Deep Blue Restaurants expects further expansion in 2019, turnover up 59.5%:Fish and chip brand Deep Blue Restaurants has taken its UK portfolio to 35 sites and expects further expansion this year. The company has added sites in Paulsgrove in Hampshire; Bridlington, Catterick and Helmsley, all in Yorkshire; and Barnard Castle in County Durham to the estate over the past 12 months. The group said its acquisition pipeline remained strong while the rebranding programme relating to the eight outlets that don’t carry the Deep Blue brand would continue in 2019, funded by cash flow. The announcement comes as Deep Blue Restaurants reported sales increased 54.5% to £11,649,226 for the year ending 25 September 2018, compared with £7,541,402 the year before. Ebitda, including central costs, rose 68.9% to £908,384, compared with £537,598 the previous year following the acquisition of ten stores during the period and the disposal of its Harrogate outlet. Site Ebitda was up to £1,919,938 compared with £1,381,789 the year before, while like-for-like sales grew 2.2%. Gross margin reduced to 67.3% compared with 68.5% the previous year due to the “continued effects of food inflation and reduction in the value of sterling”. Due to a combination of £4.19m debt conversion to equity in October 2017 and additional equity investment, net assets increased to £6,898,131 from £2,019,246 the year before. Pre-tax losses narrowed to £177,838, compared with £411,742 the previous year. The company also has two franchised sites in Spain, in Alicante and Palma airports, while its events business, which primarily operates from The Oval cricket ground in London, is set to enjoy a busy year due to the World Cup and The Ashes. Founder and chief executive James Low told Propel: “We enjoyed another successful year in challenging conditions, and we are delighted with the progress we have made. Our acquisitions over the past year have moved our run rate site Ebitda towards £3.2m and our run rate Ebitda, including all central costs, to about £2m. Our growth and continuously improving cash flow position is not only helping us to fund our rebranding programme but also our expansion, which we expect to continue in the current financial year.”
Pesto trading profitably in current financial year as turnover nears £11.5m: Pesto, which focuses on Italian food in a pub setting, has said the company is trading profitability in its current financial year as it reported a turnover boost. The company said its latest site, which opened in the Cheshire village of Woodbank in July, was performing “significantly above expectations”. The announcement comes as Pesto saw turnover rise to £11,441,084 for the year ending 30 June 2018, compared with £10,186,648 the previous year. It had a pre-tax loss of £47,867 compared with a profit of £62,230 as a result of an increase in administrative expenses, which have risen £1m “reflecting a step-change increase in overheads due to the growth of the business”. The net cash inflow from operating activities for the year totalled £495,035 compared with £494,305 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. At the end of the period the number of employees increased to 374 from 331 the previous year. Pesto, which is owned by Sara Edwards and Neil Gatt, operates 11 restaurants across the Midlands and north west.
Tapa Republic to launch AppleYard concept: The Tapa Republic, led by former La Tasca group operations director James Picton, ex-Gordon Ramsay Group finance director Simon Rowe and Pedro Grijalbo López, is to launch a new concept, AppleYard. Following the sale of its central London restaurant in July 2017, The Tapa Republic has secured a site in Sidcup, south east London, in which to launch AppleYard. Opening next month, the concept will focus on British cuisine with strong influences from the northern Mediterranean, specifically northern Spain and southern France. If the debut site proves successful, a small number of further openings are planned. The company is joined by head chef Matthew Pepperell, formerly of Caprice Holdings, Brindisa and Pont de la Tour. The menu will feature small plates, sharing dishes and a fixed-price lunch menu. A spokesman said: “After a number of months searching for the right location, we are pleased to test our concept in Sidcup and believe this will be the first of a small number of openings planned for London ‘community’ sites. Our decision to move out of London in 2017 has proved to be the correct one and while headwinds are still being seen across the industry, there remains a solid market for the right concepts focused on community hospitality.” The Tapa Republic was founded in 2013 and previously traded in the UK as Bilbao Berria and Norte.
Creditors of Randall & Aubin’s Manchester franchise to be left empty handed:Creditors of the Manchester franchise of Soho-based seafood restaurant and oyster bar Randall & Aubin are to be left empty handed, a new report has confirmed. A progress report filed at Companies House by administrators Richard Saville and Andrew Cordon, of CFS Restructuring, said following an initial assessment of the potential recoveries there would be “no funds available”. Secured creditor Barclays Bank is owed £208,803 and unsecured creditors’ claims are estimated to be £1,384,526, according to the report. James Storey and Abdul Aliyev launched the restaurant in Bridge Street, Manchester, in June 2017. However, the restaurant became insolvent as a result of high set-up costs and insufficient turnover to cover operating costs. Accounts for the 11 months ended 31 January 2018 showed the company sustained a net loss of £552,000 on turnover of £1.44m. Accounts for the four months ended 31 May 2018 showed the company sustained further trading losses of £116,000 on turnover of £509,000. The company’s balance sheet as at 31 May 2018 indicated shareholder funds of £373,000. This resulted primarily from funds injected by the directors totalling £1.04m. As previously reported Randall & Aubin, which is owned by television chef Ed Baines and restaurateur Jamie Poulton, acquired the franchise operation in a pre-pack arrangement in August last year for £35,000. All 28 employees at the restaurant were transferred at the time of sale. Randall & Aubin started as a butcher’s shop in Soho in 1911 and has been operating as a restaurant in the capital for the past 20 years.
