Story of the Day:
Former FSA boss calls on industry to ensure ‘every customer has the information they need to make the right choice’ as Pret prepares to roll out full ingredient labelling: Pret A Manager will roll out full ingredient labelling across all its stores this summer. The company will label all freshly made products following a trial at its Victoria store as part of its pledge to provide better protection for people with allergies. Former Food Standards Agency chief executive Tim Smith, who is chairman of the Pret food advisory panel, has called on the industry to ensure “every customer has the information they need to make the right choice”. Pret has vowed to “drive change” in the industry in the wake of a coroner finding its labelling was inadequate in the case of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died after eating one of its baguettes. Smith said: “It shouldn’t be impossible to get simple, clear and genuinely helpful information. We’ve done it before. Throughout my career, more than 40 years in the industry, we’ve been able to improve the information we give consumers – from colour-coded GDA traffic light information on nutrition to food hygiene ratings. We’ve worked together to help consumers make the right decision. The same thing should apply here. After all, we know that’s what people with allergies want. They want to be helped, not inhibited from eating on the high street. They want to feel included and to make the right choice but right now, the opposite is happening. We cannot have a situation where two million people feel locked out of simple, normal, everyday experiences – something as straightforward as going to a shop and buying lunch. It’s wrong for them and it’s bad for our businesses. Of course there are significant operational challenges in implementing full ingredient information on all freshly made products. It’s a huge challenge and logistically difficult but the principle of this approach is surely right. Over time, I believe technology might provide a better solution than printing lots of labels but, right now, this is the most responsible and helpful approach.” Smith also said processes must be improved around serious incident reporting in the food industry, with a gap of nine months between the death of Ednan-Laperouse and Pret being notified by the coroner. Smith said: “Perhaps we should have a mandatory registration of allergen-related deaths and serious incidents? Public Health England has a notifiable diseases plan, which could easily be extended to include allergens.”
Full speaker schedule revealed for Propel Multi Club Conference, two free places for operators:
The full speaker schedule has been revealed for the first Propel Multi Club Conference of 2019, which is open for bookings. The full-day event takes place on Thursday, 7 March at the Millennium Gloucester hotel in London. The speaker line-up is Graeme Smith, co-head of financial advisory services at AlixPartners; David Charlton, commercial director at Zonal Marketing Technologies; Mark Ashley, author of Be Better Than Yesterday and former director of retail operations at Geronimo; JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin; Nathan Wall, operations director of Managed Investments at Ei Group; Alastair Scott, co-founder of food-led operator Malvern Inns and Catton Hospitality; Ted Kennedy, owner of Pebble Hotels and veteran operator of pub assets; Martin Hayes, co-founder of Craft Beer Co; Ian Payne, chairman of Stonegate Pub Company; Joe Grossman, founder of the nine-strong Patty & Bun brand
; and James Hacon, British Takeaway Award judge and founder of Think Hospitality
. Multi-site operators of pubs, restaurants and foodservice outlets can book up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at firstname.lastname@example.org
David Singleton to feature in next video for Propel Premium subscribers: David Singleton, area vice-president, franchise operations and development EMEA/south Asia at Hard Rock International
, will feature in the next 30-minute video for Propel Premium subscribers, which will be sent out on Friday (8 February). Upton talks about the brand’s evolution and success across multiple territories, franchising, local adaptations, brand marketing and the power of merchandise. Premium subscribers receive regular video recordings of key speakers from Propel events and conferences. They have included sector investor Luke Johnson; Ceviche founder Martin Morales; City Pub Company founder Clive Watson; brand strategist Ian Dunstall; Chozen Noodle chief executive Matthew Kirby; Coaching Inn Group founder Kevin Charity; consultant James Hacon; Imbiba partner Darrel Connell; Sticks ‘n’ Sushi group chief operating officer Andreas Karlsson; Mowgli founder Nisha Katona; haysmacintyre partner Andrew Ball; Carluccio’s chief executive Mark Jones; Swingers co-founder Matt Grech-Smith; Morar HPI deputy managing director Martin Dinkele
; and John Upton, former managing director of Leon and now board member of Motherclucker and Naked Deli
. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, access to our database of 1,300 multi-site companies, and discounts to attend Propel conferences and events. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “We plan to compile an invaluable library of senior leaders and advisors offering insights and advice, a resource Premium readers can tap into.” An annual premium subscription costs £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers – plus £50 each for additional team members. Email email@example.com
