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Morning Briefing Strap Line
Mon 26th Jun 2017 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Hospitality HR startup Inploi raises £500,000 investment to ‘solidify position’: London-based hospitality HR startup Inploi, whose clients include Fortnum & Mason and natural fast food brand Leon, has raised £500,000 of investment to “solidify its position” in the market place. The company said it raised the amount during an oversubscribed funding round, bringing its total funding to £1m. The fresh capital comes from existing shareholders and a handful of new strategic investors, including industry veteran and entrepreneur Julia Ross, Pacific Espresso founder Tim O’Connor, and US entrepreneur Bob Hamill. Inploi provides London’s hospitality industry with a community-driven market place that enables workers to discover job opportunities and connect with employers. Since Inploi’s first-version launch in November 2016, the company said its registered user base had grown by up to 50% a month to stand at more than 10,000 people and had been used by more than 500 London venues. Co-founder Alex Hanson-Smith said: “Recruitment in sectors with high staff turnover is beset with legacy technology and a poor user experience. The way candidates expect to access information and discover opportunities has changed – we’re giving our customers the tools to keep up.” Co-founder and chief executive Matthew de la Hey added: “We’re now able to consolidate the progress made to date, accelerate our growth and further deliver on our value proposition.”

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.
Job of the week: Sector recruitment firm COREcruitment is looking for an operations director on behalf of an undisclosed client, which is offering a salary of £80,000 per year. For more details, click here.

European hotel market reports strong May performance: The European hotel market reported a strong performance in May, with increases in revpar, average daily rate and occupancy. STR data for the month revealed revpar rose 8.5% to €86.47 compared with the previous year, while occupancy was up 3.5% to 75.6% and average daily rate increased 4.8% to €114.35. Among the best-performing countries were Belgium, which saw revpar leap 22.3% to €76.94, a third consecutive month of double-digit growth, while occupancy rose 18.1% to 74.1%, and average daily rate increased 3.6% to €103.81. STR analysts said performance recovery had been evident since November 2016, when Belgium broke a streak of eight consecutive months of double-digit declines that followed the March 2016 terror attack in Brussels. STR said returning demand levels had coupled with a low rate of supply growth to push performance up considerably. Bulgaria also enjoyed an eighth month in a row of double-digit revpar growth – up 17% to BGN104.24 – while occupancy rose 2.4% to 66.9% and average daily rate increased 14.2% to BGN155.70. Meanwhile, Italy suffered its lowest year-on-year revpar increase since the beginning of the year (up 2.8% to €117.90). However, occupancy rose 1.6% to 76.1%, its highest level for May since 2001, and average daily rate increased 1.2% to €154.97.

Imbiba – we’re already looked at 70 businesses with a view to investment from our Growth Fund: Investment fund Imbiba has reported a lot of interest in its new £50m Growth Fund. The Growth Fund aims to invest in sector businesses that have between two and ten sites. Imbiba partner Darrel Connell told the CGA Peach Future of Finance conference the fund had looked at 70 businesses in the past six months. “There are some very successful businesses out there,” he said. Of the fund, Imbiba states on its website: “(This has been set up) in response to demand from young profitable leisure business from across the UK, who typically have a proven, replicable concept and are looking for a funding partner to help them scale. Crucially, unlike the vast majority of investment partners, Imbiba brings far more than just capital. Run by former operators, Imbiba supports operators with access to sites, best in class systems and financial control, and bespoke tech and marketing support. With an expanded team and advisory board comprising Karen Jones, Graham Turner, Tom Davies, Karen Forrester and Martin Clarke, all of whom see the market need for a dedicated – operator led – funding partner.” 

Company News:

Losses reduce at BrewDog bar division: Newly-filed Companies House accounts show loses reduced at Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog’s bar division in the year to 31 December 2016. Turnover rose to £21,724,000 from £15,029,000 the year before. Pre-tax loss reduced to £1,176,000 from £1,231,000 in the year prior. The company stated: “We opened four new sites, taking us to 30 in total, including amazing sites in Norwich and York. Employee numbers in the bar division rose to 351 from 253 the year before.” The company has another 17 bars around the world run under franchise – the bar division accounts for 7.5% of the beer BrewDog brews. Meanwhile, main company accounts show BrewDog’s £71,850,000 turnover in 2016 principally derived from the UK – £58,497,000 comes from the UK, £9,875,000 derives from Europe and £3,568,000 comes from “the rest of the world”. 

