Comptoir Group raises £4m through share placing to fund four new sites: Comptoir Group reports it has raised £4m via a placing of 26,666,667 new shares at a price of 15p per share to fund four new sites. The company said the shares had been conditionally placed by Cenkos Securities, as agent for Comptoir Group, with the board, institutional and other investors. The placing will fund the opening of two new restaurants before the end of the current financial year and a further two sites in 2018. Non-executive chairman Richard Kleiner said: “The company announced within its interim results on 15 September it required further funds to meet its financing needs associated with the opening of two new sites before the end of the current financial year. I am pleased to be able to report the company has raised the minimum of £2m financing and, in addition, a further £2m to target further openings in 2018. I am pleased to report the company has continued to see during September the stronger trading the group experienced in July and August and the board retains its confidence of achieving expectations for the full 2017 financial year.”
Black Sheep Brewery restructures business in bid to return to profitability: Yorkshire-based Black Sheep Brewery has restructured its business in a bid to return to profitability. The company saw turnover fall to £17,997,868 for the year ending 31 March 2017, compared with £18,257,605 the year before. Pre-tax losses increased to £635,786 compared with a loss of £607,434 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Writing in the accounts, managing director Robert Theakston said: “Our strategic aims as we focus on the turnaround of Black Sheep have always been to move the business back on to a stable platform without compromising the brand integrity and guarding cash at all costs. Battling in the face of a fast-changing market, with more than 1,900 brewers in the UK as well as political uncertainty, consumer confidence and Brexit to name but a few, has meant we have had to take a longer-term approach to the turnaround than we would have liked. Time has been spent implementing strategic change, focusing on the areas such as sales, production and marketing that will help us build a platform that will undoubtedly lead to a profitable business. These themes have been at the forefront of our efforts through this year and we have pushed harder to execute the changes necessary to be able to see the effects of these changes in the new financial year. Year-on-year we have held volumes in the on and off-trades. Our operating loss for the year was £437,000 (2016: £439,000), of which £280,000 related to one-off costs associated with the reshaping of the business, resulting in an underlying operating loss of £157,000 (2016: £276,000). Key, however, is that we have seen our underlying operating loss reduce by 43% year-on-year. The effects of the changes we have made and the full-year effect of the procurement project that ran through this year will be seen in the 2017/18 financial year. We have had a number of targeted initiatives that will deliver a minimum of £100,000 in savings in overheads year-on-year. The challenge now is to build on the good work we have done so far and continue to develop the top-line sales. All the team are focused on delivering that and we have started the new financial year in a positive fashion.” Earlier, this week, the company appointed former Punch director Andy Slee as its new chairman.
Healthy recipe box startup Mindful Chef raises more than £1m in second crowdfunding campaign: Healthy recipe box startup Mindful Chef has raised more than £1m in a second round of crowdfunding. The “farm to fork” business, founded by Robert Grieg-Gran, Giles Humphries and Myles Hopper in 2015, was looking to raise £1m on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. So far, 174 investors have pledged £1,029,120 with 30 days remaining. The largest investment to date is £600,000. Grieg-Cran said: “Our campaign has only been accessible to our customer base for the past six days and we have been truly overwhelmed by the response. Part of the rationale for raising funding on Crowdcube was to attract new customers to our small business.” The pitch states: “We started the business to help people eat healthily – our belief was the easiest way to maintain a healthy diet is to have all the ingredients, together with a recipe card, delivered to your door. We focus on the healthy and premium end of the recipe box market and ship all the ingredients you need to make two-to-five evening meals, all with fresh British produce (when available) and no refined carbs (no pasta, no white rice, no bread). We have shipped more than 500,000 meals and, in the past 12 months, have grown from £20,000 per week to £80,000 per week in sales. Our average customer spends more than £40 per week with us (buying three meals for two people). Within the first 12 weeks we have typically paid back our marketing spend. After that, the average active customer makes seven purchases per quarter. We plan to spend about £2m on marketing in the next 12 months. We also intend to spend an additional £250,000 on technology.” Last year, Mindful Chef raised more than £1m on crowdfunding platform Seedrs, when its investors included Tossed founder Vincent McKevitt and tennis star Andy Murray.
