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Thu 22nd Jun 2017 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

UK restaurant owners pump in more than £200m to keep businesses afloat: UK restaurant owners pumped in more than £200m of their own money last year to keep their business afloat, new research from Funding Options has shown. The alternative finance aggregator platform found the value of director’s loans to their own restaurants jumped by 18% in the past year to £210.4m. Funding Options said the Brexit-induced weak pound had raised the cost of imported food and wine, hitting the profit margins of many restaurants. The increased National Living Wage and compulsory pension auto-enrolment has added to their expenses. The company added a lack of bank lending is also a key driver of the growth of owners lending to their own restaurants. Funding Options said stricter risk regulations on banks mean restaurants can find it challenging to secure traditional lending, but alternative lending options such as asset finance can help close the funding gap, enabling these businesses to grow. Chief executive Conrad Ford told P2P Finance News: “Most owners of restaurant businesses already have a large percentage of their wealth tied up in their company. Partly because of a lack of traditional funding, they are putting more of their own personal savings at risk by injecting it back into their businesses. However, lending their own money to their restaurant is not the only form of funding they can turn to if bank lending is unavailable. Alternative finance could be a great option for restaurant owners who are not able to secure traditional lending at rates that work for their businesses, but are eager to invest in the growth of their company.” Funding Options is looking to raise £5m from fresh equity investment to support its expansion plans in 2017. The firm plans to use the funds to develop the platform’s technology, grow lead generation acquisitions and expand its physical presence across the country.

Industry News:

Propel Multi-Club summer conference open for bookings, two free places for operators: The Propel Multi-Club summer conference and party is now open for bookings. The event, which takes place on Thursday, 6 July at the Oxford Belfry, which is just off the M40, will also involve the Propel summer party in the evening. Operators can claim two free places by emailing Jo Charity on The speaker line-up for the morning session is NPD Group UK foodservice director Cyril Lavenant, Morar Consulting chief executive Roger Perowne, David Bruce, co-founder of Firkin Pubs, The Capital Pub Company and The City Pub companies and currently chairman of The West Berkshire Brewery, and Ali Khan and Samrien Hussain, who operate escape rooms business Tick Tock Unlocked. Speaking after lunch are Marston’s Revere Pub Company managing director Colin Sadler, The Breakfast Club co-founder Jonathan Arana-Morton, and Black and White Hospitality chief executive Nick Taplin. The final session features Tahola commercial director Simon Blackbourne, Mowgli owner Nisha Katona, and Rupert Clevely, managing director of Ei Group’s managed expert joint venture Hippo Inns. 

ALMR criticises lack of business rates announcement in Queen’s Speech: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has branded the Queen’s Speech “disappointing” for not containing a specific announcement on business rates, and has called for a “commitment to rates reform” in the next Budget. The ALMR welcomed news there would be specific bills on trade and customs during the next two parliamentary years but also called for clarity regarding access to labour. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The speech rightly focused on Brexit but it is disappointing there was no specific announcement on business rates reform, which we called on as a first-day priority for the new government. The current rates regime is rigged against hospitality businesses as it penalises growth and investment as higher turnover invariably leads to higher rates. We will now look for reassurances from ministers on a commitment to rates reform in the Budget later this year. However, we welcome reassurances business will be a key stakeholder in Brexit negotiations and there will be specific bills on trade and customs – these are important for food and drink to ensure import costs are not increased further. The ALMR will be front and centre in those discussions. On immigration and access to labour, the sector needs clarity. We wait with interest for detail on this and other issues such as skills and employment protection measures but strongly urge the government to work closely with us and other stakeholders to ensure they don’t damage growth or investment. The announcement on increases to the National Living Wage was widely expected and it is vitally important this doesn’t become a politically-set wage target that could see many businesses struggle to afford increases. A commitment to increases in line with average earnings goes some way to reassure us this will not be the case but maintaining the independence of the Low Pay Commission to set National Living and Minimum Wage rates is critical.”

