Starbucks thought to have closed 35 sites in London: The Mail on Sunday has reported Starbucks has closed dozens of outlets in London, marking a retreat from a city where it once dominated the coffee shop scene – as many as 35 stores across the capital have closed in the past 18 months. The newspaper stated: “The closures appear to be continuing and a number have been directing customers to other stores in recent weeks. The emergence of the rout in London follows a recent financial statement that it had set aside £20m for ‘lease provisions’ in Britain. It complained of ‘ongoing pressures’ and ‘the changing consumer landscape, high rents and political uncertainty’. London has also been hit hard by a rapid rise in business rates. Starbucks UK, which has repeatedly come under fire for its tax planning, plunged to a £17.2m loss for the year to September 2018 as a result of provisions for renegotiating leases and store closures. Despite the closures in London, Starbucks is understood to have increased overall coffee shop numbers in the UK by around 50 since 2017. It has opened smaller shops and drive-thru outlets outside central London to adapt to changing consumer habits. It now has almost 1,000 in the UK where sales grew 4% in 2018 to £378m.”
Activist investor Elliott holds stake in Whitbread: Premier Inn owner Whitbread has reported Elliott Capital has disclosed a stake of below 5% in the company. The Sunday Telegraph reported in May that Elliott had become increasingly frustrated with Whitbread’s strategy of owning Premier Inn hotels outright and wants the company to offload chunks of its property portfolio. According to the report, the activist investor believes Whitbread’s strategy is “depressing” the company’s share price and is leaving it open to a cut-price hostile takeover. The company declined to comment further on Elliott’s stake purchase.
St Austell Brewery acquires first Exmoor pub: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has acquired its first pub within Exmoor National Park. The company has bought The Bridge Inn in Dulverton from Kenny and Rachel McDonald in a deal brokered by agent Christie & Co. The property, which dates to 1845, will be added to St Austell’s tenanted portfolio and comprises an open-plan bar and restaurant with 52 covers. Outside, the pub has two beer gardens with seating for about 80 covers. The McDonalds had leased The Bridge Inn since 2006 and purchased the freehold in 2012. St Austell Brewery retail director Steve Worrall said: “Having been managed so well for more than 12 years by Kenny and Rachel, The Bridge Inn is a wonderful opportunity for the new tenant, Andrew Cummings.” Meanwhile, St Austell Brewery has been given the go-ahead for plans to reopen the Harbour Light Restaurant at Paignton Harbour. The plans include extending the first-floor restaurant and adding a first-floor terrace, outside seating and a small coffee shop and takeaway. Torbay Council agreed a 90-year lease in March with St Austell Brewery for the grade Il-listed building, subject to planning permission. St Austell Brewery operates 180 pubs, inns and hotels across its tenanted and managed divisions.
The Coffee House secures fifth site with more to follow this year: North west-based independent coffee shop The Coffee House has secured its fifth site – with more to follow in 2019. The company will open an outlet at Barons Quay shopping centre in Northwich, Cheshire, in September. The Coffee House owner and co-founder Chris Shelmerdine said: “We are delighted to announce our involvement in Barons Quay and excited to showcase our concept alongside national businesses later this year. Northwich has been a target for us for many years. We think it’s a beautiful town that fits perfectly with the locations we already have. Barons Quay offers us an opportunity to develop our store design further than before.” The Coffee House was launched in 2011 and has venues in Lymm, Partington, Sale and Widnes. Completed in November 2017, Barons Quay is a riverside retail and leisure quarter being delivered by Cheshire West and Chester Council. It offers 210,000 square feet of stores, shops and restaurants.
Doughnotts secures fourth site, in Lincoln: East Midlands-based doughnut concept Doughnotts has acquired its fourth site, in Lincoln. Founders Wade Smith and Megan Scadden will open a 1,600 square foot store in the redeveloped Cornhill Quarter. The shop will be part of phase two of owner Lincolnshire Co-op’s redevelopment, which will deliver 23,000 square feet of retail space. Smith said: “Lincoln is an incredible city with a massive history. We are itching to open and add something new by being the first doughnut company there.” Doughnotts has sites in Derby, Leicester and Nottingham and sells its doughnuts in various outlets in the region. Lincolnshire Co-op was represented by Banks Long & Co and KLM Retail, while FHP Property acted for Doughnotts on the Lincoln deal.
