Pret trials click-and-collect at five London sites: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned business, is trialling click-and-collect at five sites in London. The company is piloting the service at its Aldgate, Hammersmith, Kingston, Putney and Stratford outlets. Pret has so far reopened about 300 of its sites for takeaway and delivery. Earlier this month the company appointed advisors as it looks to undertake a “comprehensive transformation plan”, which could it see it push to change to a turnover-based rent model and lead to a limited number of permanent stores closures across its circa 430-strong UK estate.
Wimpy trials dark kitchen, 84% of estate now reopen: Wimpy UK is trialling a dark kitchen as it continues to adapt to new ways of reaching customers during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Slough site is delivering via Deliveroo, UberEats and Just Eat, and in its first week of operation exceeded its target by 15%. Previously there were three Wimpy outlets in Slough, with the last one closing in 2004. Like the rest of the 69-strong Wimpy estate, the new venture is a franchise operation, headed this time by joint franchisees, father and son Herjit and Del Ghosal. The pair made a large investment in setting up the dark kitchen facility and currently employ a team of five to help meet online delivery orders within a two-mile radius of its base. Stringent social distancing and health and safety protocols have also been put in place for staff and delivery collection drivers. Chris Woolfenden, general manager of Wimpy UK, said: “Opening a dark kitchen is very much a test phase for us and I’m pleased to say the initial feedback has been very good. This has given us the opportunity to bring the much-loved Wimpy brand back to Slough, but very much on home delivery terms only. We shall continue to review progress and undoubtedly, if it continues to be successful, we may look at other locations in the future.” Woolfenden said 84% of its estate has now reopened for delivery and in some cases takeaway, and there has been a “huge uptake” from customers. The company has also diverted resources to support franchisees with social media campaigns and promotions to keep the Wimpy name in front of customers; and also providing advice and guidance on essential hygiene and safety measures.
BrewDog COO – UK is the case study to avoid in terms of communications and clarity: David McDowall, chief operating officer at Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, has said the UK is the case study to be “avoided by the entire planet” when it comes to communications and providing clarity to hospitality sectors. In a conversation with Fleet Street Communications managing director Mark Stretton on Hospo Live, McDowall gave an insight on how BrewDog’s bars had begun reopening around the world, and how in France it is “starting to see consumer confidence uptick happening quite dramatically”. He said: “The UK is the case study to be avoided by the entire planet. It’s sad to say that but the communications and clarity and messages are just so difficult for the sector to understand. Thank God we’ve got great industry and trade bodies such as UKHospitality helping us navigate these hard times. We were impressed by the way it panned out in Dublin. There was and continues to be an argument over there on one metre versus two metres and that will continue to be played out, but at least communications and framework and guidelines were out early. The reopening date was brought forward in the Republic of Ireland after there was a healthy spell where the prevalence of the virus was slowing down quite dramatically. I’ve also been impressed by what we’ve seen in France. We’re back open in our locations in France now and we are starting to see that consumer confidence uptick happening quite dramatically. You’ll see lots of great pictures of Parisian brasseries this week with people back sitting on the corner and sipping an espresso and a lot of that is because the message from government there has been about how important it is to protect and support that sector.” BrewDog has also announced next month it will start using drones to make socially distanced beer deliveries to various locations on its 42-acre Columbus campus. It has also begun exploring the use of drones as the next stage of its BrewDog Now delivery services in the UK. The drone service will operate alongside the brewers existing delivery option BrewDog Now, which uses its bar network as hubs to get fresh draft beer and food into customers’ homes in less than 60 minutes.
Ei Publican Partnerships announces £300,000 PPE support package: Ei Publican Partnerships, the leased and tenanted business of Ei Group – now owned by Stonegate Pub Company – is providing a personal protective equipment (PPE) support package, worth almost £300,000, for its pubs ahead of reopening. Each pub will receive a free PPE starter kit, which will comprise disposable masks, disposable gloves, hand sanitiser and rolls of black/yellow self-adhesive floor tape. Nick Light, managing director of Ei Publican Partnerships, said: “The safety and well-being of our publicans is most paramount. This additional £280,000 investment in PPE is just one of the many ways we are making sure our pubs can reopen from lock-down in a safe and sustainable manner while providing an enjoyable experience for customers.” Earlier this month Ei Publican Partnerships announced the launch of Round, a bespoke contactless ordering app across the estate. The company also recently announced a multimillion-pound financial support package for businesses – with all tied publicans operating on substantive agreements that are not in receipt of government grants receiving a three-month rent credit for the period April to June. For those publicans who are entitled to grants of between £10,000 and £25,000, trade credits of either 75% or 50% of the value of three months’ rent are also being provided. Tie release fees have also been cancelled along with May’s planned price rise on tied products delivered to pubs.
