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Thu 19th Dec 2019 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Prospect Pubs & Bars reveals expansion plans as it unveils rooms at debut site: Prospect Pubs & Bars, led by Dan Shotton and Mark Draper, has revealed plans to add two or three sites annually to its portfolio in the next five years. The announcement came as the company unveiled seven boutique en-suite bedrooms it has added to its debut site, The Evenlode, which has undergone a substantial refurbishment programme since it was brought under Prospect Pubs & Bars’ management earlier this year. Six months into trading, Shotton and Draper said they were targeting predominantly freehold opportunities for their fledgling company’s growth plans. They are looking for opportunities in Oxfordshire and surrounding counties that offer multiple income streams with potential to expand further. Shotton said: “Our vision for The Evenlode has always been a simple but effective one – concentrate on the basics – a fresh, affordable menu, solid team and great service, engage with the local audience and invest in the property. This focused approach has paid off and we’ve enjoyed month-on-month increases in terms of cover numbers and sales. The launch of our bedrooms marks the start of a new chapter for this iconic pub and for Prospect Pubs & Bars as we continue on our journey to boost the accommodation offering across the business as a key pillar of our success.” Shotton and Draper acquired the freehold of the pub in Eynsham, Oxfordshire, for £1.75m in July following the sale of their 15-strong Redcomb Pubs business to London pub retailer Young’s for £34m. After investing substantially in the property the duo plan to increase the number of bedrooms at the site to 24. 

Industry News:

Mark Wingett to reveal end of year award winners in final Propel Premium of 2019: Propel insights editor Mark Wingett will reveal his end of year award winners in the final Propel Premium of 2019, which will be sent to subscribers at 5pm on Friday (20 December). There will also be the latest sector whispers in Premium Diary. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, discounts to attend Propel conferences and events, and regular columns from Mark Wingett. Subscribers also receive access to our database of multi-site companies, which has grown to 1,500 businesses. An annual premium subscription costs £345 plus VAT for operators and £445 plus VAT for suppliers – plus £50 each for additional team members. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Propel launches Turning Data Into Strategy & Action Masterclass, open for bookings: Propel has launched the Turning Data Into Strategy & Action Masterclass in partnership with hospitality data consultancy DataHawks, with the event now open for bookings. The masterclass will take place on Tuesday, 25 February at Chartered Accountants Hall, One Moorgate Place, London EC2R 6EA. The event will look at why operators should be using data and address some of the common myths and language that surrounds it. Attendees will also learn how to use data to drive sales and long-term loyalty without sacrificing margin or brand credibility. DataHawks founder Victoria Searl will talk about building and optimising customer journeys, finding new customers and leads, and measuring the impact and effectiveness of offline marketing. Searl will reveal how to prepare for the unexpected by using data and tech; improve the impact and effectiveness of discounts, offers and rewards; retain revenue when closing sites; and what data to collect and why. Meanwhile Dan Brookman, chief executive of Airship CRM, will also talk about knowing and understanding your customers to drive personalisation and conversion. The event will be followed by drinks at The Tokenhouse in Moorgate. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for Propel Premium members and £345 plus VAT for non-members. To book, call Anne Steele on 01444 817691 or email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

Best Bar None reveals awards finalists: Best Bar None, the Home Office-supported community safety programme operated by pubs and bars in the UK, has revealed the finalists for its 2020 Best Bar None Awards. A record nine regional schemes have made it through to the final, with Sheffield, Torbay and Tower Hamlets in the running to win best overall scheme. The shortlist for most innovative scheme features Barnsley, Bolton, Plymouth and Torbay, while finalists for the best new scheme category are Cumbria, Havering and Worcester. The competition will now go to the final stage of judging ahead of an awards ceremony at the House of Lords on Tuesday, 4 February. Best Bar None chairman Lord Smith of Hindhead said: “New schemes are popping up all the time, developing relationships with local authorities and going on to make a big difference within their communities.” Best Bar None has been running for more than 16 years, with active schemes in more than 70 towns and cities in England and Wales as well as the new Central Scheme, which provides Best Bar None accreditation for operators at locations with no scheme in place.

