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Mon 12th Mar 2018 - Technology and health test sector, Wasabi secures £30m for London expansion
Technology and health test out-of-home food and drink sector, 14.9% increase in Britain’s food-led licensed premises in past five years: Healthy lifestyles are transforming the way consumers eat out, while hospitality is facing a post-Brexit crisis in recruitment, according to the third Future Shock report. The report, produced by CGA Peach and UKHospitality, the new unified voice for the sector following the merger between the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and the British Hospitality Association, showed health issues are having a significant impact on the market too. Three in five out-of-home diners said they proactively try to lead a healthy lifestyle. Research showing falling alcohol consumption and rising demand for soft drinks highlighted the need to cater for health-conscious consumers, and young urban people in particular. The report identified several challenges facing the out-of-home eating and drinking out markets, including rising property and people costs, and warned of a looming crisis in staffing as a result of Brexit. With non-British nationals accounting for nearly a quarter of employees in hospitality and tourism – rising to nearly two thirds in London – operators will be closely watching the outcome of Brexit negotiations and planning strategies to improve their recruitment and retention. The report also revealed a 14.9% increase in Britain’s food-led licensed premises in the past five years, to about 45,500. A total of 47% of British consumers now eat out at least once a week while 45.5% of pubs and bars’ sales are now derived from food. Jamie Campbell, business unit director at CGA, said: “This is a time of huge change in out-of-home eating and drinking, and our latest edition of Future Shock spotlights three of the most pressing issues – technology, health and Brexit. Understanding these and the many other trends uncovered by CGA’s research is going to be crucial for all operators in the months and years ahead.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “This has been a very busy year for the sector, with battles on business rates, Living Wage, lease reform, apprenticeship levy and the sugar tax. In the battle for share of voice within government, insight, intelligence and information are king, and that is why the Future Shock series is so important.”
 
Wasabi secures £30m for London expansion plans: London-based sushi and bento business Wasabi has secured a £30m revolving credit facility from HSBC to support its ambitious 2018/19 expansion plans. Part of the funding from HSBC will help with the roll-out of new Wasabi restaurants across London, the first of which will open in Russell Square this spring. Additionally, the funding will be used to help expand Wasabi’s Japanese and Korean bakery chain, Soboro, which it also plans to bring to the capital in 2018. Furthermore, significant investment will be allocated to Wasabi’s Central Processing Unit (CPU) in Park Royal, west London, where the company consolidated its warehouse and kitchen operations in 2016. Wasabi said HSBC’s support means it can improve operational productivity and efficiencies across the business, while striving for product consistency. At 65,000 square feet, the CPU provides plenty of room for expansion, which the new funding is also expected to facilitate in the future. Wasabi managing director Frederic Lluch said: “Continuing to drive expansion is top of our agenda and with HSBC’s support, led by our relationship director Chris Priest, the new financial year will see us increase the presence of both our brands in London. We’ll also be looking to build on our strategic partnerships as well as continuing to look at operational advancements.” Nick Hicks, HSBC’s area director for Sussex and Surrey corporate banking centre, said: “We have forged a good relationship with the Wasabi team, supporting the company’s growth both here and in the US over the last few years. We’ve been able to draw on our global expertise to put a competitive and tailored finance package in place, which we hope will help the business continue to realise its future expansion plans.”

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