Reilley – Loungers’ success down to ‘Game of Thrones approach’:Loungers co-founder and chairman Alex Reilley has said the company’s “Game of Thrones approach” to business, which involves defining “the Cause”, has enabled it to transform from a small cafe bar chain into a nationwide brand. Speaking during the second podcast in specialist investor Piper’s “7, 17, 70” series, Reilley said: “The biggest challenge was dealing with the scale. It’s all very Game of Thrones. You’re lined up on the battlefield and what the Cause does is conceptualise what we do and why we’re different. Protecting what made the business special was really important.” Reilley launched Loungers with friends Jake Bishop and David Reid in Bristol in 2002 with “aspirations to turn over £4,500 a week”. Today the business has more than 100 sites, a turnover of £125m and is backed by Lion Capital. Piper invested in Loungers in 2012, selling its stake in 2016 in a transaction that valued the business at £137m. Describing teething problems Loungers had when it reached seven sites, Reilley said: “It became evident the central structure of the business was lacking. Growth is very exciting but you get hooked on it and realise you’ve got something on your hands that is quite volatile. Seven is the stage with the most sleepless nights when you begin to realise you’re probably not as good as you think you are.” Last month, Loungers revealed it plans to invest £10m to open a further 16 Lounges in 2018. The company also operates more than 20 Cosy Clubs across the country.
Pizza Hut UK chief financial officer moves to non-executive role: Adrian Walker has stepped down as chief financial officer of Pizza Hut UK. Walker has decided to move into a non-executive director position following the company’s management buyout on Friday (20 April). Andy Platt, who has been Pizza Hut UK’s strategy director since 2006, has replaced Walker in the role. Walker had been chief financial officer since August 2014 and before that was finance director for Odeon and UCI Cinemas. A Pizza Hut UK spokesman told Propel: “Adrian Walker has chosen to change role to become a non-executive director.”
Amber Taverns adds Nuneaton pub to portfolio: Community pub operator Amber Taverns has added to its estate with the acquisition of the Granby pub – formerly Bilberries – in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Property director Sam Frankland said: “We look forward to bringing the public of Nuneaton a quality establishment following a significant investment to mirror similar success at recent openings in Ripley, Coalville and Tamworth.” Chris Rogers, of agents Everard Cole, which handled the sale, added: “We’re delighted to have secured a swift sale for our client and expect this to be another excellent site for Amber.” Earlier this year, Amber Taverns operations director Gary Roberts told Propel the company planned to open ten to 12 sites in 2018. Amber Taverns owns about 135 pubs across the north, Midlands and Wales.
Brakspear reports 44% increase in coffee sales following hot drinks investment: Pub operator and brewer Brakspear has reported a 44% increase in coffee sales after only nine months after making an investment in its hot drinks offer across its managed pubs. The company invested in new coffee machines and crockery at a number of pubs, and ran a ‘Barista of the Year’ competition last May, to reward staff for their coffee creativity and hot drinks knowledge. Brakspear appointed a new hot drinks supplier Paddy & Scotts and worked with it to deliver training for staff, which was designed to improve their coffee making skills and knowledge. Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies told Coffeee Business World: “Serving a great cup of coffee is just as important as serving a great pint of beer and our investment in training in particular has given our pubs the edge in the competitive out of home coffee market. We’re delighted with the results we’ve seen in terms of improved coffee quality and increased sales.”
