Story of the Day:
Independent cafes, restaurants and bars see growth as shopping centres replace struggling chains: The number of independent stores in shopping centres has grown as landlords become “increasingly creative” with space to replace chains that have closed, according to a study from the Local Data Company (LDC) and British Independent Retailers Association (Bira). Key growth categories in 2018 were restaurants and bars, coffee shops, barbers and beauty salons. The number of independent leisure units (restaurants, cafes and entertainment) increased 75% in 2018, with a net increase of 710 units, compared with a net increase of 132 in 2017. Vegan (52%) and Jamaican (15%) restaurants increased the most as a percentage of their total estate. The study revealed 1,951 shopping centre unit openings in 2018, a net gain of 87 sites and a 1.1% rise compared with a net decline of 88 in 2017. Independent retailers played a key role in replacing the net loss of 811 chains in shopping centres in 2018. The study said shopping centre owners were becoming “increasingly creative” with vacant space, splitting it into smaller units that better suited independents. The study, which reviews more than 313,000 independent businesses across Great Britain, also found that overall, independent retailers opened 4.5% more shops in 2018 than the previous year. This number was offset by a record number of stores closing (35,524), which led to an overall net decline of 1,013 shops. However, this is a 32% improvement from the decline of 1,483 shops in 2017. In 2018, independents accounted for almost two-thirds (64%) of all retail and leisure units in Great Britain. In total, 34,511 independents opened and 35,524 closed. High streets saw no change in fortune, with a 0.3% decline in independent retailers in both 2017 and 2018. Retail parks continued to see growth, with a 4.6% increase in 2018 compared with a 7.3% rise in 2017. LDC head of retail and strategic partnerships Lucy Stainton said: “2018 saw many well-known brands exit the high street and rationalise estates. A by-product was a plethora of units in prime locations coming on the market, which agile entrepreneurs have been quick to reoccupy. This, combined with a more creative approach to property by shopping centre managers, has resulted in a new breed of independent shopping centre occupiers. We expect a similar pattern for retail parks.”
Andrew Ball to feature in next video for Propel Premium subscribers:
Andrew Ball, partner at haysmacintyre, will feature in the next 30-minute video for Propel Premium subscribers, which will be sent out on Friday (31 May). Ball gives his top ten insights on how to spot and prevent internal and external accountancy fraud. 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, regular video recordings of key speakers from Propel events and conferences, and regular columns from insights editor Mark Wingett. 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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Rooms (bed and breakfast) are also available at £125 plus VAT and can be booked by emailing Anne
Casual Dining Group agrees deal to roll out Wireless Social software: Casual Dining Group (CDG), the operator of circa 280 mid-market restaurant brands including Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and Cafe Rouge, has agreed a deal with Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social to fully roll out its software and guest analytics platform. The deal, which runs until 2023 and covers all brands and outlets, follows a trial in seven Las Iguanas venues. CDG has elected to implement Wireless Social’s complete service, which includes social log-in, presence analytics, and data integrations with its marketing technology stack – an arsenal comprising Fishbowl, Feed It Back, and Eagle Eye. By using data gathered from the Wi-Fi service to feed into its wider digital services, CDG can now segment data into specific audiences for email and social media marketing. In addition, the data integrations allow for automated guest feedback requests, sending of vouchers and rewards in real-time to guests when they are in the venue, and provide reports to measure guest’s visit frequency and loyalty over time and as a direct result of their marketing efforts. Celia Pronto, CDG chief customer and digital officer, said: “We noticed an increase in data collection volume and a marketing opt-in rate of more than 75% early on in the trial. This alone is huge for us but the icing on the cake is the presence reports. They provide us with valuable and actionable insights and an unparalleled set of reports, highlighting trends in guest behaviour during and following our various campaigns.” Wireless Social chief executive Julian Ross added: “We have built our solution to help operators such as CDG delight its guests. It’s testament to our mission in that CDG has recognised we are the provider to support it in realising its goals, now and for the long-term.”
