Patisserie Valerie’s new owner says business back on track as it laid bare state of company at takeover: Patisserie Valerie’s new owner has said the business is back on track as it laid bare the state of the company it bought in January. Matt Scaife, a partner at Dublin-based private equity firm Causeway Capital Partners, which bought Patisserie Valerie out of administration for £5m, described the shock at finding broken ovens, unpaid suppliers, and a leak in the roof at a key bakery site. Patisserie Valerie shocked investors last year when it revealed a multimillion-pound black hole in its accounts that soon sank the business. Scaife told The Guardian: “As soon as we arrived the extent of the under-investment became increasingly apparent. There were ovens that had been broken for several months, and there was a leak in the bakery roof. Suppliers were often left unpaid, while new ones were sought. When someone decides to stop using butter in the puff pastry – in a patisserie – you know that something serious has happened.” Six months on from the buyout the “new” Patisserie Valerie is looking much brighter, Scaife said, with plans to replace the outlets’ salmon and brown colour scheme and install a smaller menu. He added: “We are delighted with the progress we have made. We found a lot of problems but we also inherited some great staff who really care about what they do. There’s been a lot of hard work but it’s very much back on track.” Patisserie Valerie, which at one stage was valued at £450m, plunged into administration in January after it was unable to secure new bank finance. The black hole in its finances that precipitated the crisis has turned out to be at least £94m. Patisserie Valerie’s finance director, Chris Marsh, was arrested and bailed. The Serious Fraud Office has opened a criminal investigation but has not commented further. More than 900 staff lost their jobs in the wake of the collapse and the new company now operates 96 outlets with 2,000 staff. At its height, the chain that started life in London’s Soho in 1926, had almost 200 outlets, employing 3,000 staff.
The Sunday Times – Pod is a salutary warning to entrepreneurs about accepting onerous terms from private equity investors in return for cash: The Sunday Times has argued Pod is a case study in the dangers of accepting private equity investment that comes with onerous conditions. Shareholders are voting on a £2.7m offer for the business from the Azzurri Group – they have been told administration is the alternative. They will receive 5p for their shares under the offer, having paid up to £6 for them. In 2011, Pod accepted £2.5m of investment from JGR. “It used consent rights to seize control of the business,” one shareholder told the newspaper. “It was a coup d’état.” Chairman David Haimes told The Sunday Times: “For the time I’ve been here, the board has been run properly by the directors with no overdue influence from any shareholder group.” Last year, Pod removed advertising from its windows for a mini-bond campaign that claimed investors would “own a piece of Pod” after Propel contact the company – there was, in fact, no equity on offer.
Coyote Ugly UK franchisee to open second Swansea site for sports bar concept Jack Murphys: Steve Lewis, who holds the franchise rights for Coyote Ugly in the UK, is set to open a second site for his sports bar concept Jack Murphys in Swansea. Lewis has been granted a premises licence by the city council to open the new site in Uplands Crescent. The former Wasabi restaurant, which shut last year, is being revamped ahead of opening later this summer, creating 25 jobs. Lewis told Wales Online: “We are going to be a sports bar, and the first food pub in Uplands. The licensing conditions are all about things we were always planning to do.” Lewis’ existing Jack Murphys site is in Wind Street. He signed a development agreement in 2016 to open Coyote Ugly in the UK and it now operates four sites – in Cardiff, Liverpool, Manchester and Swansea – with a fifth set to open in Birmingham.
Yorkshire-based wagyu restaurant doubles up with opening at former Jamie’s Italian in Harrogate: Yorkshire-based restaurant concept The Wagyu Bar & Grill has doubled up after opening in the former Jamie’s Italian in Harrogate for its second site. The concept is the brainchild of Warrendale Farm, a long-established family business, and pledges to offer the “finest quality” British wagyu beef in a “gate-to-plate steak exercise” from its own farm in the village of Warter, near Pocklington. The debut Wagyu Bar & Grill opened in York in mid-March and it has now launched in the former Jamie’s Italian premises in Parliament Street, Harrogate, which closed last year. The opening has created 30 jobs, reports the Harrogate Advertiser.
