Byron chief executive to stand down: Andy Manders, chief executive of better burger brand Byron, has decided to step down for personal reasons after fewer than five months in the role. Manders, formerly of the Fired Earth retail chain, replaced Byron founder Tom Byng at the start of the year. Dalton Philips, the former boss of supermarket chain Wm Morrison, who joined Byron as non-executive chairman at the same time as Manders, is to become executive chairman and oversee the business until a new chief executive is found. A Byron spokesman said: “A search for a new chief executive is already under way and in the meantime Dalton Philips, Byron’s chairman, will act in the role of executive chairman until a new chief executive is in place. Andy will remain with the business for a few weeks to hand over his responsibilities to Dalton. He will leave with the best wishes of the whole business.” Byng decided to leave to pursue new entrepreneurial ventures but remains a shareholder and continues his involvement with Byron as an advisor to the board. Byron, which is owned by private equity group Hutton Collins, has 70 sites in the UK.
Revolution Bars Group appoints former Bill’s MD as director of food: Revolution Bars Group has appointed former Bill’s managing director Scott Macdonald as its director of food under contract. Macdonald will be responsible for reinforcing development of the food offering across the 67-strong Revolution and Revolución de Cuba estate. He will also oversee concept innovation to support the business’ next level of growth. Revolution Bars Group chief executive Mark McQuater said: “Scott will be instrumental in further enhancing food innovation within the group. His wealth of experience and fresh approach will support Revolution’s continued growth as we further develop our food offering.” Macdonald added: “I’m delighted to be working with Revolution Bars Group. The company has a reputation for forward thinking and I welcome the opportunity to help evolve the business further and be part of its continued success.” Macdonald has an abundance of experience in the hospitality sector. While at Bill’s he was the driving force behind the roll-out of 68 restaurants in four years.
Buzzworks Holdings to open Scotts site near Edinburgh as it expands into east Scotland: Buzzworks Holdings will bring its flagship restaurant brand Scotts to South Queensferry for its first site in east Scotland and 11th in total. The venue will open towards the end of the year at Port Edgar Marina, near Edinburgh, creating 60 jobs. It will be the company’s third Scotts site, joining venues in Troon and Largs, with the brand focusing on steak, signature cocktails and carefully curated wine lists. Buzzworks Holdings managing director Kenny Blair said: “This is another ambitious step in our continued growth strategy as we branch out from the west of Scotland. The venue will not only bring a new dining experience to the area but an opportunity for the local community to work with a company ranked 40th in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For.” Russell Aitken, managing director at Port Edgar Marina, added: “We’re delighted Buzzworks has chosen to locate its next restaurant at the marina, where diners will be able to enjoy quality food with stunning views of the Forth’s three bridges.” Buzzworks Holdings’ other sites are Elliotts in Prestwick, Lido venues in Prestwick and Troon, and House brands The Treehouse in Ayr, The Longhouse in Kilmarnock, The Mill House in Stewarton, The Corner House in Kilwinning and it latest venue, The Coach House in Bridge of Weir. The family-run business employs 400 staff and has a turnover of more than £15m.
Derby Brewing Co passes halfway mark in £500,000 crowdfunding campaign to support expansion: Derby-based brewer and retailer Derby Brewing Co has passed the halfway mark in its £500,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to support its expansion plans. The family-run company, founded by Trevor Harris in 2004, is offering a 6.5% stake in return for the investment. So far, 265 investors have pledged £264,890 with 14 days remaining. The funding would support the expansion of the brewery, the launch of a craft range and the addition of a new venue to its four-strong estate. The company operates The Tap, a specialist beer and spirit house with more than 75 beers and ciders and more than 70 spirits, in Derby; The Queen’s Head gastro-pub in Little Eaton; smoked food and crafthouse concept The Greyhound in Derby; and The Kedleston Country House, a bar, restaurant, boutique hotel and wedding venue in Quarndon. The pitch states: “The plan is to launch our Crafted range in keg and 330ml bottles for the 13 million Brits who have consumed a craft beer in the past six months; develop existing venues to increase capacity; open a new site in 2017, with further sites to follow; launch an additional premium bottled ale, with more to follow; export our range of premium ales and Crafted range internationally; and develop our current brewery, to increase capacity to include a bar and shop to enhance the brewery tour experience and further drive revenue. This will take revenues to nearly £4.5m by year-end 2018, with a focus of firmly establishing Derby Brewing Co in the craft beer market and taking it worldwide.” The company expects to generate turnover of £3.6m in its current financial year with Ebitda of £257,000.
