Story of the Day:
Teddy Sagi weighs up Supper bid: Billionaire Teddy Sagi, who owns Camden Market in north London, is looking at a potential route into the delivery arena with an outright purchase or substantial investment in premium London delivery service Supper. Propel has learned talks are in the early stages. Camden Market has more than 200 food and beverage offerings and would therefore benefit from a partnership with a delivery company. Supper has gained a loyal following with its premium delivery service and currently works with a wide range of restaurants across London. Since its creation in 2015 by Peter Georgiou, Supper’s fleet of scooters and directly employed drivers has “set it apart” from sector heavyweights Deliveroo and UberEats. In June last year, Supper sold a substantial stake to PK Wang, the driving force behind Yi Fang, which has more than 600 stores worldwide and other Taiwanese brands coming to the UK. Sagi was born in Tel Aviv and has a range of business interests. He is founder of online gaming software company Playtech, which is listed on London’s main stock exchange. Sagi began divesting and diversifying his portfolio in 2016 and his stake in Playtech has reduced through several transactions, with the final stake sold in November last year. He has launched two other AIM-listed online service companies – internet security and digital distribution platform Kape Technologies and online payment service provider SafeCharge. In recent years, Sagi has invested in the London commercial property market via a notable investment in Market Tech Holdings, which owns the vast majority of Camden Market, including Camden Lock Market, Stables Market, Union Street Market and Camden Lock Village. Sagi’s interest in Market Tech Holdings is held by LabTech Investments, which unveiled its vision for Hawley Wharf Camden, a mixed-scheme venture due to open in the summer featuring 60 bars and restaurants. At 580,000 square feet, the canal-side development is bordered by Chalk Farm Road and Regent’s Canal with a frontage on Camden High Street. It also features 50 independent and branded stores, 195 apartments and 60,000 square feet of co-working space. In November, LabTech also launched its Camden Eats app, which allows users to order from more than 100 food operators in Camden and central London.
Propel Premium subscribers to receive video of Stonegate chairman Ian Payne interviewed by Mark Wingett:
Propel Premium subscribers will receive a 30-minute video on Friday (15 March) in which Stonegate Pub Company chairman Ian Payne is interviewed by Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Payne sets out his thoughts on how the pub has evolved, which products the company is stockpiling ahead of Brexit, and his views on JD Wetherspoon, among a host of other subjects. 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, regular video recordings of key speakers from Propel events and conferences, and regular columns from Mark Wingett. 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
Solo restaurant reservations rise 160% driven by counter seats and bar dining options: Solo reservations rose 160% between 2014 and 2018, according to new data from restaurant booking platform OpenTable, driven by an increase in counter seating and bar dining options. The UK-wide trend for booking a meal alone was replicated in London, with solo reservations increasing 150% in the capital during the same period. The company said that although the thought of eating out alone could be a daunting prospect for some, the stigma surrounding solo dining has been “dramatically changing” as increasing numbers of restaurants develop options for counter seating and bar dining. OpenTable highlighted a number of London restaurants that have boosted their solo dining offerings including Taiwanese concept Bao’s Fitzrovia site, which offers bar seating for “small eats”; the counter dining experience at Japanese teppanyaki restaurant Benihana’s three sites; and Riding House Café in Soho, which is equipped with armchair-style bar stools for “quick breakfast stops or long lunches”. Last week, OpenTable announced its integration with Instagram in all international markets. Restaurants on the OpenTable network include a “reserve” link on their Instagram profile page, enabling diners to make a reservation direct from the platform.
