Story of the Day:
More pub sector deals to come – but not Young’s, says Patrick Dardis: Patrick Dardis, chief executive of London pub retailer Young’s, has told Propel he believes there will be more pub sector deals to come – but his company won’t be one of them. With Ei Group and Greene King sold in recent months, Dardis said there were no plans for Young’s to go down the same route. He added the company also planned to increase investment in the estate despite current economic uncertainty – including bringing forward the revamp of its Redcomb sites. Speaking following the company’s first-half results, in which revenue rose 7.3% to £168.2m, Dardis said: “There have been no approaches as far as I’m aware. The company still has the family backing and a great group of shareholders. Our focus is on continuing to grow and driving the top and bottom line. As we’ve said before, we’ve got the firepower to make acquisitions if the right opportunities come along. I think the sales of Ei Group and Greene King are good for the sector and I believe there will be more activity in the next two to three years – just not us! I think there’s a lot of cash ready to flood into the UK once Brexit is resolved and, given the buoyancy of the pub sector and its freehold property market, there’s bound to be interest.” Young’s invested £17.3m in the first half of its financial year, including the freehold acquisition of the White Bear in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Investment in the second half will include refurbishing the remainder of the 15-strong Redcomb estate, having revamped two sites in recent weeks. Dardis said the refurbished sites had seen a “significant” uplift in sales. He added: “We were going to do the programme over two or three years but we’ve decided to bring it forward and it will be complete by the end of the financial year. It’s early days but one of the sites saw an uplift of 20% on the weekend after it reopened and the level has been sustained.” Dardis said the company would look to boost the number of bedrooms in its estate, which is currently near 700. One of its strategies is buying neighbouring properties – as it has done at the Dog & Fox in Wimbledon. Having acquired a former Chinese restaurant next door, Young’s is spending £5m to add 12 bedrooms, taking the venue’s total to 29. The Coach House, as it will be called, is due to open in the spring. Dardis said much of the revenue growth in the first half had been driven by premiumisation, while sales of Guinness were up 18% and cask ale was back in growth for the first time in five years. Reflecting on the company’s first-half performance and looking ahead, Dardis said: “We are feeling pretty upbeat considering the tough comparables of last year. Next summer also sees Euro 2020 so we’re pretty excited about that. We’ve also seen a significant increase in bookings for Christmas so we’re hopeful of a decent festive season.”
Industry’s top young marketers and innovators unveiled: Propel and Think Hospitality have unveiled the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator 30 Under 30 finalists for 2020. The programme recognises young talent aged below 30 who carry out marketing, innovation and development roles in the hospitality sector. It is hosted at the European Summit, which also incorporates a two-day conference and awards event. More than 70 professionals were nominated, with a panel of industry and agency leaders judging the applications. The recipients will be recognised at a special reception held at Google’s headquarters in London on Monday, 20 January and will receive a free ticket to the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator European Summit. The 2020 list is Alexandra Goode, public relations and marketing manager for Nobu Restaurants; Annah McKendry, head of marketing at Vagabond Wines; Carys Cobley, marketing and communications executive of Black and White Hospitality; Chantelle Hofland, manager restaurant development Europe, UK & Ireland at Hilton; Charlotte Price, social media and influencer marketing specialist at Ignite Hospitality; Connie Goring-Morris, brand manager at Carluccio’s; Dylan Yelavich, marketing manager at Abokado; Elli Hornis, marketing and administration manager at Bierschenke; Esme Tailor, global digital content marketing manager at Pret A Manger; Ewa Kubianka, marketing manager at Tortilla; Grace Regan, chief executive and founder of SpiceBox; Holly Holt, assistant marketing manager at Casual Dining Group; Jack Jolly, national campaign manager at New World Trading Company; Jessica Beechey, brand and marketing manager at PubLove; Jonathan Fone, marketing manager of Be At One; Joseph Moore, managing director of Crust Bros; Katarzyna Makowska, marketing manager Burger King CEE at AmRest; Kate Dell, senior regional marketing manager at Wagamama; Kate Goodbrand-Dillon, senior account executive at Fleet Street Communications; Kate Williams, account manager at Fleet Street Communications; Kieran Corbitt, social media and community manager at The Alchemist; Laura Vana, head of research and development at Siigur Restaurants; Lucy Chase-Gardener, group senior marketing manager at Coffeesmiths Collective; Mary-Kate Shannon-Little, marketing manager at Casual Dining Group; Mike Trevena, marketing and PR Manager at The Stable; Mohamed Chahin, co-founder of Eatclever; Sara Bidabady, senior account manager at Elliotts Agency; Sarah McDermott, digital marketing manager at Young’s; Sheniz Ozdemir, senior account executive at Fleet Street Communications; and Susie Clark, digital marketing manager at Bistrot Pierre.
