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Mon 2nd Jul 2018 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Casual Dining Group reduces debt as it sets up to take advantage of opportunities: Casual Dining Group (CDG), the operator of nearly 300 mid-market restaurants through its Las Iguanas, Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia brands, has announced a new cash investment of £30m to fund growth opportunities as part of a successful refinancing of the company. The capital injection and refinancing, led by KKR, with the support of management and all other shareholders, including funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management, LLC and Pemberton Asset Management, provides a long-term capital structure for the group, strengthens the balance sheet, and positions CDG for growth. KKR and Apollo have been investors in CDG since 2015, providing debt and equity funding, and will remain so going forward. Steve Richards, chief executive of CDG, said: “We are delighted to have agreed substantial new investment that establishes a strong foundation to continue to invest in our brands and take advantage of opportunities in the sector as they arise. With no external debt and strong funding, this gives CDG a very strong financial platform. Against a challenging backdrop, we continue to perform ahead of the market, with total sales up nearly 5% and like-for-like sales up 2.3%, in the past 14 weeks. We have also seen double-digit profit uplift in the period. Our growth initiatives gather pace with delivery, partnership openings and our digital-first approach all driving sales. We have opened seven new concession sites in airports and hotels since the start of the year with an active schedule of UK-owned and international franchise new openings in the pipeline, building on our existing well invested estate.” A source added: “This gives CDG the best balance sheet in the sector and with funds to take advantage of any market opportunities, with a £30m war chest. KKR and Apollo have reached this agreement because both see the potential of having a stable, lowly-geared platform and sense an opportunity in the sector."

Industry News: 

Nominations invited for Wireless Social Female Entrepreneur of the Year: Which female entrepreneur has most impressed you in the past year? Propel is inviting nominations for the Wireless Social Entrepreneur of the Year, which will be presented on Tuesday, 4 September at the end of the Women's Entrepreneur Conference. Readers are invited to sent their nominations to Propel managing director Paul Charity at
Propel launches Women’s Entrepreneur Conference: Propel has partnered with Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott to launch the sector’s first conference featuring an all-female line-up of company leaders. The event takes place on Tuesday, 4 September at One Moorgate Place, London. Speakers will be Wahaca founder Thomasina Miers (“How to ascertain if your business idea is genius or madness”); Mowgli founder Nisha Katona (“From barrister to bunny chow: why risk it all for restaurants?”); Sophie Bathgate, of Sophie’s Steakhouse (“What I would do differently next time”); Artizian founder Alison Frith (“How to market a startup”); Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars founder Mary Mclaughlin (“Growing an idea from startup to sustainable”); Eve Bugler, founder of BabaBoom (“How to keep the joy when it’s all on your shoulders”); Jane O’Riordan, founder of The Dynamo (“The importance of patience”); Sally Jackson, owner of The Pink Pig Farm (“The ten hardest lessons I’ve learned”); Christine Winton, of Siam Eatery (“Can you have work-life balance when you start a business?”); Vanessa Hall, co-founder of Jack & Alice (“The importance of staying true to your values when you start and expand your business”); and Laura Harper-Hinton, co-founder of Caravan (“Why people are key to your success”). Elliott said: “Female entrepreneurs are making an enormous contribution to the hospitality sector – but we need even more of them. The conference is intended as a showcase of some of the sector’s best female entrepreneurs and to encourage even more of them to take the plunge.” Propel managing director Paul Charity added: “If our sector is to truly serve its market, we need more companies led at senior levels by women. We hope companies send their brightest female talent to the conference to pick up inspiration and develop their entrepreneurial talent.” Tickets are £195 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers, £245 plus VAT for operators and £395 plus VAT for suppliers and can be booked by emailing or calling her on 01444 817691.
