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Mon 29th Jan 2018 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Former Caravan head of wholesale says there’s still room for high-end operators in saturated coffee market ahead of new venture: Former Caravan head of wholesale James Hennebry has told Propel he believes there is still room for more coffee shop operators “as long as they are offering a premium product”. Hennebry has teamed up with Mat Russell to launch Rosslyn Coffee, which will make its debut next month opposite Mansion House station in Queen Victoria Street. With analysts saying the market is close to reaching saturation point, Hennebry said that was not the case at the high end, adding that expansion for Rosslyn Coffee was already on the cards as it looked to add two more sites this year. Hennebry said: “I think there is great appetite for coffee in the UK high street and that’s amplified by the number of operators that are doing very well. I don’t think the market is anywhere near saturated at the higher end but there are quite a few coffee shops out there with perhaps less quality focused offerings who will be finding it difficult. You just have to make sure you are on top of your game, and our attention to detail will run through everything we do. We are not reinventing the wheel – we are just trying to get the basics right across the board and not everyone does that. When they come together it’s something exceptional. Our site is next to a Caffe Nero but, just because we both serve coffee, it doesn’t mean we serve the same part of the market.” Although the site, which is expected to open towards the end of February, will have a small seating area, it has been designed to deal with a large number of customers very quickly “without compromising on the quality”. Hennebry said: “We are not concerned about what’s on trend, we’re concerned about what tastes good. The equipment is cutting edge and the coffee is all from the top end of the market and from ethical suppliers.” He added: “Caravan is led by three brilliant directors and what they’ve achieved is nothing short of inspirational. I definitely owe a lot to Caravan.”
 

Industry News:

Propel and Thinking Drinkers launch fourth Craft Beer Retail Study Tour: Propel is staging its fourth Craft Beer Retail Study Tour on Thursday, 22 March in London, this time exploring the burgeoning beer scene in Bermondsey and Brixton. The tour, led by The Thinking Drinkers, award-winning beer writers Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham, will visit eight venues during the day-long tour including leading craft beer retailers, a cider specialist and a street food market that features its own brewery. McFarland and Sandham will provide the latest craft beer facts and figures, market segmentation analysis, and spot up-and-coming trends while CGA commercial director Graeme Loudon will provide further insights. Site visits will include question-and-answer sessions with some of London’s leading retailers looking at award-winning sites, beer-centric retail, beer sourcing, direct sourcing, menus, brewing on-site, and a host of other issues. The day includes travel between venues by coach where appropriate. Tickets are £345 plus VAT for Propel Premium members and £395 plus VAT for non-Propel Premium members. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com
 
Propel Multi Club Conference open for bookings, Black and White Hospitality to present: The first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2018 is open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Wednesday, 7 March at the Grange Hotel in St Paul’s, London. Nick Taplin, chief executive of Black and White Hospitality, will explain how the company is developing a 50-strong franchised restaurant estate in partnership with chef Marco Pierre White, its unique brands, its USPs, partnership model, and future prospects. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at anne.steele@propelinfo.com

UK consumer confidence shows resilience despite spending pressures: UK consumer confidence in the level of disposable income rose in the fourth quarter of 2017 revealing resilience despite spending pressures, according to the latest Consumer Tracker report from Deloitte. Consumer confidence in the level of disposable income rose four percentage points to minus 17% compared with the previous quarter, while confidence around managing personal levels of debt also rose, by one percentage point to minus 3%. The report also revealed the continued squeeze on spending had led consumers to be more careful about their spending, with discretionary spend falling by one percentage point compared with the previous year. By contrast, price inflation has seen spending on essential items rise by two percentage points year-on-year. Overall UK consumer confidence remained flat at minus 7% in the fourth quarter of 2017 – the first time confidence hadn’t fallen in the final quarter of the year since Deloitte launched the tracker in 2011. Combined with a three-percentage point rise in the third quarter, overall consumer confidence in the UK rose in the second half of 2017, the report stated. Ben Perkins, head of consumer business research at Deloitte, said: “We typically see a dip in confidence in the final quarter of the year, with consumers surveyed at a time when they are conscious of their spending levels and health after the festive period. So the fact confidence has remained flat is a clear indication the UK’s consumers are remaining resilient to spending pressures.” Deloitte chief economist Ian Stewart added: “Despite a fierce squeeze on spending power last year, consumers went into 2018 in pretty good spirits.”