Peter Backman – restaurants can learn lessons from pubs about premiumisation as sector starts fightback, further casualties expected: Industry analyst Peter Backman has argued the restaurant sector can learn lessons from pubs about premiumisation as it starts to fight back from overcapacity. However, he expects some well-known brands to join Patisserie Valerie in becoming smaller, while others may “disappear”. In his latest Quarterly Briefing Report, Backman said: “The pub sector recorded high levels of growth, which came on the back of slow growth in the quarter a year ago, so comparable figures were slightly easier. High growth in the Christmas period has been a feature of the pub sector for the past few years and comes on the back of improving sales during the course of 2018. Much of this increase resulted from improving wet sales, although food also performed quite well, compared with restaurants’ sales. Quick service operators with a well-established model – Greggs, McDonald’s etc – continued to grow well in the quarter. December trading in the pub sector was distinctly positive (especially for drinks sales) and suggests the rebalancing of supply (in terms of number of pubs and demand) is bearing fruit. This rebalancing has come about partly as a reduction in capacity, which has been painful for operators and owners. Another factor has been increased premiumisation, resulting in an increase in average transaction spend. There are lessons here for the restaurant sector, which is only now starting to reduce capacity to a meaningful extent and where premiumisation has yet to be explored in depth. In the meantime, all casual dining operators are having to cope with overcapacity. Their sales and profits will be reduced to the extent overcapacity exists and the impact of this will be felt in the first quarter of 2019 when, as always, big bills come in and balance sheets become more stretched. I expect some well-known brands to join Patisserie Valerie in becoming smaller, or to even disappear. Yet despite all these issues, as I have said many times, the foodservice sector is remarkably resilient and, as ever, it will fight back – starting now.”
Harri and TrustID partner to simplify right-to-work checks for operators: Harri, the workforce operating system built for the hospitality industry, has partnered with TrustID, a provider of identity checking and scanning solutions. The two businesses have joined forces to launch an integration for operators that will check, verify and confirm an applicant’s right to work in the UK, usually within one hour. The technology integrates with the Harri digital platform and the TrustID app to access, validate and authenticate potential employees while fulfilling an operator’s legal requirement to safely store all documentation. To remove the risk of human error for operators and a need for manual data entry, the integration automatically transfers candidate identification information between both systems using secure APIs. Harri UK managing director Peter Willis said: “Through creating and adopting such an advanced integration with TrustID, we are committed to simplifying the right-to-work process for operators across the hospitality industry. We want to ensure they’re legally compliant quickly and easily but also remove the tedious admin-heavy nature of manual data entry for head office teams and hiring managers.” TrustID commercial director David Park added: “Keeping up to date with which documents employees can present, what checks need to be carried out and understanding if work restrictions apply or if follow-up checks are required can be a burden and often slows the onboarding process. We remove this headache for operators with quick and easy validation of identity documents and confirmation of employees’ right-to-work status.”
Hospitality wages spike after months of deflation: Hospitality wages have spiked after months of deflation, according to new research by hospitality software provider Fourth. The average hourly pay of workers over 25 in the UK fell significantly from £8.55 in June to £8.18 in November, before plateauing at £8.16 in December and rising to £8.38 in January. It is the first time wages have decreased for such a prolonged period since Fourth started tracking the metric in 2015. Since then, the hourly pay of workers has been steadily rising ahead of the annual incremental increases, the latest of which will increase the hourly rate for over-25s to £8.21 in April. Pubs and restaurants primarily drove wage deflation. Between June and December, the average hourly rates of workers in the pub sector decreased 3.5%, while the restaurant sector experienced a 4.5% fall. During the same period, wages in the quick service restaurant sector, in which 61% of workers are from outside the UK, remained relatively constant, at £9.18. British workers received the largest cut in hourly rates, falling 5% from £8.04 in June to £7.65 in November. During the same time period, workers from the rest of world experienced a 2% decrease to £8.68, while EU workers experienced a decrease of 3.3% to £8.22. The hourly wages of front-of-house workers fell from £8.21 in June to £7.68 in November. Those working back-of-house experienced a 4% decrease in hourly wages, falling to £8.53 during the same period. The fall was predominantly driven by over-25s, with a fall in hourly rate of 5% between June and November compared with a fall of 2.5% for those aged 21 to 25. The rate for those aged 18 to 21 and under-18s both remained broadly flat during the same period. Mike Shipley, analytics and insight solutions director at Fourth, said: “Since we started tracking the average hourly rate, the actual rate has always been tracking significantly ahead of the incremental legislative changes to the National Living Wage rate. For the first time, the current hourly rate is broadly in line with the new rate due to come into force this April, so it will be interesting to see how the actual figure moves between now and then.”
