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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 5th Nov 2019 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Julia Wilkinson – high streets must prioritise experiences through in-store initiatives, dining and leisure: Julia Wilkinson, portfolio and group restaurant strategy executive at Shaftesbury, has said high streets must increasingly “prioritise experiences by placing greater emphasis on unique in-store initiatives, dining and leisure”. She said methodology was “informing many decisions” as Shaftesbury evolves its neighbourhoods in London’s West End. Wilkinson said: “While people may come to an area for one reason, something very different can prompt them to stay and spend more time. Traditionally, retail has been hero in terms of drawing footfall and dwell time but as online shopping is further integrated into our lives and we increasingly prioritise experience, destinations must help people rediscover the joys of shopping for pleasure by placing greater emphasis on unique in-store initiatives, dining and leisure.” Wilkinson used Seven Dials as an example where Shaftesbury is “consciously curating” a mix of retail and F&B, including the recently launched Seven Dials Market, a former 24,000 square foot banana warehouse that houses street food traders and an events space. Wilkinson said: “Whether it’s a mid-shopping coffee, pre-theatre bite or an evening’s grazing and enjoying the buzzy food hall ambience, Seven Dials Market is a new centre of gravity that binds everything else in the destination, including retail, together. We’re also seeing brands pioneering this shift in their own store. Indian brand Napa Dori opened the doors to its UK flagship in Monmouth Street earlier this year incorporating its cafe concept, Café Dori. Serving traditional chai tea in ceramic cups, customers are offered a rich and immersive experience, which in turn buoys the retail offering of luxury leather goods.” Wilkinson pointed to CACI research that found 50% of shoppers who visit primarily for F&B or leisure go on to spend on retail, while anyone who spends on F&B during a visit has a 48% higher retail spend during their trip compared with visitors who just shop. She added: “The true heart of a destination is atmosphere, which stems from people. Prioritising experience can help avoid in-and-out retail visitation and properly engage and sustain visitors to dwell, enjoy and make repeat visits.”

Industry News:

Last chance to book for Casual Dining Summit: Today (Tuesday, 5 November) is the last chance to book for the Casual Dining Summit in which some of the sector’s leading operators – big and small, new and established – will share expertise and insights into how they are seeking to win in one of the toughest trading environments ever. The full-day event takes place on Friday (8 November) at One Moorgate Place in London. The event will see a wide spectrum of company leaders and entrepreneurs from across the industry talk about the strategies they have put in place to make sure their businesses have been able to survive, thrive, evolve or pivot. Speakers will include YO! chief executive Richard Hodgson; Marta Pogroszewska, managing director of Gail’s; Shereen Ritchie, UK managing director of Leon; Byron chief executive Simon Wilkinson, Giggling Squid co-founder Andy Laurillard; Red’s True Barbecue co-founder James Douglas; Brasserie Bar Co chairman Mark Derry, Prue Freeman, founder of fledgling group Daisy Green; Phil Eeles, co-founder of Honest Burgers; and The NPD Group insights director Dominic Allport. There will also be a panel session featuring Thom Elliot, co-founder of Pizza Pilgrims, Dan Houghton, co-founder of Chilango, and Gavin Adair, managing director of Rosa’s Thai, who will explore the benefits and challenges that come with offering a delivery option, its impact on business models, staff and expansion opportunities. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium subscribers and £345 plus VAT for all others. To book, email or call 01444 817691.

NLW increases will lead to job losses without government support, says UKHospitality: UKHospitality has called on the government to help employers swallow the cost of new wage rates. The trade body has suggested scrapping employer National Insurance Contributions on the first £12,000 of earnings as a way to help businesses increase wages for employees. The call follows the publication of a report by the Low Pay Commission backing proposed increases to the National Living Wage rate. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We certainly want our fantastic team members to be rewarded fairly for the great work they do. We pride ourselves on being the UK’s foremost experiential sector and the great people who work in our venues are a huge part of the reason we succeed. The labour-intensive nature of hospitality means a significant and sudden increase to the rate of National Living Wage is going to shock many businesses. If the government is going to push ahead with its plan to increase the rate to £10.50 over five years, it must also take steps to help businesses on this journey, otherwise we will see job losses.” UKHospitality has welcomed the news, meanwhile, of a £155m cash boost for colleges and schools to develop vocational training in key areas, including hospitality and catering.

