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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 23rd May 2019 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Millennials drive boom as staycations set to rise by a third: Millennials are driving a boom in staycations as they look to escape their smartphones and social media, according to a new report by Barclays Corporate Banking. The study forecasts the number of staycationers will increase by almost one-third (31%) this year compared with 2018. More than half (52%) of millennial respondents plan to spend more holiday time in the UK this year compared with 2018, while more than two-thirds (70%) said a “digital detox” would be an important element of their holiday and 91% cited “escapism”. Another 91% of millennials want to spend more time with loved ones, a higher number than any other generation, with locations such as the south west, Scotland, Lake District, Wales and Yorkshire among the most popular destinations. The main reasons for staycationing were convenience (34%) and a desire to revisit places they had been to before (21%). Almost one-fifth (19%) said holidays in the UK were more affordable, with 18% choosing a staycation because of Brexit concerns. The report also found more than half (55%) of businesses are seeing increased demand for staycations, with almost two-fifths (39%) seeing bookings made further in advance. Regarding investment, the study found almost one-third (32%) of businesses have invested in “nostalgic activities” such as cream teas, while more than one-quarter (27%) had invested in experiential offerings such as wine tasting. Other investments were in health holidays (15%), yoga retreats (8%) and digital detox retreats (7%). Of those companies that have invested in digital services in the past two years, more than one-third (36%) have introduced free services such as smartphone check-in. Businesses invested in new digital services to attract younger visitors (37%), keep up with trends (58%) and compete with rivals (44%). More than two-fifths (44%) said hotels with a high-quality food offer were most likely to sway their choice of location, followed by curated visits and experiences (32%). Hospitality businesses are already seeing their local economy benefit from staycations, with two-fifths (40%) seeing employment opportunities improve, and more than one-third (34%) seeing an increase in the number of hospitality businesses in the area. Mike Saul, head of hospitality and leisure at Barclays, said: “It’s particularly pleasing our study found younger people being drawn to UK holidays. Operators will have to adapt and invest in technology to ensure this trend persists while finding innovative ways to appeal to all age groups.”

Industry News:

New speaker revealed for Propel Multi Club summer conference, two free places for operators: Antony Hunt, managing consultant in innovation at CACI, has been added to the speaker line-up for the Propel Multi Club summer conference and party. Hunt will provide a review of the food and beverage sector and what it takes to deliver the right proposition, to the right customers, in the right location to make a profit. The event takes place on Thursday, 27 June at the Oxford Belfry, which is just off the M40. Hunt will be joined by The NPD Group insights director Dominic Allport; Ted Kennedy, owner of Pebble Hotels and veteran operator of pub assets; Three Joes co-founder Tim Hall; Las Iguanas chief executive Mos Shamel; Remarkable Pubs managing director Elton Mouna; Think Hospitality founder James Hacon; Mario C Bauer, AmRest brand ambassador, Curtice Brothers co-founder and WhiteSpace partner; The Glee Club founder Mark Tughan; Graffiti Spirits Group founder Matt Farrell and Crepeaffaire founder Daniel Spinath. The conference will be followed by the summer party, with an evening barbecue, the Big Fat Quiz and the legendary sounds of DJ Big Lee. Operators can claim up to two free places by emailing Anne Steele at Rooms (bed and breakfast) are also available at £125 plus VAT and can be booked by emailing Anne.

Jamie Oliver’s UK restaurant collapse and Tim Martin’s key to business success in latest Premium column: Propel insights editor Mark Wingett is to look at the collapse of Jamie Oliver’s UK restaurant business and what might be next as part of his latest opinion piece, which will be sent to Propel Premium subscribers on Friday (24 May) at 5pm. JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin will also reveal his key ingredients to business success. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, discounts to attend Propel conferences and events, and regular video recordings of key speakers. They also receive access to our database of multi-site companies, which has now grown to 1,400 businesses. An annual premium subscription costs £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers – plus £50 each for additional team members. Email

Dropping £30,000 minimum salary threshold is ‘positive and pragmatic’, says UKHospitality: A letter from the home secretary to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which purportedly urges the government to drop the £30,000 salary threshold for migrants to work in the UK, is “positive and pragmatic”, UKHospitality has said. Instead of the threshold, the MAC suggests companies pay the “going rate”. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Such a recommendation would be positive and pragmatic while demonstrating the home secretary has been listening to our concerns about the £30,000 minimum salary threshold. Such a threshold would make many crucial, hard-to-fill roles in hospitality unavailable to EU workers. Any future migration policy must focus on the needs and fortunes of the wider economy rather than individuals. Hospitality is a key economic driver but to keep growing we will need to employ non-British workers in many different roles. It’s vital we also have a separate route for semi-skilled workers.”

