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Tue 20th Mar 2018 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Multi-site operators back One Planet Plate campaign as diners slam environmental impact of menus: The Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) will launch its One Planet Plate campaign on Saturday (24 March) as surveys revealed UK diners are dissatisfied with the social and environmental impact of restaurant menus. Two surveys were conducted on behalf of the SRA – one by restaurant guide Harden’s and the other by the National Union of Students (NUS). Only one-fifth (20%) of those questioned by Harden’s were satisfied with how ethical the food was at restaurants they dined in recently, while only 17% were satisfied with the venue’s impact on the environment. The NUS survey revealed a similar picture, with fewer than one-quarter (24.8%) of students satisfied with the environmental impact of the food on offer when they eat out, while fewer than one-third (30.4%) believe restaurants are meeting sufficient ethical standards. Almost nine in ten (86%) of those questioned by Harden’s said they thought restaurants should focus on creating a menu that helped them make sustainable choices. Chefs Raymond Blanc and Skye Gyngell and operators such as Carluccio’s, Jamie’s Italian, Wahaca and Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi are among those participating in the event, which aims to “change the food system one dish at a time”. Participating restaurants will feature a One Planet Plate dish on their menus. SRA chief executive Andrew Stephen said: “Our consumer surveys clearly demonstrate diners are crying out for some simple signposting to help them. One Planet Plate gives chefs the chance to draw attention to one delicious dish that epitomises their ethos.”

Industry News:

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? 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 anne.steele@propelinfo.com

UKHospitality says Brexit transition deal provides reassurance for sector: UKHospitality, the new unified voice for the sector following the merger between the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and the British Hospitality Association, has backed the government’s Draft Withdrawal Agreement and said it would provide reassurance for the sector. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The plan will provide businesses with more peace of mind and give employers a chance to begin drawing up plans for their businesses post-Brexit. A full right to remain during the transition period, with a chance to work towards full status, will provide EU workers with an opportunity to come to the UK with a sense of security and stability. With a significant portion of the UK’s hospitality workforce coming from outside the UK, this is the clarity and assurance we have been calling on the government to deliver. The government needs to communicate this message as widely as possible to reassure businesses and their employees and to make sure EU citizens are aware of the opportunities that still exist to them. The next step is for the government to begin to put in place the framework for the future immigration policy at the soonest opportunity.” Meanwhile, UKHospitality Cymru has “tentatively welcomed” announcements by the Welsh government concerning town centre loans and business rates relief. However, the trade body said the moves “fell short of enacting material, substantial change”. The government has unveiled a further £7.595m of town centre loans to boost high-street businesses in Wales and an extra £5m to extend the business rates relief scheme for small and medium-sized enterprises in 2018-19.

Livingbridge reveals list of operators ‘shaping future of hospitality’: Private equity firm Livingbridge has published its list of 15 operators it has chosen for their involvement in “shaping the future of hospitality”. Its Ones to Watch report showcases the top restaurateurs and consultants that are “grabbing industry attention from across the UK”. Livingbridge’s list features Clare Smyth (Core by Clare Smith), Prue Freeman and Tom Onions (Daisy Green), Martin Williams (M Restaurants), Asma Khan (Darjeeling Express), Chris Miller (White Rabbit), Adam Hyman (CODE Hospitality), Carl Clarke and David Wolanski (Chick ‘n’ Sours), Mark Wright (Rola Wala), Leon Esfahani (Magic Brands) Paul Hemings and Cara Ceppetelli  (Bird), Nick White (Bistrot Pierre), Tom Adams (Pitt Cue), Gavin Adair (Rosa’s Thai Café), Mark Smith (Pho) and Gordon Ker (Blacklock).