Coroner calls for food allergy deaths register following teenager’s fatal reaction: A coroner has called for action on food allergy information after an 18-year-old suffered a fatal reaction to a meal at better burger brand Byron. Owen Carey, from Crowborough, East Sussex, died after eating dairy in a grilled chicken breast at the Byron restaurant at the 02 Arena in Greenwich, London, in April 2017. The teenager, who was celebrating his 18th birthday with family, made staff aware of his allergies but wasn’t told the chicken was marinated in buttermilk, an inquest into his death was told in September. In a report sent to health officials, assistant coroner Briony Ballard expressed concerns over the lack of a national register recording severe food anaphylactic reactions, reports PA. She said: “I was told in evidence that despite faster ambulance response times, greater awareness of allergies and a greater distribution of EpiPens, the death rate for severe food anaphylaxis remains static. This is attributed in part to the fact little is known about these deaths because there has been a failure to collect any learnings from these tragedies.” Mr Carey’s inquest at Southwark Coroner’s Court was told fatal food anaphylaxis had been responsible for about 150 deaths in the UK in the past 25 to 30 years. Ballard said a national register recording circumstances around deaths from food allergies could be “analysed and learnt from”. Her report was sent to organisations including the Food Standards Agency, National Trading Standards Board, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department of Health and Social Care and Byron chief executive Simon Wilkinson. Ballard also raised concerns about the effectiveness of allergen training at Byron 02 and lack of “key” information on menus. Wilkinson said he “wholeheartedly agreed” with the coroner’s call for a national register and added Byron’s menus were now as “descriptive as possible” without eliminating the need for customers to consult an allergy guide. The prominence and size of allergen notices was also enlarged on Byron’s latest menu, which launched last month, while each employee would soon have their own personal training module and records. Mr Carey’s family said in a statement: “Now we have the coroner’s report we are even more determined to push for change to honour Owen’s memory. As a family we are calling for legislative change, ‘Owen’s Law’, so the discretion afforded to restaurants to provide allergen information orally is removed.” A new law was announced in June requiring all food businesses to label full ingredients on pre-packaged food following the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse. The 15-year-old, from Fulham, west London, died of anaphylaxis after collapsing on a flight in 2016. She suffered a severe allergic reaction after unknowingly eating sesame in a Pret A Manger baguette.
Business rates cut must ‘pave way for reform’: Any government cut to business rates must “pave the way for reform”, UKHospitality has said. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “High streets have been hit hard by business rates and hospitality has arguably been hit the hardest. A rates cut would certainly be a positive first step for businesses and, ideally, should come ahead of a whole-scale review of the entire system. Business rates are the biggest barrier to growth. Government can’t expect businesses to flourish under the current regime.”
Leon and Costa sign up for expanded Refill pilot: Natural fast food brand Leon and Costa Coffee, which is owned by Coca-Cola, have signed up for a pilot scheme that offers refillable options for items such as water and coffee in a bid to cut the amount of single-use plastic consumers buy. The brands join retail giants Asda and Waitrose in the scheme, which has launched in Bristol and Oxford, with Waitrose trialling refills of dried goods, frozen fruit, beer, wine and cleaning products in-store. About 70 independent cafes and businesses have also signed up to the three-month pilot, which builds on the Refill scheme launched by City to Sea in 2015 that has connected 250,000 consumers with 30,000 water refill stations in the UK. Leon head of marketing Rebecca Di Mambro told Edie: “Sustainability will be the defining issue of our time and it’s our mission to be the first generation to leave the planet in a better state than we found it. That’s why we’re so excited to partner with City to Sea on its refillable pilot at Leon Oxford. We know our guests want the opportunity to make more sustainable choices – we’ve seen a 300% uptake since we launched our reusable coffee cup discount more than 18 months ago – and trialling refillable containers is the next step in reducing the amount of single-use material across Leon.”
