Wimpy reveals plans to grow estate by 15% in next 18 months as refurbishment programme sparks franchisee interest: Wimpy has revealed plans to grow its estate by 15% in the next 18 months. The company, which is owned by South African-based Famous Brands, currently has 78 sites in Britain and plans to expand by converting existing single-site franchisees into multi-siters and by attracting new franchisees. In addition, Wimpy is rolling out a refurbishment plan christened “Shift” for existing units ranging in size from 1,200 square foot to 2,800 square foot. General manager Chris Woolfenden believed the recent increase in franchisee interest has been sparked by the “Shift” programme, which was introduced “to enhance the feeling of the brand moving, or shifting, forwards”. The first “Shift” refurbishment took place in February 2017 in Felixstowe, Suffolk, and so far eight have been completed. He told Property Week: “[Now is] the right time to move the business forward. At this immediate point in time, our focus is on the restaurants themselves and continuing to strengthen the brand through great customer service, fabulous food and excellent value for money.” He accepted the casual dining market is going through a tough time, as Wimpy’s owners know all too well. Famous Brands also owns Gourmet Burger Kitchen, whose poor performance took a large bite out of its parent’s profits last year and has now reportedly drafted in Deloitte to help it cut rents and close stores. However, Woolfenden said: “Ultimately there’s a niche market for Wimpy, whether on the high street or in the shopping centre, because of the offering we have, which is the table-service offer. We are currently working on a new site in Gloucestershire to open by Christmas. We are always looking for opportunities, and they tend to focus around those sites where we have an active franchisee or prospective franchisee.” At the moment, he said the company was dealing with enquiries from potential franchisees in Scotland, the north of England and the Midlands. He added: “We are going to look at towns where we don’t have any businesses, and will focus on those areas where we have enquiries.”

Monty’s Deli closes crowdfunding campaign after raising more than £215,000: Jewish soul food trader Monty’s Deli has closed its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising more than £215,000. The company, founded by Mark Ogus and Owen Barratt, initially aimed to raise £150,000 to roll out sites in a number of new indoor food markets across the UK, offering 9.68% equity in return for investment. It has now closed the campaign with 319 investors pledging a total of £215,230. Ogus and Barratt, who launched the concept as a market stall in 2012, raised £50,000 in late 2016 on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to open the first bricks and mortar site, at a former bakery in Hoxton Street, Hackney. They have since opened a second site – in the new “Kitchens” development at Old Spitalfields Market. Now Monty’s, which is named after Ogus’ grandfather, is planning further expansion. The company stated: “The idea was to give London something it had been lacking for a long time – a real ‘kosher-style’ Jewish deli, where the meat and mustard, bread and pastries are all made on-site. This place would hold all the secret recipes that make a great deli. We call this ‘Jewish soul food’ because, in essence, soul food is all about roots.” Ogus said: “Our experience in markets is proven and our love for the food we make unrivalled. We have spent years perfecting recipes and we now have a year under our belts as restaurateurs. The stage is set for us to roll out Monty’s Deli across London.”
London Cocktail Club opens first site outside capital, in Bristol: London Cocktail Club has opened its first site outside the capital, in Bristol. The company has opened the venue in the former Manos Liquor Bar premises in Clifton Triangle. The new outlet takes its inspiration from Peter Pan’s mantra of never growing up. It describes itself as a “twisted ode to Neverland at night” and is laid out like an enchanted overgrown garden, with blooms and floral trails snaking their way around the bar’s walls. There is also a series of rare birds dotted around the bar, along with a ticking crocodile keeping an eye on revellers in search of the venue’s mysterious secret wardrobe. Founders JJ Goodman and James Hopkins said they first fell in love with Bristol while appearing on BBC television programme The Restaurant in 2009. They secured investment from judges Raymond Blanc and Sarah Willingham, with the goal of one day opening a London Cocktail Club in Bristol. Goodman told the Bristol Post: “After lucking out in Bristol back in the day, we’re beyond excited to be returning to the city to share the love with the crew – old friends and new. This is going to be the start of something incredible.” As well as its Bristol venue, London Cocktail Club operates nine sites in the capital.
