Story of the Day:
EasyCoffee raises more than £3.5m to open 24 sites this year: Cafe bar operator EasyCoffee, part of the EasyGroup family of brands, has raised more than £3.5m in private equity to open 24 coffee shops this year, Propel has learned. Founded by chief executive Nathan Lowry and EasyJet entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou in 2016, the business plans to have a mix of 200 franchise and corporate-operated sites open within two to three years. In 2018 and 2017 it secured capital of £3m and £2m respectively. EasyCoffee, which currently has ten units trading, specialises in a value coffee offer “15% to 25% cheaper than the major high-street brands” plus a dine-in proposition. New sites will infill near existing areas of operation, including London suburbs, Medway, and Blackpool and the north west. Franchisees have also been recruited to operate new outlets in Leicester and Manchester. “The plan is to have at least 40 sites open by the end of this year,” Lowry told Propel, adding that finding sites was becoming easier and cheaper with rents falling by an average of 10% and landlords willing to sign rent-free periods and deals. He said: “We are still on target to get to 200 in the next two to three years. Rates are my biggest bugbear and need to come down accordingly with what’s happening on the high street.” A team of ten sales people has also been appointed to roll out EasyCoffee’s vending offer to convenience stores, filling stations and roadside propositions, with ten to 12 machines installed each week. In July 2018, the company secured £10m investment from Stellar Asset Management to roll out 800 vending machines nationally over 12 months. “We are really happy with the growth we’re seeing,” said Lowry, who added the retail model resonated with customers looking for a “value offer”.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Alex Reilley to feature in next video for Propel Premium subscribers, Mark Wingett to give his views on Andy McCue’s departure:
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. Meanwhile, insights editor Mark Wingett will give his views on the large managed pub companies and the departure of The Restaurant Group chief executive Andy McCue as part of his next piece for Premium subscribers, which will also be sent out on Friday. He will also talk about what he believes lies ahead for the sector’s big pub operators. 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 video recordings of key speakers from Propel events and conferences. 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
Coffer Peach Tracker adds Punch as 50th partner: The Coffer Peach Business Tracker, the sales barometer for the UK’s leading managed pub, bar and restaurant groups, has hit the 50-partner milestone by adding Punch to its ranks. The Tracker launched in 2009 with 12 major pub and restaurant groups participating. It now covers more than 8,500 sites with combined annual sales of £9.54bn – or 47% of the sector. Last year the Tracker, which is produced by insights firm CGA in association with RSM and The Coffer Group, expanded its reach by adding 11 partners including Ei Group’s Bermondsey Pub Company, Bill’s, Coaching Inns Group, McMullen & Sons, Mowgli, Polpo, Punch Taverns, Revolution Bars Group and Rileys Sports Bars. CGA plans to further enhance the Tracker during 2019 by adding a wider range of managed pubs, bars and restaurant groups. Headline Tracker results are published to the wider market and media every month, although participants also receive weekly sales reports. CGA vice-president Peter Martin, who established the Tracker, said: “We set out to provide businesses across the out-of-home eating and drinking sector with the data they need to benchmark their performance, respond to trends and grow their sales. Through the ups and downs of pubs, bars and restaurants, the Tracker has served as a reliable and insightful measure of trading patterns and it will be an important source of intelligence as the sector deals with opportunities and challenges in the years ahead.”