Country pubs encouraged to ‘stick to their roots’ to avoid closures: Rural pubs have been encouraged to “stick to their roots” and preserve what it means to run a traditional country inn. A survey conducted on behalf of Upham Pub Company asked customers for their thoughts on what makes a “perfect country pub” following news four pubs a day are closing in the UK. Respondents named a friendly and inviting atmosphere, attentive staff and good-quality food as the top three factors. Participants in the study of more than 500 pub-goers also cited attractive surroundings and decor (84%), versatile outdoor space (72%) and a loveable licensee (68%) as being key in contributing to a great customer experience. Factors such as free Wi-Fi (44%), regular events (24%) and live sports coverage (11%) were found to be of less importance suggesting, Upham said, concentrating on a core offering would pay dividends for country pubs. Chief executive Chris Phillips said: “With a worrying number of pubs closing on a weekly basis, it’s important to remember what’s important to customers and what a country pub stands for.” Upham Pub Company operates 16 pubs in the south of England alongside the newly expanded Upham Brewery.

Vivino app scans of English wine rise 155%: The number of English wines scanned using wine app Vivino has risen 155% in the first quarter of 2017, compared with the same period two years ago. The amount of English wines reviewed on Vivino during the same period also soared 83%, demonstrating the nation’s thirst for home-grown wine is not set to slow, the company said. Vivino brand ambassador Adrian Smith said: “We all know English wines have been steadily increasing in popularity but these figures demonstrate growth within the sector is unprecedented. The British public continues to sit up and notice the UK produces some lovely bottles. If the sector is to continue increasing at this unprecedented rate and really take hold as a popular wine style then it’s vital industry events such as English Wine Week continue to fly the flag.” Vivino is powered by a community of 23 million wine drinkers who use the app to scan and rate more than 500,000 wines a day. The company was founded by Heini Zachariassen and Theis Søndergaard in 2010.

CAMRA launches Pub Design Awards 2017: The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has launched this year’s national Pub Design Awards, held in association with Historic England to recognise high standards of architecture in the refurbishment and conservation of existing pubs and the construction of new ones. Last year, award-winners included the Scottish Stores in King’s Cross and The Tim Bobbin in Burnley. Awards co-ordinator Sean Murphy said: “These prestigious awards have helped to raise the profile of numerous pubs that exemplify the very best of Britain. Individually, they each tell a story of huge potential and dedication, regardless of whether a pub is a new-build or a much-loved heritage pub restored to its former glory.” The Pub Design Awards are open to all pubs in the UK, with anyone free to nominate a venue. However, entrants may be required to provide additional photographs and plans of the building so the licensee should always approve the entry. The closing date for entries is Saturday, 23 September. Click here to enter.

Company News:

Hop Back Brewery appoints new managing director: Wiltshire-based brewer and retailer Hop Back Brewery has appointed Paul Sullivan as its new managing director. Sullivan joins the company after ten years at Devizes-based brewer and retailer Wadworth, where he most recently held the position of commercial director. Hop Back Brewery chairman and founder John Gilbert said: “Paul joins at a very exciting time. Not only is it 30 years since our initial brew of ‘GFB’ at the Wyndham Arms in Salisbury, but our estate of ten pubs continues to go from strength to strength with both The Archer in Wolstanton and The Sultan in London, being recognised most recently in the campaign for Real Ale’s Best Pub Awards. I am confident Paul’s significant experience in all aspects of our business will ensure that we are able to fully capitalise on future opportunities.” Sullivan added: “I have always been a great admirer of the beers and the pubs, so to have the opportunity to develop both for the next 30 years and beyond is fantastic. I look forward to working with John, the board, and the rest of the team.”

D&D London opens third Leeds restaurant, Issho: Restaurant operator D&D London has opened Issho, a new Japanese rooftop restaurant, in the £165m Victoria Gate development in Leeds. Issho, which means “together” in Japanese, offers authentic Asian dishes with a contemporary twist and an emphasis on sharing. The 7,807 square foot restaurant features a sushi bar, rooftop bar and outdoor terrace. The decor of the venue, which is D&D’s third in Leeds following Angelica and Crafthouse, features a range of Japanese materials including charred timber as well as oak, marble style tiles, natural-edged porphyry stone and suspended timber rafts. Issho executive chef Ben Orpwood has previously worked at Knightsbridge restaurant Zuma and helped launch its Istanbul and Dubai sites before moving to Australia to work on the growth of the Toko Group as executive chef. He also opened Asian restaurant Sexy Fish in Mayfair in the same role. The open kitchen also serves traditional “robatayaki” dishes, where food such as Iberico pluma, sea bream and king salmon is slow-grilled over charcoal.

