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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 19th Mar 2019 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Leon pilots deposit return scheme, set for Switzerland debut: Natural fast food brand Leon has teamed up with recycling specialist Veolia to trial a deposit return scheme near King’s Cross station in London. The initiative features a new reverse vending machine designed to accept used plastic bottles and aluminium cans. The pilot project will operate for six months in a bid to encourage people to recycle more while out and about. Located under West Handyside Canopy, next to Granary Square in King’s Cross, the trial machine enables passers-by to deposit a plastic bottle of up to 750ml or an aluminium can in return for a 10%-off voucher redeemable at Leon’s St Pancras Square branch, which is just a few minutes’ walk away. John Vincent, chief executive and co-founder of Leon, said: “We are really excited about this partnership with Veolia because we know as an industry we need to push for the right facilities and infrastructure to ensure better recycling and reuse. This is a great step forward and we can’t wait to welcome all the recycling warriors into our restaurants and reward their efforts with a little thank you from us.” Meanwhile, Leon will further boost its international presence when it makes its debut in Switzerland later this year. Propel has learned the John Vincent-led group will open a site in October at the main train station in Basel under its partnership agreement with HMSHost (Autogrill). Last year, Leon announced its plans to open a further 20 stores in Europe and the Middle East through its partnership with HMSHost. Leon has already opened nine sites with the American highway and airport foodservice company – three in the UK and six in the Netherlands – and is looking to extend its reach into key transport hubs. The company opened its latest site, in Broadwick Street, Soho, earlier this year. The outlet, its 53rd in the UK, is a few hundred metres from Carnaby Street, where Leon opened its first restaurant in 2004. A further site in Cheshire Oaks with HMSHost will open this spring. Leon has grown to 63 restaurants globally, with locations in the UK, Washington DC, Oslo, Amsterdam, Utrecht and Gran Canaria and plans to grow in other cities across Europe, the Middle East and the US.

Industry News:

Propel Premium subscribers to receive video of JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin talking to Paul Charity about the eight books that have shaped his business philosophy: Propel Premium subscribers will receive a 30-minute video on Friday (22 March) in which JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin talks to Paul Charity about the eight business books that have shaped his business philosophy. 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

Food advertising restrictions will ‘harm hospitality sector’: UKHospitality has warned restrictions on food advertising would further undermine sector businesses already battling against restrictive legislation and rising costs. The call follows the government’s launch of a consultation on the restriction of food advertising. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Hospitality shares the government’s objectives and public concerns about nurturing healthier attitudes to food and drink. The sector has worked proactively with local authorities and Westminster to help tackle obesity. Many of our members have spent time and money reformulating menus, diversifying their offer and providing nutritional transparency. The sector’s landscape changes quickly and the customer experience is hugely different to the one it was five or ten years ago, with a greater choice of exciting and healthy food and drink. Furthermore, for the vast majority of our customers eating out remains an occasional treat and any measures should reflect that. British high streets have been hit hard in recent years by a mix of rising costs, changing consumer trends and, of course, Brexit uncertainty. Hospitality venues are vital for the social lives of towns and cities and provide huge economic benefits. Preventing them from advertising would undermine high streets further.”

Company News:

Department for Coffee and Social Affairs takes on Nordic Bakery business: Department for Coffee and Social Affairs (DoCaSA), the fast-growing coffee chain and wholesaling group, has further strengthened its presence in central London by acquiring the Nordic Bakery business, Propel has learned. Scandinavian baker and coffee shop Nordic Bakery was sold out of administration last year for £40,000 to one of the company’s directors, Markku Launonen. It has disposed of three sites – in Covent Garden, New Cavendish Street and Dorset Street – but continued to trade from its flagship site in Golden Square, Soho. DoCaSA has now taken on the business from Launonen and will run the Golden Square site. The company’s parent company, Coffeesmith Collective, recently took a majority stake in Brighton-based, seven-strong Small Batch Coffee, which was previously backed by sector investor Luke Johnson. During the past few months it has also acquired Baker & Spice, the Patisserie Holdings brand; Bea’s of Bloomsbury; Tap Coffee; mobile coffee brand Café 2 U; and two Bristol-based independent coffee shops. The company has also acquired the Urban Tea Rooms business, which has sites in London’s Kingly Street and St James’s Market. At the same time, it has taken stakes in Bristol-based independent coffee roaster Roasted Rituals and Yorkshire-based La Bottega Milanese, which operates two cafes in Leeds plus a wholesale arm. The company has further added to its regional artisan coffee house portfolio by acquiring the Brew & Bake business in Cheltenham.

