Caffe Nero had been trading at 55% to 65% of pre-pandemic levels in recent weeks: Caffe Nero had been trading at 55% to 65% of pre-pandemic weeks before the second lockdown – and is forecasting a funding requirement of £26m. The company, which currently operates 800 sites across the UK, has also said it doesn’t consider 69 of its outlets, in its recently launched company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposals, to be viable based on historical performance and expectation of future trading. These are thought to include central London-based sites in Piccadilly Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Central St Giles and Covent Garden (Maiden Lane). It is understood prior to the recent takeaway-only restrictions, overall sales in recent weeks were between 55% and 65% of levels prior to the pandemic, which the company said represented an “unsustainable drop”. Some stores are understood to be trading at as little as 25% to 40% of pre-covid levels. After taking advantage of support provided by the government, between March and September the business is thought to have lost £110m of sales and £36m of Ebitda versus the same period in the prior year. Propel understands even with the significant and ongoing actions taken by the management team to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, the business is currently loss-making and the directors are forecasting a funding requirement in excess of £26m, hence the CVA move. Propel understands if the CVA proposals, which look to move the majority of the group’s sites and concessions to a turnover-based rent, are approved when voted on, on Monday, 30 November, the group’s shareholders will make available a minimum of £5m of new funding to the company, to allow it to meet its obligations under the CVA. Propel understands landlords will receive a payment of approximately 30p in the pound in respect of landlord/non-critical creditor arrears, which is thought to be more favourable than is typical.
BrewDog secures £25m CBILS: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has secured £25m through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to help it through the coronavirus pandemic. The company updated on its position as it filed its accounts for the year ending 31 December 2019. It stated: “As a result of the covid-19 pandemic, the company has conducted an assessment on the potential financial and operational risks to the business. Despite the potential impact across the business, the directors do not currently expect any impairments due to the headroom available when an impairment test was undertaken at the year-end. Subsequent to the year-end, the company raised £3.3m through the issue of a bond on 22 January 2020 paying 6% interest (5% in cash and 1% in beer). The company also converted a £5m repayable, on demand, loan into a structured-term loan, repayable in quarterly equal instalments over ten years. Interest will be calculated quarterly and charged at 2.1% per annum over the base rate. Furthermore, the company entered into an invoice financing arrangement, which states the company can obtain a pre-payment of up to 90% of outstanding accounts receivable in the UK, up to a facility limit of £20m. It should be noted the agreement does not contain any financial covenants that the company is to adhere to. The company also secured a £25m CBILS loan – repayable over three years.” Co-founder James Watt said: “2020 has been challenging all round so far with covid-19 having a big impact on businesses all over the planet. Despite the difficulties, we have managed to weather the storm better than expected with very strong grocery sales and very strong online sales compensating for the temporary closures of our bars and the closure of our on-premises wholesale channel.” As previously reported, BrewDog lost £8m in the first half of 2020 with revenue down about £20m against budget. For the year ending 31 December 2019, group revenue rose to £214.9m, compared with £171.6m the previous year. Adjusted Ebitda increased to £17.1m from £7m the year before. The company made a pre-tax profit of £1.1m, compared with a loss of £576,000 the previous year. Sales in its UK bar division rose to £47.1m, compared with £34.9m the year before. The division made a loss of £601,000 compared with a loss of £418,000 the previous year.
Yellowwoods ups stake in Wahaca: Yellowwoods, the investment vehicle that backs Nando’s, has upped its stake in Wahaca, as part of the Mexican restaurant brand’s recent restructuring. According to The Telegraph, the Yellowwoods, which is owned by Dick Enthoven, the billionaire South African behind Nando’s, has injected a further £4m into Wahaca. It is thought that now gives the investment vehicle a majority stake in the Mark Selby-led business, which last month secured approval for a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) that saw the company close 11 of its circa 25 sites. The CVA would also lead to lenders to and shareholders of the company writing off £25m of debt and injecting £5m of new money into the business to put it on a more sustainable footing. Lenders led by the taxpayer-backed NatWest will also see roughly 60% of their exposure, or £13m, written off, while shareholders are writing off the entirety of the £12m they are owed by the company. Selby told Propel: “Yellowwoods has supported us for years and throughout this covid pandemic and we are all focused now on getting through the current lockdown and beyond. Our main energy as a team is on being the most sustainable restaurant business out there and we are excited about the future.” Nando’s UK operations, which encompass more than 300 restaurants, are headed up by the tycoon’s son, Robby Enthoven. Meanwhile, Propel understands Matt Heather, formerly of Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) and Pho, has stepped down as Wahaca’s operations director. Heather joined Wahaca at the end of 2019.
