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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 14th Jun 2019 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Trade bodies to challenge PPL music tariff increase: UKHospitality and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) are to take the proposed increase in recorded music tariffs by music licensing company PPL to the Copyright Tribunal, Propel has learned. The new specially featured entertainment (SFE) tariff, which relates to playing recorded music in public at nightclubs, pubs, bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels, is set to come into force on Monday, 1 July. The challenge by UKHospitality and the BBPA was revealed as Lord Smith of Hindhead, Best Bar None chairman and Association of Conservative Clubs chief executive, took PPL to task in parliament over its “outrageous” fee hike. Lord Smith said: “PPL collected £250m in fees last year, raked off some £35m in administration fees and paid its chief executive a package worth £786,000. If PPL wants to provide copyright holders with a better return, it should perhaps look at cutting its own expenditure. The proposed new SFE tariff fee is frankly outrageous, and potentially damaging. The hospitality industry is the third-largest private sector employer and returns significant sums to the Exchequer. This proposed increase is a slap in the face for hard-working businesses and is contrary to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s recent call for the music industry to step in to help venues that play music.” The new structure sees the fee increase in direct proportion to the size of the audience (measured in bands of 25 people); and two new, smaller tariff bands for SFE events with attendances of one to 25 and 26 to 50 people. There will be a phased introduction of increased fees during a five-year period based on an initial rate of 4p per person per hour (a rise of 0.1p from the current rate). This would move to 9p per person per hour by 2023, subject to annual indexation. UKHospitality and the BBPA are now referring the increase to the Copyright Tribunal for independent review. The Copyright Tribunal aims to resolve UK commercial licensing disputes between copyright owners or their agents and people who use copyright material in their business. BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds told Propel: “BBPA and UKHospitality have been discussing changes to this tariff with PPL for 18 months. Unfortunately it’s now pushing ahead with increases in excess of 120% over the next four years, which we believe are unjustified. As a sector it is only right we challenge this and the support of Lord Smith is extremely welcome.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Squeezing venues and squeezing customers out of venues does nobody any favours – hospitality businesses or PPL. We all need to be working harmoniously and that means not gouging venues unfairly.” In response, PPL chief executive Peter Leathem said:“PPL’s objective in reviewing our SFE tariff has been to ensure performers and record companies are paid fairly for their work. While our operating costs are deducted, PPL does not retain a profit for itself. In reviewing the SFE tariff, we have undertaken extensive economic analysis, using external experts and an established valuation technique to set a new tariff which will apply to nightclubs, pubs and bars, restaurants and cafes and hotels. We have consulted extensively with the industry on this over a number of years. Changes in the structure of the SFE tariff, designed to make it fairer, mean that the fees for some smaller events would actually go down in the initial years. Since PPL announced the new SFE tariff, UKHospitality and the BBPA have informed us they plan to refer both the current and new SFE tariffs to the Copyright Tribunal. Under tribunal rules, the current tariff would remain in force pending the tribunal’s decision.”

Industry News:

Mark Wingett to look at Azzurri Group’s potential Pod acquisition in latest Premium column: Propel insights editor Mark Wingett will look at Azzurri Group’s potential acquisition of Pod in his latest opinion piece, which will be sent to Propel Premium subscribers on Friday (14 June) at 5pm. He will also write about the importance of momentum and timing, touching on businesses such as Turtle Bay, Bill’s, Mowgli and Upham Pub Company. Meanwhile Tim Clouting, global head of hospitality, leisure and travel at recruitment firm Savannah Group, will ask if there is a place for narcissistic leaders. Subscribers will also receive a 30-minute video on Friday in which Mission Mars chief executive Roy Ellis talks about finding a funding partner, the BGF, to facilitate expansion of the company’s bar brand, Albert’s Schloss, and pizza business, Rudy’s. 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

Pupils to present plastic solutions to Pret: Pupils taking part in a new UK-wide education initiative to cut plastic consumption will compete to present their ideas to Pret A Manger. The Junior Plastic Hackathon will launch on Saturday (15 June) at Wycombe Abbey in Buckinghamshire, where pupils from eight schools will join industry experts and sustainability champions from businesses such as services company Sodexo, Unilever and Veolia in a bid to develop investment-ready solutions to cut plastic consumption in their communities and schools. The winning team will present its idea to Pret A Manger director of strategy and sustainability Laura Gutowski at the company’s head office. Junior Plastic Hackathon founder Dhruv Boruah said: “It is time for our young people to take the next step in creating real-life solutions to the plastic crisis.” Jeremy Alderton, managing director of Independents by Sodexo, said: “We take our environmental responsibilities seriously and have committed to ensuring 90% of our waste is recycled or reused by 2025. We are proud to support Junior Plastic Hackathon and look forward to hearing ideas to tackle plastic pollution.”