Amos stands down as Benugo managing director: Handley Amos, formerly of Rossopomodoro and Creams Café, has stepped down as managing director of Benugo, Propel has learned. Amos joined the cafe and restaurant operator in spring 2018 after it had been without a managing director for more than a year. His appointment allowed co-founder Ben Warner’s decision to step away from day-to-day operations and concentrate on new products, branding and future opportunities. Benugo operates a range of sites including high-street cafes and restaurants, sites in parks and museums, and partnerships with retailers such as John Lewis and Topshop. Amos spent 14 months at dessert parlour franchise Creams as interim chief executive, which he joined to help the brand structure and develop for a faster roll-out. He spent almost five years at Italian fast casual brand Rossopomodoro as managing director UK. Before that, he was at Nando’s for 12 years, latterly as regional director.

Carluccio’s appoints new operations director: Carluccio’s, the Italian all-day restaurant group owned by Dubai-based investment group Landmark, has appointed Lee Goodridge as its new operations director. Goodridge, who begins his role on Monday, 8 April, replaces Chris Poole, who departed in January. Goodridge has previously held senior operations roles at casual dining brands including Pizza Hut, Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi and Busaba. Most recently he worked as operations director at Brazilian restaurant Cabana, overseeing the operational duties for two-and-a-half years. Carluccio’s chief executive Mark Jones said: “We are delighted to bring in someone of Lee’s calibre. He has years of valuable operational experience and joins us at an important time as we start to initiate our ‘Fresca’ transformation project across the estate. I look forward to working with Lee and supporting him as he puts our new brand vision into practice.” Goodridge added: “Carluccio’s is an incredible brand with genuine Italian DNA. To be joining at this stage in its development and to help take it forward is an incredibly exciting opportunity.” His appointment comes in the wake of a number of strategic hires to drive the £10m transformation programme, which began last month with the reopening 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; Marco Barletta, previously of Franco Manca, as operations manager; and Dominika Rusnak, from The Ivy Collection, as Fresca openings manager.

Domino’s Pizza boss sees remuneration almost halve after missing out on bonus: Domino’s Pizza chief executive David Wild saw his remuneration drop by almost half last year after missing out on his annual bonus, according to the company’s annual report. Wild received a total of £699,000 for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £1,394,000 the previous year. This consisted of £510,000 salary, £21,000 benefits and supplements, £51,000 pension and £117,000 in long-term incentive payments. Former chief financial officer Rachel Osborne, who left in June, received total remuneration of £399,437. This was made up of £238,000 salary, £16,000 benefits and supplements, £35,000 pension and £17,000 in long-term incentive payments. She also received a payout of £93,437 as a payment in lieu of the remainder of her contractual notice period consisting of base salary and pension cash allowance. Osborne was on garden leave for the first three months of her six-month notice period and her employment with the company ended on 11 September. David Bauernfeind was appointed on a permanent basis in October having held the position in the interim following Osborne’s departure. Bauernfeind was appointed on the same salary as Osborne, at £325,000. His remuneration for the period totalled £83,000, which consisted of £74,000 salary, £2,000 benefits and supplements and £7,000 pension. Wild’s maximum bonus opportunity for 2019 will be 150% of salary based on achieving and exceeding the group’s underlying profit before tax growth target and individual business objectives. His salary will be increased 2% to £520,200 from Monday, 1 April. Bauernfeind’s salary will also rise 2% to £331,500, while his bonus opportunity this year is 125% of salary.