Michelin-trained chef extends £555,000 crowdfunding campaign to open central London restaurant: Michelin-trained chef Harvey Trollope has extended his £555,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube by a month as he looks to open a restaurant in central London. Trollope is looking to launch a first permanent site for his Harvey’s British Eatery concept following a series of 40-cover pop-ups. Trollope is offering 39.5% equity in return for investment and so far, 159 investors have pledged £186,130 with 31 days remaining. Trollope said: “Due to ongoing discussions with prospective investors, we have agreed with Crowdcube to extend our campaign further. This will allow us to further our ongoing discussions with potential investors.” The pitch states: “The demand for Harvey’s British Eatery was determined through a series of 40-cover pop-ups at Clerkenwell Kitchen and The Jerwood Studios. This enabled us to test the appetite for exciting, affordable new British recipes and identify a gap in the market. We aim to open two further sites within five years.” Trollope has worked at one and two-star Michelin restaurants in France and Italy. He has also been head chef of Wheeler’s of St James’s and premier sous chef at the Ritz Hotel. The Harvey’s British Eatery team also includes consulting director Nigel Sutcliffe, who operates two London restaurants and was co-director of The Fat Duck.
City Pub Group reveals further details of new vegan concept: City Pub Group has revealed further details of its new vegan restaurant, which will launch in Parsons Green, south west London, next week. Tell Your Friends will open on Tuesday (1 May) run by Lucy and Tiffany Watson, who are best known for their appearances in reality television show Made In Chelsea and whose father Clive is executive chairman of City Pub Group. Having embraced vegetarianism since childhood, Lucy became vegan three years ago, with Tiffany following soon after. The dishes at Tell Your Friends will be divided into core sections and centre on iconic dishes made using vegan ingredients. Drinks will include cocktails such as Rose Petal Martini and Rhubarb Royal, alongside a series of “mocks” with the botanical Seedlip as a base ingredient. There will also be cold-pressed juices and power shots. The interior of the restaurant in New Kings Road will feature polished plaster walls, a mix of high and low tables, and “pops of neon”. Meanwhile, City Pub Group has added two pubs to its estate. The company has acquired The Covent Garden pub in Bow Street for an undisclosed sum from a private seller through agent Davis Coffer Lyons. The historic building housed London’s first police station and was home to the infamous Bow Street Runners. Meanwhile, City Pub Group has added a ninth Cambridge site to its portfolio – former JD Wetherspoon pub The Tivoli, which has been closed since a fire in 2015.
Jamie Oliver opens second site in the Netherlands for Pizzeria brand: Chef Jamie Oliver has opened a second site in the Netherlands for his Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria brand. The restaurant has launched in Tilburg following the brand’s Dutch debut in Arnhem last month. The opening was led by Souad El Hamdaoui and Willem Tieleman, of Italian Food Concepts, who also operate two Jamie’s Italians and a Jamie Oliver’s Diner in the Netherlands. The Tilburg restaurant hosts 64 covers inside and about 40 outside, with neon signage and bright artwork on the walls. Nick Schapira, chief operating officer of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group’s international arm, said: “We’re thrilled to open our second Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria in the Netherlands, bringing the Jamie Oliver brand to even more people across the country. Our Pizzerias are fun and accessible with a great buzz and quality, and handmade food we know everyone will love. We’ve got a fantastic set of operators with Italian Food Concepts, who understand the pulse of the local market. We look forward to more openings with them soon.” Earlier this month, Jamie Oliver Group launched its first Pizzeria site in Dubai, while the Tilburg opening is the seventh Pizzeria outside the UK. Oliver currently has more than 50 international sites in 24 countries across his range of brands.
Nobu owner secures £68.5m refinancing loan: The owner of the UK’s first Nobu Hotel in Shoreditch, east London, has secured a £68.5m refinancing loan. The investment loan to Luxembourg-based Willow comprised of a £48.5m senior debt facility with Deutsche Pfandbriefbank and a £20m mezzanine debt facility with funds advised by LaSalle Investment Management. The facility replaces the development loan that funded the building of the 90,578 square foot hotel, which opened in September 2017. BBS Capital advised Willow on the refinancing. Amy Klein Aznar, head of debt investments and special situations at LaSalle Investment Management told Property Week: “Nobu London is an excellent example of our ability to support sponsors from development through to asset stabilisation.” Nobu Hotel Shoreditch is located in Willow Street with 148 rooms and spa on-site. Best known for its high-end and innovative Japanese restaurants, Nobu Hospitality was selected to operate the property under a 15-year management agreement.
