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Wed 19th Sep 2018 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Brexit anxiety hitting confidence of industry bosses: Concerns over the impact of Brexit is driving a fall in confidence among the leaders of Britain’s eating and drinking-out sector, the latest CGA Fourth Business Confidence Survey has revealed. The majority (62%) are backing a “soft Brexit” outcome, while more than two thirds (69%) support a second referendum. No other outcome, whether “no deal”, “Chequers” or “hard Brexit”, gained more than 10% support. Just over a third (36%) of the bosses of pub, bar and restaurant groups are optimistic about prospects for the market over the next 12 months – a drop of 11% since the last poll of leaders in May. Two-thirds (67%) remain upbeat about their own businesses’ performance but that has dropped from 75% over the last quarter. In all, 71% said the decision to leave the EU had already had a negative effect on business. Among the nearly three quarters of leaders that said the Brexit vote has already had a negative effect, most cited an increase in the cost of ingredients and the decreased availability of staff. Nine in ten (92%) said the reduced access to kitchen staff has had, or will have, an impact on their business. Leaders indicated challenges are particularly acute in London, where businesses are most heavily dependent on EU nationals for staffing. Leaders identified Brexit-related damage to consumer confidence too, with half (48%) forecasting people’s frequency of eating and drinking out will decrease over the next six months, and only one in ten (9%) expecting it to increase. The survey also revealed some of the steps operators have taken to prepare for Brexit. Three quarters (73%) have anticipated its impacts by investing in staff training and retention, while a quarter (27%) have invested in local food and drink suppliers. But nearly a third of leaders (31%) still consider their business to be under-prepared for Brexit, or not prepared at all. Amid the challenges, the research revealed some grounds for cautious optimism in the sector. More than a quarter of leaders (29%) said their business’ performance had been ahead of expectations, thanks in part to the twin boosts to pubs and bars of the hot weather and the Fifa World Cup. Some bosses also see possible long-term benefits of Brexit, especially if it cuts red tape and reduces non-EU tariffs. CGA chief executive Phil Tate said: “Our Business Leaders’ Survey is the clearest indicator yet of the dramatic impact of Brexit on the hospitality sector. Restaurant, pub and bar operators that are sharply focused on meeting consumers’ needs, offer good value for money and are well differentiated from the competition still have plenty of headroom to grow. But the Business Confidence Survey confirms Brexit is going to bring enormous challenges for the sector into 2019 and beyond.” Fourth chief executive Ben Hood added: “With rising costs – including those associated with employment – a shrinking talent pool and the sector’s heavy reliance on EU workers, the government needs to navigate the complex process of leaving the EU with an approach that supports hospitality employers. Beyond the negotiations, and despite the uncertainty, what we see is an industry rolling up its sleeves to negotiate the challenges ahead.”

Industry News:

Propel launches Immersive Experiences Conference, open for bookings: Propel and Think Hospitality are launching the Immersive Experiences Conference, designed to bring together the community of operators, landlords and investors in the UK’s emerging immersive experiences sector. The half-day event takes place on Friday, 9 November at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. James Hacon, of Think Hospitality, will provide an overview of global innovation and trends in creating immersive experiences. Virgin Experience Days will outline its overview of the immersive experience sector, sharing key trends and potential growth areas. Matt Grech-Smith, co-founder of Swingers, will talk about the company’s progress opening two crazy golf venues in London, its food and beverage model and plans to open in New York. Frankie Edwards, head of the Jamie Oliver Cook School, will share how it has maximised sales from a large site through the addition of a hands-on cooking experience, effectively representing one of the UK’s most successful celebrity chefs. Jozef Youssef, founder and chef at Kitchen Theory, will discuss the principles of experience design in gastronomy based on joint research into the field with the University of Oxford. Tiffany Ng, co-founder and chief executive of RSVP, founder of Silver.Spoon, and co-founder and partner of Vinatic, will talk about the global pop-up and underground dining scene, and share her learnings of driving awareness and commercial returns from her experience running an online booking platform for the sector and a number of branded experiences in Copenhagen. Toby Harris, chief executive of Social Entertainment Venues, will introduce its concepts, share how it has differentiated from key competitors and where it sees the growth opportunities for its brands. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “With consumers now demanding truly memorable experiences, the immersive market has become a key battleground for operators in an ever-challenging environment. This conference will provide valuable insight into making the most of that opportunity.” Tickets are £345 plus VAT for operators, £445 plus VAT for suppliers, and £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers. To book a place, email or call 01444 817691.