Punch operations director Giles Kendall to leave the business: Punch operations director Giles Kendall is to leave the business after 16 years. Reflecting on his time with Punch, he said: “It has been a roller-coaster experience with initially Pubmaster and then Punch, but one that has been both incredible and unforgettable. Punch and the pub industry has changed so much in a relatively short space of time, and it’s been fantastic to have been “in the thick of it” while those changes have taken place. It really has been a fast moving, challenging but also an incredible place to work. The people I’ve worked with over the years have been amazing and I’ve made some great friends, but now it’s time to move on to another chapter for me in the pub industry.” Punch interim chief executive Steve Dando added: “On a personal note, I’ve worked with Giles for many years and I would like to wish him well on behalf of everyone in the company and the very best for the future.” Dando stepped up from his position as Punch’s chief financial officer earlier this month to stand in for Duncan Garrood, who decided to leave the business following the acquisition of Punch by Patron Capital and the sale of 1,900 Punch pubs to Heineken.
BrewDog opens Oxford bar for 30th UK site: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has opened its latest bar, in Oxford. The new venue offers 15 draft lines alongside a wide range of bottled beer from around the world to drink in or take away. It also has an outdoor drinking space and offers BrewDog’s burger menu. The company said a bar in Oxford had long been in the pipeline but finding a suitable location had “proved difficult”. The Cowley Road venue was chosen after a tip-off from Equity for Punks (investors) about its availability. BrewDog co-founder James Watt said: “This bar is an exemplification of the commitment our Equity Punks have for sharing our collective passion for craft beer. They took on the task of becoming scouts for new sites and found an amazing location. Oxford’s craft beer scene has been growing steadily in recent years and we’re proud to join forces with other brewers standing up for innovation, imagination and taking risks.” Oxford is BrewDog’s 30th UK bar, with further openings set for Edinburgh and Glasgow. It also operates 17 international sites. Earlier this month, Propel learned BrewDog is eyeing Equity for Punks Five, a fifth round of crowdfunding, to fill a £90m funding gap as it aims to become a company worth £5bn.
Castle Rock Brewery finance director resigns: Tynemill, the Nottingham-based brewer and pub operator that trades as Castle Rock Brewery, has announced the resignation of finance director Jonathan Cox. Managing director Colin Wilde said: “Jon can be proud of what he has achieved in his three-and-a-half years on board. On his leaving at the end of the year, he will know he has set up a robust accounting system and a strong team well able to provide a solid base for our businesses to build on. I thank him for his contribution and wish him well in his move away from the East Midlands.”
Aprirose acquires QHotel portfolio for £525m: Real estate investment company Aprirose, which acquired a 73-asset portfolio from Mitchells & Butlers in July that will operate under new pub company banner Milton Pubs and Taverns, has acquired hotel group QHotel from Bain Capital Credit and Canyon Partners for £525m. QHotel’s portfolio includes 26 five and four-star hotels, with 3,680 bedrooms across the UK including spa hotels and golf resorts. The acquisition, which is the largest hotel transaction this year so far, was funded by Aprirose and its international investors, including China’s Cindat Capital Management. Aprirose has appointed Redefine BDL Hotels to manage the hotels. Aprirose chief operating officer Gary Jones told The Business Desk: “This acquisition is part of a wider strategy and takes our portfolio to circa £1.7bn of assets under management. We have the resources to continue to grow our balance sheet and remain keen to purchase further UK real estate over a variety of asset classes that will show good returns.” Aprirose was advised by Colliers, West Ridge, KPMG and Dentons. Bain Capital Credit and Canyon Partners were advised by Eastdil Secured, Deloitte, DLA and Jones Day. Aprirose’s purchase of the Mitchells & Butlers portfolio consisted of 65 freehold and eight leasehold properties in England, Scotland and Wales. The deal was Aprirose’s first management contract in the pub sector. It appointed pub operator LT Management Services to manage the assets. The acquisition made Aprirose the 11th-largest managed pub group in the UK, with tenants including Greene King, Marston’s and Punch.
