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Thu 20th Aug 2020 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Sector leaders call for Eat Out To Help Out scheme extension: UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls and Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, are among those calling for the government to extend the Eat Out To Help Out scheme for another month. Nicholls said in a tweet after speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC: “The benefit to consumers, the importance to businesses shows the need to continue it for another month to get the remaining 50% of restaurants and pubs reopen and successfully trading.” Lord said of the scheme: “Stopping this next week, combined with rents due and the phasing out of furlough will be a combination leading to closure for many restaurants across the UK.” More than 35 million means have been bought by people using the discount scheme in the first fortnight, figures from the Treasury revealed this week. Eat Out To Help Out offers people a discount of up to 50% on Mondays to Wednesdays during August when eating or drinking soft drinks in a participating restaurant, pub or cafe. A maximum of £10 discount per diner is available. Operators deduct the money off the bill and claim it back from the government. Nicholls told Ferrari of the scheme: “It’s been hugely important to the sector. Restaurants have been able to bring back staff off furlough and crucially it’s benefited trade through the whole week.” Nicholls said so far 48,000 claims had been made by businesses to the tune of about £180m. Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of brewer and retailer Greene King, has suggested the scheme could be extended in a targeted way for city centres. Greene King has almost 60 out of 95 pubs in the centre of London open and trade is 60% down in like-for-like terms. Even with the boost of Eat Out To Help Out, like-for-likes sales were 40% to 50% down. Mackenzie told Propel: “We need urgent action to get people back into city centres.” Mackenzie said Greene King would continue to keep its existing estate of central London pubs open but would eventually need to “take a view” if nothing changes.

Industry News:

Tastecard aims to disrupt delivery market as it moves into space: Diners card platform Tastecard is to launch a delivery service in an aggressive bid to take on giants Deliveroo, Just Eat and UberEats. The new service, which also includes collection, will begin on Monday, 21 September and will feature more than a 1,000 restaurants across six major UK cities – Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Newcastle – with expansion into 25 locations by 2021.Tastecard, which has operated within the dining industry for more than 15 years, said while the major players in delivery charge restaurants on average 30% commission for every order, Tastecard’s fee is a “significant” reduction at 5% to 7%. The service comes with a permanent discount on all orders – starting from 10% off – and the discount to customers can be increased as high as the participating restaurants desire. Tastecard will launch the offer exclusively to its 2.5 million-plus customers first, who are already signed up to the platform, a move that founder Matt Turner is calling “disrupting the disruptors”. He said: “I founded Tastecard in 2006 with two aims – to help restaurants drive profitability, by encouraging people to eat out more often, and to help diners by making eating out more affordable. Supporting restaurants, by encouraging diners, has never been more vital and we’re proud to throw our hat into the delivery ring. Our aim has not changed – we want to support the industry with lower fees and a service model made to reflect how restaurateurs want to do business, combined with a better value proposition for customers, to reward them for being the backbone of our hospitality industry. We hope our competitor set follow suit to offer customers better value.” Tastecard said it decided to make the move after a survey of its independent restaurants highlighted the most prominent challenges associated with partnering with third-party delivery companies were expensive commission fees (86%) and high upfront costs (30%).

