German Doner Kebab brings in former TGI Friday’s International marketing boss as global CMO: German Doner Kebab, the flagship brand of Hero Brands, has appointed Murray Willows as global chief marketing officer to spearhead its growth and development. Willows joins from TGI Friday’s International and will be tasked with continuing to develop consumer awareness of German Doner Kebab and building on its growing profile. The brand is now rolling out aggressively throughout Europe, the Middle East and the US, with more than 700 franchises already signed up to the German Doner Kebab project globally. Willows’ appointment comes as German Doner Kebab forges ahead with plans to open 100 stores in Saudi Arabia in the next ten years. Chief executive Imran Sayeed said: “Murray’s wisdom, experience and know-how speak for themselves and I believe his appointment is a powerful statement about the direction the company is taking.” Willows was chief marketing officer at TGI Friday’s International with responsibility for marketing, food and beverage development, and restaurant design in 52 international markets. Willows’ career also includes a number of roles at Yum! Brands, where he was vice-president and chief marketing officer for Pizza Hut in the UK, vice-president marketing for Pizza Hut International and, before that, chief concept officer for KFC in South Africa. Willows said: “I see this as an amazing opportunity to lead the drive and further strengthen and accelerate German Doner Kebab’s development as a worldwide brand.”
Douglas Jack – expect new menus to boost Loungers’ like-for-likes and profits in second half: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said cafe bar brand Loungers’ like-for-like sales and profits should receive a boost in the second half of its financial year following the launch of new menus next month. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 285p following Loungers’ trading update, Jack said: “Like-for-like sales rose 5.4% in the first half against a 6.4% comparable, with pricing up circa 2.5% and like-for-like volumes up 3%. We believe like-for-like sales and profits should receive a boost in the second half due to next month’s new drinks menu. This should reflect the new drinks contract, which provides a superior range (including low/no alcohol and regional beer as well as a new wine list) on improved buying terms. Whereas summer menu prices increased 2.1% for drinks and 2.9% for food, October’s new food menu has no price increases but brings many new products including plant-based ones, such as the Moving Mountains Hot Dog, and new trading up options. First-half trading was strong across the company, albeit slightly skewed in favour of food and the pre-4pm period. Loungers, partly due to its unique positioning, is experiencing no evidence that customers are spending less. Despite having no television screens, trading has held up during the Rugby World Cup. Margins are forecast to be flat in 2020E, with expansion and 3.6% forecast like-for-like sales offsetting the impact of higher labour, pension and utility costs. The ongoing pace of like-for-like sales growth and the increasing number of trading up opportunities leave the risk to margin forecasts on the upside, in our view. Loungers’ cost base has yet to reflect numerous opportunities that include introducing differentiated pricing by region and introducing a central distribution system (cutting the number of deliveries). Expansion is on track and 25 sites should open in 2020E (19 Lounges and six Cosy Clubs), with ten (eight Lounges and two Cosy Clubs) opened in the first half with another four openings in October. We believe Cosy Club has the biggest opportunity in relation to negotiating attractive rents due to it targeting locations where casual dining operators are retracting. The kitchen refit programme is on schedule to complete next year. New kitchens are in about 60 of the company’s 157 sites. The company is also investing in outdoor spaces and in the bar for the benefit of drinks-only custom. We are holding our forecasts, which allow for increased investment in infrastructure. Loungers is materially outperforming the sector in relation to sales but without resorting to discounting and delivery. Its strong, self-financed growth is being supported by its plc status, enabling wider share ownership in the company and an even stronger landlord covenant. In our view these attractions have yet to be reflected in the share price.”
