Story of the Day:
Casual Dining Group reports like-for-like growth, plans further expansion, secures Tesco listing for Bella Italia products: Casual Dining Group (CDG), the operator of circa 290 mid-market restaurant brands including Cafe Rouge, Bella Italia and Las Iguanas, has reported current trading is ahead of the market, with “positive low-digit” like-for-like sales growth. The company is expecting Ebitda growth for the rest of the current year and has a schedule of new openings focused on “prime sites, airports and concessions in the UK and hotel joint ventures”. It is planning 17 international openings in 2018 in countries including South Africa, Ireland, Gibraltar and the Middle East, while it has secured an agreement with Tesco to stock a full range of Bella Italia products in 500 stores from September. Three further sites are planned to open in IHG UK hotels building on its Belgo restaurant in the Crown Plaza King’s Cross. CDG is planning further investment in its UK estate, with 20 additional refurbishments in the next six months. The company has also reported its results for the year ending 28 May 2017, with like-for-like sales up 2.2%. It saw revenue increase 10% to £329m, compared with £299m the previous year, driven by new site openings and sales growth from existing sites. Adjusted Ebitda was down £4m, from £33.9m to £29.9m. Statutory Ebitda was up 3% to £17m, compared with £16.4m the previous year. Cash from operations was up 7% to £15.2m, compared with £14.3m the year before. It refurbished 18 UK restaurants during the period, and a further 12 post-period. The company has 83 international franchise agreements signed, principally in the Middle East, Ireland and South Africa. CDG said brand development and digital platforms continued to drive bookings, with online pre-bookings seeing double-digit growth. Seven UK sites have opened in the past nine months. Chief executive Steve Richards said: “CDG’s brand diversity and digital reach mean the group has delivered a resilient performance in a year when costs driven by regulation and government action have been extreme and unprecedented. Against a challenging backdrop, we have maintained progression while further reducing discounting, which at group level is now at its lowest level in four years. At the same time, we have been very conservative with our retail price increases as we continue to offer best value to our customers. From April, the group will go live in 200 stores across the three leading delivery platforms – UberEats, Deliveroo and Just Eat. We are confident CDG is well positioned to take advantage of current market conditions.”
Social Media Strategy In A Day opens for bookings:
Social Media Strategy In A Day, an event aimed at allowing companies to develop and hone their social media strategy, has been launched – and is open for bookings. The event features all-new content and insights to allow companies to increase brand exposure and broaden their reach. Propel has partnered with digital marketing company Digital Blonde for the one-day advanced workshop that will cover everything a marketing department should be thinking about when it comes to social strategy. The event, which takes place on Thursday, 26 April at One Moorgate Place in London, will open with Digital Blonde founder Karen Fewell
revealing updates from recent industry reports and analysing insightful statistics. Attendees will be among the first to hear what she took away from the SXSW conference in the US. You will also learn the “top ten principles of persuasion for hospitality businesses”, which will show you how to apply psychological principles to help people buy your products and services. Craig Hill
will help you unearth your brand character and show you how to tell others about it in an interesting and engaging way. During the “inspiration session”, you will look at ten killer social media campaigns – what worked and why are people talking about them. The “interactive guide to content brainstorming” will force you to look at a campaign in a more emotional and engaging way, while the Digital Blonde team will also look at the changes Facebook made to its algorithm earlier this year and reveal what it means for your social account. The “understanding user behaviour” section of the event will answer key questions such as how do you engage with millennials and do Gen Z even use Facebook any more? Karen Fewell will round up the morning session by sharing the latest updates on the incoming General Data Protection Regulation. The afternoon will start with a quick-fire round of 20 questions in 20 minutes, while Jamie Riddell, of pay-as-you-go analytics platform BirdSong Data
, will reveal useful things about user behaviour in the hospitality sector. The “ultimate content toolkit” talk will reveal the tools you need to create engaging content cost-effectively from your mobile phone. Social copywriter Nicola Proud
