Story of the Day:
Peel Hunt – bowling operators and wet-led pubs to benefit as rise of food delivery puts emphasis on experiences: Peel Hunt leisure analysts Douglas Jack and Ivor Jones have said they expect bowling operators and wet-led pubs to benefit as the rapid growth of food delivery increases the importance of experiences for consumers. They stated: “Growth in online activity and home competition is increasing the importance of events, experience, competitive socialising and premium products in the leisure sector. These trends are benefiting bowling, low-cost gyms, food delivery and wet-led pubs. They are also further undermining restaurants, which have the greatest exposure to labour inflation and the least flexibility to adapt. In our view the accelerating shift in demand should dominate investment decisions, with supply changing sufficiently to compensate the only thing that could affect the situation. We believe this would take three years at the very least to have any meaningful impact in any sub-sector. We believe The Gym Group, Ten Entertainment Group and Loungers offer the best demand/supply dynamics and the largest capacity to generate equity value through self-financed Ebitda growth in a sub-sector in which all companies target flat or falling debt. Despite this year’s corporate-driven re-rating we believe most valuations have yet to become strenuous, with this universe of companies having an average equity free cash flow yield of 8.0% as well as EV/Ebitda ratings that are an average of 4% below their historical average. Bowling and low-cost gyms, with high gross margins and low exposure to labour costs, have less cost pressure than food-led pubs and restaurants. They don’t have an off-trade competitor and have plenty of scope to innovate to drive sales and reduce costs. Corporate activity is being dominated by the pub sector. Most of the recent corporate activity in the restaurant sector has been buying companies out of administration. The largest quoted pub operators have been focused on rebranding and repositioning their outlets. As this completes, the emphasis could shift to bolt-on deals and driving synergies. We believe Fuller’s is best placed to be acquisitive and Revolution Bars Group, on two times site-level EV/Ebitda, is the most vulnerable to being bid for. Following a year of weather extremes, we expect current like-for-like trading to be driven by fundamentals. This scenario favours bowling operators and wet-led pubs. In the event of greater political certainty after the general election and possibly post-Brexit, we would expect valuations to consolidate in the case of pubs and increase elsewhere. In our view, this should occur despite a reduced likelihood of corporate activity.”
Hospitality sector can provide ‘half a million more jobs’ with government support: The UK’s hospitality sector can provide the jobs the country needs during the next decade as long as it receives the right government support, UKHospitality has said. Data published by the Office for National Statistics revealed hospitality businesses have created almost 46,000 jobs in the UK in the past year and half a million since 2009. UKHospitality has called on politicians to make supporting the sector a priority to ensure growth continues. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Despite difficult trading conditions, rising costs and high-street struggles, hospitality has added half a million jobs in the past decade. This highlights not only how important the sector is in terms of employment but also how resilient and adaptable businesses are. This is fantastic work from a sector that deserves recognition as a huge economic asset. If we get the right support from the incoming government there’s no reason why hospitality can’t exceed this figure during the next decade. Conversely, if governments over the next ten years don’t support hospitality, the sector may struggle to repeat its feat. Whoever wins the general election must acknowledge the importance of our sector and the challenges and opportunities these businesses face daily. Support for hospitality must be a priority, whoever forms the next government.”
Liverpool considers short-term let restrictions: Liverpool City Council is considering toughening its stance on unregulated short-term lets operated by companies such as Airbnb. A motion put forward by Cllr Alan Tormey states: “The growing market for ‘party houses’ can give local councils a headache. Houses rented only for a short time, with the aim of having a large party and leaving the resulting mess behind, have the potential to damage landlords and the local area.” Tormey’s motion flags several concerns including fewer houses available for rent and the impact on hotel and bed and breakfasts. The motion calls for a change in planning laws to create a change of use classification for short-term holiday lets and a new licensing regime, Place North West reports. The motion is due to be discussed by the council on Monday (18 November). Liverpool’s occupancy rate of 81.8% was the fourth-strongest in the UK in 2018, behind London, Edinburgh and Oxford. Earlier this week Airbnb forecast spending by its guests at UK restaurants and cafes would rise 33% year-on-year to £1.4bn in 2019. According to Airbnb data, its guests spend almost one-third (31%) of their trip budget on food when visiting the UK and almost half (45%) in the neighbourhood in which they stay. According to the survey, 91% of UK hosts said they recommend local restaurants and cafes to guests.
