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Mon 2nd Sep 2019 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Debenhams to roll-out Harry Ramsden branded fish and chips across its estate: Retailer Debenhams is to continue to ramp up its food and beverage offer, with the launch of a partnership with Harry Ramsden, which will see branded fish and chips rolled out across all 100 of its in-store restaurants, Propel has learned. The roll-out comes after a successful trial between the two companies in six of Debenhams' stores. Debenhams has been increasing the range of its food and beverage partners and its food and drink offer over the past few years. It now operates an estate of 150 in-store restaurants and cafes, plus 75 food concessions, with 14 brand partners. The estate is overseen by Sam Shutt, who recently took over the whole of the Debenhams food business, as head of food retail and partnerships. Debenhams will soon add to this with the opening of three Donut King concessions, in its Basildon, Wigan and Newport stores, over the next two months, with Bristol to follow in the spring. It is also currently working with Insomnia coffee and will shortly be opening in Redditch and Hereford. Shutt told Propel: “In terms of Insomnia, we are looking to further grow its portfolio in the Midlands and north west with a pipeline for 2020. We are also working on a branded coffee partnership to launch in 2020 across all of our 150 restaurants and cafes.” Earlier this year, Europe’s largest sushi chain Sushi Daily, which has more than 700 venues, opened its first site in a department store, in Debenhams’ Manchester site. The retailer will also soon increase its partnership with Costa, with the coffee brand set to open a site in its Glasgow store in Argyle Street. Last week, Deep Blue Restaurants acquired fellow fish and chip brand Harry Ramsden from Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG). The transaction sees Deep Blue take over the entire estate of the 90-year-old Harry Ramsden brand debt free, which consists of 34 sites across the UK, Ireland and Malaysia. BRG will retain an interest in the enlarged business.
 

Industry News:

Dusk ’til Dawn awards open for bookings: This year’s Dusk ’til Dawn awards, organised by UKHospitality and Propel, are open for bookings. The event take place on Wednesday, 16 October at The Troxy in Commercial Road, London. The Dusk ’til Dawn Late Night Awards, the annual celebration of the UK’s late-night hospitality sector, will see eight awards presented to recognise the best in the dynamic late-night sector. Tickets for the Dusk ’til Dawn Awards are £150 plus VAT per head. Tables of ten are available or individual places. The awards will follow this year’s Bar and Nightclub Conference, which also takes place at The Troxy. Speakers will be Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, chairman of the Mayor’s Night-time Commission and a panel member of the government’s cultural cities inquiry; Karl Chessell, business unit director at CGA; Paul Hayes, sales director at Design My Night; James Scott, director of insights at Bibendum; London Cocktail Club founder JJ Goodman; Peter Marks, chief executive of bar and nightclub company Deltic; Propel managing director Paul Charity will talk to Aaron Mellor, founder of Tokyo Industries; Mitchells & Butlers divisional director Susan Chappell and leading licensing barrister Philip Kolvin QC. Meanwhile, Nicholls will talk to Sacha Lord, owner of the Warehouse project, about his career in the sector and his work as Manchester night-time tsar and also host a panel featuring Institute of Licensing chairman Lord Smith, Rockpoint Leisure founder Dan Davies, East Coast Concepts managing director Simon Kaye and Chase Consultancy principal Paul Chase about the trading, economic and regulatory issues the sector faces. Tickets for the conference are £139 plus VAT for operators who are UKHospitality members and £195 plus VAT for non-UKHospitality members. Supplier tickets are £185 plus VAT for UKHospitality members and £285 plus VAT for non-UKHospitality members. Bookings for both events can be made by emailing Anne Steele at anne.steele@propelinfo.com
 
