Anglian Country Inns reopens sites for takeout as it begins ‘scenario planning’ for ‘new normal’: Anglian Country Inns, the pub and restaurant operator led by James Nye, has begun reopening sites for takeout as it begins scenario planning for life after lock-down, Propel has learned. The company has reopened The Jolly Sailors in Brancaster Staithe, Norfolk, and The Cricketers in Weston, Hertfordshire, serving pizza and ribs. Meanwhile, it will reopen its coffee shop at the Hermitage Rd Bar & Restaurant in Hitchin on Wednesday (20 May), offering takeaway coffee and chicken burgers. Nye said: “We are starting to look at how we can reopen our sites safely and how things might look in the future. We are starting our covid-19 training for our staff, which we think is really important because we think if they feel safe then it will rub off on the customers. It’s also an opportunity for us to begin restarting our supply chain and also to try reducing our cash burn rate. It’s all about scenario planning at the moment.” Nye said given the location of many of its sites and large beer gardens, he hopes the company will benefit “to a degree” from the expected staycation boom this summer with many Brits expected to holiday at home given travel restrictions. With technology set to play a big role in the “new normal”, Nye said the company was working on various projects, including a gift card and loyalty promotion that would be used to help raise money for local charities “that are really in need of funds to deal with the covid-19 crisis”. He added the business was getting as much feedback from customers as possible about its takeout service through its partnership with Wireless Social as it looks at the possibility of using the information to encourage guests to return via incentives through the digital platform. Nye, who said its handful of private landlords had been “understanding”, added: “There’s only so much we know at the moment so we are doing what we can in terms of planning so we can be prepared as best as possible for reopening when that time comes.”
Deltic Group chairman steps down: Bob Brannan has stepped down as chairman of bar and nightclub company The Deltic Group, Propel has learned. Brannan has decided to leave after six years to focus on other commitments closer to his home in Scotland. Propel understands The Deltic Group has no current plans to replace Brannan. Chief executive Peter Marks said: “I would like to thank Bob, who has not only been a great chairman but a true friend, for his wise counsel and stewardship during this time and wish him well for the future.”
Compass raises £2bn: Contract caterer Compass Group has raised £2bn through an equity raise. A total of 195,012,686 new ordinary shares in the capital of the company have been placed at a price of 1,025p each. Concurrently with the placing, directors and members of the senior management team of the company have subscribed for an aggregate of 109,266 new ordinary shares at the placing price. In addition, retail and other investors have subscribed in the offer made by the company via the PrimaryBid platform for a total of 545,400 new ordinary shares at the placing price. Together they represent about 12.3% of the existing issued ordinary share capital of Compass prior to the placing, subscription and retail offer. Group chief executive Dominic Blakemore said at the time the placing was announced: “A strong balance sheet will allow us to weather the crisis while continuing to invest in the business to enhance our competitive advantages, support our long-term growth prospects and further consolidate our position as the industry leader in foodservice.”
Boparan to begin reopening Slim Chickens sites: Boparan Restaurant Group is to reopen two of its Slim Chickens outlets this week. The brand’s site in London’s Brunswick Centre will reopen on Wednesday (20 May) and in Bristol’s Cabot Centre on Thursday (21 May). Both outlets will be open daily from noon until 9pm for takeaway, click-and-collect and delivery and the entire menu will be available. Social distancing and enhanced safety measures will be in place for both staff and customers. Richard Pigott, head of operations at Slim Chickens, said: “Now lock-down measures have been relaxed, we will be phasing the reopening of our Slim Chickens estate.” Reopening dates for the brand’s outlets in Birmingham, Bluewater, Cardiff and London’s Soho and St James are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
Grind to begin reopening programme with Greenwich grab-and-go counter: Coffee and cocktail brand Grind will begin its reopening programme, with the opening of the grab-and-go counter at its site in Greenwich. The site will offer takeaway coffee, pastries, snacks, and a few grocery items such as milk, eggs, bread, and avocados, as the business looks to support its suppliers. The opening hours will be Monday to Fridayfrom 8am to 4pm, and 8:30am to 5pm at weekends. Grind founder David Abrahamovitch said: “It’s great to be getting the first of the Grinds back open. With a large local residential community, opening the Greenwich grab-and-go was an obvious first step back for us. We are hoping to learn a lot and refine how we keep our teams and customers safe – and that Shoreditch Grind will follow shortly after.”
CH&Co completes refinancing and fund-raise: Independent caterer CH&Co has completed a refinancing and fund-raise with its existing lenders and shareholders. The proceeds of the fund-raise when combined with the facilities provided by the lenders “ensure the group has a strong and sustainable liquidity position to support the business as it exits lock-down and builds back up over the coming months”. The total proceeds were undisclosed but it comprises both an equity injection from shareholders and a refinancing of the group’s existing debt facilities. CH&Co is led by chief executive Bill Toner and chairman Tim Jones. It is majority-owned by Toner, Jones and the management team. Equistone Partners Europe invested in the group in May 2019 through its €2.8bn sixth fund, Equistone Partners Europe Fund VI, and owns a minority shareholding. LGT Private Debt provided unitranche financing and NatWest provided super senior revolving credit facility financing. Toner said: “We as a management team have absolute confidence CH&Co will weather this storm and we have been very pleased our lenders and Equistone have shown the same confidence in us and our business.” Dominic Geer, senior partner at Equistone and CH&Co board member, added: “Equistone has the capability to provide long-term support to the businesses in which we invest, and we are pleased to have completed the fund-raise in partnership with the other stakeholders in the business. The business now has the headroom to manage a gradual return to normality over a prolonged period. We look forward to continuing to work with Bill and the team to support CH&Co’s future plans.”