Manchester leisure and retail scheme for ‘creative’ tenants welcomes first five food operators: Manchester’s new retail and leisure pop-up destination Hatch is up and running with five food operators offering dishes from across the world. Located under the Mancunian Way in Oxford Road and part of Circle Square, Hatch is a place for “innovative concepts to be brought to life”. The line-up will continually evolve but the initial operators are The Blue Caribou Canteen, which serves authentic poutine; Jamaican restaurant concept Eat & Sweet; gluten-free, plant-based Mexican concept El Marchador; artisan espresso bar Takk; and The Öl Brewery Bar, a Scandinavian concept from the Takk team in collaboration with brewer Byrne The Cake. Property company Bruntwood began transforming the area in October and is set to continue the project, increasing it to 35 outlets by this summer, reports The Business Desk.
 
Kirby town centre development to feature bars, restaurants and cinema: Three buildings in Kirkby town centre are set to be demolished to make way for a new development that will include bars, restaurants and a cinema. Knowsley Council is set to demolish the buildings, which include a former library, before the end of 2018. The library site has been earmarked for a new leisure scheme developed by St Modwen that will include three bars and restaurants. Reel Cinemas has already agreed a deal to anchor the scheme, while the council will seek a developer for the neighbouring sites. Knowsley Council leader Andy Moorhead told Insider Media: “I’m delighted we have plans in the pipeline for St Modwen to deliver a cinema, bars and restaurants on the former library site and I look forward to seeing proposals for more high-quality developments on the other two sites. Together with our public and private-sector partners, Knowsley Council is transforming Kirkby town centre into a place people want to visit for retail, leisure and public services.”
 
Las Vegas casino boss Steve Wynn becomes latest to be accused of ‘unwanted advances’: Iconic Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn has routinely subjected women who work for him to unwanted sexual advances in a pattern of misconduct detailed by dozens of past and present employees, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday (26 January) – Wynn has denied the accusations as “preposterous”. Hours later, the board of directors of Wynn Resorts, of which Wynn is founder, chairman and chief executive officer, said it had met to form a special committee consisting solely of independent directors to investigate the allegations contained in the Journal’s article. The announcement of the inquiry followed a drop in the company’s stock of more than 10.1%, closing at $180.29 per share on the Nasdaq exchange on Friday after publication of the Journal story. The special investigation panel will be chaired by Patricia Mulroy, a member of the board’s corporate governance and compliance committees and a former member of the Nevada Gaming Commission, the board said in a statement emailed to Reuters. “The board is deeply committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all the company’s employees and to operating with the highest ethical standards,” the statement said. The Wall Street Journal said former and current company staff members it interviewed had accused Wynn of creating a hostile work environment for women and of regularly pressuring employees to perform “acts”. Former workers, the Journal said, told of employees going to such lengths as making phoney entries in appointment books to help other female employees avoid a request for services in Wynn’s office, or arranged for others to pose as assistants so they would not be alone with him. Others, the newspaper said, recounted female employees hiding in the lavatory or backrooms when they learned he was on his way to a hotel salon. The article said Wynn paid a $7.5m settlement to a former manicurist at his flagship Wynn Las Vegas resort who had accused Wynn of forcing her to have “unwanted relations” in his office in 2005.
 

Company News:

Jon Lake joins Chopstix Group as managing director: Chopstix Group, which owns and operates premium brands Chopstix and Yangtze, has hired Jon Lake as managing director with immediate effect. Lake has held a number of key roles within multinational organisations including Fine Food Capital where he was development director and Deloitte where he was director of mergers and acquisitions specialising in the licensed retail sector. Prior to that, Lake held senior management posts with both Punch and Whitbread. Lake will work closely with Chopstix Group founders, Sam Elia and Menashe Sadik, who in the past two years have tripled Chopstix’s market presence to 75 units, and with the acquisition of Yangtze last year, now have a combined outlet count of 84 stores. Elia said: “We are delighted to have attracted Jon to the business, as he brings with him a first-class reputation for achieving success. We have extremely ambitious growth plans both in the UK and overseas but appreciate there will be challenges along the way so are pleased to have Jon at the helm, as we move forward.” Lake added: “Chopstix Group is undoubtedly becoming a real force within the sector, operating premium brands which offer huge potential both nationally and internationally and I am delighted to join the team. We will continue to drive the expansion of both our corporate and franchise business whilst establishing further infrastructure to support this growth.”