Burning Night Group extends peer-to-peer loan campaign until end of July after raising almost £7m: Burning Night Group has extended its peer-to-peer lending campaign on the Crowdstacker platform until 24 July after raising almost £7m. The company, which was initially looking to raise £3.5m, has secured £6,811,953 and has now extended the campaign by a month – for a third time. The company is offering a mini-bond paying 7% per annum interest and is looking to raise £7m to continue the roll-out of its Bierkeller, Shooters and Around the World three-venues-in-one concept. Burning Night Group, which employs more than 500 staff and generated turnover in excess of £17m in 2016, already operates the concept in some of the country’s busiest city centres including Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Cardiff. The pitch states: “Burning Night plans to use the funds to continue its already successful roll-out programme of multi-branded concept bars in further key cities around the UK and with the plan to create up to 140 jobs. Your capital is secured over the assets and business of Burning Night Group with a first ranking debenture. These assets include freehold and leasehold UK properties.” The Crowdstacker peer-to-peer loan was identified as a way to involve customers in the business’ future growth. The fund offers perks packages for those putting in £2,500 or more. Loans are over three years and money can be invested via the Innovative Finance ISA or Personal Savings Allowance, allowing up to £1,000 in interest to be earned tax-free.

Eclectic to launch second Coalition nightclub, in Reading: Eclectic Bars, a subsidiary of the Brighton Pier Group, is set to launch the second site of its high-concept nightclub, Coalition, this time in Reading, Berkshire, on Friday (30 June). Located on the first floor of Eclectic’s Smash venue in Gun Street, Coalition, formerly Sakura, has a non-commercial feel, with strong links to music, live gigs and experiential events. Coalition is seen by Eclectic as a cool, high-energy concept that will resonate with the same customer-base as Smash. The venue will be open on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10pm until 4am (from 9pm Saturdays). The decor has a warehouse feel with stripped-back finishings with exposed brickwork and industrial style light fittings. The venue was designed by Cheeky Tiki. Coalition Reading is a sister venue to the company’s Coalition in Brighton and live acts will often be booked to double in both venues on the same night. To provide the two sites with a brand identity, both Coalitions will be linked through websites, online ticket stores and online events marketing platform Fatsoma. “Coalition Reading is an extension of our highly successful venue in Brighton,” said Eclectic Bars managing director Lee Nicholson. “In Brighton we are known for our on-trend music-led vibe and the distinctive, niche customers that we attract and we are thrilled to be bringing this exciting concept to Reading.”

Adventure Bar to launch Waterloo site on Wednesday for fifth London venue: Adventure Bar, the London cocktail group led by Tom Kidd, is to launch its fifth site in the capital. Tonight Josephine will open in Waterloo Road, opposite the train station, on Wednesday (28 June). In a connection to its location, the venue has been named after Napoleon Bonaparte’s first wife. The company stated: “Historically, Josephine knew what she wanted, she made her own rules and didn’t give a damn what anyone thought. She started as a nobody but with sass, hussle and a little bit of luck, she became empress of France. Tonight Josephine is a romantic, millennial feminist. She parties, she plays the game, and she has an eye for talent. We are the Bande De Filles, Josephine’s gang. Here for a good time.” The company’s other cocktail bars are in Clapham High Street, Clapham Junction, Covent Garden and The Escapologist in Seven Dials.

Bloomberg – ‘Whitbread has missed the boat in terms of selling Costa’: Newswire Bloomberg has argued Whitbread has missed the opportunity to sell its Costa business. In its Gadfly comment column, Bloomberg stated: “(Bloomberg) has argued that (Alison) Brittain should have sold Costa soon after arriving as chief executive. Now she has probably missed the boat. The division’s enterprise value has dropped to about £2.5bn ($3.2bn) compared with about £4bn when she arrived in December 2015, according to analysts at Cenkos Securities. Although the hotel arm is holding up, the risks are rising, particularly if business confidence, as well as consumer sentiment, wobbles. Even with Wednesday’s (21 June) price bounce above £40, shares are still below Cenkos’ estimate of the company’s break-up value of £46 to £47 pounds per share, after subtracting the pension deficit. But with investors wary of companies exposed to the great British shopper, there’s little scope to release that value. Brittain must hope her strategy of bolstering Costa’s product offerings – such as more food and fancy coffee – as well as cutting costs and expanding abroad is enough to close the gap that a pullback in spending would create. For now, this coffee cup looks half empty.” 

