McPhee steps down as Soho House Group chief financial officer: Peter McPhee has stepped down as global chief financial officer of Soho House Group, Propel understands. McPhee joined the Nick Jones-led business at the start of 2016 from retailer Fresh & Easy, where he had been its chief financial officer. Previous to that, he was UK chief financial officer for General Merchandise, Clothing and Digital Entertainment at Tesco. He also had a stint at Yum! Brands. In 2017, McPhee oversaw Soho House’s £275m refinancing deal with Perimira Debt Managers, while last year he oversaw a $100m fund-raise, which was to be used to double the size of the company’s chain of hotels and private members’ clubs around the world.
Goodbody – JD Wetherspoon’s liquidity remains healthy and cash burn appears to be ‘negligible’: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has said JD Wetherspoon’s liquidity remains healthy and cash burn appears to have been “negligible”. Speaking after the company’s first quarter trading update, in which it reported like-for-like sales fell 27.6% for the 15 weeks to 8 November, Ruddy said: “As of 25 October, the group had liquidity of £234m. In late July, the group had £194m of cash and cash equivalents and it raised an additional £48m from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (total £242m) so cash burn has been negligible since. It estimates the cash burn is £14m during the month of closure. Like-for-like sales were down 15% in the first 11 weeks implying like-for-likes were down circa 60% in the most recent four weeks, which is a more severe slowdown than we would have anticipated. However, the most recent four weeks includes a period of severe restrictions in Scotland and Ireland, a firebreak in Wales, and England was subject to restrictions during October and was closed for a weekend. The positive is cash burn appears to have been negligible since the position reported at the full year stage. Liquidity is also very healthy relative to cash burn during the closure period. Despite the recent positive news on vaccinations, we believe Wetherspoon’s valuation is relatively full at these levels and see better value elsewhere.”
Marston’s seeks bondholder waivers amid lockdown: Marston’s has asked its bondholders for waivers to help it get through the second covid-19 lockdown and any further restrictions over the winter. The request is the second time Marston’s has asked bondholders for support during the coronavirus crisis. It agreed waivers for 2020 when its pubs were forced to close for more than three months during the first lockdown. Marston’s said it had asked holders of its secured class A notes for further technical waivers during the first half of 2021 as a precaution after England went into a four-week partial lockdown ending on 2 December. The company stated: “The waivers being requested are required solely as a consequence of the enforced temporary reclosure of its pubs in England by the UK government as a result of the covid-19 pandemic measures, together with the continued uncertainty with regard to further potential lockdowns over the winter months.” Marston’s said it was in a strong financial position after transferring its beer business to a joint venture with Carlsberg and receiving £230m. The group’s pubs outperformed the wider market in the 13 weeks to 3 October and cash generation beat expectations, it added. Noteholders have been asked to respond by Tuesday, 1 December and a meeting is scheduled for two days later.
New World Trading Company to bring The Florist to Chester: Graphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group The New World Trading Company (NWTC) is to bring its The Florist brand to Chester. The company will take space in the forthcoming Chester Northgate development, building on the success of its existing The Florist sites in Liverpool, Bristol and Watford. The Florist will join Spanish Restaurant Group-owned Tapas Revolution; Cosy Club, which is owned by cafe bar brand Loungers; and Picturehouse Cinema in the city centre development. The Florist will occupy an 8,600 square foot space over two floors in the arcade element of the scheme fronting Northgate Street and the new public square at the heart of the development. Due to open in spring 2022, construction of the long-awaited Northgate cultural and leisure development began in July, which will also include a new indoor market for Chester and a multi-storey car park and public square adjacent to the Storyhouse cultural centre that opened in 2017. NWTC property director Tim McCormac said: “We have been watching the plans for the redevelopment of Chester Northgate for some time and we believe this is the ideal opportunity for us to grow our business in such a vibrant destination. The Northgate scheme with its distinctive historic and cultural heritage aligns perfectly with our wider brand vision making it the ideal next home for us.” The Florist is part of NWTC’s portfolio of 29 restaurants, which includes The Botanist, The Club House and The Oast House brand. Last month, Propel revealed the company was set to double its presence in Sheffield, with the opening of a site under its The Trading House concept in the city. The Jesper Friis-led business has secured a site in Charter Row as part of the Heart of the City 2 development. It is also understood to be in talks on sites in Ipswich and Plymouth. Cheshire West and Chester Council was advised by its retained leasing agent JLL and leasing manager RivingtonHark.