Italian restaurant Wolf to start expansion with second London site: Italian restaurant Wolf in Stoke Newington, east London, is to start expansion by opening a second site in the capital. Wolf II will open within a shipping container in Finsbury Avenue Square, near Liverpool Street station, on Monday (8 May) offering a seasonal menu. Head chef Mattia Antonioni has moved from the debut Wolf restaurant to lead the kitchen at the City site, devising a menu with chef Ben Spalding, who has worked at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, The Ledbury, Fat Duck and Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. Takeaway breakfast options will include superfood pots and the “porko dio” or “piggy sausage roll”, a free-range pork sausage in homemade pastry with a parsley dressing. More decadent options will include a waffle filled with wild boar meat and fontina cheese. Wolf II will turn into a pasta bar at lunchtime and from 5pm transform again into an after-work aperitivo spot, offering a cicchetti menu of Italian tapas. The drinks list will focus on coffee and cocktails. The debut Wolf restaurant, launched in Stoke Newington High Street by Antony Difrancesco in August, will launch a brunch menu on Sunday, 13 May devised by new head chef Karla Knowles.
Franco Manca launches mobile and web ordering: Pizza brand Franco Manca, which is owned by Fulham Shore, has launched mobile and web ordering. The company has worked with Intelligent Business Systems (IBS) to introduce the software for sales and stock management, order tracking, and reporting. The solution can be used for takeaways and gift card sales using MyCheck’s Click & Collect online payment platform. It allows Franco Manca managers to choose daily specials for each restaurant via POSlink that are updated automatically on its mobile and web ordering sites. All online orders are automatically sent to the EPOS and kitchen, with sales and stock updated at the same time. Franco Manca finance director Nick Wong said: “IBS provides the common platform for all our brands and will do so in the future whenever we roll-out new brand concepts.” IBS managing director Gareth Powell added: “We help hospitality retailers achieve a seamless omnichannel customer experience through cross-channel data synchronisation, easy promotions and loyalty programmes. Fully automated and operating 100% in the cloud, our systems free them up to provide an enhanced level of personal customer service.” As well as the 34-strong Franco Manca brand, Fulham Shore owns and operates The Real Greek, which has 12 restaurants, and the single-site Bukowski Grill. A further 13 Franco Manca and three The Real Greek venues are set to open in the next year.
Manchester-based bar chain Oddworld puts portfolio on the market: Manchester-based bar chain Oddworld, which includes iconic Northern Quarter venue Odd, has put its three venues on the market. Odd bar opened in 2005, gaining a reputation for quality drinks, crafted food and its quirky atmosphere. The company expanded to open nearby venue The Blue Pig and Oddest Bar in the commuter village of Chorlton-cum-Hardy. Oddworld owner Cleo Farman told BDaily: “I’ve achieved so much with these bars and I’m delighted to see how the Northern Quarter has developed since I first opened Odd. Knowing the bars have contributed to the development of this unique area is special. It’s time I handed the reigns over to someone who can take the bars to the next stage of development. The sites have so much potential.” Benn Longshaw, of Sedulo Corporate Finance, which is representing Oddworld, confirmed the sale to Propel. He said: “The bars are some of the best in Manchester, with the Northern Quarter seeing phenomenal growth and Chorlton becoming one of the most desirable residential areas in Manchester.”
Oh You Pretty Things launches Champagne Stories concept in John Lewis partnership: Champagne and cocktail company Oh You Pretty Things has launched new concept Champagne Stories in partnership with John Lewis. The first champagne bar has opened in John Lewis’ flagship store in Oxford Street, London, on the fashion floor. It is the first of 11 sites Oh You Pretty Things aims to open in partnership with John Lewis. The bar offers a selection of branded champagne, wine and cocktails. Champagne Stories has also partnered with Thomson & Scott, purveyors of skinny champagne and skinny prosecco, to offer its range of low-sugar, certificated organic and vegan wine. It has also worked with chef and author Lizzie King, who has created a bespoke menu of healthy food to complement the drinks menu. Oh You Pretty Things co-founder Norris Panton said: “The idea for the name Champagne Stories was born out of our love of storytelling and champagne.” Karen Lord, head of John Lewis in Oxford Street, added: “We’re excited to have the Champagne Stories bar in our shop. We think our customers will love this offering, which complements our existing cafes and restaurants.” Oh You Pretty Things, which operates four other champagne and cocktail bars in UK shopping centres, is raising £750,000 on crowdfunding platform Growthdeck to support its expansion and is offering a 20% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 19 investors have pledged £421,000. The company is looking to grow to a 20-strong estate by 2020.
