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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 25th Oct 2017 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Hotcha ceases trading following suspected £35m tax fraud and money laundering investigation: Hotcha, which vowed to become the “Domino’s Pizza of the Chinese takeaway market”, has ceased trading following an investigation into a suspected £35m tax fraud and money laundering. The company, which was founded in 2011 by James Liang and Andy Chan, traded from 13 outlets located in the M4 corridor. It had its head office in Bristol, which acted as a warehouse central kitchen and group administration function. Arron Kendall and Simon Thomas from Moorfields were appointed as joint administrators of Hotcha and Hotcha Group on 18 October. The administrators said the business had ceased to trade and made all 145 staff redundant prior to their appointment, following an investigation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Moorfields is currently marketing the business and assets for sale with a deadline set for Monday (30 October). The closure followed the investigation by HMRC. More than 80 officers from HMRC searched three private and 12 business addresses in Bath, Bournemouth, Bristol, Berkshire, Exeter, Stroud, Swindon and Yate on 4 October. Seven men and three women were arrested and computers and business records were also seized during the operation. Those arrested were interviewed by HMRC and released under investigation, which remains ongoing. In October last year, Hotcha sealed £7.5m investment from Beechbrook Capital to fund national expansion plans. At the time Liang said: “What fascinates me is that before us, there was no national player in the Chinese takeaway market, even though it is twice the size of the pizza delivery market.” In September 2015, the company withdrew its £1m mini-bond offer on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after receiving three investment offers from private equity and institutional lenders. At the time of the withdrawal, the bond had raised £600,000. The company turned over £6m in the year to March 31 2016 and generated Ebitda of £1m.

Industry News:

Propel launches sector’s most comprehensive marketing conference: Propel has launched the most comprehensive marketing conference the sector has seen with a two-day event. Restaurant Marketer & Innovator, in partnership with Think Hospitality, will take place on Wednesday, 17 January and Thursday, 18 January at One Moorgate Place in London. The two-day event will bring together marketers, strategists and business leaders from the foodservice sector to understand trends, share success and define the future of the sector. A total of 40 speakers from four countries, representing more than 30 brands, will provide advice and insight. They include Pizza Hut Restaurants, Wagamama, Costa Coffee, Las Iguanas, Cabana, Mitchells & Butlers, New World Trading Company, Thaikhun, Revolution Bars Group, The Breakfast Club, Pho, Giggling Squid and Claus Meyer Restaurants. The first day, curated and moderated by James Hacon, will include senior marketing executives from Cabana, New World Trading Company and Las Iguanas revealing their strategies for 2018, sharing their successes from 2017 and giving a glimpse of how marketing is managed at their companies. There will also be an exclusive insight report from Roger Perowne, of Morar HPI, on how diners make decisions. The second day, curated and moderated by Ann Elliott, will feature insights and strategy development from companies including Wagamama, Mitchells & Butlers, Costa Coffee, Pizza Hut, Revolution Bars Group, YO! Sushi, Darwin & Wallace, Giggling Squid, The Breakfast Club and Albion & East. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “We are delighted to partner with Think Hospitality to launch the most comprehensive and stimulating marketing conference the sector has seen. The changing landscape of the food and beverage sector, with the exponential growth of multi-site brands and companies, has seen marketing become an ever more important part of the sector. This two-day conference will provide attendees with a multitude of insights and perspectives as 2018 gets underway.” Prices for the two days are £525 plus VAT for operators and £795 plus VAT for suppliers. A one-day rate of £345 plus VAT is available to operators only. To book, please click here. For more information or any queries please contact either Jo Charity on 01444 810304 or or Anne Steele on 01444 817691 or

Fiona Dickie hired as deputy Pubs Code adjudicator: The secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, Greg Clark, has appointed Fiona Dickie as deputy Pubs Code adjudicator who will support the Pubs Code adjudicator, Paul Newby, in enforcing the Pubs Code. Newby said: “I am delighted to welcome Fiona Dickie to the team. Fiona’s 12 years’ judicial experience, including in complex and high-value cases, will be the perfect foundation to her role as deputy Pubs Code adjudicator. I look forward to working with her to improve conditions for tied tenants up and down the country.” Dickie added: “I look forward to using my legal background to offer a just and proportionate resolution to disputes, and to ensuring compliance with the code to support a fair, thriving pubs industry and the local communities they serve. I encourage all interested parties to work with the Pubs Code adjudicator.” Dickie will take up her role on Wednesday, 1 November, working four days per week. She will be based in Birmingham. Dickie was called to the bar in 1993. She has been a vice-president of the Valuation Tribunal for England since July 2009, and was appointed judge of First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) in 2013 after serving as a lawyer chairman of its predecessor tribunal from 2006. She was accredited as a civil mediator by the Alternative Dispute Resolution Group in 2005. She was also appointed as a Road User Charging adjudicator in 2004, and appointed as an examiner of the court in the same year.