EP Business in Hospitality launches sector diversity initiative: A new diversity initiative for the hospitality sector has been launched, with the first event – Migrations: All Our Voices – taking place on Monday (17 June) at Carousel in Marylebone, London. The initiative will highlight the industry’s need to guard against moves that “may undermine the stability and security of those in migrant and minority communities”. Hosted by EP Business in Hospitality in partnership with educational institute the Oxford Cultural Collective (OCC), speakers will include Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and leading human rights lawyer Baroness Helena Kennedy. The 12-month initiative will “champion the role of hospitality in bringing people together from different walks of life” via a series of industry events hosted by cultural ambassadors, chefs, food writers and broadcasters. EP Business in Hospitality chief executive Chris Sheppardson said: “The industry relies on and welcomes workers from many different nationalities and cultural backgrounds, arguably more so than any other sector of the UK economy. Hospitality visually represents the migrant communities that have shaped UK society over generations and we have a responsibility to our culturally diverse community – something that is particularly relevant during the current period of political upheaval and uncertainty.”

Company News:

Burger King UK looks to ramp up expansion: Burger King UK, the Bridgepoint-backed chain, is looking to open at least 90 sites during the next three years. The Alasdair Murdoch-led group, which currently operates more than 500 sites, has appointed agent Lunson Mitchenall to aid its expansion plans. Lunson Mitchenall ’s occupier representation team will work with a group of joint agents to expand the UK business and its franchise partnerships. The fast food chain aims to open at least 30 outlets per year for the next three years. Sites are being sought ranging from 1,600 to 3,000 square feet in high footfall areas that don’t currently have a Burger King presence. Locations on the target list include transport interchanges, drive-thrus, retail parks, high-street locations and shopping centre food courts. Lunson Mitchenall will be responsible for sourcing outlets in East Anglia, the south east, south west and South Wales. Burger King UK property director Marc Balding said: “These are exciting times for the Burger King brand in the UK at present and I look forward to Lunson Mitchenall continuing to advise Burger King UK on our expansion.” Lunson Mitchenall director Matt Maynard added: “It is a really interesting time for the fast-food market at the moment. Against the wider economic backdrop the sector is enjoying strong growth thanks to a shift in perception of fast food and consumers responding to Burger King’s reinvigorated offering.” Last month, Burger King launched a selection of Whopper meals to suit a variety of moods in a bid to promote “authenticity” and the message “no-one is happy all the time”. The Real Meals were made available in select US cities to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month.

Tortilla to ‘put its foot down again’ by opening four UK sites this summer: Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed restaurant group, is to “put its foot down again” regarding UK expansion by opening four restaurants this summer. Openings in Wardour Street in Soho, Cabot Circus in Bristol, Cornmarket in Oxford, and Market Square in Cambridge will bring the group’s global estate to 49 restaurants following recent openings in Southwark and two venues in Dubai. The restaurants in Oxford and Cambridge will offer between 80 and 100 covers and a separate delivery line, while the Soho site will be the brand’s fourth “Baby Tortilla”. The company is also refurbishing its restaurant at Westfield London as part of the shopping centre’s new food court, with the venue due to reopen in September. Managing director Richard Morris said: “We have been cautious with our openings programme over the past 18 months. The issues we’ve seen in the sector would suggest that was a sensible strategy. However, we are now delighted to have such phenomenal locations opening this year, allowing us to put our foot down again while continuing to grow sales in our existing estate.” Tortilla began its search for a new operations director last week after Jason Salt stepped down from the role. 