Restaurant critic William Sitwell exonerated of breaching press guidelines: The Daily Telegraph restaurant critic William Sitwell has been exonerated of breaching press guidelines after chef Richard Wilkins, of 104 Restaurant in Notting Hill, accused him of “misleading writing and harassment”. The Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) ruled in Sitwell’s favour saying the article had “accurately reported the details of the contact between the author and complainant”. Ipso said the fact the article under complaint was the second the newspaper had published about the complainant and his business failed to mean it constituted “harassment”. Wilkins made the complaint after Sitwell accused the chef of leaving threatening voicemails and sending threatening texts in the wake of Sitwell’s negative review of Wilkins’ restaurant, reports Eater. Wilkins claimed his statements weren’t threatening because saying things would get “dirty” was a reference to any “potential legal action he might take”, while a reference to him “coming to find the author” was simply so Sitwell could “explain his review”. Ipso didn’t agree. Sitwell stepped down from his Waitrose Food position in October 2018 after he suggested journalist Selene Nelson write an article on “killing vegans”. Wilkins, meanwhile, also alleged the 104 review and subsequent article were part of “some bizarre revenge plot” orchestrated by Sitwell and chef Marianne Lumb, who ran what is now 104 as Marianne for five years before closing the restaurant in 2018. Ipso didn’t agree.

CAMRA names pub of the year finalists: The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has named its Pub of the Year 2019 finalists. Previous winners the Swan With Two Necks in Pendleton, Lancashire (2014); the George & Dragon in Hudswell, North Yorkshire (2016) and The Bell Inn in Aldworth, Berkshire (1990) have been shortlisted along with newcomer The Red Lion in Preston, Hertfordshire, which became the first community-owned pub in Great Britain in the 1980s. All pubs in the competition are selected by CAMRA volunteers and judged on their atmosphere, decor, welcome, service, value for money, customer mix and quality of beer. The winner will be announced in February while the four finalists will be presented with a super regional award in the coming weeks.

Job of the week: COREcruitment is seeking an operations director for the hotels division of a hospitality company. The position involves looking after all aspects of the self-operated hotel business including property and lease acquisitions, brand and build, team management, and overall sales growth. With 20 properties in the division, the operations director will work with the UK chief executive and wider leadership team to deliver rapid expansion goals while maintaining the pre-existing brand image. The position is based in London and offers a salary of £150,000 plus bonus and benefits. For more information or a confidential chat, email

Company News:

McDonald's outlines severance agreement with Steve Easterbrook: McDonald’s has outlined its separation agreement with ousted chief executive Steve Easterbrook, which included planned severance pay of at least $675,000 and more restrictive non-compete clauses than his existing employment contract. “The separation agreement contains a two-year post-termination non-competition covenant, which is six months longer and more expansive in scope than Mr Easterbrook’s existing non-competition covenants,” the company said in its Securities and Exchange Commission filing. McDonald’s fired Easterbrook for violating policy and demonstrating “poor judgment involving a recent consensual relationship with an employee”. In the agreement dated 31 October, Easterbrook was awarded 26 weeks of severance pay, to be paid within six months. The severance plan, outlined in proxy filings in March, called for Easterbrook to receive $675,000 in salary continuation, $2,855 in benefit continuation and $24,400 in sabbatical and transition assistance. Easterbrook’s total remuneration in 2018 was $15.9m and $21.8m in 2017. McDonald's detailed a number of competitive companies covered in the non-compete provisions of the severance agreement, saying it covered “any company in the restaurant industry – whether informal eating-out or ready-to-eat – that competes with the business of McDonald’s”. They include Burger King, Caffe Nero, Five Guys, Papa John’s, Starbucks and Subway. However, the agreement also called for Easterbrook to consult with McDonald’s general counsel for clarification as to whether a company not listed also qualified. McDonald’s has also confirmed its chief people officer David Fairhurst has left, effective immediately. McDonald’s did not say if the departure was related to that of Easterbrook's and declined to comment further, citing company policy to not comment on personnel matters. Fairhurst had been with the company since 2005, but had only headed up its global HR department since 2015. Prior to that he was McDonald’s chief people officer for its European business. Meanwhile, McDonald's has scrapped its upmarket Signature Collection range in the UK. The collection of burgers, which included The Classic, The BBQ and The Spicy, was launched in 2017 and cost up to £5.19. Trish Caddy, of analysts Mintel, told The Sun: “The Signature Collection was an effort to play catch-up with the increasingly competitive burger market, but it failed. Instead, fans were visiting specialists that were solely focused on the premium burger experience.” McDonald’s said: “We’re sorry to disappoint fans of the range. It might return in the future as part of a limited-time food promotion.”

