Propel Premium subscribers to receive access to Propel Multi Club Conference video on Wednesday: Propel Premium subscribers will receive access on Wednesday (17 March) to the video of the first Propel Multi Club Conference of the year. Premium subscribers should email now to receive their code on Wednesday to view the conference. Speakers include Graeme Smith, managing director at AlixPartners; Dan Warne, founder of Sessions Market; Yishay Malkov, chief executive of Various Eateries; Victor Lugger, co-founder of the Big Mamma Group; Alex Reilley, chairman of Loungers; Salima Vellani, founder of host kitchen business KBox Global; Philip Turner, founder and chief executive of Chestnut Group; Neat Burger co-founder and head of operations Stasi Nychas; and Sarah Willingham, chief executive of bar company Nightcap. There are also two panel sessions. Fledgling concepts talk about evolving and growing in a covid-impacted world featuring Grace Regan, founder of SpiceBox; Carla Casadei, founder of Young Vegans; Oliver Hyde, founder of Flour Pot; Morten Jensen, founder of Light Bar & Market; and Marco Reick, director at Qoot. Meanwhile, leading sector players look at what comes next for the industry featuring Simon Wilkinson, chief executive of Byron; Steve Holmes, chief executive of Azzurri Group; Zoe Bowley, managing director of PizzaExpress; and Dermot King, chief executive of Oakman Inns. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, discounts to attend Propel conferences and events, and regular columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Propel is also to improve its service for Premium subscribers by publishing a monthly updated list of multi-site operators – with a standalone report. The new multi-site list will be sent to subscribers at the end of each month with a report on new companies and changes in the list. A refreshed list of circa 1,600 companies will be sent out to all Premium subscribers at the end of March. It provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different, and what each business specialises in. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. The list will then be updated at the end of each month. An annual premium subscription costs £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email
Pubs and restaurants reports tens of thousands of bookings: Pubs and restaurants have received tens of thousands of bookings ahead of the April reopening. A spokesman for Fuller’s, which has 400 pubs, said: “We are certainly taking a high level of bookings – people clearly can’t wait to get back to the pub, which is great to see.” Diners are already looking forward to when establishments are allowed to reopen outdoor seating areas from Monday, 12 April. Bosses said their bookings have gone “gang busters”, with up to twice as many reservations as when they reopened in July last year. Rick Stein said 20,000 customers had booked into its Cornish restaurants in the past two weeks alone, while D&D London has reported taking 50,000 reservations already. Some workers have even taken 12 April off work so they can be the first through the doors of their local pub. Des Gunewardena, owner of D&D London, which has 42 restaurants, said: “We are absolutely chocker. Some of our restaurants are full all the way through April and well into May. We have got double the level of bookings already compared with when we reopened on ‘Super Saturday’ last year – it’s way strong than we expected.” Clive Watson, executive chairman of City Pub Group, which has 48 sites, said: “It’s gone gang busters. People are desperate to catch up with their friends.”
Pubs miss out on £83m worth of sales on Mother’s Day due to restrictions: Pubs will have lost £83m worth of sales due to the ongoing restrictions covering Mother’s Day, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has said. The trade body said the sector would have missed out on the sale of about 12 million pints and 3.6 million meals. For the second year in a row, families have not been able to celebrate the occasion in their local, with hospitality venues also being closed on Mother’s Day last year. Despite being unable to open and serve their communities, many operators provided an at-home experience instead. However, the lost trade made it all the more important that pubs, following limited outside opening in April and indoors in May, can trade fully from 21 June as stated in the government’s roadmap for reopening, the BBPA said. Chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “On a typical Mothering Sunday, pubs would expect to sell some 12 million pints and 3.6 million meals. That’s £83m in trade that they really could do with right now. As ever, our locals are still doing all they can to serve their communities despite the lockdown, safely. This has seen pubs innovate and create ‘makeaways’, cooking kits and more traditional takeaways. Although it isn’t quite the same as being in the pub, it is the next best thing.”