SSP takes over Jamie Oliver’s Gatwick restaurants: SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, has taken over operations of Jamie Oliver’s Diner, Jamie’s Italian and Jamie’s Coffee Lounge at Gatwick airport after reaching an agreement with Will Wright and Mark Orton, of KPMG, who are joint administrators of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group. SSP Group is already a partner of Jamie Oliver Group, operating 12 of the company’s restaurants in mainland Europe. All 250 members of staff at the Gatwick sites will transfer to SSP as part of the agreement. SSP Group chief executive Simon Smith said: “We are delighted to expand our partnership with Jamie Oliver, especially as we already operate 12 Jamie Oliver units in Austria, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain, with further units planned in Brazil and Bahrain. Jamie’s cafes and restaurants are much loved by customers around the world so we’re excited to add the brand to our UK portfolio and increase our presence at Gatwick.” Wright said: “We are pleased to have reached this agreement with SSP Group, which will see the three Jamie Oliver outlets at Gatwick airport continue to trade, safeguarding a significant number of jobs.” Wright and Orton were appointed joint administrators of Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group on 21 May. On their appointment, all the group’s UK restaurants closed with the exception of the Gatwick sites.

Dorbiere to dispose of four more ‘underperforming’ pubs, expects turnover in FY19 in line with previous year: Manchester-based pub operator Dorbiere plans to dispose of four more “underperforming” sites by the end of 2019 as it continues to review its estate. The company said it expects turnover in the current financial year to be in line with the previous year’s levels. The announcement comes as Dorbiere reported revenue was down to £13,506,584 for the year ending 30 September 2018, compared with £13,814,064 the previous year. Pre-tax profit fell to £1,158,536 compared with £1,734,385 the year before, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Dorbiere operates about 50 pubs in the north west, north east and Midlands, all of them freehold. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “As at 30 September 2018, the company has net assets of £12,778,028 (2017: £11,884,027). The directors are satisfied with the results for the year and the year-end balance sheet position. During the year the company disposed of four underperforming outlets and intends to dispose of a further four, thus releasing funds to acquire more profitable replacements. For 2019, turnover is budgeted to be in line with 2018 levels. This, together with margin maintenance and improved cost control and an established management team, will combine to maintain current company profitability.”

Lupita acquired out of administration: Lupita, the London-based Mexican restaurant business, has been acquired out of administration by its managing director Armando Gomez de Orozco, Propel has learned. Gomez de Orozco, who joined the company in 2017, has acquired two of the company’s three remaining sites – in Kensington High Street and Commercial Street. However, the group’s Villiers Street site has closed with the lease surrendered back to the landlord as part of the administration process. Administrators from Alexander Lawson Jacobs were appointed to the business earlier this year, with Lupita subsequently marketed for sale. The business received 15 initial enquiries, with six parties going on to express stronger interest. However, no offers were received to acquire the entire company. It was agreed Gomez de Orozco would acquire two of the three sites through Lupita Restaurants for a consideration of circa £60,000. Lupita, which was founded by Rafael Mondragon in 2010, was placed on the market in 2017 through Christie & Co with a guide price of £1.8m. The business was initially placed on the market in 2016 through DeVono, with its Villiers Street site thought to have attracted bids of circa £1m. Lupita had previously spoken of attracting private equity interest to aid a further roll-out in the capital.

KFC to trial vegetarian and vegan products: KFC is to trial vegetarian and vegan products for the first time at 20 of its outlets in England. The fast food chain will introduce The Imposter vegan burger next week in Bristol, London and the Midlands as part of a four-week trial. KFC said it had been prompted to make the move by customers seeking “broader choices”. KFC also announced it would trial vegetarian option The Southern Fritter Stacker – available as a burger, wrap and rice box – in the same 20 outlets from 15 July. Victoria Robertson, senior innovation leader at KFC UK and Ireland, said: “Vegans have been cruelly denied the incredible taste of KFC up to now, which is why we’ve worked hard to perfect The Imposter.” The meat-free burger will consist of a “bespoke Quorn fillet coated in the Colonel’s Original Recipe herbs and spices” and topped with iceberg lettuce and vegan mayonnaise. Tony Davison, head of global foodservice and QSR at Quorn, said: “Vegan KFC? We couldn’t believe it either – but we’ve done it.”

Coffeesmiths Collective adds to estate with Spring Espresso acquisition: Coffeesmiths Collective, the fast-growing coffee company led by Toby Smith, has further added to its portfolio of concepts by acquiring Yorkshire-based Spring Espresso, Propel has learned. The company, which recently bought ten Filmore & Union coffee shops in a pre-pack administration, has added Spring Espresso’s two sites, both in York. Coffeesmiths Collective acquires and rolls out speciality coffee shops and companies preserving, where possible, their strong local identities. Its flagship brand is Department of Coffee and Social Affairs. It also owns Bea’s of Bloomsbury, Small Batch Coffee, Baker & Spice, Nordic Bakery and Urban Tea Rooms, among others. Last month, Coffeesmiths Collective appointed Darcy Willson-Rymer, former managing director of Starbucks UK and Ireland and current chief executive of convenience store chain Costcutter, as non-executive chairman.

