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Tue 18th Aug 2020 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

CEBR – Eat Out To Help Out doing more to help UK’s return to normality than government guidance changes: The Eat Out To Help Out scheme is doing more to help the UK’s return to normality than the many changes in government guidance have, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has argued. Two weeks ago CEBR estimated the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in £2.3bn of spending in shops, pubs and eateries near London employment hubs being lost or displaced between March and June, as a significant share of the city’s workers continue to work remotely. In August, this is set to reduce to a loss of £178m and Eat Out To Help Out will be partially responsible for the return of activity, CEBR said. The first two weeks of the UK government’s Eat Out To Help Out dining scheme has seen the number of people eating in restaurants from Monday to Wednesday increase by an average 26.9% year-on-year. This compares with an average 21.3% year-on-year decline for Thursday to Sunday in the same period, according to data from restaurant booking service OpenTable. One effect of the scheme is it has encouraged some restaurant-goers to eat out Monday to Wednesday, instead of during the other days, according to CEBR. Looking at the annual change in diner numbers for the whole week commencing 3 August, on average the total was down 7.1%, compared with a decrease of 28.2% for the week before the scheme started. Even accounting for the redistribution effect, the net impact of the scheme is a desirable one, said CEBR. It stated: “The goal isn’t just for people to eat in restaurants, but also to get back into the habit of socialising, making non-essential journeys, and being surrounded (albeit not too closely) by groups of strangers. It is arguably this push towards normality that will prove the biggest benefit of the scheme. Judging by the restaurant visits data (and the sounds of clicking glasses and chatter in newly busy restaurant areas) it seems by restoring confidence and giving people a taste of the old normal, Eat Out To Help Out is doing more to help the UK’s return to normality than the many changes in government guidance have.”

Industry News:

Peter Backman – restrictions on travel one of most critical issues arising from coronavirus for sector: Restrictions on travel has been one of the critical issues arising from the coronavirus crisis for foodservice, sector analyst Peter Backman has argued. Backman said: “This has massively affected the numbers of visitors from overseas. But it hasn’t stopped there. Travel on London’s underground is down to 24% of pre-covid levels because ‘locals’ (otherwise known as commuters and shoppers) are less likely to travel by tube. Fewer travellers have impacted a multitude of places, from restaurants in historic properties and bars in theatres, to hotel conference buffets and coffee shops at railway stations. Business in these areas will remain dismal until travel reaches its former levels.” Backman said in the meantime operators have to find ways to continue paying the bills and therefore looking at different opportunities – such as the staycation market. He added: “Maybe a combination of more warm weather (boosted by climate change), improving standards of accommodation and a market that is once again willing to consider spending holidays nearer home, will provide the base for building a bright future.” Backman said it seems there are four ways to look analytically at covid-induced change in the foodservice market – the issues that have been exposed by covid; the impacts of the damage to the “old” ways (such as those caused by outlet closures); change that has been accelerated by covid (changes in some landlords’ approach to turnover-related rents for example); and what innovations have already been installed (or are waiting in the wings) because of covid. He said the answers to those questions should help operators – and suppliers – create their platform for deciding how to build their own future.

Tim Martin – we should have followed the Swedish model: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has slammed the government over its handling of coronavirus, saying the UK should have followed the Swedish model. Martin praised the Swedes and the country’s lead scientists Johan Giesecke and Anders Tegnell for refusing to follow the crowd and enter lock-down. He believes the policies implemented by the UK government have decimated the economy, caused mental health problems, disrupted education and prevented people from being treated for serious illnesses such as cancer. He singled out scientists at Imperial College in London for particular criticism. In March the university published a paper, entitled impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions to reduce covid-19 mortality, which said 510,000 in the UK could die unless steep measures such as lock-down were implemented. Martin said the paper has left the UK in a much worse off position and argued there was much evidence of scientific study that has been wrong in the past, particularly around people’s diet. He said: “There is no evidence, they say, that lock-downs work. When you lift the lock-downs, the virus resumes its course, which is mild or asymptomatic in most cases. Indeed this prediction may explain a resurgence of cases in Australia and New Zealand, once restrictions were lifted. However, lock-downs invariably cause massive collateral damage, devastating economies, inducing mental illness, reducing treatments for serious conditions and interrupting education. In addition, if you suppress the virus in one country, as New Zealand has, the Swedes say, you must keep your borders closed indefinitely, which is not a practical proposition for a successful economy. So for many of us, it seems likely the ice-cool Swedes, who kept their heads while others were losing theirs, are right.” But many academics have contested the Swedish model, with evidence showing the country has one of the highest death rates in Europe. Recent stats show Sweden has about 8,200 confirmed cases per million people, compared with 1,780 in Norway and 2,560 in Denmark. For the UK it is 4,600 and the US 15,400. Sweden also has 57 deaths per 100,000, compared with five in Norway and 11 in Denmark. For the UK it is 70 and the US 50.