Sector companies to join Drinks Trade Regatta, places still available: Sector companies have signed up for this year’s Drinks Trade Regatta. Businesses taking part include AC Inns, Beds and Bars, Brew + Press, Christie & Co, Glenmorangie, HIT Training, Mast-Jagermeister, St Austell Brewery, Shepherd Neame, Sky, Young’s, Zonal and last year’s winner Faucet Inn. However, there are still places available for teams to sign up. The 28th regatta will take place from Friday, 11 May to Sunday, 13 May on the Solent. Teams are asked to donate £1,000 to charity with the top three contributors able to donate a percentage (first place 50%, second 30% and third 20%) to a charity of their choice. Last year’s event saw 19 teams participate, with more than £18,000 raised for charity. The teams will depart from Port Solent, Portsmouth, on a fleet of Sunsail First 40s to Cowes on the Isle of Wight to compete in seven races over two days. Teams will also enjoy a barbecue at Cowes’ Royal Corinthian Yacht Club and a gala dinner at the Royal Yacht Squadron. The cost is £3,250 per yacht, which includes VAT and the £1,000 charity donation. Crews can be novices as Sunsail, which facilitates the event, can provide skippers for an additional cost. For more information, call Sunsail account manager Terry Hunt on 02392 222 221.

Company News:

Cambridge-based vegan restaurant Stem + Glory hits £350,000 crowdfunding target in five hours to expand into London: Cambridge-based vegan restaurant Stem + Glory has passed its £350,000 fund-raise target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open its third site only five hours after launch. The company opened its first site in Cambridge in October 2016 after raising more than £97,000 in a campaign on Crowdfunder. The restaurant has experienced an 84% increase in turnover year-on-year and Stem + Glory opened a second site, in Cambridge city centre, in November 2017. In the new campaign, Louise Palmer-Masterton is offering a 15% stake in return for investment and plans to open a site in Old Street, London, in July before preparing the brand for roll-out. So far, the campaign has raised £352,750 from 307 investors with 29 days remaining and is currently “overfunding”. Stem + Glory offers gourmet vegan food from locally sourced ingredients with all dishes made on-site and available to eat in or take away. Its restaurants also feature a vegan bar offering craft beer, fine wine, cocktails, mocktails and smart drinks. Palmer-Masterton also founded yoga brand Camyoga, while fellow director Jim Masters was part of nightclub Ministry of Sound and was instrumental in setting up its record label, now the biggest compilation label in the world. He has also hosted nightclubs across London for more than 20 years, including Ultimate Base with friend and fellow DJ Carl Cox. The pitch states: “Stem + Glory is on a mission to change the way we view vegan food by offering healthy food, kinder to the environment, with no compromise on flavour. Demand for plant-based food is seeing huge growth in the UK. Last year, Ocado saw a 1,500% increase in plant-based food sales and Just Eat a 987% increase in demand for meat-free meals. Despite this growth, vegan restaurants are hugely under-represented. Of 18,302 restaurants in London, only 0.1% are fully vegan. Stem + Glory offers the opportunity to invest in a proven and ethical project, right at the start of an emerging market set to grow rapidly over the next ten years.”

ETM Group to open first shopping centre site, with Maple at Westfield London: ETM Group is to open its first shopping centre site, with the launch of Maple at Westfield London in White City this summer, taking the group’s portfolio to 15 sites. The botanical-themed 170-cover restaurant will offer modern-European brasserie dining, fine wine, artisan spirits and “inventive” botanical cocktails. A central bar with six overhanging 500-litre copper beer tanks that will dispense a rotating selection of guest craft beer will take centre stage alongside an open-plan theatre kitchen. The menu will feature “elegant” dishes using the best of the UK’s heritage breeds and responsibly sourced fish. The interior will feature natural wood, including chevron parquet flooring and drilled timber panelling. Brass and copper finishes are matched with vibrant colours, botanical-themed walls and a mixture of leather banquettes, compact club bar chairs and high-level stools. There will also be a 30-cover alfresco terrace. ETM Group co-founder Ed Martin said: “The expansion at Westfield London offers a fantastic opportunity to join a thriving venture. Launching a restaurant and bar at a world-class shopping and leisure destination is a first for ETM but we believe it is the perfect next step for us. We are confident Maple will play a key part in the future success of Westfield and we look forward to the exciting summer ahead.” Having opened five sites in the past 18 months, ETM Group said it continued to build on its expansion plans with a “strong location strategy in place alongside robust concepts and an obsession to deliver consistent quality”. As previously announced, a further two venues are planned during the next 12 months.