Bodean’s reports pre-tax profit halves despite slight turnover rise: American barbecue diner-deli brand Bodean’s has seen its pre-tax profits halve despite a slight rise in turnover. The company, which operates eight sites in London, saw turnover increase to £12,785,241 for the year ending 31 May 2017, compared with £12,738,861 the previous year. Pre-tax profit dropped to £1,038,231 compared with £2,023,361 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Administrative expenses increased to £7,580,623, compared with £6,719,216 the previous year. A report by the directors accompanying the accounts stated: “The results for the year and the financial position at the year-end were considered satisfactory by the directors, who expect continued growth in the foreseeable future. Ordinary dividends were paid amounting to £1,676,320. The directors do not recommend payment of a further dividend.” The number of employees at the end of the period fell to 267 from 298 the previous year.

Prezzo calls in restructuring specialist: The Sunday Times has reported the private equity owner of Prezzo has appointed a specialist turnaround firm to advise ahead of a potential financial restructuring. American private equity firm TPG has asked consultants at AlixPartners to work with Prezzo on its “options”, which could include closures. The appointment of the restructuring adviser comes after a claim from information provider Debtwire that Prezzo is set to breach its year-end debt covenants. Soaring labour costs, a business rates rise and food inflation are eating into shrinking profit margins, along with an explosion of competition.

Hop Stuff Brewery hits £400,000 crowdfunding target within 48 hours of campaign launch: Hop Stuff Brewery has hit its £400,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube within 48 hours of launch as it bids to grow its taproom estate from three to eight sites by the end of 2019. Founder James Yeomans is offering a 1.57% equity stake in the business in return for the investment and has set an £800,000 upper limit. So far, 405 investors have pledged £425,890 and the campaign is now “overfunding” with 28 days remaining. Hop Stuff Brewery was founded in 2013 following a crowdfunding campaign, and raised a further £750,000 on Crowdcube in 2016. It has since confirmed its third bar will open in Ashford, Kent, and has moved into a new 65,000HL brewhouse in Thamesmead, south east London. Last month, the company opened its second taproom, SE8, in Deptford, south east London, and hopes to launch two more this year. Yeomans said: “This fund-raise is a huge step for the brewery. Originally we planned four taprooms. However, the response to our opening in Deptford and the news we’re opening a site in Kent created such a buzz we were keen to expand on it. Each taproom allows us to help people experience.” Hop Stuff Brewery is now forecasting revenue of £4.6m for 2018, rising to £11.1m in 2019.
 
Doughnut Time launches third London site: Australian chain Doughnut Time has opened its third London site, this time in Notting Hill. The venue has opened in Blenheim Crescent and features a new doughnut – the Anna Scott – named after the character played by Julia Roberts in the movie Notting Hill. The doughnut has been created by Great British Bake Off finalist Steven Carter-Bailey, Hot Dinners reports. Doughnut Time opened its first venue outside Australia in Shaftesbury Avenue at the end of October. It began its UK roll-out with a second site, in Old Street, in December and plans to focus on London with a Shepherd’s Bush opening next on the list. The brand offers a range of regularly changing doughnuts with “punny” names, including the Donutella Versace and Melon Degeneres. The Shaftesbury Avenue venue is also set to open a “doughnut academy” upstairs. Damian Griffith founded Doughnut Time in 2015. It operates 23 sites in Australia.
 
Howard Schultz – our Reserve roastery in Shanghai is turning over twice as much in a day as our US stores in a week: Starbucks executive chairman Howard Schultz has said average daily turnover at its new Reserve roastery in Shanghai is twice as much as its US stores do in a week. He told analysts: “Our US Starbucks stores, on average, do about $32,000 a week. The Roastery in Shanghai after eight weeks of operations is doing, on average, twice that, not each week but each day.” The company is doubling down in the Chinese market to offset stagnant sales in the US. Like-for-like sales in China were up 6% and Starbucks said it was planning to more than triple its 3,000-plus store network in the country within a decade. Meanwhile, analysts have said Starbucks’ brand strength and a growing Chinese fanbase should help it ride out its rough patch, reports Reuters. Morgan Stanley analyst John Glass said: “Sub-par first quarter top-line results – but we ask if this is a ‘broken story’ or just a great brand with huge moats and large growth opportunities rolling through a rough patch. We’d argue the latter, but acknowledge a year into the comparable deceleration, its show-me time.” Some analysts said the company had made inroads solving its problems and is focusing on workflow. As well as adding extra baristas during peak hours, Starbucks is testing sending text messages to customers when their orders are ready.
 