Boston Tea Party to take ex-River Cottage site in Bristol: All-day dining casual cafe brand Boston Tea Party is to consolidate its estate in Bristol, with the closure of two sites and a move into larger premises, formerly occupied by River Cottage Canteen. Boston Tea Party will close its sites in the Whiteladies and Clifton areas of Bristol to move into the ex-River Cottage premises at the top end of Whiteladies Road, in St Johns Court. Staff from both closed sites will move to the larger premises, which are expected to open next year. The River Cottage site closed at the end of March after seven years of trading. Boston Tea Party currently operates 22 sites, with two openings in the pipeline in Lichfield and Worthing. In an update to Companies House last month the business said it had modelled a conservative trading scenario post-lockdown, which would initially be at 30% of previous levels. As a result, the business said it had been trading ahead of its funding model, which provides it with a “considerable cash cushion”. It agreed with bank Santander all covenants would be relaxed, with working directors taking a 50% pay cut. The group also received finance from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, on the basis trading would gradually return to normal levels over a two-year period.
Deliveroo lines up former Worldpay CFO as non-executive director: Deliveroo has lined up former Worldpay chief financial officer Rick Medlock to become a non-executive director and chair its audit committee as it continues preparation for a mooted $2bn-valued initial public offering (IPO), reports Sky News. Medlock’s experience spans several tech-focused public companies. He is a non-executive director of medical devices maker Smith & Nephew, and has chaired audit committees at Sophos, a provider of cybersecurity services, and Thus, the telecommunications group. Last month it was reported Deliveroo had given JP Morgan the mandate, alongside Goldman Sachs, to manage its IPO, which could be unveiled within months. A float on the London Stock Exchange, which would be valued at $2bn, could come as soon as the first quarter of 2021. During the summer, Deliveroo ended a nine-month search for a permanent finance chief by appointing Adam Miller, a former executive at the travel group Expedia, to the role – a move that stoked speculation about its IPO preparations.
Time Out Market CEO hints at return to Spitalfields plan: The chief executive of Time Out Market has hinted a previously rejected application to open a market on a Spitalfields site in east London could be revived and said London was one of just two major cities where he would consider opening multiple locations. Time Out’s first UK market will now open in Waterloo in 2022, but chief executive Didier Souillat told Property Week the business was open to looking for another location in the capital and could return to one it got rejected on. Souillat said: “The only cities that can handle two Time Out Markets are New York and London.” In 2018, Tower Hamlets Council’s development committee unanimously rejected plans for a 19,350 square foot market at the old London Omnibus stables on Commercial Street. But Souillat said: “I think the residents are now seeing how the concept can have such a positive impact and how it could add to the local community. What are you going to do with the space? Put in a warehouse or invite millions of people to visit this treasure of a place? We have not made our mind up yet and have to pause for the moment. I love Spitalfields, the area and building.” Last week the group announced plans to expand its global footprint with the opening of its seventh location, in Dubai, set for the first quarter of 2021. Time Out Market Dubai, which will be the first in the Middle East, is located in Souk Al Bahar and will span across 30,000 square feet.