London mayor – allow extended hours to save London pubs: London is losing an increasing number of pubs, according to new figures released from City Hall and the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). The capital lost 85 pubs in 2016-17 leaving a total of 3,530, a 2.4% fall on the number from the year before. A bright spot was employment, with the net number of people working at pubs remaining steady. The number of people employed in London pubs last year was 46,400 – similar to the 46,300 reported in 2016. And during 2016-17, seven boroughs did report a net rise in pubs – City of London, Camden, Bexley, Greenwich, Hounslow and Lewisham. Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "The traditional London pub has been at the heart of London’s communities for hundreds of years, but sadly they continue to face a long-term decline in numbers. As mayor, I have made safeguarding and growing London’s night-time economy a priority, and am doing all I can to protect the capital’s iconic pubs. By creating the most pro-pub planning strategy the capital has seen I’ve shown what can be done, and I want to see the government and local authorities match my ambition and help protect these key community hubs for generations to come." Khan said he was calling on boroughs to resist applications to redevelop beer gardens and ensure new residential developments near to pubs are adequately soundproofed so they can co-exist. Between 2000 and 2018, the demolition of pubs was cited as the most common reason for pub closures in London. The mayor said local authorities can also consider extended opening hours to help boost income and relieve pressures from business rates. Geoff Strawbridge, CAMRA’s regional director for Greater London, said: "CAMRA branches would like to see all London boroughs adopting robust pub protection policies in their strategic plans and enforcing them in their planning decisions."
PHE fast food density map ‘demonstrates value of sector’ to England’s town centres: Public Health England’s (PHE’s) new map, which reveals the density of fast food outlets across the country, demonstrates the “value of food outlets to town centres around the country”, UKHospitality has stated. The trade body pointed to the crucial jobs and investment created by eating out businesses, which are often part of the wider late-night sector. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “PHE’s map is a useful demonstration of the value of food outlets to town centres around the country, many of which are at the forefront of offering healthy-option meals. Eating out businesses provide crucial jobs and investment in communities in every corner of the UK and are often part of a wider late-night hospitality sector, including nightclubs and bars, which are the lifeblood of town and city centres. Increasingly, fast food shops are taking the lead of the wider eating-out sector, getting behind the industry’s efforts to help reduce obesity by offering healthier alternatives and lower-calorie options to cater for evolving customer tastes.”
England fans expected to buy six million extra pints at the pub during Colombia game: England fans will buy six million extra pints at the pub during the World Cup knockout-stage match against Colombia, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has predicted. The extra number of pints bought during the last-16 match on Tuesday (3 July) could provide a boost to the economy of up to £18m. The chancellor will also be cheering, with the additional tax windfall generated from the extra sales estimated to be as high as £2.7m. If England beat Colombia and progress to the quarter-finals, the BBPA has predicted an extra eight million pints will be bought during the match. The game would take place at the optimum time of 3pm on Saturday, 7 July. The BBPA said this would provide as much as a £24m boost to the economy and a £3.6m windfall for the taxman. The BBPA previously predicted during the group stages of the tournament, England fans would purchase up to 16 million extra pints while watching the games against Tunisia, Panama and Belgium. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “When it comes to watching the World Cup, only being at the game itself can compare with being in the pub. With the England team doing us proud and getting to the knockout stages of the tournament, fans will continue to pack out their local to cheer on the boys. It’s fantastic news for the Great British pub!”
Bristol hoteliers demand measures for Airbnb operators to mitigate impact on city's hospitality sector: Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA) is demanding the council introduces a series of measures for Airbnb operators to help mitigate the impact on the city's hospitality sector. With close to 2,000 properties now registered on the room booking platform in the city, BHA chairman Imran Ali said not only are these rooms and properties being made available on an uneven playing field, but are also putting people at risk from a health and safety basis. Among the proposals Ali is calling for include exclusion zones based on the city’s ward boundaries, similar to what other cities across the world have introduced. Ali also said anyone who wants to offer their room or property should only be able to do so under licence where they pay a sliding scale fee based on the number of rooms or size of their property. He also wants local residents to have the option and authority to block any properties or rooms from being offered in the street in which they live. Ali said: “Why should hotels and B&B owners have to pay business rates, VAT and comply with rigorous health and safety checks, fire assessments, visits from environmental department and undergo food hygiene tests while those offering their property or rooms on Airbnb don’t have to do any of these things? The dangers are there to see from both a business and health and safety point of view. We’re happy for competition however it has to be on a level playing field. If nothing is done, hotels and B&Bs will close down."