Erpingham House launches virtual sub brand offering vegan pizza: Erpingham House, the UK’s largest plant-based restaurant, has launched a virtual sub brand, Propel has learned. Founder Loui Blake has launched vegan pizza concept Vegan Dough Co, which is available via Deliveroo or to collect from its restaurant in Norwich. The offer includes the Mushroom Truffle Shuffle, which is made with a soya-based cheese, and the No Meat Feast, which features tempura, barbecue jackfruit and jalapenos. Sides include vegan mac ‘n’ cheese and buffalo cauliflower wings with a blue cheese sauce. There is also a pudding pizza consisting of Nutella, bananas, strawberries and cream. Blake told Propel that Vegan Dough Co was “absolutely flying” and made up 10% of Erpingham House’s total revenue in September. He said: “We were keen to tap into the delivery market but a lot of the food on our menu doesn’t travel well. We also wanted to get into the action but without detracting from the core brand so we thought about what food would suit delivery and came up with pizza. It also has a high gross profit.” Meanwhile, Blake has passed the halfway point of his £250,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to help Erpingham House open a second site, in Brighton. Blake is offering 15% equity for the investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £1.4m. The funds will also be used to improve the Norwich site. So far, 127 investors have pledged £140,290 with 17 days of the campaign remaining. The new Erpingham House will still specialise in vegan food but with the offer refined to appeal to a more general audience. Like its debut site, the new venue will be free from single-use plastic and be almost 100% carbon neutral. Building work on Erpingham House Brighton will begin once funds have been raised, with an aim to open in early 2020. Blake also operates all-day vegan cafe concept Kalifornia Kitchen.
Bourgee back in Chelmsford: Steak and lobster restaurant Bourgee is returning to Chelmsford – 18 months after closing when the company went into administration. The restaurant, in Exchange Way near the High Chelmer shopping centre, shut in April last year along with sites in Bury St Edmunds and Southend. It reopened shortly after under new brand Colenzo’s, which acquired the Chelmsford and Southend sites as part of a pre-pack sale – but they both closed at the end of last year. The Chelmsford site had remained empty since but Bourgee has now returned, reports Essex Live. Mark Baumann and James Welling, who founded Bourgee in 2015, retained the name and brand rights along with its Luxe Lounge site at Southend airport. They opened the first Bourgee restaurant under its new direction at the Castle Mall shopping centre in November last year and have now returned to Chelmsford for their third site.
Tapas Revolution opens eighth site, at Westfield Stratford: Tapas Revolution, led by chef Omar Allibhoy and managing director Mac Plumpton, has opened its eighth site, at Westfield Stratford City shopping centre in east London. The new 100-cover restaurant in Chestnut Plaza features a terrace and offers signature Tapas Revolution dishes such as tiger prawns with garlic and chilli oil, and beef and pork meatballs in tomato and vegetable sauce. The venue also focuses on paella, served in a traditional wide-bottomed pan, while there is a cava bar and two VIP bodega booths, which feature “press for cava” buttons. The company, which secured £2.5m of new investment from Mobeus Equity Partners in 2017, appointed former La Tasca group operations director James Picton as commercial director last month, as reported by Propel. Tapas Revolution is based on the lively and bustling tapas bars of Madrid, Barcelona and Seville and opened its first restaurant at Westfield London in Shepherd’s Bush in 2011. Its other venues are in Bath, Birmingham, Bluewater in Kent, Newcastle, Sheffield and Windsor. Last year the company sold the lease of its Shoreditch outlet to Burmese restaurant Lahpet.
SSP makes Brazil debut: SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, has opened its first outlets at Brazil’s main airports – Rio de Janeiro Tom Jobim International and São Paulo International. The units are the first to open under a joint venture with Duty Free Americas after SSP won contracts worth circa £70m running over nine years. SSP has opened sites for sandwich brand Upper Crust and pizza and pasta concept Barzetti at Rio de Janeiro. They have been joined at the airport by Mexican concept Mi Casa Burritos and Monty’s Dogs & Cones, which offers American-style hotdogs and ice cream. A unit from artisan coffee specialist Ritazza has also launched in the international departures area, while SSP’s own contemporary dining concept Factory Bar & Kitchen will open soon. SSP has also opened a unit for Mi Casa Burritos at São Paulo, the airport’s first Mexican offering, alongside an Upper Crust and Ritazza. It has also launched Factory Bar & Kitchen, Monty’s Dogs & Cones and a unit for Camden Food Co, which offers healthy sandwiches and salads. SSP will shortly open a Jamie’s Deli at both airports, taking the global partnership between the company and Jamie Oliver Restaurants to 18 sites. SSP Brazil general manager Rossana Spena said: “I am certain passengers in Brazil will be impressed by these much-loved brands.”