Supper raises £1.5m: London-based premium food delivery service Supper has closed a Series A funding round of circa £1.5m. Before that, Supper had taken angel investment from a handful of investors including PK Wang, of Yi Fang. Tim Marchant, co-founder of Moscar Capital, which led the round, said the company made the investment because Supper was already showing “great potential upside with a clear path to profitability”. He added: “Delivery can be done better – and Supper has proved it.” Founded by Peter Georgiou in 2015, Supper uses a fleet of specially adapted scooters and directly employed drivers to cater for the premium end of the market, setting it apart from sector heavyweights such as Deliveroo and UberEats. Georgiou told Propel: “Delivery is the fastest-growing area in food and beverage, with differing levels of quality and service that often don’t match the operator. This investment underpins what we’ve set out to achieve at Supper – offer the best of both. We’re in talks with a number of prominent operators that want to enter the ‘on demand’ space but require a service more in keeping with their brands. This funding couldn’t have come at a better time to expand our profile.”

Kellogg’s joins Deliveroo Editions: Kellogg’s has launched a menu through Deliveroo’s Editions as the cereal brand looks for new ways to reach customers. Kellogg’s Kitchen Creations has opened in east London for a six-month trial and will launch in Manchester city centre later this year with a view to a roll-out in 2020. The menu features meals based on Kellogg’s cereals including Coco Pop Bubble Crepes, Crunchy Nut Shake and Nutri-Grain Cheese Cake Bar. Kellogg’s Kitchen Creations manager Ben Ellis said: “In our 97-year history of selling food in the UK this will be the first Kellogg’s kitchen delivering meals inspired by our cereal and snacks directly to people in their homes. We’re excited to see how people react to the food we’re offering and whether it’s something we can continue to do in other parts of the UK.” Deliveroo Editions general manager Yannis Alivizatos added: “We are really excited major brands such as Kellogg’s are recognising the value of Deliveroo Editions. Our delivery-only kitchens will help them test new menus, reach more customers and grow their business.” Meanwhile, JKS Restaurants has added a fifth Editions site for its virtual brand Motu. Deliveroo Editions launched in April 2017 and has 16 sites in the UK working with more than 40 partners from 200 kitchens.

Buzzworks Holdings acquires Lucky 7 in Kilmarnock for 13th site: Scottish bar and restaurant operator Buzzworks Holdings has acquired Lucky 7 Bar & Kitchen in Kilmarnock town centre for its 13th venue. The venue will close for refurbishment but all staff will be retained and offered positions at other Buzzworks venues while work is completed. The move strengthens the family-owned business’ ties with Kilmarnock after it bought The Jefferson in February, with work under way to create a head office at the site that will feature a training academy. Buzzworks Holdings managing director Kenny Blair said: “Kilmarnock is an area where we see so much potential and these two opportunities allow us to become a bigger part of the community. So many of our team live in the surrounding area it’s important for us to retain and build on that local connection. Our new head office will feature an industry-leading training academy, which we believe is key to the continued success of our business as we plan to expand into other parts of Scotland.” Last month Buzzworks launched a community bursary scheme to support organisations and projects in communities where the company operates such as Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and West Lothian.

Black Sheep Coffee secures debut Oxford site: London-based speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee has secured its debut Oxford site. The company, founded by Gabriel Shoret and Eirik Holth, has acquired the former Ratio Cafe in George Street. Black Sheep Coffee will occupy the 1,216 square foot ground floor and basement on a new lease. Black Sheep Coffee operates more than 30 London sites as well as three in Manchester and a franchised site in Manila. In July, it acquired eight London-based sites from Taylor St Baristas, which have also been incorporated into its estate. Having raised £13m in a new funding round this year to support its growth ambitions, the company has plans to grow its estate to 70 sites UK-wide. Davis Coffer Lyons advised the private landlord on the deal. Louie Gazdar, agent at Davis Coffer Lyons, said: “The boutique coffee sector remains a strong performer in the UK leisure property scene and we continue to experience high demand for sites in top leisure locations.”

