Sticks ‘n’ Sushi reports turnover boost for UK business with Ebitda hitting £1m mark: Japanese restaurant brand Sticks ‘n’ Sushi has reported a boost in turnover at its UK business, with Ebitda hitting the £1m mark. The company, which aims to open up to 15 restaurants in London and the south east, saw turnover increase to £12,877,077 for the year ending 30 June 2016, compared with £7,820,562 the previous year. Ebitda rose to £1m compared with £0.4m the year before, according to accounts filed with Companies House. It made a pre-tax profit of £5,797, compared with a loss of £262,271 the previous year. The company stated: “Our UK business trade is strong, especially in our first two London restaurants, in Wimbledon (opened March 2012) and Covent Garden (opened November 2013). Our further two restaurants in Greenwich (opened January 2015) and Canary Wharf (opened May 2015) have seen solid growth and have been trading satisfactory to our forecast sales. Our latest opening, and the first restaurant outside the metropolitan London area, opened in May 2016 in Cambridge. The business level and positive feedback from our guests has been to our satisfaction. The growing number of guests, together with the increasing volume of takeaway and catering sales, is encouraging for the future years of growth in the United Kingdom. Sticks ‘n’ Sushi UK achieved a turnover of net £12.8m in the financial year 2015/16, compared with £7.8m in 2014/15. The company realised an Ebitda of £1.0m against £0.4m the year before. The operating result includes £195,000 in one-off cost related to the opening of the Cambridge restaurant. The sales and results were significantly better than budgeted, in view of the restaurant opening and growth plans. Since the year-end, Sticks ‘n’ Sushi UK has opened a new site at the Nova development in Victoria, London, with a new location in Oxford scheduled to open in October. Further locations are being negotiated with the planned opening of one restaurant within the next financial year. An important part of the (parent) group’s strategy is to expand internationally, with restaurant openings in major European cities. In the first phase of the strategy plan the focus has been on building a business platform in England, with the planned opening of ten to 15 restaurants in London and the south east over a five-year period. The next step will be the opening of a number of restaurants in Berlin, Germany.”

Humble Grape returns to Seedrs for £1m crowdfunding campaign to fund expansion, looking to become 20-strong brand: Humble Grape, the wine bar and shop concept founded by James Dawson, has launched a £1m fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to support expansion. The company is offering a 9.08% equity stake in return for the investment as it looks to become a 20-site brand before looking at an exit. The third and fourth Humble Grape sites will open in London in April and August and are already fully funded, Dawson said, with funds raised from the campaign to go towards opening sites five and six and growing the Wine Club, Wine Bank and online sales. The pitch states: “We will use the funds to accelerate our growth, with the aim of becoming a 20-site brand by 2021/22. We consider the timing is perfect for us to create optimal growth in this sector of the industry. We will use the funds to obtain two to four sites per year, and to enhance the management team, by bringing in two key players in operations and logistics. We are in the early stages of working with a leading digital agency to build a new digital platform to increase retail and wine club sales and to enhance bookings. We will geo-target potential leads living or working close to our sites, to maximise cross-marketing potential. Working with an industry consultant we already have a clear plan to significantly enhance in-bar retail sales, using enticing visual merchandising displays and cleverly branded point-of-sale materials. We plan to rapidly grow our new wine school, offering customers Wine & Spirit Education Trust-accredited courses delivered in our unique brand style.” The company opened its first venue in Battersea in 2015 and a second in Fleet Street the following year. Revenue is split 15% retail, 20% events and 65% bar. The company employs more than 35 staff and imports 400-plus wines from 11 countries. Humble Grape raised £360,000 via a crowdfunding campaign in 2014, with an additional £175,000 from private investors, with a pre-valuation of £1.4m.

Domino’s Pizza boss sees remuneration almost quadruple to nearly £4.5m: Domino’s Pizza chief executive David Wild saw his remuneration for 2016 almost quadruple after receiving nearly £4.5m, the company’s annual report has revealed. Wild received a total of £4,477,000 consisting of £510,000 salary, £14,000 benefits and supplements, £51,000 pension, £413,000 bonus and £3,489,000 in long-term incentive payments. In 2015, Wild was paid a total of £1,243,000, which was made up of £510,000 salary, £14,000 benefits and supplements, £50,000 pension and £669,000 bonus. Meanwhile, chief financial officer Rachel Osborne joined the company on 10 October last year on a salary of £325,000. Wild’s salary will remain at £510,000 until 2019. His maximum bonus opportunity for 2017 will be 100% of salary – payable in cash – because he participated in the 2016 long-term incentive plan. Osborne’s salary will remain at £350,000 until 2019, while her bonus opportunity this year is 125% of salary.

