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Thu 24th May 2018 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Just Eat teams up with Sarah Willingham to launch business booster initiative for restaurant partners: Just Eat has teamed up with investor and former Dragons’ Den star Sarah Willingham to launch a growth initiative for the company’s restaurant partners. The Business Booster programme aims to “realise the £1.1bn growth potential of UK independent restaurants and takeaways”. Just Eat research revealed almost three-fifths (59%) of independent restaurant owners believe they will grow their business in the next five years despite the current economic climate. Just Eat said if independent restaurants achieved a 5% increase in annual turnover, the UK economy would benefit by £1.1bn, while the sector would create 55,000 jobs by 2023. Despite optimism regarding growth, however, almost two-thirds (65%) of independent restaurant owners are concerned they will be unable to maintain current profitability levels, while 63% would value advice on how to grow their business. The Business Booster programme will see Willingham, who previously held senior management roles at PizzaExpress and helped grow Indian restaurant chain Bombay Bicycle Club, provide one-on-one business mentoring for restaurant owners. She will also advise businesses through a series of regional events and via blogs and advice shared through the platform’s communication channels. Advice will centre on findings from Just Eat’s research such as 30% of restaurant owners have failed to check income and costs to see how their margins are changing, while almost a quarter (24%) have failed to review their pricing. The most important areas of opportunity identified by restaurant owners were increasing the number of new customers (85%), promoting their business to more potential customers (80%), and increasing margins (67%). Willingham said: “When you run a small business so much time is spent on day-to-day management it’s hard to focus on growth – but there are still many opportunities for independent food outlets. As someone who knows what it takes to build, grow and run successful restaurants, I know a small change can go a long way.” Just Eat UK managing director Graham Corfield added: “The restaurants we partner with are important pillars of high streets up and down the UK. If we can help them improve profitability and efficiencies, the combined impact on the economy could be huge.”

Industry News:

Propel and Professor Chris Edger Inspirational Leadership In Tough Times Masterclass open for bookings: A new masterclass launched by Professor Chris Edger and Propel is now open for bookings. The Inspirational Leadership In Tough Times Masterclass will take place at Chartered Accountants Hall in Moorgate Place, London, on Thursday, 21 June. With our industry buffeted by five major headwinds – higher costs, labour shortages, low consumer confidence, too much capacity and concept fatigue – the businesses that win through will be led by inspirational leaders who galvanise their people to achieve extraordinary feats. The masterclass will provide insights and tips into how you can perfect being an inspirational leader. Drawing on material from his nine books on leadership, Prof Edger will outline how inspirational leaders mobilise their teams and businesses to outperform the market in challenging circumstances. Speakers will include leading HR hospitality consultant Liz Phillips, who has recruited, trained and developed teams that have been coveted by competitors. She will outline how she instilled the desire to join, the confidence to perform and the aspiration to develop. Meanwhile, Mark Sheasby was formerly chief superintendent of the West Midlands Police firearms unit, specialising in hostage negotiations. A qualified psychologist, he has also worked with high-profile athletes, including England Rugby, and high-performing business people. He will outline his philosophy of getting organisations to leverage their permanent internal qualities to overcome temporary external interference. For the full schedule, click here. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers, while tickets for Propel Premium subscribers are £245 plus VAT. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com or call 01444 817691.