Honest Burgers begin roll-out of chicken concept: The Active Partners-backed Honest Burgers is to begin the roll out of its new Honest Chicken concept, with an opening in Waterloo, Propel has learned. The company, which launched the concept at its King’s Cross site last month, will take over its site in The Cut for the second Honest Chicken. Contactless delivery from the site, which opens on Wednesday (17 June), is available through Deliveroo and UberEats. The company said last month there were plans in progress to open further sites in the future under the new concept. Honest has so far reopened 27 sites out of its 37-strong estate for delivery, including Delivery Edition units in Canary Wharf and Swiss Cottage. It is also now delivering out of the Foodstars kitchen site in Colindale.
Jamie Oliver opens delivery-only Pizzeria in Australia: Jamie Oliver has opened a delivery-only Jamie’s Pizzeria in Melbourne, Australia. Dishes are being prepared out of a shared kitchen facility at Deliveroo Editions in Collingwood, Victoria. It’s the second of Oliver’s pizzeria restaurants to open in Australia, with the first landing at Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast at the end of last year. Pizzas are made using a traditional-style Neapolitan dough finished with toppings such as spicy pork and fennel meatballs, pepperoni, roasted herb mushrooms, and four cheese. Oliver told “It’s been a challenging few months for everyone and the hospitality industry in particular, so it’s extra special to open our Pizzeria for home delivery to offer our diners delicious meals, made from superb ingredients, in the comfort of their own home.”
Imbiba completes investment in Sessions Market: Serial sector investor Imbiba, which backs concepts such as Farmer J and Vagabond, has completed an investment into Sessions Market, the ethically-driven and immersive food hall concept. Sessions Market, which is led by Dan Warne, former managing director at Deliveroo, will open its debut site in Shelter Hall on Brighton seafront later this summer. The business, which is chaired by former Tragus chief executive Graham Turner, plans to scale into regional cities across the UK, bringing together independent restauranteurs in large-scale and community-oriented spaces, while also running events throughout the year. Kieran Sherlock, property director at Imbiba, said: “Shelter Hall is an iconic venue on Brighton seafront and will undoubtedly be a hugely popular destination for the community once hospitality venues are able to open.” Warne said: “I am very pleased to be able to announce our partnership with Imbiba, which has been pivotal in securing our first site in Brighton. Sessions will bring something new and unique to communities across the country, showcasing local talent and culture, and we hope to be able to open our doors very soon.”
Dishoom to launch first home delivery kit: Indian restaurant concept Dishoom is to launch its first home cookery kit on Thursday (18 June). Customers will be able to buy the kit that will allow them to create Dishoom’s bacon naan rolls in their own kitchen. Each kit will also contain the requisite tea and spices to brew a batch of Dishoom’s Masala Chai. For every bacon naan roll kit sold, Dishoom will donate a meal to Magic Breakfast, its long-term charity partner that provides free, nutritious meals to children that might otherwise go hungry. Initially available to customers surrounding its King’s Cross, Kensington and Shoreditch restaurants, a limited number of kits will be released for same-day delivery at 3pm daily through its website. The kit comes with full cookery instructions while a video to help first-timers will also be available online. Earlier this month Dishoom reopened its King’s Cross, Kensington and Shoreditch sites for delivery. The menu includes its vada pau, keema pau, chicken ruby and house black daal alongside cocktails such as Pallonji’s Raspberry Soda.
Costa and Tortilla reopen further sites: Costa Coffee, which is owned by Coca-Cola, reopened a further 131 stores for takeaway on Tuesday (16 June), taking the total to 658. The company, which has already reopened all its drive-thru sites, has been gradually reopening its estate over the past month, having initially reopened four sites – in Manchester, Bristol and Mansfield – two of which were delivery only and two drive-thru. Meanwhile, Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed fast-casual Mexican concept, has reopened two more sites for click-and-collect and delivery. The company’s restaurants in Birmingham and Oxford are now offering the service. Last week chief executive Richard Morris told Propel the business has been “encouraged by the numbers” being produced by the sites it has so far reopened for delivery and collection.