Ban on plastic straws and drink stirrers from 2020: Plastic straws and drink stirrers will be banned in England from 2020 in a bid to fight plastic waste. From April next year, food and drink businesses won’t be allowed to display plastic straws or automatically hand them out. It is estimated 4.7 billion plastic straws and 316 million plastic stirrers are used each year in England. A government consultation found more than 80% of respondents supported a ban on the distribution and sale of plastic straws, while nine out of ten wanted a ban on drink stirrers. Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “Urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment. These items are often used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, ending up in our seas and oceans and harming precious marine life. I am taking action to turn the tide on plastic pollution to ensure we leave our environment in a better state for future generations.”

Two-thirds of millennials likely to book hotels that promote use of food delivery service: Two-thirds (67%) of millennials are likely to book hotels that promote the use of a delivery company for food options, new research has revealed. The survey by guest experience management expert HGEM highlighted the opportunity for hotel operators with 50% of respondents admitting they would be more likely to book a hotel that promoted a delivery service. Of those in favour, more than two-thirds (70%) said a delivery partnership would allow them to order the food they actually wanted to eat, while more than half agreed it was “refreshing” for hotels to provide this option. The study also revealed that despite the demand for hotels to provide additional food offerings, four-fifths (80%) of consumers still expect them to have a restaurant on-site, even though less than three-quarters (72%) use it solely for breakfast. While a third of over-65s still use a hotel restaurant for both breakfast and dinner, this figure drops to less than one-quarter (24%) for Generation X and 13% for millennials. When it comes to in-room dining, more than four-fifths (81%) said they would never use a hotel’s room service during their stay, with almost half (49%) blaming limited choice. Instead, three-quarters (75%) of respondents admitted purchasing food outside the hotel and eating it in their room. HGEM founding director Sally Whelan said: “Hotels must ensure they offer a solution that competes with the high street – whether more choice inside the hotel or incorporating a third-party delivery service. Delivery is a real opportunity for hotel operators and, as they face ever-growing competition, those that provide consumers with a wealth of choice will be most likely to succeed.”

CAMRA reveals Pub Design Awards winners: The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has announced the five winners of its Pub Design Awards. The awards recognise high standards of pub refurbishment and conservation as well as new-build designs nominated by owners, landlords, CAMRA members and customers. West Dorset-based brewery and pub company Palmers won the refurbishment category for its work at The Pilot Boat in Lyme Regis, which brought the “tired and dated seaside inn into the modern era”. The conversion to pub use category was shared by JD Wetherspoon for its transformation of the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate, Kent, and the Slaughterhouse in Guernsey, which is owned by Randalls Brewery. The Historic England award for conversion went to Shropshire brewer and retailer Joules for its transformation of the Coopers Tavern in Burton, while the street corner local accolade was won by Kirkstall Brewery, which turned around the fortunes of The Cardigan Arms in Leeds.

Company News:

Jamie Oliver’s UK restaurant business ‘lost more in one year than it ever made in profit’: Jamie Oliver’s UK restaurant business lost £29m in one year – £5m more than it ever made in profit. The findings by the Daily Mail led to a high-street expert claiming the business “should have hit the panic alarm years ago”. The £29m loss in 2017 came to light after it emerged banks and suppliers could pursue Oliver personally for debts built up after he provided guarantees following a restructure two years ago. Oliver put his UK restaurant business into administration on Tuesday (21 May), which resulted in 22 of the 25 sites being shut and 1,000 staff made redundant. The latest accounts for Oliver’s main restaurant business, Jamie’s Italian, show the company made a loss of more than £29m on a turnover of £100m in 2017. However, in all its seven years in the black – 2009 to 2015 – the firm netted only £24m. In fact, despite turning over more than three quarters of a billion pounds between 2008 and 2017, Jamie’s Italian made a net loss of £15m during the period. Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant in Hoxton was operated by a different firm in the group, Fifteen Restaurant. That turned over between £2.5m and £5m a year during the period making an operating profit in the tens of thousands in most years, and in three years posting a loss. The figures have led to some questioning whether the business, which in 2018 was reported to have debts in excess of £70m, was ever viable. Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, told the Daily Mail: ‘There’s no evidence it was ever a successful business. On the basis of these figures they should have been hitting the panic alarm four to five years ago.”