Cuthbertson steps down as Dark Star Brewery managing director: James Cuthbertson is to step down as managing director of West Sussex-based craft brewer Dark Star on Friday (14 June) after 15 years with the now Asahi-owned business. It is understood Cuthbertson will retain an investment in Dark Star’s pubs, including The Anchor Tap in Horsham and the Lockhart Tavern in Haywards Heath. Cuthbertson has been managing director of Dark Star since 2017 after previously being marketing director. He played a key role in the growth of the business and its subsequent sale to Fuller’s in February last year. At the time, the company produced about 16,000 barrels a year. The group launched its pub company, headed by Heath Ball, in 2015. The business formed part of the sale of Fuller’s beer division to Asahi for £250m, a deal that was completed earlier this year. Dark Star began life in the basement of The Evening Star pub in Brighton. 

Young’s boss sees earnings rise: Patrick Dardis, chief executive of London pub retailer Young’s, saw his earnings, excluding pension costs, increase to £828,000 for the year ending 2 April 2018 compared with £597,000 the year before, according to the company’s annual report. This year’s figure consisted of £444,000 salary and fees, £1,000 benefits and £383,000 bonus. Former finance director Steven Robinson, who resigned in December, was paid £227,000, excluding pension costs, which was made up of £226,000 salary and fees and £1,000 in benefits. He was replaced by Daniel Quint, who is not a member of the board, as interim chief financial officer in January. Head of people Tracy Read received £356,000, excluding pension costs, which consisted of £218,000 salary and fees and £138,000 bonus.

D&D London to launch 14th-floor City restaurant in November: Restaurant operator D&D London is to launch its latest City of London restaurant, 14 Hills, on the 14th floor of 120 Fenchurch Street. Opening in November, 14 Hills will occupy about 9,200 square feet below the public roof garden that crowns Generali Real Estate’s new office building. The restaurant will have spectacular views of the London skyline complemented by mature trees, shrubs and pergolas. The dining room will feature a canopy of evergreen plants and seasonal climbers at its centre. Menus will be overseen by new executive chef Thomas Piat, whose menu will be “modern British cooked with French flair”. He will oversee a comprehensive set of menus that will include Saturday brunches, Sunday roasts and a fast-serve deli counter. Piat was formerly executive chef at Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge and, most recently, at Joia par Helene Darroze in Paris. 14 Hills will also feature a bar offering cocktails paired with British bar snacks. D&D London operates 41 restaurants and bars and one hotel, principally in London but with venues in Leeds, Manchester, Paris and New York. On Monday (10 June), D&D London launched a co-working initiative in five of its venues in the capital. The Workroom is a partnership with entrepreneur Dominika Sadowska and allows users to book a table to serve as their “office for the day”.

Timothy Taylor reshuffles pub estate as it moves two sites from managed to tenanted division: Keighley-based brewer and retailer Timothy Taylor is reshuffling its pub estate by moving two managed sites to its tenanted division, Propel has learned. Earlier this week, Propel reported Timothy Taylor has been restructuring its pub estate to focus on its brewing business. As part of the review, Timothy Taylor put the Harrogate Brasserie in Harrogate up for sale last year. Propel understands that, given the current commercial property market, Timothy Taylor has now decided not to pursue a potential sale and instead moved the site into its tenanted division. A small refurbishment of the downstairs trading area and communal accommodation will be carried out and Timothy Taylor is believed to have opened discussions with potential tenants. Propel also understands the Lord Rodney in Keighley is being transferred from managed to tenanted. The reshuffle will mean Timothy Taylor will have just one managed property – the Woolly Sheep in Skipton – and 18 tenanted pubs. Earlier this week, chief executive Tim Dewey told Propel beer sales in the current financial year were up and it was continuing to grow market share, with its flagship Landlord brand performing strongly. 

