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Tue 17th Sep 2019 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Hubbox secures further investment, FY sales set to hit £9m, appoints new finance director: Hubbox, the south west-based burger and barbecue concept led by Richard Boon, has strengthened its balance sheet with a further equity investment and appointed its first full-time finance director, Propel has learned. The company, which opened its eighth site last week in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth, has secured further equity investment from chairman Alex Reilley and Simon Henderson, of Provenance Investment Partners. Private equity fund Provenance made a £2.2m investment in the then five-strong business in January 2017. At the same time, Hubbox has appointed Chris Hugo as its first full-time finance director. Hugo joins Hubbox from Watergate Bay, where he spent 16 years as commercial and finance director. During his time at Watergate Bay revenue grew from £2m to £19m and Hugo oversaw the creation and financing of Beach Retreats self-catering holidays and Another Place Hotels. He was also founding director of Fifteen Cornwall. Boon told Propel: “We are delighted Chris has joined Hubbox. His appointment seriously strengthens the senior management team and I’m looking forward to working alongside him and operations director Sameer Shetty as we look to grow the business and expand beyond our south west heartland.” The company is forecasting net sales for its current financial year, ending 31 December 2019, will exceed £9m, up from £6.39m in full-year 2018. It also confirmed it had secured sites for 2020 openings in Mermaid Quay in Cardiff, Barnstaple and Royal William Yard in Plymouth. Boon said: “Relocating our premises in Exeter and upsizing our first site in St Ives has really paid off. The new Hubbox Exeter is a completely different proposition to our former site in the city and, coupled with the bigger, better Hub in St Ives, we’re seeing some extremely healthy sales. Hub St Ives has averaged £72,000 a week during the past ten weeks.”

Industry News:

Robin Rowland joins Operations Directors’ Conference panel line-up, open for bookings: Robin Rowland, operating partner at private equity firm TriSpan and former YO! chief executive, has been added to the panel for the Operations Directors’ Conference, which takes place next Wednesday (25 September) at One Moorgate Place, London. Rowland joins Ian Edward, co-founder of Hippo Inns; Peter Kemp-Welch, partner at Piper; and Paul Campbell, founder of Hill Capital Partners; to discuss investing in great operators. The event, in partnership with Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott, is open for bookings and will see company leaders from across the industry talk about all parts of the operating model, from building and leading an effective operations team to maximising profitability. Speakers will include Frankie & Benny’s managing director Ollie Humphries, Bill’s managing director Sarah Hills, Casper & Cole managing director Sam Lee, Oakman Inns and Restaurants chief operating officer Dermot King, Vagabond managing director Stephen Finch, Tortilla managing director Richard Morris, ETM Group owner Ed Martin, Pret A Manger’s new chief executive Pano Christou and former Fuller’s managing director Jonathon Swaine. There will also be another panel session where Miller & Carter retail operations director Sue Walsh, Pizza Pilgrims operations manager Charlie Warren and Caffe Nero managing director Glyn House will discuss building the right operations team while protecting the brand and delivering consistency for guests. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers and £345 plus VAT for all others. To book, email or call 01444 817691.

