Story of the Day:
Arc Inspirations agrees new £7m senior debt deal with Santander to fund expansion: Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of a number of fast-growing brands including Manahatta, Banyan Bar & Kitchen and The Box, has announced a new senior debt deal with its banking partner Santander to support an accelerated expansion strategy. The group, led by chief executive Martin Wolstencroft, has agreed a new facility with Santander that will double existing funding to almost £7m, enabling the group to expand its current portfolio of 18 bars. The new agreement comes as Arc prepares to embark on a period of significant growth. The new facilities, together with cash flow, will fund forthcoming sites in Leeds and Manchester – the company is opening a Box premium entertainment bar in Leeds city centre next month, and a Manahatta cocktail bar in Deansgate, Manchester, and a Banyan bar restaurant in Spinningfields, Manchester, in October. In addition, Arc has a strong pipeline of sites in place for openings in 2019 and beyond. Finance director Andy Whelan said: “We have developed a very good relationship working with Santander in the past four years so we’re delighted to have reached this new agreement after a highly competitive process. That we were able to secure this new and expanded funding at a time when some hospitality businesses are reporting difficult trading and a challenging funding environment, speaks to the clearly differentiated position of Arc Inspirations and our vision for the business, which Santander shares.” Nick MacHugh, relationship director at Santander, added: “Arc Inspirations is a business we know well and clearly continues to perform strongly in its chosen markets. Martin, Andy and the management team continue to deliver outstanding results thanks to a mix of strong and clearly defined brands and an unwavering commitment to deliver exceptional customer experiences. We look forward to continuing to build on our partnership and be able to support its exciting growth plans.”
Operators see revenues fall in July as hot weather hits food sales: Following a superb early summer, which saw like-for-like sales up more than 5% for both May and June, July was a quieter month for UK hospitality, according to S4Labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality. Analysis of more than 100 organisations using S4Labour software across all industry sectors found an average 0.3% reduction in revenues compared with July 2017. The slight decline was driven by lower food sales as venues saw an average 2.5% decrease. With hot weather likely to have had affected consumer appetites, wet-led sites felt the most impact, typically seeing a 5.2% fall in food sales. This reduction was, to an extent, mitigated by an increase in drink sales of 1.0%. The company said although this figure was less impressive than in preceding months, it seems likely the period of high consumer spending that characterised the early summer has potentially run out.
Strand’s India Club saved from redevelopment: The Strand’s historic India Club has been saved from redevelopment. Marston Properties, which owns the building’s freehold, submitted plans to Westminster City Council last year to replace the club’s first-floor, canteen-style restaurant and lounge bar with en-suite hotel rooms. The India Club, whose lease expires in 2019, was founded by Krishna Menon, India’s first high commissioner to the UK, and has remained largely unchanged since the 1940s. More than 26,000 people signed a petition to save the club. The Save India Club group said in a statement: “We are delighted Westminster Council has refused an application that would have seen an iconic piece of London’s history disappear. We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received. The India Club is a constant reminder of Westminster’s multicultural identity and Indo-British friendship. We will continue to campaign for the building’s long-term preservation, including applying to Westminster for its designation as an Asset of Community Value.” At the time, a Marston Properties spokesman said its plan was “just one explorative option” and “certainly not a notice whatsoever of our intention and must not be interpreted as such”.