Cinnamon Collection to open third Cinnamon Kitchen, at Battersea Power Station in November: The Cinnamon Collection, which is owned by Boparan Restaurants, will open its third Cinnamon Kitchen, at the Battersea Power Station development in November. It will add to the Cinnamon Kitchen sites in the City and its forthcoming venue in Oxford, which opens at the Westgate Centre next month. The new 120-cover, 4,700 square foot restaurant, housed in a railway arch, will include a large destination feature bar on the ground floor, an open-plan kitchen, a semi-private chef’s table, and a private mezzanine dining room overlooking the restaurant seating an additional 20 diners. There will also be an outdoor terrace with views of the Thames seating a further 12 people. Drawing inspiration from the urban backdrop of the grade II-listed power station, the interior will feature stripped-back decor with an industrial vibe. The restaurant will also be the first venue to offer food and alcohol delivery to residents in the immediate area. The bar operation will also be a key focus, with urban-inspired, spice-infused craft cocktails. Executive chef and chief executive Vivek Singh said: “We have consciously decided to open new restaurants in historic buildings and locations – The Cinnamon Club housed in the grade II-listed Old Westminster Library, Cinnamon Kitchen City in the historic East India Trading Company spice warehouses, Cinnamon Kitchen launching in the culturally rich city of Oxford, and we are now thrilled to be opening the third Cinnamon Kitchen by the iconic Battersea Power Station later this year. The Power Station was originally built in 1860 and has been closed for more than 25 years. We are excited to be a part of the urban regeneration taking place and look forward to extending the Cinnamon Kitchen’s brand reach south of the river.”
Innis & Gunn strengthens board following private equity investment: Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn has strengthened its board with three new appointments following the investment by L Catterton, the largest consumer-focused private equity firm in the world. Innis & Gunn director of UK sales Crawford Sinclair has joined the board along with Jean-Philippe Barade, a partner at L Catterton and head of its London office, and the firm’s investment director Caroline Folleas. Sinclair, who joined Innis & Gunn in 2010, has almost 20 years’ experience in the beer industry and under his leadership the UK market has grown to represent more than half of the company’s global sales. Innis & Gunn chairman Tony Hunt said: “Jean-Philippe and Caroline bring to our board L Catterton’s enormous experience of successfully building consumer brands in the UK and overseas and their expertise will help us to accelerate the growth of the brand internationally.”
Gunpowder team to launch Gul and Sepoy concept in Spitalfields next week for third London site: Harneet and Devina Baweja, the restaurateurs behind home-style Indian kitchen Gunpowder and Himalayan concept Madame D’s, are to launch a third concept in Spitalfields, east London, next week. The husband-and-wife team will launch Gul and Sepoy over two floors at a site in Commercial Street on Tuesday (3 October) featuring a “double menu” focusing on rustic or royal cuisine. Executive chef Nirmal Save’s royal menu will focus on dishes inspired by banquets held at Raj palaces in north west India, while the sepoy side will feature rustic dishes based on meals eaten by the Indian army on the move during the Victorian era. The upstairs dining room will have an air of luxury in a nod to the decadence of north India’s ancient royal palaces, including intricate wooden features and large marble feasting tables. Harneet Baweja said: “Commercial Street feels like home. We’ve been so warmly welcomed over the past few years with Gunpowder and Madame D’s and we’re looking forward to embarking on our next adventure with the friends we’ve met. There’s something really romantic and beautiful about the cooking of the Raj days and we’ve found those flavours and dishes harmonise well with more rustic cooking you’d find in historic tales of sepoys travelling through colonial India.”