Crowdfunding platform Growthdeck launches own £2.5m fund-raise: Crowdfunding platform Growthdeck has launched its own £2.5m fund-raise. The company is seeking a minimum investment from interested parties of £5,000, with equity stakes ranging from 15% to 25%. The minimum campaign target is £1.5m with a maximum of £2.5m. The fund-raise is due to end on Friday, 1 March. The pitch states: “Growthdeck is three years old. We have learned so much in that time, from establishing and fine-tuning our proposition and identifying the investors that value how we work to building trust with a rapidly expanding network of introducers, experts and entrepreneurs. After raising almost £15m for 15 companies, we now see signs of growth that indicate we are approaching a tipping point from which our business will begin to truly fulfil its considerable potential. To allow us to scale up our business, we are now seeking up to £2.5m of new equity capital. This opportunity is EIS-qualifying, meaning investors receive 30% income tax relief on the cost of their investment. In addition to buying Growthdeck shares, investors will also be granted virtually free shares in each company for which we raise funds. During the next three to four years, Growthdeck shareholders can expect to build a portfolio of dozens of stakes in our companies at almost no cost. This fund-raise should be our last and will enable Growthdeck to establish itself as the pre-eminent private investor network in the UK and, ultimately, beyond.” Gary Robins, director and head of business development, added: “Existing Growthdeck shareholders and management have already contributed a significant amount towards our fund-raising target. It demonstrates the strong belief everyone has in the potential of our business and our ambitious growth plans.”
Pub19 reports record attendance: Pub19, the only dedicated trade show for the UK pub industry, has reported a record-breaking number of visitors. The event, held last week at London Olympia, hosted more than 4,500 visitors, up from 4,000 attendees the previous year, and more than 200 exhibitors. Pub19 commercial manager Alex Booth said: “Every year the show gets bigger and better. We had a lot of returning exhibitors, which is great to see, while we introduced new businesses to attendees. We welcomed more than 4,500 visitors through the door – a record number for us – all with an interest in finding out what’s new and hot in this dynamic sector, networking with industry friends new and old, and spending time with like-minded individuals.” Pub20 will return to London Olympia on 4-5 February 2020.
Goodbody – TRG should attract strong replacement for Andy McCue given it’s a ‘greatly improved business’: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has said The Restaurant Group should be able to attract a strong replacement for departing chief executive Andy McCue given it has become a “greatly improved business” in the past six months. McCue has announced he will step down, citing “extenuating personal circumstances”, but will remain with the company until a successor is appointed. Ruddy said: “Overall, this is a disappointing development. We said previously McCue was a good operator and the right person to continue to drive stabilisation and eventually growth. The timing is clearly bad given the group has to work quickly through the integration of Wagamama, which it purchased for £559m late last year adding significant leverage (circa 2.2 times net debt/Ebitda and 4.4 times lease adjusted net debt/Ebitda). There are also potential storm clouds on the horizon for the consumer in terms of Brexit. The positives are The Restaurant Group has become a greatly improved business in the past six months, with circa 70% of profits coming from the concessions, Wagamama and pubs businesses, all of which are in growth. To this end the group should be able to attract a strong replacement and McCue will stay in the business until a successor is appointed.”
Former Uber boss secretly ramps up new food delivery venture: Travis Kalanick is secretly ramping up his first big venture after being pushed out as head of Uber, raiding his old company for staff as part of a multimillion-dollar plan to build a worldwide network of food delivery kitchens. The billionaire co-founder of Uber is applying some of the same tactics for supercharging growth he used at the ride-hailing startup – including recruiting several of his earliest hires there – at his new venture, CloudKitchens, reports the Financial Times. Kalanick acquired a controlling stake in City Storage Solutions, the Los Angeles-based parent of CloudKitchens, for $150m last March through his investment fund, 10100, which he had recently set up using the proceeds of a $1.4bn Uber stock sale. Kalanick was ousted from Uber in mid-2017, and his new project has been kept largely secret since the acquisition. Several people with direct knowledge of his plans said Kalanick is now looking to expand its US-based operations into Asia and Europe. He visited London last year and CloudKitchens recruiters have been approaching people with operations experience in London about a potential launch in recent months, they said. Kalanick, who had an early insight into UberEats’ explosive growth during his tenure as chief executive, is offering extra capacity to restaurants and chefs whose existing kitchens are straining under the new demand for food delivery, or helping them to broaden their reach in a given city. CloudKitchens buys or leases real estate, often distressed or in less popular areas, which it fits out with kitchen equipment. The company also develops software to help restaurateurs manage their back-office systems and integrate with the food delivery platforms. The company’s website advertises several “delivery only” restaurants that are already using its services in Los Angeles to prepare deliveries of pizza, salad and ice cream.