Parliamentary report highlights need to ‘re-evaluate tourist tax’: A group of MPs has published a report highlighting the need to “re-evaluate the wider impacts of a tourist tax”. In a move applauded by UKHospitality, the report analyses the levy on hotel and accommodation currently in place in some European cities and calls for a significant cut in the rate of VAT on hotels should a tourist tax be introduced in the UK. The rationale behind the support of a tourist tax is that funds raised would be used to support facilities and services tourists use during their visit. However, the UK is already the second-highest taxed hotel sector in the EU and countries where such a levy has been implemented have reduced rates of VAT on hospitality businesses. The report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group has also identified a number of challenges in implementing a levy, including collection processes and fairness regarding home-sharing platforms, as well as questioning the fairness of imposing a tax solely on overnight visitors who tend to contribute more to the local economy than day visitors. The report recommended councils should examine all options for funding that could be potentially less costly than a tourist tax, along with the longer-term impact on consumers, businesses and the economy before taking any decision. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, which acts as secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for hospitality, said: “Support for local services and communities is of the upmost importance but it can’t be at the sole expense of one faction of hospitality. Local authorities need to press pause on this dash for cash and properly re-evaluate the wider impacts of a tourist tax.”
Operators support first Team Margot ‘Pinkspiration Week’: Operators are lending their support to the first Team Margot “Pinkspiration Week”, which will run from Tuesday, 23 July to Tuesday, 30 July. About 500 outlets will join the activity with All Our Bars, Arc Inspirations, Beds and Bars, Cirrus Inns, Fuller’s, Glendola Leisure, New World Trading Company and Yummy Pubs agreeing to participate, while UKHospitality and the British Institute of Innkeeping are encouraging members to back the campaign. Unlike most charity initiatives, Pinkspiration Week doesn’t aim to raise money but encourages people to register as stem cell and bone marrow donors. The campaign links to the Team Margot Atlantic Row in December this year, when a team of four fathers will take part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. Their aim is to encourage 1.5 million new registrations to correspond with the number of strokes it will take them to complete the 3,000-mile journey under the banner “We Row, You Register”. Team Margot was founded by industry entrepreneur Yaser Martini in 2015 in memory of his daughter Margot and to honour her legacy after she lost her battle with blood cancer aged two. Anyone who is in general good health and aged between 17 and 55 can join the register via a simple swab test.
Job of the week:
COREcruitment is seeking an operations director on behalf of a mid-sized grab-and-go business to help deliver its progressive roll-out plan. The ideal individual will have proven experience delivering significant store and sales growth and be able to balance creating great culture and store atmosphere with realistic business goals and growth plans. The position offers a salary of up to £85,000 with a strong progression plan, benefits and a bonus. For more information or for a confidential chat, email email@example.com
Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants return to profit, plans new burger concept: Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants returned to profit last year while the company is planning a concept called Street Burger, new accounts have revealed. The group made a profit before tax of £500,000 for the year ending 31 August 2018, compared with a loss of £3.8m the previous year following a decline in sales. The collection of restaurants, which includes Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, also reported a 30% increase in underlying earnings to £5.2m. Meanwhile, turnover jumped 4.3% to £53.6m, reports the Press Association. Ramsay said: “Guests don’t just expect a good plate of food, we are relentless with our food quality – that is a given. Our guests want to join us for all occasions – be it social or business and then relax in a great environment. We have to understand our guests – what they want, where they are heading – and we have to head there with them or be left behind.” The group, led by chief executive Andy Wenlock, said it would continue to expand despite headwinds in the sector. The company added it had tactically reviewed its current estate and invested in new concepts such as a private dining room at Heddon Street Kitchen and a lounge at Bread Street Kitchen. Following the launch of Street Pizza in April last year, plans are under way for the brand to open in two more sites and for the first Street Burger to launch. Ramsay’s portfolio currently includes 15 restaurants in London and 23 internationally, with a combined total of seven Michelin stars across the business.
