with an opening in Chelsea. Propel understands the business, which was founded by Ricardo Giraudi, has secured the former Tom’s Kitchen site in Cale Street for what is expected to be an opening under its Beefbar steakhouse concept. Launched in 2005, Beefbar currently operates circa 15 sites, which includes venues in Paris, Rome, Hong Kong, Mexico City and Sao Paulo. The concept, which says its street food sharing style has been breaking “the classic and stiff codes of steakhouses since 2005”, had previously been linked to the Mirabelle site in Mayfair’s Curzon Street. The company launched a variation of the concept in partnership with Relais De Paris earlier this year in Paris. At its peak, Tom’s Kitchen, the concept from chef Tom Aikens, operated five restaurants across the UK (four in London and one in Birmingham), as well as one in Istanbul. However, the group was subsequently reduced to just its original site on Cale Street in Chelsea, which closed earlier this year. Wendy’s eyes Camden opening and return to Wood Green: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in Read More
Center Parcs reveals plans for £400m site in West Sussex: Center Parcs has revealed plans for a £400m holiday park in West Sussex. The company has secured an option agreement to acquire privately owned woodland at Oldhouse Warren in Worth, near Crawley. A spokesman said: “Following an extensive search, the 553-acres of woodland has been identified as a suitable site due to its location to the south of London and its excellent transport links. Center Parcs will now undertake rigorous site surveys and pre-planning works to ensure the woodland meets the specific requirements of a Center Parcs village, as well as carrying out a programme of community engagement with a view to submitting a planning application to the local authority in due course.” The site at Oldhouse Warren, off Balcombe Road, will include lodges, a range of indoor and outdoor leisure facilities, a Subtropical Swimming Paradise, a variety of restaurants and shops, and an Aqua Sana spa, Center Parcs said. The development is expected to cost between £350m and £400m, and create about 1,500 jobs. Center Parcs chief executive Martin Dalby said: “It is exciting to have identified a potential site for another Center Parcs village in the UK. The Read More
Tim Martin – we will review mask policy with staff, coffee sales down but premium lager doing well: Tim Martin, chairman of JD Wetherspoon, has told Propel the business will review what its policy on masks will be in the next two weeks, and while Test and Trace has caused great pressure on the company, it hasn’t, as yet, had to close a site because of it. Martin said: “The highly respected Swedish epidemiologist Johan Giesecke has made the most sense in the pandemic. A year ago, he said only three things are proven to work. First: wash hands. Two: social distance (if you don’t get too close to someone, you won’t catch the virus). Three: trust the people – they will do what’s in their best interests. The Swedes have mostly stuck to that and outperformed the UK, whereas the UK has been on a magical mystery tour of almost weekly changes. I personally doubt either face masks or Test and Trace works, but will review with pub teams in the next fortnight. Test and Trace pings have caused great pressure but we haven’t yet had to close, due to Herculean efforts by pub and area managers, yet again, Read More
Fridays secures two new sites for fledgling 63rd+1st concept: Fridays has secured two new sites in Glasgow and Harrogate, for its fledgling 63rd+1st concept, Propel has learned. The Robert Cook-led business has secured the former Gusto site in Glasgow’s Bothwell Street, and the ex-ASK Italian site in Harrogate’s Albert Street, for openings before the end of this year. In May, the company, which currently operates 87 restaurants, said it had three Fridays and four sites under its new 63rd+1st concept in the pipeline for opening over the coming months. Last month, Fridays’ backers Electra Private Equity announced Hostmore as the name of the new parent company for Electra’s hospitality brands, which are intended to be demerged by Electra and admitted to the main market of the London Stock Exchange late in the third quarter of this year. These brands comprise the rejuvenated American-themed casual dining brand, and the start-up 63rd+1st, its new city-based, cocktail-led bar and restaurant brand. David Muslin at Ecliptic acted on the Harrogate deal. Carter and Leach planning Manteca opening in Shoreditch: David Carter, chef and founder of Smokestak, and Chris Leach, who has worked as a chef at Petersham Nurseries and Kitty Fisher’s, are planning to Read More
Boparan Restaurant Group launches multi-brand ghost kitchen: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), the owner and operator of brands including Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK), Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner and Slim Chickens, has launched its first ghost kitchen, in London, Propel has learned. The company has launched the kitchen in Upper Street, Islington. The business has made its Slim Chickens, GBK and Ed’s Easy Diner brands available for delivery from the new kitchen, through Deliveroo and Uber Eats. It is thought the business is looking to open further kitchens like the one in Upper Street, which also houses the group’s fledgling virtual delivery brand Rebel Vegan. Last month, Propel revealed the company had rolled out Rebel Vegan to a further six sites. Launched in April with the tagline: “All plants. No bull”, the brand has now been rolled out to BRG sites in Southampton, Brighton, Norwich, York, Lakeside and Cambridge. Megan’s adds a further two sites to its openings pipeline: London-based cafe and deli concept Megan’s has added a further two sites to its openings pipeline, including its second site outside London, Propel understands. The 12-strong company, which will open its next site later this month in Wandsworth, has secured the former Laura Read More
Christian Arden adds to pub portfolio with Barnes site, third in the pipeline:Restaurant, bar and hospitality operator Christian Arden has added to his pub portfolio. Arden has taken on his first site with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars, The Tree House in Barnes, south west London. The pub will reopen as The Crossing in August following a joint £450,000 refurbishment with Star Pubs & Bars. It is Arden’s second south London pub, his other is The Rectory in Clapham, with a third pub in Kennington in the pipeline. The kitchen will be overseen by chef Antony Demetre from Arbutus and Vermuteria in Coal Drops Yard – and his team of young chefs. Arden, who was founder and chief executive of Po Na Na and later managing director of Chicago Rib Shack, said: “I have wanted to open a pub in Barnes for some time and was delighted when the Tree House became available. The pandemic delayed plans but, on the flipside, it gave me the opportunity to finesse them and collaborate with Anthony.” Set over two floors, the pub will feature a beer tap wall behind the bar. At the front of the pub there will be fixed seating for Read More
Leon co-founder John Vincent and Lucky Beach’s Mike Palmer developing new concept Strong Ron’s Lucky Drive Thru: Leon co-founder John Vincent and Mike Palmer, co-founder of the Brighton-based Redroaster, Pike & Pine and Lucky Beach brands, are developing a new concept called Strong Ron’s Lucky Drive Thru, Propel has learned. The new concept is described as a drive-thru and drive-to experience, featuring “indulgent Southern US-style comfort food”, and includes double hamburgers with heritage dry-aged beef, triple-cooked loaded fries, plant-based shakes, botanical softs and free-range nuggets. Propel understands that Or Golan, formerly of Ottolenghi, is overseeing operations for the new project that is now seeking roadside sites across the UK. The new concept is understood to be seeking drive-thru sites, prime and secondary roadside properties between 1,750 and 4,000 square foot in size. Priority locations include Oxfordshire and the M40 corridor, Cambridgeshire and the M1/A1 corridor and the Gloucestershire area. Palmer, an ex-Mitchells & Butlers executive, who formerly consulted on Flat Iron and John Salt, also operates Thai barbecue restaurant concept Lucky Khao in Brighton. Vincent left Leon earlier this year after Mohsin and Zuber Issa, the brothers behind Asda, acquired the brand through their EG Group business, in a £100m Read More
You Me Sushi aims to more than triple in size over the next 18 months: You Me Sushi, the London-based restaurant and takeaway concept, is planning to more than triple its current eight-strong estate over the next months, including the launch of its first franchised sites, Propel has learned. Peter Cossar, formerly of Starbucks and Papa John’s, who was appointed the brand’s new managing director earlier this year, told Propel: “We are looking to build on the success we have seen over the past couple of years and grow the brand to about 30 stores in the next 18 months. This year, we will open a further seven stores, including five franchise stores. Our first franchise store will open in Stratford in July. In 2022, we will open a further 15 stores. We have more than ten franchise stores signed up under development agreements and will open a further three or four ourselves.” Cossar said the company was looking at growing organically from its London base, with all the openings this year and next set to be in the capital before the business explores opportunities outside. Its next opening will be in Ealing Broadway, along the same strip as Starbucks Read More
Tony Macaroni eyes UK expansion by expanding franchise model to England and Wales: Scottish restaurant company Tony Macaroni is looking to the “next chapter” by expanding its franchise model to England and Wales. The Glasgow-based brand – part of the Viva Italia Group which also includes Mozza, Nardinis, and Wine House 1821 – operates 19 sites across Scotland and Northern Ireland, with five more opening by the end of this year. Managing director Sep Marini now wants to partner with the “best operators” to bring the brand to towns and cities down south, fulfilling a long-held ambition to have a Tony Macaroni restaurant on every high street throughout the UK. He said: “While 2020 has proved to be challenging for many brands, we have continued to enjoy success. We’ll be standing at 24 Tony Macaroni restaurants in Scotland and Northern Ireland by the end of the year, and we are now ready for the next chapter. Our brand is much-loved throughout Scotland because we follow a formula that works. I firmly believe we can emulate this success the length and breadth of the UK with experienced franchisees who can build themselves a fantastic business.” Tony Macaroni opened its first restaurant Read More