UKHospitality – migration recommendations would drive decline in hospitality workforce and undermine major part of UK economy: UKHospitality has warned the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC’s) report into EEA migration in the UK will cause worker shortages and undermine a major part of the UK economy. The trade organisation said the recommendations would ultimately lead to higher costs for businesses and consumers and have an impact on service levels and the overall experience for hotel guests, restaurant customers and pub-goers. UKHospitality has warned any future immigration policy that favoured highly skilled migrants above low-skilled labour would undermine the hospitality sector’s efforts to provide jobs. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “There is acute concern a new system that doesn’t take into account the fundamental challenges the sector faces would only ensure businesses, their employers and customers were the losers. It is disappointing and frankly illogical to see the MAC report place too much emphasis on the economic worth of individuals rather than the wider benefits they bring to the UK. If preference is given to high-skilled workers from outside the UK, hospitality businesses will struggle to fill vacancies, investment will dwindle and businesses will suffer. Ultimately we will all lose because the guest experience will also suffer. It is crucial EU migration policy is factored into a future trade deal with the EU for the benefit of Britain, the EU and all citizens. Any negative impact on hospitality businesses’ ability to employ is ultimately going to be felt by customers on high streets around the UK. We will be making these points to the government, highlighting the dangers of a future immigration system that is disproportionately restrictive towards lower-skilled workers who are vital to the ongoing success of the hospitality sector and the wider UK economy.” Meanwhile, UKHospitality has welcomed the announcement the Pubs Code adjudicator (PCA) has agreed on principles for the publication of Pubs Code arbitration decisions. Nicholls added: “We maintain the PCA’s key priority should be focusing on fast and effective arbitration decisions, including retrospective rulings, and clearly written guidance with clear precedents so tenants are not financially disadvantaged. Despite the PCA’s welcome efforts to provide clarity on the Pubs Code, it remains an unwieldy piece of legislation that still requires a full review taking into account robust evidence and ensuring it delivers workable and timely solutions for all.”

BII outlines concerns over calorie labelling ‘red tape’: The British Institute of Innkeepers (BII) has said it is concerned the government’s launch of a consultation into introducing calorie labelling on menus will lead to “yet more red tape”, heaping further pressure on pubs. BII chief executive Mike Clist said: “The BII is concerned government is considering yet more red tape, increasing the costs of running pubs that are already under severe pressure from the impact of business rates, sugar tax, auto-enrolment pensions, beer duty and many other areas of legislation. Dealing with allergens, making the most of seasonal produce and keeping menus varied and interesting in a competitive market place makes offering food in pubs challenging enough without the pressure of calorie counting. A visit to a pub or restaurant is normally a celebration or treat and surveys have told us that even in venues that do give advice on the number of calories contained in a meal, it is often ignored. We believe the beneficial effects of pubs in counteracting loneliness and making pubs the centre of their local communities are far more important issues to consider, which is why we have joined in and are supporting the #longlivethelocal campaign. We will be encouraging government to look at reducing the overall tax burden on our pubs and announce the reform of business rates as well as reducing rates and duty at the next Budget.”

Company News:

Kerb to launch meat-free market in Devonshire Square with new WeWork partnership: Street food business Kerb is to launch its first meat-free market, in London’s Devonshire Square this month. Kerb’s tenth lunchtime market will be a partnership with collaborative workspace WeWork, which operates a site in the square that already operates a meat-free policy. The venture will launch on Wednesday, 26 September and feature a number of traders from Kerb’s inKERBator programme. Traders to operate in the first month will include Club Mexicana, which has pioneered vegan street food in London; Greedy Khao (home-cooked Thai vegan curries); Little Leaf (vegan sourdough pizza); Palm Greens (vegan salad bar); Biff’s Jack Shack (deep-fried vegan jackfruit burgers and buffalo wings); Vegals (vegan bagels); and Elote (vegetarian Mexican food). Kerb director of markets Ian Dodds said: “We are delighted to begin a relationship with WeWork – looking to push the Kerb market model forward with a focus on meatless dishes and sustainability. There’s been an explosion of great vegetarian and vegan dishes on the streets of London over the past year and we’ll be showcasing the very best here.” WeWork UK and Ireland general manager Leni Zneimer added: “Our vision for Devonshire Square is to build a neighbourhood where people can do what they love and feel part of a community that comes together to work, live and play. Kerb is a hugely successful London institution and we’re looking forward to welcoming its first meat-free lunchtime market to Devonshire Square.” Last week Kerb announced it would leave Camden Market as of 1 October. Club Mexicana opted to quit the market too, with founder Meriel Armitage stating at the time: “Kerb was the first street food curator to put us in a market and we’ve built a great relationship with it over the years. We are really looking forward to working with Kerb again in the near future – it has an amazing team and we will definitely be involved in whatever its next project may be!”