Soho House appoints Andrew Carnie as chief commercial officer: Soho House has appointed Andrew Carnie as chief commercial officer as it focuses on growing its digital, retail and core subscription-based membership business. Carnie joins Soho House from outfitter URBN’s Anthropologie brand, which he joined in 2013 as executive director before rising to group president. At Anthropologie he doubled the home business sales and spearheaded the group’s digital strategy, delivering five years of consecutive double-digit sales growth. He also replatformed the brand’s website, relaunched its app and oversaw the opening of Anthropologie’s first stores in mainland Europe. Carnie will report into Soho House chief executive Nick Jones and lead the company’s strategic focus on community and experiences and take ownership of the Soho House app. He will also grow Soho Home and oversee the expansion of Soho Works globally, while setting up a new experiences pillar as Soho House looks to expand “non-House concepts” around the world. Jones said: “Andrew has a proven track record of growing businesses by being focused on their most important element, the customer. As a result, whether he has been looking at retail, digital, experiential or food and beverage, he has always been a success. He will be a key component in helping Soho House move into its next stage of growth.” Carnie added: “Soho House is a business I have always admired and the opportunity to be part of its journey was too good to turn down.” Carnie’s first day at Soho House will be on Monday, 3 June.
German Doner Kebab aims to grow to 50 UK sites by end of 2019 and up to 300 in five years: Glasgow-based German Doner Kebab (GDK), which is part of the Hero Brands fast-casual portfolio, has said it aims to grow to about 50 sites in the UK by the end of 2019 – and 300 in five years. The brand, which has 33 sites across the UK, said it would open a restaurant every week for the rest of the year in a move that will create about 200 jobs. GDK will invest £6m to open 14 sites in locations including Preston, Oldham, Bradford, Northampton, Walsall, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. However, the company’s biggest problem is finding restaurant sites fast enough to match its ambitions. GDK global chief executive Imran Sayeed told the Lancashire Evening Post: “I think we could open another 40 or 50 sites this year because of demand but we have to take time to make sure the locations are right. By the end of this year we will hopefully be near to 50 in the UK and I think we could be looking at 300 in the next five years. I think our success highlights the shift to fast-casual dining. Millenials and Generation Z want something different and our product offering and price point fits in with what they want.” GDK was founded in Germany in 1989 but was launched in the UK in 2016 by Hero Brands under a franchise model.
Last-minute restaurant deals app Wriggle plans Birmingham launch as crowdfunding campaign nears £670,000: Last-minute restaurant deals app Wriggle is planning to launch in Birmingham as its fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs nears the £670,000 mark. The company, which was launched by Rob Hall in Bristol in 2014, acts as a restaurant discovery tool and offers users same-day discounts to fill excess capacity. It is offering 10.45% equity in return for the investment to fund its next stage of growth, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £5,140,320. So far, 365 investors have pledged £669,285. Wriggle currently operates in Bristol, Cardiff and Brighton and generates more than 20,000 transactions per month for restaurants, cafes, pubs and street food stalls. It has its sights set on a move into Birmingham in September, with other towns and cities also on the horizon. Hall told Insider Media: “Having the backing of our own users and clients as well as other investors makes us feel even more confident as we embark on the next stage of our adventure, launching in new cities in 2019 and 2020. Wriggle has stayed focused on a few cities to do this – building thriving local city units – and we’re now in an excellent position to scale up.”
SSP opens ten food and beverage units at Trondheim airport: UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group has opened ten food and beverage units at Trondheim airport in Norway as part of a five-year contract. The outlets include a mix of global brands and local concepts. SSP has introduced its healthy food concept Haven to the airport, while it has also opened two restaurants – Foodbar, which offers a range of dishes to eat in or take away, and Max Premium Burgers. Other brands include Ritazza, Upper Crust, O’Learys, Starbucks and three Point convenience stores. SSP Norway managing director Bente Brevik said: “From international names with mass appeal to more specialist concepts, the new line-up will suit all traveller tastes and preferences.” Ellen Weidemann, commercial director of airport operator Avinor, added: “We are very excited to bring fresh and exciting brands to the airport, which will strengthen our overall food and beverage offer and provide even greater choice and service for our passengers.”