Northern Monk Brew Co closes crowdfunding campaign after raising £1.5m: Northern Monk Brew Co has closed its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising £1.5m. The Leeds-based company, owned by Russ Bisset, was offering a 4.76% equity stake as it looked to raise £500,000 to triple capacity, install a new packaging line and fast-track plans for additional taprooms. Northern Monk Brew Co hit that target within three hours of the campaign’s launch and has now closed the campaigning having raised £1.5m from 2,162 investors. The company said the additional funds would allow it to open further taprooms or a London brewpub. 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.     

Domino’s Pizza boss sees remuneration drop almost one-third: Domino’s Pizza chief executive David Wild saw his remuneration drop by almost a third last year, according to the company’s annual report. Wild received a total of £1,597,000 for the year ending 31 December 2017, compared with £4,482,000 the previous year. This consisted of £510,000 salary, £14,000 benefits and supplements, £51,000 pension, £260,000 bonus, £751,000 in long-term incentive payments and £11,000 as part of the deferred share bonus plan. Meanwhile, chief financial officer Rachel Osborne received total remuneration of £584,000 in her first full year as chief financial officer. This was made up of £325,000 salary, £17,000 benefits and supplements, £49,000 pension, £168,000 bonus and £25,000 in long-term incentive payments. Wild’s maximum bonus opportunity for 2018 will be 100% of salary – payable in cash – because he participated in the 2016 long-term incentive plan. His salary will remain at £510,000 until 2019. Osborne’s salary will remain at £325,000 until 2019, while her bonus opportunity this year is 125% of salary.

Bill’s rolls out iC analytics to control energy use: Bill’s is using Carbon Statement’s iC analytics platform to cut energy consumption across its estate as part of a programme to improve efficiency and minimise environmental impact. Bill’s said reducing energy use would also improve its ranking within the Hospitality Sector Carbon Reduction Forum, which measures the efficiency of more than 30 major operators in the sector and demonstrates the impact of energy waste on operational margins. Bill’s chief executive Duncan Garrood said: “We are always looking at ways to maximise our resource efficiency and energy is a major controllable cost. Carbon Statement’s iC analytics will help us identify where energy waste is occurring as it uses hospitality-specific metrics and provides restaurant teams with actionable information. As a result, we’ll reduce usage across our estate and improve profitability while minimising our environmental impact.” Bill’s has more than 80 sites around the UK, with founder Bill Collison opening the first restaurant in Lewes, East Sussex, in 2001.

Jamie Oliver partners with Hungarian restaurant entrepreneur as he plans Jamie’s Italian site in Zurich: Jamie Oliver has partnered with Hungarian restaurant entrepreneur Roy Zsidai as he bids to open a Jamie’s Italian site in Zurich. Zsidai told Schweiz am Wochenende he was already scouting locations for a Jamie’s Italian and the restaurant would open this year if all went to plan. Oliver previously said he would open a restaurant in the Swiss financial hub if he could find the right partner. He added: “The Swiss are unbelievable – they are maybe my most faithful customers.”