Former TRG directors to open third site this weekend as they target 12-strong estate: Former Chiquito managing director Jason Green and Frankie & Benny’s brand director David Salmon are to open their third site, this weekend, and are targeting a 12-strong estate in the next five years. Their company, Green & Salmon, which operates two sites under its bar and kitchen concept CockNBull.Co (CnB), will launch Coal & Cotton in Boothstown, Worsley. They have taken on The Greyhound, which is their first site with Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars. Following a more than £750,000 joint refurbishment, the former wet-led pub has been transformed to feature a gin distillery incorporated into the bar producing its own Boothstown Gin. Green said: “We are delighted with the look of Coal & Cotton, a new concept we’re developing to sit alongside our CnB brand. It will allow us to grow more quickly. Before we have even opened the doors we’ve had more than 2,000 bookings from people wanting to eat with us.” Charlie Gale, Star Pubs & Bars investment manager, said: “It is a stunning pub now, unlike anything else in the area. With an experienced team such as Jason and David driving it forward, I’m sure it will be a great success. We wish them well and look forward to helping them realise their ambitions.” Green and Salmon left The Restaurant Group to set up CnB in 2017, launching the concept in Stourbridge in September that year. A second CnB opened in Mere Green at the end of April.
Bella Italia introduces family games offer: Casual Dining Group brand Bella Italia has partnered with global play and entertainment company Hasbro to launch a family games offer at select UK sites. Between 3pm and 5pm daily, classic board games such as Jenga, Connect 4 and Guess Who will be available to play. The initiative forms part of Bella Italia’s ambition to “innovate and encourage quality family time and memorable experiences while dining”. Head of brand Marc Saunders said: “We are always looking at how we can partner with like-minded businesses to drive engagement and footfall. The allure of gadgets and technology means young children are shunning traditional games for their devices – but a board game is a great way to bond as a family. Combined with the launch of our winter menu, we’re confident the Hasbro partnership will further strengthen Bella Italia’s position as a leading place for families to choose when eating out of home.” Bella Italia’s winter menu includes more than 15 dishes inspired by classic Italian favourites and the continued popularity of vegetarianism and veganism.
BrewDog launches mini-hotel above Aberdeen bar ahead of ‘kennels’ roll-out: BrewDog has opened bookings for its Aberdeen Kennels, the first of a series of “mini-hotels” that will be rolled-out to the Scottish brewer and retailer’s city centre venues in Berlin, London, Paris and Manchester. Prices for the rooms start at £75, with discounts for Equity Punks, and come with a welcome craft beer at check-in, food and beer delivered from BrewDog Castlegate downstairs, shower beer, French-press coffee, a record player with vinyl, a guitar, and dog beds and treats. Rental bikes will also be available to explore Aberdeen. This week BrewDog hit the minimum £500,000 target in its latest mini-bond raise within 36 hours of launch. The company is looking to raise up to £15m to support expansion. The bond is running alongside the company’s Equity for Punks crowdfunding campaign, which also hit its minimum £7m target this week. Investment plans include opening a hotel, brewery and museum in London after its first hotel, the Doghouse at its brewery in Columbus, Ohio, “exceeded all expectations”. BrewDog co-founder James Watt said: “We have brought the spirit of Doghouse to a new series of mini-hotels – and what better start for BrewDog Kennels than our home city?”
Stonegate to turn managers into mental health champions: Stonegate Pub Company has partnered with the Licensed Trade Charity to provide mental health training for more than 1,000 staff. All Stonegate’s general managers and line managers will participate in face-to-face training workshops between now and April to become “mental health champions”. The training is designed to give managers the confidence to have difficult conversations with team members who may be suffering mental health issues. As well as caring for staff well-being, Stonegate said it had identified a significant cost attributed to sick days taken as result of mental health issues. Head of HR Suzanne Haydon said: “In the past two years our employee base has grown 13% as we continue to acquire a mixture of pubs and bars, including late-night businesses. We aren’t trying to turn our teams into counsellors but this programme is designed to give our people the skills and confidence they need to identify someone who is struggling and guide them towards specialist help and support services.” Meanwhile, Stonegate took home 24 of the 72 accreditations awarded to venues at the Safety Thirst Awards. The scheme has been open to all licensed premises in the Square Mile since 2006 and is run by the City of London Corporation in partnership with the City of London Police and the London Fire Brigade. The awards recognise venues for their work in reducing crime and antisocial behaviour while helping to ensure a safe and pleasant environment for people to socialise and enjoy the city.