Timothy Taylor’s remains profitable in latest financial year despite pandemic, trading ‘satisfactorily’ since reopening: Keighley-based brewer and retailer Timothy Taylor’s has reported the business remained profitable in its latest financial year despite the pandemic and has traded “satisfactorily” since reopening. The company saw turnover fall 23% to £19.6m for the year ending 30 September 2020, compared with £25.5m the previous year as a result of pubs being shut for more than three months during the first national lockdown and then subsequent regional lockdowns. Despite the disruption, the company generated a pre-tax profit of £875,000, down from £2.1m the previous year. Chief executive Tim Dewey told Propel: “Given restrictions, we had a low seven-figure operating loss for the first six months of our current financial year (October 2020-March 2021) but have traded satisfactorily since pubs reopened in April. Like everyone else in the hard-pressed hospitality industry, we are hoping the government’s vaccination strategy works to limit hospitalisations and deaths, allowing the sector to benefit from fewer restrictions and increased consumer confidence from 19 July.” In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “For the first five months of the trading year to the end of February 2020, draught sales were Read More
Enhanced Hospitality opens new Japanese restaurant in London’s St James’s:Enhanced Hospitality, the Roger Payne-led operator of the We Are Bar business and Shaka Zulu in Camden, has opened a new Japanese restaurant in London called Ginza St James’s. Opened on the former Matsuri site in Bury Street, the new restaurant “offers an authentic and exclusive Japanese dining experience”. The venue features a main dining area, two private dining spaces, dedicated counters for Teppanyaki, and Edomae Sushi, and “one of the most extensive sake lists in London”. Payne, who also owned and operated The Cuban and Chicago Rib Shack brands, is believed to have also lined up a further opening in the capital, this time in Mayfair. It is thought Payne is set to take on the Mitchells & Butlers’ former Browns site in Maddox Street, for a yet unknown new venture. It is thought Enhanced Hospitality is also planning to open a new restaurant in Bath and a new members club, restaurant, bar and workspace in Canary Wharf. Shepherd Neame rolls out stretch tents across 30 pubs: Kent-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has begun rolling out the latest investment in its pub estate – bespoke stretch tents, for alfresco Read More
Simmons Bars secures five new sites as it targets 30-strong estate within two years: Simmons Bars, the London-based, Lonsdale Capital Partners-backed group, has secured five new sites, Propel has learned. The company is also nearing completion on neighbouring properties at two of its existing venues, with an eye to expanding the current trading spaces. The new acquisitions will take the bar group to 20 sites with an intention to have a 30-strong estate in the next 12 to 24 months. The openings will take place over the next four months with openings in Bank, Brick Lane, Putney, Tottenham Court Road and Old Street. Chief executive Nick Campbell, who founded the group in 2013, told Propel: “The industry has just been through its toughest period in history. We were stopped in our tracks with little support from the government and no real idea where we were headed next. We had successfully opened three sites in 2019 so we wanted to continue the positive momentum coming out the other side of lockdown. I really want Simmons to be an integral part of getting London’s nightlife scene back to a state of normality so hopefully by providing new venues, new employment and new Read More
Gusto to return to expansion trail with ‘new look’ site in Nottingham: Premium casual dining group Gusto Italian is to return to the expansion trail with the opening of a “new look” restaurant and bar in Nottingham later this year, Propel has learned. The Matt Snell-led brand, which currently has 12 sites across the UK, said the site in the city’s King Street will be an evolution of the Gusto brand with “immersive pizza experience, truly open kitchen and coffee and cannoli bar”. Following this site, Gusto said it was looking to build a pipeline of openings to drive future growth. Snell said: “This will be our first site for four years and marks a new chapter for us as we come out of a very tough 18 months. Nottingham will be home to our first new look Gusto and will create an immersive guest experience that helps us redefine the landscape of Italian casual dining. We’ll be serving brunch, lunch, dinner and drinks, the Gusto way.” The Palatine Private Equity-backed group currently operates in locations such as Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle. Last week It announced the appointment of Ann Elliott to its board as a non-executive director. Read More
Lebanese fast food concept Za’ta set for rollout, aims to grow to ten sites in next year: Za’ta, the London-based Lebanese fast food concept founded by Lebanese national, Francis Zahar, and former Pret A Manger and EAT executive Ed Grimes, is aiming to grow to a ten-strong estate in the next year – and has its sights on eventually growing international. The concept launched in Baker Street in September last year and is inspired by the recipes of Zahar’s mother, Nadia. The menu includes a selection of hot and cold mezzes, meat and vegetarian and vegan dishes as well as breakfast snacks, fair trade organic coffee and sweet treats with a focus on the famous Lebanese man’oushe. And despite the interruptions caused by the pandemic, Zahar and Grimes have just started looking for a second site for the concept, which they believe has the format for a rapid rollout. Grimes told Propel he hopes a new site will open in September and is eyeing the City as well as the Gloucester Road and Kensington areas of the capital. He said: “Because we offer a more grab-and-go format, serving people who are in a bit of a hurry, Za’ta can work Read More
Rosa’s Thai Cafe secures two further London sites: TriSpan-backed Rosa’s Thai Cafe is set to further add to its presence in London, with openings in Bloomsbury and King’s Cross, Propel has learned. The company has secured the former ASK Italian unit in Grafton Way for an opening later this year, and a shell unit of Caledonian Road. Last month, the Gavin Adair-led business opened its first Midlands restaurant, at Paradise Birmingham. The company is also currently on-site at the ex-Bella Italia site in Baker Street for an opening this summer. The 24-strong group, which was founded by Alex and Saiphin Moore in 2008, also operates a handful of delivery kitchen sites. The business plans to open up to six new restaurants this year and continue to add to its delivery kitchen estate. Thomas Rose, of P-Three, acts for Rosa’s. Joe & The Juice to replace Caffe Nero in Soho: Denmark-based smoothie and juice chain Joe & The Juice is to further add to its presence in central London, with an opening in Soho. The company, which currently operates circa 50 sites in the UK, including about 40 in the capital, is understood to have secured the former Caffe Nero site Read More
Hard Rock Cafe UK management receives financial support commitment from US parent, extends Piccadilly site lease: Hard Rock Cafe UK management has said it has received a letter of support from its US parent committing financial support so it can meet its liabilities over the next year. The company has also extended the lease on its site in London’s Piccadilly until 2037 after seeing “encouraging signs” since opening in 2019. The directors said it could not yet estimate the impact of coronavirus on the business, which “had never experienced a prolonged cessation of its operations for such a significant length of time”. They expect business to return to normal by the end of 2022. They stated: “In addition, the magnitude, duration and speed of the global pandemic is uncertain. As a consequence, management cannot estimate the impact on the company’s business, financial condition or near or longer-term financial or operational results with certainty. The company has received confirmation of continued financial support from its parent to enable it to continue to operate for at least the next 12 months. The effects of further decreases in estimated future operating cash flows could result in the need to recognise additional impairment charges Read More
Hub Box reports 32% rise in like-for-like sales, targets 20-strong estate by end of 2022: Hub Box, the south west-based burger and barbecue concept led by Richard Boon, has reported like-for-like sales up 32% for the eight-week period from 12 April to 6 June 2021 compared with the same period in 2019. The company, which counts Loungers co-founders Alex Reilley and Jake Bishop as investors, said that while restaurant capacity was extremely constrained for the five weeks from the 12 April, due to trade being limited to outside-only and delivery, like-for-like sales had still climbed by 20.5%. In the three-week period since indoor trading was permitted, like-for-like sales have been up 49.7% with the company posting a record week last week with net sales of £400,700. The company, which opened its tenth site in Falmouth on 24 May, is due to open its 11th site in Cheltenham in the summer followed by a relocation of its Plymouth site to Royal William Yard scheme in the autumn. It is understood the company is reviewing a number of additional new site opportunities and is looking to strengthen its head office team as it embarks on a period of sustained growth that should see Read More
Company News: McDonald’s UK opens second delivery kitchen site: McDonald’s has opened its second UK delivery kitchen site, in Portsmouth, Propel has learned. The fast-food giant has opened the delivery-only unit in Partnership Park in Fratton. It comes 17 months after the company opened its first UK delivery kitchen site in Hanworth, west London, which it launched to “meet a boom in demand for home deliveries”. A McDonald’s spokeswoman told Propel: “It’s important our offer reflects the needs of the people in the local area, and the Fratton delivery kitchen has opened to help nearby restaurants meet the demand from McDelivery orders. The opening has ensured restaurants in the surrounding area can continue to provide the service and convenience our customers expect, while ensuring McDelivery customers have a great experience. The Fratton delivery kitchen is not open to the public, but the kitchen looks and feels exactly the same as all of our other kitchens up and down the country and will deliver the same great-tasting food our customers expect, prepared by our people to exactly the same standards.” The opening in Hanworth in November 2019, was part of a wider trial by McDonald’s to test different restaurant formats. Earlier Read More
