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Wed 4th Oct 2017 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Revolution boss – Revolución de Cuba has ‘proper momentum’, smaller trading format provides scope for more than 50 sites for brand: Revolution Bars Group chief executive Mark McQuater has told Propel Revolución de Cuba has “proper momentum” and the emergence of its smaller trading format provides scope for the company to up its target of 50 sites for the brand. The company opened four Revolución de Cuba sites during the year and McQuater said they were generating “very good returns”, with the brand’s venues now taking £2.5m on average annually. McQuater said: “We now have 14 Revolución de Cubas in the estate and we have proper momentum in that brand. By that I mean the critical mass really – two years ago we only had five of them and now we've got a brand that works in all these different places, from Aberdeen to Cardiff to Norwich. Our Belfast site that opened in July has achieved the highest sales level we have seen in a long time and it shows there is a market for the brand in regional locations rather than London. It’s a powerful brand that has a lot of potential. We’ve said before we think we can have 40 or 50 Revolución de Cubas but last year we opened a smaller format in Harrogate and it was getting similar levels of turnover so it has given us confidence to open similar-sized sites. That gives us more opportunities moving forward and therefore more sites than we envisaged previously. We think we could get to a decent number.” McQuater said the company would also continue to open Revolution sites under its new design as well as continuing to refurbish the estate on a five-year cycle. He added: “I think that is the optimum length – customers need a change after that time. We’ve refurbished ten sites this year. We’re also trying to add new design elements – for example our site in Southend has a retractable roof and we’ve been getting good levels of sales where we are putting them in. I also think the size of our estate allows us to stay on top of the refurbishment project. Having, say, hundreds of pubs makes it a bit more difficult.” McQuater said pre-bookings for Christmas were “looking very encouraging”, while the company’s new online vodka range demonstrated the diversity of Revolution Bars Group. He added: “We are pleased with the company’s progress. Like-for-likes have been very positive over the period, margins have also moved forward, and overall the business is in excellent shape.”

Industry News:

Bookings open for People and Training Conference and NITAs: The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has launched the People and Training Conference, which will showcase outstanding people culture among companies within the sector. The event, organised in association with Propel Info, will take place at Bafta Piccadilly on Tuesday, 21 November. For the full speaker schedule click here. Places are £50 plus VAT for operators who are BII members and BIIAB members and £150 plus VAT for operators who are non-BII members. Supplier tickets are £95 plus VAT for BII members and BIIAB members and £195 plus VAT for all other organisations. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com. The conference will be followed in the evening by the National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs) at Cafe De Paris, which will recognise companies and individuals that are undertaking the best training in the sector. Tickets for the NITAs are £150 plus VAT and can be booked by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Propel Multi Club Conference open for bookings, two free places for operators: The final Propel Multi Club Conference of 2017 is open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Wednesday, 1 November at the Millennium Gloucester hotel in London. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at anne.steele@propelinfo.com. The speaker line-up for the morning session will be Christie & Co head of restaurants Simon Chaplin; Andrew Ball and Gareth Ogden, of sector accountant haysmacintyre; Darrel Connell, of investment fund Imbiba; and Jeremy Simmonds and Matt Grech-Smith, founders of the Institute of Competitive Socialising brand Swingers. Speaking after lunch will be Chilango co-founder Eric Partaker, Hubbox founder Richard Boon, Lucky Voice founder and executive chairman Nick Thistleton, and elite sports “mind coach” Mark Sheasby. The final session will feature Bowmark Capital partner Ron Pearson, Fuller’s Inns managing director Jonathan Swaine, and Boxpark founder Roger Wade.

Seedrs funding round raises almost £7m in fewer than five days: Crowdfunding platform Seedrs has said its recent funding round raised almost £7m in fewer than five days from more than 2,000 investors. In early September, Woodford Investment Management made a £4m investment in Seedrs, with the company opening the funding round to existing shareholders and new investors. Seedrs stated: “Our campaign on the platform went live last week and it proved very popular. Over the course of fewer than five days nearly £7m was committed (of which we can only accept £6m) by more than 2,000 investors. We are thrilled to have so many members of our community invested in us alongside our institutional investors. While we are delighted there was such demand for our campaign, we regret we’ve not been able to open the campaign up further.” Earlier this week, Seedrs reported it lost £3.8m on revenues of £1m last year. Its first set of full accounts filed with Companies House revealed losses grew much faster than revenues in 2016. Revenue grew by 30% to £1m in the year to December 2016 but losses rose by 140% to £3.8m. Chief executive Jeff Kelisky said the performance was down to investment for growth and said 2016 “actually exceeded our expectations”.