Pub delivery firm mulls festive shutdown: London’s pubs are facing the prospect of not having their beer delivered this festive season as Britain’s biggest union mulls strike action. Unite has claimed Deutsche Post-owned DHL, which took on the contract of delivering Carlsberg’s products across the capital earlier this month, is forcing drivers to work in “appalling” conditions. A lack of organisation at the depot has meant many workers are working up to a 15-hour day, the union said. Alongside Carlsberg, other brands that could be left undelivered include beers from SA Brain, Coors and Greene King. Unite regional officer Paul Travers told City AM: “We have had talks with senior management at DHL Tradeteam, but it is deaf to our legitimate concerns. We are putting down a strong marker that deliveries in the run-up to the Christmas period will be drastically affected across London and the south east – there will be a lot of unhappy thirsty customers at pubs, clubs and restaurants.” Unite said before balloting members it would give DHL one last chance to avert strike action. Travers added: “Before the industrial action ballot process starts, the management has a window of opportunity to sit down and hold constructive talks with Unite to reach a fair settlement with realistic expectations of what our members can achieve during the working day.” 

Company News:

Rosa’s London reports turnover and Ebitda boost: Rosa’s London, which operates Rosa’s Thai Cafe and Saiphin’s Thai Kitchen, has reported a turnover and Ebitda boost. The company, led by husband and wife team Alex and Saiphin Moore, saw turnover increase to £8,197,992 for the year ending 31 March 2017 compared with £5,503,585 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Ebitda was up to £1,380,000 compared with £815,000 the year before. Pre-tax profit rose to £722,496 compared with £313,373 the previous year. The company currently operates ten sites in London and is set to make its regional debut next year, in Liverpool. The company stated: “The company’s strategy is to continue to invest in earnings enhancing sites in London and across the UK, while investing in the teams and processes needed to support that growth. At the same time the business is focused on driving like-for-like performance in existing restaurants by maintaining and leveraging the quality of its offering. During the period the company opened two new sites, in Victoria and Brixton, and since the year end a further two sites have opened in West Hampstead and Seven Dials, taking the total to ten sites. The pipeline for sites remains strong and the company expects to open two additional sites during the first quarter of the 2017/2018 financial year. One of these is likely to be the first site outside London. In addition, the directors continue to review a number of possible sites, both in and outside London.” The number of staff increased to 144 compared with 98 the year before.

Stevie Parle to open Carnaby pasta restaurant next week for fifth site: Stevie Parle, who operates London restaurants Dock Kitchen, Rotorino, Craft London and Sardine, is to open a pasta restaurant in Carnaby next week for his fifth site in the capital. Pastaio will open on the site of the former Asian fusion noodle bar Cha Cha Moon in Ganton Street on Monday, 30 October. Pastaio is Italian for someone who makes pasta by hand and the venue will be dedicated to the ingredient made freshly on-site. Dishes will include grouse, rabbit and pork agnoli alongside small bites such as a fried mozzarella sandwich and anchovy-stuffed pepperoncini. The 70-cover restaurant will also offer three communal terrazzo tables and feature colourful murals designed to make diners “feel like you’re on holiday in Bologna”. It is being designed by Tom Dixon Studios, which has been involved in all Parle’s restaurants. 

Lasan chef-director to step down: Birmingham-based restaurant group Lasan has announced chef-director Aktar Islam is stepping down to pursue other opportunities in the industry. Business partner Jabbar Khan launched Lasan in the Jewellery Quarter in 2002 with £11,000 in his pocket. Since then, the group has expanded into an £8m business, which includes Fiesta del Asado, Nosh & Quaff, Raja Monkey Cafe and Izza Pizza in Selfridges. Khan told the Birmingham Mail: “Aktar’s a personal friend and it’s been great working with him over the years. It’s been a pleasure working with Aktar and I wish him every success as he moves on to fresh challenges.” Islam added: “I’ve decided it’s time to branch out to achieve my own personal and professional goals and I’m excited at the opportunities that lie ahead.” Its eponymous site is currently closed for refurbishment but will reopen on Friday (27 October). A statement from the restaurant group said: “We don’t want to give too much away at present, but you can expect a stunning and more spacious interior and a new menu to match.”