Roxy Leisure plans second Nottingham site: Roxy Leisure, the operator of the Roxy Ball Room concept, is planning a second site in Nottingham. The company, which is in advanced talks with Foresight Group regarding new investment, confirmed to Propel it is in negotiations to open in the former Red Hot World Buffet unit in the Cornerhouse development, which would create 40 jobs. The venue would feature a bar, restaurant, bowling alley, pool tables, table tennis and shuffleboard and could have a capacity of 450 people at peak times. A planning application has been lodged with the city council, which was first reported by The Business Desk. Roxy Leisure currently runs a Roxy Ballroom venue in Thurland Street. Last month Propel reported Roxy Leisure, which is led by Matthew Jones, was lining up a second Manchester site. It operates two Roxy Ball Rooms in Liverpool and two in Leeds plus The Loop, which is also in Leeds. Propel revealed earlier this year the company was working with advisory firm Sedulo to assess options that could include the sale of a stake in the business.

Warrens Bakery partners with SSP to open Gatwick site: Cornwall-based Warrens Bakery has partnered with SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, to open an outlet at Gatwick airport. The site, which will open this month in North Terminal, measures 300 square metres and seats 138 people. It will offer passengers Warrens Bakery’s range of Cornish pasties as well as breakfast baps, Belgian buns, sandwiches and pastries. Warrens Bakery chairman Mark Sullivan said: “We are delighted to partner with SSP and launch a large cafe at Gatwick. Our iconic British brand lends itself ideally to this location.” Richard Lewis, chief executive of SSP UK & Ireland, said: “This is an innovative addition to our portfolio of outstanding food and beverage brands and we look forward to working closely with Warrens Bakery to provide a new dimension to our bakery offer.” Founded in 1860, Warrens Bakery has 80 stores throughout the UK, including a franchise site at Bristol airport with Casual Dining Group.

ETM Group to open fifth sports pub, at London Bridge this week: Gastro-pub operator ETM Group will open its latest sports pub, Redwood, at London Bridge station this week. Redwood will be the fifth sports venue in ETM Group’s expanding portfolio and follows the launch of Westwood Sports Pub And Kitchen at Westfield White City in the summer. Redwood will open on Thursday (7 November) as part of the £1bn redevelopment of London Bridge station. Located in a glass-fronted, two-storey unit next to the station entrance and opposite The Shard, Redwood will be a 6,000 square foot venue featuring high-definition screens and a 140-inch LED video wall. There will also be a 100-cover terrace, while the bar will feature ETM Group’s signature 500-litre copper tanks dispensing a rotating selection of guest craft beer. The drinks list will also include international beer and ale, wine and artisan spirits. The food menu will feature burgers, pizza, sharing platters and sides. ETM Group gave people a sneak glimpse of what will be on offer by opening for the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday (2 November). Chief executive Ed Martin said: “Our flagship pub, kitchen and sports lounge Greenwood has shown there’s a huge appetite for experience-led venues that deliver on quality food, drink and sport so we’re thrilled to be opening a venue at London Bridge station.” ETM Group operates circa 15 sites across the capital.  

Inn Collection Group gets go-ahead for new-build Sunderland pub with rooms: The Inn Collection Group has been given the go-ahead for a 40-bedroom new-build pub on Sunderland seafront. The company has been granted permission by the city council for the development at Seaburn. The building will feature 40 bedrooms across three floors, with a bar and restaurant. The Inn Collection managing director Sean Donkin said: “We are delighted to have the green light to move forward with plans for what will be a fantastic addition to the seaside in Sunderland on a prime coastal spot. Seaburn will become a popular addition to our portfolio of pubs with rooms in the north’s best-loved destinations including the Northumberland coast, Durham and the Lake District. We look forward to seeing it rise from the ground with a view to opening towards the end of 2020.” The announcement follows a new strategic direction by The Inn Collection Group to develop a wholly freehold estate as it continues to roll out “buy and build” growth plans that will see the group more than double its ten-strong portfolio of pubs with rooms by 2022. The Alchemy-backed group will continue to seek out new development opportunities in the Lake District and Yorkshire as well as its north east heartland. The group will open a 30-bedroom pub with rooms – The Ambleside Inn in Ambleside in Cumbria – later this month.

