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Fri 23rd Mar 2018 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Levels of ‘significant’ financial distress up 8% across UK restaurants: An increasing number of restaurants in the UK have unpaid debts of up to £5,000, new research has revealed. More than 11,000 eateries are showing “significant” signs of distress ahead of quarterly rent payments, which are due at the end of this week, according to restructuring adviser Begbies Traynor. This marks an increase of 8% on the same time last year. The number of restaurants experiencing distress has increased faster in London. More than 3,000 in the capital are in “significant” financial distress in the first quarter of this year, up 9% on last year. The businesses in question have either had minor County Court Judgments filed against them for unpaid amounts of fewer than £5,000, or have been identified as having a deterioration in key financial indicators. Begbies Traynor partner Julie Palmer said: “As rising inflation continues to hit real wages, UK consumers are proving increasingly cautious when it comes to their discretionary spending, meaning there is even more pressure on restaurants to put on margin squeezing meal deals to entice diners through their doors. Unfortunately for those restaurateurs experiencing both declining sales and rising costs, the upcoming quarterly rents payment this weekend could be too big a financial hit for many to swallow.” The warning comes just weeks after bosses of major restaurant companies warned a double whammy of lower footfall and soaring business rates is putting pressure on already struggling outlets. Companies such as better burger brand Byron, Prezzo and Jamie’s Italian have either put or are putting Company Voluntary Arrangements in place and closing sites.

Industry News:

Edinburgh-based operator to launch ‘pitch’ recruitment app: Edinburgh-based multi-site operator Mike Christopherson is launching a new recruitment app that features a “video pitch facility” for employers and job-seekers. Christopherson, who is originally from Sweden and founded the six-strong Boda bars in 2004, told Propel he is bringing My Job Pitch to the market because “you can’t assess personality on a CV”. Christopherson, who started creating the app in 2016, is working with Tim Gibson, former lead regional business manager in Mitchells & Butlers’ premium divisions, who has launched TCG Consultants, on the project and has agreed a number of trials with major hospitality companies. He said: “It was taking us so long to find the right candidates for jobs so something had to change. We are a service industry and you can’t see a smile or someone’s personality through a CV and I felt there needed to be a better connection between employers and job-seekers.” My Job Pitch allows potential employees to upload a 30-second pitch while there is also a facility for companies to introduce the job in question. It works in the same way a dating app could be used with operators swiping until they find a suitable candidate and then clicking to connect. The candidate will also have uploaded their CV, National Insurance details and references. Christopherson added: “Everything is all in one place so it makes the whole process faster and more efficient. It means when it comes to interview you know each candidate is what you are looking for. The other thing it does is to give companies the chance to pitch themselves. Prospective staff are not just looking for good pay, they want to work in a good environment and this gives operators the chance to show how great they are. I’ve done it for my own business and now I want to help other companies to be able to do the same.”

Brits to spend £129bn on leisure activities this year, ten-pin bowling enjoys resurgence: Brits are expected to spend £129bn on leisure activities this year – a 17% increase compared with five years ago, according to a new report from Mintel. The research showed this figure is forecast to rise to £141bn by 2022, while ten-pin bowling is also enjoying a resurgence with growth up 28% since 2012. Kids’ favourites are capturing the imagination of Britain’s adults as Mintel found trampolining and outdoor assault courses are proving popular among adventure-seeking Brits. Almost three in ten (28%) adults have tried trampolining, with a further quarter (24%) interested in trying it in the future. While interest in this activity peaks among 25 to 34-year-olds (37%), almost one in ten (8%) over-55s said they would also be interested. Other new leisure activities capturing Brits’ interest include immersive theatre (with 13% having tried it), virtual reality theme park rides (11%) and escape room challenges (10%). In contrast, nightclubs was the worst performing area, suffering a 18% decline between 2012 and 2017. Some 30% of UK adults (rising to 48% of millennials) who have taken part in a leisure activity in the past year said they are spending more money on leisure activities than they were a year ago. Mintel associate leisure director Helen Fricker said: “The UK leisure market is in robust health benefiting from consumers seeking more experience-led activities. After years of decline, ten-pin bowling is enjoying a surprise renaissance with operators reaping the rewards of investing in sites and more appealing food menus, while some bowling sites also offer a choice of multiple activities, such as live music and karaoke. There has been a rise in trampolining parks and ball pits that cater to adults. Other kids’ party favourites, such as bouncy castles and slides, are also getting the grown-up treatment. This includes adult-only inflatable assault courses, accompanied by craft beer, DJs and street food markets. Whether it’s trampolining, outdoor assault courses or escape room challenges, there is a clear drive towards activities that are more active in nature. Nightclubs are still struggling to overcome the challenges they face as the result of changing consumer habits, including young adults drinking less, and many more alternative night-time activities such as immersive cinema or indoor street food markets.”