BrewDog launches mini-bond as it looks to raise £15m: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has launched its latest mini-bond as it looks to raise up to £15m to support expansion. The company has launched the offer on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube and partly pays lenders in beer. The bond will pay 6% interest per annum over four years, which will be paid 50% in cash and 50% in beer – redeemable in its bars or online shop. Bonds cost £500 and the interest payments will be made twice a year. BrewDog stated: “The past 12 years have been amazing for us and we couldn’t have achieved so much without the support of our global community of investors. We’ve had an extraordinary 2019 so far and are currently the number-one craft brewery in Europe – but we won’t stop until we become the number-one craft brewery globally. Funds raised from the new BrewDog bond will be used to make this dream a reality, driving projects such as expanding into India with plans to open a bar in Mumbai, which will set our bar division well on its way to more than 100 bars around the planet.” The company has previously launched two mini-bonds via Crowdcube. It sold a £2.5m, four-year bond in 2016 that carried a 6.5% interest rate, while last year it raised £10m after issuing a four-year bond with a 7.5% interest rate. Both its previous bonds entitled investors to a 10% discount in BrewDog bars but didn’t include beer as a payment component. The new bond is running alongside the company’s Equity for Punks crowdfunding campaign, which this week hit its minimum £7m target with almost 34,500 investors having pledged funds. The latest Equity for Punks campaign, which runs until April, has a stretch goal of £50m. In total, its six fund-raises to date have raised more than £74m from circa 125,500 investors.
Thwaites reports tenanted pub like-for-likes up 2% in first half as turnover rises to £53.4m: North west brewer and retailer Daniel Thwaites has reported like-for-like sales in its tenanted pubs rose 2% for the six months to 30 September 2019. Turnover increased 7% to £53.4m, compared with £49.9m the previous year. Operating profit was up 9% to £8.7m compared with £8.0m the previous year, while underlying earnings per share rose 27% to 9.5p. Pre-tax profit fell to £3.0m, compared with £6.4m the year before. Net debt at the end of the period stood at £61.6m, down from £70.2m the year before, due to a reduced capital investment programme and disposal of some non-core properties. Executive chairman Rick Bailey said: “It has been a very positive start to the year for us. After several years of intensive investment to raise the quality of our properties, this year we planned to have less project activity and concentrate on increasing sales and controlling our cost base. It has brought clarity to understanding how our underlying business is trading without the effects of closures and having bedrooms unavailable that come with investment projects. We are pleased to have seen like-for-like growth in all areas and a strengthened financial position. Obviously the current political situation has created headwinds but our business is in great shape to push on once the current impasse is resolved. In particular the company’s inns have enjoyed an excellent summer, with turnover up 19% and operating profit up 45%. The Beverley Arms and The Crown in Pooley Bridge are recent additions and are now trading very well. Our hotels, which had a difficult time last year, also seem to have turned a corner and their like-for-like sales were up 5%, with profits also growing in a competitive market. Our new Ribble Valley brewery goes from strength to strength. Our business is in good order, with growing profits and a low level of debt. We have the opportunity to invest in our hotel at Lake Windermere next year but would now like to make acquisitions to add to our family.”
Five Guys to open 100th UK site: US better burger brand Five Guys will open its 100th site in the UK, in London on Monday, 9 December. The company will launch the milestone at the former Coppa Club unit in St Paul’s. Five Guys, which was founded in Virginia in 1986, made its UK debut in Covent Garden in 2013 as a joint venture with Sir Charles Dunstone, British founder of Carphone Warehouse. Since then it has spread across the UK and launched in France, Germany and Spain. The company is on track to open 14 sites in the UK this year, with a further ten earmarked for 2020. A flurry of recent openings took the brand to the brink of its 100-site milestone while sites lined up for next year include a unit at the redeveloped Saw Close in Bath city centre that was set to be taken by rival Byron. Propel understands the former Ed’s Easy Diner at McArthurGlen’s Swindon Designer Outlet has also been lined up, while the company is in talks on two further London sites, in Fulham Broadway and Victoria.
