Gilchrist – we are excited about the potential of new JV with Jurys Inn: Paul Gilchrist, chief executive of Thunderbird Fried Chicken, the wings and fried chicken concept backed by TriSpan, has said the business is excited about the potential of its new joint venture with hotel chain Jurys Inn. Propel revealed earlier this week Thunderbird had opened a delivery site in the hotel chain’s Milton Keynes property. Gilchrist told Propel: “Milton Keynes is our initial trial and test site for the Jury’s Inn joint venture, although we do have another four potentially sites lined up. We will both monitor its performance and operation, as clearly they have capacity and we are looking to move Thunderbird outside London. Our first weekend was very positive, and sales were strong, so very encouraging. Jury’s Inn has more than 50 city centre hotels, with a great visionary senior management team, and we are excited about its potential.” The new joint venture builds on the partnership the brand has with Parkdean Resorts, which is set to grow from two to five sites later this year. Last month, Propel revealed Thunderbird had secured the former Creams British Luxury site in The Broadway, Wimbledon, for an Read More
Watson – we have to get on with it now, the return of students has been encouraging: Clive Watson, chairman of City Pub Group, owner and operator of 46 premium pubs across southern England and Wales, has said the country needs to “get on with it now” and that its vital for hospitality that “people get back to their desks”. The business this morning reported a “significant increase” in trade in the last ten days. Watson told Propel: “It does seem that there is more of a return to normality, it is almost like it is behind us. We have to get on with it now, we can’t be drained by the TV and the commentators. It is absolutely vital for hospitality that people now get back at their desks. That’s a key driver going forward.” Watson said that the company was set to take advantage of the return of consumers through the investments it has made over the past two years, but also through the balance of its estate. He said: “A lot of companies have spent a lot of time making sure every square foot of their spaces can be used as much as possible through as much Read More
Tim Martin – sector faces further turmoil from return to restrictions in future ‘unless lessons are learned’, hopeful Wetherspoon will be profitable again in spring: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has told Propel the sector faces further turmoil in the future from a return to restrictions “unless lessons are learned” and is hopeful the business will become profitable again in the spring. Martin also said the company was pushing ahead with plans to open new pubs but waiting for better trade “to push the button”. Speaking following the company’s trading update, where Martin warned the business would be loss-making in the first half of its current financial year, he said: “Like Professors Carl Henegan, Sunetra Gupta, former judge Lord Sumption and millions of others, I feel lockdowns and heavy restrictions were a terrible mistake, with long-term adverse health and economic consequences. Hopefully, Sweden’s successful example, which avoided lockdowns and hospitality closures, will be recognised as a success. In economic and health terms, Sweden did better than the UK. Unless the lessons are learnt, more restrictions in the future are a real danger.” Martin said trading had started to “pick up a tad” in city centres, with the “ludicrous predictions of Read More
BrewDog planning to open more than 30 sites this year: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is planning to open more than 30 sites this year. Among them will be bars in Atlanta, Berlin, Las Vegas, Milan, Mumbai and Paris as well as its biggest site to date, complete with bars, brewery, workspaces, bowling alley and coffee shop, in London’s Waterloo. At the weekend, co-founder James Watt told the Mail he “doubled down” on property investments during the pandemic, swooping on bargain sites for its bars and hotels. Watt also revealed the business had two takeover approaches last year – but remains focused on its plans to float. Various Eateries secures Bath site for Coppa Club: Various Eateries, the Hugh Osmond-backed business, has secured a site in Bath, for its Coppa Club brand. As revealed by Propel, the business will replace the former GAP store in the city’s Old Bond Street. It is understood that the nine-strong brand hopes to open the new site in May. It has also signed terms for Coppa Club Haslemere, which is expected to open later this year. The company is also gearing up to launch its new pasta concept, Noci, on the ex-Cote site in Read More
Inn Collection Group surpasses 2022 portfolio target and secures £42m to support future growth: Inn Collection Group has surpassed its 2022 portfolio target and secured a £42m loan from OakNorth to refurbish 13 of its sites and support continued redevelopment of the 26-strong portfolio. The Black Swan in Helmsley and The Pheasant Inn in Bassenthwaite are two properties funded via the OakNorth capital that have now reopened after refurbishments. Established in 2006, Inn Collection Group provides accommodation, food and drink at its sites across Northumberland, County Durham, the Lake District, Tyne and Wear and Wales. The business is backed by private equity firm Alchemy Partners. In 2019, with equity capital from Alchemy and debt capital from OakNorth Bank, the Inn Collection Group set out to grow from 271 rooms across nine sites to almost 900 across 21 by 2022. However, it has managed to exceed this target with a portfolio that’s grown to more than 1,000 rooms across 26 sites, including its first in Wales, in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. It’s keen to capitalise on the staycation trend and so is refurbishing 13 of its sites and continuing to develop the current property portfolio. Sean Donkin, managing Read More
JD Wetherspoon to open first university-based pub: JD Wetherspoon is to open its first pub based on a university campus, in Hull. The new opening is a result of a partnership between the pub group and Hull University students' union. Students will be able to drink unlimited coffee for 99p and get all the usual Wetherspoon offerings, including a £3.95 breakfast at the Sanctuary Bar. Jeremy Hartley, chief finance officer at the University of Hull with responsibility for commercial services, told Hull Live: “We know our students really value having all the facilities they need in one place. Our single-site campus provides our community with study spaces, food and drink establishments, gym and sports facilities and much more. This announcement further enhances that student experience, providing students with a quality, affordable food and events space right on their doorstep. Our campus is what makes the University of Hull the wonderful place it is, and this new partnership emphasises the importance of providing students with the very best experience possible.” Bar staff will continue to be employed by Hull University students union, but will get the same training and induction as Wetherspoon staff nationwide. A Wetherspoon spokeswoman said: “We have entered Read More
3Sixty Restaurants secures 26th site: 3Sixty Restaurants, led by James Horler, has exchanged on its 26th site as part of its joint venture with Mitchells & Butlers, Propel has learned. 3Sixty Restaurants has secured the Stanney Oaks in Chester, which operates under M&B’s Harvester brand. The site is set to relaunch as an Ego restaurant in May after undergoing a refurbishment, which is expected to happen in mid-March. Last month, Propel revealed 3Sixty Restaurants had secured its second Ego site in Wales with the addition of the Groes Wen Inn in Penhow. The pub, which is run under M&B’s Vintage Inns brand, is set to reopen in March. About £700,000 is being invested in each of the restaurants and Horler told Propel at the time he expected further sites to follow in 2022. “Now is the time to expand,” he said. “Since May, trading has been really strong and that has allowed us to move into a position where we have no debt and the consumer seems to love what we do.” M&B formed the partnership in August 2018 when it bought sector investor Luke Johnson’s minority share in 3Sixty. G-A-Y nightclub group starting to trade profitably again: The G-A-Y Read More
Admiral Taverns reports trading showing ‘continued strong momentum’:Admiral Taverns has said current trading is showing “continued strong momentum” with volumes “in line with pre-pandemic levels”. The company said it was continuing to manage the ongoing impact of supply chain disruptions while the integration of the Hawthorn business was ongoing following the agreement with the Competition and Markets Authority for Admiral to dispose of seven pubs. Admiral said the enlarged community pub business had shown resilience over the recent Christmas period “in very challenging external circumstances”. It comes as Admiral reported group turnover of £40.2m for the year ending 29 May 2021 with its pubs only permitted to trade for 24 weeks of the period. The company posted an operating profit of £3.7m and a loss after tax of £5.2m. The business said its highly supportive, licensee-centric approach throughout the pandemic had positioned its pubs for sustainable recovery and underpinned positive momentum as restrictions lifted. More than £10m was invested in licensee financial support throughout the year while the business continued its capex investment across the estate throughout the pandemic. The estate valuation of £338.3m was in line with the prior year, despite the disposal of 64 pubs during the period. Read More
Simmonite – we hope to grow Gastrono-me to five sites by next summer:Mike Simmonite, co-founder of all-day concept Gastrono-me, has told Propel the fledgling business hopes to have grown to five sites by next summer. It comes as the business, which Simmonite founded with his wife Gemma four years ago, confirmed plans to open its second site, in Cambridge this March. The concept, which launched in Bury St Edmunds, will open a 2,500 square foot, 130-cover restaurant on the former Bella Italia site in Cambridge’s Bridge Street. It will include individual breakfast, brunch and dinner menus that revolve throughout the day alongside local-roastery coffee, cocktails, mocktails, wine and beer. Bottomless brunch will run every day from 10am-2pm and children’s menus and takeaway will also be available. Gemma said: “Mike and I met at drama school and turned our lives upside down to become bakers. We found our calling in Gastrono-me in 2011 and are now realising our dream of expanding our business into other parts of the UK. We love the historic market town feel we have in Bury St Edmunds, and Cambridge holds that same charm but on a city level. It’s the perfect setting for the next stage Read More
