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Wed 20th Dec 2017 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Park Chinois turns over almost £11m in first full financial year as losses narrow, starts work on new concept: Park Chinois, the Chinese restaurant in Mayfair from Wagamama founder Alan Yau, had turnover of nearly £11m and saw its losses narrow in its first full financial year of operation. The company has also revealed it has started work on a new concept in Dover Street and is considering expansion in select geographies. Park Chinois, which opened in Berkeley Street in November 2015, had an operating loss of £3,069,586 for the year to 25 March 2017, compared with a loss of £5,822,805 the previous year. Interest charges brought the total pre-tax loss to £3,563,363 compared with £5,964,885 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Park Chinois reported turnover of £10,831,308 compared with £2,643,427 the previous year, when the restaurant had only been open for five months. Gross profit margin increased to 74.1% compared with 71.5% the year before, excluding employee costs. The company has estimated losses of £16,089,254 (2015: £12,525,891) available for carry forward against future trading profits. Wages and salaries during the most recent year increased to £4,832,068 compared with £3,124,855 the previous year, with staff numbers, including directors, more than doubling to 206. The report accompanying the accounts stated: “Park Chinois operates across two floors with distinct characters – Salon de Chine and Club Chinois. 2016 saw the activation of Club Chinois as a key revenue centre contributing to consolidated sales totalling £10.8m. The business has reported a loss for the period, which was in line with the directors’ expectations given the size and complexity of the restaurant and its projected maturity curve. Park Chinois has developed into an internationally recognised brand representing a unique hospitality offering combining high-quality Chinese food, live entertainment and dedicated service in spectacular surroundings. All aspects of the offering are continuously evolved, with 2017 seeing the introduction of a new entertainment programme at Club Chinois. Work on a new concept for 33 Dover Street, which forms part of the Park Chinois estate, is under way and scheduled for opening in 2018/2019. There are also plans for potential expansion in select geographies.” Last year Yau, who described the venue as “not really a restaurant, more like an entertainment project”, revealed he spent more than £30m on Park Chinois. The restaurant occupies 15,200 square feet and seats 300 for dinner, with room for 50 at the venue’s two bars.

Industry News:

More than 350 booked for Restaurant Marketer & Innovator event series in January: More than 350 senior executives have now booked for Restaurant Marketer & Innovator, the most comprehensive marketing series the sector has seen. Propel will stage the two-day event in partnership with Think Hospitality on Wednesday, 17 January and Thursday, 18 January at One Moorgate Place in London. An array of marketers from agencies and early-stage, growing and rejuvenating brands will take to the stage to share their strategies and winning tactics. Companies and brands attending include Novus, Signature Pubs, Cafe Rouge, Wagamama, Brasserie Bar Co, Las Iguanas, YO! Sushi, Fuller’s, ASK Italian, Mitchells & Butlers, G1 Group, Costa Coffee, Ei Group, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Stonegate Pub Company, Be At One, Revolution Bars Group, Cabana, Thai Leisure Group, New World Trading Company, Pho, Maxwell’s Group, Gather & Gather, Oakman Inns and Restaurants, The Breakfast Club, The Coaching Inn Group, Gail’s Bakery, Gordon Ramsay Restaurants, K10, Giggling Squid, San Carlo Group, Ennismore, TLC Inns, Polpo, FrogPubs, The Real Eating Company, Claus Meyer Holding, VIP Pizza, 200 Degrees, Coppa Club, Snug Bars, Albion & East, Pint Shop, True North Brew Co, Darwin & Wallace, Chit Chat Chai, BabaBoom, Electric Star and Eat Poke. For full details of the two days, co-ordinated by James Hacon and Ann Elliott respectively, click here. Conference prices for two days are £525 plus VAT for operators and £795 plus VAT for suppliers. Companies buying two tickets will receive a third one free. A one-day rate of £345 plus VAT is available to operators only. For more information and to book, call Jo Charity on 01444 810304 or email or Anne Steele on 01444 817691 or

