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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 19th Oct 2017 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

UK’s night-time industry faces conundrum of balancing entertainment costs, says Deltic Group chief: Peter Marks, chief executive of The Deltic Group, the UK’s largest operator of premium late-night bars and clubs, has told the Bar and Nightclub Conference one of the biggest conundrums the UK’s night-time industry faces is that of balancing entertainment costs against sales. He said consumers wanted “more and more and more” but companies “couldn’t pass on costs”. Quoting analyst Mark Brumby, who said the fundamental thing about experience was “it’s all well and good to spend money on experience but you’re making your money out of food, drinks and admission charges”, Marks said: “The conundrum for me is the consumer wants more and more and more – I get it – and there are competitive pressures around consumers wanting more and more and more. The Deltic Group is spending £2m on entertainment this year (up from £1.4m the previous year). We can’t pass that cost on so somewhere we’ve got to get that balance right. I always like to look for 20p in every £1 being profit. The reason? I then need to spend another 5p on my head office, another 5p on reinvestment and a further 5p on paying for finance. As a sector, 15 years ago we would have been making probably 30p in the pound but we’d be doing a lot more refurbishments. The Deltic Group at the end of this year will probably end up around 17p or 18p and that’s quite common these days, but we’re at that equilibrium now where we can’t keep throwing entertainment in. We can’t put prices up because it would appear consumers are going to be put off. Yes, experience is important but you can’t be ‘betting the farm’ and end up slowly sinking without trace because you haven’t got money to pay for a refurbishment or pay the bank back.” Propel managing director Paul Charity asked Marks that with Deltic’s predicted spend on entertainment this year rising 50% and with like-for-likes up 3.8% during the period, where had the company found the extra money? Marks replied: “In simple terms, more sales. We’re a very different business to the guys running the US businesses (large Las Vegas nightclubs) – that’s in another league. We’re up against bars and private operators in this country and we’ve got deeper pockets than most. Our business doesn’t rely on entertainment but we think it’s an important part of making us stand aside from the bars and gives us the USP.” Earlier this week, The Deltic Group told Revolution Bars Group it was still willing to talk about a proposed merger after the latter’s shareholders rejected a £101.5m takeover bid by Stonegate Pub Company.

Industry News:

US restaurant like-for-likes fall 0.6% in September: US restaurant like-for-like sales fell 0.6% in September as hurricanes Irma and Harvey put pressure on revenue in major markets, according to the latest MillerPulse restaurant index. Larry Miller, co-founder of the report, said storms hurt like-for-like sales by 40 basis points in August and September respectively, when storms pounded major markets in Texas and Florida. But even without the storm effects, he said the results were still weak. Like-for-like sales remain historically low, declining for 13 of the past 16 months as the restaurant industry faces its worst period since 2009. On a two-year basis, like-for-like sales fell 0.9%. Two-year like-for-like sales, which factor out one-time events such as weather, have been down three of the past five months. Miller told Nation’s Restaurant News: “The past two years are some of the weakest years on record, other than the recession.” Industry like-for-like sales peaked at 5.3% in January 2015 and have been gradually slowing since. The issue is mostly visits, meaning restaurants are luring fewer customers. Like-for-like visits declined 2.3% in September – the 19th straight monthly decline and the 29th decline in 32 months. Miller said he believed restaurants could improve their results by showing some “restraint” on construction. He added: “There are always going to be guys growing. Show some restraint. If the industry can manage (unit) growth below 2% that seems to be the number the industry can handle and you see broader success.”

BBPA backs tough approach from government over rates relief for pubs: British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds has backed the tough approach from the government in naming councils that are failing to distribute much-needed business rates relief to pubs and other small businesses. The Department for Communities and Local Government initiative is a response to many local authorities not making enough progress in distributing business rates reliefs announced in the Budget in March. The BBPA has also produced a template letter for pubs to send to local councils to make sure they are receiving the reliefs to which they are entitled. Simmonds said: “Delays from local councils are inexcusable. If some councils can get their rates relief fully up and running, all should be able to do the same. For those that have begun rebilling, the process of getting the reliefs to pubs needs to be sorted out as quickly as possible.”