Joule’s Brewery reports £1m loss and steep revenue drop but business ‘in good shape’ and open to expansion: Shropshire brewer and retailer Joule’s made a £1m loss (2019: £1.1m profit) in the year ended 31 March 2021 while turnover fell from £6.6m to £1.7m, but the company feel it is in “good shape” and is open to further expansion. The company, which runs a 41-strong tenanted-pub estate as well as a pub attached to its Market Drayton brewery, also received just shy of £560,000 in coronavirus job retention scheme payments and government grants. It focused, during the pandemic, on supporting its franchisees through rent concessions and refunds for unsold stock. “Now that the industry is beginning to rebuild after almost 18 months of uncertainty, the business is well-positioned to emerge from the pandemic in good shape, financially stable and ready to make the most of any opportunities that fall our way,” it said. Despite the “toughest of years”, the company completed the development of The Swan at Forton and The Offley Arms in Madeley, and continued the development of The Crown Wharf in Stone – where its original brewery was based. Wimpy UK makes £1.2m loss, new restaurant to open Read More
Arts Club in London reports only 3% of members resigned during pandemic first year: The Arts Club in London’s Dover Street has reported only 3% of its members resigned in the year to 31 December 2020, despite not being able to use the club for five months of the year, while turnover dropped to £16,158,108 from £26,639,87 the year before. It made a loss of £4,554,327 after £4,467,743 of debt impairment, having made a pre-tax profit of £693,000 the year before. It stated: “Membership revenues, which normally represent 40% of the business, surged to 56% due to a steady and continuous inflow of renewals corroborated by some newly elected members who joined despite the restrictions imposed by the government during the pandemic. The retention of existing members has been quite remarkable, recording an active resignation rate of 3% only.” The company said it had continuously engaged with members through online events, podcasts and virtual networking. It added: “The club has introduced a monetary gift card given to each member equivalent to the value of the subscription pro-rated for the period the club remained closed as compensation for the loyalty demonstrated. As a result, the busines has managed to secure cash Read More
Blackwell – when it comes to consolidation, we will look at every opportunity: Graham Blackwell, chief executive of Ten Entertainment Group, said the in terms of future sector consolidation the bowling operator “will look at every opportunity”. He told Propel: “We would be foolish not to. We want to invest our capital in the best opportunities possible, but to put our eggs into one basket would be foolhardy. What we try and do is identify multiple opportunities and evaluate them; inject that capital where we see the best return and best value for money for our customers and best return for our shareholders. So, I think everything is on the table.” Talking after the group’s latest trading update, Blackwell said the business kept more momentum than expected coming out of the summer, allowing it to have a good run to the end of the year, and to look ahead to the next 12 months with “plenty of optimism”. He said: “We had predicted a strong summer because of staycations but were most pleased by how that demand kept up a really good pace for the rest of the year. It meant we still had a good December despite worries about Read More
Olga and Alex Polizzi hotel business remained profitable in pandemic year:Hotel Tresanton, the company that was founded by Olga Polizzi and operates the Hotel Tresanton, Mawes, the Endsleigh Hotel in Milton Abbot, and whose subsidiary operates The Star, Alfriston, has reported a pre-tax profit of £455,307 (2020: £633,306) on turnover down to £4,259,642 (2020: £6,140,502) in the year to 31 January 2021. The business has retained earnings carried forward of £6,068,000 (2020: £5,752,501). The company stated: “The group has been affected by the covid-19 pandemic and periods of enforced lockdown. As a result, consolidated turnover has decreased by 30.6% (2020: 3.4% increase) on the prior year. Gross margins have seen an increase to 83.8% (2020: 79.6%) in part due to the impact of the reduction in the VAT rate to 5% in the year.” The group continues to trade from a strong asset position which at the balance sheet date stood at £9,069,000 (2020: £8,753,000). Lola’s Cupcakes defies pandemic to increase turnover and profit thanks to online presence: Lola’s Cupcakes has reported it grew turnover and pre-tax profit in the first year of the pandemic to 31 December 2020. Turnover rose to £15,050,700 (2019: £14,493,528) and pre-tax profit rose to Read More
Leon – The US still represents an opportunity for the brand: Natural fast food brand Leon, which is owned by the EG Group, said it still believes that there is an opportunity for the business in the US. Filing accounts for the year to 27 December 2020, the company said it had taken many learnings from its fledgling US operations, which it exited earlier this year, due to the impact of covid-19. The business launched in the US in September 2018, with an opening in Washington DC, in L Street. It had grown its US business to four sites, opening a further two sites in Washington DC and making its debut in Virginia, in the Mosaic District, last August. The company said: “Our long-term strategy is based on our mission to enable as many as possible to eat and live well. We will continue our UK expansion and to develop the brand in new markets and new formats. Following a strategic review at the beginning of 2021, the board decided to exit from USA market to focus on the UK. The impact of covid-19 was particularly felt in our US operations, where Leon was in its early years of developing Read More
Inglenook Inns & Taverns acquires seven-strong pub package: North-west based pub operator Inglenook Inns & Taverns has acquired a seven-strong package of pubs for £2.4m. The company said the group was made up of both destination food sites and sports locals “thus playing to our strengths and increasing our freehold estate to 43”. The sites are situated in Yorkshire, the Midlands and the north west. James Waddington, Inglenook chief executive, said: “These are high quality sites that are a complementary fit to our existing estate as we continue with our quest to make all our sites the heart of the community. We are also confident we will have a further announcement with regard to expansion in the new year and we are on track to realise our 2022 projections. These are very exciting times for the team.” Earlier this month, Propel revealed Inglenook had secured £10m of investment through a new joint venture with a private investor to continue to expand its portfolio, Inglenook, which was founded by Waddington in 2012, is due to acquire an additional two sites shortly. Inglenook is understood to be seeking to aggregate a portfolio of 100-plus “community pubs” over the next two years. The Read More
3Sixty Restaurants hits 25-site mark as it secures second Welsh site, remains Ebitda positive despite pandemic: 3Sixty Restaurants, led by James Horler, has exchanged on its second Welsh site as part of its joint venture with Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), Propel has learned. 3Sixty Restaurants has secured the Groes Wen Inn in Penhow. The pub, which is run under M&B’s Vintage Inns brand, is set to reopen as an Ego restaurant in March. The opening will take the total estate to 25 sites. About £700,000 is being invested in the refurbishment and Horler told Propel he expected further sites to follow in 2022. “Now is the time to expand,” he said. “Since May, trading has been really strong and that has allowed us to move into a position where we have no debt and the consumer seems to love what we do. A lot of the cancelled bookings we have had in the past week or so have been replaced by walk-ins but I’m concerned about the possibility of further restrictions after Christmas. New Year’s Eve is our highest gross trading day of the year. We have a number of dishes especially for this occasion so I’m trying to see Read More
Arc Inspirations set to post record revenue and profit as it emerges from pandemic ‘stronger than ever’: Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of several fast-growing brands, has said it expects to post record revenue and profit in its current financial year as it emerges from the pandemic “stronger than ever”. The company said it has a pipeline of sites secured, with a further two expected to open next year, and it continues to seek further growth opportunities. The company provided the update as it filed its accounts for the year ending 31 March 2021. Since the year-end, the business has returned to its long-term strategy of establishing clusters or hubs in city centre locations after putting its growth plans on hold at the start of the pandemic. The group has opened two flagship sites – a 7,000 square-foot Manahatta in Temple Street, Birmingham, and an 8,000 square-foot Box in Deansgate, Manchester. These sites opened in October and November respectively and are among the highest revenue-generating venues in the group. Between July and November, sales were 42% higher versus the same period in 2019. While the business has seen a decline in large corporate bookings following the emergence of Omicron, Arc Read More