Four Star Pizza reports 8% revenue rise driven by online sales, eyes ten openings and expansion across Irish Sea: Ireland-based Four Star Pizza, which operates 55 outlets, including 14 in Northern Ireland, has reported an 8% rise in revenue, largely driven by a 31% spike in online sales. Last year the company invested about £1m internally, creating 100 jobs in six new stores. The pizza chain said it has planned a portfolio of 65 branches across the island by the end of 2019, with a potential move into Great Britain. Director Brian Clarke said the development of its online system, which made it easier for customers to order food, played a considerable role in last year’s growth. He told the Belfast Telegraph: “While we continue to grow in Ireland, we are aware there is a capacity ceiling here, with every franchise having its own dedicated delivery territory as part of its contract. This protects our franchisees by ensuring we don’t open another Four Star Pizza store just down the road from them. With this in mind, we have our eyes on the GB market and are actively looking at plans to expand our operations across the Irish Sea. In the meantime, we are focused on expanding the brand outside its core markets of Belfast, Dublin and Cork, which have pretty much reached saturation point.” Four Star opened its first Northern Ireland outlet in Belfast in 1999. Its most recent launch in the province was in Lisburn in December.
Bar 6 Group to open third Near & Far site, in Camden: London-based Bar 6 Group is to open a third site for its Palm Springs concept Near & Far, in Camden. The company said the flagship site, which will open on Friday, 15 March, would take Near & Far to the “next level”. The 180-capacity venue in Chalk Farm Road will be set over four floors and feature a lounge, two bars and a covered roof terrace. The cocktail menu will be inspired by world travels while the kitchen will serve Mexican street food from Elote, a concept created by former Caravan head chef Alex Hutton. Bar 6 Group operates Near & Far venues at Peckham Levels and the Angel as well as The Good Mixer in Camden and Magic Roundabout in Old Street. Creative director Sarah Holgate said: “Starting from an outdoor site in the middle of a roundabout and moving on to our third Near & Far location feels like a dream. We’ll have the space and flexibility to give Camden a new injection of energy providing casual drinkers and diners with an experience like no other in the area.”
Coffee#1 ‘reluctantly’ gets go-ahead to open site in Devon town that rejected Costa: Coffee#1, which is majority-owned by Caffe Nero, has been “reluctantly” given the go-ahead to open a store in a Devon town that has previously rejected Costa Coffee. Coffee#1 has been granted permission by South Hams District Council to convert a former Barclays bank branch in Totnes. The cafe will have 104 covers inside and 12 outside. In 2012, several thousand people signed a petition against Costa and pledged to boycott the branch if it opened, warning Totnes risked becoming a “clone town”. Costa achieved planning permission for a store in Fore Street but withdrew its plans in the face of opposition. While they approved the Coffee#1 application, members of the development management committee made their feelings known about the prospect of having a chain come to town. Julian Brazil, who voted against the application, told Devon Live he had more faith in the taste of the Totnes public, who “wouldn’t visit the shop”. He said: “The best thing that could happen is it opens and fails.” Caffe Nero became the majority owner of Coffee#1 last month when it acquired close to 70% ownership from Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain. It currently has 92 sites.
Pint Shop to close in Oxford but ‘positive signs’ at remaining sites as founder seeks ‘new opportunities’ for openings: Pint Shop, the award-winning Cambridge beer house, is to close its Oxford site on Saturday (16 February). Co-founder Richard Holmes said the company had “thrown everything” at the site to make it work but added the other Pint Shops, in Cambridge and Birmingham, were “thriving and very much open”, while he continues to seek “new opportunities” for the brand. Holmes said: “We have loved being part of the Oxford scene for two and a half years but, sadly, despite throwing everything at it we just can’t make the numbers work. On a more positive note, our Birmingham site is now four months old and early signs are super positive. Our plan for the immediate future is to solidify Birmingham, brush ourselves down and look for new opportunities.” Holmes and Benny Peverelli launched Pint Shop in Cambridge in 2013, starting expansion three years later by opening the Oxford site. Birmingham Pint Shop opened in October 2018. The brand operates under the banner “meat, bread, beer”.