Cocotte launches breakfast and lunch spin-off: Healthy rotisserie chicken concept Cocotte has launched a breakfast and lunch spin-off, Cocorico. The offer is available for delivery or click-and-collect from its site in Parsons Green and will be rolling out to Notting Hill and Shoreditch before the end of the month. Breakfast options include acai bowls and croissant waffles with Chantilly cream while lunch dishes feature the chicken and egg bun as well as a vegan mushroom bagel. The offer is available daily from 8am to 3pm, with delivery via Deliveroo in London Zones 1 and 2.
Moto to reopen all Greggs outlets on Thursday: Moto, the UK’s biggest motorway service area operator, is to reopen all 67 stores operated by food-to-go retailer Greggs on Thursday (18 June). Each store will have floor markings to help maintain social distancing, protective screens on counters and personal protective equipment for staff. In addition, each outlet will be subject to enhanced cleaning regimes and customers will be encouraged to use free hand sanitiser and pay by contactless card if possible. Moto chief executive Ken McMeikan said: “We have been reopening Burger King, Costa and KFC units over recent weeks and with the addition of Greggs we will now have all our key brands available again for customers. We are also delighted to be welcoming back many of our colleagues who have been on furlough.” Moto also plans to reopen 12 Costa Coffee stores and six Burger King outlets on Thursday.
Travelodge sweetens offer to landlords ahead of CVA vote: Travelodge has sweetened its offer to landlords ahead of a crunch vote on Friday (19 June) that it said is critical to preserving 10,000 hospitality sector jobs. The company, whose shareholders include the Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs, has made a string of concessions in a bid to win over angry property-owners, reports Sky News. Landlords, many of whom had organised themselves into an action group, believed they were being forced to shoulder the burden of a financial restructuring being undertaken by Travelodge because of the coronavirus pandemic. Sources said on Tuesday that Travelodge was now proposing to increase the share of profits that would be handed to landlords above a £200m threshold; pledging shareholders would not be able to take money out of the company until landlords had been fully repaid; and making it easier for property-owners to exercise break clauses in their contracts with Travelodge. The vote on Travelodge’s company voluntary arrangement (CVA) is due to take place on Friday. Crucially, Secure Income REIT, which is Travelodge’s biggest landlord with 123 hotels, is expected to vote in favour of the revised proposals. The restructuring deal, which had been assembled by the company’s adviser, Deloitte, included a commitment from shareholders to inject up to £40m of new equity. A previous earlier proposal to secure an additional £60m in borrowing capacity was increased to £100m when the CVA was launched two weeks ago. Travelodge has been proposing to cut its rent payments by hundreds of millions of pounds to see it through the coronavirus pandemic. The company trades from 564 sites, all of which will revert to their full rent agreements from the end of next year if the CVA is approved.
Cineworld plans to reopen UK cinemas from 10 July: Cineworld has outlined its latest reopening plan, with the company’s UK sites set to start showing films again from 10 July. The company saw its entire estate of 787 cinemas in ten countries have to close due to the coronavirus crisis and lock-downs. It now plans to start trading from some branches during the last weeks of June, and have all sites open over the course of next month. The company, which this week said it no longer plans to proceed with a deal to buy Canadian operator Cineplex in a C$2.8bn agreement, will introduce measures to promote social distancing. Cineworld said it has updated its booking system to ensure social distancing within sites, and adapted daily movie schedules to manage queues and avoid the build-up of crowds in lobbies. It has also enhanced cleaning procedures. Chief executive Mooky Greidinger said: “We are thrilled to be back and encouraged by recent surveys that show many people have missed going to the movie theatre. With a strong slate confirmed for the coming weeks, the entire Cineworld team remains committed to being ‘the best place to watch a movie’.” The company also plans to reopen its US sites on 10 July while venues in Czech Republic and Slovakia will begin showing films again on 26 June. Cineworld, which had a $3.5bn net debt pile as at 31 December, last month secured a waiver on loan covenant and agreed $110m (£89.7m) of extra liquidity through an increase in its revolving credit facility.