Pleisure boss launches association for independent licensees after handing back remaining pubs to Ei Group: Pleisure boss Nick Griffin has set up an association for independent licensees after handing back the remaining pubs in his business to Ei Group. Griffin told Propel he had come to a “mutual agreement” to return the pubs in Brighton, Eastbourne, Maidstone and Westminster to Ei Group, which wants to run the majority as managed houses. Three of the pubs were handed back to Ei Group last year and Griffin has now reached agreement to surrender the leases of the remaining four pubs, including The Great Eastern in Brighton. However, while the move sparks the end of Pleisure after more than 27 years, Griffin is now “looking to give something back to the industry” by setting up The Licensees Association, which aims to represent the interests of licensees nationally. He said: “I think this is something that’s badly needed. A lot of the organisations representing licensees are doing it on a regional basis or are bigger trade bodies that also represent other areas of the sector. We are aiming to represent independent licensees across the nation and give them a much-needed voice.” Griffin said annual membership would be £95 but it would be a not-for-profit organisation. He added: “I am going to have to fund it myself for a couple of years but I’m determined to make it work and give something back to the industry. I’ve worked in it since I was a young man and want to make sure publicans are properly represented. Giving them the assistance and support they need is going to be a full-time job in itself. It’s not just about representation, though. If you can get publicans together, the buying power of that group is huge. Ei Group has 4,000 pubs and has managed to secure supplier agreements and there are a lot more than 4,000 independent publicans out there so that’s one of the key things I’m working on. It’s not going to happen overnight but it’s important we work on that. We need to make sure they are appropriate, of course, but it will be a big part of what we do.” Regarding the end of Pleisure, Griffin said: “Ei Group wanted to run the majority of the sites as managed houses and I understand the rationale behind that but it’s sad to see the end of something I’ve worked so hard to build after more than 27 years.” An Ei Group spokesman told Propel: “We are pleased to report that following the conclusion of positive and amicable discussions with Pleisure, The Great Eastern, together with two other pubs it operates in Brighton, will transition to Bermondsey Pubs, which operates a number of highly successful venues across the country.”

CACI White Paper reveals hope for the high street: A new White Paper on the future of retail by marketing, technology and data company CACI finds the high street is “far from dead”. The paper, which will be presented at the Revo Conference and Exhibition in Liverpool this week by Alex McCulloch, director of CACI Property Consulting Group, has found stores have a key role to play in driving significant incremental sales – for every £1 spent online outside a store’s catchment, £2.06 is spent online inside that catchment. This is in addition to spend in the store itself. CACI said with more than 50% of the UK’s population aged under 38, as millennials started families they had less time and money which, coupled with technology as a natural part of their lives, was leading to a drop in footfall at retail and leisure destinations. Despite this, those who do shop in-store, particularly the young and old, are happier with the experience. Average Net Promoter Scores have risen 30% across the industry in the past five years. Similarly, spend on food and drink as part of a shopping trip has also grown every year for the past five years. CACI said institutions such as the government and many landlords and retailers were failing to understand the reality of how consumers use stores. McCulloch said: “Landlords and retailers, together with the government and financial institutions, need to better understand the many roles stores play. While their purpose varies by demographic and category, physical stores add significant value in the overall picture of consumer spend. The industry needs to listen to consumers, trial new concepts and learn from what they discover. Consumers are in charge and the industry must inspire, engage and innovate much more widely and effectively. While bricks and mortar retail faces challenges, it is far from dead. Physical stores have a vital role to play in the future but we all need to treat them differently, as well as the overall destination experience of which they are part.” The government has announced almost 70 high streets across England are to be revitalised by a £95m cash injection. The Historic High Streets campaign has been established to combat the increasing competition from online outlets, which are putting stores under growing pressure. The cash boost is designed to help breathe life into a host of historic buildings and areas in a number of towns and cities.

Northern Ireland rates reform ‘must be followed by UK-wide action’: UKHospitality has backed the Northern Ireland Executive’s consultation on business rates but called on the UK and devolved governments to launch full reviews of the system. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The rates review in Northern Ireland is a positive step. It will give businesses a chance to air their concerns and secure the reform that will finally provide a fair business rates system fit for purpose. This positive move needs to be followed by more widespread reform across the rest of the UK. The major parties promised a full-scale review of business rates but they still haven’t delivered.”