Oakman forecasts sales to increase to £160m by 2026 as it sets out expansion plans for £10m fundraise: Oakman Group, the Dermot King-led pub-restaurant operator, is forecasting sales will increase from a run rate of £46m to £160m by June 2026 as it sets out its expansion plans as part of proposals to raise up to £10m. The company is undertaking its first Financial Conduct Authority regulated fundraise as it builds on the £4.4m it previously raised to support its growth, as it aims to have 70 sites in its portfolio in the next five years. Oakman said the projected sales growth represents a compound annual growth rate of 23% versus 30% achieved in the preceding five years. More than 95% of this is expected to come from new openings and major capital improvement projects, with less than 5% coming from the existing 36-strong estate. Site Ebitda is expected to increase from a run rate of £9.5m to £38m by June 2026, while business Ebitda is expected to grow from a run rate of £5.3m to £30.9m by June 2026. Oakman said this increase is a product of site Ebitda increasing by £28.3m while central costs are only expected to Read More
Wade – industry must embrace vaccine passports: Boxpark founder Roger Wade believes vaccine passports are the way ahead for hospitality in the UK and has urged fellow operators to get on board with them. Covid passes are currently only required in England, Scotland and Wales for nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather. By contrast, they are a requirement for entry to bars and restaurants in many European countries. The passes have, nevertheless, been met with resistance by many in the industry, with their effect on night-time trade particularly criticised. However, in the wake of the new “Plan B” restrictions issued by the government, Wade insists it’s time to embrace them. “We need to come together as an industry and accept we have to roll out covid passports,” he said. “They’re working well in Ireland and Europe, and we want to encourage our industry to come up with a pragmatic solution that recognises we have a duty of care to our customer, but also delivers a sensible solution. We believe the covid passport is the way to go – you’ve got to encourage people to get vaccinated, and if you don’t, you’re not going into bars and restaurants. Yes, you could Read More
Rosa’s Thai appoints Steve Seager as new property director: Rosa’s Thai Cafe, which is backed by TriSpan, has appointed Steve Seager, formerly of Cote Restaurants, as its new property director, Propel has learned. Seager spent more than 11-and-a-half years as property director at Cote, where he played a key role in its journey to becoming a national brand. He previously worked for Tragus Holdings and Strada as acquisitions director. He is understood to have joined the circa 30-strong, Gavin Adair-led Rosa’s at the start of the month to further accelerate site growth, building on a pipeline that includes sites already secured in King’s Cross, Cardiff and York. Rosa’s recently confirmed it would be opening a site on the former Joe’s Kitchen unit in Coney Street, York, and is also set to take the final unit in Cardiff’s Church Street scheme, which currently houses Pho, Mowgli, The Botanist and Honest Burgers. This summer, Rosa’s added to its London estate with openings in Baker Street and Grafton Way. Rock & Rose set to open second site: Restaurateur Lorraine Angliss is planning a second site for her Rock & Rose restaurant concept in London. Angliss, who already operates a Rock & Rose site Read More
Roadchef begins Garden Square Deli rollout, plans further Leon openings:Motorway services operator Roadchef is to open two new sites under its concept Garden Square Deli before the end of the year, Propel has learned. The Mark Fox-led business launched the brand, which focuses on fresh sandwiches, salads and snacks last year, through selected WHSmith and Spar stores last spring. Next week it will open stand-alone sites at Roadchef currently operates eight Leon sites across its estate but plans to at least double that number “over the coming years”. The business also has plans to add more McDonald's drive-thru sites to its estate. It currently only operates one in Durham. Fox told Propel next year will also see trials of new brands and concepts and “a big ramp up of EV charging”. At the start of last month, it was reported Roadchef was about to change hands for up to £1bn. The Mail on Sunday reported: “City sources said its owner – a French infrastructure and private equity firm called Antin – has appointed advisers from Australian investment bank Macquarie to find a buyer for the business.” Roadchef is the third largest motorway service area operator in the UK after Welcome Read More
Kerb to relaunch its Kerb Counter concept as all-day bar and test kitchen in Shoreditch: Street food collective Kerb is set to relaunch its Kerb Counter concept as an all-day bar and test kitchen in Shoreditch. Opening on Friday, 14 January at Rivington Studios, the site promises to host “exclusive collaborations, pop-ups and food residencies” as well as a “roster of food entrepreneurs”. Kerb Counter initially launched as Kerb’s debut bricks-and-mortar site in Camden Market in 2017, hosting beer pairings, supper clubs and private events as well as evening “trader takeovers”, but has since closed. An Instagram post from Kerb Counter stated: “We’re opening a fresh new space in the heart of Shoreditch. Its purpose? To be the core of our food and drink incubation and innovation over the coming year. We’re talking exclusive collaborations, pop-ups and food residencies from both the freshest talent in the city, and a roster of food entrepreneurs keen to reinvent the wheel. Our first Kerb Counter opened in Camden Market in 2017 (before hospitality was chewed up and spat out) and began rotating traders while experimenting on the bar. And after everything the industry has been through, it’s time we bring the focus back Read More
Mackenzie – we need to do some work on our accommodation, under no pressure to do any M&A: Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, has said the company needs to do some work on the accommodation across its portfolio, which includes the Old English Inns brand. He told Propel: “We have got just over 3,000 rooms across the estate. If you look across those rooms, it is fair to say they are probably some of the most uninvested parts of the business over the past decade. It is something we are focusing on and is very much about how do you segment those rooms to make sure you are giving the right offer to the right people, there is no point having one brand that sits across everything. We are starting to build refurbishment plans into our future brand plans.” Greene King was linked earlier this year with running the rule over the Coaching Inn Group, which was subsequently acquired by RedCat Pub Company, but Mackenzie said the business was under no pressure to do any M&A. He said: “If we do, it will be strategic rather than for reasons of scale. We will take a look from opportunity Read More
Oakman – Seafood Pub Co like-for-like sales up 14.9%, opens first site in south with more to follow: Oakman Group, the Dermot King-led pub-restaurant operator, has said the six Seafood Pub Company sites it acquired from administration in February have delivered like-for-like sales growth of 14.9% for the first 21 weeks of the financial year. Oakman, which paid just under £3m to acquire the six sites, told Propel progress had been “excellent” since the sites reopened in May following a programme of repairs, decoration and the installation of enhanced outdoor facilities. Due to the success of the Seafood sites, Oakman said it had taken the decision to expand the business. The Pointer in Brill became a Seafood site in November and when The Grand Junction, in Bulbourne near Tring, reopens next spring after a £1.1m development it will also join the Seafood ranks. Oakman said it was also very close to acquiring a substantial freehold pub in Lancashire that will also become a Seafood pub. A further site from within the Oakman Group is likely to be added in the new year to bring the total up to ten by Easter. Oakman said it now has a clear two-pronged strategy Read More
Inglenook Inns & Taverns secures new investment partner to back further growth: North-west based pub operator Inglenook Inns & Taverns has secured £10m of investment through a new joint venture with a private investor to continue to expand its portfolio, Propel has learned. Inglenook, which was founded by James Waddington in 2012, currently owns 38 freehold sites under its leased and tenanted model. The company is due to acquire an additional nine sites before Christmas. Inglenook is understood to be seeking to aggregate a portfolio of 100-plus “community pubs” over the next two years. The portfolio is principally located in the north west, but the venture is believed to be willing to expand out of its core geography as the estate grows. The joint venture is separate from the group’s managed services operation, which incorporates up to 25 temporary management appointments and 16 leased pubs – operated as a managed estate. Propel understands that Inglenook has hired Alun Johnson, formerly regional operations director at Star Pubs & Bars and Punch, to aid on the operational management side of the new venture and wider group. Boom Battle Bar and Flip Out team to launch new interactive crazy golf concept: The team Read More
Giggling Squid to open in Harrogate for debut Yorkshire site: Giggling Squid, the Thai restaurant brand backed by BGF, is to open its debut Yorkshire site, in Harrogate, Propel has learned. The 41-strong business, which recently opened in Chelmsford, is understood to have secured the former Las Iguanas site in the North Yorkshire town’s John Street, for an opening in the first quarter of 2022. Propel revealed last month Giggling Squid had secured a site in Cheshire, as it looks to establish “a northern/Scottish region”. The business, which has already secured the former Carluccio’s site in Manchester’s Spinningfields area, is to invest circa £500,000 in the former Bar & Grill site in Alderley, which was previously operated by Individual Restaurants, creating up to 25 jobs. The site will open in the first half of next year. It is thought Giggling Squid is in talks on a site in Liverpool and is exploring opportunities in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The company will open a site before Christmas in Welwyn Garden City. The business already has sites for next year secured in locations such as Winchester and Maidstone. Giggling Squid is also set to expand its delivery kitchen estate with openings in Acton Read More