Second leisure analyst downgrades Domino’s Pizza recommendation: A second leisure analyst has expressed concerns about Domino’s Pizza’s prospects. Berenberg followed Investec’s lead as it swapped its ‘Buy’ rating for a ‘Hold’ one, admitting the sales slump that damaged the share price in March could be more than just a minor blip. “While we initially thought this would bounce back quickly, we increasingly believe some issues could create continued pressure on near-term performance,” said Berenberg analyst Ned Hammond. As well as the consumer slowdown, he said food price inflation is a big problem. This will probably affect franchisee margins, Hammond argued. As Domino’s passes on higher costs, franchisees could stop investing in marketing and local deals, which would hurt sales. Investec argued last week Pizza Hut was aggressively undercutting Domino’s, but Hammond seemed more concerned about the threat from the tech upstarts such as Just Eat and Deliveroo. He added: “New players are changing the game and Domino’s is currently proving slow to react.” The shares, down as much as 9% in early trading on Friday (23 June), slipped 10.5p, or 3.6%, to 280.2p, taking losses last week to 14%.

Craft beer bar and wholesaler The Bottle Shop passes £350,000 target in crowdfunding campaign: Craft beer bar and wholesaler The Bottle Shop has passed its £350,000 crowdfunding target on Crowdcube as it looks to double its retail estate as part of expansion plans. The company, founded by Andrew Morgan in 2010, is offering a 10.14% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 281 investors have pledged £354,250 with five days remaining. The Bottle Shop has three sites – in Bermondsey, south east London, and Canterbury and Margate in Kent. Its wholesale customers include better burger brand Byron, Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog and Curzon Cinemas. It plans to use some of the funds raised to open two further London bars as well as a distribution hub and bar in Manchester. The pitch states: “The Bottle Shop exists at the top end of the craft beer world, working with breweries that are producing the most in-demand beers on the planet. As well as fuelling our own bars (and making higher retail margins) we have the scalability of nationwide distribution as a wholesaler. The funds will be used to refrigerate our London warehouse to create our ColdChain platform, open two new London shops in the next 12 months, and a distribution hub/bar in Manchester. With the ColdChain platform in place, we forecast £4.9m turnover for FY17/18 – up from £3.1m in FY16/17. We have raised more than £350,000 in previous rounds from angel investors in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016. We intend to reinvest all profits and find a buyer for the business within five to ten years.”

Crystal Palace-based operator opens second site: Manish Utton-Mishra, who operates Good Taste Food And Drink, a specialist cheese, charcuterie, beer and wine shop in Crystal Palace, south London, has opened a neighbourhood deli and bistro in the area. Salt + Pickle has opened in Westow Hill offering preserved meat and fish and a drinks list highlighting independent distributors. The venue, a joint venture with designer Ian Haigh, celebrates all things cured, pickled and smoked, highlighting preserving techniques while working in collaboration with local suppliers. Offerings include treacle-cured salmon and homemade pastrami. The venue seats 30 diners plus another ten at the bar, with offerings from small wine producers and local craft brewers, including nearby Gipsy Hill Brewery.

