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Thu 2nd Jul 2020 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Almost 500,000 sector supplier jobs at risk without extended government support: Almost 500,000 jobs are at risk if the government fails to extend sector support to include suppliers, a new survey has revealed. The findings by the UKHospitality Supplier Alliance showed more than two-thirds (69%) of respondents have 75% or more of their revenue purely within hospitality, with an average decline in trade of 78% and one-quarter of suppliers not trading at all. Suppliers highlighted their importance to an operator’s ability to reopen smoothly but current hardships meant the prospect of mass redundancies and business closures if government support wasn’t extended beyond early trading. Suppliers said they had experienced a patchy success rate in accessing support to date and were concerned should government support be withdrawn while operators were either still closed or open but trading at historically low levels. In such circumstances, one-fifth of suppliers would expect to close, while three-quarters said they would have to make redundancies. With an average redundancy rate of 40%, that equates to 460,000 job losses across the hospitality supplier sector. Suppliers forecast six months’ support would allow them to avoid redundancies, with a further month helping them remove the risk of business closures. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The supplier network is integral to the hospitality ecosystem. These businesses will provide critical support to operators and be an essential part of a successful restart. Suppliers will also be the last to be paid. It is vital therefore that government provides immediate support through to the point where our world-class hospitality venues are commercially viable. Our request, therefore, is a simple one – parity with operators so any ongoing measures in support of hospitality include the wider ecosystem. After months of little-to-no revenue and with a requirement to invest in order to play their part in the restart, the supply chain is at a critical point. Without support, many will go to the wall, operators will disappoint their customers and a potential 460,000 team members will find themselves unemployed.” UKHospitality is asking suppliers to contact their MP and raise awareness of the need for further government support. A template letter can be found on the UKHospitality website.

Industry News:

Sponsored message – how Zapaygo is helping the sector reopen: Pub co-owner and technology champion Mike Fisher explains: “There has been a lapse in our industry when it comes to technology know-how. However, covid-19 and government guidelines have forced necessary change and technology is playing a vital role in helping our venues open safely. As an early adopter of apps prior to this pandemic, one that particularly stood out was Zapaygo, and after working directly with it for a few years, I’ve seen the fine tuning and admired the team’s dedication. Now fully involved, I’m delighted to share how it’s helping venues, including three of my own, as we prepare for opening. Maintaining the health and safety of staff and customers is paramount. Zapaygo is the only multi-solution ecosystem that allows customers to order, pay and earn rewards in a single end-to-end platform. As well as reducing health risks it simplifies processes, provides venues with a better understanding of consumer behaviour, enables order to table and delivery services, and makes transactions easier, quicker and more cost-effective. Zapaygo is designed to build communities and I’m proud to be part of something that’s helping our industry get back on its feet.” Click here to find out more. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

Dan Warne to feature in latest ‘navigating the coronavirus’ video: In the latest in Propel’s video interviews with leading operators about “navigating the coronavirus” pandemic, Elliotts chief executive Ann Elliott talks to Dan Warne, founder of Sessions Market, the ethically driven and immersive food hall concept. Warne talks about developing and preparing to launch a business during lock-down, securing investment, keeping staff motivated, developing a covid-19 secure space from scratch, and engaging with local operators and suppliers. The video will be released on Thursday (2 July). Meanwhile, readers can support independent sector journalism and get their news 12 hours early (at 7pm each night) with a Propel Premium subscription. It costs £395 plus VAT per annum for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com to sign up.

UKHospitality backs initiative launched to gain consumer feedback on safe reopening of venues: An initiative to gain consumer feedback on the safe reopening of hospitality venues has been launched following a partnership between restaurant intelligence platform Yumpingo and CGA. The We Hear You initiative, which has been backed by UKHospitality, has resulted in an integrated digital network that will provide “swift and clear feedback allowing consumers to rate their experience of sites’ safety and hygiene measures to help the market return safely, responsibly and ultimately profitably”. CGA will integrate questions from its Consumer Pulse survey into Yumpingo’s one-minute instant review platform and help analyse and benchmark the data insights across the sector. As well as giving operators instant feedback, all data gathered through the free-to-use service will be collated to provide UKHospitality with valuable insights to inform the government and provide the wider market with a sector benchmarking tool. Yumpingo chief executive and founder Gary Goodman said: “Flexibility, agility and speed to adapt to a changing market and consumers has never been more important. How restaurants deliver change to ensure their customers are safe and happy will not just dictate their success but the ability for the sector to reboot as a whole. The faster we can share best practice, the more able the industry will be to engage and delight customers to drive repeat visits for the benefit of all.” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “Developing such a workable system has required active expert collaboration across the sector. The launch of this digital feedback solution will be an important confidence-building measure.”
Yumpingo and UKHospitality are Propel BeatTheVirus campaign members

