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Fri 14th Dec 2018 - Update: The Restaurant Group, Mitchell’s of Lancaster and JD Wetherspoon
The Restaurant Group reports 92% take-up of its rights issue: The Restaurant Group has announced that the 13 for 9 rights issue received valid acceptances in respect of 267,259,143 new ordinary shares, representing approximately 92.02% of the total number of new ordinary shares offered to qualifying shareholders pursuant to the fully underwritten rights issue. The company stated: “It is expected that the new ordinary shares will commence trading, fully paid, on the London Stock Exchange’s main market for listed securities at 8.00 am on 14 December 2018. Following the rights issue closing for acceptances, the company is pleased to announce that it currently expects completion to occur on 21 December 2018. In accordance with its obligations as underwriter in respect of the rights issue, JP Morgan Cazenove (JPMC) will use reasonable endeavours to procure subscribers for the remaining 23,169,687 new ordinary shares not taken up in the rights issue, failing which JPMC has agreed to subscribe for any remaining unsubscribed shares.”

Mitchell’s of Lancaster goes into administration: Brewer Mitchell’s of Lancaster has gone into administration, taking its subsidiary York Brewery Co with it. Mitchell’s of Lancaster was founded in 1871 by William Mitchell and operates eight pubs. York Brewery, which was bought by Mitchell’s in December 2008, was also placed in administration. It was founded in 1996 as the first brewery within the city for 40 years and has an estate of four pubs: the Last Drop Inn, Mr Foley’s Tap House, the Three Legged Mare and The Yorkshire Terrier. Steven Muncaster and Sarah Bell, of Duff & Phelps, the advisory firm, have been appointed joint administrators of the two companies, which between them employ about 170 people, who will continue to work while a buyer is sought. The 14 staff at Mitchell’s head office have been made redundant. Muncaster said that pubs faced difficult conditions, with rising business rates, a higher minimum wage and Brexit uncertainty. York Brewery is still brewing and supplying its customers, including pubs and supermarkets. It employs about 20 people at the Toft Green brewery. There are about another 30 people employed at the York Brewery pubs.

Twitter ordered to reveal user behind D Wetherspoon fake account: Twitter must reveal the user behind a pair of parody accounts claiming to be run by pub chain JD Wetherspoon, the high court has ruled. The social network, which did not oppose the application, has until mid-January to comply. The parody accounts, @Wetherspoon__UK and @SpoonsTom, have tens of thousands of followers each and tweet a mixture of fake updates about Wetherspoon’s pubs and replies to users who mistakenly believe they are contacting the real company. One particular tweet, sent in late October, claimed that Wetherspoon’s pubs would be boycotting the national poppy appeal “due to the ever expanding multiculturalism of our clientele”. JD Wetherspoon’s barrister David Hirst said that tweet led to a man attending the company’s annual general meeting (AGM) and asking “very heated questions”. “This stuff goes around [the internet] like wildfire,” Hirst said. “Some old boy from the [United] States … came to the AGM in London and asked some very heated questions of the board why this was the position.” The accounts, first created in July 2014, have been run anonymously since that date, although the operator identifies as “Tom” in postings. Hirst said the situation had been made worse by the fact that JD Wetherspoon had taken down its official Twitter account in April. Hirst said JD Wetherspoon did not know who was behind the accounts, but that “one working assumption for this is that it is an ex-employee”. He said that “Twitter, to their credit, have recognised on each occasion that we have brought it to their attention that it is a breach of their terms”, but he pointed out that it has “carried on for four years”. The court also heard that a crowdfunding page had been set up to “fund Tom’s legal costs when Spoons finally lose the rag and set their legal team on me”, which has raised £125. The account is also selling mugs for £10 with popular tweets printed on the side.

Propel launches Leadership Summit, open for bookings: Propel is launching the Leadership Summit, which will see a select group of the sector’s most experienced bosses share their expertise on leadership. The full-day event, in partnership with Elliotts, will take place on Tuesday, 12 February at One Moorgate Place and is open for bookings. Speakers will include Will Stratton-Morris, chief executive of Caffe Nero, who will talk about building high-performance teams. Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King, speaks about the role of leadership in business turnarounds. Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott will talk to Des Gunewardena, chief executive of D&D London, about the lessons of leadership he has picked up in his career in the sector. Duncan Garrood, chief executive of Ten Entertainment, will give his views on leadership and the customer experience, while Jo Fleet, managing director of Flat Iron, will talk about empowering people and trust and getting the team to “buy in” through clear communication and vision. Mark Jones, chief executive of Carluccio’s, will explain how the company is building the quality and skillsets of its general managers to lead the business out of decline. Simon Townsend, chief executive of Ei Group, will give his views on the challenges of leadership during a period of immense change and Zoe Bowley, managing director of PizzaExpress, will give her top ten tips on leadership. Meanwhile, Loungers founder Alex Reilley will talk about the adaptations involved in growing a business from one site to more than 100, celebrating success and the art of succession, while Ann Elliott will give her views on the power of mentoring to grow talent in organisations. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “With the industry facing such challenging times, effective leadership has never been more important. This is an unmissable opportunity to learn from high-profile leaders in our sector.” Prices are £295 plus VAT for Premium members, £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers. To book, email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

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