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Thu 6th Apr 2017 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

London hotel market unaffected by terrorist attack as occupancy and average daily rate both rise: The London hotel market appears to have been unaffected by last month’s terrorist attack, with occupancy and average daily rate seeing year-on-year increases, according to a new report. STR’s preliminary data from 22 to 28 March showed occupancy levels remained in line with typical March performance patterns. Further, during the days following the event, the market recorded significant year-on-year growth in both occupancy and average daily rate. Three days after the attack on 25 March, the actual occupancy level was 86.4%, while average daily rate reached £147.32, a 22.6% increase compared with the same day in 2016. The highest occupancy level during the days following the attack was 88.2% (28 March) – roughly the same level as the night of the attack. The lack of performance disruption in London differed from the situations around other recent attacks (Nice in July 2016 and Berlin in December 2016). Within four days of the 14 July Bastille Day attack, Nice’s daily occupancy dropped from 94.6% to 72.8%. Berlin experienced less severe declines following the 19 December attack on a Christmas market. STR director of business development Thomas Emanuel said: “We’re seeing the way a hotel market reacts to an attack depends on the severity. When there is a larger number of casualties, as was the case in Nice, Brussels and Paris, it takes a longer duration without additional incidents for tourism confidence to grow. This is also what we’ve noticed in Istanbul, as it remains to be seen when the market will be deemed a safe destination again.” As STR reported last year, it has historically taken a market three months without a subsequent attack to begin hotel performance recovery.

Industry News:

Finance and Investment Conference open for bookings: The Propel Finance and Investment Conference is open for bookings. Speakers will include Julia Groves, founder and director of the UK Crowdfunding Association, and Steven Kenee, head of licensed leisure at sector investor Downing, who will give their views on the opportunity of pub and restaurant ISAs and the key pros and cons of crowd bonds. Andrew Godber, who oversees leisure investment banking at Panmure Gordon, has advised on many Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) and acted for more than a dozen companies in the sector including Brighton Pier Group, Capital Pub Company, City Pub Company, Eclectic Bars, The Restaurant Group and Young’s. He will give his views on how companies make themselves ready for flotation on the public markets, recent performance of companies opting for IPOs, the segments of the market that may be suited for the IPO route, the costs of going public and the advantages of IPOs. There will also be a panel discussion examining the sector investment and finance landscape with Maurice Abboudi, of K10; Casual Dining Group chief executive Steve Richards; Bob Silk, of Barclays Corporate; Dan Stern, of Piper Private Equity; and Ian Edward, of Edward Associates. Click here to see the full programme. The full-day event takes place on Thursday, 11 May at One Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers, while tickets for Propel Premium subscribers are £245 plus VAT. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com or call 01444 817691.

Propel launches US Restaurant Franchise Forum: Propel has partnered with World Franchise Associates to launch the US Restaurant Franchise Forum. The event, which takes place on Friday, 28 April at One Moorgate Place in London, will see leading US operators present to their UK counterparts about franchise opportunities in Britain. The first five high-profile US foodservice franchisors to present at the event have been confirmed as Panda Express, the largest Chinese quick-service restaurant (QSR) chain in the US, with 1,800 sites; Little Caesars, which is the third-largest pizza QSR restaurant chain in the US, with 4,250 sites; Wingstop, the fastest-growing US QSR chicken brand, with 1,000 sites; Wienerschnitzel, the largest hotdog QSR brand in the US, with 350 locations and fast-emerging Indian QSR/fast-casual brand Chutney’s Indian Grill. Registration for the event is from 9am to 10am. It is for operators only with tickets priced £65 plus VAT. To book places, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com or call 01444 817691.

Operators with 30 full-time staff face £100,000 rise in workforce costs by 2020: Operators with 30 full-time staff could face an increase of more than £100,000 in workforce costs by 2020 following increases to the living and minimum wage and pension contributions, according to business analytics company Tahola. Combined with rising food inflation, a potential reduction in the size of the labour market, and business rates increases, Tahola is urging the hospitality sector to be mindful of the unprecedented macro-economic impacts set to hit operators in the coming years. As of today (Thursday, 6 April) the National Living Wage increases for over-25s from £7.05 to £7.50 per hour. The government’s ambition is to increase this figure to £9 by 2020 and there is further demand to extend this increase to under-25s, which would entail an annual increase of £100,912.50 for operators with 30 full-time staff. Tahola said that while most operators were prepared for the step change, the long-term view of legislative wage increases were harder to get a grip on. And, it’s not only wage increases that will hit operators, the planned increases in employer pension contributions from 1% to 3% by 2019 means more costs will be levied on operators. Tahola co-founder and commercial director Simon Blackbourne said: “The hospitality industry can be wildly unpredictable and Brexit is only compounding the sector’s sense of uncertainty when it comes to changes in government legislation. Just looking at the labour cost changes we already know about, there’s a strong indication the cost of a full-time employee could rise significantly in the near future.”