LXi REIT to provide £23.4m forward funding for 13 UK Starbucks and Costa drive-thrus: Property investor LXi REIT has agreed to provide forward funding for 13 Starbucks and Costa drive-thrus across the UK for a combined consideration of £23.4m. LXi won’t develop the sites or assume development risk and is forward funding each property on a fixed-price basis. The building works are due to complete in the third quarter of 2019. The drive-thrus are in Barry, Blackpool, Cambourne, Canvey Island, Cardiff, Carmarthen, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Northampton, Nottingham, Peterborough, Preston, Redditch and Stoke. The acquisitions are being funded through LXi’s new Scottish Widows loan. LXi REIT Advisors partner Simon Lee told Insider Media: “This transaction provides our investors with rare access to the strong Starbucks and Costa covenants in scale and the individually granular lot sizes, forward-funding structure and off-market nature of the purchase have delivered a highly attractive yield, coupled with RPI-linked rental uplifts and capital growth potential.”
Michelin-starred management team takes over second Oxfordshire pub: David Holliday and Alex Sergeant, who have both managed London’s only Michelin-starred pub The Harwood Arms, have taken on their second pub in Oxfordshire. They will transform a former Cau site in Hart Street in Henley-on-Thames into The Hart Street Tavern, which will open at the end of April. The pair have signed a 20-year lease with landlord Juan Gil Rios, who ran La Bodega Spanish restaurant at the site for ten years before it closed in August 2014. The Hart Street Tavern will offer 120 covers, including 22 in a private dining room. It will open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and employ up to 50 staff. The menu will include burgers, whole oven-roasted fish to share, salads, triple-cooked chips and Sunday roasts. The bar will offer charcuterie, wine and Loddon and Rebellion beers, while Holliday and Sergeant are working with Heston Blumenthal’s head mixologist on a range of cocktails. Holliday told the Henley Standard: “We couldn’t be more happy with the location – it’s close to the river and people see it after they come over the bridge. We want to offer a modern British menu – tasty, simple, approachable food.” Holliday and Sergeant reopened The Bottle & Glass Inn in Binfield Heath under a free-of-tie lease in June 2017 after the venue underwent an 18-month restoration by owner The Phillimore Estate.
D&D London launches initiative to encourage young adults into hospitality: Restaurant operator D&D London is launching a two-week, group-wide initiative that encourages young adults into hospitality. Starting on Monday, 25 February, My Hospitality World aims to inspire young people to view hospitality as an aspirational career path by offering a series of open-door events across D&D London restaurants. They include a flambé masterclass, an apprenticeship taster evening and a dedicated event in support of International Women’s Day (Friday, 8 March) to inspire more young women to become professional chefs. There will also be a full restaurant takeover of D&D London’s Blueprint Café by students from London South East College. D&D London chairman and chief executive Des Gunewardena said: “Given the current uncertain political climate in the UK, it’s crucial to our future we have plenty of young talent eager to come into hospitality. Working in restaurants is viewed by many people as not being an occupation to aspire to and we want to change that. Working in restaurants can be highly rewarding and provide a lifelong career. We hope to demonstrate that with My Hospitality World.”
Nestle to start selling Starbucks-branded coffee in UK stores and online: Nestle will sell Starbucks-branded coffee in UK grocery stores and online from this month. After last year’s $7.15bn cash deal for exclusive rights to sell Starbucks’ coffee and tea, Nestle will start selling Starbucks-labelled coffee beans, roast and ground coffee, and single-serve capsules for its Nespresso and Nescafe Dolce Gusto coffee-making machines, reports Reuters. These will be available at grocery stores and online in 14 European, Asian and Latin American markets including Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Korea, Spain and the UK, with more markets to follow later this year.