Greggs ventures into Cornish pasty land: Greggs has opened its first outlet in the land of the Cornish pasty when its own pasties do not qualify for the famous food designation. The company, which has more than 1,700 stores throughout the UK, has opened a shop in Saltash, close to the border with Devon. Pasties can only be called Cornish if they include only beef, potato, swede or turnip, onion and seasoning. Greggs does not offer a Cornish pasty on its menu, instead selling what it calls its “take on this West Country classic” – a beef and vegetable pasty that includes carrots and peas. Ruth Huxley, a spokeswoman for the Cornish Pasty Association, said unless Greggs bought pasties from a producer with protected geographical indication (PGI) certification, or obtained PGI certification itself, it would not be able to sell products labelled as Cornish pasties. She told The Guardian: “We are confident the future of genuine Cornish pasties would not be compromised by a business selling other baked savouries.” Greggs said the site was operated under a franchise agreement with Euro Garages but gave no details about whether it planned to advance further into Cornwall or whether it would sell its version of the pasty.
JD Wetherspoon profits set to top forecasts following summer heatwave:JD Wetherspoon is set to reveal higher profits than expected this week after the company was given a lift by the summer heatwave. The sales boost, also driven by England’s successful run in the Fifa World Cup, has not yet been fully factored into City profit forecasts, said Peel Hunt leisure analysis Douglas Jack. He estimated profit in the year to the end of July was £108.1m – ahead of the average City forecast of £105.5m. Jack said at least a fifth of the 5.2% increase in sales over the final three months of the company’s financial year was due to sport and good weather. Wetherspoon, run by founder and chairman Tim Martin, has already announced it clocked up sales of £1.7bn in the past year. But it faces rising costs on several fronts including staff wages, business rates and the sugar tax. The shares rose 3.4% on Friday (7 September) to 1,244p after rival Greene King reported a World Cup boost. Jack said: “Wetherspoon is a good operator and in pretty good shape. It has a fairly unique proposition as the value destination for pub goers. Its brand is strong and its food range is good. I think the market is not factoring in all the growth it has probably achieved. By Friday (14 September), the risk to forecasts will be on the upside.”
England cricket star Stuart Broad and former Moleface Pub Company employee to open second pub: England pace bowler Stuart Broad is to open his second pub in partnership with fellow cricketer Harry Gurney and former Moleface Pub Company employee Dan Cramp, who ran the Larwood & Voce pub at Trent Bridge cricket ground. The trio, under the Cat & Wickets Pub Company, took on The Punch-owned Three Crowns in the Leicestershire village of Wymeswold in 2016. Now they have added The Tap and Run in Upper Broughton to their portfolio, which was previously called The Golden Fleece and had been closed for almost two years. It is being transformed into a gastro-pub, which will have both a restaurant area and a bar area when it opens later this month. Cramp said this second, larger pub is more geared towards the dining experience, but “without losing the charm of a local”. As with The Three Crowns, the new pub will use local produce wherever possible – including meat, cheese and fruit. There are also plans to introduce an exchange programme, as there is in Wymeswold, where locals can bring in food they’ve grown and receive beer tokens in exchange. Cramp told the Leicester Mercury: “We’re not trying to change the wheel. We know nice country village pubs are what people want.”