Stonewall’s Mark Kember to speak at COREcruitment LGBTQ+ networking event: Mark Kember, director of membership operations at Stonewall, will give a talk about the organisation at the next COREcruitment LGBTQ+ networking event for the hospitality, leisure, retail and property sectors. The “drag-themed” evening will take place on Thursday, 3 October at the Curtain Hotel in Shoreditch, east London. The event will start at 6.30pm and include welcome drinks, screening of the new UK RuPaul’s Drag Race, a cash bar and, potentially, dancing. The event is open to anyone from the community and friends. For more information on this and future events, email

Company News:

Deliveroo strengthens management team with former Restaurant Brands hire: Deliveroo has moved to strengthen its management team by appointing a senior executive from Burger King and Tim Hortons owner Restaurant Brands International (RBI). Propel understands the company has appointed Stephen Goldstein, former senior vice-president – head of business development/mergers and acquisitions, RBI EMEA, as head of global business development and strategic partnerships. Goldstein spent more than four years at RBI including a stint as senior vice-president – president at Tim Hortons USA. He follows the appointment earlier this year of Cengiz Rahmioglu, former strategy director at Leon, as Deliveroo’s new head of restaurant strategy. Propel revealed last week that Dan Warne, Deliveroo managing director for UK and Ireland, had unexpectedly left the business. Warne had led the UK and Ireland business since August 2014 and was also vice-president for global strategic partnerships. Warne is understood to have played a key role in the growth of the business in the UK and building key operator relationships. Deliveroo is believed to be searching for a successor for Warne.

Connection Capital takes stake in Rosa’s Thai Cafe as brand targets 45-strong UK portfolio in next five years: Private equity firm Connection Capital has acquired a small stake in Rosa’s Thai Cafe, which is now targeting 45 sites across the UK in the next five years. Rosa’s Thai Cafe currently trades from 17 restaurants, with the majority in London plus outlets in Leeds and Liverpool. Connection Capital has come on board after acquiring the stake from private equity firm TriSpan. Rosa’s is now targeting a UK-wide roll-out to 45 sites, consisting of restaurants and grab-and-go outlets, in the next five years. Established in 2008 by Alex and Saiphin Moore, Rosa’s Thai Cafe is now run by ex-Wahaca director Gavin Adair as chief executive with former YO! chief executive Robin Rowland as chairman. Bernard Dale, managing partner at Connection Capital, said: “Rosa’s differentiated and well thought-through business model puts it in an excellent position to exploit growth opportunities, even with today’s macro-market headwinds. We’re delighted to have come on board with TriSpan to back Rosa’s experienced management team as it takes the business forward. We believe TriSpan has the right deal rationale and value creation strategy to make this an exciting opportunity for our clients – buying into a top-performing concept poised to take advantage of trends for fast-casual Asian food, healthy eating and delivery. As well as carefully timing the roll-out pipeline to take advantage of favourable retail site opportunities, a focus on developing central capabilities and operational improvements should drive growth even in more mature sites.” Connection Capital previously participated in Duke Street Capital and Hutton Collins’ syndicated investment in Wagamama in 2011, with a 3.4 times money return for its private investor clients when the brand was bought by The Restaurant Group last year.

VQ Restaurants launches hotdog delivery concept: VQ Restaurants, the extended-hours restaurant concept, has launched a virtual delivery brand called Top Dogs, Propel understands. The six-strong group is working with Deliveroo on the concept, which offers hotdogs priced between £5.95 and £6.95, including the Bacon Yum Dog and the Baconnaise Dog, from its sites in London. Earlier this year the company launched a takeaway and delivery concept in Clapham, south west London, which it will look to roll out if successful. It launched the smaller-format site, which focuses predominantly on takeaway trade, in Clapham High Street. The pared-back menu focuses on burgers, salads and starters. The Simon Prideaux-led company opened the fifth site under its 24-hour bar restaurant concept last year in Euston, at Euston Square Hotel. The opening followed sites in Bloomsbury, Aldgate, Notting Hill and Chelsea. Prideaux, who is backed by Richard Northcott, has previously said he would like to open ten sites in the capital under its core format. Alexander “Langy” Langlands Pearse, chief executive of Cirrus Inns, is a non-executive director of VQ.