Nottingham-based Papa John’s franchisees open fifth site: Nottingham-based Papa John’s franchisees Kam and Sukhy Bains have opened their fifth site in the region, in Wollaton. Kam Bains said: “Enquiries from residents in Wollaton plus numerous customers coming for collection showed us now was the time to open a new store to satisfy demand. We run one Papa John’s in Grantham and the other four now have Nottingham covered. Nottingham has been a fantastic location for us, with a great vibe and many visiting students.” Papa John’s was founded in the US in 1984 and operates more than 400 stores across the UK and over 5,000 stores in more than 40 international markets and territories.

Craft Dining Rooms partners with Aktar Islam for second Birmingham site: Sam and Emma Morgan, who own Birmingham’s Craft Dining Rooms, have teamed up with restaurateur Aktar Islam to launch their second site. The partnership will launch Craft English Garden at Birmingham’s ICC in January. The space will encompass a flora and fauna theme, with hanging planters, floral archways and a foliage wall alongside lounge seating, banquettes and fire pits. The site, which will sit alongside Craft Dining Rooms on the canalside, will include an outdoor area featuring dining pods for groups of up to 12. The menu will be a modern take on traditional British dishes, while the drinks list will feature British wine and spirits. The cocktail list will embrace an English botanical theme. Islam, who stepped down from his role as chef director of Lasan in 2017, launched Michelin-starred Opheem and Legna last year, both in Summer Row, while he recently opened Pulperia in the former CAU premises in Brindleyplace.

Goodbody – cash profile improves at Marston’s due to capital discipline, but questions remain: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has said Marston’s cash profile has improved due to capital discipline, but he added “questions remain”. Marston’s sold a portfolio of 137 pubs to Admiral Taverns on Monday (4 November) for £44.9m as part of its plan to reduce its debt in part through the disposal of certain non-core assets. Retaining his ‘Sell’ recommendation on the shares with a target price of 100p ahead of Marston’s full-year results on Wednesday, 27 November, Ruddy said: “Given the group gave headline figures at its year-end trading update we don’t expect any major surprises. The group guided to sales growth of 3% in FY19, with profit before tax expected to be flat year-on-year. This was circa 3% below our expectations due to a disappointing out-turn in the food-led Destination & Premium division. We have cumulatively downgraded profit before tax by 11% in the past year. The company also reduced FY20 profit before tax expectations by circa 9% due to increased disposals, additional pub investment and higher interest charges. Given the quantum of cost inflation the wider sector faces we see limited scope for meaningful earnings growth across the forecast horizon. As a result, cash flow and the security of the dividend (6% yield) becomes a key focus. Management has revised its capital spend plans on a number of occasions. This should be welcomed by income investors. Our cash flow analysis suggests the dividend is covered by cash generation post-disposals through the forecast horizon and the group will start to de-lever. However, net debt/Ebitda remains high at 5.8 times in FY21 and we see limited scope for de-leveraging without disposals, which can’t continue in perpetuity. The pubs in our coverage (excluding Greene King) have re-rated by 15% year to date on the back of mergers and acquisitions and an increasing focus on their defensive attributes. Marston’s currently trades on 9.4 times FY20 EV/Ebitda broadly in line with its historic average valuation (CK Asset Holdings bought Greene King for 9.5 times and TDR bought Ei Group for 11.8 times) and 9.5 times price-to-earnings ratio. We update our sum of the parts and EV/return on capital expenditure methodology. This yields a new target price of 100p and we retain our ‘Sell’ recommendation.”

Flight Club and Electric Shuffle team brings concepts under new vehicle: The team behind social darts concept Flight Club and shuffleboard concept Electric Shuffle has brought the two formats under one vehicle – Red Engine. Steve Moore and Paul Barham revealed the move ahead of this month’s launch of Electric Shuffle in Canary Wharf. Red Engine is the central in-house development team behind Flight Club and Electric Shuffle. It incorporates brand, property, venue teams, gaming, sales, marketing, HR, finance, acquisitions and interior design. Red Engine has been launched to provide clarity to the central team’s function and provide opportunity to draw new talent and establish partnerships as the group seeks to expand further. Moore said: “It is our goal to redefine moments with friends. We want to revolutionise experiences, innovate and stay at the forefront of what we do. Our success begins and ends with our people and the Red Engine team is very much part of this. We want to be known not just for our mind-blowing experiences and venues but also as a team that’s capable of delivering the truly exceptional.” The Red Engine portfolio includes five UK Flight Club venues and one international partnership – Flight Club Chicago. Three venues are due to open before the end of the year – Flight Club Islington on Friday, 22 November, Electric Shuffle in Canary Wharf on Friday, 29 November and international partner Flight Club Boston on Monday, 16 December.