Fish and chip chain Blue Lagoon to strengthen Glasgow presence: Family-run fish and chip shop chain Blue Lagoon is set to strengthen its Glasgow presence with a new city centre site. The company has applied to the city council to open a restaurant and takeaway in Bath Street at a former beauticians, reports Glasgow Live. Blue Lagoon was founded in the early 1970s by Italian-born Ersilio Varese and is now run by his son Angelo. It has several sites around Glasgow, including city centre venues in Argyle Street, Gordon Street and Sauchiehall Street as well as a location in Gallowgate in the east end and a takeaway at the Glasgow Fort shopping centre. Blue Lagoon also operates sites in Ayr, Largs and Stirling.
Tuscan coastal concept launches in Brixton: Chef Alice Staple, who is part of the team behind Battersea-based private social enterprise the London Cooking Project, has launched a Tuscan coastal concept in Brixton with business partner Dickie Bielenberg. Maremma has opened at former pub the Montego Inn in Brixton Water Lane. The neighbourhood restaurant takes inspiration from the Maremma coastal region in southern Tuscany, which is known for its seafood, game, olive groves and vineyards. The menu features Tuscan classics such as wild boar prosciutto and acquacotta, a traditional soup served with a poached hen’s egg. There are also lighter snacks to accompany cocktails. The wine list focuses on Tuscan bottles from small producers, all of them available in the UK for the first time. The venue features a quartz-topped bar and banquettes with oak tables. Bielenberg said: “Alice and I love the region and were won over by its produce, fine wine and charm.”
Coffee#1 wins planning appeal for Christchurch site: Coffee#1, which is majority-owned by Caffe Nero, has won a planning appeal to open a site in Christchurch, Dorset. Coffee#1 saw its bid for an outlet in the former Shoe Zone premises in High Street rejected by Christchurch Borough Council, which felt the balance of food outlets to retail outlets would tip too far. More than 100 people signed a petition objecting to the plans, pointing out the plans would introduce a 15th business selling hot drinks to the town centre. However, Coffee#1 launched an appeal against the decision and a government inspector has ruled in its favour, reports the Daily Echo. Inspector Sophie Edwards’ report said: “I accept the council is seeking to preserve the retail function of Christchurch town centre and is concerned with the proliferation of non-retail uses within this area. However, rather than adversely affecting the vitality and viability of Christchurch town centre, the proposed use would complement the offer in this area and attract footfall for longer periods of the day and evening, which in turn would be beneficial to existing retailers.” Caffe Nero became the majority owner of Coffee#1 in January, when it acquired close to 70% ownership from Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain. The brand currently has 93 sites.
Costa signs pledge to slash food waste by 2030: Costa Coffee, now owned by Coca-Cola, has signed up to the government’s pledge to help halve food waste by 2030. Alongside several leading high street brands and supermarkets, Costa Coffee has pledged to act and help raise public awareness in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Victoria Moorhouse, head of sustainability for Costa Coffee, said: “We are committed to playing our part in reducing waste wherever possible. We have a number of initiatives to ensure there is minimal food waste, which includes, first and foremost, an efficient ordering system designed to reduce waste before it is created. We also allow food sold during the last hour of trading that is in date but cannot be sold the following day to be discounted by 50% and empower our stores to make food donations to local charities via our Food Surplus Policy. Finally, for those stores whose waste streams we manage, any food waste that cannot be redistributed we send to Anaerobic Digestion, where it is turned into biogas and bio fertiliser. We are delighted to be working alongside government to drive change and share best practice, stepping up to the plate and delivering collective action.” Last month, Costa Coffee attended the Step up to the Plate symposium, hosted by the government’s food surplus and waste champion Ben Elliot.
