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Fri 8th Feb 2019 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Hop Stuff assessing funding options for next stage of growth as it eyes eventual IPO: Hop Stuff Brewery is assessing its options as it prepares for its next stage of growth, Propel has learned. Founder James Yeomans said the company would look to raise up to £5m to support the expansion of its taproom concept and increase capacity at its new brewery in London. He said “all options were on the table” and, having started the business through crowdfunding, he would love to complete the journey by floating the company. He said: “I think we have another year or two of hard growth in us. We’ve increased revenue 3,500% in the past five years, with like-for-like sales in 2019 set for £4m. With new taprooms, we believe we can increase that to between £5.5m and £6m. We’ve got the new brewery up and running and I believe we’re now London’s biggest independent brewer by capacity. We raised some money from existing investors at the back end of last year to increase capacity a bit but, to meet contracting demand as well as our own growing demand, it would mean pushing production to 30,000 to 40,000HL a year. Alongside this, each taproom costs between £200,000 and £300,000 and we’ve probably got enough capital for another two at the moment. To really push on with expansion, however, we’re going to need more funds in 2019. We’re looking at between £3m and £5m for our next stage of growth and exploring various funding options, including private equity and strategic partners. I owe everything to the crowd for their support as we’ve grown. I am aware, however, that to make Hop Stuff Brewery a true crowdfunding success story we must offer the opportunity to release cash, which appears to be the Achilles heel of the wider crowdfunding market so far.” Yeomans said the company would like to open at least two taprooms in 2019 having seen its proposed Greenwich site fall through last year after it was refused a licence for an outdoor area. Negotiations are taking place on a new site in south London and Yeomans thinks London could easily house another four to five taprooms. However, he also suggested the company was looking across the UK for sites in 2019 and 2020. He added: “Now we’ve done three successfully, we know what the model is. We would need to do several in quick succession if we are going to open successfully outside London so we quickly build big market presence in an area. A great example of this would be to look at Bristol, Exeter and Cardiff in close succession, or Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield. We really believe Hop Stuff Brewery is ready for this step but we must do the right thing for all parties to guarantee success before we proceed.”

Industry News:

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 anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Mark Wingett joins Propel: Former MCA editor Mark Wingett has joined Propel as insights editor. He will write regular insight columns and exclusives for our Premium subscribers and work on a number of new projects. His first piece will cover his views on the current state of the sector looking at issues companies such as Casual Dining Group, Wagamama and PizzaExpress among others face. It will be sent to Premium readers at 5pm today (Friday, 8 February). Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “We are delighted to welcome Mark on board. I worked with him for a period at MCA and have a huge regard for his peerless industry understanding and unmatched ability to access the stories behind the stories.” Wingett added: “I am looking forward to working with Paul and the team at Propel and building on its position as the most widely read industry newswire.” Propel Premium subscribers 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, regular videos featuring insights from industry executives, and discounts to attend Propel conferences and events. An annual premium subscription costs £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers – plus £50 each for additional team members. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com to sign up or call her on 01444 817691. Mark can be contacted at mark.wingett@propelinfo.com

Deliveroo removes 600 shark fin dishes from platform as it signs up to WWF pledge: Deliveroo has removed 600 shark fin dishes from 180 partner restaurants globally after signing up to the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF’s) No Shark Fin pledge. More than 70 million sharks are killed every year, according to WWF, with declines of more than 90% reported. Globally, 25% of sharks, rays and related species are threatened with extinction, it added. Deliveroo has committed to having no dishes containing shark fin or related products on its platform, even as a special request. Director of policy Emma Simmonds said: “Deliveroo wants all the restaurants it works with to promote sustainable food production – and that must include protecting endangered species. We are pleased to sign up to the WWF’s No Shark Fin pledge. We will work with WWF to see what more we can do in this area.” Andy Cornish, of WWF, added: “Deliveroo’s commitment covers some of the largest global shark fin markets and we encourage other foodservice establishments to follow suit.”