TGI Friday’s confirms plans to launch cocktail-led bar and restaurant concept 63rd+1st: TGI Friday’s UK, the Robert Cook-led group, has confirmed it is launching a cocktail led bar and restaurant concept, named 63rd+1st. Designed to cater for a broad audience, the first venue under the new concept will open on the former Carluccio’s site in Cobham, Surrey, on 8 January. Inspired by the original Friday’s founded in 1965 in Manhattan, on the corner of 63rd Street and 1st Avenue, the concept will be a “visible departure from the iconic Friday’s brand but harks back to the same principles of classic cocktails, quality food and legendary atmosphere”. At the heart of 63rd+1st is the bar, while a New York-influenced menu will include a selection of sharing plates, salad bowls, and entrees celebrating both “surf and turf” with a focus on quality and provenance. Brunch will be served daily. Spanning 180 square metres, the Cobham restaurant will seat 96, with outdoor dining for an additional 20 covers. Further 63rd+1st restaurants will launch across the UK in 2021. Cook said: “This is an exciting time for the Friday’s business and a reflection of our long-term commitment to growth. We have seen a credible performance this year, despite the challenges of covid-19. We have been agile, responsive, and continued to innovate throughout 2020 and this is a further demonstration of our ambition. We also recognise in this new world audiences are becoming increasingly discerning and their attitudes towards food and drink are evolving. Naturally, we will adhere to government guidelines upon opening to ensure the health and safety of our guests and staff, but we are very optimistic about the potential of 63rd+1st and we see this as a huge opportunity to drive further growth, in tandem with the core Friday’s brand in 2021.” It is thought sites in Canterbury, Harrogate and Cambridge are under discussion for the new concept.
Deltic asks government for £1m-a-month bailout: The Deltic Group is asking the government for a £1m-a-month bailout as it heads for a sale to private equity, the Mail on Sunday has reported. It added: “Deltic Group, which runs 52 ‘super-clubs’ around the UK including Pryzm and Atik, all closed due to covid-19 restrictions, will start assessing bids on Monday (16 November) from an initial 20 private equity firms and ten industry rivals after being put up for sale in October. Chief executive Peter Marks said he needs a ‘firm offer’ either to buy the company outright or invest alongside existing shareholders by the end of the month as he will run out of cash in mid-December. If no deal is reached, Deltic will be put into administration or a company voluntary arrangement insolvency process by consultancy firm BDO, which is leading the sale. Marks, who is a shareholder alongside other management and four property investors, said the firm was worth £80m pre-covid but investors’ bids are now likely to be far lower to reflect it burning through £700,000 a month to cover fixed costs while its clubs are shut. It has also accrued an outstanding rent bill of £8m. Marks and rivals, including Fabric founder Cameron Leslie and Ministry of Sound chairman Lohan Presencer, have asked business minister Paul Scully for support. Marks said his plea for a grant of about £1m per month is a third of the £3m Deltic contributed to the Treasury in taxes while it was trading successfully.”
Todiwala to close Café Spice Namasté after 25 years in business: Chef Cyrus Todiwala will close Café Spice Namasté, which is the longest-running Bib Gourmand restaurant in the Michelin Guide, at the end of January after 25 years in business. According to Bloomberg chief food critic Richard Vines, the chef is planning on opening a new restaurant in east London, after the closure of his site in Prescot Street, near Tower Bridge. Earlier this year, Todiwala left Tandem – his first restaurant outside London. The venue at Highcross Leicester shopping centre was launched as a joint project between the chef and Leicester-based Raphael Hospitality. Todiwala also operates Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen at Lincoln Plaza London in Canary Wharf and Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen at Hilton London Heathrow Airport.
Morley’s chicken shop continues expansion: Morley’s chicken shop is set to open a new site in Finsbury Park, having launched in Brick Lane last week. The franchised fried chicken store has more than 40 sites, which are mainly in south London but more are appearing in the north and east of the capital. Rapper Stormzy is known to be a big fan, having recorded a music video in one branch for his song Big For Your Boots. The Finsbury Park site has taken over the former Jerkmaica site in Stroud Green Road while the Brick Lane restaurant opened in the building that used to be Moo Cantina. Food is currently available for takeaway and delivery.
London nightclub begins crowdfunding to avoid closure: London nightclub Egg is crowdfunding to prevent permanent closure. As part of the Music Venue Trust’s SaveOurVenues campaign, the 900-capacity, four-floored club has set a target of £200,000, with the aim of keeping its doors open in 2021 and beyond. “Egg London have been a part of the music industry in London for the past 17 years,” organisers said. “We’re crowdfunding because we need your help to save our venue. Like many other venues, this pandemic has destroyed the dance industry and we haven’t been able to open since March. Our main achievement is to make sure we can keep up with our payments to our staff and rent, enough to get us ready for when we’re able to open back up.” They added: “Our music venue risks permanent closure because of the coronavirus pandemic. No venue expected this to happen and it has caused all funds to be sucked into keeping staff and the venue secure over the past eight months. If we cannot cover these expenses then the venue will be permanently closed.”