Coughlans seeks investment as it gears up for next stage of growth: Family-run artisan bakery and cafe business Coughlans is seeking investment for its next stage of growth. The company operates a 29,000 square foot bakery and 22 retail outlets across south London, with two more under development. Coughlans recently aligned itself to emerging trends by developing a range of vegan bakery products, focusing on a quality coffee offer and building a strong social media presence. The company is now working with agent Christie & Co to seek new investors to drive an ambitious expansion programme. Coughlans owner Sean Coughlan said: “We are in an unprecedented position compared with most bakers as we started our plant-based journey more than two years ago. Being part of the family business and with a skill set in developing recipes and coming up with new products, now is the right time to seek investment so we can continue to grow while developing the plant-based products that are in high demand from our growing customer base.” Tom Glanvill, senior business agent at Christie & Co, added: “While some high-street retailers have been suffering from well-publicised challenges arising from oversupply, rental pressure and rising business rates in prime locations, Coughlans has been largely immune due to being well situated in carefully selected secondary retail locations. Like-for-like revenue growth for 2019 is in double-digit territory, with the phenomenal performance of recent site openings the icing on the cake. The current food production facility is only operating at 55% of capacity and new sites are readily available.”

Whelans operator outlines plans to double estate and expand outside south east after acquiring tenth site: Multi-site operator Austin Whelan has outlined plans to double the size of his estate after acquiring his tenth site, while he is looking to expand outside his south east heartland. Whelan has taken on The Goat in Shirley, south London, having strengthened his relationship with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. The pub, which has been shut for two years, will reopen as The Apple Tree at the end of October following a joint investment of more than £500,000. The pub will seat 100 and have a designated dining area as well as a raised floor for live music. As well as seating for up to 80 people outside, the pub will show live sport. Whelan operates Whelans sites under its Traditional and Premium formats including sites in Beckenham, Brighton, Chichester and Ruislip. Seven of the sites are with Star Pubs & Bars. Whelan said: “In the next five years we plan to grow our estate to 20 pubs – a mix of Whelans-branded pubs and premium local community sites. It takes two years to establish a brand and we’re on target, trading above expectation. In addition to more sites in the south east, we’re looking to take on pubs in prime locations in Manchester and Birmingham.” Dugald Macer, regional operations director for Star Pubs & Bars, added: “With Austin’s knowledge of the area, high standards and vision, I feel sure he’ll create another great local and we’re delighted to help him do so.”

WC Rowe reports turnover and profit boost as it completes three-year turnaround plan: Cornish bakery WC Rowe, which has stores and supermarket concessions across the south west, has reported a boost in revenue and pre-tax profit as it completed its three-year turnaround programme. The company, which said the current financial year had “started strongly”, saw revenue increase 12.1% to £22,570,864 for the year ending 29 June 2019, compared with £20,135,181 the year before. Pre-tax profit soared to £681,394, compared with £67,647 the previous year. That came on the back of a loss of £324,785 in 2017 when the company was acquired by Luxembourg-based investment firm Iberia Industry Capital, which specialises in acquiring and developing companies with significant but untapped potential, and a loss of £1,348,588 in 2016. Gross profit margin remained flat in the latest period, at 34.8%. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The 2019 financial year saw Ebitda well in excess of £1m, a healthy cash balance in excess of £410,000, and all suppliers paid within term. There were significant levels of capital investment in our production capacity and retail estate. We continue to strive to maximise efficiencies throughout the business and 2019 saw further costs coming out. The three-year turnaround programme is now complete and the focus going forward is on top-line growth from a stable and lean costs base. The 2020 financial year has started strongly, with continued year-on-year top and bottom growth.” WC Rowe was founded in 1949 and trades from 16 stores and five branded concessions in Asda and Tesco across the region.