Prada brings Italian bakery brand to Mayfair for first site outside Milan: Fashion giant Prada Group has brought its classic Italian bakery brand Pasticceria Marchesi to Mayfair for its UK debut. The bakery has opened in Mount Street for the brand’s first store outside Milan, where it has three sites. Pasticceria Marchesi was founded in 1824, with Prada Group buying the majority share in 2014. The Mayfair venue includes a pastry counter, bakery and cafe, offering freshly baked pastries, cakes, biscuits and sweets, as well as chocolates and traditional Italian ice-cream. Keith Bailey, Mayfair director of landlord Grosvenor, said: “This cafe and shop will grow the openness and appeal of our London estate. On top of that, Prada Group’s legacy and credentials chime perfectly with Mount Street’s boutiques, heritage brands and restaurants.”
Tuscan coastal concept to launch in Brixton next month: Chef Alice Staple, who is part of the team behind Battersea-based private social enterprise the London Cooking Project, is to launch a Tuscan coastal concept in Brixton with business partner Dickie Bielenberg. Maremma will open at former pub the Montego Inn in Brixton Water Lane on Friday, 14 June. The neighbourhood restaurant will take inspiration from the Maremma coastal region in southern Tuscany, which is known for its seafood, game, olive groves and vineyards. The menu will feature Tuscan classics such as wild boar prosciutto and acquacotta, a traditional soup served with a poached hen’s egg. There will also be lighter snacks to accompany cocktails. The wine list will focus on Tuscan bottles from small producers, all of them available in the UK for the first time. The venue will feature a quartz-topped bar and banquettes with oak tables. Bielenberg said: “Alice and I love the region and were won over by its produce, fine wine and charm. We have met some wonderful people there and some of them will become our suppliers.” Staple added: “We have sourced the very best produce and lesser-known wine. I can’t wait to showcase these in our little slice of the Maremma in Brixton.”
Travelodge plans 17 more hotels in £115m expansion programme: Travelodge is planning to open 17 more hotels this year, creating more than 350 jobs. The company is planning to invest about £115m in the expansion programme. The 17 Travelodge hotels expected to open in 2019 will be in Beckton, Bury St Edmunds, Chippenham, Dagenham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gosport, Letchworth Garden City, Liverpool, Marlow, Rhyl, Rochester, Sittingbourne, Solihull, Swindon, Walsall and Winchester. Chief executive Peter Gowers said: “Despite the uncertainty the UK faces, the long-term prospects for low-cost hotels remain strong. The next phase of our expansion plan will see us deliver more choice in more places than ever before. We’ve come a long way from our early days by the side of the motorway and today’s Travelodge not only offers the same great value but the extra choice of our new Travelodge Plus and SuperRoom concepts – ideal for those for who want that little bit more. Britain’s travellers are changing. We expect more and increasingly travel to a wider range of places. More and more of us are working away from home during the week, and we’re taking more long weekends.”