Marston’s agrees new loan facility: Marston’s has agreed a new bank facility to replace the £257.5m existing facility, which was due to expire in November 2018. The new facility extends to March 2022 and comprises a £320m loan commitment, with an incremental £40m accordion facility providing additional flexibility, at improved terms. The new facility will be provided by Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, Santander and the Bank of Ireland. Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay said: “This new facility further improves the efficiency of our funding. It provides the group with the certainty of long-term financing while also taking advantage of current low interest rates, enabling Marston’s to fulfill its future expansion plans in the most cost-effective way possible.”

Bubble and squeak-inspired concept launches £100,000 crowdfunding campaign to open first permanent restaurant, plans ‘multiple’ sites in London and south east: Bubble and squeak-inspired concept Bubble&, which has operated at festivals and markets, has launched a £100,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open its first permanent restaurant. The company, founded by Rupert Smith and Marita Lietz, is offering a 16.67% equity stake in return for the investment to open the site in Southsea, Hampshire. It is then looking to open “multiple” sites across London and the south east. The pitch states: “After sell-out markets, festivals and private events, Bubble& is seeking investment for a 45-seater restaurant in the Southsea area of Portsmouth. Our business model as a casual dining restaurant is to be open for lunch and dinner. Target customers are professionals, local residents, families and general ‘foodies’; we will also be very attractive to the gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian sectors based on our current following. Bubble& will be a gastronomic celebration, offering an inspiring, affordable menu in a convivial atmosphere using the best local, seasonal and sustainable produce. Our vision is to make Bubble& attractive to all, where anyone and everyone will feel comfortable. The investment will fund capital expenditure on the kitchen, bar, furniture, construction works and our pre-opening costs, which include professional fees such as lawyers, rent and costs during fit-out and architects. The plan is to expand the concept to have multiple restaurants in the south east and London, and become a nationally recognised brand. We will be aiming towards a five-to-ten-year sale/exit.”

JD Wetherspoon takes West Kirby pub off market: JD Wetherspoon has taken its West Kirby, Merseyside, pub off the market. The Dee Hotel in Grange Road was one of 34 pubs the company put up for sale in November 2015. However, Wetherspoon has now said it is no longer selling the pub. Spokesman Eddie Gershon told the Wirral Globe: “We can confirm the company has decided not to sell The Dee Hotel. We are certain the pub’s loyal customers will be pleased by the decision.”

Starbucks denies decision to hire 10,000 refugees has had negative impact on sales: Starbucks has denied its decision to hire 10,000 refugees has had a negative impact on sales. Following US president Donald Trump’s attempt to ban refugees indefinitely, Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz took a stand against the policy and said his stores around the world would look to take on thousands of people who had fled persecution for a new life. He said he would push to hire refugees in the 75 countries in which Starbucks operates, starting with people in the US who had helped troops by serving as interpreters and support personnel. The comments, made in January, led Trump supporters to call for a boycott of the coffee chain and, according to YouGov, the number of people who said they would consider buying their next coffee from Starbucks fell from 30% to 26% following his comments. However, market research company Kantar Millward Brown told Metro its own measurement of Starbucks’ brand health had revealed no backlash or sales decline, with no “substantive impact” detected on any of the main indicators. In December, a month before his refugee announcement, Schultz declared he would step down from his chief executive role. He will be replaced as chief executive by Kevin Johnson on 3 April, with Schultz staying on as executive chairman, focusing on developing the company’s higher-end Starbucks Reserve sites. The Seattle Times recently reported Schultz is “definitely being pursued” as a Democratic presidential candidate for 2020.

Marco Pierre White to bring Steakhouse Bar & Grill brand to Southampton: Celebrity chef and restaurateur Marco Pierre White is to franchise his Steakhouse Bar & Grill brand to Southampton. Following the success of his annual pop-up restaurant at The Grand Harbour Hotel during the Southampton Boat Show, Marco Pierre White’s Steakhouse Bar & Grill will now become a permanent restaurant at the hotel in West Quay Road. The 146-capacity restaurant is set to open in May and will be operated by Black and White Hospitality, which franchises a number of Pierre White’s restaurant brands. Pierre White said: “We’ve received some great feedback from those who visited us during the Southampton Boat Show, and it’s great to now be bringing visitors a permanent restaurant.” Black and White Hospitality chief executive Nick Taplin added: “We’ve hosted several pop-up eateries at The Grand Harbour Hotel over the years, and we feel it is the perfect location to showcase the impressive Steakhouse Bar & Grill brand, with excellent food and drink at pricing to suit all budgets.” Black and White Hospitality currently operates 32 restaurants in the UK and is set to hit 40 by the end of the year.