People 1st sold in pre-pack deal, been loss-making since 2014: People 1st, the sector skills organisation for the hospitality industry, has been sold in a pre-packaged administration sale to Workforce Development Trust (WDT). FRP Advisory was appointed administrators of East Finchley-based People 1st, whose customers include McDonald’s, JD Wetherspoon, Center Parcs and Merlin Entertainments. In his notice of proposals, administrator Gareth Rutt said: “The only offer received was from WDT for certain business divisions. An attempt to increase the value of the consideration offered was refused. However, we managed to agree a reduction on the proposed debt collection fee from 10% to 5%. To provide continuity of services to customers, WDT recognised approximately £160,000 will need to be paid to certain key suppliers for the continued use of their goods/services, being a direct reduction of claims to be made against the company’s estate. All 17 of the employees associated with the areas of the business that was purchased were transferred to WDT.” The report showed People 1st had been loss-making since 2014. It had exhausted its reserves of circa £3m since that time, while government funding for sector skills councils had ended. Accounts for the company showed in March 2014 the company turned over £9,782,000, with a net loss of £272,000. Turnover continued to fall and by March 2016 it was down to £4,002,000, with a net loss of £1,028,000. Around that time People 1st positioned itself as an “insight-driven performance and talent management expert, providing tailored solutions and advice for UK and global clients”. For the year ending March 2017, the company turned over £4,272,000 with a net loss of £701,000. As of December 2017, turnover stood at £2,572,000 with a net loss of £525,000. On 26 March 2018, the company’s membership of The ITB Pension Funds was terminated leaving it with a deficit of £6.4m, which the company was unable to pay. People 1st had been in dialogue with ITB but, following losses, ITB was not confident People 1st was viable and consequently took steps to terminate the company from the scheme. Following the company’s termination from the IBT pension fund, FRP Advisory was retained to provide insolvency advice and be involved in negotiations with potential purchasers of the business. The report showed there were no secured creditors. Estimated preferential creditors in the shape of employees’ pay arrears and unpaid pension fees will total about £25,000 and is expected to be paid in full. There are also expected to be sufficient funds to make a distribution to unsecured creditors. People 1st was once the employer-led sector skills council for hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism in the UK, responsible for developing and managing apprenticeship standards. Among its other duties the organisation acted as the external quality-assurance body for apprenticeship standards for chefs de partie, commis chefs, hospitality supervisors, managers and team members.

NTIA and Culture24 unite to promote night-time economy: The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) and arts charity Culture24, which produces the Museums At Night festival, are to unite the museum and gallery world with clubs, bars and venues to promote and develop the culture and nightlife offer. They stated: “Over the next few months we will announce a series of initiatives designed to boost the contribution that ‘lates’ (museum and gallery night-time events) make towards the UK’s night-time economy and support developing connections between visual and performing art sectors of the night-time economy. This is the first time industry-level connections have been forged between two organisations that have so much in common and are derived from a deeply-held belief the UK night-time cultural offer is capable of simultaneously lifting the nation’s spirits, generating wealth and jobs, and contributing to a cultural renaissance on the high street. NTIA chairman Alan Miller will be one of the speakers at Culture24’s conference – A Culture of Lates – at The National Gallery on Friday, 1 June. He said: “It is in the night-time that we are often at our most creative. Bringing together Britain’s world-class museums and galleries to collaborate with our night-time industries is game-changing news for the UK.” Culture24 campaigns manager Nicholas Stockman added: “When people go out for a great night they don’t make a distinction between performance or visual arts spaces, they just want to be entertained. This is about helping them do that more often and in a diverse range of spaces.”

GC Mallen becomes first UK pub operator to install full cooling system that converts refrigerator heat into hot water: GC Mallen, led by Garry Mallen, has become the first multi-site pub operator in the UK to install the full GCS Glycol Cooling System at one of its venues. The system has been installed at The Greyhound in Sydenham, south east London, which the company reopened in February ten years after developers demolished it illegally. The GCS Glycol Cooling System recovers waste heat from refrigeration motors and transforms it into free hot water. As well as cutting energy consumption by 50% to 60%, beer-pouring waste is almost eradicated and line-cleaning sessions can be reduced to once a month, the company said. JD Wetherspoon operates units at some of its sites in which beer is chilled via a glycol system. However, Mallen told Propel his company is the first to use the full system including the heat recovery tanks. He said together with the carbon footprint benefits, the move would allow The Greyhound to become much more efficient having reduced utility costs and refrigeration maintenance costs, adding the pub is averaging circa £27,000 to 28,000 net per week “and we’ve not started using the rooms upstairs yet”. General manager David Montgomery added: “When creating the blueprint for the new Greyhound we were conscious we had an opportunity to do things properly. In an industry that has become accustomed to sky-high refrigeration costs, we are rightly proud of our decision.” GC Mallen operates 12 pubs.

