Des Gunewardena – D&D London remains focused on expansion with number of ‘good opportunities’ being looked at for second half of 2018 and beyond: D&D London chairman Des Gunewardena has told Propel the company remains focused on expansion with a number of “good opportunities” being looked at for the second half of 2018 and beyond. The company, which saw UK like-for-like sales increase 4% for the four weeks to 31 December 2017, currently has three sites set to open this year – Bluebird restaurants in New York and London’s White City development, and 20 Stories, a 300-cover venue at the top of the newly built 1 Spinningfields in Manchester. Further launches are planned in 2019, including a new modern brasserie concept at Hudson Yards in New York. Gunewardena said the company was working on further deals. He said: “Our strategy is to continue to grow the business. We are looking at a number of good potential opportunities for the second half of this year. Our business is 90% UK-based and 80% of that is in London. With the openings we’ve got coming up in New York we will do more overseas but our focus will remain on the UK.” Gunewardena said he was “very pleased” with the 4% like-for-like growth in December, which included strong performance from its established sites, while overall revenues were up 11% on the previous year. Its City of London restaurants Madison and Coq d’Argent saw sales up 28% and 15% respectively, while West End venues Quaglino’s and 100 Wardour Street were up 13% and 8% respectively. There were also significant increases in revenues at overseas restaurants, with Alcazar in Paris rising 37% and Guastavinos in New York up 10%. Gunewardena said: “We were very pleased with December trading and like-for-like growth in revenues compared with what was a very strong December last year, when we were up 7%. We continue to be successful with our more recently opened venues such as German Gymnasium, but what is really great to see is the excellent performance of some of our longest-established restaurants such as Coq d’Argent, Quaglino’s and 100 Wardour Street.” Gunewardena said like-for-like performance for the current financial year was ahead of last year, with the company having seen a return to like-for-like growth since the middle of October after a disappointing summer. However, he added: “December is such an important month so I’d rather be down in August than December.” D&D London was founded by Gunewardena and David Loewi in 2006 following a buyout of Conran Restaurants.

BrewDog extends crowdfunding campaign until October due to ‘unprecedented demand’: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has extended its Equity for Punks V crowdfunding programme until October due to “unprecedented demand” from investors. The company set out in October 2017 to raise £10m in an initial 90-day period and has now secured £11,561,167 from 24,367 investors. The campaign was due to finish on Monday (15 January) but BrewDog has now extended the campaign until Monday, 15 October or until the maximum potential raise of £50m is reached. With 2.8% equity in the business being made available at £23.75 per share, it means BrewDog values its business at £1.8bn. BrewDog’s Equity for Punks crowdfunding programme has now recruited more than 70,000 investors since its inception in 2009 and has raised in excess of £52.5m through five rounds of funding. The initial target of £10m will be used to build a brewhouse at BrewDog’s Ellon brewery and invest in the company’s first sour beer facility, The Overworks, which will launch later this month. The funds raised before October will support accelerated growth across the global business, including £10m to launch a craft beer brewery in Asia and £5m to open a facility in Australia. A further £3m is earmarked for expanding and investing in UK BrewDog bars, with plans to open 15 bars in 2018, including four brewpubs. BrewDog also wants to invest £2m to create its own television network dedicated to craft beer. Co-founder James Watt said: “It’s insane to see more than 20,000 people buy a piece of our business and, with interest still proving higher than we anticipated, we have decided to extend the opportunity to invest in our company until October. Our success over the past decade is down to our engaged, passionate community of evangelistic Equity Punks – they are the lifeblood of our business – and the incredible groundswell of demand for this latest round of crowdfunding proves we’re not even close to slowing down.”

Administrator’s investigation into management of Lincolnshire brewer may result in ‘court action’: An investigation into how independent Lincolnshire brewer Tom Wood Beers was managed may result in “court action”, new documents have revealed. Administrator Charles Ranby-Gorwood, of Grimsby-based CRG Insolvency & Financial Recovery, revealed he was undertaking the investigation in his progress report, which has been filed at Companies House. The report stated: “I undertook an initial investigation into the company’s affairs to establish whether there were any potential asset recoveries or conduct matters that justified further investigation, taking account of the public interest, potential recoveries, the funds likely to be available to fund an investigation, and the costs involved. There have been matters raised by shareholders and directors in relation to how the business was being managed. I have undertaken an extensive analysis of the business records including paperwork and digital records. This has allowed an in-depth analysis of the business transactions. My investigations have also drawn attention to various persons and I am currently investigating their roles within the company. I can confirm a letter has been issued to parties questioning their roles with regard to the trading and control of the company. As this matter is ongoing and may result in the necessity for court involvement, I am being cautious with regard to the amount of information I provide at this stage. The investigations are concerned with potential funds, which are considered due to be paid to the company. The expected benefit in continuing the above investigations is I have already identified transactions that I intend to pursue.” The report showed the company has no secured creditors. The only potential preferential creditor is Tom Wood, as an employee for a claim against outstanding wages, but no claim has yet been received. The statement of affairs included £227,022 owed to HM Revenue & Customs, which has been received. The administrator has so far received claims from 20 non-preferential, unsecured creditors of £385,344. He has yet to receive claims from 26 creditors with original estimates of £152,393.