Heineken to invest £2.3m in five north east pubs: Heineken is investing £2.3m in five of its Star Pubs & Bars sites in the north east. The Punchbowl in Jesmond is set to receive the largest sum of £764,000 while The Queen Victoria in Gosforth will receive £495,000, The Harbour Lights in South Shields will see £265,000, and The Mill Tavern in Hebburn will get £400,000. Meanwhile, The Bute Arms, in High Spen, is having £380,000 spent on it and will reopen after a two-year closure. Earl Nicholson and Christine Burrel, who run the Rose & Crown in Winlaton, will take over The Bute Arms, which will relaunch in August. The funds being spent in the north east are part of a record £50m being spent by Heineken to refurbish almost 150 pubs across the UK that was announced in April. Gary Corney, regional operations director for Star Pubs & Bars, told Chronicle Live: “This investment is a sign of our confidence in the future of the Great British pub. We’re thinking big and investing substantially in order to attract new customers and establish great pubs that will stand the test of time. Earl is a great licensee. We’ve worked with him for a number of years and know that he is the ideal person to run the Bute Arms.”
Red Mist Leisure expands apprenticeship programme to bring through next generation of chefs: Pub operator Red Mist Leisure, founded by Mark Robson and Mark Williams, is aiming to bring through the next generation of chefs as it expands its apprenticeship offer. The company is offering an apprenticeship programme for level 2 commis chef and level 3 chef de partie positions with the support of four colleges – Farnborough College of Technology, Basingstoke College, South Thames College and Havant & South Downs College. Robson, who is the new chairman of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), is aiming to bring the pub industry together to form training and development opportunities to a new generation of chefs. He said: “As I outlined in my speech at the recent BII summer event, we need more effort and focus by employers to attract a greater number of apprentices into our industry. Collectively, we must embrace the opportunities that exist by introducing or expanding apprenticeship programmes in our businesses to help overcome the very real recruitment crisis our sector is facing. Initiatives like this attract fresh new talent into the industry and help secure the pipeline of skilled chefs and kitchen staff for the future; and I want Red Mist to help lead the way on this front by expanding our apprenticeship offering this year.” All ten of Red Mist Leisure’s pubs are taking part in the scheme. New candidates will receive a 12-month training programme with the opportunity for a full-time role upon completion.
Buenasado opens at former CAU site in Reading: Argentine steakhouse Buenasado has opened a site in Reading. The company has opened the venue in the former CAU restaurant at the Oracle shopping centre that closed last year after parent company Gaucho went into administration. Buenasado opened its first site in 2011, in Wimbledon, south west London, and also has outlets in Chiswick, Horsham, Richmond, Reigate and Walton-on-Thames. Buenasado’s parent company, Buenos Aires Restaurant Holdings, announced a share merger last year with High Road Restaurants Group BidCo, owner of the Koh Thai Tapas chain of Thai restaurants, to form a multi-branded restaurant group.
Conwy-based operator takes on second pub: Conwy-based operator Peter Hammond is to take on his second pub. Hammond has run The Toad in Rhos-on-Sea for 14 years. Now he has signed a lease to take over the Tal-y-Cafn in Conwy Valley. The pub is undergoing a major renovation and is set to reopen later this month or in early July, reports the Daily Post.
BrewDog opens second German bar, in Hamburg: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has opened its second bar in Germany. The company has launched BrewDog St Pauli in Hamburg as it builds on its Berlin bar. Located on the ground floor of the Tanzende Türme building in Reeperbahn, the venue features 24 craft beer taps and offers its food menu of burgers, wings and hot dogs as well as brunch at the weekend. BrewDog St Pauli is the company’s 23rd international site.
Left Handed Giant opens new brewery following £1m crowdfunding campaign:Bristol-based Left Handed Giant Brewing, which is led by former BrewDog operations director Bruce Gray, has opened a new brewery having raised more than £1m through a crowdfunding drive. The company, which is looking to increase its output from 3,000 hectolitres to near the micro-brewery limit of 5,000 hectolitres, has moved into Bristol’s new leisure quarter, Finzels Reach, taking over the Compressor Building overlooking the waterfront. The ground floor of the building has returned to its former use as a brewery, where Left Handed Giant Brewing also houses a brewpub. Food is provided by vegetarian pizza concept Mission Pizza, headed by former artisan bakers Jim Bishop and Sandie Tomlinson, reports Bristol Live. Left Handed Giant raised £1,068,570 last year on Crowdcube. Its current brewery will be retained to create sour beer.