Fulham restaurant let to Brasserie Blanc bought for £2.7m: A restaurant unit in Fulham, south west London, let to Brasserie Blanc, the French restaurant group led by Raymond Blanc, has been acquired by investment firm Avignon Capital for £2.7m. The purpose-built restaurant unit is in Fulham Reach, a riverside development on Thames Pathway that is due to open in the summer. A lease term of 20 years from completion has been agreed with Brasserie Blanc, which will spend more than £1m on its own fit-out of the property. It will be the 19th site operated by Brasserie Blanc, which is the restaurant division of Brasserie Bar Co. Avignon Capital investment manager Phil Walker told Property Week: “Fulham Reach is a highly prestigious development and we are pleased to add this long-let leisure asset to our portfolio. The property benefits from having a 20-year straight lease to Brasserie Blanc, as well as being situated in an improving location with the addition of the Thames Pathway. We are continually looking to add similarly strong opportunities to our expanding UK portfolio.” The overall development will cover 646,000 square feet and bring 744 homes to the riverside as well as a further 45,000 square feet of retail, leisure and office accommodation.
Hollywood Bowl Group opens 56th site, at Intu Derby featuring cashless amusement area: Hollywood Bowl Group, the UK’s largest ten-pin bowling operator, has opened a £2.4m site at the Intu Derby shopping centre featuring a cashless amusement area. The 22,000 square foot venue, which has created 30 jobs, is the company’s 56th to date and first in the East Midlands. The site has 18 lanes, including four digital VIP lanes where users can see action replays and share selfies on the screens. The venue includes a Hollywood Diner, as well as a full-size vintage Chevy car seating area. The menu includes gourmet burgers and hotdogs, and freshly made shakes served in retro milk bottles. The Diner sits alongside a new American-style bar serving house speciality cocktails. Hollywood Bowl Derby is also one of the first bowling centres in the country to offer a cashless “tap to play” amusement area in response to the growing trend for cashless facilities. Guests are able to top up “fun cards” with credits.
Pizza Pilgrims opens West India Quay restaurant for sixth London site: Pizza Pilgrims, co-founded by Thom and James Elliot, has opened its sixth London site, this time in West India Quay. Besides the brothers’ award-winning Neapolitan pizzas, the venue in Hertsmere Road offers a “pizza playground”, with a Nintendo linked to a large television, a huge table football catering for 22 players, an outdoor bowls court and an al fresco dining spot for 70 people. Signature pizzas such as Portobello mushroom and truffle will be joined by the Friggitoria, which has so far only been available in Pizza Pilgrims’ Carnaby site. In March, the company opened its fifth London site and first bring-your-own-beer venue – in Shoreditch High Street. Pizza Pilgrims also has an opening lined up in Waterloo, while its other sites are in Covent Garden, Soho, and Exmouth Market. It also has a residency at crazy golf concept Swingers in the City. All restaurants offer a takeaway service, while Pizza Pilgrims also operates a Piaggio Ape van called Conchetta at outdoor events.
Heineken UK makes public pledge to tackle mental health stigma: Heineken UK has signed the Time To Change pledge – a public commitment to help end mental health stigma in the workplace. The company will work with Time to Change to promote the physical, social and mental well-being of its 2,000 employees. The company has pledged to support its people through any illness – be that physical or mental – and has put training in place to ensure all managers are able to identify and support mental health issues. The company has also trained 30 “mental health champions” across six sites, who can be the first port of call for affected colleagues. With physical well-being providing a huge bearing on mental health, Heineken has introduced a number of initiatives such as yoga classes, walking clubs and five-a-side football teams. Heineken UK managing director David Forde said: “We believe strongly in enjoyment of life, which is why we have a well-being strategy. I want everyone who works for Heineken to be safe in the knowledge that whatever they are going through – physically or mentally – as an organisation, we are right behind them.”
Oxford-based restaurant Zheng expands into Chelsea: Critically acclaimed Malaysian-Chinese restaurant Zheng has opened a site in Chelsea. Critic Giles Coren described the Oxford restaurant as “possibly the best authentic Chinese-Malaysian in the country”. The new venue has opened in Sydney Street, offering satay skewers, stir-fried boneless chicken, and beef rending amid elegant interiors. The Zheng website states: “Malaysian cuisine is known as a fusion of the best of Asia. Our restaurant pays homage to the Malaysian spirit of openness, innovation, and ‘mix and match’ to create amazing culinary experiences. As an extension to our highly popular restaurant in Oxford, Zheng Chelsea brings what we do best to London – delicious food, excellent service and cosy ambience.”