Riley’s goes live with Feed It Back: Riley’s, the 25-strong national group of sports bars, has gone live with Feed It Back, the EPOS-linked guest feedback service, at all its sites. Feed It Back is the only guest feedback system that integrates in real time with Zonal’s Aztec EPOS system, among others, enabling feedback questions to be personalised to the guest’s visit. Riley’s managing director Steve Thick said: “It is critical that we evolve the way we engage with our members to focus on delivering greater value and a memorable experience to every member. Feed It Back will help us to achieve this by giving us the intelligence to make the best decisions.” Operations director Carl Stock added: “We are fortunate to have a large number of loyal members, who visit us frequently. We want to measure how and why they value their experience and discover the changes we can make to widen the appeal for other members and non-members alike.” Feed It Back chief executive Carlo Platia said: “Riley’s is committed to building a new foundation to secure the long-term success of its brand by delivering greater value and quality to their members. Brands that succeed in future will gather the best intelligence to support their decision making and Feed It Back’s role it to place that intelligence at our customers’ fingertips.” 

New app launches offering half-price meals in return for homeless charity donation: A new smartphone app offering up to 50% off food and drink at restaurants and bars, and raising money for homeless charities in the process, has been launched. The Dealer App gives users access to exclusive deals and has launched in Manchester, Liverpool, Swansea and Cambridge – giving customers the chance to pass on some of their savings as a helping hand to their local homeless charity. Customers simply choose a deal within the app, arrive at the venue and get staff to enter their unique pin code. The app then gives diners the opportunity to return a small amount of the money they have saved back to charities fighting homelessness. More than 250 restaurants have joined the platform ahead of the launch. Donations made via the app will be given to homeless charities in the region they are made. The Dealer App director Edward Alun-Jones said: “The Dealer aims to solve the problem of empty seats in restaurants and turn them into revenue, by offering customers irresistible discounts on food and drink in their favourite restaurants and bars – in return we ask for a small donation and for users to return some of their savings back to charities fighting homelessness in the local community. Giving back is optional but the discounts are available every day. We ask people to give only when they feel they can.”

Danish-born restaurateur Soren Jessen to open second London site: Danish-born restaurateur Soren Jessen is to open his second site in London. Jessen, who is behind City restaurant 1 Lombard Street, is launching Ekte Nordic Kitchen at the Bloomberg Arcade. The restaurant, which will open in April, will see Jessen going back to his Nordic roots. Dishes will include new potato salad with smoked mayo, fried onion and toasted rye crumbs; and seared pepper venison with preserved plums, apple pistachio and almonds. There will also be smørrebrød sandwiches and Scandinavian pastries. The glass-fronted 60-seat space will also feature an outdoor seating area for up to 20. Jessen said: “It is a privilege to be included in the magnificent new Norman Foster building. Ekte will complement the other food outlets, with our modern design plans and our repertoire of Nordic classic cuisine, plus some fun, casual menus for takeaway. City workers and Londoners in general are in for a culinary treat with the launch of Bloomberg Arcade.” Jessen launched 1 Lombard Street in 1998.

Antipodea secures third site, in Richmond: Antipodea, the all-day restaurant based on the dining scene in Melbourne, has secured its third site, in Richmond, south west London. Founded by the team behind independently owned cafe group Brew, the new Antipodea will open in Hill Street at the end of the year. The 2,452 square foot restaurant will be split between ground floor and basement levels. The all-day restaurant will offer an informal atmosphere during the day that transforms into a brasserie-style offering in the evening. Antipodea currently has sites in Kew and Putney. Shelley Sandzer acted on behalf of the former tenant. Tony Levine, of Shelley Sandzer's leasing team, said: “We’re thrilled to have sold the lease on to Antipodea, which has already proved to be a great success in south west London.”