Italian restaurant owner to open new venture in Kensington next month: Italian restaurant owner Claudio Gelmini is to open Enoteca Rosso in London next month. Gelemini, who owns and runs Il Cinghiale Rosso Milan, will launch the new venture in Kensington High Street on Monday, 9 October showcasing the “diversity of Italian regional wine and seasonal food”. The menu will feature a large selection of freshly made pasta and gnocchi, charcuterie, cheese, salads and freshly prepared Italian desserts. Hosting up to 70 covers, the restaurant’s interior will feature rustic touches such as terracotta wine racks set in a contemporary industrial room. There will be a mix of communal and private tables, a large open bar and a counter. Walls will be lined with rare Italian wines, sourced from small-batch producers, and across a range of vintages. This will also be the case in the restaurant’s private dining room for up to ten guests, named The Vault in homage to the site’s previous incarnation as a bank. The kitchen will be headed by Flavio Militello, who has worked in in some of Milan’s most prestigious hotels and restaurants. Gelmini, who will run front-of-house, said: “Enoteca Rosso will offer that particularly Italian way of eating, tasting and above all talking about food and wine – it’s about encapsulating the attitude and the passion. Italy is just 150 years old, made up of small nations, each of them influenced by the French, Germans, Slavs, Normans, Arabs and the Spanish. This, together with the extraordinary variety of landscapes and microclimates, has created the unique combination of food and wine – and that is what we are going to showcase.”
Kerb to relaunch Camden market space next month following revamp with five new street food traders: Street food business Kerb will relaunch its Camden Market space next month following a revamp and featuring five new traders. Kerb is rebuilding its 34-trader, 364-day-a-year street food market following 12 months of record-breaking trading, attracting more than 1.5 million people. It is bringing in new custom-built kiosks for the market traders and a new layout to maximise space. The market will relaunch on Saturday, 7 October with the five new traders being Jamaican soul food trader Only Jerkin’; cake specialist Wei Wei’s; new trader Bapitta; Spice Box, which serves vegan plant-powered Indian curry combo boxes; and The Big Cheese, a new project from the team behind Oh My Dog! Kerb head of markets Ian Dodds said: “This is the next stage in the life of Kerb Camden Market – a truer vision of our intentions for the site and another big step forward for London street food, with 34 brilliant traders in action seven days a week throughout the year.” Kerb also runs a fortnightly market in Paddington, lunchtime markets at West India Quay, London Bridge and King’s Cross, and a weekly event at the Gherkin.
St Austell Brewery ranks 175th in Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250 list: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has been ranked 175th in this year’s Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250 list. The company, which is a new entrant, saw sales grow 14% last year to a record £153m, helped by its acquisition of Bath Ales. Published this weekend, the 13th annual Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250 league table ranks Britain’s private mid-market growth companies with the biggest sales. St Austell Brewery chief executive James Staughton said: “This is obviously hugely important to us, confirming as it does the success of our mid and long-term business strategies for growth. Our acquisition and subsequent investment in Bath Ales has afforded us new scope for wider business development. This not only benefits us immediately in terms of revenue growth potential but is also great news for the wider local economy in terms of increased business and employment opportunities.”
Hollywood Bowl Group appoints Ivan Schofield as independent non-executive director: Hollywood Bowl Group, the UK’s largest ten-pin bowling operator, has appointed Ivan Schofield as an independent non-executive director. Schofield will take up his new role on Sunday (1 October). On appointment, he will become a member of the remuneration committee and the nomination committee. Hollywood Bowl Group stated: “Ivan has valuable and extensive experience in the leisure sector in the UK and across continental Europe, having held a number of senior roles for Yum! Brands over 15 years. This experience, coupled with consultancy work with LEK and as chief executive of Itsu UK Retail, makes Ivan’s experience a welcome and exciting addition to the board.”
