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Mon 16th Mar 2020 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Licensee Association calls on pub-owning companies to adopt series of measures to support tenants during coronavirus crisis: The Licensees Association, the newly formed association for independent licensees, has called on pub-owning companies to adopt a series of measures to help their tenants and leaseholders through the coronavirus (covid-19) crisis. The body said such action would help create some certainty for licensees, many of whom don’t have business interruption cover through covid-19 in their insurance policies and finding access to cover difficult. The association has outlined the suggested measures in an open letter to pub-owning companies. They include if a site shuts it should be commercial rent free for the period of closure and following reopening it should have a negotiated rent for an agreed period to allow for a rebuild of confidence. It also said if evidence of a severe downturn in business can be shown year-on-year then increased discounts should be made available to ease pressure. The association said if the pub-owning company or nominated supplier cannot deliver tied goods then there should be an accepted automatic release from the tie, without penalty or claw back, for like-for-like quantities, until they can fulfil their delivery obligation. There should also be an agreed waiver on tight timescales within the Pubs Code for serving of Market Rent Only option etc to enable people to concentrate on other issues such as staff cover. If a leaseholder has to self-isolate then there should be cash assistance to hire a locum/cover. The association said this would ensure those who should be self-isolating do so and are not so concerned about their finances that they work and risk spreading the virus. The association has also called for credit terms for all tenants of 30 days on stock purchases. The Licensees Association chief executive Nick Griffin stated in the letter: “We stand ready to help in any way we can. We are working around the clock already and will continue to do so to assist you and your tenants in any way we can. We urge that we can come to an agreed way forward for the benefit of all within the industry. Tenants need certainty and that is not provided with the ‘case by case basis’ that seems many favour adopting. This creates uncertainty and unfairness at a time when clear and unequivocal guidance is required. I hope you look on these measures as sensible and ones that will ensure we can have some certainty to move forward for the benefit of all within our wonderful industry.”
 

Industry News:

UK high-street footfall down 37% as coronavirus outbreak keeps people away: UK high-street footfall was down 37% on average on Saturday (14 March) compared with the previous year as the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak keeps people away, according to the latest data from Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social. Its analysis, which takes an aggregated look at footfall in more than 800 venues nationally and focuses mainly on major cities, showed London was down 39% year-on-year. The data revealed footfall in Cardiff dropped 59% compared with the previous year while Liverpool was down 37% and Birmingham by 36%. Elsewhere, Newcastle fell 31%, Manchester by 30%, Bristol was down 24% and in Edinburgh footfall fell 20% year-on-year. Wireless Social said over the past seven days there has been a 25% drop in footfall compared with the same period last year. With the sector being hit hard by the huge reduction in high street footfall, UKHospitality has urged the government for greater support and said there was an existential risk to industry businesses across the board. In its letter sent to chancellor Rishi Sunak over the weekend, the trade body called for an immediate suspension of business rates payments for all hospitality businesses for this year; the extension of Statutory Sick Pay coverage to hospitality businesses of all sizes; and short-terms subsidies of staff wages where trade falls markedly. It added industry suppliers, including landlords, must also be discouraged from pursuing businesses for arrears. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK has risen to almost 1,400 while 35 people who tested positive for the virus have now died.

Ireland to close all pubs and bars in coronavirus crackdown: The Irish government has called on all bars and pubs in the country to close to help curb the spread of coronavirus (covid-19). In a statement, the government said: “Following discussions with the Licenced Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), the government is now calling on all public houses and bars (including hotel bars) to close until at least 29 March. The LVA and VFI outlined the real difficulty in implementing the published guidelines on social distancing in a public house setting, as pubs are specifically designed to promote social interaction in a situation where alcohol reduces personal inhibitions. The government will continue to monitor the situation, including the compliance of all pubs with this request, as well as any further or different measures which might be required in the future. The effectiveness of the guidelines on social distancing in other parts of the hospitality and leisure industry, for example restaurants and cinemas, will also be kept under review and subject to further consultation with stakeholders in the coming days.” It comes as publicans in Dublin’s Temple Bar announced a complete shutdown of all bars and nightclubs with immediate effect. The move means no bars will be open in the area for St Patrick’s Day, one of the busiest days in the Irish tourism calendar. Martin Harte, of the Temple Bar Company, said the decision was taken voluntarily. 