Company News:

Gordon Ramsay flies Plane Food To Go into Hong Kong: Chef Gordon Ramsay has taken his Plane Food To Go concept to Hong Kong. Ramsay has partnered with SSP Group, the UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist, to open the site at Hong Kong International airport. The outlet is in the East Hall on the seventh floor of Terminal 1. The all-day menu integrates British and Asian flavours and features some of Ramsay’s signature dishes such as the short rib burger as well as a full English breakfast. There are also a number of items exclusive to the Hong Kong site, including lobster thermidor mac ‘n’ cheese. The opening follows the launch in 2008 of the debut Plane restaurant at Heathrow airport’s Terminal 5. The restaurant was reconfigured to the Food To Go concept in 2017. Ramsay said: “As someone who spends a lot of time in airports I know how important it is to deliver fresh and tasty food super quick! SSP’s important infrastructure has allowed this launch to happen and I’m delighted the company is our partner in this exciting new adventure.”

Three Joes secures fourth site, at Intu Lakeside: Sourdough pizza restaurant Three Joes, co-founded by Tim Hall, has secured its fourth site. The company, which Hall owns with ex-Pod food director Emma Blackmore and former Byron operations director Peter Bruton, will open at Intu Lakeside in Essex in March. The announcement follows the brand’s latest launch, at the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield last month, adding to Hampshire sites in Fareham and Winchester. Bruton said: “We are over the moon to be opening a 150-cover restaurant at Lakeside and look forward to starting on-site after Christmas. The performance of our estate over the past eight weeks has validated our strategic approach to the sector and we’re lucky enough to have queues every day outside our Winchester restaurant.” Hall added: “We are in discussions with a number of landlords about further openings for Three Joes but we’re not in a rush – there are no openings targets. It’s about doing what the three of us feel is intrinsically right for the brand. The opening in Sheffield with British Land has been a real eye-opener for us, with almost 1,500 customers served last week and word spreading rapidly about Three Joes in Yorkshire.” Blackmore said: “Sheffield has shown us we’re able to compete with the biggest chains and, while it still feels David and Goliath to occupy premises next to them, we’re enjoying the challenge.”

Everards appoints Emma Roderick as operations director: Brewer and retailer Everards has appointed Emma Roderick, formerly of Molson Coors, as operations director – pubs. Roderick joins the Stephen Gould-led business after more than six and a half years at Molson Coors, including stints as customer technical service operations director and UK craft and cask director. Earlier this month Everards began installing brewing vessels at its new brewery in Leicester. The company’s Castle Acres brewery was demolished last year, with the company set to move into its new home at the Everards Meadows development in autumn 2020. The brewery will also offer a flexible food and drinks space, a shop and offices. The brewing equipment alone has cost £5.5m and the brewery will have capacity to produce more than 4.3 million pints of beer a year. The company also owns more than 175 pubs across the Midlands, all run as independent businesses.

Indian dining car concept to open third London site: Indian dining car concept Patri is to open its third London site, next month. Patri, which operates restaurants in Hammersmith and Northfields, will launch a venue in Bond Street, Ealing, offering its mix of home-style Indian meat and vegetable dishes served in a mock train carriage. The menu will be inspired by New Delhi, with the room’s layout designed to “recreate the hubbub, hustle and bustle of an Indian train journey”. Tables will be dressed like a restaurant carriage while it will also feature platform-style benches. Dishes on the menu will include pantry chicken curry, mutton stew and lasuni chole palak (stir-fried garlic with spinach, tempered with masala and topped with vegetables). Owner Puneet Wadhwani told Hot Dinners: “This isn’t the kind of food you get in British curry houses – it’s the cuisine I travelled thousands of miles back to India to eat when I was feeling homesick.”

Polish seafood restaurant brand North Fish confirms UK debut site: Polish seafood restaurant brand North Fish has confirmed it will open its debut UK site at Birmingham’s Bullring early next year. As revealed by Propel earlier this month, the 54-cover, 1,500 square foot restaurant will be the 47-strong brand’s first site outside Poland as it embarks on international expansion. The brand is a subsidiary of North Food and is Poland’s market-leading fish and seafood chain. North Food group chief executive Szymon Adamczuk said: “Choosing the right place to kick-start our expansion in the UK was crucial and we’re delighted to join the line-up at Bullring.” Iain Mitchell, UK commercial director of Bullring landlord Hammerson, added: “Across our portfolio we’re focusing on F&B brands that can offer something new and fresh for our customers. North Fish epitomises that strategy.” Last year North Food, which is owned by Polish investor Michal Solowow, appointed Savills to search for its first UK locations. It is targeting high-footfall sites of between 600 and 1,500 square feet in major shopping centres before expanding to the high street and transport hubs. David Bell, head of UK leisure at Savills, said: “North Fish has seen a clear gap in the UK grab-and-go market for high-quality fish dishes. The brand has undergone impressive growth in Poland and we look forward to supporting its UK expansion.”