Tables and toilets key concerns for consumers: Tables and toilets were the key concerns for consumers, according to the latest Customer Sentiment Tracker from Feed It Back and KAM Media as the industry’s net promoter score (NPS) remained stable. There was an increase of one point in the NPS to 55 across the sector as Eat Out To Help Out continued to pull in more punters but also harsher critics. Feed It Back gathered 14,944 responses for the week ending on Sunday (16 August), compared with 13,080 the week before. NPS scores came in lower for the Monday to Wednesday (49) and then improved when looking at the rest of the week (61). Complaints about value have continued to fall – from 9% to 4% – but of those guests leaving a value complaint, 5% mentioned they wouldn't be prepared to pay the price without the Eat Out To Help Out discount. The confidence to return based on covid-19 procedures dropped slightly – from 94% to 93% – and the main reason for a guest being unhappy to return was still social distancing. Of reasons given for not feeling safe to return, issues relating to inadequate or no covid procedures in place rose from 9% to 14%. Issues cited in this area included one-way system issues, explanations on measures or in some cases no perceived protocols in place. Looking at cleanliness complaints, tables not being cleaned frequently or thoroughly enough continues to account for more than a fifth of cleanliness comments, and although toilet complaints dropped from 19% to 13%, it remains the second largest topic. Operators can trial the Feed It Back system for free and see how they compare with industry peers. To receive the tracker directly to your inbox, email allears@feeditback.com
Feed It Back and KAM Media are Propel BeatTheVirus campaign members

Italy recloses nightclubs after cases spike: Italy has reclosed nightclubs for three weeks and made it compulsory to wear a face covering outdoors in some areas at night after an increase in new coronavirus cases. The new rules mark the first reimposition of coronavirus restrictions as cases pick up across the country, especially among younger people. New cases in the past week in Italy, the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus, were more than double those registered three weeks ago and the median age of people contracting the virus has dropped below 40, data showed. Face coverings are required between 6pm and 6am in areas close to bars and pubs and where gatherings are more likely. Health minister Roberto Speranza said: “We cannot nullify the sacrifices made in past months. Our priority must be that of opening schools in September, in full safety.” The government had kept nightclubs open despite mounting criticism they attracted large crowds, social distancing was not being respected and face coverings were not being worn. The industry has yearly revenues of €4bn, the sector's lobby group Silb said, calling on the government for support. Industry minister Stefano Patuanelli conceded there would be economic damage, but said he saw no alternative. On Sunday (16 August), 479 new cases were confirmed, down from 629 the previous day, with nightlife, the return of holidaymakers, and younger generations flouting social distancing rules being blamed by medical experts for the recent hike.

Rick Stein to throw spotlight on Cornish food: Rick Stein will celebrate the culture, food and history of Cornwall in a new series for BBC Two. The 15-part programme, Rick Stein’s Cornwall, reveals the county he knows and loves away from the tourist trail. The chef, who owns a number of restaurants in the region, will explore the history and heritage of the area and how the land and sea has shaped the county’s larder. He will also cook dishes inspired by the county along the way. Stein said: “Crossing the Tamar for our holidays to Cornwall from Devon was like going into another country and in the car on our way to Padstow we were driving through an enchanted land, capped for my sister and me by seeing the sea at Trevose Head for the first time. Now, after so many years of living here, it still does feel different. I want to try to explain that difference, to tell you what Cornwall means to me.”