UKHospitality calls for sharing economy equality: UKHospitality has demanded the “sharing economy” is subjected to the same rules and regulations as the hospitality sector to stop it from having unfair competitive and tax advantages over hotel operators. The trade body has called on London mayor Sadiq Khan to ensure fairness and transparency regarding the short-term letting of homes and welcomed his recognition that legislation may be required to provide security to customers. It comes as the mayor published the London Housing Strategy highlighting potential abuse of short-term lets and a failure to enforce the 90-day rule, where landlords who let out their home for three months or more are legally required to apply for planning permission. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The home-sharing sector has been lauded by politicians recently as an example of ingenuity. We are, however, concerned it is being exploited contrary to the spirit in which it was established and in a way that puts it at an unfair competitive advantage against other accommodation providers. The mayor’s report highlights abuse of short-term lets may have a negative impact on communities and that currently there is no effective way to enforce the 90-day rule. With housing at a premium, particularly in the capital, the use of multiple lets by unscrupulous landlords acting as businesses can surely not be tolerated. Flagrant breaking of the rules by landlords to act as a business means they can avoid the legislative and tax pressures other accommodation providers must adhere to. Not only does this give them an unfair competitive edge, it puts the safety and security of customers at risk. The mayor’s own report acknowledges there are flaws in the current set-up, so action must be taken to provide transparency and fairness for businesses. We are not calling for the prohibition of the sharing economy, only for it to be subject to the same rules and regulations as the hospitality sector.” 

More than half of diners judge a restaurant ‘on its technology’: More than half (58%) of diners raise their perception of a restaurant if it makes good use of tech, according to a survey by technology company Flyt, originally known as Flypay. The survey of 1,000 diners found mobile apps are a key driver for customer loyalty. More than two-fifths (42%) of respondents said they would visit a restaurant more frequently if it had a good app, while almost two-thirds have at least one restaurant or pub app on their phone. Regarding the most popular functions used by consumers, more than two-thirds (71%) opted for voucher redemptions, 70% cited ordering food for delivery, 69% booking a table and 63% collecting loyalty points. Word of mouth was the top reason (52%) for downloading an app, with almost one-third (32%) prompted by an operator’s website. One-fifth (20%) admitted seeking information to download an app while dining in a restaurant. Respondents who download an operator’s app require three key objectives to continue using it – ease of use (64%), providing key information (52%), and operating speed (42%). Flyt chief executive Tom Weaver said: “Our research has shown the majority of customers want technology to be part of their dining experience so they can be in control of some aspects of service. Operators who are listening to and acting on this clear demand will be rewarded with engaged and, most importantly, loyal customers.”

European hotel industry reports 4.4% revpar growth in April: The European hotel industry saw strong revpar growth in April, with increases also recorded in average daily rate and occupancy levels. STR data showed the continent’s revpar rate for the month rose 4.4% to €79.13, while occupancy levels increased 1.5% to 73.2% and the average daily rate rose 2.9% to €108.03. STR’s data focused on three countries – Italy, Poland and Switzerland. Occupancy levels in Italy were the highest for any April on record, increasing 1.1% to 72.9%. Additionally, average daily rate – up 1.6% to €149.96 – was the highest for April since 2007. Meanwhile, revpar rose 2.8% to €109.32. In Poland, average daily rate increased to its highest level for April since 2007 – up 5.4% to PLN295.96. Meanwhile, revpar was up 7.2% to PLN213.87 and occupancy grew 1.7% to 72.3%. STR analysts attribute strong performance comparisons to the Easter calendar shift from mid-April last year and a subsequent rise in April 2018 business demand. In Switzerland, occupancy level was the highest for April since 2008 as it climbed 7.9% to 62.5%. Average daily rate was down 1.1% to CHF188.30 – its lowest level for any April on record, while revpar was up 6.7% to CHF117.72. STR analysts pointed out the three bank holidays – Easter Monday, Näfelser Fahrt and Sechseläuten – helped drive revpar growth for the month.