Boxpark signs for first site outside London, in Shoreham: Boxpark has signed a lease to open its first site outside London, in Shoreham, West Sussex. The company has signed an agreement with Adur District Council to transform a run-down toilet block on Shoreham Beach into the Big Beach Box – a “landmark seafront dining destination and community cafe”. Boxpark intends to collaborate with local chef Dan Stockland, who operates Big Beach Cafe in Hove with superstar DJ Fatboy Slim. Big Beach Box will also feature a roof terrace, changing rooms, community space and a watersports centre. Boxpark will also work with local partners to run events, workshops and talks at the site. Boxpark founder and chief executive Roger Wade said: “As a Brighton local myself, I have cycled past the run-down toilet block many times and see a lot of potential in the site for a new community hub in Shoreham. The Big Beach Box will become a favourite among locals while attracting visitors to the world-class beachfront.” The council entered into a preferred development agreement with Boxpark for the site in 2017. The plans are part of Adur District Council’s Shoreham Renaissance plan. Cllr Brian Boggis said: “This is Boxpark’s first venture outside London. Bringing a company with its worldwide reputation for creating exciting places for people to eat and drink is a real vote of confidence in our area.” In August, Boxpark submitted plans to turn Brighton’s Madeira Terrace into an “internationally renowned leisure destination”. The company operates large-scale developments in Shoreditch, Croydon and Wembley.
Carluccio’s strengthens team with new Fresca openings manager: Carluccio’s, the Italian all-day restaurant group owned by Dubai-based investment group Landmark, has appointed Dominika Rusnak as its Fresca openings manager. She joins the group’s senior management team to support the brand’s Fresca transformation programme. Rusnak joins Carluccio’s from The Ivy Collection, where she was senior openings manager. Prior to that she worked for a number of casual dining restaurant groups including Strada, which is operated by Various Eateries, and PizzaExpress. Carluccio’s chief executive Mark Jones said: “I am delighted our Fresca project has attracted talented quality operators to help us lead our transformation. Dominika returns to Carluccio’s having been a general manager in 2015 and her familiarity with the brand combined with her experience with new openings, training and front of house, makes her integral to driving our new-generation sites.” Rusnak added: “With change comes opportunity and I am really excited to see the Fresca project roll out across the estate. It’s not only the new look and menu that repositions Carluccio’s but the service customers receive. I look forward to enhancing this part of the business with the team.” Her appointment comes in the wake of a number of strategic hires to drive the £10m transformation programme, which started last month with the relaunch of its Richmond restaurant. Carluccio’s recently brought in Graham Ford, from Bill’s, as its commercial director; Hilary Ansell, from Gordon Ramsay Group, as marketing director; and Marco Barletta, previously of Franco Manca, as operations manager.
Punch looks to grow new-generation Champs concept through acquisitions and conversions as it invests £1.1m in revamp programme: Punch chief executive Clive Chesser has told Propel the company is looking to grow its next-generation Champs sports pub concept on a site-by-site basis through conversions and acquisitions. The company is investing more than £1.1m in Champs this year – prior to expanding the brand beyond its current six sites. The sports-themed brand is undergoing a revamp, which has been launched at two venues so far this year – Loughborough and Sheffield. Loughborough recently received a £388,000 refurbishment, while Sheffield was overhauled following a £700,000 investment. Chesser said the Champs brand “never sits still”. The other four Champs pubs are being reviewed on a “case-by-case basis” and investment will be made “where appropriate”. The Sheffield site offers pool, foosball and shuffleboard plus gaming booths featuring PlayStation and XBox consoles. Champs has also started to include experiential zones in its new investments. Meanwhile the Punch offices in Burton-on-Trent feature a new “Champs zone”, which showcases the concept to publicans considering taking on a Champs site. Chesser said: “We are investing more than £1.1m in Champs this year. We are proactively looking for opportunities to grow the brand and these could come from conversions or acquisitions. There isn’t a target figure for the size of the brand. Instead, our focus is on finding the right opportunities to grow the brand on a pub-by-pub basis by bringing an exciting sports-led offer to communities. The company is investing £30m in its pub estate this year, which includes the investment in Champs.
