Story of the Day:
Rockfish reports like-for-likes up 15% as it closes on three new sites: Rockfish, the seafood restaurant group founded by Mitch Tonks, has reported like-for-like growth of 15% in the quarter to July ahead of three planned openings in the next 18 months. The company operates five coastal sites in the south west and also owns the Seahorse restaurant in Dartmouth. Rockfish, which is chaired by Will Beckett, co-founder of Hawksmoor, has been preparing to grow the business from six to 16 outlets over a four-year period and has identified a number of suitable locations along the south coast. Beckett was part of a private group that supported the business in a fund-raise in 2014 alongside other food and restaurant industry leaders including Leon co-founder Henry Dimbleby, Steve Leadbeater (formerly of Youngs Seafood) and John Barnes (ex-La Tasca and Harry Ramsden’s). The investor group also included food critic Giles Coren, who became a fan after eating at The Seahorse. Tonks and the board have spent the past 18 months preparing the company for growth and assessing expansion opportunities. The brand produces an average return on capital of 43%, with its latest site returning 72%. Building work has started on the Exeter Quays site with three further locations in advanced stages of discussion. Tonks said: “We opened the first Rockfish in 2010 and have taken the time over the past few years to continue to refine our offer, brand and culture while simultaneously preparing for growth by building our training function, developing our management systems and our pipeline of talented, passionate people. We have stuck to everything we always believed in – sustainable sourcing, local seafood cooked on the day it was landed, and strong ethical and community values. We want our guests to be able to experience the very best fresh sustainable seafood enjoyed in unique locations that are not the high street. I believe Rockfish can be a central part of changing the way people view seafood in the UK.” Beckett added: “Rockfish is an incredible business and exactly the kind I love – one that is trying to achieve scale with genuine integrity. Mitch has an amazing vision for his business as well as the foresight to prepare adequately for growth. Being part of such an unequivocal success story in the current restaurant climate has been a real pleasure since the day I started.”
Chris Muller Multi-site Management Masterclass opens for bookings:
Propel will host Professor Chris Muller, the leading thinker, teacher and author on multi-site foodservice management in the US, at its next Multi-site Management Masterclass. The event, which will focus on growth through innovation and branding and features all-new material, will take place on Friday, 28 September at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. Leading UK businesses such as Mitchells & Butlers and TGI Friday’s have sent staff to be taught by Professor Muller at Boston University’s School of Hospitality – now Professor Muller is returning to the UK to lead this bespoke interactive masterclass. The event will provide valuable insights as well as new perspectives and practical knowledge for founders, area managers of small and medium-sized multi-site companies and area managers of large companies. The sessions will include building a culture of profitable sales and service, using a restaurant brand as a competitive tool and becoming a leader of change. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members, £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers. To book tickets, email Anne Steele at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pub spending rises 16.8% in July, biggest increase since April 2017: The hot weather and England’s performance in the Fifa World Cup helped boost pub spending by 16.8% in July, the biggest increase since April 2017, according to the latest data from Barclaycard. Overall, consumers spent 41% more in pubs on England match days than on equivalent days in 2017, rising to 73% on the day of the England versus Croatia semi-final. Overall consumer spending rose 5.0% year-on-year in July, the third consecutive month of growth at or above 5.0%. Barclaycard said it has been the strongest three-month period of growth since the company began measuring data in 2014. Essential spending climbed 8.7% in July, driven by a strong rise in supermarkets (6.7%) and petrol (13%). Consumers have been keen to take advantage of the sunshine while it lasts, with almost one-quarter (23%) saying the hot weather this summer had prompted them to spend more money than usual on experiences and outdoor activities. Of these, more than half (56%) are prioritising spending on day trips, while 50% are buying more food and drink than normal to enjoy at barbecues and picnics. However, despite a willingness to spend on summer treats while the good weather lasts, shoppers remain cautious about the broader economic picture, with confidence in household finances dropping six percentage points month-on-month to 59%. Rising interest rates were another area of concern for some, with more than one-third (34%) worried the Bank of England’s interest rate rise earlier this week could leave them with less spending money each month. Barclaycard director Esme Harwood said: “The prolonged warm weather combined with England’s World Cup performance has created a short-term boost in spending. With the sunshine showing no sign of abating, spending levels have remained higher than we would normally expect, with Brits keen to make the most of the heatwave, whether in the pub over a few drinks or stocking up at the supermarket to enjoy a barbecue. It will be interesting to see if this strong level of growth continues as we move into the final stretch of summer. It’s clear some consumers remain cautious about what’s to come, with interest rates rising and overall confidence in household finances down slightly from June.”