Goals Soccer Centres suspends shares as it investigates £12m VAT misdeclaration: Goals Soccer Centres has requested the suspension of trading of its shares on AIM while it investigates a £12m misdeclaration of VAT. The company, which operates more than 40 sites across the UK and four in the US, said the historical accounting errors could lead to a “material change in its overall financial position”. The extent of the misdeclaration has yet to be finalised and, although it currently stands at £12m, the company said it was unable to provide clarity without receipt of further information. The inaccuracy is the result of accounting errors and policies adopted by the company over several years. It added: “The company intends to enter into discussions with HMRC immediately and remains in discussions with lenders to agree new facilities. The board would also like to confirm trading since 8 March 2019 has continued to be strong in both the UK and US over the comparable period in 2018. The company will make further announcements in due course as results of the investigation become known.”
Nando’s to launch food giveaway via giant loyalty card campaign, 1.8 million meals remain unclaimed: Nando’s is to launch a free food giveaway through a campaign that will give diners the chance to tear down giant loyalty cards to claim rewards. The campaign will involve huge billboards featuring the loyalty cards, which food fans can literally tear down and take to their nearest Nando’s. The loyalty cards measure three metres by two metres and state: “Grab nine mates and get ready to nab our giant Nando’s card. Don’t hang about as this could be your chance to dine like kings for nothing at all.” The move comes as Nando’s revealed there are 1.8 million rewards sitting unclaimed on Nando’s Cards – the equivalent of £13m worth of food. The billboards will initially appear in Bethnal Green and Manchester between 29 and 31 March. The billboard will also appear in London’s White City between 4 and 6 April. Peal-able loyalty cards will appear on billboards in Birmingham, Sheffield, Cardiff, Glasgow and Bristol. All locations will be teased on Nando’s social channels, the Mirror reports.
Mercato Metropolitano reveals further details of Ilford town centre market: Italian street food market Mercato Metropolitano has revealed further details of its fourth site, which will launch in Ilford, Essex, in October. The 31,000 square foot venue will take over an open car park in the town centre to create a “circular economy community food market”. The venue will feature an anaerobic digester that will convert organic waste into energy, heating and compost for an urban rooftop farm. The market will house 30 stalls, all focused on zero-waste policies, and offer seating for 600 people. Traders are expected to include Mediterranean restaurants, Middle Eastern grills, pan-Asian food and low-packaging grocery stores, Hot Dinners reports. The venue will also house a German craft brewery, which will brew beer on-site while producing mineral water using “distillation and mineralisation technology”. Founded by Andrea Rasca in Milan in 2015, Mercato Metropolitano launched its first UK site in Elephant and Castle, east London, the following year. The company is also set to open a site in Mayfair in grade I-listed former church St Mark’s. In January Mercato Metropolitano signed to launch MM Factory, its third site, which is due to open this summer as the gateway to Elephant Park, a partnership between Lendlease and Southwark Council. In January 2018, Mercato Metropolitano raised more than £450,000 on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to open sites in London.
McDonald’s won’t lobby against $15 federal minimum wage proposal: McDonald’s has said it won’t invest resources to oppose minimum wage increases. The company – a frequent target of labour advocacy groups – said it wouldn’t participate in “efforts designed expressly to defeat wage increases”. In a letter to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), McDonald’s stated: “We believe increases should be phased in and all industries should be treated the same way. We look forward to engaging with elected leaders on these and other important elements of the wage discussion.” The announcement comes after Democrats introduced the Raise The Wage Act earlier this year, which proposes to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 an hour by 2024. Similar to labour laws recently approved in states such as California, the bill calls for a gradual increase in wages each year. McDonald’s position is in stark contrast to the NRA, a trade group that represents more than 500,000 restaurant businesses in the US. The organisation maintains the proposed federal wage hikes would hurt restaurants in smaller cities where workers don’t face the same cost of living challenges as those who live in large cities such as New York and California. In its letter, McDonald’s said the average starting wage in corporate-owned stores was more than $10 per hour and, although it doesn’t control the wages franchisees pay in their own restaurants, it believes the average starting wage is similar.