New York ponders foie gras ban: Foie gras could be struck off the menu in New York if proposed legislation to ban the sale of the controversial French delicacy goes ahead. New York City Council is considering outlawing the product, which derives from duck or goose and translates as “fatty liver”, which is a staple at many of its top restaurants. Critics of foie gras said the process is cruel because ducks and geese are overfed through a pipe that can expand the liver up to ten times its normal size. The proposed bill, which could be voted on in months, would ban the sale of foie gras made from birds that have been force-fed and establishments from serving it. Carlina Rivera, the council member who introduced the bill, said the production process is “egregiously cruel”. She added: “Not only does force feeding cause extreme pain and suffering, it is all being done for a luxury product that only a tiny percentage of New York City restaurants serve and is not part of the diet of hard-working New Yorkers.” If it passes, anyone violating the law could be liable to a $1,000 fine, up to a year in jail or both. So far, it has attracted the support of mayor Bill de Blasio and more than half the council as co-sponsors.
 
Coffee chain-resistant town to see branded coffee shop opening: A town well known for resisting the UK's biggest coffee chains has now succumbed to a Caffe Nero subsidiary, leading to fears its “integrity” has been compromised. Totnes in Devon has long prided itself on being free of chain stores instead lining its streets with independent coffee houses and even fighting off the opening of a Costa. But despite strong opposition it has now been forced to accept a Coffee #1 – a subsidiary of Caffe Nero. In 2012, residents blocked Costa after thousands rallied against the firm, pledging to boycott the new branch if it opened in Fore Street. Despite being granted planning permission, in the face of the opposition, Costa withdrew its plans. Cllr Julian Brazil said the town had “spent many years” keeping shops such as Caffe Nero at bay and said it would be a “sad day if the town was overrun by chains”. He added: “The best thing that could happen is that it opens, no-one uses it, and it then closes, so we don't get harangued by the likes of Starbucks and McDonalds and the rest to try to open in Totnes.” The new cafe opened on the site of a former Barclays Bank last week, after plans were given the go-ahead by South Hams District Council earlier this year.
 
Time Magazine hails Mumbai's Soho House as one of the 100 new places to explore in 2019: Mumbai's Soho House has been included in the second annual list of Time Magazine's World's Greatest Places 2019, a compilation of 100 new destinations to explore. The venue is located in an 11-storey building in Juhu, overlooking the Arabian Sea. It houses a library, a cinema with 34 seats and a rooftop bar and pool. “Asia's first Soho House puts a local spin on the formula that has allowed Nick Jones' members’-only clubs to blossom across the US and Europe,” the description read. Time's list was evaluated based on key factors, including quality, originality, sustainability, innovation and influence.
 
Job of the week: COREcruitment is seeking a chief executive for a retail brand as it prepares for an ambitious and extensive roll-out. The founders are looking for an established senior operator who has extensive knowledge of national and international expansion. Knowledge of mergers, acquisitions and investor management is essential. The position is London based and offers a base salary of up to £200,000, plus extensive package and equity. For more details or a confidential chat, email hollie@corecruitment.com or call 0207 790 2666.

Company News: 

Mitchells & Butlers adds to virtual delivery brands portfolio: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has added three new virtual delivery brands to a select number of sites in its Castle Pubs estate, including a vegetarian/vegan-focused one called Veg Heads, Propel has learned. Earlier this summer, Propel revealed M&B had converted Chicken Society into a delivery-only brand after selling the concept’s original site in Finchley, north London. It has since rolled out the virtual brand to a number of its Castle Pubs across the UK. Alongside Chicken Society, consumers can now get food delivered through Deliveroo or for takeaway from Ruby Jean’s Burgers; the Marvellous Pub Grub Co (“classic, good quality British pub food”); and Veg Heads (“Sinfully, lip-smacking vegan and vegetarian food inspired by everyone’s favourite dishes – from loaded nachos to dirty fries, Beyond Meat burgers to chickless Caesar salad”). All four concepts are also available as part of each pub’s “lunch and supper counter” menus on site. The Veg Heads menu include a Beyond Meat Burger at £9.50, a Big Halloumi burger at £8, a lasagne at £10 and an avocado salad at £8. The Marvellous Pub Grub Co menu features burgers priced at £7 to £10, salads priced at £8 to £10.50, and main dishes including fish and chips at £13, vegan lasagne at £10.50 and a chicken and leek pie at £12. During a presentation following the company’s first-half results in the spring, M&B chief executive Phil Urban told analysts the company was looking to “see if we can take a small brand and operate it out of one of our existing kitchens”. An M&B spokesman told Propel in May: “We have taken some strong learnings, operationally and through guest feedback, from the Chicken Society site. The food offer has proved popular, generating positive TripAdvisor reviews and strong food delivery sales. We are taking these learnings and looking for opportunities to optimise the strong appeal of the food offer as a potential virtual delivery brand within other areas of the M&B estate.”
 