Tea out-of-home market underperforms as Brits’ love of coffee takes over: Sales in the UK tea out-of-home category are underperforming versus coffee, according to Tea Out-Of-Home 2017, the latest report in the Project Café UK Series by Allegra World Coffee Portal. Turnover in the UK coffee shop sector increased 12% to £8.9bn in 2016, with the tea out-of-home category contributing only £308m to total sales. Although revenue from the sales of tea in coffee shops continued to rise, the growth was predominantly driven by an increase in price and the growth of the coffee shop sector as a whole. The tea category now accounts for 3.8% of the total coffee shop market turnover, declining from 4.1% in 2015. Although 15 million cups of tea are consumed every day in the UK, the majority are drunk at home or work. Consumers drink an average nine cups of tea a week at home, three at work and 0.65 in coffee shops. A separate Allegra World Coffee Portal study revealed almost a third of Britons think coffee shops don’t make a cup of tea to their taste, while almost a quarter (22%) claimed out-of-home tea is poor value for money, an increase of 6% since 2014. The report stated the opportunity for growth in the tea out-of-home market lay in the speciality and iced tea categories, offering healthier choices, while long-term tea innovation would be driven by operators prepared to “redefine the consumer experience”.

Removal of PDR for pubs should stop ‘unnecessary’ ACV listings disrupting the market – Christie & Co: The removal of permitted development rights (PDR) for pubs should stop “unnecessary” Asset of Community Value (ACV) listings disrupting the market, according to agent Christie & Co. Simon Chaplin, head of pubs and restaurants – London, said: “There appears to be a need to clarify what is a pub and how food-led pubs are classified, but as it stands it could at last draw a line under the subject and allow all parties to buy and sell pubs in the knowledge of what the ‘rules of the game’ are. Being listed as an ACV during the marketing process can cause delays and a reduction in value as buyers and lenders often see this as a possible restriction in the future. This puts it at a disadvantage to other properties that retain PDR, and places restrictions on its disposal if the business fails. In our opinion the balance had swung too far in favour of the local community to disrupt a legitimate sale process and the future of a pub is best decided through the planning process. If the proposed legislation is passed and ACVs become a thing of the past, the future of a pub could be decided by a recognised planning process, where all interests could be heard. Of course it is not clear exactly how or when the removal of PDRs will be implemented. One of the unintended consequences could be that in the intervening period we see an acceleration in pub closures as freeholders take advantage of the current PDRs before the changes. If the proposed amendments are adopted, along with a review of the ACV legislation, it would still give the local community an opportunity to have a say in the future of the pub, remove the fear encountered by many pub owners when looking to sell their property and mean good pubs that have a future will be able to invest and flourish.”

Industry News:

Douglas Jack – Ei Group is generating shareholder value: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said Ei Group is generating shareholder value. After Ei Group reported at the Peel Hunt leisure conference its strategic plan was on track, Jack said: “Ei Group’s tied leased/tenancy business is reinvigorated, working more closely with tenants. Tenant financial health measures are better now than at any other time in the company’s history. They are benefiting from 57% of total capex being growth-orientated versus 10% in 2009. In 2009, unplanned business failures affected 7.3% of the estate versus 1.6% in 2016. Clarity on the Market Rent Only (MRO) option impact should occur over the next six months after the pubs adjudicator starts to make arbitration rulings. The conference consensus view is the impact of the MRO legislation is likely to be a ‘damp squib’. This is before considering the fact only 20% of Ei Group’s estate is vulnerable to MRO, and we estimate this ratio is falling by 2% per annum due to disposals, conversions and the company not awarding long leases. The most likely impact of the MRO legislation is licensees will choose to remain tied and, rather than choose an alternative, use the alternative as a negotiating tool, in our view. MROs should become commercial property leases (rather than some sort of free-of-tie hybrid agreement without the beer tie), consistent with the 300 commercial lease agreements Ei Group already has. On this basis, we believe the risk profile of an MRO (high dry rent, zero support etc) will be too high for most licensees/pubs. Craft Union should account for 500 of 800 managed pubs in 2020E (all through conversions, mostly of leased pubs). Ei Group is developing its first, simple food offer for Craft Union. Craft Union licensees take a percentage of turnover as salary, which motivates them to drive sales. As the licensees pay the wages, they also manage labour costs carefully. We forecast Ebitda stabilising in 2019E, at which point 5% annual debt reduction should generate 14% growth in equity value. If Ebitda grows, each 1% should add 4% to equity value by our estimates. Such a scenario could trigger greater focus on equity growth-related valuation metrics such as the price-to-earnings ratio likely resulting in a narrowing in the share price discount to net asset value. Last year, external property valuers increased their valuation of the estate for the first time since 2006. Reflecting this, Ei Group’s net asset value was 292p a share in 2016, and we forecast it to rise to 379p a share in 2020E. This excludes any further revaluation increases, even though conversions, particularly into commercial leases, are likely to increase valuation multiples. We are raising our target price to 165p from 155p.”