UberEats to begin drone delivery tests: UberEats will begin testing food delivery by drones in San Diego this summer, the company has revealed at its Uber Elevate summit in Washington DC. The company is initially teaming up with McDonald’s for the test but the programme will expand to include more options later in the year. The test will be carried out in San Diego because the Federal Aviation Administration selected the city to participate in a commercial drone test programme last year. Drones will fly to designated pick-up areas, with drivers completing the last leg of the journey. Eventually it’s thought drones could land on the roof of parked delivery cars, guided by a QR code. Uber said combining drones with vehicles would “cut delivery times”.

Slim’s Healthy Kitchen founder to open coffee shop and brunch venue at former Bob & Berts site in Belfast: Slim’s Healthy Kitchen founder Gary McIldowney is to open a coffee shop and brunch venue in Belfast. McIldowney has joined forces with Slim’s Healthy Kitchen chef Ryan Jenkins to launch Output in the former Bob & Berts site in Lisburn Road that shut last month. McIldowney and Jenkins are investing £100,000 in the 1,150 square foot, 40-seater venue, which is due to open this month. The menu will include eggs galore, a brunch burger with bacon jam, short rib hash and a beef-dripping sandwich with cured meat. McIldowney told the Irish News: “Ryan started his cooking career and has been part of the team at Slim’s for six years. Recently he has been organising pop-up dining nights across Belfast, building his own fan base for the culinary talents he couldn’t express as part of the Slim’s brand, with it being health focused. We were both keen to channel his passion for creating beautiful food that not only looks good but tastes good into something permanent.” McIldowney founded Slim’s Healthy Kitchen in 2013. It operates two outlets in Belfast and one in Magherafelt.

Stonegate implements technology to improve staff training and engagement: Stonegate Pub Company has implemented a new technology platform to improve staff training, retention and engagement. The I-choose app allows colleagues to view rotas and payslips online and take on extra shifts or swap them with colleagues. Stonegate has also partnered with Wagestream to introduce a service that enables those employees paid hourly to access as much as 30% of their earned wages up to three times per pay cycle. I-choose also provides budgeting advice and offers financial welfare support in conjunction with The Money Charity and Money Advice Service. The move follows Stonegate’s launch of learning and development platform Academy Online in April. The platform hosts the company’s online training and learning modules and Stonegate said more than 80,000 modules had been completed since launch. HR director Tim Painter said: “Academy Online reflects people’s desire for bite-sized learning delivered on a user-friendly platform. I-choose provides real-time information people need about their pay and shifts and provides the flexibility people increasingly want. Wagestream will also help our colleagues with their own financial planning and general financial well-being.”

Mercedes Benz to launch ‘autohaus’ hospitality concept: LSH Auto UK, part of Mercedes-Benz dealership LSH International, is to open its debut licensed bar next month as part of a new hospitality concept. The company will open the UK’s first Mercedes-Benz Autohaus, in Stockport. The purpose-built, three-story site off Brighton Road will feature a bistro, events facilities and a garden alongside a traditional dealership space. The licensed bistro will serve paninis, cakes and pastries alongside wine and craft beer. The concept will have its own dedicated hospitality manager and a screening room available for hire with cinema-style seating.

Gastro-pub concept Three’s A Crowd launches in Harrogate with Star Pubs & Bars backing: Former Dakota Deluxe operations manager John Quinlan has teamed up with ex-D&D London executive chef Lee Murdoch to launch a gastro-pub concept in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, backed by Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. Three’s A Crowd has opened following the £430,000 refurbishment of the former Muckles pub in West Park, funded by owner Star Pubs & Bars. The new decor pays homage to the venue’s roots, with Italian marble tables and hand-made leather-covered seats alongside the original 19th century bar. There is also a private dining room. Quinlan said: “We are foodies and entertainers at heart and believe we bring something different to the table. With Three’s A Crowd we’re setting the bar pretty high. It’s five-star food, drink and service without the heirs and graces.” Murdoch added: “It is all about the flavour – and that’s what makes us different to the boring high-street chains and most other independents.”

My Million Pound Menu winner Pilgrim opens debut restaurant, at new Liverpool food and drink market: Pilgrim, which won £600,000 investment from Graffiti Spirits Group co-founder Matt Farrell after winning BBC show My Million Pound Menu, has opened its debut restaurant. Pilgrim has launched at Graffiti Spirits Group’s Duke Street Food and Drink Market in Liverpool. Based on the Camino pilgrimage across France, Spain and Portugal, Pilgrim’s 40-cover restaurant features a bar, mezzanine and terrace with small plates made for sharing, including a four-course tasting menu. The drinks list includes wine, vermouth, port, sherry and cocktails on tap. Pilgrim was founded by managing director Jamie Duffield, brand and marketing director Anthony Power, and chef director Dave Bone. Power said: “We will continually rotate the menu to showcase the season’s best produce, with a wine and drinks offering that matches the ever-changing menu. Pilgrim can show there’s so much more to Spanish cuisine than tapas.” Farrell told Propel earlier this year Pilgrim had the potential to be “one of the best restaurants in the north west”. Graffiti Spirits Group operates eight sites across Liverpool. In total, Duke Street Food and Drink Market houses six traders, a restaurant and three bars. 

