Drake & Morgan sees ‘challenging market conditions’ affect first half of financial year, full-year adjusted Ebitda up 24.9%: Drake & Morgan, the London-based bar and restaurant group backed by Bowmark Capital, has said “challenging market conditions” have affected the first half of its current financial year. The company said it expects a strong Christmas period, with bookings “well ahead” of last year. It comes as the company announced like-for-like sales rose 2.8% for the year ending 31 March 2019. Turnover increased 12% to £56.0m, compared with £49.7m the previous year. Adjusted Ebitda was up 24.9% to £6.3m compared with £5m the year before, while adjusted pre-tax profit rose to £1.9m from £1.3m the previous year. The company launched The Anthologist at One St Peter’s Square in Manchester in July 2018. Two further conversions from the former Corney & Barrow Bars estate took place, with the Little Fable in November 2018 and The Moniker in April 2019. A new central London site has been secured for 2020, which will take the portfolio to 23 bars in London, Manchester and Edinburgh. Propel understands this is the former Cooperage Bar in Tooley Street, which was previously operated by Davy’s Wine Bars. Drake & Morgan chief financial officer James Sherrington said: “2018-19 was a good year of progress – like-for-like sales were positive while a strong focus on productivity and efficiency savings delivered margin improvement and profit growth.”
Chilango confirms CVA plans: Mexican brand Chilango has confirmed it plans to launch a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in a bid to secure its future. City AM revealed on Sunday (8 December) Chilango had planned the move to allow it to reopen rent negotiations with landlords as it “battles cash flow issues”. Propel understands the CVA will be filed this morning (Tuesday, 10 December). A Chilango spokesman said the company had started a “process of engagement with its stakeholders with a plan to secure the future of the business”. Chilango is proposing to enter a CVA to exit “non-trading leases” for dormant sites on which it planned to develop restaurants and to “restructure the company’s debt”, the spokesman said. He added: “Together with a reduction in central costs, a successful CVA will materially improve the balance sheet.” Although the company didn’t confirm the number of leases it was looking to exit, Propel understands Bristol and Leeds are among the outlets. Chilango is in talks with advisory firm RSM to shore up its business and is more than two months late posting its accounts on Companies House. The CVA proposals would require the backing of the company’s creditors, which includes about 1,500 small investors who bought its mini-bonds, dubbed “burrito bonds”. Launched in 2007, Chilango operates a dozen restaurants but has never turned a profit. The company reported a £1.4m loss for the year to March 2018, the most recent period for which figures are available. Founders Eric Partaker and Dan Houghton said the market in which Chilango operates had “changed significantly” in recent years. They added: “This proposal allows us to make important changes so we can support our stakeholders and continue serving our loyal guests. We are proud of the strong brand and passionate following our teams have created and look forward to the future.”
Peel Hunt – Prosus’ increased offer for Just Eat significantly increases certainty of deal: Peel Hunt leisure analyst James Lockyer has said Prosus’ increased offer for Just Eat, the market place for takeaway food delivery, significantly increases the certainty of a deal. Prosus has increased its offer from 710p to 740p and reduced the level of acceptances to a simple majority of 50% plus one share, which the board of Just Eat said it was reviewing. Lockyer said: “It is interesting to note this updated offer is on the same day Takeaway.com has put out an investor circular rejecting Prosus’ previous offer (710p), with no comment on the revised offer. As well as this new offer having a 25.6% premium to the closing price the day before its original offer, it is now above the original 731p offer Takeaway.com made, which was ‘recommended by the Just Eat Board’. One of Prosus’ biggest points is ‘Just Eat has underinvested in addressing the challenges, with only £51m invested in growth initiatives in 2018, substantially less than peers including iFood, Grubhub and Delivery Hero’. It also highlighted the equity performance of Grubhub, which has gone down the road of delivery investment too (earlier and more aggressively), yet it has now also succumbed to the competitive pressures of the pure-play delivery providers, which has seen Just Eat suffer too. We agree with Prosus that more investment needs to be done to see off the competition. However, whether it can be done remains to be seen.”