Veolia to boost in-store coffee cup recycling by 300% in 2019: Waste management company Veolia has said it will boost in-store coffee cup recycling rates by 300% in 2019 following its year-long trial with Starbucks, Caffe Nero, McDonald’s and Whitbread-owned Costa. The in-store service sees used cups stored upside down to ensure they are uncontaminated before they are treated at paper-pulping facilities, which recover the fibre and separate the polymer plastic liner from the cup. Veolia has set a target to collect 120 million coffee cups for recycling in 2019 via in-store collection services. The company is also supporting Costa on its cup recycling programme, which aims to recycle up to 500 million coffee cups a year by 2020 – the equivalent of its entire annual sales of takeaway cups. Costa has said it will pay a £70 supplement to incentivise waste collectors. Veolia chief technology and innovation officer Richard Kirkman told Edie: “Our in-store and on-the-go solutions have real potential to capture every coffee cup in the country. We’re heading in the right direction but there is still plenty more to do, with millions of disposable cups still not entering recycling streams. To continue this progress, more organisations need to provide in-store solutions and more consumers need to use them.”
Quandoo launches Instagram integration: Quandoo, the restaurant reservation platform, has launched an integration that will allow diners in Europe and Asia to book a table directly from a restaurant’s Instagram profile. Instagram users are able to tap a “reserve” button on a restaurant’s profile to book a table, making the process easier and quicker, Quandoo said. The integration is available in all countries in which Quandoo is active, including the UK, Germany and Asia-Pacific region. Pierpaolo Zollo, vice-president of business development at Quandoo, said: “Thanks to this partnership Instagram users will have an easier way to reserve a table at their favourite restaurant in less than a minute, no matter where they are, while restaurants will be able to take advantage of these new features, making Instagram another place to do business.” In fewer than six years, Quandoo has expanded its offer into 12 countries and more than 17,000 restaurants. Last month, the company was selected as the first food partner across the UK, Germany and Italy in the WeChat Go Europe mini-program. WeChat is the most-used social media channel in China.
Daisy Green Collection on verge of securing 2019 site pipeline, nears £2m crowdfunding cap: Australia-inspired restaurant group Daisy Green Collection has reported it is on the verge of securing its site pipeline for next year. Co-founder Prue Freeman said: “We are delighted to be close to securing our 2019 pipeline with several prime, off-market sites. Southbank and City are likely to be the first – both provide the desired mix of office, residential and tourism customers and are the result of several years of work and development.” The company is currently fund-raising on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to support its growth. It has set an overfunding cap of £2m having smashed its initial £500,000 target within hours of the campaign publically launching last month while offering 4.70% equity in return for the investment. So far 705 investors have pledged £1,995,230 with one day remaining. Freeman founded the company with husband Tom Onions in 2012. Since then it has grown to a collection of nine sites across central London. The company has a run-rate site Ebitda of £2m. The group is currently achieving run-rate revenues of circa £10m, with site Ebitda margins at about 20%. The company’s business plan forecasts growing to more than 17 sites with revenues of £25m-plus within four years. The business, currently 100% owned by the founders, raised a £775,000 bond through Crowdcube in 2015, which was oversubscribed within 24 hours. In 2017, its “Bondi Bond” became the first to be repaid as part of a £3.25m refinancing by OakNorth.