D&D London gets go-ahead for Bristol debut: Restaurant operator D&D London has been given the go-ahead to make its Bristol debut. The company has been granted permission by the city council for a 13,000 square foot restaurant and events venue in the Quakers Friars piazza at Cabot Circus, reports Insider Media. It will be D&D’s second venture with Cabot Circus landlord Hammerson following the launch of Issho and East 59th at Victoria Gate, Leeds in 2017. The Bristol site is set to open in early 2020 and will contain new concepts in the shape of a restaurant, bars, extensive private dining and a large terrace. The restaurant and bars will be contained within the listed 18th century Friary Building. In July, Propel revealed D&D London was in talks about the site, which was previously occupied by Brasserie Blanc. Last month D&D London chairman and chief executive Des Gunewardena told Propel the company was in legals on two further UK sites – one in London planned for autumn 2020 and another regional city launch a year later.

Oodles Chinese hits 13 sites as franchisees open second Yorkshire restaurant: Indo-Chinese concept Oodles Chinese will reach 13 sites this week when Khuram Akhtar and Ismail Ali open their second franchise in Yorkshire. The 60-cover venue will launch in Leeds Road, Bradford, on Friday (20 December) offering the brand’s signature dishes such as Malaysian chicken, Chinese lamb curry and crispy prawns. Sides include vegetable spring rolls, Chinese fried wings and prawn crackers. The brand is certificated halal and also offers vegetarian options. Oodles Chinese has already opened eight stores in the UK this year, including franchises in London, Blackburn, Bolton and Coventry, with a target of ten openings for 2019. Akhtar told The Business Desk: “We are excited to bring our second Oodles Chinese store to Yorkshire following our first store in Leeds in August.”

Cornwall-based operator takes on second Punch pub: Cornwall-based operator Joanna Bird has taken on her second pub with Punch. She has reopened The Kings Head in the village of Chacewater, near Truro, following a £193,000 investment. The refurbishment has included renovation of the bar and new fixed seating, while the five bedrooms have also been revamped. Punch managing director Andy Spencer said: “This is a significant investment by Punch in a great community pub. We’re confident The Kings Head will go from strength to strength operating at the heart of the community it serves.” Bird also runs the Waggoners Arms in nearby Camborne with Punch, which operates 1,200 pubs across England, Scotland and Wales. The company plans to invest £34m in its people and pubs in the next year.

Brew by Numbers extends £400,000 crowdfunding campaign: London-based craft brewer Brew by Numbers has extended its £400,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to early January as it bids to move to a new site and add two taprooms to its estate. As well as its Bermondsey brewery, the business runs three taprooms in the area. Brew by Numbers, founded in 2012 and led by Tom Hutchings, is offering 7.55% equity in return for investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £4.9m. So far, 250 investors have pledged £172,490 with 19 days of the campaign remaining. The pitch states: “Our revenue has grown 30% year-on-year on average for the past five years, from £198,000 in 2014 to £1.2m. We want to move to a larger production site in south east London with a dedicated taproom. We would convert our current brewery in the heart of Bermondsey to a tank bar with pilot kit, serving our beer alongside curated barbecue food. We would invest in brewery equipment to take our beer to the next level and expand our barrel-ageing programme in Peckham. We have many more exciting plans if we overfund.”

Westons reports turnover nears £68m as it increases market share: Cider-maker Westons has reported turnover increased 4% to £67.6m for the year ending 31 March 2019, compared with £64.6m the previous year as it increased market share. UK turnover was up to £65.0m from £62.5m the year before. Sales from Europe rose to £2.3m from £1.7m the prior year, while rest of the world revenue was down to £366,000 compared with £439,000 the previous year. Pre-tax profit was up to £1.3m from £1.2m the year before. A report by the directors accompanying the accounts stated: “During the year Westons’ volumes grew 4.2%, outperforming the UK cider market, which grew in volume by an overall 1.4%. Therefore we grew market share, which now stands at 6.6% of the total cider market. During the year the company continued with its strategic investment programme of infrastructure improvements and increasing brand support by 13%. This year’s success has been driven by innovative new product development, increasing sales of established award-winning premium cider, and wider distribution.” Westons can trace its roots to 1878 and sells its cider to more than 40 countries.  