My Million Pound Menu winner BBQ Dreamz extends MeatLiquor residency: My Million Pound Menu winner BBQ Dreamz, which Draft House founder Charlie McVeigh invested £350,000 in last month, has extended its pop-up at MeatLiquor’s King’s Cross site following a six-week residency that sold out within 48 hours. Lee Johnson and Sinead Campbell, who founded the Filipino street food concept, will serve their 11-course tasting menu for a further three weeks. Dishes include grilled satay duck heart skewers and lechon kawali – pork belly cooked using the sous vide method before being chopped into crispy nuggets and served with cane vinegar dipping sauce. Johnson said: “With our humble beginnings working as a street food stall, we could never have anticipated how well the past few weeks have gone.” More than 1.24 million people watched McVeigh partner with BBQ Dreamz on the BBC show, with fellow judge and K10 owner Maurice Abboudi also agreeing to back and mentor Johnson and Campbell. Last month, McVeigh told Propel he was looking to make “two or three more investments in sector businesses” by April, although BBQ Dreamz is the only startup he plans to back. McVeigh sold Draft House to Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog in March 2018.
Clarke and Boxer to open third London restaurant, in Notting Hill next month: Andrew Clarke and Jackson Boxer, the pair behind London restaurants Brunswick House and St Leonards, are to open a third site in the capital, in Notting Hill next month. Orasay will launch in Kensington Park Road next month inspired by the Hebrides and with a strong focus on seafood including lobster, crab, scallops, oysters, razor clams and langoustine. Vegetables, honey and eggs, meanwhile, will be supplied by Clarke and Boxer’s organic farm near Midhurst, West Sussex. Wine will be available by glass and carafe from tap and keg, including bottles from Boxer’s personal cellar. The 50-cover site, formerly occupied by Mexican restaurant Peyotito, will also feature a 12-cover private dining room. Boxer will oversee the launch of Orasay, while Clarke will lead St Leonards, London The Inside reports. Building on the success of Brunswick House in Vauxhall, the pair opened St Leonards in Shoreditch in June 2018.
Star Pubs & Bars launches sales-building support for licensees: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars has launched sales-building support for licensees. The initiative includes interactive tool Business Builder, which business development managers can use with licensees to drive incremental growth. Business Builder utilises market data, category insights and industry trends to identify opportunities for licensees to attract more customers and increase their visits and spend. It covers the major drinks categories, hot drinks, food, gaming machines and sport. Licensees can also access a library of ten best-practice guides with ideas on how to grow their business, create loyalty, make the most of social media and host live entertainment. Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “What customers want from pubs and the competition licensees face from the wider market have never been greater. This high-quality sales-building insight and support will help licensees grow their top lines by tapping into customers’ changing expectations and delivering the right products, occasions and experiences for their pubs.”
Fuller’s adds bedrooms to two London pubs: London brewer and retailer Fuller’s has added bedrooms at The Counting House in Cornhill and The Blackbird in Earl’s Court – bringing the total number of bedrooms in its estate to 813. The Counting House has had 15 bedrooms added in a former Victorian gentlemen’s club, while The Blackbird has had nine rooms added. Both pubs sit within Fuller’s Ale & Pie pubs portfolio. Jonathon Swaine, managing director of Fuller’s Inns, said: “We are proud of the rooms in our estate and are shouting about them through our Beautiful Bedrooms campaign. As we improve and expand our hotels and rooms, Fuller’s is becoming known for a hospitality offering that is more than a place to eat and drink.”