BDO – foodservice brands to look at restructuring options in 2018, pubs and bars to continue outperforming restaurants: Foodservice brands looking at restructuring options and pubs and bars continuing to outperform restaurants are among the key themes for 2018, according to a new report. BDO has predicted what is in store next year as part of its latest restaurants and bars report. It stated: “There will be a number of very well-known brands looking at restructuring options, including Company Voluntary Arrangements, and successful negotiation with landlords will be critical to re-establishing growth and value for those brands. Pubs will lead the way in terms of non-distressed transactions and performance, with a mixture of value-led offerings from the large pub groups to the inevitable consolidation in the smaller groups. The other key area that will see consolidation is micro-breweries – particularly those beginning to expand their pub portfolio as the demand for craft beer and ale continues. The impact of delivery is only just being felt – not simply in own-site cannibalisation but through reducing the volume of site visits and decreasing average spend. The power shift will continue to the delivery operators. As disposable income levels come under increasing threat, there will be greater competition for each pound spent. Expect to see improved food offerings from cinemas, bowling alleys, trampoline parks and the wider destination market. The ability to grow brand presence without expensive real estate and labour costs is going to become very appealing and so expanding a takeaway offering from a delivery hub or other outlet will increase. Making the most of real estate is going to be a key theme for 2018 and expect to see many more partnerships between mainstream retailers trying to increase dwell time through quality food and drink offerings. With around a quarter of millennials being teetotal, a focus on non-alcoholic drinks is likely. This will include the development of mixer options for premium spirits so expect to see far more choice during the next 12 months. Eating out is embedded in British culture to an extent not imaginable 40 years ago, but there is also a key focus on the health consequences so expect menus to include far more healthy options, especially for children. Where technology is used to facilitate service, increase value perception, enable ease of access and, ultimately, upsell effectively, it will add value. However, technology that is not user-friendly or is overtly pushy will turn customers away – and keep them away.”

Hospitality wellness platform Healthy Hospo to hold launch event next month: Healthy Hospo, the new wellness platform for the hospitality industry, will host its launch event on Monday, 15 January at The Old Parish Hall in Core Clapton, east London. The event will feature 20-minute, bite-size talks, and workshops covering nutrition, mental health, exercise, meditation and healthy drinking. Healthy Hospo is a not-for-profit social enterprise with an objective to build a healthier, happier, more productive hospitality industry. The project incorporates a website, events and consultancy services. Founder Tim Etherington-Judge said: “Healthy Hospo will seek to improve the health and wellness of hospitality professionals through preventative measures, enabling them to lead healthier, happier working lives and build more sustainable careers. I hope we will also benefit business owners, helping them build a healthier workforce resulting in increased profitability, staff retention and reduced lost days to sickness.”

Company News:

Coaching Inn Group acquires Herefordshire hotel as part of £50m expansion programme: The Coaching Inn Group, led by Kevin Charity, has acquired The Feathers Hotel in Ledbury, Herefordshire, for an undisclosed sum as part of its £50m expansion programme. The purchase takes the group to 14 sites and more than 400 bedrooms. The 21-bedroom hotel in High Street had been owned by the Elliston family for more than 40 years and operated as a hotel since 1564. The Tudor-era building features a brasserie with a hop-clad ceiling and a 60-cover restaurant that also acts as an events space for the market town. Charity said: “We’re delighted to have acquired The Feathers Hotel. It’s a great example of the attributes we look for in our properties – a busy market town location and a business that appeals to local people as well as discerning visitors and tourists. The property also benefits from a passionate team and we look forward to welcoming them into the group. The past 12 months have seen us invest more than £4m to refurbish our properties and this latest acquisition, part of our £50m expansion plan, puts us on track to have 25 properties in the next two years.” The Coaching Inn Group is backed by the Business Growth Fund, which has invested £15m since March 2015 to support the company’s expansion. 