Fourth partners with CGA and Prestige Purchasing for insights collaboration: Hospitality data and software specialists Fourth, CGA and Prestige Purchasing have joined forces to provide unique insights into the sector’s food and drink inflation and sales performance. The companies will compare inflationary goods while revealing how a customer’s business is performing against the overall market. The partnership will integrate data from the CGA Prestige Foodservice Price Index into Fourth Analytics along with market data from the Coffer Peach Business Tracker. It will enable businesses to see how they are performing against the market across a number of variables, while allowing them to cross-reference prices they have paid for different products. For example, a business could see if it has been purchasing meat during the past 12 months in line with the market price. If not, the Fourth Analytics dashboard can also determine how much money they could have saved and how this affected their bottom line. Fourth chief operating officer Simon Bocca said: “Times are tough for operators with a perfect storm of rising costs, such as the National Living Wage, business rates and Brexit battering the industry. This partnership will give operators complete transparency of performance, allowing them to understand the impact these factors are having on their bottom line.” CGA vice-president Peter Martin added: “Tracking, analysing and benchmarking personal business performance against the markets you operate in is imperative to overcoming the troublesome climate all hospitality operators currently face. This partnership not only makes that easier but takes it to the next level.” Prestige Purchasing chief executive David Read said: “The upward leap in food and drink inflation in 2017 has shone a light on the performance of procurement teams and peaked the interest of boardrooms throughout our sector. Fourth’s ability to match CGA Prestige FPI to each client’s live data is a really exciting development, enabling transparency of every client’s performance against the market.”

Plans for £50m regeneration of Hertford shopping centre featuring riverside cafes and restaurants gets go-ahead: Plans for the £50m redevelopment of Bircherley Green Shopping Centre in Hertford, which will feature riverside cafes and restaurants, have been given the go-ahead. Owner Diageo Pension Trust has been granted permission by East Herts District Council for the 2.5-acre mixed-use scheme by the River Lea. The 1980s shopping centre will be replaced with a development anchored by an 86-bedroom Whitbread-owned Premier Inn hotel alongside 4,800 square metres of retail, cafes and restaurants; 70 new apartments; and refurbishment of a car park and bus station. The new shopping centre will create larger, flexible retail floor space, including riverfront cafe and restaurant units. Construction is scheduled to begin next year.

Butlins chief calls for new UK government tourism department: British Hospitality Association vice-chairman and Butlins boss Dermot King has called for tourism to have its own separate ministry and portfolio. Speaking at Hospitality Exchange, a summit of industry leaders in Northern Ireland, King also said the UK-wide industry had taken its “eye off the ball” to allow a tourism VAT differential with other EU countries, including the Republic of Ireland. King, who is also chairman of the Cut Tourism VAT campaign, said tourism spend per head in the Republic was three times that of Northern Ireland, largely driven by the VAT difference – 9% versus 20%. On his call for a tourism department, King said the word was not even in the title of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, even though it was such an important part of the UK economy, providing millions of jobs. Tourism was “too low-level a portfolio”, he said.

Wolverhampton council plans to limit city’s hot food takeaways: New planning guidance could be introduced to limit the number of hot food takeaways in Wolverhampton. City of Wolverhampton Council said the proportion of hot food takeaways in and around the West Midlands city was significantly higher than the national average and it wished to manage the number of new takeaways opening. The measures would also restrict new takeaways from opening within walking distance of secondary schools as the local authority looks to tackle child obesity levels in the city. The council said research showed there was more than one hot food takeaway per 1,000 people in Wolverhampton; nationally the average is 0.86. The proposed guidance would only affect new Class A5 hot food takeaways such as drive-thrus, Chinese and Indian takeaways, and pizza, fried chicken, burger, and fish and chip shops. Cabinet member for city economy John Reynolds told The Business Desk: “National guidelines make it clear that retail should be the dominant feature of shopping centres, not fast food outlets, and in many parts of our city that is not the case.” If the draft planning guidance is approved, it will be subject to a six-week consultation period.

Company News:

Darwin & Wallace secures sixth site, in Wimbledon: Bar group Darwin & Wallace, which is backed by Imbiba, has secured its sixth site, in Wimbledon, south west London. The company will open the venue in The Broadway, adjacent to the tube and railway station, in the spring. The new site will feature an all-day casual bar dining experience with a menu of cocktails and drinks plus locally sourced food. The site’s design will celebrate its locality and residential neighbourhood and feature a terrace for year-round alfresco dining. The space will take inspiration from the Danish “hygge” phenomenon. Managing director Mel Marriott said: “After a long hunt for the perfect spot for Darwin & Wallace in Wimbledon, I am delighted to have finally found this wonderful space, centrally located and adjacent to the station in the midst of Wimbledon’s vibrant town centre. The large external terrace will be an excellent year-round feature and we are extremely excited to bring our passion for great food and drink and unique interiors to this gorgeous leafy London village.” In its sixth year, the group first opened No 11 Pimlico Road in 2012, followed by No 32 The Old Town in 2014, No 1a Duke Street in Richmond in late 2015, and fourth site No 197 Chiswick Fire Station, which opened in April 2016. Its fifth venue, No 29 Power Station West, launched in July this year next to Battersea Power Station.