Lost Rivers Brewing Co to step up expansion as it prepares for double opening: London-based brewer and retailer Lost Rivers Brewing Co is stepping up its expansion plans as it prepares for a double opening in the capital. The company, which currently has three sites, is launching Canto Court in Old Street followed by Lost Rivers Battersea at the end of July. Canto Court will be a 2,000 square foot venue with capacity for 150 people, while the 3,500 square foot Lost Rivers Battersea in Queens Circus will accommodate up to 350 people. Co-founder John Hadingham, who previously worked in sales for Suffolk-based cider-maker Aspall, told Propel there were “more sites” in the pipeline. He added: “We’ve built our brand on a high-quality food, drink and entertainment offer as well as event spaces. We’re now looking to take that forward as we open new venues. We’ve got more in the pipeline and while we won’t put a figure on it, we are looking to grow. I think there’s certainly opportunity for us outside London and we are looking to the regions as part of our development pipeline.” Hadingham founded Lost Rivers last year with Barry Cross and Gordon Longmuir, owners of drink supplier London Cellar, and restaurateur Nick Cash. Its beers are named after the “lost rivers” of London and include Necklinger, Walbrook pale ale and Silk Streat stout. Its Lost Rivers venue at Elephant and Castle is housing a three-month residency for Australia-based Little Creatures, which will be its bar abroad. The partnership came about through London Cellar, which has the distribution rights to Little Creatures. The company’s first site was the Bermondsey Yard Cafe, which is in the shadow of The Shard and has 2,000 square feet of space inside with capacity of 150 and another 2,000 square feet outside with room for 150 people. It also operates Lost Rivers Bar & Kitchen Wembley – a 250-capacity bar and events space.
Former McDonald’s HR operations head turned franchisee to open sixth site, in Liverpool: McDonald’s franchisee Mark Blundell is to open his sixth restaurant, in Liverpool – the fast food giant’s first site in the city for more than ten years. Blundell, who was the company’s head of HR operations in the UK before becoming a franchisee, is opening the venue at the £150m Greater Homer Street development, creating 100 jobs. The scheme will bring a new supermarket, shops, homes and improved public spaces to north Liverpool. Blundell told The Business Desk: “I started working with McDonald’s more than 20 years ago so I am proof that a career with the company offers plenty of opportunity to progress. Before becoming a franchisee I worked my way up through the management chain before taking on various roles in our head office in London, finally becoming head of HR operations for McDonald’s in the UK. Now, five years on, I’m proud to be franchisee of my own restaurants.”
Michelin-starred pub chef Andrew Pern opens fourth site, in Whitby: Michelin-starred pub chef Andrew Pern has opened his fourth site in Whitby, North Yorkshire. Pern, whose Star Inn At Harome has a Michelin star, grew up in Whitby and has opened the Star Inn The Harbour in a former tourist information office, creating 50 jobs. It is the latest expansion of his Star brand, following the opening of The Star Inn The City and tapas-inspired Mr P’s Curious Tavern, both in York. It is a seafood version of The Star Inn The City and has 160 covers, with 80 outside. Besides seafood, meat and vegetarian dishes, The Star Inn The Harbour features an ice-cream parlour offering desserts with a twist such as rhubarb and custard knickerbocker glory, banoffee sundae and Black Forest gateau trifle. 

GC Mallen adds Sydenham site to portfolio: Multi-site pub operator GC Mallen, led by Garry Mallen, has acquired a site in Sydenham high street. The venue, which is currently closed, is expected to undergo a substantial investment to add a conservatory before opening later this year. Last month, the company reopened The Guinea Butt pub in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, which the company acquired from brewer and retailer Greene King in February. The pub in Calverley Road, GC Mallen’s 13th site, was renamed The Guinea and is being managed by Savoy-trained chef Darren Somerton and his partner Dania Cianciulli. 

Gino D’Acampo and Individual Restaurants to open fourth My Restaurant, in Harrogate on Thursday: Italian chef and television personality Gino D’Acampo is to open the fourth site of his fast-casual dining concept My Restaurant, in Harrogate on Thursday (29 June). D’Acampo, who launched the concept in partnership with Individual Restaurants, is opening the site in Parliament Square. The restaurant, which will span two floors and seat 150 diners, will feature an open kitchen, deli bar, private dining room, games room, photo booth and an all-weather roof terrace. The restaurant will also feature D’Acampo’s signature prosecco bar, showcasing an all-Italian list of more than 40 proseccos, sparkling wines and regional wines, with more than eight available by the glass. The Harrogate site will be followed by two further openings – in Liverpool in July and Camden Town, north London, in August. D’Acampo also has My Restaurants in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester. He told The Business Desk: “After the success of My Restaurant in Leeds I decided it was Harrogate’s turn for a slice of la bella vita. I visited the town for the first time seven years ago and fell in love with its people, elegance and charm.”

