Loungers’ sustained growth being driven by ‘volume rather than price’, evolves regional operating structure: Nick Collins, chief executive of cafe bar brand Loungers, has told Propel the company’s continued growth is being driven by “volume rather than price”. Collins said while the high-street landscape was undoubtedly changing, it had “never really been unstable” from his business’ point of view. Speaking following the company’s interim results in which like-for-like sales increased 5.4%, Collins said: “We haven’t really seen any change in the way consumers are behaving towards us. A lot of the reasons we are able to sustain our like-for-like growth is because we make sure we continue to innovate. We trade through all dayparts so there’s always something we can get better at. Looking to improve has always been the Loungers way and a key part of our success.” Loungers has been evolving its regional operations structure to ensure it is “fit for the future”. Collins said this included increasing the number of operational areas to accommodate the company’s geographical expansion as it continues to open 25 sites a year. He added: “One of the strengths of the business is we’re always looking where we need to be in, say, 12 to 24 months’ time. This will be the fifth year in a row we have opened more than 20 sites. We are making sure our operational structure is fit for the future and supports our pipeline of openings in the next two to three years.” The company has started doubling up on Cosy Clubs in the same city after opening a second site in Cardiff. It will shortly do the same in Birmingham, with a venue in Brindleyplace joining its Bennetts Hill site. Collins stressed the sites served a different set of customers in both cities and he remained confident it wasn’t “diluting its offer”. He said further acquisitions would continue to be opportunistic, while the mix of new sites for both brands was still mainly coming from retail despite a growing number of restaurant units becoming available. He added the business was focusing on improving its supply chain by ensuring its systems worked effectively throughout the estate as well as “getting the best price”.
Five Guys secures former Byron sites: US better burger brand Five Guys has further strengthened its 2020 openings pipeline by securing two former Byron sites, Propel has learned. The company, which will open its 100th UK site on Monday (9 December) at the former Coppa Club in St Paul’s, has secured the unit originally taken by Byron at the Saw Close scheme in Bath. Five Guys has also secured the former Byron unit in Fulham Broadway. Both sites are expected to be part of the ten openings Five Guys has initially earmarked for next year, with Swindon Designer Outlet and London’s Baker Street already lined up. Five Guys will have opened 14 sites in total in 2019 by the end of the year, while the St Paul’s site will see the company trial a breakfast offer in the UK four years after its first attempt. The trial will also take place at Five Guys sites in New Street, Birmingham, Covent Garden, and Cabots Circus, Bristol. AG&G acted on the Bath and Fulham Broadway deals.
Peter Taylor steps down from Young’s: Peter Taylor has stepped down as director of retail operations at listed pub operator Young’s after more than nine years with the company, Propel understands. Taylor joined Young’s in 2010 after three years as operations director at Compass Group. Young’s appointed Simon Dodd into its newly created role of chief operating officer in July. Dodd was previously a director of Fuller’s and managing director of its beer company, having previously been operations director of its premium city pubs division.
The Alchemist lines up Bristol opening: The Alchemist, the 18-strong Simon Potts-led bar and restaurant concept, has further strengthened its 2020 pipeline by lining up a site in Bristol. Propel understands the company, which last week launched its largest venue to date, in Canary Wharf, is set to take space at 41 Corn Street in Bristol. The opening will be part of a cluster approach in the south west and will follow a launch in Cardiff and a future site in Cheltenham. In partnership with an international fund, IV Real Estate purchased 37-39 and 41 Corn Street earlier this year with plans to refurbish and reposition the two buildings. 41 Corn Street comprises more than 33,000 square feet and was built in 1964 for the Bristol & West Building Society. Both buildings will be ready for occupation from mid-2020. Cosy Club and Pho operate sites in Corn Street, with Mowgli set to join them early next year. The Alchemist will expand its London offering further in early 2020 by opening its first site south of the Thames – in Embassy Gardens in Nine Elms. It will also make its debut in Scotland next year with an opening at the Edinburgh St James development. The Alchemist was named on The Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 list at the weekend, with a 45.08% rise in annual sales growth during the past three years.
Ole & Steen to ramp up UK expansion: Danish baker Ole & Steen is to ramp up its UK expansion. The company has retained RAB Retail to secure London sites for the brand during the next three years. Ole & Steen made its UK debut in December 2016 in St James’ Market, London. Since then it has opened nine more stores in the capital and one in Oxford. RAB Retail is seeking A1-use sites of between 1,500 and 3,000 square feet in busy retail locations in London and strong commuter towns. Prominent corner locations are preferred. Ole & Steen has 99 stores trading in Denmark under the Lagkagehuset brand. In the past year it has also entered the US market, opening three stores in New York. RAB Retail founder Richard Brown said: “We are delighted to support Ole & Steen’s expansion plans and will look to secure significant store roll-out.”