Asian Catering Federation to launch training and recruitment programme to tackle chef shortage: The Asian Catering Federation (ACF) is to launch a training and recruitment programme to help tackle the shortage of skilled chefs. ACF chairman Yawar Khan has announced a joint initiative with the Tony Khan Institute to train young chefs in Bangladesh, help process their immigration visas, and find them jobs in UK curry restaurants. Khan also welcomed the government’s post-Brexit points-based immigration policy, which he argued would make it easier for employers to recruit skilled chefs from outside the UK. Speaking at a dinner to honour the winners of the Asian & Oriental Chef Awards and to launch this year’s Asian Restaurant Awards and Asian Curry Awards, he said: “For years we have lobbied government ministers and officials to relax the salary threshold for non-EU residents coming to the UK for work. The Asian Catering Federation supports the government’s aim to make Britain a high-skilled economy.”
 
Casual Dining show rearranged for July: Organisers of Casual Dining have announced the event has been rearranged and will now take place on 14 and 15 July at Excel in London. The announcement comes after Diversified Communications UK took the decision on Thursday (12 March) to postpone the show having consulted with the industry following ongoing concerns surrounding the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak. Group event director Chris Brazier said: “Casual Dining is the single most important business event for many in the restaurant, pub and bar industry. A lot of companies rely on it to meet new and current customers so this decision hasn’t been taken lightly. However, the response to the outbreak is unprecedented and I think most would agree it’s not a climate in which we want to hold the show. The success, as well as the safety of our exhibitors and visitors, has always been our priority and this continues to be the case. We are a strong community, we’re all in this together, and I know everyone will get behind this decision. We fully understand and appreciate the level of planning required to attend and are so grateful visitor registration has stayed strong despite the amount of media coverage surrounding covid-19. Casual Dining would like to thank everyone – our exhibitors, visitors, partners and suppliers – for their continued support and patience during this challenging time. I know the community will continue to support each other during these difficult weeks and we look forward to seeing you on 14 and 15 July for the biggest celebration of our industry yet.”
 
PubAid adds further industry experience to steering group: PubAid, the organisation dedicated to promoting pubs as a force for good, has welcomed a number of new members from the industry to its steering group. The move comes as PubAid gears up to expand its activities in the coming months with a new website in development and increased marketing and PR spend. The new members are Ei Group director of communications Jon Dale; useyourlocal.com founder Stuart Mills; KAM Media founder Katy Moses; Licensed Trade Charity marketing manager Paula Smith; Anne Toms, external and government affairs lead at Budweiser Brewing Group; and Greg Sage, communications director at Greene King, which became PubAid’s first patron earlier this year. PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan said: “PubAid entered its second decade at the start of the year with a renewed commitment to promote pubs as a force for good in their communities and society more widely. Our new steering group members have the skills, contacts and enthusiasm to help us achieve our ambitious goals for 2020 and beyond. I’m delighted they have agreed to join us and work alongside Keith Bott, who became our president at the start of the year.”
 
Job of the week: COREcruitment is seeking an experienced finance director on behalf of a growing quick service restaurant business. The role will support the managing director in growing the business while establishing a long-term financial strategy. Managing a “small but passionate” team, the position would suit a strong communicator with a collaborative approach to working. The ideal individual will have extensive experience in helping hospitality businesses with expansion, ideally with exposure to a manufacturing or food production environment. Based in Oxfordshire, the position is paying a salary of between £100,000 and £140,000 plus a benefits package. For more information, email your CV or profile to Oliwia@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Ei Group warns tenants insurance policies don’t cover for coronavirus: Ei Group, the UK’s biggest pub group with more than 4,000 pubs, has warned its publicans their existing insurance policies will not cover them for loss of business because of coronavirus (covid-19). According to The Guardian, the company has told its managers covid-19 is not included in the group’s policy with the insurer Zurich and has advised them to consider seeking further cover elsewhere. In a letter sent to publicans last week, which has been seen by the Guardian, Ei Group said: “It has been confirmed Zurich is not including covid-19 in its notifiable diseases section. As such, any business affected by covid-19 will not be able to claim for loss of trade.” Earlier this month, the government bowed to pressure by changing its stance on insurance to declare coronavirus as a “notifiable disease” – a formal classification required by many insurance policies. However, many of these existing policies cite specific diseases that businesses can claim for. As coronavirus is so new, it is not included in most of the lists.