YO! Sushi expands To Go range: YO! Sushi has expanded its YO! To Go range. The company has added ten dishes to the range, which is available from fridges at the front of its stores. The new dishes are available to take away only. The move follows a trial agreed with Tesco late last year to pilot YO! To Go counters at two UK stores. Under the agreement, YO! will operate a manned kiosk in each site creating made-to-order sushi and providing sushi to the front-of-store food-to-go range. The first two trial sites are in the Sunbury Extra store in Surrey and the Bournemouth Extra store. YO! Sushi chief executive Richard Hodgson told Propel: “The YO! To Go range, which is available in fridges at the front of our restaurants, has been really popular and has seen significant growth during the past few years. We’re really excited to now extend our To Go range and further capitalise on this growing part of the market alongside other initiatives such as the current Tesco trial.”

Urban Pubs and Bars appoints operations director: Urban Pubs and Bars, led by Nick Pring and Malcolm Heap, has appointed Toby Cowan as operations director as it enters its next stage of growth. Cowan will join the business on Wednesday (20 March), taking some of the day-to-day operations from Pring and Heap, allowing them to spend more time focusing on acquisitions and strategy. Pring said: “Toby has loads of experience in the industry having previously held senior operational roles with Mitchells & Butlers, Young’s and, more recently, an international role with Anheuser-Busch InBev, building its pub estate. We have known Toby for more than ten years and are really pleased he’s joining the team.” Last month, Urban Pubs and Bars secured its 20th site, a former JD Wetherspoon pub in Balham, south London. The company’s annual turnover is expected to hit circa £23m by April this year.

Bread Ahead to open fourth site, at Wembley Park: Independent bakery and baking school Bread Ahead is to open its fourth site, at Wembley Park. The company, founded by Matt Jones, will launch the 11,000 square foot venue – its biggest to date – as part of the £3bn urban development by Quintain. The new Bread Ahead, which is set to open in the autumn, will feature a 220-cover restaurant, deli, baking school and wholesale bakery. Bread Ahead first opened in Borough in 2013, which was joined by a bakery school a year later. The brand has since grown with additional branches in Chelsea and Soho and the latest bakery will be located in The Village, one of four new districts being created at the Wembley Park development. Jones said: “Because of the stimulating spectrum of new retail and leisure planned at Wembley Park, a Bread Ahead in this location was an obvious choice. We firmly believe a bakery forms an essential part of a community, even in a modern metropolis.” Matt Slade, retail director of Wembley Park developer Quintain, added: “Bread Ahead brings a fresh dimension to our food and beverage offer and demonstrates the calibre of brands that are choosing Wembley Park. This is a world-class destination and the addition of Bread Ahead will be a large part of the contemporary retail and leisure offer that so nicely combines with the area’s strong cultural heritage.” Nash Bond and Cushman & Wakefield are agents for Wembley Park.

Friends of Ham secured creditors set to receive less than one-sixth of money owed: Secured creditors of Leeds-based bar and charcuterie brand Friends of Ham, which went into administration last year, are set to receive less than one-sixth of the money they are owed, a new report has revealed. HSBC and Alfandari Private Equities are owed £125,344 and £52,800 respectively. A progress report by administrators Charles Brook and Michelle Chatterton, of Huddersfield-based Poppleton & Appleby, showed HSBC had received a payment of £21,769.94 under the terms of its fixed charge following the sale of Friends of Ham to Glentrool Estates. It is not envisaged that HSBC will receive a distribution under its floating charge due to there being “insufficient realisations”. Meanwhile, Alfandari Private Equities ranks behind HSBC and it is anticipated there will be insufficient funds for a distribution. It did receive a payment of about £6,200 from the proceeds of the sale to obtain the deed of release. Preferential claims are still to be submitted but it is understood there will be a claim for unpaid pension contributions and holiday. No other claims are expected as employees were transferred to Glentrool Estates at the point of sale. There are a total of 115 known unsecured creditors, of which 44 have submitted claims totalling £434,341.93. As previously reported, there is unlikely to be sufficient funds for a distribution to be made. Friends of Ham was bought out of administration in August by Glentrool Estates, which has 25 years’ experience in the corporate sector and drinks industry, for a total consideration of £81,384,13. Friends of Ham went into administration after being unable to meet loan repayments that funded the rebranding of its unprofitable Ham & Friends site in Leeds. The company also operated Friends of Ham venues in Leeds and Ilkley.