UKHospitality survey shows 20% of members planning to keep some sites shut: One-in-five hospitality bosses are not planning to reopen some of the sites they had to shut for the covid-19 lock-down, a new survey has shown. UKHospitality questioned the leaders of 140 of its members that collectively run 12,000 venues – including pubs, restaurants and hotels – about current trading and plans. Of the respondents, 20% said they are planning to keep a proportion of their venues permanently closed. Some 43% are either fairly or very pessimistic about the future prospects of their business over the next 12 months, while only 4% are very optimistic. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “It is increasingly clear the crisis is far from over for London’s hospitality businesses and the city will be affected more deeply and for longer than other parts of the country. These figures show the urgent need for an action plan by the mayor of London and government that delivers support and clear, strong messaging that London is open.”
UKHospitality is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Covid-19 creates £5.7bn financial black hole in London: The coronavirus pandemic has left the Greater London area with an estimated £5.7bn black hole in its public finances – after the lock-down and work from home economy sapped £575m a day from the capital's economy in a £66.9bn hammer blow. Now taxpayers face having to pick up the bill for the lost revenue in fares, business rates and council taxes to keep the city running as millions of office employees shun their commute and continue to work from home. Public transport use in the capital remains 36% below normal levels, while road traffic is only just approaching normal levels and experts said it could take up to a year for the capital – which contributes 23% of Britain's GDP – to recover. Lost fare revenue will leave Transport for London needing an estimated £3.5bn for the year despite a £1.6bn government bailout in May and mayor Sadiq Khan's decision to increase the congestion charge by £4.50 to £15 a day. Tube and bus fare revenues were down 90% at the height of the lock-down. London councils have lost out on £1.4bn thanks to lost income from council tax, business rates and charges for council services while each borough's spending on services during lock-down has gone up. 

Consumers set to continue their dining out habits after Eat Out To Help Out ends: Three out of five consumers intend to dine out as much as they are now, or more, in the upcoming months, according to research by guest experience management expert HGEM. The results of the survey showed Generation Z are most swayed by the Eat Out To Help Out discount, with half the respondents intending to eat out less after the scheme ends. People aged 26 to 55 all share a similar sentiment, with 55% intending to eat out as much as now, or more. However, that percentage increases to 73% in the 56 to 65, and to 81% in the 66-plus age groups. Views did not differ significantly between men and women. HGEM managing director Steven Pike said: “The results of the survey hopefully alleviate some of the worries many hospitality operators have. There will be a dip in footfall in the upcoming months, but we can see Eat Out To Help Out has made a positive and lasting difference in consumer confidence. The age profiles may signal to marketers where the greatest opportunities lie for conversion.”

Hospitality sector recovering well with consistent week-on-week growth: The hospitality sector is recovering well since lock-down was lifted with consistent week-on-week growth, according to the latest Barclaycard Payments’ quarterly SME Barometer. Overall, the average daily transaction value has risen by 60% compared with the second quarter. However, transactions for the first half of the third quarter remain 13% behind the same point last year. The data also showed SMEs have exceeded their revenue predictions for the second quarter. At the start of April, SMEs predicted a 28% decline for the quarter, but now those figures are in the books, the research revealed the average reported loss of 14% was less severe than predicted. Stronger-than-expected second-quarter performance has led to a boost in optimism, with index scores jumping from 79 out of a possible 200 points at the start of the second quarter, to 95 points at the start of the third quarter. This is also reflected in business outlook – 36% of SMEs report a positive outlook for their own business this quarter, up from 21% in the second quarter. The percentage of SMEs reporting coronavirus negatively impacted their business has dropped this quarter, falling from 82% in the second quarter to 74% this quarter. While the pandemic continues to cause disruptions, with 60% of SMEs expecting it to have a significant impact until at least the end of September, the future looks more positive – that number drops to just 13% by this time next year. Barclays Payments chief executive Rob Cameron said: “SMEs are once again proving their resilience and securing their role at the heart of the UK economy, especially in the face of the challenges posed by coronavirus. Despite uncertainty and business disruption, SMEs are outperforming their own revenue expectations and beginning to look to the future by returning to work and thinking about investment.”