BrewLDN to stage London’s first socially distanced beer festival: BrewLDN, the festival from Craft Beer Rising founders Daniel Rowntree and Chris Bayliss, is to stage London’s first socially distanced beer festival. The event will be held at Printworks’ container yard in Rotherhithe from Friday, 28 August to Monday, 31 August. The festival will feature more than 50 craft brewers as well as street food from operators such as Caribbean-inspired concept Only Jerkin and American barbecue concept Prairie Fire. Each day will be split into two sessions – from midday to 4pm and 5pm to 9pm – with visitors having to book their spot in advance. There will be indoor and outdoor seating with brews and food served to guests at their table. Other measures being put in place include scheduled entry and increased washroom facilities. There will also be DJs to entertain guests.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a destination pub in Derbyshire that is looking to appoint a bar manager. The position, paying up to £30,000, is a chance to work with a business that is well known and respected throughout the industry. This site is dedicated to service of the highest standard, always going that extra mile to ensure guest satisfaction. The pub has a fresh and modern feel while still delivering a friendly and welcoming style of service. All produce is fresh and sourced as locally as possible. The ideal bar manager will have a minimum of one-year management experience, great cocktail knowledge and an enthusiastic and hands-on approach. Anyone interested can email lukecotterell@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Easterbrook hits back in McDonald's dispute: Former McDonald’s boss Steve Easterbrook has hit back at his former employer – calling its lawsuit against him “meritless and misleading”. A lawyer for the Watford-born Easterbrook has filed a response to the company in court, after it sued him in an attempt to win back his £30m severance package. McDonald’s has accused Easterbrook of hiding inappropriate relationships with three co-workers and deleting work emails containing “dozens” of naked pictures of women. But his lawyer Daniel Herr, in court papers filed in Delaware on Friday (14 August), said: “McDonald’s filed a meritless – and misleading – lawsuit in the wrong forum.” McDonald’s was “improperly” seeking to grab back Easterbrook’s compensation, Herr claimed, and the lawsuit should be dismissed. He said the firm had “omitted material documents” and was “shirking its responsibilities” by citing information in its lawsuit it already had when it agreed Easterbrook’s exit package. McDonald’s admitted in its court filing it had not initially searched its servers for the emails Easterbrook had deleted, before firing him last year. Herr accused McDonald's of waging a PR campaign against Easterbrook, saying: “For McDonald’s however, this litigation is not about the merits.” This was evidenced by McDonald’s “leaking the lawsuit to the press” and knowing Easterbrook was “essentially unable to make any public comment” due to his contract, court papers said.

Robinsons unveils host of board changes: North west-based brewer and retailer Robinsons has announced changes to its board. In a letter to the company’s employees, chairman Peter Robinson said prior to his brother David passing away last week, he along with Dennis Robinson had decided to retire from the board after more than 180 years of combined service. He also announced Neil Robinson-Stanier, Veronica Robinson and Paul Robinson would be stepping down from the board as part of a strategic restructure. He said they had played very significant roles in the business and thanked them for the positive contribution they had made in their respective areas over the past 17 years as board members. He added: “I have pleasure in announcing Philip Moody will take on the role of non-executive chairman. Philip has been working with the board as an advisor for the past three years and has retired as a senior partner with Smith & Williamson to enable him to accept this position. The board believes Philip’s extensive experience advising family businesses, his leadership responsibilities over his career, and his numerous non-executive and chairman positions held over the past 30 years make him ideally placed to lead our family business to ensure its independence and longevity for the future.” Tony Smith will also become finance director of the company after joining the business in February this year, previously having held a number of financial directorship roles at the Co-Op and also at Well Pharmacy. Sara Robinson will be joining the board as a director in addition to her current role as company secretary. Joint managing directors Oliver and William Robinson added: “We are extremely grateful to all of the family members who are retiring from the board for their support and dedication to the development of the business. We look forward to working with Philip, Sara and Tony alongside existing non-executive directors Stephen Oliver and John Edwards as we continue to develop and grow our independent family business.”