Humble Grape passes £1m crowdfunding target to build 20-strong brand: Humble Grape, the wine bar and shop concept founded by James Dawson, has passed its £1m fund-raise target on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to support expansion. The company is offering a 9.08% equity stake in return for the investment as it looks to become a 20-site brand by 2021/22. The campaign has so far raised £1,017,889 from 360 investors and is currently “overfunding”. The third and fourth Humble Grape sites will open in London in April and August and are already fully funded, with funds raised from the campaign going towards opening sites five and six and growing the Wine Club, Wine Bank and online sales. Dawson said: “We’ve let customer feedback and input shape our brand so far and no matter how big we grow, I want this to continue. I believe in crowdfunding because it gives customers who believe in a brand the opportunity to become a part of its growth and share in its success. We’re all about bringing our customers closer to the source, connecting them with the winemakers and giving them access to wines that would otherwise be unavailable. I want Humble Grape to belong to the people who believe in what we are doing” The company opened its first venue in Battersea in 2015 and a second in Fleet Street the following year. Humble Grape raised £360,000 via a crowdfunding campaign in 2014, with an additional £175,000 from private investors, with a pre-valuation of £1.4m.

Tamarind Collection launches Indian dining concept in Soho: Tamarind Collection, which is behind the Michelin-starred Tamarind restaurant in Mayfair, has launched Indian dining concept Tamarind Kitchen in Soho. The 100-cover restaurant in Wardour Street spans two floors and features a private dining room for up to 20 guests and a subterranean, late-night cocktail bar. Tamarind Kitchen brings a “convivial Indian dining experience to the heart of buzzy Soho”, with reimagined dishes from Tamarind Mayfair. The menu offers fish, meat, game and vegetarian dishes, with many cooked in an authentic tandoor oven. Tamarind of Mayfair, which won its Michelin star in 1999, is to be refurbished early next year to expand covers from 85 to 150, while the group also owns Zaika of Kensington, which holds two AA rosettes. Tamarind Collection also plans to launch a south Indian concept in Fitzrovia in summer 2018.

Nespresso to open second Soho site as part of UK roll-out: Nespresso is to open a second cafe in Soho next month as part of “big plans” for expansion across the UK. The Broadwick Street site follows the success of its City branch in Glasshouse Street, which offers cocktails and coffee-inspired dishes alongside its hot beverages. The Nestlé-owned brand is also set to open boutiques in Newcastle, Glasgow and Reading in the coming weeks. Francisco Nogueira, managing director of Nespresso in the UK and Ireland, told the Evening Standard the additions were part of “big plans for a further roll-out” of branches. Ultimately, he said, Nespresso wanted to ensure every British customer was no more than an hour’s drive from a boutique. The Soho cafe will feature the Nespresso cube – the automated self-service machine that assembles orders – so customers can buy on the go as well as dine-in. There will also be a recycling drop-off point for used capsules. Nestlé founded Nespresso in 1986. It currently operates 16 sites in the UK, with the majority in London, including a flagship venue in Regent Street, and regional sites in Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester (two sites), and Sheffield.