Lytham Hospitality Group outlines plans for ten-strong estate as it takes on third Star Pubs & Bars site: North west-based multi-site operator Lytham Hospitality Group has outlined plans for a ten-strong estate after taking on its third venue. The company has acquired Star Pubs & Bars’ the Eagle & Child in the village of Weeton in Lancashire. Lytham Hospitality Group and Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars are undertaking a joint £750,000 refurbishment of the property, which will reopen as The Eagle At Weeton in mid-May. The company had been running the pub on a temporary agreement while plans were finalised. Lytham Hospitality Group’s other sites are also with Star Pubs & Bars – The Queens Hotel in Lytham and The Ship in Freckleton – where they have increased trade by 40% and 24% respectively. The new-look pub will include a vegetable patch for the pub’s use, a beer garden with a boules court and table tennis, and a separate area for under-12s. An orangery is being added to the pub’s rear, with seating for 64. There will be a pantry table in front of the pub seating eight people, with cake, snacks and coffee served during the day. Lytham Hospitality Group partner Ross Robinson, who has previously worked for Revolution Bars Group and as operations manager at Mission Mars, said: “We could immediately see the raw potential of the Eagle & Child. It was a sleeping giant that at one time had a reputation as a phenomenal food pub, which we want to regain. Our plan is to grow our estate from three to ten venues in the next seven years, initially along the Fylde coast and longer-term across the north west.” David Pritchard, regional operations director of Star Pubs & Bars, added: “Ross and his partners have done a fantastic job at The Queen’s Hotel. Now, with the help of this massive investment, they’ll be able to do the same with The Eagle At Weeton.”
Jasper Cuppaidge – ‘no regrets’ selling Camden Town Brewery to AB InBev but day deal announced ‘one of worst in my career’: Camden Town Brewery founder Jasper Cuppaidge has said he has “no regrets” about selling the company to Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) but admits the day the deal was announced was “one of the worst days in my brewing career”. Cuppaidge describes the impact of his decision to sell the brand in the latest podcast from private equity firm Piper in its second series of How I Grew My Brand, which interviews leading entrepreneurs. Cuppaidge tells broadcaster Mary Nightingale of his progression from glass collector at his local London pub – “my favourite job” – to opening his own establishment and launching Camden Town Brewery in 2010. The brand, best known for Hells Lager, went on to raise £2.75m through crowdfunding to build a brewery in 2015 and, just months later, was bought by AB InBev in an £85m deal. Cuppaidge said: “Joining AB? I don’t have any regrets. However, it (the day the sale was announced) was one of the worst days in my brewing career.” In the podcast, Cuppaidge also recalls his reaction to social media claims he had “sold out” and how the sale led to staff resignations. “We seemed to have more leaving parties than welcoming parties for months,” he said. However, the brand adapted quickly and has continued to flourish. Today it employs 200 staff with turnover exceeding £60m. Cuppaidge, despite no longer being a shareholder, remains heavily involved. He said: “My role is now more about keeping the business honest and mentoring the people who are running it. We’re still doing what we were doing four years ago – just even better.”
Ghetto Golf to open in Newcastle for third site, plans seven-strong estate in next two years: Liverpool-based cocktails and mini-golf concept Ghetto Golf is to open its third site, in Newcastle. Ghetto Golf, which was created in 2016 by Kip Piper and Danny Bolger, is expected to launch at Hoults Yard in May, creating 45 jobs. Piper and Bolger plan to have seven sites across the UK in the next two years. The brand’s current venues are in Liverpool and Birmingham. Bolger told Insider media: “When we first established Ghetto Golf three years ago in Liverpool’s then-derelict Baltic Triangle, we knew we were on to something special. Our aims were to create an entertainment and nightlife concept previously unseen and we’ve continued to go from strength to strength with our brand.” Piper and Bolger are also behind nightlife venues such as Birdies Bar & BBQ and On Air in Liverpool, as well as pop-up ventures including a Home Alone Christmas bar and travelling-carnival concept Spectaculum.
Former Shoryu Ramen head chef launches grab-and-go curry concept in Piccadilly: Former Shoryu Ramen head chef Kanji Furukawa has launched a Japanese grab-and-go curry concept near London’s Piccadilly Circus for his debut solo venture. Kare Curry has opened in Air Street with a focus on its house sauce. The vegetarian curry sauce is a “secret blend of 18 spices” and comes in mild, spicy or extra spicy formats. Each sauce is accompanied by a side of rice, broccoli and Japanese pickles, as well as a topping of choice. Toppings include beef, chicken, prawn or pork katsu as well as chicken karaage and pumpkin croquette. Alternative sides include edamame, chicken wings and seaweed salad, Hot Dinners reports. Launched in 2012 by Japan Centre chief executive Tak Tokumine, Shoryu Ramen has ten sites in London and one each in Manchester, Oxford and Fukuoka, Japan.