Giggling Squid opens debut delivery-only kitchen: Giggling Squid, the Thai restaurant brand founded by Andy and Pranee Laurillard, has opened its first delivery-only kitchen. The company is operating out of Food Stars’ new facility in Wandsworth, south west London, with Deliveroo as delivery partner. The move follows the success of Giggling Squid’s Wimbledon restaurant as a top Deliveroo site. Giggling Squid said the new kitchen, which borders the delivery radius for Wimbledon, would enable the brand to cater to a “growing appetite for Thai cuisine in the area without over-stretching existing restaurants”. Giggling Squid said it had seen its takeaway business “grow considerably” in the 18 months since partnering exclusively with Deliveroo. Andy Laurillard said: “Our Wandsworth kitchen reflects our continued commitment to catering to our customers’ needs. While our priority will always be to welcome guests to eat-in at our restaurants, delivery-only kitchens allow us to reach new audiences and test locations.” Giggling Squid, which is backed by BGF, operates 35 restaurants.

Usher to shut sites for two-and-a-half-days a week in response to coronavirus outbreak: Chef Gary Usher has announced he will be shutting all six of his restaurants for two-and-a-half-days a week in response to the coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak. Usher, who operates the restaurants across the north west under the Elite Bistros umbrella, took to Twitter over the weekend to announce his sites would be reducing opening hours in a bid to cut costs. Menus at each of the restaurants, which include Manchester’s Kala, will also be reduced in a bid to reduce the cost of holding stock. He posted: “We are making some changes and we’d like you to know. I have no idea if this is the right decision. The future of Elite Bistro isn’t in our hands anymore but we will do our best by the teams and by the guests to adapt. Starting this week, we are going to be closing all of the restaurants for two-and-a-half days a week. We feel this will alleviate pressure on all of the teams, but also on the business as well. We won’t give up. We won’t moan. We won’t beg. We will fight it.”

Hoyle steps down as Bill’s people director: The management changes at Bill’s have continued with David Hoyle stepping down as people director, just three months after joining the Richard Caring-backed group, Propel has learned. Hoyle joined the 78-strong Bill’s after nine years at Fuller’s, where he was group people director, at the start of the year. His appointment followed the departure of Odette Schwartz, who joined Bill’s as people director from Wahaca at the start of last year. Propel understands no replacement for Hoyle has yet been secured. Last month, Propel revealed Bill’s had appointed Piers Walkers as its new sales and marketing director. Walker was previously director of marketing and acquisitions at hospitality management company The Ghost Group. He replaced Lesley McIlroy, who left the business to pursue other opportunities. In February Nick Gray stepped down as Bill’s chief financial officer after less than six months with the business. In early 2020, Bill’s reshuffled its management team with executive chairman David Campbell and managing director Sarah Hills stepping down from the business. Baton Berisha, already managing director of The Ivy Collection, took on management of Bill’s with immediate effect.

Chestnut Group stops taking cash in wake of coronavirus outbreak: East Anglian-based pub and restaurant company The Chestnut Group has stopped taking cash in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. The move is part of a series of measures the company is taking to make the health and well-being of its guests and teams in each of its properties the “number-one priority”. Anti-bacterial gel has been made available in all bars and the frequency all surfaces and door handles are cleaned has been increased. All properties now have a digital thermometer on-site and any team member feeling ill will have their temperature recorded before starting a shift. Chestnut Group founder and managing director Philip Turner outlined the measures being taken in an email to customers and said the company was already seeing changes in its guests’ bookings. He added: “If the use of cash is necessary – arrangements can be made using sanitised gloves. These are challenging times for people and businesses. We are hugely appreciative of the support we receive from our guests and the hard work of our team members.”