Bistrot Pierre to open 25th restaurant, in Eastbourne next month: Bistrot Pierre, the Livingbridge-backed French restaurant group, has announced it will open its 25th site, in Eastbourne on Friday, 15 November. The restaurant will launch near Wish Tower, a Napoleonic fort in King Edward’s Parade, featuring a restaurant, cafe bar and terrace offering seafront views. Bistrot Pierre general manager Nick Emmott said: “We have significantly invested in bringing a contemporary bistro feel to the space while incorporating coastal influences of Eastbourne in the design. We’ve got a couple of surprises to announce in the next few weeks, with some additions to Bistrot Pierre’s core offering that will be unique to Eastbourne, including a tailor-made fish menu.” The restaurant group opened its first venue in Nottingham 25 years ago and has another Sussex site lined up, in Worthing. The company has also launched virtual delivery brand Birds, Buns, Bowls.
Derby Brewing Co to open debut micro-pub next month for sixth site: Brewer and retailer Derby Brewing Co is to open a debut micro-pub next month for its sixth site. The Hole In The Wall is set to open at a former NatWest bank branch in Mickleover on the corner of Station Road and Uttoxeter Road. The 50-cover venue will offer ale, craft beer, spirits, wine, and tea and coffee alongside homemade bar snacks. Derby Brewing Co managing director Paul Harris told Derbyshire Live: “We look forward to showcasing our take on a great concept.” Trevor Harris, the company’s director of brewing, added: “We can’t wait to get our beer flowing in the heart of Mickleover, a place I have many fond memories of.” Derby Brewing Co’s other sites are The Tap and The Greyhound, both in Derby; The Kedleston Country House, a bar, restaurant, boutique hotel and wedding venue in Quarndon; and The Pig in Lichfield. Its latest opening came in May, when it took on Star Pubs & Bars site The Corner Pin in Chellaston.
Sheldon Inns rescues James Bond-themed pub in Wiltshire: Midlands-based pub management company Sheldon Inns has stepped in to rescue The Goldfinger in Highworth, Wiltshire. The pub in Newburgh Place closed in early September but will reopen on Friday (18 October). Sheldon Inns director Martin Cartwright told the Swindon Advertiser: “We own 25 pubs around the country. We saw this one become available and knew of it. We thought it needed a bit of TLC and wanted to make a go of it. We look forward to welcoming customers old and new.” The Goldfinger was opened in 1972 by the widow of James Bond creator Ian Fleming. She said at the time: “My husband would have been absolutely delighted. It’s a super idea.” Outside its Midlands heartland, Birmingham-based Sheldon Inns also operates pubs in Bristol, Oxford, the Cotswolds and Shropshire
Soft drinks company Refresco UK reports turnover boost but falls to £21m pre-tax loss: Soft drinks company Refresco UK, previously known as Cott Beverages, has reported turnover increased to £284.7m for the year ending 30 December 2018, compared with £269.7m the previous year. Operating losses rose to £12.1m, compared with £3.5m the year before. The business made a pre-tax loss of £20.8m, compared with a profit of £9.8m the previous year. The company was sold to Pride Foods, a subsidiary of Refresco, for £935m in April 2018, resulting in the name change. As part of that process the Competition and Markets Authority imposed a sale of the aseptic line and manufacturing facility at the group’s Nelson site, which resulted in exceptional costs of £8.1m. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “During the year the overall soft drinks market showed a further slight increase in volume and value. This was mirrored in own-label soft drinks driven by the water category along with a recovery in carbonated soft drinks following a warm summer in the UK, slightly offset by a decline in the sports and energy categories. Administrative expenses at £20.1m are higher than the previous year of £14.3m due to one-off costs that have been incurred as part of the acquisition by Pride Foods. Selling and distribution expenses to customers (£25.0m) were lower than the previous year (£25.7m), driven by a reduction in marketing and promotional costs in the year.”