Primeur pair to open Newington Green bakery restaurant this month for third site: Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell, who are behind Primeur in Stoke Newington and Westerns Laundry in Lower Holloway, are to open their third site. They have teamed up with farmer Andy Cato and will launch bakery restaurant Jolene in Newington Green on Thursday, 20 September. Everything will be made from scratch daily with Cato’s grain milled into flour to use for bread, pastries and fresh pasta. As at Westerns Laundry and Primeur, a daily changing menu will be chalked up on a blackboard. The drinks list will feature a small selection of white, red and sparkling wine as well as beer, cider and cocktails alongside a daily fresh juice and in-house fermented drinks. Overlooking Newington Green, the interiors at Jolene will be “simple, raw and earthy”. There will be two large sharing tables in the centre of the room, with counter dining seats overlooking the kitchen and bakery. Eight smaller tables will offer a view of the stripped-back front terrace. Cometto-Lingenheim said: “We have decided to open a bakery restaurant that revolves around and relies on the grains rather than it just being another ingredient. Our approach at Primeur and Westerns Laundry has always been attuned to the need for sourcing well-farmed produce that has been ethically grown with soil fertility in mind and tended with care. We’re bringing the same values and narrative to Jolene, this time with bread baked with Andy’s incredible grain.”
Award-winning Ei Group licensees take on second Merseyside pub: A couple that won Ei Group’s best turnaround pub award have taken on a second site with the company. Adam and Sue Franklin picked up the accolade for their work at the Horse & Jockey, in Melling, which they began running two years ago. Now they have taken on another Ei Group property in Merseyside – the Arion, in Ainsdale. The pub will undergo a £250,000 renovation and reopen in mid-October as the Spitfire, in a nod to the significance of the aircraft’s Second World War past at nearby RAF Woodvale. It will not be a themed pub, but visitors can expect to see various references to the aircraft around the Kenilworth Road property, such as a hanging propeller and in a custom-made bar font. The pub will offer three cask ales and four craft ales, including a Spitfire beer being brewed specially for the pub. There will also be an extensive range of gin. Food will be prepared from scratch, with a new pizza oven to be installed and an interior redesign set to offer a view into the kitchen. Adam Franklin told the Liverpool Echo: “We canvassed local people in the area and they just want their family friendly, local pub back. I think that kind of service has gone from a lot of places.”
Manchester-based antipodean cafe secures second site: Manchester-based antipodean cafe Federal Cafe & Bar has secured its second site. Owner Claudio Ribeiro has agreed a deal with property company CEG to open the venue in the grade II-listed 196 Deansgate, creating 20 jobs. Ribeiro who existing site is in High Street, told The Business Desk: “Our first Manchester base has gone from strength to strength since we opened in 2014, building a strong and loyal customer base in the Northern Quarter. We were keen to expand our antipodean cafe culture brand and Deansgate provides an impressive setting for this next venture.” CEG investment manager Greg Lacey said: “We set out to find an independent, credible operator that can bring a barista and all-day brunch offer to benefit 196 Deansgate’s existing office occupiers and visitors. Federal Cafe & Bar is hugely popular in Manchester and the first time I met Claudio I knew we had the right operator.” CEG has managed an investment of about £3m at 196 Deansgate, providing five floors of offices and attracting a variety of retail and leisure operators on the ground floor, including Arc Inspirations’ Manahatta bar and restaurant, which is opening this month. Cheetham & Mortimer acted as agent for CEG and Sixteen Real Estate for Federal Cafe & Bar.
Ponti’s pulls plans for Gainsborough restaurant: London-based Ponti’s Italian Kitchen has pulled plans to open a site in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. The company was expected to open the restaurant on the ground floor of the former Sun Inn on the corner of Market Street and North Street, creating 20 jobs. But developer Dransfield Properties is now remarketing the 4,090 square foot space, which will sit below a 54-bedroom Travelodge hotel, after Ponti’s decided to concentrate on its venues in Oxford Circus in London and at Fox Valley in north Sheffield. The restaurant has been designed to have an alfresco seating area with a bespoke £150,000 water wall feature that has been inspired by a famous feature at Paley Park in New York. Dransfield Properties estate director James Shepherd told the Gainsborough Standard several restaurant operators were interested in the site.
