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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 3rd Jul 2020 - Update: Market Halls, Boris’ pub plea, Soho House, Fuller’s
Market Halls to remain closed while social distancing remains: Market Halls, which has three sites – in Victoria, Fulham, and on Oxford Street – has begun a redundancy process with staff after deciding to stay closed while social distancing remains. Andy Lewis-Pratt, chief executive of Market Halls, said: “It is heart-breaking to see our business, like so many others, brought to its knees by covid-19 and the ongoing uncertainty around how we get back to normal. I am desperately sorry for my employees and the independent food traders that make our Market Halls family so special. We will support them as much as we can and continue to explore all possible opportunities to get us going again. One thing is for sure, Market Halls will reopen. And when it does, it is my ambition to re-employ as many of our staff as possible. Unfortunately our business is only viable when it is bustling with customers. This means for our venues to reopen, social distancing needs to have been withdrawn and workers and shoppers back in the city. Currently, it is simply not possible to provide the Market Halls experience that our customers know and love. While we welcome the moves to ease lock-down and wish everyone opening this weekend the best of luck, what will significantly help all of us is a firm indication of when social distancing will come to an end and, together with the London mayor, a joint determination to get London safely back to work and its streets busy again. Everyone at Market Halls is very grateful to our customers and supporters. We have been overwhelmed by your kind messages throughout this difficult period and we can’t wait to welcome you again when we reopen. Until then, please stay in touch online and we will bring you more updates when we have news to share.”

Sponsored message – secure your occupancy levels in premises and toilets, from Sintuitive: A British company has developed a unique low-cost “plug and play” counter system to regulate occupancy levels and reassure and warn staff and public. The entrance system records and counts people in and out and warns staff of capacity thresholds via a beacon placed above the till/bar etc. You can broadcast in real time to a display tablet at entrances to warn customers of the live occupancy level. You log into your web interface to set thresholds, change, personalise screen messaging and analyse historic occupancy data. This system is selling for £599 plus VAT (excluding android tablet). Additional entrances £150 each. It is designed to be scalable for point-of-entry promotions via monitors and centralised multiple site management. Rental options are available. The toilet system ensures one in/one out occupancy and eliminates queues and bottlenecks by providing visible alerts in communal areas. It works by simply installing a specially designed sensor on the toilet door frame and placing a beacon in any location, which displays when a toilet is vacant or engaged via a red or green light. This is now available for just £225 plus VAT for one toilet, £399 for two loos. Call 01242 222878 or email First scaled production run shipping next week. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email

Boris Johnson to urge drinkers not to ‘overdo it’ when pubs reopen: Prime minister Boris Johnson is to issue a plea to England’s drinkers not to “overdo it” when pubs reopen for business tomorrow (Saturday, 4 July) after 15 weeks of lock-down. The prime minister will return to the 10 Downing Street lectern this evening (Friday, 3 July) in a revival of the press conferences held on a daily basis until last week, reports The Independent. His call for restraint comes after police and councils warned of the danger of large-scale drinking leading to disorder and a breakdown of social distancing practices, which still require people to keep two metres apart unless they are taking mitigating action such as wearing face coverings. At the Downing Street press conference, Johnson is expected to praise businesses for putting in a “heroic effort” to make shops, pubs and restaurants safe for customers – adding: “We must not let them down.” He will say: “Just as when we first locked down, we will only succeed in reopening if everyone works together. Because we are not out of the woods yet. The virus is still with us and the spike in Leicester has shown that. If it starts running out of control again the government will not hesitate in putting on the brakes and reimposing restrictions. So as we take this next step, our biggest step yet, on the road to recovery, I urge the British public to do so safely.”

Soho House to press on with new openings, eyes long-term rentals market: Soho House is to press on with new openings and is also set to make a move into the long-term rentals market. The private members’ club group had committed to a five-year strategy that includes an extensive refurbishment programme, five new sites a year, and a revamped app. Despite global lock-downs “nothing stopped” at the business, chief executive Nick Jones told the FT. Since March, Soho House has spent £5.4m refurbishing properties and amalgamating its 24 websites into one. It has relaunched its app, which now offers a social network for members and a contactless in-house payment method. Soho House, which secured a $100m (£81m) equity injection last month, has been able to continue its aggressive expansion through a mixture of cost cuts, fund-raising and incoming membership fees. Its 180 Strand site in London, which was due to open in April, is now set to do so next month, while new houses in Mykonos, Tel Aviv and the British Virgin Islands will follow this year. Of the home rental plan, Jones said: “There are a lot ([of our members), from say the age of 20 to 35, who don’t want to buy but want to rent and want to rent something that doesn’t have big deposits. They want areas where there’s more public space and you don’t have to have your washing machine in your flat. I think there will be a huge demand for it.” He said he expects hotel failures to result in sites that would be well suited to long-term accommodation with shared facilities coming on to the market at a good price. The majority of Soho House’s 26 sites are in the UK. Sites will operate at roughly 70% of capacity and the company is converting its events spaces into co-working areas. From September, overnight accommodation will no longer be available to non-members.

Hospitality businesses reopen in Northern Ireland: Hospitality businesses in Northern Ireland will reopen from today (Friday, 3 July) following the coronavirus lock-down. Indoors, pubs and bars will have to primarily function as restaurants and offer substantial meals with table service. The food prerequisite does not apply to alcohol being served outside in beer gardens, though table service is again compulsory. Leisure and spa facilities at hotels remain closed. Economy minister Diane Dodds said: “Businesses in this sector are a cornerstone of the Northern Ireland economy, employing about 65,000 people and generating in the region of £1bn in revenue each year. Northern Ireland is world-renowned for its tourism and hospitality offering. While this year we may not welcome as many outside visitors here as we normally would during the summer, I am confident businesses in the sector will see a great many local customers in the coming weeks and months and will deliver the quality offering that they are so well known for.”

Fuller’s announces second delay to results: London-based pub and hotel operator Fuller’s has delayed its full-year results for a second time. The company had intended to publish its results for the year ending 28 March 2020 today (Friday, 3 July). However, auditors Grant Thornton has informed Fuller’s it will need additional time to complete the formalities of the audit process, which has resulted in a further delay to the results. Fuller’s stated: “The delay is a result of the auditors’ internal processes, with Grant Thornton continuing to cite the complexities surrounding covid-19 and related abnormal working arrangements as the reason behind the time taken to complete the audit. Fuller’s will now announce a revised date for its full year results for the year ended 28 March 2020 shortly.” Fuller’s previously announced on 24 June a delay to its results.

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