JKS Restaurants to launch first of two Motu sites in London next month at new Deliveroo ‘dark kitchens’: JKS Restaurants is taking up spaces at two of Deliveroo’s new “dark kitchens” in London for its delivery-only Motu Indian Kitchen brand, with the first launching next month in Islington. The site will open on Tuesday, 17 October with the second in Swiss Cottage starting deliveries on Friday, 3 November, Hot Dinners reports. Both will feature dishes exclusive to their areas, with Motu Swiss Cottage offering Indo-Chinese specials, including chilli chicken and keema masala egg-fried rice, while Islington will go down the street food route with lamb shammi and aloo tikki bun kebabs. Deliveroo is opening six new “dark kitchens” in London featuring restaurant chefs and no dining rooms and serviced entirely by its riders. The other kitchens are in Whitechapel, Crouch End, Bermondsey and Wimbledon. Other restaurants thought to be partnering at the sites include MeatLiquor, Ahi Poke, Mother Clucker and Tommi’s Burger Joint. Earlier this month, JKS Restaurants opened a second London site for its Hoppers concept, which offers snacks from southern India and Sri Lanka. JKS Restaurants was founded by the Sethi family and also operates Michelin-starred Indian restaurants Gymkhana and Trishna, and gourmet hotdog and champagne concept Bubbledogs.
Chipotle and Honest Burgers sign with HGEM for cross-site customer feedback: Guest experience management expert HGEM is providing cross-site customer feedback to casual dining brands Chipotle Mexican Grill and London-based Honest Burgers, which is backed by Active Private Investment. HGEM will support Honest Burgers’ expansion through high-frequency mystery visits to gain feedback on guest experience at sites during their first key weeks of opening. HGEM will also assess guest experience at restaurant closing times, with late-night mystery visits across all Honest Burgers’ 23 sites. HGEM will work with Chipotle to measure and improve guest experience at its 12 sites in London and Paris. HGEM said it had already built an online feedback site for Chipotle. HGEM managing director Steven Pike said: “We’re delighted to be playing our part in supporting the growth and success of these two innovative brands. The important thing is nurturing a culture to reflect, understand and take positive action on the results.”
London-based honey craft beer company Hiver passes 50% mark in £350,000 crowdfunding campaign to expand and open second retail site: London-based honey craft beer company Hiver has passed the 50% mark in its £350,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it looks to expand and open a flagship retail site. The company, which was founded by Hannah Rhodes in 2013 and distributes to pub companies such as Young’s and Mitchells & Butlers, is offering an 8.05% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 179 people have pledged £177,020 with 13 days remaining. The pitch states: “We have successfully grown the brand out of its heartland in London, hitting a turnover of £472,000 in the year ending 2017 – 99% growth year-on-year. We have an ethical and sustainable approach to business, supporting pollinator charities and sourcing our ingredients and supplies only from the UK. Hiver is doing something unique, offering a different beer style in a booming craft market place and a unique flavour profile to consumers, which we’ve demonstrated has national appeal and real potential internationally. We are seeking to raise £350,000 to accelerate Hiver’s growth through building our sales and marketing team, investing in the Hiver brand and the new Putting The Bee Into Beer campaign, as well as launching a second retail site in summer 2018. As we grow we envisage forming partnerships in the UK and abroad to help realise potential for the business, which would create opportunities for acquisition. We can also see potential for share buybacks.”
Creams Cafe to open Ipswich site this weekend: Dessert cafe operator Creams Cafe is to open a site in Ipswich this weekend. The venue will open on the first floor of the Buttermarket Shopping Centre, close to Loungers brand Cosy Club, Wagamama, better burger brand Byron and Coast to Coast, which is owned by The Restaurant Group. Creams will also be next to a ten-pin bowling alley that is due to open in spring 2018. The 100-cover restaurant will feature ten separate booths, offering waffles, milkshakes, freakshakes and 36 varieties of Italian gelato-style ice cream. It will also offer a wide range of sundaes, including the hot chocolate fudge volcano, and crepes such as the Belgian banana burrito. Creams co-owner Avdeep Hundal told the Ipswich Star: “We have been training staff for the past two weeks. Everyone has had ten to 14 days training. Now we are ready to get started and to welcome the public.” The company, which was founded in London in 2008, currently operates more than 50 cafes in the UK. Venues listed on its website as “opening soon” include Canterbury, Enfield and Edgware.