Ego secures first two openings since M&B joint venture, closes West Bridgford site: 3Sixty Restaurants, led by James Horler, has secured the first two sites for its Ego brand since launching its joint venture with Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) last month. Ego At The Cedar Tree will open in Avenue Road, Nuneaton, next month following the conversion of a Toby Carvery. This will be followed by a second Toby Carvery conversion, this time in Shrewsbury. Ego At The Grapes will launch at the Welshpool Road site in November and have 140 covers plus a bar. Prior to becoming a Toby Carvery in June 2015, the site was known as The Grapes Inn. Meanwhile, Ego has shut Ego At The Dorset Arms in Compton Acres, West Bridgford, because the business has proved “unsustainable”. It has surrendered the lease back to Star Pubs & Bars. Ego opened in the former Old Colonial pub in the run-up to Christmas 2016. Horler told Propel: “We are delighted to be opening our first two sites under the joint venture with M&B. The properties fit our criteria perfectly – suburban locations with good parking. These will be our only two openings for the rest of the year. We’re concentrating on getting the sites ready ahead of the Christmas period and then we’ll start looking again in 2019.” Regarding the decision to close the West Bridgford site, Horler said: “We are looking at bigger sites under the joint venture and unfortunately it didn’t fit in with the model so we’ve taken the decision to surrender the lease.” Ego, which operates across the north west, Yorkshire and the Midlands, offers Mediterranean-inspired food and cask ale in a pub setting. It currently operates 15 venues following the West Bridgford closure. M&B formed the joint venture with 3Sixty after buying Luke Johnson’s minority stake last month. Horler told Propel at the time it would look to continue growing the brand by opening sites within a 50-mile radius of its existing properties.

Wagamama to launch hot katsu curry following Noodle Lab trial: Wagamama is to launch a hot version of its katsu curry. It is the first time the company has created an alternative to its most successful dish. Chicken katsu curry has been on the Wagamama menu with the same recipe since the brand launched in 1992. The “extra hot” version will be available nationally for one week only from Thursday (20 September) to national katsu curry day (27 September), although if successful it could become a permanent feature on the menu. The dish was tested at Wagamama’s Noodle Lab test kitchen in Soho. Wagamama UK marketing director Andre Johnstone said: “Our executive chef Steve Mangleshot has been raving about hot katsu sauce from his visits to Japan for years and when we tried it out on customers at our Noodle Lab, the reaction was so positive we had to do something with this.”

BrewDog hits minimum £22m target for Equity for Punks V campaign: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has hit its minimum target of £22m after returning to crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to bolster its Equity for Punks V campaign. BrewDog is offering 1.21% equity on Crowdcube in return for investment and the crowdfunding campaign has 12 days remaining. Shares cost £23.75 each, with a minimum investment of four shares for £95. BrewDog, which has so far raised a total of £22,117,045 from 927 investors through Equity for Punks V, launched its latest fund-raise in October last year. The funds have been invested in a new brewhouse at its Ellon brewery, opening its sour beer facility, opening nine bars in three countries, beginning construction of its Brisbane brewery, opening its first DogHouse hotel and launching the BrewDog television network. Co-founder James Watt said: “This round of Equity for Punks has been our most audacious and ambitious to date but we are well on track to complete all the projects we announced when we launched in October.” In 2016, BrewDog secured a record £10m in 24 days via a mini-bond on Crowdcube – the highest raise on the platform. BrewDog’s first mini-bond raise on Crowdcube in 2015 was overfunded by 130%, raising £2.3m with a target of £1m.