Noble Rot founders take over Soho’s Gay Hussar for second site: Dan Keeling and Mark Andrew, founders of Noble Rot Wine Bar & Restaurant in Bloomsbury, are to take over the Gay Hussar in Soho for their second site. They will refurbish the restaurant in Greek Street before reopening it as Noble Rot Soho in the spring. Keeling told Hot Dinners: “We have signed the papers allowing us to become new custodians of the historic Gay Hussar in W1. We love the beautiful early 18th century building that houses our original bar and restaurant in Lambs Conduit Street. We couldn’t be more excited we’ll be able to show the same love to one of London’s most famous restaurants and meeting places.” The Gay Hussar, which focused on Hungarian cuisine, closed in June. It was founded by late Swiss-Welsh restaurateur Victor Sassie 65 years ago. Famous patrons over the years include broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson, Private Eye founder and journalist Richard Ingrams, and writer TS Eliot. It also became famous for being the venue where Tony Blair was reportedly persuaded to run for parliament in 1982. The lease was jointly marketed by AG&G and Savills for offers in excess of £125,000 per annum. Keeling and Andrew opened Noble Rot Wine Bar & Restaurant in 2016. The Times restaurant reviewer Marina O’Loughlin is a partner in the business.
Just So Italian opens third site, in Leicester: East Midlands-based cafe and delicatessen Just So Italian has opened its third site. The company, founded by Italian chefs Danilo and Alison Trozzi, has launched the site in St Martin’s Square in Leicester. Just So Italian has taken a ten-year lease on the 1,454 square foot premises, which was previously occupied by escape rooms business Escape Asylum, reports The Business Desk. Just So Italian offers pizza, pasta and pastries. Its venues also feature a shop offering traditional Italian food, including cheese and salami. The company’s other sites are in Market Harborough and Stamford.
Cosmo to open in Glasgow city centre: All-you-can-eat brand Cosmo has signed for a site at the St Enoch leisure complex in Glasgow. The company, which operates 17 sites in the UK and Ireland, will open as part of a new £40m investment project at the centre. The development will include a nine-screen Vue cinema, while restaurants earmarked for the centre include better burger brand Smashburger and Nando’s. Cosmo property director Maggie Wang told the Evening Times: “We are excited to bring our style of food theatre to St Enoch and Glasgow’s city centre. The redevelopment plans for St Enoch are impressive and it feels like a good opportunity for Cosmo to expand and become part of the new leisure offering.”
Whitbread outlines revised remuneration policy proposal: Whitbread has unveiled its proposed revised remuneration policy for executives to reflect its focus as an international hotel company. The new policy has been put together following consultation with shareholders and will be voted on at a general meeting on Friday, 6 December. In a letter to shareholders outlining the proposed changes, chairman Adam Crozier and remuneration committee chairman Deanna Oppenheimer said: “The remuneration committee considers it imperative to retain and motivate our highly regarded leadership team through the next phase of the company’s development. A key part of this is ensuring the right remuneration structures are in place to align these strategic growth opportunities with remuneration. The primary change in the revised policy is to replace our previous performance-based long-term incentive plan with a restricted share plan (RSP), which must have a combined vesting and holding period of at least five years. The hotel sector is inherently cyclical and we are consistently investing through the cycle in the UK and Germany for the long term. The RSP is the most appropriate structure for this cyclicality and provides consistent long-term remuneration for our management team, which directly aligns them to shareholder returns and interests. Given the different time horizons within our strategy with regard to growth in Germany and the UK and against the backdrop of economic uncertainty and sector cyclicality, establishing a set of realistic, robust and stretching long-term financial targets as part of a single long-term incentive plan would be very challenging. The RSP has underpinning conditions and aligns directly with long-term value creation rather than focusing on specific targets at a time when management needs to balance investment and growth. We therefore consider the RSP is the most appropriate way of aligning the remuneration for management with the interests of shareholders. The first awards under this policy will be made at the beginning of the 2020-21 financial year and it will be five years before directors receive the benefit of any RSP awards, subject to the achievement of the relevant performance underpins. We will also lower the pension contribution for the current executive directors by 10% to 15% of salary over this policy period and lower the pension provision for new executive directors to 10% of salary. The first reduction will take effect in May 2020 with a commitment to further review these contribution levels at the end of the policy period.”