More than 500 UK restaurants to offer 30% discount on National Pizza Day: More than 500 UK restaurants are to offer a 30% discount deal this Saturday (9 February), which is National Pizza Day. The offer is a partnership between National Pizza Day and food and drink magazine Mamma Mia! Foodism. Operators involved in the deal include Prezzo, Papa John’s and Wildwood, while Strada will offer a pizza for £5 with any drink purchased on the day. Most of the participating restaurants will offer the discount for takeaway options as well as dine-in meals. A number of operators have created special pizzas for the event including Papa John’s, which will add menu options on the day that feature vegan cheese. To see a full list of restaurants participating in the National Pizza Day discount, visit nationalpizzaday. To claim the 30% discount, customers must download an automated voucher and print or show it on their phones at participating restaurants.

Just Eat backs initiative to find plastic pollution solutions: Just Eat is backing an initiative that seeks to find solutions to the plastic pollution problem. Industry experts and students will take part in the Plastic Hackathon event at Imperial College in London on Saturday (9 February). At the end of the day, teams will pitch their ideas to a panel of industry experts, entrepreneurs and investors, with the most promising concepts developed further with a view to ultimately engage brands in trials. Just Eat director of business partnerships and restaurant services Robin Clark said: “The Plastic Hackathon is an excellent opportunity to stimulate new ideas that could help in tackling plastic pollution.”

Company News:

Turtle Bay appoints Jane O’Riordan as chairman: Caribbean restaurant Turtle Bay has appointed Jane O’Riordan as its new chairman, Propel has learned. O’Riordan has extensive knowledge of the leisure and hospitality space. She was managing director of Yellowwoods Associates (formerly Capricorn Associates) – a private equity and venture capital advisory firm involved in the strategic development of companies such as Nando’s and PizzaExpress. She was also director of strategy on the main board of Nando’s and is currently a member of the advisory board of Piper, the private equity company that backed Turtle Bay in 2013. O’Riordan also founded Antipodean-style cycling cafe and restaurant concept The Dynamo in Putney, south west London, while last month social darts concept Flight Club appointed her as non-executive chair director. Turtle Bay was founded by Ajith Jayawickrema in 2011 and currently has 43 sites in the UK and two in Germany. Crispin Tweddell, who has been involved in the business since its conception, has stepped down as chairman but will remain on the board as a non-executive director. Jayawickrema said: “We are extremely grateful to Crispin for helping Turtle Bay evolve from concept all the way through to market-leading restaurant brand and look forward to his continued involvement on the board. We are delighted to welcome Jane as chair. Her insights and knowledge of the market will be hugely beneficial to us as we continue to drive the brand forward and introduce Turtle Bay to new customers.” O’Riordan added: “Ajith, Crispin and the team at Turtle Bay have done a magnificent job in bringing the authentic Caribbean experience to towns and cities across the UK. I look forward to helping them build on their success and take the brand to even greater heights.” In November, Turtle Bay reported revenue increased 7% to £68.1m for the year ending 24 February 2018, compared with £63.7m the previous year. Group Ebitda before exceptional costs was £12.1m compared with £14.4m the year before, reflecting continued investment in Germany and the effect of rises in the National Minimum Wage, business rates and the impact of exchange-rate movements on input costs.