Chatterton – Fuller’s could sell tenanted estate and bid for City Pub Group: Alex Chatterton, sector analyst at Panmure Gordon, says Fuller’s has a good opportunity to participate in M&A and could use the funds achieved by selling its tenanted estate to acquire City Pub Group. Chatterton believes Fuller’s can raise “significant funds”, which he estimates as greater than £150m, by disposing of its tenanted inns division. He said: “Then, in line with its acquisition strategy, i.e., managed freehold pubs, Fuller’s could use these funds to acquire City Pub Group. While historically we have been bearish on City Pub Group, the recent share price weakness (down circa 32% since the end of February) and improving freehold mix – up to 65% from 58% at initial public offering (IPO) – has made it a somewhat more attractive option to a potential acquirer in our view. Assuming a conservative discount to an average of the most applicable recent transactions, the tenanted inns division could generate an enterprise value around £156m, based on an EV/Ebitda multiple of circa ten times. Given the recent share price weakness, with City Pub Group’s share price now below the IPO price, it has become more attractive to Read More
Collins – we are confident we can increase openings capacity to 30-32 sites a year: Nick Collins, chief executive of Loungers, has said that the Lounge and Cosy Club operator was now confident it could add a fifth build team and increase its openings capacity to 30-32 sites a year. To underpin its expansion, the 188-strong business has evolved its property function, with Tom Trenchard promoted to director of property and build, and a head of development and head of construction (Mark Suggitt, ex-The Restaurant Group) roles put in place. Collins said: “What we are trying to achieve here is to future proof the organisational structure as we continue to grow. It also allows me to have more time in our sites. It also gives us the capacity to have a fifth build team should we want to. Four build teams allow us to open 25 sites a year, but we are now confident we could add a fifth build team and increase that capacity to 30-32 sites a year. We haven’t taken the decision to do that yet. I also hope we will be able to more efficiently manage our capex. I think there is more we can do Read More
RedCat appoints David Foulis as corporate finance director: RedCat Pub Company, the investment vehicle from ex-Greene King chief executive Rooney Anand, has appointed David Foulis, formerly of Honest Burgers and D&D London, as its new corporate finance director, Propel has learned. Foulis stepped down as finance director of Honest Burgers in March after three years with the company. Prior to that he spent almost five years at D&D London, as its head of finance. He will report in to Sharon Badelek, chief financial officer at the 92-strong RedCat. Anand told The Times on Thursday (2 December) he has 12 more sites being scrutinised by lawyers and expects to sign most of them by Christmas. “We can be super-flexible,” he said. “We can sell the whole thing, lock stock and barrel or we can sell its constituent parts separately.” He added: “Prices have probably got a little firmer for the vendor than they were six months ago but let’s see how things pan out over Christmas. During the notoriously lean months of January, February and March, I would hope there would be a few more assets we can persuade owners to part with.” He cited the example of the Coaching Inn Read More
Rekom has capacity to acquire 30 sites per year: Scandinavian company Rekom Group, the owner of the former Deltic Group business, has capacity to acquire up to 30 sites per annum as it looks to introduce five of its brands into the UK market. Propel revealed earlier this year that the company planned to launch its Heidi’s Bier Bar brand into the UK, in Cardiff, next year. It is also looking to launch its cocktail concept Rabalder Bar, pub/bar concept Proud Mary, club concept Lou Lou and premium club concept Dorsia into the UK. The company is looking at opening clusters of venues at each location and will take leases of up to 20 years for the right location. For Heidi’s Bar and Proud Mary, it is looking for sites in Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle. For all the brands, which need sites ranging from 2,500 to 20,000 square feet, it is looking at sites in locations across the UK, from Aberdeen to Plymouth and York to Brighton. In April, Rekom UK chief executive Peter Marks told Propel the company planned to introduce brands from its new parent company here. Rekom Group, which operates circa 120 late-night venues across Finland, Read More
Leon builds drive-thru pipeline: Natural fast food brand Leon, which is owned by EG Group, is lining up a further two drive-thru sites, Propel has learned. Leon, which earlier this week opened its first site at a supermarket, is understood to be planning to open sites in Coopers Lane, Knowsley Industrial Park in Kirkby, and Wetherby Road in Harrogate. Leon opened its first drive-thru restaurant, in Gildersome, Leeds, last month. Earlier this week, the brand launched a site at the Asda superstore in Bletchley Way, Milton Keynes. Asda is also owned by the EG Group, which is backed by the Issa brothers and TDR Capital. Leon has taken space in the store’s new food court, alongside the EG Group-partnered American bakery brand Cinnabon and S'barro, the New York-style pizza chain. The food court also hosts sites from Snowfox Group’s Panku street food concept and Bubbleology, the London bubble tea bar operator. EG Group acquired Leon in a circa £100m deal earlier this year. Marston’s launches new franchise agreement called Pillar: Marston’s has launched a new franchise agreement aimed at leased pubs with an independent food offer, called Pillar. Chief executive Andrew Andrea said: “Our aspiration is to continue to roll Read More
Itsu to open first international franchise restaurant this week, secures debut Scotland site: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain created by Julian Metcalfe, will open its first international franchise restaurant on Tuesday (30 November). The company will launch the site at Brussels airport, having previously signed an agreement with Autogrill. The outlet is located in the restaurant area of the Gallery of Light in Terminal B. The 166 square-metre restaurant, which has created 20 jobs, has seating for 46 diners along with offering “grab and go” takeaway options. Metcalfe said: “We are delighted to export our incredible brand and food to mainland Europe in partnership with Autogrill. The location within Brussels airport will introduce the Itsu experience to travellers from across the globe.” Stan Monheim, Autogrill chief operating officer for rest of Europe, added: “We are pleased to announce this new opening with Itsu, as the brand’s first franchise partner in mainland Europe.” Earlier this year, Itsu opened its first franchise restaurants in the UK. The first, in Reading, is in partnership with Heart with Smarts, which is operated by the team behind Pizza Hut Restaurants, while a second opening, in Leicester, is with Savvi Dining Group. At the same Read More
Gail’s parent reports full-year turnover down 27% but sees Ebitda and pre-tax profit rise: Bread Holdings, the parent company of Gail's Bakery, has reported turnover fell 27% to £84.5m for the year ending 28 February 2021, compared with £116.4m the previous year as a result of the covid-related restrictions in place through large parts of the period. Turnover at Gail’s was down to £57.1m, compared with £61.0m the year before while wholesale revenue dropped to £39.1m, compared with £68.0m the previous year. Group adjusted Ebitda was up to £14.4m, compared with £13.6m the year before while pre-tax profit increased to £4.4m, compared with £3.5m the previous year. In their report accompanying the accounts, which were signed prior to Bain Capital Credit buying a stake in Bread Holdings in a deal that valued the company at more than £200m in September, the directors stated: “Over the year group turnover reduced by 27%. This drop was very much driven by the covid-19 related restrictions in place through large parts of the year. The wholesale business’ customer base of restaurants, hotels, contract caterers, etc was forced to close for large parts of the year and faced with restrictions (for example the 'rule of Read More
The Big Table Group appoints Gibbons and Worrall to COO roles: The Big Table Group, operator of Las Iguanas, Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia, has appointed Lisa Gibbons and Steve Worrall into two newly created chief operating officer roles, Propel has learned. Gibbons, who has been with the company for ten years, has been appointed chief operating officer for Bella Italia and the group’s concessions business. Worrall, who joined the company earlier this year as brand director for Cafe Rouge, has been appointed chief operating officer for that brand and Las Iguanas. The existing leaders of each of these businesses will report directly to Gibbons and Worrall, who will report into chief executive Alan Morgan. A Big Table Group spokesman told Propel: “The creation of these roles means two of our most accomplished and experienced operators will take responsibility for half of the business each. These appointments cement our operating structure as we move into a new era of development for the business.” Last month, Big Table Group, which operates more than 150 restaurants across the UK and Ireland, announced plans to open 50 new restaurants and refurbish 70 sites over the next three years, investing in excess of £50m Read More
Popeyes makes UK debut, more sites to follow: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick-service restaurant brand, has opened its first UK restaurant – at a former KFC site in Westfield Stratford. This will be followed by the announcement of more UK locations shortly, according to the company, with Croydon believed to be one of the sites it is eyeing for an opening. Founded in New Orleans in 1972, Popeyes currently boasts 3,400 restaurants in more than 25 countries, and having now arrived on these shores, plans to open 350 new sites in Britain over the next ten years. The Popeyes menu includes its famous Chicken Sandwich, southern biscuits and gravy and hand-battered chicken, marinated for 12 hours in a blend of Louisianan herbs and spices. The company has also used the UK market to launch its first vegan product – a creole red bean sandwich featuring a 100% plant-based red bean patty, lettuce, tomato and Creole sauce in a soft brioche bun. Farmer J gears up to launch in St Paul’s: All-day market concept Farmer J, which is backed by Imbiba, will open its sixth site in the capital on Tuesday (23 November), in St Paul’s. As revealed Read More