Crieff Hydro reports Ebitda boost as turnover nears £30m: Scottish independent hospitality company Crieff Hydro has reported turnover increased to £29,787,355 for the year ending 28 February 2018, compared with £27,134,383 the previous year. Ebitda was up to £3,490,355, compared with £2,864,156 the year before. Pre-tax profit was up 60% to £980,781 compared with £423,221 the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Crieff Hydro owns six hotels and operates three more under management contracts through wholly owned subsidiary company Freedom Hotels (Management). Freedom Hotels also operated The Yorkshire Hotel in Harrogate until January this year when the hotel was sold by the owner. In his report accompanying the accounts, chief executive Stephen Leckie said: “Political, economic and exchange rate factors have increased supplier costs while implementation of the National Living Wage, Apprenticeship Levy and non-domestic business rates have driven a need across the hospitality and retail sectors to seek savings and efficiencies. These at the very least offset this rise in costs, which have created a permanent change in the trading environment. To address this new environment and ensure a sustainable business, a full review of the business was undertaken during the year. This resulted in a restructure of a number of departmental teams with a reduction in headcount achieved through voluntary redundancies. Other cost reduction measures were also implemented and supporting services refocused to address challenges noted above. Management has a key focus on the sustainability of the business and creating a robust operating platform for continued growth for reinvestment in the customers and the team. The results for the year are reflective of these factors but also show how management has been able to grow the business and create a sustainable business model for the future.”
Bem Brasil opens £1m-plus venue in Liverpool in joint venture with Cavern Club: Brazilian restaurant company Bem Brasil has opened a restaurant and bar in Liverpool in a joint venture with the city’s famous Cavern Club. Festival Food & Drink Grill is a 145-cover venue that has launched in Mathew Street opposite the Cavern Club following a development cost of more than £1m. The previously vacant building has been converted into a barbecue and grill set over three floors. Festival Food & Drink Grill “fuses Brazilian tastes and rhythms with a blend of Liverpool’s famous music history in a colourful and relaxed atmosphere”. Leisure contractor Medlock carried out the fit-out during a 12-week period. Bem Brasil operates two eponymous restaurants in Manchester and one in Liverpool.
Flat Iron sees strong like-for-like growth in current financial year as it reports revenue and Ebitda boost: Flat Iron, the “single steak” dining concept, has said it has seen strong like-for-like growth in its current financial year as it reported an increase in revenue and Ebitda in its latest accounts. Turnover increased 55.1% to £11,715,100 for the year ending 27 August 2017, compared with £7,555,480 the year before. Adjusted Ebitda rose to £1,352,083, compared with £859,045 the previous year. Pre-tax profit was £456,110 compared with £233,448 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Gross profit margin was down to 33.5% compared with 34.0% the previous year. Flat Iron opened its fifth site during the period – in Portobello, London. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “Since the period end we have experienced strong like-for-like sales from our four mature sites and the new site is maturing in line with expectations. Despite the UK restaurant market having become more competitive over recent years, with operators experiencing cost pressures from National Living Wage increases and rising property costs combined with consumers’ real incomes being squeezed by rising inflation, the company continued to generate cash from operating activities and is positive about delivering another year of increased sales and profitability.”
Fever-Tree founders toast £103.5m payday following share sell-off: The founders of Fever-Tree are toasting a £103.5m payday after confirming the sell-off of another tranche of shares in the company. Non-executive deputy chairman Charles Rolls sold two million shares while chief executive Tim Warrillow sold one million shares, leaving them will stakes of 7.1% and 4.7% respectively. The shares were sold at a price of £34.50, landing Rolls £69m and Warrillow £34.5m. The duo decided to exercise options over 275,820 shares each at a price of 134p per share to source some of the shares being sold in the placing, meaning they will pay out about £370,000 each. Rolls and Warrillow remain the fourth and eighth-largest shareholders in Fever-Tree. Initially, Rolls and Warrillow said they planned to sell a total of two million shares. This has meant their holdings in Fever-Tree have notably shrunk. Since the end of 2015 to the most recent placing, Rolls has sold almost ten million shares and Warrillow 2.5 million.
