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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 15th Mar 2019 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Eataly to operate new £250m food and leisure attraction near Harrogate: Eataly, the largest Italian food hall chain in the world, is to operate a £250m food and leisure attraction that is set to be built near Harrogate in Yorkshire. Developer Fallons is behind the attraction – Future Park – which will create 1,000 jobs and attract an estimated 3.5 million visitors a year. The attraction will be similar to Fico Eataly World, which opened near Bologna, Italy, little more than a year ago and has attracted more than two million visitors. It will become Eataly’s second site in the UK following its planned opening in Broadgate, London, next year. British food and produce will be at the heart of Future Park, with a focus on the environment and an aim to be the most “sustainable venue of its size in the UK”. A planning application for the “food agri park”, which was unveiled at the MIPIM conference in the South of France, is likely to be submitted in June. Fallons hopes to start construction work in 18 months with the park due to open in 2022. Future Park would sit on 188 hectares of land next to the A1 and within the Leeds city region, delivering 160,000 square metres of commercial, leisure and retail space. The project is being supported by the North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership. Eataly operates more than 35 sites worldwide. It opened its sixth US site, in Las Vegas, in December. In 2018, Eataly signed an agreement with British Land for a site in Broadgate. The 42,000 square foot market will be on the ground and first floors of 135 Bishopsgate and comprise specialist Italian food counters, restaurants and “production laboratories”, where food will be prepared on-site. It will also hold courses, tastings, demonstrations and special events for visitors to learn about Italian food and culture.

Industry News:

Propel insights editor Mark Wingett to look at how diversification is set to shape consolidation in the sector: Propel insights editor Mark Wingett will look at how diversification is set to shape consolidation in the sector in his latest opinion piece, which will be sent to Propel Premium subscribers on Friday (15 March) at 5pm. Leading sector analyst Simon Stenning will also give his thoughts on the future of foodservice between 2025 and 2030. On the same day, subscribers will also receive a 30-minute video in which Stonegate Pub Company chairman Ian Payne is interviewed by 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

Northern restaurant and bar boom continues as London feels the heat: A survey of opening and closure rates in major UK cities has shown the food and drink scene in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds city centres has increased by an average of more than 19%, while London recorded barely a third of that growth. In addition, London’s rate of restaurant and bar closures during the past year (14%) is the second highest in the entire study, with Leeds heading the list. Northern Restaurant & Bar (NRB), the north’s hospitality trade exhibition, has been studying data from food and drink analytics company CGA and found during the past five years the major northern cities centred around the M62 continue to outpace London, Edinburgh and their fellow major cities when it comes to expansion of their food and drink scenes. Manchester headed the list with a 22.3% net increase in the number of city centre food and drink venues between 2013 and 2018, with Liverpool close behind (18.1%), and Leeds snapping at their heels (17.0%). The next highest city was Bristol (12.7%), whereas London (6.8%) trailed in eighth out of 12 cities included in the study. NRB chief executive Thom Hetherington said the findings reflected the region’s “ambition and confidence”. He said: “We are based up here so we’ve seen the development first hand but it’s clear the epicentre of the northern food and drink scene has kicked on at an unprecedented rate with a direction and velocity that has left other regions trailing in its wake. It’s no surprise to see Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds take the ‘medal positions’ with an extraordinary rate of growth. The M62 corridor is developing its own centre of gravity, pulling in residents, businesses and tourists drawn to its unrivalled combination of culture, lifestyle and opportunity.”

A Good Dinner 2019 raises £150,000: Restaurant charity initiative A Good Dinner raised more than £150,000 for Action Against Hunger, The One Foundation and Magic Breakfast when the event returned earlier this month. Funds raised will be used to alleviate food and water poverty around the world. The charity dinner, established by restaurant industry leaders in 2017, united the great and the good of the hospitality industry for a night of food and drink prepared by Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge and renowned steak restaurant Hawksmoor. Alongside the fantastic food, specialist on-trade wine and drinks distributor Bibendum served fine wine curated to complement the menu. Guests also enjoyed crafted cocktails courtesy of London cocktail bar Mr Fogg’s. The night saw diners raise money for the cause in various ways including live and silent auctions to win prizes gifted by businesses across the industry. Hawksmoor co-founder Will Beckett said: “A Good Dinner was set up so the hospitality industry could help some amazing charities so it was great to see such a fantastic turnout and the generosity of the guests. From Tom Kerridge, who cooked with us, to Access Hospitality, which sponsored the event, it’s really heartening to see how the industry rallies around causes like these.”