West Country operator takes on fourth site as St Austell Brewery acquires Bath pub: West Country operator Jack Werner has taken on his fourth site after Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery acquired a pub in Bath. St Austell Brewery has bought The Griffin Inn in Monmouth Street from Sam Grimston. The Griffin Inn has joined St Austell Brewery’s 147-strong collection of tenanted pubs. It is the company’s first purchase since acquiring Bath Ales in 2016, inheriting its brewery, portfolio of brands and pub estate, including city pubs The Hop Pole and The Salamander. Werner’s other three West Country pubs are The Inn in Freshford, the Cross Guns in Avoncliff and the Old Crown in Kelston. Steve Worrall, estate director for St Austell Brewery, said: “Established in 1730, The Griffin Inn is an iconic venue in Bath city centre. We are proud to add this unique and charming pub – with popular guest accommodation – to our tenanted pub estate. We look forward to working with Jack and his team to ensure The Griffin continues to play a vital part in Bath’s vibrant and distinctive pub scene.” Grimston added: “It has been a privilege to be the custodian of a Bath icon for nearly four years. It is with a combination of pride in my staff, gratitude to my guests and sadness I will no longer be working with them. I believe St Austell Brewery and its new tenant will be superb guardians. I wish them much luck and look forward to seeing the pub continue to flourish.” The purchase of The Griffin Inn takes the total number of pubs owned by St Austell Brewery – including tenanted properties and managed houses – to 179 as it continues its growth and investment across the south west.

Black Sheep Brewery reports return to operating profit for first time in five years, founder to step down: Yorkshire-based Black Sheep Brewery has returned to operating profit for the first time in five years following a turnover boost and has also laid out its future investment plans. The company has also revealed founder Paul Theakston, who established the business in 1992, will step down from the board following its annual general meeting next Thursday (27 September). Black Sheep Brewery saw turnover increase 3.3% to £18.6m for the year ending 31 March 2018, compared with £18m the year before. The company had an operating profit of £260,000, compared with a loss of £437,000 the previous year. It added the positive performance was on the back of a declining cask ale market, which fell 7% year-on-year. The company stated: “The board is actively looking into developing a sustainable packaging solution for its bottled products while also exploring investment in Black Sheep’s retail presence as strategies to deliver potential long-term growth.” Managing director Rob Theakston said: “We have continued to diversify the Black Sheep brand with the development of several new products to the on and off-trade that complement our core range. The launch of 54° North, our first lager, was one of many well-received new additions to the Black Sheep range. Our innovative brewing approach is helping to set Black Sheep up for the future as we continue to face a shrinking cask market, and this diversification will be crucial to our future success.” Chairman Andy Slee added: “We have enjoyed a positive year despite varying challenges brewers face, including a disproportionate tax burden on the sector. Black Sheep currently pays five-and-a-half times more in beer duty than eBay pays in UK corporation tax, which strikes me as wholly unfair. Beer duty and business rates remain the issues focusing the sector’s time at present, especially in dialogue with government. The entire board and I would like to wish our founder Paul Theakston all the very best in his well-earned retirement. Paul has overseen the development of this iconic brewery during the past 26 years and been instrumental in making Black Sheep a household name that is exported throughout the world. His sons, Rob and Jo, the wider management team and the board will continue to uphold the values and legacy he has left behind, producing great Yorkshire beers.”

D&D London launches Bluebird in New York for debut US restaurant: Restaurant operator D&D London has launched its Bluebird brand in New York. The venue has opened on the third floor of Shops at Columbus Circle in Manhattan. The space occupies more than 10,000 square feet and comprises an all-day lounge, wine bar and brasserie overlooking Central Park. The menu in the 100-cover restaurant is a marriage of British tradition and local favourites under the direction of executive chef Nicolas Houlbert, while the venue also offers a 20-cover private dining room. D&D London chairman and chief executive Des Gunewardena said: “We have always loved New York and we’re delighted to be launching Bluebird this side of the pond. With so many parallels between our two cities, we know New Yorkers will enjoy Bluebird – a restaurant celebrated not only for its food and wine but also for its design, buzz and glamour. Bluebird is a social hub for Londoners and Bluebird London in New York will similarly become a great meeting place for residents, shoppers and workers.” D&D London plans to open another restaurant in New York next year, in the Hudson Yards development. Gunewardena and David Loewi founded the company in 2006 following a buyout of Conran Restaurants, a deal that included the original Bluebird in King’s Road. A second Bluebird opened in White City in April.