Larkin Cen ends Celtic Manor Resort partnership to focus on Woky Ko:MasterChef finalist Larkin Cen has ended his partnership with Celtic Manor Resort to concentrate on his Woky Ko concept. Cen launched his eponymous venue, which was renowned for its Asian fusion dishes, at the five-star Celtic Manor Resort in 2016. It has now been replaced by new Asian diner Pad, reports Wales Online. Cen, who reached the MasterChef final in 2013, is concentrating on his Woky Ko restaurants in Bristol. He currently operates three sites with a fourth set to open in St Nicholas Market offering Asian street food to go. A joint statement from Larkin Cen and Celtic Manor Resort read: “The contract between Larkin Cen and Celtic Manor Resort to operate Cen restaurant at the Manor House has expired after a two-year term and has not been renewed by mutual consent. The Celtic Manor Resort team of chefs, which has developed dishes alongside Larkin at Cen restaurant, has refined a similar menu featuring fresh, contemporary Asian cuisine at its new Pad restaurant in the same space.” Pad is one of six restaurants at Celtic Manor Resort, which has three hotels. The other restaurants are Steak On Six, Rafters, The Grill, The Olive Tree and The Rib.
Snow Patrol pair to open second La Taqueria in Belfast: Musicians Gary Lightbody and Nathan Connolly, both members of rock band Snow Patrol, have joined forces with two businessmen to open a second site for Mexican restaurant La Taqueria in Belfast. The venture with Andy Rea and Stevie Haller will launch in Ormeau Road, creating 15 jobs. Rea told the Belfast Telegraph: “We are delighted to have found such a great site for the latest La Taqueria. Location is key for us and, with a large local population and buzzing food scene, we realised the site’s potential.” Lead guitarist Connolly added: “Gary and I are incredibly proud to work with Stevie, Andy and their team. With their combined extensive knowledge of the food scene here, I have no doubt this La Taqueria will be just as big a hit as the first one.” The other La Taqueria is in Castle Street, Belfast.
Signature Living to expand apprenticeship scheme and recruit 1,500 staff to support growth: Aparthotels developer and operator Signature Living is to expand its apprenticeship scheme and recruit up to 1,500 staff as it enters an era of “dynamic growth”. The move comes as the company expands its portfolio in Belfast, Cardiff, Liverpool and Preston. Many of the new roles will be available at hotel developments due to open this summer, including the George Best Hotel in Belfast and the Dixie Dean Hotel in Liverpool, opposite its Shankly Hotel. The company’s recruitment requirements have also been boosted by the launch of the second phase of the historic Coal Exchange Hotel in Cardiff and the second Shankly Hotel, in Preston. A head office expansion and a new cruise ship, which will be used as an Ibiza-style “floating hotel”, have also opened up a variety of vacancies. An apprenticeship and mentoring scheme, which will be personally led by founder Lawrence Kenwright, will also see 100 school-leavers given their start on the careers ladder. The jobs will grow the company’s UK total workforce to 3,000. Kenwright told The Business Desk: “Signature Living is entering an era of dynamic growth and with that comes major investment in recruiting people to help us maintain our position as the UK’s most innovative and fastest-growing hotel developer and operator. I am particularly pleased about the expansion of our apprenticeship programme, which will focus on young people not currently engaged in employment, education or training.”
Scarborough-based pub operators take on second Ei Group site: Scarborough-based pub operators Laura Wilcock and Anthony Procter have taken on their second Ei Group site in the North Yorkshire town. Wilcock and Procter have taken over The Ivanhoe in Burniston Road, which has been closed since the start of the year. Ei Group approached the duo about acquiring the lease after they turned round the fortunes of one of the company’s other pubs, The Star in Cayton, having taken it on eight months ago. Wilcock told the Scarborough News: “It was a closed house and had deteriorated over about 20 months – now it’s booming. It has had a £30,000 kitchen put in and we took on a regular chef with a new menu – it’s going from strength to strength. We want to do the same with The Ivanhoe. We’d had our eye on it since November as we knew the lease might be coming up and we’d told Ei Group we would be interested in another pub. The company asked us to take The Ivanhoe because it has seen what we’ve done with The Star.” Although there will be little physical change initially, Ei Group is planning a refurbishment of the property, which features 12 bedrooms, in September.