Company News:

West Berkshire Brewery launches £3.5m fund-raise for next stage of growth: West Berkshire Brewery, the David Bruce-chaired group, is looking to raise up to £3.5m to aid further growth of its brewing and pub operations, Propel has learned. The fund-raise is understood to be the last chance to invest in the business under the Enterprise Investment Scheme. The funding will be used to support working capital demands, drive profitability through existing operations and additional capital expenditure where necessary, and pub acquisitions. Forecast revenues for the company for the year to the end of March 2019 are £6.6m, up 97% on the prior year, with the company targeting full-year turnover of more than £13m to the end of March 2020 with Ebitda of circa £1.3m. The company currently operates three pubs under its own vehicle – The Depot in Holloway; The Grapes in Oxford; and the Taproom & Kitchen at its brewery development – plus two London pubs, The Old Suffolk Punch in Hammersmith and The Oxford Tavern in Kentish Town under its Downing Pubs joint venture Maverick Pubs. Earlier this year, the group acquired The Grapes in Oxford’s George Street from City Pub Group. Last year, the company appointed long-time finance director Tom Lucas as managing director. Propel understands at the start of this year the company appointed Sarah Herriman, previously head of finance at private equity-backed, renewable business startup Bioenergy Infrastructure Group, as finance director. The group unveiled its £6m brewery in November 2017.

Five Guys to replace Cote in Camden: Better burger brand Five Guys has further strengthened its UK pipeline after securing a site in Camden. The 92-strong business will open at the former Cote unit in Camden Parkway in May. As revealed by Propel in February the company, which secured a £100m banking facility from Goldman Sachs last summer to support expansion plans in the UK and Europe, has also lined up openings this year in Peterborough, Bromley, Cambridge and at the Drake Circus scheme in Plymouth. Earlier this month the company opened its 92nd site in the UK and Ireland, at Braintree’s Freeport shopping centre at a unit formerly occupied by American diner Friendly Phil’s. The company is targeting 11 openings in the UK this year. Cote, the BC Partners-backed chain, recently split its Jackson & Rye site in the City of London, with a Cote opening in more than half the unit. At the same time, the company opened a site at the Intu scheme in Watford. The company is also understood to have exchanged on a former Carluccio’s site in Fulham Road, Chelsea, with an opening scheduled for this summer conditional on it obtaining licensing and planning permission.

Former Byron chief joins Bourne Leisure: Simon Cope, who stepped down as chief executive of better burger brand Byron late last year, has joined Bourne Leisure as commercial and marketing director of Butlin’s, Propel has learned. Cope, who was previously chief marketing officer of Wagamama and held several senior roles at Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), will report into Butlin’s managing director Jon Hendry-Pickup, the former Prezzo chief executive who joined Bourne Leisure last year. In the newly created role for Butlin’s, Cope will oversee the brand’s entire guest journey including its food and beverage offer and help lead a step-change in its guest proposition. Cope transformed Wagamama’s brand positioning, while he led the successful repositioning of the Harvester brand at M&B. At Byron, Cope led the company through a company voluntary arrangement that saw the closure of 20 sites but put the business on a firmer financial footing.

KFC offers kitchen experience days at 300 UK and Ireland restaurants: KFC is to open the kitchens of 300 restaurants in the UK and Ireland to the public. Visitors will be given a look behind the scenes to see how KFC cooks its Original Recipe chicken in-house. They will also be put through their paces to see if they can “master the art of hand-breading, handle the heat of the frying and work quickly to build their own KFC burger”. KFC will hold the open day on Saturday, 30 March and the experience has already sold out at a number of restaurants. Participants have to book in advance, with tickets costing £5. Profits will go to the KFC Foundation in the UK and a separate regional charity in the Republic of Ireland.

Starbucks explores use of social media for market research: Starbucks is exploring how it can use private groups and accounts on social media to better engage with consumers around product development and testing as it looks to evolve its social media strategy. Reuben Arnold, Starbucks vice-president of marketing and product in EMEA, said the moves were helping the company have “deeper conversations” with customers and bringing product and marketing closer together. He said: “What I’m most excited about are some of the possibilities around private groups and private accounts on social media channels. When we think about the crossover between product and marketing, it allows us to have a much deeper conversation with certain customers who care about our brand, who can then get much more involved in things like product development and testing, and we can use the audience in a much more meaningful way.” The groups are mostly on Facebook at the moment, although Arnold told Marketing Week Instagram was also “starting to take shape”. While the move won’t replace more traditional market research practices, Starbucks said it hoped it could “offer a more natural way of engaging”. Arnold added: “Like a lot of brands we use trend analysis but social is a great channel to look at where those trends are starting to gain traction.”