Domino’s announces recommencement of share buyback programme: Domino’s Pizza Group has announced the recommencement of its share buyback programme. The company stated: “The purpose of the programme is to reduce the company’s share capital and accordingly the company intends to cancel the ordinary shares purchased under the programme. It is expected the programme will commence from Wednesday, 25 October and be completed by Sunday, 31 December. A total of about £7.2m has already been used to buy back 2,352,593 ordinary shares in the capital of the company pursuant to the programme. Consequently, the company intends to use up to about a further £7.8m to repurchase ordinary shares. Any purchases will be conducted in compliance with the relevant conditions for trading, restrictions regarding time and volume, disclosure and reporting obligations, and price conditions. The company confirms that it currently has no unpublished price sensitive information.”

Meatcure to close Hinckley site: East Midlands-based gourmet burger restaurant company Meatcure is to close its site in Hinckley – just two weeks after revealing it was shutting its Leicester and Bedford branches. The company, which is led by Rob Martyniak and Paul Rigby, revealed the news on its Facebook page. It comes a fortnight after it said the Leicester and Bedford outlets would shut but insisted it would retain its presence in Hinckley and Market Harborough. The latter is its only remaining restaurant. The Hinckley site, based at the £60m retail and leisure development The Crescent, has only been open six months. No definitive date of closure was mentioned. The post read: “It was never meant to happen! We were always intending on keeping Hinckley along with Market Harborough. It’s a great space but more importantly our team was amazing. However we have been unable to negotiate terms, in fact we haven’t been able to negotiate at all with the landlords! They quite literally went dark on us and without having clarity we had to call it in fear of problems down the line.” Assuring customers the Market Harborough business would continue, Meatcure reinforced its commitment saying it would be “making huge changes for the better”, reports the Hinckley Times. 

Losses double at Trump’s Scottish golf resorts: A Companies House report has shown losses at two Scottish golf resorts owned by Donald Trump – at Turnberry and Aberdeen – more than doubled to £17.6m for the year ending 31 December 2016. Revenue at the two courses fell 21% to £9m in 2016 from £11.4m a year earlier. In the report, Trump’s company attributed the results partly to having shut down its Turnberry resort for half the year while building a new course there and fixing up an old one. His company has faced several setbacks since it ventured into Scotland a dozen years ago and its troubles recently have mounted. The company has angered some local residents near its second resort on the North Sea with what they say are its bullying tactics to make way for more development. The company also has lost a court fight to stop an offshore wind farm near that resort, drew objections from environmental regulators over building plans there in August and appears at risk of losing a bid to host the coveted Scottish Open at its courses. Trump handed over management of his company to his two adult sons before becoming US president, but still retains his financial interest in it. It is not clear how big a role Trump’s setbacks in Scotland have played in the losses. In addition to the Turnberry shutdown, the company also noted in its report it took an £8m loss due to fluctuations in the value of the pound last year, reports the Scotsman.

Yum! Brands readies itself for aggressive growth: Yum! Brands chief executive Greg Creed has said the company has readied itself for aggressive growth. The company, which operates KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, currently operates 44,000 sites globally. Creed told Nation’s Restaurant News: “The growth potential for Yum is limited only by our imagination.” Creed pointed to a 2014 decision by the company to reorganise Yum! Brands into divisions based on its three brands, instead of divisions based on geography, as a key moment. Few employees in the company now work on more than one brand, and the divisions have helped it be a more “brand-focused company”. The company plans to grow system sales by 7% a year from 2019 and Creed said he believed the company could achieve that goal with its three existing brands by focusing on unit growth. He added: “I personally believe there is so much growth potential with these three brands and opportunities like delivery on all three that I’m really focused on accelerating growth, broadening the geographical presence.” At the time of separating from PepsiCo two decades ago, 20% of Yum! Brands’ profits came from outside the US. Today, that’s up to 50% despite one of its three brands, Taco Bell, having little presence internationally, something Yum! Brands wants to change. Creed said: “It’s a tiny brand outside the US compared with KFC. We’re really just getting started.” Of KFC, which now has 21,000 units, Creed said it was possible to get to 60,000 global sites. He added: “I love being in Mexican, pizza and chicken. Those three categories are growing faster than any other category in the industry. We’re ideally positioned in all three.”

