Story of the Day:
Whitbread now targeting more than 110,000 rooms in UK, looks at streamlining number of restaurant brands: Whitbread is now targeting more than 110,000 hotel rooms in the UK and has said it will look at streamlining the number of restaurant brands in its portfolio. At its capital markets day, chief executive Alison Brittain said the size and level of fragmentation in the market meant there was an “even more attractive runway of growth” beyond its target of 85,000 rooms by 2020. Whitbread also revealed plans to double the size of the business in the UK and Germany, with potential for more than 170,000 rooms. Brittain said: “The Premier Inn proposition targets the largest part of the market – the domestic, short-stay, business and leisure traveller – and this market continues to grow. Premier Inn has consistently won market share from independents by adding new capacity, which delivers a consistently superior experience and excellent value for money. Given the size of the market and level of fragmentation, Whitbread sees potential for at least 110,000 rooms in the UK. Whitbread’s unique model enables end-to-end control over the hotel network, all aspects of the customer experience and site-level operations.” Brittain said the company was looking at potentially streamlining is restaurant brand portfolio, given it was now about having a value-for-money offer. She said: “We are happy with the performance of our steak-led brands, Bar + Block and Beefeater, but given the change in focus of our offer, we are looking at reducing the number of other brands.” Through its Premier Inn, hub by Premier Inn and new ZIP by Premier Inn formats, Whitbread currently has more than 74,000 rooms in the UK with 14,000 in the pipeline. Brittain said the company would reach its 110,000-room target by adding new hotels and expanding existing sites, while it was also exploring taking its ten-strong hub by Premier Inn business outside London and Edinburgh to other regional cities. She said the ZIP by Premier Inn concept, where rooms are half the size of a traditional hotel, would capture an “underserved segment of the market”. The 138-room debut site, in Cardiff, will open in a few weeks while a second site has been secured, in Southampton. Brittain said she saw potential for other locations on the outskirts of regional city centres across the UK. In Germany, where Whitbread first invested in 2016, the company has 2,000 rooms with a committed pipeline of 8,000 more including its first acquisition in Germany, which is due to complete in February 2020. Brittain said the company would accelerate its expansion to at least 60,000 rooms through organic growth and further bolt-on acquisitions. She added: “Whitbread sees significant long-term potential to replicate the success of Premier Inn in the UK. Germany is where the UK market was 15 years ago.” Brittain said the company was also targeting a further £220m in savings having delivered more than £150m in the past three years. This included £120m of operating cost savings and £100m of capital cost savings during the next three years. Brittain said this would allow Whitbread to return at least £2.5bn to shareholders, as previously reported. Whitbread began an initial share buyback programme in January, which seeks to repurchase up to £500m of shares by the end of April. Following that, Whitbread intends to pursue a tender offer to repurchase shares to a maximum of £2bn.