CMA action on booking sites will provide ‘greater transparency for customers’: Enforcement action by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) against hotel booking sites will provide “greater transparency for customers”, UKHospitality has said. Expedia, Booking.com, Agoda, Hotels.com, ebookers and Trivago have agreed to make it clearer how hotels are ranked, not give a false impression of the availability or popularity of a hotel or rush customers into making a booking decision based on incomplete information, be clearer about discounts, and display all compulsory charges. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Customers booking online have been unwittingly misinformed for too long and they deserve better. The CMA’s recommendations will simultaneously add a level of protection for accommodation businesses, which have too often lost out via unfair practices. It is a welcome step to increase transparency in the realm of online platforms at a UK level. We now need action to address unfair parity clauses to ensure there is fairness and transparency for customers and businesses.” CMA chairman Andrew Tyrie said: “Six websites have already given firm undertakings not to engage in these practices. They are some of the largest hotel booking sites. The CMA will now do whatever it can to ensure the rest of the sector meets the same standards.” The CMA will seek to ensure compliance with the commitments is complete by 1 September.
East Coast Concepts boss says Manchester hospitality scene has become ‘survival of the fittest’ as Danny Fox restaurant becomes latest casualty: East Coast Concepts chief executive James Hitchen has said the hospitality scene in Manchester has become “survival of the fittest”. The city has seen a seen a number of high-profile casualties in recent months – the latest being School For Scandal, which was launched by Living Ventures co-founder Danny Fox only six months ago. Hitchen, who aims to open two or three sites a year for his Neighbourhood and Victor’s brands following backing from private equity firm Northedge Capital in 2016, told The Business Desk: “It really is about survival of the fittest and that’s why you have to be incredibly focused. You need a great concept, a great team and the right structure in place to make sure you deliver.” Hitchens founded East Coast Concepts in 2012 and now operates locations in Manchester, Hale, Liverpool, Leeds and Oxford. School For Scandal is the latest restaurant to close in Manchester, joining a list that includes fine dining venue Grafene. Healthy eating concept Kettlebell Kitchen has also gone into liquidation. Fox launched School For Scandal in August, opening in First Street at a site formerly occupied by The Laundrette. The School For Scandal concept is based on the “scandal of love”, with walls featuring tattoo imagery and decor evoking a sense of Manhattan alongside hints of traditional British interiors and wood panelling reminiscent of an English boarding school. Bosses said student accommodation provider Vita Student, which owns the building, would extend into the space where School For Scandal sits. A Vita Student spokesman told the Manchester Evening News: “Due to difficult trading conditions we have taken the decision to close School For Scandal. It has been a great journey for the business but commercially it was unsustainable.”