French better burger brand Big Fernand to make UK return this month: French better burger brand Big Fernand is crossing the Channel as it returns to London. The company, which operates more than 50 restaurants in France, three in Dubai and one in Luxembourg, made its UK debut in Percy Street, close to Tottenham Court Road, in 2015. However, the project proved fairly short-lived. Now Big Fernand will return this month offering its eight signature burgers with an opening at 39 Thurloe Place in South Kensington, which formerly housed Kulu Kulu Sushi. Big Fernand promises to bake its buns and wash and chip its French fries daily. It will also offer classic French cheese sliced on-site daily and homemade sauces. A spokeswoman said: “We are crossing le Channel this December, bringing the joy of le hamburgé to London, whatever the weather (ahem, le political climate). A little rule breaking never hurt anyone. Vive la resistance et vive la difference! Opening in South Kensington you will be surrounded by superb ingredients – quality beef, le freshly baked bun, French fromage, French wine and French fries!”
Drake & Morgan eyes London Bridge opening: Drake & Morgan, the London-based bar and restaurant group backed by Bowmark Capital, is looking to open a site near London Bridge next year, Propel has learned. The 23-strong group is understood to be in talks to take the former Cooperage Bar in Tooley Street, which was previously operated by Davy’s Wine Bars. Drake & Morgan, which operates sites in London, Manchester and Edinburgh, opened its latest site, The Moniker in Fenchurch Avenue, earlier this summer. The City of London venue offers a botanical cocktail menu alongside wine, spirits, craft beer and cider. The Moniker’s menu includes small plates, sharing boards, gourmet sandwiches and burgers, and seasonal salads. The venue also hosts cocktail-making classes and features a terrace with television screens.
Urban Village Pub Company buys Epic’s Towcester pub out of administration for seventh site: Urban Village Pub Company has acquired 185 Watling Street Pub & Kitchen in Towcester for its first pub in Northamptonshire and seventh in total. The pub was part of Epic Pub Company’s estate that was placed in administration earlier this year. Fleurets was instructed by administrator FRP Advisory to market Epic Pub Company’s estate comprising The Golden Ball in Maidenhead, The Imperial Arms in Chelsea, and 185 Watling Street Pub & Kitchen. The Golden Ball was sold to Brakspear in October, Tom Cormie, of Fleurets, said. Ian Grundy, who founded Urban Village Pub Company with Gavin Drew, said: “I am delighted to welcome 185 Watling Street and the team into Urban Village Pubs and bring the site out of administration, saving more than 20 jobs in the process. We believe this is a great opportunity in a lovely town and have plans for a refurbishment in the new year. We look forward to working with the team and community to make 185 Watling Street a strong addition to the centre of Towcester.”
Market Taverns acquires Paddington pub for sixth London site: Market Taverns Pub Co, which operates managed sites across London, has acquired its sixth venue – The Cleveland Arms in Chilworth Street, Paddington, which was built in 1852. A Market Taverns Pub Co spokesman said the venue would remain the “classic pub we all know and love”. The Cleveland Arms currently offers a daily changing food menu created by head chef Elisabeth Passédat alongside Sunday roasts, while it also operates the Cleveland Lunch Club with “loyalty card benefits”. On the first floor of the Victorian building the pub also offers a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with a “full-length kitchen living area”, and four one-bedroom apartments on the second and third floors. The deal was secured by agent CDG Leisure with the buyer represented by May & Company.
Moorhouse’s Brewery eyes more bars as it returns to pre-tax profit: Lancashire-based Moorhouse’s Brewery is eyeing more bars as it returned to pre-tax profit for the first time in seven years. The company reported a pre-tax profit of £37,000 for the year ending 30 April 2019, compared with a pre-tax loss of £275,000 the previous year. Turnover has remained constant at about £4.5m. Moorhouse’s is led by Lee Williams, who was appointed managing director in April 2017. The company is in year two of its turnaround plan, which has seen a full rebrand of the business and a cost-saving programme of initiatives. Williams said: “We are delighted the business is now back in profit. This has been a real team effort but this is just the start. Our focus is on building on these solid foundations to make Moorhouse’s as strong as possible. We have to continue this momentum and new product development, alongside some new retail bars, will be at the heart of how we create a sustainable future for the brand.”