Jamie Oliver gets RSPCA gold award: Chef Jamie Oliver has been awarded the RSPCA Richard Martin Gold Award as part of the charity’s honours in recognition of his significant contribution to improving the welfare of farm animals and championing higher welfare food products. The RSPCA gold, silver and bronze honours – named after Martin, Lord Erskine and Arthur Broome – are the RSPCA’s highest awards, and are given to recognise and reward individuals and organisations for their outstanding contribution to animal welfare. The honours award committee said it was impressed by the efforts Oliver has made over the years in both researching into, campaigning for, and working to make a significant change in the way animals are farmed for meat in the UK and overseas. Oliver said: “Thank you to everyone at the brilliant RSPCA for this incredible award. It truly means a lot, and it’s a great pat on the back for everything me and my team are trying to achieve. Over the years, we’ve been fighting alongside you to make a meaningful difference to animal welfare – from my television show Jamie’s Fowl Dinners in 2008, to the ‘food fight’ campaigns we run on Friday Night Feast, to making sure we only serve higher-welfare meat in Jamie’s Italian restaurants across the world. If we all keep fighting, we can make a real difference. There’s a lot still to be done but this award is a massive boost. So thank you.”

Burger King chief marketing officer stresses the importance of not treating agencies like creative 'vending machines': “Transactional” relationships between clients and agencies can hinder creativity claimed Burger King chief marketing officer Axl Schwan, who argued agencies should not be treated as creative “vending machines”. Speaking at a panel in Cannes hosted by The Economist, Schwan spoke of the need for a “true partnership” between clients and agencies. “The client-supplier relationship is very transactional and doesn’t deliver, usually, great creative work,” he said. “If you want to be a good client, don’t be a client, be a partner. Always work on the relationship, always talk very openly about the business side of life and the brand side of life. Agencies are not vending machines, right? You cannot throw in money and hope the creative work comes out. It doesn’t work like this – you cannot work like this. You always have to be very close, and that’s sometimes a challenge.”

Bistrot Pierre lines up empty Preston church for latest site: Bistrot Pierre, the restaurant group backed by private equity firm Livingbridge, is lining up an empty church in Preston, Lancashire, for its latest site. The company, which currently operates 19 sites, wants to open a restaurant in the former grade II-listed Fishergate Baptist Church, opposite Primark. It has submitted plans to Preston Council with the development focused on three areas – the basement, ground level and external rear wall, which is to be opened up to create an outdoor seating area. The external approach to the church from Fishergate would largely remain unchanged, apart from a decking area and glazed inserts into arches, reports the Lancashire Post. Bistrot Pierre, founded by Robert Beacham and John Whitehead in 1994, received £9.8m from Livingbridge in 2015 to support its expansion plans. Last month, Bistrot Pierre opened a site in Mumbles, Swansea, while restaurants are due to open in Kidderminster, Middlesbrough and Southport.
JD Wetherspoon opens £2.5m Hull hotel: JD Wetherspoon has opened its £2.5m hotel in Hull city centre. Plans were submitted two years ago to build the hotel above the company’s Admiral Of The Humber pub in Anlaby Road by converting unused office space. Wetherspoon has created 22 en-suite bedrooms, while a new rooftop beer garden has also opened featuring decking, booths, stools and colourful flowerbeds. Pub and hotel manager Katie Younger told the Hull Daily Mail: “What makes this hotel different to the others in the city is its proximity to Hull City Hall and the city centre and the fact there is a pub and restaurant just down the stairs. We will be open at 7am instead of 8am for hotel guests. We will be open until midnight most nights, staying open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays. The beer garden will close at 10pm due to it being overlooked by the hotel bedrooms.”
Iconic LA venue Hal’s Bar & Grill reinvented for the Silicon Beach set: Iconic Los Angeles venue Hal’s Bar & Grill, which has been a mainstay of the Venice Beach scene for three decades, has been “reinvented” for a younger audience following a collaboration between sector design agency Mystery and its architectural partners Relativity. The new-look Hal’s Bar & Grill has been designed to create a “new cache of memories” while retaining the “artistic soul, hosted service and modern classic menu and atmosphere that made the original Hal’s famous”. Mystery said the challenge was to keep the “magic” of Hal’s Bar & Grill, while reinventing it for the new and younger market of Playa Vista, known as Silicon Beach. Local artists, including Ed Moses, Kwaku Alston and Paul Michael Glaser, created artwork for the site.
The Ivy Collection lines up Leeds for brasserie site: The Ivy Collection is lining up further regional expansion with a site in Leeds. The company wants to convert three city centre retail properties at the Vicar Lane entrance of Victoria Quarter into a single restaurant. The designs for the external elevations in the plans submitted to the city council revealed the restaurant that will occupy the space would be The Ivy Brasserie. The redeveloped space would be able to seat 195 diners in addition to overflow seating. The Victoria Gate scheme already includes cafe-deli and restaurant operator Benugo and Gaucho’s Argentinian-inspired brand CAU but is primarily a retail space anchored by John Lewis, reports Insider Media. The Ivy Collection has continued its regional expansion by opening brasserie sites in Cobham in Surrey, and Marlow in Buckinghamshire. It has also signed a 25-year lease to open its first site in Scotland, in Edinburgh’s St Andrew Square, and been given the go-ahead for a site in Harrogate.