Plant-based bowl concept Palm Greens to launch King’s Cross residency next month: Plant-based bowl concept Palm Greens is to launch a three-month residency in King’s Cross, London, next month. The venue will open in King’s Cross Square on Wednesday, 8 January offering breakfast and lunch bowls. Palm Greens began trading at Broadway Vegan Market in July 2019, while it also has a residency at Netil House in London Fields. Breakfast bowls include a chunky cocoa granola bowl with banana and oat milk, while the lunchtime menu includes three salads, miso soup, and snacks such as ginger curry leaf cashews and tamari seeds. Palm Greens is the brainchild of former private chef Kali Hamm and Som Saa host Memby Jago. Their aim is to create “fast food that fits with the city’s pace without skimping on quality, ethics, taste and fun”. Earlier this month Thai restaurant Som Saa passed the target in its £200,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Seedrs to open a second London site.

Café Rouge completes first phase of AccessAble partnership: Casual Dining Group brand Café Rouge has completed the first phase of its partnership with AccessAble to provide detailed access guides for disabled people and carers. Café Rouge has carried out a full survey of accessibility at 50 sites, with guides available via the AccessAble app and on each restaurant’s website. Details range from car parking spaces and accessible toilets to hearing loops and lighting levels. The company has also updated signs on easy-access toilets from “disabled” to “accessible” to support those who suffer from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The next phase of activity includes plans to introduce two-handled cups for customers with dexterity challenges and portable ramps for sites with steps. Café Rouge brand director Greg Gibbons said: “We believe everybody should feel comfortable when visiting our restaurants. Many disabilities are invisible and something as simple as adding a sign to our easy-access toilets can make a fundamental difference to those with specific needs.” AccessAble chairman Barry Stevenson added: “It is fantastic to see Café Rouge lead the way for the hospitality industry. We look forward to progressing further changes over the coming months and certainly hope more restaurant businesses follow suit.”

Purity Soft Drinks returns to pre-tax profit following turnover boost: Purity Soft Drinks, which has been based in Wednesbury, Staffordshire, since 1892 and owns the JuiceBurst and Firefly brands, has reported turnover rose 9.9% to £19.9m for the year ending 29 March 2019, compared with £18.1m the previous year. The company, which is backed by private equity firm Langholm Capital, saw a pre-tax profit of £14,000, compared with a loss of £377,000 the year before. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “JuiceBurst brand turnover increased 10.4%, while Firefly brand turnover increased 21.9%, driven by increased distribution and favourable rates of sales, particularly in the retail sector. Contract packing turnover increased 7.2% but a major contract in this sector hasn’t been renewed to focus on brand growth. In response to this change management completed a restructuring in the final quarter to realign the company’s overhead position and operating costs to accommodate the move out of contract packing without damaging the investment in brand growth.”

MasterChef finalist to head kitchen at new Yorkshire restaurant: MasterChef finalist Dan Graham is heading the kitchen of a new all-day restaurant near York. Twine & Barrel has opened following the £500,000 refurbishment of a former pub in the village of Dunnington, creating 20 jobs. Owners Richard Brosenitz and Roger Mann have also created a bookable events space at the venue. Graham, who has worked for Albert and Michel Roux Jr and took over as head chef from James Martin at the Talbot Hotel in Malton, told BDaily: “I am really proud of what we’ve created at Twine & Barrel. We want people to know they’re guaranteed a tasty plate of food, snacks or simply a good coffee or beer whatever the time of day. There aren’t many places in the area you can visit for a breakfast business meeting, evening meal or Sunday lunch with the family.”

Dalata secures Liverpool hotel, UK like-for-like revpar up 3.0%: Irish hotel operator Dalata, which has a growing presence in the UK, has agreed a deal for a site in Liverpool. The Maldron hotel will be part of a mixed-use scheme in Park Lane being developed by Elliot Group and Valorem. The 260-bedroom hotel will also feature a restaurant, bar and meeting rooms. Construction should start in the first half of 2020 with an opening pencilled in for mid-2022. Dalata reported like-for-like revpar growth in its UK hotels was up 3.0% for the 11 months to the end of November 2019. The company said its UK regional city hotels were performing particularly well and all outperformed their city markets in terms of revpar change versus 2018. Meanwhile, Dalata said its London hotels had performed “very strongly”. The revpar performance of its Irish hotels was down 3.2% on a like-for-like basis, due mainly to “tougher than expected” market conditions in Dublin in the second half of the year. As a result Dalata said it expected Ebitda for the year ending 31 December 2019 to be “in line with market expectations”.   