Scottish hospitality trade bodies provide government with route out of lockdown:Scottish hospitality trade bodies – Scottish Hospitality Group, UKHospitality Scotland, Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Night Time Industries Association and the Scottish Beer & Pub Association – have set out a “pragmatic approach” for a route out of lockdown to their national government they say will avoid “catastrophic business failure across the sector”. The trade bodies said their proposed level system would save more than 60,000 jobs and contribute more than £1.2bn to the economy in the short-term by altering the levels in the Strategic Framework. The hospitality groups have urged the government to mirror the reopening plans for England as closely as possible, with the stripping away of additional restrictions such as a curfew and the service of alcohol only with a meal. However, the groups have also provided government with a series of small tweaks to the levels in the current system that would allow the sector to meet both public health and economy objectives as strict covid measures remain in place. Research from economic consultancy, BiGGAR Economics, showed this proposed pragmatic approach was “essential” if the Scottish government is to avoid “catastrophic” business failure across the hospitality sector. The figures showed under the current level 3 restrictions, 54% of hospitality businesses could be operating, which generates a turnover of £269m and supports 21,900 jobs. If government were to open with the proposed level 3 industry ask, 73% of businesses could be operating, generating a turnover of £927m and supporting 53,300 jobs. The BiGGAR Economics’ study also found under the newly proposed level 2 changes, 91% of businesses could be operating, which would generate a turnover of £1.2bn and support 68,000 jobs. This is compared to current level 2 restrictions in which only 73% of business could operate, generating a turnover of £634m and supporting only 34,900 jobs.
UK holiday parks revenue jumps 65% in five years with private equity investment set to continue: The revenue of the UK’s top 25 holiday parks has increased by 65% in the past five years, according to new research. Findings by New Street Consulting Group, the leadership and people solutions consultancy, showed incomes of the top 25 holiday park groups have increased from £1.61bn in 2014-15 to £2.67bn in 2019-20. The group said the performance validated the major private equity investment in a sector that has performed strongly during the pandemic. It added the long-term rise in staycations has been one of the major factors behind the investment of private equity firms in this sector. Private equity firm Blackstone recently acquired Bourne Leisure, the UK’s largest holiday parks provider, whose estate includes Butlin’s, while Away Resorts is now owned by UK-based private equity house Bregal Freshstream. New Street Consulting Group said holiday parks have attracted a new group of higher-spending consumers who have been unable to or opted against going on cruise holidays or travelling internationally. It said the low density of guests at holiday parks makes them particularly suitable for social distancing, with groups being able to stay in separate buildings from other holiday-goers. Parks are undergoing significant programmes of premiumisation in accommodation, foodservice and activities to ensure customers gained in 2020 are retained when the market for cruises and other overseas holidays reopens, the group said. Investment is also being made into apps and digital enablement that allow customers to order food and book activities/entertainment without having to leave their lodges or mix with other guests. Richard Lindsay, director at New Street Consulting Group, said: “Private equity funds’ interest in the sector is only going to continue. Private equity houses see holiday parks as a long-term growth prospect and not just a flash in the pan during the year of coronavirus.”
Sunak – no plans for second Eat Out To Help Out scheme: There are no plans for a second Eat Out To Help Out scheme because high streets will “spring back” after lockdown, chancellor Rishi Sunak has said. He argued families were eager to spend a big chunk of the £180bn savings chest they have amassed during the pandemic. And he hinted higher taxes and a bigger state could be here for years to come as the UK pays down its covid debts. Sunak told the Treasury select committee there was a huge amount of pent-up consumer demand ready to be unleashed after lockdown. He said: “Consumption, it looks like, can and will spring back reasonably quickly once things are reopened.” Asked if the Treasury is considering another scheme such as Eat Out To Help Out to incentivise spending, he said no. He told MPs: “There was an enormous worry when things reopened last year that people wouldn’t have the confidence to spend even though they had the income to. This time around, both in the UK and internationally, we’ve seen that you do tend to get quite a strong consumption automatically.”
Trade bodies offer reopening support: Operators are being urged to take advantage of the support on offer to ensure they are prepared for the reopening of outdoor spaces next month. The British Institute of Innkeeping, British Beer & Pub Association and UKHospitality are advising businesses to consult the trade bodies’ newly-updated reopening guidance and FAQs to ensure venues are ready to welcome customers in line with government requirements. The three trade associations have provided a range of reopening guidance, both jointly and individually, to ensure businesses are in line with expected government reopening guidance. While the rules are not yet written into legislation this guidance brings together expert insight based on conversations with government to allow businesses to plan for their reopening. The trade bodies stated: “Businesses will have learned many valuable lessons over the past year, but the barrage of information over the past 12 months has been understandably tricky to navigate. We have done, and will continue to do, the hard work in communicating advice so businesses can focus on their own day-to-day operations.” They added any operators unsure about what they can and cannot do ahead of, on and after the reopening dates, or the support they can offer, should contact them.