Subway sues Canadian television for $210m over chicken claim: Subway is suing the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) for $210m after one of its programmes claimed tests showed chicken breast used in Subway’s meals consisted of 50% soy products, Nation’s Restaurant News reports. CBC’s Marketplace programme made its claims on 24 February as part of a broader story involving a laboratory that conducted DNA testing on grilled and roasted chicken from Subway, A&W, McDonald’s, Tim Hortons and Wendy’s. Subway responded with tests of its own from two independent labs in the US and Canada and said they showed only trace amounts of soy in the Canadian chicken products. After failing to get the CBC to issue a retraction, the company has now issued a “notice of action”. Subway stated: “We have issued a notice of action in Canada against the CBC that asks for $210m in damages over allegations made by its programme, Marketplace, that are defamatory and absolutely false. Despite our efforts to share the facts with the CBC about the high quality of our chicken and to express our strong objections to their inaccurate claims, they have not issued a retraction as we requested. Serving high-quality food to our customers is our top priority, and we are committed to seeing this factually incorrect report corrected.” CBC confirmed it had received a notice of action from Subway Franchise Systems of Canada. A spokeswoman added: “We believe our journalism to be sound, and there is no evidence we’ve seen that would lead us to change our position.”

Danieli Holdings to expand Yolo concept with £1m Newcastle city centre site: North east-based Danieli Holdings is to begin expansion of its bar restaurant concept Yolo with a second site, this time in Newcastle city centre. The £1m venue will create 100 jobs when it opens in High Bridge Street in “spring”. Yolo Townhouse will be Danieli’s second site in the region for the concept, which stands for You Only Live Once, after launching in Ponteland, Northumberland, in September 2015. The 2,556 square foot, all-day venue will consist of a ground-floor drinking and dining social space, a first-floor function area and a second floor open-air terrace bar. Danieli Holdings chief executive Neill Winch told BDaily: “We have been looking for potential locations for a second Yolo venue for some time and High Bridge quarter provides the perfect opportunity as a thriving leisure hub made up of a mixture of businesses. As a brand, Yolo is one we’re keen to continue to roll-out but, for now, we are incredibly excited and have all hands on deck for the impending plans in Newcastle city centre.” Danieli Holdings is known for its security, nursing home and property divisions. Yolo Townhouse will mark the company’s third hospitality venture after its takeover of Bar B, formerly Bannatyne, in The Gate, Newcastle.

Ei Group continues Pub is The Hub support with £25,000 donation: Ei Group, formerly known as Enterprise Inns, has reinforced its support for Pub is The Hub by donating a further £25,000 to the rural pubs champion. The donation supports the Community Services Fund, set up by Pub is The Hub in 2013 as a fund of last resort for rural pubs that want to diversify their business. Grants of up to £3,000 as well as advice and hands-on support are available to help pubs provide new local services. The latest contribution takes the total amount donated by Ei Group to Pub is The Hub to £220,000 during the past 12 years. Ei Group chief executive Simon Townsend said: “We are proud to be a founding supporter of Pub is The Hub, which recognises the vitally important role pubs play in communities across the UK.” Pub is The Hub chief executive John Longden added: “Slowly but surely service providers are beginning to realise the value of pubs is much more than the provision of food, drink and entertainment and that they are critical in enhancing essential public services, local activities and community well-being.”

ALMR hires Fleet Street Communications to enhance communications strategy: Fleet Street Communications (FSC) has been appointed by the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) to enhance and fortify its communications strategy. In addition to representing more than 23,000 venues in the UK and 650,000 employees, the ALMR also has more than 200 associate supplier member companies. FSC will support the ALMR in delivering a strategic communications plan designed to increase exposure for the organisation while communicating the importance and success of its work to key stakeholders, such as existing and new members. FSC will also work to cement the ALMR’s position as the go-to commentator on eating and drinking out issues and trends – at a national level and among its key membership industries – as well as supporting the growth and expansion of its membership into all out-of-home segments and enhancing direct member communications. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the ALMR, said: “We are delighted be working with FSC, who emerged from a highly competitive pitch. We are confident their industry knowledge, expertise and connections in the sector, underpinned by their passion, will help us deliver on our mission to positively campaign on behalf of our members and raise awareness of the issues that are paramount to our members, and the growth and success of their businesses. We’re looking forward to developing and building our partnership to drive our organisation forward and continue to position the ALMR as the leading voice on UK hospitality issues.”