Soho House owner posts increases in revenue and membership, but prices set to rise: Soho House owner Membership Collective Group (MCG) saw revenues increase by 57% to $180m in the quarter to 3 October compared to the previous year, boosted by spending by members as they returned to its “Houses” across the world. MCG’s membership base increased by 16,663 to 144,503 over the third quarter, and the company also saw a 94% retention rate. Membership revenue grew by 21% to $51m, while in-house revenue, which includes food and drink, was up 122%. MCG, which operates 32 Soho House clubs as well as The Ned in London, also reported record numbers of applicants for membership, with about 10,000 prospective members added to its waiting list in the three months to October. Membership has been boosted by the opening of new properties in Rome, Paris and Tel Aviv. The company reported a net loss of $76m as it continued to invest in new venues, while adjusted ebitda stood at $9m up $5m from the third quarter 2020. The business aims to open seven Soho Houses, two Ned clubs – including one in the shuttered NoMad hotel in New York – and a second Scorpios Read More
Pitcher – Christmas is going to look very different this year: Rob Pitcher, chief executive of Revolution Bars Group (RBG), the Revolution and Revolucion de Cuba, insists the shape of Christmas trading is going to look very different for the business this year. The group is down in general on Christmas bookings but has seen a resurgence in recent weeks. He told Propel: “We would normally do lots of large corporate functions and we are just not seeing those bookings. We were behind as far as bookings for Christmas goes, but in the last two weeks we have booked more business than in the corresponding two weeks from two years ago. Normally you wouldn’t leave it so late, but because we are seeing smaller groups, those booking levels are coming through quite strongly now. We know the shape of Christmas is going to be different, but bookings are still ramping up, where usually at this time of year, bookings would be quietening down. We are expecting to see a high volume of walk-in footfall through December.” Pitcher said the business was really pleased with how its new “community market” concept Founders & Co, launched earlier this year in Swansea, had been Read More
Nightcap to take The Cocktail Club to Birmingham: Bar operator Nightcap is set to take its The Cocktail Club brand to Birmingham, and is close to securing sites in Cardiff, Bristol and Liverpool for its Adventure Bar concepts, Propel has learned. The company, which on Monday (15 November) reported it has 23 sites in legals or under offer, is understood to have secured a unit in Birmingham’s Temple Street for its recently rebranded The Cocktail Club concept. The Cocktail Club will be opening three new venues this month in London, Reading, and Bristol. Meanwhile, Propel understands the group has lined up sites in Liverpool’s Hanover Street, Cardiff’s Caroline Street, and Bristol’s Small Street for openings under either its Tonight Josephine or Blame Gloria concepts. A spokeswoman told Propel that Tonight Josephine and Blame Gloria are hoping to complete on a number of sites currently in legals across the country, including Liverpool and Bristol. Chief executive Sarah Willingham said: “The performance of the Tonight Josephine and Blame Gloria brands has led to us narrowing our focus on finding sites for these two brands. We think both brands have a large untapped demand for female-led socialising in welcoming, safe environments around the Read More
Pret moves closer to launching loyalty scheme ‘Pret Perks’, appoints new CFO: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed business, has moved closer to launching a new loyalty scheme, which is understood will be called Pret Perks. In July, Propel revealed Pret had trademarked the name Pret Perks for the “organisation, management and administration of loyalty card and reward schemes in the fields of food and drink, restaurant services and catering services” – leading to suggestions it may be gearing up to launch its first loyalty programme. Propel has now learned that Pret’s website’s terms and conditions section has recently been updated to include details of the upcoming scheme. It states: “Pret Perks, or the ‘loyalty scheme’, is a loyalty rewards programme that we operate. Under the loyalty scheme, each qualifying purchase entitles you to a digital token (which we call a ‘star’); once you have collected ten stars, you will be eligible to claim a free product or other such reward, to be decided by us.” According to the travel website Head for Points, the new scheme is set to come with the slogan “the more you Pret, the more you get”. It is thought a launch across the UK for Read More
  Cook – platform now in place to expand Fridays with ‘robust’ pipeline of sites lined up: Hostmore chief executive Robert B Cook has told Propel the business now has the platform in place to expand Fridays, with a “robust” pipeline of sites already lined up. While the business has talked about acquiring smaller brands for its portfolio, Cook refuted reports that negotiations were already taking place and was waiting to see what happens when the moratorium ends next year, when he believes there could be “some good deals to be had”. For now, he said, the focus was on growing Fridays and sister concept 63rd+1st, which will open its third site next week, in Harrogate. Cook said Hostmore was continuing to be offered sites on very good terms by landlords. “It’s great to have to have got the initial public offering over the line,” he said. “Now we’ve got to that stage it’s time to roll up our sleeves, because the hard work begins now. We’ve now got a platform to expand the Fridays business and we’re excited about the potential of 63rd+1st. I think our covenant strength and strong balance sheet makes landlords see us as a very viable Read More
Black and White Hospitality launches new restaurant concept Mr Whites with Leicester Square opening, exploring expansion opportunities in UK and abroad: Black and White Hospitality, which operates and manages the Marco Pierre White group of franchised restaurants, has launched a new concept after opening a site in London’s Leicester Square. The restaurant is located next door to the Odeon cinema and heralds the return of the brand to the capital’s West End in more than ten years. Called Mr White’s, the restaurant is what is hoped will be the “first of many” for the concept, with opportunities being explored both in the UK and abroad. With British heritage at its heart, the menu centres on steak, grills and chops but also includes an Italian influence with handmade pizza. The restaurant also serves a range of gin including Mr White’s London Dry gin, a new drink that has been developed by Pierre White and launched earlier in the year. Nick Taplin, chairman and chief executive of Black and White Hospitality, said: “Leicester Square is known worldwide as the place to go for entertainment and around 2.5 million people visit it every week so is one of the capital’s busiest places. That Read More
Corbin & King seeks new backer after row: London-based restaurant operator Corbin & King is searching for a new backer after falling out with its biggest investor in a dispute over strategy. The Sunday Times reported Corbin & King, which owns restaurants including the Colbert and Delaunay in London as well as The Wolseley, is understood to have been in talks with a potential new investor after disagreeing with Thai leisure giant Minor Hotels, its majority owner. Minor, one of the largest hotel operators in the Asia Pacific, in 2017 bought out Graphite Capital, which had backed Corbin & King since 2012. At the time, Minor said it planned to expand the brand in the UK and “key international markets”. However, it is understood the relationship has soured, with Corbin & King reluctant to roll-out brands including the Wolseley into regions such as Dubai. It could result in a legal battle. Minor Hotels said there was “no sales process” for its holding, but added: “We evaluate our position from time to time.” Corbin & King declined to comment. Last week, King admitted the company and its backers had a “differing view between us during the pandemic of the best way Read More
Shuttleworth – deal with Escape Hunt is just the first of many giant steps we plan on taking: Elliott Shuttleworth, chief executive and founder of Boom: Battle Bars, has told Propel the deal with Escape Hunt, was the first of “many giant steps we plan on taking in the leisure and hospitality sectors”. Earlier this week escape room operator Escape Hunt announced it was set to acquire Boom: Battle Bars, the adventure bar concept from the team behind trampoline park business Flip Out, for £17.38m. Escape Hunt said it was also proposing to change its name to XP Factory “to reflect the changing nature of the enlarged group's business”. Shuttleworth told Propel: “We couldn't be more excited about our future and this deal is just the first of many giant steps we plan on taking in the leisure and hospitality sectors. This relationship is a perfect marriage in so many ways, but fundamentally both businesses have been built on delivering exceptional, immersive experiences; striving to create unforgettable customer experiences, one guest at a time. From a Boom: Battle Bars stance the deal is a result of an incredible team working tirelessly towards building a brand we all truly believe in. Read More