My Million Pound Menu winner Baba G’s opens debut bricks and mortar site, in Camden: Indian-inspired street food trader Baba G’s, which gained £300,000 funding from Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochar on the BBC’s My Million Pound Menu, has opened its debut permanent site, at Camden Market. Alec Owen and Liz Selway have been operating Baba G’s for the past ten years as a pop-up at Pop Brixton, Camden Market and a site it launched at Flat Iron Square last month. Now they have opened a permanent site in Camden Market’s revitalised North Yard. The 50-cover restaurant features an open butchery, with burgers made from scratch. There is also a large open kitchen, counter dining and a shorter menu for takeaway options available via a hatch. Although the new venture is Owen and Selway’s, they are being mentored by Kochhar and fellow My Million Pound Menu judge Jamie Barber, of Hush Brasserie. Alongside regular Baba G’s dishes such as chicken tikka nuggets and bhangra burgers, the venue offers new small plates and a children’s menu. Drinks are spiced using cardamom and chai, while the cocktail menu focuses on spiced rum. Selway said: “We are pleased to be part of Camden Market’s revitalisation. When the opportunity arose to see our brand grow further, Camden offered the energy and reflected the ethos of the Baba G experience.” Maggie Milosavljevic, food and beverage commercial director at landlord LabTech, added: “Baba G’s popularity has shone through following more than a decade of street food service, right up to being a winner of My Million Pound Menu.”
Liverpool-based buttermilk chicken restaurant to start expansion: Liverpool-based buttermilk chicken restaurant Patterson’s is to open a second site in the city. Patterson’s launched in Gradwell Street in 2015. Now it will open in the former Button Street Smokehouse premises, near Mathew Street, this summer. Patterson’s also has a stall in the Baltic Market and the owners have decided to open a second restaurant because of “huge demand” for its “famous chicken”, reports the Liverpool Echo. Alongside chicken, Patterson’s also offers ale, cocktails and cereal-flavoured milkshakes.
Private members’ club 24 Mayfair to open off Park Lane in July: Private members’ club 24 Mayfair is set to open in Hertford Street, off Park Lane, central London, in July. Trading 24 hours a day, the space will feature interiors inspired by retro Hollywood, including velvet-covered armchairs against a tarnished gold backdrop. Staff uniforms are being designed by Maria Grachvogel. The club will feature an intimate bar on the ground floor offering a light daytime menu with the venue turning into a cocktail bar in the evening. A first-floor restaurant will offer a contemporary Japanese menu and feature an eight-seater, glass-encased teppanyaki bar. The menu will offer dishes such as fresh-dived king scallops with vanilla miso and pickled plums, while a second menu will encompass dishes from around the world including China, South Asia and the Middle East. 24 Mayfair will also host a wide variety of events alongside live music and DJs.
Buzzworks Holdings launches Vic’s & The Vine concept in Prestwick: Scottish bar and restaurant operator Buzzworks Holdings has launched new concept Vic’s & The Vine after spending a seven-figure sum to transform its 16-year-old Elliots bar and restaurant in Prestwick. Vic’s & The Vine is a venue of “two halves”, with 150-cover restaurant The Vine serving an all-day menu. In the kitchen, a churrasco barbecue pit takes centre stage while there is also a 24-cover private dining room. The bar is called Vic’s and offers live sport and entertainment and has become the first venue in Ayrshire to serve Tennent’s tank lager. Visitors can also enjoy coffee and cake from the neighbouring Bakehouse during the day, while late-night DJs play until 2.30am each weekend with live music during the week. Buzzworks Holdings managing director Kenny Blair said: ““Watching Vic’s & The Vine take shape has been exciting and customer feedback has been fantastic. We are proud to have opened the doors to our striking new venue.” Vic’s & The Vine is Buzzworks Holdings’ fourth concept alongside Scotts, House and Lido for 11 sites in total and an annual turnover of more than £18m.
Chesterfield-based pub operators open second site: Trevor and Nicky Marples, who operate The Butcher’s Arms in Chesterfield, have opened a sister site in the Derbyshire town. The Marples acquired the Royal Oak in Chatsworth Road and have reopened it as The Spotted Frog following an extensive refurbishment. The Spotted Frog is a character in an Edward Lear poem and the pub follows the theme throughout. The pub has a partnership with Pieminister to offer the Bristol-based company’s pies and side dishes, while the venue also features six screens for sport. Trevor Marples told the Derbyshire Times: “We will be a trendy pub as opposed to a trendy bar. We want to be everybody’s local, with emphasis on the best-kept range of beer, wine and spirits.”
