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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 23rd Aug 2017 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Starbucks franchise co-founded by Ei Group director to launch £1.1m crowdfunding campaign to support 20-site roll-out: Starbucks franchise Elite Coffee is to launch a £1.1m fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Growthdeck next month to support the roll-out of 20 new sites in the next five years. Elite Coffee, which was founded by Paul Harbottle, group commercial director at Ei Group, and Steve Evans, currently operates one Starbucks franchise at the Excel Centre in east London. The site, which is profitable, opened two years ago and since then the management team has formed a close relationship with Starbucks UK. The pitch states: “Elite has been identified by Starbucks UK as a preferred franchisee, such that it is the favoured operator for any new franchises in an identified territory – full details to be disclosed shortly. Growthdeck has won the mandate to raise £1.1m of equity for Elite to part-fund the roll-out of 20 new franchise units over the next five years. A further round of funding for circa £1.25m will be undertaken in the second half of 2018 – and it is expected this will be raised largely, if not all, in the form of debt. Based on an exit in 2022, the terms attaching to the current £1.1m equity round offer the prospect of 4.1 times money return – or 5.8 times with the benefit of initial 30% EIS income tax relief (48% internal rate of return). The founding directors, Paul Harbottle and Steve Evans, have extensive experience in the hospitality industry. They have managed multi-site bar and restaurant businesses for major players and have been responsible for a number of roll-out programmes. On completion of the current funding round, a high-profile figure in the hospitality sector will join the board as chairman. Starbucks UK has already approved six new greenfield franchise sites in the designated territory. These new sites include prestigious new commercial/residential property developments. The 20 openings are planned at the rate of four to five per year. Growthdeck is finalising due diligence before the detailed investment offer is expected to go live in early September.” Growthdeck plans to hold a “meet the Elite Coffee management” lunch on Tuesday, 12 September.

Industry News:

Deadline extended for entries to industry-wide training awards: The deadline for entries to the National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs), held by the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) in partnership with Propel and CPL Training Group, has been extended until Friday, 15 September. The ceremony for the premier awards night for training achievements in the pub and restaurant sector will take place on Tuesday, 21 November at Café de Paris in central London. The NITAs recognise those companies and individuals that really care about their employees, helping them to achieve improvements in training and standards. The categories are best training programme (leased and tenanted companies under 200 outlets), best training programme (leased and tenanted companies more than 200 outlets), best managed training programme (companies under 50 outlets), best managed training programme (companies more than 50 outlets), trainer of the year, best apprenticeship training programme, and best casual dining training programme. To enter, candidates should visit and select NITAs, register their details, and pick their category or categories. Candidates can enter more than one category. Each category will have a judging panel consisting of industry experts to decide who has shown the best knowledge, understanding and enthusiasm for their respective category. Finalists will be announced before the end of September and will need to be available on Thursday, 19 October to attend the NITAs finals judging day. In addition, The Franca Knowles Lifetime Achievement will be chosen by a panel led by Keith Knowles, chief executive and founder of Beds and Bars. This award will identify and recognise an individual who leads by example and demonstrates that training and people are at the core of what they do. This is an industry recognition award rather than a category open for entries and is in memory of the late Franca Knowles, Keith Knowles’ wife, who herself was a multiple winner of NITAs awards and was passionate about people and training.

Chris Muller Multi-site Management Masterclass open for bookings: Propel will host Professor Chris Muller, the leading thinker, teacher and author on multi-site foodservice management in the US, at its next Multi-site Management Masterclass. It takes place on Friday, 29 September at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. Leading UK businesses such as Mitchells & Butlers and TGI Friday’s have sent staff to be taught by Professor Muller at Boston University’s School of Hospitality – now Professor Muller is returning to the UK to lead this bespoke day. The event will provide valuable insights for founders and area managers of small and medium-sized multi-site companies and area managers of large companies. The sessions will include building the case for strategic growth, developing multi-unit managers from players to coaches and a discussion on the importance transition plays in the practice of management and leadership. Mastering Multi-Units founder Lee Sheldon will also talk about how to successfully drive profitable growth for your business. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members, £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers. To book tickets, email Anne Steele at