Krispy Kreme owner buys Panera Bread for $7.5bn: Krispy Kreme owner JAB Holding Company has agreed to buy US bakery and sandwich company Panera Bread for $7.5bn. Luxembourg-headquartered JAB, owned by the Reimann family of Germany, will add the 2,036-strong Panera Bread to its growing stable of brands, which also includes Jimmy Choo, Coty and Bally. JAB will pay $315 a share in cash, a 20% premium to the stock’s closing price on 31 March before news of a possible deal swelled the company’s shares. JAB will take the company private. Panera’s sales have increased 10% during the past two years, just ahead of the 8% growth in the number of stores. Profit has fallen over the same period. A statement by the family’s investment vehicle and Panera said JAB would assume roughly $340m of net debt with the deal.

Gunpowder team to open Himalayan restaurant in Spitalfields next month: Harneet and Devina Baweja, the team behind home-style Indian kitchen Gunpowder in Spitalfields, will launch a Himalayan restaurant in the same area on Tuesday, 9 May. They have teamed up with head chef Nirmal Save to open Madame D’s above the Charles King Harman-owned Spirit of 76 pub and cocktail bar in Commercial Street featuring a menu influenced by Indian, Nepalese, Tibetan and Chinese cuisine. The short menu of sharing dishes will include gold coin dumplings, pan-fried Tibetan duck, and garlic coriander steamed chicken. The dining den will seat 25 people on long wooden benches at trestle tables, giving a communal flavour to the space. Harneet Baweja said: “I first discovered Himalayan food when visiting family in north east India. It was unlike anything I’d eaten before and on a recent trip back to the region, Nirmal and I realised we couldn’t return to London and face daily life without those intoxicating flavours!” 

Wagamama to open third Saudi Arabia site: Wagamama is set to open its third site in Saudi Arabia, this time in Jeddah. The company already operates a 280-cover restaurant in Al Hail Street in Jeddah, with its second site to open soon in Faisaliyah Mall, Riyadh. The new Jeddah site will be in The Red Sea Mall, with Wagamama once again working alongside interior design consultancy LXA, while the venue has been opened with franchise partner Prestige Restaurant and Cafes Company following the success of restaurants in Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. LXA partner Sarah-Jane Grant told TradeArabia News Service: “The team and I are delighted to announce our ongoing relationship with Wagamama in a year we mark our tenth year in the region. Wagamama caters to affluent tastes and we enjoyed creating a space that reflects Asian culinary philosophy with a richly energetic atmosphere. We feel the result does justice to the Wagamama dining ethos.” Wagamama operates 168 sites in 20 countries.

Greggs boss sees remuneration drop to £2m: Roger Whiteside, chief executive of bakery business Greggs, saw his total remuneration drop to £2m in 2016, according to the company’s annual report. Whiteside received a total of £2,071,869 in 2016, compared with £2,462,193 the previous year. The 2016 figure consisted of £521,135 salary, £117,255 pension, £12,408 in taxable benefits, £564,780 annual incentives and £856,291 in long-term incentives. Whiteside, who previously led Punch, received a bonus of 108.4% out of the maximum 125% of his salary. Under the company’s remuneration policy, Whiteside’s maximum bonus this year would be £667,704, with total remuneration of £1,948,841. Meanwhile, finance director Richard Hutton saw his total remuneration fall to £956,331 in 2016, compared with £1,033,715 the year before. This consisted of £297,702 salary, £30,582 pension, £15,298 taxable benefits, £232,297 annual incentives and £380,452 in long-term incentives. Hutton’s potential maximum bonus this year is £274,631, with total remuneration of £924,333. Both Whiteside and Hutton received a salary increase of 2.5% on 1 January, in line with the base increase of the company’s workforce generally. Remuneration committee chairman Sandra Turner said: “The current policy provides for performance share plan (PSP) awards of 90% of salary for the chief executive and 70% of salary for the other executive directors, with awards of up to 120% of salary in exceptional circumstances. It is proposed the new policy will provide awards of 115% of salary for the chief executive and 95% of salary for the other executive directors. Awards in exceptional circumstances will be limited to 150% of salary. A resolution to amend the PSP rules to increase the normal and exceptional limits to these levels will be presented at the annual meeting. The committee is mindful of increasing remuneration in the current political and economic environment. However, it believes the revised award levels are required to ensure the policy is fit-for-purpose for the next policy cycle, and ensure executive directors are appropriately incentivised to deliver and drive the business forward and rewarded for success. The proposed award levels remain below mid-market levels and total remuneration is positioned appropriately.”