Wrapchic makes Scottish debut with Edinburgh opening, second site to follow: Fusion fast-food business Wrapchic has made its Scottish debut after opening a site in Edinburgh – with a second site in the city to follow. Founder Mahesh Raikar has opened the venue in Princes Street. Wrapchic specialises in Indian street food offering naan wraps, tortillas and rice bowls. A second site in Edinburgh will open shortly at the Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre, while Wrapchic has plans to expand across Scotland in the coming months, reports the Edinburgh News. Raikar founded Wrapchic in Birmingham in 2012. It now operates 19 sites in the UK and two in Dubai.
Zapatista Burrito Bar secures third site, hints at further expansion: Newcastle-based Mexican street food restaurant Zapatista Burrito Bar has secured its third site, in Durham, and hinted at further expansion. The company has signed a 15-year lease for premises in Elvet Bridge through agents Naylors and expects to open the restaurant next month. Zapatista opened its first restaurant in Ridley Place in Newcastle in 2012 followed by a second in Grainger Street in 2014. The Elvet Bridge premises are undergoing a refurbishment to make way for a takeaway and restaurant in the style of Zapatista’s Newcastle sites. The team behind the restaurant chain, which is investing more than £250,000 in its Durham site, has suggested there may be more acquisitions to come. A spokesman told BDaily: “Prior to securing these premises we had been looking for the right site in Durham for a lengthy period of time. Elvet Bridge is well suited to housing our brand – old with real character – which is in keeping with our other units in Newcastle. We have several other locations in mind that are of particular interest to us and we hope to make more announcements in the future regarding new openings.”
Yotel to open Glasgow city centre hotel for fifth UK site: Yotel, the budget accommodation chain launched by YO! Sushi founder Simon Woodroffe, is to open a hotel in Glasgow city centre, its second as part of the company’s strategic partnership with Starwood Capital. Yotel Glasgow will open in November 2019 creating 100 jobs. It will be Yotel’s second site in Scotland and fifth in the UK, bringing the brand’s number of rooms in the country to 823. The company will transform the Westergate building in Argyle Street into a 256-bedroom hotel, which will include Glasgow’s first destination rooftop bar complete with bowling alley. Yotel chief executive Hubert Viriot said: “Glasgow is a forward-looking city that has real vibrancy and energy, bolstered by careful planning and investment initiatives. The city is building on its excellent infrastructure and is shaping up to be a world-class business destination. These were all important characteristics that helped us choose Glasgow as our next UK location.” Starwood Capital Group vice-president Tim Abram added: “Following the announcement of Yotel Edinburgh in 2017, this is an exciting next step in our strategic partnership. Yotel will bring something new and unique to Glasgow’s well-established hotel market.”
Healthy eating restaurant concept Stacks looks to franchise across Ireland after securing second site: Healthy eating restaurant Stacks is looking to franchise across Ireland after securing its second venue, in Belfast. James Deery will open Stacks Healthy Kitchen, a £300,000, 60-seat venue in the Soloist Building. It will join Caffe Nero and new Italian restaurant Gustoé at the office block in September. Deery said the restaurant could be part of an Ireland-wide expansion, which may include as many as four outlets in the north. He told the Irish News: “We are already looking at The Boulevard in Banbridge and The Junction in Antrim and we’re also looking to franchise Ireland-wide. We want to franchise the model out and obviously want three or four outlets in the north, there are big plans.” Colliers International has agreed to let a 1,600 square foot ground-floor unit at the office building to Deery, who also operates Stacks Bistro in Newtownabbey and an app-led meal plan service. Deery said the new restaurant would offer skinny beer and cocktails as well as a food menu that has the calories broken down with each meal.