Family-friendly B&B bookings surge 61% for autumn: There has been a 61% year-on-year surge in bookings for autumn at B&Bs that market themselves as family-friendly, according to Eviivo, the online booking specialists for independent hotels and bed and breakfasts. The company’s quarterly National B&B Index revealed overall bookings for September to November are up 18% compared with the same period a year ago. The data revealed strong bookings on the south coast, with Penzance up 32%, Torquay (29%) and Bournemouth (23%). Nationwide, seaside bookings for the period increased 7.5%. Regionally, Northern Ireland (40% up) and Scotland (35%) are the best-performing regions for forward bookings, followed by central England (21%) and north east England (19%). All regions have seen year-on-year growth, with the weakest in the east of England (9%). Eviivo director Tom Messett said: “We may be seeing a fundamental shift in holiday patterns, with a ‘sortumn break’ in the UK becoming an established event in UK family life. Part of the surge is the ‘bed and Brexit’ effect we reported on last quarter, with holidaymakers choosing to avoid punishing exchange rates and make the most of the British Isles. But there’s also a rediscovery of the joys of the short British break, something many parents will remember from their own childhoods.”

Drinks companies ‘failing to deliver value customers crave’: Drinks companies are “failing to deliver the value customers crave”, according to research by agency FleishmanHillard Fishburn (FHF). The company’s multi-industry Authenticity Gap survey explored the gap between customer expectation and perceived performance in the beer and spirits industry. It found a 6.4% shortfall in meeting consumers’ expectations compared with perceived value for money. The survey also revealed a 5.9% gap between customer expectation versus perceived performance regarding environmental issues. However, companies performed better with a +7% authenticity gap for credible communications at the top of the list followed by consistent performance (+6.2%), doing “the right thing” (+4.3%), innovation (+1.5%), and community impact (+0.3%). FHF said one of the major issues revealed by the survey centred on customers’ perceptions of fake news versus fact. Only 7% of respondents found chief executives the most credible source of information about their company, while more than one-third (34%) said the most credible source was friends, family and colleagues. FHF chief executive Jim Donaldson said: “We’ve seen politicians and companies scramble to claim the mantle of authenticity as voters and customers seem to care less about what leaders do and more about their perceived character and intentions.”

Scottish business rates review must encourage full reform of system, says ALMR: The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) has said the Scottish business rates review falls short of the wholesale reform that eating and drinking-out businesses require. The recommendations include an increase in the frequency of revaluations from 2022 to every three years, a cut in the supplementary charge for large business premises in line with England, and an extended 12-month period of rates relief for businesses investing in expansion. ALMR chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The Scottish government’s review of business rates contains a few welcome proposals but falls somewhat short of the wholesale reform eating and drinking out businesses need. There are some good first steps here but this must be the launch pad for further action and large root-and-branch reform of the system. Westminster must also take some inspiration from this and undertake the full review of business rates that was promised at the spring Budget and included in manifestos before the election.”

Company News:

DHP Family sees turnover pass £25m, secures first Birmingham site: Live music venue operator DHP Family has reported turnover increased 20% to £25,300,118 for the year ending 31 December 2016, compared with £21,005,546 the year before. Pre-tax profit was up to £1,456,970 compared with £868,619 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. The company stated: “2016 saw strong performances across the group, with the acquisition of two new venues in London. Established venues continued to increase footfall at key club nights as well as an increase in gigs overall within the venues in the estate. The ‘live’ division had a strong year, with excellent festivals adding to the bottom line. Continued investment in our ticketing business has resulted in further growth to sales.” Meanwhile, the company has secured its first site in Birmingham. The company has acquired the freehold of a former bar in John Bright Street. Plans are being drawn up for the refurbishment of the premises with the new venue due to open in 2018. Although the layout has yet to be decided, it will offer a bar and food along with a full programme of live music and club nights. DHP Family owner George Akins said: “Birmingham is the UK’s second city and has a rich musical heritage – but the city centre has lacked a characterful and creative venue for a long time. We believe with the revitalisation of the area around New Street station that the time is right to create a place the music fans of Birmingham will welcome.” Earlier this year, DHP Family unveiled a transformation of two London venues – Borderline in Soho and The Garage in Highbury. The addition of the Birmingham site brings DHP Family’s portfolio up to nine venues owned and operated across four cities. It owns Rock City, Stealth, Bodega and Rescue Rooms, all in Nottingham; The Garage, Oslo and Borderline in London; and Thekla in Bristol.