Patty & Bun to open Liverpool Street 2.0 next month as brand returns to double figures: Patty & Bun, the better burger concept led by Joe Grossman, will return to Liverpool Street next month but in a larger space. The company’s original Liverpool Street site had to close because of a redevelopment. Patty & Bun Liverpool Street 2.0 will open on Monday, 9 December at twice the size of the original and featuring a 50-cover restaurant and 15-cover takeaway area. The venue will also feature additions to the menu including a stronger vegan presence and the return of the brand’s breakfast menu on Fridays. Grossmann said: “I couldn’t be more excited about re-entering the Liverpool Street fray. It has always been part of the Patty identity.” The Liverpool Street opening and another in Kingly Street, Soho, later this month will bring Patty & Bunn’s portfolio back to double figures. The company also operates concessions in Swingers’ two London sites plus three with Incipio Group.
Pizza Hut Restaurants launches virtual delivery brand: Pizza Hut Restaurants has launched its first virtual delivery brand, WingStreet, Propel has learned. The virtual brand is available through Deliveroo and at select restaurants, including sites in Durham and Oldham. WingStreet is a US restaurant chain specialising in chicken that’s owned by Yum! Brands and offers breaded and traditional buffalo wings for takeaway and delivery. The UK virtual brand offers chicken wings and bites “drizzled in six signature sauces”. In April 2018, the circa 260-strong Pizza Hut Restaurants business was bought out by its management led by chief executive Jens Hofma and backed by Pricoa Capital Group. It took control of the business from previous owners Rutland Partners under a franchise agreement with Yum! Pizza Hut Restaurants started offering home delivery for the first time last year in partnership with Yum!, concentrating on gaps in Pizza Hut Delivery’s coverage. Pizza Hut Restaurants has a five-year growth plan that includes rolling out its “fast casual” concept, where diners order and pay ahead. It has also been trialling pizza deliveries via Just Eat and has expanded its unlimited lunchtime buffet offer to weekends.
Mark Sargeant’s pub vehicle makes triple acquisition: Michelin-starred chef Mark Sargeant has added three pubs to his Kent-based vehicle The Pickled Egg Pub Company. Sargeant, a Gordon Ramsay protégé who has made numerous appearances on television cookery shows, has acquired The Five Bells at Brabourne, The Radnor Arms in Folkestone and The Woolpack Inn at Warehorne, from Ramblinns. Owned by Sargeant and Josh De Haan, The Pickled Egg Pub Company’s other sites are the Duke William at Ickham, The Wife Of Bath in Wye, and restaurants Rocksalt and The Smokehouse, both in Folkestone. Sargeant told Kent Online: “Josh and I have been massive fans of John and Alison’s Ramblinns and, when the opportunity arose to buy three of their four sites, we jumped at the chance. We can’t wait to continue their great work at these fantastic pubs and only aim to enhance their excellent reputations. All three pubs will continue to trade as normal and we are excited by the opportunity to serve their communities. We intend to make some small changes in the new year, particularly to the menus, but for now it’s business as usual.” Ramblinns will continue to operate The Globe Inn Marsh in Rye.
Tim Hall – Meadowhall opening marks ‘crucial step’ for Three Joes: Tim Hall, co-founder of sourdough pizza restaurant Three Joes, has told Propel the opening of its third site, at Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield, marks a “crucial step” for the concept. The company overcame the recent bad weather in South Yorkshire to launch the 100-cover venue. The company, which Hall co-owns with ex-Pod food director Emma Blackmore and former Byron operations director Peter Bruton, is also aiming to announce a fourth site before Christmas. Hall said of the Meadowhall opening: “This is a crucial step for Three Joes. We are miles from home in one of the toughest market places in the UK surrounded by some superbly operated, highly experienced competitors. There’s nowhere to hide but, if we’re able to operate this site successfully, it catapults Three Joes into a new arena in terms of opportunity and potential throughout the UK.” Bruton added: “We are excited to be competing head to head with all the major restaurant sector brands in this British Land retail scheme. We can see all our main rivals from our new pergola entrance and I can’t wait to put our teams’ experience into play and see how we get on in this most competitive of environments.” Three Joes was launched in 2017 and also has sites in Fareham and Winchester. Earlier this year the company raised £510,000 on crowfunding platform Crowdcube, which Hall said should be enough, “there or thereabouts”, to boost Three Joes’ estate to five outlets.