Little Yellow Door secures Rum Kitchen site: The team behind The Little Yellow Door, the house parties-style bar and restaurant concept backed by Edition Capital, is to open its second permanent site in London after securing a site in Notting Hill formerly occupied by Rum Kitchen. The concept, which is led by Kam Dehdashti and Jamie Hazeel, is based on a fictional flat share with flatmates hosting a series of “house parties” to welcome new friends. The new site on All Saints Road will open next month. The business currently operates The Little Blue Door in Fulham but is thought to have plans for further sites with names mooted such as The Little Neon Door and The Little Black Door. The sale of the Notting Hill site leaves Rum Kitchen with sites in Kingly Court and Brixton. It is thought the company has a new site lined up for the Westfield London extension. Adam Bowers, of Stonebrook London, acted on the Notting Hill deal.

Norwich-based Papa John’s franchisees expand into Essex for fourth site: Norwich-based Papa John’s franchisees Manzoor Hussain and Muhammad Arslan have expanded into Essex to open their fourth site for the pizza brand. The launch in Clacton-on-Sea means the brothers now employ 80 staff across their four stores, with the other three venues in Norwich. Hussain said: “We look forward to a busy summer season. Clacton-on-Sea is a popular tourist resort and many families live in the area. The store is close to the beach so we aim to attract holidaymakers and grow a loyal customer base of local residents. The new store itself is one of the first to enjoy Papa John’s fresh new look. Designed to appeal to a broad audience, the decor has been updated with a modern, fun feel.” Papa John’s has more than 400 sites across the UK. 

Starbucks opens 30,000th site: Starbucks has opened its 30,000th site, in Shenzhen, China. The company has opened the Starbucks Reserve outlet at the Mix City shopping centre in Shenzhen Bay. President and chief executive Kevin Johnson said: “The opening of Starbucks’ 30,000th store is a proud moment for all Starbucks partners. Over the past 48 years we have worked to build a different kind of company based on a mission grounded in the human experience, the world’s finest coffee, and a constant pursuit of doing good.”

Travelodge targets parents to fill potential post-Brexit staffing gap as it reports revenue and Ebitda boost: Travelodge is targeting parents who want to return to work to fill a potential post-Brexit staffing gap if EU worker numbers fall. The company plans to open 100 hotels creating 3,000 jobs by 2023 and said it hopes to attract parents by offering flexible hours and school-hour roles. Staff from the EU make up almost a quarter of all jobs in the hospitality sector but there are concerns proposed regulations could dictate what type of workers are allowed to come to the UK following Brexit. The government is consulting on a minimum salary requirement of £30,000 for foreign workers seeking five-year visas. The announcement comes as Travelodge, which in 2012 was on the brink of administration, reported sales rose 8.8% to £693.3m for the year ending 31 December 2018, compared with £637.1m the previous year. Adjusted Ebitda rose £9.6m to £122.0m. Revpar was up 3.2% to £41.69, compared with £40.40 the year before. Occupancy increased 2.5% to 78.5%, while average room rate remained flat at £53.09. Chief executive Peter Gowers said he remained cautious on the company’s short-term outlook, with trading for the first eight weeks of the year “mixed”. He said strong growth in London was being offset by declining sales in the rest of the UK. “These are uncertain times and we are not immune from the short-term challenges but we remain confident there are more opportunities ahead,” he said. Gowers said innovations such as the company’s more upmarket “super rooms”, which come equipped with coffee machines and high-end showers, had helped boost customer numbers. “We have invested in better quality and choice for our guests while staying true to our budget roots,” Gowers said.