Subway to add self-ordering kiosks in US as it trusts technology to arrest sales slump: Subway is adding self-ordering kiosks at its US stores in a bid to stem falling sales. The company has tested about 50 kiosks, which allow customers to build their own sandwich, with plans for each store to feature three machines. The company will also update its smartphone app, while it is trialling dedicated pick-up areas for mobile orders. Digital menus have already appeared in hundreds of stores to allow for quicker changes. In addition to these technological changes, some locations will add digital menu boards and Wi-Fi. Subway chief information and digital officer Carman Wenkoff told Bloomberg News: “It’s really a vision and strategy in how we want to evolve. Customers are demanding a more complete experience. Mobile devices are attached at the hip to pretty much all our customers these days. It’s all about convenience. We are investing heavily. We’re also asking the franchisees to put some skin in the game. Our franchisees are with us 100%.” Subway is also experimenting with delivery through partners such as DoorDash, GrubHub and Postmates. Last year, Subway’s sales fell 1.7% to $11.3bn, a third consecutive year of decline. Earlier this year the chain, which has more locations than any other restaurant in the US, said hundreds of sites would close.

BrewDog produces first batch of beer outside Scotland as it updates on Columbus progress: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has revealed it has produced its first batch of beer outside Scotland – at its new brewhouse in Columbus, Ohio. The company stated on its blog: “Following rigorous testing of all electrical systems, boilers and vital processes like water treatment we produced the first batch of BrewDog beer brewed in another country. Our BrewDog USA team of brewers is now brewing several times a week and we have batches of Ohio-brewed Punk IPA, Dead Pony Club, Elvis Juice and Jet Black Heart in the tanks of our brewhouse and maturing, ready to be served from the taps of DogTap Columbus. The team of engineers from KHS are also on-site to commission the canning line so we can begin packaging those beers up for further afield in the US. We are just about to key in the massive cold-store to have all of our hops and finished beer chilled. For all our BrewDog USA crew, we are close to finalising an epic 11,000 square foot office space! Finally, we have now launched our US online shop so BrewDog supporters in America have access to the entire range of merchandise.” Last month, BrewDog closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo having raised almost $325,000 to open a craft beer hotel and sour beer brewery next to the Columbus facility.

Richard Corrigan opens standalone bar at Mayfair restaurant with Dead Rabbit collaboration: Richard Corrigan, whose company Richard Corrigan Restaurant Holdings operates three restaurants in London, has opened standalone Dickie’s Bar at Corrigan’s Mayfair. The venture is a collaboration with award-winning mixologist Gregory Buda, of New York cocktail bar The Dead Rabbit, and Drinksology founder Richard Ryan. Ingredients at Dickie’s Bar are largely sourced from Corrigan’s garden and farm, Virginia Park Lodge in Cavan, Ireland, to create a “unique list of cocktails and home-infused sodas and tinctures”, alongside an extensive list of Irish whiskies. The menu has been designed by Drinksology as a storybook, telling the tale of Dickie’s Bar, the characters behind it and the journey of ingredients from farm to glass. The restaurant in Upper Grosvenor Street has been altered to include a separate entrance. Corrigan said: “I decided to work with Greg because he has a true talent. He is experimental with flavour but has a lot of respect and understanding for the ingredients he uses. It was a natural fit and progression.” Buda added: “We have built a bar programme on a par with the incredible food coming out of the kitchen.”

Five Guys prepares for double Edinburgh opening: Better burger brand Five Guys is preparing for a double opening in Edinburgh. The company will open the first restaurant on Friday (23 June) in Frederick Street with a second due to launch in Fountain Park on Friday, 7 July, reports the Edinburgh Evening News. Five Guys, which was founded in Virginia in the US in 1986 by the Murrell family, has more than 60 restaurants in the UK, including its current Edinburgh restaurant at Fort Kinnaird retail park. It opened its first in Covent Garden in 2013 and recently strengthened its London estate with sites in Clapham and Piccadilly Circus, while locations listed as “coming soon” on its website include the White Rose shopping centre in Leeds.

Leon switches to solar power for summer: Healthy eating brand Leon is switching to 100% solar power for the summer. The company moved to 100% UK renewable energy last year in partnership with Opus Energy. However, its 47 UK stores will be powered this summer by more than 1,000 solar sites from across the country. Steve James, director of corporate solutions at Opus Energy, said: “Solar power plays a vital role in our renewable energy mix and the UK is one of the world leaders in solar deployment. We are proud of our ability to provide 100% sustainable, cleanly-sourced energy to our customers, as well as supporting those who want to generate their own power and make the most of our natural resources – especially in the midst of this year’s heatwave.” Leon has also launched a summer menu, with new dishes including south Indian spiced fish, and halloumi and smashed avocado burger. Breakfast additions include hash brown bites and a mango passion fruit kefir smoothie. Earlier this week, Leon opened its second site in Manchester, at Piccadilly Station. John Vincent and Henry Dimbleby founded Leon in 2004. Last month, the company secured a £25m investment from Spice, controlled by GP Investments, which acquired a significant minority stake in Leon. The investment will help the brand continue its expansion in the UK and open its first restaurants in the US in the second half of this year.