Simple Health Kitchen closes crowdfunding campaign after raising more than £1m, launching pre-order and loyalty app: London-based healthy eating concept Simple Health Kitchen has closed its campaign on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube after raising more than £1m while it is launching a pre-order and loyalty app. The company, founded by former Newcastle Falcons rugby player Bradley Hill, was aiming to raise £750,000 – offering 7.48% equity in return for investment, giving the business a pre-money valuation of £10m. The campaign has now closed with 373 investors having pledged £1,027,400. The funds will be used to open eight to ten delivery hubs around London. Simple Health Kitchen will also launch its pre-order and loyalty app next month, which Hill said would “help to increase average spend as well as take some stress off labour and the queue”. Hill founded Simple Health Kitchen after a life-threatening illness forced him to focus his attention on diet and nutrition. Having opened a site in Watling Street in St Paul’s, he has added two more quick service restaurants in the capital, in Baker Street and King William Street in the City of London, and two delivery kitchens. The pitch stated: “Since opening we have been growing revenues at 50% per year. We now have more than £240,000 average monthly revenues and a 12% Ebitda margin. Group revenue for the past 12 months was £2.9m (Ebitda £357,000). The company is debt-free. We are much more than a healthy restaurant. We plan to open eight to ten delivery hubs around London allowing almost anyone to order food from Simple within 30 minutes.”

BrewDog to open bar in Bradford: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is to open a site in Bradford. The company is taking over the historic old Bradford Baths building in Randall Well Street – most recently home to the Brew Haus pub. Work has started on the site, which will be part of BrewDog’s growing franchise operation. Retail director James Brown told Propel: “We can confirm BrewDog and one of our franchise partners are currently in the process of constructing a bar in Bradford. We will be considering the most appropriate time to schedule the opening due to current circumstances.” At this month’s Propel Multi Club Conference, BrewDog chief operating officer David McDowall said the company would open more franchises than company-owned sites for the first time this year as it looks to finish 2020 with 130 bars. The company currently operates about 100 sites in circa 15 countries.
 
Administrators confirm no dividend for Thali Cafe creditors: Unsecured creditors of Bristol-based Thali Cafe, which operated five sites in the city before going into administration in 2018, will receive no dividend, administrators have confirmed. A final progress report by administrators Simon Girling and Danny Dartnell, of BDO, said unsecured claims totalling £591,488 had been received to date but there were “insufficient funds” to make a dividend. Meanwhile secured creditor HSBC, which is owed about £348,000, received a total of £9,307. As previously reported, preferential claims of £10,947 have been settled in full. Girling and Dartnell said the administration had now been completed and the company would be dissolved. Thali Cafe, which specialises in Indian street food, operated restaurants in the Southville, Easton, Montpelier, Totterdown and Clifton areas of Bristol. Its Companies House registration, Bristol Thai Company, was placed into administration in May 2018 after the closure of Thali Cafe in Oxford – its only restaurant outside Bristol. Although the brand’s move to Oxford’s George Street was meant to be the first of many openings nationally, the site was hit by delays and a difficult trading environment. Eventually the restaurant’s closure led to the “crystallisation of significant costs” and administrators at BDO were bought in with Thali Cafe founder and director Jim Pizer stepping down. Juggard, a company founded by Thali Cafe kitchen manager Jose Blanco Rodriguez, operations manager Dominika Paulina Sawicka-Harris and Michael Dillon, an investor who owns 75% of the company, bought Thali Cafe out of administration in September 2018. The Montpelier site was subsequently bought by its head chef, Ramesh Prasad, in June 2019.

Yakinori reveals national ambitions as it opens fourth site, in Solihull: Japanese restaurant Yakinori has opened its fourth site, at the Touchwood Shopping Centre in Solihull, with ambitions to expand nationwide. The company used part of a £140,000 loan from HSBC UK to renovate a 3,000 square foot space in the complex. Owner and founder Ali Karakaya told Insider Media: “As a Birmingham-born family we’re thrilled to open another Yakinori restaurant close to home. Our ambition is to take the Yakinori brand nationwide.” Yakinori was founded in 2015 and has restaurants in Grand Central shopping centre and Selly Oak in Birmingham as well as Park Street in Bristol.
 
Greggs set for another attempt to establish presence within home of Cornish pasty: Food to go retailer Greggs is set to make another attempt to establish a presence within the home of the Cornish pasty. Months after the company closed its one and only branch in Cornwall, a new outlet is expected to be unveiled close to the hamlet of Victoria. The company, which has more than 2,000 shops across the UK but none in Cornwall, declined to comment but is understood to be months away from a potential opening at a service station on the A30, which has a pizza cafe, as well as branches of Costa Coffee and McDonald’s. A spokesman for the service station, Cornwall Services, told The Guardian: “We cannot currently confirm who the new tenant will be. We hope to make an announcement very soon.” Greggs’ previous foothold in Cornwall was within another service station, at Saltash on the eastern edge of the county. Its initial opening in 2018 sparked consternation among locals. While pasties can only be called Cornish if they include only beef, potato, swede or turnip, onion and seasoning, the current Greggs menu continues to offer what the company describes as its “take on this delicious West Country classic”, a version containing steak, mince beef with potato, onion, carrots and peas.
 