Social Strategy In A Day opens for bookings:
Social Strategy In A Day, an event aimed at allowing companies to develop and hone their social media strategy, has launched and is open for bookings. The event features all-new content and insights to allow companies to increase brand exposure, broaden their reach and ensure their digital marketing really delivers. Propel has partnered with digital marketing company Digital Blonde for the one-day advanced workshop, which will cover everything a marketing department should be thinking about when it comes to social strategy. The event takes place on Thursday, 4 April at One Moorgate Place in London. Sessions will include how to drive business via social media, how activity works for different generations, the power and empathy in great storytelling, and marketing and what it takes to be a trusted brand on social media. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members and £345 plus VAT for non-members and can be booked by emailing email@example.com
Alex Reilley to feature in next video for Propel Premium subscribers:
Loungers founder Alex Reilley will feature in the next 30-minute video for Propel Premium subscribers, which will be sent out on Friday (15 February). Reilley talks about the adaptations involved in growing a business from one site to more than 100, celebrating success and the art of succession. Premium subscribers receive regular video recordings of key speakers from Propel events and conferences. Other videos have featured 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; John Upton, former managing director of Leon and now board member of Motherclucker and Naked Deli
; and David Singleton, area vice-president, franchise operations and development EMEA/south Asia at Hard Rock International
. 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, discounts to attend Propel conferences and events and regular columns from insights editor Mark Wingett. His next piece will give his views on what lies ahead for the sector’s big pub operators. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Surge in Far East visitors drives growth for UK hotels: A surge in international visitors, particularly from the Far East, resulted in UK hotels enjoying growth throughout 2018, according to new data from Expedia Group. Analysis shows global interest in “destination UK” has remained strong, with major cities and regions across the UK experiencing significant double-digit growth. This growth has been driven in part by visitors from the Far East, with demand from Chinese travellers rising almost 160% year-on-year in 2018. This was supported by further increases in demand from visitors from Malaysia (45% year-on-year), Japan and Thailand (both 30%) and Korea (20%). Demand remained buoyant from the traditionally strong markets of Germany, Canada, Australia and France, and was further fuelled by visitors from fast-growing markets such as Italy, Ireland and Spain, with all registering significant double-digit, year-on-year increases. Furthermore, there was notable growth in travellers from South American countries such as Brazil and Argentina. While London saw positive growth of almost 15% year-on-year, other UK cities also witnessed increased visitor numbers. International and domestic demand for Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff grew 15%, with Edinburgh and Glasgow both experiencing 10% year-on-year growth. Edinburgh kept its spot as the second most popular destination by market share after London for tourists visiting the UK. From a regional demand perspective, the biggest year-on-year growth was experienced in Essex, East Anglia, West Midlands, North Wales, Lake District and Cumbria. Meanwhile Cornwall, Devon and the Scottish Highlands saw an uplift in average daily rate in what was generally a flat market for the category. Expedia Group director of market management Irene Roberts said: “The significant rise in demand from valuable Far East visitors is great news for hoteliers. Lengthier booking windows and increased on-property spend enable them to focus their time on maximising bookings during shoulder periods.”
Four-fifths of UK diners would ‘dump’ restaurant brand after one bad experience, operators urged to seek Instagram opportunities: More than four-fifths (82%) of UK diners would “dump” a restaurant brand following one bad experience, according to a new survey by guest experience management expert HGEM. However, the survey suggests operators should seek opportunities surrounding social media, with (three-fifths) 60% of millennials stating they fall in love with a brand through Instagram. The platform massively outscored social media rivals Facebook (17%), YouTube (5%), Twitter (4%) and Snapchat (3%). HGEM suggested operators should focus marketing efforts on Instagram when targeting millennials, while traditional forms of marketing such as magazine advertising (32%) and emails (25%) remain the preference of baby boomers. The study also revealed customers value brands that focus on “honesty”, “reliability” and “willingness to go above and beyond” twice as much as brands that focus on being “fun” and “social”. Almost three-quarters (72%) of customers also believe a single team member has the power to influence their decision to like a restaurant brand or not, indicating operators should focus on training staff to “understand the impact their role has on the customer experience”. Almost one-third (30%) of respondents are willing to overlook bad restaurant reviews for a brand they are already invested in. HGEM founding director Sally Whelan said: “While an individual’s reasons to fall in love with a brand are not always obvious, the survey clearly demonstrates the importance of customer experience in the process. A positive experience can drive loyalty and strong brand engagement, driving repeat visits and sales. Front-of-house teams are often the key to unlocking the hearts and minds of customers. Operators should make the most of this influence by introducing effective staff training and reward schemes.”
Only A Pavement Away launches debut conference: Only A Pavement Away, the charity that works with operators to help ex-offenders find employment in the hospitality industry, has announced its inaugural conference. Co-hosted with Think Hospitality, the event will take place at The H Club in London on Tuesday, 19 March and cover issues such as the challenges operators face when employing vulnerable people, how to be a great employer, tips for overcoming the recruitment challenge, and how to put your best foot forward with employer branding. The event will include speakers from Five Guys, The Ivy Collection, Young’s, Coaching Inn Group, Yummy Collection, Malmaison, Brewhouse & Kitchen, and Sodexo. Operators can apply for two free tickets to the event on a first come, first served basis by emailing email@example.com. Headline sponsor is Hastee Pay while premium sponsors are Asahi and Harri and fellow sponsors are Beond and Novus in Custody.