Chopstix opens third Bristol site: Chopstix, the Asian quick service restaurant brand, has further strengthened its presence in the UK’s shopping schemes with the launch of a site in Bristol’s Cribbs Causeway. The national noodle brand, which already operates sites in the city’s Cabot Circus and The Galleries schemes, has opened in the food court in The Mall at Cribbs Causeway. The opening is part of the company’s expansion across the UK during the next 12 months as it looks to add to its growing number of sites in shopping centres, high streets and travel hubs. Last year, Chopstix secured a new £2m bank facility from Metro Bank to support its expansion plans. Chopstix managing director Jon Lake told the Bristol Post: “Through our existing sites within the city centre we know how popular the Chopstix brand and its offer is in Bristol. Therefore we look forward to welcoming customers to our new site at Cribbs Causeway, where they can choose to eat in, take away or enjoy at home via our delivery partner Just Eat.”

Burger King offers US customers daily coffee for $5 monthly subscription: Burger King is offering US customers a daily coffee for $5 a month. To get the deal at participating restaurants, customers download the Burger King app and sign up to pay the monthly fee. It only applies to regular hot coffee and can’t be paired with a delivery order. Burger King has also dropped the non-subscription price of a small coffee to 50 cents, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. The subscription service, which is available through the US except Arkansas, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, represents a move into the customer loyalty space for the company as fast food restaurants compete for customers. Visitors to quick service restaurants increased only 1% in 2018, according to insights firm The NPD Group.

Crystal Maze-style adventure scheme gets go-ahead in Wales: A Crystal Maze-style adventure scheme set for an industrial estate in Newport, South Wales, proposed by a Somerset-based paintball company, has received planning approval. Once operational, the 4,445 square foot unit in Mariner Way could employ up to six people. Plans were submitted on behalf of Bridgwater-headquartered Diverse Coaching by Jo Draper, of Pontypool-based Strength and Performance Torfaen. The application’s planning statement said: “This is a physical, adventure-style, problem-solving activity similar to the Crystal Maze and Fort Boyard. Its exact name has still to be confirmed. The activity is based on a team of four to six people completing a single overall objective during a two-hour session. However, to achieve this they most work as a team to complete and solve multiple types of physical and mental problems in a multi-room game area. It is also planned to utilise the same space to provide two-hour Nerf parties for children when not otherwise in use and wouldn’t envisage more than 20 children taking part at any one time.” The site will also accommodate a paintball venture, Insider Media reports.

Kingsland Drinks reports Ebitda rise as UK sales boost turnover to £283m: Greater Manchester-based wine and spirits supplier Kingsland Drinks reported turnover has jumped past the £280m mark following a boost in UK sales. Turnover increased 7.6% to £282,995,000 for the year ending 30 June 2018, compared with £262,976,000 the previous year. Revenue in the UK rose to £279,447,000, compared with £255,970,000 the year before. Overseas sales halved to £3,548,000, compared with £7,006,000 the previous year. Ebitda was up to £6.0m, compared with £5.7m the year before. Pre-tax profit rose to £3,556,000 compared with £3,247,000 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “Kingsland’s focus on quality and service excellence has enabled the business to attract new customers and develop additional products for existing customers, aided through targeted customer insight. The business has enhanced its capacity and efficiency during the year as the new high-speed bottling line, which became operational in autumn 2017, has reached its full potential. The business remains cash generative and we operate comfortably within agreed banking facilities. With shareholders’ funds of £18.0m, the directors remain of the view the company’s financial position is satisfactory.” The company, which can trace its roots to 1895, sells brands including Famile Quiot, Marisco, Sensi and Vespucci.