New World Trading Company to bring The Botanist to Exeter: Graphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group New World Trading Company (NWTC) is to launch its latest site for The Botanist brand, in Exeter. The company has applied to Exeter City Council for a premises licence to open a venue opposite The Terrace in Guildhall Shopping Centre. NWTC chief executive Chris Hill told Insider Media: “We’re going to continue to grow our business across the UK. We’ve got a couple of exciting roll-out brands, which will allow us to put a couple of sites in each city if we choose. Over the next few years, we’re going to steadily grow our teams and number of sites and hopefully increase our footprint across the UK. There’s no plan for any major changes in ownership structure or anything like that for a while, we’re just getting on with delivering our business plan.” The company currently operates 16 Botanist sites. Last month, NWTC launched The Florist in Bristol and is looking for a second site for the concept, in Liverpool. The company, which also operates The Oast House, The Trading House and The Canal House, was acquired by Graphite Capital for £50m in June 2016.

Eat 17 to expand street food hall concept with two London launches: Eat 17, which operates four sites that are part artisan food store, part convenience store and part restaurant, is set to launch two food halls in London. The company, which has stores in Walthamstow, Hackney, Whitstable and Bishop’s Stortford, will launch food halls in Hammersmith and Leytonstone High Road. The Hammersmith site will open in Smiths Square Market in Fulham Palace Road in May, with Eat 17 seeking three street food traders to operate at the venue. The space will offer an eating-in section, a supermarket element and a 2,000 square foot events area. Eat 17 co-founder James Brundle told Hot Dinners: “The indoor street food market dining concept has proven a hit in our Bishop’s Stortford store and we expect the reception to be just as positive in Hammersmith.” Brundle founded Eat 17 with stepbrother Chris O’Connor in 2006. All stores feature a grocery section stocked with own-brand products and goods sourced from local suppliers. Each site, however, is unique – the flagship Walthamstow store has an a la carte restaurant, the Hackney store a stone-baked pizza oven, the Whitstable store has a deli and the Bishop’s Stortford store has an indoor street food market.

Dorbiere begins £1m refurbishment programme: Manchester-based pub operator Dorbiere has started a £1m refurbishment programme that will see between ten and 12 of its sites undergo revamps this year. The first pub to receive an upgrade is The Oddfellows Arms in Openshaw, Manchester, which operations manager Peter Tormey told Propel had seen weekly revenue double since reopening at the start of the month. The pub in Abbey Hay Lane has undergone a full overhaul with a mural across two walls dedicated to the history of Manchester, Openshaw and The Oddfellows Arms itself. The pub boasts a new bar, upgraded flooring, beer garden and opulent lighting with sports a key feature, showing on five, large HD televisions. Drinks include cask ale, cocktails, premium spirits and draught beer. Tormey added: “We’re looking to invest in the estate and bring the pubs up to date. We’re delighted with the response so far at The Oddfellows Arms.” Tormey said the company was looking to add further pubs to its 52-strong estate across the north west, north east and Midlands, all of which are freehold. He added: “We are certainly looking for opportunities and are looking to push forward.”

Haworth siblings launch plant-based Plates in Shoreditch: Kirk and Keeley Haworth, whose father Nigel is former managing director of Northcote Leisure Group, have launched plant-based concept Plates in Shoreditch. The Haworths operate a catering company that also offers events and private dinners at their development kitchen and restaurant in Kingsland Road. Now they have launched Plates in the space, which opens to the public every Saturday night and is already booked six weeks in advance. Plates’ website states: “Led by head chef Kirk Haworth (The French Laundry, The Square and Northcote) and sister Keeley (artistic director and partner of Studio La Plage), we explore an avant-garde style without meat, fish, dairy or refined sugar.” Nigel Haworth stepped down as managing director of Northcote Leisure Group in December. He remains a shareholder and has become ambassador and consultant to the group, which comprises Michelin-starred Northcote Hotel, near Langho; Northcote At The Rovers and Café Northcote, both in Blackburn; and the five-strong Ribble Valley Inns.