Cereal Killers scale up in Shoreditch: London-based Cereal Killer Café, which recently closed its only regional site, in Birmingham, has relocated its flagship Shoreditch venue to a larger site offering a late licence and expanded menu. Belfast-born identical twins Alan and Gary Keery opened the first Cereal Killer Café in Brick Lane in 2014, going on to open further sites in Camden and Birmingham as well as Kuwait City, Dubai and Jordan. Their debut venue has now relocated to a larger site in Brick Lane that formerly housed Japanese restaurant Okura. The new 1,638 square foot venue is arranged over the ground floor and basement, increasing the number of covers from 20 to 70, while the menu includes new breakfast items and hot food such as Cornflake Chicken, alongside cocktails. The new site is open until 1am and features guest DJs and retro games nights as well as a VIP and party area in the basement. Danielle Agami, of agents Restaurant Property, which secured the new site, said: “Alan and Gary felt the time was right to move to a larger premises but, with a well-established reputation in the area, they were keen to remain in Brick Lane.”
 
EastZEast looks to add fifth site: EastZEast, which specialises in Desi Kashmiri cooking, is eyeing a fifth site, this time in Blackburn. The company is in talks with Blackburn with Darwen Council to open a 200-seat restaurant – the venue would be situated on the Blakeys site at King George’s Hall. Council bosses said the Blakeys Cafe Bar had been operating at a loss throughout 2017 and had been closed on Mondays to save money. A decision will be made on the proposals by the council in March but no closure date has been announced. Council chiefs said the plans would amount to a “significant investment” in Blackburn town centre and will support the upcoming £16m development of the wider Blakey Moor area. Existing EastZEast sites are located in Preston, Manchester (two venues) and Birmingham – the company is also expanding into the south of the UK.
 
The Libertines reveal more detail of hotel in Margate: Indie band The Libertines will open a new hotel and recording studio in Margate, sharing a first-look video of the new venture. Scheduled for a summer opening, the hotel in Eastern Esplanade, Cliftonville, was bought by the indie chart-toppers in August for about £450,000. Formerly known as The Palm Court Hotel, the venue was snapped up by the band with the intention to transform it into a recording studio, bar, restaurant and B&B. The Libertines have revealed the name of the new hotel as The Albion Rooms in a new video posted to their YouTube channel. The guest rooms, each with a distinctly Libertines’ style, is said to open fully after the recording of their new album, which is scheduled to be released this summer.
 
Little Chef reopens as Little Indian Chef: A former A55 Little Chef has been brought back to life as a new Asian restaurant – Little Indian Chef. The former restaurant site in Llanddulas – that has traded as a Little Chef, Happy Eater, Diner Fifty 5 and Oinkeys – closed in 2015. Plans for a housing scheme on the site filed to get backing but the building was resold by St Davids Commercial to Abdul Malik, who had run the Suhail Indian restaurant in Prestatyn for more than two decades. He said: “This had been a Little Chef and that is why we wanted to bring back this name, it was really my son’s idea. It is also simple as well and something people will remember. People seem to be really like it.”
 
Caribbean and African fusion concept Manjaros opens Bradford branch for third site: Manjaros, which combines Caribbean and African cuisine, has opened a Bradford branch for its third site. The restaurant has opened in Great Horton Road at the former Shearbridge pub and features a dessert parlour upstairs and a separate express bar for customers to collect takeaways. Manjaros has branches in Leeds and Middlesbrough. Its most popular dish is parmesan chicken, with a number of parmesan choices on the menu alongside grilled dishes, skewers, burgers, platters, pizza and wraps. The opening has created 20 jobs. Franchise owner Rafiq Ali told the Telegraph & Argus: “We have been developing the site for about eight months. It’s a popular brand. It’s very popular among young people so that’s why we’re near the university.” Ali said he plans to open Manjaros sites in Glasgow, Newcastle, Huddersfield, Preston and London.
 