Sirieix promises National Waiters’ Day will get ‘even better’: Fred Sirieix, general manager of Galvin at Windows and star of new BBC series Million Pound Menu, has said National Waiters’ Day, the event he launched in 2012, will be “even better” next year. Co-led by hospitality industry charity Springboard, National Waiters’ Day aims to change perceptions regarding front-of-house roles and highlight career opportunities in hospitality. This year, events held across the UK included a careers fair at Hyde Park in which London businesses met up to 500 job seekers and students. National Waiters’ Day was backed by celebrities in the industry such as Gordon Ramsay and Gino D’Acampo, who took selfies on social media wearing official T-shirts. Sirieix said: “Not only was it fantastic to see how the Hyde Park event inspired people into the industry but also the many different ways people celebrated National Waiters’ Day across the UK. I’m so excited for next year’s event and hope to make it even better than ever.”

Ladies of Restaurants announces panel for latest In Conversation event: Ladies of Restaurants has announced the line-up for its latest In Conversation event, which will take place at Our/London vodka distillery on Wednesday, 30 May. The subject will be: “On Wednesdays we wear pink: a discussion about ‘mean girls’ – how not to be one and how to handle one.” Ladies of Restaurants co-founder Natalia Ribbe will host the talk alongside Sophie Orbaum, communications director of Harts Group, Gerber Communications managing director Tori Slater, Patty & Bun events and operations manager Ashley Barker, and Lyle’s pastry chef Anna Higham. Tickets are £20, which include a welcome cocktail and canapés.

Company News:

Notes launches £600,000 crowdfunding campaign to fund further expansion: Notes, the nine-strong, London-based coffee shop and wine bar concept, has launched a £600,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to fund expansion. The company is offering 5.66% equity in return for investment. So far, 158 investors have already pledged £560,380 with 30 days of the campaign remaining. The largest investment so far has been £50,000. The pitch states: “Notes is a growing coffee shop and wine bar concept, which has established itself as one of the market leaders in London’s quality coffee market with nine central London locations. Starting from a coffee cart in a cobbled street market in 2010, we now source and roast our own single-origin coffee, serving more than 1.4 million cups a year. The coffee market currently stands at 2.3 billion cups per year in the UK and customer tastes are moving towards quality. We believe Notes is perfectly poised to take full advantage of this trend. Since our last Crowdcube raise in 2015, we have opened four locations, doubled our revenue to almost £5m (£0.2m Ebitda), increased site Ebitda by three times and expanded our roastery, which now produces more than one tonne per week for Notes and our wholesale partners. Our points of differentiation are serving high-quality, single-origin speciality coffee in high volumes; roasting coffee at our own roastery in Canning Town; a strong wholesale business with significant capacity to grow; a true all day offer – evening sales account for 25% to 30% of sales in full-offer sites; high-end spaces created with a focus on design and attention to detail; and passionate, friendly, knowledgeable staff trained extensively on our menus.” Notes raised £908,400 on Crowdcube in June 2015 after setting a £600,000 target. The company said chairman James Horler, who has been involved with brands such as La Tasca, Patisserie Valerie and Leon, would invest in the current round. In March 2017, Notes secured a £600,000 loan from OakNorth, the first deal completed under the British Business Bank’s Help to Grow Programme.

Just Eat global chief marketing officer steps down as part of restructure: Barnaby Dawe, global chief marketing officer of online food delivery business Just Eat, is leaving the company as part of a restructure of the business that will see the creation of a new chief customer officer role. Dawe has presided over a rebrand of Just Eat that has contributed to a tripling of company revenue and profits during the past three years. His departure follows the arrival of Peter Plumb from Moneysupermarket.com as chief executive last summer – by last autumn Just Eat had made it into the FTSE top 100. A spokesman for Just Eat told Campaign: “Barnaby Dawe has decided to step down from his role as Just Eat’s global chief marketing officer after three years at the helm of the company’s marketing department. Barnaby has transformed the Just Eat brand and our approach to marketing, enabling us to become the category-leading company we are today.”