Fuller’s launches pilot brewery: London brewer and retailer Fuller’s has launched its pilot brewery. It is located at the back of the new-look brewery shop at the company’s historic Griffin Brewery in Chiswick. The pilot brewery offers the company’s brewers an opportunity to create more experimental beers in small quantities. The new plant produces about ten barrels (40 firkins) of beer per brew, which can be packaged in bottle, cask or keg. The plant has an infusion mash tun, a copper whirlpool with an external wort boiler, four fermentation tanks and two beer tanks. It has produced its first five brews that include Beer One, a 7% ABV ale based on the Golden Pride recipe. Head brewer Georgina Young said: “This pilot brewery is a fantastic addition to Fuller’s. Prior to this, the smallest batch we could brew was 160 barrels so we tended to play safe with flavours. We will use the brewery for trial-testing new raw materials such as malt, hops, herbs, spices and fruit. We can test new equipment and procedures before scaling up and attempt beer styles that have never been brewed at Chiswick before. It will also play a role in training brewers.”

Davy's confirms new City wine bar and restaurant: London operator Davy’s has confirmed it will open a new wine bar and restaurant in its City heartland next month. The company is launching The Tappit Hen in St Swithins Lane, in the building that was originally home to the UK cellars of the port house, Sandeman. The Tappit Hen takes its name from the traditional 2.1 litre port bottle. The 3,680 square foot site will be set over two floors, comprising a ground-floor bar with seating for 60 people and a 50-cover restaurant in the cellars. There will also be two private dining rooms for up to 24 people and access to the original 13th century cellars. There will be an extensive list of wines and ports available by the glass using a wine preservation system and Coravin. The restaurant menu will feature British dishes using principally local and UK-sourced ingredients, with separate bar and private dining offerings. Chairman James Davy said: “As we approach our 149th year as London wine merchants, each new opening remains as exciting as ever, and having a bar and restaurant so aligned with the history of the London wine trade is a perfect fit for us. The Tappit Hen will offer our customers everything about Davy’s that they enjoy in exceptional surroundings, a brilliant location, and with some modern updates. Vintage wines and ports from our cellars will feature strongly on the list, in addition to some new wines we have shipped from around the world, and a selection of local craft beers.”

Australian-Japanese sushi hand roll concept increases equity offer in £350,000 crowdfunding campaign to roll out kiosks across London: Australian-Japanese sushi hand roll concept Inigo has increased the equity offer in its £350,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it looks to roll out kiosks across London. The company, founded by Jeremy Bliss, is now offering 18.92% equity instead of the original 13.46% for the investment, reducing the pre-money valuation from £2.35m to £1.5m. So far 47 investors have pledged £103,890 with 16 days remaining. The pitch states: “Down under, hand-roll kiosks are commonplace, with Australia’s six leading hand-roll chains totalling more than 380 locations across the country. Hand rolls are sold in schools and work canteens, corner shops and airports, and are considered by many an essential part of Australian eating. Britons are increasingly looking for light, healthy and tasty meal options. Inigo hand rolls can be conveniently eaten on the go. Inigo produces all its own food at the site of partner H Forman & Son’s – a leading smokehouse – which contributes scalable kitchen infrastructure, product expertise and, of course, high-quality produce for Inigo’s menu. Our chefs are Noma and Hix-trained. Inigo is operating one store in the City of London and our business-to-business offering launched at the start of the year. We already supply a number of corporate clients via Baxter Storey and Searcys.”

Five Points Brewing Company to open debut taproom, next week: Hackney-based Five Points Brewing Company is to open its first taproom – The Pembury Tavern in Amhurst Road – on Thursday, 27 September. In May, the company raised more than £1m from over 1,500 investors on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to relaunch the site, which it acquired in March. The pub has undergone a five-week refurbishment and will offer Five Point beer alongside a rotating guest selection from independent UK brewers. The venue will also host beer launches, meet the brewer, and food and beer-pairing sessions, while it will offer New York-style pizza and Sunday roasts. Built in the 1860s, The Pembury Tavern was restored in 2006 following a fire and was previously owned by Milton Brewery. Five Points Brewing Company co-founder and managing director Ed Mason said: “The Pembury Tavern has been a Hackney institution for 150 years, providing the local community with a place to relax, enjoy good company and have great beer. We are extremely honoured to become the new custodians and excited to be able to showcase our beers. The opening of The Pembury Tavern is a landmark milestone in our Five Points journey.” Five Points has said the remaining money from the crowdfunding campaign will be invested in equipment to triple production and bring the company’s complete brewing process back to London.