London pop-up restaurant platform Grub Club launches £375,000 crowdfunding campaign: Grub Club, the London pop-up restaurant platform, has launched a £375,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Angels Den to support expansion. The startup, founded by Olivia Sibony and Siddarth Vijayakumar, is offering a 10.49% equity stake in return for the investment. Grub Club has hosted more than 5,100 events, with 500 chefs cooking for 51,000 diners in 1,000 venues across London. The pitch states: “Grub Club’s private dining platform creates restaurants ‘on demand’. Pick a chef, choose a venue and create your private restaurant for the night. Scaling the product comes by putting categories of chefs and venues into packages at varying commission levels. As a second proposition, it is a platform for chefs’ own public events, an Airbnb for food. Grub Club is the perfect place for bespoke dining. The inherent risk to chefs in setting up restaurants is de-risked by Grub Club providing opportunities for them to test new concepts. Nine restaurants have been set up on the back of Grub Club. Broadly, the money will be spent on marketing investment (£160,000), tech rebuild costs (£150,000), and taking on more people to support the rapidly increasing size of business (£75,000). Grub Club has a clear monetisation strategy of up to 15% on public events, 20% on private events for individuals, and 35% on the more premium corporate events. In addition, we regularly monetise through brand partnerships and sponsorship deals. We are aiming for an exit in three to five years.” Grub Club is forecasting sales of £1,112,000 with Ebit of minus £428,000 by the end of this year, rising to sales of £34,005,000 and Ebit of £3,120,000 by the end of 2021. Grub Club raised £284,000 in a campaign on Crowdcube in 2014.

Greene King opens training beer brewery in south London for Craft Academy scheme: Brewer and retailer Greene King has opened a training beer brewery in south London this week as part of its new Craft Academy. The micro-brewery has been launched at The Florence in Herne Hill. Greene King launched Craft Academy earlier this year. It is an apprentice-led brewing scheme that trains beer enthusiasts in brewing, marketing, sales and branding, enabling apprentices to launch beers into the market while working towards an accredited qualification during the 18-month scheme. The first two recruits – Dan Scott and Nancy Nangle, who were chosen from more than 100 applicants – are working towards a Level 3 NVQ qualification. 

London-based Chinese hot pot concept Shu Xiangge acquires second site: London-based Chinese hot pot concept Shu Xiangge has acquired its second site. Shu Xiangge, which has a venue in New Oxford Street, has agreed a deal for the former New Fook Lam Moon restaurant site in Gerrard Street in China Town. CDG Leisure acted for the landlord, Shaftesbury. CDG Leisure associate director Salvatore Di Natale said: “We had numerous bids on this prime unit in the heart of China Town. It was great working with Shaftesbury for the first time and we hope this will be the first of many more instructions to come.”

Iconic West End restaurant Joe Allen reopens at new home: Iconic West End restaurant Joe Allen has reopened at its new home after its original premises was acquired by Hollywood star Robert De Niro, who plans to open a boutique hotel in its place. Much of the original site, which is just off The Strand, has moved to its new location on the corner of Exeter and Burleigh Street, from wood panelling and film posters to the bar and “even the walls and floor”. The menu remains the same – American-style classics such as burgers, pulled pork, steak and salads. Tim Healy and Lawrence Hartley bought Joe Allen, a late-night haunt for West End stars and an exact copy of the original in New York’s 46th Street, in 2012. De Niro will build an 83-bedroom boutique hotel after teaming up with BD Hotels and UK property firm Capco. He will be joint operator of the venue, which will feature a spa, members’ club and two restaurants. De Niro and BD Hotels run the Greenwich Hotel in Manhattan. Joe Allen’s sister site, Italian restaurant Orso, closed in July to make way for the development. In the same month, Healy and Hartley launched British-style brasserie Mustard in Brook Green, west London.

Esquires Coffee lines up three further sites as it opens latest outlets: Esquires Coffee has lined up three further sites as it opens its two latest outlets. The company is opening a shop in Balham, south west London, having acquired a pre-existing coffee house. Esquires said it had retained the store’s character and charm while putting the company’s stamp on the venue. The second store will open in Esher, Surrey, on Friday (25 August) and will be the fourth Esquires Coffee house for franchise owner Chris Rance. The two openings take the number of Esquire stores in the UK to 31. Meanwhile, Esquires will continue its expansion with openings scheduled before the end of the year in Yate in Gloucestershire, Hanley in Staffordshire, and Liverpool.