Chopstix sees ‘significant opportunities’ for expansion as it reports boost in turnover and like-for-likes: Chopstix, the Asian quick service restaurant company, has said there are “significant opportunities” to expand both its eponymous and Yangtze brands as it reported a boost in turnover and like-for-like sales. Turnover increased to £24.5m for the year ending 30 April 2018, compared with £15.6m the previous year. Like-for-like sales during the year for its core eponymous brand increased 3.5%. During the year the group opened ten Chopstix restaurants and acquired The Wok, a portfolio of nine restaurants trading as Yangtze. During the period Yangtze contributed £2.9m of sales. At the year end, Chopstix operated 41 branded Chopstix restaurants and nine Yangtze restaurants. An additional 17 Chopstix sites are operated under franchise, ten with Applegreen in Ireland, six with Welcome Break in motorway service areas in England and Scotland, and one in Germany with Westfalen. The company reported gross profit margins of 67% (2017: 75%) for the full year. Adjusted Ebitda after pre-opening and exceptional costs but before fixed-asset impairments stood at £2.2m (2017: £2.6m). The margin reduction in the period was driven by a “significant number of new openings where sites require some time to mature, lower margins in the Yangtze division, and new product development and stock adjustments”. The directors and management said they believed this represented a significant opportunity to improve in the future. During the period the group reviewed the trading performance and carrying value of the sites that were held under licensing arrangements and, as a result, after the period ended, disposed of the sites and the related group companies to a third party for nil consideration. As a consequence of the strategic review and underperformance of the sites, an impairment has been recognised within the period of £1.0m. Since the year end the company has continued to trade in line with expectations. The group is on track to open eight to ten company-owned sites in the current financial year with four already open. The Chopstix units at Westfield Stratford and Nottingham have both benefited from a new-generation design template, which will be incorporated into all new units in future, and two Yangtze units at Bluewater and Manchester Arndale have given the company reassurance about the potential of the Yangtze brand. All these sites have significantly exceeded expectations with Westfield Stratford now the company’s highest-turnover unit. Applegreen has increased its Chopstix estate since the financial year end, with openings at Rathcoole and Ballymount in Ireland. One unit at Mountgorry was closed. The business, which is owned by its founders Sam Elia and Menashe Sadik appointed a new senior management team in January 2017 led by managing director Jon Lake. He said: “The Chopstix business has continued to grow and deliver positive results as the market has evolved and been impacted by macro-economic and political factors. The year saw the company continue to refine its approach, strengthening its image to convey our core attributes while emphasising how ‘different’ we are to other quick service restaurants in the space we occupy. It has also seen us strengthen our relationships with landlords, especially those with high-footfall, destination shopping schemes, and we look forward to adding to that part of our estate in the coming months. We believe there are still significant opportunities to expand both the Chopstix and Yangtze brands. As with the wider market, we have not been immune to the challenges currently being faced but we have and continue to invest in making sure we have the best people and systems in place to drive further improvements and efficiencies across the business.”

Yum! Brands reports KFC UK sales up 1% in fourth quarter, down 2% for full year: Yum! Brands has reported KFC system sales in the UK increased 1% for the fourth quarter ended 31 December 2018. UK full-year system sales were down 2% following the delivery saga that resulted in 750 of its sites being closed because of a mass chicken shortage earlier in the year. The UK accounts for 6% of KFC’s system sales worldwide. Globally, KFC like-for-like sales in the fourth quarter increased 3%, with US like-for-like sales up 1% and system sales worldwide increasing 8%. Operating margin increased 3.8% and 4.7% for the year, driven by refranchising and like-for-like sales growth, partially offset by the gross increase of advertising and other franchise service revenues. KFC opened 650 international restaurants during the period. Operating profit was down 6% to $255m. Meanwhile Pizza Hut system sales in Europe, including the UK, were up 6% in the quarter and 2% for the full year – the continent accounts for 10% of Pizza Hut’s system sales globally. Individual figures for the UK were not included in the announcement. Pizza Hut sales were up 2% globally, with like-for-likes flat. US system sales, which account for 46% of global sales, were up 1%. Pizza Hut opened 352 international restaurants during the period. Operating margin fell 5.7% for the quarter and 2.9% for the year driven by the gross increase of advertising and other franchise service revenues, partially offset by refranchising. Operating profit remained flat, at $77m. Taco Bell like-for-like sales increased 6% and system sales were up 8%. Operating profit increased 7% to $191m. Taco Bell opened 151 restaurants during the period. Yum! Brands’ total revenue in the quarter fell 1% to $1,558m. It refranchised 331 restaurants – 227 KFC, and 104 Taco Bell sites – for pre-tax proceeds of $380m. At the end of the quarter, Yum! Brands’ global franchise ownership mix increased to 98%.