Reopening of self-contained accommodation in Wales must swiftly be followed by other areas of the sector, says UKHospitality Cymru: The reopening of self-contained accommodation in Wales in time for Easter must be swiftly followed by other areas of the sector, UKHospitality Cymru has said. Wales first minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed self-contained accommodation can welcome customers again from Monday, 29 March – but only those in Wales. UKHospitality Cymru has welcomed the move but said when the “leading candidates” for phased reopening are next considered, the sector needs to be “moving towards the top of the list”. Executive director David Chapman said: “The starting gun has been fired. This must be the first step in a swift reopening of our sector. We would like to see an alignment of timescales for reopening Welsh hospitality businesses to match those in England to give customers clarity and ease confusion over travel restrictions. That means outdoor hospitality should open on 12 April. Our businesses and their suppliers will need notice to buy stock and prepare premises for visitors.” Drakeford told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he hoped tourism would be open to people from outside of Wales by the summer, if the covid situation continues to improve. He also warned the reopening of tourism in Wales would be halted if holiday providers were found to be taking bookings from people in England. Self-catering accommodation in England can reopen again on Monday, 12 April, while foreign holidays will not be allowed until at least Monday, 17 May under the UK government’s route out of lockdown.
Bristol appoints first night-time economy adviser: Bristol has appointed Carly Heath as the city’s first night-time economy adviser. Taking up the role at the start of April, among Heath’s early tasks will be the development of a vision and roadmap to support Bristol’s cultural venues, bars, restaurants and clubs; increase dialogue and collaboration; and identify and capitalise on the cultural, social and economic benefits the night-time industries can offer the city. With more than 20 years of experience, Heath has a track record of delivering successful projects in the cultural sector, including as the founder of Don’t Panic Bristol, a marketing agency that worked with city venues to promote their events, and as co-founder and trustee of community festival Brisfest. She has also worked on thousands of music events at all levels throughout the city and was part of the research team at University of West of England studying the effects of the pandemic on the cultural industries. Heath will work with the mayor’s office and city partners, and take over the chairing of the Bristol @ Night group, the independent advisory panel first set up to tackle the challenges facing the sector, and help spearhead its recovery. Heath said: “Promoting a vibrant nightlife is important for tourism, but also for the social fabric of the city as a space to congregate and share ideas. Independent restaurants, venues, bars and clubs are the beating heart of Bristol’s culture. I’m passionate about the businesses that operate from 6pm to 6amand I look forward to helping guide Bristol’s night-time economy as we move on from the challenges of lockdown.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a hospitality and real estate business, based in Oxford, which is looking to bring in a finance director. They will be working closely with the chief executive and will assume full responsibility for all financial aspects of the company’s business. This involves analysing financial performance, advising the senior management team on these findings and implementing recommendations to achieve the most profitable results for the business. The finance director will support the various business divisions, guiding them in planning and managing their departmental budgets. Also as an operational leader, this role will involve day-to-day management of the management accounts, client accounts and IT department. This position will pay up to £120,000 basic, plus benefits and incentives. Anyone interested can email
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Licensing update: Licensing solicitor John Gaunt & Partners has produced a useful monthly summary of licensing news featuring information on the reopening roadmap, which can be accessed here.
John Gaunt & Partners is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member 

Company News:

The Inn Collection Group secures £23.2m of funding, preparing for further growth: The Inn Collection Group has secured £23.2m of funding from its private equity partner, Alchemy, including £2m for working capital purposes to help the company get through to a planned reopening of its sites in May. The group has also been granted waivers from its bank for the remainder of this year and into 2022. Despite the effects of the pandemic, The Inn Collection Group reported it was committed to continuing its buy and build strategy and intends to add a further three to five sites a year to its 19-strong estate. It anticipates at least one further new-build or acquisition will be committed to “shortly after normal trading resumes”. Alchemy provided £21.2m of funds for seven acquisitions in 2020 and said it was ready to support further growth. Providing the update in its accounts for the year ending 31 December 2019, the company stated: “An encouragingly strong pipeline of further acquisition opportunities has been developed gradually, all at different stages of progress through to near completion. The covid-19 impact across the business affecting national and global economies has inevitably had a significant impact on progress of business growth and activity, with government-led business closures and restrictions affecting the business, sector and national economy. This has been carefully assessed against performance and plans. The directors have concluded the group’s current strategy remains on course for maximising investor value. The main impact to the group is temporary loss of revenue streams from government restrictions and enforced closure. This is being effectively mitigated through cash conservation and deferral countermeasures, availing itself of all government-related support available and renegotiation of terms and settlements with creditors. In tandem, the group is working with the full support of its bank and investors to ensure adequate funding of operations.” Bookings have also just opened for the latest addition to the group – the 40 bedroom The Seaburn Inn on Sunderland seafront.