Pubs of Distinction sells Kensington pub formerly owned by Piers Morgan to multi-site operator: Pubs of Distinction has sold one of its four London pubs – The Hansom Cab in Kensington – to an undisclosed multi-site operator. Former owners of the real ale pub on the corner of Earl’s Court Road and Pembroke Square include Piers Morgan, who bought The Hansom Cab with brother Rupert and a friend in 2010. The venue became known in the tabloid press as the “posh boys’ pub”, while the kitchen was directed by Marco Pierre White. The Hansom Cab retains many 19th century fittings and comprises two main trading areas including a 65-cover restaurant. The new owners said: “The Hansom Cab has potential to become a warm and welcoming local pub while giving the passer-by or tourist an opportunity to get a feel of a traditional English pub.” Stewart Harkness, associate director at Christie & Co, who handled the sale, said: “This is another example of the good levels of buyer appetite for free-of-tie leases in London, with multiple interested parties.” Pubs of Distinction’s remaining venues are the Old Red Cow in Smithfield, the Dean Swift in Bermondsey, and the Hack & Hop in the City. On its website the company states it is looking to expand its portfolio and is “always interested in new sites”.

Picton joins Tapas Revolution as commercial director: Former La Tasca group operations director James Picton has joined Tapas Revolution as commercial director, Propel has learned. Picton spent more than four years at La Tasca and also had stints at Grupo Bilbao Berria and Enrique Tomas as director. He most recently founded The Tapa Republic with former Gordon Ramsay Group finance director Simon Rowe and Pedro López Grijalbo, and launched new concept AppleYard in Sidcup, south east London. Tapas Revolution, which is led by chef Omar Allibhoy and managing director Mac Plumpton, will open its eighth site next month, in The Street, Westfield Stratford. The company, which secured £2.5m of new investment from Mobeus Equity Partners in 2017, opened a site in Windsor at the end of last year.

Hush Heath Inns to add third site under Ei Group joint venture: Hush Heath Inns, the managed joint venture between Ei Group and Hush Heath Estate, is to open its third site, near East Grinstead, West Sussex. Propel understands the company is to take on The Swan in Forest Row, which is currently closed. The pub will reopen this autumn and follow The Ship Inn in Rye, East Sussex, and the Woolpack in Tenterden, Kent, in operating under the Hush Heath Inns umbrella. Hush Hospitality, which is owned by the Balfour-Lynn family, operates a further four pubs borne out of its award-winning winery in Staplehurst in Kent that “champion the county’s best food and drink”.

Pret confirms Clough as UK managing director: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed chain, has confirmed the appointment of Clare Clough as UK managing director. As revealed by Propel at the start of this month, Clough moves up to become the chain’s UK managing director after nine years at Pret. She joined the company as head of food and technical before becoming global food and coffee director. As well as leading the development of Pret’s new vegetarian and vegan menus, she has overseen the introduction of Pret’s allergy plan during the past year, including the reformulation of more than 70 recipes to remove unnecessary allergens. Prior to joining Pret, Clough worked in commercial and technical roles for Tesco having graduated with a degree in food technology from Reading University. Pano Christou, incoming Pret chief executive, said: “Clare’s innovation strategy has undoubtedly been behind Pret’s success over the past decade. Thanks to her work and leadership, Pret’s winning recipe of delicious, fresh food continues to appeal to millions of customers every year. Importantly, Clare has been instrumental in redesigning our food production processes as part of Pret’s allergy plan. Her knowledge of Pret and deep understanding of our customers makes her the ideal person to take our UK business forward.” Clough added: “I am honoured to take on this role and lead Pret’s outstanding teams across the UK. Pret’s team members have been the heartbeat of our success over the past decade and, with the acquisition of EAT, the expansion of Veggie Pret, and our plans to grow Pret online, we have a huge opportunity to take Pret to even more customers. I’m looking forward to building on the success we’ve achieved so far.” 