UKHospitality backs ‘level playing field’ move for sharing economy: 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 a report from a group of MPs investigating the impacts of the sharing economy. The interim report from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tourism has been heralded as a step towards better understanding of local and national economic and social impacts, to inform measures to ensure a more level playing field between competitors. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “UKHospitality has been calling for action in a number of areas the government must address. Many online platforms are headquartered abroad and pay comparatively little UK corporation tax as a result. They often pay far less in business rates, given they do not own many physical assets, compared with traditional accommodation providers, who are also subject to a rate of VAT of 20% – among the highest in Europe and making UK hospitality businesses uncompetitive compared with their European competitors. Visitors and communities are being put at risk when legal safety requirements are reliant on the goodwill and compliance of hosts rather than independent checks and enforcement. We are pleased this report highlights these disparities and recommends a level playing field for all accommodation providers in terms of regulatory compliance and taxation. We look forward to liaising with policymakers to make this a reality.” Meanwhile, UKHospitality has backed the European Commission’s publication of proposals aimed at a fair taxation of the digital economy and online platforms. The proposals are designed to ensure online platforms, including “collaborative” economy related platforms and online market places, pay proportionate taxes in Europe, corresponding to the value created in the different European markets in which they are operating.

Fruit cider bringing new audience to on-trade as sales grow 41% to drive segment: Fruit cider is bringing a new audience to the on-trade as sales grew 41.4% last year to drive the segment despite cannibalising original apple cider brands. The brand is helping to attract a younger and more female-driven audience to the sector. Cider-producer Westons’ annual report forecast fruit cider sales would represent 48% of the total segment by 2023. As part of the company’s growth plans, Westons will launch its first premium fruit cider within its Stowford range next month following a regional trial. Stowford Press Mixed Berries will be a 4.0% ABV fruit cider featuring real fruit juice. The drink will be launched as a draught cider in April nationwide. Stowford Press brand manager Holly Chadwick said: “Sales of fruit ciders are flourishing driven by the vast number of consumers seeking sweeter, refreshing flavours. In total, 25.7 million fruit pints are being drunk in the on-trade and it’s clear to see fruit ciders are broadening consumer interest in the wider category. By appealing to younger female consumers who are often new to the category, fruit ciders are also driving incremental sales. It’s clear there is a fantastic opportunity for the on-trade to drive greater value into the fruit cider category, with a new premium mainstream offering. Thanks to the substantial interest in fruit cider nationwide, within five years we expect it to account for almost 50% of all cider sold.”

Takeaway salad is Britain’s biggest source of food waste: Takeaways should think twice before throwing in a bag of salad with an order because “literally no-one” eats them, according to new research. The findings by UK waste management company showed takeaway salad is Britain’s biggest source of food waste. It said 99% of bagged salads given away by takeaways are never eaten, with many thrown into waste bins unopened, and operators should ask customers if they actually want it. spokesman Mark Hall said: “In our opinion, they’re nothing but a huge waste of food – thousands of tons going to waste. A plastic bag’s probably not the best way to present a salad, to be honest. Customers have a mental image of the food being stuffed in there by bare hand, which it most certainly isn’t. But it’s a hard image for most people to shake. Asking customers if they want the salad will save food establishments money and puts an end to the thousands of tons of food wasted every year.”