Turner at 69 owner blames menu overhaul and staffing issues for loss of Michelin star: Richard Turner, chef patron of prestigious Birmingham restaurant Turner at 69, has blamed the loss of its Michelin star on factors that include a revamp of its menu and “staffing issues”. Turner said opening the restaurant seven days a week had also led to Turner at 69 being stripped of its star in the 2018 guide, which was published this week. He has now closed the venue two days a week and will take on more of the cooking himself, while he added the staffing issues had been resolved. Turner, who won his star in 2007, two years after opening the restaurant, told Insider Media: “I was disappointed when I heard the news but I have not become a bad cook overnight. It’s just one of those things and a few changes we made to the restaurant meant we lost the star. We changed them as soon as I could but it was too late really. I never set out to get (a Michelin star) and it was an honour, but it’s not the end of the world.” There was one new three Michelin-starred, one new two Michelin-starred and 16 new one Michelin-starred restaurants in the 2018 Michelin Guide. The new three-star restaurant is The Araki in Mayfair.

Hartlepool council rejects alcohol restriction order: Hartlepool Borough Council has rejected plans to enforce an Early Morning Alcohol Restriction Order (EMRO) in the town. An investigation was carried out in response to a motion by former Seaton councillor Paul Thompson in February for the council to consider an EMRO to prevent the sale of alcohol between 2am and 6am. It followed an online petition by resident Stephen Worthy, who said 4am closing had turned Hartlepool’s nightlife into a “shadow of what it used to be”. However, the council’s investigation decided an EMRO was inappropriate, while it faced a legal bill of more than £100,000 to defend such an order. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said: “It is good to see an authority taking a pragmatic, common sense approach to local licensing. Late-night venues in Hartlepool are crucial employers and valuable social hubs. They work hard to ensure the town’s nightlife is dynamic, exciting and safe. Crime and violence in Hartlepool has been falling and the introduction of an EMRO, a measure discredited by the House of Lords, would have only placed unwanted pressure on local businesses.”

Second front-of-house ‘switch project’ to launch next week: The Switch initiative, in which restaurants take part in a nationwide ideas exchange that sees front-of-house staff switch between restaurants for three to five days, will start on Monday (9 October). The initiative was launched last year by industry collaborative platform TMRW Project. Restaurants taking part this year under the theme of “collaboration over competition” include The Clove Club, Marcus Wareing’s Restaurant Group, and a special switch between The Fat Duck and Coffee By Tate at the Tate Gallery that will focus solely on coffee. The Switch gives waiters, managers, bartenders and sommeliers a chance to learn from their peers and experience different environments and new ways of working. Chantelle Nicholson, chef patron of Tredwells and operations manager of Marcus Wareing Group, said: “The Switch provides a much-needed opportunity for sharing skills, values, inspiration and education. Chefs get great opportunities to learn so naturally it makes perfect sense to utilise this same format (for front-of-house staff).

Licensing update: Licensing solicitors John Gaunt & Partners produce a useful monthly summary of topical issues – the latest can be accessed here

Company News:

UK-based online food-ordering firm Appetise appoints former heads of Arsenal and eBay Australia as it undertakes IPO: UK-based online food-ordering firm Appetise has appointed former Arsenal managing director Keith Edelman as non-executive director and ex-eBay Australia chief executive Simon Smith as chairman. At Arsenal, Edelman oversaw the building of the football club’s Emirates stadium, while he has also held directorships at Revolution Bars and Glenmorangie among others. Smith led eBay Australia for eight years, during which time he transformed it from a loss-making business into a dominant presence in Australian e-commerce. Appetise chief executive Konstantine Karampatsos told PR Newswire: “The appointment of two such well-known business executives demonstrates the potential the company has for disrupting the UK online food ordering industry. It also demonstrates the continued appeal of a sector that has experienced explosive growth recently, attracting substantial investment in the UK and elsewhere.” Appetise launched an initial public offering (IPO) on the Australian Securities Exchange last month in a bid to raise a minimum of $4.8m through an issue of 24,000,000 shares at a price of $0.20 per share (offer). Oversubscriptions of up to a further 10,000,000 shares at an issue price of $0.20 per share to raise up to a further $2m may be accepted under the offer, making the maximum amount that can be raised under the offer $6.8m. Privately held Appetise launched in 2008 and has about 90,000 registered users and 400 restaurants on its platform. The company received a capital injection from a New York-based institutional investor last year. The company said it had focused growth on markets outside London and in the first three months of this year it doubled the number of restaurants in Birmingham on its platform, with about 15% of takeaway restaurants in central Birmingham now offering online food ordering with Appetise.