German Doner Kebab franchisees eye three Dundee openings for brand’s first Scottish sites: German Doner Kebab (GDK) franchisees Akky and Alfy Hayat are eyeing three openings in Dundee, with the first to launch in the city centre in late August. The 50-cover restaurant is set to open at a vacant unit in Reform Street creating 20 jobs. The brothers, who also operate Subway sites in the city, claim GDK is the “healthy option” when it comes to choosing a kebab. Akky Hayat told the Tele: “We are offering people an upmarket, high-end choice where they can relax and sit down. The food is 100% beef or chicken.” GDK opened its first store in Berlin in 1989 and now has scores of restaurants in several countries around the world – eight in England. Last year, Scottish entrepreneur Athif Sarwar acquired master franchise rights in the UK and Ireland for the GDK concept telling Propel there was capacity for “300 restaurants in total”.

Former St John Bread and Primeur chefs to head new restaurant at London’s Garden Museum: Chefs Harry Kaufman, formerly of St John Bread & Wine and Lyles, and George Ryle, who has worked at Padella and Primeur, will head up the kitchen at a new restaurant launching at London’s Garden Museum. The Garden Cafe will open on Monday (26 June) offering a daily changing menu focused on seasonal and simple ingredients. Summer dishes are likely to include mackerel with samphire and gooseberries, aged pork leg with rainbow chard and anchovy, and raspberry ripple ice cream with candied oats. The drinks list will include beer and “interesting but accessible” wines. The restaurant will be housed in a new pavilion surrounded by gardens designed by Dan Pearson and Christopher Bradley-Hole. The museum in Lambeth Palace Road has been shut since October 2015. Kaufman and Ryle told Hot Dinners: “We share a love of contemporary, seasonal cooking and, having known each other for a decade, we’re excited to be finally working together. We want people to come to The Garden Cafe for a long, relaxed lunch but also for it to be somewhere locals or museum visitors can pop in for a quick plate of food that is delicious and good value.”

JD Wetherspoon restarts work on Norfolk pub following crypt find: JD Wetherspoon has restarted work on a Norfolk pub after construction was halted when workmen discovered a crypt on the site. Contractors will use lighter machinery at the site in Gorleston, near Great Yarmouth, which will become The William Adams pub. When clearing the site earlier this month the crypt, which contains at least two bodies, was discovered. It is believed to be connected to a former Methodist chapel on the site, which had last been home to GT Motors. JD Wetherspoon property development manager Paul Gillings said the controlled excavation would be held under the supervision of archaeologists brought in by the company. He told the Eastern Daily Press: “We have reviewed what type of equipment we need in case more crypts are found. This is a find the archaeologists are interested in.” The William Adams, named after a local 19th century lifeguard, is due to open in October. It was originally planned to open on Tuesday, 18 July.

Michelin-trained chef closes Griddle & Shake burger concept, in Nottingham: Michelin-trained chef Ed Halls has closed his burger concept Griddle & Shake, in Nottingham, just seven months after launch. Halls opened the 130-cover venue in Fletcher Gate, which offered four burgers – beef, chicken, pulled pork and tempeh for vegans and vegetarians – in November. But after “much thought and deliberation” he has taken the decision to shut the restaurant. Within two months of opening, Griddle & Shake introduced an all-you-can-eat deal every Monday and Tuesday in a bid to attract more customers. The following month Halls launched a £30,000 crowdfunding appeal to expand the kitchen and improve the flagging heating system, but the campaign closed after 42 days having raised just over £1,700. He told the Nottingham Post: “We launched Griddle & Shake in Nottingham with the aim of revolutionising the burger industry in the UK. Despite the excellent reviews and happy guests, we have come to realise that we could not turn this dream into a reality.” Halls has worked in Michelin-starred kitchens, including Marcus Wareing’s Petrus, and was private chef to the head of the British Army at Kensington Palace. 