Chipotle to open its first digital-only restaurant: Chipotle is to open its first digital-only restaurant called the Chipotle Digital Kitchen this Saturday (14 November) for pick-up and delivery only. Located in Highland Falls, New York, the concept is focused on accelerating the digital business in non-traditional locations. The new trial site, which was designed in-house, does not include a dining room or front service line. Instead, customers must order in advance via the Chipotle website, app or third-party delivery partners. Orders can be picked up from a lobby that is designed to include all of the sounds, smells and kitchen views of a traditional Chipotle restaurant. The digital-only location will also service large catering orders available for pick-up in a separate lobby with its own dedicated entry. Chipotle said its new digital-only concept is focused on accelerating the digital business in non-traditional locations. It said it would also allow the brand to enter more urban areas that are unable to support a full-size restaurant and provide flexibility with future locations. Curt Garner, chief technology officer of Chipotle, said: “The Digital Kitchen incorporates innovative features that will complement our rapidly growing digital business, while delivering a convenient and frictionless experience for our guests. With digital sales tripling year-on-year last quarter, consumers are demanding more digital access than ever before so we’re constantly exploring new ways to enhance the experience for our guests.” Order ahead and pick-up, and delivery, each accounted for 50% of the company’s digital sales volume mix in the third quarter.
Supper launches new funding round: London-based premium food delivery service Supper has launched a new funding round to raise £5m as it looks to expand its presence into new international cities. Venture capital fund Moscar Capital, which led the company’s £1.5m fund-raising round last November, is also leading this effort. The company is looking at launching in cities such as Dubai, Singapore, New York and Monaco. The business currently has 130 restaurants on its platform, and this number has been steadily growing by 10% each month. It also has around 61,000 registered customers, a figure that is increasing by 1,500 per month. The company, which also works with retailers Harrods and Fortnum & Mason, said it delivers 1,000 orders per week, with an average order being £100. Founded by Peter Georgiou in 2015, Supper uses a fleet of specially adapted scooters and directly employed drivers to cater for the premium end of the market, setting it apart from sector heavyweights such as Deliveroo and UberEats. It currently works with restaurants including Zuma, Hide, and Roka.
BrewDog seeks planning permission for first beer hotel in England: Scottish brewer BrewDog is seeking permission to open the first beer hotel with rooftop fire pit and barbecue in England. The site is currently an empty three-storey office building in Manchester’s Fountain Street but, if granted, BrewDog will transform the venue into a boutique hotel with 18 en-suite rooms and a restaurant and bar on the ground floor, which will provide 150 covers. The brewer already has similar sites operating in Scotland and the US. In November 2019, BrewDog launched its “Kennels” hotel brand – which the Manchester site will be a part of – in Aberdeen by letting bedrooms above its craft beer bar. Its other hotel sites are Kennels in Columbus, Ohio, and “The Doghouse” also in Columbus. BrewDog’s website for the Kennels, Aberdeen, reads: “Check-in via our Castlegate bar and you’ll find all of our rooms are decked out in bespoke furnishings and promise high-quality comfort for all of our guests. Our rooms also feature all the necessary amenities for craft beer lovers including shower beer fridges, draught beer and food room service via our Hop Drop app, bike hire and a record player. As always, we are totally dog friendly and you can even request a dog bed so your furry friend can stay with you too.”
Three restaurants sign new deals at Mailbox: Three restaurants have signed new deals for their operations at the Mailbox in Birmingham – the shopping, hospitality, leisure and office development. Mailbox REI, the newly formed single asset company that owns the Mailbox made the announcement that M7 Real Estate, the property’s current owner, has completed a total of six new leases at the venue. Lucarelli’s, a high-end Italian restaurant and bar, has signed a 15-year lease at a canal side location that will include a glazed terrace area that can accommodate up to 150 guests. Also on the canal, Zizzi has signed a new ten-year lease for its existing restaurant, including the outdoor seating area. Meanwhile Medicine Bakery, a local Birmingham brand, will be move into the Mailbox and will open a new restaurant as well as taking occupancy of a takeaway kiosk after agreeing ten-year leases. The other two leases have been taken by kitchen designers Kitchen Gallery and Harvey Jones. M7 Real Estate executive chairman Richard Croft said: “We are well on our way to realising the full potential of the Mailbox as a pre-eminent ‘Live Work Play’ destination building in Birmingham with a complementary, ancillary retail and leisure offering. Our rental collection figures have remained robust throughout the pandemic and our repositioning of the property will ensure that it will be very well placed to further benefit from the expected recovery.”