Patty & Bun lines up permanent site for Sidechick concept: Patty & Bun, the better burger concept led by Joe Grossman, has lined up a site for Sidechick, its delivery-only concept, Propel has learned. According to landlord BMO Commercial Property Trust, the company has exchanged on the site in James Street, Marylebone, next door to its existing Patty & Bun site, for the chicken concept. BMO Commercial Property Trust said: “The contractor completed building works at 54-56 James Street and a new letting to ‘Sidechick’ has exchanged, with completion targeted by end of the first quarter of 2021. This restaurant is a new concept from the owners of Patty & Bun, an existing tenant on the estate, and underwrites its support for the location.” Patty & Bun launched the chicken-focused offshoot last summer as a delivery-only brand. In 2019, Patty & Bun “tested the water” by operating chicken concept Jefferies as part of the summer line-up at The Prince and at Pergola Olympia, which are both operated by Incipio Group. BMO Commercial Property Trust said it had also exchanged on a new letting to Indian concept Papa-Dum at 20 James Street, which is also expected to complete by end of the first quarter of this year. The concept, which is led by Hiren Bagdai and Katherine Isle, currently operates a site in New Fetter Lane, Holborn.
Mitchells & Butlers faces investor backlash over top pay: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) is facing a shareholder revolt over plans to bolster the guaranteed pay awards of its top executives amid a broader firestorm over corporate governance at the company. Sky News reported several major institutional investors are planning to oppose M&B’s remuneration policy because it plans to replace a performance-based share scheme with more certain annual awards. Institutional Shareholder Services, an influential voting advisory firm, said in a report to clients that M&B’s explanation of the shift in policy “mainly discusses retention and a goal to maximise long-term shareholder value, but it does not explain how it will achieve the latter”. The recommendation paves the way for a clash at the pub operator’s annual meeting later this month, where a number of directors, including chairman Bob Ivell, also face substantial votes against their re-election. However, there is no prospect of any of the resolutions being voted down because more than half of the company’s shares are controlled by a consortium of investors who include Joe Lewis, the owner of Tottenham Hotspur, and the horseracing tycoons John Magnier and JP McManus. A spokesman for M&B insisted the company’s remuneration committee “will continue to ensure any value delivered to our executive directors is fair and appropriate in the context of the performance of the business and experience of our stakeholders”. The Telegraph reported earlier this week Glass Lewis, another proxy adviser, was also recommending the removal of Ivell and several fellow directors.
Star Pubs & Bars offers more rent concessions, total reaches £62m: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is extending its 90% rent reduction for pubs on core leased and tenanted agreements in England until 16 May. Between 17 May and 20 June, when trading restrictions are then lifted, it will offer a further 10% concession, meaning pubs’ rent will average 50% in May. Thereafter licensees will return to paying rent in full. It brings Star Pubs & Bars’ total investment in rent concessions to £62m since March 2020. Rent concessions will also be offered to pubs in Scotland and Wales once there is clarity from the Scottish and Welsh governments on reopening dates. Star Pubs & Bars said its rent concessions will remain under review in the event of any government policy alterations and additional government support for the pub sector. In addition to rent relief, Star Pubs & Bars is offering free covid safety point-of-sale materials, and a raft of reopening support including new training modules, trading insight, and supplier discounts to help licensees make the most of their outdoor space. Managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “If the government sticks to its reopening roadmap plans, it should be a great summer as research shows the public can’t wait to get back to the pub. We’ve invested significantly in rent concessions over the past 12 months to help ensure our pubs are ready and able to reopen to meet this demand. I firmly believe this pandemic will show the true partnership nature of the leased and tenanted model. Following the chancellor’s support package last week, including the announcement of cash restart grants, the government needs to look at the long-term sustainability of the pub industry. We are excited about investment opportunities across the UK and have a leading role to play in helping the country’s economic recovery and supporting the government’s levelling-up agenda – but we need meaningful alcohol duty and business rates reform, as well as a long-term VAT cut on all sales across hospitality.”