MEATLiquor reports strong quarter of growth: MEATLiquor, the Scott Collins-led concept, has seen a strong quarter of growth, partly driven by a successful first three months of trading from its new West End site. Opened at the start of June, the 11-strong company’s new W1 site in Margaret Street near Oxford Circus, which replaced its original site in Welbeck Street, is believed to have seen consistent growth from £33,000 net sales a week up to more than £79,000 a week. At the same time, its Queensway-based site also managed to top more than £70,000 for a couple of weeks during the same 12-week period and was 50% up on a like-for-like basis against the same period last year. For the past six months, the company, as a whole, is understood to have generated a 10% increase in like-for-like sales. The uptick in sales has also been attributed to the group’s vegan menu options, which it has had in place for more than three years, continuing to gain traction. The company stated: “Despite a difficult economic and political backdrop, it is now a great time to expand. Landlords are being very helpful with rents and cash contributions towards fit-outs. Following the successful relocation of MEATLiquor W1, the team is looking forward to expanding the business initially at a measured two restaurants per year.” Last month, Propel revealed MEATLiquor had strengthened its balance sheet with a further fund-raise. The business raised a further £240,000, mostly from existing shareholders, to strengthen its balance sheet and renewed its banking facilities to fund its expansion programme. The new investment brings the total funds raised to date by the business, which launched its debut site and first fund-raise in 2011, to just £840,000, with its expansion so far mostly built on cash flow. 
 
Various Eateries realigning portfolio, disposes of St Paul’s site to Five Guys: Various Eateries, the Hugh Osmond-backed operator, has agreed a deal to dispose of its Coppa Club St Paul’s site to Five Guys, as the business looks to realign its portfolio to support its targeted expansion plans, Propel has learned. The company said the 140-cover site overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral had been trading ahead of budget since opening in August 2016, with strong positive year-to-date like-for-like sales of 8.5%. The company said: “Despite strength of trade and location, the site is atypical of the emerging Coppa Club brand, being a multi-floor operation that lacks enough floor space to have the signature Coppa ‘lounge’ area, restricted space around the bar, an isolated dining area and no outside seating, which is a key feature of the most successful Coppa Club sites.” Various Eateries said it had been looking to address most of these challenges and was planning extensive refurbishment works but this was reliant on a lease extension. However, recent discussions with the landlord to extend the lease had been unproductive, resulting in the decision to take an offer for the site and focus on sites that will remain in the “Coppa Club family for many years to come”. Chief executive Sue Walter said “Given our landlord’s stance in the matter and the level of investment we needed to try to bring the site on brand, when we received the offer for St Paul’s we took the tough decision to move on. Our immediate priority is the support and welfare of the team who we are committed to retaining. Coppa Club remains in a healthy position. We have reported record second quarter sales results and positive like-for-likes. We opened our newest site in Berkshire in July as part of The Swan Streatley, Brighton is opening in September, and we have plans to build an opening pipeline of three to five sites a year. We are in the fortunate position to be able to move on from restrictive lease arrangements and focus our talent and resources on long-term sites that can better accommodate the full Coppa Club proposition.” Better burger brand Five Guys remains on track to open 15 sites this calendar year. The company, which recently opened in Bromley and in London’s Portobello Road, has lined up openings in the Ashford Designer Village and in Resorts World Birmingham for before the end of the year. It is currently on-site in the Drake’s Circus scheme in Plymouth. It also has sites secured in Market Street, Cambridge; Gloucester Quays; and Cathedral Square, Worcester. The company is also thought to be in negotiations on two more central London sites. Shelley Sandzer acted on the St Paul’s deal.
 