New World Trading Company promotes HR director to board: Graphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group New World Trading Company has promoted Natasha Waterfield to its executive board. Waterfield has held the position of head of HR since 2015 and the company said she had played a strong role in developing the business. Her new executive board director role will also focus on revitalising the way the company rewards and develops staff. Additionally, Waterfield will focus on analysing the training and development procedures to “provide a distinctive opportunity for career development for all staff, at all levels”. Chief executive Chris Hill said: “I am excited to see how Natasha will develop the role and make it her own. She has already implemented industry-leading processes that have been crucial in the development of the business. With her ability to continually innovate, coupled with putting people at the heart of her work, she will ensure New World Trading Company continues to be one of the UK’s leading employers for years to come.” Meanwhile, the company has revealed Budvar tank beer accounts for nearly half – between 45% and 49% – of all like-for-like beer sales across the group. Since August, the company has launched Budweiser Budvar tanks at three more of its sites, bringing the total to five. That will become six when The Florist launches in Bristol in February. New World Trading Company has more than 1,000 employees and operates 20 venues under The Oast House, The Botanist, The Smugglers Cove, The Trading House, The Club House, The Canal House and its forthcoming The Florist concepts.

Pieminister reveals plans for £1.65m HSBC investment: Bristol-based Pieminister has revealed it will use the new £1.65m finance package it has secured from HSBC to open three restaurants, invest in a new plant, and improve efficiencies. The company has already opened one of the restaurants – in Brixton Market – and is currently considering two further openings in the north of England for early 2018. Pieminister will also use part of the asset finance facility to invest in a new plant and machinery to increase capacity at its kitchens in Bristol and improve efficiencies. Last year, the company said it was eyeing 30 restaurants by 2020 after securing a £1.4m finance package from HSBC. Pieminister co-founder and managing director Jon Simon said: “HSBC has once again shown unwavering support for Pieminister and our ambitions to continue expanding our restaurant portfolio across the UK.” James Shepherd, HSBC area director for Bristol, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, added: “Pieminister has an impressive track record, which meant we were quickly able to put a finance package in place that has already helped secure and fit-out the first of three new restaurant sites in the UK as well as improve other processes across the business.” Simon founded Pieminister in 2003 with brother-in-law Tristan Hogg. It has restaurants and cafes in Bristol, Bath, Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Leeds, Oxford, Stoke-on-Trent and London. Pieminister pies can also be found in pubs, market stalls and supermarkets. Last month, the company branched out to open escape rooms above its Nottingham site.

Freshii master franchise owners launch ‘store within a store’ coffee concept: Dave O’Donoghue and Cormac Manning, master franchise owners in Ireland for Canada-based health brand Freshii, have launched a “store within a store” cafe concept in Dublin in a joint venture with Irish coffee wholesaler Bell Lane. Hand Print Coffee has opened in Freshii’s Point Square store offering sustainable coffee served in fully compostable packaging alongside fresh pastries, scones and tray bakes. Bell Lane was founded by Stephen and Denise Bell in 2012. They said: “Freshii approached us as they wanted a better coffee solution. We decided to work together but realised we needed to create a new brand and Hand Print Coffee was born.” O’Donoghue added: “We are excited to create and launch Hand Print Coffee in Freshii outlets. Hand Print is a coffee brand that leaves a better footprint, with transparency from bean to cup, and we have fully compostable takeaway cups and lids. Our coffee is hand-roasted and all baristas are trained so they can hand-deliver the ultimate coffee to guests.” Last week, O’Donoghue and Manning closed Freshii’s only UK site, in Belfast, but opened its 11th venue in the Republic of Ireland.