Hotels checking-in late with technology: Hoteliers are playing catch up with restaurants, pubs and bars when it comes to adopting technology to drive sales and build loyalty, according to the latest Go Technology report from hospitality management solutions company Zonal and insights firm CGA. The report, which tracks the technology habits of 5,000 UK adult consumers, revealed order-and-pay apps are a huge untapped revenue for the hotel sector. Despite booking a room using a hotel’s own website being the preferred method for two-thirds (67%) of consumers, this is where the technology journey for guests appears to end. Three-fifths (60%) have never used a technology solution to check-in to a hotel, although there is demand for this service with more than two-fifths (45%) of those surveyed wanting to see automated check-in in the future. During their stay, more than two-thirds (70%) said they had never used technology to order room service; book activities or excursions (67%); reserve restaurant tables (64%); or pre-order food and drink (63%). These figures contrast sharply with the restaurant and pub sector, where mobile pre-booking and order and pay are now firmly embedded. Zonal sales director Tim Chapman said: “There is a clear opportunity for hoteliers to use mobile-friendly and in-room technology to facilitate the customer journey so the guest experience is as fun, personal and hassle-free as possible.” Karl Chessell, CGA business unit director, food and retail, added: “For restaurants and bars, positive experiences with apps, tablets, order-and-pay and online feedback show the way forward, and there is clearly scope to use technology to grow food and drinks sales in hotels. Bedding-in these solutions will build loyalty and drive sales.”
UK restaurant and pub brands ‘risk energy fines’: Restaurants and pubs in the UK could be “at risk of large fines” if they don’t act on the government’s Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), Hospitality Energy Saving director Richard Felgate has warned. The mandatory scheme affects companies with more than 250 staff. Fines for not complying can reach £90,000, Felgate said. He added: “I believe many businesses are missing the point of ESOS and viewing it as a cost rather than a route to delivering savings and additional profit. After the cost of food, drink and labour, energy is normally the next biggest cost for restaurant businesses.” Felgate is former head of energy at Mitchells & Butlers.
Jon Smith Subs opens debut UK site, in Hammersmith: US-based grill sub sandwich concept Jon Smith Subs has opened its debut UK site, in Hammersmith, west London. United Franchise Group, which partnered with Jon Smith Subs in 2017 for the UK roll-out, has opened the outlet in King Street at a site formerly occupied by Chicken Cottage. The menu includes the grilled steak and chicken subs that are its staple in the US, where it has 35 sites. Franchise owner Omar Al-Magribi said: “After much searching for the perfect location for the first UK store, we finally decided on Hammersmith. We think it’s the idea spot to launch the Jon Smith Subs UK flagship store as it is a busy and vibrant area in the heart of London. We’re confident Jon Smith Subs will be a huge hit in the UK and can’t wait to show the people of Hammersmith what an authentic American sub really tastes like!” When the partnership with United Franchise Group was announced, Jon Smith Subs said it was targeting up to 45 sites in the UK. The first site was earmarked for Kingston but never materialised.
Caravan chief to mentor My Million Pound Menu winner: Caravan chief executive Laura Harper-Hinton is to mentor this week’s winner of My Million Pound Menu. Devi’s, the brainchild of Tanya Gohil, triumphed over fellow sustainable food brands Skaus and Sustainable Food Story in this week’s episode of the BBC series. Devi’s operates at Bermondsey food market offering Silk Road-inspired vegan and vegetarian food that combines east Mediterranean, North African, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. Gohil also operates Hackney supper clubs under the Devi’s name, while she employs a mainly female team and invests in projects that target gender equality, the refugee crisis and women’s rights. Caravan, which operates five London sites, launched a partnership last week to run coffee counters at a number of sites operated by co-working company The Office Group.
SSP brings healthy eating concept Dean & David to Düsseldorf: SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, has opened a site for fresh food brand Dean & David at Düsseldorf Central Station. The 100 square metre site seats 40 diners, while the brand offers “healthy and nutritious meals that can be tailored to customers’ individual preferences”. The daily changing menu includes made-to-order salads, Asian curries, soup, hand-twisted wraps and grilled sandwiches to eat in or take away. It also offers good-life bowls – warm dishes that contain quinoa, superfoods and fresh vegetables. Jan Kamp, director business development and properties at SSP Germany, said: “With more travellers looking for healthy, nutritious food options, Dean & David is the perfect addition to our offer.” Dean & David founder and chief executive David Baumgartner added: “Our menu offers great options, with numerous vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and lactose-free dishes.” SSP’s portfolio of brands at the station include Pizza Hut and Sushi Factory, while the company operates a Dean & David unit at Vienna airport, with plans to expand the partnership.