Restaurant and hotel owned by Great British Menu finalist to go into administration next month: The restaurant and hotel owned by Great British Menu finalist Craig Sherrington will be placed into administration next month having made a continual loss since it opened. Sherrington, who appeared on the BBC2 show last year, closed Virginia House in Ulverston, which is also home to restaurant Craig’s Kitchen, last week. He has owned the venue in Queen Street with wife Louise for three-and-a-half years. Accounts for C&L Sherrington, which trades as Virginia House, showed it has operated at a loss since it opened in 2015. Accounts for 2015 reveal the company had assets of about £20,000 and owed £24,000 to creditors. In 2016, assets amounted to £22,500, while the total owed to creditors had risen to £97,000. In 2017, £88,000 was owed to creditors with assets of £18,000. The most recent accounts, published in March 2018, reveal the amount owed in tax, bank loans and to suppliers was £92,600 with assets of £31,000. A spokesman for Begbies Traynor told the North West Evening Mail C&L Sherrington would be placed into administration on Wednesday, 10 April. Craig’s Kitchen featured in the Good Food Guide and possessed two AA rosettes. The Sherringtons previously said: “With great sadness and a heavy heart we must inform you Virginia House has ceased to trade with immediate effect. We have unfortunately succumbed to the current financial climate and our guest house, restaurant and bar are not financially viable.”
Compass Group forms umbrella organisation to unite foodservice brands:Compass Group UK & Ireland has founded RA Group to bring together its hospitality companies Restaurant Associates and Rapport, and Levy Leisure, which will be rebranded as RA Venues as part of the move. Moving Levy Leisure into the RA Group also aligns Compass Group brands in the UK and US, where attractions such as The Met Museum in New York are served by Restaurant Associates. The move sees Alice Woodwark continue to lead Restaurant Associates and the RA Group brands, while RA Venues continues to be led by Steve Chandler and Rapport by Greg Mace. Woodwark said: “Joining these businesses within one group brings great benefits to our customers, guests and clients. Restaurant Associates and Rapport clients will gain access to a prestigious range of venues and the strong catering and events capabilities of the RA Venues team. Equally, RA Venues’ clients will benefit from insights and opportunities from Restaurant Associates’ and Rapport’s leading position in the corporate market. As the workplace food landscape becomes ever more consumer-focused, Restaurant Associates will also gain from RA Venues’ retailing expertise in more than 50 public-facing cafes and restaurants.”
Former M&B and Camerons food consultant launches bar restaurant in Sheffield:Former Mitchells & Butlers and Camerons Brewery food consultant Alan McGilveray has launched a restaurant and bar in Sheffield. McGilveray, who is also former executive chef of the Marriott hotel chain where he was awarded two AA rosettes, and wife Wendy, who is a commercial kitchen designer, have opened McGilveray’s at Fox Valley leisure complex. The 60-cover, 2,147 square foot site offers outdoor seating and focuses on “good food, done well”, with classic British dishes such as steak, fish and chips, charcuterie and specials such as scallops and black pudding. The drinks menu includes cocktails, wine and beer. The restaurant gives a nod to the area’s history as the place where Samuel Fox developed the paragon umbrella frame, with umbrellas suspended from the ceiling. Vintage artwork reflecting the city’s steelworks history also appears throughout the venue, reports The Star.
Jamaican jerk and fried chicken concept launches in Solihull: Jamaican jerk and fried chicken concept Jamaya has opened its debut site, at the Touchwood leisure complex in Solihull. Founder Byron Carnegie has opened the venue in the Upper Jubilee space having agreed a deal with landlord Lend Lease Retail Partnership. The 60-cover, 1,779 square foot restaurant serves a menu of Jamaican charcoal-grilled jerk chicken, fried chicken, burgers, Irie sides and craft beer. Carnegie said: “Our soft launch received an amazing response and we have gained a lot of love from our customers. It is great to see our concept come to fruition.” Guy Thomas, head of retail at Lendlease, added: “We are always looking to enhance our offer at Touchwood and we’re pleased to welcome Jamaya. This exciting dining concept adds to our international line-up.” Jamaya will be joined at Touchwood next month by Indian restaurant Asha’s, which will open its third UK site.
Blackpool-based LGBT club owner heads home to Middlesbrough for second site: Blackpool-based LGBT club Sapphires is opening a second site, in Middlesbrough. Founder Matthew Armstrong has acquired the lease of former pub The Oak in the Teesside town. It represents a homecoming for Armstrong, who will open the Newport Road venue next month. Sapphires, which operates a much larger venue in Blackpool, features some of the biggest drag acts in the country. Armstrong told Teesside Live: “We will carry out a small refurbishment and Sapphires Middlesbrough will be a smaller version of the Blackpool one. It’s great to do something in my home town and put something back.”
Elliotts join forces with European PR firms to launch new platform: Sector marketing agency Elliotts has joined forces with nine other European food and drink PR companies to launch a collaboration platform and website. The Food & Wine Republic will help brands in need of international marketing, publicity and other activities. All participating agencies are owner-run, independent specialists and 100% active in the world of food and wine. The other agencies are based in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Paris, Madrid and Milan. The initiative was set up in response to PR partners being asked by their clients to link them to like-minded agencies in other countries