Franco Manca enhances central London estate: Franco Manca, the Fulham Shore-owned pizza brand, is set to enhance its presence in central London by opening a site near St Paul’s, Propel has learned. The company, which operates circa 40 sites, has secured a former Le Pain Quotidien site opposite the Stock Exchange, with an opening scheduled for six weeks’ time. The company is believed to be close to securing a further London site for an opening in April. The group, which recently applied to open in Church Street, Cardiff, is understood to be planning eight openings between April this year and March 2020. It is also believed to be running the rule over a handful of Patisserie Valerie units. In December, Fulham Shore reported revenues of £33m (2017: £27.5m) for the six months ended 23 September. Chairman David Page said the company plans to increase openings for Franco Manca and its other brand, The Real Greek. Page said: “The board remains confident Fulham Shore, underpinned by its unique brands and clear growth strategy, remains well positioned for continued growth and a great future.”

Pret Foundation and West London Mission open home for homeless: The Pret Foundation, set up by Pret A Manger’s founders in 1995, has opened a home for homeless people in partnership with West London Mission (WLM). For more than 30 years, Pret has given unsold food to shelters across the country, while last year marked the tenth anniversary of its Rising Stars programme, which provides career opportunities for ex-homeless people. The Pret House at WLM St Luke’s in London will provide accommodation, employment and access to expert advice to help homeless people transition into the private rented market. It will accommodate up to 13 people at a time, who will live there for six to 12 months before moving into a privately rented home. The ambition is to help at least 20 people off the streets by the end of the year. Each resident will have their own private room and get advice on how to get a bank account, save for a deposit, and develop literacy and computer skills. They will also join the Rising Stars programme, working in Pret shops nearby. Pret chief executive Clive Schlee said: “The Pret House at WLM St Luke’s is the next evolution in our efforts to help the ex-homeless live their lives independently. It’s been a five-year project in the making and we’re hoping it will have a meaningful impact on our Rising Stars and the wider community.” 

Cote lines up triple opening: Cote, the BC Partners-backed chain, has lined up three openings for its eponymous brand, Propel has learned. The Alex Scrimgeour-led chain is splitting its Jackson & Rye site in the City of London, with a Cote set to open in more than half the unit before the end of this month. At the same time, the company will open a site at the Intu scheme in Watford. The company is also understood to have exchanged on a former Carluccio’s site in Fulham Road, Chelsea, with an opening scheduled for this summer, conditional on licensing and planning being obtained. The company recently opened the 95th site under its eponymous brand, in Basingstoke.

Arc Inspirations reports 29% sales uplift at sports-focused sites during Six Nations opening weekend: Arc Inspirations, the Leeds-based operator of a number of fast-growing brands, has reported bumper sales during the opening weekend of the Six Nations rugby tournament. The company achieved a 29% year-on-year uplift in sales across its sports-focused sites on Saturday, 2 February. Bars registering strong sales included the group’s Manahatta and The Box sites in Leeds city centre and the suburb of Headingley. The group’s bars ran Six Nations food specials, with a dish matched to each country supported by social media promotion and giveaways. As well as dressing the bars with bunting and confetti cannons to mark victories or scores, teams also joined in the festivities with face paint and team kit. Arc Inspirations chief executive Martin Wolstencroft said: “Major sporting events such as the Six Nations play a huge part in our events calendar. Our customers love to come together in our bars and enjoy the matches in a great atmosphere with quality food and drink. Our fun, experiential brand ethos makes our venues the ideal location to watch the live action with like-minded people. We are thrilled to achieve such a strong performance across all our sports-focused sites, driven by our hard-working teams and supported by our promotional activity across all channels.”

Ei Group shareholders unanimously back £348m commercial properties division sale: Ei Group shareholders have unanimously backed the company’s plans to dispose of its commercial properties division for £348m. A total of 99.99% of shareholders approved the deal at a general meeting on Thursday (7 February). Ei Group announced last month it had agreed to sell 370 properties to investment fund Tavern Propco having previously appointed Rothschild & Co as advisors. Ei Group chief executive Simon Townsend said at the time: “We are pleased to have agreed the sale of the portfolio, which is in line with our strategy of delivering attractive and sustainable returns to shareholders by unlocking the embedded value and optimising the returns from every asset within the business. The portfolio comprises high-quality assets, which we believe are best suited to a free-of-tie, rent-only business model.”