YO! Sushi to close Oxford site: YO! Sushi is to close its site in Oxford’s George Street, bowing out on Valentine’s Day (14 February). A spokeswoman for the company told Propel the branch would close because of “natural churn”. She said: “As is normal with a large and established brand, we continually review our estate to make sure we have the best proposition in the right site.” The venue opened more than ten years ago. In October, YO! Sushi closed its restaurant in Bath city centre for the same reason. In the past year, YO! Sushi has significantly changed its business model. The acquisitions of Bento, one of the largest sushi brands in North America, and Taiko Foods, a manufacturing group and supplier to Waitrose, has created a “global multi-channel, multi-format Japanese food platform”. YO! Sushi has also been trialling counters in two Tesco stores under the brand name YO! To Go.
Bao’s third London site to feature karaoke room and grab-and-go hatch: London-based Taiwanese restaurant Bao has revealed its third venue, which will open in Borough Market in the spring, will differ from its sister sites in Soho and Fitzrovia by featuring a karaoke room and grab-and-go hatch. The karaoke room will be downstairs from the new restaurant and offer party platters for up to 12 guests while they belt out the classics. The venue will also add grilled dishes to Bao’s offering of Chinese snacks, steamed buns and sharing plates, while it will also launch a late-night noodle menu, Hot Dinners reports.
Flamingo Land unveils plans for second theme park, in Scarborough: Yorkshire theme park Flamingo Land has revealed plans to open a second site. The company wants to build an attraction on Scarborough seafront that would include a roller coaster with a 60-metre tower. Flamingo Land Coast would be built on the site of Futurist Theatre in Foreshore Road. Plans show a four-storey building hosting attractions, education facilities, restaurants and children’s play areas, while a second building would house a “winter garden” and viewing area. Chief executive Gordon Gibb told the Hull Daily Mail: “Flamingo Land is committed to creating an exciting family attraction in Scarborough.” Flamingo Land theme park, holiday village and zoo is based in Malton, North Yorkshire. It turns over almost £30m a year and employs 400 staff.
Broadwick to launch 3,000-capacity venue and events space at Westfield London: Broadwick Venues, which operates Printworks London and is a subsidiary of festival specialist Broadwick Live, is to launch a 300-capacity events space at Westfield London. Work will start this month to bring the grade-II listed Dimco building into public use for the first time. The project is a partnership between Broadwick and shopping centre owner Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. The venue – Exhibition – is due to launch at the end of the year at the former electricity generating station, which featured as the Acme factory in 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Spanning two floors, the 34,000 square foot venue will offer multiple rooms, relaxation areas and food and drink traders. It will sit at the heart of Westfield London’s £600m expansion. Broadwick managing director Bradley Thompson said: “Exhibition represents an important moment in the evolution of Westfield London, creating a unique entertainment hub and enhancing the area’s cultural kudos. It will attract and serve not only the local community but the ever-increasing number of people who view White City as one of the most exciting growth places in the capital. The location is perfect and the building itself is incredible. We are committed to respecting its past and investing in its future, offering contemporary experiences against a stunning Victorian backdrop.” London night tsar Amy Lamé said: “The great range of entertainment venues in the capital play a vital role in its vibrant nightlife so I’m delighted to see this historic location turned into a venue for arts, music and cultural events.” Broadwick Venues said it was looking to launch a number of events spaces in the UK.
Carlsberg reports full-year UK volume down 3%: Carlsberg has reported total volume fell 3% in the UK for the year ending 31 December 2018 in a slightly growing beer market. Of its UK performance, the company stated: “Our volumes in the premium category increased, driven by growth of brands such as Poretti and licence brands, whereas the mainstream Carlsberg brand lost market share. During the year, we completed our exit from porterage activities, which reduced net revenue.” Overall, reported net revenue grew 3.0% to DKK 62,503m, with reported volume growth of 5.3%. Tuborg volume grew 10%, Carlsberg was up 5%, Grimbergen rose 14% and 1664 Blanc increased 49%. Craft and speciality volume was up 26%, while alcohol-free brew volumes in western Europe rose 33%. The company has initiated a 12-month share-buyback programme of DKK 4.5bn. Chief executive Cees ’t Hart said: “We delivered a strong set of results for 2018. In line with our ambitions for SAIL’22, we accelerated top-line growth, improved margins, delivered a strong cash flow and reduced debt even further. At the same time, we invested significant resources in our brands and activities and we continue to target top-line growth and profit improvement in the coming years.”