Bistrot Pierre secures Worthing site: Private equity-backed restaurant group Bistrot Pierre has secured a site in Worthing, West Sussex. The company, founded by Rob Beacham and John Whitehead in 1994, is opening the venue in Marine Parade in summer 2019. Beacham said: “We’ve had our sights set on Worthing for some time so we’re delighted to have been selected by Worthing Borough Council to open a bistrot in such a great location directly on the seafront. This bistrot will be a welcome addition to our portfolio of coastal bistrots in Swansea Bay, Torquay and Weston-super-Mare, where we are bringing delicious French favourites to diners in stunning locations with breath-taking coastal views.” Bistrot Pierre, which currently operates 21 sites, received £9.8m from private equity firm Livingbridge in 2015 to support its expansion plans. 

Maxwell’s makes £1m revenue from Covent Garden viral videos: Maxwell’s Restaurants Group has said it has generated an extra £1m in revenue thanks to viral food videos attracting customers to its Maxwell’s Bar & Grill restaurant in Covent Garden. During the past two years, the company has devised innovative menu items such as the burger cheesebomb, unicorn freakshakes and its latest creation, the doughnut burger, which features cheddar and Monterey jack cheese inside along with bacon, sauce, chopped gherkins and a beef patty. The contents are wrapped up, deep-fried and then sprinkled with icing sugar. Ketchup is then pumped into the doughnut with a syringe, with the meal served with fries, Business Insider UK reports. Maxwell’s Bar & Grill is an all-American diner-style venue that opened in the early 1980s. The venue posts videos on its Facebook page. Fans can also take a virtual tour of the restaurant on the venue’s own website. Maxwell’s Restaurants Group also operates well-known venues such as Café de Paris and Roadhouse in London. It is independently owned and managed by Brian Stein and employs more than 500 staff across 11 venues in the capital.

SSP Group to enter India market with three brands by first-quarter 2018: SSP Group is planning to enter India and launch three of its brands – bakery chains Millie’s Cookies and Upper Crust, and coffee shop chain Ritazza – by the first quarter of 2018. The company is entering India in partnership with Franchise India Holdings-owned subsidiary World Iconic Brand Hospitality. During the next five years, SSP Group plans to invest Rs250 crore (£2.9m) in India and set up 225 outlets – 75 of each brand. Sukh Tiwana, commercial director at SSP Group, told Livemint: “In India, we want to focus on shopping malls and high-end streets as well as travel retail, starting with the three main cities Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. There is opportunity because there is no competition for two (Millie’s Cookies and Upper Crust Bakery) of the three brands we are launching. Millie’s Cookies offers a long cookie menu with cupcakes, giant cookies and cookie slices. Upper Crust is a French baguettes brand. Ritazza, apart from coffee and tea, offers pastries and quick bites.” Franchise India chairman Gaurav Marya added: “This is a huge partnership with focus on travel as well as off-travel retail. We have already started looking for sites to set up stores. We are targeting all airports, railway stations (in top cities) and prime locations in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru to begin with. The first store will probably go live by the first quarter of 2018.”

Shareholders call for Starbucks to change family leave policy: A group of Starbucks shareholders, led by Zevin Asset Management, has filed a resolution to express concern over the company’s “unequal paid parental leave policy”. While Starbucks’ corporate offices have extensive maternity and paternity leave policies, these do not extend to in-store workers. Corporate employees can receive up to 18 weeks’ paid maternal leave, with fathers or adoptive parents receiving up to 12 weeks’ paid leave. In-store workers receive six weeks of paid maternal leave, while adoptive parents can request up to six weeks. The resolution states: “This runs counter to Starbucks’ widely recognised commitment to social responsibility, non-discrimination and inclusion. LGBTQ workers face particular challenges as they are four times more likely to parent adopted children and six times more likely to raise foster children.” Starbucks spokeswoman Jaime Riley told the Guardian: “We offer a more robust benefits package than any other retail company. You will not find another company that has pioneered more innovative benefits for full and part-time employees.”