MasterChef winner Simon Wood to open first restaurant, in Manchester: MasterChef winner Simon Wood is set to open his first restaurant, in Manchester. Wood, who won the BBC show in 2015, is launching the eponymous venue at the First Street development in Jack Rosenthal Street, subject to lease and a licensing application that has been lodged with the city council. Further details of the restaurant concept, which will feature his signature MasterChef dishes, are due to be released in the coming months ahead of a summer launch. He told the Manchester Evening News: “For me, Manchester is the best city in the country – it’s friendly, vibrant, busy and has incredible nightlife complemented by some great restaurants. What’s more, its food and drink culture is thriving and we see our restaurant enhancing that already amazing offering.” Since winning in 2015, Wood has been honing his skills as executive chef at Oldham Athletic FC and Oldham Event Centre, most recently launching The Boardroom by Simon Wood.

Primeur owners to launch Westerns Laundry concept in north London: Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell, the owners of Primeur in Stoke Newington, will launch a second restaurant next month, this time in Lower Holloway, north London. The new concept – Westerns Laundry – will open in Drayton Park on Wednesday, 3 May fronted by a forecourt planted with Himalayan birch trees and punctuated by hand-made benches. The dining room will be lined with communal tables and banquettes, while there will be an open kitchen with ten counter seats and a 14-cover private dining room. Western Laundry will work with day boats from Devon and Cornwall to source seafood, which will be at the forefront of the menu. Dishes will include sea bass and seaweed tartar, and pork loin with chopped greens, basil and capers. An exposed cellar will house Westerns Laundry’s wine offering, a selection of more than 200 bottles with a focus on low-intervention, small-scale producers that hand-harvest their grapes. Gingell said: “Westerns Laundry will be lighter and more delicate than Primeur, rooted in British flavours but influenced by our favourite aspects of southern Europe with the occasional nod to Asia, with raw fish, shellfish and smoky flavours from a robata grill. Working so closely with our suppliers means we can create dishes that let the ingredients shine.”

Deliciously Ella to open The Kitchen Counter in Herne Hill, third London site: Deliciously Ella, founded by food writer Ella Mills and husband Matthew, is to launch its third site, The Kitchen Counter, in Herne Hill, south London, at Easter. The 23-cover venue, an extension of Deliciously Ella’s development kitchen, will open daily in Milkwood Road offering grab-and-go coffee, lunch, brunch and healthy, light dinners. Breakfast options will range from porridge bowls and smoothies to sweetcorn fritters with baked beans and smashed avocado. For lunch and dinner there will be a selection of salads, soups and sweets, alongside seasonal dishes, including “taster specials” created by Mills and her team, and Deliciously Ella energy balls. The venue will also launch a children’s menu, while all food is free from wheat, dairy, additives, and refined sugar. Mills said: “The kitchen is the heartbeat of our business and we’re excited to be a member of such a close-knit, supportive and collaborative community. Our customers will be the first to try new creations through our ‘taster specials’ and we’re also thrilled to launch our first children’s menu.” Deliciously Ella operates MaE Delis in Marylebone and Mayfair and has the most widely read healthy food and lifestyle blog in the UK, alongside more than a million Instagram followers. Mills’ first book, Deliciously Ella, became the fastest selling debut cookery book of all time. She has released two further best-selling books.

Boopshi’s brothers to reopen St John’s Wood pub next month: A St John’s Wood pub saved from developers by Ed and Ben Robson, the brothers behind schnitzel and spritz operation Boopshi’s, will reopen next month. The Clifton Hotel closed in 2013 and its owners sought planning permission to turn it into a private mansion. However, the Robsons signed a 20-year lease last year to turn it into a gastro-pub – with plans to host Edwardian feast nights and on-site brewing. The menu by New Zealand chef Karl Calvert will include snacks such as haggis sausage rolls with wild grouse ketchup, alongside larger all-day plates such as roast cod with arrocina beans. The pub in Clifton Hill will offer beer from local and craft breweries, with a house beer in the works. Channel 4 sommelier Raul Diaz will have a hand in the wine list.