Broadwick behind plans for 10,000-capacity Manchester events venue: Broadwick Venues, which operates Printworks London and is a subsidiary of festival specialist Broadwick Live, is part of a team behind plans for a 10,000-capacity performance, community and studio space in Manchester. If approved, Depot is set to launch at Mayfield next to Piccadilly station this summer. The project is a collaboration between Broadwick Venues, events company Vibration Group and the Mayfield Partnership, which comprises regeneration specialist U+I, Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and rail company LCR. Subject to consent, the space would become a venue for the city for the next five years during the £1bn-plus regeneration of the 30-acre Mayfield site. Alongside the main performance space, Depot would feature two smaller areas – Concourse, hosting free community events, and Archive, a performance, rehearsal and studio space for local artists. The Mayfield Partnership aims to transform the Mayfield site into a neighbourhood with new office and leisure space, a park, homes and a hotel. U+I development director James Heather told Event Industry News: “The new venue represents a major commitment to culture in Manchester. Bringing it back to life is part of our commitment to finding worthwhile interim uses for spaces while long-term regeneration plans are developed.” Broadwick Venues director Bradley Thomson added: “Using arts programming and cultural happenings, we plan to create some amazing experiences in this new space.”

Crystal Maze LIVE Experience launches cocktail lounge as part of gin partnership at London site: The Crystal Maze LIVE Experience has launched a cocktail lounge at its new London location. The Wildcat Bar has opened as part of a two-year partnership with Whyte & Mackay’s Wildcat Gin. Entertainment company Little Lion Entertainment launched its debut Crystal Maze near Angel, London, in March 2016 based on the Channel Four programme that aired from 1990 to 1995. The company opened a second site, in Manchester, in April 2017, while the London site reopened in Shaftesbury Avenue in March this year. Little Lion Entertainment founder director Tom Lionetti-Maguire said: “The Wildcat Bar gives players the chance to socialise before and after tackling the maze, whether that’s with their own team or with friends they’ve made during the experience.”

Safestay acquires Pisa hostel for €3.25m: London-headquartered hostel operator Safestay has acquired the freehold of Hostel Pisa in the Italian city for €3.25m (£2.89m). The acquisition of the 161-bed Hostel Pisa is part of Safestay’s strategy to establish a pan-European network of hostels in popular tourist cities. Hostel Pisa takes its portfolio to 14 sites and the company said it was “well placed” to reach its short-term target of owning and operating 20 hostels. In the 12 months to 31 December 2018, the hostel generated revenues of €0.8m and Ebitda of €0.3m. The total consideration of €3.25m will be satisfied in cash from the group’s existing resources. Pisa attracts more than one million visitors a year. Safestay chairman Larry Lipman said: “Hostel Pisa is an excellent addition and a natural fit within our portfolio. The group as a whole is trading well and in line with market expectations. Demand has been strong overall and bookings for the summer look good.” Safestay has four sites in the UK and ten in mainland Europe – in Brussels, Lisbon, Madrid, Paris (under construction), Pisa, Prague, Vienna and three in Barcelona.

Catapult partners with The People Factor: On-demand artificial intelligence staffing platform Catapult has partnered with hospitality HR company The People Factor. The partnership will allow The People Factor to connect its client base, which includes Casual Dining Group, Wagamama and Drake & Morgan, with Catapult’s flexible workforce solution. The People Factor chief executive Karen Davies said: “Partnering with Catapult gives The People Factor a greater pool of talented people to work alongside.” Catapult co-founder Oli Johnson added: “The People Factor and Catapult are both driven by a mission to help businesses succeed in a way that benefits the team’s well-being as well as its bottom line. This partnership not only gives us a better opportunity to provide employers and workers with greater flexibility but means The People Factor can now include an AI-powered solution to fixed recruitment costs in its framework.”

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