Pret A Manger chief operating officer steps down: Pret A Manger has announced chief operating officer Nick Candler has left after almost 12 years with the business. Candler joined the company as chief financial officer in 2006 before assuming the role of chief operating officer in 2013. Pret chief executive Clive Schlee said: “Nick is chairman of Cook and Project Artworks, and will no doubt bring his considerable talents to other non-executive roles too. We thank Nick for his vital contribution to Pret’s success and wish him the best of luck for the future.”

Bill’s relaunches app offering new rewards scheme and click-and-collect function: Bill’s Restaurants, owned by Richard Caring, has relaunched its app offering a new rewards scheme and click-and-collect function. The loyalty scheme now offers customers £1 for every £15 spent via the app, while regular customers will be granted VIP status once they reach £75 spend, opening a number of rewards. The app will also allow diners to check-in to a restaurant and pay via the app, with an option to split the bill evenly or by items. Bill’s chief executive Mark Fox said: “As an all-day dining restaurant we know convenience is key for our customers, so whether they’re popping in for a quick dinner before heading off to the theatre, splitting the cost between friends or ordering ahead, we hope the new app functions make it easier and more fun than ever to dine with us.” Bill’s has more than 80 restaurants around the UK. Founder Bill Collison opened the first site in Lewes, East Sussex, in 2001.

Soho House subsidiary building arm fined £100,000: Soho House’s in-house building firm In House Design & Build has been fined for “repeatedly failing to manage and control multiple risks”. Health & Safety Executive inspectors made a number of visits during 2015 to two project sites where In House Design & Build was the principal contractor. Visits were prompted by concerns raised by workers and members of the public. Reading magistrates were told inspectors identified a number of serious health and safety failings at two sites during a four-month period and despite several enforcement notices being served, In House Design & Build failed to address the risks adequately. The notices served at the first site were for breaches that included unsafe work at height, working in unstable deep excavations, and inadequate arrangements for planning, managing and monitoring construction work. Similar concerns were found later in the year at the second site where poor welfare arrangements were also noted. In House Design and Build, of Royalty House, Dean Street, London, pleaded guilty to two breaches under Regulation 13 (1) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015. The company was fined £100,000. Project manager Neil Crow, of Woodgrange Avenue, London, who had been in charge of operations at both sites, pleaded guilty to two breaches under Regulation 13 (1) of the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015, by virtue of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He was fined £15,000. Full costs of £15,000 were also awarded. HSE inspector Dominic Goacher said after the hearing: “Principal contractors and their managers have a duty to ensure risks to workers are managed throughout the construction phase of projects. This case serves as a reminder to those responsible of the importance of ensuring construction work is properly planned, managed and monitored so serious risks are identified and eliminated or controlled. It was only by good fortune someone was not seriously injured or killed in this instance.” Turnover at In House Design and Build increased to £62.5m in the year to 3 January 2016 (2015: £46.9m) driven by large-scale fit-out projects at 76 Dean Street and The Farmhouse. Adjusted Ebitda was £328,000.

Des McDonald to open modern Italian restaurant for year-long Selfridges rooftop residency: Restaurateur Des McDonald will open his latest rooftop residency at Selfridges in London on Friday (6 October). McDonald is launching modern Italian restaurant Il Tetto, which will offer classic Italian dishes with a contemporary twist. The restaurant, which will run for an extended year-long residency, has seen the roof transformed with accents of Tuscan red, burnt orange and olive green throughout and terracotta pots filled with herbs to bring a sense of rural Italy to the city. Starters will feature insalata invernale (radicchio, white chicory, heritage beetroot, pear, zola dressing), while pasta dishes will include tortelli alla zucca mantovana (pumpkin hand-filled parcels, robiola fondue and crispy sage). Luxury pizzas will be available straight from the traditional pizza oven, while among the main courses will be salmon alla griglia (charred grilled salmon, braised cannellini beans, sun blush tomato). A menu of “hot-tails” will be served as well as wine and a selection of negronis. McDonald said: “I’m delighted to be opening Il Tetto with Selfridges, our rooftop restaurants have been a great success and I’m excited this will be extended to a year-long residency.” Selfridges food and restaurants director Bruce Langlands added: “Il Tetto will bring authentic tastes from Italy and, coupled with a hot cocktail bar, we are sure this will surprise and delight visitors to our roof.”