Catapult takes investment to £10m after securing £4.3m in latest funding round: On-demand artificial intelligence staffing platform Catapult has secured £4.3m, bringing the company’s total investment to £10m since its launch three years ago. The London-based company, which is made up of 50 internal staff in the capital and operates in 30 major towns and cities across the UK, will use the latest investment to expand its on-demand service within the UK and into European markets. The latest round of investment was led by the partners of Novator Partners – investors in Zwift, Klang Games and Rebag – with participation from Elkstone Capital. Catapult provides businesses looking for flexible shift workers with a choice of candidates via an app and online booking system. Candidates can choose which shifts they work. Novator Partners’ Birgir Mar Ragnarsson, who will also join the board, said: “Catapult has cracked open a large market with the on-demand work model. Having invested in Catapult a year ago, we’ve seen its fast growth first-hand. We’re excited to increase our stake and involvement as it continues to pick up pace.” Catapult co-founder Oli Johnson, said: “This investment will help us continue to grow Catapult here and launch the model in new markets.”
Leeds-based nightclub operator takes on city cafe for second site: Leeds-based nightclub operator Rosita Roger has acquired the leasehold of a cafe and coffee shop in the city for her second site. Roger, who runs Distrikt Bar, has taken on House of Koko in Chapel Allerton from Chris Ball and Shanshan Zhu in a deal brokered by agents Christie & Co. House of Koko has an open-plan dining area for up to 22 covers and a terrace for an additional 30. Roger plans to further grow House of Koko by extending the food offering to evening trade. She said: “I am excited to get going on my new business venture and drive the business further.”
Ziser London to turn Fulham town hall into hotel, restaurant and events space following £10m acquisition: Real estate company Ziser London has acquired Fulham town hall and will transform it into a hotel, spa, restaurants and events space. Debt advisor and asset manager BBS Capital arranged a £10m loan with OakNorth to fund the acquisition of the grade II-listed, 51,350 square foot building from a private vendor. A development finance facility will be arranged in due course. Many of the town hall’s period features such as its Portland stone façade and stained-glass windows will be preserved. OakNorth debt finance director Priya Harley said: “Ziser London has an extensive track record in investing and developing London-based residential and commercial properties, in particular ones with architectural significance. Once complete, this site will be a landmark property in London.” In 2018, Mayfair-based BBS Capital helped its clients finance £1.37bn of property deals across multiple sectors.
Enhanced Hospitality takes ownership of Camden Town music venue: Enhanced Hospitality has taken over ownership of Camden Town music venue Dingwalls. The company, which runs Fest Camden at Camden Market and the Shaka Zulu restaurant, aims to re-establish a venue that has hosted bands such as The Clash and The Strokes. The building will remain open during renovations, which are expected to finish in the summer. The refurbishment will see a refreshed live room, new roof terrace, and a green room for artists. Electronic music shows and club nights will sit alongside live performances as part of a daily schedule. The venue will also offer craft ale and a “proper pub grub” menu.
Cornish hotel complex brought to market for £8m: The St Moritz Hotel, near Rock in Cornwall, has been brought to market for £8m. St Moritz comprises a 55-bedroom art deco hotel, 15 apartments, 38 villas, a spa, leisure club, bar and two restaurants. Set in 8.9 acres of landscaped gardens, the property has several active planning permissions including the go-ahead to build eight luxury suites. The complex was built on the site of a 1930s hotel as part of a £15m investment by brothers Steve and Hugh Ridgway. James Greenslade, of Savills’ Exeter hotels team, which is marketing the property, told Insider Media: “St Moritz offers a rare opportunity for an investor to acquire an established and internationally regarded resort. The hotel is in an excellent location in the heart of the UK’s top second-home market – the north Cornish coast. There are significant opportunities for a new owner to develop the resort further and enhance the business.”