Square Pie’s unsecured creditors unlikely to receive dividend: Unsecured creditors of gourmet pie company Square Pie, which operated five restaurants before going into administration earlier this year, aren’t expected to receive a dividend, a new document has revealed. A progress report filed at Companies House by administrators Ben Leith and William Wright, of KPMG, showed unsecured creditors were owed £2,122,757. Trade and expense creditors were owed £2,074,968 and employees £34,652. They will “not receive a dividend based on current estimates”, the report stated. The amount of preferential creditors’ claims, made up of employees’ wage arrears, is estimated to be £13,137 and, again based on current estimates, no dividend will be paid. As previously reported, HSBC and Santander hold fixed and floating charges over Square Pie’s assets but neither party were owed money on the administrator’s appointment. Following KPMG’s appointment the grocery business was acquired in a pre-pack sale for £100,000 by new company Beat Foods, which Square Pie founder Martin Dewey had a 25% stake in. An initial offer for the leasehold of the restaurants was subsequently withdrawn and, following the sale of the grocery business, the five restaurants – four in London and one in Birmingham – were closed.

Portuguese pastelaria concept Santa Nata to launch debut UK sites, both in Covent Garden: Portuguese pastelaria concept Santa Nata is to launch two sites in Covent Garden this spring. The concept will focus on the pastel de nata – a traditional Portuguese pastry with egg custard filling. Santa Nata is set to open its debut site in Russell Street in April followed by a second unit in New Row in May. The Santa Nata sites will feature white tiles, black-frame panelling, dark wooden flooring and marble counters, with walls adorned by images of Lisbon landmarks. Co-founder Francisco Oliveira’s family have been baking since 1900 and own seven bakeries in Portugal. The brand takes its name from Lisbon’s Santa Maria de Belém parish, where Catholic monks invented the pastel de nata in the 18th century. Customers will be able to watch tarts hand-made daily, with a bell rung every time a fresh batch of pastries is removed from the oven. Santa Nata will also offer Portuguese cherry liqueur ginjinha, port and an espresso known as bica, alongside tea and coffee. Oliveira said: “I am proud to bring our pastéis de nata to London. Our mission is to share how each tart is made, allowing our guests to experience the sight, smells and taste – we want each visit to be memorable. I am confident our authentic offering will be something everyone visiting Covent Garden will enjoy.” Retail analyst IRI recently reported supermarket sales of Portuguese custard tarts were up 89% in the year to 29 September 2018.

Joseph Holt acquires Manchester pub from Marston’s: North west brewer and retailer Joseph Holt has acquired a Manchester pub from Marston’s. Joseph Holt has added The Shamrock in Ancoats to its 126-strong estate. The Bengal Street pub dates to 1808 and became a gathering place for the area's Irish and Italian communities, who made their homes in the neighbourhood. The Shamrock, which closed last summer, is expected to reopen in late 2019 or early 2020 after “considerable investment” and refurbishment. Marketing manager Paul Longmire told the Manchester Evening News: “It will be refurbished into a Joseph Holt pub to give a modern offering in keeping with some of the newer food and drink businesses moving into the area.”

Asha’s to open third UK site, in Solihull this month: Asha’s, the Indian restaurant, is to open its third UK site, in Solihull this month. The company will launch the venue on Wednesday, 27 March on the top floor of the Touchwood leisure complex in Solihull Shopping Centre. The 120-cover restaurant will be on the upper terrace next to Nando’s and offer a bespoke bar and 15-seat private dining area. Asha’s, which was created by Bollywood singer and actor Asha Bhosle, has 17 sites in five countries on two continents including its two UK venues – in Birmingham and Manchester. Asha’s director Pawan Kenth said: “We can’t wait to bring our food and drink offering to the diners of Touchwood. The opening of Asha’s Solihull has been eagerly anticipated and the team is extremely excited to finally reveal the new restaurant.”