will share her top copywriting hints and tips and reveal how to write Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts that stop people scrolling. The event will also reveal how to use Instagram stories to drive revenue for your business and show the key differences between the social advertising platforms on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Finally, the team will tell you where to find influential people, what to pay them and how to successfully build them into your strategy. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members and £345 plus VAT for non-members and can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Propel Premium members to receive expanded database of 1,100 multi-site operators:
Propel Premium subscribers will soon receive an expanded database of multi-site companies. A total of 100 multi-site companies have been added to the database this time, which now features 1,100 multi-site companies in all. The current free service to all existing readers remains the same but readers can opt to upgrade to receive the Propel Premium service. Propel Premium subscribers receive the Morning Newsletter, which is sent at 6.30am each weekday, at 7pm the day before. Subscribers also receive a digital version of Propel Quarterly magazine a week before publication plus discounts on tickets to select Propel events, among other benefits. For operators, annual subscription costs £345 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. For suppliers, annual subscription costs £445 plus VAT, with an extra £50 per additional subscriber at each company. To subscribe to the Propel Premium service, email Anne Steele at email@example.com
Wedding anniversaries top list of highest-spending restaurant occasions: Wedding anniversaries top the list of highest-spending restaurant occasions with consumers willing to part with an average of £97 on their meal and drinks, according to research by restaurant booking platform OpenTable. Birthdays (£86) were next on the list followed by a date with your partner (£77). The average spend on Mother’s Day was £73, with mums treated more than potential love interests as first dates averaged £72. Fathers fared worse, with diners willing to fork out £66 on Father’s Day. The research also found almost one-quarter (23%) of British men think it only fair to split the bill 50/50, while a further 16% admitted they prefer to split the bill with their dining partner based on who ordered what. OpenTable vice-president Europe Adrian Valeriano said: “The biggest worry can often be how much should you spend? Too little and you don’t impress, while too much is seen as extravagant. Tasting menus for special occasions and offers or set menus on dining holidays such as Mother’s Day provide a fantastic opportunity for diners to opt for something a little special while already knowing the cost of the bill before tucking in.”
Kerb launches latest phase of inKERBator initiative at West India Quay: Street food business Kerb has partnered with landlord Landsec to launch the latest phase of its food and drink business incubator – inKERBator – at London’s West India Quay market. InKERBator takes place every Tuesday until May with food startups able to test and sell their menus, learn from Kerb mentors, and receive customer feedback and business consultancy during their residency. The new batch of brands include social enterprise Kitchenette Karts, which helps young unemployed people get involved in street food, health food fanatics Kaledascope, and southern Californian cult favourite Zephyr. Known for its London lunchtime street food markets, Kerb has helped to develop more than 130 food businesses including Pizza Pilgrims, which now operates eight sites. Ollie Hunter, head of Kerb community and talent said: “We’re looking forward to seeing our newest fleet test their creative food concepts and we’ll help them along the way to gather feedback to improve, innovate and grow their businesses.” Landsec head of retail markets Polly Troughton added: “Working with new and exciting concepts like inKERBator helps us to keep our offer fresh and gives new brands a chance to grow their businesses.” Kerb operates six markets in London.
Morrisons passes 100,000-meal milestone in FareShare partnership: Morrisons has passed the 100,000-meal milestone in its partnership with food redistribution charity FareShare. Morrisons launched the initiative in April 2017 to use surplus food at its manufacturing sites to benefit people in need. The food saved from waste and diverted to charities that support vulnerable people across the UK is now equivalent to 100,000 meals. Morrisons production sites that work with FareShare include a fish processing plant in Grimsby and a vegetable-packing house in Carnoustie, which supplies surplus potatoes that previously went for animal feed. Morrisons also donates off-cut grapes from its fruit-packing house in Bradford. The company said it would now extend its redistribution model. Morrisons head of corporate services Steven Butts said: “As a food-maker that makes most of the fresh food we sell, our manufacturing sites represent the best opportunity to make a real difference by working with FareShare.” Lindsay Boswell, chief executive of FareShare, added: “We are incredibly proud of our partnership with Morrisons. The fact we have already reached a milestone of providing more than 100,000 meals is testament to Morrisons’ commitment to putting its surplus food to the best possible use.”