Punch grows Big Smoke Brew Co joint venture: Punch Pubs & Co, the Clive Chesser-led, circa 1,350-strong company, has expanded its joint venture with Surrey-based brewer and retailer Big Smoke Brew Co to six pubs, with another two in the pipeline, Propel has learned. Propel revealed in May the companies were to invest and launch a collection of craft beer and food pubs across the south east of England. James Morgan and Richard Craig, who founded Big Smoke in 2014, said they were looking to expand their pub portfolio with a strategic partner to achieve their ambitious plans for growth. The joint venture started with the launch of The Prince of Wales Townhouse in Hammersmith, and the White Horse in Welwyn. This was followed by The Old Wheatsheaf in Enfield and The White Lion in St Albans. More recently, Big Smoke has opened the Queens Head in Harpenden and the Rising Sun in Epsom. Propel understands the joint venture is set to also open the Crystal Palace in Berkhamsted and the Abercorn Arms in Teddington, with a number of other sites also under consideration for next year’s pipeline. Talking to Propel about the new joint venture earlier this year, Chesser Read More
Eckbert – the diversity of our consumer base provides Five Guys with further growth opportunities: John Eckbert, chief executive of Fiver Guys UK, has told Propel that the diversity of the better burger brand’s consumer base provides it with further growth opportunities, and that the 126-strong business has “a clear shot to 250-300 stores” here. Eckbert revealed the business will open 27 sites in the UK this year, with 11 of those set to open by the end of 2011. He said: “I can remember looking back five years ago, when we had half as many sites that we have now, and looking at where we were going next, and we had a list of about 75 locations we could go to, which would take us to 150 sites. I just sat down with my property team, and we have 85 targets now. What’s the optimum build out for the UK? We have a clear shot to 250-300 stores. But by the time we get to 250, maybe I will still have my 85-strong target list. You can only see ahead so far. Up to this point we have opened 16 stores this year. On average, we always work to a Read More
Wingstop UK appoints Chris Sherriff as COO: Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out US chicken brand Wingstop across the UK, has appointed Chris Sherriff, formerly of Ben & Jerry’s and Yum! Restaurants, as its new chief operating officer, Propel has learned. Sherriff joins the company after almost six years at Ben & Jerry’s, including most recently as head of retail – Europe and Asia. Wingstop recently opened its eighth restaurant in the UK, in Bristol’s Cabot Circus scheme. The company also operates six delivery kitchen sites. It will open a site in the Edinburgh St James Quarter scheme, in the unit previously earmarked for @Pizza, and on the former Bella Italia site in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens, later this year. Wingstop is also set to open a site in Wood Green, north London, in Capital & Regional’s The Mall scheme. Last weekend marked three years since the brand launched its first site in Europe, in London’s Shaftesbury Avenue. It has “strong ambitions” to double the size of its UK estate in 2022. In May, Wingstop, which has more than 1,500 locations worldwide, announced a minority investment in Lemon Pepper Holdings. Wingstop said the investment followed strong performance in the UK Read More
Francis-Baum – we will continue to grow Barworks and do interesting things:Marc Francis-Baum, co-founder and managing director of Barworks, which sold 13 of its 19 sites to Urban Pubs & Bars, has told Propel that the company will continue to grow and “do interesting things”, including the opportunity to do “another Mare Street Market”. After the deal with Urban, Barworks will continue to operate with an estate of six sites that includes Mare Street Market, plus the opening this week of Gas Station in Kings Cross and a site in Heddon Street, in Mayfair, in the coming months. Francis-Baum told Propel: “We will grow again and will always do very interesting things. I love pubs, and any pub opportunities that come I will do, for sure. But we have another Mare Street Market opportunity also, and I think it’s very exciting. Mare Street Market is such a colossal business for us. Gas Station is a drink-led business but not a pub. It has a huge beer garden on the canal, so drink is always at our forefront. Heddon Street will be a lovely pub/boozer. Mare Street Market in Hackney is a 10,000 square-foot restaurant/bar with a strong retail element consisting Read More
Wetherspoon shelves plan for Wolverhampton museum: JD Wetherspoon has shelved a plan to create a company museum at a pub in Wolverhampton. Last year, the company had £7m plans approved to renovate Wolverhampton’s The Moon Under Water in Lichfield Street, create a national heritage centre showcasing the company history and open a hotel above the pub. The company still plans to create a new hotel and has revised its plans to increase its size and grandeur, building a brand-new roof on the entire building at the expense of the heritage centre. The development will now create 100 jobs instead of the original 50 announced last year. Wetherspoon’s spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “Although the museum will be different to what was originally envisaged, The Moon Under Water will still be home to all Wetherspoon artefacts highlighting the company’s history. The fact the company is investing £15m on the project highlights our commitment to customers and Wolverhampton.” The company has bought the property next to the pub and will add an extra floor and roof to the Lichfield Street property. Covering 8000 square feet on the ground floor and 3000 square feet over two levels at the rear, the Moon Under Water Read More
Chopstix continues UK expansion, launches Noodle Aid initiative: Chopstix, the pan-Asian quick service restaurant concept, has continued its UK expansion with an opening in Leicester and securing a site in Swansea. The Jon Lake-led business, which operates ovmore than 60 sites across the UK, opened its latest site at 1 Gallowtree Gate, Leicester. The new store includes the brand’s “living wall” and some new screen features, including the debut of the “animated Chopstix Anime Girl”. “Leicester has always been a target for us,” said Rob Burns, marketing director for Chopstix. “It’s a massive city, and we’re really excited about the chance to bring our brand to the masses. The people of Leicester love a business that engages with them, and that’s what we’re all about. We’ve always seen ourselves as hard working, we listen to our customers and we challenge the norm, so we can’t wait to open and see the customers streaming in.” At the same time, the business has lined up a new site in Swansea’s Oxford Street. The company has also launched its Noodle Aid initiative, which looks to deliver meals “to fast food fans across the UK, no matter where they live”. The initiative asks consumers Read More
The Big Table Group appoints Andrew Carlill as chief marketing officer: The Big Table Group, the Epiris-backed operator of the Bella Italia, Cafe Rouge and Las Iguanas brands, has appointed Andrew Carlill, formerly of Marston’s, as its new chief marketing officer, Propel has learned. Earlier this year, Carlill, stepped down as group marketing and commercial director of Marston’s. Carlill, who had been with the business for more than 15 years, was previously managing director of pubs and bars at Marston’s. Earlier this summer, Propel revealed that Steve Worrall, formerly managing director of pubs, inns and hotels at Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery, had joined the Alan Morgan-led Big Table Group as brand director for Cafe Rouge. At the same time, the company appointed Greg Gibbons to operations support director. Islington Green pub let to Stonegate sold for £4m: The freehold investment in property housing the Fox on the Green in London’s Islington Green has been sold for £4m. The pub will be let to Stonegate Pub Company, the UK’s largest pub company, for a further 18 years. The price of £4m reflected a net initial yield of 3.5%. Jack Silvani, director at Coffer Corporate Leisure which acted on behalf of the Read More
7Bone Burger Co lines up four new openings: 7Bone Burger Co, which is backed by Kings Park Capital, has lined up four new openings, including its first London-based site, Propel has learned. The Matt Mollicone-led business is currently on site at the former Café Rouge in Maidstone, with a target to open at the back end of next month. It has also started work on the ex-PizzaExpress in Clarence Road, Staines, with an opening scheduled for early next year. Propel also understands the 11-strong business is set to open a site at the Charter Quay scheme in Kingston, next year, which would be its first move into the capital. It is also set to take a site in Station Road, Solihull, for an opening next year, and is thought to be close to securing further sites for its 2022 openings pipeline. Earlier this year the business opened in Coventry and more recently at the ex-Byron site in Canterbury. Mollicone told Propel this summer: “Where we’ve seen rental markets soften (and stayed militant around rent levels in our model, it’s enabled us to maintain a rent to revenue ratio of under 5%), we’ve been able to pick up sites in target Read More
OHH Pub Company MD to launch restaurant venture: Mark Warburton, managing director of West Country-based The OHH Pub Company, is to launch a restaurant venture in Bristol, Propel has learned. Warburton has acquired the former Graze restaurant site in Queens Square after agreeing a deal with St Austell Brewery. Warburton will launch The Cow & Sow, which will be a steak restaurant “with a twist”. The venue is expected to open in January following a refurbishment. “I feel now is not only the ideal time to diversify our offering, but I firmly believe our city centres, and restaurants in particular, are going to bounce back really strong having been hit particularly hard throughout the pandemic,” Warburton told Propel. “I am a huge fan of the Bristol dining scene and I can’t wait to be a part of it.” The restaurant will focus on prime cuts of beef and pork and provenance will be “key”. Warburton added: “The planned facelift will inject a real fresh vibe to accompany the brand as we will be looking to trade from brunch through to dinner, serving fresh coffee and light bites through to prime steaks, ribs and epic burgers.” OHH Pub Company operates four Read More