Caravan boss – we want to champion industry through collaborations and by mentoring next generation of female entrepreneurs, like-for-likes up 10%: Laura Harper-Hinton, chief executive of London-based restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept Caravan, has told Propel the company is looking to participate in more collaborations to help “champion the industry”. Caravan has just begun a partnership with co-working company The Office Group to supply a bespoke single-origin coffee. The partnership will also include running coffee counters at six of its locations and Harper-Hinton said she was keen to run similar ventures. She is also exploring the possibility of Caravan hosting supper clubs for Devi’s, a Silk Road-inspired vegan and vegetarian concept that combines Mediterranean, North African, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine. Harper-Hinton has begun mentoring Devi’s founder Tanya Gohil after the pair featured on BBC show My Million Pound Menu. While Gohil failed to attract the investment she was looking for, Harper-Hinton was impressed enough by Gohil and her concept to make the alternative offer. Harper-Hinton said: “Tanya is so passionate and talented in everything she does and realises running a street food stall is quite different to opening a bricks and mortar restaurant. She’s also into her food writing and supper clubs. One of the things we are talking about is running a couple of supper clubs in our restaurants. We’d love to invite Tanya in to gain insight and experience of what it’s like in a busy restaurant. We’re interested in more collaborations – for me it’s about championing the industry and women in the sector, collaborating with the next generation and the most exciting, creative, boundary pushers out there – especially with consumers now wanting more of an experiential and conscious dining experience. This is one of the ways of doing that.” Harper-Hinton said current trading at five-strong Caravan was “fantastic”, with like-for-like sales up about 10%. She added: “It is tough out there but we have a team of fantastic people and I refuse to be sucked into any negativity! Keeping up the positivity and momentum is very important to us as a business. The coffee segment is crowded but more people are making the transition to craft coffee. That’s a growing market in the UK and I think it’s something that once people get a taste for it, it’s difficult to go back.” Regarding potential expansion, Harper-Hinton said: “We are looking at a couple of things. We’re keen to keep growing but at a sensible pace, while making sure we’re picking the right sites – as we have done.”
Shelmerdine to oversee delivery at TRG: The Restaurant Group (TRG) has promoted Nick Shelmerdine to the role of managing director (delivery) as its looks to gain further market share in the sector, Propel has learned. Shelmerdine has been promoted to the new role to allow TRG to build a “winning position in the rapidly growing delivery sector”. He joined the company in June 2017 as transformation director, becoming director of operational excellence later that year and helping to build TRG’s delivery and collection channel and develop a new team focused on operational excellence in the casual dining division. When setting out the reasons behind its acquisition of Wagamama, TRG said it believed delivery represented a “significant area of opportunity”, adding that Wagamama was “already one of the top brands” on Deliveroo. It said the enlarged group would be “well positioned to invest behind structural growth in the delivery space including through delivery-only kitchens – where Wagamama has an early-mover advantage – in digital capabilities and in online brands”.
Walker – sale of EAT ‘not imminent’: Andrew Walker, chief executive of food-to-go chain EAT, has told Propel a sale of the circa 100-strong business is “not imminent” despite the company’s backer appointing advisors to review its options. Horizon Capital, previously known as Lyceum Capital, acquired a stake in EAT eight years ago and, as reported by Sky News, has appointed corporate advisory firm Spayne Lindsay. Walker said no deal process had begun and at present a timetable for such a process starting would come nearer the end of this year. He said: “We are working with Spayne Lindsay but at present no sale process is part of that work – that may change as we come closer to the year end.” Walker joined the business in 2016 and has overseen a refresh of the group’s offer and design, leading to ten months of like-for-like sales growth. The group’s new-look stores have also generated an average 15% year-on-year sales increase. Walker said the company was focused on the continued roll-out of its new look and its pipeline of international openings. It recently launched a site in Gare du Nord station in Paris, with an opening in Malaga airport set for the end of this month. The brand also has two openings at Barcelona airport – Terminals 1 and 2 – due this spring. The company will make its debut in the Middle East later this year, at Bahrain airport.