Planet Organic to enter food-to-go delivery market: Planet Organic is set to enter the food-to-go delivery market via a partnership with London-based premium food delivery service Supper, Propel has learned. Launching on Thursday (12 December), Planet Organic will start by delivering from two Tottenham Court Road branches and offering a selection of food to go and sushi from the in-store Maido sushi bar. Caroline Ottoy, foodservice director at Planet Organic, said: “We are excited to launch the service and believe it will be well received. We are all about quality, service and high customer expectations and Supper is perfectly aligned with that ethos.” Supper founder Peter Georgiou added: “We are delighted to be working with Planet Organic and adding another fantastic operator to the portfolio of restaurants we work with. Supper is going from strength to strength, with quarterly revenue growth throughout 2019 and 2020 forecast to continue that trend.” Founded by Georgiou in 2015, Supper uses a fleet of specially adapted scooters and directly employed drivers to cater for the premium end of the market, setting it apart from sector heavyweights such as Deliveroo and UberEats. Last month, Supper closed a Series A funding round of circa £1.5m.
Urban Pubs and Bars closes Well Street Pizza site in Peckham: Urban Pubs and Bars, led by Nick Pring and Malcolm Heap, has closed its Well Street Pizza outlet in Peckham and is reviewing its options for the site, Propel understands. The company has shut the venue at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts a year after its launch. It is believed Pring and Heap took the decision because they were unable to get the offer exactly how they wanted in the face of intense competition. A gas-fire oven was being used to cook the pizza because they were unable to put in the extraction system required to have a wood-fired oven. Propel understands the remaining Well Street Pizza site in Hackney continues to perform well and is in its fourth year of double-digit growth. Urban Pubs and Bars operates 20 sites and last month relaunched Ember Yard, the Italian-Spanish restaurant in Soho it acquired as part of its deal for Salt Yard Group last year.
Juan Santa Cruz to open New York restaurant and club: Restaurateur and designer Juan Santa Cruz is to open a restaurant and club in New York. Santa Cruz, who operates Casa Cruz in Notting Hill and Isabel in Mayfair, will launch the venue at 36 East 61st Street in a five-storey building he and investors have bought for $32m. It will open a stone’s throw from members-only club Oswald’s, which Robin Birley will open next year. “Robin and I are very good friends,” Santa Cruz told Side Dish, noting Isabel in London was only “one door down” from Birley’s club Oswald’s. Santa Cruz said he would take a “less-exclusive approach” than Birley. Like his other restaurants the new venue will be open to the public and have no dress code. It will take up 14,000 square feet over six storeys. The basement will house the kitchen, while the ground floor will serve as a reception and coat check. The second will offer a bar and “casual” dining, while the third floor will house a more formal dining room. The fourth floor will feature a “drawing room for drinking and lounging”, while the fifth will be reserved for private events. The menu will be “filled with simple dishes” from the Mediterranean and South America. Cruz said: “I will bring my chef from London to transfer our expertise and hire someone in New York to execute it on a day-to-day basis.”
Rare Restaurants relaunches new-look Gaucho at Fitzrovia site: Rare Restaurants – the Investec and SC Lowy-backed parent company of Gaucho and M Restaurants – has relaunched its Gaucho site in Fitzrovia featuring the brand’s new look. Coinciding with Gaucho’s 25th anniversary, the 128-cover restaurant in Charlotte Street sees the brand’s cowhide look replaced by “earthy tones inspired by the Argentine landscape”. The design will be gradually rolled out across all 16 Gaucho sites. The evolved offering includes two cocktail bars, a beef bar with a chef creating dishes in front of diners, a cinema screen for the brand’s immersive drinking and dining experience, Gaucho Film Club, in which customers eat and drink what they see on the screen, and a private dining room. The venue also offers the new Gaucho menu, with starters such as scallop ceviche alongside classic Argentine steaks and seafood. In total, 10% of the venue’s staff come from partnerships with social charities such as Clink and Only A Pavement Away. A deal was concluded in April that saw M Restaurants’ three venues and Gaucho’s 16 sites brought together under the Rare Restaurants banner led by chief executive Martin Williams.