Northumberland-based cafe concept to open third site: Northumberland-based cafe concept The Running Fox is to open its third site. Founder Kris Blackburn, who operates sites in Felton and Longframlington, is expanding to Shilbottle. The new venue is set to open in early April on the site of the Farriers Arms. It will offer seating for 50 visitors and include a retail area stocking local produce. Blackburn, who established The Running Fox in 2011, told Insider Media: “We expanded two years ago into Longframlington to keep up with demand. However, both branches are now running at capacity and unfortunately we are turning away customers. Opening a new and bigger site is exciting for us as it gives us the opportunity to further innovate the business while economically and culturally benefiting the village and surrounding area.”
Rhubarb to open debut international site, in New York this week: Food experience brand and events caterer Rhubarb will open its debut international site, in New York this week. The company will launch Wild Ink on Friday (15 March) at the Hudson Yards development. The 5,800 square foot venue will seat 175 people – 90 in the main dining room, ten at the chef’s counter, 17 at the oval bar, 28 at bar tables and 30 on a terrace. Executive chef Peter Jin, formerly of Refinery Hotel and Hotel 50 Bowery, will create a global menu with Asian influences. There will be seven sections that mirror seven continents, consisting of snacks, dim sum, raw, small plates, main plates, sides and desserts, reports the New York Post. Rhubarb will also open a 10,000 square foot restaurant and events space on top of 30 Hudson Yards, the 1,296 foot tower slated to open in 2020, which will feature the highest observation deck in the western hemisphere.
Great British Menu chef sues designer over ‘unfit’ gastro-pub furniture: Daniel Clifford, who holds two Michelin stars for his Midsummer House restaurant in Cambridge, is suing a designer for £190,000 after claiming she used “cheap” furniture that was “too big” during the creation of his gastro-pub-hotel. Clifford, a judge on the BBC’s Great British Menu, insisted interior designer Joanne Dawes ignored his demand for “luxury” fittings and went to a homeware supplier instead. He also said the chairs “broke simply by somebody sitting on them” and he was forced to redesign The Flitch of Bacon in Little Dunmow, Essex, within five months of opening. However the Evening Standard reports that Dawes, whose company is called Jo Frances, told central London county court her work was up to scratch during a “chaotic” renovation. She said she believed Clifford’s claims were an attempt by the chef to avoid paying more than £100,000 in outstanding invoices and is counter-suing over the alleged missing money. Clifford claimed chairs and tables worth £35,000 could only accommodate 52 covers, not the 60 he wanted. The chef also said a wooden pergola didn’t fit in the garden, tiles on the bar floor cracked and had to be replaced, and furnishing for the bedrooms was of “poor quality” and “mediocre appearance”. James Petts, for the designer, argued it was never in the contract to have 60 covers. Dawes claimed the pergola failed to fit because speakers had been fitted in the courtyard that weren’t in the architect’s drawings, while floor tiles failed because the under floor wasn’t properly prepared by other contractors. Judge Nicholas Parfitt will rule on the case at a later date.
Altrincham-based Italian restaurant Tre Ciccio expands to Ramsbottom for third site: Altrincham-based Italian restaurant Tre Ciccio has opened its third site, in Ramsbottom. Owners Francesco Scafuri, Alan Ritchie and James Gingell launched the concept in Moss Lane, Altrincham, in February 2018. Late last year they acquired the Mercato Italiano site in Bramhall, Stockport, to begin expansion. The latest venue has opened in Market Place at a site formerly occupied by neighbourhood restaurant Ramsons. The venue has undergone an extensive refurbishment to feature a bar and open kitchen downstairs and a 142-cover restaurant and terrace with retractable roof on the upper floor. There is an 18-cover private dining room in the basement, while the owners also plan to use the basement space to create a deli. Tre Ciccio, which means “three chubby friends” in Italian, specialises in Neapolitan food alongside Italian wine, cocktails and beer. Ritchie told the Bury News: “I have lived here since 1987 so I know the town well. There are some really good restaurants but what we are offering is different and it will complement the others well.” Gingell added: “We are joining a band of independents in Ramsbottom and want to embrace the community. Our menu is not a big one but what we do, we do very well.”