National Licensing Week sees marked increase in social media engagement: The Institute of Licensing has reported a marked increase in social media engagement at its third National Licensing Week. The event provides a platform for licensing practitioners to “get involved and celebrate the role of licensing in everyday lives”. Participation was higher than previous years, with many different organisations getting involved. This year showed a marked increase in social media engagement, with more than 15,700 tweet impressions compared with 9,390 in 2017. The Home Office, Gambling Commission, UKHospitality and Local Alcohol Partnerships all took part alongside many others in related industries promoting areas of licensing and key messages as part of National Licensing Week 2018. There were various job swaps, an increased number of blogs and more engagement than before from regulators, industry and members of the public. Institute of Licensing chairman and CPL Training Group chief executive Daniel Davies said: “National Licensing Week is one of the industry’s flagship campaigns – a rare opportunity to highlight the importance of licensing in today’s society. Despite its role in everyday life, licensing often goes unnoticed. The aim of this campaign is to change this perception. 2018 has been a great success, building on the previous campaigns, and we are delighted with the amount of engagement from all sectors and the public. We are already planning the 2019 campaign and hope to continue to build and improve the campaign to get more engagement than ever.”
Licensing renewal chaos hits Scottish pubs: Hundreds of Scottish pubs are at risk of closure because of red tape chaos, it has been claimed. Industry leaders fear tens of thousands of bar managers will now fail to renew their personal licences amid what they describe as a bureaucratic "disaster". Industry experts believe between 40,000 and 56,000 managers and supervisors have to renew their ten-year licences introduced in 2009 by next summer. Yet the Scottish government, which said it wants a smooth renewal process, has still to set out what training licensees need to do to qualify to keep their licence – or even how much they should pay for the document.

Company News: 

Boost Juice Bars reports losses after 7% drop in sales: Boost Juice Bars, which operates 29 sites and is backed by the Business Growth Fund, has reported turnover dropped 7% to £10,299,618 in the year to 27 September 2017 after “the worst summer weather for a number of years”. It reported an operating loss of £920,000 after a depreciation and impairment charge of £994,966 and an onerous lease expense of £350,038. The company stated: “(The) existing business model leaves (us) exposed to external factors and (we) will start to leverage the assets of the wider group via dual concept stores. The wider group operates a second brand called The Shake Lab, which is focused on the sweet treat indulgence market. This dual concept places a Boost Juice Bar and Shake Lab side-by-side in the same unit to increase conversion rates, drive operational efficiencies, minimise premises costs and maximise return on investment. The first dual concept store opened in Nottingham in November 2017 and both brands can be serviced by the same central resource and common processes." The company said it would be operating the break clause at a number of its loss-making sites. 
Emily Roux to open Caractère restaurant in London: Emily Roux is to become the third generation of the Roux family to operate a restaurant in the UK when she launches a venture this year in Notting Hill. Acting on behalf of a private landlord, agents AG&G let the leasehold interest of the unit, which formerly traded as Bumpkin and the Good Leaf restaurants, at the junction of Ledbury Road and Westbourne Park Road to Emily Roux, the daughter of Michel Roux Jr and granddaughter of Albert Roux Sr. The London venture will be called Caractère. The circa 2,500 square foot corner site has some notable neighbourhood operators including the Ledbury, Granger & Co and Beach Blanket Babylon. Emily Roux said she would open the restaurant with husband Diego Ferrari, who is head chef at Le Gavroche, so Caractère would offer a “mix of French-Italian food”. AG&G director James Grimes said: “Our client is delighted to have secured such a prestigious family name and reputation. The attention to detail of Emily and her advisors as far as the planned fit-out is concerned bodes well for the business focus they will have when it opens. I am sure it will be a great success.” Albert Roux and Michel Jr have run Mayfair restaurant Le Gavroche since 1981.
Bramley Bars acquires third site: South west-based pub company Bramley Bars has acquired its third site. The company, owned by Dan Brod, Charlie Luxton, and Matt Greenlees, has added The Lord Poulett Arms in Hinton Saint George, Somerset, to its portfolio. Bramley Bars bought the pub from husband-and-wife owners Michelle Paynton and Steve Hill, who had run it for 15 years, for an undisclosed fee. Brod told Harden's: “The Lord Poulett is already a very successful place. It only has five bedrooms, but it has been run very passionately by its owners and it just very much fitted into our style.” Bramley Bars, which also runs the Beckford Arms near Tisbury, Wiltshire; and the Talbot Inn in Mells, Somerset; has found past investment from Soho House chief executive Nick Jones, among others.