Andrew Brownsword Hotels reports ‘satisfactory’ results despite blaze at Exeter site: The portfolio of luxury hotels owned by businessman Andrew Brownsword has reported “satisfactory” results despite a fire that destroyed the historic Royal Clarence Hotel in Exeter. The hotel, thought to be the oldest in the UK, partially collapsed following a fire that broke out in an adjacent building in Cathedral Green in October 2016. Plans have been submitted to rebuild the hotel, which include accommodation and a food and beverage offering similar to that provided before the blaze. Accounts filed at Companies House for Andrew Brownsword Hotels showed turnover fell to £17,909,655 for the year ending 1 January 2017, compared with £18,808,229 the previous year. Exceptional costs of £5,747,759 were incurred following the fire, while £22,315,000 has so far been received through the insurance settlement. As a result, pre-tax profit was £15,433,512 compared with £302,443 the year before. The company stated: “The board of directors are pleased with sales for the period, with accommodation sales performing particularly well. Overall the results for the period as a whole are satisfactory.” Andrew Brownsword Hotels operates Gidleigh Park in Devon, The Bath Priory, Lower Slaughter Manor, The Slaughters Country Inn and Buckland Manor in the Cotswolds, Sydney House in Chelsea, and Amberley Castle in West Sussex. It also runs venues in Chester, Manchester, Glasgow and Canterbury city centres under the Abode Hotels brand. The Royal Clarence Hotel had traded as Abode Exeter. In 2016, the group acquired The Old Swan & Minster Mill in Oxfordshire, which became the 13th property in its portfolio.

Itsu secures London Bridge site: Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain created by Pret A Manger co-founder Julian Metcalfe, is to open a site in London Bridge. The company has secured a 2,270 square foot unit in The Retail Arcade after agreeing a new 15-year lease. Located in Shard Quarter – home to The Shard, News UK’s headquarters and Shard Place – The Retail Arcade connects The Shard with London Bridge underground station. Michael Baker, chief executive of Real Asset Management UK, asset manager of The Retail Arcade, told BDaily: “Our vision for Shard Quarter was for it to become a multi-use development that offers amenities and attractions alongside versatile office space. London Bridge is already well-known for its culinary credentials and Itsu will further add to its range of options – a welcome addition for the area’s professionals and visitors.” Itsu has about 70 sites in the UK, with the majority in London.

Street food restaurant The Good Egg extends £500,000 crowdfunding campaign by fortnight to open second site: Street food restaurant The Good Egg has extended its £500,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube by a fortnight as it seeks to open a second site, in Soho. Founder Joel Abraham opened his first venue in 2015 in Stoke Newington after raising £182,000 from investors via Crowdcube. He has returned to the crowdfunding platform to raise £500,000 in return for an 18.18% equity stake as he aims to bring the all-day neighbourhood “Montreal deli meets Israeli street food offer” to Soho’s Kingly Court. So far, 248 investors have pledged £398,530 with 16 days remaining. Abraham said: “We’re currently speaking with a number of investors to get our campaign over the finish line and into overfunding so, on careful consideration, we’ve decided to extend our campaign beyond our original deadline of Friday this week (20 October). The new deadline is 11.59pm on Friday, 3 November. The more money we crowdfund, the bigger the reserve we’ll have to open the third outlet in 2019, ultimately accelerating growth and increasing long-term profitability and valuation.” The pitch states: “We’ve now secured a 100-plus-seater site in the West End to feature a bakery and retail area that serves Israeli-inspired baked goods and extended brunch and dinner menus for eat-in, takeaway and delivery. Funds raised will be used for capex and pre-opening costs for our second restaurant site. We plan an exit in three years, when the group has three restaurants.”

Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts forced to change name of new restaurant venture: Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts has been forced to change the name of its new restaurant venture. The company, which brought Michelin-starred Jamavar to Mount Street in Mayfair in December, is launching its venue in Mount Street next month. It was due to be called Dabbawala, taking its name from the dabbawalas of Mumbai, men who traditionally used the city’s railway network to deliver home-cooked meals across the city. However, it will now be called Bombay Bustle because there is an existing restaurant with a similar name. Bombay Bustle will still take its design lead from the trains on Mumbai’s network, being long and thin in shape with seating inspired by an old first-class railway coach. Jamavar’s executive chef Rohit Ghai will lead the kitchen, offering food inspired by Mumbai and its surrounding areas with a focus on family recipes passed down by his mother, as well as the lunch boxes co-founder Samyukta Nair enjoyed during her time at school in Mumbai. Much of the food will be sharing dishes based on Indian dabbas – tiered, tiffin-style lunchboxes used to carry the food during delivery, which in turn leant dabbawalas their name. Ghai said: “Bombay Bustle will capture the essence of Mumbai, our love of home comforts and our rapid pace of life existing side by side.”

Smith & Sinclair to launch multi­sensory experience combining art and alcohol: Smith & Sinclair, the edible cocktail retailer, is to launch a multi­sensory experience next month that combines art and alcohol. The company will bring The Flavour Gallery to the Hoxton Basement in Hoxton Street from Thursday, 9 November to Sunday, 17 September. It will invite the public to “tickle a taste and suck a scent by consuming art in ways they never imagined”. The Flavour Gallery will feature artists that include Terry Pastor, London Loom and Anja Predojevic, each commissioned to create interactive artwork that will change colour, diffuse smells and react to its audience. The Flavour Gallery will showcase a range of bespoke cocktails in partnership with liqueur experts Lanique and a range of non-alcoholic cocktails using soft drinks from Firefly. Smith & Sinclair co-founder Melanie Goldsmith said: “We’ve been wanting to play with the ‘gallery construct’ since we started producing our own activations. Art is supposed to be something you consume individually and it’s frustrating when you go to an amazing installation and go to touch the piece – as you want it to react to you – and you can’t because it’s ‘art’. Well times are changing and we’ve curated a space for guests to play and engage in a multitude of ways.” Smith & Sinclair will also launch an edible cocktail bar at John Lewis’ Oxford Street store in London from Friday, 27 October until January.

Oxford-based operators acquire former Maxwell’s Bar & Grill site for second venue: Oxford-based bar operators Rob Opher and Al Thompson have acquired their second site. Opher and Thompson, who run Thirst bar in Park End Street, have taken on the lease of Maxwell’s Bar & Grill in Queen Street. The site, which closed in April after running as an American diner-style restaurant by day and nightclub by night for almost 40 years, will be renamed Hank’s. Its new owners said the American vibe would continue, starting out as a late-night bar serving cocktails, burgers and beer. Opher told the Oxford Times: “The footfall in the city centre will increase as a result of the (Westgate) shopping centre opening and we see that as an opportunity.” Maxwell’s Bar & Grill chain was launched by Brian Stein in Hampstead, north London, in the early 1970s. The branch in Queen Street opened in the 1980s.

Three Cheers Pub Co to open ninth London site next month, second with Ei Group: Three Cheers Pub Co, led by Tom Peake, Mark Reynolds and Nick Fox, is to open its ninth pub – The Princess Victoria in Shepherd’s Bush – next month. The venue is the second acquisition for Six Cheers, its managed expert partnership with Ei Managed Investments, and the company’s first venue in west London. The early 19th century pub, which was once owned by Richard Branson, is being transformed inside and out, with a new front terrace added to the courtyard garden. The site in Uxbridge Road, which opens on Wednesday, 8 November, will accommodate 150 covers downstairs with 96 outside and a first-floor function room seating 70. The menu will concentrate on British produce with a focus on Scotch eggs, British charcuterie, puff-pastry pies, artisan pizza and flatbread. The drinks menu will reflect the pub’s history as a gin palace by stocking more than 100 gins and 40 beers. Three Cheers Pub Co was formerly known as Renaissance Pubs.

Canal Brasserie co-founder Alex Giri to launch ‘flexitarian’ restaurant in Notting Hill: Alex Giri, who co-launched West London’s Canal Brasserie 30 years ago, is to open a new “flexitarian” venture with her son in Notting Hill. Giri will launch grilled meat, fish and vegetarian concept 184 Green and Grill next month in Kensington Park Road. Its self-dubbed “flexitarian” menu will aim to cater for groups where “one person will want a steak but someone else will be vegetarian”. The restaurant will be spread over two floors with a subterranean cocktail bar downstairs offering sharing plates. Peter Tonge, who honed his grilling skills at Barbecoa and also worked at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and at Tom Aikens, will be the venue’s head chef. Giri, who is heading the venture with son Oscar, is one half of the husband-and-wife team that opened Canal Brasserie in the 1980s. She told Hot Dinners: “It was touch and go back then which would be first, the restaurant opening or my son Oscar arriving! I’m incredibly proud, 30 years later, to be going into business with him.”