Events sector sees 126,000 jobs gone and £2.4m lost per venue: The coronavirus pandemic has led to 126,000 job losses in the business meeting and events sector with venues losing on average £2.4m, according to new research. The findings by the Meetings Industry Association’s (MIA) revealed a third (34%) of venues are reporting values between £1m and £5m for lost business. Scaling the survey’s findings to reflect the 700,000 employed within the industry, the trade association estimated there has been 126,000 total job losses to date, with catering, front-of-house and events/account managers being the roles most severely affected. Almost half (47%) of venues have had to reduce, or request more flexible terms with their suppliers, while 7% are having to already source new ones because their regular pre-covid-19 suppliers are no longer in operation. MIA chief executive Jane Longhurst said: “Despite events now being permitted for up to 30 people in covid-secure venues, the industry is yet to see the green shoots of recovery.” Both short and long-term business enquiries continue to remain well below pre-covid levels. A decline in consumer confidence has seen a decrease in third-quarter enquiries for 97% of venues compared with the previous year. On average, enquiries have decreased by 78%, with 94% of venues also seeing a similar decline for the fourth quarter, averaging a 75% decrease. While business meetings of up to 30 are permitted, the majority of venues currently remain closed. Most are planning to reopen either late in the third quarter or fourth quarter – with just 15% opting to wait until 2021.Longhurst said. “To ensure the sector is able to survive and facilitate the £165bn of trade that takes place through business events, we need further support. Without an extension or a bespoke furlough scheme carrying through into 2021, job losses will continue. The government therefore has a simple choice, to save jobs by offering an extension, or fund those individuals through benefits.”

UK footfall remains static: UK footfall has continued to remain static, according to the latest data from Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social. The figures look at footfall in UK regions compared with a pre-lock-down average base week in February. The stand-out figures during the past week include London villages seeing a drop off, but Wireless Social said this was likely down to residents heading away on holidays – whether it’s a staycation or abroad. The Canary Wharf, City and West End areas have remained pretty stationary while people are still avoiding central London. Wireless Social said the static recovery figures are then replicated across most of the UK, apart from a couple of areas. Cardiff and Edinburgh have seen a slight recovery in their footfall but Leeds and Birmingham saw dips. Footfall in Manchester has remained stable in the past three weeks despite local lock-down restrictions.
Wireless Social is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

CMA opens investigation into Marston’s and Carlsberg merger: The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has opened an investigation into a proposed £780m tie-up between Carlsberg and Marston’s. The CMA said it was considering whether the deal would create a relevant merger situation and damage competition. In May the two companies announced plans to combine their brewing businesses in a bid to cut costs. The joint venture will value Marston’s brewing division at up to £580m and Carlsberg’s at £200m. Marston’s will own 40% of the merged firm — Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company. Marston’s will receive £273m in case upon completion of the deal. The proposed deal has been met with some opposition, with the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) warning it was a “red flag” to British drinkers and pub goers. Chief executive Tom Stainer said: “CAMRA is pleased the CMA has listened to our calls and opened an initial investigation into the proposed Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company. We will now be asking the CMA to move to a full investigation, given our serious concerns about anti-competitive effects of the joint venture, including market foreclosure for small brewers, which will reduce choice for beer drinkers and pub-goers. This is why the CMA must make sure any merger does not stifle fair competition, access to market for brewers, and ensure decent consumer choice of beer in pubs up and down the country.”  The CMA’s intervention means the deal has been pushed back at least four weeks from its original expected completion date in September. The watchdog said interested parties had until Wednesday, 2 September to comment. 

Council to check Nottingham pubs and restaurants complying with covid guidelines: Pubs and restaurants in Nottingham are to be visited by city council officers to check they are complying with the government’s covid guidelines. Officials said evidence suggested although there was broad compliance, some businesses within the city and county have been failing to follow the measures. Officers will be visiting premises across the city from next week to check business are compliant with visits initially being targeted at licensed premises as well as businesses offering close contact services such as hairdressers. Checks will typically include looking at social distancing, adequacy of cleaning and disinfection, hand washing, risk mitigation measures such as the use of personal protective equipment, barriers and screens, as well as arrangements for recording customer contact details. Cllr Neghat Khan, portfolio holder for community protection, said: “We’re grateful that overwhelmingly our local businesses have risen to the challenge of reopening to the public in covid-secure ways. However, there are some that have not and in these cases we will of course make every effort to support and guide businesses on how to implement appropriate measures. However, if any business owners refuse to implement adequate control measures to ensure they are operating in a covid-secure way, legal action will be taken.”