East Yorkshire-based brewery lodges plans for second site: East Yorkshire-based brewery The Little Black Dog Beer Company has lodged plans for its second bar. The family-run company based in Carlton, near Goole, has applied to Wakefield Council to open a site in Castleford town centre. The Little Black Dog Beer Company wants to convert a unit in Carlton Street into a bar with a licence to sell packaged craft beer to be consumed off-site, reports the Pontefract and Castleford Express. The company also operates The Doghouse in Selby.

Young’s completes revamp of two newly acquired hotels: London pub retailer Young’s has completed the refurbishment of two hotels it acquired last year. The Park in Teddington, south west London, and The Bridge in Chertsey, Surrey, which will officially open later this month, have undergone major revamps and have joined Young’s collection of premium hotels, taking the portfolio to 30. The Park, which is housed in a grade II-listed building, has been renovated with original features preserved and the introduction of an 80-cover restaurant complete with eight-cover chef’s table, bar and several private and semi-private bookable spaces. The Parlour restaurant’s menus, created by head chef Toby Leigh, take inspiration from the kitchen gardens of nearby Hampton Court Palace. Similarly, the bar will serve botanically inspired cocktails alongside Young’s brews, craft beer and premium spirits. Alongside The Park’s 41 bedrooms, three new feature rooms have been introduced. The Bridge in Chertsey has also undergone an extensive refurbishment with a new 190-cover riverside restaurant, horseshoe-shaped bar and a 48-cover private events space with its own waterfront terrace. Head chef and former MasterChef contestant Karl Byron’s menu will focus on fish, seasonal British dishes and Young’s pub classics. The venue will also feature an alfresco Burger Shack. Stephen Clark, operations director at Young’s hotels, said: “The Park and The Bridge have been refurbished to a high standard. At the heart of each hotel is a great community pub serving excellent food, beer, wine and cocktails.”

Monmouthshire County Council buys leisure park freehold for £21m: Monmouthshire County Council has purchased the freehold of the Newport Leisure Park in Spytty Road for £21m. The 141,000 square foot property includes a 13-screen Cineworld, an xercise4less gym, Home Bargains superstore, Energi Adventure park and a range of restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Mitchells & Butlers brand Harvester. There has been significant investment in the park during the past three years and it is fully let. Paul Matthews, chief executive of Monmouthshire County Council, told Insider Media: “We are pleased to have secured a well-let, long-income asset that will provide an excellent annual return for the council and help us sustain our wider service delivery portfolio in the years ahead. Newport Leisure Park serves a large catchment area in South Wales and taps into the long-term demand for experiential consumer spend and leisure activities.” Alder King acted for Monmouthshire County Council, while KLM and Cooke Arkwright acted for Otium on the transaction.

Diageo tequila ambassador to launch Dalston bar: Deano Moncrieffe, who is luxury tequila ambassador for Diageo Reserve, is to launch his debut bar, in Dalston, east London, next month. Hacha will open in Kingsland Road focusing on tequila and mezcal alongside margaritas on tap and a Mexican sharing menu. Signature cocktails at the “agaveria” and Mexican kitchen will include the Mirror Margarita, which will be served “from a fountain and finished with citrus mist”. The 40-cover space will open at the site formerly occupied by wine bar Sapling, Hot Dinners reports. Moncrieffe wrote on his Instagram account: “Hacha (silent h) is the name of the axe used to split the pinas in preparation for roasting at the distillery. I’ve always found the sound of the hacha cutting through the agave rhythmic and mesmerising.”

Blumenthal-trained chef to close restaurant: Chef Christopher White, who trained under Heston Blumenthal, is to close his restaurant. White, who worked for Blumenthal at The Fat Duck and The Hinds Head in Bray, Berkshire, is shutting The White Spoon in Cheltenham on Sunday (24 March), reports So Glos. White revealed the restaurant would close due to the “challenges of running a business while maintaining a balance with a young family”. The 42-cover venue in Royal Well Road was launched in September 2015. White runs the venue with his wife Purdey Spooner – the name of the venue taking its inspiration from their last names.

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