Business investment in hospitality sector falls 6% in first quarter: Business investment in the hospitality sector fell 6% in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the previous year as coronavirus continued to take its toll on the industry. Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed investment in pubs, restaurants and hotels dropped to £1.26bn, compared with £1.34bn for the same period in 2019. This is indicative of a wider slowdown in the British economy, which shrunk 10.4% in the three months to April 2020. Overall business investment across UK industry rose 0.8% in the quarter compared with the first quarter of 2019. Coronavirus has hit the hospitality industry hard, with restaurants and hotels suffering months of closure. Industry leaders have expressed fears that even reopening from Saturday (4 July) won’t be enough to save many businesses.

British Land agrees rental waivers worth £3m for F&B operators: British Land, which is landlord for London areas such as Broadgate and Paddington Central, said it had agreed £3m worth of rental waivers for the June quarter, primarily for smaller, independent food and beverage operators. British Land’s move comes on top of the £2m it waived for the March quarter. The company said: “We continue to engage with customers on a case-by-case basis. We are holding productive discussions with larger retail and leisure operators that have been disproportionately affected by lock-down. These include moves to monthly rents, deferrals and partial settlement of March and June rents, typically in return for the removal of lease breaks, lease extensions, reduced incentives or commitments for additional space. This is an ongoing process and we expect the collection rates for June to improve over the coming weeks.” As of 26 June the company had collected 88% of rent for offices and 36% in retail – including at its London campuses – relating to the June quarter. British Land said as at 30 June, 894 of its units in England were open (64% of total), 116 in Scotland (50%) and 43 in Wales (64%). For the week commencing 14 June, when restrictions were eased on non-essential retail in England, footfall at its English assets was 64% of the level achieved in the same week last year. It added that, encouragingly, like-for-like retail sales for stores that were open were 91% of the same week last year. It said: “We expect the best-located open-air retail parks to perform an important role in retailers’ reopening strategies. This was reflected in positive like-for-like sales for out-of-town stores open in England versus the same week last year.”

Uber makes takeover offer for US delivery rival Postmates: Uber has made an offer to buy rival food delivery company Postmates in a deal that could be valued at $2.6bn (£2.08bn). A deal could be finalised as soon as this week, according to The New York Times. Postmates, founded in 2011 and based in San Francisco, is the smallest of the major US food delivery players. It has held discussions with other possible buyers during the past year and has been simultaneously planning an initial public offering (IPO). Uber has been looking for ways to boost its food service, UberEats, and attempted to acquire another rival, Grubhub, earlier this year. Grubhub subsequently agreed to be acquired by Just Eat Takeaway for $7.3bn following initial interest from Uber. Rival firm DoorDash recently raised $400m in a funding round that valued it at about $16bn. The move comes as the privately held company lays the groundwork for its own IPO.

Deliveroo reveals London lock-down trends: Deliveroo has revealed London’s food and drink delivery trends during lock-down, including the most popular dishes in each borough. The company said group ordering rose in the capital during the three months – single meal orders used to constitute more than half of Deliveroo’s total orders in London but currently only constitute one-third. Londoners have also shifted the time they normally eat, the company said. Average orders on a weekday used to peak at 7.30pm but had shifted to 7pm. As Londoners have been unable to go out to pubs and clubs on Friday night, Deliveroo said Fridays had overtaken Saturdays as the most popular day of the weekend to order a takeaway. Deliveroo said burgers were the most popular lock-down dish in the capital, making up 16% of top choices. Looking across London’s boroughs, the takeaway preference in Streatham, West Norwood, Stanmore, Upton Park and Blackwalls was for Indian food. The most popular lock-down dish in South Kensington was the chicken ruby from Indian restaurant concept Dishoom. Swiss Cottage was the only borough to choose a vegan dish as favourite – plant and chips from Active Partners-backed Honest Burgers – while Clapham residents put poké at the top of their takeaway list. Borehamwood and Maida Vale chose sushi, while Croydon and South Woodford preferred katsu curry. Eltham, Enfield and Greenwich households loved chicken shish, while Chingford, Dulwich, Esher, Hammersmith/Shepherd’s Bush and London Bridge opted for pad Thai. Burrito fans live in Islington, Putney, Barnes, Wandsworth and West Central, while Wood Green, Willesden Green and Woolwich residents opted for Jamaican dishes. Drinks-wise, Dalston and Finchley residents ordered the most alcohol, while milkshakes came top in Hayes, Watford and Upminster. Earlier this week Deliveroo announced it would launch a contactless dine-in tool to help restaurants reopen safely as part of new support measures. Table Service will be available from 15 July and allow customers to browse the menu and order and pay at a restaurant via the Deliveroo app.