Former Tamarind executive chef launches first solo venture, in Chelsea: Peter Joseph, former executive chef of the world’s first Michelin-starred Indian restaurant, has launched his first solo venture. Joseph, who was in charge of the kitchen at Mayfair’s Tamarind for ten years, has opened Kahani in Chelsea. Inspiration for the 90-cover restaurant comes from the chef’s upbringing in Tamil Nadu in southern India, with diners encouraged to forgo the formalities of fine dining for the first course by using their fingers. Seasonal British ingredients are cooked on a central Robata grill and in a tandoor oven. The menu focuses on grilled meat, fish and vegetables, with just three or four ingredients used per dish and only two curries. The restaurant, which includes a ten-cover private dining room, makes use of brightly coloured Indian-style fabrics. The drinks menu features wine from around the world as well as spice-infused cocktails. Joseph said: “Kahani means ‘story’ and I am thrilled to embark on this new chapter in my life. Love for food and a pursuit of excellence has taken me on a fascinating journey and I want to keep innovating and pushing boundaries with my food to ensure people keep following my story and coming back for more.”

Experienced quartet behind restaurant and nightclub set for former Sugar Hut site in Liverpool: A quartet of experienced operators are behind a new restaurant and basement nightclub lined up for a former Sugar Hut site in Liverpool city centre. The 15 Group has been carrying out a multimillion-pound makeover of the Victoria Street building, which also previously housed the Living Room. Brothers Dean and Michael Jones, Gary Carr and Mark King are behind the forthcoming Dash Restaurant & Bar and XOXO club. It will be the first joint venture for the partners, who have more than ten years’ experience of operating venues. XOXO is scheduled to launch on Saturday, 27 October, with the restaurant expected to open a few weeks later. The culinary theme for Dash will be contemporary dining with pan-Asian influences and it will offer lunchtime and evening menus with a focus on large and small plates. Meanwhile, the club will play music ranging from house to RnB. Carr told YM Liverpool: “It is such a great space – there’s so much potential to get it right. We want the club and restaurant to give people a reason to dress up again because that is Liverpool’s trademark. The style has gone more relaxed recently so we’re aiming to bring back that idea of a thriving place where everyone wants to be seen.”

Stonegate rolls out new menu for Proper Pub brand: Stonegate Pub Company has rolled out a new menu for its Proper Pub brand. The menu, which is available across more than 250 outlets, expands the vegan and vegetarian options, and builds on the burger and kid’s menus. Vegetarian and vegan dishes include a cauliflower and dhansak curry and a Thai lentil pie, topped with a coconut crumble. New burgers include the mac and cheese burger and the surf and turf burger, while the children's menu features grilled halloumi and fish fingers. Four of the "King Feast" dishes now feature permanently on the menu as "Big Plate Specials" – giant curry, chicken feast, pie shop platter and sausage and mash mountain, which is also available as a vegetarian option. Meanwhile, cocktail bar brand Be At One has crowned the latest winner of its annual bartender challenge. In its eighth year, Birmingham’s Dave Tsouvallaris has become the first winner since the brand was acquired by Stonegate Pub Company on 23 July for an undisclosed sum. The final took place in London Monument, with Tsouvallaris winning £2,000 and a three-day, all expenses paid trip after triumphing over 150 other bartenders. Be At One operates 34 bars across the UK.

SSP announces board changes: SSP, the operator of food and beverage brands in travel locations worldwide, has announced changes to its board. Carolyn Bradley will be appointed an independent non-executive director with effect from Monday, 1 October. Bradley is senior independent director of Marston’s, serving on the audit, nomination and remuneration committees, and a non-executive director of Legal & General, The Mentoring Foundation and Majid Al Futtaim Retail. She previously spent more than 25 years at Tesco, holding a number of senior roles. In addition she is a trustee and deputy chairman of Cancer Research UK, a member of the advisory board of Cambridge Judge Business School and a past trustee of the Drinkaware Trust. Meanwhile, SSP has announced senior independent director John Barton has notified the company of his intention not to stand for re-election at the annual general meeting in February. Bradley will succeed Barton as senior independent director and chairman of the remuneration committee. She will also serve as a member of the audit and nomination committees. Company chairman Vagn Sorensen will succeed Barton as chairman of the nomination committee. Sorensen said: “We are delighted to welcome Carolyn to the board. She brings significant experience. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank John for his contribution to the board since 2014.”