Carlisle-based operator who worked under Gordon Ramsay to open second site: Carlisle-based operator James Hill, who has worked for Gordon Ramsay, is to open his second site. Hill is launching Lounge On The Green in nearby Houghton. The new restaurant, which is the first in the village, will open in The Green on Thursday (22 June) on the former site of Lowther Furniture. Hill, who also runs The Quarter Lounge in Treasury Court in the city centre, told the News & Star: “The menu will change regularly and we will use seasonal and fresh ingredients. It will be different to the Quarter Lounge.” Hill trained for six months under Ramsay at The Connaught in London before returning home to Cumbria. He also worked at the Rampsbeck Hotel in Ullswater before setting up on his own.
Marston’s to open £3m new-build pub restaurant at Chatham Waters in October: Marston’s is to open its £3m new-build pub restaurant at Chatham Waters, near the Kent town’s docks, in early October. The Mast & Rigging is being built on land at Chatham Waters waterfront, with the opening creating more than 45 jobs. The 150-cover venue will feature an open-plan pizza kitchen and also offer a grills menu with a range of chargrills and steaks. Marston’s operations manager Paul Beynon told Kent Online: “We’re excited about The Mast & Rigging and hope it will build a great reputation – offering top-quality, value-for-money pub food and an unrivalled selection of drinks, including cask ales from across the country.” Marston’s originally proposed to build a pub as part of the Chatham Waters regeneration scheme but was refused planning permission by Medway Council in 2014, leading the company to submit plans for the new location between an Ads store at Gillingham Pier and the docks. Meanwhile, Marston’s premium division Revere Pub Company has been given the go-ahead to open a new Lost and Found site in Leeds. The company has been granted permission by the city council to open the venue in The Leeds Club, a former gentlemen’s club that became an events and conference venue, in Albion Place, reports Insider Media. Marston’s already operates a Lost and Found site in the city’s Greek Street.
Newquay-based operator to open third site: Newquay-based operator Lee Gamble is to open his third site in the Cornish town. Gamble, who owns and operates Hotel Sunnyside and No.5 Brewhouse, is launching The Slope at Great Western Beach on Friday (23 June). He has teamed up with Adam Griffiths, who is currently ranked third in the world at longboarding and runs Newquay Surfing School, for the venture. They are transforming a beach cafe into the restaurant, with its name taken from the meeting point of the early surfers of the 1960s – “The Slope at Webzine”. Like No.5 Brewhouse, the menu will include burgers, loaded fries, locally roasted coffee and beer from Sharp’s Brewery. The restaurant will have a retro surf feel with rustic interiors to capture the essence of the surf culture. All crockery and tableware at the restaurant will be completely compostable, while water for the toilets will eventually be supplied by a rainwater system, reports Cornwall Live.

Numis Securities – Whitbread’s first-quarter results ahead of expectations but Premier Inn’s revpar gap with market narrowing: Numis Securities leisure analyst Tim Barrett has said Whitbread’s first-quarter results are ahead of expectations but Premier Inn’s revpar gap with the market is narrowing. Issuing a ‘Hold’ note on the shares with a target price of 4,100p, Barrett said: “Premier Inn revpar grew by 2.9% in the first quarter compared with -0.6% in the previous quarter. This is ahead of Bloomberg consensus of 1.9% (and Numis estimates of 0.2%). Market data has improved for the past three months – weekly STR data for the past 13 weeks showed a circa 100 basis points improvement in the economy/midscale category. Additionally, Whitbread’s underperformance of the index has narrowed (from 170 basis points in FY17 to 120 basis points this quarter). Premier Inn continues to expand rapidly (1,000 rooms year-to-date versus 4,200 target) and management still estimates the revpar dilution from new rooms at circa 1.5 percentage points (2.7 percentage points in FY17). Adjusting for this would give first quarter revpar of 4.4%, slightly ahead of the economy/midscale market (4.1%). Prior to recent terrorist attacks London revpar was recovering strongly. This was also reflected in Whitbread’s performance that showed 3.8% in London versus 2.9% in the regions in the first quarter. Pub restaurants performed in line with a lacklustre market – 0.7% versus 1.1% for the Peach Tracker (consensus 0.3%). Costa’s UK like-for-like sales grew by 1.1%, an impressive recovery from the fourth quarter (-0.8%) and ahead of our forecast (0%). Whitbread suggested the performance in the fourth quarter had been impacted by the operational calendar and guided to 0% to 2% for FY18. Management suggests the 10p coffee price increase made in February contributed most of the increase. Our FY18 forecasts currently assume revpar growth of 1% and like-for-like growth of 0.5% and 1.0% in restaurants and Costa respectively. Revpar is running circa two percentage points ahead of forecast but the outlook for the hotel market is mixed in our view. Whitbread is underweight in London, which is likely to see at least a two to three-month impact from recent terrorist attacks. Given the risk of circa 10% revpar decline across this proportion of the estate (the reaction in 2005), we remain cautious. Whitbread trades on a CY18 EV/Ebitda of 9.0 times, price-to-earnings of 14.9 times and free cash flow yield (pre growth capex) of 5%. The improvement to circa 3% group like-for-like sales growth should help Whitbread to offset cost inflation, however it will need to execute well on its £150m efficiency programme to meet expectations in the medium term.”