Turtle Bay launches Peterborough site: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay has opened a site in Peterborough. The company has converted part of the old H&M store in Queensgate into the venue, which opens out on to St John’s Square. The opening has created 50 jobs after Turtle Bay held “auditions” at Peterborough United’s London Road stadium for prospective staff. Turtle Bay new openings manager Eddie Coyne told the Peterborough Telegraph: “The auditions really put hopefuls to the test when it came to being in tune with the Caribbean vibe and the essence of Turtle Bay.” The company, which is backed by Piper Private Equity, was launched by Las Iguanas co-founder Ajith Jaya-Wickrema and has 37 sites across the UK, having opened its first restaurant in Milton Keynes in 2010. Turtle Bay will also open a restaurant in Plymouth in September, while earlier this month it secured a site in Winchester in an off-market deal.

Trio of disused railway arches earmarked for bars and restaurants: A trio of disused railway arches in Wigan could be transformed into a row of bars and restaurants. Network Rail has submitted plans to Wigan Council to transform the vacant spaces in Queen Street next to Prospect Brewery’s micro-pub, Wigan Central, which occupies two arches. The regeneration of the arches underneath Wigan North Western station could dovetail with pre-existing development plans in the town. Council officers have set a decision target date for the application of Friday, 28 July, reports Wigan Today.

New hotel restaurant in Brighton aims to reflect the quirkiness of the city with odd socks policy: A new hotel restaurant that aims to reflect the eccentricity of Brighton has opened. Oddsocks Bar & Kitchen is based in the Jurys Inn, in Stroudley Road, adjacent to Brighton station. Hotel bosses said their aim was to reflect the eccentricity of Brighton and Hove with an “eclectic mix of convenience and quirkiness, comfort and charm – just like a pair of odd socks”. The staff will all be wearing odd socks.

Northern Ireland-born celebrity chef dies of heart attack: Northern Ireland-born celebrity chef Darren Simpson has died in Australia – the father-of-two suffered a heart attack near his home in Byron Bay in New South Wales. It had been reported his death followed a long battle with an illness linked to alcoholism. He had recently attempted rehabilitation at a clinic for alcohol addiction before ending up in hospital, News Corp websites reported. The cause of death has not been confirmed. Simpson, who was in his mid-forties, trained in prestigious restaurants including Paul Rankin’s Roscoff in Belfast, Le Gavroche, and the River Cafe in London. Just two years after landing his first job, he was named the UK’s Young Chef of the year at the age of 21 – the youngest winner of the prize. From 1992 to 1999, Simpson worked in restaurants including Michelin-starred Roscoff in Ireland and Le Gavroche in London. He also worked in top London restaurants Clarke’s, Bibendum, River Cafe and Sartoria. He moved to Australia in 1999 where he was headhunted to become the head chef of Aqua Luna Bar and Restaurant in Sydney. In 2005, he opened the award-winning La Sala, a modern Italian restaurant.

Everyman acquires York cinema: Everyman Cinemas has acquired a site in York and is planning a major renovation of its 22nd venue. Everyman will take over the lease of the 80-year-old, grade II-listed art deco former Odeon in Blossom Street at the end of August. The cinema will close for refurbishment to reopen in December featuring a bar, Speilburger restaurant and five screens with sofa seating. Everyman Cinemas chief executive Crispin Lilly told Screen Daily: “Our experience in renovating similar buildings in Barnet, Bristol and Muswell Hill over the past couple of years puts us in a strong position to deliver something exceptional in York. It’s a large and delicate process and will involve working closely with the city’s planning authorities to unlock the potential for this beautiful building.” Reel Cinemas had operated the venue since 2009. Reel managing director Naveen Suri added: “This is a unique opportunity for us to realise some value in our estate to be able to invest across other sites. We will be able to accelerate refurbishments in the likes of Burnley and Chippenham.” Earlier this month, Everyman Cinemas announced it would anchor a new dining development in Liverpool.

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