16 Hospitality Group reports sales up 7% in record trading week: 16 Hospitality Group, which operates four pubs and restaurants in the north west and North Wales, has reported a record trading week with sales increasing 7% year-on year in the week leading up to the August bank holiday. Managing director Edward Barlow said: “Despite the weather not being the best on record, that week we were really delighted with the continuous growth in the business on all fronts. Our teams worked very hard and continue to make a fantastic contribution to our ongoing success.”
Liverpool-based, health-focused Chinese restaurant fails in £200,000 crowdfunding campaign: Liverpool-based, health-focused Chinese restaurant Green Kitchen has failed in its attempt to raise £200,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to support expansion plans. The company, founded by Liang Zhang and Stewart Parker, was offering 11.61% equity in return for the investment. Crowdcube stated: “Unfortunately, Green Kitchen did not reach its funding target before the closing date.” Green Kitchen began as a food delivery service in 2015 before opening its first restaurant last year close to Liverpool’s Anfield stadium. It plans to open more sites in Liverpool later this year before targeting other cities. The pitch stated: “Green Kitchen aims to develop a UK healthy Chinese fast food chain by promoting our healthy eating concept. Our central kitchen-based business model enables us to standardise the food and get better quality control with calorie and nutrition information available for our food. We can expand quickly because no kitchen needs to be built while opening a site, thus cost is low. Our central kitchen is 1,400 square feet, which we predict is capable of supplying food for up to eight Green Kitchen restaurants in Liverpool. We want to build another three to five sites including a flagship store in Liverpool before we start expanding to cities such as Manchester and Birmingham. We also envisage motorway service station sites and drive-thrus in the future.”
Douglas Jack – Greene King shares ‘significantly undervalued’: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said Greene King’s shares are “significantly undervalued” as the company returns to growth. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 700p, he said: “Managed (circa 70% of group profit) like-for-like sales are up 2.8% (with local pubs, largely wet-led up 5.5%), up 3.2% in the most recent ten weeks, aided by the company being able to focus more capex on the customer-facing proposition, and improving the Spirit estate’s market positioning (with conversions generating return on investment of 25%). Like-for-like sales have also benefited from hot weather and the World Cup. In addition, FY18 (to April) is a soft comparable. Relatively cold weather in July, August, December and March that financial year resulted in negative like-for-like sales (of 1.2% in the first quarter, 1.6% in the second quarter, 1.4% in the third quarter and 2.6% in the fourth quarter). The company continues to expect £45m to £50m (FY18: £60m) of cost inflation and £30m to £35m (FY18: £44m) of cost savings, and is targeting positive like-for-like sales growth. The company is on course to dispose of 100 to 110 pubs this year and expects to open about nine new pubs. We expect a further £25m of repositioning investment in Spirit pubs this year, with more assets gravitating to the Greene King brand. Tenanted like-for-like profit is down 0.4% after 16 weeks. Recent conditions have been favourable for wet-led pubs, extending a trend that has been developing over the last year. Own brewed volumes are up 0.3%, with total beer volumes up 4.0%. We are holding our 2019E profit before tax forecast, which assumes stable operating profits in all divisions, based on assumptions of 1.4% like-for-like sales growth in managed and 3.8% average profit growth in tenanted. The EV/Ebitda valuation is below the 2008-09 financial crisis/recession level. In comparison, if managed like-for-like sales can exceed 1.5% in 2019E, the combination of profit and dividend growth, as well as net debt reduction, should return. Given this and a dividend yield of 7%, we are upgrading our recommendation to ‘Buy’.”