Derbyshire-based operator lines up second site for cocktail bar concept:Derbyshire-based operator Mark Pook is lining up a second site for his cocktail bar concept Isaac’s. Pook is looking to add to his debut site in Glossop with a new venue in Matlock. He has applied to Derbyshire Dales District Council to convert the former Matlock Music Shop in Dale Road. As well as cocktails, Isaac’s also serves gin and beer. Pook told Derbyshire Live: “We feel Isaac’s would be a perfect fit in Matlock and offer something different in the town. Isaac’s has been well received in Glossop. The concept aims to bring fantastic, freshly prepared cocktails. The menu changes every week with seasonal influences on our offering.” The bar is named after late industrialist and philanthropist Isaac Jackson, who lived from 1857 to 1930. He founded his conveyor belt business on the site that is now home to the Glossop cocktail bar in 1884. Pook also co-owns Apartment, a New York-inspired cocktail bar in Chesterfield.
York Brewery to relocate as new owners seek permanent site: York Brewery’s brewing operations will be temporarily relocated as its owners seek a new site within the city. Black Sheep Brewery, which bought York Brewery out of administration in December, has reaffirmed its long-term commitment to maintain York Brewery’s brewing operations in York. York Brewery has been brewing within the city since the company was established in 1996. Black Sheep Brewery is seeking a new site in York and has appointed property agents to secure a suitable location. Chairman Andy Slee told The Business Desk: “The York Brewery acquisition was an important moment for both businesses. We have taken on three additional pubs as a result, together with the York Brewery property at Toft Green. The three pubs are working well. However, despite wanting to maintain brewing in the city of York and our best efforts, a lack of a timely agreement between the landlord of the building and Black Sheep will lead to a temporary relocation of equipment and people to our Masham site. This interim measure shouldn’t be for too long. We have several other locations in York under active consideration for York Brewery and have appointed agents to deal with the matter.”
UCC Coffee reveals rebuild plans for Dartford roastery following fire: UCC Coffee UK and Ireland has revealed plans for its new production facilities at its Dartford roastery, following a fire in October 2018. The rebuild of Dartford is a key initiative for the company this year, with planning permission secured to rebuild and improve long-term production and operations on site. The rebuild, which is expected to complete in August 2020, will increase production and improve product flow, as well as offer staff an improved, modern space, including a new break-out area, changing facilities, and increased office space. A new coffee bag machine will also be installed alongside its state-of-the-art roasters to increase capacity of its key retail lines. The rebuild follows a £2.5m investment to the roastery in 2015. Elaine Swift, regional director (north), UCC Coffee Europe, said: “After a challenging few months in Dartford following the fire, we’re pleased to share further progress as we invest and rebuild for a stronger future. We’re back on our feet and our plans will not only improve our roastery operations, but our office space too. We’re investing in to the rebuild to not only future-proof our business but to increase our capacity. This recovery would not have been possible without the support of our European roasteries, customers and team.” Following the fire, UCC Coffee’s roasteries across Europe supported the UK business through its disaster recovery process to ensure disruption was minimised for its customers. In April, UCC Coffee also announced a move to a new regional European structure.
Bespoke Hotels adds historic Lincolnshire venue to portfolio: Bespoke Hotels has signed a management agreement for a grade II-listed venue in Lincolnshire. Branston Hall Hotel is a wedding and events venue three miles south of Lincoln. The grade II-listed property was built in 1885 for the Melville family. It comprises 53 bedrooms, a dining room, spa and meetings and events space. It sits on an 88-acre estate encompassing parkland, gardens and private lakes. Bespoke Hotels regional director Paul Brown told Insider Media: “We are excited to support Branston Hall Hotel. It is something of a local hero in Lincolnshire and we look forward to working to strengthen its profile and visibility throughout the country.”