Pizza Punks to move into former Cafe Rouge site in Newcastle for third restaurant, plans 20 sites by 2022: Pizza Punks chief executive Brad Stevens has told Propel the company has completed on its third site, and first in England, while it is planning to operate 20 sites by 2022. On Tuesday (31 July), Propel reported Cafe Rouge had vacated its site in Grey Street, Newcastle, the brand’s only presence in the city. Stevens revealed Pizza Punks has already started fit-out work on the site ahead of a scheduled opening in early September. The company has seen 26% like-for-like sales growth in the past six months at its debut Glasgow site, which launched in September 2016, while the second Pizza Punks, which opened in Belfast in April, is “absolutely flying and trading 15% ahead of projections”. Stevens said: “Newcastle will work well for us, it’s full of like-minded people as in Glasgow and Belfast.” The Newcastle site will have about 105 covers internally, with a further 20 outside, “on a par with Belfast”. Stevens said Pizza Punks is looking to build a pipeline of four sites for 2019. Regarding what the company is looking for, he added: “We are looking at sites of about 120 to 150 covers and between 3,500 and 5,500 square feet, depending on the city. We’re looking at cities where we can make an imprint, like we have in Belfast – we’re up to 24th on TripAdvisor and we’ve only been open three months. Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol are on the A list.” Stevens, who stepped away earlier this year from the Bar Soba business he founded in 1999 to focus on Pizza Punks, said: “Our goal is to make Pizza Punks a national brand with a difference. We have ambitions to become the leaders in a new wave and rebirth of the casual dining market. We believe there is a real opportunity in the market for a brand that looks, feels and operates like a pop-up-style street food vendor but also has the brand strength, product, hospitality, structure and experience to scale nationally. By 2022, we aim to take the Pizza Punks brand to more than 20 outlets across the UK.”
Oddbox raises £529,000 in crowdfunding campaign to ‘kick-start the wonky veg revolution’: London-based wonky fruit and veg box scheme Oddbox has closed its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs after raising more than £529,000 to expand its reach. The company offered 18.32% equity in return for investment with an initial target of £350,000. In total, investors pledged £529,323 and the campaign has now closed. Oddbox’s weekly boxes are filled with fruit and vegetables that would otherwise have been wasted. It pays farmers a fair price for produce and donates up to 10% to tackle food poverty in a bid to “kick-start the wonky veg revolution”. The investment will be used to upgrade the company’s technology platform, build the brand, optimise operations and expand its team. The funding will also help the business broaden its delivery area to reach its goal of 12,500 customers by 2019, with 15 new postcodes in west and east London set to roll out. The company launched in 2016 and delivers to more than 1,600 homes in south London and 85 offices in central London, with a waiting list of more than 3,000 people. Oddbox co-founder Emilie Vanpoperinghe said: “The support we have had from customers and investors has been phenomenal. Our mission is to fundamentally shift food standards and normalise wonky produce.”
Stonegate Pub Company to roll out new menu across student concept with enhanced vegan offering: Stonegate Pub Company is to roll out a menu with an enhanced vegan offering across its student concept pubs from Tuesday (7 August). Jackfruit is at the forefront of the new menu as a “highly versatile ingredient and flavour carrier that readily absorbs sauces”. New vegan dishes will include jackfruit bao buns and a vegan burger, alongside a macaroni grilled cheese sandwich, falafel salad, and sides such as chilli, avocado and halloumi fries. For meat-eaters, burgers remain a firm fixture on the menu with new options including chicken curry burger, alongside new desserts, cocktails in a can and smoothies. Stonegate marketing manager Jessica Dixon said: “Demand for vegan dishes has significantly increased in recent months so we have added vegan versions of the most popular dishes on the menu.” Stonegate’s student pub estate has grown from 13 sites in 2014 to 49 this year, with more venues planned.
Fulham Shore executive directors earned £840,000 in most recent year: The directors of Franco Manca operator Fulham Shore earned a total of £840,000 in the year to 25 March 2018. Managing director Nabil Mankorious earned £201,000 and a bonus of £100,000, chairman David Page earned £123,000 and a bonus of £61,000, company secretary Nicholas Donaldson earned £56,000 in fees and a bonus of £28,000, and finance director Nicholas Wong earned £179,000 and a bonus of £89,000.