Innis & Gunn boss – turnover-based rental agreements key to Taproom concept growth: Dougal Gunn Sharp, founder and master brewer of Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn, has told Propel the company is still keen to still grow its Taproom concept – providing it can get turnover-based rental agreements. The fourth Taproom – and second in Edinburgh – will launch on Friday (21 August) in The Shore. Sharp revealed the company had secured a turnover-based agreement with the landlord for the site and said such a structure would be key to its growth plans. He said: “The business is in great shape and, now the hospitality sector is starting to open up again, we are looking to the future so that means progressing with our planned retail expansion. But the way we are going to push on is with turnover-based agreements. We had the heads of terms agreed on the site in a couple of days and we’re opening five weeks later so it shows how quickly we can move in that scenario. We know it’s a concept that works – prior to lock-down sales were up 30% year-on-year and we’ve had excellent feedback from customers, both before and since reopening. Now it comes down to the willingness of landlords to work with us. We’re looking to take the concept south of the border but the terms we’ve been offered so far are grotesque.” Sharp said the three other Taproom sites – in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow – had been performing at between 50% and 80% of last year’s levels since lock-down restrictions were lifted. The brand has now brought 75% of retail staff back from furlough with no job losses resulting from the pandemic. Sharp added: “The team has worked really hard during lock-down to put the necessary measures in place while trying to keep as close to the ‘normal’ pub experience as we can.” The new bar features a large outdoor area to the front and is offering the brand’s new food menu. Sharp added: “Our year-to-date performance has demonstrated the resilience and relevance of our brand. Our lager sales were up 74% year-on-year for June and our online shop sales rose 1,100% helped by the launch of our quick and cold delivery service, which is just incredible.” Sharp said the company was still awaiting a decision from the city council on whether permission for its new brewery at the Heriot-Watt University’s Research Park to the west of Edinburgh would be granted. He added the company remained committed to the project but the timescale would probably have to change as a result of the pandemic. 

Creams to launch grab-and-go format this week: Dessert parlour operator Creams is launching a grab-and-go format site in central London this week. As revealed by Propel last month, the 90-strong Creams will launch the new smaller format at a site in Old Street on Wednesday (19 August). The 354 square metre is aimed at grab-and-go and delivery trade. It is the third site for franchisee Mohammed Uddin, who also operates Creams restaurants in London’s Whitechapel as well as Southend. The company has also opened a site under its core format, in Morden. The 48-cover restaurant in London Road offers dine-in, delivery and takeaway. The two openings are part of Creams ambitious opening programme, which will see the brand open 12 UK stores over the next year while advancing its plans for international expansion. Creams chief executive Adam Mani said: “Even with the impact of covid-19, the brand has experienced exceptional sales and growth. Product innovation, improved supply chain, and of course, the hard work and passion of our internal team and franchisees means we are well-placed to continue with our plans to reach 100 stores in the next 12 months.”

Former Incipio and Hippo Inns managers join forces to launch outdoor street food dining space venture: Frazer Timmerman, who oversaw the food and drinks offering for Edition Capital-backed Incipio Group, has launched an outdoor street food dining space in west London. Timmerman has joined forces with Wil Fuller, previously area support manager at Hippo Inns, the joint venture between Ei Group and Geronimo Inns founder Rupert Clevely, to form Bird House London. Their first venture is The Hawk’s Nest – a 120-cover, socially distanced venue in Shepherd’s Bush. Housed in a converted railway arch and goods yard at Shepherd’s Bush Market, the duo have taken inspiration from their previous ventures to create the space that offers table service only. The menu focuses on Italian street food including arancini, calamari and sauces from Italian street food trader Sugo. A pizza oven takes centre stage in a converted shipping container, serving a menu of stone-baked sourdough pizzas. There is a cocktail bar offering a variety of summer spritzers, frozen cocktails and a seasonal wine list alongside craft beer from Camden Town Brewery. There is a weekly programme of live music alongside rotating seasonal artwork throughout the year with the first exhibition by Annie Rose Fiddian-Green. Timmerman said: “As locals to the area, we felt Shepherd’s Bush was really missing the kind of social space that is so popular across east and south London. We decided to take matters into our own hands to create the perfect outdoor spot for group bookings and celebrations in an overlooked corner of Shepherd’s Bush Market.”