MOD Pizza secures tenth UK site: MOD Pizza, the Sir Charles Dunstone-backed concept, has secured its tenth site in the UK, in Coventry. The company, which before the end of last year opened in Leicester and Watford, has taken a unit next to the Azzurri group-owned Zizzi restaurant in the city’s Cathedral Lanes. The site will open at the end of March, while it is understood the company has funding in place to open ten further sites this year. Founded in 2008 by husband and wife Scott and Ally Svenson in their home town of Seattle, there are now more than 300 MOD locations across the US and UK.

MeatLiquor to launch Big Lebowski-themed bowling experience at historic London ice rink: MeatLiquor is to introduce an adults-only, private bowling experience inspired by cult film The Big Lebowski as part of its partnership with London’s historic Queens ice rink. New experience The Liquor Lanes will offer a private cocktail bar, five bowling lanes and the full MeatLiquor menu when it launches on Thursday, 21 February. MeatLiquor signed as exclusive food and drinks partner at the venue in Queensway, near Hyde Park, when it relaunched as Queens Skate Dine Bowl in May 2017. Earlier this month, MeatLiquor secured a prime West End site following the announcement that its flagship central London burger restaurant off Oxford Street would be converted into a hotel. The company has taken on the former Match Bar unit in Margaret Street, Marylebone. The company currently operates eight sites across London – in Shoreditch, Covent Garden, Queensway, Islington, King’s Cross, Dulwich, Croydon, and Battersea – and one each in Leeds and Brighton.

Chipotle sees digital sales grow to $0.5bn business as like-for-likes rise 6.7% in fourth quarter: Chipotle has seen digital sales grow to a $0.5bn dollar business as it reported its highest like-for-like sales growth in six quarters. For its fourth quarter ending 31 December 2018, like-for-like sales grew 6.1%, while digital sales jumped 65.6% in the period. Digital sales increased dramatically, driven by a free delivery campaign tied to college football games. For the year, digital sales grew 42.4% and accounted for 10.9% of sales, or $0.5bn. Chief executive Brian Niccol said consumers were responding enthusiastically to the company’s culturally relevant marketing and delivery. The company is also seeing positive results from the testing of a new loyalty programme and pick-up lanes. The ten-unit pick-up lane programme dubbed “Chipotlane” allows guests to order ahead on the app or website for pick-up in a drive-thru lane. Chipotle plans to expand the pilot to 12 more restaurants. Revenue for the quarter increased 10.4% to $1.2bn, compared with $1.1bn the year before. Digital sales accounted for 12.9% of total sales, or $158.6m, during the quarter. During the period the company opened 40 stores and closed or relocated 12, bringing the total to 2,491 units at the end of the quarter. For the full year, the company opened 137 restaurants and closed or relocated 54. Chipotle expects to open 140 to 155 restaurants in 2019, with most of the new growth occurring in the second half of the year.

M&B uses secondary spaces in Nicholson’s pubs to create whisky experience: Mitchells & Butlers has launched the third whisky showcase for its Nicholson’s brand with a plan of exploiting spaces within its venues to deliver a whisky experience. Working with whisky brands, a handful of Nicholson’s 77 sites will turn sections of the pub into dedicated whisky zones during the showcase. At the Crown in Brewer Street, London, the upstairs area will be transformed to resemble the Copper Dog pub at the Craigellachie Hotel in Speyside, Scotland. The mezzanine at The Coal Hole in the Strand will host a number of Glenfiddich virtual reality events. Other pubs to see their secondary spaces taken over by whisky brands include the Doggett’s Coat & Badge, with its terrace getting a Highland Park makeover, and The Globe, which will see its downstairs bar and upstairs dining rooms host fortnightly sampling events from the Auchentoshan brand team. Nicholson’s Pubs marketing manager Ross Timms said: “Our pubs have some great spaces available and are in such brilliant locations it made sense to explore how we could make the most of these during our Whisky Showcase. By transforming the quieter areas of some our pubs into dedicated whisky spaces, we hope to give connoisseurs and novices alike a truly memorable evening.” As part of its plans to make better use of underutilised space, M&B has put forward proposals to convert the upper floors of the Queens Building in Derby Square, Liverpool, to create accommodation above its All Bar One venue.