Government-backed loan schemes support more than 1.23 million businesses: More than 1.23 million UK businesses have now been supported by lenders through government-backed coronavirus lending schemes, according to new figures. The data from HM Treasury showed more than 1.1 million small and micro businesses, including Yorkshire-based Jinnah Group, have accessed a loan through the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, worth a total in excess of £35bn. More than 60,400 businesses have been approved for Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) packages, worth £13.7bn, including Red Oak Taverns. A total of 516 larger businesses are also now backed by the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme, including Kent brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame. Stephen Pegge, managing director of commercial finance at UK Finance, said: "The UK's banking and finance industry remains committed to supporting the nation’s businesses through these challenging times.” The British Business Bank has this week announced lenders will have two months from the deadline of 30 September 2020 to process and approve applications under CBILS. 

South west tourism fund launches: A fund has been launched designed to support the tourism sector in Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay. The Growth Support Kick-start Grant Scheme offers grants of up to £3,000 for small businesses. It follows the recent government announcement of a £10m national investment to kick-start the tourism economy and a £20m national investment to support small firm's recovery from the impacts of covid-19. The Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership has been awarded a £771,164 share of this funding to help with the economic recovery in the region. Businesses will be able to make a single application for a grant of between £1,000 and £3,000 to fund the purchase of minor items that enable the business to adopt new and existing technology. Cllr Rufus Gilbert, Devon County Council cabinet member for economy and skills, said: “This is very welcome funding support for the tourism sector and other small and medium-sized businesses. It’s vital at this time businesses get the support they need to recover from the devastating impact the coronavirus has had on the economy. The scale of the downturn also means we will need government to continue to provide further support.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking for a sales executive, based in west London, to work for a luxury resort and spa business. This Monday to Friday position will include the responsibility of representing, promoting and actively selling the resort’s facilities to holidaymakers and business clientele. The five-star resort is based in Cyprus and has an excellent reputation. The ideal candidate will have a genuine passionate for hospitality, hotels and tourism and have extensive hospitality sales experience. The salary is up to £35,000 plus a great bonus. Interviews will begin during the coming weeks and anyone interested can email their CV to tyronschreuder@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Spanish Restaurant Group seeking further growth opportunities: Spanish Restaurant Group, the James Picton-led company behind the Tapas Revolution and La Tasca brands, is seeking further growth opportunities and is believed to be in advanced talks on a number of sites to enhance its regional growth plans. The 12-strong business, which was formed earlier this year, has now opened 50% of its restaurants. The company, which operates eight Tapas Revolution sites, alongside its joint-venture partnership with three La Tasca sites and La Viña in Manchester, will continue its roll out opening across the UK over the coming weeks, targeting to be fully operational during October. Propel understands the group was one of the bidders in the Byron sales process and ran the rule over the Blackhouse Grill business, which is currently in administration. Spanish Restaurant Group plans to build its site pipeline following an improved performance across the business since the arrival of Picton and his new executive team last summer. To help future-proof the group and to safeguard staff and the company’s economic viability, the business said it had undertaken an “innovative management restructure” at restaurant level, through the introduction of a new “managing partner” scheme. The initiative will see the new roles come into operation across the business; introduce cluster restaurant business accountability and responsibility for all front of house operations, plus shared success through a new profit related pay scheme. A management apprentice role has also been introduced, designed to encourage internal promotion and professional growth across the company, through a sustained six-month period of training covering all business areas. Picton said: “We’re in a great position to get our fleet of Spanish restaurants back in operation and have a team who are committed and eager to start welcoming guests through our doors again, with our initial performance ahead of expectation. It’s great during such times of uncertainty we’ve been able to identify areas of opportunity for our staff, offering a host of promotions across the company in the process, while also setting out plans to recognise and develop aspiring talent. With a strong plan now in place to see all sites reopen over the coming weeks, and a refreshed and refocused workforce, we’re ready, set and able to resume our Spanish revolution within the UK hospitality sector.”