City Index analyst – ‘Costa Coffee’s performance is deteriorating and coffee shop market is now saturated’: City Index senior market analyst Fiona Cincotta has argued Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee’s performance is deteriorating and the coffee shop market is now saturated. Cincotta said: “Revenue and profits have risen largely in line with market expectations, with the hotel business again the standout performer. Premier Inn appears to be holding its own against digital disruptors such as Airbnb by striking a good balance between price and quality. Investors, however, may be left feeling a little disappointed with the overall result due to the continued deterioration in Costa’s performance. A worse-than-expected slowing of like-for-like revenue growth to just 0.6% will fuel concerns that there’s not much wriggle room left in what is now a highly-competitive and highly-saturated market for coffee shop chains.”

Fitness expert to open first cafe, in London next month: Fitness expert Matt Roberts is to open his first cafe, in London next month. Roberts is launching the venture in Berkeley Street, Mayfair, on Monday, 6 November in partnership with Daily Dose, London’s largest cold press juice producer. Matt Roberts Daily Dose will be the newest addition to Roberts’ fitness empire, which includes three personal training centres in London, luxury fitness retreats, fitness videos, television programmes, nutritional supplements and exercise equipment. Matt Roberts Daily Dose will specialise in protein-based products. Smoothies will form the focus of the menu and come in fruit and vegetable flavours, which will change regularly depending on what products are in season. A variety of juices by Daily Dose will also be available. From early 2018, customers will have the chance to buy a Daily Dose cleansing box. Roberts said: “Over the years, I have come to realise that we need a more holistic approach to health, as working out and going to the gym is just one part of staying healthy. Eating and drinking the right things is just as important, so opening the cafe with Daily Dose seemed like a natural next step.” Daily Dose founder George Hughes-Davies added: “We are very excited to be working with Matt Roberts on this project. He is the most established personal trainers in the UK, and his approach to nutrition really resonates with our philosophy that the correct nutritional intake improves focus, energy levels and is essential to your well-being.”

Nando’s and London-based Breakfast & Burgers set to open sites at Exeter retail park: Nando’s and London-based Breakfast & Burgers are set to open sites at a retail park in Exeter. The brands are set to join the restaurant line-up at Alphington Park in Marsh Barton Road as part of phase two of the food court development, which opened two years ago. It would be the second site in Exeter for Nando’s while Breakfast & Burgers currently has a site in Leadenhall Street in London. The development of the food court at Alphington Park would bump the restaurant offer up to six with The Restaurant Group brands Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito already there along with KFC and Starbucks. In its planning statement to the city council, Nando’s said the new restaurant would create 40 jobs and complement the city centre branch in Princesshay, reports Exeter Live. The statement added: “Nando’s is excited about the possibility of trading from the application site and view this location as a totally different market to the city centre.”

Marston’s becomes Brakspear's supply logistics partner: Marston’s Beer Company has signed a deal with pub operator Brakspear that sees the company become the primary supplier of all wet-led products into the Brakspear pub estate through Marston’s logistic team. The agreement, which will go live from Wednesday, 1 November, will include all Brakspear pubs, giving them access to Marston’s brands portfolio, which recently grew with the acquisition of Charles Wells’ brewery. The move gives Brakspear licensees access to a choice of British ales and beers, as well as a range of international beers. Building on an existing relationship with Brakspear, Marston’s, which has been brewing Oxford Gold and Brakspear Bitter under licence since 2002, also demonstrated updated, state-of-the-art logistics technology and nationwide depots as part of its proposal, allowing an efficient supply of a range of brands to suit each pub. Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said: “This is a very positive move, extending the good relationship with Marston’s that we have built on cask ale across all the drinks sold in our pubs. For our licensees, the main benefit will be that all their drinks will come from one single supplier, making it easier for them to accommodate deliveries and liaise with one point of contact. They will also be able to choose from an extended range of products.”

Thai Square to reopen Islington site next week following 11-month flooding closure: Thai Square, which is owned by Catering UK, will reopen its site in Islington, north London, next week following an 11-month closure caused by flooding. The company will relaunch the venue in Upper Street on Thursday, 2 November following a full refurbishment. The site has been shut since December last year due to severe flooding after a public water main burst. Set over two floors, the ground floor seats up to 100 people and is home to a striking living wall, reminiscent of the buzzing forests of Thailand. The a la carte menu, served on the ground floor, features Thai favourites such as tender lamb massaman curry with potatoes and peanuts, and Weeping Tiger – a sirloin of beef marinated in Thai Square’s chilli sauce, as well as pad Thai filled with prawns, crushed peanuts and bean sprouts. The first floor houses a statement alabaster bar. Dressing room-style mirrors surrounded by exposed light bulbs cover the back of the bar. The bar menu focuses on small plates, such as crispy fried duck spring rolls and Thai grilled pork. Cocktails have been given a Thai twist and include Bangkok Dangerous, Copper and Clover Club.

