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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 15th Jan 2019 - Update: Rockfish, Elegant Hotels and Rodizio Rico
Gresham House invests in Rockfish: Rockfish has received investment from the Gresham House Ventures team, ahead of a planned three openings in 2019. Rockfish has five coastal sites in the South-West and also owns the Seahorse restaurant in Dartmouth. The company, which is chaired by Will Beckett, co-founder of Hawksmoor, has been preparing to grow the business from six to 6 units over a four-year period and has identified a number of suitable locations in the South of England, starting with Exeter Quays in March this year. Founder Mitch Tonks and his board, which includes Henry Dimbleby (ex-Leon and London Union), Steve Leadbeater (ex-Findus and 2 Sisters Food Groups) and John Barnes (ex-La Tasca and Harry Ramsden), received a number of approaches for investment in the business, and ultimately chose Gresham House as a minority investor. The business has had an excellent 2018, with double-digit increases in like-for-like trading. Tonks said: “Our goal at Rockfish is to change the way people experience seafood in the UK, and I’m delighted that the Gresham House Ventures team has bought into our vision and our ethos of sustainable sourcing, local seafood cooked on the day it was landed and strong ethical and community values.” Tom Makey, associate director at Gresham House, added: “Mitch and the team at Rockfish have developed a fantastic seafood offering that really resonates with customers, with high-quality cooking, sustainable and locally sourced ingredients, all delivered from superb waterside locations. The Gresham House Ventures team actively supports investment in the hospitality sector and we are looking forward to bringing that experience to the Rockfish team’s goals of growing a business which is one of the industry’s real success stories.” The Gresham House Ventures team invests equity of up to £5m in growth businesses, supporting founders with bold ambitions for the future, whilst providing transformational capital and expertise to accelerate business potential. 

Elegant Hotels reports a turnover and profit increase: Elegant Hotels Group, the owner and operator of seven upscale freehold hotels and a beachfront restaurant on the island of Barbados in which sector investor Luke Johnson holds a 12.5% stake, has reported revenue up 5.0% to $62.9m (2017: $59.9 million) in the year ended 30 September 2018, reflecting the acquisition of Treasure Beach, the renovation of the House, and a continued strong performance from Waves. Profit after tax up 3.5% to $9.5 million (2017: $9.2 million). Sunil Chatrani, chief executive of Elegant Hotels, said: “We are pleased to have had a year of good financial and operational progress. The revenue increase reflects our strategy of delivering day-to-day excellence, developing our existing properties, and expanding our portfolio. The acquisition, refurbishment and subsequent relaunch of Treasure Beach in Barbados was a notable highlight, and since the year end Hodges Bay Resort & Spa in Antigua has opened under management contract. Barbados continues to be a hugely attractive destination for visitors and holidaymakers from all over the world, and visitor numbers from the key markets of the UK and the US have continued to increase. While the market remains competitive, we firmly believe that we are well positioned due to the quality of our properties, our relentless focus on providing our guests with outstanding service, and the viability of our strategy. Our trading since the start of the new financial year has remained in line with market expectations, and our bookings are currently tracking ahead of the same period last year. While we are confident in our prospects for FY19, the board continues to monitor macroeconomic conditions closely, which have the potential to reduce UK consumer discretionary spend.”

Brazilian-themed restaurant Rodizio Rico to open fourth site, in Coventry: Brazilian-themed restaurant Rodizio Rico is to open its fourth site, in Coventry. The concept will launch at a unit in the former Co-op building in Corporation Street, joining Steakout and Cafe Morso, which have already taken units in the development. The brand offers charcoal-roasted meat sliced and served at the table. It also features salad and sides bars, desserts and cocktails. Diners are given a card with a green and red side. Holding up green means a diner is ready to eat. Rodizio Rico owner Mike Nayla told Coventry Live: “Coventry is the UK’s City of Culture and a lot of businesses will be looking at it with fresh eyes. We only have restaurants in London (O2 and Islington) and Birmingham but want to expand into other cities if the right opportunity comes along.” Fit-out work will begin in the spring once development of the 1950s building is complete. Nayla also operates Osteria Rodizio Rico, a concept combining Brazilian and Italian dining, which he launched in The Cube in central Birmingham in March 2017. 

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, UK 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

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