Wagyu Bar & Grill heads to Leeds for third site: Yorkshire-based restaurant concept Wagyu Bar & Grill is heading to Leeds for its third site. The concept has agreed a deal to open an outlet at Victoria Leeds shopping centre. The venue will be set across two floors, with a cafe opening on Monday, 29 July and a restaurant launching in August. Adrian Hunter, restaurant project manager at Wagyu Bar & Grill, said: “We are delighted to have secured such an outstanding restaurant site within the Victoria Leeds development.” Victoria Leeds general manager Jo Coburn added: “Wagyu Bar & Grill – an independently run restaurant that serves award-winning dishes – is a great addition to our line-up.” Wagyu Bar & Grill is the brainchild of long-established family business Warrendale Farm, which 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 also launched in the former Jamie’s Italian in Parliament Street, Harrogate.
Online food delivery business Lean Lunch launches £120,000 crowdfunding campaign for expansion: Online food delivery business Lean Lunch, which aims to “improve well-being for people and the planet”, has launched a £120,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it looks to expand. Launched by Sat and Charlotte Mann, Lean Lunch delivers chef-prepared, sustainably packaged food to city centre offices by cargo bike. It now aims to scale up and is offering 11.32% equity in return for the £120,000 investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £940,000. The pitch states: “Online advance ordering means our food waste is almost zero. Most of our packaging is compostable and our food is delivered by cargo bike, reducing waste and carbon dioxide emissions. Each meal has three of the five-a-day, is chef-prepared and full of fresh, nutritious ingredients. Since launch we’ve produced more than 40,000 meals and we’ve only been trading two years. Business-to-business accounts for the majority of our sales. In the first quarter of 2019, we’ve produced 10,530 meals, doubling the first quarter of 2018. Our vision is to scale the business to become the de-facto provider of nutritious, sustainable food for workplaces in every city we operate in.”
Greene King to roll out insights system to help licensees optimise drinks range:Brewer and retailer Greene King is to roll out an insights system across its leased and tenanted estate designed to help licensees optimise their keg range for customers. Working with hospitality data company HDI, the Perfect Bar project has researched the local market for each individual pub and used industry data to calculate what drinks range is likely to generate the best sales. Business development managers will use the tool to provide guidance to pubs about what tweaks to their keg beer and cider range could prove beneficial. Greene King Pub Partners head of marketing Phil Chatwin said: “This is an impressive project with a great deal of momentum we hope will energise our partners to take a second look at their draught products and decide whether it really is the best they can offer their customers. It’s completely customer focused and is the opportunity to get the right range in a pub. Our business development managers – whose role has already evolved greatly with an increased business consultancy focus – are now able to have hugely insightful conversations with partners about what products we think will work best in their pub. Using this tool, plus our partners’ invaluable knowledge of their local community, sets us up to have the ‘perfect bar’ in all our pubs and we believe will give our partners an all-important edge over the competition.”
Greggs to cut jobs as it gets go-ahead to convert Birmingham manufacturing base: Food-to-go retailer Greggs has been given the go-ahead to transform its manufacturing base in Birmingham into a storage and distribution hub. The company has secured permission from Birmingham City Council to change the use of its site on Mainstream Industrial Park in a move that will cut the number of staff from 289 to 200. The number of dispatch docks will also increase from 12 to 17. The site will receive a range of ambient, chilled and frozen goods from Greggs’ manufacturing facilities around the country, which will be temporarily stored and picked prior to being distributed to local shops, reports Insider Media. A statement submitted at the time of the application said: “This is required to introduce manufacturing and distribution efficiencies and allow Greggs to expand the number of retail outlets around the country. This will ensure the ongoing success of Greggs and represents our commitment to the long-term future of the business.”