Whitbread signs to bring Premier Inn and Bar + Block to Swindon: Whitbread has signed a deal with Swindon Borough Council to open a Premier Inn and Bar + Block as part of regeneration plans for the Wiltshire town’s centre. If planning permission is approved, Whitbread will invest more than £17m to turn Aspen House into a 197-bedroom hotel spanning eight storeys with a Bar + Block steakhouse on the ground floor. The move would create more than 80 jobs. Premier Inn acquisition manager Paul Smith said: “Subject to planning permission, we look forward to starting construction on what will be a superb addition to Swindon’s hotel and leisure offer.” Whitbread hopes to start construction in summer 2020 ahead of an opening in autumn 2021. The company opened its latest Bar + Block – at the new Premier Inn in Sutton, Surrey, on Friday (1 November). The all-day, casual dining concept focuses on high-quality steak at affordable prices. Bar + Block sites have opened in Wimbledon, Belfast, Bristol and Winnersh this year. A 13th site is due to launch at the Premier Inn in Newgate Street, Newcastle. Whitbread was advised on the deal by planning consultancy Turley.

Oklava founders to replace Kyseri in Fitzrovia with new concept: Selin Kiazim and Laura Christie, founders of modern Turkish restaurant Oklava, are to close their Fitzrovia site ahead of the launch of a new concept. Kiazim and Christie opened Kyseri in Grafton Way in May 2018 showcasing modern Turkish plates and drawing inspiration from the Kayseri region of the country. Kyseri’s last night will be Saturday, 21 December and the venue will be replaced by a project focusing on Kiazim’s passion for Turkish baking and Christie’s love of wine from the same region. They said: “We have taken the decision to move in a different direction. With an exciting new project up our sleeve, we’re sticking to recent roots and will reopen in our existing site.” Kiazim and Christie opened Oklava in Old Street in 2015. Since July it has also operated a residency in Arcade Food Theatre in New Oxford Street, Soho.

Puttshack to open third site, in Bank this month: Puttshack, the Social Entertainment Ventures-operated mini-golf concept, is to open its third site, this month. The site at 1 Poultry in the City of London will launch on Friday, 22 November. With a capacity of 650, the Bank site will feature three nine-hole courses using technology that combines automatic tracking with game scoring via the golf ball. There will also be a food menu exclusive to the venue, including a selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes, grilled sharing platters and cocktails. The site, accessible through Bank underground station, follows on from Puttshack’s venues in Westfield White City and Intu Lakeside. This is the first opening since Puttshack announced rapid expansion plans following an equity raise of £30m in June with lead investor Promethean Investment. Puttshack has plans for further openings, including at Intu Watford in the summer.

Michelin-starred Fitzrovia restaurant Pied à Terre launches experiential ‘secret menu’: Michelin-starred restaurant Pied à Terre in Fitzrovia, central London, has launched an experiential “secret menu”. Executive chef Asimakis Chaniotis, who is the youngest chef to hold a Michelin star in London, will cook the menu for eight guests in a new kitchen and dining space on the first floor of the Charlotte Street restaurant. The space, which used to house the restaurant’s bar, will also host masterclasses by Pied à Terre founder and owner David Moore. He said: “Guests will get to see the workings of a Michelin-starred chef close up. Guests will see all aspects of the dishes come together as Asimakis cooks in front of them. There will be conversation about ingredients and culinary techniques in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, with a curated wine and playlist to boot. We like doing things differently and it’s important for us to break away from the catering aesthetic.” The first Chef’s Table event will take place on Friday, 22 November.