SIBA honours Roger Ryman with posthumous lifetime achievement award: The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has posthumously awarded its Silver Tankard lifetime achievement award to Roger Ryman for his services to the British brewing industry. Ryman, who passed away on 28 May following a battle with cancer, is credited with turning St Austell Brewery into a nationally recognised brand during his 20 years at the Cornwall-based company. SIBA chairman Ian Fozard said: “Brewers from across the UK have been unanimous in their praise of Roger for his huge contribution to the British independent brewing industry. While Roger’s passing comes as a huge shock and is met with great sadness by the industry, we hope this small tribute to a great brewer will make clear the impact he had on his peers within the brewing family.” SIBA chief executive James Calder added: “I was privileged to meet Roger last year. It was immediately clear the enjoyment he took in his work and the insight he had to share with others in brewing. He was a titan of the industry who will be sorely missed and long remembered.” St Austell Brewery chief executive Kevin Georgel said: “Roger was a world-class brewer and leader in his field. Passionate about people, he played a huge role in nurturing and developing young talent. He has left a huge legacy and is sorely missed by all who knew him and worked with him. I’d like to thank SIBA for honouring Roger.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking to speak to an executive keen to take on a non-executive director’s role. The position would support a premium dining business as it looks to invest in new concepts. Managing director and chief executive-level experience in a quality hospitality business is required. The ideal individual will have previous experience in a non-executive director’s role or significant experience in coaching and mentoring an up-and-coming executive team. Good knowledge of new concept, growth lead and investment-backed business would be preferred. Email your CV to Hollie@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

PizzaExpress tells landlords it’s not in a position to pay June quarter rent: PizzaExpress has written to its landlords stating it is not in a position to pay quarterly bills that fell due last week. According to the Telegraph, the brand’s commercial and property director Matt Ward told landlords: “I am acutely aware this situation is extremely difficult for all property stakeholders, yourselves included, and that everyone is seeking clarity on both arrears and future payments. We will provide this as soon as we can in July and until then I can only thank you for your continued patience and support.” A PizzaExpress spokesman said: “We continue to engage with landlords and will update on the progress of those discussions as soon as we are able to do so. In the meantime, we have been rigorously planning how to reopen our restaurants safely and look forward to welcoming back dine-in customers.” The company is to reopen 46 of its restaurants for dine-in customers from Thursday, 9 July. The move follows the trial of delivery and click-and-collect services at select locations across London. The sites reopening to dine-in customers include Chester, Eldon Square in Newcastle and Macclesfield.

McDonald’s to reopen 800 more restaurants for takeaway but not ready for dine-in ‘just yet’: McDonald’s is to reopen a further 800 restaurants for takeaway in the UK and Ireland next week as it also reintroduces more of its menu and an extension of sites offering breakfast. The company said it would also extend opening times at many of its restaurants, including the return of 24-hour operations in some locations. Takeaway will be rolled out to additional locations from Friday (3 July) but the company said it wasn’t ready to welcome dine-in customers “just yet”.  McDonald’s said from next Wednesday (8 July) more menu items would be reintroduced as the company sought to return to its full offer. Milkshakes, bacon mayo chicken and bacon double cheeseburger will be among the menu items made available again. Meanwhile, breakfast will return to more than 1,000 McDonald’s sites following a pilot in 42 restaurants last month. There will still be a limited menu with no bagels, wraps or porridge but, as with the main menu, McDonald’s said it was “working on returning popular missing items later in the year”. The company said its Monopoly promotion for this year, which was due to launch just before the company closed its sites in March, has now been cancelled. The promotion had been running in the UK since 2005. Since beginning to reopen its estate at the end of May, the company now has 1,260 restaurants back in operation. McDonald’s UK and Ireland chief executive Paul Pomroy said: “Of course we aren’t fully back to normal. We aren’t ready to enable dine-in just yet and we know there are a few favourites still missing from the menu. We’re working on it – but will only do so safely when the time is right.”