European hotel industry shows 4.7% revpar growth in February: The European hotel industry saw strong revpar growth in February with increases also recorded in average daily rate and occupancy levels. STR data showed the continent’s revpar rate for the month rose 4.7% to €65.43, while occupancy levels increased 2.1% to 65.5% and the average daily rate rose 2.5% to €99.87. STR’s data focused on three countries – the Czech Republic, France and Malta. Occupancy levels in the Czech Republic were the highest for any February on record, increasing 3.6% to 56.5%. However, revpar growth was limited to 1.6% as average daily rate declined 1.9% – its second monthly drop in a row after nine consecutive months of increases to close 2017. In France, the country reported its highest occupancy level for a February since 2008 (up 6.2% to 59.6%) and highest revpar level for a February since 2014 (increasing 15.4% to €62.62). Average daily rate rose 8.6% to €105.08. STR analysts said Paris, which saw revpar increase 12.7% to €135.18, continued to regain its attractiveness as a destination following the terror attacks of recent years. In Malta, there were declines in revpar (-10.5% to €52.71), average daily rate (-7.6% to €90.56) and occupancy (-3.2% to 58.2%) with the Malta Informal Summit having taken place last year, which brought together 28 EU heads of state of government. Demand actually rose slightly (+0.3%) year-on-year, but supply growth (3.6%) pulled down occupancy levels. 

Company News:

Just Eat chief executive appointed on salary of £230,000 more than predecessor: Just Eat chief executive Peter Plumb was appointed on a salary of £230,000 more than his predecessor David Buttress, the company’s annual report has revealed. Plumb, who joined Just Eat in July last year having previous been boss of Group, has a salary of £695,000 while Buttress was paid £465,000. Remuneration committee chairman Gwyn Burr said in her report the level was considered “appropriate and necessary in order to secure his appointment”. The report showed Plumb received total remuneration of £458,293 for the year ending 31 December 2017. This consisted of £200,481 salary and fees, £7,212 in taxable benefits, £240,576 annual bonus and £10,024 pension. Buttress, who moved to a non-executive director’s role, received total remuneration of £927,968. Meanwhile, chief financial officer Paul Harrison, who was appointed in September 2016 on a salary of £400,000, had his pay increased to £450,000 from September 2017. Burr said the rise was to a level “consistent with his experience and performance, as demonstrated through acting up outstandingly as interim chief executive”. She added: “The new salary levels for our executive directors place them at a broadly median level of salary for similarly sized FTSE companies.” Both executives’ salaries will remain the same in 2018. Harrison received total remuneration for 2017 of £989,203. This consisted of £452,500 salary and fees, £19,264 in taxable benefits, £434,400 bonus, £5,763 in long-term incentives, £24,446 pension and other payments of £52,830. For 2018, Harrison’s annual bonus participation level will be increased from 120% to 150% of base salary with his performance share plan award rising from 160% to 200% of base salary, which were the same levels as the chief executive. Meanwhile, Just Eat has put its advertising review on hold until the autumn, to ensure its “advertising approach was aligned with the brand’s long-term strategic plan”, and will continue to work with Karmarama in the meantime. It called the review in February, less than two years after appointing Karmarama, reports Campaign. 

Shonhan to open second Flesh & Buns site, in Fitzrovia: Ross Shonhan, founder of Japanese ramen bar concept Bone Daddies, is to open the second site of his bao bun restaurant Flesh & Buns, in Fitzrovia. Shonhan is opening the new venue in the Copyright development in Berners Street in late June. It will differ from the original Flesh & Buns, which was launched in Covent Garden nearly five years ago, in that it will also explore Nikkei Peruvian cuisine and drinks. The menu will feature a new ceviche and tiradito offering, and hot dishes. Flesh & Buns’ signature frozen yuzu margaritas will remain on the menu, with an expansion into the Peruvian Pisco Sour, which guests can push a button at their table to order. The 170-cover restaurant will sit across one floor and will be divided in to three sections. Through the centre of the site, raised booths will divide the bar and the two parts of the restaurant. At the back of the site, there is additional seating leading to an open kitchen, with counter dining. There will also be a secluded semi-private dining room. Shonhan said: “Almost five years ago, we were the first dedicated bao restaurant to open in London. It was met with mixture of surprise, intrigue and interest, and I vowed I would never open another one! Half a decade later, we have a fantastically loyal following and my wounds have healed! We refurbished Flesh & Buns Covent Garden last year to improve the izakaya look, in the aim to begin to separate the Flesh & Buns brand from the ramen bars – and the new launch in Fitzrovia will be its flagship.” Shonhan operates six Bone Daddies as well as Asian fusion restaurant Shackfuyu in Soho.

