Clockjack founders raise £1m to launch rotisserie chicken delivery business: Private equity veteran Fraser Duncan has raised £1m to launch a rotisserie chicken delivery business to tap into the UK’s growing takeaway market. Duncan, a former managing director at Terra Firma who sits on the board of Odeon, has now set up a kitchen “delivery hub” in the City, using the funding from 30 angel investors as the base for his business. He has teamed up with former Center Parcs Europe chief operating officer Jerry Goldberg to start the business, inspired by two rotisserie chicken restaurants the pair already run. Clockjack’s kitchen has been trialling a roasted chicken menu for two months, sending out nearly 300 birds a week mostly to corporate clients, but is set to launch later this month with a new website and on Deliveroo, the London-based delivery app. With the capacity to cook nearly 50 birds an hour on a rotisserie grill, Duncan said Clockjack is set to hit sales of £50,000 a week, “well above average for any restaurant in the area”. He told The Sunday Telegraph: “We’ve now discovered that a delivery site halves the costs of running a restaurant and needs virtually no capital-spend.” The pair, who retain a 40% stake in the business between them, are being aided in the venture by restaurateur David Moore, who owns two Michelin-star eateries, who has helped devise the menu. Duncan added: “We get food out the door in five minutes after an order which isn’t possible in a restaurant. It’s not going to replace dining out but the odd occasion when you can’t be bothered to cook but still want a healthy meal.” Takeaways are now worth £9bn to the UK economy, according to analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, which said the market has grown 4.6% annually since 2009.
Burning Night Group starts expansion of Potting Shed concept with second Yorkshire site: Burning Night Group has opened its second Potting Shed bar and restaurant following an £800,000 refurbishment of a former Hodgsons pub in Beverley, East Yorkshire. London-based investment management firm Downing invested £3m in January via its Pub EIS Fund to facilitate the roll-out of the “Potting Shed Bar and Gardens” concept, which was developed by Burning Night Group at a pub in Bingley, near Leeds, last year. Work included adding an enclosed roof terrace and a new bar dining area, as well as five brightly coloured sheds on the patio that double up as family seating areas. The Potting Shed brand features homemade food with a focus on pizzas and burgers served alongside cocktails, artisan spirits and an on-trend selection of beers. Operations director Nick Merrick told the Hull Daily Mail: “We’re not about turnover and profit, we want this place to be about personality and heart.” Burning Night Group operates bars and bierkellers in cities including Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and Cardiff. Merrick said the company was looking to expand the concept further across Yorkshire during the next 12 months.
Castle Rock Brewery opens 22nd pub: Castle Rock Brewery, the Nottingham-based brewer and pub company, has opened its 22nd site, in Kimberley. The company has relaunched the Cricketer’s Rest, which it acquired from Greene King last month for an undisclosed sum. The pub in Chapel Street has undergone refurbishment and serves a range of Castle Rock ales and other beers along with food. Castle Rock chairman Geoff Newton told the Nottingham Post: “This place fits with us – we’re not loud, high street or city centre. We’re very much community driven and The Cricketer’s Rest fits in with this perfectly. Kimberley is a big strong community too.” At the time of the acquisition, Newton said the company was looking to acquire further sites in the East Midlands.
M&B opens second Miller & Carter site in Surrey: Mitchells & Butlers has opened its second Miller & Carter steakhouse in Surrey after converting a Harvester site in Bagshot. General manager Martyn Jackson said the site in London Road had already proved popular with passing trade during the regeneration process, causing a “huge amount of excitement”. He told Get Surrey: “We’ve got bookings all the way through to November already. People are really excited and the phones haven’t stopped ringing. People have already been trying to get in for steaks at midday to 11pm so there’s a huge vibe about it.” Miller & Carter has more than 40 sites in the UK, including its other Surrey restaurant in Ottershaw.
Beds and Bars attains Investors in People platinum status: Pan-European hostel and bar company Beds and Bars has become one of only seven companies in the UK to achieve the new Platinum Standard set out by the latest Investors in People (IIP) framework. Beds and Bars (then Interpub) first attained IIP status in 1998, when chief executive Keith Knowles’ late wife Franca started the initiative within the company. Beds and Bars managing director Murray Roberts said: “I am delighted with the recognition from IIP. We know we put our people first and invest in training and development, but it’s always useful to have that validated by an external company.” HR and training manager Mark Vaughan added: “It’s great the company is being recognised for all the hard work every employee puts in to ensuring a constant improvement in team and performance. It’s important to us that the foundation Franca laid down is being maintained and improved, so this seems a fitting tribute to a greatly missed and crucial member of our senior team.”