Popeyes UK strengthens management team as it aims to open debut site this autumn: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick service restaurant brand, has strengthened its UK management team with three new appointments as it gears up to launch its first restaurant here this autumn. Propel understands the company has appointed Tom Byng as its chief development officer, David Carey as chief technology officer and Neil Williamson as chief operating officer. The brand’s UK chief marketing officer and head of people are expected to be appointed imminently. Byng joins from Fulham Shore, owner of Franco Manca and The Real Greek, where he was instrumental in growing the group to more than 70 sites nationwide in five years. He was previously director of acquisitions and estate management at Itsu for seven years. At Popeyes UK, Byng will spearhead the sourcing of its first restaurant in London and, thereafter, will be responsible for the creation of a rolling programme of acquisitions. Carey was digital director at The Restaurant Group, where he was responsible for brands including Wagamama, Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito. He will lead on all restaurant and consumer tech, building systems to simplify operations, enable frictionless guest experiences, Read More
Company News: Brewhouse & Kitchen making ‘big push’ to add accommodation to sites:Brewhouse & Kitchen, the 23-strong brewpub group, is making a “big push” to add accommodation to its sites as it becomes a key focus for the group. The company has just received approval from Bristol City Council for 18 bedrooms at its pub in Cotham Hill. Meanwhile, it has planning permission in place for 17 bedrooms at its brewpub in Chester and is looking to add 14 bedrooms to its property in Southbourne in Dorset. Chief executive Kris Gumbrell told Propel he was looking at more opportunities across the group and was in the process of allocating capital for projects. He said: “Some of the properties used to be hotels so we have the sites with the development potential. Having accommodation at the pubs gives us another string to our bow and it’s something we are going to be making a big push on. We are reviewing the estate to see where we might be able to add rooms and it will also be something we look at when it comes to acquisitions.” Under the plans for the Bristol pub, a roof extension would be added to create Read More
Hawthorn ‘evaluating all options’ after receiving ‘good level of interest’ following IPO plans: Mark Davies, chief executive of community pub company Hawthorn, has told Propel the business had a “good level of interest” from the public and private sector and is “evaluating all its options”. In April, parent group NewRiver announced it would explore the potential for an initial public offering of Hawthorn, following a strategic review. Speaking following NewRiver’s full-year results, Davies said the process was still ongoing. He said: “Our recent focus has been on reopening the pubs and we are now turning our attention back to the process. There’s a lot of work to be done before we advance to the next stage. We’ve had a good level of interest from both the public and private sector, and we now evaluate all those options and will provide an update in due course.” In the meantime, Davies said all the attention was turning to 21 June – in what is being dubbed Freedom Day. He said he was “cautiously optimistic” restrictions would be lifted but admitted “media speculation in recent days had been unhelpful”. He added: “The message seems to have shifted a bit in the past week or Read More
Company News: WatchHouse appoints Ross Winterflood as marketing director: Edition Capital-backed coffee concept WatchHouse has appointed Ross Winterflood as its new marketing director, Propel has learned. Winterflood joins the fast-growing, Roland Horne-led business after previously being at Yondr Group and Amazon Logistics. The seven-strong company recently opened its largest site to date in St Mary’s Axe, London, as part of plans to open six new sites by the end of this year, including its first regional launch in Bath. Propel revealed earlier this year, the London-based company was in talks with an operator in Scandinavia in regards to become the brand’s master franchisee for the Nordic regions. Founder Horne told Propel the group has ambitions to reach “triple figures” in the UK in terms of sites, by “creating genuine, authentic local hubs”, and had a long-term ambition to launch in the US. WatchHouse also plans to open sites in Bishopsgate, Seven Dials, Marylebone and Covent Garden within the next six months. WatchHouse will open its first site outside of London, in Bath, in the autumn after securing the former Radley shop in the city’s Old Bond Street. Wendy’s makes UK return: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the Read More
Pret launches click and collect trial: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed chain, is launching a click and collect trial. From Wednesday (2 June), eight of Pret’s 11 Manchester shops will be offering this new service. It follows a surge of Pret coffee subscription sign-ups in Manchester, and a successful initial trial of click and collect in the Pret shop in Media City, Manchester. Similar to online ordering through third-party delivery partners, a 50p click and collect fee will be applied to any transaction. Since May 2020, Pret has been transforming its business model to bring it to more people in different ways. This includes launching the UK’s first high-street coffee subscription service, allowing customers the chance to redeem up to five barista-prepared drinks per day for £20 a month, as well as expanding delivery partnerships with Deliveroo, Just Eat and UberEats. Pret has also launched its products in supermarkets as well as announced plans to open shops in petrol stations and Tesco stores. Subscribers to Pret’s coffee subscription can order their drinks through the click and collect service. Dan Burdett, chief customer and growth officer at Pret, said: “The brand has always prided itself on serving our customers great-quality Read More
YO! to launch first virtual delivery brand: YO!, the global multi-channel, multi-brand Japanese and Asian food group, is to launch its first virtual delivery brand, called Lucky 7, Propel has learned. Lucky 7 is a “contemporary, quality pan-Asian fried chicken brand, which will specialise in higher welfare chicken burgers, wraps and wings”. The delivery brand will launch with a trial in mid-June through delivery partners, including Deliveroo, out of 11 YO! restaurants across the UK. The menu will include Asian influenced burgers such as The Katsu Curry One, The Korean Sweet Chilli One wrap, Kimchi Buffalo wings, Smokey Sesame BBQ tenders and Sweet Miso Corn as a side along with signature fries. Pricing for the new brand is still to be confirmed. It is understood the Richard Hodgson-led business believes Lucky 7 will give the group an opportunity to maximise at-home evening sales as that market continues to grow. Cricket-based concept Sixes secures debut regional site: Sixes, the cricket-based competitive socialising concept from the founders of Mac & Wild, has secured its debut regional site, in Manchester. Propel has learned Sixes, which earlier this year secured a flagship site in London’s Great Portland Street, will open on the former Alston Read More
Qoot Restaurant Group announces closure of By Chloe UK operations: Qoot Restaurant Group, which was among a group of investors that agreed to acquire plant-based concept By Chloe out of bankruptcy in March, has announced the closure of the UK operations of the brand. Qoot director of people and talent Marco Galer-Reick told Propel: “Due to the bankruptcy of the brand parent company in the US and subsequent loss of name rights, we have made the difficult decision to close the UK operations of By Chloe. Recent developments have meant a complete reorganisation of the UK business is necessary and that near-term focus is directed on re-establishing a new brand in the US that has a viable long-term future.” He added that some jobs had been secured for By Chloe staff within its other businesses. By Chloe’s parent company, BC Hospitality Group, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December, citing the impact of the pandemic. The company has for the past several years also been involved in a legal tangle with one of the concept’s co-founders, celebrity vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli, who left the company in 2016 and has fought to prevent the use of her name with the Read More
KFC sees potential to triple in size: KFC has said it sees potential to triple in size and is predicting “buckets of growth” in the long term. At an investor day hosted by parent company Yum! Brands, KFC said 90% of its growth in the past five years has been from overseas markets, with 70% of growth coming from outside the US and China. Much of the unit growth has also been in emerging markets such as India. KFC said it plans to almost triple in size from 25,292 sites to 75,000, with a new store opening every five hours in 2021. Over the past two quarters alone, the company has opened 700 units. The strength of this growth projection is aided by “attractive unit-level returns for franchisees, a flexible real estate strategy” and opportunities in emerging markets globally, including Africa, Russia, the Middle East and India, according to analysis from Baird Equity Research. KFC said digital sales have increased by $5bn and make up 43% of transactions, up from about 20% before 2020. The company has made $3bn of digital sales already in 2021. KFC’s first plant-based protein, Beyond Fried Chicken, was first tested in July 2020 in select Read More
Wagamama to expand delivery kitchen estate in London: Wagamama, The Restaurant Group (TRG)-owned brand, is to extend its delivery kitchen estate in London, with two further sites, Propel has learned. The Emma Woods-led business will open new delivery kitchens in Walthamstow and Forest Hill, the latter of which launches next week. They will join the brand’s existing delivery kitchens in the capital in Balham, Peckham, Hackney and Bow. Wagamama also operates a delivery kitchen in Leeds. In April, TRG said the five Wagamama delivery kitchens currently in operation generated £225,000 average outlet Ebitda with over 75% return on invested capital. It said that given this track record, the company’s long-term ambitions for the brand include significant measured roll-out potential to expand both in the UK to a targeted circa 180 to 200 restaurants (from 144 today) and circa 20 to 30 delivery kitchens. In an update on Tuesday (25 May), TRG said: “Wagamama (for the circa 130 sites open in this period) traded at circa 85% of comparable 2019 sales levels, representing a circa 15% outperformance of the market reflecting ongoing strong delivery volumes and good trading from outdoor space in many locations.” Parogon reports like-for-like turnover up 54% on Read More