Bear launches debut shopping centre site in Derby for fifth coffee shop: Midlands-based cafe bar concept Bear has made its shopping centre debut by opening a site at Intu Derby. The 3,000 square foot venue, which is Bear’s fifth coffee shop, has opened after it secured an increased funding facility from HSBC. Craig Bunting and Michael Thorley founded Bear five years ago inspired by Australia’s coffee shop culture to create a speciality coffee, casual dining and craft cocktail offer for the UK market. They hope to open 30 sites in the next five years. Bunting told The Business Desk: “Our aim is to quickly become a cornerstone business on the high street and wholly integrate ourselves into the communities surrounding our stores. The site at Intu Derby is our first within a purpose-built retail destination. It’s a big move for us and will help us tap into the high footfall at the Intu centre, share our Bear vision with more people and give us the potential to explore international opportunities.” Mark Lupton, HSBC UK’s area director for business banking in the Midlands, added: “Bear has become an established name in the Midlands and the new site in a key retail destination represents a significant step forward for the business.” Bear already operates a site in Derby – in Iron Gate – with its other outlets in Stone, Uttoxeter and within Jack Wills’ flagship store in Soho.
Edinburgh-based cafe brand Lovecrumbs to open bakery next month for third site: Edinburgh-based cafe brand Lovecrumbs is set to open a bakery next month for its third site in the Scottish capital. Lovecrumbs is renowned for its colourful cakes and flavours and operates sites in West Port and St Stephen Street. Now the company is set to open Nice Times Bakery in Haymarket in the city centre. The venue will open on the former site of Morrison Street’s all-night bakery and will double up as a new headquarters for Lovecrumbs. Once the bakery cafe is up and running, the team will work on a wholesale offering for other Edinburgh cafes as well as a cake and pastry delivery service. Owner Hollie Love Reid told the Edinburgh News: “Customer reactions to our new range of cakes has been amazing. We are working on croissants at the moment, which I am looking forward to sharing with our customers soon.”
Denbighshire-based bar owner buys second site: Denbighshire-based bar owner Alun Jones has bought a second site after receiving a five-figure finance package from HSBC. Jones, who owns The Mason’s Arms, has bought gin bar The Barrow in St Asaph. He told Insider Media: “With one established bar under my belt I was excited at the prospect of opening a second bar that specialised in the country’s best gin, spirits and organic wine.” Martin Lyons, HSBC UK’s business banking area director for North Wales, added: “Alun has always been very passionate about gin and has worked hard to grow his portfolio so we’re delighted to support him.”
Digbeth-based brewery launches on-site pizzeria: Digbeth-based brewery Dig Brew Co has launched an on-site pizzeria. The company has introduced Dough Pizzeria – a move that coincides with the craft brewer’s extended opening times at its River Street premises. Dig Brew Co has made the pizzeria entirely dough-themed, with dough ball starters and hot doughnuts for desserts. Oliver Webb, who founded Dig Brew Co two years ago with the support of Peter Towler, of Tipton pie and rooms concept Mad O’Rourke’s World Famous Pie Factory, told The Business Desk: “Our experiment in offering pizza alongside a constantly changing range of beer proved such a success we decided to offer constantly changing pizzas in our new Dough Pizzeria.”