Benito’s Hat opens flagship site at O2 for tenth venue: Mexican restaurant brand Benito’s Hat has opened its sixth London site and tenth in total, at the Icon Outlet at the O2 Arena. Benito’s Hat managing director Michael Pearson said the flagship venue, which features a standalone margarita bar, represents a “significant milestone in our brand’s journey”. Benito’s Hat is among a new wave of seven operators opening at icon Outlet this spring, taking the total number of bars and restaurants at the venue to 34. In August last year, Benito’s Hat raised £1m from existing investors to fuel its next stage of growth. Ben Fordham and Felipe Fuentes Cruz founded Benito’s Hat in London in 2008. Fordham stepped back from the business at the end of 2017 to fulfil a long promise to his Texan wife to move to the US, where he is launching new venture Front Page Restaurant & Bar.
Blanchette to go international with Mauritian pop-up: French bistro Blanchette, which operates sites in London’s Soho and Brick Lane, is going international for the first time with a pop-up in Mauritius. Brothers Maxime, Malik and Yannis Alary are taking the concept to Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa for a month. The pop-up, which will run from Wednesday, 17 April until Sunday, 19 May, will see the Republik Beach Club & Grill, one of the resort’s five dining destinations, transformed. It will showcase a specially curated menu of the brand’s French dishes, with an added Mauritian twist. The chefs behind the pop-up menu are Blanchette chef director Tam Storrar and Republik Beach Club & Grill chef de cuisine Jean-François Ladine. Maxime Alary said: “We are thrilled to collaborate with Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok. Like Blanchette, the resort was launched by a family and shares our appreciation of relaxation and conviviality, centred around delicious food enjoyed in a beautiful setting.” The Alarys launched Blanchette, which is named after their mother, in 2013.
Ivy Collection to launch Glasgow city centre site this summer: The Ivy Collection has moved its plans to launch a brasserie in Glasgow city centre until the summer. The company had planning permission granted last year for a site at 106 Buchanan Street that was occupied by Nationwide Building Society. Proposed additional changes to the building were submitted in January and the opening date has been moved to the summer with the creation of 150 jobs. The building will be converted to include a bar and restaurant on the ground floor with a second restaurant on the first floor. A company spokesman told the Glasgowist: “The Ivy Collection has been granted planning permission for a space on 106 Buchanan Street to open a brasserie in the summer. The restaurant will feature an all-day dining menu and be open seven days a week.” The Ivy brand is expanding rapidly beyond London and opened its first site in Scotland in Edinburgh in 2017. In July it opened its first site outside the UK, in Dublin.
Harrogate-based operators launch craft beer and wine bar in Leeds for third site: The team behind The Little Ale House pub and No35 restaurant, both in Harrogate, have launched their third site, this time in Leeds. The Brew Society has opened at the former White Cloth Gallery unit in Aire Street, which has been empty since the cafe, bar, gallery and events space went into liquidation and closed in January 2018. The new venture operates as a coffee shop in the day and a bar in the evening, with a hub and events space for the digital community at the rear. Although the bar focuses on craft beer, there is also an extensive wine list selected by independent shop Ake & Humphries and a gin list with a local theme. North Star supplies the coffee beans. Design consultancy Hippo Digital manages the events space, the Yorkshire Evening Post reports.
Goodbody – JD Wetherspoon Ebit forecast to be down 3.5% despite strong top-line growth: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has said he forecasts Ebit to be down 3.5% at JD Wetherspoon in its first half despite strong top-line growth. Issuing a ‘Hold’ note on the shares with a target price of 1,280p ahead of the company’s interim results on Friday (15 March), Ruddy said: “The group recently reported trading for the first 25 weeks with like-for-like sales growth of 6.3% and total sales growth of 7.2% so there should be little surprise from a top-line perspective (we forecast 6% like-for-like growth in the first half). The group noted at that point it had opened two pubs and sold six and expected to open five to ten pubs this year. We forecast Ebit margins down 90 basis points year-on-year to 8% leading to Ebit of £71.5m, down 3.5% year-on-year despite the strong like-for-like growth in the first half. This is owing to the fact Wetherspoon brought forward the payment of its latest round of National Living Wage increases to the first half and is continuing to invest in pub repairs through operational expenditure to protect future growth. We still retain our view Wetherspoon’s differentiated value offering is a competitive advantage and would highlight how defensive it was during the last recession. We believe the group is unlikely to undertake a buyback at this point but it does arguably have the firepower to do so. We recently downgraded to ‘Hold’ with a target price of 1,280p as we felt the near-term profit momentum is insufficient to justify a premium to historic average valuations.”