Patty & Bun to open first restaurant outside London, in Brighton next month: Better burger brand Patty & Bun is to open its first restaurant outside London, in Brighton next month. The new restaurant, Patty & Bun’s eighth in total, will open at a corner unit in Ship Street in a deal secured by agents Shelley Sandzer. The venue will cover about 1,500 square feet across basement, ground and first floors, with space for 50 covers in total. Ship Street is in a prime position, leading to the seafront and close to the main Churchill Square shopping centre. Patty & Bun founder Joe Grossman said: “We are really excited to kick off 2018 with the opening of our first restaurant outside London.” Nick Weir, of Shelley Sandzer, said: “We have no doubt the brand’s exceedingly popular offer will be a huge success in Brighton and this key central location will allow them to create a real buzz.” Patty & Bunn’s London sites are in Fitzrovia, Hackney, Liverpool Street, Marylebone, Notting Hill, Soho and Shoreditch. The company also operates at Incipio Group’s The Prince pub in West Brompton and at street food and crazy golf concept Swingers in the City.

Steamin’ Billy nears HSBC deal to fund further acquisitions, reports 6.7% like-for-like growth during festive period: Leicestershire-based Steamin’ Billy Brewing is close to completing a deal with HSBC to fund further acquisitions, Propel understands. In November, the company opened its latest venue, The White Horse in Atherstone, Warwickshire, which features a new pub and kitchen concept offering stone-baked pizza, steak and burgers made in an open kitchen, alongside Steamin’ Billy ale, wine, cocktails and craft beer. Managing director Billy Allingham told Propel: “Our new concept – pizzas, steaks, burgers and brews – is proving popular with our customers and we will look to continue to expand this with new acquisitions and into our existing pubs. We would certainly like to add at least one new pub this year and we’re completing a deal with HSBC to fund future acquisitions. We may invest in our existing wet-only pubs to add the pizza, steak and burgers concept. I have a major project in the pipeline that could generate significant turnover, not our usual traditional pub but an experience-led eating and drinking venue, but I can’t say much more at the moment until things are secured.” Steamin’ Billy Brewing reported 6.7% like-for-like growth for the five-week Christmas and New Year trading period. The company said trading in the early part of the period was badly hit by snow and a subsequent freeze, with all its destination sites particularly affected. Allingham said: “We are particularly pleased with these results as we chose not to operate a pop-up party venue this year, which generated £46,000 over three weeks last year.” The company currently operates 11 pubs.

JW Lees to buy up to 12 new sites this year: North west brewer and retailer JW Lees is planning to add up to 12 new sites to its portfolio in 2018. Managing director William Lees-Jones told Propel: “I think it’s a year that is going to bring opportunities – we only buy properties when the price is right. I would say we would buy between six and 12 sites this year.” Meanwhile, JW Lees has opened a new bar and restaurant as part of its £2.5m refurbishment of The Alderley Edge Hotel in Cheshire. A new entrance and reception leads to the open plan bar and restaurant, which features a new menu and “more relaxed and informal ambience”. It marks the first phase of the revamp, which will be complete by Easter. Lees-Jones said: “Opening the new bar and restaurant at the Alderley Edge Hotel is our first major investment in our 190th year. The Alderley Edge Hotel is our most prized asset and it is our aim to be best in class, with a flagship hotel we can be very proud of. JW Lees is a lot more than a just a brewery and our investment in hotels and inns continues to grow, with major developments planned for 2018. We feel just as confident running good quality hotels as we do pubs.”

