Hospital Club in Covent Garden consults on closure: Hospital Club, the private members’ club in London’s Covent Garden, is consulting on closure, Propel has learned. Managing director Rob Seals has written to members and said: “The coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating effect on the hospitality industry and is creating an uncertain future globally. Due to this and other extenuating circumstances within our organisation, we are writing to inform you, we are now entering a period of consultation with all staff at H Club London regarding the possible closure of the business. In addition, we have made the very difficult decision to close H Club Los Angeles. Our founding principle has been to create a social space that connects and supports creatives. We are proud of the incredible community we have built together over this time. We couldn’t have done this without your contribution as a member. We will be in contact with you once we have reached a conclusion to our consultations with the staff, and a final decision regarding closure has been made.” H Club London was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen through his investment company Vulcan and musician Dave Stewart, formerly of the band Eurythmics. It houses a television studio, screening room, live performance space, restaurant, lounges and gallery over seven floors. The club is at 24 Endell Street on the site of an 18th century hospital.
Thaikhun begins reopening sites for delivery and collection: Thai Leisure Group has started to reopen some of its nine-strong Thaikhun estate for delivery and collection. The group, which is working with Deliveroo, has so far reopened its sites in Manchester and Aberdeen, with its Southampton outlet set to come back online on Friday (29 May). The group said: “The rest of our sites currently remain closed but we are working hard behind the scenes to get these back open for collection and delivery and preparing for when we can reopen our doors.”
Denny’s franchisee permanently closes 15 New York restaurants as a result of coronavirus pandemic: Denny’s franchisee Feast American Diners has permanently closed 15 restaurants in New York due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, making 524 staff redundant. It has filed Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications citing “unforeseeable business circumstances prompted by covid-19”. Feast American Diners operates 230 Denny’s, Jack in the Box, and Corner Bakery Café locations in ten states, reports Business Insider. Denny’s stated: “Denny’s has been working with its franchise owners to assist in helping them through this crisis, but the final decision to close is in the hands of each franchise business owner and their particular circumstances.” At its first-quarter results call earlier this month, Denny’s chief executive John Miller said the company had been working with franchisees to secure rent relief, defer remodels and extend royalty and advertising abatements. He noted 82% of domestic franchise restaurants had received funding under the Paycheck Protection Programme and another 7% had been approved and were awaiting funding.
San Carlo Group reopens two sites: San Carlo Group, the north west-based restaurant business, has reopened two of its sites for delivery and takeaway. The group, which operates 21 sites across the UK, has reopened its Fiorentina site in the Marriott Hotel, at Manchester Airport, and its Flying Pizza site in Leeds for delivery through Deliveroo. Under the banner San Carlo at Home, the two sites are offering what is thought to be close to a full menu for consumers to choose from.
Compass Group UK and Ireland acquires Feedr to accelerate digital transformation: Catering company Compass Group UK and Ireland has acquired food and health technology startup Feedr in a move to accelerate its digital transformation. Feedr’s mobile ordering and pre-pay technology will enable Compass to transform the way people interact with on-site restaurants, so employees can browse menus and pay and collect more flexibly. Feedr’s focus on nutrition and health means employees can use the app to track and personalise their daily eating. In addition to adopting Feedr technology, Compass will invest in growing Feedr as an independent brand, which will continue to operate in the delivery market with its Cloud Canteen product, with Feedr leveraging the Compass global platform to accelerate its growth. Robin Mills, Compass UK and Ireland managing director, said: “Compass is eager to embrace the potential of technology to improve the way we serve our clients and customers, and to help people make healthier choices. Feedr will provide the agility we need to meet the changing needs of workplace dining as we emerge from lock-down and adjust to a new normal.” Riya Grover, co-founder and chief executive of Feedr, added: “Operating at new levels of scale will allow us to accelerate our product innovation, and to support our market place of restaurant partners with new opportunities.”
Meadowhall owners halt £300m leisure extension plan: A £300m leisure extension planned for the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield has been halted as its owners look to protect themselves from the threats of online shopping and coronavirus. The Leisure Hall was going to add restaurants, cinema, a cafe court, gym and other leisure space to the complex. This would have added 330,000 square foot to Meadowhall’s existing 1.5 million square foot footprint that currently generates £82m a year in rent. But The Business Desk reported this was “unlikely to progress” in the medium-term, making it unlikely it will re-emerge in its current form. The project has already been in planning for more than four years – and itself replaced a scheme to build 1,300 homes that stalled in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. On Wednesday (27 May), British Land, which has an equal share in Meadowhall alongside the Government Pension Fund of Norway, disclosed losses of £1.1bn in the year to March. The was caused by a 10% drop in value of its property portfolio, almost all of which was attributed to its retail sites. Chief executive Chris Grigg said: “We expect the major trends that inform our strategy to accelerate. This includes the shift to online retail, reinforcing our focus on delivering a more focused retail business. Our financial position is robust with debt low, significant covenant headroom and access to £1.3bn of undrawn facilities and cash so we are well placed to weather today’s challenges and succeed in the long term.”
Creams dishes out desserts to front line workers through various initiatives:Dessert parlour operator Creams has recognised and rewarded more than 250 everyday heroes and provided more than 200 dishes to NHS employees after launching a number of initiatives to give back to those on the front line in the fight against coronavirus. The company launched its Creams Heroes campaign to thank and reward the nation’s everyday heroes – including NHS workers, delivery drivers, supermarket staff and other key workers – last month. So far more than 250 specially created indulgence bundles have been delivered and the campaign will continue throughout May. Creams cafes across the country have also been preparing dessert bundles to keep NHS workers fuelled and will continue to offer their support over the coming weeks. Alongside these local and national recognition drives, Creams has partnered with its delivery partners Deliveroo and Just Eat to share its desserts with more workers. The business has joined forces with Deliveroo on its Feed The NHS initiative, which sees Creams commit to providing 200 dishes for NHS employees at London hospitals. Creams is supporting the initiative from its cafes in Dalston, Ealing, Gant’s Hill and Hammersmith. Creams is also supporting Just Eat’s Superhero Sundays campaign. Through the partnership, all operating Creams stores will donate 10% of sales through Just Eat during this month to a number of charities supporting NHS workers and Just Eat has pledged to match the donation.
Britvic hit across the board by coronavirus restrictions: Britvic said it has seen volatile sales across all its channels due to the coronavirus outbreak with out-of-home adversely impacted by trading restrictions and the at-home business affected by changing consumption patterns. The soft drinks producer confirmed the impact on earnings has been £12m to £18m per month as announced in March, but expects this will improve as the economy reopens. The hardest hit areas have been in the UK and Ireland, where exposure to the out-of-home channel is higher than in France or Brazil. The company said all factories are working bar one in Ireland but discretionary spending such as advertising and promotion has been cut. Britvic added the lock-down has had an adverse impact on Fruit Shoot sales as it is widely consumed both out-of-home and for at-home socialising occasions, while J2O and premium brands, London Essence Company and Mathieu Teisseire, are also on-trade focused. “Across all markets we have experienced the closure of hotels, bars and restaurants and we anticipate this will continue to hold back growth for the foreseeable future,” it said. Net debt as of 31 March was £664m and Britvic has since received £150m from refinancing. In the six months to 31 March, revenue rose 1% to £698m with profit before tax up 16% to £53m. An interim dividend was not declared to save cash during the crisis.