Pizza Hut reduces losses: Pizza Hut has reduced its losses and put in place ambitious plans to grow, the Mail on Sunday has reported. The 253-strong chain was bought out by its management, led by chief executive Jens Hofma and backed by Pricoa Capital Group, in April 2018 from previous owners Rutland Partners. Accounts showed sales dipped from £225m to £214m in the year to December 2, 2018, partly due to the record warm weather, but pre-tax losses shrunk from £7.5m to £6.2m. Pizza Hut now has a five-year growth plan that includes rolling out its “fast casual” concept, where diners order and pay before their meal. It has also been trialling pizza deliveries via the app Just Eat and has been expanding its unlimited lunchtime buffet offer to weekends. Pizza Hut chief financial offer Andy Platt said it is “well placed to respond to changing market conditions”.

Wadey joins Coffee#1 as head of finance: Shelley Wadey, who stepped down as finance director at Boston Tea Party earlier this year, has joined Coffee#1, the Caffe Nero-backed group, as its new head of finance. Wadey spent more than seven years as finance director of the 23-strong Boston Tea Party. Earlier this year, the Sam Roberts-led group appointed Julie Centracchio, formerly of Peach Pubs, as its new finance director. Caffe Nero became the majority owner of Coffee#1 in January this year when it acquired almost 70% ownership from Welsh brewer and retailer SA Brain. The brand, which opened its debut store in Cardiff in 2001, is closing in on the 100-site mark, with openings lined up in Hungerford and Wokingham.
 
Goodbody – expect TRG to report strong growth in Wagamama and evidence of stabilisation in leisure business: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has said he expects The Restaurant Group to report strength growth in Wagamama and evidence of stabilisation in its leisure business at its first-half results on Tuesday (3 September). Issuing a ‘Buy’ rating on the shares with a target price of 165p, Ruddy said: “It will be its first interim report since the transformational acquisition of Wagamama. At a group level we forecast revenue of £517m and profit before tax of £27.5m. At its most recent update (19 weeks to 12 May) group like-for-like sales were up 2.8%. For the first half, we forecast group like-for-like sales growth of 3.4%, split 1.5% leisure (66% of first-half revenue) and 7% pro-forma like-for-like growth in Wagamama (34% of revenue). At a high level we expect strong like-for-like performance in Wagamama and would expect the leisure business benefited from a weak comparator in the first half of 2018 (down 3.7%).” Ruddy said the key areas of focus will be Wagamama with regards to whether it has continued its strong outperformance of the UK restaurant market post acquisition, detail on the number of potential new Wagamama sites and an update on the strategic review of the US Wagamama business. Other key questions, said Ruddy, were how close the group is to stabilisation in the legacy leisure business, updates on the estate and cost inflation, and the quantum of leverage taken on by the group particularly considering the Wagamama estate is also leasehold. Ruddy said: “Overall, we remain very aware of the challenges facing the legacy UK business but note earnings are now circa 70% weighted to growth categories (Wagamama, pubs and concessions); synergy benefits will contribute to bottom-line growth through the forecast horizon; and the group continues to take action in disposing of underperforming leisure sites. We believe the valuation at seven times FY19 EV/Ebitda (7.7 times lease adjusted EV/Ebitdar) and 12 times price-to-earnings ratio remains attractive relative to double-digit profit growth compound annual growth rate.”
 
Punch ‘back in the market’ as it acquires Malton pub: Punch has acquired the Derwent Arms in Malton, North Yorkshire, for an undisclosed sum. The company has bought the pub from the Rushworth family in a deal brokered by agent Everard Cole. The Derwent Arms has been owned and run by the Rushworth family for almost 20 years. Trade is predominantly wet-led along the lines of a traditional public house with games and sports on offer. The pub also benefits from extensive outside areas with a paved patio to the front, car parking for about 40 vehicles and a covered beer terrace to the rear. Everard Cole acquired the pub on behalf of Punch. Under the ownership of Patron and May Capital, Punch is into a three-year plan to invest £80m into its estate and has signalled plans to invest a substantial sum into the Derwent Arms. Everard Cole director Jon Heald said: “We are delighted to have acted for Punch in another pub acquisition. Its acquisition of the Derwent Arms provides further evidence of Punch being ‘back in the market’ and is keen for more freehold opportunities.”
 