BrewDog launches bicycle and beer club: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched a bicycle and beer club. The BrewDog Chain Gang consists of ten “chapters” based in the company’s bars around the world. The company has launched the club after running a number of events already. Members can join rides online, post times and communicate with each other. BrewDog has also launched a range of cycling merchandise in partnership with Milltag. BrewDog stated on its blog: “Our new global cycling club unites anyone with a passion for cycling and craft beer. The BrewDog Chain Gang uses bars as clubhouses, giving the perfect place to meet up, hit the road and relax afterwards with a beer and food. The Chain Gang currently rocks over 530 pedal-powered people in ten different chapters – each centred on a city around the world. Recent Chain Gang rides have rolled out from BrewDog Glasgow to DogTap in Ellon and from BrewDog Tower Hill to BrewDog Brighton. Our target is to rock 100 chapters of our Chain Gang by the end of the year!”
Whitbread cuts Express Menu price at King’s Cross Bar + Block to £5:Whitbread has cut the price of its Express Menu at its Bar + Block site in King’s Cross, London, to £5. Diners can take advantage of the offer on weekdays from noon to 5pm until Thursday, 17 May. The menu consists of six items – a pull pork bap (normally £7.95), steak and frites (£8.95), classic six-ounce beef burger (£7.95), open club sandwich (£7.95), sea bass fillet (£8.50), chicken escalope sandwich (£7.95) and a veggie burger (£7.95).
The Richmond duo to open second site: Brett Redman and Margaret Crow, the duo behind The Richmond in Hackney, will open their second site next month. The duo will launch Neptune on Thursday, 24 May in the newly opened Principal London hotel in Bloomsbury. The 102-cover restaurant and 30-seater bar will share the same DNA as the pair’s Hackney restaurant. They have created a new seafood-focused menu for Neptune based around an informal approach to the classic oyster bar and featuring Redman’s signature wood-fired cooking in the a la carte menu. The oyster bar in the centre of Neptune’s dining room will serve oysters and other shellfish and diners will be able to order seafood platters that change with the seasons. Alongside this, large sharing dishes will include steamed-to-order whole Cornish crab with house spaghetti in a smoked datterini tomato, Vietnamese basil and long pepper sauce. The bar will offer cocktails, wine and a large selection of grower champagnes. The grade II-listed dining room will feature a graphic wooden floor, peach ceiling and a centrally located pewter-top bar, while the walls will be adorned with artwork that will become a rolling exhibition series in the restaurant. Crow said: “Brett and I are excited to be opening a contemporary space within such a wonderful historic building. Our approach has always been to create food based on honest, good-quality ingredients and to serve it in thoughtfully designed spaces. We see Neptune at the Principal London as a great embodiment of our ideals.”
Lalit Suri Hospitality Group appoints new executive chef: The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group has appointed Santosh Shah as executive chef at its boutique hotel Lalit London in Tower Bridge. Shah will oversee a team of 20 and be responsible for all food at the hotel in Tooley Street, including pan-Indian restaurant Baluchi, The Gallery, The Headmaster’s Room and Teacher’s Room bars, The Terrace, private events catering, and room service for the hotel’s 70 bedrooms. Previously head chef of Cinnamon Kitchen & Anise in Devonshire Square, Shah worked beneath executive chef and chief executive Vivek Singh for more than two years, rising through the ranks from sous chef at The Cinnamon Club to take the reins at the City site. Since relocating from Gujarat, India, to London in 2011, Shah has also held positions at Michelin-starred Benares and Dishoom. The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group executive director Keshav Suri said: “Santosh’s style and precision feels synonymous with The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group’s core ethos, and we have confidence his extensive experience will offer a new level of dining for guests.” Shah added: “I am excited to be joining The Lalit London and embarking on this new journey with such an iconic hospitality group. I am looking forward to bringing my own inspiration and dishes to this new and exciting Indian dining destination.”