C&C Group boss – Matthew Clark and Bibendum generating £1m in online orders a day: C&C Group boss Stephen Glancey has told Propel the journey is just beginning at Matthew Clark and Bibendum, which are generating £1m in online orders a day between them. C&C Group acquired the businesses in April 2018 after Conviviality went into administration and Glancey said significant progress had been made to stabilise and restore them to their respected positions in the sector. He said customer satisfaction scores had returned to levels seen prior to Conviviality’s collapse but added C&C Group wouldn’t “rest on its laurels”, with “much more to come” for the two businesses. “It has been a lot of work to get these businesses back to where they were in terms of customer service and that has been one of our key focuses,” Glancey said. “It is one of the main reasons we brought Michael Sanders (ex-Bibendum boss) and Steve Thomson (former Matthew Clark chief executive) back into the business – they know them like the back of their hand – but the journey is just beginning. We’ve got stock availability back to 98% so we still have a bit to do on that score. We’ll continue investing in these businesses. It has certainly been a transformational year for C&C Group and it gives us a platform into the UK on-trade with 20,000 businesses through Matthew Clark and 5,000 via Bibendum.” Glancey said he was delighted with the performance of Admiral Taverns in which C&C Group acquired a minority stake in 2017. He added: “They are good pubs. Ebitda was up 1.8% and debt levels are down and they are giving us a good platform for our drinks.” Glancey said the company would also continue to innovate its drinks as it looked to stay ahead of rivals. He also pointed out that while Tennent’s on-trade sales were flat overall, it was still the market leader “by some way”, while Bulmers makes up 60% of the market in terms of Irish cider sales.

Camerons to launch Urban Country Pubs brand into managed estate: Camerons Brewery will expand its retail pub group by introducing a new concept to its managed estate. The brewer, which has 28 managed pubs in its group including the Head of Steam chain, will introduce a new group of venues under the Urban Country Pubs brand. The group will be based on the seven Leeds Brewery pubs Camerons acquired in 2016. Each site will partner with a local brewer, which will showcase its own keg and cask beer alongside brews from Camerons plus wine, spirits and cocktails. The food menu will mirror the one developed by Leeds Brewery, which offers tapas and classic British dishes. The first Urban Country Pubs site will be Sutlers in Fossgate, York. Camerons has partnered with Turning Point Brew Co, with the companies relaunching the pub on Friday (24 May) as the Fossgate Tap. Camerons chief executive Chris Soley said: “We have seen rapid expansion in our Head of Steam brand and this will still be a key focus for us over the next five years. In addition, we recognised the opportunity to develop further pub brands within our group. When we purchased seven pubs from Leeds Brewery in 2016, it was always our intention to develop this model and we have heavily invested in these venues over the past three years. We are now in position to roll out this brand and we’re looking to acquire additional venues. To develop this further we felt forming a partnership with a local brewer would be a great way to introduce our venues into a new town or city. We’re delighted to work with Turning Point Brew Co and look forward to building relationships with other UK brewers as we grow this group.” Cameron Brown, co-owner of Turning Point Brew Co, added: “With York so close to home we’re happy to have our beers permanently featured at such a central location.”

Prezzo appoints Challenger as finance director: Prezzo, the Karen Jones-led restaurant chain, has appointed Dean Challenger, formerly of David Lloyd Leisure and Premier Inn, as finance director, Propel has learned. Challenger joins Prezzo after 13 years with David Lloyd Leisure, including stints as group financial controller and head of finance. In November, Prezzo chief financial officer Wayne Arthur left the company to take up the same position with aparthotel operator Staycity. Last May Colin Berry, who spent more than two and a half years as group financial controller at Prezzo, joined Bill’s as finance director. At the same time, Prezzo has appointed Jay James as head of marketing communications. James was previously interim head of marketing at Gourmet Burger Kitchen and EAT. Earlier this year, Propel revealed Paul Barton had stepped down as operations director of Prezzo after more than two and half years with the business. Last spring, Prezzo shut 94 of its 300 restaurants in the UK as part of a restructure under a company voluntary arrangement. In November it reported an operating loss of £65m for 2017 and restructured its debts, while its main backer wrote-off two-thirds of its investment. The company now has 186 restaurants.

Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken secures new investment and MD: South west-based operator Miss Millie’s Fried Chicken has secured new funding and a managing director as it eyes further expansion opportunities. The company, which was founded in 1988 by Harry Latham, who with Ray Allen opened the first Kentucky Fried Chicken store outside North America in 1965, is believed to have secured new funding from HBM Investments – a new vehicle that includes experienced franchisee Amir Mashkoor as a director. Mashkoor previously operated 25 Subway restaurants in Greater London. At the same time, the eight-strong company has appointed Carl Traill, former director of operations at Burger King UK, as managing director. Traill was previously consultant chief executive at Burger King franchisee Millcliffe and CPL Foods. He also had stints as regional operations director at Punch Taverns and regional operations manager at Marston’s. Miss Millie’s, which had been run by the Latham family for 40 years, currently operates sites in Bristol and Weston-super-Mare.

McDonald’s expands employee protections against sexual harassment: McDonald’s is expanding its policies to protect workers from harassment by adding a hotline for employees to file anonymous reports. Chief executive Steve Easterbrook announced the move in a letter to Illinois US senator Tammy Duckworth, who had shown concern over the company’s commitment to ensuring a harassment and bias-free workplace. The company’s new hotline will be available in June, reports Nation’s Restaurant News. McDonald’s has come under fire in recent years, with several workers filing complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. “I share your concern and appreciate your interest and views on this important issue,” Easterbrook told senator Duckworth in the letter. “First and foremost, the McDonald’s system has always had an unyielding commitment to providing a safe and respectful work environment for all. The company and our owner-operators understand we must provide a positive experience in the restaurant and create an environment where everyone feels respected and valued.” Easterbrook said almost 90% of all McDonald’s operators and general managers had been trained to date on fostering a respectful workplace environment by a third party. He added: “By strengthening our overall policy, creating interactive training, a third-party managed anonymous hotline and, importantly, listening to employees across the system, McDonald’s is sending a clear message that it is committed to creating and sustaining a culture of trust, where employees feel safe, valued and respected.”

Lussmanns on expansion trail as it steps up hunt for new sites: Lussmanns Fish & Grill, the independent brasserie group backed by investor Luke Johnson, is on the expansion trail as it steps up its hunt for new sites. The company is understood to be working with Drake & Company as it looks to add to its five restaurants in Hertfordshire. Lussmans is believed to be seeking leasehold properties of a minimum of 1,000 square feet with at least 50 covers. It would prefer existing restaurant units or sites with A3 or A4 planning permission. Lussmans is believed to also be looking to expand into neighbouring counties such as Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Essex, with towns and cities such as Bedford, Brentwood, Cambridge, Rickmansworth and Welwyn Garden City understood to be on its radar. Lussmanns’ restaurants are in Harpenden, Hertford, Hitchin, St Albans and Tring.

Sushi Daily opens first department store site: Europe’s largest sushi chain Sushi Daily, which has more than 700 venues, has opened its first site in a department store, in Manchester. The company has launched a concession in Debenhams in Market Street that was formerly occupied by Ed’s Easy Diner. The unit is next to Joe & The Juice and forms part of Debenhams’ wider redesign strategy, which aims to create “engaging and unique experiences as opposed to the more traditional department store”, under the banner “social shopping”. Sushi Daily already operates sites in UK supermarkets owned by Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Asda. “We’re excited to put down roots in vibrant Manchester and eager to meet the local foodies,” said Daniel Coole, managing director of Sushi Daily UK. “This is a great opportunity for us to work in partnership with Debenhams, introducing our delicious and innovative sushi menu to the city.” Sam Shutt, head of external food services at Debenhams, added: “The offering adds real theatre to the store and will excite shoppers. There is something for everyone on the Sushi Daily menu so it was an obvious choice for us to have in-store. The rise in popularity of sushi and Sushi Daily’s emphasis on freshness, uniqueness and reduction in waste means the business provides a different level of care and quality to the rest of the high street and we’re really looking forward to being able to officially welcome the team to our Manchester store this month.”