AB InBev launches sustainability initiative: Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has invited academics, entrepreneurs, scientists and technologists to apply to the 100+ Accelerator with the aim of “mobilising the world’s brightest minds to solve some of the most pressing global sustainability issues”. AB InBev is looking for partners who can deliver breakthrough advancements in a range of areas including water stewardship, farmer productivity, product upcycling, responsible sourcing and green logistics. Startups can apply with their solutions to ten key challenges it has developed with input from internal stakeholders and third-party experts. Successful applicants will receive mentorship, funding and access to new networks. “It is incumbent on global businesses to play a bigger role in creating a better world for all,” said Tony Milikin, AB InBev chief sustainability and procurement officer. “At AB InBev we have a long-term vision to build a company to last for the next 100-plus years, which relies on driving sustainability across our business. Our approach is rooted in the communities where we live and work, and we are well positioned to support entrepreneurs who are tackling local challenges. Through the 100+ Accelerator, innovators will benefit from our resources, experience and global reach to speed their progress and scale.” Selected winners will be announced in September and invited to be part of the 100+ Accelerator, which will kick-off in New York City in October and run until March. The programme will culminate in a Global Demo Day in Leuven, Belgium, where startups will have an opportunity to pitch for further funding from 100+ as well as external investors.
Torquay hotel and leisure business bought out by management: The founding family of a 71-year-old hotel group in Devon has been bought out by the management. Torquay Leisure Hotels, which was founded in 1947 and has been run by the Murrell family since its inception, consists of four hotels in a seven-acre estate. The portfolio consists of 438 bedrooms and apartments across the Derwent, Victoria, Toorak and Carlton hotels, which incorporates the Aztec Spa. The management buyout was led by managing director Jason Garside, with backing from Connection Capital and Santander. Garside said: “This transaction marks our confidence in the business and the management team is looking forward to the next chapter in the development of the resort. Above all, this will help us to continue to provide our customers with the best service and quality facilities.” The resort facility has bars and restaurants on-site as well as a leisure complex that includes indoor and outdoor swimming pools, spa, gym, indoor bowling greens, eight ballrooms with fully sprung floors, a tenpin bowling alley, a children’s soft play area and an amusement arcade. Retiring owner Laurence Murrell will retain equity in the business, which was renamed TLH Resorts in 2000, but will step back from the day to day running of the business. He said: “I am hugely proud of what has been achieved by TLH resorts in the last 71 years, growing to an award-winning resort business with a nationally recognised brand name synonymous with great-value holidays. Great people have always been key to TLH’s success and I am confident the new management team will grow that success for many future generations of customers to enjoy.”
Blind Tiger takes Star Pubs & Bars site for 13th pub: North west community pub operator Blind Tiger Inns is taking over the lease of The Rose & Crown in Chorley, Lancashire, and undertaking a £75,000 investment with Star Pubs & Bars to make it more comfortable and contemporary. The pub is Blind Tiger Inns’ 13th site. The pub has a reputation for live music, cask ale and sports, and the operator plans to build on this. Changes will include six new high-density screens and a sound system to improve sports viewing, booth seating, an upgraded cellar, installing SmartDispense and revamping the garden with new furniture, planting, festoon lighting and heating to enable year-round use. Blind Tiger Inns managing director Chris Tulloch said: “A safe, comfortable environment, great entertainment and outstanding quality coupled with good value for money are key to success in community pubs. It’s a tried and tested formula for us and is delivering 30% sales growth year-on-year at our pubs. The offer at The Rose & Crown will be in line with this. We’ll keep the pub as a traditional local but complement it with the latest technology and a fantastic new look. We’ve built a strong partnership with Star Pubs & Bars and appreciate the flexibility of being able to undertake the work ourselves.”
BrewDog passes £20m in Equity for Punks V fund-raise: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has passed the £20m mark in its Equity for Punks V fund-raise. The company set out in October 2017 to raise £10m in an initial 90-day period and has now secured £20,040,630 from 39,065 investors. The campaign was due to finish in January but was extended until Monday, 15 October or until the maximum potential raise of £50m is reached. With 2.8% equity in the business being made available at £23.75 per share, it means BrewDog values its business at £1.8bn. Meanwhile, the company has promoted David McDowall to the role of chief executive – retail. He will be responsible for BrewDog’s bar business worldwide. Last week, BrewDog opened its 37th UK bar and 70th worldwide, in Milton Keynes, while it will launch its first international brewpub, in Korea next week.