Ashover Brewery secures fifth pub, this time Star Pubs & Bars lease: Derbyshire brewer and pub operator Ashover Brewery has taken the lease on the Royal Oak at Old Tupton with Star Pubs & Bars and is investing in a joint £160,000 refurbishment of the site. The Royal Oak will be renamed The Tupton Tap to signal its change in direction. The move takes Ashover Brewery’s estate to five sites (two leased and three freehold) with the brewer looking to expand further in the area. Work is expected to take about two months with The Tupton Tap scheduled to reopen at the start of June. Kim Beresford, Ashover Brewery managing director, said: “I’ve known the pub for many years. It is an imposing building in a prominent location and full of potential. It is close to our Clay Cross brewery so it will be a special pub for us. I had a clear idea of what would work there and Star has been very flexible in accommodating that vision. The pub’s beer is critical to its reputation. It will be a showcase for cask ales, with Heineken’s lagers providing a good complement to our range.” Ashover Brewery is looking for further pubs in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire. Beresford said the pub and its location would be the determining factor, while he was open to both freehold and leased opportunities.

Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts and Taco Bell set for £6m Doncaster development: Planning permission has been granted for a £6m leisure development in Doncaster that will feature five restaurants and three drive-thru units. The council-led Lakeside Triangle scheme will see eight units created – three of which are already under offer by Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts and Taco Bell. The site is next to the Dome music venue and an 11-screen Vue cinema complex. It is also close to the Lakeside Village shopping centre, with the new scheme creating about 200 jobs. The units, ranging from 1,800 to 3,650 square feet, are expected to be available from spring 2018. Peter Dale, Doncaster Council’s director of regeneration and environment, told BDaily: “Doncaster is establishing itself as a development hot spot and the council’s proactive approach to supporting and aiding major projects is seen as a big attraction for investors and developers.”

East London-based pop-up restaurant and wine shop Dandy opens permanent site: East London-based pop-up restaurant and wine shop Dandy has opened a permanent site in Newington Green. The concept, launched by Andrew Leitch and Dan Wilson, was operating from a shipping container in London Fields. Their new Dandy Cafe has 50 covers inside and 30 outside. The menu is similar to its pop-up with a few additions, including burnt-onion broth with spring leaves and hay-smoked labne, and shawarma-spiced lamb belly with babaganoush and cauliflower. As well as wine, Leitch and Wilson told Hot Dinners coffee would remain a large part of its operation, with plenty of speciality blends.

Five Guys lodges plans for Oxford site: Better burger brand Five Guys has lodged plans to open a restaurant in Oxford. The company has applied to the city council to open the venue in Magdalen Street on the former site of clothes shop Jaegar. If approved, the restaurant is expected to open later this year, reports Cherwell. Five Guys, which was founded in Virginia in the US in 1986 by the Murrell family, has 61 restaurants in the UK having opened its first in Covent Garden in 2013.

Everards reopens rebuilt Nottinghamshire pub ravaged by fire: Leicestershire-based brewer and retailer Everards, led by Stephen Gould, has reopened The Unicorn’s Head in Langar following a multimillion-pound refurbishment, 19 months after the pub was ravaged by fire. In September 2015, a blaze broke out on the first floor of the 300-year-old Nottinghamshire pub in Main Street. It took firefighters ten hours to put out the blaze and, as the roof and walls were insulated with straw, the building was destroyed. The pub has been rebuilt almost brick by brick, with new items added to the interior, including an open kitchen, a deli area and a shop selling local cheese and desserts. Landlord Jeremy Ievens told the Nottingham Post: “It feels great to be back. I’ve put my heart and soul into getting it back to how we wanted it. It’s a 300-year-old pub that’s literally new but put back to the way it was.”

Manchester-based Malaysian restaurant Ning closes amid repossession: Manchester-based Malaysian restaurant Ning, founded by Norman Musa, has closed and the property repossessed just days after the celebrity chef was given a five-year disqualification for employing illegal workers. Musa, who was chef for the former Lotus Racing Formula One team, opened the venue in Oldham Street in 2006. A notice of repossession signed by debt collection agency Burlington Group has now appeared announcing the landlord has re-entered the premises and exercised its right under law to repossess the property. Musa, a director of NMR Trading, which traded as Ning, was recently given a five-year director disqualification, reports Insider Media. An Insolvency Service investigation found Musa failed to ensure the business completed relevant immigration checks on its staff, resulting in the employment of two illegal workers. The breach was discovered following a visit to the restaurant by Home Office immigration officers on 2 October 2014, and a penalty notice of £20,000 was imposed on the business. The penalty remained unpaid at the time of the company's liquidation on 15 December 2014. Musa was a director of the company from 9 April 2013 until its liquidation on 15 December 2014. The estimated deficiency at the date of liquidation was £66,097.

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