Experiential cinema Backyard to open permanent site as part of Young’s brewery redevelopment in Wandsworth: Experiential cinema concept Backyard is to open its debut permanent site, as part of the redevelopment of Young’s brewery in Wandsworth, south west London. The move follows six years of immersive pop-up cinemas in venues across London, entertaining more than 300,000 customers. The 250-capacity cinema will offer seasonal screenings with food and drink provided by London restaurants. Backyard has agreed a five-year lease to open the venue in September at the former Capital Studios building at Ram Quarter, Greenland’s redevelopment of the former Young’s brewery. Backyard founder and creative director Dominic Davies said: “We have experienced incredible growth in recent years, building a loyal fan base across London and beyond. Our new home at Ram Quarter will give us the freedom and artistic licence to create more exciting, innovative experiences for film-goers. We have ambitious plans for the site and we’re already in conversation with a range of partners.” Greenland senior commercial manager Chris Daly added: “Backyard is at the forefront of the experiential cinema movement and we’re delighted to welcome it to Ram Quarter. Backyard’s offer fits perfectly with our vision to put Wandsworth on the map as a thriving cultural and leisure destination.”

Red & Blue Restaurants to open first Bacaro concession, at new Wirral food hall: Liverpool-based Red & Blue Restaurants is to launch a first concession for its Bacaro concept, at the new Woodside Ferry Village food hall on Wirral waterfront. The food hall is due to open in mid-June but, unlike the Bacaro restaurant in Liverpool, which offers Italian small plates designed to be combined and shared, the Wirral site will focus on pizza featuring homemade dough and special recipes. Jonathan Poole, who co-owns Red & Blue Restaurants with Paddy Smith, said: “We are looking to expand Bacaro by opening a pizza concession at Woodside Ferry Village. Our dough will be made on-site every day and cooked for 90 seconds in our domed pizza oven producing a variety of exciting flavours.” Sharon Stanton, interim managing director of Woodside Area Community Interest, which is behind the food hall, added: “Woodside Ferry Village will be home to a number of high-quality food vendors, with opportunity to add further space through external containers that will be able to house pop-ups and other businesses.” Red & Blue Restaurants launched Bacaro in Castle Street, Liverpool, in 2014. It also operates Salt House Tapas, Hanover Street Social and Rocket & Ruby.

St Austell Brewery acquires first pub in Exmoor National Park: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has acquired The Bridge Inn in Dulverton for its first pub in Exmoor National Park. The pub will officially become part of the brewer’s tenanted estate in July, although contracts have already been exchanged on the venue, which sits beside the river Exe. St Austell Brewery retail director Steve Worrall said: “We are delighted to add The Bridge Inn to our tenanted pub estate. It’s a fantastic property and our first in Exmoor National Park.” In April, it was announced Kevin Georgel would step down as chief executive of Admiral Taverns to take up the same role at St Austell Brewery in January 2020, where he is currently non-executive director.

Shaw to start El Gato Negro expansion with Liverpool site: Simon Shaw, chef patron and creative director of Manchester tapas restaurant El Gato Negro, has revealed plans to open a second site for the concept, in Liverpool. Shaw launched El Gato Negro in King Street in 2016. He will now open a restaurant at the Exchange Flags development in Liverpool city centre. Exchange Flags operates as offices on weekdays and a dining destination in the evening. El Gato Negro will occupy the former Vincent Café and Cocktail Bar site. Shaw said: “Liverpool is an incredible city and I love its community spirit and vibe. The restaurant has been so popular in Manchester it only seemed right to bring the venue to a second city in the north – and Liverpool seemed the perfect fit.” Shaw revealed plans in January to launch a Middle Eastern concept in Manchester, while El Gato Negro has a Portuguese sister restaurant, Canto, in Ancoats. Law firm Freeman Fisher advised El Gato Negro on the Exchange Flags deal. 

Deliveroo to launch World Of Food free festivals in five UK cities: Deliveroo is set to host five free food festivals around the UK during the summer, featuring live music, food and “hidden doorways”. The World Of Food festivals will take place in Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester between 15 June and 24 August. Deliveroo has partnered with eight restaurant partners for the festivals – Shake Shack, Zia Lucia, The Athenian, Bird, Benito’s Hat, Chakra, Honi Poké and Rosa’s Thai Cafe. Visitors will be invited to journey through the House Of Roos bar, where a secret entrance will allow them to access a diner offering all-American classics. After locating (and walking through) the fridge door, the next adventure will begin when they find the Vespa, which will mark another entrance to discover Mediterranean bites and the “Insta-ready streets of Italy”. Attendees will also be able to hop into a tuk-tuk, which will transport them through Asia to discover an “array of exciting food stalls”. Deliveroo marketing director Emily Kraftman said: “Our customers can eat what they want, where they want, when they want and, through the World Of Food, they can do just that.”