Chicken sandwich concept Butchies to operate summer season at John Lewis’ Oxford Street rooftop space: Chicken sandwich concept Butchies is to operate at the rooftop space on John Lewis’ flagship Oxford Street store during the venue’s Summer of Sound event. Butchies will add new offerings to its buttermilk chicken sandwich menu for the event, including the Freddie Mercu-Bee (smoky bacon and chilli-infused organic honey sourced from London beekeepers). New sides will include chilli honey-fried halloumi, and a kale, avocado and almond salad. There will also be retro ice-cream sandwiches from Happy Endings Desserts, including strawberry parfait and malted milk, Hot Dinners reports. The rooftop space will also feature the Fever-Tree Gin & Tonic Garden, with London-based Background Bars serving wine, beer and cocktails. Summer of Sound will launch on Saturday, 5 May with a focus on music, including gigs and DJ sets alongside private dining spaces in “immersive sound studios”, each with their own playlist. Butchies was founded by Garrett and Emer Fitzgerald and opened its debut bricks and mortar site in Shoreditch in November last year. Earlier this month, Butchies was revealed as one of the operators at Try Market Halls’ next-level food hall in Fulham.
Locked In A Room secures third site, in Bristol: Escape room company Locked In A Room has secured its third site, in Bristol. The company has taken a ten-year lease on a 7,500 square foot first-floor unit overlooking Millennium Square, part of Canada Life Investments’ Harbourside development. Locked In A Room’s other sites are in Milton Keynes and London. Managing director Jon Pfaff told Insider Media: “We are gathering a reputation for being significantly additive to our food and beverage neighbours because of our higher-spending corporate client base. Bristol Harbourside is a superb location and a fantastic fit to our debt-free and organically growing portfolio. We will announce further significant and carefully selected openings in the near future.” Canada Life Investments fund manager Andrew MacLaren added: “The escape room concept started as a Japanese craze and has really taken off in the UK, becoming a popular activity in the competitive socialising world.” Cushman & Wakefield, JLL and Insight Retail advised Canada Life Investments, while AGL advised Locked In A Room.
Douglas Jack – Domino’s Pizza performing ‘ahead of expectations’: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said Domino’s Pizza is performing “ahead of expectations”. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 425p following the company’s first-quarter results, Jack said: “Total UK and Republic of Ireland sales grew by 10.4% in the first quarter, with the UK up 10.6% helped by last year’s strong expansion (95 new stores). Like-for-like sales rose by 3.5% in Ireland, held back by many stores being unable to open during March’s snowfall, without which Ireland like-for-like sales would have been up 6.5%. The new buffalo chicken pizza has been successful but value (£7 average spend per head, no delivery fee) and convenience continue to be the main drivers of like-for-like sales growth. GPS tracker is now in 541 stores, of which more than 400 allow customers to track their deliveries. UK online sales growth (delivery and collection) accelerated to 16.2% in the first quarter (versus 14.5% in the fourth quarter) and are now at 78.9% of UK system sales. Nine stores opened in the UK in the first quarter. The slowdown in pace merely reflects some planned January openings occurring in December. Franchisees remain as keen as ever to open stores. We continue to forecast 70 new UK stores in 2018E, with franchisees expanding in high-footfall locations helping to increase collection from 33% towards more than 40% of orders. This should drive substantial labour, distribution and marketing efficiencies. Franchisee Ebitda per mature store was £155,000 in 2017, versus a historical average capex of circa £250,000, representing a 63% share of store Ebitda (Domino’s earns 37%), a higher absolute Ebitda and share of Ebitda than franchisees make in the US and Australia, and four times the profitability of its UK traditional pizza delivery competitors. Given this and the ability to sell mature stores for more than £1.4m, it is unsurprising franchisees are so keen to expand. Overseas trading was strong in the first quarter. Like-for-like sales rose by 12.0% in Switzerland, 2.0% in Iceland, 10.3% in Norway and 55.7% in Sweden. Two overseas stores opened in the quarter. With food cost inflation slowing to 3.5% to 4% from 5% and like-for-like sales accelerating, franchisee profitability should be growing. Domino’s confidence is reflected in £21.1m of share buy backs in the first quarter. With it targeting 1.75 to 2.5 times net debt/Ebitda, we estimate the company could potentially buy back another £130m to £230m over the next two years. Given this, the profit before tax upgrade risk, and the company’s increasing market dominance, we recommend buying the shares.”