Lucky Onion founders acquire third site for new venture: Sam and Georgie Pearman, founders of Cotswold hotel and restaurant group The Lucky Onion, have acquired a third site for their new Country Creatures venture as they look to develop a group of inns and hotels. The Pearmans have added The Swan in Ascott-under-Wychwood, near Chipping Norton, to their portfolio. The pub offers 65 covers, a function room and eight letting rooms. Peter Brunt, a director with Colliers International’s hotels team, said: “Originally offered as a confidential lease opportunity, the new owners have bought the freehold for an undisclosed sum instead.” Country Creatures also operates The Talbot in Malton and The Chequers in Churchill. Colliers International acted on behalf of Charlie and Willow Crossley, who continue to own and operate The Bull at Charlbury.

Atul Kochhar to launch new concept Kanishka in Mayfair next month: Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar is to launch his latest venture, Kanishka, in Mayfair next month. The joint venture with Kanishka Holdings managing director Tina English will open in Maddox Street exploring food from lesser-known regions in India, particularly the Seven Sister States in the east of the country and neighbouring nations such as Nepal, China and Bangladesh. Split across ground and basement floors, the 127-cover space will include a bar, terrace and 12-cover “garden room”. The restaurant is named after second century emperor Kanishka and decor will include topiary elephants and an antique front door. The menu will include dishes such as venison tartar with mustard oil mayonnaise, naan crouton and onions; and pan-seared seafood with Alleppey sauce and smoked cabbage. The drinks list will include cocktails and more than 50 types of whisky. Kochhar said: “Kanishka is a very exciting project. It’s a great opportunity to showcase Indian flavours alongside quality British produce while introducing London’s diners to the unique flavours of territories previously unexplored in the UK.” Kochhar won a Michelin star at Tamarind in Mayfair in 2001, leaving to launch Benares in 2002, which was awarded its own Michelin star four years later. He operates four restaurants in London, including Benares. He also operates a restaurant in Madrid, is an author and regularly appears on television, including as an investor in BBC Show My Million Pound Menu.

Thwaites hunts new marketing director: North west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites is recruiting for a marketing director to build on the relaunch of its hotels and inns business under The House of Daniel Thwaites, which stands at 21 sites. Chief executive Rick Bailey said: “Our hotels and inns are in tremendous shape. We are looking for someone with great energy, creativity and commerciality to  help them become even more successful. We have been bowled over by the response so far but would love to hear from anyone interested in joining us.” For more information, visit careers.thwaites.co.uk

New all-day coffee shop, bar and events space featuring rotating residency of food and drink brands opens in Shoreditch: A new all-day coffee shop, bar and events space with a rotating residency of food and drink brands has opened in Shoreditch, east London. James Stell and Robyn Llewellyn have launched Rotate in Rivington Street, which offers speciality coffee by day and craft beer, cocktails and music by night. The first food residency has been filled by Asian-fusion street food brand Tiger Bites, which is set to appear on BBC show My Million Pound Menu, alongside Rotate’s own revolving drinks menu. Llewellyn is also passionate about cycling so Rotate doubles as a cycling destination selling design-led and high-performance clothing from independent brands, while its also has its own racing team. The venue is split across two floors with the ground level featuring the retail side, a long bar and communal table. The basement has further seating and houses the restaurant hosting DJ sets at night. Tiger Bites will serve its signature bao buns alongside warm bowls, sides, fries and desserts. The rotating drinks menu features locally roasted artisan coffee, craft beer, cocktails and wine.