Michelin-starred chef plans West Midlands restaurant chain after overhauling Birmingham venue: Birmingham chef Richard Turner has ambitious plans to launch a chain of restaurants in the region after overhauling his Michelin-starred venue. Turner will open the doors of Turners at 69 this week following a refurbishment programme and devising a new menu aimed at a wider audience. He opened his eponymous restaurant in Harborne, which has had a Michelin star for the past seven years, in 2007. He told The Business Desk: “With the old restaurant, it became very personal and everything is based around me and my cooking. But with the changes and what we’re doing now, it can be translated into other places and other people will be able to do it. We’re going to change the menu and give customers more power in what they want. It will be considerably cheaper and, although the quality of the cooking and food will stay the same, it will just be a lot simpler. If this new idea works in Harborne, I will want to open restaurants in Sutton Coldfield, Lichfield, Solihull and bring the restaurant to other places too. I have no plans to make it go nationwide. I quite like living and working in Birmingham and I don’t know if I would want to do anything out of the area when there are so many opportunities around here.”
The Stable opens Bournemouth site after six-year wait: The Stable, 76% owned by Fuller’s, has finally opened a restaurant in Bournemouth six years after it started searching for a suitable site in the Dorset town. In 2009, Richard and Nikki Cooper opened their first site for The Stable in Bridport, and hoped to start expansion with a second site in Bournemouth. Their new restaurant has now opened in the town’s former tourist information centre in Westover Road, transforming it into one of the largest Stable restaurants so far and the company’s 16th UK site. Nikki Cooper told the Daily Echo: “When we first started The Stable six years ago we had an ambition to open our second restaurant in Bournemouth – but couldn’t find a site. Finally we have realised this and are delighted to open our ‘cathedral to cider’ in such a prominent building.” The drinks menu will feature more than 80 ciders alongside a full wine list, craft beer, pressed apple juice and coffee. The other Stable venues are in Bath, Bristol, Birmingham, Cheltenham, Cardiff, Falmouth, Fistral, Kew Bridge, Northampton, Whitechapel, Winchester, Weymouth, Plymouth, Southampton and Poole. The next site due to open is in Exeter.
Domino’s Pizza signs music services agreement with Virtual Jukebox: Domino’s Pizza has signed an agreement with leading interactive music service Virtual Jukebox to supply music services across key franchises. Having never incorporated music in its outlets before, the deal will enable Domino’s franchisees to engage with more customers through one of the most comprehensive music libraries in the world. The partnership comes after extensive testing and evaluation of the cloud-based service throughout a number of Domino’s venues. Domino’s said it hopes the relationship will complement its plans of daily expansion by using the music service to improve staff morale, enhance customer waiting experience and boost brand perception. Franchisee Mike Racz said: “Following our trial period with Virtual Jukebox, we saw an immediate improvement in morale amongst our staff, not just at my franchise but across stores nationwide. Not only is the service simple to use and manage, saving staff valuable time, the extensive music selection offers customers a more enjoyable waiting experience, something we feel will help improve our brand perception and set us apart from our competitors.” Virtual Jukebox director Chris Turner added: “Conducting a trial with Domino’s and its franchises demonstrated the considerable number of commercial benefits of playing music within its takeaway venues and has shown ways in which the company can improve engagement with its customers. We are delighted to be able to support Domino’s with its plans of future expansion and to achieve continued success.” The deal with Domino’s follows on from Virtual Jukebox’s recent agreement with brewer and retailer Greene King.