Simon French issues ‘Sell’ note on SSP shares: Cenkos Securities leisure analyst Simon French has said he expects “no material change” to full-year expectations at SSP Group. Issuing a ‘Sell’ note on the shares with a target price of 501p, French said: “SSP Group has announced a solid pre-close trading update with fourth-quarter like-for-like sales growth of circa 3.0% and net contract gains of 8.5%, benefiting from Chicago Midway temporary unit operations and the deferral of other planned unit closures into FY18. Air sector performance remains strong benefiting from higher volumes. Rail sector remains soft. For FY17 the group is guiding to 11.4% constant currency revenue growth and 19.3% reported with 3.0% like-for-like growth and net contract gains of 5.8%. Operating margin trends from the first half (+30 basis points) have broadly continued into the second half. TFS (India) has performed well (fourth-quarter sales growth of 3.3%, full-year 2.9%) with its results expected to be ahead of expectations. Overall, though, we expect no material change to FY consensus expectations of £150.1m (source Bloomberg), which may disappoint the market given the elevated valuation of 27.1 times price-to-earnings ratio.”
Dundee entrepreneur opens luxury restaurant featuring Game of Thrones props: A Dundee entrepreneur has opened luxury restaurant Dynasty, featuring a Sistine Chapel-inspired ceiling and props from television show Game of Thrones. Usman Malik, who also owns Japanese restaurant Oshibori in the city, has launched Dynasty in Perth Road offering a chauffeur service and featuring a smart-dress code for evening meals. The menu focuses on dishes from around the world, including braised camel meatballs, slow-cooked mutton shoulder, and lamb’s brain masala. The venue also has its own tea room offering high tea that includes scones, sandwiches, pastries, canapés and champagne. An outdoor bar features the Game of Thrones props. Malik told The Courier: “The concept of Dynasty is to create an ambience of the renaissance and neo-classical periods, where people can enjoy their meal from different dynasties of the world.” Malik said he didn’t plan to have Game of Thrones features but stumbled across the props by accident. He said: “I was in Northern Ireland shopping for furniture for the restaurant and they told me they had some of the original features from Game of Thrones – clocks, a gazebo, a fountain and others. I love the show so I decided to buy them.”
Darwin & Wallace awarded three stars by SRA: Bar group Darwin & Wallace, which is backed by Imbiba, has been awarded a three-star Food Made Good rating by the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA). The rating is based on three areas of sustainability – sourcing, society and environment. Darwin & Wallace was praised for “celebrating local and seasonal food and sourcing better fish for a healthy ocean”. The company was also rated highly in its campaign to cut food waste and reduce recycling. Darwin & Wallace managing director Mel Marriott said: “The three-star rating is a real milestone for us and a credit to the Darwin & Wallace team and the wider network of people we work with. To our guests it conveys we care about their welfare as well as that of our team and our environmental impact.” Marriott launched Darwin & Wallace in 2012 and opened its fifth site, No 29 Power Station West, in Battersea at the end of July.
Coventry-based Twisted Barrel Ale relocates brewery to ramp up production and exports: Coventry-based brewer Twisted Barrel Ale is relocating to larger premises so it can ramp up production and exports. Twisted Barrel Ale will move from its 1,500 square foot site to a new 6,000 square foot home on Saturday, 7 October, which will allow the company to raise production to half a million pints a year. The move will also allow the company to increase its range of craft beer bottles and cans, while the brewery will house a new taproom. Twisted Barrel Ale currently brews seven core beers. Director Chris Cooper told Insider Media: “Demand has continued to rise over the past two years and we need more space. We are currently producing 120,000 pints a year and that should go up to 500,000 in the new building. Increasing the volume means we can grow our range of craft beer in bottles and cans and introduce more cask beer, which has been limited so far.” Twisted Barrel Ale is also expanding overseas. Director and head brewer Ritchie Bosworth said: “Canned beer is becoming increasingly popular and we have started exporting to Japan, Hong Kong and Germany.”