Ultracomida to expand ‘deli’ home delivery, click-and-collect and online tasting events: Spanish deli and restaurant operator Ultracomida is expanding its “deli” home delivery service, click-and-collect, and online tasting events, after a successful trial period. The company runs two deli-restaurants in the Welsh coastal towns of Narberth and Aberystwyth, as well as Curado Bar and Vermut in Cardiff. Its online shop, which offers a range of Spanish produce for UK-wide delivery, has become a major focus for the group as it looks to target wine drinkers and restaurant customers currently unable to visit, as well as keep restaurant staff actively employed. After investing in an additional van, the group is now planning to start weekly deliveries to new locations around the south west – starting in Bristol, Ludlow, and Chester, with more postcodes to be added in the coming weeks. In a further effort to bring the full Ultracomida experience into people’s homes, the group has also managed to revive the “meet the producer” events that had become a regular fixture in their restaurants and bars. It decided to experiment with offering an online version, in Cardiff – with wine and deli nibbles delivered in advance of the tasting – and sold more than 120 tickets in just a few days. Ultracomida is looking to expand the offer with new products, and roll out to other locations.
Howard and Mascarenhas combine trio of restaurants for delivery and click-and-collect: Phil Howard and Rebecca Mascarenhas, who own Elystan Street, Kitchen W8, and Church Road in south and west London, have launched a delivery and click-and-collect service. Rather than open each site, Howard and Mascarenhas have united them all under one roof at Elystan Street and are delivering to the areas surrounding the three restaurants. The menu includes ravioli of scallops, langoustines and salmon with asparagus; and roasted Provençal vegetable tart with a pesto dressing, tapenade and goats cheese. The menu is available on Thursday and Friday.
Lina Stores reopens delis for takeaway and click-and-collect as it expands delivery nationwide: Delicatessen brand Lina Stores has reopened its King’s Cross and Soho sites for takeaway and click-and-collect to coincide with the expansion of delivery of its Italian products nationwide. The outlets are offering a range of its signature products, including cook-at-home pasta kits and sauces, a selection of freshly made sandwiches, takeaway coffee, biscuits and store cupboard essentials. Having developed its online shop, the team at Lina is now providing its products to the whole of the UK, including antipasti, olives and a selection of cured meat and cheese alongside beer, wine and a new range of homeware. Head chef Masha Rener said: “We have been working so hard on getting our online delivery up and running, both in London and now across the nation, but there is nothing like being able to welcome back our customers to our delicatessens in Soho and King’s Cross.” National delivery is now available four days a week.
Gladwin brothers launch delivery and collection service from Notting Hill restaurant: The Gladwin brothers – Richard, Oliver and Gregory – have launched a delivery and collection menu from their Notting Hill restaurant, The Shed. The Shed At Home offers a variety of dishes using ingredients that have been largely sourced from the Gladwins’ family farm and vineyard in West Sussex. Main courses include Devon brown crab Thermidor; Baron of beef wellington with truffled mushroom pate; and grilled sumac marinated courgettes with silver anchovies and a Nutbourne tomato and feta salad. There is also a selection of cocktails and wine. The menu is available from Tuesday to Saturday between 5pm and 9pm, with delivery available in most of west London.
UK mainland’s oldest amusement park goes into administration with fund-raise launched to safeguard future: Northamptonshire-based Wicksteed Park, the oldest amusement park on the UK mainland, has gone into administration, with the loss of 115 jobs. The Wicksteed Charitable Trust, which owns the attraction in Kettering, has launched a fund-raising appeal in a bid to save the park in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Wicksteed Park first opened in 1921 and is owned by the trust but has been run by a wholly-owned subsidiary company, Wicksteed Park. The company has been unable to avoid going into administration, with the loss of 48 permanent staff and 67 part-time and other jobs. Backed by the Wicksteed Charitable Trust, a small group of employees has formed a new company, much reduced in size, to try to safeguard the future of the park. Trust chairman Oliver Wicksteed said: “The new company, funded by the trust, is a much streamlined business aimed at getting the park through to next spring when it can hopefully start to reopen fully but we need people’s help, support and understanding in order to try to make that happen. The costs of the old business were crippling and could not be sustained with the huge loss of revenue already suffered this year. Even if park rides opened in July, the costs of social distancing measures and the reduced capacity at which the park would have had to operate, would have meant it was unlikely to be financially viable.”