Breddos Tacos and Belzan founders join forces to open Mexican taqueria in Liverpool: Nud Dudhia and Chris Whitney, who have grown Mexican concept Breddos Tacos in a joint venture with Gleneagles owner Ennismore, have joined forces with the founders of Liverpool restaurants Belzan and Volpi to open a Mexican taqueria in the city. They are launching Madre at the Royal Albert Dock in November. The 100-cover restaurant, opening at the grade I-listed site on the Atlantic Pavillion, will offer seating over two floors, a dedicated bar area, and a large outside courtyard. Madre, meaning mother in Spanish, is a taqueria inspired by the food culture of Mexico City. The Breddos and Belzan partnership was born after a sell-out pop-up in Liverpool during 2018. Lunch at Madre will feature a varied selection of tacos while the evening menu will also feature larger sharing plates. The drinks list will comprise of margaritas, craft beer and natural wine. Dudhia said, “After years of trading in London we’re excited to collaborate with some Liverpool legends and create something entirely new and exciting for the city.” Chris Edwards, one of the founders of Belzan and Volpi, added: “Between us, our team has amassed an incredible amount of hospitality experience, and we cannot wait to pull it all together with Madre and showcase everything we love about Mexico’s food and drink.” Gary Sleator, retail portfolio manager of Aberdeen Standard Investments, which is responsible for the commercial element of Royal Albert Dock, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Madre to the growing mix of established and new independent restaurants here at the Dock. In addition to Rosa’s Thai Cafe, this is the second London brand that has chosen the Dock as its new location, reflecting the impressive line-up we are curating.”
 
McDonald’s to launch training programme supporting employee safety: McDonald’s restaurants in the US are launching a new series of employee training sessions to support safe and respectful workplaces. The training programmes, which start in October, will educate 850,000 employees on the following topics – mitigating workplace violence, safe and respectful workplace, unconscious bias, anti-bullying and bystander. The latter involves reviewing “different bystander scenarios, power dynamics, and mitigation tactics”, McDonald’s said. The move expands on other policies McDonald’s has enacted to protect workers from harassment. In the spring, the brand added a hotline for employees to call and report claims. McDonald’s USA president Chris Kempczinski said: “There is a deeply important conversation around safe and respectful workplaces in communities throughout the US and around the world. Together with our franchisees, we have a responsibility to take action on this issue and are committed to promoting positive change. These actions are one more step we are taking to raise awareness at all levels of McDonald’s that will transfer both inside and outside the workplace.” Restaurant supervisors and hourly employees will be trained through a combination of interactive and computer-based programmes. McDonald’s said it would collect feedback from the October sessions and use the information to enhance future training planned for 2020. 
 
Former Boparan executive Sam Wignell join S4Labour: Sam Wignell has joined S4Labour as chief customer officer. He joins from Boparan Restaurant Group where he was brand operations director. S4Labour stated: “His focus will be to lead S4Labour’s drive into specific market sectors with both a product and service offering that leads the market. A focused hotel team has already been set-up and others will be launched over the coming months.” Richard Hartley, who has doubled S4Labour's size every two years since he joined four years ago, moves to chief product officer, where he will lead the development of innovative, market-leading products.

B Bagel Bakery Bar opens in Soho: B Bagel Bakery Bar, the Chelsea-based concept, has doubled its presence in the capital with an opening in Soho. The company, which is led by founders Alon Kubi and Yoav Baumgarten, has opened at a corner unit in Wardour Street along from the recently opened Martha’s Bar. B Bagel Bakery Bar launched in Fulham Road, Chelsea, in 2016 and serves bagels, bagel sandwiches, salads, breakfast and deli produce. Emma Wright, at CDG Leisure, acted on the Wardour Street deal.
 