Grillstock creditors face £1.3m deficiency: Creditors of American-style barbecue restaurant Grillstock, which went into administration last year before being bought by a new company, are facing an estimated total deficiency of £1.3m, a new document has revealed. A statement of affairs notice filed at Companies House by administrators Gareth Roberts and Paul Ellison, of KRE Corporate Recovery, showed a total deficiency of £1,300,633. Five-strong Grillstock went into administration following the issue of a winding-up petition by HM Revenue & Customs. Grillstock owed £258,723 in VAT and £187,107 in PAYE and did not have the necessary funds to pay. Draft accounts for the nine months to 27 August 2017 showed the company made a loss of £186,000 on turnover of £1,846,000. For the year ending 27 November 2016, Grillstock made a loss of £314,000 on turnover of £3,130,000. Secured creditor NatWest is owed £199,932, while 14 employees and former staff are owed £11,800. Grillstock was sold out of administration to a new company, Hedrick, which includes some of the business’ former directors, for a total consideration of £92,000. The sale was for the Bristol, Bath and Leicester restaurants and a market stall in Bristol. It did not include the company’s Walthamstow restaurant, which was subsequently closed.
Northern Monk Brew Co hits £500,000 crowdfunding target in three hours, targets £1m to open taprooms or brewpub: Northern Monk Brew Co has hit its £500,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube within three hours of launch and hopes to overfund to £1m to open taprooms or a London brewpub. The original target for the campaign was to raise enough funds to triple capacity, install a new packaging line, and fast-track plans for additional taprooms. The Leeds-based company, owned by Russ Bisset, was offering a 4.76% equity stake in return for the investment. So far, 673 investors have pledged £549,840 and the campaign is now “overfunding” with 30 days remaining. Bisset said: “We’re blown away. We hope to overfund to £1m. If we get to that level, we can start thinking about opening our taprooms. If we can raise enough, our preferred option is a brewpub selling exclusively on-site in London.” Northern Monk Brew Co began life in a parent’s cellar in 2013 with just £5,000. In 2014, the company renovated The Old Flax store and, with three full-time staff members and three brewing vessels, began making beer in its new home. The business now has 30 staff, sells its beer to 22 countries (including the US, New Zealand and Japan), effectively doubled turnover each year for the past three years, and is set to brew more than three million pints in 2018. The pitch states: “In 2013 we set out to make some of the best beer in the world with just £5,000. In 2014, we launched our own brewery. In the four years since, we’ve been rated one of the world’s top 100 breweries, we’ve sold beer to 22 countries across the world and we’re hoping for turnover of £4m by the end of this financial year.” The company has been profitable for the past two years and in its last financial year reported Ebitda of £255,809.
YO! Sushi reveals it employs almost double number of female chefs compared with national average: YO! Sushi has revealed it employs almost double the number of female chefs compared with the national average. In total, more than one-third (36%) of chefs in YO! Sushi restaurants are female, compared with the UK average of 18.5%. More than one-fifth (21%) of the company’s head chefs are female, while almost one-third (32%) of kitchen leadership roles such as sous chef, team leader and head chef are filled by women. The company said it supported the development of women in its 80 UK restaurants by offering flexible working hours following maternity leave and a much smaller gender pay gap (3.7%) than the national average (18.1%). YO! Sushi people and operations director Jo Childs said: “We are a hugely welcoming and open organisation and champion all our team members, regardless of their sex. We want to see more women in chef and kitchen leadership roles at YO! and encourage the rest of the UK restaurant industry to do what they can to fill the gender gap.” The company announced its policies ahead of International Women’s Day on Thursday, 8 March.
Camerons to open Head of Steam site in Nottingham this month: Camerons Brewery is to open its latest Head of Steam site in Nottingham this month. The company will open the venue on Thursday, 22 March in High Pavement on the former site of Missoula Montana Bar & Grill, creating 25 jobs. The 2,920 square foot pub, which will be spread across two floors, will feature 22 speciality keg lines as part of 38 taps, with beer selected from breweries across Nottinghamshire. Food will include stone-baked pizza, burgers, 12-inch hotdogs and the new “Flight of the Besler” tapas and cask beer flights. Camerons chief executive Chris Soley said: “The idea is to create a destination that offers the latest specialist craft and cask brews, food-and-beer pairings and events.” Camerons will open Head of Steam pubs in Leicester towards the end of April and in Birmingham city centre in May, which will take the brand’s number of sites to 15. Its most recent launch was in Didsbury, Manchester. Camerons’ estate consists of more than 70 venues. It acquired The Head of Steam brand in 2014.