Mission Mars secures Birmingham site for beer hall and garden concept: Mission Mars, the north west-based operator of fast-growing concepts such as Albert’s Schloss and Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza, is to open a site in Birmingham, Propel has learned. The company will launch Zumhof Bierhalle & Garten in Digbeth on Saturday (4 July). It will occupy the former nightclub Air in Heath Mill Lane and 4,000 square feet of an adjacent car park. The 1,200-capacity venue will feature two live performance stages, a food shack, fire pits and a tepee. Zumhof, which translates as “come to the yard”, will be Digbeth’s first Tankovna, which will offer unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell delivered from Pilzen once a week. The rotating taps will offer beer from Europe as well as offerings from local brewers. The food shack will offer speciality pretzels, bratwursts and burgers alongside Rudy’s Neapolitan pizza. When regulations allow, the stage will feature performances from touring bands, queer cabaret, DJs, drag artists and live art installations. Chief executive Roy Ellis said: “We have been looking for a perfect site in Birmingham for a long time so the decision was straightforward. It’s a pop-up to start with – it will allow us to feel our way. It’s a different-vibe Bavarian bar for us and we’ll do everything possible to add something new and complementary to the emerging scene in Digbeth. We are interested in collaborating with artists, creatives, brewers and artisans.”

Shepherd Neame secures £25m, updates reopening plans: Kent brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has secured £25m through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS). The company said its banking lenders, Lloyds Bank and Santander, had agreed to increase the group’s overall debt facilities utilising CLBILS. The banks will provide the group with a £25m revolving credit facility of which £15m is committed and the further £10m available on request that will mature on 1 July 2022. With the new facilities in place, the group will have total debt facilities of £132.5m. As part of the arrangements the company’s loan note holder, BAE Systems Pension Funds Investment Management, and banking lenders have also agreed to waive any technical defaults arising from the coronavirus outbreak and to amend the group’s financial covenants through to September 2021, set at a level based on a minimum level of Ebitda and liquidity. The group’s net debt position at the end of June is anticipated to be circa £84.5m, a small increase from the half-year end at 31 December 2019. Over and above this the group, in agreement with HM Revenue & Customs, has deferred the payment of tax liabilities in the final quarter of the financial year totalling circa £11m, which the board expects to be settled within the next 12 months. The company will not pay a dividend in October 2020 nor an interim dividend in March 2021 but said it would resume payments “as soon as is practicable”. Shepherd Neame also updated on its reopening plans. It expects to have at least 45 managed pubs – up from the previous 40 – out of a total of 69 reopen by the end of July. Meanwhile, having initially estimated it would open at least 150 of its 239 tenanted pubs, the company has now said it will reopen 165 by the end of the month. Chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “We have a clear strategy, a well-balanced business and now a robust financing structure in place to see us on the path to recovery. We are optimistic we have a strong long-term future as and when this pandemic subsides.”

Five Guys to open two new sites next week, appoints people director: Five Guys, the US better burger brand, will open two new sites next week, in Brighton and Chiswick. The company, which earlier this month launched its first new restaurant during lock-down, at More London, will open at the former Carluccio’s site in Brighton’s Jubilee Road on Monday (6 July). It will follow this move with an opening the next day at the former Jackson & Rye site in Chiswick High Road. The company secured Dim T’s former More London site at the turn of the year for circa £2m. The business has almost opened its entire 100-strong UK estate for delivery and takeaway. The company has reopened more than 90 sites, with only a handful in shopping centres and in central London still shuttered. Meanwhile, Propel understands the company has appointed Paul Dunford, formerly of Nando’s, as people director. Dunford joins Five Guys after almost 11 years at Nando’s, most recently as head of people, architecture and reward. Dunford’s appointment comes as Five Guys’ head of people, Faye Hance, steps down to join Le Pain Quotidien in the same role. Hance, who previously spent almost six years at Wagamama, was with the better burger brand for more than five years.

Cote to commence gradual reopening of estate on Monday: Cote, the 96-strong French brasserie chain, will begin a gradual reopening of its estate on Monday (6 July) by opening its Windsor site for lunch and dinner. The Alex Scrimgeour-led brand will follow this by reopening its site in Kingston on 8 July and in Chiswick on 10 July. The company said further reopenings would take place in the “coming weeks”. The business said it had taken steps to keep its staff and consumers safe including reviewing the layout of its brasseries to ensure sufficient space between tables and to allow for social distancing, installation of hand-sanitiser stations and making all payments cashless. All employees will be subject to daily wellness checks, which will include a temperature check, while visors have been provided to all team members “for their safety as well as yours”. A covid-19 risk assessment has been completed in line with government guidance and will be reviewed regularly.