Black and White Hospitality to start expansion of Wheeler’s of St James’s brand with Liverpool site: Black and White Hospitality, which owns the rights to five restaurant brands belonging to celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, is to open a second Wheeler’s of St James’s site, in Liverpool. The 120-cover restaurant will open in November at the Pullman Liverpool hotel on the city’s UNESCO world heritage waterfront. The partnership is the first between the hotel chain and Black and White Hospitality. Pierre White said: “The Wheeler’s brand carries with it certain standards and certain connotations. It’s about the highest quality oysters, the freshest seafood and a memorable experience. I can see from the success of my Liverpool Steakhouse Bar & Grill that the people of this city have an appetite and desire for high-quality restaurants.” Black and White Hospitality chief executive Nick Taplin added: “It was a big decision to open Wheeler’s outside London. We feel we have found the perfect match for our second restaurant.” Meanwhile, Black and White Hospitality said it would open a Steakhouse Bar & Grill at a £15m development that will see Durham’s Shire Hall turned into a Hotel Indigo. Earlier this week, the company also said it would start expansion of the chef’s Mr White’s English Chophouse concept by opening a second site, in Whitechapel, east London. Black and White Hospitality, which also operates the Marco’s New York Italian and Bardolino Pizzeria, Bellini & Espresso Bar brands, has 38 restaurants in the UK, with more in development.

Laine Pub Company to raise fire-damaged Acton site from the ashes: Multiple pub operator and brewer The Laine Pub Company, which is backed by Luke Johnson, is to raise its west London pub The Aeronaut from the ashes in late autumn. The Acton venue, known for its exotic circus and cabaret shows and quirky carnivalesque gardens, suffered fire damage in the early hours of New Year’s Day. Laine said the site would have some “exciting new additions”, including the UK’s first pub-based combined immersive and virtual reality games set-up. Having pioneered virtual reality and immersive gaming in pubs such as The Four Thieves in Battersea and The People’s Park in Hackney, Laine plans to combine the two at The Aeronaut. There will be a new range of craft beer brewed by its Laine Brew Co business and the best of London’s brewers, plus enhancements to the garden and bar areas and the return of the Aeronaut’s sharing menu. General manager Dene Stevenson said: “We promised the show would go on and we are overjoyed work is continuing apace to rebuild and replace all that was damaged in the fire. The pub’s Big Top room will once again host the hair-raising aerial shows that have attracted circus-goers and cabaret fans week in, week out. For the people of Acton and in celebration of the memory of local airman George Lee Temple, upon whose pioneering spirit the pub is based, we are proud to announce The Aeronaut is rising again, and this time the ride will more thrilling than ever.”

Former Galvin Bistrot chef launches small plates concept in Soho: Former Galvin Bistrot chef Pratap Chahal has partnered with restaurateur Vic Singh to launch small plates concept Flavour Bastard in Soho. The restaurant has opened in Frith Street, with the name reflecting the concept’s “cuisine-agnostic” outlook featuring “multiple cuisines, multiple cultures”. Chahal’s menu includes tiny and small plates designed to be shared or doubled-up. Tiny plates include white lentil, chorizo and pecorino doughnut, and steamed rice cake with house kimchi, while small plates include miso and mango-glazed aubergine with peanut crumble, and steak tartar with tamarind, chilli and garlic. Desserts include quinoa pudding scented with vetiver and ginger, and churro ice-cream sandwiches. The venue includes a 20-seater bronze bar with drinks overseen by Nick Jones, founder of Wines of Momentary Destination, and including a house brew, cocktails, wine and sake. Chahal has also worked at Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s, Chez Bruce, Cinnamon Club and The Orrery, while he is founder of London-based fine-dining events company That Hungry Chef.

Eddie Rocket’s to open fourth Northern Ireland site: US-style diner and burger bar Eddie Rocket’s is to open its fourth restaurant in Northern Ireland. Franchisee Justin Ward is opening the outlet in October at Lisburn Leisure Park in Lisburn, on the former site of safari-themed family restaurant Makhulu 5. Ward runs the other three Northern Ireland restaurants – two in Belfast and one in Newry. An Eddie Rocket’s spokeswoman told the Belfast Telegraph: “Justin plans to expand further and open more Eddie Rocket’s diners in Belfast city centre as opportunities arise.” Eddie Rocket’s was founded by Dubliner Niall Fortune and has about 40 branches in the Republic of Ireland. It will open a new restaurant at Point Village, Dublin, in September.