Nico Simeone gifts debut restaurant to its former kitchen porter: Scottish-Italian chef Nico Simeone is giving ownership of his debut restaurant to his first kitchen porter. Modou Diagne, who worked his way up to head chef at 111 by Nico in Glasgow after arriving from Senegal, will take control next month. The Kelvinside restaurant will close on Monday, 23 March for refurbishment and reopen on Friday, 3 April as 111 by Modou. The move comes as Simeone prepares to open his seventh restaurant under his Six by Nico concept, in London at the end of this month. Simeone said: “The time feels right for myself and Modou. This has been a personal dream of mine since meeting Modou in 2014. I have not only got to know him as a close colleague, he has become like family to me. Six by Nico is going from strength to strength and, as such, there are increasing requirements for my energy to continue that development. There is no-one I trust more to hand the reins to than Modou.” Diagne, who has been head chef since 2018, added: “This opportunity is life-changing for myself and my family back home. Having moved here in 2013 I would never have dreamed I would be in this position seven years later. My hard work has paid off but, more so, this is really special to me as Nico is like a brother. I’m more than ready for this next chapter at 111 and I look forward to showing everyone in the industry what myself and my team can do here at 111 by Modou.” Simeone opened 111 as his debut restaurant in 2015. His original Six by Nico launched in the Finnieston area of Glasgow in 2017, followed by Edinburgh in 2018 and Belfast, Manchester and Liverpool last year. He has also opened a site within the brand’s development kitchen in Nithsdale Road, Glasgow.
 
Motorway services operator Westmorland eyes new opportunities as it reports turnover boost: Motorway services and hotel operator Westmorland is eyeing new opportunities following a boost in revenue. The family-owned business, whose sites include Gloucester services on the M5 and Cairn Lodge services on the M74 in Scotland, saw turnover increase to £104.7m for the year ending 30 June 2019, compared with £100.8m the previous year. Pre-tax profit fell to £3.3m, compared with £5.1m the year before, with the decision to invest in staff pay ahead of the National Living Wage having contributed to increased costs and the business making further investment in its leadership team. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “Fixed assets grew slightly to £67.0m (2018: £65.4m), with the most significant capital addition being the completion of the £3m redevelopment of Cairn Lodge Services. A total of £3.8m was invested in the estate in the year while £1.5m of borrowing was repaid, with net debt decreasing to £23.8m (2018: £26.0m) although an increase in the base rate increased interest charges versus the prior year. Financial management remains strong with high liquidity, very competitive debt margins and a strong bank covenant cover. Cash balances were strong at £11.6m (2018: £10.9m). Net assets grew to £34.2m (2017: £31.8m). The company will continue to invest in its core businesses and look for new opportunities that enable it to strengthen its identity.”
 
Pub Invest Group to reopen former Revolution site in Liverpool as American-style sports bar: Liverpool-based Pub Invest Group is to reopen a former Revolution bar in Liverpool as an American-style sports bar. Pub Invest Group picked up the Wood Street property after Revolution Bars Group closed the venue last year along with sites in Swansea and Macclesfield. Work has been ongoing since February, with the venue set to launch as Yankees Bar & Grill, creating 30 jobs. General manager Iman Nicholson told Insider Media: “It will very much be the traditional American-style sports bar look and theme throughout and in a few weeks we will also have news on what we will be doing upstairs.” Pub Invest Group owns and operates more than 30 sites in Liverpool city centre, including Soho, Level and Brooklyn Mixer.
 