NT Assure appoints new head of hospitality services: NT Assure, a digital and technical consultancy providing software as a solution to the food industry, has appointed Angeline Wolfe as its new head of hospitality services. Wolfe, an environmental health professional, has been working behind the scenes and at the highest levels within the hospitality sector for more than 20 years. She supported TGI Friday’s to become the first restaurant brand to achieve hygiene ratings of 5 across its portfolio. She said: “This is an exciting time to be joining this organisation and I’m looking forward to the challenge of leading its offer in hospitality to ensure it is in a stronger position to achieve more together with our clients. I am proud to have worked with many brilliant hospitality clients, supporting them to break through their important risk management challenges and build their capacities to take their culture to the next level.” NT Assure chief executive Tim Betts added: “Angeline brings with her a depth and breadth of hospitality experience our customers are looking for to support catalysing the regulatory, technical and digital transformation they seek. We are in a strong commercial position with our resource expertise as well as our Smart Supplier, Smart Chef and Smart Menu apps used by leading hospitality operators such as Mitchells & Butlers. We believe Angeline has the creativity to build on our innovation and help us achieve even greater things.” 

Supper club Little Kolkata opens permanent site in Covent Garden: The team behind supper club Little Kolkata has opened a permanent restaurant in Covent Garden. The venue in Shelton Street offers an extended menu, cocktails using 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 nature of the supper clubs, featuring sharing plates and speciality dishes. Created by French designer Meddhi Larouci, the interiors honour the traditional and modern sides of Calcutta, while a private dining room is available for hire.

Children’s leisure concept secures debut site, at Silverburn in Glasgow: Children’s leisure concept Fun Street has secured its debut site, at the Silverburn shopping centre in Glasgow. The new 12,000 square foot site is due to open in the summer of 2019 following the deal with Silverburn's owner Hammerson. The children’s play concept for ages zero to 12 will include an indoor play area with soft play structures, play equipment, party rooms, a cafe, and a playground space. Fun Street chief executive Dr Usman Qureshi said: “To launch this new venture at Silverburn is a fantastic opportunity. The centre’s premium leisure offer is a huge draw, and we are proud to further enhance this by offering something for all the family, completing the customers shopping experience.” Hammerson UK commercial director Iain Mitchell added: “Fun Street is an exciting new brand for Silverburn, and one of the largest of its kind in Glasgow.” Anchored by Debenhams and Marks and Spencer, Silverburn is home to more than 120 retailers.

The Oystermen to reopen double-sized Covent Garden site next month: Seafood specialist The Oystermen will reopen its Seafood Bar & Kitchen in Covent Garden next month having doubled its size. The company is combining 31 and 32 Henrietta Street into the new-look venue. The extended space, which will relaunch on Monday, 22 October, will host a new all-day oyster and raw bar for walk-in visitors, while guests will be able to choose from a broader selection of rock and native oysters sourced by co-founders Rob Hampton and Matt Lovell from fisheries across the UK. The 50-seater restaurant will also feature a more expansive open kitchen, while dishes will continue to change regularly to match the season. The venue, which first opened in July last year, will showcase an increased array of sparkling wine as well as a new bar menu of cocktails, craft beer and, for the first time, sake. Hampton said: “The past 12 months have been an absolutely fantastic journey! The feedback from customers and the reviews we’ve received have made it a real privilege and it’s amazing to have the opportunity to expand our existing site.”

Staycity to open second Liverpool site, next month: Aparthotel operator Staycity Group will open a second site in Liverpool, in the Corn Exchange next month. The 212-apartment site will offer a range of one and two-bedroom apartments and fully fitted studios alongside a Staycafé, guest lounge, fitness room, laundry room, guest parking and 24-hour reception. The opening will create 23 jobs. The Corn Exchange is in the heart of Liverpool’s commercial area and close to leisure complex Liverpool ONE. Staycity Group chief executive Tom Walsh said: “I am particularly pleased to be opening in such a vibrant, busy area of this exciting city. Corn Exchange fits with our strategy of being in central locations in key UK and European cities.” Staycity Group, founded by brothers Tom and Ger Walsh in 2004, operates in ten European cities with more than 4,500 apartments across the Staycity Aparthotels and Wilde Aparthotels by Staycity brands. Staycity’s other Liverpool site opened in Duke Street in 2009.

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