Coffee, craft beer and healthy food concept 640 East secures former Silo site in Brighton for fourth venue: Coffee, craft beer and healthy food concept 640 East has secured the former Silo site in Brighton for its fourth venue. The concept, led by Brighton-based couple Ross Blake and Alice Duvernois, focuses on coffee, brunch and small plates by day, and beer, wine and locally inspired small plates in the evening. Blake and Duvernois turned their “ready-made” container bar concept into the debut 640 East in Canary Wharf in April 2017. Sites followed in Bristol and Bethnal Green, with Brighton the next step. Blake said: “We always felt the 640 East concept would work well in Brighton but it was about waiting for the right space. We’re really excited about opening in Upper Gardner Street as it fits our brand perfectly. We’re working with our designers to make clever but subtle changes to transition the space from day to night, shifting the atmosphere from casual brunch or coffee while you work to a relaxed social space to catch up with friends.” 640 East Brighton will also host collaborative events showcasing up-and-coming chefs and local producers. The site is due to open in November. Zero-waste restaurant Silo, the brainchild of chef Douglas McMaster, relocated to Crate Brewery’s refurbished home in Hackney Wick, east London, earlier this month. 

Aktar Islam takes former CAU site for third Birmingham restaurant: Aktar Islam, former chef director of Birmingham-based Lasan, is to open his third site in the city. Islam will launch Pulperia in the former CAU premises in Brindleyplace. Pulperia will serve Argentine food inspired by Islam’s time in the country, drawing on the tradition of the asado. Situated in a ground-floor unit at Three Brindleyplace and opening on to Central Square, the 3,971 square foot space is undergoing a fit-out and is expected to open in November. Islam said: “I spent a lot of time in Argentina and had some truly wonderful experiences, which I want to share with diners in Birmingham.” James Campbell Adamson, asset manager at Hines, which manages the Brindleyplace estate, said: “The levels of confidence in Birmingham and this part of the city in particular are providing an increasing sense of activity and vibrancy.” Avison Young represented Hines in completion of the deal. Islam, who stepped down from his role as chef director of Lasan in 2017, launched Opheem and Legna last year, both in Summer Row.

Duck & Waffle opens debut international site: Duck & Waffle, the City of London restaurant operated by Orange Brands Management, has opened its first international outpost, in Hong Kong. The original Duck & Waffle opened in 2011 offering British cuisine with European influences alongside views of the London skyline from the 40th floor of 110 Bishopsgate. Orange Brands Management subsequently launched Duck & Waffle Local at ground level in St James’s Market. The venue in Haymarket Street is a “fast-casual, chef-curated restaurant” that also offers a takeaway service. Now Duck & Waffle, which held a pop-up in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Hong Kong in 2016, has opened a permanent site at the IFC Mall. The restaurant features a large open space and kitchen and an island bar. Orange Brands Management also operates Sushisamba sites in Las Vegas, Miami Beach and Amsterdam.

Sticks ‘n’ Sushi to open Soho restaurant next month: Denmark-based Japanese restaurant brand Sticks ‘n’ Sushi will open its ninth UK restaurant, in Soho next month. The venue in Beak Street, which launches on 9 October, will be the group’s seventh in central London and follows its recent opening in King’s Road, Chelsea. Set over two floors, the Soho restaurant will have 170 covers and create 80 jobs. Andreas Karlsson, who has just been promoted to group chief executive, said: “Finding the ideal locations for Sticks ‘n’ Sushi can take us some considerable time. We devote a great deal of energy to looking for the perfect sites, and we’ve found the right spot in Soho.” To mark the Soho launch, Sticks ‘n’ Sushi will release a sustainable sake made from surplus rice by Kanpai, a micro-sake brewery based in London run by Lucy and Tom Wilson. Brothers Jens and Kim Rahbek launched the brand 25 years ago along with Thor Andersen. Earlier this year the company’s founders sold a further part of their stake to Maj Invest, which now has a 79% holding in the business.

