Chris Phillips steps down as Upham chief executive, company no longer looking at sale: Chris Phillips has stepped down as chief executive of Upham Pub Company, the operator of 15 premium pubs across the south of England, Propel has learned. Phillips has decided to leave Upham Pub Company to pursue other opportunities. He set up the business in 2012 with David Butcher, who will now lead the company with finance director Robb Harris. Phillips’ departure comes after Upham Pub Company completed a financial restructure of the business that has also seen it sell its brewing interests to concentrate on its pub estate. Propel also understands Upham is no longer pursuing a potential sale of the business. Instead it is concentrating on consolidating its pub estate and “getting the best out of what it has”. Earlier this year, Charles Good retired as chairman with deputy chairman John McMillan having stepped up in the interim period.
Henry Ayers – Gentlemen Baristas’ sales growth will be up 40% by end of this year: Henry Ayers, co-founder of London-based coffee shop brand The Gentlemen Baristas, has said the company will see sales growth up about 40% by the end of this year while retail sales are increasing month-on-month. Speaking at the Propel Coffee Conference, Ayers said: “We will see sales growth up about 40% year-on-year by the end of this year and we intend to double that next year.” Last week, Propel revealed The Gentlemen Baristas is set to start work this month on what will be its ninth site, in New Oxford Street, ahead of an opening near the end of July. Its tenth store will follow in Victoria, with site number 11 understood to be in Hammersmith, west London. A coffee school will also open at its roastery in Whitechapel at the end of June. Ayers told delegates he would look to take the brand outside the capital and also abroad, with people approaching the company about franchising in the Middle East, Germany, Italy and Canada. He said when he and Ed Parkes launched the brand they knew Gentlemen Baristas required a distinctive look and offer to stand out in an “uber-crowded” sector. Its ethos and tagline is “well-mannered coffee”. He said: “Manners are key – they’re important, they’re neglected and people do care about them. Community, sustainability, authenticity and aspiration are at the core of our identity. They all link and you can’t have one without the other. We wanted to bring hospitable back to the hospitality industry. It’s important our customers receive a genuine welcome. Well-mannered coffee is central to how we roast, sell and communicate, and who we employ.” The Gentlemen Baristas opened its first site in 2014 at a “quite remote” location in Southwark. However, Ayers said: “If you’ve got something that’s decent, people are willing to make the journey. For us it was about word of mouth. Instagram was massive as well.” Word of mouth has been vital for the company’s site next to Borough Market too, as council measures have seen the removal of A-boards and benches that encourage customers off the main drag. Ayers said: “Again, it’s word of mouth. We’ve just celebrated our first anniversary and people were queuing out the door all day.”
Boparan opens fourth Slim Chickens following conversion of former Ed’s site in Birmingham: Boparan Restaurant Group has opened its fourth Slim Chickens, in Birmingham. The company has transformed its former Ed’s Easy Diner at the Grand Central shopping centre, which is owned by Hammerson. The 1,151 square foot venue accommodates 61 covers and has created 30 jobs. Boparan closed 27 Ed’s Easy Diner and Giraffe sites after creditors agreed to its company voluntary arrangement in March. Boparan holds the master franchise rights for Slim Chickens in the UK and operates two sites in London and one in Cardiff, with plans to open further outlets for the brand. Boparan chief executive Tom Crowley said: “Our new restaurant brings a true Southern US hospitality experience to Grand Central. As part of our expansion plans, we have had a host of successful openings, including a pop-up van in Bullring, and the response has been incredible.” Iain Mitchell, UK commercial director at Hammerson, added: “We know our customers not only want great food when they visit our destinations, but also something that’s different, and that’s why we are targeting innovative, growing brands such as Slim Chickens.” Slim Chickens opened its first location in Arkansas in 2003 before expanding to other US southern states to quickly reach the 80-site milestone.