Clive Schlee invests in Curtice Brothers: Former Pret A Manger chief executive Clive Schlee has invested in Curtice Brothers to help support its growth plans. Schlee, who retired as Pret chief executive in September after 16 years in the role, said: “Curtice Brothers has great values, great people and great growth potential – the three things that matter most in a company. I am really happy to have the opportunity to get involved.” Curtice Brothers co-founder and chief executive Mario C Bauer added: “I am honoured and blessed – Clive has been my mentor and friend over so many years. He is a role model for how to build a sustainable business and we are proud to have him as an investor. He completes the great shareholder base after Henry McGovern joined us earlier this year.” Simeon and Edgar Curtice founded Curtice Brothers in 1868 in Rochester, New York, but the name was abandoned in the 1940s. Bauer revived the brand in early 2014 and it has since launched an organic ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard.

Staycity makes Germany debut: Dublin-based aparthotel operator Staycity Group has opened its first venue in Germany. The site has launched in Berlin and is a second venue for the company’s premium Wilde Aparthotels by Staycity brand. The 48-apartment development is part of a scheme occupying Checkpoint Charlie, the best-known crossing point of the Berlin Wall. A third Wilde Aparthotels by Staycity site will open in Grassmarket, Edinburgh, next month offering 128 apartments. Chief executive and co-founder Tom Walsh said: “One of the key prerequisites for Wilde is they’re central to the heart of the city. The Berlin and Edinburgh properties are in stunning locations with the best each city has to offer on their doorstep. It’s exciting to see the Wilde brand take shape as we add to the estate.” The first Wilde Aparthotels by Staycity site opened in Covent Garden in March. In September, the company reported a 2.4% rise in like-for-like sales in the first half of 2019 on the back of a rise in occupancy and average daily rates. Anticipated turnover for 2019 is €81m (£70m), up 18% on 2018. Staycity, which has 7,000 apartments operational and in the pipeline across Europe, aims to reach 15,000 by the end of 2023.

TRG recognised for sustainability efforts: The Restaurant Group (TRG) has received the top three-star rating for its Brunning & Price pub division from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) in the Food Made Good 2019 Sustainability Report. Meanwhile the company’s leisure division, which primarily comprises its Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito brands, and it concessions division that operates in airports, have both received two stars. TRG has also been shortlisted for two accolades at the SRA Food Made Good Awards 2019 – in the value natural resources and support global farmers categories. TRG purchasing director Rob Beale said: “This recognises the excellent results our teams have delivered in these fields and our efforts to become a more sustainable and responsible business.”

Jägermeister leads £2m funding round in sustainable mobile-charging startup to fuel its growth in late-night venues: ChargedUp, Europe’s largest network of mobile power-bank rental stations powered by green energy, has raised £2m led by Jägermeister, via M-Ventures. The follow-on funding by JamJar Investments is also backed by some of the UK’s largest influencers, including Caspar Lee as part of Creative Investment Club. The strategic investment by M-Ventures will help ChargedUp fuel its growth in late-night venues in the UK. The startup, founded in April 2017, has created a service that allows users to rent power banks by scanning a QR code through the ChargedUp app. ChargedUp also works with green energy supplier Octopus Energy, which matches all power used through the network worldwide with renewable energy directly into the grid. Since the app launched in August 2018, ChargedUp has grown to more than 1,500 charging stations across the UK and Netherlands with about 250,000 downloads. ChargedUp chief executive Hugo Tilmouth said: “After a chance meeting with the Jagermeister team earlier this year we’re really thrilled to be working with such a popular drinks brand. It has been one of the key players behind ChargedUp’s German and European expansion and the investment will help us ensure more people across Europe won’t get caught out when their phone battery is low.” Guy Lawrence, chief executive of Jägermeister UK, added: “Investing in ChargedUp made perfect sense as both brands believe people should make the most of being out and about, wherever they are.”

Agents unite to launch leisure consultancy: Agents Richard Willcox, Charlie Catterall, Kit Alexander and Daniel Hull-Sieff have launched leisure consultancy Etch Group with an aim to help clients from all sectors of the hospitality industry find sites in cities around the world. Etch Group said clients from as far afield as Hong Kong, Dubai, Thailand and Australia were looking at space in London “ahead of other European cities”. Etch Group has opened an office in Brewer Street, Soho, and signed up clients including India’s K Hospitality and Asian restaurant group Maximal Concepts. Willcox said: “We have some very active clients we are excited about expanding into London and further afield.”

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