St Austell Brewery appoints procurement director, becomes first UK brewer to invest in X-Flow filtration system: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has appointed Andrew Holden as procurement director to help the business gain best value from its supply chain. Holden joins after more than ten years in a similar role at the Eden Project, while he has also worked in senior procurement roles at Habitat and IKEA. Holden cultivated the partnership between St Austell Brewery and the Eden Project, which included Eden-inspired beers, sponsorship and a supply contract worth more than £250,000 a year. St Austell Brewery chief executive James Staughton said: “As we look at introducing new resource procurement and management systems, it is the perfect time for us to bring in someone with Andrew’s experience locally and on a wider scale to help us manage our relationships with suppliers and create the best environment for us to do business with them.” Meanwhile, the company has become the first UK brewer to adopt the X-Flow filtration system. Designed by Netherlands-based Pentair Systems, X-Flow is more traditionally used for water purification and in the wine industry. X-Flow will replace the traditional “kieselguhr” system, which uses filter powders based on fossilised fish bones. St Austell Brewery director Roger Ryman said: “While X-Flow has been picked up by one or two of the largest breweries in the world, a lot of eyes are on us as an early adopter. This is a proven system that will replace one that really doesn’t belong in the modern, more environmentally friendly world.”

JKS Restaurants reveals further details of Brigadiers concept: JKS Restaurants has revealed further details of its new concept Brigadiers, which will launch at the Bloomberg Arcade in the City of London in the spring. Brigadiers will offer Indian food that is charred, smoked and grilled, including kebabs, chops, tikka and feasting options, alongside a large selection of beer. The concept takes inspiration from the army mess bars of India, with dishes produced via wood-fired ovens, rotisseries, tandoors, charcoal grills, and Indian smokers. The menu will be split into four sections, with “feasting options” including rotisserie duck, wood-roasted suckling lamb, and tandoori tomahawk steaks, Hot Dinners reports. The drinks list will complement the food, with at least 30 beers and a range of whiskies. The venue will feature a restaurant, bar, private dining rooms, a taproom and a “pot luck” annexe. Live sports will be shown in select rooms, while there will also be card games and a pool table. Brigadiers will join other brands at Bloomberg Arcade, including Tokyo-style noodle cafe Koya; Hawaiian poké specialist Ahi Poké; Bleecker Burger; restaurant, bar and coffee roasting concept Caravan; better pizza brand Homeslice; and wine bar, restaurant and wine shop Vinoteca. JKS Restaurants was founded by the Sethi family and also operates Michelin-starred Indian restaurants Gymkhana and Trishna, and gourmet hotdog and champagne concept Bubbledogs. Last month, it opened a second space for its delivery-only concept Motu at one of Deliveroo’s “dark kitchens” in London.

Loungers secures Barnstaple site: Cafe bar group Loungers, which is backed by Lion Capital, has secured a site in Barnstaple, Devon. The company is opening a Lounge at the new-look Green Lanes shopping centre. It will occupy a newly created unit at the recently revamped entrance to the complex. The site is expected to open in the spring. Simon West, assistant director of Rockspring Property Investment Managers, which manages the centre, told Devon Live: “Having invested considerable capital into modernising the principal entrance to Green Lanes, we are delighted to have attracted an operator of the calibre of Loungers to front the shopping centre.” Loungers, which also operates the Cosy Club brand, was founded in 2002 in Bristol by friends David Reid, Alex Reilley and Jake Bishop and has 108 sites in total having opened its latest venue in Sudbury, Suffolk.

Cote to launch scheme that ‘truly rewards loyalty’: French brasserie Cote is to launch an initiative next month that will “truly reward guests for their loyalty”. Chief financial officer Strahan Wilson said the integration of Cote’s booking platform and PoS would allow individual restaurants to build a profile of their regular guests, which in turn would enable them to offer rewards – such as a free dessert or glass of wine – based on actual purchase history and visitor frequency. Wilson told Essential Retail: “We’re taking the principles of good restaurateurship, which is for a manager to be able to recognise his or her frequent or loyal guests and reward them in the way they see fit. A covert scheme means you have the element of surprise and delight, and you can use it for a much bigger percentage of your user base. We’re good to go on 2 January, sitting here quite excited. We keep testing the test till, which works, and now we just need to get it into restaurants.” Also in the pipeline is a pre-order/pre-pay functionality that has already been used in conjunction with Cote’s Christmas menu. Wilson said it could be attached to the main menu in the new year.