Just Eat launches major drive to reduce impact of takeaways on UK plastic waste levels: Just Eat has announced a package of measures to reduce excess plastic used in UK takeaway food deliveries. New consumer research revealed three-quarters (74%) of people who have a meal delivered don’t need items such as plastic cutlery, straws or sauce sachets. In addition, almost half (49%) said they would be more inclined to order from their local restaurant if they didn’t receive unnecessary plastic items. Just Eat, which works with 28,000 largely independent restaurants in the UK, has stopped selling all single-use plastic items in its shop. The company said it would also invest in research and development of practical alternatives for single-use plastics. The first initiative will be a partnership with Skipping Rocks Lab to trial the introduction of seaweed-based sauce sachets to restaurant partners that are edible and decompose in six weeks. Just Eat will also trial adding a pre-ticked box on its app and website to prompt customers to opt out of receiving plastic, while it will work with the Sustainable Restaurant Association to create resources for restaurants to help them reduce plastic usage. Just Eat UK managing director Graham Corfield said: “We are using our influence to drive more environmentally friendly behaviour among our restaurant partners and customers. This is just the first step.”
Fernandez & Wells founder launches artisan bakery concept in Bloomsbury: Jorge Fernandez, founder of five-strong coffee shop chain Fernandez & Wells, has launched an artisan bakery concept in Bloomsbury, London. Fortitude Bakehouse has opened in Colonnade focusing on slow-fermented dough and offering breakfast, lunch, sourdough cakes and other baked goods to take away, with a small space for customers to eat in. Fernandez, who also managed The Monmouth Coffee Company for six years, has launched the concept with Dee Rettali, who founded vegan bakery Patisserie Organic in 1998. Fortitude Bakehouse offerings include fermented barabrith with honey and black tea; lemon, rosewater and pistachio buns; and apple and thyme crumbles with chestnut flour. Fortitude Bakehouse also offers stone-rolled tea, which is ground between granite slabs and rolled before it is ready to brew, Hot Dinners reports.
Brighton-based vegan pizzeria Purezza to start expansion this month with Camden opening: Brighton-based vegan pizzeria Purezza is to start expansion this month by opening a second site, in Camden. Stefania Evangelisti and Tim Barclay launched the concept in St James’s Street, Brighton, in 2015, claiming to be the UK’s first vegan pizzeria. The company has signed a new 20-year lease at a site in Parkway formerly occupied by Market restaurant. It will offer 100 covers set across two floors. Purezza’s entirely vegan menu includes wholegrain sourdough pizza, pasta, and raw and gluten-free dishes. Evangelisti said: “A London-based Purezza has always been an ambition of ours. We are delighted to have acquired the Camden site, bringing our pioneering food into the capital.” In January, Purezza said it had “aggressive expansion plans” and was seeking investment to grow into other cities around the UK.
Hawthorn Leisure agrees to compensate community over Northamptonshire village pub sale: Hawthorn Leisure, the 312-strong pub company formed in 2013, has agreed to pay towards a new “local facility” following its plans to sell the Barn Owl pub in the village of Rectory Farm, near Northampton, to supermarket developers. Hawthorn Leisure announced plans to sell the pub in Olden Road two years ago. More than 550 people wrote a letter of objection to the plan when campaigners discovered the site was protected for community use by a 1980s covenant. That led Northampton Borough Council to launch legal action against Hawthorn Leisure for removing the site’s legal protection as a community building. Hawthorn has now agreed to make a “substantial contribution” towards a “local facility” for the residents of Rectory Farm in settlement for the release of the covenant. A Hawthorn Leisure spokesman told the Northampton Chronicle: “We’re very pleased to have been able to reach a good resolution to the dispute, especially since our financial contribution will be of benefit to local residents for years to come. It was always our wish to see the local residents benefit from the continuing use of a community facility following the closure of the pub.” Cllr Tim Hadland added: “We’re pleased the council and Hawthorn Leisure were able to resolve this matter amicably rather than going through a potentially costly legal exercise.”