Sustainable luxury brand 1 Hotels to make UK debut, in Mayfair: Sustainable luxury hotel brand 1 Hotels, founded by Starwood Capital Group chairman and chief executive Barry Sternlicht, is to open a debut UK site. The 1 Hotel London Mayfair will open in Berkeley Street in 2022 overlooking Green Park. The nine-story, 184-bedroom hotel will be operated by SH Hotels & Resorts and include a farm-to-table restaurant, a bar, and a fitness and wellness centre as part of Crosstree Real Estate Partners’ 260,000 square foot mixed-use development. Interiors will feature locally sourced materials and sustainable elements and practices, including flooring made from fallen trees from local parks. Sternlicht said: “Now, more than ever, the idea of living well must include the thoughtful and thorough protection of the natural beauty that’s everywhere. Nowhere is that effort more important than the UK, with its growing commitment to sustainable practices, its stunning countrywide landscape and the diverse cityscape of London.” Sternlicht launched 1 Hotels in 2015, opening properties in Miami’s South Beach and Manhattan’s Central Park, followed by sites in Brooklyn in 2017 and Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood in June this year.
Subway opens Bristol university site: Subway has opened a store at the University Of The West Of England in Bristol. Located on the Frenchay Campus, a range of shifts have been created to allow students to work alongside their studies. The 32-cover site is open seven days a week, with outdoor seating also planned. There are now more than 25 Subway stores open at education establishments in the UK and Ireland and more than 800 in non-traditional locations such as hospitals, transport hubs and convenience stores. Colin Hughes, country director for Subway UK and Ireland, said: “Students, lecturers and visitors to the university can now enjoy our ever-evolving menu.” Kristian Fernandez-Mitchell, business improvement manager at the university, added: “Big brands are what students want and Subway was in the top three for student choice.” Subway, the world’s largest sandwich franchise, operates more than 2,500 stores in the UK and Ireland.
Northern Ireland international footballer to open Belfast pizza restaurant for second site: Aberdeen and Northern Ireland footballer Niall McGinn is to open his second restaurant in Belfast. McGinn will team up with football agent Gerry Carlile for the new pizza venture. The Pizza On The Square will launch at the Scottish Provident building in Donegall Square West. The opening will come almost a decade after the pair launched Fáilte Restaurant in Falls Road in April 2010. The 60-cover Pizza On The Square will open on Friday, 15 November creating 20 jobs. Carlile told the Irish News: “It is a tremendous opportunity to play a part in the burgeoning Belfast tourism market. To have a restaurant in one of the best-known buildings in Belfast city centre was too good a chance to pass up.”
Michelin-trained chef to turn taqueria concept from pop-up to permanent with Durham launch: Shaun Hurrell, who worked under Michelin-starred chefs Marcus Wareing and Fergus Henderson, is to turn his taqueria concept from pop-up to permanent by opening a site in Durham. Hurrell launched Barrio Comida in Newcastle’s Quayside in December 2016 and has now made a significant investment in a two-storey site in Church Street, Durham. The restaurant, which will comprise a ground-floor taqueria and a basement bar with chef’s table, will open next month creating 25 jobs. Hurrell said: “We are keeping all the best things we did in Newcastle but taking it up a level. Our food will be our version of traditional Mexican and we are sourcing corn and machines to make tortillas from Mexico but keeping the same price point. I have worked in high-end restaurants where none of my friends could afford to eat so it has long been my belief you can create a great product at a good price.” Law firm Sintons secured the Durham site’s licence. Head of licensing Sarah Smith said: “Shaun is investing significant amounts of time, effort and funds to create something special that builds on the great success of his previous venture.”
All-natural pure grain spirit Aloha 65 launches in UK: All-natural pure grain spirit Aloha 65 has launched in the UK. Developed by British ex-pat bar owner Stephen Thorp, Aloha 65 features fresh pineapple, ginger, lemon, scotch bonnet chillies and other natural ingredients. Seven distillates are blended to create the 27% ABV spirit. It can be used as the base for long drinks with mixers, a chilled shot or in cocktails. Following its soft launch in south west England earlier this year, Aloha 65 is rolling out across the UK