Italy-based operator increases equity offer in £350,000 crowdfunding campaign to enter UK market: Italy-based operator Miccone, which specialises in the bread it is named after, has increased the equity stake in its £350,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it looks to launch in the UK. Founder Giuseppe Dabbene has been testing the concept in London by operating a food truck that sells savoury and sweet miccone. Now he is raising funds to open a permanent site in the capital and is now offering a 30.43% equity stake instead of the initial 20%. So far, 38 investors have pledged £73,940 with 18 days remaining. The pitch states: “In 2014 we opened our first store in Pavia in Italy (€680,000 revenue in three years, €58,840 Ebitda). We feel this is the right time to expand into the UK market, where 22% of British adults choose Italian food for eating out. London has been important to us for testing Miccone thanks to the great success and audience response we had with our food truck. Now our mission is to open our first site in London to make this niche Italian traditional food known to an international audience. Our savoury miccone is stuffed with cold cuts and cheese or other international ingredients. All this is matched by wine and craft beer. The sweet version is combined with jam and honey. From leftover miccone bread we create our bread cake. All of this is matched by high-quality coffee, which we roast in-store.”

Paul UK opens 37th site as it doubles up in Oxford: French artisan bakery and patisserie Paul has opened its 37th site, at the new £440m Westgate Oxford development. The 123 square foot outlet is the group’s third opening outside London, including a Paul cafe in Oxford’s High Street. The 52-cover kiosk offers Paul’s signature range of pastries, baguettes, salads, patisserie such as individual cakes and tartlets, and hot drinks. Chief executive Jean-Michel Orieux said: “Our existing site in Oxford is consistently performing well and we believe it is an ideal location for a second site. It has a wonderful balance of cultural heritage, a well-established local community, and vibrant economic and tourist activity, which will help the growth of our business.”

Fat Hippo team to launch tank beer and events concept in Sunderland: The team behind gourmet burger brand Fat Hippo, which operates three sites in the north east, is set to launch a craft beer and events space in Sunderland. The Bonded Warehouse will launch in Low Street early next year following a £250,000 investment. The mid-19th century warehouse will be split into two spaces with the ground floor housing a tank beer-focused taphouse, offering a bespoke beer transported fresh from Allendale Brewery, and the upstairs acting as a hub for weddings, events and gigs. Fat Hippo managing director Michael Phillips told BDaily: “Sunderland is on the move. There’s a real buzz about the place. I’m in touch with a number of promoters to bring yet more live music back to Sunderland. We’ll also be hosting ‘The Sessions’ each month providing an opportunity for people to socialise all day into the early hours, with live music, craft beer, pop-up gin bars and the best street food in the north east.” The food menu, created by executive chef Michael Johnson, will include an “array of small plates to complement the drinks list”. Fat Hippo opened its first site in Jesmond, Newcastle, in 2010, followed by Fat Hippo Underground in Newcastle city centre. Last year, the company branched out into Durham.

Durham-based gin bar operators open third site: Durham-based gin bar operators Trevor and Ben Davis have opened their third site in the city. The Davis’ have launched Old Toms in the new Riverwalk development, which is taking shape on the site of the former Gates shopping centre. They have transformed a derelict grade I-listed building that was formerly a flower shop into a bar featuring more than 250 gins, rum, specialist wine and whiskey. As well as drinks, Old Toms serves charcuterie and specialist cheese boards that are paired with wine. It follows on from their other two city sites – The Court Inn and Tin of Sardines. Trevor Davis told the Sunderland Echo: “We actually saw this building first before Tin of Sardines but we couldn’t get it at the time so we opened Tin of Sardines instead, which has proved really popular. Gin is huge at the moment but it has to be done right, with the right botanicals and mixers.”