M&B shares business priorities with suppliers and rewards excellence: Mitchells & Butlers held its annual Food and Drink Supplier Conference to share its business priorities and recognise outstanding performance across its supplier network. About 200 of the company’s suppliers attended the conference at its retail support centre in Birmingham, which showcases best practice and opportunities for optimising trading relationships with its brands. The conference also saw Mitchells & Butlers reward innovative supplier food and drinks initiatives during the past 12 months, with Faccenda Group named Food Supplier of the Year and Bibendum winning the drinks accolade. Mitchells & Butlers commercial and marketing director Chris Hopkins said: “Our success is closely linked to the brilliant support we receive from our supplier partners. At this conference, we were able to celebrate some outstanding supplier achievements and innovations and to discuss our strategy for future growth.”

Burgerac launches sandwiches and soundtracks concept in Fitzrovia: Gavin Lucas, the burger blogger known as Burgerac and owner of Burgerac’s Burgershack, has launched a concept focusing on sandwiches and soundtracks in Fitzrovia. Sonic Sandwich has opened at The Social music bar in Little Portland Street offering “classic and comforting” sandwiches. The menu consists of grilled cheese, fish finger, BLT, chicken BLT and veggie beet combo sandwiches. Side dishes include nachos, salad and fries, with buffalo wings a Thursday and Friday special. The food is available from 12.30pm to 9pm, Monday to Friday, alongside a choice of ten different craft beers. The venue’s soundtrack will include a guest DJ every Friday lunchtime, with plans to archive each session. The Sonic Sandwich website states: “A good sandwich is one of life’s great pleasures. Rest assured we’re not trying to ‘restaurantify’ sandwiches – we’re interested in celebrating the classics. We’re also interested in quality, consistency, flavour, nostalgia and, ultimately, in delivering simple comfort food that makes you feel good.”

Abokado launches New York-inspired menu: Healthy eating chain Abokado, which is backed by private equity firm Kings Park Capital, has launched a spring and summer menu inspired by a trip by founders Mark and Lindsay Lilley to New York City. The husband-and-wife team’s menu includes 16 new “feel-great food” dishes, including Hawaiian poke bowls, wild rice dishes and Vietnamese noodle dishes. The menu also includes a selection of customised “have it your way” dressings, including authentic Vietnamese dressing nuoc cham, made with lime juice, garlic, sugar and chilli, and a soy, sesame and ginger dressing. Mark Lilley said: “New York sets the trend for lifestyle changes across the world, particularly when it comes to health and fitness. We noticed poke bowls, Vietnamese noodles and wild rice dishes were hugely popular among the health-conscious foodies there. We left New York full of inspiration and are hugely excited to be bringing these delicious new dishes to Londoners. These new dishes reflect our core values. They may be low fat and low carb but they pack a punch when it comes to taste.” Last month, Abokado opened its 29th site, close to Canary Wharf, London. In November, the company secured further funding to grow its presence in central London in a bid to boost its turnover from £14m to £17m by the end of 2017. It plans to open further sites this year.

Yum Bun launches Yumplings concept at Dinerama: Street food trader Yum Bun, which began in Hackney’s Broadway Market in 2010, has launched new concept Yumplings in Street Feast’s Dinerama space in Shoreditch. Rather than the company’s signature hand-made steamed buns, Yumplings focuses on dumplings, with dishes including The Big Hug (northern Chinese-inspired Xian spices with cumin and coriander, chive-infused oils and rich fillings inside a fresh and delicate dumpling case”, Hot Dinners reports. Fillings will be the type Yum Bun is renowned for, including steamed pork dumplings with Xian-style sauce, and steamed mushroom dumplings with green oil and roasted cashews. Yum Bun fillings are made using “British outdoor-reared pork, MSC-certificated fish and the freshest British veggies where possible”. The brand also operates from Street Feast’s Hawker House events space in Canada Water and will open its first seven-day-a-week site at Street Feast’s new Canary Wharf space, which is due to open soon. Yum Bun has also operated a pop-up shop in Old Street and at Harvey Nichols and operated a mobile set-up at festivals across the UK.

Eggs-focused concept Yolk to launch permanent site in City of London next month: Eggs-focused concept Yolk is to launch its first permanent site, in City of London next month. Following a string of successful pop-ups, the new venue will open in Finsbury Avenue Square, Broadgate, towards the end of April. The menu will feature dishes such as poached egg pots, sourdough toast and “ultimate sandwiches”, including steak béarnaise, duck bun, and umami chicken. All eggs are free range, while meat has been sourced from Clerkenwell butchers Tom Hixson of Smithfield and coffee from Black Box, alongside Joe’s teas and bread from “exceptional London bakeries”. Interiors have been designed by Barlow & Barlow. Yolk’s website states: “Yolk started as a longing for the perfect eggs benedict – our own take on the greatest dish in the world. Dozens of versions later, we think we have it. Now we bring the same obsessive approach to everything we do, applying culinary science, love for tradition and our own greedy imaginations to create food of which we’re truly proud.” Yolk will open from 7am until 8pm.