Yorkshire-based "clean" kebab concept I am Doner launches crowdfunding campaign to open second site: Yorkshire-based "clean" kebab concept I am Doner has launched a crowdfunding campaign as it bids to open its second site. Founder Paul Baron, whose fiancee Alison White runs Indian kitchen and craft beer concept The Cat's Pyjamas, is looking to build on his first outlet, which opened in Headingley a year-and-a-half ago, with a new venue in Harrogate. He has launched a £25,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to help open the site in Station Parade opposite the bus station. The pitch states: "We are no stereotypical kebab shop! We use a total of 120 ingredients in the six kebabs we make. We have ten items of salad, feta cheese, homemade bread, homemade sauces and the highest quality meats. We have a very strong lunchtime offering as well as the evening trade. We want your help in opening our second takeaway shop in Station Parade in Harrogate, just opposite the bus station. All of our packaging is plastic free, helping to preserve our oceans and environments. We know opening any new business is hard work and tough, but we think we've learnt so much from Headingley – who'd have ever thought we'd be selling nearly 1,000 doner kebabs on a Saturday night! We've been looking for a venue for more than six months and waited for the right space to come up. We've already been awarded the licence, which means with your help pledging, we'll be ready to open and introduce the people of Harrogate to our doner revolution!"
Whitbread pulls into Marylebone as it secures permission for latest hub by Premier Inn: Whitbread has secured planning permission for a 294-bedroom hub by Premier Inn in Marylebone, central London. The company has been granted permission by Westminster Council to redevelop a site in Old Marylebone Road for which Whitbread purchased the freehold in 2016. It adds another Zone 1 hotel into Whitbread’s expanding portfolio in a key growth market for its Premier Inn and hub by Premier Inn brands. The new hub by Premier Inn at Marylebone, which is close to Marylebone and Paddington stations, is expected to open in 2021, creating about 60 jobs. There are seven hub by Premier Inns trading in London with a further seven in planning or construction. Whitbread development manager Owen Ellender said: “We are investing in building our hub by Premier Inn brand across London and this site in Marylebone, where two transport hubs meet, is the ideal location. This project demonstrates Whitbread’s capability to deliver on effective real estate deals, purchasing assets freehold and securing hotel consents.” The site is a former 54,000 square foot office building Whitbread purchased for £31.25m with vacant possession. Whitbread will regenerate the site for a 13-storey hotel with a ground-floor cafe in line with the hub by Premier Inn brand. In its preliminary results presentation in April, Whitbread said it had more than 14,700 Premier Inn and hub by Premier Inn bedrooms in its committed pipeline and expects to achieve its target of 85,000 bedrooms by 2020. Two hub by Premier Inns are scheduled to open in central London during the current financial year – at Berwick Street, Soho, and Bank in the City.
Greater Manchester-based operator takes on Greene King-owned Pilling and Pride pub for second site: Simon Delaney, who operates the Firbank Pub & Kitchen in Wythenshawe, has taken on The Stonemasons Arms in Timperley for his second site in Greater Manchester. The Stockport Road pub will close on Saturday (7 July) to reopen in late August as a “premium community village pub”. The pub, which is owned by Greene King, was taken on in November by Damson Restaurant Group co-owner Steve Pilling and ex-Gaucho managing partner Angus Pride as a second site for their new company Pilling and Pride. The pub underwent a £270,000 makeover into a “destination premium casual dining and drinking venue”. However, the new-look pub failed to attract the punters, with some lamenting high food and drink prices. The pub will undergo a further six-week refurbishment to introduce a “rustic feel”. Plans include tables at the front of the pub, children’s play equipment at the rear and television screens showing sport. Delaney told Altrincham Today: “People will still be able to get a restaurant experience but we’ll be serving homemade food as quick as we can, not fast food. People have got nothing to worry about. With the support of the people of Timperley, we can make it the beating heart of the village.”