Ei Group makes Royal British Legion charity beer available to publicans: Ei Group’s charity beer brewed to raise money for The Royal British Legion is available exclusively to publicans across the Ei Publican Partnerships estate from this week, in advance of Remembrance Day on Saturday, 11 November. The 3.6% ABV Poppy beer, brewed at The Eagle Brewery, will also be on the bar in Craft Union and Bermondsey pub companies, part of Ei Group’s managed operations. Over the past two years, sales of Poppy beer across the Ei Group estate have raised more than £23,000 for The Royal British Legion, the charity providing lifelong support for the British armed forces. Ei Group has now pledged to boost its contribution and will donate 20p from every pint sold to the charity. Further support has been provided with point-of-sale kits to help publicans raise awareness and drive sales, including a refreshed patriotic design for the pump clip. 

Trampoline park operator Flip Out signs to open site at new Intu Lakeside leisure extension: Trampoline park operator Flip Out has signed to open a site at Intu Lakeside’s 175,000 square foot leisure extension. Flip Out has agreed a deal with the Essex shopping centre’s owner Intu to launch a 30,000 square foot attraction next year. Flip Out’s new trampolining space will feature a range of activities including stunt box zones, ball games, resident DJs and a calendar of special events. It will open alongside Nickelodeon’s first UK shopping centre attraction and one of Hollywood Bowl’s biggest venues. Another leisure brand and 11 restaurants will also open at the end of 2018 at the multimillion-pound extension. TGI Friday’s and Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi have already agreed to take 5,800 square feet and 3,400 square feet sites respectively. A 74-bedroom Travelodge hotel, which opened this month, is located close to the extension. Flip Out managing director Jon Inwards said: “Intu provide extraordinary experiences for its customers and the creation of a destination that offers a fantastic place to shop, eat and play is something that will help us to achieve our aim of delivering massive amounts of healthy, awesome fun for all.” Intu regional managing director Rebecca Ryman added: “Flip Out is one of a number of exciting brands that will provide new and compelling experiences for the growing number of people who will visit Intu Lakeside from further and for longer following the launch of the centre’s leisure space.” 

Casual Dining Group win Ethical Procurement Award: Casual Dining Group, which operates Bella Italia, Café Rouge and Las Iguanas, has been awarded the Ethical Procurement Award at this year’s Triple Bottom Line Awards, run by Footprint. The accolade, which was presented at the Haymarket Hotel, London, recognised how Casual Dining Group has scrutinised all areas of its supply chain, including supplier selection, sustainable sourcing and menu development. Working closely with government bodies, non-governmental organisations and focus groups, Casual Dining Group has targeted five key areas – animal welfare, sustainable sourcing, ethical trading, environmental management, and community engagement. Simon Galkoff, Casual Dining Group group procurement director, said: “We are thrilled to have taken home this award, which demonstrates the tremendous hard work of our team, our suppliers and their producers. Our corporate responsibility strategy, which was developed at the end of 2015, is the beating heart of our procurement strategy. Looking forward, we will continue to develop our relationships with new and existing suppliers, as well as refining our supply chain, guaranteeing high quality and sustainably sourced ingredients for our customers.”

Asian investor swoops for Black Country hotel: An Asian investor has bought a Black Country hotel from Canada Life – the Holiday Inn in Walsall, near Birmingham. Agent Christie & Co sold the property on behalf of Canada Life to CL Capital, an Asian-based investment fund. The value of the deal has not been disclosed. The 156-bedroom hotel, rebranded as a Holiday Inn in 2011, has undergone extensive investment across the bedrooms and public areas and features health and leisure facilities including a swimming pool as well as extensive conference and meeting facilities. Christie & Co said part of its appeal is the hotel lies in such a strategic location, just minutes off one of the busiest junctions of the M6 – a junction set to undergo a major improvement over the next few years. Alex Campbell, director at Christie & Co, said: “The Holiday Inn Birmingham – Walsall presented an ideal opportunity for an investor or operator to acquire a freehold hotel subject to a franchise agreement with one of the world’s leading hotel brands.”

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