The Restaurant Group expected to slash dividend: The Restaurant Group is expected to slash its dividend this week, capping a miserable years for investors. The company has issued a series of profit warnings since the start of the year and replaced its chairman, chief executive and finance director. Its shares have plunged nearly 40% in the past 12 months to close on Friday (19 August) at 426p. Now analysts expect the company to cut its payout to shareholders when it reports first half results on Friday (26 August). Cenkos leisure analyst Simon French has forecast a 12% cut from the 17.4p a share returned to investors last year. The company has suffered from intense competition in the mid-market dining sector. In particular, The Restaurant Group’s main brands have been hit by a decline in shoppers to out-of-town retail parks, where many of its outlets are based. In April, then chief executive Danny Breithaupt announced a strategic review and warned there had been no improvement in sales. He was ousted this month and will be replaced next month by Andy McCue, the former boss of bookmaker Paddy Power. Breithaupt’s departure followed that of finance director Stephen Critoph and chairman Alan Jackson. They were replaced respectively by former Monarch finance chief Barry Nightingale and Debbie Hewitt, who chairs Moss Bros and White Stuff. At its annual meeting in May, 27% of shareholders rejected the company’s remuneration report. The biggest problem for the company has been Frankie & Benny’s. The 260-strong family focused chain was a runaway success in the 2000s but has been overtaken by brands including Nando’s and Wagamama. The share price has rallied since McCue’s appointment was announced but the company, which expects to generate a pre-tax profit of between £74m and £80mthis year, is still seen as a prime target for a takeover.
Five Guys given go-ahead to open Norwich site: Better burger brand Five Guys has been given the go-ahead to open a restaurant in Norwich city centre after it dropped plans to site tables and chairs outside. Norwich City Council has given permission for Five Guys to start conversion of the former Pizza Hut site into a 120-cover restaurant, spread over two floors in the Orford Place building, ready for an opening on Monday, 17 October. The city council’s transport officer Kieran Yates and civic watchdog The Norwich Society had objected to the plans, citing “unacceptable congestion” caused by the proposed street furniture. Founded in Arlington, Virginia, in 1986 by the Murrell family, and named after the five brothers who worked together to make the chain an international success, Five Guys has 46 restaurants in the UK, having opened its first in Covent Garden in 2013.
Buffet brand Tang’s secures third site, in Bracknell: Slough-based world buffet brand Tangs has secured its third site, this time in Bracknell, Berkshire. The company is launching the venue in The Lexicon, the new shopping centre due to open in the town next spring. Tang’s, which is also opening restaurants in Slough and Southend, has agreed a deal on an 8,350 square foot unit in the shopping centre’s Eagle Lane food quarter. It was revealed by the Bracknell Regeneration Partnership as one of four brands that will take up space at the complex. The other companies to secure sites are Australian stationary brand Smiggle, local family jeweller Beaverbrooks, and international sports shop Foot Locker. Simon Russian, development manager for Legal & General, on behalf of the Bracknell Regeneration Partnership, told Get Reading: “The growing list of retailers choosing to open new stores at The Lexicon is big testament to the attractive and vibrant new town centre that is currently being built.”
Swindon entrepreneur launches £1m restaurant and nightclub: Entrepreneur Alan Mok has combined his two Swindon restaurants into one site to create the £1m Rendezvous restaurant and Tree nightclub, creating 70 jobs. The new venue in Hooper’s Place, Old Town, is a 250-cover restaurant offering oriental cuisine, which turns into an 800-capacity nightclub featuring VIP booths, event hostesses, aerial acts, and cocktail classes. Mok told the Swindon Advertiser: “We have invested a lot of money – we want Old Town to be booming. I want to create somewhere for everyone to have a good time at a reasonable price and the best food, service, lighting and sound. I also wanted somewhere really different. I think Swindon deserves it.”
New pizza restaurant concept opens in Scunthorpe, owners aim to build 30-strong UK estate: A new pizza restaurant concept has opened in Scunthorpe with its owners aiming to build a 30-strong UK chain. Italian brothers Adrian and Johnny Smarnda have launched Trenta Pizza in Home Street, which uses authentic ingredients from Naples. As well as a 30-cover restaurant, there is also a takeaway service. Adrian Smarnda told the Scunthorpe Telegraph: “Trenta is the Italian word for 30. That’s the number of sites we eventually hope to operate in the UK. Our pizzas are probably dearer than our rivals but that’s because we import the ingredients from Italy to ensure our customers eat the genuine article.” Trenta is open from Sunday to Wednesday between 2pm and 11pm and from Thursday to Saturday between 11am and 11pm.
American retro diner concept Moloko launches in Liverpool: American retro diner concept Moloko has launched in Liverpool, with a nod to cult movie A Clockwork Orange. Peter Kane, who heads the creative team behind the concept and who also designed the Blind Tiger bar in Seel Street, told the Liverpool Echo: “It’s a pop art American retro diner that transforms into a crucial new bar concept. The name comes straight from A Clockwork Orange and its Moloko Plus milk cocktails.” The menu includes American salt beef hash with hollandaise sauce and cola barbecue glaze, and deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Shakes include the “Pint of Filth” – an Oreo and caramel shake with a shot of honey bourbon or banana liqueur. All signature shakes are offered as a soft shake or a “go hard” option, where customers can have alcohol added. There will also be a retro frozen cocktail menu, including a classic Miami Vice, and a signature Moloko S’Moretini.
