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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 5th Feb 2019 - Update: Papa John’s, Meatliquor, Bob & Berts and Eden Mill
Papa John’s takes £192m investment from hedge fund: Pizza firm Papa John’s has unveiled an investment of up to $250 million (£192 million) from hedge fund Starboard Value, rejected a rival offer from founder John Schnatter, who is seeking to regain control of the world’s third largest pizza delivery company. The deal marks the next chapter in the battle between Papa John’s and Schnatter, who resigned as chairman last July, following reports he had used a racial slur on a media training conference call. He later said he regretted his decision, arguing his comments were taken out of context. The dispute has taken a toll on the company, which said on Monday its North America same-store sales decreased by 10.5% in January, after dropping 7.3% in 2018. Papa John’s has been seeking to fend off competition from rivals such as Dominos Pizza and Yum! Brands Pizza Hut through promotional discounts, which have yet to pay off. Papa John’s shares, which have tumbled nearly 40% since Schnatter left his position as chief cxecutive officer in January 2018, jumped 10% to $42.34 on Monday, giving the company a market capitalization of $1.3 billion. Under the terms of the deal, Starboard chief executive officer Jeffrey Smith will become Papa John’s chairman and Anthony Sanfilippo, former chairman and chief cxecutive officer of casino operator Pinnacle Entertainment, will join as an independent director. Papa John’s chief cxecutive officer Steve Richie will also join the company’s board, expanding it from six members to nine and further diluting the influence of Schnatter, who also sits on the board. The deal is unusual for Starboard, which typically amasses stakes in companies in the open market rather than through negotiated deals. Starboard will buy $200 million worth of newly issued Papa John’s convertible preferred stock, equivalent to approximately 11% to 15% of the company’s outstanding common stock. Before the deal was announced, Schnatter owned about 30% of the company. Starboard has an option to buy an additional $50 million of Papa John’s convertible preferred stock on the same terms. “I think it is the highest quality pizza in the segment,” Smith told Reuters in an interview. “We believe that with our involvement we can help the company to refocus on its competitive advantages and move forward to get its culture and focus back in the right place on how to improve the company.” Schnatter said in a regulatory filing he had also offered an investment of up to $250 million to Papa John’s at a lower financing cost than Starboard’s deal, but the company rebuffed him. Sources close to Papa John’s said it opted for Starboard’s deal, even though it was slightly more expensive than Schnatter’s, because it did not want to give the founder more influence over the company.

Meatliquor secures prime West End site: Meatliquor has secured a prime West End site following the announcement that its flagship central London burger restaurant just off Oxford Street will be converted into a hotel. The company has taken on the former Match Bar unit, located on Margaret Street, Marylebone, in the West End. Last month, Meatliquor Brixton, in Market Row, also closed. The company stated at the time: “We adore Brixton and our intention is that this is only farewell for now, not forever, and we are actively looking for another site.” The Brixton restaurant opened as a fried chicken and sours restaurant called Wishbone in 2012, before rebranding to Chickenliquor in 2014. The site was turned into Meatliquor in 2017. The company has eight sites across London, in Shoreditch, Covent Garden, Queensway, Islington, King’s Cross, Dulwich, Croydon, and Battersea.

Bob & Berts to open Magherafelt site this week: Northern Ireland coffee company Bob & Berts, which is backed by the BGF, will open a site in Magherafelt this week. The company is investing £225,000 in the 2,600 square foot store in Broad Street, which will open on Thursday (7 February), creating 25 jobs. The business, which was founded in Portstewart in 2013, now operates 17 coffee shops across Northern Ireland and two in Scotland, employing 300 staff. It aims to eventually extend its reach to more than 30 stores as part of a growth strategy supported by the BGF. Bob & Berts founder Colin McClean told Insider Media: “We are delighted to finally bring Bob & Berts to Magherafelt as we’ve been looking for a suitable site for years. The unit in Broad Street had been vacant for some time and we feel the location is home to a good mix of businesses in a prime location.”

Scottish craft brewer and distiller Eden Mill acquires Cumbrian rival to double capacity: Scottish craft brewer and distiller Eden Mill has acquired aptly named Cumbrian rival Eden River Brewery for an undisclosed sum. The move will increase St Andrews-based Eden Mill’s production by the equivalent of 50,000 nine-litre cases per year, more than doubling its current capacity and creating 12 jobs. It will also enable the company to bottle and can a range of products in the north of England, allowing for quicker distribution as its retail channels across the UK grow. The company said it would continue to distil gin and whisky and brew beer at its St Andrews home. Eden Mill co-founder Paul Miller told The Scotsman: “Eden River Brewery is highly complementary to our business and we share commonalities in products and approach, making us hugely excited about our combined potential.”

Emilia’s Crafted Pasta starts expansion with second London site: London-based Italian restaurant Emilia’s Crafted Pasta has started expansion by opening a second site in the capital, in Aldgate. Founder Andrew Macleod launched the concept in St Katharine Docks in November 2016. The new site in Alie Street offers seven pasta dishes, which Macleod has fine-tuned to pay homage to regional Italian food. A larger kitchen than the brand’s debut site has allowed Emilia’s Crafted Pasta to add a seasonal specials board. A short wine list consists of predominantly Italian vintage varieties, while there is also a selection of Italian cocktails, craft beer and coffee. The 55-cover venue also features an open kitchen, pasta counter and 24 seats outside.

Nadler Hotels opens fifth site, in Covent Garden: London-based Nadler Hotels has opened its fifth site and fourth in the capital, in Covent Garden. The 57-bedroom boutique hotel has launched on the corner of Bedford Street and the Strand spread over six levels. Many original features at the Edwardian property have been restored, while the site sees the brand take a new direction to feature interiors connected with the local area focusing on “quality British design and craftsmanship”. Nadler Hotels chief executive David Orr said: “Our focus is to provide guests with exceptional service, comfort and convenience, and curate a special connection with the local area.” Nadler Hotels’ other properties are in Victoria, Soho, Kensington and Liverpool. Nadler Hotels was founded by the Mactaggart family and partners in 2006 under the name Base2Stay.

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