Gordon Ramsay lines up first Midwest opening in the US: Chef Gordon Ramsay will open his first restaurant in the Midwest of the US this autumn. Gordon Ramsay Steak will be located in Harrah’s North Kansas City and will open in November. “I’ve been wanting to expand to the Midwest for some time and found Harrah’s North Kansas City to be the perfect location for Gordon Ramsay Steak,” Ramsay said. “My team is thrilled to introduce some of my most signature items, including the beef Wellington and my all-time favourite dessert — the sticky toffee pudding – to the Heartland.” The restaurant will feature a modern design with multiple private dining rooms, a showcase wine display and nods to Ramsay’s British ties. The menu will consist of American steakhouse dishes, and several menu items will feature local farms and growers. Some dishes will also highlight classic Kansas City barbecue favourites. Gordon Ramsay Steak restaurants are also located in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Baltimore.

Goals start sales process: Goals Soccer Centres has commenced a process to invite offers for the business and assets of the company. The group operates almost 50 small-sided soccer centres at 45 locations across the UK and four in the US. Deloitte, which was appointed to assess future corporate options for Goals Soccer Centres earlier this year, is overseeing the sale process. Trading in shares of Goals has been suspended since March when the company unearthed historical accounting issues. Goals was established in 2000. 

Club Med family to open Mama Shelter hotel and restaurant in Hackney this week: The family who helped found the Club Med resorts is opening its first-UK hotel, in Hackney. Serge Trigano, son of Club Med pioneer Gilbert Trigano, and Gilbert’s grandsons Jeremie and Benjamin, are launching Mama London this week – 69 years after the first Club Med “village” opened on the beach at Alcudia in Majorca. The Triganos said they are bringing the original pleasure-seeking ideals of Club Med in the seventies to the new 195-bedroom hotel. It has two karaoke rooms in the basement, table football, giant board games, and cartoon masks in every bedroom. The hotel will also feature a 100-cover restaurant, which will have an island bar and an outdoor courtyard with a retractable glass roof. Serge Trigano, ousted from the business in 1997 following a takeover, said: “We don’t sell rooms, we don’t sell food, we sell happiness. We live in a crazy world that is being run by crazy people everywhere you turn, there seem to be so many reasons to be afraid, including Brexit. My dream is if you come to Mama Shelter you can forget about it all — even if it’s just for one night.” Trigano said holidays were increasingly about shorter breaks to big cities rather than long family vacations by the sea. He said London had always been their second target after Paris, where the first Mama Shelter opened in 2008. The family looked at other potential sites including the former Crowne Plaza in Shoreditch and the Trocadero in Piccadilly before settling on the Hackney site, with rooms from £99 a night. 

Clockjack founders launch alcohol-free drinks venture: Jerry Goldberg and Fraser Duncan, founders of Clockjack, the rotisserie and grill restaurant, have launched their new business I'm Still Standing Brewing Co, which is dedicated to alcohol-free beer alternatives. The duo have created Zag, targeting the alcohol-free beer market with a “blend that delivers the characteristics of a beer-drinking occasion, without attempting to mimic the flavour of beer”. Zag is responding to consumer demand with a new alternative to alcohol-free beer that is a blend of matcha green tea and botanicals, including mint, cucumber, lime and lemon. Goldberg said: “Alcohol-free beer has improved over the years and provides an important role for consumers who want a social drink but cannot, or do not want to drink alcohol. However, we realised alcohol-free beer still doesn’t taste as good as beer – beer needs alcohol to create that magical beer flavour. We have taken beer’s major attributes – a long, refreshing drink that’s not too sweet and looks good in a glass – and created an alcohol-free drink that delivers these without attempting to taste like beer.” Zag Drinks – whose slogan is “refreshingly not beer” – commences its soft launch in September with a national roll out by the end of the year. Duncan is also a former director of pub groups Innterpreneur, The Unique Pub Co, Wizard Inns and Phoenix Inns as well as the off-licence chain Thresher. Goldberg is a former executive at Courage and Scottish & Newcastle; former chief operating officer of Centre Parcs Europe and worked with the boards of the then British Hospitality Association and Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers to merge the two businesses and form UKHospitality.
 
