Administrators’ investigations into Burning Night provide ‘foundation for action against third parties’: Administrators of bar company Burning Night Group have revealed their ongoing investigations have “provided the foundation for actions against third parties that could lead to recoveries for the benefit of the estate”. In their progress report Andrew Mackenzie and Julian Pitts, of Begbies Traynor, said the administration process was “complex”, while a “significant number of matters needed to be dealt with”. The report stated: “We have a duty to examine the conduct of the company and its directors to identify what assets are available to realise for the benefit of the creditors, including any actions against directors or other parties, such as challenging transactions at undervalue or preferences. Detailed forensic investigations have been carried out (and are ongoing) into the conduct of the company, its directors and other connected third parties. This has included examining the company’s books and records in our possession, both electronic and hard copy, information provided by third parties, creditors and the company’s advisors. Our in-house forensic team has carried out detailed investigations and forensic analysis of the company’s records, including bank statement analysis and forensic review of the company’s accounting systems. Considerable investigative work has been required to better understand the company’s structure, trading history and to assess the actions available to us as administrators. Our investigations are continuing and have provided the foundation for actions against third parties, which have been notified and could lead to recoveries for the benefit of the estate.” Burning Night Group went into administration in October owing £11.2m. Two-thirds of the debt (£7.5m) was money raised from 936 investors on crowdfunding platform Crowdstacker in summer 2017. The ongoing investigation means the outcome for creditors cannot yet be determined but, as previously reported, secured creditor Crowdstacker will suffer a “significant if not a full shortfall on its lending”. Unsecured creditor claims are estimated to total £2,259,439. Burning Night Group was subsequently acquired by a special purpose vehicle created by Leeds-based turnaround specialist Access Commercial Finance, which was a secured creditor of Burning Night Group. It now operates four Bierkeller sites – in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham – following the closure of its Leeds venue last month after its new owners were refused a permanent tenancy.
Steamin’ Billy reports profit boost, Allingham branches out with experiential venture with his children: Leicestershire-based Steamin’ Billy has reported a boost in profits, while boss Billy Allingham has branched out by launching an experiential-led venture with his children. Allingham told Propel Steamin’ Billy had seen a “steady 12 months”, with turnover for the year to 31 March 2019 down 2.2% to £5.7m but profit increasing 4.2% to £370,000. During the period, the 11-strong company returned The Paget in Loughborough to Leicestershire-based brewer and pub retailer Everards because Allingham felt the “student market had moved”. Allingham has also launched a venture with his children – Tabitha, Jessica and Kipp – to “capitalise on the rise of competitive socialising and experience-led drinking venues”. Crazy golf concept Caddyshackers, which opened in Leicester in November, has so far welcomed 36,000 golfers. A bowling alley called East Street Lanes will open above Caddyshackers in September, which will also feature a 200-capacity events space. It will offer pizza, burgers, craft beer and cocktails and is aimed at the 18 and over market. Allingham said there was space for a coffee shop and 1960s-style record store, which it hopes to introduce early next year. Steamin’ Billy will further tap into the experiential theme by launching Club 180 Darts at its Parcel Yard site in Leicester this week. Three interactive dartboards have been installed offering five games for up to 12 players per oche, alongside sharing food platters, cocktails and craft beer. Allingham said: “I am looking at Nottingham for a Caddyshackers. Meanwhile, there’s space at The White Bear in Hinckley where there could be potential for something similar to Club 180 for Steamin’ Billy. Dartboards have been in pubs for years but technology has revolutionised the experience – and we recognise this is where the market is going.”
BrewDog close to agreeing deal for first franchise site: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has revealed it is close to agreeing a deal for its first franchise site. The initiative, which was announced last year in its “new blueprint” document, aims to allow Equity for Punks shareholders to establish their own BrewDog bar in their home town. In an update six months on since the launch of its “manifesto” for the next ten years, BrewDog stated: “Our Equity for Punks franchise day held in Ellon in November went well and we are currently in late-stage negotiations to agree legals on our first Equity for Punks franchise site!” BrewDog hasn’t revealed the location of the site but has previously said it plans to trial the franchise programme in ten UK locations. In the update, BrewDog also revealed it has broken ground on its brewery in Brisbane, Australia, which will be operational by the end of the year – a “little later than outlined in the initial blueprint”. The company also admitted it needed to “do better” in terms of its commitment to cut payment terms to small breweries to seven days. It said: “Due to an under-resourced finance department (we are working on fixing this), we haven’t always managed to meet this commitment. We strive to do this where possible but, on some occasions, we aren’t keeping up with seven days due to volumes and delays in our internal processes – but we are working on improvements to meet this commitment every single time.”