Wimbledon Brewery appoints first managing director: Wimbledon Brewery has appointed David Bateman as its first managing director. Bateman joins from stationery company Paperchase, where he was chief financial and operating officer, helping the company grow to more than 200 sites and raising turnover from £15m to £150m. Joining in 2000, he led the organisation through private equity ownership and its subsequent sale to Borders Group in 2004 and a 2010 MBO backed by Primary Capital. Wimbledon Brewery founder Mark Gordon said: “David was absolutely instrumental in the growth and success of Paperchase. He will be for our brand. I believe his skills and experience can add huge value to Wimbledon Group.” Bateman added: “The Wimbledon Brewery brand, with its supply arrangements with pub companies and large brewers, retailers such as M&S and Waitrose, and traction with a number of high-end establishments, is set up to exploit the domestic and international markets.” Bateman is making a personal financial investment in Wimbledon Group, which will “support its growth to achieve its ambitions”. Wimbledon Group comprises the brewery, Firebird Bars And Restaurants, and Wimbledon Distillery. In May, the company doubled production capacity to a “brew a day” following the installation of two 60-barrel fermenters at its premises in south west London.

Derbyshire-based operator buys Marston’s pub for fourth site: Derbyshire-based operator Jonathan Smith has bought a Marston’s pub for his fourth site. Smith has acquired the Red Lion in the village of Shirland off an asking price of £285,000 through agents Christie & Co. The two-storey property comprises a ground-floor trading area, beer garden with a paved seating area to the rear, and three-bedroom owner’s accommodation on the first floor. Smith, who owns three other freehouses in the county, intends to refurbish the property and create an additional trading area by converting adjoining garages into a restaurant. He said: “We have big plans for the Red Lion. We will undertake a comprehensive refurbishment of the property and continue to trade it as a pub, with a focus on real ale and good-quality food.”

Sweet & Chilli founders acquire second London site: The founders of drinks agency Sweet & Chilli have acquired their second London site. Allan Gage, Emma Hutchison and Tom Soden, who operate cocktail bar Nine Lives in Bermondsey, have taken on The Gunmakers in Clerkenwell. The 19th century pub in Eyre Street Hill retains many original features and has a hidden hair studio in the attic with its own bar. A menu of Asian-inspired dishes using seasonal British produce has been created by new head chef Madison Duffy, with drinks including craft beer and cocktails. The Gunmaker’s Living Room is upstairs, furnished with antiques, Chesterfield sofas, and artwork. The Gun Club, run by Tim Whiting, is at the top of the venue with its own hair studio, barber’s shop and bar. The garden features lanterns hanging from wooden beams, heaters and thick blankets for customers.

Hospitality operators acquire Shropshire pub in administration for fourth site: Hospitality operators Andrew Cornthwaite and Kate Lane have acquired their fourth site – The Crown At Hopton in the Shropshire village of Hopton Wafers, near Kidderminster. They have bought the historic 18-bedroom coaching inn, which was in administration and on the market at £895,000 for the freehold, through agent Colliers International. They intend to trade under the name The Hopton Crown. Cornthwaite said they plan a rolling refurbishment of the rooms, bedrooms and kitchen at the venue. It is their fourth country pub – all within a half-hour drive of each other on the Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire borders. He said: “The Hopton Crown is a perfect complement to the existing properties in our portfolio. The idea is to ensure we have the same focus on quality and local charm but not as part of a large chain. Some of the existing letting rooms are in cottages we plan to turn back into holiday cottages, for which they have planning in place.”

Former Bluebird head chef acquires gastro-pub: Former Bluebird head chef Mark Block has acquired a gastro-pub on the border of Gloucestershire and Worcestershire. Block and his wife Jo-Anne have bought The Butchers Arms in Eldersfield off a guide price of £750,000 from James and Elizabeth Winter through agents Christie & Co. The 16th century pub sits on two acres of land with a paddock and outbuilding, overlooking the Malvern Hills. The food-led pub has a bar, large fireplace, farmhouse table and chairs with 30 covers and a dining room for about 15 covers. It also includes three-bedroom owner’s accommodation and a detached self-catering holiday cottage with one double bedroom. The Blocks have been living in London and purchased the pub looking for a change in lifestyle. Mark Block has worked in London for the past 20 years, including seven years as head chef at D&D London’s Bluebird in King’s Road. He also recently worked at Bruno Loubet’s Grain Store restaurant in King’s Cross, which has now closed. Nicholas Calfe, director at Christie & Co’s Bristol office and who handled the sale, said: “Mark and Jo-Anne want to maintain the excellent standard of food and keep the warm, homely feeling the pub brings.”

Domino’s completes acquisition of increased stake in Iceland business: Domino’s Pizza Group has completed its acquisition of a further 44.3% shareholding in Domino’s Iceland for €30.2m (£26.7m), taking ownership to 95.3%. Chief executive David Wild said: “We’re really pleased to be increasing our ownership of Domino’s Iceland earlier than was planned. It’s a great business and after 18 months of partnership, we have good visibility of its strengths and further opportunities for growth.”