McDonald’s partners with Ford to turn coffee bean waste into car parts:McDonald’s has partnered with Ford Motor Company to turn coffee bean waste into car parts. Headlamps on Lincoln Continental cars coming off the assembly line in the US later this month will feature parts made with chaff – waste created after roasting coffee beans. Chaff is normally turned into garden mulch or charcoal. In the Lincoln, chaff will replace talc to create a 20% lighter headlamp with a higher heat performance. Chaff will come from Canada-based Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee, which is McDonald’s North American coffee supplier. McDonald’s and Ford hope to expand the use of waste products to create parts for other car lines. McDonald’s senior director of global sustainability Ian Olson told Nation’s Restaurant News: “I think this is the future of sustainability. This is just the starting point for us – that’s why we are excited.” Debbie Mielewski, senior technical leader of materials sustainability at Ford, added: “The circular economy is something everyone should be thinking about.”
Drayton Manor reports narrowed pre-tax losses after turnover boost, summer trading ‘encouraging’: Staffordshire theme park Drayton Manor has reported pre-tax losses narrowed after a boost in turnover, while trading this summer was “encouraging” and exceeded last year. The park, near Tamworth, saw pre-tax losses fall to £2.3m for the year ending 28 February 2019, compared with £4.2m the year before. Turnover increased 7% to £24.6m, compared with £22.9m the previous year. Since the year end, the Royal Bank of Scotland has granted a repayment holiday for two bank loans meaning no repayment will be made in the year ending 29 February 2020. The next repayments will fall due in August 2020. The report added: “The year ending 28 February 2020 started well with temperatures being much higher than the prior year. Easter also fell later in April, which resulted in visitor numbers exceeding the prior Easter. The hotel got off to a slower start with national issues such as Brexit thought to be influencing decisions and hotel stays/events being postponed until there is more certainty around the strength of the economy. These conditions continue to make revenue generation challenging. However, performance of the hotel and theme park over the main summer trading period was encouraging with revenue exceeding prior-year levels.”
Thornbridge and Pivovar to open joint-venture sites in Leeds and Birmingham next week: Thornbridge and Pivovar will open two sites under their joint venture Thornbridge and Co next week. Birmingham venue The Colmore will launch in Colmore Row on Monday (9 December), while The Bankers Cat will open in Boar Lane in Leeds city centre two days later. The venues will follow Thornbridge and Co’s debut site, The Market Cat, which opened in York a year ago. Thornbridge Brewery chief executive Simon Webster said: “We have been working towards our Birmingham opening for a while so we’re delighted to see it come to fruition. To have Leeds opening at the same time and in advance of what we hope will be a busy festive season is brilliant.” Jamie Hawksworth, owner and director of Pivovar, added: “Birmingham and Leeds are wonderful cities and we’re delighted to add to the thriving social scenes in both.” Thornbridge and Co plans to open sites in Manchester and Sheffield next year and has previously said it will look to open ten pubs nationwide in the next five years. Separately, Thornbridge Brewery operates eight pubs in Sheffield while Pivovar owns eight bars across the UK as well as its craft beer wholesale business.
Antic adds bedrooms to second London pub: South London pub operator Antic is adding 23 bedrooms to Westow House in Crystal Palace. The rooms, due to open this month, are in the upper levels of the three-storey property, which sits at the corner of the Crystal Palace Triangle. It is the second Antic pub to feature bedrooms after the Red Lion in Leytonstone. Antic said it decided to add rooms to the pub, its largest, because of a growing demand for overnight accommodation in the area. Antic operates 44 sites in the capital.
Brew by Numbers increases equity in £400,000 crowdfunding campaign: London-based craft brewer Brew by Numbers has increased the equity offer in its £400,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to move to a new site and add two taprooms to its estate. As well as its Bermondsey brewery, the business runs three taprooms in the area. Brew by Numbers, founded in 2012 and led by Tom Hutchings, is now offering 7.55% equity in return for investment from the original 5.41%, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £4.9m rather than £7m. So far, 191 investors have pledged £146,300 with 18 days of the campaign remaining. Hutchings announced on Crowdcube: “We have done everything we can to set a fair and accurate valuation – using direction from the Equidam model, growth to date, our projections, the strength of our brand and recent valuations of comparable breweries – but ultimately it’s the market that decides. In response to feedback received, the shareholders and I have decided to offer a more competitive deal.”