Duck & Waffle launches ‘local’ concept for second London site: Duck & Waffle, the restaurant that offers British cuisine with broad European influences alongside stunning views of the London skyline from the 40th floor of 110 Bishopsgate, has opened a sister site in the capital, this time at ground level in St James’s Market. The venue in Haymarket Street is billed as a “local concept” and a “fast-casual, chef-curated restaurant” that also offers a takeaway service, Hot Dinners reports. The site is led by chef director Dan Doherty, with duck remaining at the centre of the menu. As well as the original duck and waffle dish, other items on the menu include duck burger with crispy duck leg, a duck jam doughnut, and the Full Elvis (peanut butter and jelly-buttered waffle with vanilla cream, peanut brittle, fresh berries and caramelised banana). Vegetarian options and cocktails also feature at the sister site, with Duck & Waffle’s Rich Woods putting on a Taps & Tails menu, which features on-tap cocktails as well as beer, including the Holy Duck IPA, and a select list of wines.
Douglas Jack – JD Wetherspoon’s rating is full: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said JD Wetherspoon’s rating is full. Issuing a ‘Hold’ note on the shares with a target price of 1,000p, Jack said: “Like-for-like sales rose by 4.0% in the third quarter versus a 3.8% comparable, which we estimate was almost all due to price growth. We forecast total sales growing by 1.4% this year, versus quarter one to quarter three’s 1.3%, with limited adverse reaction to March’s circa 3% price increases. This comes against a backdrop of on-trade competitors also raising prices and supermarket prices increasing by 5.3% for beer – due partly to higher duty – and by 1.2% for food. Ebit margins rose by 90 basis points to 7.3% in the third quarter with stronger like-for-like sales, the benefit of the company selling less profitable tail-end pubs, and freehold reversions more than offsetting higher costs (up £60m over the 12 months to January 2018). Our revised numbers anticipate Ebit margins rising by 50 basis points to 7.4%, versus 7.8% in quarter one to quarter three (and 7.25% to 7.5% full-year guidance). Nine pubs opened and 36 were sold during the first nine months, in comparison to which we forecast ten openings and 41 disposals over the full year. After also factoring in freehold reversions, £15m to £20m of disposal proceeds, £20m of working capital outflow and £35m of share buybacks, net debt should rise by circa £70m this year, increasing net debt/Ebitda to 3.7 times versus 3.6 times in 2016 and a 3.0 times historical average. With like-for-like sales and margins ahead and expansion behind, the £20m increase in year-end net debt guidance implies a step up in freehold reversions to £70m to £80m, boosting margins by 30 basis points (through reductions in rent costs). The company has indicated costs will increase further in the fourth quarter of 2017, with 2018E also affected by a sugar tax and another step up in electricity levies (by £20m). Overall, the company expects like-for-like sales to track inflation and total sales to be flat due to disposals. We forecast this to result in flat margins and flat profit before tax in 2018E. In our view, Wetherspoon’s rating is full, at 9.6 times EV/Ebitda versus a 7.4 times ten-year historic average. The company has a regional brewer EV/Ebitda valuation, even though just 54% of its estate is freehold versus 97% at Marston’s and 83% at Greene King. We do not envisage much earnings growth in 2018E and 2019E due to further cost inflation, disposal benefits slowing, and the cost of debt rising to 5% (from 4%) in 2019E.”
Carlsberg UK launches dispense system to improve beer quality: Carlsberg UK has launched a dispense system developed to improve beer quality. The Carlsberg Quality Dispense System (CQDS) provides a fully enclosed environment from “keg to glass”, ensuring pints are “delivered consistently and to a perfect standard”. The system chills the beer to a consistent temperature as it leaves the keg and keeps it cool until it enters the glass. The company said benefits of the system include improved quality, consistent temperature, reduced line cleaning wastage, and improved yield. CQDS has been piloted by a “limited number of customers” ahead of its release into the UK on-trade. Carlsberg vice-president on-trade Per Svendsen said: “We know this system can improve overall customer satisfaction and consumer experience, and consumers are more likely to return to a premises where they know they’ll get a great-quality pint every time.”
Chapel Down chief remains upbeat over wine harvest despite late April frosts: Frazer Thompson, chief executive of Kent-based Chapel Down, is remaining upbeat about this year’s wine harvest despite late April frosts. The company said it mitigated the risk by sourcing fruit from across a wide geographic area. Thompson said: “The impact of last week’s frosts was mixed, with some of our vineyards impacted and some not at all. It is far from catastrophic and the truth is that, as ever, we won’t be in a position to gauge the potential crop until after flowering in June.” Chapel Down has continued its investment in English wine, expanding its tourism business with the opening of a tasting room at its Kent winery last week. It also plans to increase its total acreage by planting 129 acres next year. The company has also developed fast-growing beer and cider business Curious Drinks, with the previously announced construction of a brewery in Ashford that is due to open in mid-2018. Thompson added: “We have not seen April frosts as widespread as those of last week for in excess of 20 years. It is a rare occurrence and the outlook for our dynamic English wine industry remains bright.”