Lucky Onion founders to open third Country Creatures site, in the Cotswolds on Monday: Sam and Georgie Pearman, founders of Cotswold hotel and restaurant group The Lucky Onion, are to open a third site for their Country Creatures venture. The Swan in Ascott-under-Wychwood, near Chipping Norton, will relaunch on Monday (27 May). The Swan is a 16th century timbered inn and will feature a 100-cover dining room, 18-cover feasting room, inglenook fireplaces, reclaimed wooden floors and a large central bar. It will also offer seven letting rooms and a family cottage. The menu will focus on dishes that demonstrate the UK’s best artisan ingredients including rarebreed meat from Huntsham Farm and English sparkling wine from Poulton Hill Estate. Georgie Pearman said: “We are thrilled to open another Cotswold inn. It’s such a beautiful part of the country and, for us, it’s home.” Country Creatures also operates The Talbot in North Yorkshire and The Chequers in the Cotswolds. The Pearmans ran The Lucky Onion Group for ten years.

Greene King to host more than 1,500 summer events: Brewer and retailer Greene King is looking to host more than 1,500 events as part of its Great British Summer Social campaign. More than 900 Greene King pubs will host events between May and August ranging from beer yoga and beach parties to cinema events and comedy nights. The campaign aims to create “experiential, exclusive and exciting reasons to bring the community together at a truly Great British institution, the pub”. Greene King senior brand controller Kiran Crawford said: “We know our guests are seeking more than just great food and drink when they’re looking for a pub to visit. They want something different, interesting and, most importantly, memorable. We’ve got some incredible events planned and it’s shaping up to be a fantastic summer.” Greene King is also set to launch a gin and cider festival with exclusive new products such as Kopparberg pink gin, Warner’s raspberry gin and Brothers strawberries and cream cider.

Paul sees 8% sales uplift at Canary Wharf site aided by staffing technology: French bakery Paul has reported an 8% increase in sales at its Canary Wharf site aided by technology. Paul began using on-demand artificial intelligence staffing platform Catapult in September to address daily peaks at its London stores. Using deployment software to identify shops that might be understaffed, Paul found Canary Wharf had a three-hour window every Monday to Friday that would benefit from additional support. Operations director Gary Cowles said: “The majority of Paul team members are looking for eight-hour shifts, five days a week. We were looking for a way to take advantage of the peaks we were experiencing while still providing our core team with the hours they wanted.” Catapult co-founder Oli Johnson added: “Catapult’s mobile workforce meant Paul store managers had people working only when they needed to – levelling the peaks with high-calibre staff so they could spend less time recruiting and more time training and nurturing its existing team.”

French chef Thierry Laborde opens Mayfair restaurant: French chef Thierry Laborde has opened a restaurant in Mayfair after partnering with Anton Efimov. Contemporary French bistro Les Platanes has launched in Bruton Place focusing on cuisine from the south of France. Laborde has worked in restaurants such as Le Gavroche, Restaurant Le Louis XV and L’Oranger, and opened Chabrot Bistrot d’Amis in Knightsbridge in 2011, which has since closed. His menu at Les Platanes features reinventions of classic dishes such as Cornish turbot with artichokes, sweetbread, fresh morel and asparagus. The drinks list focuses on wine from Bordeaux, Provence and Languedoc. The decor takes inspiration from classic French bistros, with cream walls and oak wood flooring. Efimov is Les Platanes’ operations director and has worked in venues such as Mari Vanna and Chinawhite in Air Street.

Manchester-based brewer ShinDigger expands with six-figure funding: Manchester-based brewer ShinDigger is expanding operations with the backing of a six-figure funding package. ShinDigger, founded by Paul Delamere and George Grant in 2013, has used funding to improve its 2,500 square foot warehouse in Ancoats but the company plans to move into a much larger facility in Salford this summer, with capacity to store 1,000 kegs of beer. Before moving to its Ancoats site, the business relied on renting warehouse space and transporting beer from satellite breweries. ShinDigger supplies beer throughout the north and is broadening its presence across the UK to meet demand. The business is expected to increase turnover by 50% during the next 12 months. Delamere told The Business Desk: “This expansion is a major development and signals the start of an exciting chapter for the brewery. Traditionally we have operated as a shadow brewery, creating recipes we love and brewing off-site, so we found storage tricky.” Delamere and Grant began the business by brewing beer in their shared student accommodation. In 2018, ShinDigger produced more than 4,000HL of keg beer.

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