Christian Guild Hotels sells sites in Cumbria and Gloucestershire: Christian Guild Hotels has sold its sites in Cumbria and Gloucestershire to property investment company Carlauren Group. Yeovil-headquartered Carlauren has bought Abbot Hall Hotel in Cumbria and Lindors Country House Hotel in Gloucestershire from a combined guide price of more than £2.9m. Abbot Hall Hotel in Grange-over-Sands was built in 1840 and comprises 36 bedrooms in the main house plus a 14-bedroom bungalow, five lodges and separate owners’ accommodation. Lindors Country House Hotel in Lydney offers 23 en-suite bedrooms, five lodges, three conference rooms and the 64-cover Stowes restaurant. Set in circa 24.4 acres of grounds, the main section of the hotel was built in the 1830s with the wing dating to 1660. Tom Cunningham, hotels director at Savills, which brokered the deal, told Insider Media: “Both these historic hotels benefit from a robust business and leisure trade, attracting interest from a wide range of investors. We are pleased with the strong sale price achieved.” Christian Guild Hotels was represented jointly by Savills and Musson Liggins. Its portfolio now consists of three hotels – in Cornwall, Devon and Derbyshire. Carlauren Group operates a number of care homes across the country, while also working in the resort management and property design and development sectors.
Creperie concept L’Ami Malo opens grab-and-go version at Old Spitalfields Market: L’Ami Malo, a modern creperie and bar inspired by Breton flavours and the small town of St Malo in north west France, has opened a crepe and galette stand in Old Spitalfields Market. The new venue is located close to its restaurant in Artillery Passage. The market stand continues to focus on the flavours and ingredients of Breton cuisine with a paired down summer menu featuring a range of savoury galettes and sweet crepes to take away, alongside French cider, Sassy Rosé and Brut Bouche Breton. New dishes exclusive to Old Spitalfields Market are made to eat on the go. Healthy options include a power salad with buckwheat seeds and vegetables, while sweet crepe cones come in chocolate, peanut and popcorn or berries and cream flavours. Co-founders Emilien Lesourd and Vincent Couvreur said: “This grab-and-go extension allows us to bring the L’Ami Malo brand and our modern take on crepes and galettes to a host of new customers. We are confident our popular restaurant dishes in a convenient takeaway offering will be hugely popular in this high-footfall location.”
Santoro brothers to open vegan restaurant in Shoreditch next month: Brothers Alex and Oliver Santoro are to open a vegan restaurant in Shoreditch, east London, next month. They will launch Genesis in Commercial Street offering a menu of plant-based and organic dishes, with street food influences from around the world. Ironically, the Santoro family has been involved in the meat industry for more than 100 years. The brothers turned vegan seven years ago and launched Raw Imagination, a vegan food company offering grab-and-go items to shops such as Planet Organic. Genesis will have a menu comprising sharing plates, salads, soup, tacos, burgers and hotdogs, all made using organic fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. Genesis will be split over two floors and feature a design incorporating pastel pink tiles, marble, copper detailing, neon signage, and original graphic artwork on the floor and walls.
BrewDog makes South Korea debut: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has opened its debut site in South Korea. The company has opened the venue in the Itaewon region of capital Seoul. It is BrewDog’s second brewpub after the concept’s debut in Tower Hill, London, in May. The Seoul site contains a ten-hectolitre brewkit, making it the first site outside the UK and US to officially brew BrewDog beer. The bar has 25 draught lines of BrewDog beer and guest brews from local breweries. The food features local dishes alongside the staple BrewDog menu of pizza, burgers and wings. BrewDog co-founder James Watt said: “We have seen a huge explosion in the global craft beer scene, with South Korea quickly becoming the craft beer hub of Asia. Seoul has been at the heart of this explosion and we’ve had our eye on this burgeoning craft beer scene for a while now, waiting for the perfect site to set up a BrewDog home. We couldn’t be happier to finally provide an outpost for unapologetically awesome beer in Asia and look forward to spreading the craft beer revolution to more people across the continent.”