Jones – Soho House ‘exploring seriously’ a New York float, plans 20 more clubs:Nick Jones, the founder and chief executive of the Soho House chain of private members’ clubs, has admitted he is “exploring seriously” a float for the business in New York, aiming to capitalise on America’s buoyant equity markets. Talking to the Sunday Times about whether he was mulling a $3bn (£2.2bn) stock market float of the business, which operates 27 private members’ clubs from Los Angeles to Mumbai, Jones said: “We could do it — it would work. We haven’t made any decision. We can easily be funded and stay private. We’re in a good place. It’s not a pressing issue. If a member is part of an organisation that is incredibly well-funded, and it looks after them better because of that, then an initial public offering could be the right answer.” In terms of expansion, as well as 180 House on the Strand, which Jones hopes to open on Monday, 12 April under the government’s lockdown easing plans, he will, over the next three years, launch clubs in Manchester – in the former Granada TV studios – as well as in Glasgow and Brighton. He will also expand to Tel Aviv, Rome, Paris, Stockholm, Austin in Texas, Palm Springs, Nashville, Napa Valley, Portland, Philadelphia, Tulum in Mexico, and the Grenadines. Sydney and Melbourne will follow. The Glasgow house will occupy four floors of a Victorian building in the Merchant City area. Jones is also looking for sites in Leeds and Birmingham. The company has also amalgamated its 56 separate websites into one mobile phone app. Members can use it to book tables, rooms and gym classes, publish and stream content, and connect with each other directly or in groups in Clubhouse-style audio and video “rooms”. A payment option allows members who log in when they arrive at a club simply to leave their table or the bar and walk out without settling the bill. Their credit card will be debited at the end of the day and a receipt sent to them. Jones expects Ebitda to slump from a budgeted £85m to £5m in 2020. “We will return to profitability as the houses reopen,” he predicted.
Shore Capital – opportunity for Hollywood Bowl Group to expand Puttstars is ‘especially attractive’: Shore Capital leisure analyst Greg Johnson has argued the opportunity for Hollywood Bowl Group to expand its mini-golf concept, Puttstars, is “especially attractive” on the back of the company’s £30m fundraise. Hollywood Bowl Group raised the proceedings via a share placing to invest in new opportunities, resume its capex programme and strengthen its balance sheet. A total of 13,043,480 placing shares, representing approximately 8.3% of the existing issued share capital of the company, have been placed at a price of 230 pence per share. Puttstars currently operates from three sites – in Leeds, Rochdale and York. Issuing a “Buy” note on the shares following the fund-raise, Johnson said: “Unsurprisingly, the pandemic is creating additional opportunities for ten-pin bowling and mini-golf in ‘prime’ locations in the UK. We see mini-golf, through its new Puttstars concept, as especially attractive (given flexibility) as more sites become available. The company is set to accelerate the rollout from two new centres per annum up to four over the medium term. Given the opportunities in Puttstars and the potential availability of sites, the eventual roadmap could be longer. A return to pre-covid metrics by FY2022 coupled with an acceleration to four new centres per annum could see Hollywood Bowl worth circa 300p per share under our methodology. With the roadmap out of lockdown set, and signs positive for a rebound in the summer (noting the successful reopening last year), adjusting for the equity raise and the building site pipeline we increase our fair value for Hollywood Bowl to 300p per share, with potentially more to come out of a faster recovery, improved return metrics and the opportunities from Puttstars.”
Airship wins three development award accolades: Hospitality CRM platform Airship has won three awards at the UK Developer Awards 2021 – including the development team of the year accolade. The team has also won project of the year and innovation of the year awards in recognition of the speedy development and rollout of – a track and trace solution for businesses to keep a temporary record of their customers to help prevent the spread of covid-19. To date, 23 million people have been recorded through across 11,000 locations nationwide. Dan Brookman, chief executive of Airship and gift card platform Toggle, said: “Covid-19 has meant companies have had to be incredibly agile to survive, ourselves included. When the UK government announced the requirement for track and trace, the team took on the challenge and absolutely delivered.”