Experienced operators acquire Bournemouth site housing bars and chip shop for £1.8m: Experienced operators Asit and Amika Patel have acquired a property in Bournemouth that houses two bars for £1.82m in a deal brokered by agents Christie & Co. The substantial Victorian property houses The Hop Inn, a pub that also features a restaurant and 12 en-suite letting rooms, the adjacent Shamrock Bar, and a fish and chip shop. Previous owner Phil Audrain put the property on the market after deciding to retire. Christie & Co said the sale attracted “significant interest because of its high turnover and exceptional profit” and was an “ideal purchase for an experienced operator looking to invest in the area”. Richard Wood, business agent at Christie & Co’s Winchester office, said: “I am delighted to have been part of the sale of such a high-profile business within Bournemouth following a labour-intensive and technical deal. The market in Bournemouth continues to remain robust, as we see a number of select buyers searching in the area, and anticipate this continuing well into 2018.”
 
Stonegate continues individual development as 11 managers complete postgraduate leadership course: Stonegate Pub Company has seen another 11 of its area and support team managers graduate from its postgraduate management diploma in multi-unit leadership course. Nine area managers, HR business partner Kevin McNamee and estates manager Richard Whitfield have obtained the qualification, an established course linked to Birmingham City University. The 14-month course covers four modules – strategy, finance and sales, leading service and change, and operational improvement and innovation. Since launching in 2014, more than half of Stonegate’s area managers have graduated with the diploma, with two going on to more senior roles in the business. Head of learning and development Lee Woolley said: “The course was developed within Stonegate to offer senior managers personal development opportunities leading to career progression. The course has resulted in individual development and a tangible improvement in performance and leadership that has led managers into bigger roles within the company.”

New Ascot Brewing Company owners close crowdfunding campaign after raising more than £270,000: The new owners of Ascot Brewing Company have closed their crowdfunding target to ramp up brewing capacity and sales after raising more than £270,000. The Surrey-based micro-brewer was acquired by local businessmen Chris Davies and Mike Neame last year as was aiming to raise £200,000 in return for a 33.33% equity stake in the business. The campaign has now closed with 557 investors pledging £271,680. The pitch stated: “Ascot Brewing Company was founded in 2007 focusing on cask ale and local pub trade. Seeing an unlocked potential in the brand, we acquired the brewery in early 2017 and have already taken steps to grow its sales to existing customers such as JD Wetherspoon, Co-op, Budgens and Waitrose as well as to new pubs, hotels and national retailers. We have relaunched with new branding and expanded the team, including the recruitment of award-winning head brewer John Willatts. We plan to increase brewing capacity to meet demand; build the team focusing on UK sales and export; roll out contactless NFC ‘smart pump clip’ technology; expand sales channels with an on-site shop and online sales; increase attendance at trade and consumer events with our horsebox taproom; and develop new products and formats including lager, keg, cans and new bottles. Ascot Brewing Company has ambitious goals to increase sales from the current £102,000 per annum (Ebitda minus £20,000 to year-end June 2017).”
 
Marston’s buys Scunthorpe pub from Ei Group for £1.3m: Marston’s has bought The Mallard in Scunthorpe from Ei Group for a reported £1.3m. The pub in Burringham Road, which has an adjacent lodge, has been closed for more than five weeks when tenant Ian Brooke quit after 18 years to concentrate on his other business, The Crown Inn in Messingham. An Ei Group spokesman told the Scunthorpe Telegraph: “After careful consideration the decision was made to sell The Mallard in Scunthorpe. We have completed the sale of the pub to Marston’s.”
 
KFC unveils first female Colonel Sanders: KFC has unveiled the first woman to play Colonel Sanders. US country singer Reba McEntire is the first female to play the chain’s founder in its 90-year history. McEntire, famed for her singer-songwriting and television and film acting roles, donned a white wig and facial hair for the adverts, which will air in the US next week. Clad in the Colonel’s trademark white suit and black tie – with an added country twist – she sings: “I’m Colonel Sanders, the same as always. I’m definitely not a woman.” The singer, who will appear in the adverts until the end of April, told the Associated Press: “I got a big kick out of it.” McEntire will also play herself as an audience member watching the Colonel sing in the commercial. It will promote the new Smoky Mountain BBQ – a burger filled with KFC’s famous secret recipe fried poultry doused in barbecue sauce. Colonel Harland Sanders, who died 36 years ago, first started selling fried chicken from a single restaurant in 1930. KFC, now owned by Yum! Brands, resurrected the Colonel for its ads in 2015 after a nearly 20-year absence, hiring Rob Lowe, Ray Liotta and other famous men for the role. The latest campaign was overseen by KFC’s new chief marketing officer, Andrea Zahumensky, who said: “I think this is going to be our most-loved Colonel yet.” 
 