Soho Coffee Co reopens two sites for takeaway: Artisan food-led coffee company Soho Coffee Co has reopened two of its sites for takeaway only, Propel has learned. The Penny Manuel-led, 29-strong company has reopened its sites in The Brewery, Cheltenham; and in Baker Street, London. The group said it had installed Perspex screens at till points, provided markers to maintain two-metre distancing and restricted payment to card only. It said its full hot and cold drinks menu is available, along with a limited food menu.
Paul UK launches click-and-collect across reopened sites: Paul UK, the French bakery and cafe brand, has launched a click-and-collect option across the 15 sites it has so far reopened. Consumers can now choose from more than 30 of the brand’s products available through its website for collection. The business has been gradually reopening parts of its 37-strong estate for takeaway and delivery, while also offering essentials such as milk, flour and yeast as well as a limited patisserie offering. At the same time, the company has brought forward the launch of its workforce management and communications platform, which enables it to have direct communication with its 500-plus team members, including those on furlough.
Operators ramp up reopenings: A number of operators, including Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell, Pho and The Breakfast Club have ramped up their reopening programmes. Taco Bell has now reopened 26 out of its 45 UK sites for delivery through Deliveroo, including three drive-thru sites, in York, Doncaster and Northampton. All-day concept The Breakfast Club has now reopened half of its 12-strong business for delivery and takeaway, including its sites in London Bridge, Brighton and Battersea. Vietnamese concept Pho, which reopened its sites in Balham, Battersea and Chiswick for delivery and collection last week, will reopen its Islington, Spitalfields and Brighton sites on Thursday (21 May). Chopstix, the pan-Asian quick service restaurant concept, reopened its sites in Aberdeen, Cardiff, Dundee, Luton and Manchester Piccadilly at the end of last month. It has now added it sites in South Kensington, Hammersmith, Wood Green and Nottingham Victoria, for delivery through Deliveroo or Just Eat. MeatLiquor, the Scott Collins-led concept, which has already reopened its sites in East Dulwich and in Northcote Road for delivery and takeaway, will reopen its Covent Garden site on Wednesday (20 May), its Brighton site on Thursday (21 May) and its Islington site next Tuesday (26 May).
North Brewing Co opens pop-up bottle shops: Leeds-based brewer North Brewing Co has opened four pop-up bottle shops for takeaway. The company has reopened its three sites in the city as well as its outlet in Preston from Tuesday to Saturday between noon and 7pm. Since closing its bars in March, North Brewing Co has been concentrating on home delivery, which it said had “quite literally kept us in business”. However, with the company looking at longer term planning, and working on the “new normal” it has launched the pop-up bottle shops selling its cans, guest beers, wine, snacks, merchandise and mini kegs. The bottle shops are manned by one member of staff at a time with social distancing measures in place and enhanced safety procedures such as Perspex screens and hand sanitiser provided for customers. The company stated: “We have carefully considered our decision to open pop-up bottle shops. With confident, well trained staff, infrastructure and excellent signage we believe we are safely adapting to the ‘new normal’, looking after the communities we serve, and working to protect the jobs of our employees longer term.”
Chick ‘n’ Sours founder launches crowdfunding campaign to create plant-based noodle product: Carl Clarke, chef and founder of London restaurants Chick ‘n Sours and Chik’n, is launching a crowdfunding campaign to fund the creation of plant-based noodle product Future Noodles. The campaign on Kickstarter is aiming to raise £50,000 for the creation of the product, and Clarke said for £150,000 he can create three variations. He said: “Working long shifts in the kitchen, my late-night snack would always be Japanese instant noodles and as banging as they tasted, I knew they weren’t good for me. Aware this is a worldwide problem and the busier our lives are, the unhealthier we all become, I started experimenting as I knew there must be a way to make instant noodles that were not only super tasty, but nutritionally complete. Having consulted some of the UK’s leading nutritionists, scientists and food innovators over the past year, Future Noodles was born.” As part of the campaign, Clarke is launching the “Buy One, Give One” initiative, which will mean for every packet bought a Future Noodle meal will be donated to someone who needs it, aiming to support those suffering from food poverty and homelessness. If the Kickstarter campaign target is reached, Future Noodles will feed 50,000 vulnerable people by the end of 2020.
Veeno gives away almost £50,000 of wine and vouchers to NHS staff: Italian wine bar business Veeno has given away almost £50,000 worth of wine and vouchers to NHS workers. The company marked International Nurses Day last week by inviting NHS staff to sign up for the chance to win a bottle of wine. More than 3,000 workers did so with Veeno giving a bottle of wine to the first 500 that signed up. But the company also decided to thank all the NHS workers that signed up and didn’t win a bottle by offering them a voucher to the value of £15 to spend on its online store or in a Veeno outlet when they reopen. Owner and director Rodrigue Trouillet told Propel: “We received many emails thanking us for this initiative but we wanted to do something modest to recognise everything they are doing.”