Milk and cookie bar concept Blondies Kitchen sells millionth cookie less than two years after launch: Milk and cookie bar concept Blondies Kitchen, founded by Chelsie Collins and Kristelle Levy, has sold its millionth cookie since launch. Collins, a former cookery writer for the BBC, and ex-head chef Levy operate a permanent concession at Selfridges in Oxford Street, London, offering American-style cookies. They launched a pop-up milk and cookie bar at Old Street station in October 2016 before opening at the iconic London department store in September 2017. Signature cookies include the Klassic With A K (topped with Kinder chocolate bars), The Nutter (a gluten-free, peanut butter oat cookie) and the Cocoberry (desiccated coconut with a raspberry jam centre). Blondies Kitchen also offers Cereal Milk and cookie-themed treats such as cookie dough brownies. Collins said: “It is incredible to see how our idea of serving simple, American-style cookies and milk to hungry Londoners has grown in less than two years. Our Selfridges’ concession is going from strength to strength and we’ve continued to launch pop-ups across the capital, including six months in Carnaby Street. We also recently launched our online store. It has been hard work but worth it. We are two best friends from London who had a dream – and it’s paid off, one cookie at a time.”

BrewDog releases first Overworks beers: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has released the first batches of wild and sour beers from its fermentation facility, Overworks. The first ten beers follow months of experimentation with brewing processes and flavours since Overworks opened in April last year. All ten beers are available in bottles and on draught in BrewDog’s 36 UK bars and will be made available online and at a “select number of independent bottle shops and bars” later this month. Richard Kilcullen, brewmaster at BrewDog Overworks, said: “This first batch of ten is just the start in a long journey welcoming thousands more beer fans into the BrewDog fold.” Earlier this week, BrewDog had its valuation set at £1.1bn after completing its latest auction on Asset Match, the platform that provides liquidity in private company shares. In total, 138,364 shares changed hands at £15 per share giving almost £2.1m in total. The company has also appointed former Red Bull managing director Andy Shaw to the new role of chief executive beer. He will provide additional senior strategic leadership as BrewDog enters a period of “accelerated growth domestically and internationally”.

Parkdean Resorts to invest more than £40m in holiday parks: Holiday park operator Parkdean Resorts is to invest more than £40m to upgrade and expand its 67 sites. The company will spend £22.5m on enhancing its caravan and lodge offering, with more than 760 new caravans and £4.4m spent on refurbishments. Meanwhile, £1.5m has been earmarked for 18 new luxury lodges across eight locations. A further £9.5m will be invested to strengthen park infrastructure, while £1.8m will be spent on retail developments. Across 12 parks, more than 50 one-bedroom caravans will be introduced that have been designed for couples, including pet-friendly accommodation, a customer profile the company is keen to develop. Chief executive John Waterworth told Insider Media: “We are committed to investing in our 67 holiday parks as well as ensuring this year’s investment programme further enhances our facilities and the customer experience.”

Tennent Caledonian bolsters senior management team: Tennent Caledonian, which is owned by C&C Group, has appointed Kenny Gray to the newly created role of managing director Scotland, encompassing all on-trade, national and convenience business as well as the brewery’s link to Matthew Clark in Scotland. Gray is currently managing director, national accounts at Matthew Clark. Meanwhile, Duncan Frew has been appointed commercial and marketing director, overseeing The Tennent’s Story visitors’ centre and Tennents Training Academy. Frew joins from bar and experiential agency Badaboom and will support Blair in “challenging the route-to-market approach and sharpening marketing execution”. C&C Group chief operating officer Andrea Pozzi said: “These additions to the team will not only bolster senior management within the business, meeting the challenges and opportunities we face, but will allow the talent we already have to focus on key areas and the excellent service levels we provide our customers.”

North Wales-based holiday park operator gets go-ahead for fourth site: North Wales-based holiday park operator Acorn Leisure has been given the go-ahead for its fourth site. The company, owned by Peter and Louise Barlow, has been granted permission by Flintshire County Council to transform a former quarry in Afonwen, near Caerwys, which has lain empty for more than 20 years. Acorn Leisure has approval for 47 luxury lodges and more than 130 static and touring caravans. The Barlows have also earmarked a section of the park for glamping. The site is set to open in September. Peter Barlow told Insider Media: “This is a location close to my heart but, more importantly, I saw its massive potential for a high-quality destination in one of the most scenic areas of the country.” Acorn Leisure operates Misty Water and The Oaks caravan park, both in Lloc, near Holywell, and Ty Bont in Cilcain, near Mold.

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