Company News: Former MOD Pizza UK chief executive Nelson takes the helm at Chik’n: John Nelson, formerly of MOD Pizza UK and Nando’s, has joined Chik’n, the fried chicken concept from the team behind Chick ’n’ Sours, as its new chief executive, Propel has learned. Nelson joined MOD Pizza UK, the joint venture backed by Sir Charles Dunstone, at the end of 2015, before leaving the then nine-strong business last year, after its parent company was placed into liquidation. Prior to joining MOD, Nelson was operations director at Nando’s and accountable for more than 350 restaurants. Prior to Nando’s, Nelson held several leadership positions for one of Europe’s largest consumer electronics retailers, Dixons Stores Group (formerly Curry’s), including central operations director, divisional director and customer operations manager. He replaces Jon Green at Chik’n. Green, who was previously at Prezzo, joined the David Wolanski and Carl Clarke-led concept, which is backed by Dunstone and Active Partners, at the end of 2019. Chik’n currently operates sites in Angel, Soho and Marylebone, plus operates out of dark kitchens in Battersea, Park Royal and Wandsworth. L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele to make regional debut in Manchester: L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, the oldest pizzeria in Italy, Read More
Patrick Dardis – potential sale of tenanted business on agenda for almost five years but now is the right time to test the water:Patrick Dardis, chief executive of London pub retailer Young’s, has told Propel a potential sale of its tenanted business has been on the agenda for almost five years, but the market was “now right” to test the water. Dardis said if a sale of the 63-strong Ram Pub Company did go ahead, “every penny” would be ploughed into either the existing business or towards potential acquisitions – and not used to pay down debt. Speaking following the company’s preliminary results, Dardis said: “We look at the strategy every year and a possible sale of the tenanted business has always been on the agenda. It’s a fantastic little business but it’s a declining area in terms of site growth. However, these are prized assets that would sit at the top of most tenanted pub company businesses and, following a review of everything, we feel now is the time to test the water. If we do a deal, and that is an ‘if’ because we don’t need to, it will add further firepower to invest in our existing estate Read More
Murphy steps down as PizzaExpress finance director: David Murphy has stepped down as finance director for PizzaExpress UK & Ireland after over four and half years in the role, Propel has learned. Murphy has left the brand, which he originally joined in October 2014, as group financial controller, to join residential and holiday park operator Haulfryn Group as its new chief financial officer. He was previously finance director at Tesco. Earlier this year, PizzaExpress strengthened its management team with the appointments of Jo Bennett as its new chief business officer and Shadi Halliwell as its new chief customer officer. In March, Andy Pellington stepped down as the pizza chain’s chief financial officer, a role he held for seven years, after overseeing the recapitalisation of the business in autumn last year. Pellington and Murphy’s responsibilities have been taken on by Bennett. Neat Burger makes regional debut in Reading: Lewis Hamilton-backed plant-based concept Neat Burger has made its regional debut with an opening in Reading. Propel understands the company has launched a dark kitchen unit through Deliveroo’s Editions unit in the city. Talking to Propel in March, Stasi Nychas, co-founder of Neat Burger, said dark kitchens would be the best way for Read More
Burger King UK acquires franchisee Zing Leisure: BK UK Group, the master franchisee for Burger King in the UK, has acquired Zing Leisure for an undisclosed sum, adding 17 restaurants to its company-owned estate. The sites are spread across the UK and increases the group’s company-owned portfolio to 142 restaurants, within a total UK estate of 491 outlets. The company said as it moves into a year of growth, it is committed to organic opportunities and rolling out the brand further. The business said the acquisition was part of its wider plans to continue to revitalise the brand across the UK. Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive for Burger King UK, said: “This significant acquisition is a great way to progress in what’s been a challenging year, and demonstrates our commitment to growth of the brand. I would like to thank Zing Leisure for its support along with the enormous contribution it has made to Burger King in the UK over the past 25 years. The restaurants have been run in an exemplary way and we welcome the restaurant teams as they become part of an ever-growing BK UK Group.” Burger King UK was formed after a joint venture deal was agreed Read More
Willingham – we are winning conversations on property based on covenant, financial security and reliability rather than a bigger cheque: Sarah Willingham, chief executive of listed bar group Nightcap, has said the fascinating thing about the current property market is it is like “we are starting again and winning conversation based on covenant, financial security and reliability rather than a bigger cheque”. Speaking as part of Propel’s Friday Wrap series, Willingham said: “I had a conversation with Hugh Osmond a couple of weeks back and he said the property opportunity is one of the most interesting areas of growth for the sector but it is like you have to literally throw away anything you have learnt about taking on property for hospitality and start again. It is difficult because we are so used to being up against loads of people and whoever has got the biggest cheque, putting more money for the premium, gets the property. What’s fascinating now is it is like we are starting again and we are winning conversations based on covenant, financial security and reliability rather than a bigger cheque. In my entire career that has never happened before. Landlords going into new and empty properties Read More
Wendy’s evaluating more than 20 potential franchisees in UK: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, has said the company is evaluating more than 20 potential franchisees in the UK. Chief executive said the company remains on track to open the first UK site, on its return here, in Reading on Wednesday, 2 June, which will be operated by the company. Earlier this week, Wendy’s chief development officer Abigail Pringle said there was an opportunity to open between 300 and 400 sites in the UK. Speaking to analysts after the brand’s first-quarter update, Wendy’s chief financial officer Gunther Plosch said: “The UK consumer seems to be ready for us. We have built a robust franchise pipeline. We said it in the prepared remarks about 20 franchisees put up their hands. The chief development officer said in one of the interviews in the UK that there is no reason to believe why the long-term potential of the UK for us shouldn't be 400 restaurants. Just to be clear, there's no development agreement signed for the UK. It's a belief we have, and that we'll be going after, and that's where we're going to make our investment.” The group Read More
MeatLiquor to take on Forest Hill pub, could lead to more: Scott Collins-led concept MeatLiquor has secured its first pub, the Dartmouth Arms in London’s Forest Hill, which will open at the start of July, and the business may look to open more. Propel understands the 11-strong company has taken a new lease on the pub from Stonegate Pub Company, a deal that sees Collins return to the pub sector and the brand return to its roots. The first incarnation of MeatLiquor ran as a pop-up above a pub in New Cross in its early days in 2011. The residency was so successful it led to the opening of the first MeatLiquor restaurant on Welbeck Street in London’s West End that same year. Collins previously worked for and was shareholder in the Clive Watson-led Capital Pub Company. At Capital, his role was to source, buy, design and run pubs, including The Clarence in Balham, which won the Evening Standard Pub of the Year award in 2006. Collins said the Victorian public house, which has three bars and a 30-space car park, would be getting a “MeatLiquor makeover” and customers could expect the full MeatLiquor menu with the addition of fish Read More
Gordon Ramsay Restaurants appoints Antony Perring as CFO: Gordon Ramsay Restaurants has appointed Antony Perring, formerly of Leon and Wagamama, as its new chief financial officer, Propel has learned. Perring, the former Wagamama finance director, stepped down as chief financial officer of Leon at the start of this year, after joining the then John Vincent-led business in February 2015. Previous to that, he spent eight and a half years at Wagamama. He joins Gordon Ramsay Restaurants as it looks to further expand its fledgling concepts – Street Pizza and Street Burger. The business opened its fourth Street Pizza, at Battersea Power Station, last month. At the same time, the company opened sites for its Street Burger concepts in London’s Charing Cross Road and below the chef’s new cooking school in Woking, Surrey. It has also lined up the ex-Byron site in Kensington High Street for an opening later this summer for the Street Burger concept. It is thought the chef is also in talks to take the ex-Gourmet Burger Kitchen site in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, for another Street Burger site. Ramsay is also believed to have made the highest offer to take the former Giraffe site in The Oracle Read More
Burger King UK to trial delivery kitchen sites: Burger King UK, the Bridgepoint-backed fast-food chain, is to begin a trial of a delivery kitchen site within the next few weeks, Propel has learned. Propel understands the Alasdair Murdoch-led, circa 530-strong, business is looking to open delivery kitchens across three locations, including Kentish Town and Wandsworth, with all set to come online before the end of the summer. It is thought the Kentish Town site will launch first. It is understood Burger King will team up with Foodstars, which provides kitchen space for food companies, for the Kentish Town and Wandsworth sites, but the third trial site will be with Deliveroo. If the trial sites are successful, it is thought Burger King will explore doing further delivery kitchen units. At the end of 2019, McDonald’s opened its first “dark kitchen” in order to establish how to meet increasing demand for delivery. The brand’s first kitchen-only location opened in Hanworth, west London, as part of a “wider trial to test varying restaurant formats”. Propel understands Nando’s also trialled its own dark kitchen site in an unnamed location, which has since closed. Starbucks franchisee 23.5 Degrees secures £17m funding package to support expansion: Read More