Former Woodhead Restaurant Group executive chef to open farm-to-table venue in Somerset: Merlin Labron-Johnson, former executive chef for the Woodhead Restaurant Group, is to open a restaurant in Somerset. Labron-Johnson announced the farm-to-table restaurant on Instagram, which he described as a “tiny” restaurant focused on hyper-local ingredients. He said: “I am excited to announce in November I will be opening a tiny farm-to-table restaurant in the heart of rural Somerset. We will serve a little menu of home-grown organic vegetables and products sourced from friends in the surrounding villages. There will be gorgeous bedrooms, fine cider and lovely wine.” Labron-Johnson has not revealed the precise location or who else is involved in the project. He will continue as a consultant at Conduit, the Mayfair private members’ club. Merlin-Johnson was former executive chef for the Woodhead Restaurant Group, which he left in October last year. He previously opened the group’s Portland restaurant in 2015, winning a Michelin star 12 months later.
 
Birmingham set to host surf centre: Birmingham is set to become home to the UK’s most landlocked surf park after plans for a £25m facility were revealed. The planning application lodged by Emerge Surf is for a 15-acre site, seven miles to the east of Birmingham city centre, in Coleshill. Features include a 5.4-acre surf lagoon, an outdoor heated swimming pool, a perimeter track for Onewheel self-balancing electric skateboards and a 1,600 square metre hub building. The park will be named Emerge Surf Birmingham and will also be home to a surf school, surf shop, cafe and restaurant, multi-purpose fitness studio, physio and massage room and children’s play area. Emerge Surf Birmingham is expected to create 100 jobs, attract about 250,000 visitors a year and deliver an annual economic boost of up to £21m to the region. Initial plans show construction starting late this year and the park opening in spring 2021. Steve Price, founder and chief executive of Emerge Surf, said: “It’s an exciting time in the development of surfing. The mental and physical benefits of the sport are increasingly understood and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will hugely increase levels of interest and participation. In parallel, the significant strides made in wave pool technologies have the potential to make the sport accessible to all. Our vision is to not only provide a world-class surfing experience for surfers of all levels, but also a wide range of complementary activities.”
 
Lincolnshire hotel goes into administration: A 103-bedroom hotel in Lincolnshire has entered administration. The Olde Barn Hotel in Marston, near Grantham, has called in Diana Frangou and Adrian Allen, of RSM Restructuring Advisory, as joint administrators to try to sell the company. The hotel also has a leisure club, restaurant and function facilities. The decision to appoint administrators was made by the directors of New Barn Hotel after the business suffered from cash flow pressures. Frangou said: “The joint administrators’ intended strategy, with the ongoing support of the existing management and staff, is for the hotel to continue to trade while we market it for sale as a going concern.”
 
Whiting & Hammond cuts 10,000 water bottles from supply with new dispense system: Whiting & Hammond, the gastro-pub operator led by Brian Whiting, is on course to remove 10,000 single-use water bottles from its supply chain this year, following the installation of the Mr Fitz Aqua Spritz dispense system across its eight sites. In each pub, the Mr Fitz Aqua Spritz bar-top font serves sparkling and still pure filtered mains water, replacing 75cl single-use water bottles. Paul Worman, operations director for Whiting & Hammond, said: “We’re on course to dispense and sell at least 10,000 bottles of water by the end of the year, which means switching to Mr Fitz Aqua Spritz equates to eliminating close to 900 cases of 75cl water bottles from transport, delivery and storage across our sites.” Mark Fenton, head of brand for Mr Fitz Aqua Spritz, said: “As an ‘early adopter’ of the system, we’re delighted Whiting & Hammond is seeing such clear benefits to both its sustainability profile, and to its bottom line.”

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