Brewhouse & Kitchen strengthens London presence with Hoxton deal: Brewhouse & Kitchen, the brewpub business led by Kris Gumbrell and Simon Bunn, has added a site in Hoxton, east London, to its portfolio. It has acquired the leasehold interest of The Beagle, set in the railway arches next to Hoxton overground station. The company stated: “This is a unique opportunity and a great fit with our brewpubs at Highbury and Angel. It is expected to be open and brewing in mid-July.” The Hoxton deal is the company’s second this week. As Propel previously reported, Brewhouse & Kitchen has exchanged contracts to buy the freehold of Wabi restaurant in Horsham – its first site in West Sussex. The acquisition is expected to complete in the next 14 days. The two deals take Brewhouse & Kitchen’s portfolio to 21 sites, while the company is in legals on two further venues.  

Adam Handling appointed executive chef of Belmond Cadogan Hotel: London-based restaurateur Adam Handling has been appointed executive chef of Belmond Cadogan Hotel, the company’s new flagship Chelsea property that will open this winter. As executive chef, Handling will oversee all food and beverage operations at the 54-bedroom hotel in Sloane Street, including the main restaurant, the bar and terrace, and the tea lounge, which will serve Handling’s tea service. Handling opened his first independent restaurant, The Frog E1, in Shoreditch in June 2016 and his flagship restaurant, Frog by Adam Handling, in Covent Garden in September 2017. He will continue to operate the Adam Handling restaurant group alongside the hotel. Handling said: “I am excited to be partnering with Belmond Cadogan Hotel to bring an outstanding selection of dining options for visitors and guests. Belmond has an incredible worldwide reputation and the building itself has an amazing history. I’m looking forward to bringing the hotel into a new, modern chapter and putting my stamp on the menus. Being part of this launch is one of the highlights of my career.” Hugh Seaborn, chief executive of Cadogan, the hotel’s owner, added: “We are excited about Adam joining the neighbourhood. As long-term stewards of Chelsea, our focus is on creating vibrancy through a careful balance of top international flagships, best-in-their-field independent artisans and an inspiring mix of places to eat and drink. Adam brings a fresh new dining experience to Sloane Street.”

Sussex-based Gingerman secures fifth site: Sussex-based restaurant group Gingerman has secured its fifth site. The company, owned by directors Ben and Pamela McKellar, has become the first tenant of the new Hanningtons Estate development in Brighton. The company operates The Gingerman, The Ginger Pig, The Ginger Fox and The Ginger Dog, which are all in the Brighton, Hove and Albourne area. However, the company is to break from its naming convention for the first time by calling the new 50-seat tapas-style cafe bar the Flint House, which will feature a rooftop terrace and is set to open in January. Ben McKellar told Brighton and Hove News: “Flint House is about casual dining, small plates, simple local ingredients cooked well, and a wide range of quality wine served by the glass.” Andrew Foulds, portfolio director at Redevco, which is managing the Hanningtons Estate development, added: “We couldn’t have asked for a better restaurant operator to occupy the jewel in the crown of this scheme. Gingerman Restaurant Group has four local businesses within its portfolio and a strong Brighton following.” The Ginger Pig, which is in Hove, has recently been extended to incorporate 11 en-suite double bedrooms, and corporate and events space.

Supper club Little Kolkata to open permanent site in Covent Garden next month: The team behind supper club Little Kolkata is to open a permanent restaurant in Covent Garden next month. The venue will launch in Shelton Street and feature an extended Calcuttan menu, cocktails that use traditional spices and ingredients, and themed evenings. Founded by Prabir Chattopadhyay and Biswajit Deb Das, Little Kolkata offers authentic Bengali cuisine inspired by Calcutta and Bangladesh. The menu maintains the communal and familial nature of the supper clubs, featuring sharing plates such as cod fish cutlet with mustard sauce alongside speciality dishes such as chicken liver sautéed with spice and fresh chillies. Desserts will include cardamom coffee brownie with rose ice cream inspired by Flury’s Swiss patisserie in Calcutta. Cocktails will include saffron spritz and jasmine vodka. Created by French designer Meddhi Larouci, the interiors at Little Kolkata will honour the traditional and modern sides of Calcutta, while there will also be a private dining room available for hire.