The Porterhouse Group to launch live music and late-night bar in Dublin: Dublin-based The Porterhouse Group is to open a live music, late-night bar and events space in the city. The company will launch Lost Lane in Grafton Street on Friday, 12 April. The venue will have capacity for 280 people during live performances and 600 overall. Artists will span the Irish and international music scenes, with genres ranging from rock and indie to jazz. Lost Lane will also host live DJ sets from Thursday to Saturday. Elliot Hughes, partner at The Porterhouse Group, said: “Lost Lane will give people the opportunity to see bands in a really intimate setting. We’ve broken the piggy bank so we can get the absolute best in sound and lighting. We’ve stripped it back in terms of decor as we want the focus to be on the artists, allowing people to get lost in the music without distractions.” The Porterhouse Group owns Porterhouse Brewery, Porterhouse Bars in Ireland, New York and London, The Dingle Whiskey Bar and The Port House tapas restaurants in Ireland and London.

Brighton street food trader Baby Bao rebrands after making London pop-up permanent: Brighton-born street food trader Baby Bao has evolved with a new name and brand after making its London pop-up permanent. Now under the guise of Bao + Burger + Beer, the Haymarket restaurant offers Asian-inspired plates, craft beer from UK-based brewers and a cocktail list. The Asian-centric menu features Baby Bao’s signature buns but in keeping with the restaurant’s new name burgers play a big part with additions such as a beef burger in a sesame and nori bun and a vegetarian panko mushroom burger. The drinks list encompasses Japanese-influenced cocktails such as the Hot Tînh Yêu (vodka, passion fruit, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, vanilla and Peychauds bitters). General manager Caradio Pierluigi said: “Baby Bao was a tremendous success in a short-term residency. The customer feedback was astounding – so much so we decided to take it to the next level.”

Esquires Coffee to hit 40 UK stores with debut East Midlands site, in Leicester: Esquires Coffee will make its debut in the East Midlands as it opens its 40th UK site this month, in Coventry. The company will open the outlet in New Walk Place on Sunday, 31 March. It will be the first food and drink outlet to open in The Circle development, which was built on the site of the former city council offices, reports Leicestershire Live. The store will offer Esquire Coffee’s range of ethically sourced coffee, tea and chocolate alongside healthy, vegan and locally sourced food options. Doug Williamson and Gary Buckland founded Esquires Coffee in Vancouver in 1993, expanding to the UK in 2000.

Papa John’s partners with DoorDash to supplement in-house delivery in US: Papa John’s has partnered with DoorDash, expanding third-party delivery to 1,400 restaurants in the US. The DoorDash partnership is aimed at supplementing the reach of Papa John’s in-house delivery service, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. Papa John’s has implemented a number of turnaround efforts in recent months, including new menu items and a revamped loyalty programme, as it works to halt slipping sales. For the fourth quarter ending 30 December 2018, Papa John’s reported an 8.1% drop in North America like-for-like sales, its fifth straight quarter of decline. “This partnership extends our continued commitment to meet customers wherever they are and provide simple ordering for guests in addition to our own Papa John’s mobile app,” said Anne Fischer, senior vice-president of customer experience at Papa John’s. “More than 60% of Papa John’s transactions occur online. With this in mind, we are dedicated to exceeding our customers’ expectations when it comes to ordering and delivery convenience.” Papa John’s is the third-largest pizza delivery company in the US and had more than 5,300 sites globally as at the end of 2018.

Relais & Chateaux launches first digital campaign in more than a decade: Relais & Chateaux, the collection of gourmet restaurants and boutique hotels, has launched its first digital campaign in more than a decade. The brand has partnered with director Davide Gentile to shoot five short films with the theme “what does delicious mean to you?” with additional photography by Benjamin Loyseau. The €1m (£850,000) interactive campaign, created by agency H5, encourages guests to share their experiences at Relais & Châteaux properties under the hashtag #deliciousjourneys. One of the films was shot at Gravetye Manor in Sussex. The Relais & Châteaux Association operates 580 hotels and restaurants in more than 60 countries.

Nando’s opens Ely site: Nando’s has opened a site in Ely, Cambridgeshire. The company has launched the restaurant at Ely Leisure Park. Nando’s has joined operators including KFC, The Restaurant Group-owned brand Frankie and Benny’s, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s at the site, reports the Cambridge News. Nando’s operates three sites in nearby Cambridge, where its first 100% eco-friendly branch launched, at Cambridge Retail Park in March 2017.