Tortilla enters partnership with Merlin Entertainments, adapts operational model:Tortilla is to open a site in Chessington World of Adventures Resort, through a new partnership with Merlin Entertainments, which could see the Quilvest-backed fast casual Mexican concept open further sites with the visitor attractions operator. The first site under the new partnership opens on Monday, 17 May. Tortilla’s managing director Richard Morris said the brand was thrilled to be opening in Chessington and has adapted its operational model to suit the high-volume environment. He said: “We’ve streamlined the menu and repositioned the servery to be able to serve more burritos per second than ever. This is a new model for us and, if successful, we hope to continue opening Tortilla sites of this format in more Merlin locations as well as other high-throughput locations with SSP.” Natalie Fox, commercial director at Chessington World of Adventures Resort, said: “We’re delighted to be welcoming Tortilla to our line-up – it’s going to be a great addition to the resort.” Located in the Mexicana Land, Tortilla Chessington will be centrally run and staffed by Tortilla and its employees. Tortilla, which operates circa 50 sites, is rolling out several more restaurants this summer as lockdown Read More
Wasabi strengthens management team, returns to expansion trail: Wasabi, the sushi and bento chain led by Henry Birts and backed by Capdesia, has strengthened its management team with the appointment of a new marketing director and operations director as it returns to the expansion trail, Propel has learned. Wasabi has appointed Tom Sugarman, formerly of Pret A Manger, as operations director. Sugarman spent nine years at Pret, most recently as its UK shops director. Meanwhile, the 43-strong Wasabi has appointed Sam Bourke, formerly of ETM Group and The Restaurant Group, as its new marketing director. Bourke joins the business after more than four and half years as director of sales and marketing at ETM Group. The appointments of Sugarman and Bourke follows that of Kate Lucas, who joined the business earlier this year in the new role of managing director for the group’s grocery business. Wasabi said it was in a strong position to grow as covid restrictions ease and the consumer economy recovers. It has now reopened 39 of its sites and said it was “building a confident new openings programme for 2021 and beyond”. It opened one new site in February – London Bridge, which it said was Read More
Maray appoints new chairman as it prepares for expansion: Liverpool-based Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant and cocktail bar concept Maray has appointed Lucy Noone Blake as its new chairman as it prepares for expansion. Noone Blake joins the three founders – Thomas White, Dominic Jones and James Bates on the board of the business, bringing with her 18 years’ experience in hospitality in front of house, operations and marketing roles at companies such as Hawksmoor and Arc Inspirations. Maray, which is backed by Rosa’s Thai Cafe founders Alex and Saiphin Moore, said Noone Blake’s appointment will lead its “rapid expansion into exciting new territories”. This will include the opening of new concept, Sabich, at GSG Hospitality’s Duke Street Food and Drink Market when it reopens on Monday, 17 May, the impending opening of the One O’Clock Gun, its new pub on the city’s Albert Dock, as well as its first launch outside of Liverpool, in Manchester. Bates told Propel: “We’ve been looking for a site for in Manchester for so long, so we know the rumours have been swirling and it’s great to be able to confirm. Lucy is Manchester-based, as is Dominic, so it all feels very natural as a next Read More
Poké House makes UK move with Ahi Poké deal: Milan-based, fast-casual brand Poké House is to make its debut in the UK after acquiring the Ahi Poké business. Off the back of the acquisition of the six-strong, London-based Ahi Poké, the company plans to launch seven venues in the capital by the summer, with the first Poké House restaurant planned to open in Notting Hill, in June. Poké House currently operates 30 sites across Italy, Portugal and Spain, and employs more than 400 people. It said it plans to expand into city locations, shopping malls, outdoor kiosks and dark kitchens in the UK. The deal comes a few days after Poké House closed a €20m (£17m) Series B funding round led by Eulero Capital, with backing from FG2 Capital and reinvestment from Milano Investment Partners. The proceeds from the investment are intended to fuel and accelerate the international expansion of the company, with the acquisition of Ahi Poké representing a key step in a broader plan to open 200 new stores across Europe. Matteo Pichi, co-founder and chief executive of Poké House, said: “We realised early on that poké could be a product with great potential but, at the same Read More
KFC UK system sales up 16% in first quarter, second largest increase of all markets: Yum! Brands has reported KFC system sales in the UK rose 16% for the first quarter, ended 31 March 2021, compared with the previous year when many of its stores were shut for some of the period as a result of the pandemic. The increase was the second largest in all of KFC’s markets as the business continues its recovery – the highest was in China, at 24%. The UK accounts for 6% of KFC’s system sales worldwide. Globally, KFC like-for-like sales in the quarter increased 8% with US like-for-like sales up 14% – system sales worldwide rose 16%. The company said about 2% of its international restaurants and less than 1% of its US sites remained temporarily closed at the end of the quarter. Operating margin increased 8.4%, driven by like-for-like sales growth, lower bad debt expense and unit growth. KFC opened a gross of 409 new restaurants in 50 countries during the period. Operating profit was up 34% to $300m. Meanwhile, Pizza Hut system sales in Europe, including the UK, were down 23% – the continent accounts for 8% of Pizza Hut’s system Read More
Prezzemolo & Vitale lines up a fourth London site: Family-run Italian operator Prezzemolo & Vitale (P&V) plans to open its fourth site in London, in Wimbledon, Propel has learned. The company is set to open on the former Le Pain Quotidien site in Wimbledon High Street. Founded in Italy 30 years ago by husband and wife team Giuseppe Prezzemolo and Giusi Vitale, the brand offers Sicilian and Italian delicacies, including takeaway ready-made meals, sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese boards. Its debut London site was at the Mercato Metropolitano market in Southwark. It has since moved out of the market and opened sites in Chelsea, Borough and Notting Hill. The Chelsea site features a coffee bar and wine cellar, which offers “classics and rarities” as well as Giù Giù, P&V’s own-brand wine. The company also operates seven shops in Palermo, Sicily. Business behind George’s Great British Kitchen concept wound up: Adel Investments, the company behind fish and chip restaurant concept George’s Great British Kitchen, has been wound up after accruing estimated debts of more than £442,000. The company operated sites in Liverpool, Nottingham, Newcastle and Leeds. The business was wound up last month, after going into liquidation earlier this year, and all Read More
Everards managing director calls for tax reform during update of past 12 months:Stephen Gould, managing director of Leicestershire-based brewer and retailer Everards, has called for “a long overdue opportunity to deliver lower taxation for beer duty, property rates and VAT for pubs” as he gave a 12-month update on how the business has fared during the pandemic. Gould explained the business has sold 14 pubs for an undisclosed sum to community pub company Hawthorn and 71% of its sites began trading again on Monday, 12 April. Meanwhile, continued investment has seen Everards develop a new home based at Everards Meadows that will open in June. It will house its offices, breweries (main and pilot), shop and a beer hall – creating 57 new jobs. It has created a public park on land owned by the business with planning permission sought for a further six-acre area to be developed into a mixed-use scheme incorporating a hotel, offices and bespoke buildings developed for education, health and well-being uses. Gould said: “The past 12 months have been intensely challenging for the hospitality industry. I would like to thank our employees, business owners, shareholders, bank, advisers, brewing partners, suppliers, trade associations and the government Read More
Sumosan founder launches Israeli-Japanese dining concept with backing from Cain International: Cain International, the privately held investment firm led by Jonathan Goldstein, has partnered with Janina Wolkow, restaurateur and founder of multi-award-winning contemporary Japanese restaurant Sumosan, to launch JiJi’s, a new Israeli-Japanese dining concept. The debut site will launch in London’s Islington Square development in June. Heading up the kitchen will be executive chef Bubker Belkhit, who has worked with Wolkow for more than 20 years and was instrumental in the creation and ongoing success of Sumosan. JiJi’s will also sell branded merchandise, including homemade sauces, selected condiments, apparel and books. Wolkow said: “Inspired by frequent travels to Tel Aviv, Jiji’s will demonstrate how Japanese and Israeli cuisines can complement each other perfectly. We’re thrilled to be working with Cain International and it’s fitting we’re launching this new concept in Islington, the centre of the casual dining scene in one of the world’s most international cities.” Goldstein added: “Having collaborated with Janina to bring Sumosan to our development at Courchevel 1850, where it has been exceptionally well received, we were very pleased to work with her in making this exciting dining concept a reality. Pent-up demand has resulted in levels Read More
Company News: Neame – we hope to be profitable by June: Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Kent-based brewer and pub retailer Shepherd Neame, has said that on the back of the company being able to reopen more than 200 pub gardens and seeing more than 50% of those trading in line or significantly ahead of last year, he hopes the business will return to profitability in June. On Wednesday (21 April), the company reported a rise in bottled beer volume growth by 25.7% and tight cost control had restricted underlying monthly cash burn to circa £1.5m to £2m while its pub estate was closed. Neame told Propel: “The early signs have been good. Of the more than 200 pubs we have been able to reopen, 50% are trading in line or significantly ahead of the same period last year. Consumers are much more confident, more relaxed and there is plenty of goodwill for pubs. On that basis and that April will see us incorporate significant start-up costs, which will be a challenge, I expect us to be cash neutral in May but, come June and the reopening of the rest of our estate on 17 May, I hope we will Read More