Papa John’s Plymouth store sees record UK sales: Papa John’s has said its Plymouth store recorded the highest weekly pizza sales in the UK last year. The Mutley Plain outlet is run by franchisees Jo and Austin Boland. The husband-and-wife team employ about 60 staff at their two Papa John’s sites in the city. Jo Boland said: “We had been building up to a record week and the return of students to the region late last spring pushed our pizza sales to the highest level ever! One challenge we faced is our Mutley Plain store is one of the smallest Papa John’s in the UK. The lack of space was a big driver in opening our second outlet – in St Budeaux at the end of last year. Both outlets are doing brilliantly and we look forward to growing sales further.” Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1984 and operates more than 350 stores across the UK and over 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets and territories.

Select Country Inns adds Hampshire village pub to portfolio: Hampshire-based pub company Select Country Inns has added The Cartwheel Inn in Whitsbury, near Fordingbridge, to its portfolio off a freehold guide price of £435,000. The company acquired the grade II-listed pub through agent Christie & Co. Select Country Inns chairman Brian Currie said he plans to let the pub to an experienced operator, who will reopen the doors trading under the same name and “add to The Cartwheel Inn’s historic success”. Currie added: “I am delighted to be adding The Cartwheel Inn to our portfolio as historically it has had a strong reputation and always traded well.” Richard Wood, business agent at Christie & Co’s Winchester office, who handled the sale, said: “The Cartwheel Inn attracted multiple bids following a full and comprehensive marketing campaign before being sold to Brian Currie who has a proven track record of renovating and managing pubs within the local area. It is this local knowledge that will no doubt allow him and his future tenants to make the business a great success.”

Mark Sargeant to open restaurant at Tower of London: Chef Mark Sargeant, a Gordon Ramsay protege who has made numerous appearances on television cookery shows, is adding to his own empire by opening a restaurant at the Tower of London. Sargeant, former head chef of Gordon Ramsay At Claridge’s, operates four restaurants and gastro-pubs in Kent and runs the eateries at Great Northern Hotel in King’s Cross. He has partnered with Ampersand, CH&Co Group’s events and catering business, to open the Tower of London site. The venture is described as an “exciting and innovative new dining adventure at this world-famous, historic visitor attraction in the heart of London”. It will be a “destination waterfront restaurant with a menu that pays homage to the building’s character”, Hot Dinners reports.

Creams Cafe plans nine openings: Dessert parlour operator Creams Cafe is planning to open a further nine sites across the UK. The company has venues earmarked for Beckton and Stratford in London as well as the Bluewater shopping centre, Barnsley, Brentwood, Cambridge, Leeds, Southampton and Woking, according to its website. Creams serves waffles, milkshakes, freakshakes and 36 varieties of Italian gelato-style ice cream. It also offers a wide range of sundaes, including the hot chocolate fudge volcano, and crepes such as the Belgian banana burrito. Creams currently has 63 restaurants across the UK.

El Pastor team to launch tortilla factory and taco bar in Bermondsey next month: Brothers Sam and James Hart and Crispin Somerville, who launched Mexican taqueria concept El Pastor in 2016, are to launch an offshoot tortilla factory and taco bar near Bermondsey’s Maltby Street Market next month. Tortilleria El Pastor will launch in Druid Street on Saturday, 7 April making fresh tortillas from scratch every day to eat in or take away. The venue will seat 26 in total – 20 at tables and six at a high taco bar – and will also supply nearby El Pastor. Tortilleria El Pastor will feature an imported taco-making machine and use Mexican heirloom corn. Unlike the original taqueria, the new venue will offer sopes (thick corn mini-maize cakes piled with toppings), Hot Dinners reports. The drinks list will include El Pastor’s first batch of its own mezcal, made in partnership with Mexico’s La Clandestina brand. The name El Pastor is based on “al pastor”, a Mexico City staple that roughly translates as “shepherd-style”. The Hart brothers also operate three Barrafina sites and restaurant and members’ club Quo Vadis in London. Barrafina Soho was awarded a Michelin star in 2014.