Father and son restaurant directors disqualified for trading insolvently: Father and son Robert and Brett Newmark have been disqualified from acting as company directors for five years and three-and-a-half years respectively, for causing and allowing a company to trade while insolvent. The Newmarks were directors of Rosslyn Hill (trading name Beach Blanket Babylon), operating restaurants and bars trading out of premises in Ledbury Road, west London, and Bethnal Green Road in east London. Although Companies House records showed Robert Newmark had officially resigned from being a company director on 7 February 2013, he continued to act in the capacity of a director of Rosslyn Hill. The records also revealed Robert Newmark was subject to a four-year disqualification from 21 April 2015 and, as such, was not allowed to be a director. Robert Newmark advised HMRC in November 2013 that Rosslyn Hill did not have the funds to pay its outstanding tax liabilities. However the company continued to trade and at liquidation in June 2014, its deficiency was £1,186,532, of which HMRC was owed £1,021,477 in relation to arrears of VAT, PAYE and National Insurance Contributions. These outstanding taxes date to November 2013 and continued to increase until liquidation. Company records show that from November 2013, Robert Newmark received payments of at least £267,463.
Family-owned firm Gretna Green adds third hotel to portfolio: Family-owned tourism and hospitality firm Gretna Green has added a third hotel to its portfolio in the Scottish border town after acquiring 97-bedroom Gretna Hall, one of the region’s largest hotels, for an undisclosed sum. Gretna Hall was owned by a London-based property firm since 2006 and employs 55 staff. The company launched its first hotel in the Scottish town – Smiths – in 2006 and, eight years later, rescued the former Garden House Hotel from administration, spending £1m to transform it into Greens at Gretna. Managing director Alasdair Houston told the News & Star: “The team working at Gretna Hall has done a great job but for many years there has been no clear leadership and vision for the future. The business has not been getting the love, care and attention it deserves. We hope to put that right and offer opportunities for existing and new members of staff to develop and join us on our journey as the business grows.” Gretna Green also owns and operates the Famous Blacksmith’s Shop in Gretna Green, Scotland’s most-visited privately-owned attraction. The company employs 300 staff.
Black Sheep Brewery ales receive international honours: Yorkshire-based Black Sheep Brewery has seen four of its ales scoop awards at the International Beer Challenge 2016. Riggwelter, a 5.9% ABV ruby ale, was awarded a gold medal while Black Sheep Ale, Golden Sheep Ale and Monty Python’s Holy Grail all claimed bronzes. In addition, Riggwelter was the UK winner in the English Brown Ale category at the World Beer Awards and has advanced to the global stage, where it will compete against the other national winners. It completes a hat-trick for Riggwelter after it was shortlisted in the final of the strong bitter category at the Great British Beer Festival. Black Sheep Brewery sales and marketing director Jo Theakston said: “We are extremely proud to have been recognised for our quality at a number of our industry’s top awards. It is testament to the hard work and dedication of our brewing team, who have continually produced award-winning beers over the years. Riggwelter has developed into our flagship strong ale and it is fantastic that it has been recognised in several awards, as well as some of our other popular beers, which is fully deserved.”
Bath-based hotel operator acquires third site in city: Bath-based hotel operator Bath Boutique has acquired its third site in the city. The company, owned by Michael and Sarah Jones, has bought the ten-bedroom One Three Nine Bath Hotel, with support from Royal Bank of Scotland. It is Bath Boutique’s third acquisition in five years as it aims to develop a small group of boutique guest houses and hotels in the city. Michael Jones told Insider Media: “Bath is a city that is highly competitive for our industry but we do feel we have tapped into the right market for UK and overseas visitors looking for something a little bit special. Across all three properties, we are seeing an uplift in customer bookings this year as we embark on the busy summer season ahead; we are pretty much fully booked until the end of October and, beyond that, bookings are looking very healthy so we couldn’t be more pleased.” The company bought Brindleys Boutique B&B in 2011, followed by Grays in 2013. The portfolio currently features a combined 28 bedrooms, with 25 staff employed across the three properties.