Hix confirms closure of Soho restaurant: Mark Hix has confirmed he will close his Hix Soho restaurant on Sunday, 22 December due to “challenging market conditions and rising rent”. In October, Propel reported Hix was looking to close the restaurant and bar in Brewer Street, which represents his last presence in the West End after Hix Mayfair closed two years ago. Another branch in the City of London closed last year. Hix wrote on Instagram: “I will be closing Hix Soho on 22 December after ten wonderful years in the West End. I made this very difficult decision due to challenging market conditions and rising rents. We have had some great times and built many memories. It has been a blast – good times that will no doubt travel over the river to continue at Mark’s Bar Bankside. The rest of the business will continue as normal.” Hix is believed to be turning his attention to Dorset, where he grew up. His Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis is understood to be doing well and he has considered launching a venture in Weymouth, where he supports training courses for young chefs. Hix has three other restaurants in London – Oyster & Chop House in Farringdon, Tramshed in Shoreditch, and Hixter in Bankside, which incorporates Mark’s Bar.
Shake Shack opens 12th UK site, at Brent Cross: Shake Shack has opened its 12th site in the UK, at Brent Cross shopping centre in north west London. The venue has launched at Unit S4 on Restaurant Level 3 and offers Shake Shack’s signature 100% Aberdeen Angus burgers, griddled flat-top hotdogs, frozen custard and crispy crinkle-cut fries, alongside beer and wine. Since the original Shack opened in New York in 2004, the company has expanded to more than 260 sites in the US and more than 80 internationally. Last month Shake Shack chief executive Randy Garutti said he was pleased with the company’s revenue performance in the three months to 25 September 2019, with like-for-like sales growth of 2%. He said: “This has been the biggest development year in Shack history as we’ve grown our presence around the country and internationally in the new markets of mainland China, Singapore, the Philippines and Mexico. In 2020, we will continue to expand even further within key domestic and international markets.” In October, The Restaurant Group Concessions and Diverse Dining opened the first Shake Shack in a UK airport, at Gatwick, as part of a move to open a number of Shacks in UK airports.
Just Eat-backed fine dining app returns to Crowdcube for £100,000 fund-raise:Lux Rewards, an app that connects fine diners with hand-picked local restaurants, has returned to crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it looks to raise £100,000 to expand across the UK. The company, backed by Just Eat and founded by James Courtney, raised more than £80,000 on Crowdcube in 2016 to develop its card-linking technology. Now it has returned to the platform as it looks to raise £100,000 in return for 6.25% equity, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £1.5m. To date, more than 50 restaurants have joined Lux Rewards, including Browns and JKS Restaurants and Mews of Mayfair. The pitch states: “Lux helps high-quality restaurants and bars ditch the discounts – a premium alternative that rewards high-spending customers without devaluing restaurant brands. In exchange, restaurants pay up to 15% in commission. In 2016 we raised our first Crowdcube round to capitalise on this market opportunity. Since then, we have built an experienced and energised team with the goal to make dining more rewarding. After three years of iterations, our card-linked app provides a seamless user experience. We now have the team and technology to scale across the UK.”
Old Chang Kee opens at former Benito’s Hat in Fitzrovia for second UK site:Singaporean snack and street food brand Old Chang Kee has opened its second UK site. The company has opened a 1,200 square foot outlet in Goodge Street, Fitzrovia, at the site formerly occupied by Mexican brand Benito’s Hat. Old Chang Kee, which is known for its curry puffs, offers fast casual dining from the new eatery, which is larger than its debut Covent Garden site and caters for 30 customers. The interiors take inspiration from Singaporean “kopitiams” – old-style Asian coffee shops – and includes items that tell the story behind the Old Chang Kee brand. Founded in 1956, Old Chang Kee operates more than 100 outlets, mainly in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia. Old Chang Kee UK director Sandra Leong said: “We are thrilled to bring another slice of Singapore to London. Our curry puffs have been well received since we opened last year in Covent Garden. Our grab-and-go Singapore hawker meals such as curry chicken and laksa have also proved popular with working and student crowds so this new location allows us to introduce our food to more London foodies.”
Great Scotland Yard Hotel launches in London with Robin Gill overseeing F&B offer: Hotel, restaurant, tea room, bar, drinking club and events space Great Scotland Yard has launched in London with chef entrepreneur Robin Gill overseeing the food and beverage offer. The hotel has opened on the site of the former Metropolitan Police headquarters and is Gill’s first foray into the hotel industry. He oversees The Yard, a 63-cover modern British restaurant showcasing the best of the UK countryside; 24-cover cocktail bar The Forty Elephants; 28-cover tea room The Parlour, and 40-cover drinking den Sibín, which has a strong emphasis on whiskey. Great Scotland Yard Hotel, the first UK hotel to join The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, features 152 bedrooms.