Patisserie Valerie appoints Hughes-Ward as new finance director: Patisserie Valerie, which is backed by Irish private equity firm Causeway Capital, has appointed Jenni Hughes-Ward, formerly of and Links of London, as its new finance director, Propel has learned. Hughes-Ward, who spent over two and a half years as finance director at, replaces Richard Purvis, who left the business earlier this year. Purvis joined Patisserie Valerie in summer 2019 from Tulip Food Company, where he spent more than two years as finance director. Last year, Causeway merged Patisserie Valerie and Bakers + Baristas to create a “high-quality patisserie and coffee group” with more than 125 locations in the UK and Ireland. The new entity is led by group chief executive James Fleming. Causeway Capital said the merger would enable both businesses to benefit from shared baking, coffee and customer service resources as well as new product development. Prezzo promotes Challenger to chief operating officer: Prezzo, the Cain International-backed restaurant chain, has promoted Dean Challenger to chief operating officer, Propel understands. Last March, Karen Jones-led restaurant chain Prezzo expanded the remit of the finance director Challenger, under the new role of chief services officer. He already had IT, procurement, risk Read More
Company News: Tortilla appoints former Azzurri Group MD Jason Thomas as COO: Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed fast casual Mexican concept, has appointed Jason Thomas – formerly of Azzurri Group, Shake Shack and Loch Fyne Restaurants – as its new chief operating officer. Thomas was previously a managing director at Zizzi and ASK Italian operator Azzurri. He most recently worked as a business director for AlShaya in the Middle East, and for a year and a half headed up Shake Shack in the UK. He was also previously an operations director at Loch Fyne Restaurants. Tortilla managing director Richard Morris said: “Having worked previously with Jason at Loch Fyne, I know he’s the right cultural fit for the business, and will be able to get stuck into the many exciting projects we have planned for this year and beyond.” The company also confirmed previous Propel reports it was to open in Exeter, in High Street, and Edinburgh, at the St James Place development. The 43-strong group is also set to open in Windsor, in the town’s Peascod Street, and add to its dark kitchen’s estate with an opening in the Deliveroo Editions in Manchester next month. The brand said it was also Read More
Company News: Corbin & King reports FY turnover passes £50m before pandemic hit, first week of reopening ‘better than anticipated’: London restaurant operator Corbin & King has reported turnover increased beyond £50m in its financial year before the pandemic hit while the first week of reopening had been “better than anticipated”. The company saw turnover of £53.1m for the year ending 31 December 2019, compared with £44.2m for the nine months ending December 2018. The shorter accounting period reflected the alignment of the company’s accounts with parent Minor International, which bought Graphite Capital’s stake in December 2017. Ebitda for the year ending 31 December 2019 stood at £2.7m, compared with £7.5m in the prior period. Operating loss before tax increased from £2m to £3.9m while pre-tax losses were up to £5.4m from £3.1m. A £13.2m loan owed to Minor International, which was payable in May 2020, remains outstanding. In his report accompanying the accounts, co-founder Jeremy King said: “We have taken a number of steps to preserve cash and support trading and these have included but not limited to rent relief and deferral of payments by majority of landlords; suspension of any unnecessary capital expenditure; and launching a new revenue channel, Read More
M&B appoints Anna-Marie Mason as managing director of pubs division: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), the Phil Urban-led company, has appointed Anna-Marie Mason as managing director of its pubs division, Propel has learned. Mason has been with the company for almost eight years, beginning as a retail director, before spending the past five years as director of brand marketing. Before joining M&B, she spent nearly three years as marketing director of Game Digital. In her new role, she will oversee M&B’s circa 500-strong Pubs Division, which includes its Ember Inns brand; the group’s Suburban segment Sizzling Pub & Grill; and High Street segment O’Neill’s and similar unbranded pubs. She takes over from Nick Crossley, who left M&B earlier this year, to become chief executive of Turtle Bay, the Caribbean restaurant brand backed by Piper. Various Eateries begins building Coppa Club pipeline: Various Eateries, the AIM-listed Andy Bassadone-chaired business, has begun building its site pipeline for its Coppa Club brand, with openings in Bristol and Haslemere on its radar, Propel has learned. It is understood the 11-strong company, which also operates the Tavolino concept, has secured the former Georgian Hotel in Haslemere for an opening later this year. At the same time, Read More
Wendy’s lines up first out-of-town site for UK return: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, has lined up its first out-of-town site for its UK return, in Essex, Propel has learned. The company, which plans to open five sites in the UK this year, with a target of eventually operating about 20 company-owned branches in Britain, is understood to be in advanced talks on taking a site at Thurrock Shopping Park. It is thought it could even be the location of its first UK drive-thru. The company plans to enter the UK with company-owned and operated restaurants in 2021 and, in its second phase, will launch in priority areas with multi-unit franchisee operators. It has already secured sites in Reading and Oxford, and is believed to have a strong pipeline of locations in place in the UK, including some drive-thrus. It recently applied for planning to open a site in Croydon, close to East Croydon Station. In March, the company said it plans to open ten sites in the UK next year, and that it had secured multiple locations and was engaged with several potential franchisees. Wendy’s chief executive Todd Penegor said: “We continue to make Read More
Incipio Group to open first bricks and mortar Pergola site in Canary Wharf: Incipio Group, operator of venues including The Prince and Lost In Brixton, is to transform Percy’s, its current nightclub in High Street Kensington, and open the first bricks and mortar site under its Pergola concept in London’s Canary Wharf. Propel understands the Edition Capital-backed business has secured the former Giant Robot site for Pergola on the Wharf, which will open in June. The new venue will feature a wraparound terrace with capacity for 200 guests – the terrace will also be heated for colder months. Inside, floor-to-ceiling windows will ensure guests can continue to enjoy panoramic views of the city and plenty of natural daylight, while green planting throughout the venue will bring the outside in. There will be three different bars offering a selection of expertly made cocktails, alongside an extensive list of beer, wine and soft drinks. The total venue capacity is 700. As well as a year-round in-house food offering, Pergola on the Wharf will house a separate kitchen dedicated to hosting a rotating series of guest chefs showcasing “innovative dishes by street food traders from London and beyond, shining a spotlight on new Read More
Company News: Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken begins national expansion with Essex franchise deal:South west-based operator Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken is to begin its national expansion after signing a franchise deal to open in Essex, Propel has learned. The nine-strong company, which is led by Carl Traill and backed by HBM Investments, will open the first site under the new agreement with franchisee Joe Bhangal in Billericay later this summer. Propel understands the Billericay site will be the first of ten stores planned in the Essex area over the next three to five years for the brand, with openings lined up in Colchester, Chelmsford, and Southend-on-Sea. The company is also believed to be in advanced talks with franchisees for the south Wales, Birmingham and Hertfordshire regions. Traill told Propel that Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken was actively recruiting multiple site franchisees across the country and had mapped out 85 regions in which the brand could expand into. He said: “Aside from trying to stay afloat over the past year, we have also been busy examining opportunities to grow the business. We are in discussions with a number of multiple franchisees, who can support five sites and above, across the country, including two Read More
Company News: Arc Inspirations ‘extremely encouraged’ by very strong demand for forward bookings, two new sites in pipeline: Martin Wolstencroft, chief executive of Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of a number of fast-growing brands, has said the business is “extremely encouraged by the very strong demand we are seeing through forward bookings through the summer and towards Christmas”. Of the group’s 17 premium bars, 13 will reopen on Monday, 12 April, when outside trading recommences. The company said these venues were experiencing “very high demand, with many fully booked in that first week and with good bookings visibility for the first five weeks”. It said it was also “seeing very strong demand” from the 17 May, when indoor trading recommences, and all 17 of its venues reopen, and from the 21 Junewhen all restrictions are due to fall away in England. It comes as the company reported a record year in the 12 months to 29 March 2020, with turnover up 11% to £30.1m. The company said it conservatively estimated the impact of the covid-19 crisis on this financial period was £1.5m, in lost sales. As a consequence, the group recorded adjusted Ebitda of £2.9m. This was lower than the Read More
Boom: Battle Bar accelerating growth and signing up franchisees weekly as it seals The O2 deal: Boom: Battle Bar, the adventure bar concept from the team behind adventure park franchise Flip Out, is accelerating its growth, Propel has learned. Boom: Battle Bar, which is aiming to become the UK’s biggest competitive socialising concept, said it was signing up new franchisees on a weekly basis. It has just signed a deal at The O2 Arena, where negotiations were extended to include an additional 7,000 square foot lounge on top of the original planned 10,500 square foot space. The combined spaces were the previous performers’ lounge and former banqueting restaurant, Water Margin, which is spread over two floors. As well as including Boom: Battle Bar’s games of axe throwing, augmented darts, beer pong and shuffleboard, The O2 site will have several Japanese-style karaoke booths. Boom: Battle Bar chief executive Elliott Shuttleworth said: “The Boom brand is set to become the leading competitive socialising offering in the UK. We have secured some of best prime retail space that has meant we have had to invest a huge amount of money to accelerate our growth plans. We have had incredible demand for Booms from Read More