Charlotte Wilde to launch debut solo venture, in Dalston: Charlotte Wilde, who co-founded bar restaurant company Sager + Wilde with Michael Sager before her departure, is to launch a debut solo venture in Dalston, east London. Darling will open in Kingsland High Street in the autumn offering wine, cocktails and modern European plates. The site was formerly occupied by Cantonese restaurant Shanghai, which took over an F Cooke pie and mash shop. Many original features remain, such as colourful wall tiles. Wilde has designed the venue’s wine list, which will change regularly but feature no more than 100 at one time. The list will feature bottles from a variety of regions. Dan Wilson, formerly of Dandy, will head the kitchen offering a seasonal a la carte menu of modern European dishes plus bar snacks in the evening. Tom Soden, of Nine Lives, will create a cocktail list featuring unusual twists on the gin fizz, old-fashioned and negroni. Darling won’t serve food during the day but will be available instead to hire as a multi-purpose events space for pop-ups or co-working, as well as a photography studio, Hot Dinners reports. Sager + Wilde is set to take over Bassoon Bar at the Corinthia Hotel in Whitehall. It operates restaurant Paradise Row and wine bar Hackney Road. It is also due to launch Fare Bar And Canteen in Clerkenwell.
London-based healthy food at work delivery platform closes crowdfunding campaign after raising almost £600,000: Feedr, which aims to revolutionise healthy food at work using technology to bring fresh meals from a curated set of artisan vendors across London, has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube having raised almost £600,000. The company, which includes restaurants such as Gail’s Bakery, Deliciously Ella, Detox Kitchen, Mildred’s and Farmstand among its vendors, hit its initial £450,000 target a fortnight after the campaign launched, offering 13.85% equity in return for the investment. It has now closed the campaign with 264 investors, which include former Crussh managing director Chris Fung, pledging £593,700. Feedr has served 40,000 meals since its launch in 2016, with 300% revenue growth in the past 12 months. The pitch stated: “Food demands are changing – people want better food and transparency in supply chains – but it can be difficult to access healthy, high-quality food at the office at an affordable price point. Our flexible online platform delivers healthy, fresh food to the workplace for group catering and individual meals from a selection of 80 curated vendors.”
Loungers launches first Essex site: Cafe bar brand Loungers, which is backed by Lion Capital, has launched a site in Witham, its first in Essex. Valero Lounge has opened in Newland Street at a former HSBC bank branch. The venue features vintage sofas, benches, Pop Art-inspired table tops and statement lighting such as 3D stars and domes. The main bar leads out to a walled terrace, which features multi-coloured chairs and bright red canopies. Loungers operations manager Klive Roberts told Essex Live: “The team at Valero Lounge is looking forward to becoming party of the community and will support local groups and initiatives wherever possible.” Last week, Loungers chief executive Nick Collins told Propel the struggles of retailers rather than restaurants were providing opportunities to build its pipeline. The company currently operates 127 venues under the Lounge and Cosy Club brands, and is on track to reach 140 sites by the end of 2018. Loungers was founded by friends Dave Reid, Alex Reilley and Jake Bishop in 2002.
Nottingham-based supper club Kushi-ya to open permanent restaurant: Nottingham-based supper club Kushi-ya is to open a permanent restaurant. Having run sold-out events for the past year, Kushi-ya founders – Iberico World tapas head chef Simon Carlin and The Railway junior sous chef Tom Clay – have decided to invest in their debut bricks and mortar site. The restaurant, which will have about 35 seats, will open in September in Cannon Court on the former premises of Alley Cafe, which closed in May. Kushi–ya will offer skewers cooked over charcoal on a traditional Japanese grill, small plates, snacks and specials, which will change regularly. Clay told West Bridgford Wire: “The supper clubs had become so popular they were selling out in less than an hour and we had long waiting lists. By opening the restaurant we’ll keep the intimate atmosphere but accommodate more people.” Carlin added: “All the build-up was to see what the reaction was, to test the water. It went really well and we had some great feedback. The dream was to open our own place, that was the end goal.”