Revolution Bars Group safety measures to include seated-only capacity and mobile ordering: Revolution Bars Group, the operator of 74 bars trading under the Revolution and Revolución de Cuba brands, has said its handful of venues reopening on Monday (6 July) will operate in a seated-only capacity and feature mobile ordering. Revolution bars in Bristol, Liverpool Albert Dock, Huddersfield and Brighton plus Revolucion de Cuba venues in Derby and Manchester will be the first to reopen. The company is staggering openings to give its teams the “best return to work possible and ensure guests and team members are as safe as possible”. Other operational changes and protective measures will include protective screens at bars and tables, floor markings and signs to help distancing, protective gear for staff, and more frequent cleaning. Order and pay by phone functionality has been launched in both brands, with digital menus available via QR code scanning. A new bookings platform has also been developed in-house, allowing guests to book events, manage drinks party packages, split payments and collate pre-orders. This would support the government’s test and trace guidelines, the company said. Revolution Bars Group chief executive Rob Pitcher said: “We look forward to bringing our brands back for our guests to enjoy a place of escapism and have some fun. We can’t wait to be together again – from a distance, of course.” Earlier this week, Revolution Bars Group announced more than 99% of shareholders had backed the company’s plan to delist from the main stock market and move to AIM. 

Fulham Shore sets out initial reopening plans for Franco Manca and The Real Greek: Fulham Shore, operator of Franco Manca and The Real Greek, has set out its initial reopening plans for both brands. Franco Manca is set to open 14 sites for dine-in on Saturday (4 July), including those in Brighton, Tooting, Bristol, Chiswick and Richmond. It will reopen a further eight sites on Monday (6 July), including those in Westbourne Grove, Putney and Greenwich. Speaking to Propel at the end of May, Fulham Shore chairman David Page said the company would take a “site-by-site approach” regarding reopening its 52-strong Franco Manca estate. The Real Greek brand will reopen seven sites on Saturday – in Bankside, Dulwich, Westfield London, Westfield Stratford, Bournemouth, Soho and Marylebone. All sites will feature social-distancing measures.

Palmers launches digital test and trace solution for pub estate: West Dorset-based brewery and pub company Palmers has launched a digital test and trace solution for its venues. One of the stipulations for pubs reopening is they should assist NHS test and trace by collecting data for all customers. Palmers’ customers can ‘check in’ at its pubs by scanning a QR code at the door or visit the brewery website and fill out details on their smartphone. Palmers tenanted trade director Jim Jones said: “We were quick to realise that by making some changes to our website we were able to accept all the data NHS track and trace would need and store it securely before auto deleting it after the required 21 days. I have been overwhelmed by the feedback from our licensees to our quick and inventive solution. It looked like a potentially big banana skin to start with. Let’s remember the government has just admitted defeat with it’s £12m test and trace app so to come up with a fully operational fix with the help of our digital partners, Key Digital Agency, in such a short space of time is staggering.” Palmers operates 53 pubs in Dorset, Somerset and Devon. 

Tonkotsu sets out reopening plans: Ramen restaurant group Tonkotsu will begin reopening its 12-strong estate on Saturday (4 July). The Emma Reynolds-led group will reopen its sites for dine-in at Selfridges stores in London and Birmingham plus restaurants in Haggerston and Stratford. The company said a further five restaurants would reopen during July. As part of its reopening plans, the group is introducing order and pay at table technology through Vita Mojo and will operate either social distancing or screens. Reynolds said: “The new menu will include three katsu curries – chicken, king prawn, and courgette and shiitake – which have become very popular with our delivery customers over the past few weeks and a new vegan ramen, the soya tantanmen – a konbu and shiitake broth with a spicy sesame base. It will also include classic homemade noodles topped with plant-based soya mince, bok choy and kikurage.”

Three Cheers to fully reopen pub estate: Three Cheers Pub Co, led by Tom Peake, Mark Reynolds and Nick Fox, has announced it will reopen its nine-strong pub estate on Saturday (4 July). Each pub will offer a takeaway menu, while tables will be restricted to six people unless they comprise two households, in which case they must be booked in advance. Customers will be asked to sanitise their hands on arrival, provide contact details for tracing purposes and only order food from their table. Hotel rooms at The Bedford in Balham, The Tommyfield in Kennington Cross and The Princess Victoria in Shepherd’s Bush will reopen from Monday (6 July). A Three Cheers Pub Co spokesman said: “Staff will have their temperatures checked on arrival. All our pubs have received deep cleans. Each table will be thoroughly sanitised after use. Our menus and drinks lists will be one use only. All our staff have undergone new health and safety training and our kitchen team will wear full PPE. Each bedroom will receive a deep clean between guests to ensure a safe and relaxing stay for everyone. High-touch public areas are now cleaned every 30 minutes. Hotel staff will undergo the same training, temperature checks and adhere to all the government guidelines as our pub staff.” All Three Cheers’ pubs are in London. Its other sites are The Abbeville, The Avalon and The Stonhouse, all in Clapham, The Latchmere and The Bolingbroke, both in Battersea, and The Rosendale in West Dulwich.