Black and White Hospitality opens second Marco Pierre White site in Wales and 25th Steakhouse Bar & Grill: Black and White Hospitality, which owns the rights to restaurant brands belonging to Marco Pierre White, has opened a venue in Swansea for its second site in Wales. Marco Pierre White Steakhouse Bar & Grill has launched at waterside venue The J-Shed to replace Mediterranean-style restaurant La Parrilla, which closed in January. The 300-cover restaurant, which marks the 25th Steakhouse Bar & Grill to open, includes a newly configured bar and lounge, as well as an external drinking and dining area that wraps around the property. A private dining area is also be available with an exclusive external terrace. The move follows a deal in February between Black and White Hospitality and business partners Steve Lewis and David Bellis, who had acquired the lease of the property. Black and White Hospitality chairman and chief executive Nick Taplin said: “The Steakhouse fits perfectly with The J-Shed and will attract more people to enjoy food and drink on Swansea’s burgeoning waterside.” Bellis added: “We’re delighted to have someone of Marco’s calibre open one of his restaurants in Swansea. This is great news for the city and is fantastic news for the regeneration of the area.” Black and White Hospitality operates almost 50 restaurants under various Marco Pierre White brands.

Event and festival bar operator acquires first bricks and mortar site, two more in pipeline: Event and festival bar operator Field Vision Bars has acquired The Grocer at London City Island for its first bricks and mortar bar and restaurant. Field Vision Bars has created a new company, Vision Venues, which will focus on creating a bar and restaurant estate in London and the Home Counties. The site in Hope Street, Poplar, was acquired in an off-market deal through agent Fleurets. The acquisition is the first of three planned openings, with two more London sites in the pipeline due to open late 2020 and early 2021. Field Vision managing director Tom Curtis Powley said: “We are looking forward to taking this bar and restaurant in a new direction with a refurbishment planned for January 2021. We are also currently in the process of a fund-raise seeking investment for our next round of growth.” Tom Cormie, of Fleurets, who brokered the deal, added: “Field Vision has an agile and resilient business model that means it is perfectly placed to continue its growth strategy despite the current climate and are well capitalised to do so.”

Former Marc PR and marketing director launches debut site: Victoria Sheppard, former PR and marketing director at Marc, the restaurant businesses owned by Mayfair tycoon Marlon Abela, has launched her debut site. Sheppard has teamed up with sister Grace to open coffee shop and wine bar Queens in Queen Street, Mayfair. The sisters, who have extensive experience in the hospitality and design industries, were due to open Queens in March before the lock-down was imposed. Breakfast includes patisserie and homemade pancakes, while the lunch menu features salads, soup and sandwiches. There is also a grab-and-go section. In the evening, Queens, which has dine-in space for 30 covers, serves botanical cocktails, English wine and champagne alongside sharing platters and light bites such as cheese and charcuterie boards. Coffee is supplied by Difference Coffee, which mostly works with Michelin-starred restaurants and private members’ clubs. Victoria Sheppard said: “At Queens we see an opportunity to bring local Mayfair commuters something different from the chain cafes they would be used to frequenting. We have partnered with some of the top suppliers to bring customers premium homemade food at a competitive price point for the prestigious area. We want to be the middle ground between the pubs and five-star hotels in Mayfair for local workers to catch up on lost socialising.” The venue is taking part in the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme.