PizzaExpress voted top casual dining brand in annual YouGov survey: PizzaExpress has been voted number-one casual dining brand in the fast food and pubs category of YouGov’s Brand Health Rankings. The annual survey ranks 1,500 brands based on consumer perception of its quality, value, impression, satisfaction and reputation. PizzaExpress marketing director Amanda Royston said: “We have been providing ‘good times, together’ across our UK pizzerias for almost 54 years so it’s fantastic to receive this independent recognition.”

St Austell Brewery secures long-term lease for Paignton restaurant: Cornwall-based St Austell Brewery has secured a long-term lease for the Harbour Light restaurant in Paignton, which will join the company’s managed estate. Torbay Council has granted a 90-year lease on the grade II-listed building and the company plans to significantly invest in the vacant two-storey property, which is believed to have first been used as a fish cellar and net store. Planning approval has been received for the development, which includes a bar and dining venue, balcony seating overlooking the harbour, and a coffee shop and takeaway. St Austell Brewery retail director Steve Worrall said: “The building has huge potential so we’re excited to work closely with Torbay Council and the Harbour Committee to sensitively restore it into a family friendly venue.” 

Chiquito launches £1 taco deal for freshers’ week: The Restaurant Group-owned Tex-Mex brand Chiquito is offering all tacos for £1 during freshers’ week. Students can access the deal until closing time on Sunday (22 September), excluding Saturday, by downloading the Chiquito app and showing valid identification. Chiquito managing director Angelo Gabrilatsou said: “We are famous for our tacos and our exclusive offer will allow students to have as many as they like for just £1 each!” Chiquito operates 80 restaurants in the UK.

Street food trader Jake’s Vegan Steaks goes permanent in Islington: Street food trader Jake’s Vegan Steaks has opened a permanent site, in Islington, north London. The brand’s signature offering is the Philly Cheezesteak (barbecue seitan “steak” with cheeze whizz sauce, caramelised onions, fire-roasted peppers, sriracha “mayo” and sweet mustard on vegan hotdog rolls). The brand also offers three choices of fries – cheezesteak loaded, truffle, and thyme-seasoned skin-on with white truffle oil. The site in Holloway Road also offers new menu item the Naughty Fry Up – a weekend special to “start the weekend right and/or cure hangovers”, Hot Dinners reports. It features shredded Cheezesteak with thyme fries, cheesy beans and hash browns, while there is also a breakfast sandwich version served in a hotdog roll. 

McDonald’s launches latest free book giveaway: McDonald’s is handing out free David Walliams books with every Happy Meal. The promotion will run until Tuesday, 15 October and feature books from Walliams’ The World’s Worst Children series. The free books are part of McDonald’s Happy Readers campaign, which is designed to encourage more parents to read with their children. The company said it had given away 70 million books in the past six years.

Prestige Purchasing appoints chief operating officer: Prestige Purchasing has appointed Phil McGuinness as chief operating officer. McGuinness brings almost 20 years of purchasing and consulting experience having held senior purchasing and director roles at Asda, The Real Good Food Company and BrightSourced Consulting. Prestige Purchasing chief executive Shaun Allen said: “This is an important appointment for the business. Phil is a perfect fit with our values and his experience will provide strong leadership across our operations to support our ambitious growth plans.” Prestige Purchasing is one of the UK’s leading specialists in procurement and supply chain management for the hospitality, catering, leisure, retail and private healthcare sectors.

Leonardo Hotels launches spa brand: Leonardo Hotels has launched new spa brand Rena in the UK. Rena Spa has officially launched in Leonardo Royal London City, Leonardo Royal London Tower Bridge, Leonardo Royal London St Paul’s, Jurys Inn London Holborn and Leonardo Royal Southampton Grand Harbour and will launch at the Midland Hotel in Manchester at the end of November. The spas offer specialist treatment using French beauty brand Caudalie and are open to hotel guests and non-guests. Jason Carruthers, managing director of Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK & Ireland, said: “We are really excited to be able to provide guests and locals with premium spa facilities.” The company operates 37 hotels under the Jurys Inn brand in the UK and Ireland and 15 under the Leonardo brand.

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