Hakkasan closes eponymous New York outlet, plans third Ling Ling opening:Hakkasan Group has permanently closed it eponymous restaurant in New York after eight years in the city. A representative for the Hakkasan Group confirmed the closure, writing in an emailed statement: “We have made the difficult decision to close our location due to the ongoing impact of covid-19.” The Theater District spot has remained closed since the pandemic-related shutdown in March. Ownership posted a message on Yelp in April letting customers know the restaurant would be closed indefinitely, but were hopeful the establishment would reopen. The restaurant subsequently laid off all 95 employees. Hakkasan debuted in New York in 2012. Meanwhile, Hakkasan Group, in partnership with Atlantis, Dubai, has announced plans to open a third Ling Ling restaurant, at Atlantis, The Royal in Dubai. Currently, Ling Ling has two international locations, in Oslo and Marrakesh, with a fourth location slated to open in Mexico City in 2021. The Ling Ling concept emerged in the Hakkasan Group portfolio as a natural evolution of the original Ling Ling lounge tucked away inside most Hakkasan nightclub locations around the world. It takes inspiration from izakayas, offering craft beverages intentionally paired with Cantonese fare. “We’re enthusiastic at the prospect of bringing Ling Ling’s intriguing menus and unmatched late-night experience to a new frontier and could not ask for a better partner than Atlantis, The Royal,” said Angela Lester, executive vice-president of business development for Hakkasan Group.
Odeon hires advisers as it scrambles for cash injection: Odeon Cinemas has hired financial advisers as its US-listed owner scrambles to secure a cash injection. According to The Telegraph, the UK chain, which has been forced to shut during the second lockdown, is understood to be working with City crisis experts from Alvarez & Marsal. The future of Odeon, which employs 5,400 staff across 120 cinemas in the UK and Ireland, was thrown into doubt last month when owner AMC Entertainment warned there was a “significant risk” it could run out of money by Christmas. Although AMC’s cash reserves stood at $430m (£326m) at the end of September, it is burning through about $100m a month – despite most of its US theatres having reopened. Alvarez & Marsal has been drafted to forecast Odeon’s cash requirements while AMC holds crunch talks with lenders, according to City sources.
Virgin Hotels to open in Las Vegas in early 2021: Virgin Hotels will open its latest US property early next year, with the renovation and rebranding of the former Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The hotel, which opens on 15 January, is about one mile east of The Strip. The hotel will offer more than 1,500 rooms and suites across three towers, and will offer 12 food and beverage options including One Steakhouse by brothers David and Michael Morton, Olives by celebrity chef Todd English, Casa Calavera by the Hakkasan Group, Kassi Beach Club from restauranteur Nick Mathers, and signature Virgin Hotels brands The Kitchen at Commons Club and The Bar at Commons Club. Virgin Hotels opened its first US property, in Chicago, in 2015, before adding hotels in San Francisco in early 2019, Dallas late last year, and Nashville this summer. However the owner of the San Francisco hotel served notice to terminate the management agreement with Virgin Hotels earlier this year, and it is no longer listed on the group’s website.
Gleneagles decides to close until 31 January: The Gleneagles Hotel will close for 11 weeks after tougher lockdown restrictions were announced for Perth and Kinross. The hotel shut on Friday (13 November), when the region moved from level two to level three, until 31 January. It said its golf courses and membership facilities would remain open, subject to government restrictions. The hotel said it planned to protect all jobs during the closure. It closed for four months earlier this year as part of the UK lockdown. Gleneagles’ managing director Conor O’Leary said: “Having worked so hard to provide a safe environment across our estate, we are saddened by this development, especially in the lead-up to Christmas – the highlight of our calendar for both team and guests. However, we’re committed to taking the additional measures necessary to protect the health and well-being of everyone at Gleneagles, and to play our part in minimising covid-19 cases in the region.”