Tenzo claims 6% rise in growth for app users: Hospitality tech platform Tenzo, which is the brainchild of Hummus Bros co-founder Christian Mouysset and Adam Taylor, has said its app has helped users to record a 6% year-on-year rise in growth. The company said the system also helped users cut sales forecast errors by 28% and increase average review scores by 19%. Tenzo, which graduated from TechStars in 2016, said it had added Barworks, the central London bar and pub operator, to its list of clients alongside other pub companies such as Upham Group. It said the addition meant the system is currently live in more than 150 sites. Tenzo helps pubs view their sales, operations and social data in one app. Upham Group chief financial officer Robb Harris said: “Our managers are excited by Tenzo’s potential. They’ve all seen slightly different benefits – some think it’s great to have access to the social media, others are pleased to have a tool that helps them on the forecasting side, while another’s first reaction was it’s the perfect tool to help him train and develop assistant managers.” In April, Tenzo raised £600,000 in a seed investment round led by Acequia Capital, Force Over Mass and angel investors Charlie Songhurst, Michael Orland and London-based Getti Restaurants. The financing is being used to fund Tenzo’s international expansion, new hires, and technology.

Brixton restaurant Salon to reopen featuring separate bar and wine store: Founder and head chef Nicholas Balfe is closing his Brixton restaurant, Salon, and will reopen it on Friday, 1 September to feature a ground-floor bar while launching a wine store next door. Balfe is working with architects HH+ and designer Finch Munro, of Finch London, to create an upstairs dining room with banquette seating made from reclaimed timber. Balfe’s cooking will remain the star of the show with dishes such as whole baked aubergine with smoked almond cream, preserved blackberries and rainbow chard. The new downstairs bar will feature concertina windows, while customers will be able to purchase a selection of house-made syrups and preserves. The new menu will offer snacks and sharing dishes to accompany wine and classic cocktails. Balfe will also launch the Salon Wine Store next door to the restaurant in Market Road, stocked with low-intervention, artisan wine. Guests will be able to buy bottles to bring into the restaurant or to take home. Balfe said: “I’m looking forward to reopening Salon with its beautiful new design and sharing it with our loyal customers but it will also breathe new life into the restaurant and renew the space for the next part of our journey.”

Former head chef at Michelin-starred restaurant Dabbous opens first venture: Ross Gibbens, former head chef of Michelin-starred restaurant Dabbous in London, has launched his first venture, in Bristol. Gibbens has opened Wellbourne in The Mall, Clifton Village, on a site previously occupied by Indian restaurant Krishnan’s Kitchen. Wellbourne is an informal 36-cover wine bar and restaurant serving modern seasonal food alongside a hand-picked selection of wine, craft beer and spirits. Dishes include buttered sea kale with Dorset crab and wood sorrel; loin of veal with sweetcorn, Scottish girolles and meadowsweet; and blackened apricots with fresh honeycomb ice cream. Gibbens told the Bristol Post: “The food is based on tried and tested combinations but with a modern touch and lack of clutter on the plate. The food is innovative and seasonal.” Gibbens also worked for Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saison, The Vineyard at Stockcross, and The Square in Mayfair.

Historic Cornwall inn on market for £1.2m: The Old Ferry Inn at the Fowey river crossing in Cornwall has gone on the market for £1.2m. The former coaching inn, which has been providing bed and board for travellers on the old London to Penzance road for more than 400 years, is being marketed by agent Colliers International. The property, which has 12 letting rooms, overlooks the Bodinnick to Fowey ferry, which dates to the 13th century, as well as Ferryside – the family home of writer Daphne du Maurier. The Old Ferry Inn is owned and operated by husband-and-wife teams Pascal and Penny Rivault and David and Amanda Lewis. The Rivaults are looking to downsize while the Lewises wish to retire. Ed Jefferson, from Colliers International, said: “The Old Ferry has bags of character. There is a wood-burner and stone floor, the bar is packed with historical artefacts and local memorabilia, and the views over the estuary are stunning. The new owners have the option of taking on the suite of rooms presently used as staff accommodation. And with net sales to June 30 2017 of £525,000, the Old Ferry is still bringing in plenty of business.”

Continuum Attractions acquires forest park in Wales: York-based Continuum Attractions, which operates visitor attractions such as The Canterbury Tales in Kent, has acquired GreenWood Forest Park in Y Felinheli, North Wales. Agents GVA brokered the deal on behalf of the park’s owners Andrea and Steve Bristow. GreenWood Forest Park is a TripAdvisor UK top ten attraction. Continuum Attractions chief executive Juliana Delaney told BDaily: “GreenWood Forest Park is a wonderful addition to Continuum’s growing UK-wide portfolio.” GVA director Richard Baldwin added: “GreenWood Forest Park is a high-quality asset. Significant transactions over the summer continue to showcase the rude health of the alternative leisure markets and their potential as positive investment opportunities.” Continuum Attractions’ portfolio includes York’s Chocolate Story, the Emmerdale Studio Tour and Village Tour in Leeds, and the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.

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