Loungers to open at new £45m Stockport leisure complex next week: Cafe bar brand Loungers, which is backed by Lion Capital, is to open a venue at the new £45m Redrock leisure development in Stockport, south Manchester, next week. Berretto Lounge will launch on Wednesday, 24 January in a 4,400 square foot unit overlooking the public square that links Redrock with Stockport’s main retail centre. The development is anchored by The Light Cinema, which said the opening had been its most successful to date. Loungers will join brands at Redrock that include PizzaExpress, Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi and Gourmet Burger Kitchen. The Gym Group has also signed up to take a double unit totalling 15,000 square feet at the complex, which is now 90% let. Cllr Kate Butler, of Stockport Council, said: “It’s a huge pleasure to welcome Loungers. Redrock is proving a big hit.” Loungers will also open Paramo Lounge in Solihull, West Midlands, in March. The company, which also operates the Cosy Club brand, was founded in 2002 in Bristol by Jake Bishop, David Reid and Alex Reilley. The company currently operates 114 venues. Lunson Mitchenall and BarkerProudlove are agents for Redrock Stockport.

Ei Group partners with Yext to enhance digital footprint: Ei Group, formerly Enterprise Inns, has partnered with global digital knowledge management provider Yext to enhance its digital footprint. Yext is a cloud-based platform that “co-ordinates business listing information across different internet databases and media sites”. Yext will initially power data for more than 500 sites across Ei Group’s estate, including its Craft Union Pub Company, Bermondsey Pub Company and Beacon businesses. The company said the move would ensure consistency of information about its venues including food and drink offerings, opening hours, wheelchair accessibility and outdoor seating. Pubs can update menu information across Facebook and Google, while Ei Group will use Yext’s location reviews service to enhance a venue’s visibility and improve its online reputation. Ei Group retail concept director Steve de Polo said: “In this era of digital discovery we’re finding it increasingly difficult to manage and update in real time the huge volume of public information available about our pubs. It’s crucial that when a customer searches for information about our pubs it is easy to find, correct at every customer touchpoint, and meaningful – whether that’s location and opening hours, the food and drink it sells or the facilities. Consumers expect this information to be correct and we must get it right – our reputation depends on it.”

Flip Out signs for Doncaster shopping centre, Costa Coffee to upsize: Trampoline park operator Flip Out has signed to open a site at the Frenchgate Shopping Centre in Doncaster. The company has agreed a deal with The Frenchgate Partnership for a 28,000 square foot venue, which will launch in the spring. The unit is split over a 3,600 square foot ground floor and a 24,700 square foot basement that will include a trampoline arena, cafe, a children’s trampoline area, and a ninja obstacle course. Meanwhile, Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee has regeared its Frenchgate lease and will upsize by almost a third, expanding into an adjacent unit to create a 2,500 square foot cafe. Jon Inwards, UK master franchise holder at Flip Out, said: “We are thrilled to be expanding Flip Out with our first site in the region. The unique space at Frenchgate is perfect and allows us to launch the complete range of Flip Out classes and activities that will add something new to the leisure offer in the area.” The Frenchgate Partnership asset manager Paul Devlin added: “Completing this deal on the former BHS unit demonstrates our innovative and creative approach to leasing space and an asset strategy that is willing to be creative to ensure a high-quality mixed offer.” Time Retail and Rawstron Johnston acted for Frenchgate, which is managed by Lambert Smith Hampton’s Belfast office.

Former Noma chef changes menu focus at Nigerian concept Ikoyi: Former Noma chef Jeremy Chan has changed the focus of his Nigerian restaurant Ikoyi. Chan and business partner Iré Hassan-Odukale, who launched a first permanent site for the concept in the St James’s Market development in July, has launched a menu almost completely dedicated to west African seafood. New dishes include cuttlefish miyan taushe and turbot roasted on the bone. Chan said: “Our kitchen wants to explore continuously. What I really feel we are pushing boundaries on are the rare African ingredients and techniques we are using to create these dishes.” Ikoyi is named after an affluent neighbourhood in Lagos, Nigeria.

New Australian-inspired healthy coffee bar opens in York: A new Australian-inspired healthy coffee bar has opened in York. Laura Edwards has launched The Dark Horse espresso bar in the revived Shambles Market food quarter following a trial at the Christmas markets in St Sampsons Square. The bar, based in a horsebox, serves Allpress Espresso coffee among other hot and cold drinks and a range of Australian-inspired healthy breakfast, lunch and snack items such as a spinach wrap filled with taboulleh, salad and houmous; and homemade banana bread. Edwards, who was born in Yorkshire and spent the past decade living in Australia, said: “I want to bring my passion and love of coffee along with the experience and food I left behind in Sydney to the people of York.”