Anglian Country Inns looking to return to expansion trail in September in ‘big year’ rebuilding the business: Anglian Country Inns, the pub and restaurant operator led by James Nye, is looking to return to the expansion trail in September as the business rebuilds post-covid-19. Nye told Propel that Anglian Country Inns aims to pay down part of the £3.3m it secured through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) last June in the next six to 12 months, while it is close to the disposal of its Water Lane cocktail bar and restaurant in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, which will leave the business with eight sites. Nye said: “I think we have a big year coming up as we rebuild the business, but I am very optimistic for the future. We were planning a refinance of the business before covid, so we had new deals in place, which meant our covenants were easier to meet. Our planned capital expenditure became survival capital in the form of a CBILS but it has enabled to get us through. But that refinancing work has been critical in positioning the business to now not only pay back the CBILS, but to also start expanding again.” Read More
Albion & East to launch crowdfunding campaign for next stage of growth: Albion & East, the Imbiba-backed, London-based bar business, is set to launch a crowdfunding campaign, as it looks to fund its next stage of growth and open its first site in north London, Propel understands. The four-strong, Sarah Weir-led, business is set to launch the fundraise early next month via Crowdcube, with an initial target of £500,000. The business currently operates four bars – Martello Hall in Hackney, Canova Hall and Cattivo in Brixton and Serata Hall in Old Street. A fifth bar, Allora Hall, will open on the former Monkey Nuts site in Crouch End, in May, which will mark the company’s debut in north London. Propel understands Albion & East has a further two sites in the pipeline for 2021 and it wants to accelerate growth by acquiring new sites over the next three years. One of these sites is set to open under a “experience-led concept – an urban distillery and tasting room”. It is thought to have a site in the pipeline for this concept, with a target opening in late 2021. It is also thought the funds raised will also go towards the Read More
Starbucks franchisee 23.5 Degrees hits 80 stores with King’s Lynn launch, plans 300 by 2027: Starbucks’ first UK franchised business partner, 23.5 Degrees, will open its 80th store on Friday (26 March) in King’s Lynn, Norfolk. The opening is part of an ambitious expansion programme for 23.5 Degrees, which has a strong pipeline of approved stores and plans to reach 300 stores by 2027. Managing director Mark Hepburn said: “The past year has been challenging but opening this Starbucks store demonstrates our commitment to our ambitious growth plans.” 23.5 Degrees opened its first Starbucks store, in Liphook, Hampshire, in February 2013. Despite the pandemic, 23.5 Degrees opened seven drive-thru stores in 2020. The business aims to reach 100 stores by March 2022. 23.5 Degrees is seeking both freehold and leasehold drive-thru opportunities on main arterial routes, close to major retail destinations or on large industrial estates. These opportunities should be able to be designed into three standard sized units – 1,500, 1,800 and 2,200 square foot. They can either be modular or traditionally built. 23.5 Degrees will also consider retail park and drive-to destinations, as well as high street units in prominent high footfall locations with a minimum size of Read More
Zambrero – Australia’s largest Mexican food franchise to launch in the UK:Zambrero, Australia’s largest Mexican quick-service franchise with more than 200 restaurants globally, is to launch in the UK, Propel has learned. Founded in 2005 by then-medical student Dr Sam Prince, Zambrero offers a fresh, modern interpretation of classic Mexican food. Through its humanitarian initiative, Plate4Plate, Zambrero is also tackling world hunger by donating a meal to someone in need for every burrito or bowl purchased. Since the inception of Plate4Plate, more than 46 million meals have been donated so far by Zambrero’s network of restaurants in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the US. Zambrero’s expansion into the UK marks the next phase in its goal to donate one billion meals. Led in the UK by chief executive Emily Teh, Zambrero is understood to have lined up a site in London’s Kentish Town for its debut opening here. Stonegate support for Ei Publican Partnerships to continue to June: Stonegate Pub Company has announced it will continue its support for Ei Publican Partnership publicans with rent and trade credits throughout April, May and June. The support builds on the financial assistance given to publicans in the form of significantly reduced rents Read More
US fried chicken brand Popeyes plans UK launch: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick service restaurant brand, has announced plans to enter the UK this year, with the goal of opening 350 new restaurants in Britain over the next ten years. The brand, which was founded in Louisiana in 1972 and currently operates circa 3,400 restaurants across 29 countries, will enter the UK market as part of an agreement between PLK Europe, a subsidiary of Restaurant Brands International (RBI), which also owns Tim Hortons and Burger King; Austrian-based, family-owned international conglomerate Ring International Holdings and hospitality-industry veteran Elias Diaz Sese. He is a former executive of RBI and is a shareholder and a director of Domino’s Pizza UK and Ireland. Until October 2019, he was president for UK, Ireland & Scandinavia at the Kraft Heinz Company. He spent more than 15 years at RBI across a number of senior positions around the world. Sese told Propel there were three reasons why Popeyes was launching in the UK – the brand, the product and the people. He said: “The chicken sector in the UK has been growing over the past few years, but we believe there is a space Read More
Tim Martin – we’ve taken £51.7m CLBILS as a ‘precautionary measure’, hopes business will be profitable again in June: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has told Propel the company has secured a further £51.7m from the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) as a “precautionary measure”. Speaking after the company’s interim results where it reported a 53.9% decline in like-for-like sales in the 26 weeks to 24 January 2021, with revenue down by 53.8% to £431.1m, Martin said he hoped the business would be profitable again in June. He said: “Any business now will build in some sleeve, if they can, for unforeseen events. At Wetherspoon, we say ‘everything depends on the virus’ – but also on government action. If we are open by June without restrictions we, and the industry, will be profitable from that point. The vaccine looks promising, so touch wood. We’re trying to get through the point about transmission – as are many others in the trade – to Sage and the government, but they’ve got cloth ears, unfortunately.” Martin said the company was starting to look at some property opportunities that had arisen from the pandemic but added: “Like others, we’re nervous about government Read More
Five Guys UK examining drive-thru opportunities: Five Guys, the fast-growing burger concept backed by Sir Charles Dunstone, is exploring opportunities to open its first drive-thru sites in the UK, Propel understands. The circa 100-strong brand, which recently opened a new site on the former Frankie & Benny’s unit in High Wycombe, is believed to be in talks on two or three possible sites for its drive-thru debut in the UK. Its move into drive-thrus will come on the back of the success of its “kerbside” pick-up option, which it launched in Britain in May, and so far operates from 21 sites, including the new High Wycombe outlet. Over the course of the pandemic, drive-thrus have become one of the most hotly contested parts of the UK property market as businesses including Greggs, McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King and Tim Horton’s have looked to up their presence in the category. Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, which plans to re-enter the UK market this year with up to five new openings, has also expressed an interest in launching drive-thru sites in Britain. Five Guys also has openings in Chichester, Stevenage Leisure Park, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet West Midlands and Read More
Holmes – we will come out of this a lot more purpose-driven business: Azzurri Group will come out of the crisis a more purposeful and value-driven business, chief executive Steve Holmes has said. Speaking at the Propel Multi Club conference, Holmes said the TowerBrook Capital-backed company’s online meetings had resulted in broader topics being discussed including around the environment, carbon reduction and mental health support, which he expects the company to invest more heavily on and move the agenda on. He said: “We’ve become a lot closer as a business, which is ironic as no one has been able to meet up. In times like this, you can’t over-communicate but you can under-communicate so we have been talking a lot to our teams. Borne out of the fact we are having a lot more conversations with everybody across the whole organisation, it feels a lot flatter than it was before and we are having real conversations with our people across all our brands about the things that really matter. When you have them face-to-face regularly, it seems easier to make a positive difference. There has been a real sense of community, the teams have rallied, supported each other, and supported Read More
Whiteside – we may need to consider a second brand at some time in the future:Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside has told Propel the food-to-go operator may need to consider acquiring a second brand at “some time in the future”. He told Propel: “We have no plans to acquire a second brand given the long runway of growth still in Greggs although our strategic roadmap does acknowledge we may need to consider that at some time in the future.” The 2,058-strong company has increased its overall growth target for its estate from 2,500 UK shops to 3,000 at a rate of about 100 net openings a year, although Whiteside said this could be accelerated if attractive sites became available sooner, and was confident further opportunities would arise in central London, city centres across the UK and in transport hubs. Whiteside said: “People are worried city centres won’t be busy as we recover from the pandemic, but they will still be busy, maybe not as busy at first. There are also opportunities to secure sites at a good level, which wasn’t there before.” He also saw retail parks as an area for future expansion. He said: “There are about 1,300 retail Read More