Plans submitted for Teesside snow and leisure centre featuring bars and restaurants: Subzero (Middlehaven) has submitted plans to build a snow and leisure centre in Teesside. The site, on land south of Priestman Road in Middlehaven, would provide indoor skiing supported by food and drink outlets including cafes, bars, restaurants and hot food takeaways. The plans lodged with Middlesbrough Council feature one large building and two small pavilions, with a 165m ski slope, a shorter beginners slope, support accommodation, car and cycle parking, and landscaping. The roughly seven-acre development is on a brownfield site next to Middlesbrough College and bounded by Middlesbrough Dock. The dock’s grade II-listed clock tower is being incorporated into the project’s design, Insider Media reports.
Glasgow-based Paesano Pizza launches pasta concept for third city site:Glasgow-based pizzeria brand Paesano Pizza has launched a pasta concept inside an iconic city centre building. Sugo has opened in the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Herald Building featuring an open-plan design similar to Paesano’s pizzerias in Miller Street and Great Western Road. A Paesano spokesman told Glasgow Live: “The emphasis is on authenticity of the dishes served and provenance and quality of produce. Each pasta style is paired with a sauce or ingredients traditionally served in each region. The restaurant is a large, bustling open space with diners able to watch our chefs produce fresh pasta as they dine.” The listed building in Mitchell Street opened as a newspaper office in 1895.
EasyHotel reveals location of proposed Derby site: EasyHotel, the owner, developer, operator and franchisor of “super budget” branded hotels, has revealed the proposed location of its new site in Derby. The five-storey Forester House on the corner of Newland and Becket Street has been earmarked for the scheme in plans submitted to the city council, reports Insider Media. The building, which was bought by Universal Total Care for £1.6m in September, was built in the 1970s and currently provides total accommodation of about 4,000 square feet. EasyHotel revealed plans to open a site in Derby in October. The group has signed a franchise agreement with Ushba for the development of a hotel that would have 111 bedrooms. It is expected to open in 2021 and would include a restaurant.
Accolade Wines appoints European marketing director: Hardys, Echo Falls and Kumala owner Accolade Wines has appointed Caroline Thompson-Hill as European marketing director. She has more than 15 years’ experience in the industry, with roles spanning the UK, Europe and the US. Thompson-Hill joins from Treasury Wine Estates where she held a number of marketing roles, most recently in its Americas business with responsibility for brand marketing, shopper marketing and global digital strategy. Ade McKeon, regional managing director, Europe for Accolade Wines, said: “Caroline brings a wealth of global marketing experience. Her passion and creativity, together with her in-depth commercial and strategic understanding, will provide a strong new marketing direction for our portfolio of products in the UK and Europe.” Thompson-Hill added: “I am thrilled to join Accolade Wines and have the opportunity to work on such an outstanding portfolio of wine, including some of the UK’s leading brands.’’
Technology group acquires Giftpro: Technology group ClearCourse Partnership has acquired Giftpro, a software platform that allows hospitality venues to sell and manage gift vouchers and events tickets, for an undisclosed sum. Giftpro’s clients include The Ivy Collection, Jason Atherton and Searcys. The acquisition will allow Giftpro to offer a broader range of payment types, the companies stated. Giftpro co-founder and creative director Richard Hull said: “Our relationship with ClearCourse will help our clients achieve better results through implementing new and creative ways for them to generate revenue online.”
CPL Online receives Institute of Hospitality endorsement for e-learning courses:CPL Online, the specialist provider of e-learning, business solutions and interactive services, has had its e-learning courses endorsed by the Institute of Hospitality. The endorsement “encourages the highest professional standards of education throughout the sector and maintains and develops the quality of education and training available for the purposes of continued professional development”. CPL director of learning and education Martin Hilton said: “The Institute of Hospitality is a recognised symbol of quality in the hospitality industry and we share the same vision of supporting organisations unlocking potential.” CPL Online courses will also continue to be endorsed by BIIAB.