Hall & Woodhouse reports managed pubs outside London trading strongly since reopening, refinances banking facilities: Dorset-based brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse has reported its managed pubs outside London have traded strongly since reopening “albeit hampered in some locations by seasonal team shortages and supply issues”. The company has refinanced all its banking facilities, with Barclays providing a £45m facility with a tenor of three years. Hall & Woodhouse executive chairman Anthony Woodhouse said the company was “not only surviving the pandemic, but is well placed to recover quickly”. He said this was due to the company being built over many generations on a freehold basis with limited borrowings; the work of the team getting “into battle formation” and then opening its pubs safely a number of times; and the “family culture” that has supported the team, its business partners and communities “through the dark days”. He added: “We are very grateful for the support our industry has received from government. It is worth noting, however, that even after netting off monies received, Hall & Woodhouse was still a significant net contributor to HM Revenue & Customs. The business partnerships pubs reopened without a single vacancy reflecting the market leading Read More
Famously Proper appoints Nicolas Barnoin as COO, to expand Mother Clucker nationally as delivery brand: Famously Proper, the Calveton-backed parent company of the Byron and Mother Clucker brands, has appointed Nicolas Barnoin, formerly of Itsu, as its new chief operating officer. Barnoin, who joined Famously Proper last week, spent 20 years with Itsu. Working alongside founder Julian Metcalfe from the beginning, Famously Proper said he was “instrumental in growing Itsu to the successful brand it is today”. He progressed through various roles within the company, including people director and operations director, to his most recent as development director. Famously Proper said among his many achievements were the digitisation of Itsu across multiple platforms, the launch of the brand’s delivery proposition and creation of its contemporary store design. In his new role at Famously Proper, Barnoin will lead operations, menu and in-store experience and development across both brands and all platforms, working closely with chief executive Gavin Cox on the strategic growth of the business. Chairman Sandeep Vyas said: “I am delighted to welcome Nicolas on board, as we look forward to an exciting phase of development and expansion across the company. Nicolas is an astute operator and has hands-on experience Read More
Thomas – businesses have forgotten the true meaning of the words ‘hospitality’ and ‘experience’: Steve Thomas has told Propel his new vehicle DDE Group (standing for Dance Drink and Entertainment) has been launched in part to rallying against what he sees as businesses “failing to understand who the customer is and what they want”. Thomas, the founder of Luminar, will launch DDE, which is backed by Hugh Osmond’s Osmond Capital, with two openings in Peterborough, with Rhythm Room — a bar concept with a focus on entertainment; and Liberation, described as “a proper discotheque in the true sense of the word”. Thomas, who started Luminar in 1988 with a £22,000 bank loan and built it into a business that at its peak had more than 300 venues and a market value of more than £800m, said people have forgotten what the true meaning of the words hospitality and experience are. He told Propel: “People talk about providing hospitality and an experience, but do they really know what that means. You have to be passionate about the customer experience through every stage they are with you. They want to be entertained, but I feel due to the change in the licensing laws Read More
Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken secures debut London site, signs up a further two franchisees: South west-based operator Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken will make its London debut next month, in Walthamstow, Propel has learned. Propel revealed earlier this summer the ten-strong company, which is led by Carl Traill and backed by HBM Investments, planned to open ten sites in the capital in the next five years under a new franchise agreement. It will open the first site under this agreement on Monday, 29 November in Walthamstow. It is currently looking at further sites across London, with a site in Romford under consideration. Propel also understands Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken has recently signed up another two franchise regions – Kent and Hertfordshire/Cambridgeshire – with plans to open ten sites in each. The brand is thought to have six new openings already lined up for next year. Earlier this year, Propel revealed Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken was to begin its national expansion after signing a franchise deal to open in Essex. The company opened the first site under the new agreement with franchisee Joe Bhangal in Billericay, on the site of the former Wimpy in the town’s High Street. The Billericay site will Read More
Mission Mars reports business trading ‘very strongly’ since ‘Freedom Day’:Mission Mars, led by Roy Ellis, has said trade has been “very strong” since “Freedom Day” as the business continues to recover from the pandemic. Since restrictions lifted on 19 July 2021, Albert's Schloss Manchester delivered revenue of £1.8m, a like-for-like increase of 13.1% compared with the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, the nine-strong Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza delivered like-for-like sales up 39% against the same period in 2019. In the financial year ending September 2021, Rudy’s achieved revenue of £8.1m, up from £5.1m in the previous year. Within that period, Rudy’s sites have opened in Sale, Stockton Heath, London’s Soho and a second Liverpool site, in Bold Street. Mission Mars is also opening an Alberts Schloss in Birmingham next month with a Rudy’s set to launch in Chorlton. The company stated: “Since 19 July 2021, the group has traded very strongly with revenue in excess of levels seen pre-pandemic in 2019. Although the pandemic is still very much present nationally and globally, the trade seen to date has provided a good level of confidence the group remains in a position to deliver the long-term strategy.” It comes as the company revealed Read More
Jones the Grocer concept plans UK launch: Gourmet food and retail concept Jones the Grocer is seeking an operating partner to launch its debut UK site, Propel has learned. The business, which is majority owned by JTG Holdings, has instructed InterCater to aid it in its hunt for an operating partner within the UK market. A UK flagship site will be the first in what is a planned European expansion for the brand. The hybrid concept, founded in Australia 25 years ago, currently has 24 sites across the Middle East – with a development pipeline of another 21 in place. It incorporates an Aussie-style, all-day cafe, speciality coffee and wine bar, a walk-in cheese-room, charcuterie, artisan grocer, bakery and patisserie. The brand also operates a compact grab and go format, Jones Express, which operates three sites at Dubai airport. Three new Jones Express locations are already slated to open at further global travel venues across Asia. Jones the Grocer plans to bring its various store formats to the UK incorporating “incredibly well-designed workspaces featuring casual dining and all the elements of gourmet retail in keeping with today’s more flexible lifestyles, which have become customary over the past year”. Yunib Siddiqui, Read More
Portobello Brewery to open first pub outside London: Portobello Brewery, the Mark Crowther-chaired group, is to open its first pub outside London, in Hampshire, Propel has learned. The 15-strong business, which last November took over the management of 13 Antic pubs in the capital, is to reopen the Hart House in the commuter town of Fleet. The company, which will go onsite this week, aims to re-open the business as a “smart high street pub, serving fresh, seasonal food”. Managing director Richard Stringer told Propel: “We are very excited to be bringing our premium brands to Fleet in this, our first town centre bar and restaurant. This will be a different retail offer to our traditional pubs, with a premium all day dining environment and more extensive range of wines and cocktails alongside our core range of draught beers. We shall also be sticking to our principles of supporting local independent brewers, including in-Hart House beers from Hogsback and Siren.” Rob Jenkins, who launched Portobello Brewery in 2012, added: “We already have a healthy mix of free trade and retail customers in Hampshire, and I am delighted to now have our first bar in the county in which to showcase Read More
Coconut Tree planning four new openings: Sri Lankan street food restaurant group The Coconut Tree is planning four new openings in the next 12 months. Speaking this week at the Propel Multi-Club Conference, Coconut Tree co-founder Anna Garrod said the group’s most recent opening in Reading was performing “really well” and the business was looking at further opportunities to take “Sri Lankan food into the mainstream”. The business opened in Reading’s Kings Road, in the former Zizzi premises, in August. It followed hot on the heels of The Coconut Tree’s opening in Bath in May – with other branches in Cardiff, two in Bristol, Oxford, Cheltenham and Bournemouth. Garrod said: “We feel now is the right time for us to keep pushing The Coconut Tree forwards. In the UK, Sri Lankan food is not as widely available or understood as say, Indian or Chinese cuisine, and we want to help change that; we want to be the ones to make it mainstream.” The Coconut Tree was originally founded by five Sri Lankan friends living in Cheltenham. Praveen Thanginah, Dan Fernando and Shamil Fernando are the head chefs and oversee the food side of things; while the board of directors is Read More