Star Pubs & Bars launches free e-learning on disciplinary procedures for licensees: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is launching a free disciplinary procedures e-learning course for its licensees to help them ensure they have the correct processes in place. The move follows the scrapping of employment tribunal fees for employees at the end of July this year. The number of employment tribunals fell 70% when fees were introduced in 2013 and it is anticipated cases could now increase. Star Pubs & Bars’ e-learning module is a step-by-step guide to implementing correct disciplinary and grievance procedures to prevent staff issues escalating to tribunals. Lessee capability manager Michael Soderquest said: “When it comes to handling disciplinaries and grievances, it is crucial to follow correct procedures as not to do so can have major implications. Being taken to an employment tribunal is time-consuming, costly and stressful as well as disruptive to a pub’s whole staff team.” The module is the latest free e-learning content that Star Pubs & Bars has created for licensees since its introduction earlier this year. Other modules cover starting a leased pub business, pub financials and pint perfection. The e-learning modules are also available to non-Star & Pubs licensees.

Camino opens Spanish tapas restaurant in Shoreditch for fifth London site: Camino, the London operator led by Richard Bigg and backed by the Business Growth Fund, has opened its fifth Spanish tapas restaurant in the capital, in Shoreditch. The venue has launched at Principal Place in Curtain Road and features an 80-cover restaurant with room for a further 75 customers in the tapas bar and 40 more on a heated terrace. The decor takes inspiration from northern Spain, while the menu features Camino tapas favourites with a few additions. The venture is a return home for the group as Bigg opened the now-closed Cantaloupe restaurant in Shoreditch many years ago. Bigg told Hot Dinners: “Shoreditch was a very different neighbourhood, completely unknown to the rest of London, and all my friends thought I was mad. But I had a good feeling in my bones about it and it turned out to be the right thing at the right time.” The other Camino sites are in King’s Cross, Monument, Bankside and Blackfriars, while the company also operates Bar Pepito in King’s Cross.

Eataly to open ‘Disneyland of food’ next month: Fico Eataly World, described as the “Disneyland of food”, is set to open in Bologna, Italy, next month. The $106m venture will cover 20 acres and feature orchards, gardens and pastures alongside 40 restaurants, factories, virtual reality experiences, workshops, full-scale theatres, and a 1,000-capacity conference centre. The world’s first “foodie theme park” will open on Wednesday, 15 November offering a start-to-finish insight into everything from beer and wine production to cheese-making and prosciutto dry-curing. Admission will be free, with the centre expecting six million visitors a year. Eataly World will house outlets of three Michelin-starred restaurants, while the Le Soste consortium project will see a rotation of Michelin-starred chefs give cooking demonstrations throughout the year. A 500-strong fleet of tricycles has been developed for the site with produce baskets and chill-bags for refrigerated items, with the bikes free to hire and a cycle track running through the central halls. The site will also offer specialist liquor tastings, cooking lessons and almost 100,000 square feet of space dedicated to the sale of Italian products and an on-site post office to post items home.

JD Wetherspoon to quit Wokingham pub, reopens Taunton venue after £1.4m refurbishment: JD Wetherspoon is to quit The Gig House in Wokingham, Berkshire, after serving a break notice with the landlord. Originally launched as a Lloyds No 1 venue, the pub in Erftstadt Court will cease to be a Wetherspoon venue in September 2018. Signs have gone up outside the pub revealing it is available for let as a restaurant and bar. A JD Wetherspoon spokesman told Wokingham Today: “Wetherspoon has served a break notice with the landlord. The pub will be handed back to the landlord in September 2018. There will be no redundancies – all staff will remain with Wetherspoon.” Meanwhile, the company has reopened the Perkin Warbeck in Taunton, Somerset, following a £1.4m refurbishment. The pub in East Street has been redecorated throughout, with new carpets, dining booths and banquette seating. There is also new lighting, artwork and a feature fireplace, while a rooftop garden has been added to the rear overlooking St Mary Magdalene Church. The kitchen has been extended, while self-service coffee machines have been installed and the bar removed from the back of the building. The project has created an additional 35 jobs, with staff who were redeployed to other Wetherspoon pubs also returning – the pub had been closed since July.