Freehold of Dover building home to JD Wetherspoon and Subway to be auctioned for £3.5m: The freehold of a Dover building that houses JD Wetherspoon and Subway is to be auctioned for a guide price of £3.5m. The property in Cannon Street contains Wetherspoon pub The Eight Bells, Subway, Nail & Nail, and Gents Barber Shop. The historic building, which was part of the former Metropole Hotel, also accommodates 29 flats above. The property will go under the hammer with Clive Emson Auctioneers next month. The building has an estimated rental value of £318,440 per annum and was previously owned by the same family for many years. Clive Emson Auctioneers director Kevin Gilbert told Kent Live: “It is a fine investment opportunity and we anticipate a great deal of interest.”

The Alchemist secures new headquarters: The Alchemist, which is backed by Palatine Private Equity, has secured new headquarters. The company is moving to Chadsworth House in Handforth, Cheshire, after agreeing a deal with property development and investment company Quorum. The Alchemist is relocating from its head office in Knutsford to take the 5,667 square foot ground-floor site on a five-year lease. The deal means the refurbished 12,963 square foot office building in Wilmslow Road is fully let. The Alchemist managing director Simon Potts told The Business Desk: “The move to Handforth is an important new chapter for The Alchemist. We are all really excited to make the move into such a fantastic space, which will be home to a team of 25 staff and provide a flexible working environment for many of our employees across the UK.”

London-based micro-brewer launches crowdfunding campaign to build taphouse and expand production five-fold: London-based micro-brewer The Park Brewery has launched a £175,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to relocate, build a taproom and increase production five-fold. The company is offering 10.45% equity in return for investment. So far, 63 investors have pledged £74,590 with 30 days of the campaign remaining. The pitch states: “The company was founded in autumn 2014 with an initial £5,000 set-up producing just 200 litres a brew. Our aim was to create alternative, thought-provoking beer for our community. Struggling to keep up, we injected £30,000 and expanded capacity mid-2015 to 600 litres, brewing three times a week to keep up with sales. We are a husband-and-wife team (Josh and Frankie Kearns) and take inspiration from nearby Richmond Park to name our beers. We have three in our core range plus seasonal specials throughout the year, ranging from fruit saison, wheat beer, porter and IPA. We sell in bottle, cask, keg and now can. Our beer is sold in more than 100 outlets (bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels) and we feel like we have only just begun. We are in some of the larger chains too including Majestic, Whole Foods, Double Tree (Hilton Hotel Group) and The Holiday Inn. Once again we have hit full capacity and our brewery is at breaking point! It is time for us to invest in new kit, gather an experienced and dynamic team, move into new premises to include a brewery tap, and start spreading The Park ales nationally and internationally.”

Daisy Green Collection launches Scarlett Green in Soho, restaurant group’s largest site: Australia-inspired restaurant group Daisy Green Collection has launched its largest site so far. Scarlett Green has opened at the former Timberyard site in Noel Street, Soho. Measuring 4,000 square feet across two floors, the restaurant and bar offers daily bottomless brunch and the largest Australian wine list in London, with 24 available by the glass. The drinks list also features craft beer from London brewers, including Daisy Green Collection’s bespoke Freeman Frothie, which is brewed in partnership with Bermondsey-based Fourpure. Additions to the Soho menu include Vegemite, truffle and cheese doughnuts, and Bondi hot prawns. There are also ceviche and sashimi dishes, which feature seafood landed by Cornish day boats. There is live acoustic music upstairs from 4pm daily and late-night DJ sets. Co-founder Prue Freeman said: “Daisy Green is focused on creating exciting, one-off local destinations that bring together laid-back Australian food, culture, art and design. Soho is incredibly exciting for us. It’s a beautiful space in one of the most buzzing and historic parts of London. We are looking forward to showcasing our authentic modern Australian cuisine with some childhood favourites and Aussie classics.” Last month, Daisy Green said it was targeting more sites in the City as it looked to have 14 venues in London by 2020. The company now operates eight venues in London plus two converted barges – Darcie and May Green – that are moored on the Grand Union Canal. The Daisy Green Collection secured a new debt finance deal worth £3.4m at the end of 2017 from challenger bank OakNorth.

