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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 25th Feb 2019 - Rufus Hall becomes chairman of Epic, Jo Probert become managing director
Rufus Hall becomes chairman of Epic, Jo Probert become managing director: Rockpool Investments, the private equity investment firm, has appointed a new chairman and managing director for its Epic Pubs, Heroic Pubs and Aspley Pubs businesses. Rufus Hall, who is also chairman of Rockpool backed Urban Village Pub Company and Metropolitan Village Pub Company, is the new chairman of the three companies who between them have 11 pubs. Jo Probert, formerly at Stonegate Pub Company’s Slug & Lettuce, joins as the new managing director of the companies, which operate three freehold and eight leasehold sites across eight counties, including one pub in London. The latest opening is Aspley Pubs’ The Hummingbird in Hertford which opened in November. The external umbrella operating name for the three companies is Epic Pubs. Rockpool Investments is looking at further acquisition opportunities for Aspley Pubs in late 2019. Probert, who also previously held operational roles at Orchid Group and Greene King, said: “We are building a pub company of really great British pubs with fresh, quality, handcrafted food and standout specials boards. We see our general managers and head chefs as at the front of the business leading teams.” She adds: “We want our sites to be seen by customers as independent pubs, at the heart of their local communities. We want them to be the first choice for local people to go to have a drink, a sandwich or enjoy more extravagant dishes.” A big focus is being put on driving more pre-booked sales, as the majority of pubs have excellent private dining facilities, with a newly expanded sales and marketing role created to support this drive. Lisa Burbidge has been appointed company secretary. She joins from the NHS and also previously worked at The Orchid Group. The pubs were previously operated for Rockpool by Andrew Coath, managing director of management services company Unique Hospitality Management, on a contract basis.

NWTC appoints Mark Derry as non-executive director: The New World Trading Company has appointed Mark Derry as Non-Executive Director. Currently chairman of Brasserie Bar Co (comprising of Brasserie Blanc and the White Brasserie Company), Mark Derry takes up the NWTC role having stepped away as chairman of Be At One, following the sale of the business to Stonegate in July 2018.Chris Hill, chief executive of New World Trading Company said: “Having known and admired Mark for a number of years, and I am delighted that he will be joining the NWTC board. We have an incredibly exciting few years ahead of us, and I look forward to sharing in Mark’s considerable wisdom and experience.” Mark Derry said: “It’s a privilege to be invited onto the board of such an exciting young business. Chris & the team have done a great job creating an industry leader, and I look forward to being part of their future.”

Happy Bird – we plan to relocate to bigger premises: The Happy Bird chicken concept, which places an emphasis on ethical produce and received backing from former Domino’s chief executive Chris Moore, plans to relocate to bigger premises having closed its Bristol site. Founder Adam Batty told Propel: “As per the notice we have put up in Bristol, whilst we have closed that site, we are the final stages of relocating to another city with an evolved format which we plan to announce very soon. The exciting plans we have are based around far higher footfall sites than we had in Bristol.” Happy Bird opened in Whiteladies Road in January last year, taking over the prominent unit that was formerly a Vodafone store. Its website stated it served “the best chicken you have ever tasted” with an emphasis on ethically-sourced, “happy” chickens. Chickens are sourced from a free-to-roam farm in Yorkshire and were used to form much of the menu, which included wings, tenders, wraps and burgers, with sides including fries and chicken crackling.

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