Quality Chop House co-owner collaborates with Ennismore for new restaurant and wine bar at The Hoxton in Holborn: William Lander, co-owner of Quality Chop House, Portland, and Clipstone, has collaborated with Ennismore for a new restaurant and wine bar at The Hoxton in Holborn, central London. Rondo will launch at the High Holburn hotel on Tuesday,1 September. Lander has helped oversee the concept and put together the wine list. Head chef Chris Gillard – previously at St John for 15 years – will serve a menu being put together with lesser-used ingredients, such as grey mullet cooked on the charcoal grill and served with tomato, fennel, and aioli; and Tamworth pork chop with bobby beans and chutney. A huge wine wall at the end of the restaurant is the centrepiece of the room, with bottles stacked high on wooden shelves, and taps that dispense Rondo’s house wine from kegs. Refillable bottles are available to buy the wine to take away. The main wine list is made up of about 40 varieties, divided into three sections – summer juice; continental wine bar; and food-friendly. Lander said: “We have tried to create exactly the type of restaurant we ourselves love going to. We aim to celebrate wine in all its manifest complexity rather than narrow in on one particular style or region. Our focus, therefore, is on the winemaker rather than the type of wine they happen to make.” Rondo is opening as part of a substantial redesign of the ground floor at The Hoxton, which includes a new coffee bar and pantry kitchen.

Domino’s Pizza to hire more than 20,000 workers in US: Domino's Pizza and its franchisees are to hire more than 20,000 people in the US. The move sees the company follow its peers including McDonald's, Chipotle and Dunkin Brands, which have added tens of thousands of workers in recent weeks. Domino's said both part and full-time positions would be available with roles including customer service representatives, managers, delivery drivers and pizza makers. Last month Domino’s Pizza reported global sales increased 5.7% in its second quarter ending 14 June 2020. Like-for-like sales were up 16.1% in the US because of changes in consumer behaviour during the pandemic as dine-in options closed and more people ordered takeaways. The international division saw like-for-like sales grow 1.3%.

Michelin-starred Andrew Pern opens Star in the Garden: Michelin-starred chef Andrew Pern has converted the paddock at his Star Inn in Harome into The Star in the Garden. He said: “As well as our decking, garden and terraces, we’ve made the paddock a ‘drinking field’. We’ve called it The Star in the Garden and we’ve got an outside bar with hand pumps – so all we need to do is add sunshine. It’ll be really nice and it’s about adapting. We’re talking about putting a rotisserie and a barbecue outside. We’ve got an alfresco dining area, and a menu that suits inside and out. But we’re not encouraging our tasting menus to start off with as it means too many visits to the table. We’ve lost a few home comforts with everything having to be stripped back, but from what I can work out, people just want to be able to have a drink, in a glass, in a sociable area, even with it being a metre apart. We’re very much part of the community here in Harome, we’ve been here 24 years, and people have supported us all the way along, so now it’s time to give something back. This year will be a write off financially but it’s not always about the bottom line. We want to feed and water our regulars, and then it will be a job well done.”

BrewDog to launch cross-channel campaign to support on-trade: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog is throwing its support behind the on-trade with the launch of a cross-channel campaign. The Free Beer on Us initiative, which is available on promotional four-packs of Punk IPA or Hazy Jane in the off-trade from next Monday (24 August), aims to drive footfall to the reopened on-trade and reignite consumer confidence in enjoying the pub safely, by offering shoppers the chance to redeem a free pint of BrewDog beer in participating venues. Shoppers can activate their reward by entering a unique code into a dedicated website, where they can see participating outlets near them. They will then receive an email, which can be taken to their local for their free pint. BrewDog UK sales director Dan Bolton said: “This campaign was conceived to support our beloved UK bars and pubs, encouraging consumers to get back to their favourite haunts. Our scale and strong category share in grocery and impulse perfectly places us to incentivise consumers back into our on-trade partners.” The promotion will be available on packs until Saturday, 31 October and redeemable until Saturday, 12 December. 

West African concept Chishuru to become permanent fixture at Brixton Village following competition pop-up: West African concept Chishuru, which was awarded a weekend pop-up spot at Brixton Village after winning the Brixton Kitchen competition in 2019, is to become a permanent fixture. Founder Adejoké Bakare will launch the venue, which offers food based around West African dishes, combining the best of British and African produce, on Thursday, 27 August. The menu will change based on the produce available – but dishes to begin with will include a grill section with whole snapper, benne chicken, mutton skewers and beef suya; and Goat Ayamase – slow-cooked goat shoulder with spiced green sauce. Bakare won the amateur section of the competition, which was launched by Brixton Village landlord Hondo Enterprises as established to nurture homegrown talent and offer entrepreneurs and novices a chance to see their ideas come to fruition. She told Hot Dinners: “Winning for me was a major step towards fulfilling my dream of introducing my vision of West African cuisine to the London food scene. The feedback Chishuru has received so far has been wonderful. I’m so glad to be able to bring pleasure with my food, and introduce the cuisine of our region to more people. I’m grateful to be given the opportunity to pursue this path, and very much looking forward to working with Brixton Village and the support of Hondo.”