Ecosse Inns opens sixth pub with Belhaven: Edinburgh-based operator Ecosse Inns has opened its latest pub in partnership with Belhaven Brewery, which is owned by Greene King. The Telford Arms in Telford Road has reopened as The Scottish Engineer following a joint £500,000 investment, creating 30 jobs. The pub is the sixth site Ecosse Inns has taken on with Belhaven and follows a £500,000 investment by the companies last year to turn Edinburgh’s Cameo Bar into The Barologist. Andrena Smith-Bowes, of Ecosse Inns, said: “The Scottish Engineer has 172 seats inside and 132 seats outside. It’s perfect timing for the summer and is a tribute to all the great engineers of Scotland such as Alexander Graham Bell and John Logie Baird. We’ve relandscaped the outside, put in raised decking, lights and a feature water wheel. It feels amazing to see my business growing and to me it’s all about the people.” Greene King Pub Partners managing director Wayne Shurvinton added: “The Scottish Engineer looks amazing. We’re always looking to support our pubs and we’re thrilled to have invested significantly to reinvent two brilliant pubs.” The other pubs in the partnership are The Elizabethan in Dunfermline and The Scottie, The Terrace and The Clermiston Inn, all in Edinburgh.
Reading-based chicken shop hit by Nando’s legal action forced to change name for second time in a year: Reading-based independent chicken shop Fernandez has been forced to rebrand less than a year after it was forced to change its name by Nando’s. Owner Asam Aziz changed his town centre store’s name from Fernando’s in July 2018 after Nando’s claimed Aziz had copied its branding and trademarks. Now Aziz has been forced to rebrand again after claims he took his shop’s new name, Fernandez, and its branding designs from Fernandez Grillhouse in Leicestershire. Aziz told Get Reading: “We went back to the drawing board but completed due diligence this time to make sure there’s nothing of the sort again. We decided to call it Manzano’s Peri Peri.” The new brand features a rooster inside a manzano pepper. The business has been forced to foot the bill for the rebrands, with the first costing £8,500 and the latest £6,000. Aziz said: “It has been tough because all these things are very expensive for an independent.”
Eric’s Fish & Chips to open two sites: Eric Snaith, executive chef and owner of Eric’s Fish & Chips in Thornham, Norfolk, is to open two sites next month. Snaith will open an outlet in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, on Saturday, 1 June, followed by a venue in Holt in Norfolk on Thursday, 20 June. Located in Abbey Retail Park in Harrison Way, Eric’s Fish & Chips St Ives will feature a 66-cover restaurant and takeaway and 24-cover terrace. The menu will offer traditional British fish and chips with modern European influences inspired by Snaith’s three-AA Rosette restaurant Titchwell Manor, near Brancaster. In keeping with the signature tiled walls and subtle maritime theme of the Thornham restaurant, the 1,875 square foot site will feature exposed brick, stripped-back lighting and blue leather banquette seating. Signature dishes will include classic cod and chips fried in Greene King IPA batter and traditional beef dripping, a Japanese-style fish burger, and gruyere and spinach arancini, all accompanied by homemade sauces. The restaurant will also feature an ice cream station, serving gelatos and sorbets. Drinks will include beer, wine and champagne alongside homemade soft drinks and batch cocktails. Snaith said: “We are excited to open our newest restaurant in Cambridgeshire’s most iconic market town. The St Ives site will have its own look and feel while continuing the tradition of serving the highest-quality sustainably sourced fish.”
Coqfighter to open first table-service restaurant, in Soho next week: Chicken and beer concept Coqfighter is to open its first table-service restaurant, in Soho next week. The concept, which is the brainchild of Troy Sawyer, Deacon Rose and Tristan Clough, will open in the former Ma Plucker site in Beak Street on Wednesday, 22 May. The 40-cover restaurant’s menu will include vodka-battered wings, panko-fried whole chicken leg burgers, and fried chicken bao with Szechuan mayo, pickled daikon, coriander and Korean hot sauce. There will be old and new world wine to match the dishes as well as cocktails and beer. Originally from Melbourne in Australia, Sawyer, Rose and Clough moved to London in 2013 and launched Coqfighter in 2015 as a pop-up in The Star By Hackney Downs. From there they moved on to pop-ups and residencies in pubs across London. Coqfighter opened its first semi-permanent site in Boxpark Croydon, followed by further sites in Boxpark Shoreditch and Incipio Group’s The Prince in West Brompton. Rose said: “Soho has something really special about it – we knew early doors we had to open a restaurant in the area. It was our dream and to be able to do it within a few years of starting out in pop-ups has been an amazingly spicy ride.”