The Coconut Tree to open sixth site, in Bournemouth: Sri Lankan street food operator The Coconut Tree is to open its sixth site, in Bournemouth. The company will launch the site in Old Christchurch Road. Brand director Anna Garrod said: “We are delighted our sixth site will be in the heart of Bournemouth, less than a mile from the seafront. It will be the first time we’ve been able to show off our island vibes and warm Sri Lankan hospitality in a seaside setting and we couldn’t be more excited.” The Coconut Tree was founded in 2016 by five Sri Lankan friends living in Cheltenham – Praveen Thanginah, Dan Fernando and Shamil Fernando, who oversee the food, financial director Mithra Fernando, and operations director Rodrigo Rashinthe. The company operates two sites in Bristol and one each in Cheltenham, Cardiff and Oxford.
Darcy takes interim chief operating officer role at Market Halls: Mitchells & Butlers veteran and former Big Easy managing director Noel Darcy has joined food hall operator Market Halls as interim chief operating officer. Darcy most recently helped the operational side of health-focused, fast casual concept Farmer J. He was with Mitchells & Butlers for more than 20 years before stints at Big Easy, TLC Inns and Drake & Morgan, where he helped integrate the Corney & Barrow business. Market Halls, which Bridgepoint Growth made a “significant investment” in earlier this summer to aid expansion, will open its next and largest site so far, in London on Friday (15 November). Market Hall West End, which will be the UK’s largest food hall when it opens in Oxford Circus, will feature traders such as Pastaio, Roti King, Flank, Breddos Tacos, BaoziInn, Hotbox, CookDaily and Paradise Slice. At the same time Twisted London, which also operates delivery kitchens in the capital, will open up its studio at the venue to allow the public to see how its cooking shows are created.
Richard Corrigan opens Daffodil Mulligan for third London restaurant: Richard Corrigan, chef patron of the Corrigan Collection, has opened his third London site. Corrigan and fellow Irishmen John Nugent, who founded music, food and arts hub Kings Place in King’s Cross, and Tony Gibney, from Gibney’s Of Malahide in Dublin, have launched Daffodil Mulligan in Shoreditch. They bought the City Road site in July that formerly housed restaurant Nuala, which closed at the end of last year. The 50-cover restaurant includes an eight-seater oyster bar. The menu features produce from Corrigan’s Virginia Park Lodge estate in Ireland and is split into four sections – small, wood oven and grill, sides, and sweet. Dishes include crubeens with turnip, apple and English mustard, and braised kale with ham knuckle on toast. The ground-floor and basement bar serves craft beer and spirits with a focus on smaller Irish distilleries and producers, while the wine list has been curated by Richard Corrigan Junior. The bar will host live music and there are also two timber “snug” booths with screens for major sporting events. The venue is named after the daughter of Biddy Mulligan – a Dublin street-seller immortalised in song. Corrigan’s other London venues are Bentley’s and Corrigan’s Mayfair, which also incorporates Dickie’s Bar.
Kungfu signs for Stratford: All-you-can-eat, pan-Asian buffet chain Kungfu has signed for Bell Court leisure complex in Stratford-upon-Avon. The restaurant will open at a large unit underneath Everyman Cinema in January. The brand offers authentic dishes from China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, India and Turkey. Kungfu is owned by HJ Tenger Holdings with DMR Property securing all its 27 restaurant leases in the UK. DMR director Mark Hillier told the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald: “Kungfu is delighted to open in Bell Court.” John Stacey, UK real estate director at Bell Court’s owner Blue Coast Capital, added: “We have no doubt Kungfu will complement the fantastic range of restaurants, bars, retailers and leisure operators at the development.” HJ Tenger Holdings also backs buffet brands The Real China and Tang’s as well as Turkish concept Turquoise. According to its website, DMR has been instructed to secure ten more restaurants for Turquoise in the next 12 months.