Redcomb Pubs to relaunch Alphabet in Islington this month: Multi-site operator Redcomb Pubs, founded by Dan Shotton and Mark Draper, is to relaunch its Alphabet bar restaurant in Islington, north London, on Wednesday, 15 August. Formerly located in Soho’s Beak Street, the 180-cover venue will reopen in Upper Street offering Mediterranean-inspired sharing plates, hand-pressed flatbread and tagine. Alphabet will also offer 26 cocktails and music at weekends. Signature dishes will include Moroccan-spiced chicken wings with lemon and saffron, while there will be kebabs, superfood and summer salads, and daily changing specials. The cocktail menu has been developed by Redcomb operations manager Chris Edwards. Alongside sister venue the Lockhouse in Paddington, Alphabet falls under Redcomb Pubs’ urban social division, which represents a key focus of expansion for the company with future projects in the pipeline. Redcomb Pubs currently operates 16 pubs and bars in London and surrounding counties, incorporating a number of pubs with rooms.
Searcys signs Design Museum deal: Searcys has been appointed official caterer for the Design Museum in Kensington. The venue in Kensington High Street was named European Museum of the Year 2018. Searcys will launch a coffee bar on the ground floor and a cafe on the top floor. Alongside sustainably sourced coffee and tea, the coffee bar will offer smoothies, cakes and bakes. The cafe will offer a seasonal menu serving British classics alongside a selection of salads, homemade sandwiches and a bakery table. Dishes will include Colston Bassett Stilton and broccoli tart, and Loch Duart salmon fillet. A weekend brunch menu is set to follow. Searcys will also cater for events as the museum looks to grow that element of its business. The Design Museum features six spaces for hire, including the 202-seat, theatre-style Bakala Auditorium. Searcys managing director Matt Thomas said: “We will present our modern menus, focusing on locally sourced and sustainable ingredients, to a new audience and partner with an institution we really value.”
Christie & Co – pub numbers stabilise despite 18 months of cost pressure: Pub numbers have stabilised despite 18 months of cost pressure, according to agent Christie & Co’s latest overview of the UK market. Following decades of contraction, pub supply is broadly balanced with good demand and the rate of pub closures has stabilised to almost zero, the half-year report stated. The company said it had continued to see “confidence in investment” as established operators such as Marston’s, McMullen and Everards continued building pubs, with many bigger players considering new-builds to be the “future of the sector”. The private freehouse segment has continued to bounce back, with some return in lifestyle buyers. The number of multi-site operators has grown, while private equity and investor interest remains strong. Christie & Co forecasts increased mergers and acquisition activity on the back of business failures brought about by rising costs. Transaction volumes have remained relatively subdued, with fewer deals than predicted. Over-leveraged and underinvested businesses are still at risk and further casualties are expected in the second half of the year and into 2019. Top lines have continued to perform well, which has allowed leading operators to hold bottom-line profitability flat or make marginal gains on a like-for-like basis. Many operators have invested in expansion and improving estates, meaning year-on-year performance is significantly ahead of like-for-likes. A big slice of that investment is being directed towards letting rooms, with demand for the best sites outstripping supply, leading to higher multiples. Christie & Co said transactional activity remains significantly behind its historic 2006 peak of 20 deals, with a total price tag of £5bn. The company said a number of businesses were “operating defensively” and looking to hold margins flat through the rest of 2018. It said the most successful operators were targeting marginal Ebitda growth, which combined with some movement in multiples could “result in an increase in asset prices of between 4% and 8% for the year”. Looking to 2019, the report said eyes would focus on the National Living Wage uplift in April and the impact of Brexit, although prospects for 2020 and beyond were “very positive”.