World’s first gin and tea bar to open in Cheltenham next month: The East India Cafe Anglo-Indian restaurant in Promenade will launch the Memsahib Gin and Tea Bar in a former nightclub next month – the world’s first gin and tea bar. Its owners are opening the new business in the old Prom Vaults venue further along the same road. Memsahib will offer its own house-distilled gin, afternoon chai tea and snack menu. Darjeeling distilled with gin will be one of the items on offer, with no fewer than 55 gins sourced from all over the world on the menu. Co-owner of both businesses Litu Mohiuddin said: “Everything is coming together and, while we’ve not got a fixed date yet, we know we’ll be ready to open in mid-October, which means that’s when the world will have its first gin and tea bar!” The bar interior will reflect the British Raj period, when many Anglo-Indian women settled in Cheltenham. Local historians and Cheltenham Ladies College have helped Mohiuddin with the concept.
Santoro brothers launch vegan restaurant concept Genesis in Shoreditch:Brothers Alex and Oliver Santoro have launched a vegan restaurant concept in Shoreditch, east London. Genesis has opened in Commercial Street offering plant-based and organic dishes featuring street food influences from around the world. Ironically, the Santoro family has been involved in the meat industry for more than 100 years. The brothers turned vegan seven years ago and launched Raw Imagination, a vegan food company offering grab-and-go items to shops such as Planet Organic. Genesis offers a menu comprising sharing plates, salads, soup, tacos, burgers and hotdogs, all made using organic fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. Genesis has been split over two floors and features a design that incorporates pastel pink tiles, marble, copper detailing, neon signage and original graphic artwork on the floor and walls.
Kent-based sparkling wine business raises £7.4m: Kent-based sparkling wine business Gusbourne has raised a total of £7.4m by issuing new shares and warrants to investors. The biggest contributor was Lord Ashcroft, who has ploughed another £2.7m into the company after a vintage summer for growers in the UK. The Tory billionaire controls 72% of Gusbourne, which has vineyards in Kent and West Sussex. Gusbourne said the money will go towards cultivating vineyards that have not yet matured, as well as increasing storage facilities for its wine. Gusbourne chief executive Charlie Holland told the Mail on Sunday: “We now have an abundance of fruit on the vines, with the lovely weather we had in June and July leading to successful flowering and development of the vines. We will have to wait until mid-September for the beginning of harvest before we have a true indication of the quality, but at this stage it looks very promising.” Gusbourne raised £3.7m by issuing new shares to investors, while the same amount will be issued in warrants. Lord Ashcroft has subscribed for £2.7m of shares, although £1m of that is the company repaying a loan he gave it in May. Gusbourne has 60 hectares of vines on the Gusbourne Estate near Ashford in Kent and another 30 hectares in West Sussex that are planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Last year, turnover jumped 56% to about £1mi, with exports making up a quarter of sales, though the company remains loss-making.
Unsecured creditors of company behind gin festivals expected to be left £1m out of pocket: Unsecured creditors of a company behind a UK-wide programme of gin festivals that went into administration are expected to be left £1m out of pocket, a new report has revealed. A statement of proposals by Julian Pitts and Nick Reed, of Begbies Traynor, into Gin Festival, trading as GinFestival.com, showed unsecured creditors are owed £1,002,000 and there was “unlikely to be no distribution”. The report estimated NatWest, the only secured creditor, was owed about £300,000. However, any distribution was likely to be “significantly less than the level of its indebtedness”. Gin Festival was based in Keighley, West Yorkshire, and organised and managed a series of craft gin festivals around the UK. As a result of the insolvency, 27 members of staff employed by the business were made redundant and the business’ programme of 20 planned gin festivals planned was cancelled. The company was established in 2015 and initially traded profitably, with unaudited management accounts showing a net profit of £48,000 for the year ending 31 March 2017 on turnover of £3.7m. However, accounts for the year to 31 March 2018 show a net loss of £501,000 on £5.1m turnover. In their report to creditors the administrators said they were continuing to investigate the reasons for the “dramatic downturn in the financial position” but an expansion of the number of festivals and an attempt to establish an online platform were said to be the likely causes. Prior to the appointment, Begbies Traynor launched an accelerated merger and acquisition process in June. It received 27 signed non-disclosure agreements from interested parties but no formal offers were received that would have enabled the business to continue trading.