Top London operators begin food home deliveries: London operators Jason Atherton, Le Gavroche, Harrods, Sabor, Pali Hill, Old Chang Kee and Le Comptoir Robuchon have all launched food deliveries during lockdown. Jason Atherton and Michel Roux Jr’s Le Gavroche have teamed up with Lake District Farmers to offer new meal boxes. Jason Atherton’s At Home offer is £140 for two to share and includes a salmon starter, beef main and creme caramel dessert. Le Gavroche At Home is £125 for two and includes salmon starter, venison main, dark chocolate and praline dessert. Menus will change on a weekly basis and London deliveries will expand to nationwide from next week. Nieves Barragan’s Sabor restaurant is offering a more casual delivery service called Rico! Rico! Inspired by what Barragan would cook at home during the first lockdown, the menu includes pan de coca con tomate, jamon croquetas and tortilla plus dishes such as patatas a la riojana, 40-day-aged beef hamburgesa, arroz negro and Basque cheesecake. Deliveries, which begin on Thursday (12 November) are only available within three miles of the Heddon Street site but the Sabor En Casa menu is available already nationwide. Harrods is now delivering food from its Dining and Food Halls through high-end delivery service, Supper. Only available within 2.5 miles of the Knightsbridge store, there are ready to eat and ready to heat dishes. A Food Halls menu includes truffle mac and cheese, beef wellington and wild mushroom pithivier while the Dining Halls option includes fettuccine with truffles, fish and chips and rib-eye steaks. Fitzrovia-based Pali Hill is offering freshly prepared and “finish at home” dishes. The Indian food specialist will deliver menu items such as marinated lamb cutlets, Tandoori monkfish, a Diwali feasting menu and a make-your-own dosa kit. If choosing to finish at home, there are videos and recipe cards available for diners to follow. Delivery is only within three miles of the restaurant. Singaporean snack and street food brand Old Chang Kee is offering ready-to-heat nationwide deliveries from its two central London sites. Dishes such as curry puffs, curries and chilli sauces can be delivered weekly and can also be frozen. Le Comptoir Robuchon, is launching home delivery for the first time through Supper London and Deliveroo. Menu highlights include smoked tuna tart, smoked leek and beef with foie gras and peppers. There is also the Plates Dégustation à Tendance Japonaise feast plus desserts such as homemade tarts, and rice pudding with salted butter caramel. Deliveries will be made within a 2.5-mile radius.
First eight restaurants named for Time Out Market Dubai: Time Out Group, the global media and entertainment business, has announced the inaugural food line-up for its Dubai market, slated to open in the first quarter of 2021. Eight award-winning chefs and homegrown local favourites will be part of the 17 concessionaires joining the line-up at Time Out Market Dubai. These are Indian fusion concept Masti, modern eastern eatery BB Social, European cuisine from Folly by Nick & Scott, local operator Vietnamese Foodies, burgers by Pickl, Dubai pizza favourite Pitfire, dessert specialists Brix and craft coffee roastery Nightjar. Time Out Market chief executive Didier Souillat said: “We are very proud to unveil the first line-up of chefs and restaurateurs, which reads like the who’s who of Dubai’s homegrown culinary talent. Our aim for Time Out Market Dubai is to create a vibrant reflection of this city’s excellent and diverse restaurant scene.” Time Out Market Dubai will be located in Downtown’s Souk Al Bahar and will boast scenic waterfront views overlooking Burj Lake, which is next door to The Dubai Mall and the Burj Khalifa. The Dubai site – the seventh Time Out Market venue – will be followed by Porto (fourth quarter 2021), London Waterloo (2022) and Prague (2023). Further additions to the culinary line-up are expected in the weeks leading up to the market’s opening.