Matthew Clark and Pernod Ricard partner to launch gin initiative: Wholesaler Matthew Clark has announced the launch of a We Love Gin accreditation in partnership with Pernod Ricard. The initiative will help customers “ensure gin and tonic is made perfectly for every drinking occasion”. The UK is the fastest-growing gin market in the world, increasing 41% in the past five years. Last year, the UK consumed 1.32 billion gin and tonics, meaning 70% of all gin serves are with tonic water. These figures demonstrate it is more important than ever to ensure a high-quality and consistent level of serve when making a gin and tonic for the increasingly savvy consumer, the companies said. The We Love Gin accreditation involves staff training, events and kits with essential tools such as garnish stations, branded glassware, tongs and a “perfect serve” booklet. Pernod Ricard customer account manager Ali Mather said: “With the popularity of gin increasing and new gins entering the market almost daily, consumers have more choice than ever. Through a bespoke menu and premium garnish box, outlets will be able to offer customers a ‘perfect serve’, resulting in an increase in sales and value in this growing segment.”
Loungers launches in Newton Abbot: Cafe bar group Loungers, which is backed by Lion Capital, has opened a site in Newton Abbot, Devon. Orsino Lounge has launched in Queen Street at a site formerly occupied by sports shop Tony Pryce. The company operates almost 130 venues under its Lounge and Cosy Club brands and is on track to reach 140 sites by the end of the year. Last month, the company launched Tarko Lounge in Barnstaple, Devon. Loungers was founded by friends Dave Reid, Alex Reilley and Jake Bishop in 2002.
Liverpool nightclub behind Harrison’s first Beatles song on the market: An iconic Liverpool nightclub has been refurbished and is available for rent. The former Cabin Club is at the top of Bold Street, the city’s thriving centre for independent bars and restaurants. George Harrison got the inspiration for his first Beatles song, Don’t Bother Me, in 1963 after being harassed by photographers on his way into the club. The building is ready for fit-out and has undergone a complete external refurbishment. The basement is being marketed to independent club and bar operators, with the ground and first floors available as a single package for a restaurant or bar operator. There is an option to combine all the floor space subject to end-user requirements, The Business Desk reports. In June, Scotland-based cocktail and pan-Asian street food concept Bar Soba, which is backed by the Business Growth Fund, scrapped plans to open in the Cabin Club, although the city “remains on its agenda for expansion”.
Chapel Down launches save as you earn scheme: Chapel Down Group, the English wine and drinks producer, has launched a save as you earn share scheme for all eligible employees. The scheme offers staff members an opportunity to participate in the growth of the company via share option arrangements. Eligible employees were invited to subscribe for options over the company’s ordinary shares of 5 pence each with an exercise price of 60 pence, a 20% discount to the closing middle market price of the company’s ordinary shares on 26 June, the trading day before the invitation to participate was made. The options have a contract start date of 1 August and are exercisable between 1 August 2021 and 31 January 2022. A total of 32 employees elected to participate and, pursuant to these elections, a total of 244,620 options over ordinary shares have been issued, equating to 0.17% of the current issued share capital.
Maitre Choux to open fourth London site and largest to date, in Chelsea: Maitre Choux, the patisserie specialising in choux pastry, is to open its fourth site in London and largest to date, in Chelsea. The venue will launch in King’s Road this autumn offering the brand’s “modern version of a French patisserie” with seating for 15 to eat in. The brand specialises in eclairs, choux and chouquettes (empty choux pastry balls topped with pearl sugar). Chef Joakim Prat and business partner Jeremie Vaislic launched Maitre Choux in 2015. Vaislic said: “Maitre Choux Chelsea is our largest store to date. It is set to become an Instagram sensation with its flower tunnel and a stunning croquembouche choux tower in the window created by Joakim. We are partnering with Monmouth Coffee to bring London’s best espresso to the west side of town. For all these reasons, we could not be more excited for the opening!” As at its other locations, Maitre Choux King’s Road will take customised orders along with corporate and private orders. Maitre Choux’s other sites are in Soho, South Kensington and Westfield White City. Prat has worked at a number of Michelin-starred restaurants including Mayfair’s The Greenhouse, where he was head pastry chef, and as executive pastry chef at Joel Robuchon’s L’Atelier in Covent Garden.