Douglas Jack – Domino’s Pizza UK franchisees are among ‘most profitable in the world’: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said Domino’s Pizza UK franchisees are among the “most profitable in the world”. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 425p following the company’s interim results, Jack said: “UK like-for-like sales grew by 5.9% (first quarter 7.0%; second quarter 4.7%), of which 4.9% was volume growth, with the adverse impact of the hot weather partially offset by the benefits of the World Cup. The 8.3% increase in system sales was driven by volume (order growth 8.1%), with average ticket growth up 0.1%. Our 3% full-year like-for-like sales assumption allows for a slowdown in the second half due to a 7.0% comparable (first half 2.4%). A total of 22 stores opened in the UK in the first half, lower due to many January-planned openings occurring in December and expansion shifting in favour of smaller franchisees (there are 68 in total), who are keen to expand; the large ones have a higher share of splits. In the first half, average franchisee profit rose by 5.3% to £68,000 (£158,000 annualised due to second-half weighting) per mature store (versus £300,000 capex). UK online sales grew by 14.0% to 78.7% of system sales (FY17: 75.2%) and 88.2% of total delivery sales (FY17: 85%). The digital offer should benefit further from new platforms for e-commerce and app development, ongoing GPS tracker roll-out (currently in 588 UK and 15 Republic of Ireland stores). Despite the new partnership with Gfinity alongside the sponsorship of the ITV Hub, we believe there is plenty of advertising funds available to support like-for-like sales in the second half. Overseas profits fell by £1.8m in the first half, with growth in Iceland (like-for-like sales 2.9%) and Germany offset by lower profits in Switzerland (like-for-like sales 6.8%), Sweden, where a new supply chain centre opened, and higher labour costs in Norway (5.0% like-for-like sales). These costs have been dealt with, resulting in a good first-half exit run-rate. We expect Domino’s to add 18 corporate stores overseas (as well as a net five in London, acquired on 65 times average weekly unit sales) this year. UK margins fell by 115 basis points in the first half (based on reported sales) versus our full-year forecast, which allows for a 120 basis points decline as well as no like-for-like sales growth in the second half. Our forecasts now expect 60 openings in the UK and three in the Republic of Ireland versus our previous assumption of 70 in the UK plus four in the Republic of Ireland. Cash outflows were weighted to the first half – £18m of £30m capex; and £39m out of £50m share buy-backs. Hence, we forecast net debt falling slightly in the second half (to 1.5 times net debt/Ebitda). We believe Domino’s UK franchisees are among the most profitable in the world. Initially, we were concerned UK system sales surpassed like-for-like sales by just 2.4% despite 7.4% growth in store numbers but this reflects circa 2.5% dilution due to splits, with the balance due to increased immaturity. In our view, it is right that the company is investing for the long term, a process that is aligned to adding new and growing smaller franchisees."
Essex-based events company Dirty Lobster to launch debut restaurant, in former Colchester cells: Essex-based events company Dirty Lobster is to launch its debut restaurant, in historic Colchester prison cells. Former Savoy chef and Dirty Lobster founder Tomo Travelskie has agreed the lease on The Cells, a former underground prison on the lower floor of the old courthouse, parts of which date to the 12th century. The Cells were turned into a restaurant two years ago, with a sports bar in the converted magistrates’ court above. However, the venues closed in 2017 and have stood empty since. Dirty Lobster will hold a series of pop-up events at the venue in West Stockwell Street before it closes for a month-long refurbishment. The restaurant will specialise in lobster alongside other seafood and quality burgers. Travelskie told Essex Live: “I was so excited when I saw this place. The restaurant will be my main priority but I’ll also hold a series of events. It’s an exciting time to be in Colchester. I enjoy being creative as a chef and want to bring something awesome here.”
Arabic-inspired street food trader Hafla Hafla to open permanent site in Liverpool: Arabic-inspired street food trader Hafla Hafla is to open its debut permanent site, in Liverpool. Owner Tim Haggis, who also operates halloumi fries concept Meet Frank in the city’s Baltic Market, will open his restaurant in Lark Lane in early October. He told the Liverpool Echo: “I have lived in Liverpool my whole life and always dreamed of my own place in Lark Lane. I grew up working on the lane when I was 15 and live two minutes from there so it felt right to open Hafla Hafla there as soon as the opportunity arose. I’ve always admired how Lark Lane has been a hub of independent businesses and look forward to being part of it. The menu is going to grow quite a bit. Expect lots of new Middle Eastern dishes with our own Hafla twist washed down with some local craft beer.”