Hart brothers to bring Barrafina and two new sites to King’s Cross: Brothers Sam and James Hart are bringing their Barrafina concept to King’s Cross along with new two new openings. The Harts have agreed a deal to become the first restaurant at the Coal Drops Yard development. With 34 seats at the bar, a private dining room for 20 and an outdoor terrace, it will be the biggest Barrafina yet. The Harts said they are planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign for the project. Meanwhile, the brothers said in addition to Barrafina they will be opening another branch of their Borough taqueria El Pastor – called Casa Pastor – and a new concept wine bar and restaurant called The Drop. will have room for 80 diners plus a further 80 on the terrace, while The Drop will have 55 spaces inside and 24 outside, reports Hot Dinners. The Harts have three other Barrafina sites as well as restaurant and members’ club Quo Vadis. They will also launch tortilla factory and taco bar concept Tortilleria El Pastor near Bermondsey’s Maltby Street Market next month.

Grind mulls another City opening as expansion ramps up: London-based Grind, the independent coffee and cocktail bar, is mulling opening another site in the City. Chief executive and founder David Abrahamovitch said the company would like to open a restaurant in the Square Mile in addition to its current grab-and-go coffee shop in the Royal Exchange. But he said he was sceptical the City would ever be a weekend hotspot for leisure and hospitality businesses. He told City AM: “It’s still many years away, it may never get there because it’s so dominated by offices.” It comes as the group enters a new phase of expansion following its partnership with transport hub foodservice specialist SSP and a second fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube last year. Abrahamovitch said the partnership with SSP would help to grow Grind’s coffee and cocktail offering at a time when expansion is challenging. He added: “We love cafe bars, but it’s just getting harder and harder to do a model where you’ve got an average transaction of £5 or £6. We want to do the cafe bar thing but we realise it’s an increasingly difficult model to make a return out of.” Grind’s first train station location will open this summer, followed by more in travel hubs across the UK and potentially overseas. Meanwhile, Abrahamovitch said the core business would focus on opening one or two new restaurants a year in central London. King’s Cross, Canary Wharf and Victoria are all being targeted by the group. Earlier this month, Grind sold its Holborn site back to the landlord, the Hoxton Hotel, which Abrahamovitch told Propel at the time was a “one-off, opportunistic sale” as it moved away from small A1 cafe bar sites.

Loungers agree deal for first Cosy Club in Surrey with Guildford site: Cafe bar brand Loungers, which is backed by Lion Capital, has signed to bring its Cosy Club brand to Guildford. The company will open the site in June at Tunsgate Quarter, the new 80,000 square foot retail and leisure development in the town centre, after agreeing a deal with owner Queensbury. Loungers has taken a 7,935 square foot unit for its first Cosy Club in Surrey. The company already operates Lounges in the county. As well as the restaurant, the venue will have a private dining room and a feature balcony, overlooking Guildford High Street and the Clock Tower. Cosy Club managing director Amber Wood said: “We’re delighted to have signed at Tunsgate Quarter and can’t wait for the restaurant to open in June. Queensberry’s vision has really come to life now the centre is open and visitors can experience the fantastic space that has been created. Cosy Club will really add something new to the centre, complementing the food and beverage offer due to open over the coming weeks and months.” Cosy Club will join Vietnamese street food restaurant group Pho and a brasserie from The Ivy Collection at the development.

Curious Restaurants to open debut Jones Family Kitchen, in Belgravia: Curious Restaurants, which operates The Jones Family Project in Shoreditch, is to open its first Jones Family Kitchen site, in Belgravia. The company is opening in Eccleston Yards in May. The venue will have 90 covers inside as well as a 60-cover terrace. Signature steak dishes and the truffled macaroni cheese will make the journey from Shoreditch to Belgravia while there will be new additions to the lunch menu such as seared scallops with cauliflower and wild garlic gremolata. The wine list will have more than 25 by the glass, sourced from places such as Lebanon and the slopes of Mount Etna. There will also be barrel-aged cocktails and a range of gin ‘n’ tonics. Developed by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland, Eccleston Yards, which will also be home to Tart London’s debut restaurant, Eccleston Place, is a new destination for creative enterprise and co-working with 19 units for food, fashion, retail, co-working and well-being. Curious Restaurants co-founder Duncan Watts said: “We are thrilled to be part of the regeneration of this historic area and to be part of Grosvenor’s vision for a destination which showcases and champions creative, independent talent.” Last year, Curious Restaurants launched a £600,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open its first two Jones Family Kitchen sites. It ended the campaign after realising it would not secure the investment it was looking for but said at the time it would still open the first site as the funds were in place to do so. 