Incipio Group founder set to launch creche and family hub venture: The founder of Incipio Group, the Edition Capital-backed operator of venues including The Prince and Lost In Brixton, has taken his first steps in the nursery and soft play market. Charlie Gardiner, who founded Incipio in 2016, will launch Jaego’s House in Kensal Rise early next year. It will be the first venue for his new vehicle The Little Houses Group and is being branded as a club for all the family. It will feature a jungle gym, crèche, child-minding service and kids’ cinema for children, plus a co-working office, gym, treatment room and library for adults, while a restaurant and waterside cafe will provide food and drink options. Included in the plans is the adjoining Kensal House Nursery, where the curriculum will be led by a nursery manager with more than 30 years’ experience. With both buildings together spanning more than 20,000 square feet, it is hoped the venue will be a community hub accessible to all, with affordable “pay and play” options available alongside longer-term memberships. “The dream for most parents is to find somewhere they love visiting just as much as their kids do,” said Gardiner. Read More
Lluch appointed new Le Pain Quotidien UK managing director: Fred Lluch, formerly of Wasabi, Café Rouge and Obica, has been appointed as the new UK managing director of Le Pain Quotidien, the Belgian restaurant and boulangerie brand, Propel has learned. Lluch stepped down as managing director of Wasabi in July 2019. He joined the sushi and bento chain in March 2016 as operations director and was promoted to managing director in June 2017 where he led the business alongside the company’s founder Dong Hyung Kim. He has worked for the likes of Ibis and Novotel as well as being the regional operations director at Café Rouge and the managing director of Obica. He replaces Steven Whibley in leading the 15-strong Le Pain Quotidien brand in the UK. New vehicle BrunchCo paid £500,000 to acquire 16 (15 in London and one in Oxford) of Le Pain Quotidien’s 26 UK sites through a pre-pack administration in June last year, with the deal seeing Whibley, who was managing director of the brand at the turn of the decade, returning to the role. Last October, the business reopened its UK estate, upgraded its delivery offer, developed a new autumn menu and launched a click-and-collect Read More
Benugo back to profitability after ‘strong’ summer, sees full-year turnover drop more than 70%: Benugo, the operator of deli cafes and catering in high-profile venues such as the Natural History Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, is now back to profitability after “strong” summer sales. It comes after the business saw turnover drop more than 70% in 2020 as its operations were severely curtailed by the pandemic. The company reported revenue of £33.7m for the year ending 30 December 2020, compared with £121.1m the previous year. Benugo saw a pre-tax loss of £10.6m, which included exceptional items of £2.4m, including redundancy costs of £1.8m, compared with a profit of £4.5m the year before. Benugo managing director Matthew Thompson told Propel: “In a post-lockdown market, we are back to experiencing very high demand. As a result of an incredibly busy summer with strong sales, August saw our business bounce back to more than 50% of 2019 levels, all despite the lack of overseas visitors, which many of our venues depend upon. Benugo is now back to positive profitability and during the past year has won many new and exciting contracts.” In the accounts, the company stated: “As a direct consequence Read More
Matt Grech-Smith – it’s ‘like Christmas’ at the moment, as Swingers reports sales boost: Matt Grech-Smith co-founder and chief executive of mini-golf competitive socialising concept Swingers, had compared the current climate to the Christmas rush, with sales up on 2019. Grech-Smith, who last month unveiled plans for a third US site – and fifth in total – was speaking on the Experiential Leisure in Casual Dining panel at Casual Dining 2021. “We’ve obviously had a bumpy year or two of open-close, open-close, and making sense of the restrictions, but in London we’re trading great guns,” he said. “We’ve slightly ramped up the days we’re open to six days a week, but even when we were at five, we were doing more revenue than we were in the same week in 2019. That was without corporate sales too, so it’s storming along – we’ve got this kind of Christmas-like energy.” With a debut US site in Washington DC to be followed by another in the same city and one in New York, Swingers is a growing presence stateside, but that has brought its own challenges, according to Grech-Smith. He said: “We’re open in DC now, had a really strong launch and Read More
Drop founders look to expand concept across London: Restaurateurs Ian Campbell and Will Palmer are seeking further sites for their Drop bottle shop and wine bar as they look to expand the concept across London. Propel understands Campbell and Palmer are working with David Rawlinson and Gabriella Sether, of Restaurant Property, and are seeking sites of between 1,000 and 2,000 square foot. The duo are believed to be targeting Brockley, Bermondsey, Dulwich, Ealing and Peckham as part of their plans to add to their existing Drop venue in Drury Lane. The site is also the centre of operations for its Drop one-hour wine delivery service. Drop has raised £1.25m to support its London expansion plans. In May, Campbell and Palmer revealed they were planning to launch a franchising model for Drop. as it aims to expand across the UK. Under the plan, franchises will be encouraged to open their own bar and store, which will function as a delivery hub. Drop is aiming to operate 85 sites nationally within the next three years, with plans to open 15 new franchise sites over the next 12 months across the south east. The first local hub has opened in Guildford, Surrey. The Read More
Jayawickrema – we have been able to adapt to socio-economic changes, still keen on international expansion: Ajith Jayawickrema, founder of Caribbean restaurant brand Turtle Bay, has said the business has been able to adapt to socio-economic changes, moving away from a reliance on trade and embracing social media. He told the Raise the Bar panel at Casual Dining 2021: “The fundamentals haven't changed, but what we have learned quickly is we have to replace night-time spots with daytime spots as a lot of modern people have decided to go out during the day and drink a lot. If you go back to 2015, 40% of our customers were over 45, but the over-45s have declined and been replaced by a generation of under-25s. This has been done by introducing offers and assessing our marketing, and so instead of talking to our audience on Facebook we started talking to them on TikTok, and last time I looked we had four million followers.” Jayawickrema, who laid off only 12 people during the pandemic and has since employed 400 more, admitted delivery “wasn't a huge success” – saying a huge part of their food culture is the socialising aspect – and takeaway remains Read More
Watson – I’d rather have the challenge of employing staff than furloughing staff: Clive Watson, chairman of City Pub Group, owner and operator of circa 50 premium pubs across southern England and Wales, has said he would rather have the challenge of employing staff than furloughing staff. On the back of the group’s interim results, he also called on the government to introduce temporary worker visas to plug the gaps in the labour market. Talking to Propel about the staffing issue, Watson said: “It is not easy, there are vacancies of about 7% to 8%, but in a funny sort of way it doesn’t feel as bad as July, when we were getting pinged all over the place, having to close pubs and send staff home. I’d rather have the challenge of employing staff than furloughing staff. It is an ongoing challenge – you have to make sure that you are seen by your staff as a responsible, progressive and inclusive employer and that’s what we have always tried to do. While this is very frustrating, we believe the end of the furlough scheme in September will increase the pool of labour able to work in our industry and the Read More
Brewhouse & Kitchen raises £2.9m to strengthen balance sheet, pipeline of sites in place for further growth: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the 23-strong brewpub group, has raised £2.9m to strengthen its balance sheet and continue with its expansion plans. The company, which has 14 company-owned sites and nine that it operates under a franchise and management agreement with Puma investments, launched a limited rights issue to raise the funds from existing shareholders. The funds have provided additional working capital for the business as well as allowed it to complete the development of its first brewpub with rooms in Worthing, it has plans to develop 24 rooms in Bristol and Bournemouth next year. Brewhouse & Kitchen revealed the details in its accounts for the year ending 26 September 2020, which showed with the assistance of furlough and various government grant the company managed to reduce cash burn to £140,000 per month during the second lockdown. The bank has agreed to extend a term loan due in July 2021 through to March 2022. Furthermore, the loan note facility due to mature in September 2021 has been extended by a year to allow the business an increased recovery period from the pandemic. During the Read More
Farmer J secures West End site: All-day market concept Farmer J, which is backed by Imbiba, has secured its first site in London’s West End. Propel understands the Jonathan Recanati-led, five-strong, business has secured the former EAT site in Regent Street for an opening later this year. The company recently doubled up in Canary Wharf, with an opening in Jubilee Place. It already operates a site in Canada Place. Earlier this summer, Propel revealed Farmer J had secured the Wasabi site at Paternoster Square for an opening later this year. It is thought the business is also close to securing a site in London Bridge. Recanati told Propel in July the business had always been developed with expansion outside central London in mind and the group was looking to build its pipeline further. He said the resilience of the business during the crisis had given it the confidence to explore further expansion opportunities. Richard Willcox, at Etch, acted on the Regent Street deal for Farmer J. Wagamama secures first Florida site: Wagamama, The Restaurant Group (TRG)-owned brand, has secured its first site in Florida. The company, which expects to open three to four new US sites in FY22 under the Read More
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