Land Securities posts half-year losses of £835m, LandSec remains ‘optimistic’:Commercial property landlord Land Securities has recorded a half-year loss of £835m after its value fell by £945m. The company, which owns shopping centres, leisure complexes and office space across the UK, said it slumped to the loss for the six months to 30 September 2020 from a £147m loss during the same period last year. Meanwhile, LandSec said its property estate was now worth £11.8bn after major write-downs in the half-year period. It said its retail income was down 10% against the same period last year, after the government introduced a moratorium on lease forfeiture over unpaid rents. The group’s central London portfolio is now valued at circa £7.9bn and represents about 67% of its assets. It said it will focus on “optimising” its sites in the capital and remains committed to the city centre despite the area being impacted by guidance for people to work from home and lower tourist numbers. LandSec chief executive Mark Allan said the investment market for high-quality London office assets has remained robust and he is “optimistic about the future”. He added: “Landsec remains in a fundamentally strong position. The high quality of our portfolio and low leverage of our balance sheet provides a solid foundation for executing our growth strategy and creating value for all stakeholders. This strength also means we have been able to take a proactive and responsible approach to the challenges of covid-19, supporting our communities and customers.”
The Little Chartroom on the Prom pop-up goes permanent: Roberta Hall-McCarron and Shaun McCarron, owners of The Little Chartroom in Edinburgh, have made their covid-19 pop-up site in Portobello a permanent fixture. The Little Chartroom on the Prom was launched in August on the east coast region of Edinburgh, while the restaurant remained closed due to coronavirus restrictions. The pair signed a two-year lease on the outdoor street food spot, which serves a popular barbecue takeaway menu that changes on a weekly basis and has installed canopies to keep customers dry during autumn and winter. New menu items will include smoked venison sausage with mole sauce, celeriac ragout and crispy kale, and hot chocolate mousse with mascarpone, toffee apple and hazelnut. Roberta Hall-McCarron said: “We’ve had the unit in Portobello for four months now and it has been a huge success. Portobello is always busy regardless of the weather, so it made sense for us to extend the lease. Not only have we garnered a loyal customer base on the Promenade but also having this outdoor space has provided some stability during this difficult time. We’ve been able to secure all jobs within the business off the back of it and continue to support our suppliers.” The Little Chartroom on the Prom is open on Wednesday to Sunday from 11am until 4pm.
Young’s announces directorate change: London pub retailer Young’s has announced Patricia Corzine will step down as a non-executive director when her second three-year term in office expires on 11 January 2021. Ian McHoul, a fellow non-executive director and chairman of the company’s audit committee, will take over from Corzine on the company’s remuneration committee when she leaves. Young’s stated: “Corzine joined the board as a non-executive director in January 2015. She brought with her a wide-ranging knowledge and experience of the hospitality and leisure sector, having spent most of her career in the restaurant industry, including 20 years at The Restaurant Group.” Chairman Stephen Goodyear said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Trish for the insight and guidance she has provided over many years, including as a member of the board’s audit and remuneration committees. We wish her well for the future.”
North Brewing Co unveils new multimillion-pound home as it doubles production capacity: Leeds-based brewer North Brewing Co has unveiled its new multimillion-pound home. Springwell, based in a former tannery in Buslingthorpe Lane in the north of the city, sees North Brewing Co double its capacity, open a 500-person taproom, and move its bar and brewery headquarters under one roof. North Brewing Co’s brewing output will increase to 16,000 hectolitres (2.8 million pints a year). Springwell will provide a central hub for the brewery and its family of seven bars and taprooms. The 21,000 square foot space will also provide a training space for its bar teams. The business has received a Business Growth Programme Fund from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to support the project. North Brewing Co co-founder John Gyngell, said: “The past five years have seen fantastic growth at the brewery. We have consistently doubled our production year-on-year, and have reached the limits of our capacity to brew at our current site. Our strong sales mix including export, supermarkets and online sales has seen us achieve record growth throughout 2020. The bars are currently operating as pop-up North Brewing Co bottle shops during lockdown, and have played a massive role in the success of the brewery.”
Flat Iron launches butcher’s box and online shop: Flat Iron, the nine-strong “single steak” dining concept backed by private equity firm Piper, has launched a limited-edition butcher’s box and online shop. Each box contains a mixture of prime steaks and secondary cuts, all seam-butchered. The box also contains burgers, a lean blend of mince and a traditionally prepared hind-quarter roasting joint. Flat Iron’s online shop is selling the company’s cleavers and three-ounce whiskey flasks. Coins direct from the Flat Iron Mint are also available to purchase, which can be redeemed in its restaurants. Flat Iron founder Charlie Carroll said: “We’ve always worked closely with our suppliers and have spent years rearing our own herd and understanding the relationship between different breeds, ages, finishing diets and flavour so we’re excited to be able to bring the full Flat Iron experience into homes across the nation.”