All Star Lanes firms up new management team: Bowling alley business All Star Lanes has appointed Graham Cook as managing director and hired a new group finance director, Propel has learned. Cook took over the role of interim managing director in September in the wake of Christian Rose’s departure earlier that summer. Cook has been with the five-strong company since July 2016, including a stint as director of guest proposition. The company has also hired Meera Depala as group finance editor. Depala was previously head of finance at 85 Piccadilly and London Union. Previous to that she was financial controller at cocktail bar brand Be At One. Rose’s departure came as the company, which is backed by a number of high-net-worth individuals, was taken off the market. The business had appointed advisors BDO to assess options to fund its next stage of growth. It is thought that despite interest from trade players and private equity, All Star Lanes’ backers decided to hold on to the business for the foreseeable future.
Five Guys builds pipeline, appoints head of brand: Better burger brand Five Guys has secured a further four sites for its UK pipeline as it targets 11 openings in the country this year, Propel has learned. The company, which secured a £100m banking facility from Goldman Sachs last summer to support expansion plans in the UK and Europe, has lined up openings in Braintree, Bromley, Cambridge’s Market Street and at the Drake Circus scheme in Plymouth. It is also set to open a flagship site in Barcelona, which will be the group’s 14th in Spain. The company, which operates circa 80 sites in the UK, has also appointed Paul Hamilton as head of brand for Europe. Hamilton was previously managing partner at creative brand agency Will London.
Mission Mars acquires Liverpool site from Bistro Qui: Mission Mars, the north west-based operator behind Albert’s Schloss and Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza, has acquired The Hub Alehouse & Kitchen in Liverpool from Bistro Qui. The Hub Alehouse & Kitchen was sold on a leasehold basis off an asking price of £750,000 through agents Christie & Co. The venue becomes the 12th site for Mission Mars and second in Liverpool. The 170-cover venue occupies the ground and lower ground floors of the grade II-listed Casartelli Building at the junction of Duke Street and Hanover Street. Bistro Qui owner Mark Friend, who sought to sell the business as part of a portfolio rationalisation, said: “We wish the new owner every success with The Hub Alehouse & Kitchen and we’re sure it can take this site to a new level.”
Cabana signs franchise deal for Middle East: Cabana, the Brazilian barbecue group founded by Jamie Barber and David Ponte, will make its international debut later this year, in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia. Propel has learned the company, which currently operates eight restaurants in the UK, has signed a franchise deal with Saudi Arabian hospitality company Al Hokair to launch the brand in the Middle East. The first site under the agreement will open near the end of September in Riyadh. Barber told Propel no figure had been put on how many sites the two companies might open together but both felt there could be more opportunities for the brand in Saudi Arabia. After closing three sites last year – in Islington, Brixton and Newcastle – Barber said the company had also spent the last 12 months rebalancing the Cabana offer. He said: “There was obviously a significant bias towards meat but we have rebalanced that to incorporate more vegan and vegetarian dishes and taken a more flexitarian approach. It has paid off and we have seen an uplift in performance.”
Heavitree Brewery reports turnover boost: Heavitree Brewery, the Exeter-based tenanted pub operator, has reported turnover increased £315,000 to £7,614,000 for the year ending 31 October 2018. Group operating profit was down £146,000 to £1,632,000. During the year, The King of Prussia in Bovey Tracey, the Kings Arms in Strete, The Crown & Sceptre in Newton St Cyres and a block of four flats in Exeter were all sold. The total book profit realised on the sale of these sites was £814,000. Chairman Nicholas Tucker said: “Despite the political uncertainty the country is facing the quality of our houses and the tenants and leaseholders who operate them and the dedicated support they receive from all our staff at head office, have combined to help deliver this year’s strong set of results.”