Artisan baker launches cafe and deli concept Popina in Mayfair: Artisan baker Isidora Popović, who has been running stalls at more than 20 London markets for almost two decades, has launched cafe and deli concept Popina in Mayfair for her debut bricks and mortar site. Popović set herself up as a trader in 1998 with help from The Prince’s Trust, serving pastries, pies and cakes from Portobello Road. She now supplies Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Fortnum & Mason among others. Popina offers breakfast and brunch dishes such as kedgeree, switching to sandwiches and salads at lunch, Hot Dinners reports. There is also stew and curry alongside desserts such as pear and chocolate hazelnut tart, and rhubarb and ginger cheesecake, as well as treats to take away.
Sheffield-based healthy food restaurant Nourish ceases trading amid financial difficulties: Sheffield-based healthy food restaurant Nourish has ceased trading amid financial difficulties. The company, which had been trading for more than five years, has closed both its sites – in Pinstone Street and Ecclesall Road. It cited a “sustained period of poor trading” for the closures. A “funded recovery plan” was reported to be in place for the business through “external lenders”. However, they have notified the business they were “unable to meet their commitments”, which left Nourish with no choice but to close, reports The Star. Nourish was known for operating its “Pay It Forward Tree” scheme, where customers could buy food and drink for people on the streets for them to collect later. In a statement on its Facebook page, Nourish said: “Nourish has ceased trading. A sustained period of poor trading results at both Pinstone Street and Ecclesall Road restaurants has led to the closure of both outlets. We thank our staff for their passion, effort and commitment, not least through the past few months, which included a small refurbishment of the Pinstone Street restaurant and the overhaul of our menu and operations.”
Former Jamie Oliver chef director launches solo venture in Bristol: A chef who worked closely with Jamie Oliver has launched his first solo restaurant, in Bristol. Sam Elliott worked for Oliver during the past decade around the UK holding the position of chef director for the past three years. Elliott has bought the former Byzantium restaurant in Redcliffe for his first venture – Pasture. The restaurant focuses on fire-based cooking and local ingredients, including an in-house butcher. It also features regular live music. Elliott told the Bristol Post: “Jamie taught me the importance of surrounding myself with great people and building really strong relationships with suppliers. My supplier map is illustrated on the back of the menu detailing who we work with and who has helped bring Pasture to life. Our bar features local beer, cider and spirits and is managed by Craig Edney, who has been at the sharp end of the hospitality industry for more than 25 years. Our children’s menu is super-healthy. I was instrumental in the development of award-winning children’s menus over the years and will endeavour to do the same at Pasture.”
McDonald’s partners with Disney on Happy Meals toys after ten-year hiatus: Disney is resurrecting its partnership with McDonald’s to bring Disney-brand toys back to children’s Happy Meals more than a decade after the company severed ties. The two brands parted ways at a time when rising childhood obesity was making headlines and sparking concern over high-calorie children’s meals. McDonald’s is revamping its Happy Meal menu, trading burgers and chocolate milk for selections lower in calories, sodium, saturated fat and sugar. The companies plan to partner in time for Disney’s Incredibles 2 movie, which is due for initial release in June. McDonald’s also plans to promote Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks The Internet in November, Chicago 5 reports.
McMullen lines up pub restaurant in Cambourne: Hertfordshire-based brewer and retailer McMullen is lining up a new pub restaurant in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire. The company is set to operate the venue, which has been earmarked as part of a scheme to transform 0.8 hectares of vacant land between Back Lane and De La Warr Way. Plans have been submitted to South Cambridgeshire District Council to build the pub restaurant alongside a separate 144-bedroom hotel. The pub restaurant, which could be named the Princess Elizabeth, would be close to Lambert Lake and linked to the hotel by a footpath. The pub restaurant would feature a lounge, snug areas and a casual dining restaurant. There would also be a sun terrace, lawn and patio, reports the Cambridge News. McMullen’s other sites include Baroosh in Cambridge and the Jolly Postie in Royston.