TRG names Tallboy as chief information officer after Savoy steps down: Richard Tallboy has been promoted to chief information officer at The Restaurant Group (TRG) after Edgardo Savoy stepped down from the role. Tallboy has been at Wagamama for almost 12 years, including the past eight as chief information officer overseeing some of the business’ market-leading technology developments. Before that he was IT manager at PizzaExpress. A TRG spokesman told Propel: “Edgardo has decided to step down from his role and leave TRG. He joined the organisation in July 2018 and has been instrumental in leading our digital, product and technology strategy during the past 15 months. He leaves with our thanks and very best wishes.”
Lancashire-based coffee shop operators take on Punch pub: Lancashire-based coffee shop operators Kevin and Angela Lavin have taken on a Punch pub. The Lavins have reopened the Duke Of Rothesay in the village of Heysham following a £250,000 investment by Punch. Following a refurbishment the pub features more defined lounge, entertainment and snug areas alongside a new food menu offering home-cooked pub classics. Kevin Lavin said: “We know this area well and can’t wait to welcome customers into their new-look pub.” Punch managing director Andy Spencer added: “This is a significant investment by Punch in a well-established pub and we’re extremely pleased with the business we’ve helped create. Matching this fantastic pub with great people like Kevin and Angela, who bring a wealth of experience and expertise, will ensure this impressive pub continues to operate at the heart of its community.” The Lavins also own The Coffee Club in Chorley, which they have run since September 2017. Last week Punch, which operates 1,250 tenanted, leased and management partnership pubs, set out its ambitious investment and acquisition strategy. The Clive Chesser-led company, which is owned by Patron Capital and May Capital, has identified three distinct routes to grow its estate alongside a £34m investment programme in its existing portfolio.
Junkbars to convert Holy Calzone to second Junkyard site after concept fails to perform: Nottingham-based operator Junkbars has decided to convert its pizza bar concept, Holy Calzone, in West Bridgford to its second Junkyard Bar & Kitchen because the venue “simply hasn’t performed in its current form”. The site in Trent Boulevard will undergo a small refurbishment to the Junkyard brand, with the menu tweaked to include more sharing and small plates to sit alongside breakfast and pizza. A Junkbars spokesman told The Business Desk: “We really hoped to deliver Holy Calzone. We tried tweaking it and changing things around for more than a year and, although we’ve had some successes, it simply hasn’t performed for us in its current form. However, we’re reluctant to simply abandon this beautiful building. We really like being here and so, after much deliberation, we’ve decided to take a punt and rebrand and open our second Junkyard.” Junkbars’ other Junkyard Bar & Kitchen is in Nottingham city centre, while it also operates the Boilermaker and The Herbert Kilpin in the city.
Freehold of Romford Slug and Lettuce sold for £3.2m: The freehold interest of 105/111 South Street, Romford, which houses a Slug and Lettuce, has been acquired by a private purchaser for £3.2m. The entire property is subject to a long lease to Stonegate Pub Company. The purchase price reflected a net initial yield of 5.24%. Already boasting excellent transport links, the area is expected to further benefit from the introduction of Crossrail’s the Elizabeth Line, which will provide direct access to the West End. Jack Silvani, of Coffer Corporate Leisure, which advised the vendor, said: “Leisure and specifically wet-led operators have traded strongly in South Street for many years. We believe the imminent introduction of Crossrail will strengthen this performance and drive rental growth prospects.” ADS Real Estate advised the purchaser.
Ivy Collection opens Victoria site: The Ivy Collection, the Richard Caring-backed and David Campbell-led group, has opened its site in London’s Victoria. The company acquired the former Jamie’s Italian site in Victoria Street in the summer. The 292-seater venue features interiors inspired by the railway, Buckingham Palace, the theatre and Victorian London. The Ivy Victoria also features an upstairs bar, terrace and 20-cover private dining space. The Victoria opening is one of five planned by The Ivy Collection before the end of the year, including the company’s first in Wales. The site will open in St David’s shopping centre in Cardiff on Monday (18 November).