Boxpark to launch click-and-collect service: Boxpark is to launch a click-and-collect service. The company has partnered with mobile order and pay company Wi5 to offer the service at its Croydon, Shoreditch and Wembley sites from Saturday (4 July). Customers will have the option to order their food and drink at Boxpark or pre-order and schedule a pick-up time, receiving notifications when their order is being prepared and ready to collect. Boxpark will also resume the delivery operation it launched at the start of lock-down via Deliveroo, UberEats and Just Eat. A select group of its street food traders will also run table service for those who wish to dine-in. Boxpark chief executive and founder Roger Wade said: “We feel optimistic about reopening our sites despite the financial and operational challenges we face as an industry. We have explored many ways to safely operate and continue to serve customers great food and drink but our priority remains the well-being of our customers, tenants and employees. We have introduced practical measures across our sites and contactless delivery and our mobile click-and-collect service support our safety-first operational stance.” All Boxpark sites will operate table service, delivery and click-and-collect daily between 11am and 11pm. To assist the NHS track and trace, visitors will be required to pre-register for tickets online.

Dishoom to implement phased reopening of cafes from next week: Indian restaurant concept Dishoom is to implement a phased reopening of its cafes, starting on Friday, 10 July. Dishoom’s venues in Manchester and London’s Shoreditch, King’s Cross and Carnaby will open first, followed by Edinburgh a week later. Dishoom will reopen its Kensington cafe on Friday, 24 July while the Covent Garden venue will remain closed for the completion of its redesign. Dishoom Birmingham was mid-way through its launch prior to lock-down. Launch activity will resume shortly, the company said. A Dishoom spokeswoman said the cafes would operate with fewer tables to aid social distancing, while additional screens and furniture will be introduced. Guests who can’t be seated immediately may be asked to wait outside in a managed and distanced queue. Dishoom’s Permit Room bars will offer table service only, while new systems for reservations and contactless pay-at-table options have been introduced. Additional cleaning processes will be in place, along with “industry-leading air filtration systems”. Dishoom will continue offering delivery options including its new bacon naan roll kits, which were extended for nationwide delivery earlier this week. Dishoom is led by founders Shamil and Kavi Thakrar. 

Brixton Village creates zonal communal dining areas as restaurant tenants prepare to return: Brixton Village is setting up new communal dining spaces with designated and colour-coded zones ahead of reopening on Saturday (4 July). The company said many of its restaurant tenants would reopen in line with government guidelines. An additional 160 covers are being put in place in Market Row and a further 280 in Brixton Village. The new measures would see the safe zoning of the market to support food and drink businesses that won’t be able to reopen at full capacity. The move gives each restaurant 16 additional covers. Seating arrangements have been mapped out across all communal eating zones to ensure diners are kept apart. The initial set-up will allow businesses to dress the zones in keeping with their brand and take ownership of a safe dining experience ready for the return of guests. Restaurants set to reopen include Fulham Shore-owned Franco Manca, Active Partners-backed Honest Burgers and British restaurant Salon. The markets’ independent grocers, fishmongers, bakers and butchers, which remained open throughout lock-down, will continue to operate in line with government guidelines.

Papa John’s reports June like-for-likes up 24% in North America and 6% internationally: Papa John’s has reported like-for-like sales increased 24% in its North America stores in June and were also up 6% internationally. The company also estimated preliminary sales for the second quarter ended on 28 June would see a 28% increase in North American like-for-like sales and 5.3% increase in like-for-likes internationally – a growth period that includes May, during which the company reported the “best sales period in company history” with 26.9% like-for-like growth. Papa John’s president and chief executive Rob Lynch said: “In June, Papa John’s delivered a third consecutive month of double-digit sales growth in North America and strong growth internationally. The events of the past few months have accelerated Papa John’s transformation into an innovation-driven organisation, contributing to our strong business momentum today.” Lynch also addressed Papa John’s efforts to build a more diverse, equality-driven company, particularly in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. He said the company had increased its investments through its non-profit arm, the Papa John’s Foundation. In North America, almost all Papa John’s restaurants remain open and operating normally, while the number of temporarily closed restaurants overseas declined to 225 or little more than 10%.