Mangrove reports record trading as turnover rises 41.3%: Premium drinks distributor Mangrove UK has reported record trading with turnover up 41.3% to £21.4m for the year ending 30 April 2019. The company saw “good sustainable growth” across its core portfolio categories of gin, tequila, vodka and whisky, including the addition of Scotch whisky brands BenRiach, Glenglassaugh and Glendronnach, which had a positive impact on sales in the second half of the year. The company said it had seen growth across the on and off-trade in terms of distribution points and portfolio reach. The performance builds on five years of continuous growth and a record month in October 2018 that saw Mangrove UK deliver a record 22,000 cases to on and off-trade customers across the UK. Managing director Nick Gillett said: “I am particularly excited about bourbon as we see the impact of price repositioning, while we should also reap the rewards of growth in awareness of Pampelle and Select among consumers wanting a quality product. That said, the highly competitive UK market will continue to be tough. Our focus will be on effectively managing the challenges that come with growing at this rate and cost-effective financing. We continue to look to make the right brand additions to ensure we remain relevant, building on our quality portfolio of brands that are ready for further expansion and growth for many years to come.”
Joseph Holt offers virtual history tour as part of 170th anniversary: North west brewer and retailer Joseph Holt is offering customers a virtual history tour as part of celebrations to mark its 170th anniversary. A select group of Greater Manchester pubs, including The Ape And Apple and the Crown & Anchor in Manchester city centre, will take part in the company’s 170 Cask Ale Programme. The clip pumps will have a QR or bar code that can be scanned with a phone to get information about the Joseph Holt story. The six ales will be codenamed G1 to G6 to mark the six generations of the Joseph Holt family and will be rolled out during the coming year. They will be available in about 40 of the brewery’s 127 pubs. Sixth-generation Joseph Holt family member Jane Kershaw, herself a trained brewer, said: “This is such an exciting time for Joseph Holt – a time where we celebrate our history and plan for the future. By offering information about the company’s heritage at the pumps, our one-off cask ale programme will make our valued customers part of the ongoing Joseph Holt story too.”
Safestay chairman Larry Lipman acquires historic Oxfordshire hotel: Larry Lipman, chairman of London-headquartered hostel operator Safestay and managing director of investment group Safeland, has acquired The Shaven Crown hotel in Shipton-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire. Built as a hospice for monks at nearby Bruern Abbey, The Shaven Crown retains many medieval features and was put on the market for £1.1m. The grade II-listed building also features an entrance porch with Tudor door, cobbled floors and heavy timber doors opening on to the Great Hall, which has mullion windows, a beamed ceiling and a staircase leading to seven letting rooms. There is also three-bedroom private accommodation in a wing at the rear of the hotel. Peter Brunt, hotels director with agent Colliers International, which brokered the deal, said: “The inn has been bought by Larry Lipman, one of the main driving forces behind the Safestay business, which runs 13 hostels in seven countries and claims to deliver one million rooms per night across the globe.”
Cornwall-based distiller targets 50% turnover growth following bank backing: Cornwall-based distiller Colwith Farm is targeting turnover growth of 50% on the back of a funding package from Lloyds Bank. The distillery is based on a family-owned potato farm in Lanlivery. The farm uses 200 tonnes of potatoes a year to make its own single-estate vodka and gin, which is sold to retail outlets, pubs and restaurants throughout the West Country. Colwith Farm is set to launch four products this year, including rhubarb gin, rose and hibiscus-infused vodka, vanilla vodka and classic dry gin. The business also plans to increase its headcount by a further 25% during the next 12 months. Colwith Farm director Steve Dustow told Insider Media: “There has been a surge in demand for artisan spirits during the past five years. We saw an opportunity to make the most of this as the potatoes we grow are one of the key ingredients for distilling alcohol. Our gin has received a really positive reception since we started selling to the public last summer. Thanks to the financial backing from Lloyds Bank, we are able to continue to invest in our product portfolio to offer our customers new and exciting flavours.”