High-end Indian restaurant originating in French Alps opens second site, in Twickenham: A high-end Indian restaurant launched in the French Alps has arrived in London for its second site. Tsaretta Spice has opened in Church Street, Twickenham, reports Hot Dinners. The head chef is Yousuf Mohammed, who has worked at London restaurants such as Dishoom and Tamarind. Tsaretta Spice’s lunchtime and afternoon menu features “Indian tapas” such as pepper-fried squid with chilli flakes, lemon zest, and fennel and curry mayonnaise. Meanwhile, the evening a la carte menu features sea bass in mango and coconut sauce with curry leaf-infused mash; and slow-cooked lamb shank with almonds. The debut Tsaretta Spice opened in Meribel in 2016.
G1 Group eyes St Andrews care home to expand The Scotsman hotel brand:Scotland’s biggest managed operator G1 Group is eyeing a care home in St Andrews as a site for a luxury hotel. However, the company’s multimillion-pound investment for Gibson House in Argyle Street depends on the creation of a replacement care home. CAF Properties has lodged plans with Fife Council for a 38-bedroom care home at the White House in Hepburn Gardens, which would pave the way for G1 Group to proceed with its proposal. G1 Group launched The Scotsman Hotel in Edinburgh after taking over the former home of The Scotsman newspaper in 2017. Now it wants to turn Gibson House into a second Scotsman hotel. G1 Group managing director Stefan King told The Courier: “Gibson House is an iconic St Andrews building and we want to restore it to its former glory. A new Scotsman Hotel at Gibson House can only happen if planning consent is received for the development in Hepburn Gardens.” G1 Group owns circa 50 venues in Scotland, including The Doll’s House and Forgan’s in St Andrews.
£2.2m restaurant to open at former Cains Brewery site in Liverpool: A restaurant specialising in regional Chinese food is to open at the former Cains Brewery site in Liverpool this autumn following a £2.2m investment. Lu Ban Liverpool will focus on the recipes and techniques from the Tianjin region. Directors Mike Mounfield and David Hughes are keeping certain features of the restaurant under wraps until its launch. Mounfield, a chef with decades of experience in the industry, said: “This won’t be your ‘traditional’ Chinese restaurant, Lu Ban Liverpool is going to be something very different. This is very much about regional specialities from one of the finest region’s for cuisine in China.” The restaurant interiors will mix quintessential elements of Chinese art and culture with the raw industrial heritage of the brewery.
Wagamama launches new vegan desserts as part of summer menu: Wagamama has launched a selection of new vegan desserts as part of its summer menu. The desserts include the mango and matcha layer cake as well as chocolate and orange blossom ice cream served with a passion fruit coulis; and fresh mint and strawberry and yuzu ice cream served with a raspberry compote and fresh mint. The vegan desserts are part of Wagamama’s summer menu that features the naked Katsu curry designed as a lighter alternative to the classic dish alongside the nuoc cham tuna and avant gard’n, complete with the world’s first vegan “egg”. Wagamama chief marketing officer Ross Farquhar said: “Over the past two years we’ve seen demand for vegan dishes grow and grow, and that’s spurred us on to develop new recipes and use new ingredients.”
Bedlam sets sights on £800,000 stretch target as crowdfunding campaign hits initial £550,000 aim: Sussex-based Bedlam has set its sights on raising its stretch target of £800,000 on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after hitting its initial £550,000 aim. The company, founded in 2011, is offering 14.67% equity, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £3.2m. So far, 226 investors have pledged £560,630 and the campaign is now overfunding with 12 days remaining. However, Bedlam has a stretch target of £800,000, which would lead to the equity on offer rising to 20%. Bedlam has put together a four-year plan, which would see further investment in its brewery and expansion of the business. If it achieves the stretch target, it will open a brewery tap in Brighton. In 2016, Bedlam raised £500,000 on Crowdcube, which enabled the company to relocate and build a brewery at the foot of the South Downs, ten miles north of Brighton. Since its previous raise, turnover has risen considerably and Bedlam has increased its distribution across the on-trade. For the year ending 31 March 2019, average on-trade distribution was up more than 90% year-on-year and turnover increased 57.5% to £526,000