Matt Healy steps away from Leeds gastro-pub to focus on other ventures: Chef Matt Healy has stepped away from a gastro-pub in Leeds he took charge of last year. Healy, who was runner-up in the 2016 series of MasterChef: The Professionals, reopened The Beehive in Thorner last summer. Now, he’s decided to focus on his Leeds city centre restaurant The Foundry and his cafe business Grön, which has a Leeds branch and recently opened in York. Healy told Leeds Live: “It’s been a pleasure to get The Beehive back up and running again. It’s a piece of history when it comes to the Leeds pub scene and I’m happy we’ve been able to give it another lease of life. But it’s now time to let the team take the full reigns as I step back, along with my business partner Marc Cunliffe, to focus on The Foundry and our ongoing Grön expansion across the north.” The Beehive will now be led by director Dale Wynter, along with Craig Thorpe as head chef and Jess Georgallis as general manager. The Beehive has a new menu as the new team looks to establish themselves. Healy recently announced a change to its dining style at The Foundry – switching to snacks and small plates to allow guests to experience a “collection of tastes” rather than a traditional set of starters, mains and desserts, along with the introduction of a tasting menu.
  
CPL Learning reports more than 11,000 coronavirus e-learning course assigned within 24 hours of launch: CPL Learning, which delivers hospitality-based training and development, has reported its free coronavirus e-learning course has been assigned to 11,000 hospitality teams members within the first 24 hours. The Coronavirus – Taking Proactive Action course has been developed with David Edwards, a member of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. The course has been designed to support businesses in making preparations and contingencies to deal with coronavirus. Aimed predominantly at outlet management, it covers topics such as what coronavirus is, areas to consider and plan, operational tips, and training guides and materials. The course will be accompanied by additional support material to be used in venues, while it also draws on key government information, data and research from CGA, and advice from UKHospitality. Martin Hilton, director of learning and education at CPL Learning, said: “We created this course to support the hospitality sector in protecting the well-being of their team members and customers, and it’s great to see so many operators deploying it within their businesses. With the announcement the UK government has now moved out of contain phase into delay, we will continue to review, update and amend our learning materials accordingly to ensure we are supporting the sector in delivering best practice.”
 
Ascot Brewing Company passes halfway mark in £150,000 fund-raise: Ascot Brewing Company has passed the halfway mark in its £150,000 fund-raise on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube. The brewer, which was acquired by local businessmen Chris Davies and Mike Neame in 2018 and is based in Camberley, Surrey, is offering 7.32% equity to investors, which gives the company a pre-money valuation of £1.9m. So far 138 investors have pledged £89,470 with 15 days of the campaign remaining. The company is looking to raise the funds to expand brewing capacity, address export enquiries and add a small canning line. Ascot Brewing Company raised £270,680 on Crowdcube in early 2019 to move to larger premises and buy equipment to meet demand. The move came a year after raising more than £270,000 on the same platform. The pitch states: “We have moved into an 8,500 square foot warehouse, acquired more brewing equipment, launched craft beer brand Disruption Is Brewing, and built a 2,500 square foot, 20-tap taproom for our community to enjoy. Now we have the ingredients we can grow our revenues and achieve even more success. We will challenge the accepted order by disrupting the craft beer scene with our Thirst For Knowledge platform – using contactless technology so consumers learn more about the beer they are drinking by tapping their smartphone against the smart pump clips. This raise will enable us to grow our revenues and move towards a possible exit in circa 2023.”

Sushi On Jones launches catering service after making London debut: New York-based Sushi On Jones, which has just made its London debut, has launched a catering service. The menu offers a variety of bespoke sushi platters in small or large portions. Sushi On Jones opened the restaurant earlier this month at the music, drinks and street food concept Goods Way in King’s Cross. Described as the city’s first “alfresco omakase bar”, Sushi on Jones offers 12-piece sushi menus with a 45-minute turnaround.

Shepherd Cox acquires hotel and restaurant in Thirsk: North of England-based hotel group Shepherd Cox has acquired a grade II-listed hotel and restaurant in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, for its 19th site. The property includes five-star hotel Crab Manor and double AA Rosette restaurant the Crab & Lobster. The hotel’s 20 rooms take inspiration from worldwide destinations such as The Ritz and Bellagio. Shepherd Cox hotel group founder Lee Bramzell told Insider Media: “We are delighted to add the Crab Manor hotel and its restaurant to our ever-growing portfolio of hotels. I’m happy to say with this acquisition we’re going from strength to strength as our portfolio of hotels grows and drives the business forward.” Shepherd Cox owns and operates 20 hotels in the UK under brands such as Holiday Inn, Best Western, Travelodge and Accor.

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