Seven operators set for O2’s Icon: Plant-based brand By Chloe and Mexican restaurant brand Benito’s Hat are among a new wave of seven operators set to open at O2’s Icon outlet this spring. AEG and Crosstree Real Estate Partners recently launched the 210,000 square foot Icon development. The seven traders will take the total number of bars and restaurants at the O2 to 34. By Chloe will open a 5,400 square foot restaurant with a 1,500 square foot garden for its third London site, while Benito’s Hat will open its fourth site in the capital. Chinese hot pot chain Hai Di Lao will open its second European restaurant following an announced opening in Piccadilly Circus as part of a 20-site plan for London. Hai Di Lao will open an 8,200 square foot restaurant with a 2,800 square foot mezzanine in May. Seafood restaurant Hook will open its second London site, while Beer+Burger will open its fifth site in the capital offering its six signature burgers and craft beer. Meanwhile, former NASCAR racing driver Matt Harris will open a third site for his concept Thunderbird Fried Chicken, which received investment from private equity firm TriSpan last month. The seventh brand is Scarlet, which will offer authentic Indian street food. O2 leasing director Marion Dillon said: “These latest additions bring an exciting food theatre to our line-up at The O2.” Davis Coffer Lyons and Lunson Mitchenall are food and beverage leasing agents for the O2.
Century Club considers growth options: Century Club, the private members’ club in London’s Shaftesbury Avenue, is considering options for its next stage of growth following offers and expressions of interest from a number of parties, Propel has learned. The club, which launched in 2001, is understood to have retained Dow Schofield Watts (London) to provide strategic advice. The club is spread over four floors and boasts “unrivalled views of central London” alongside dedicated events spaces and other member areas, which all benefit from an in-house food and drinks offering. Century’s freeholder and operator stated: “The club represents a unique opportunity to build on operations at a site encompassing 20,000 square feet of Shaftesbury Avenue, including Soho’s largest roof terrace. Any decision on the future operation of the club will hinge on operational excellence, with the interests of members and staff critical to any transaction. The location, fabric of the building and late licence offer potential for the club to be repositioned as one of the premier private members’ spaces in the capital.”
Paddy & Scott’s opens Haverhill coffee shop ahead of roll-out across Abbeycroft Leisure estate: Independent Suffolk coffee shop operator and wholesaler Paddy & Scott’s has added another venue to its portfolio, in Haverhill, near Cambridge. The coffee shop has opened as part of a £1.5m overhaul of Haverhill leisure centre. Paddy & Scott’s supplies coffee to Abbeycroft Leisure’s nine not-for-profit leisure centres, which are based across Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Abbeycroft’s ongoing refurbishment programme will see each leisure centre feature a Paddy & Scott’s coffee shop. Paddy & Scott’s chief executive Scott Russell said: “We train our baristas to produce perfectly brewed coffee in a fast-paced environment, which makes our coffee shops a perfect fit for leisure centre guests.” Russell launched the Paddy & Scott’s business from the boot of his car in 2007.
McCulloch goes from Spectacular to Supersonic: Mark McCulloch, one of the UK food and drink sector’s leading marketers, has launched premium brand and marketing consultancy Supersonic Inc. Launch clients for the Brighton and London-based consultancy include Bill’s Restaurants, Roadchef and The Ciderologist. Supersonic Inc will offer one-to-one strategy advice and consultancy across a range of key marketing disciplines including brand, marketing, digital, social and employee engagement. McCulloch said: “I have started Supersonic Inc as a portfolio business where I can offer an up-close and personal consultancy with non-executive-style advice. I will also grow my personal brand through speaking, e-learning and broadcasting as creating content is the number-one way to succeed for any business. I’m an entrepreneur at heart and got itchy feet to start all over again.” While McCulloch will step back from day-to-day operations at WE ARE Spectacular, he will remain a shareholder and adviser to the business he has led for the past six years as founder and chief executive. He said: “We grew WE ARE Spectacular to a £1m-plus agency, which is what I set out to do. As Chris Evans said when he left Radio 2, once you have scaled your mountain, you have to find a new mountain to climb.” McCulloch cut his teeth at lastminute.com and has held senior in-house marketing roles at Barclaycard, YO! Sushi and Pret A Manger. He added: “The name Supersonic refers to something clients have said I add – being a rocket booster for their business. It’s also a nod to Oasis and all those hours I spent as a teenager playing Sonic the Hedgehog.” Contact McCulloch on firstname.lastname@example.org or @Supersonic_Inc on Twitter and Instagram.