Popular Bath restaurant closes as precaution after staff identify as close contacts: One of Bath's most popular restaurants has been forced to temporarily close as a precaution. Rooted Cafe & Supper Room currently has a five out-of-five rating on TripAdvisor, with customers describing it as “incredible” and a “local gem” with “delicious food”. The Newbridge Road restaurant shared the news on Saturday evening (15 August) on its Facebook page. Due to the number of staff members identified as close contacts of confirmed coronavirus cases, the owners of Rooted Cafe & Supper Room have made the decision to close on a temporary basis. The post confirmed none of its customers have been identified as close contacts who would need to self-isolate. The statement read: “We have been working closely with Public Health England, Bath and North East Somerset Council's public health team and public protection team, and NHS Test and Trace to undertake a full risk assessment. We want to reassure our customers the risk to the public is minimal because of all the precautions we put in place prior to reopening.”

L+R Hotels creates cluster team to operate London venues: Hotel investment and management company L+R Hotels has created a cluster team that will operate across The Trafalgar St James and Strand Palace hotels. Managing director Matthew Beard will oversee all commercial and operational activities at both hotels, while Ben Chapman joins the company as cluster commercial director with responsibility for all revenue, sales, marketing and reservations. Jamie Childs has been promoted to cluster director of marketing and communications, while Kelly O’Neill joins as cluster director of sales. Mara Jozing has been promoted to cluster revenue director, while David Abercrombie joins as cluster director of engineering and Sofiane Kaced takes on both chef brigades. The newly formed team joins Teresa Chacon and Alison Farrell, who have been in cluster roles at both properties since 2018. The Trafalgar St James is set to reopen on Monday, 7 September. 

Diageo to buy Ryan Reynolds’ gin through $610m Davos Brands deal: Drinks company Diageo has agreed to buy Aviation American Gin through the acquisition of Aviation Gin and Davos Brands for up to $610m. The acquisition cost includes an upfront payment of $335m and up to another $275m, contingent on performance of Aviation American Gin over a ten-year period. Aviation American Gin was majority owned by Davos Brands, though co-owner and actor Ryan Reynolds would retain an ongoing ownership interest in Aviation American Gin. Diageo said the acquisition would also give it other Davos brands, including Astral Tequila, Sombra Mezcal and TYKU Sake. “We are delighted to announce this transaction, which supports our participation in the super premium gin segment in the United States,” chief executive Ivan Menezes said. “The acquisition of Aviation American Gin and the Davos Brands portfolio is in line with our strategy to acquire high-growth brands with attractive margins that support premiumisation.” Meanwhile, Diageo has reported it has achieved or exceeded many of its targets covering water, resources and social impact. According to the company’s 2020 Sustainability And Responsibility Goals report, Diageo’s greenhouse gas emissions footprint this year is 50.1% lower than in 2007, when the business last updated its targets. Diageo said renewable energy had delivered a sizeable proportion of emissions reductions, responsible for almost two-thirds (65.5%) of its electricity consumption this year towards a target of 100% by 2030. Diageo’s report stated the company had achieved zero waste to landfill status and was replenishing 100% of water used in water-stressed areas. Diageo fell just short of its aim for 100% of its packaging being recyclable, with the figure currently 99.5%, while the company delivered a 46% improvement in water-use efficiency. Its target was 50%.