Boparan Restaurant Group to go paperless with digital receipts: A number of sector operators, including Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), have taken a step towards going paperless through a new agreement with digital receipts startup Flux. Ed’s Easy Diner, Slim Chickens, Giraffe, Japan Centre, and Sakagura Steak Kitchen & Sake Bar have signed up to the Flux software, which allows brands to offer digital receipts to those customers with Monzo and Starling bank accounts. The technology also allows them to keep tabs on their spending digitally. Almost 50 restaurants in the UK will now have the technology at point of payment, with the deals marking Flux’s debut in sit-down restaurants. Japan Centre is the first boutique supermarket and homeware brand to adopt Flux’s technology. Nick Smith, commercial director of BRG, which owns Giraffe, Ed’s Easy Diner and Slim Chickens, said: “We look forward to rolling out digital receipts to all our brands in the future.” Matty Cusden-Ross, chief executive and founder of Flux, added: “This is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate the way innovative technologies such as Flux can deliver a seamless, one-touch experience for customers at check-out while cutting the amount of paper waste.”

Scottish brewer WooHa makes crowdfunding return as it looks to raise £400,000: Scottish brewer WooHa has returned to crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it looks to raise £400,000 to support its next stage of expansion. The company raised more than £180,000 last year to upgrade its packaging equipment and boost sales efforts in the US. Now it is seeking further funds and is offering 10.71% equity in return for the investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £5m. WooHa Brewing Company was founded in 2015 and moved to a larger, 6.2-acre site in the Highlands in 2017 to “accommodate rapid expansion”. The pitch states: “With an established portfolio of export partners, funding is required to continue to build our sales team, support and grow our international customer base, and fund promotional activity. The funds will also go towards the production of our new 500ml can for the China market. WooHa is ready to grow in a big way next year.”

American fitness and lifestyle brand Equinox secures fourth London site: American fitness and lifestyle brand Equinox has secured its fourth London site, in Soho. The company has agreed a deal with Shaftesbury to take 32,000 square feet at 72 Broadwick Street, which is undergoing a major refurbishment. The space will be handed over for fitting out by the end of 2020. Equinox operates more than 100 clubs across the US, Canada and London, where it has sites in Bishopsgate, Kensington and St James’s.

Safestay acquires three Dreamgroup hostels for €3.7m: London-headquartered hostel operator Safestay has acquired three hostels from Dreamgroup Management for €3.7m (£3.1m), taking its estate to 21 sites. The hostels in Warsaw, Prague and Bratislava increase Safestay’s network in major European cities to more than 5,000 beds. Safestay estimates the three hostels will generate revenues of more than €2m and Ebitda of €0.3m in the 12 months to 31 December 2019. They achieved an average occupancy of 74% in the first nine months to September 2019. The acquisition will be satisfied in cash from the group’s existing resources, with completion of the deal expected in the first quarter of 2020. All three properties are leasehold. Chairman Larry Lipman said: “It is satisfying to meet our target of having at least 20 hostels one year ahead of schedule. Early-stage investment in people and systems has positioned the group strongly to integrate the flow of additional hostels.” Safestay has doubled in size since October 2018, adding ten sites in that time. The conversion to hostels of its most recent acquisitions, in Glasgow and Berlin, will be complete in the first quarter of 2020.

Allcock joins Elite Security as national operations director: Kevin Allcock, who was formerly operations director of Stonegate Pub Company and chief operating officer of Mecca Bingo and Goals Soccer Centres, has joined Elite Security as national operations director. The company provides security for pubs, bars, nightclubs, events and sports stadia. Managing director Karl Ince founded Elite Security in 1988 and he will work with Allcock to devise and deliver a three-year growth and expansion strategy. Allcock, who has spent more than 30 years in executive leadership positions in the leisure and hospitality sectors, will start his new role on Monday, 6 January. He said: “Karl and the team have worked diligently to create a high-quality national security services provider. I look forward to playing my part in taking Elite to the next level.”

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