Hamilton leaves Wagamama to take up operations director role at Greene King: Ashley Hamilton has left Wagamama, The Restaurant Group-owned brand, to join brewer and retailer Greene King’s Premium and Urban division. Hamilton, who takes up the role of operations director at Greene King, spent five and a half years at Wagamama, including stints as regional director for the south and senior vice-president for its US operation. He was promoted to operations director growth earlier this year, assuming responsibility for delivery, grab-and-go concept Mamago and the early-life operation of all openings. Earlier this year Greene King made changes to its executive board as it moved from a centralised commercial and operations structure for its managed pub division to three divisional teams, each led by a managing director. Karen Bosher was appointed managing director of Premium, Urban and Venture Brands.

MasterChef winner Simon Wood to close Chester site: Simon Wood, who won MasterChef in 2015, has announced he won’t reopen his Wood Chester restaurant at the city’s Hotel Indigo. The chef’s company, Wood Restaurants, will now focus on its sites in Cheltenham, which is due to reopen on Saturday (4 July), and Manchester (10 July). Wood posted on Instagram: “We have made the decision to change the focus of what we offer at Wood and in Manchester we are adapting to cope with the changes forced on us by the covid-19 pandemic while refining the dining experience to offer our guests the very best of my food. This means we are stripping the menus back to focus only on my five, seven and ten-course tasting menus alongside a three-course, fixed-price A Taste Of Wood menu. This has meant the restaurant in Chester doesn’t quite fit into this plan any more. The operating restrictions have meant a different, more casual offering is more suited to the hotel and, as we take our brand in the opposite direction, we have taken the decision to step away from Hotel Indigo in Chester. It has been a great experience. We loved getting to know the city and working with the team at Castlebridge that owns and manages the hotel but, in what has been an extremely tough time, we have all had to make the right commercial decisions.”

Healy steps down as Deliveroo general manager for Ireland: Michael Healy, former chief marketing officer of The Restaurant Group, has stepped down as general manager of Deliveroo in Ireland little more than a year after taking up the role. According to the Irish Times, Healy resigned as a director of the Irish operation in early June. Caleb Merkl, Deliveroo’s chief people officer, has replaced Healy as a director. Deliveroo declined to comment when contacted. Prior to joining the company’s Irish operation last year, Healy was chief marketing officer of The Restaurant Group for a year and a half. He also served as commercial director of Paddy Power Betfair and an investment banking analyst at Morgan Stanley.

London-based cocktail bar concept Swift to open second site, in Shoreditch: London-based cocktail bar concept Swift is to open its second site, in Shoreditch. The all-day bar in Great Eastern Street will launch in late July. The move follows the success of the debut Swift in Soho, which will reopen on Saturday (4 July) with social-distancing measures in place. Bringing an all-day offering for the first time, the Shoreditch venue will open from 8am on weekdays and 11am at weekends, serving coffee and brunch-style dishes in addition to Swift’s cocktails. The Shoreditch site will expand its food offering with all-day dining options such as wild mushrooms, Parmesan and egg yolk on St John’s sourdough, and Sauternes-soaked peaches and raspberries with mascarpone on waffles. Adopting a similar aesthetic to the ground floor of the original venue, Swift Shoreditch will have high chairs lining the bar counter, with banquette-style seating around the site. Co-owner Mia Johansson said: “Around the world our beloved hospitality industry has been deeply affected by the catastrophic impact of coronavirus. While we all remain in uncertain times and have a long road ahead of us on our way to recovery, we have faith in the British public’s love of great food and drink and are hopeful London’s world-class cocktail scene will rebuild itself to come back stronger than ever.” The original Swift in Old Compton Street, Soho, launched in November 2016.