Qoot Restaurant Group among investor group that agrees to buy By Chloe out of bankruptcy but won’t get to use name: Qoot Restaurant Group, which operates a number of fast-growing brands in London, is among a group of investors that has agreed to acquire plant-based concept By Chloe out of bankruptcy, although they won’t get to use the name. By Chloe’s parent company, BC Hospitality Group, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December, citing the impact of the pandemic. The company has for the past several years also been involved in a legal tangle with one of the concept’s co-founders, celebrity vegan chef Chloe Coscarelli, who left the company in 2016 and has fought to prevent the use of her name with the concept. The group of buyers, which also includes Bain Capital Double Impact Fund, Kitchen Fund, Lion Capital and Simple Capital Management, agreed to pay $333,000 and assume debts for By Chloe, which before the pandemic had grown to 14 sites in the US, Toronto and London. The investors had already provided $3.25m in bankruptcy financing to enable the company to continue operating. Under terms of the acquisition agreement, the new owners would be allowed to continue Read More
Propel Premium subscribers to receive access to Propel Multi Club Conference video on Wednesday: Propel Premium subscribers will receive access on Wednesday (17 March) to the video of the first Propel Multi Club Conference of the year. Premium subscribers should email now to receive their code on Wednesday to view the conference. Speakers include Graeme Smith, managing director at AlixPartners; Dan Warne, founder of Sessions Market; Yishay Malkov, chief executive of Various Eateries; Victor Lugger, co-founder of the Big Mamma Group; Alex Reilley, chairman of Loungers; Salima Vellani, founder of host kitchen business KBox Global; Philip Turner, founder and chief executive of Chestnut Group; Neat Burger co-founder and head of operations Stasi Nychas; and Sarah Willingham, chief executive of bar company Nightcap. There are also two panel sessions. Fledgling concepts talk about evolving and growing in a covid-impacted world featuring Grace Regan, founder of SpiceBox; Carla Casadei, founder of Young Vegans; Oliver Hyde, founder of Flour Pot; Morten Jensen, founder of Light Bar & Market; and Marco Reick, director at Qoot. Meanwhile, leading sector players look at what comes next for the industry featuring Simon Wilkinson, chief executive of Byron; Steve Holmes, chief executive of Azzurri Group; Zoe Bowley, Read More
Company News: ETM Group secures £2.5m CBILS loan, early delivery sales ‘extremely promising’: London-based gastro-pub and sports bar operator ETM Group, led by brothers Ed and Tom Martin, has reported it received £2.5m through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme last year and has forecast, with the ongoing support of landlords and suppliers, its accounts can be prepared “on an ongoing basis”. The company also reported it has received a £250,000 insurance compensation for forced closure. It added: “The group has also again taken all measures to preserve as much liquidity as possible including applying for all the latest government and local authority grants. The group has continued to innovate and explore alternative revenue streams. Digital marketing and online bookings have been enhanced. An order at table app was launched within weeks of the lockdown and in partnership with third parties its first delivery service was launched in November 2020. Order at table purchases accounted for the majority of sales at some sites and early delivery sales have been extremely promising.” The company reported it produced turnover of £31.5m (2019: £31.5m) in the year to 23 February 2020. The company opened the sports bar Redwood at London Bridge Station in Read More
Tomahawk Steakhouse repays money it borrowed from staff to fund wages and adds 20% ‘thank you’: Tomahawk Steakhouse, the company led by north east-based multi-site operator Howard Eggleston, has paid back the money it borrowed from staff to help pay their wages – with an additional 20% as a thank you. The company previously asked furloughed employees to sign an agreement to lend 10% of their wages each month to cover their pension and national insurance contributions and insisted every single employee had chosen to sign up to the agreement. It wrote to staff saying it has a “short-term cash flow issue and it requires your help and support”. It said as it must make the national insurance and pension payments itself the “only viable alternative is to ask for your agreement to a loan arrangement”. It added the interest-free loan would be repaid “once the lockdown is eased sufficiently for the company to trade”. A spokeswoman told Propel: “As part of the voluntary agreement signed by all of our staff, we promised any monies loaned would be returned as soon as we were financially able. Following the Budget announcement last week, we are delighted to have been able to Read More
Honest Burgers appoints Frank Hayes as new chief executive: Honest Burgers, the Active Partners-backed business, has appointed Frank Hayes, former managing director of pub company Spirit Group, as its new chief executive. Propel revealed last year Hayes, who was most recently managing director of Northgate, the commercial vehicle rental and disposal company, had joined the board of Honest Burgers as a non-executive director. Honest Burgers said Hayes had extensive leadership experience in both hospitality and other sectors, including 13 years at Yum! Brands and three years at Spirit Group. Hayes, who had led Northgate in the UK and Ireland since June 2017, was also previously commercial director at Wyevale Garden Centres and a consultant with Burger King. At Spirit Group, he was responsible for the food-led half of the managed pub company, which at the time had circa 2,000 pubs. He supported the sale of the business to Punch in 2006. The arrival of Hayes sees Gary Mann take on the newly-created role of chief commercial officer at Honest Burgers. Mann served as managing director for “three rapid growth years prior”. Meanwhile, David Foulis, its finance director of three years, is leaving the business this month to “pursue other opportunities”. Read More
Megan’s to transform derelict 1930s cafe in Clapham into latest site: London-based cafe and deli concept Megan’s is to convert a derelict 1930s cafe in the heart of Clapham Common into its latest site, Propel has learned. Terrace by Megan’s, which will be the company’s 11th site, will open in Rookery Road for take out on Friday, 2 Aprilbefore opening fully later that same month. The site will offer an outdoor dining restaurant and takeaway deli serving all-day brunch, lunch, dinner and takeaway picnics. The menu at the new site will be slightly different to the brand’s other restaurants, with the company launching its sourdough pide pizzas. Megan’s, which is led by Sarah Hills, is also understood to have applied to open further sites in Chiswick and Dulwich Village. Adam Handling promotes Nicola Gartenberg to executive director as he prepares to spend more time in kitchen: Nicola Gartenberg, previously operations director at Adam Handling Restaurant Group, has been promoted to executive director, and appointed to the board, with Handling planning to spend more time in the kitchen. Gartenberg joined the company four years ago, overseeing the openings of most of the restaurant group portfolio, and has been instrumental in helping the Read More
Chipotle to open Clapham site: Chipotle is to further add to its UK presence, with an opening in Clapham, as it looks to target further sites in the capital’s “villages”, Propel has learned. The company, which operates more than 2,600 sites across the globe, has secured the former Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Northcote Road for an opening this summer. Chipotle, which operates seven sites in central London, plus a delivery kitchen unit in Collindale, is also thought to be in talks on a site in East Dulwich. On the Clapham site, Fintan Harte, European property and development manager at Chipotle, told Propel: “Chipotle is cultivating a better world by serving responsibly sourced, classically-cooked, real food with wholesome ingredients without artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. We are excited to bring our real food to the Clapham community with our new Northcote Road restaurant opening this summer.” Last month, Brian Niccol, chairman and chief executive of the US brand, said the company was ready to move forward with its UK business. The company, which is led in Europe by ex-Costa Coffee managing director Jim Slater, made its debut in the UK in London Wall in 2015. Paul Tallentyre, at Davis Coffer Lyons, Read More
The Zetter Group set for expansion after takeover: London-based hotel and restaurant operator The Zetter Group is set for further expansion, after being acquired by hospitality investor Orca Holding for an undisclosed sum. The Zetter Group was founded by owners Mark Sainsbury and Michael Benyan 18 years ago, and comprises The Zetter Hotel in Clerkenwell and The Zetter Townhouses in Clerkenwell and Marylebone. Orca Holding said it now intends to retain and grow The Zetter Townhouse brand and is “actively looking” to open more properties in London and other key cities across the UK and Europe, such as Paris, Madrid and Amsterdam. Benyan said: “We are extremely proud of the culture of The Zetter Group, the hospitality brands we created and the impact they had on London’s vibrant hotel, restaurant and cocktail scene. The fact Orca Holding is passionate about The Zetter brand and has such exciting plans for its future, is great news for all involved and we wish it every success.” Laith Pharaon, chief executive of Orca Holding, said: “We see huge growth and development potential in The Zetter Group. This has been a difficult year for most hotels but the properties were previously achieving great success in Read More
YO! appoints Xenia Walters as new chief financial officer: YO!, the global multi-channel, multi brand Japanese and Asian food group, has appointed Xenia Walters as its new chief financial officer. Walters, who replaces Edward Knighton, who stepped down from YO! at the end of January, has also been appointed an executive director of the company’s board, effective from Monday (8 March). YO! said she brings with her more than 20 years’ extensive experience working in a variety of senior roles with international groups “gaining broad financial, business and international experience”. Most recently she held the role of group chief financial officer of SDL, the listed professional services provider, where she helped drive the successful transformation and merger with RWS Holdings, creating the world’s leading language service and technology group with a market capitalisation of circa £2.4bn. Prior to SDL, Walters held chief financial officer roles in a number of private equity-backed businesses including Frank Recruitment Group, Oxford International Education Group and INTO University Partnerships. Earlier in her career, she held senior roles at Regus, including UK chief financial officer and group financial controller. Richard Hodgson, chief executive of YO!, said: “Xenia has an impressive track record of helping businesses navigate Read More