KerbEdge to open second standalone site next month, in Sheffield: Hull-based burger company KerbEdge will open its second standalone site next month, this time in Sheffield. KerbEdge started life as a street food van in 2014 before launching residencies with Camerons Brewery at its Head of Steam sites in Tynemouth and Hull. KerbEdge is now opening a 110-seat restaurant at West One in the Devonshire Quarter in Sheffield following the launch of its first standalone venue in Hull in November. Founder Adam Bryson told BDaily: “After our success launching our first restaurant in Hull last year, Sheffield was top of the list for our next venture. The city has the same laid-back, friendly feel as Hull.”
 
Bespoke Hotels to run entrepreneur’s boutique hotel and wedding venue in Southport: Merseyside-based multi-site operator Paul Adams has appointed Bespoke Hotels to run his boutique hotel and wedding venue in Southport town centre. The Vincent Hotel, which opened in 2008, offers 60 bedrooms, a cafe-style restaurant, an on-site sushi bar, a fitness centre and gym, meeting rooms and an events space. Bespoke Hotels managing director Graham Marskell told Insider Media: “We are delighted to have reached an agreement to manage the Vincent Hotel and strengthen our growing presence in the north west of England. It is a property with style and huge potential.” Adams added: “We are thrilled to join forces with Bespoke Hotels. We have watched its success in the north west with keen interest and we’re looking forward to taking the business to the next level together.” Bespoke Hotels’ portfolio of upmarket hotels includes the Roxburghe Hotel and Golf Course near Kelso, the Chester Grosvenor, and the Carnoustie Golf Hotel. Adams is busy in Liverpool, working with developer Elliot Group to build the £70m, 306-bedroom Vincent Residence & Hotel and the Times Hotel By Vincent, both in the city centre. He also operates the Vincent Cafe & Cocktail Bar and Vincent Kitchen.
 
Applegreen resubmits plans for Yorkshire motorway service station: Motorway services operator Applegreen has resubmitted controversial plans to build a service station next to the A1(M) in North Yorkshire. The company wants to build the Vale of York Motorway Service Area, which would include a 50,000 square foot building containing hot and cold food sites, a shop, toilets, shower and seating areas. It would also have a fuel filling station and a standalone drive-thru coffee shop. Applegreen said the site would create about 300 full-time jobs and add £6.2m to the area’s economy. Two previous applications to build a service station at the site have fallen through following residents’ protests over potential damage to the countryside. Applegreen’s plans to build a service station at Junction 33 of the M1 have also come under pressure following objections from fellow operator Extra MSA, which is planning its own service station at Junction 35.
 
Comptoir Libanais to expand into West Midlands after securing Birmingham site: Comptoir Libanais, the Lebanese canteen specialising in fresh Middle Eastern dishes owned by Comptoir Group, has secured a site in Birmingham – its first in the West Midlands. The company is set to open the restaurant at Grand Central in March having agreed a deal with the shopping centre’s owner Hammerson. The 3,047 square foot restaurant will be located next to Indian street food venue Mowgli and have space for about 100 covers. There will also be a small souk market where customers will be able to buy authentic ingredients, homeware and gifts as well as branded cookbooks. Founder Tony Kitous said: “Grand Central’s position above the busy New Street station and adjacent to the Bullring makes it the perfect location for our first restaurant in the West Midlands.” Comptoir Libanais operates about 20 sites in the UK, including branches in Manchester, Oxford and Bath.
 
Flypay founders join Upscale technology programme: Tom Weaver and Chris Evans, founders of mobile technology company Flypay and its platform Flyt, have joined the annual Upscale programme from Tech City UK. Upscale is a six-month programme that provides technology companies with advice and mentoring from some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs and investors, including founders of Skype, LoveFilm, Blippar and Graze. The initiative sets out to help startups demonstrate significant traction as they start to scale up while also reflecting the growing importance of areas such as data analytics, Fintech and cybersecurity. Previous graduates have included banking app Monzo and crowdfunding platform Seedrs. Weaver and Evans will join 37 other entrepreneurs in the programme’s third cohort. Weaver said: “We are thrilled to have been invited to join such a prestigious programme.”

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