Tortilla to open debut travel hub site next month as SSP boosts Euston’s F&B offer: Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed fast-casual Mexican concept, will open its debut travel hub site as part of two launches by SSP Group at Euston station next month. Tortilla will replace SSP’s own Mi Casa Burritos brand, while a Starbucks will open on the station’s balcony. It will be Starbucks’ largest store at a Network Rail station. Andy Webb, business development director of SSP UK & Ireland, said: “We are delighted to have added Tortilla to our list of brand partners. This new unit, alongside a bigger and better Starbucks, will be exciting additions to the food and beverage offer at Euston.”
Press Up Entertainment to open fourth hotel, in Dublin’s docklands next month: Ireland-based hospitality group Press Up Entertainment is to open its fourth hotel, The Mayson, on the banks of the Liffey in Dublin next month. The 94-bedroom, five-storey hotel will combine two dockside buildings – a traditional pub and a 19th century warehouse. The combined venue will also feature a gym, The Bottle Boy pub, a barber’s, bar, coffee shop, rooftop restaurant and events space. Press Up Entertainment’s other hotels are also in Dublin, while the company operates more than 30 bars and restaurants in the Republic of Ireland.
Six by Nico opens Liverpool site: Six by Nico, the restaurant concept led by Scottish-Italian chef Nico Simeone, has opened its latest site, in Liverpool. The restaurant has launched in the former La Vina premises in North John Street and is the company’s second venue in England following its opening in Manchester earlier this year. The 90-cover restaurant has its own bar. Simeone told The Business Desk: “We are excited to open Six by Nico in the heart of Liverpool. The city has a thriving independent restaurant scene and we’re delighted to be a part of it.” The concept is based on a revolving culinary hub as every six weeks Simeone and his team “reinvent the wheel” by serving a new six-course tasting menu, each one themed on a different place, memory or idea. The Liverpool site has started with The Chippie, which sees chip shop and takeaway classics reinvented as new dishes. Simeone launched the concept in Glasgow two years ago, while it also operates sites in Belfast and Edinburgh.
Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts to launch basement bar below Bombay Bustle: Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts is to launch basement cocktail bar The Retiring Room next month below its Mayfair restaurant Bombay Bustle. Inspired by “retiring rooms” seen at India’s train stations, the bar will open on Thursday, 28 November featuring cut-glass screens, burgundy leather-clad booths and a timber-panelled ceiling with wrought-iron light fittings. Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts co-founder Samyukta Nair said: “When I’m in London I adore going for cocktails with friends so I’m really excited to bring our own take on cocktail culture to Mayfair.” Bombay Bustle opened in Maddox Street in November 2017, taking its design lead from Mumbai’s trains. Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts brought Michelin-starred Jamavar to Mayfair the year before. The company operates five restaurants in India under the Jamavar brand alongside a number of other hospitality venues.
Northern Ireland-based Italian restaurant operators to open second site: Northern Ireland-based Italian restaurant operators Adam and Claire Carroll are to open their second site. The couple launched Artisan Italian Restaurant in Dungannon’s Linen Green. Next month they will open a second venue, at the Magowan West development in Portadown creating almost 30 jobs. The restaurant will seat 60 and offer a takeaway service, reports the Portadown Times. Artisan Italian Restaurant offers pizza, pasta, salads, home-made desserts and coffee.