Vapiano reopens UK restaurants as brand launches campaign to mark new era: Italian casual dining brand Vapiano UK has reopened three of its restaurants having been acquired out of administration last month. The sites in London’s Great Portland Street and Bankside have welcomed back customers alongside its Manchester outlet. The restaurant in Tower Bridge in the capital will reopen on Friday (21 August). Feedback since reopening is understood to have been “very positive” while the Eat Out To Help Out scheme is thought to have helped with traction. Globally, Vapiano is now open again with 150 restaurants in 28 countries following lock-down closures in various territories and has launched its “taste of coming home” campaign to mark the occasion. Mario C Bauer, co-shareholder and chief executive of the newly formed Vapiano Group, said: “We are excited to herald a new era of Vapiano with our campaign. Within the next eight weeks we will reopen another 20 Vapianos. This fresh start will allow us to demonstrate to our guests how we are bringing back the original Vapiano values – heartfelt hospitality, top-notch product quality and perfect front line cooking can finally once again be experienced live at many Vapianos all around the world.” Love & Food Restaurant Holdings was set up by a hand-picked group of European restaurateurs and hoteliers to take over the Vapiano business – Henry McGovern, co-founder and former long-time chief executive of the AmRest group of restaurants; Sinclair Beecham, co-founder of Pret A Manger; Vincent van der Valk, Dutch hotelier and exclusive Vapiano area developer for the Netherlands and Belgium; Gregor Gerlach, Vapiano co-founder and owner of the Seaside Hotel Group; and Bauer, who is a former board member of Vapiano and serial entrepreneur. Founded in Hamburg in 2002, Vapiano operated more than 230 restaurants around the globe at its peak, with both corporate stores and some partly owned by franchisees.

Hartley steps down as managing director of Urban Leisure Group: Adrian Hartley has stepped down as managing director of London-based bar and restaurant operator Urban Leisure Group (ULG), after almost five years in the role, to explore a new challenge. Hartley originally joined the nine-strong group as operations director in 2012 before being promoted to managing director in October 2015. He was previously at Kornicis Group, which operated the Jamies and Smollensky’s brands, and prior to that was at Chicago Rib Shack and Novus. ULG, which will be led by founder Hezi Yechiel, operates venues including Coin Laundry in Exmouth Market and The Alice House sites in Queen’s Park and West Hampstead.

Ellen Chew to make Birmingham debut: Singaporean restaurateur Ellen Chew is to make her Birmingham debut, Propel has learned. Chew has secured the former Herman Ze German site plus a unit next door at Grand Central to launch Mrs Chew’s Chinese Kitchen. The concept will serve “unpretentious” Chinese cuisine following time-honoured recipes using fresh ingredients. The restaurant will occupy 1,500 square foot and can accommodate 60 covers. Chew told Propel: “The first thing that drew us to Birmingham was the wonderful location that is Grand Central. The other thing was the lack of direct competition. The majority of our outlets are based in London where competition can be found in every nook and cranny, so for us, this is a fresh and welcoming change. We definitely see a tremendous potential in opening more sites in Birmingham. But first, our aim is to win the hearts and trust of the locals with the first Mrs Chew’s Chinese Kitchen and its honest approach to the Chinese cuisine that we’ve grown up with and have grown to love.” Propel understands the company is open to exploring options in other cities once it has established the brand in Birmingham. Chew has reopened all her outlets since lock-down, including Lotus Leaf, a kiosk in Westfield London; Shan Shui, a modern Shanghainese inspired restaurant in Bicester Village; and Rasa Sayang, a Singaporean/Malaysian restaurant based in Soho. The temporary pedestrianisation of Soho has helped “tremendously” with trade at Rasa Sayang, which has seen quite a sharp uptake in dine-in customers since its implementation. Chew is currently planning renovation works for another site in Buckingham Palace Road, Victoria, which will be home to its Singapulah restaurant that popped up at the end of last year in Soho. The restaurant’s menu is entirely Singaporean and is the first of its kind in the UK. Chew is also looking to produce her own ready-to-eat meal kits along with other frozen products, which is planned for roll out by the end of the year. Sammy Weinbaum, of CDG Leisure, acted on behalf of Chew on the Birmingham deal.