Hache to replace CAU in Kingston: Hache, the burger concept owned by Hush Brasserie, is to open at a former CAU site in Kingston-upon-Thames, Propel has learned. The site, the brand’s seventh, will reopen at the end of March under the name Hache Riverside Social. Hush Brasserie founder Jamie Barber told Propel the site would be the brand’s largest yet and would incorporate an all-day offer for the first time, alongside a roastery. Barber said: “It is a beautiful site. We had a look at a number of CAU sites but this one stood out. We want take our time expanding and, unless something amazing presents itself in terms of a new site opportunity, this will be our only opening this year.” Hush Brasserie, led by Cabana co-founder Barber, former Richoux Group managing director Ed Standring, and ex-Wagamama chief executive Ian Neill, acquired Hache in September 2016 from founders Berry and Suzie Casey. It also operates the original Hush restaurant in Mayfair.
Shepherd Cox sells North Yorkshire pub: North of England-based hotel group Shepherd Cox has sold the White Rose Hotel in Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire. Kevin Procter, who owns Procters Coaches, has acquired the closed pub off an asking price of £380,000 through agents Christie & Co. The White Rose features a bar, pool room and dining conservatory with 15 guest bedrooms in an extension. Shepherd Cox director Nick Carlile said: “We purchased the site as part of a package deal but it quickly became evident it didn’t fit our business model.” Procter added: “Being local, I was keen to protect the future of the pub. We now have plans to refurbish and reopen the White Rose, creating something the town can be proud of.”
Home House to launch Marylebone private members’ club in April: The team behind London luxury members’ club Home House is to launch a venture in Marylebone aimed at high-growth entrepreneurs, investors and business innovators. Home Grown will open on Wednesday, 3 April across four grade II-listed, four-storey Georgian townhouses in Great Cumberland Place. The private members’ club will cover 26,000 square feet and welcome applicants from a diverse range of sectors and industries. It will be aimed at enabling high-growth entrepreneurs and company owners to grow their networks and businesses through collaborations with investors and like-minded individuals. Home Grown’s opening day will see the launch of Rockstar, a series of events focusing on an entrepreneur’s business journey, with the first featuring YO! Sushi founder Simon Woodroofe. Home Grown will host a calendar of members’ events including monthly dinners and wellness seminars, while offering a brasserie, study cafe, bars, business lounges, meeting rooms, pitching suites and 35 bedrooms.
Beavertown reveals more details of new brewery and visitors’ centre: London-based brewer Beavertown has revealed further details of the brewery and 12,000 square foot visitors’ centre it is building after securing £40m of investment from Heineken last June in return for a 49% stake in the company. “Beaverworld” is due to launch in March 2020, allowing the brewer to ramp up production and host events and brewery tours. The site in Ponders End is 4.5 miles from the brewer’s current home. Beavertown founder Logan Plant told Campaign: “We are working closely with architects and builders to make sure it will be pretty to look at and fun to be in. As part of the full Beavertown experience, our current home in Tottenham Hale will be retained and repurposed to allow us to expand our Tempus Project barrel-ageing programme. We’ll also continue to run a taproom at the Tottenham brewery on Saturdays and one day hope to have a Beaver boat that will chug happily between the two taprooms up and down the river on its own little mini-booze cruise.”