KFC to launch Double Down sandwich in the UK: KFC is to launch its popular Double Down sandwich in the UK on Monday (9 October). The breadless burger features crispy bacon, melted Monterey Jack cheese and barbecue sauce sandwiched between two chicken breast fillets. KFC has received hundreds of tweets and messages in the past calling for the sandwich to be launched in the UK. However, the meal will only be available initially for six weeks. KFC UK & Ireland innovation director Jack Hinchliffe told the Sun: “There’s been so much excitement for the Double Down since it first launched to the US in 2010. It’s sold out in every country it has been released so we’re anticipating it will be a sell-out success here in the UK. Fandom has gone wild over the past few years on social media and we’ve even had reports of our customers taking things into their own hands by hacking the menu to create the sandwich.”

Dartmouth boutique hotel sells from £1.1m guide price: The Browns boutique hotel in Dartmouth, in the South Hams region of south Devon, has been sold to private owners from a guide price of £1.1m. The hotel, which comprised of eight en-suite bedrooms, ground-floor bar and restaurant and three-bedroom owner's flat, has been sold on behalf of a private client by agent Savills.  Located in Victoria Street, the property is less than 150 metres from Dartmouth Harbour. Savills head of UK hotel transactions Martin Rogers said: “We are delighted to have secured a new owner for the well established Browns Hotel. The hotel is well located for visitors to enjoy all that Dartmouth has to offer and is in close proximity to the harbour and the marina.”

Former Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing chef to breathe new life into Cambridgeshire village pub site: An award-winning chef who worked under Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing is to breathe new life into the former Fitzwilliam Arms in the village of Castor in Cambridgeshire. Adebola Adeshina is opening The Chubby Castor at the former Fratelli restaurant, which has been empty for more than three years, reports the Peterborough Telegraph. Adeshina arrives following a three-year stint at The Petersham Restaurant in Richmond, south west London, focusing on modern British cooking, during which the dining experience has regularly been mentioned in food guides – achieving two AA Rosettes for culinary excellence, a Michelin recommendation and a listing in the Good Food Guide. Early in his career, Adeshina spent six years with Ramsay, cooking at the three Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsay Restaurant, and at Petrus under Wareing. He opened his first restaurant aged 24 in Tottenham, which quickly became a foodie destination. Seven years later he moved to another venture – Parsons Restaurant in Essex – winning several awards.

G1 Group gives Glasgow pupils taste of working in hospitality: Scotland’s biggest managed operator G1 Group has been working with two Glasgow schools to provide selected pupils with practical hospitality skills they can use throughout their working life. The candidates were first coached by the HR team in preparation for their interviews and successful applicants went on to train at the company’s Corinthian Club venue in Merchant City. Students could choose to be trained as a member of the kitchen team or work with front-of-house staff. Head chef Stewart Mcallister was on hand to oversee proceedings and guide candidates through their first taste of life in a busy city kitchen. Meanwhile, front-of-house employees were taught the importance of presentation and etiquette as well as practising hosting their own events, which are scheduled to take place on 22 and 30 November. G1 Group head of talent and development Rachel James said: “As a company, we are thrilled to be able to work so closely with the local community providing real skills and opportunities to the young people of Glasgow. This is a programme that we and the students have relished and we look forward to running the course again in the future.”

Nottingham-based cat cafe to start expansion with Leeds opening in December, plans franchise roll-out: Nottingham-based Kitty Cafe is to open its second cat cafe, in Leeds, in December, with plans to roll-out the concept across the UK under franchise. Kate Charles-Richards launched the concept with husband Oliver Richards in March 2015, with the cafe in Friar Lane doubling as a rehoming centre and attracting more than 80,000 visitors a year. It has about 30 cats at any time roaming around diners, and finds new homes for between three and ten felines every week. The new venue will open on Monday, 11 December at a former Yorkshire Bank branch in Kirkgate. The cafe was originally scheduled to open in August but plans were delayed by renovation work. Charles-Richards told the Nottingham Post: “Our aim is to have a franchise and Leeds is part of the pilot scheme. There are 69 cities in the UK and our aim is to have a Kitty Cafe in every one. We have a time-frame of more than 50 company-owned franchises in five years. There are other cat cafes but we’re considerably larger and the only one that rehomes at the moment.”

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