Leon launches first outlet in Ireland: Healthy fast-food chain Leon has opened its first Irish outlet, in Dublin. The venue has opened at a site in Temple Bar that was formerly occupied by Eager Beaver vintage clothing store and covers 1,600 square feet across two floors. The venue has been launched by Cibus Concepts, a franchise partnership established by Waterford accountant Stuart Fitzgerald and business partner Brian McIntyre. The group is backed by high-net-worth equity investors and plans to grow its estate to 20 sites by 2023. Leon plans to expand swiftly in the Republic of Ireland, with a second site earmarked for Dundrum town centre. Fitzgerald told The Irish Times: “The need for an offering like Leon is so evident, somewhere that will offer vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian options at a reasonable price.” Last week, Leon reported like-for-like sales were up 15.2% for the year ending 31 December 2018. Sales increased 24.5% to £95m, compared with £76.3m the previous year. It was the fifth year of unbroken revenue growth. International sales for the year were up 102% and now account for 10.6% of group revenue. The company opened nine restaurants during the year, taking its portfolio to 63 sites, 54 of them in the UK. Leon also accelerated its international expansion, opening its first restaurants in the US, Norway and Spain.
Camm & Hooper to launch events space in Wright & Bell’s The Kitty Hawk bar:Imbiba-backed events and hospitality group Camm & Hooper is to launch South Place Society within Wright & Bell’s The Kitty Hawk bar in the City of London, Propel has learned. The Kitty Hawk’s lower floor will operate as South Place Society from next month owing to an “increased demand for events and experiences”. The space will be dedicated solely to events, with sales and enquiries managed through Camm & Hooper’s sales team and booking engine. Wright & Bell managing director Sarah Clark said: “The Kitty Hawk will continue to extend its all-day and late-night offering and is enjoying continued growth along with sister companies Whyte & Brown in Kingly Court and Lino, which opened earlier this year at St Barts in the City.” Wright & Bell, which is also backed by Imbiba, launched The Kitty Hawk in South Place in 2016.
Craft Beer Co opens Hammersmith site: The Craft Beer Co has opened a site in Hammersmith, west London. The company, founded in 2011 by Martin Hayes and Peter Slezak, has opened the venue at The Broadway, opposite the Apollo Theatre. Hayes said: “This new project follows a very busy 2018, where we purchased our first freehold properties and carried out three substantial refurbishment projects of our pubs. This is a very significant moment for us. It’s the first time a landlord has approached us to partner with them and it’s also bringing our offer into a former big pub company site in a transport hub for the first time. This project excited us as it gives us the opportunity to partner with a motivated landlord and anchor a regeneration project of a struggling part of The Broadway complex. We are very proud of our ten-year journey and remain debt free and 100% privately owned.” Craft Beer Co operates seven other sites across London as well as a site in Brighton.
Adventure Leisure to open mini-golf venue at former Deltic site in Basildon this summer: Adventure Leisure will open a site for its adventure golf brand Mr Mulligan’s Lost World Golf at a former Deltic Group venue in Basildon, Essex, this summer. Adventure Leisure has secured a deal for the former Chicago’s at Festival Leisure Park with landlord Aviva Investors. Adventure Leisure has agreed a new 25-year lease on the 9,973 square foot unit. Julia Robertson, associate in the leisure team at Savills, which brokered the deal, said: “The indoor mini-golf industry has really taken off in the past couple of years, bringing with it a fresh and quirky approach to the classic pastime. Mr Mulligans Adventure Golf is leading the way within the family-friendly sector, which makes it a fantastic addition to the leisure line-up at Festival Leisure Park.” Adventure Leisure operates eight Mr Mulligan’s Lost World Golf sites, including in Cheltenham and Milton Keynes. Deltic Group closed Chicago’s in January.
Derby restaurateurs sell three-strong estate to set up catering and events business: Mother and daughter restaurateurs Sarah and Olivia Pritchard have sold their three sites in Derby to launch a catering and events company. The Pritchards have sold Hide, Rask and Bean Caffe in the city centre. The new catering business, Gather & Grace, will offer corporate catering and event planning as well an events space at its premises in Friar Gate. Sarah Pritchard, who set up the first business, Bean Caffe, in 2009 after being made redundant, told The Business Desk: “We want to bring a change to Derby’s catering scene with fresh menus that will excite the corporate world and some interesting twists on the everyday sandwich.” Launching in early July, Gather & Grace will offer catering for corporate events as well as weddings and private functions.