Zizzi signs for restaurant at York stadium development: Azzurri Group has signed to open a restaurant as part of the York Community Stadium complex. Wrenbridge Sport, development partner in the project, confirmed Zizzi will gain access to a 3,221 square foot unit from September, with an opening pencilled in for November. Zizzi is the second hospitality operator to sign for the stadium complex – in January Hollywood Bowl Group signed to open a 24-lane bowling alley and diner. Wrenbridge director Ewen McLeod said he was confident the remaining three hospitality spaces at the complex would be “filled soon”. He told The Press: “Restaurants will have a really good appeal for the football stadium and for shoppers at Vangarde (a nearby retail complex). After 8pm, most of the shops are shut so the introduction of a chain such as Zizzi will help shoppers and businesses.” York Community Stadium is being built in Huntington. The council-owned, 8,000-capacity stadium will be shared by football club York City and rugby league side York City Knights. Azzurri Group reported sales of £279.8m in the year to July 2018 from its 269 restaurants and the Coco di Mama chain. In 2015, Bridgepoint backed a £250m buyout of Azzurri Group.
Cardiff-based coffee bar and roastery launches crowdfunding campaign to open two sites: Cardiff-based coffee bar and roastery Lufkin has launched a fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to open two sites. The company plans to take over the Old Rangers Hut in Thompson’s Park in Canton and a former NatWest bank branch in Grangetown. Owners Dan and Frances Lukins established the business in King’s Road Yard in Pontcanna in 2015. Now they plan to renovate the hut in Thompson’s Park into a coffee bar paying homage to Dan Lukins’ American roots, with a focus on coffee and pie. Meanwhile, the former NatWest branch in Clare Road will house Lufkin’s 10kg roaster, which will supply freshly ground coffee. The site will also house a coffee bar, ceramics store and hot-desking workspace. Frances Lukins told Wales Online: “It is a really exciting time to be involved in the food and drink scene in Cardiff. It’s going to be brilliant to bring Lufkin Coffee Roasters to the amazing setting of Thompson’s Park and expand what we can offer to the fast-developing area around Clare Road.”
Ei Group achieves Investors in People Gold Award: Ei Group has been recognised as a top employer by achieving the Investors in People Gold Award. Following a rigorous reassessment process, Ei Group joins a select list of accredited organisations in the UK to achieve the standard. The assessment identified the positive impact Ei Group’s people strategy is having across the organisation. Chief executive Simon Townsend said: “This is a considerable achievement for the group given the level of change we have undergone as a business since the last assessment in 2016 and especially given the required performance standards have been made tougher in the intervening period. We’re committed to providing exciting and challenging careers at Ei Group, which incorporates the personal development of individuals throughout their time with the company. This award is a clear validation of all the hard work that has been put in by teams across the business.”
Plans to transform former Bradford cinema into live entertainment and events venue get go-ahead: Plans to transform the former Odeon cinema in Bradford into a multimillion-pound live entertainment and events venue have been approved. Developer Bradford Live, a not-for-profit social enterprise, has been given the go-ahead by the city council to convert the site, which measures 58,125 square feet and has been vacant since 2000, into a 4,000-capacity multi-use venue. A former restaurant and ballroom will be available for events such as weddings, banquets and conferences. Live events company NEC Group will operate the venue, which is expected to open in autumn 2020. Bradford Live founding director Lee Craven told Insider Media: “We are delighted we can now start work to give Bradford a fantastic entertainment venue back. It is a tremendous asset to have the expertise of NEC Group on board. Together we will create a world-class live events space overlooking City Park for the first time in many years.” Bradford Live has received funding from West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through the Leeds City Region Growth Deal. The LEP also helped secure £4m for the project from the government’s Northern Cultural Regeneration Fund.