Marston’s lines up Weymouth pub: Marston’s is lining up a pub in Weymouth. The company has applied to Dorset Council to open a site at an empty property in St Thomas Street. The building, formerly home to Retina nightclub, would be transformed into a pub called The River Wey, reports the Dorset Echo. The grade II-listed building has previously traded as Level Z, Dolce Vita, Que Pasa and The Toad At The Bank. Meanwhile, Marston’s has been given the go-ahead to build a 27-bedroom lodge next to its Spread Eagle pub in Corby, Northamptonshire, reports Insider Media. Land to the north west of the pub in Oakley Road has been earmarked for the development, which has been approved by Corby Borough Council.
The Lucky Onion reopens Gloucestershire pub: Cotswolds hotel and restaurant group The Lucky Onion has reopened a Gloucestershire pub that had been closed for more than five years. The company, owned by Julian Dunkerton, the entrepreneur behind high-street brand Superdry and Dunkertons Organic Cider, has relaunched The Crown Inn in Minchinhampton, near Stroud. The ground floor of the 18th century pub has been refurbished while the first and second floors have been converted into flats. The Lucky Onion acquired the grade II-listed pub last year and was granted permission by Stroud District Council in the summer to carry out the revamp. The Lucky Onion portfolio consists of boutique hotels No 131 and No 38 The Park as well as The Tavern restaurant, all in Cheltenham, and The Hollow Bottom in Guiting Power. It also operates The Wheatsheaf in Northleach, while restaurant The Wild Duck, near Cirencester, is undergoing a major refurbishment to reopen in summer 2020. The company plans to expand its estate by developing other historic buildings in the region.
Gulliver’s reveals plans for holiday resort development at Warrington site: Family run, three-strong theme park operator Gulliver’s Kingdom has revealed plans to develop a holiday resort at its site in Warrington, Cheshire. The company is proposing 79 woodland-themed lodges, 20 caravan and camping pitches, a spa and treatment centre, and staff headquarters. The plans also include a sports pitch, playground, clip and climb, and facilities to house activities such as den building and bird box-making. Gulliver’s Kingdom managing director Julie Dalton told Insider Media: “Our proposal is inspired by the best of what the National Trust offers in terms of making the outdoor easily accessible to families while offering comfortable and affordable accommodation within reach of Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside.”
American-style milkshake concept goes from pop-up to permanent, in Teesside: American-style milkshake concept The Thick Shake Company has opened its debut bricks and mortar site, in Middlesbrough. Twins Darren and Lee Walker have launched the venue in Dundas Indoor Market following a seasonal store in Whitby. Lee Walker told BDaily: “When I went to America the milkshakes tasted nothing like the ones here. We have a passion for thick ice cream shakes and wanted to bring them to Middlesbrough. The Dundas attracts people of all ages and we sell shakes that appeal to different tastes.” Dundas Indoor Market manager David Harris added: “Darren and Lee have done a great deal of research. I’m sure they are going to do really well.”
UberEats partners with Zonal: Online delivery firm UberEats has partnered with hospitality management solutions company Zonal. The integration removes the need for staff at UberEats’ restaurant partners in the UK and Ireland to input menu, stock and pricing information or manually key orders into Zonal’s EPoS system. Using an exclusive UberEats ID code, orders are recorded in Zonal’s EPoS as and when they need to be prepped. UberEats general manager for UK and Ireland Toussaint Wattine said: “Restaurants are always looking to improve in-store operations. Restaurants benefit from our integrated solution with less time spent managing delivery and more time producing great food. We look forward to working with Zonal to bring our mutual restaurant partners’ additional sales opportunities at a low operational cost.” Zonal strategic product manager Glenn Tait added: “Home delivery is here to stay – and demand will continue to grow.”
Meininger Hotels lodges plans for Liverpool site: Budget operator Meininger Hotels has lodged plans for a site in Liverpool. The company has applied to the city council to convert empty offices in Union Court. The property will comprise 277 bedrooms across six floors as well as a lobby, reception, guest kitchen, bar, lounge, game zone and breakfast area, reports Insider Media. A planning statement accompanying the application states: “The proposal would refurbish an existing building and introduce a new, appropriate use. In its current office use, it has remained under-occupied and failed to attract tenants, even with generous terms.” Meininger Hotels made its UK debut in 2006 with an opening in Hyde Park, London, in 2006. Plans for a Manchester hotel are also under way, with it expected to open at the end of 2021.