Meliá Hotels announces Innside Newcastle opening in December: Spanish Group Meliá Hotels has announced the opening of Innside Newcastle will take place on 14 December. The 161-room hotel, which has five meeting spaces, will be located in the heart of the city on Quayside, offering views across the River Tyne and “an eclectic home-from-home feel for business guests”. Innside Newcastle will offer five creative meeting spaces with maximum capacity for up to 170 banqueting, including the group’s first “Big Ideas Space”, which is a bright, fresh and innovative meeting area with sofas and chairs, smart screens and playful items to keep guests engaged and energised. A breakout events space offers views from the mezzanine across the Open Living Lounge, which is “the beating heart of the hotel”. The lounge will serve food throughout the day with DJs providing a soundtrack for guests and visitors. Floor-to-ceiling windows and an outdoor terrace overlooking the river are available while dining.
Prairie Fire pops up for delivery during lockdown: American barbecue concept Prairie Fire is popping up in Kensington & Chelsea for delivery during lockdown. In addition to delivering to locals in the White City and London Fields areas, residents of Fulham, Chelsea, Kensington, Knightsbridge, Notting Hill and Bayswater can also order dishes and craft beer via Deliveroo to enjoy at home. Prairie Fire opened its first bricks and mortar site in December last year within Transport For London’s Wood Lane railway arches development after founder and Kansas native Michael Gratz had been popping up across the capital offering its barbecue-style smoked meat, burgers and sandwiches.
Lyle’s starts nationwide deliveries of its Michelin-starred food: Lyle’s, the modern British restaurant in Shoreditch from James Lowe and John Ogier, is delivering three new food boxes nationwide throughout lockdown. The boxes are the Provisions Box, The Meal Kit and the Wild Food Kit. The £59 Provisions Box comes with Neal’s Yard cheese, Lyle’s sourdough, damson jelly, pigs’ skin chicharron and terrine and Lyle’s mince pie mix and pastry. The Meal Kit costs £140 for two people and contains items such as a barley porridge loaf; pumpkin and whey soup; crab and barley porridge; fore-rib steak; desserts and a mince pie kit. The Wild Food Meal Kit is £160 for two people. It contains luxuries such as porridge loaf; scallops; wild mushrooms; venison loin; quince sponge with vanilla custard, brown butter cakes and caramel chocolates; and a mince pie kit.
Axcel Hospitality acquires Lansdown Grove Hotel off guide price of £8m:Croydon-based Axcel Hospitality has acquired grade II-listed Lansdown Grove Hotel in Bath off an asking price of £8m. The hotel builds on the company’s portfolio in Bath after it took on four-star Henrietta House hotel in September last year. The hotel has 61 suites, which have been refurbished recently. It also has a lounge with bar, a restaurant with terrace, a function suite, gardens and parking for 40 cars. Real estate company Savills, with joint agent Carter Jonas, completed the sale. James Greenslade, associate director in the hotels team at Savills in Exeter, said: “Lansdown Grove Hotel is a beautiful hotel located in a popular tourist destination.” Philip Marshall, partner, commercial, Carter Jonas South West, added: “This acquisition represents an exciting addition to Axcel’s portfolio.”
Japan Centre to launch grocery service: Europe’s largest Japanese food hall, Japan Centre Ichiba, is to launch a Japanese grocery service. Ichiba Online Marketplace, which will be available from Monday (16 November), will feature more than 600 grocery products. These include fresh and organic fruit and vegetables, Japanese noodles, sushi, sauces and seasonings as well as frozen fish, meat, buns and gyoza. Complementing the food will be a range of soft drinks and Japanese tea along with bottles of sake, plum wine, whisky, gin, Japanese craft beer and ale. Customers can choose to order online and reserve a delivery day for their postcode, or click and collect from the store at Westfield London Shepherd’s Bush.
Country house hotel on the market for £3.25m: Four-star country house hotel Best Western Plus Keavil House is up for sale on a list price of £3.25m. The hotel, which is located in Dunfermline, Fife, is 19 miles north west of Edinburgh with St Andrews just an hour’s drive away. The current owners are retiring, prompting the sale of the 70-bedroom hotel through Christie & Co. Investments have been substantial since the 1980s when the hotel opened, including the extension of dining space in 2017. A large space caters for conference, banqueting and weddings for up to 250 people. A free-standing health and fitness club is also situated on the estate. Jeremy Jones, head of hotels brokerage for Christie & Co, said: “We anticipate strong interest for this substantial freehold hotel where we are seeking £3,250,000.”