UK’s biggest beer shop reveals expansion plans: Beers of Europe, which is the biggest beer shop in the UK, has announced plans to expand. The company, based in Setchey, near King’s Lynn, is creating a taproom, bar and restaurant on the same site as Beers of Europe and The Warehouse Antiques and the Steiff Shop, which are owned by the same family. The venue, which received contribution funding from the European agricultural fund for rural development, will have the capacity to seat more than 150 customers. It will feature a range of drinks both local and international, as well as freshly cooked lunch and dinner menus using as much locally sourced produce as possible. The plan is to hosts events such as meet the brewer, themed beer festivals, tasting evenings and there will be a large beer garden. Director Jason Clark told the Lynn News: “We are excited about our new project and feel a taproom, bar and restaurant is all that is missing from the shopping experience at our site in Setchey.”

Meal kit company HelloFresh expands UK presence: Meal kit company HelloFresh has expanded its presence in the UK. The Berlin-headquartered company has taken on 230,384 square feet of logistics space at Goodman’s Nuneaton 230 development. The Nuneaton site will be HelloFresh’s second UK production facility. The location will receive produce and packaging from suppliers, assembling fresh ingredients in the meal kits and distributing them across the country. HelloFresh said the site’s connectivity, which places 55.9 million consumers within a four-hour drive, made the location ideal for national fresh food delivery. HelloFresh delivered more than 280 million meals in 2019, reaching more than four million customers in the last quarter. It is one of the largest players globally in the meal kit market, now operating in 13 countries across three continents. Nigel Dolan, development director at Goodmans, said: “We are proud to welcome HelloFresh to our Nuneaton 230 development. Its innovative business model leads the way in the healthy home cooking and subscription service revolution and we’re pleased to be able support the growth of its UK production and fulfilment network.”
 
Shorewood Leisure Group gets go-head to expand East Yorkshire holiday park to meet staycation demand: Holiday park operator Shorewood Leisure Group has been given the go-ahead to expand its site in Hornsea, East Yorkshire, as it looks to meet the demand for staycations. The scheme, which was submitted with support by Savills, will see 154 additional static pitches for caravan and lodge development, while a new residents’ club with bar will also be created along with a children’s play area. As part of the application approved by East Yorkshire Council, Savills presented the economic benefits equating to between £2,200 and £5,500 per day of visitor spend off site during peak months, depending on the level of occupancy. Shorewood Leisure Group managing director Neil Willson said: “With easing of lock-down restrictions at the beginning of July and ongoing implications with international travel from covid-19, we have experienced heightened demand from families who have either purchased a static caravan, a decision to holiday in the UK for the foreseeable future or hired a caravan to enjoy their 2020 holidays. The expansion at Hornsea Leisure Park will not only allow us to assist in meeting the anticipated increased demand to holiday in the UK.”

Nottingham-based hotel and restaurant secures CBILS funding: Nottingham-based hotel and restaurant Colwick Hall has secured funding from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme through Barclays. The property, which dates to the Domesday book in the 11th century, was bought in 2004 by Selva Muthalagappan, who developed the grade II*-listed Georgian mansion into a hotel and wedding venue. The hotel offers 16 bedrooms, Byron’s Brasserie restaurant and a banqueting facility, all housed on 60 acres of parkland. Muthalagappan said: “The ability to bolster working capital when we are faced with a very limited revenue stream has been a boon and will assist us greatly to take us through to better times.”

OrderPay appoints chief data officer: Pay at table app OrderPay has appointed Steve Callery as chief data officer, heading up the company’s new data and insights department. Callery brings a wealth of knowledge to the role with more than ten years’ experience in analytics. Prior to joining OrderPay he was solutions design and implementation director at Aimia, the company behind the Nectar loyalty programme that was purchased by Sainsbury’s in 2018. The appointment further strengthens the senior team that recently welcomed David Charlton as chief commercial officer from Zonal. Callery said: “Mobile order and payment solutions is an exciting space in hospitality and there is massive opportunity for the sector to harness the power of data.” OrderPay co-founder Richard Carter added: “For too long hospitality has lagged behind the retail sector in its approach to loyalty and membership programmes and how companies utilise and leverage customer data. At OrderPay, we’re continually looking for ways to provide greater value to the businesses within our network through unrivalled functionality. With Steve joining us we will be able to offer valuable insights and data that help operators make smarter decisions and deliver the best experience for their guests.” OrderPay was founded by former senior executives at McDonald’s, Accenture and Pret A Manger and is backed by a council of founding operators.

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