Good Pub Guide 2020 licensee of the year puts Yorkshire gastro-pub on the market for £1.2m: Nigel Stevens, who was named licensee of the year in the Good Pub Guide 2020, has put The Wyvill Arms in Constable Burton, near Leyburn in North Yorkshire, on the market with a guide price of £1.2m for the freehold. The Wyvill Arms is an 18th century farmhouse that now houses a pub, restaurant and seven-bedroom hotel. The property has traded as The Wyvill Arms since the early 1980s and was taken over by Stevens, who plans to retire, in 1998. The property consists of a pub with two bars and an 80-cover restaurant with seating for another 20 outside. It also houses seven en-suite double bedrooms and a two-bedroom owner’s apartment. The business, which will remain open until a new owner takes over, is on course to generate revenues of £500,000 in 2019. Megan Sutherst, sales negotiator at Blacks Business Brokers, which is marketing the property, said: “The location is incredible – just outside the national park with the same fabulous scenery but without the same planning restrictions.”
Westminster restaurant previously owned by Sir Michael Caine brought to market: Shepherds restaurant in Westminster, central London, has been put on the market. The venue was once owned by actor Sir Michael Caine, Irish restaurateur Peter Langan and Richard Shepherd. The 62-cover restaurant features art deco-style interiors and two private dining rooms. Fleurets is marketing the Marsham Street site, which has a nil premium. Agent Richard Thomas said: “The restaurant occupies part of the ground floor of Marsham Court and is within walking distance of major London tourist attractions.”
Whitbread submits Premier Inn plans for Milton Keynes park: Whitbread has submitted plans to build a Premier Inn and restaurant at Willen Lake in Milton Keynes. The plans are part of phase two of The Parks Trust’s plans to make the area one of Milton Keynes’ key leisure attractions. The proposals would see a 120-bedroom Premier Inn and 211-cover Cookhouse and Pub restaurant built overlooking the lake. The four-storey hotel would offer a number of family bedrooms to cater for visitors to the lake and nearby attraction Gulliver’s World. Whitbread said its plans were a move to “modernise its accommodation in this sought-after location” and the company would review its position on the nearby Premier Inn Milton Keynes East Willen Lake. Whitbread development manager Jamie Baker said: “With a new hotel and Cookhouse and Pub restaurant – plus the 70 to 80 jobs created – we can contribute to building Milton Keynes’ leisure economy and making Willen Lake an even more enjoyable place to visit.” Subject to planning permission, Whitbread is looking to start construction work in autumn 2020 with a view to an opening in summer or autumn 2021.
Cotswolds Distillery embarks on fund-raise to ramp up whisky production: The Cotswolds Distillery is embarking on a new fund-raise as it looks to ramp up whisky production. The company is raising funds through its Angel’s Share 2 campaign on peer-to-peer lending platform Code Investing via a share offer, with shares costing £22 each. The minimum investment is £1,000. Cotswolds Distillery, founded by Dan Sizer, raised more than £1m via Code Investing in 2016 to grow its business after launching in 2014. Now the company is returning to the platform having grown revenue by more than 25 times and raised a further £7m over three fund-raising rounds, including almost £2.9m on Crowdcube last year. Cotswolds Distillery said the primary aim of its latest fund-raise was to boost growth in whisky stocks for ageing. It added: “Gin has been the mainstay of our distillery but whisky has shown great promise as evidenced by the significant growth rate of sales since 2017.” The offer to buy shares will close on Monday, 13 January.
Incipio Group – key legal advice instrumental to growth: Incipio Group, which received £5m from entertainment and leisure investor Edition Capital earlier this year to open six venues in 18 months, has hailed advice from specialist licensing law firm John Gaunt & Partners as being instrumental to its growth. The legal firm secured premises licences for Incipio Group’s Mahiki venue in Kensington, which has since reopened as Bloom, and secured licences for Pergola Paddington, The Prince in West Brompton, and W12 Studios in Shepherd’s Bush. Partner Jon Wallsgrove said: “We have secured three licences for Pergola Paddington, each granted for 12 months and all requiring extensive liaison with the police, environmental health officers and residents’ associations.” Incipio co-founder Ed Devenport said: “We have established a great working relationship with John Gaunt & Partners.” Incipio Group, which began in 2015 as a street-food dining experience in Shepherd’s Bush Market, has plans for another Kensington site and five projects in the next 18 months, including venues in Mayfair and Birmingham, which would be its first outside London.