Nando’s opens second Swindon site: Nando’s has doubled up in Swindon, Wiltshire. The company has launched a 156-cover venue at a former Pizza Hut site at Orbital Shopping Centre. The restaurant is set across ground-floor and lower-ground-floor areas with outside seating, while the opening has created 50 jobs. Nando’s regional managing director Benji Hardaker told Swindon 24: “We are thrilled to open the doors to our second restaurant in Swindon. We know there are a lot of peri-peri fans in the area and we can’t wait to welcome them through the doors.” Nando’s opened its first restaurant in the town in Regent Circus in 2016, attracting 800 job applications for only 34 positions.
Milanese fine dining restaurant Camillo Benso makes UK debut in Mayfair: Milanese fine dining restaurant Camillo Benso, operated by F&C Group, has made its UK debut by opening a sister site in Mayfair. The restaurant has launched in Blenheim Street with ingredients delivered daily from Italy. Camillo Benso also features a bar offering cocktails and small snacks, while the restaurant hosts regular live music sessions. Its team of Italian chefs include Luigi Esposito, who honed his skills under Michelin-starred Antonino Cannavacciuolo. The menu features signature spaghetti dishes, favourites such as beef tartar and ragu meatballs, and desserts created by pastry chefs focusing on Neapolitan classics. There is also a pizza menu, while bread is made by Niko Romito, of three Michelin-starred restaurant Reale. F&C Group was founded by Antonio Fantini and Massimo Sanità. It also operates Milanese restaurant Giannino. The Mayfair venture is the group’s first overseas opening, with further sites planned for New York and Miami.
Team behind naked restaurant Bunyadi to launch immersive experience in Hackney: Seb Lyall, the man behind Lollipop, which launched London’s naked restaurant Bunyadi and Bletchley Park cocktail bar, is to launch an “immersive experience” in Hackney focusing on arcade games and shots. Sinner will open at ABQ London in Bohemia Place on Wednesday, 8 August with customers able to play video games that reward or punish you with alcohol. The number of people allowed in will be capped at 60 and, after buying their tokens at the bar, customers will be able to choose from experiences including Desert Pursuit and Space Cactus, with more games to be added in the future. Games are designed to be short, fun and incentivised, with the quality of the shot depending on how well a player does. Shots will include Knicker Dropper Glory and the Flaming Henry, Hot Dinners reports. An hour and a half in the arcade will cost £22, which includes three games and shots, plus an extra cocktail. ABQ London formerly housed Lollipop’s Breaking Bad bar concept, inspired by the cult television series.
Coolr Social signs Burger King: Former Weber Shandwick EMEA head of digital Adam Clyne has launched social media agency Coolr Social and signed Burger King as a client, PR Week has reported. Tea brand Twinings and football publisher Dugout are founding clients. The agency is a sister business of Coolr, which Clyne launched in September 2017, and specialises in internal comms and digital. Coolr Social has been appointed UK social agency of record at Burger King. Clyne said the agency was also helping Dugout on “various aspects of social strategy”. He described Coolr Social as a “natural expansion” from Coolr, adding: “With Coolr Social we’re combining big-agency thinking with the speed and agility of a social publisher. Our approach is simple but one overlooked by many – to care about every single tweet, post and story that leaves the agency to ensure we are driving impact.” Soco Nunez, head of brand at Burger King, said: “We needed a better solution for our digital marketing efforts and were considering a pitch process. With Coolr Social we found a perfect partner with a unique understanding of how social works and how it can apply to our brand story.”