Newcastle-based Lebanese restaurant The Bake to double up: Newcastle-based Lebanese restaurant The Bake is to double up in the city. Ali Al-Ali launched the concept in Byker Bank in 2010. Now he is opening a second site, in Grainger Market. The Bake offers hot mezze, shawarma, fish and seafood dishes, as well as seven types of chicken parmo. Al-Ali, who spent many years building experience in the hospitality industry in Dubai, told Chronicle Live: “This new restaurant is going to follow on from The Bake in Byker and it’s going to have a much grander identity in the city. The unit we’ve taken on is big so we’re going to create a nice seating area with lots of Middle Eastern lighting, warm colours and wood.”
Searcys to launch champagne school next month at refurbished St Pancras site: Searcys is to launch a champagne school next month at its refurbished St Pancras site. St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar by Searcys, which features the longest champagne bar in Europe, will unveil a new look that coincides with the 150-year anniversary of St Pancras station. Champagne School will host masterclasses led by Searcys drinks ambassador Joel Claustre. The redesign has been carried out by London-based studio Softroom and the 37-cover Kitchen Bar will feature high tables and chairs for all-day working and overlook an open kitchen available for chef demo events. The private dining room has been reimagined as a 12-seater tasting room. Executive head chef Shaun Rowlands and Searcys St Pancras head chef Colin Layfield have created a new all-day menu that will focus on UK seasonal produce. Searcys managing director Matt Thomas said: “The Champagne School will allow us to share our wealth of knowledge on Champagne and British sparkling wine in more depth. This is the first of many changes we hope will mark a new era for Searcys.”
Kymel Trading to operate Whitley Bay seafront site featuring restaurants and champagne bar: North east-based Kymel Trading is to operate redeveloped Whitley Bay seafront site the Spanish City Dome, which will reopen in the summer featuring restaurants and a champagne bar. The grade II-listed venue will relaunch as a leisure hub featuring a second site in the town for Kymel fish and chip brand Trenchers. The venue will also feature 1910 Steak and Seafood – a fine dining restaurant that will take inspiration from Kymel’s award-winning Crab & Lobster restaurant at Crab Manor Hotel in Asenby. Other offerings at Spanish City Dome will include cafe concept Valerie’s Tearoom, Spanish City Waffle & Pancake House, a champagne bar and St Mary’s Lighthouse Suite – a 200-capacity function space available to hire with a dedicated kitchen and bar. The suite will be linked to the mezzanine level of the dome and the champagne bar with views across Whitley Bay. Kymel Trading was founded by Paul and Kyle Mackings in 2013 and has its head office in Boldon, Tyne and Wear.
Apostrophe founder to launch Strut & Cluck sister site next week: Apostrophe founder Amir Chen is to launch a sister site to his turkey restaurant concept Strut & Cluck next week. Chen and wife Limor launched Strut & Cluck in Shoreditch in June 2016. Sister site Delamina will open in Marylebone on Monday (5 March) focusing on eastern Mediterranean food inspired by their family heritage. The Delamina website states: “Limor is the driving force behind the menu, drawing on her eclectic heritage – she was born in Tel Aviv to a family of Russian and Iranian origins – and inspired by her father, a passionate cook who exposed her to the myriad flavours, herbs and spices of the region. Limor’s recipes are influenced by her interest in healthy eating – grilling, roasting and using herbs and spices to celebrate the raw ingredients, including many vegetarian dishes. Her self-taught and intuitive approach results in dishes that are wholesome, healthy and with a unique flavour combination. The food is accompanied by a drinks list that includes wine from the Middle East alongside house cocktails that incorporate the same herbs and spices used in the kitchen.” Chen founded Apostrophe in 2004 and was chief executive until the company was acquired by CH&Co in 2016, remaining as an advisor until leaving to launch Strut & Cluck.
The UK Holiday Group sells Weston-super-Mare hotel off guide price of £995,000: Hospitality company The UK Holiday Group has sold Daunceys Hotel in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, off a guide price of £995,000. The property has been acquired by Supported Independence, a specialist local provider of supported living, through agents Christie & Co. UK Holiday Group said it took the decision to sell the hotel to concentrate on other areas of the business. The property is arranged over five floors plus the basement, with passenger lift access and numerous internal public rooms, ancillary areas, flexible owners’ accommodation and 72 letting bedrooms. The hotel had catered for the private leisure, corporate and coaching markets for a number of years under the ownership of The UK Holiday Group.