Robinsons reviews beer brands: North west brewer and retailer Robinsons, which is in its 180th anniversary year, has launched a review of its beer brands. The plans include modifying its popular, ten-year-old Dizzy Blonde and launching a 3.5% ABV orange pale ale – One Eye’d Jack – in cans to address the trend for lower-strength beer. Director of marketing David Bremner said: “We are delighted to have some new beers joining the family. We are reviewing our beer portfolio, monitoring sales and trends, and adapting brands at an appropriate time. This isn’t about reinventing the wheel or saying goodbye to traditional cask, which is the bloodline of our brewery. It’s about evolution and innovation working hand in hand, forward thinking with the very best traditions to give our customers quality, choice and variety in a modern beer market.” Earlier this month, Robinsons reopened two North Wales pubs as part of its ongoing managed estate refurbishment programme.

Luxury hotel L’oscar launches in London with Michelin-starred chef: Luxury hotel L’oscar has launched in London with Michelin-starred chef Tony Fleming as executive chef. The hotel has opened in Southampton Row, Holborn, in a grade II-listed former Baptist church and features a restaurant, bar and cafe. Main restaurant The Baptist Grill is set in the octagonal chapel with a glass, domed ceiling and table service. Fleming, who won a Michelin star for Angler at D&D London’s South Place Hotel, has devised a traditional grill menu, while the ground-floor Café L’oscar offers Parisian food and features a Venetian look including an illuminated onyx bar and walls and ceilings lined with mirrors and gilded panels. The all-day spot will serve breakfast, bistro-style lunches and intimate evening dining, Hot Dinners reports.

7Bone signs Zonal as technology provider: 7Bone Burger Co, which is backed by Kings Park Capital, has appointed hospitality management solutions company Zonal as technology provider as it continues expansion. 7Bone, which has nine sites across the south of England, is installing Zonal’s Aztec EPOS with hand-held iServe devices for mobile ordering. In addition, 7Bone has also implemented Zonal’s integrated payment services, which feature pay at table. With an average 80 covers per restaurant, 7Bone looks to maximise its table turns and the integrated, card and cash payment solution provided by Zonal will enable staff to speed the bill-settling process. 7Bone co-founder Rich Zammit said: “Since our launch in 2013, we have had big ambitions for 7Bone and from the outset knew we needed a solid, reliable EPOS partner. The Aztec EPOS software is intuitive and easy to use so requires minimal training. Above all it’s reliable, which allows our staff to focus on delighting our customers.” 7Bone, founded by Zammit and Matt Mollicone, opened its first restaurant in Southampton in 2013, which was quickly followed by Bournemouth the following year. In August 2016, Kings Park Capital took an equity stake in the business and, with its financial backing, 7Bone is on track to have ten sites by the end of 2018 with plans to extend its national reach across the UK. 

South African private equity fund acquires eighth UK hotel: South African private equity fund Fairtree Hospitality has acquired its eighth UK site – the Grange Hotel in Cumbria off an asking price of £4.5m. The company bought the property in Grange-over-Sands from Hugh and Jenni Rushton in a deal brokered by agent Colliers International. The Grange Hotel has 55 en-suite bedrooms, Carriages Restaurant, conference and wedding facilities, and a leisure club with indoor swimming pool. Fairtree’s other UK sites include Borrowdale Gates Hotel in Grange-in-Borrowdale, which it acquired through Colliers International last year. Providence Hospitality has secured contracts to manage all properties owned by Fairtree. Julian Troup, head of UK hotels at Colliers International, who secured the sale to Fairtree, told BDaily: “We are seeing an emerging trend of increased demand for quality provincial hotel opportunities from a diverse buyer set. The devaluation of sterling following the EU referendum means such transactions are now about 20% less expensive than a year ago, making the UK hospitality market an even more attractive prospect for international buyers. We have seen a particularly marked increase in the flow of buyers from across Asia.”

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