Icestone Gelato signs for St Helens site, 17th in total: Dessert restaurant operator Icestone Gelato has agreed a deal for a site in St Helens, Merseyside, for its 17th site. The company will occupy the ground floor and basement levels of the former Tyrers department store, which is undergoing a £1m refurbishment for mixed use. Icestone Gelato has agreed the 4,200 square foot space, which will open in May with capacity for 150 customers. The company makes its own fresh gelato every day and serves a selection of waffles, cookie dough, crepes, fondue, profiteroles, cheesecakes alongside milkshakes, smoothies and mocktails. The menu also has a “back to school” section that features traditional hot dinner-style school puddings with custard. Operations director Paul Nicholson told Your Move: “Icestone Gelato is the fastest growing dessert chain in the north, so its arrival in St Helens is a real scoop. It strengthens the town centre’s offer considerably while also creating a number of new jobs for the town.” Icestone Gelato has 16 sites across the north and Midlands.

Three Michelin-starred chef Heinz Beck to open debut UK site: Heinz Beck, who operates three Michelin-starred restaurant La Pergola in Rome, is to open his debut UK site. Beck is launching Beck at Brown’s at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair in the space previously occupied by Mark Hix. The Italian casual dining restaurant, which opens on Monday, 16 April, will have its own separate entrance in Albemarle Street. Dishes will take inspiration from all parts of Italy, but will use British produce and feature Burrata di Andria with marinated courgette, and red mullet “sandwich” with black olive and tarragon., reports Hot Dinners. Beck previously operated a six-week pop-up in the space in the run up to Christmas.

Fever-Tree co-founder to sell 1.5 million shares: Charles Rolls, co-founder and non-executive deputy chairman of Fever-Tree, the world’s leading supplier of premium carbonated mixers, has revealed plans to sell 1.5 million shares in the company. Rolls intends to sell the shares via an accelerated bookbuild placing to institutional investors, representing about 1.3% of the issued share capital of Fever-Tree. If all the shares are sold, Rolls would have 11,427,505 ordinary shares in the company, representing about 9.9% of the company’s issued share capital. The placing is being managed by Investec Bank. Fever-Tree is not a party to the placing and will not receive any proceeds.

D&D London to open second Bluebird site, at former BBC home next month: Restaurant operator D&D London is to start expansion of its Bluebird brand in April by opening a second site, at the Television Centre development in White City. Bluebird has been a popular restaurant in Chelsea’s King’s Road for the past 20 years, with the opening at the former home of the BBC the first of a planned expansion of Bluebird cafes, including one in New York. The 5,000 square foot site will include a cafe, bar, deli and outdoor terrace. The interior will incorporate a mix of British styling from the 1960s and “modern Bluebird Chelsea glamour”. The artwork will include pieces by young British artists as well as designs inspired by Bridget Riley and Celia Birtwell. The modern European menu will include dishes such as Calabrian nduja crusted yellow fin tuna with grilled onion and green sauce, and crispy Goosnargh duck and watercress salad. The venue will join other brands at the development including Indian small plates concept Kricket, pizza company Homeslice and better burger brand Patty & Bun, alongside a Soho House members’ club, hotel and an Electric cinema. D&D London was founded by Des Gunewardena and David Loewi in 2006 following a buyout of Conran Restaurants.

Lunya eyes former Costa Coffee site for second Liverpool restaurant: Liverpool-based Lunya, the family-owned Catalunyan restaurant bar and deli, has lodged plans for its second site in the city. The company, which launched in 2010, has submitted plans to the city council to launch Lunya Lita at Albert Dock in a former Whitbread-owned Costa Coffee unit. Lunya Lita would cover the coffee shop on the ground floor as well as former office space on the mezzanine level above, reports Your Move. Founded by Peter and Elaine Kinsella, Lunya is the couple’s homage to Catalunya and Spain. According to its website, it’s the UK’s largest online Spanish deli with more than 1,300 products. Originally based in College Lane, the restaurant, bar and deli relocated to a larger unit at Liverpool ONE in October last year, replacing a former Busaba Eathai restaurant. Lunya’s new home allowed it to expand its deli and hold more food and wine-tasting evenings.