Castle Rock Brewery opens first micro-pub and wine cellar for 25th site: Castle Rock Brewery, the Nottingham-based brewer and pub company, has opened its first micro-pub and wine cellar for its 25th site. The venue has launched in Carrington Street retaining the name of the sweet shop that graced its location – The Barley Twist. It specialises in keg and craft beer, real ale, bottled British beer and an extensive wine list. With no food operation, there is space for an off-licence, brewing memorabilia, and Castle Rock merchandise. The Barley Twist has been leased by The Beer Consortium, an Enterprise Investment Scheme run under the chairmanship of Geoff Newton. Other pubs in the group include The Embankment at Trent Bridge and The Fox & Grapes in the city’s Sneinton Market, which are operated and managed by Castle Rock Brewery. The Barley Twist includes a wine cellar bar and new frontage paying homage to the building’s legacy. The property is part of the Portland Hotel, itself undergoing refurbishment.

Former Chisou head chef launches sushi concept Kazu in Fitzrovia: Former Chisou head chef Dham Kodituwakku has launched sushi concept Kazu in Fitzrovia. The restaurant has opened in Charlotte Street offering hand-made sushi, sashimi and other dishes such as seared fatty tuna with pickled wasabi, and rock shrimp tempura. Drinks include a range of traditional Japanese sakés, an extensive wine list and a selection of spirits. The 65-cover restaurant also features a private dining room seating 12 guests. Kodituwakku, also known as Kodi, was head chef at Chisou for 15 years. He told Hot Dinners: “Expect the very best of Japanese cuisine made with the highest-quality ingredients, served within a modern, calm and peaceful environment.” London-based group Chisou, which is led by David Leroy and operates eponymous restaurants in Mayfair and Knightsbridge, launched Sushi Atelier in Fitzrovia in July for its third site in the capital.

Warrington-based pub operators launch gin emporium inside third site: Mujdat and Joanna Karatus, who operate Warrington pubs The Rams Head Inn and The Rope & Anchor, have opened a gin emporium inside their third site in the Cheshire town. They have relaunched The Saracens Head to feature an emporium offering more than 100 gins. Mujdat Karatus, who has been in the pub trade for 30 years, told the Warrington Guardian: “I had a book as a present from my mother-in-law that mentioned ‘101 gins you must try before you die’. Everything in that book is behind the bar. We have particularly tried to get gins from Warrington, Cheshire, Manchester and Liverpool as there are a lot of brands unique to our area but we also have gins from Spain, France, Holland and the US. It’s primarily a gin bar but there are some other wines and spirits as well. We’ve got a good selection of rum and whisky and a lot of prosecco. People’s expectations have changed over the years in line with new trends. They don’t settle for mediocre stuff and demand better or different things.”

Punch helping prepare school leavers for world of work: Punch is helping prepare school leavers for the world of work. The company has again sponsored the Meet, Eat, Drink and Learn (MEDaL) programme, which has been developed by Birmingham University professor Jo Andrews. MEDaL is a series of innovative employability skills workshops designed to arm the 16 students from Paget High School, Branston, with vital life skills. The weekly sessions take place at The Blacksmiths Arms in Branston and include communication and presentation, team building and team leadership, and managing projects and events, as well as support with constructing a personal statement and CV and interviewing for success. Punch HR and services director Jackie Burn said: “We’re acutely aware of the increasing demands on young people entering the world of work and, as a commercial organisation, we clearly see the benefits when employees have gained more practical, work-based skills and experience prior to joining us. Finally, the fact the programme is hosted by a local pub and benefits members of our local community is hugely appealing to us.”

HY Hotels acquires Fylde coast property for seventh site as it expands across north west: HY Hotels has acquired The Lindum Hotel in St Annes on the Fylde coast for its seventh site in the north west. The Lindum Hotel had been operated by the Rowley family for more than 50 years and features 80 en-suite bedrooms, a restaurant and function rooms. HY Hotels owner Dan Yates told Insider Media: “We’ve got some great plans for the hotel and believe it will continue to attract visitors to the Fylde coast for years to come. HY Hotels has grown well over the past couple of years and the senior management team is now looking at sites in Blackpool, Preston and further afield.” HY Hotels’ other sites include the Chadwick Hotel in St Annes, Manchester’s Ainscow Hotel and The Block serviced apartments in Liverpool. Funding advice was supplied by NatWest, with accountancy services from RSM Tenon and legal advice by Napthens partner David Hill.

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