South Indian fine dining restaurant Ooty opens at former Galvin brothers site in Marylebone: A south Indian fine dining restaurant has opened at the Galvin brothers’ former Galvin Bistro de Luxe site in Marylebone. Ooty is a debut restaurant for entrepreneurs Pooja Nayak and Aseela Goenka and has launched in Baker Street a year after Galvin Bistro de Luxe closed. Ooty is named after a town in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The kitchen is led by Manmeet Singh Bali, former head chef of Michelin-starred London restaurants Rasoi and Vineet Bhatia. Ooty comprises an 80-cover fine-dining restaurant and colonial-style basement bar Ooty Club, while all-day casual dining space and cocktail bar Ooty Station will open later this year. The restaurant will offer chargrilled dishes such as fennel lamb shoulder with pine nut and pickled baby shallots, while the Ooty Station menu will focus on “light snacks and hearty bowls” to reflect its more casual feel. The downstairs Ooty Club will offer cocktails inspired by railway journeys through India. Goenka said: “To present delicious food not just to appease hunger but also as a sensory experience is what Pooja and I aspire to do. Ooty is the product of the vision we have been working on for more than a year.”
Westfield owner ‘reviews’ £1.4bn Croydon scheme: The owner of Westfield shopping centres has said it is “reviewing” its £1.4bn development in Croydon, south London, because of Brexit and “structural changes” on the high street. Work on the centre was due to start in September but is now unlikely to begin until next year, reports the Evening Standard. The development, being built by Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield and property company Hammerson, were approved in November 2017 and got the go-ahead from London mayor Sadiq Khan in January 2018. However, the joint venture stated: “There are challenges surrounding the UK economic and political outlook and the structural changes facing retail have put some UK retailers under pressure. We are reviewing the scheme to ensure it responds to changing retailer requirements and is appropriate for the future.” The partnership insisted it remained committed to the centre, which would feature a John Lewis department store and a major Marks & Spencer branch, and still plans to open it in 2023. The development is a key part of a wider £5.25bn regeneration of Croydon, with the Whitgift centre demolished to make room for Westfield Croydon. It would provide 500,000 square feet of retail space with more than 300 shops, and create 7,000 jobs. There would also be more than 600 homes. A Croydon Council spokesman said: “Despite a fast-changing retail market and economic uncertainty related to Brexit, the council has delivered on finalising the land assembly and final compulsory purchase order process. We look forward to Westfield announcing a start date for next year.”
Scottish multi-site operators put Campbeltown hotel on the market for £2.75m: Scottish multi-site operator Southworth Europe has put the freehold of The Royal Hotel in Campbeltown, west Scotland, on the market for £2.75m. The 23-bedroom hotel overlooks Campbeltown harbour and features The Black Sheep Pub and Harbourview Grille restaurant. Southworth Europe founders David Southworth and Joe Deitch purchased The Ugadale and Royal Hotels and the Machrihanish Dunes Golf Club in 2008. The company has since started development of Village At Machrihanish Dunes, which includes both hotels and Ugadale Golf Cottages. Southworth Europe said it had no plans to sell its other holdings in Machrihanish, which include The Old Clubhouse pub and The Kintyre club. Southworth said: “Listing the property for sale will afford us some operating efficiencies and isn’t vital to our operations in Machrihanish. There will be no loss of jobs within the community.” Stuart Drysdale, director at Christie & Co, which is marketing the sale, added: “We expect high levels of demand from home-based and international hotel operators.”
River Cafe protégé launches east London restaurant inspired by Japanese and Italian cuisine: River Cafe protégé Joshua Owens-Baigler has launched a restaurant in east London inspired by Japanese and Italian cuisine. Owens-Baigler has partnered with former Bocca di Lupo chef Daniele Ceforo to open Angelina. The 40-cover, 1,200 square foot restaurant is within the new Dalston Lanes development and offers an eight-plate sharing menu. Inspired by Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, drinks are served from hidden drinking den the Golden Ga, which offers Japanese and Italian wine and cocktails. Owens-Baigler trained at River Cafe and also worked for Bistroteque Group, Hix and Bocca Di Lupo, where he was bar manager. Ceforo said: “Angelina is an exciting project for me, working with new Japanese ingredients and techniques that will allow me to showcase my passion and creativity.”