Bury St Edmunds site that formerly housed Bourgee brought to market: Grade I-listed Cupola House in Bury St Edmunds, which formerly housed a site operated by steak and lobster restaurant Bourgee, has been brought to market. Cupola House is in the centre of the Suffolk town. Built in 1693 as a private home, it later became an apothecary, wine merchant and pub. From the 1990s, the premises traded as a Strada restaurant. In 2012, the property was damaged by fire and was rebuilt under the guidance of English Heritage. The property is being marketed by agent Fleurets with vacant possession, a new lease and a nil premium on behalf of owner OMC Investments. Gareth Hatton, of Fleurets, said: “The property is located over four floors and benefits from a trade kitchen on each level, facilitated by a dumb waiter.” Last week, Bourgee lodged a licensing application to open a site in Norwich. The move came after the company was forced to close three of its locations – in Southend, Chelmsford and Bury St Edmunds – in April after going into administration. The company was able to retain its location at Southend airport.
Roomzzz launches into London: Aparthotel chain Roomzzz has opened its first site in London. The venue in West Ham Lane, Stratford, offers five styles of self-catering apartments and free electric car-charging points. The site also offers the brand’s Grab And Go Breakfast, from 6.30am to 10.30am, a fitness studio, coffee shop, lounge, and co-working spaces. Roomzzz operates three sites in Leeds and two in Manchester, with others in Chester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Nottingham. It also plans to open aparthotels in Edinburgh, Harrogate and York.
Husband-and-wife team opens second Insomnia Coffee franchise in Leicestershire: Husband and wife Raj and Sunita Aggarwal have opened their second Insomnia Coffee franchise in Leicestershire. The coffee shop has opened in New Broadway in Coalville, creating 12 jobs. The Aggarwals opened an Insomnia Coffee site in Market Harborough more than two years ago. Raj Aggarwal told Insider Media: “Coalville has a rich history and we wanted to reflect that within the coffee house so we have a big vinyl of the town’s mining history and artefacts from the area.” The couple’s business expansion has been supported through funding from Enterprise Loans and North West Leicestershire District Council. Neil Millington, loan fund manager at Enterprise Loans, said: “They are genuine independent entrepreneurs and offer something different from the standard high-street chains. I have every faith Insomnia Coffee will become an anchor store, pulling in customers and helping to rejuvenate the rest of the high street.” Insomnia Coffee was founded in Ireland in 1997 and now has more than 150 locations.
Shrewsbury-based Battlefield Brewery goes on market: Shrewsbury-based Battlefield Brewery, incorporating a brewery tap and 7,500 square foot bar and restaurant space, has been put up for sale through agents Christie & Co. Situated on 1.8 acres in Battlefield Enterprise Park, the 15,000 square foot building features a modern European-style four vessel 25-hectolitre brewery, 250-hectolitres of fermentation capacity, bottling plant, modern keg and cask washing and filling facilities, and a fully fitted laboratory facility. The two-storey 7,500 square foot trading area, currently in shell condition, is separated from the brewing area by a large full-height picture window, allowing views of the beer production facilities. Established in 2015, Battlefield Brewery brews six beers, which are all casked, kegged and bottled in-house and supplied to pubs, bars, restaurants and licensed retailers across the Midlands and north west of England. Neil Morgan, Christie & Co managing director – pubs and restaurants, said: “We expect to generate interest from existing regional pub groups or brewing companies, looking to create a vertically integrated business and seeking to strengthen their presence in the Midlands and the north.” Christie & Co is considering offers for the freehold.
Pasta and grappa concept Morso opens permanent site, in St John’s Wood: Pasta and grappa pop-up Morso has opened a permanent site, in St John’s Wood, north London. The concept is the brainchild of former Jamie’s Italian and Carluccio’s chef Paolo Vernett who, along with Vanessa Vaz, Barak Peled and Barry McCaughley, has created a concept that combines fresh pasta and small Italian bites with grappa-based cocktails. The menu includes egg yolk raviolo and grappa-cured salmon gravadlax, while the bar offers more than 20 grappas and 12 grappa-based cocktails. Morso launched as a pop-up last year and plans to open a number of “community-centred” sites in key London neighbourhoods by 2020. Earlier this month, the company appointed former Intertain chief operating officer Simon Kaye as non-executive director. Peled said: “We are really excited to have Simon on board. We have ambitious growth plans and it is vital to have somebody with us on this exciting journey who has done this several times over.” 

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