Cocktails and wings concept Bunk secures fourth site with Nottingham venue, eyes further expansion: Cocktails and wings concept Bunk has secured its fourth and largest venue – in the centre of Nottingham – and is eyeing further expansion. The company, which revealed earlier this week it was launching in Derby, is set to open in the 3,000 square foot basement of the Hydrogen Building – the student accommodation block in Nottingham city centre. The deal for Bunk’s new venue in Wollaton Street was brokered by Box Property, whose director Frankie Labbate told The Business Desk: “With the new Derby site also secured in recent days, this takes the brand to four bars regionally with hopefully more to follow in 2018.” Bunk has signed a ten-year lease to open  a venue in Sadler Gate, Derby, while it currently operates two sites in Nottingham – in Stoney Street and Lower Parliament Street.

Experienced restaurant and bar manager acquires Brighton-based burger restaurant Coggings & Co: Experienced London-based restaurant and bar manager David Stock has acquired Brighton-based burger restaurant Coggings & Co. Stock has bought the leasehold of the property from Kitchen Restaurants in a deal brokered by agent Fleurets. The restaurant, which is in the Seven Dials area of Brighton and Hove, focuses on locally and ethically sourced produce and has accumulated a number of awards since its inception in 2014. It also has a large garden patio for alfresco dining. Stock said: “I aim to add some new energy and diversity into the restaurant while keeping true to the brand’s ethos of using local suppliers, offering dietary alternatives, and remaining part of the ‘Food Made Good’ awards from the Sustainable Restaurant Association.” Kitchenware Restaurants added: “We are delighted to have sold to Dave, who loves the brand we have created and wants to take it to the next level.”

Burger brand Bleecker opens third site, in Bloomberg Arcade: Burger restaurant concept Bleecker has opened its third site, at the new Bloomberg Arcade in the City of London. The venue, which is its biggest to date, has 40 seats inside and 20 outside. Diners at the new restaurant can enjoy popular Bleecker offerings such as the double cheeseburger (double American cheese, double beef), and Angry Fries, which come doused in hot sauce and blue cheese sauce. The Bleecker Black burger features Clonakilty black pudding, while the drinks list includes wine and craft beer. All beef is dry-aged for about 45 days and sourced from grass-fed, rarebreed cattle. Bleecker has joined other operators at Bloomberg Arcade that include Brigadiers, a new concept by JKS Restaurants; Hawaiian poké specialist Ahi Poké; and wine bar, restaurant and wine shop Vinoteca. Bleecker, which was founded by Zan Kaufman in 2012, is named after the thoroughfare in New York that connects the East Village to the West Village. It launched its first permanent site in Old Spitalfields Market in 2014 before opening a second outlet, in Victoria, earlier this year. Kaufman told Just Opened London: “Opening in the City was always the plan for Bleecker. We have finally have arrived in the Square Mile. Opening in the Bloomberg building is the icing on top. Mr Bloomberg is an American icon. I feel privileged to be a member of his community in London.”

Self-service wine bar based on Vagabond to launch in Nottingham, owner plans further sites: A self-service wine bar concept based on the format of Vagabond is to launch in Nottingham this month with its owner already planning further expansion. Another? Wine Bar is the brainchild of Sam Benjamin, who has spent the past decade working on brand and product development in the food and drink industry. The bar, which is based in a former office building in the Trinity Square area, will span 1,000 feet and seat 60 people. A roof terrace and outdoor garden are planned to be added in the spring. The concept, which launches on Friday, 27 October, echoes the format of Vagabond in London, with customers serving themselves from specialist tasting machines. Another? Wine Bar will offer a choice of 32 reds, whites, rosés, sparkling wines, prosecco and vintage champagnes in 25ml, 125ml and 175ml measures. Customers will use their own personal tab card to activate one of the three machines. The total amount spent is clearly visible each time a glass is poured and the ‘tab’ is paid at the end of the visit. Benjamin said: “Nottingham has one of the most supported independent leisure scenes in the country so it’s the ideal location to start what I believe is a hugely scalable brand. Plans are already in place for more venues.” 