Hawksmoor launches complementary at-home delivery food range: Hawksmoor has launched a new at-home delivery menu with dishes that just need reheating. Hawksmoor has already been delivering its Hawksmoor at Home food boxes, which give customers the opportunity to cook a Hawksmoor meal from scratch but the Hawksmoor at Home Local offer puts the work back into the Hawksmoor kitchen and means customers only need to finish off dishes at home. Dishes from the new range must be ordered a day in advance and diners can expect the business’ famed steaks plus treats such as Old Spot belly ribs with vinegar slaw, roast scallops with white port and garlic, bone marrow with onions and sourdough, potted beef and bacon with Yorkshire puddings and onion gravy, and whole or half native lobster with garlic butter. Puddings, cocktails and wine are also catered for. Delivery is within London zones 1-3.
Quo Vadis offers heat-at-home delivery meals: Harts Group-owned Quo Vadis has launched at-home food deliveries that come complete with its highly regarded pies. The Quo Vadis at Home menu has been put together by Jeremy Lee and Doug Sims and costs £95 for two to share. The launch menu includes baked salsify and parmesan; cured salmon, pickled cucumbers, mustard and dill or goose and pork rillettes, pickled figs and cornichons; turkey and bacon pie or winter vegetable cannelloni, parmesan and herbs; mash or sprouting broccoli; and St Emilion au chocolat or almond tart, berries, custard and cream. Figgy pudding with sherry and orange butter is available at £25 as well. Customers can also purchase cocktails and wine.
Taka Marylebone launches ‘Taka-way’ delivery menu and Taka Deli: Taka Marylebone, which opened in September, has launched its “Taka-way” delivery and collection menu plus a Japanese-orientated deli in collaboration with Happy Sky Bakery. Executive chef Taiji Maruyama and head chef Jonathan Dowling have devised the Taka-way menu that focuses on seasonality and local produce. It includes Scottish salmon tataki, wagyu dripping rice bowl with wagyu fat and sukiyaki sauce on sushi rice, nasu dengaku and Taka fried chicken nanban. There will also be classic sushi rolls, nigiri and sashimi and grill favourites. The menu for click and collect and delivery (within a 2.5-mile radius) is already live. Taka Deli will be available from 9am on Monday (16 November), which will serve takeaway coffee and popular Happy Sky pastries such as chicken katsu curry balls, mochi sticky rice an-pan and matcha green tea biscuit monster rolls, as well as baker’s doughnuts.
Barclays upgrades Whitbread on vaccine news: Barclays has upgraded Premier Inn owner Whitbread to ‘Overweight’ from ‘Equalweight’, lifting the price target to 3,350p from 2,500p, arguing it’s one of the most attractive recovery plays in the sector following last week’s vaccine news. The bank said it now has a greater level of confidence that 2023 can see revenue per available room back close to prior levels. “Operating leverage is high, with every 1% change in revpar representing circa 6% to group earnings per share in 2022-23, so we upgrade earnings per share by 43%, leaving us 19% ahead of Bloomberg consensus,” it said. “With growing confidence around a post-covid future, we believe investors will increasingly look through the next six to 12 months to recovered earnings.” Barclays said, importantly, unlike some other hotel groups, it reckons the recovery back to pre-covid revpar for Whitbread could materialise on a two-year view. This would come from market share gains, the relative outperformance of budget hotels during a recession, and relative shelter from a structural shift in business travel due to 90% domestic/50% leisure/100% budget exposure. “In addition, we also think Whitbread is more attractive now than ever for its asset backing (31% to 77% potential upside) and Germany optionality,” the bank said.
Crosstown launches festive range: Crosstown, the artisan doughnut and speciality coffee concept, has launched its festive range. The limited-edition doughnuts, ice cream, cookies, and gifts, are available for next day delivery nationwide. The selection includes new vegan options – a cranberry and apple doughnut and chocolate and coconut ice cream. These sit alongside a magnum whisky cream liqueur doughnut, brandy butter and Nikka whisky ice cream. The expanded gifting range includes local craft beer, wine, freshly roasted coffee, and new Crosstown merchandise. Co-founder JP Then said: “This year’s Christmas celebrations are no doubt going to be quite different! But that shouldn’t stop us from allowing you to celebrate the festive season in style.”