Marvellous Pub Company to start expansion with second site, in Surrey: The Marvellous Pub Company, led by husband and wife Andy and Sarah Gavriel, is to start expansion by opening a second site. The company, which operates The Marquess Tavern in Islington, north London, will reopen The Volunteer in Sutton Abinger, Surrey, on Friday (23 June). The Gavriels, who have 15 years’ experience in the trade, have taken over the lease of the Hall & Woodhouse pub and are moving in following a two-month, £200,000 refurbishment that includes a new kitchen and back bar. The menu will be the same style as at The Marquess – modern British cuisine with heavy French and Asian influences – with a grilled section that includes steak and chops. Andy Gavriel told the Surrey Mirror: “We wanted to have one pub in town and one in the country. It’s our take on a modern country pub. We believe The Marquess is the best foodie pub in Islington – we are attempting to make The Volunteer the best foodie pub in the Surrey Hills. As soon as I looked across and saw the pub on the horizon, it was love at first sight.”

Coro chocolate cafe to open Glasgow venue next week for third Scottish site: Coro chocolate cafe, which operates two sites in Edinburgh, is to start expansion outside the Scottish capital by opening a venue in Glasgow next week. The dessert cafe will open in Sauchiehall Street on Monday (26 June) offering everything from hot chocolate to pretzel-covered waffles and cheesecake. The Glasgow site will be Coro’s largest so far. A statement on its Facebook page reads: “After a long few months renovating the premises we’re happy to start welcoming you all and we’re sure you’ll be impressed with our biggest shop to date. Please be aware lots of chocolate is consumed on-site and we advise you to leave space for dessert.”

Euro Garages acquires Birmingham pub: Euro Garages, the forecourt and roadside operator, has bought a pub in Birmingham off a freehold asking price of £595,995. The company plans to redevelop The Armada in Powick Road into a mixed-use site encompassing a forecourt and separate retail unit to be occupied by a multinational brand. Josh Sullivan, business agent at Christie & Co’s Birmingham office, which brokered the deal, told Forecourt Trader: “We experienced strong demand for the site from a wide range of buyers due to its commanding position opposite Spaghetti Junction. There is a lack of quality stock in and around Birmingham with the local market being saturated, and we’re seeing developers and operators competing against each other for the same opportunities in and around the city centre, which is causing prices to inflate. This displays our ongoing relationship with Euro Garages as we aim to continue to identify further sites to fit with its expansion plans.” In February, Euro Garages acquired Kout Food Group’s Little Chef roadside portfolio for an undisclosed sum. Euro Garages operates more than 350 sites that feature food outlets such as Starbucks, Subway, Burger King and Greggs.

Northern Ireland-based The McKeever Hotel Group acquires fifth site: Northern Ireland-based The McKeever Hotel Group has acquired its fifth site. The company has bought the 80-bedroom Dunadry Hotel in Antrim from the Mooney Group for an undisclosed sum. The hotel also includes health, leisure and spa facilities. McKeever Hotel Group managing director Eugene McKeever told Insider Media: “We know our market well and we are constantly investing and reinvesting in the business to ensure we meet the needs of our customers. Our hotels are very much at the heart of the local communities in which we operate.” A Mooney Group spokesman said: “We are pleased to confirm the sale of the Dunadry Hotel to McKeever Hotel Group following an approach and a good purchase offer.” McKeever also owns and operates Corrs Corner Hotel in Newtownabbey, Dunsilly Hotel in Antrim, Adair Arms Hotel in Ballymena, and Dillons Hotel in Letter Kenny.

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