Stonegate Pub Company to relaunch Croydon pub with focus on local music talent: Stonegate Pub Company is transforming the Green Dragon in Croydon High Street to focus on the area’s musical talent. The pub, part of the company’s Town, Pub & Kitchen division, will reopen on Thursday, 9 November following a £300,000 refurbishment. The new design will include a craft beer wall, industrial finishes, neon lights, gaming consoles, and a Magic Eye Visual Display. The new first-floor stage has been designed to attract the next generation of Croydon musicians, with performances live-streamed around the pub. Open-mic evenings on Thursdays will lead to the most impressive artists getting paid weekend slots in a bid to support emerging artists and anchor the pub in the local music scene. The pub, which has been in the Good Beer Guide since 2012, has extended its choice of ale and craft beer and added six Lilly ciders. The new food menu will feature 11 varieties of sourdough pizza, wagyu beef burgers wrapped in paper to continue the steaming process, and a mix of British and Mediterranean tapas. General manager Susan Quinn said: “We’re bringing the pub into the modern day, adding a real Croydon focus with an independence that enables us to have relevance locally.” 

Conviviality appoints new chief financial officer: Conviviality, the UK alcohol wholesaler serving consumers through the on-trade and through its franchise retail estate, has reported chief financial officer Andrew Humphreys is to leave the company. Humphreys, who has been with the company for three years, will step down on Monday, 30 October and will depart after a period of handover to his successor. He will be replaced by Mark Moran, who was previously chief financial officer of private equity-owned Priory Healthcare Group before its acquisition by Acadia Healthcare in 2016. Conviviality chief executive Diana Hunter said: “We are hugely grateful for Andrew’s contribution to Conviviality, having played a key role in the company’s significant growth, including his pivotal roles in the Matthew Clark and Bibendum PLB acquisitions. We are delighted to welcome Mark to the company and look forward to him supporting and contributing to the company’s further development as the UK’s leading independent wholesaler and distributor of alcohol.”

Cashless concept Killer Tomato starts expansion with Portobello Road launch for second west London site: Cashless concept Killer Tomato has started expansion by opening a second west London site, this time in Portobello Road. Initially a street food trader, founder Matt Paice opened the first permanent Killer Tomato site in Shepherd’s Bush in July last year. The Portobello Road restaurant is larger than the debut site, with room for 40 diners, but also operates a no-booking policy. The concept offers Mexican dishes such as burritos with fillings including pork belly and crackling, and tacos with fillings such as cheeseburger and Korean sticky fried chicken. The drinks list features cocktails, including Tommy’s Margaritas, a variation on the drink invented by the owner of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco, The Handbook reports.

Glendola Leisure concept Waxy O’Connor’s scoops four awards: Glendola Leisure, which is led by Alex Salussolia, has scooped four accolades in the Irish Pubs Global Awards. The company’s Waxy O’Connor’s concept took the title of Irish Pub of the Year in the UK, while its London site won best Irish whiskey experience and its Glasgow venue was named best food experience. Meanwhile, Waxy’s Little Sister London won best cocktail experience for its Irish coffee. Salussolia said: “These awards are a real opportunity to shine a light on the very best operators in Irish hospitality from around the world, while recognising the best products, service and individuals responsible for ensuring the delivery of these is second to none. Waxy O’Connor’s is an iconic business that was actually the pioneer of ‘superpubs’ in the mid-1990s and has led the way since, delivering the best of Irish hospitality for more than 22 years. When you’re inside, you’ve got the warmth, the welcome and the music – and that’s all you need.” The Irish Pubs Global Awards ceremony was hosted by the Irish Pubs Global Federation at Mansion House in Dublin. Regarding the original Waxy O’Connor site in Leicester Square, which saw an investment of £720,000 to open, Salussolia said: “It has been a fabulous business for us. It returned its investment in cash within ten months of opening.” 

Talash Hotels Group acquires Telford venue for 13th site: Talash Hotels Group has acquired The Mercure Telford Madeley Court Hotel in Telford, Shropshire, for an undisclosed sum. The company, run by brothers Sanjay and Ravi Kathuria, has acquired the site from Focus Management Hotels after securing funding from Barclays. It is the sixth acquisition by Talash Hotels Group in the past 13 months, and brings the total number of hotels in the group to 13. Sanjay Kathuria told the Shropshire Star: “We clearly believe there is opportunity for growth in our recent acquisition. We are very much a hands-on management team and look forward to enhancing and promoting this beautiful historic building and the facilities it has to offer. We’re well on track to build a group of 20 hotels by 2020.”

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