Michelin-trained chef launches gourmet burger and whiskey concept in Highbury: Michelin-trained chef Hasip Mertsoy has launched a gourmet burger and whiskey concept in Highbury, north London. Mertsoy, who has worked for Richard Corrigan and Tom Aikens among others, has opened Dead Rabbits Saloon in Blackstock Road in partnership with Ash Panah. The concept has taken over pizzeria Pizza Plate, which Panah’s father ran for many years. Dead Rabbits Saloon takes its name and inspiration from Martin Scorcese’s movie Gangs Of New York, with burgers including Bill The Butcher, John Morrisey and a vegetarian option, For The Love Of Rabbits. Sides include caramelised bone marrow, lamb pepper fries and julienne fries with truffle cheese sauce. All beef and cheese is sourced locally, from Frank Godfrey butchers and La Fromagerie, while hotdogs are imported from New York, Hot Dinners reports. The whiskey has been selected to pair with each dish as a burger and shot, while the venue offers local delivery.  

Fuller’s head brewer departs to lead Bath Ales operation: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has appointed Georgina Young as head brewer to lead its Bath Ales operation. Young joins from London brewer and retailer Fuller’s, where she was head brewer and the first woman to hold the role at the company following her appointment in 2017. She will oversee all aspects of brewing and packaging of Bath Ales brands and report to St Austell Brewery and Bath Ales brewing director Roger Ryman. Young will be based at Hare Brewery, Bath Ales’ brewhouse that opened in Warmley in May last year. St Austell Brewery chief executive James Staughton said: “We couldn’t be more delighted George is taking the helm as head brewer at Hare Brewery. We look forward to welcoming her and exciting times as George helps us realise the full potential of the Bath Ales brands.” Young added: “I am delighted to head back to my home town Bristol. It’s where my parents and sister still live and something I’ve been mulling over for some time. The role at Bath Ales will allow me to take total control of the operation, including brewing and packaging, which gives me a new challenge. It’s sad to leave Fuller’s but I leave a first-class brewing team at Chiswick and know it will flourish.” Founded in 1995, Bath Ales was acquired by St Austell Brewery in 2016.

Searcys signs partnership with historic City venue The HAC: Searcys has signed a partnership to provide catering at historic City of London venue The HAC. The venue is home to the Honourable Artillery Company, the oldest regiment in the British Army. The Georgian mansion is set in a five-acre hidden garden a few minutes from Moorgate station. Inside the building, the Armoury House and Prince Consort Rooms can accommodate up to 700 guests, while the Artillery Garden hosts weddings, parties and sporting events for up to 5,000 people. Searcys managing director Matt Thomas said: “We look forward to providing the highest level of service to HAC members and creating memorable events in these wonderful surroundings.” The Honourable Artillery Company is a registered charity with a 2,500-strong membership. Searcys’ portfolio includes St Pancras Brasserie and Champagne Bar, Osteria and Bonfire at the Barbican, The Roman Baths Kitchen and The Pump Room in Bath, and The Orangery at Blenheim Palace. In November, the company was appointed official caterer for The Alnwick Garden and The Treehouse Restaurant, which are in the grounds of the ancestral home of the Duke of Northumberland in Alnwick. 

Craft Union celebrates community champions: Craft Union Pub Company, part of Ei Group’s managed operations, has celebrated the contribution its operators make to their communities at its annual awards. More than 600 people attended the event in Blackpool, now in its fourth year, with 200 pubs awarded a combined £100,000 in prize money and a further £15,000 donated to charity. The Claughton Hotel in Birkenhead was named pub of the year, with The Boundary in Norwich scooping the community pub category. Craft Union operations director Frazer Grimbleby said: “Pubs supporting the communities they serve is a deep-rooted value of ours and it was fantastic to recognise and reward the achievement of our operators.” Last month, Ei Group announced it would invest £1.4m to transform a Wakefield bank branch into a Craft Union pub featuring a group-wide support hub. Craft Union currently operates 299 pubs.

Pub snack brand backed by BrewDog co-founder hits £350,000 crowdfunding target: Pub snack brand Serious Pig, which is backed by James Watt, co-founder of Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog, has hit its £350,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The investment will be used to accelerate growth and expand its product range during the next three years. Founder George Rice is offering 4.88% equity for the £350,000 investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £7.4m. So far, 1,062 investors have pledged £380,950. Rice is extending the campaign until Sunday, 7 April to raise more capital. Watt has advised Serious Pig during the past four years and personally invested in this round of funding. Rice said: “This investment is going to allow us to compete with the major snack brands in the UK. It will allow us to grow our sales and marketing team to really accelerate our growth so we can reach every corner of the UK. Serious Pig’s products include snacking salami and crunchy snacking cheese. 

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