Meantime ‘lets its beer do the talking’ as it is revealed as ‘mystery brewer’ behind giveaway: Greenwich-based Meantime has been revealed as the “mystery brewer” behind a blind beer-tasting event in London. Meantime offered free pints of its London Pale Ale – a 4.3% ABV beer made with American cascade and centennial hops with Kentish goldings – across more than 200 venues in the capital on Thursday (26 April) to people who pre-registered as part of the Free Proper Beer giveaway. The pint was served without branding to “let the beer do the talking”, with those who redeemed their beer sent a text revealing the identity of the brewer and beer. Meantime general manager Laura Edwards told Propel: “We believe in and are proud of the quality of our beer and this was an opportunity to let consumers know how good craft is. It also meant they had no preconceptions. We’ve had great support from operators and hopefully we were able to drive some extra footfall into their venues.” Edwards said that while the giveaway was about promoting craft and the Meantime philosophy, all beer had a role to play in the market place. She added: “There is such a great variety of beer around these days and the craft movement is growing – and adding even more value.”
Kerb extends catering arm to 20 venues with three deals: Street food business Kerb has extended its catering arm to 20 venues after becoming official suppliers to Somerset House, the Natural History Museum and Chiswick House. Kerb began as an eight-trader street food collective in 2012 and now operates six markets in London. Through its private events arm, it is bringing food and entrepreneurship off the streets and into some of London’s best-known venues. Head of events Alana Buckley said: “Clients are looking for new and exciting methods of entertaining and guests are more focused on the quality and authenticity of the food being served at events. Kerb has been able to meet these client needs with our incredible line-up of street food traders and interesting and locally focused bar offer.”
Saltaire Brewery receives SALSA Plus Beer accreditation: West Yorkshire-based Saltaire Brewery has received industry-recognised endorsement for its beer. The company has been awarded SALSA Plus Beer accreditation, which is supported by Cask Marque and gives buyers and consumers confidence about the product they are buying. Managing director Ewen Gordon said: “In an increasingly competitive industry we know how important consistency and quality is to our trade customers and every discerning beer drinker. This means we consider every detail in the production of our beers and going for national recognition from SALSA made sense when our focus has always been aligned to the principles SALSA stands for.” A SALSA Plus Beer audit has been developed in association with Cask Marque to offer small brewers and micro-brewers a standard that is tailored to the scale and structure of their operation and which allows approved members to approach buyers with reinforced confidence with their craft ale and beer.
Asahi UK launches Super Dry campaign with focus on immersive experiences: Premium beer business Asahi UK has launched a major advertising campaign for its Super Dry brand. The company will also embark on a series of partnerships to see the newly relaunched brand at the “forefront of immersive experiences” across London this summer. The Remastered By Japan campaign is featuring on more than 600 display sites in the capital along with larger-scale placements in prominent locations. A social media campaign will also run nationally, while there will be a number of tie-ups with experiences, gigs and film screenings. Asahi UK director of brand marketing Laura Mitchell said: “We’re delighted to be partnering with some truly exciting experiences that feed consumer curiosity and showcase the brand in a contemporary manner.” Last month, Asahi UK strengthened its management team by appointing Pete Rowe as on-trade sales director and Steve Young as his off-trade counterpart. The appointments come after Tim Clay was promoted to managing director in January