Burton-based pub operator takes on second site: Burton-based operator Sandra Russell has taken on her second pub in the Staffordshire town. Russell is now running Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars’ the Olde Royal Oak in Market Place. The property had been closed since early January, reports Derbyshire Live. Russell also operates The Victoria Inn in Horninglow Road.
Wellington Pizza Pub shuts Hull site: Leeds-based Wellington Pizza Pub has closed its site in Hull. The company has shut the outlet in Humber Street, which opened in November 2017 as part of the £80m Fruit Market development. The lease has been reassigned to an unnamed local operator. The venue was initially known as Buca Di Pizza but changed its name to Wellington Pizza Pub to avoid an “unaffordable legal battle with a rival company”. A Fruit Market spokesman told Hull Live: “The owners of Wellington Pizza Pub have decided to close their unit in the Fruit Market. Wellington Pizza Pub is reassigning its lease to a locally based operator, which will reopen the building soon. Details of the new restaurant and bar will be revealed shortly.” Wellington Pizza Pub now operates two sites, in Leeds and Beverley.
Yeo Valley opens first cafe, in London: Yeo Valley, the family-owned, organic dairy business based in Somerset, has opened its first cafe, in London. Yeo Valley Café has launched at 20 Queensway and offers breakfast dishes such as warm scotch pancakes with Greek yogurt and seasonal fruit compote; kedgeree with smoked haddock and organic eggs; and a Coombe Farm bacon butty on fresh farmhouse bread. The regularly changing lunch menu includes sandwiches, risotto, curry and salads. The organic menu has been created by Yeo Valley food ambassador Paul Collins, who has worked at The Dorchester and country house hotels Cliveden and Lucknam Park. Sarah Mead, of Yeo Valley, said: “It is important we extend our Somerset welcome to friends in London and those visiting from outside the city.”
Cheshire-based operator sells Sandbach wine bar and restaurant to focus on remaining two sites: Cheshire-based operator James Hughes has sold his wine bar and restaurant in Sandbach to focus on his two remaining sites. Hughes has sold the site, which formerly traded as Piste Wine Bar, off an asking price of £475,000 through agent Christie & Co. The property comprises two floors, with the ground floor featuring a lounge and wine bar with seating for 50 and a restaurant upstairs with seating for a further 30 diners. Hughes also operates Piste Wine Bar in nearby Tarporley and The Nags Head in Haughton. He said: “We enjoyed our time in Sandbach but made the decision to focus on our other sites.”
Bleecker confirmed for Westfield London: Bleecker, the burger concept founded by Zan Kaufman in 2012, has confirmed it will open its next site in Westfield London. Bleecker has three restaurants – at Bloomberg Arcade, Victoria and Spitalfields – and will join the line-up at the scheme’s new food and drinks space, The Café Court. Nick Garston, of Bruce Gillingham Pollard, who advised Bleecker on the deal, said: “Burgers always seemed to be a glaring omission from the Westfield food court and we’re delighted Bleecker will be serving its incredible burgers to fill the gap.” Bleecker will open at the scheme alongside Pizza Pilgrims, which will launch a slimmed-down version of its concept; Laura Sheffield-led Corazon, which will open Tacos Corazon; Master Bao, a concept by the team behind Daddy Bao in Peckham; and Pascal Aussignac’s fish restaurant Catch Me. The Café Court will also house units from operators currently based at Westfield London such as Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho; Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed restaurant group; Comptoir Libanais, the Lebanese canteen specialising in fresh Middle Eastern dishes; and Indian street food brand Indigo. DCL is understood to be acting for Westfield on The Café Court.
Berkmann Wine Cellars secures £14m funding package to support expansion plans: Berkmann Wine Cellars has secured a more than £14m tailored funding package from HSBC UK to support its ambitious expansion plans. The family-run company said it had seen up to 8% year-on-year growth and would use the funding to provide “more flexibility and scope to grow sales from a solid financial platform”. Berkmann Wine Cellars said it would use its strengthened position to establish a presence in international markets, where the wine industry is “growing fast”. It said the financial backing would also support its ambitions to “respond to the needs of larger retailers”. Director Rupert Berkmann said: “We want to continue our focus on adding value by selling recognised brands and delivering exceptional service. This deal means we are now in a strong financial position to do so.” Robert Mitton, relationship director for HSBC UK, said: “Berkmann Wine Cellars is a long-established and successful business with an excellent reputation and a consistently strong financial performance. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to work with the business to help Rupert build on the business’ strong foundations.”