Brakspear to ditch plastic straws: Pub operator and brewer Brakspear has become the latest operator to end the use of plastic straws across its estate. All 11 managed pubs will stop using plastic straws as soon as possible, while the 120 or so tenanted and leased sites are being strongly encouraged to do the same, with a poster produced by Brakspear being made available to all licensees. The “Plastic Isn’t Fantastic” poster explains plastic straws are no longer being offered with drinks but eco-friendly paper straws are available on request at the bar. Brakspear marketing manager Emma Sweet said: “Plastic straws are rightly being seen as a cause of pollution that can be easily eliminated. Consumers are keen to reduce their personal plastic use and we’ve had lots of questions in our pubs. Clearly, for our tenants ditching plastic straws is a decision they have to make about their business, and the poster helps them to explain the policy to customers.”

MyLahore relocates Leeds restaurant to meet growing demand: MyLahore, the brand that offers a self-proclaimed British and healthy twist on Asian food, has relocated its Leeds restaurant and takeaway operation to meet demand. Founded in 2002 by cousins Asghar Ali and Shakoor Ahmed, MyLahore has restaurants in Bradford, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham. The company has relocated its Leeds base of more than five years in Burley Road to a larger site in nearby Kirkstall Road. The restaurant has room for more than 150 guests and a private dining area for 100 people.

Liberty Cheesesteak Co rebrands as Passyunk Avenue as it opens Fitzrovia bricks and mortar site: Liberty Cheesesteak Co, which offers Philadelphia-style sandwiches from a food truck in Spitalfields Market, has rebranded as Passyunk Avenue after opening a bricks and mortar site in Fitzrovia. The restaurant has opened in Cleveland Street offering cheesesteaks, meatball sandwiches and scrapple – a kind of pork meatloaf. The venue features a 100-cover restaurant and bar, with a dive bar opening later this week on the floor below. Both floors show “Philadelphia-oriented sports” such as American football and baseball, while London-based Sambrooks Brewery supplies the beer. Liberty Cheesesteak Co was founded by JP Teti, initially as a series of pop-ups. The Passyunk Avenue website states: “We have decided to adopt a new name and rebrand to truly capture the essence of Philadelphia and its culture. What better name to choose than the prominent street in south Philadelphia that is the birthplace of the humble cheesesteak!”

Everyman to open Glasgow cinema for first Scottish site: Everyman Cinemas is to open a boutique venue in Glasgow. The cinema will launch in Princes Square this autumn and will be the expanding company’s first location in Scotland. There will be three screens, seating 95, 74 and 36 customers. Everyman Cinemas chief executive Crispin Lilly told the Glasgowist: “We’re so excited to create something special as part of the Princes Square development in Glasgow. It’s a vibrant city and we are looking forward to delivering something special for the community.” Earlier this year, Everyman lodged plans to open a cinema in Altrincham town centre. The company currently operates 22 venues.

Travelodge opens 100-bedroom hotel at Liverpool John Lennon airport: Travelodge has opened a 100-bedroom hotel at Liverpool John Lennon airport, its 14th site in Merseyside and 26th at an airport. The hotel also features a bar cafe, three meeting rooms and on-site parking. Travelodge acquired a 25-year operating lease for the former Holiday Inn Express in the autumn. During the past six months it has undergone a £2m refurbishment, creating 22 jobs. The hotel is managed by Stacey Coleclough, who joined the company as a cleaner in 2009. Travelodge regional director for the north Nichola Stevens told Insider Media: “Merseyside remains a key growth area for Travelodge and we are looking to boost our network of 14 hotels in the region with a further four sites – in Liverpool city centre, Birkenhead, Formby and St Helens. This expansion represents an investment of £24m for third-party investors and a job creation of almost 100.” Travelodge reported a 6.6% increase in revenue to £637.1m last year, with operating profit up £2.3m to £112.4m. The group plans to open 100 hotels in the next five years, creating 2,500 jobs.

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