Kanishka and Caractère among high-profile reopenings on Saturday: Atul Kochhar’s Mayfair restaurant Kanishka and Emily Roux and Diego Ferrari’s Notting Hill-based Caractère are among the high-profile venues reopening on Saturday (4 July). Kanishka will reopen in Maddox Street offering the Michelin-starred chef’s latest seasonal menu and a new outside bar. Focusing on British produce, the menu will feature Lake District lamb patties, New Forest venison and Kentish goat. The restaurant has reduced covers to 60 in line with government guidelines and has reduced trading to lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Sunday. New safety measures will include hand sanitiser and a walk-by scan to monitor customers’ temperatures at the door. Masks and hand sanitiser, which can be taken home for a small fee, will be available on each table. Toilets will only be for one person at a time, with an extensive clean after each use. Contact details will be retained to assist with track and trace. Caractère will also operate reduced opening hours – from 6.15pm to 9.45pm, Tuesday to Saturday – to enable staff to work a single shift to reduce crossover. The layout has been reorganised and the menu shortened to cut waste. Further well-being measures include contactless payment, sanitising stations for staff and hand-sanitising wipes for customers. Meanwhile, American barbecue concept Prairie Fire will reopen its restaurant and taproom in White City on Saturday. The venue is within Transport For London’s Wood Lane railway arches development. The Royal, a pub and dining room in St Leonards, East Sussex, will also reopen. Co-owners James Hickson and Sam Coxhead took over the property late last year.

Mark Hix joins 1 Lombard Street as F&B director: Chef Mark Hix, whose restaurant portfolio went into administration in April, has joined City of London venue 1 Lombard Street, which is owned by Soren Jessen. Hix has joined as director of food and beverage and will work alongside executive chef Robin Freeman to develop the menu at the restaurant, bar and brasserie ahead of its reopening on Monday, 20 July. The dining room will also be treated to a “Hix makeover” and will feature artwork and mobiles curated by Hix, including pieces that previously hung in his restaurants. Jessen said: “I have known Mark for more than 20 years and love his passion for food, art and people. I am very excited about working together. 1 Lombard Street and Hix is the perfect match.” Hix added: “Over the past 12 years I built a group of restaurants that showcased and supported great British producers and, although I was upset to see the Hix restaurants close, these scenarios can often throw up interesting opportunities. That’s exactly what has happened with my collaboration with Soren and 1 Lombard Street.” Hix’s Tramshed, Hixter Bankside, Hix Oyster and Chop House restaurants, all in London, as well as Hix Oyster & Fish House in Lyme Regis, fell into administration earlier this year. In December 2019, Hix closed flagship restaurant Hix Soho in Brewer Street after a decade in business blaming increasing rent costs. Jessen launched 1 Lombard Street in 1998 in a grade II-listed former banking hall opposite the Bank of England. He also launched Ekte Nordic Kitchen in nearby Bloomberg Arcade in April 2018. Before opening 1 Lombard Street, Jessen was director and backer of Oliver Peyton’s Atlantic Bar & Grill, near Piccadilly, and Coast in Mayfair.

Bespoke Hotels appoints chief executive as founders step up: Independent hotel group Bespoke Hotels has promoted Thomas Greenall to chief executive from commercial director. The move sees Bespoke Hotels founders Haydn Fentum and Robin Sheppard step up. Fentum has become chairman of the company, while Sheppard becomes president and will focus on expanding the company’s design-led hotel brands, Gotham and Brooklyn. Fentum said: “Thomas has been a key member of the executive team, driving the business during a period in which the business has expanded by every metric. Thomas represents the future of our business and, after 20 years at the helm, Robin and I are delighted to pass on the baton. It’s the right time for someone with the vision and energy Thomas has demonstrated to ensure the group continues to live up to the name – bespoke solutions will be more important than ever as we emerge from the covid-19 crisis into a much-changed world.” Greenall, a former national hunt jockey, said: “We see significant opportunities for Bespoke Hotels. We have a long-standing management team with a vast range of experience, flexible commercial structures and an eclectic portfolio. This puts us in a good position to adapt to the rapidly changing hospitality landscape.” Bespoke Hotels manages more than 100 UK hotels as owner, joint venture, contract operator or turnaround consultant.

Elior UK to offer holographic staff as part of site safety measures: Contract caterer Elior UK has launched a suite of technology-focused measures such as holographs to help sites maintain post-covid safety measures. As well as standard distancing measures the company will offer virtual employees, who will remind customers about the importance of social distancing and advise on safety. Mark Hall, mobilisation, design, install and estates director at Elior UK, said: “Technology has a huge role to play in the future of our industry – not just in safe reopening but in instilling long-term confidence in hospitality employees and customers. We’re using a number of technologies to ensure the safe reopening and ongoing success of our sites. This ranges from more expected tech, such as app ordering and payment, digital thermometers and touchscreen kiosks, to more innovative solutions such as self-service temperature-controlled food lockers and holographic employees who can give warm, friendly and genuine advice safely. With more than half (53%) of consumers still saying they feel anxious about covid-19, measures like these will go a long way to provide reassurance and ingrain a feeling of safety.”  

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