Searcys puts sustainability at heart of business with new pledges: Searcys is putting sustainability at the heart of its business with a series of new pledges. The company said having introduced a new waste management system at the end of 2017, it was confident it could reduce its food waste by 20% by early 2019. Together with its parent company WSH, Searcys has pledged to procure 100% of its directly purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2020. By the end of this month, Searcys will have eliminated the use of plastic straws across all their venues and events. It has also pledged to work with British farmers to ensure up to 90% of all seasonal fruit and vegetables used in its menus is grown in the UK. Managing director Matthew Thomas said: “Creating a sustainable business is one of today’s greatest challenges, but it is essential to doing business the right way in today’s market. It is something we are all responsible for and we hope the implementation of our pledges will not only show our dedication, but encourage others in the sector to do the same.”

M&B reopens Northampton pub under new model following £500,000 refurbishment: Mitchells & Butlers has reopened a pub in Northampton town centre under a new model following a £500,000 refurbishment. The company has revamped the former Fox & Quill in St Giles Street and relaunched it as The Optimist. The new food menu features stone-baked pizzas, 21-day aged steaks, “low and slow” meat and rib options, as well as mix and match tapas. Drinks feature a selection of craft beers, ales and ciders. Live sport is shown and there are regular entertainment nights. General manager Gareth Smith said: “It’s been fantastic seeing the pub come together over the past couple of weeks. There have been some big changes and we’re confident they’ll go down well.”

Fledgling north east operator eyes expansion following launch of Durham venture: Fledgling north east-based Ouseburn Leisure Group is looking to add more real ale venues in the region following the launch of its first venture. The group is behind The Waiting Room, a micro-pub in Durham railway station, which gave purpose to the derelict grade II-listed former ladies’ first-class waiting room, dating to 1872. The venue was refurbished with a six-figure investment – including a significant grant from the Railway Heritage Trust. Now the group is eyeing expansion, with a number of new potential sites in the north east under consideration for its next venue. Graeme Robinson, managing director of Ouseburn Leisure Group, left his job as head of facilities at the University of Sunderland to establish his new venture, and is looking to press on with growing his new brand. He told BDaily: “The decision to open The Waiting Room was something totally new for me – I had reached a crossroads in my life and decided I wanted to start my own business. I have always had a passion for real ale, but beyond that probably didn’t really appreciate the full extent of what I was getting into, given that I didn’t have a background in leisure. However, since we opened, we have totally smashed our targets.”
Lincoln Travelodge sells for £13m: A new Travelodge hotel in Lincoln city centre has been sold to the council for £13m. York-based development company S Harrison sold the hotel, which will be operated by Travelodge on a 25-year lease. The Lincoln Travelodge, which is due to open later this year, is in Tentercroft Street. It includes 127 bedrooms and “super rooms”, 60 of which are doubles and 61 of which are family rooms. After 25 years, Travelodge will also have the option to extend the lease for a further 25 years. S Harrison development director David Clancy told Insider Media: “This year-long construction programme to create a much-needed new hotel in Lincoln city centre is the fifth hotel we have completed in recent years, and there are a similar number already in our development pipeline.” The council has said it will use the returns from the investment to maintain key services.

Young’s completes refurbishment of rooms at Wandsworth pub: London pub retailer Young’s has completed the refurbishments of its bedrooms at The Brewers Inn in Wandsworth. Following the refurbishment of the pub in 2015, the bedrooms have now been transformed into 16 boutique-style rooms. The rooms have been updated to reflect the history and heritage of the pub. There are 11 boutique doubles, three boutique twins and two feature rooms complete with their own sofa beds. Each room has a colour palette of blues, greens and creams with natural wood and vibrant furniture and soft furnishings. Young’s product marketing manager Tom Elliott-Frey said: “We are committed to developing and investing in our hotel estate and are delighted The Brewers Inn can now offer, alongside our other properties, a boutique hotel experience.”

Odeon chooses Manchester’s 8 First Street scheme for new premises: Cinema operator Odeon is set to take 26,000 square feet of office space at 8 First Street, a 170,000 square foot grade A office development in Manchester city centre. Odeon will relocate from Churchgate and Lee House, a grade II-listed building owned by Helical in Oxford Street. Energy company GazProm has agreed a pre-let to take the top two floors totalling 64,000 square feet and engineering consultancy WSP is in negotiations to take a further two floors. Work on the building stalled at the start of the year when Carillion, the contractor appointed to the scheme, went into liquidation. The scheme is now expected to be completed in the next two months, reports Property Week. Patrizia UK formed a joint venture with Greater Manchester Property Venture Fund to forward-fund the construction of the building. Ask Real Estate is development manager for the scheme.

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