Team behind Brixton live music venue to launch 500-capacity club and arts space in Croydon: South London-based Lambeth Group, which operates live music venue The Prince Of Wales in Brixton, is to launch a 500-capacity club and arts space in Croydon. Phase will open in Crown Hill next month featuring two club rooms, a studio and a “balanced and inclusive programme” covering electronic and live music. The venue will also offer studio and stage space to community groups. Phase managing director Wayne Saunders told the Evening Standard: “Our team is thrilled to be part of an exciting and dynamic time for Croydon, an area that has always been a hotbed for creative talent. We’re committed to offering a platform for emerging artists and a hub for established acts from the underground electronic music scene as well as developing a performance space for London-wide talent from spoken word, cabaret, comedy and live music.” Marcus Harris, of Croydon Council’s cultural regeneration department, added: “A venue of the size and versatility of Phase and the fact it’s offering opportunities to local artists, DJs and promoters, represents a welcome addition to Croydon’s musical ecosystem.”
Peel Hunt – Just Eat’s unmatched strength is shrinking: Peel Hunt leisure analysts have said Just Eat’s unmatched strength from data, wholesale discounts and share of voice is shrinking. They stated: “Just Eat was a pure-play, high-margin takeaway platform focusing on restaurants that do their own delivery. However, it’s now investing in delivery as competition takes its toll. Uber will dominate the smartphone as its taxi app allows it to accelerate the distribution of its UberEats app and take advantage of the captive audience inside the taxis themselves. Moreover, as Uber opens up to restaurants that do their own delivery, its cash will improve. The changing landscape means Just Eat’s unmatched strength from data, wholesale discounts and share of voice is shrinking. Also, its peers are bringing even newer differentiation to support the same restaurant clients from dark kitchens and delivery insights. Grubhub, a close equivalent to Just Eat in the US and facing similar challenges, plunged 43% after declaring competition from companies such as UberEats sliced more than 300 basis points from its growth rate in its third quarter, blaming growing promiscuity and disloyalty of customers. This was somewhat shared in Just Eat’s third-quarter when it talked about ‘changing consumer preferences’ in the UK. The statement made by Prosus in its takeover bid that Just Eat would ‘require substantial investment in excess of that planned by Just Eat management’ is now more telling.”
Peterborough-based restaurateurs acquire Bedfordshire hotel: Peterborough-based Meadow Brown Restaurants has acquired a hotel in Bedfordshire with the support of a six-figure HSBC package. The family owned business, led by Raj and Neera Regmi, has bought Woodland Manor in Clapham, near Bedford. Raj Regmi told Insider Media: “The funding has allowed us to make subtle changes to the internal look and feel of the manor, improve the menu and build better links with the community. We’ve got 30 weddings booked so far and I anticipate these changes will enable us to more than triple that number in the next 12 months.” Meadow Brown Restaurants operates Lakeside Kitchen & Bar and Ferry Meadows Cafe in Peterborough.
Britvic in talks with Refresco over French sale: Britvic has entered into exclusive talks with fellow soft drinks company Refresco to sell three juice manufacturing sites in France, its private label juice business and its Fruité brand. The proposed sale is subject to a consultation with employee representatives and clearance from the French competition watchdog. Britvic would retain ownership of the Pressade and Fruit Shoot brands, which would be manufactured by Refresco as part of a long-term partner arrangement. The transaction wouldn’t affect the Teisseire and Moulin De Valdonne brands or the private label syrups business, which are all manufactured at the remaining site in Crolles. The deal is expected to close in spring 2020.
HGEM signs new concepts: A number of concepts have recently turned to HGEM for support in managing their guest experience. These include taqueria concept Santo Remedio; East Coast Concepts, which operates the Neighbourhood and Victor’s brands; and Planet Organic. A HGEM spokesman said: “These brands highlight HGEM’s commitment to supporting innovation in our sector and inspiring the next generation of guest experiences.”