Brindisa Kitchens and Gaucho to extend discount scheme: Spanish restaurant group Brindisa Kitchens is to extend the 50% discount scheme into September as well as include Thursdays. The company revealed its plan in an email to customers. However to qualify for the discount they have to either quote “Comemos” when booking or show their email with the offer. Meanwhile, Gaucho, which is part of Rare Restaurants, is also extending the discount into September. The news was first revealed by Bloomberg chief food critic Richard Vines.

Robin Gill announces closure of The Dairy and Counter Culture: Chef entrepreneur Robin Gill has announced The Dairy in Clapham will not reopen – at least in its current guise. Gill, who launched the site in 2013, took to Instagram to announce the restaurant and its neighbouring bar Counter Culture were the latest victims of the coronavirus downturn. “We've taken a real hit over the past six months and we have to announce we will not be reopening either Counter Culture or The Dairy,” Gill said. “This has been one of the toughest decisions of our lives. The pandemic has hit us harder than we ever imagined it would.” However, he said the restaurant may still have a future. Gill added: “There was a certain energy that was there right from the get-go and I want to thank everyone who was involved. It's not gone, it's only sleeping for now. We'll be back.” Gill’s other restaurants which include Sorella, also in Clapham; Darby's in Vauxhall; and the newest opening Birch in Hertfordshire, are not affected.

Oakman Inns receives royal recognition for employee training programme: Oakman Inns has achieved the Princess Royal Training Award (PRTA) for its commitment to employee training. It is the second time the independent pub group, which employs more than 1,000 people to run its 28 pubs across southern England and the West Midlands, has been recognised for its training programme in the award's five-year history. The company will be presented with the award in November, where it will be one of 43 recipients from 39 organisations. The PRTA recognises employers with outstanding training and development programmes that have had a direct impact on business performance. Oakman Inns chief executive Dermot King said: “Since receiving the award in 2017 for our pioneering online learning and career development platform, the growth of our business has resulted in our employee numbers doubling. This required us to scale up our programme to meet the changing needs of both our business objectives and those of our team members. As a result, employee turnover has fallen by 16% while internally promoted chef numbers have increased by 34%.” Oakman Inns HR director Jill Scatchard, added: “Oakmanology 2020 provides the framework and tools to consistently deliver and measure the success of a wide variety of interactive learning courses in a safe and personalised environment. We have introduced mini modules such as the pizzaiolo mini module to support our pizza offer and together with the choice of multiple languages and help for dyslexic users, our increasingly diverse workforce can shape their careers at their own pace.”

Haven creates 500 jobs as demand surges: Holiday park company Haven, owned by Bourne Leisure, is creating 500 job opportunities across its accommodation teams in England, Scotland and Wales to support increased demand. Roles will be available at all 37 Haven parks from September on full and part-time contracts. Opportunities includes accommodation cleaners, coaches, support team members and cleaning operations managers. Chief people officer Sarah Dickins told Insider Media: “We hugely value our team and the part that they play and these roles will be significant in supporting our existing accommodation teams as we increase the capacity and welcome more guests on to our parks. The roles are in addition to our existing accommodation teams and are pertinent to our ongoing operational changes to help with increased demand and ensure guests feel safe and secure while on holiday with us during the pandemic.” It comes after Haven announced it would be extending its season until November for the first time in its history.

Travelodge tries to persuade landlords to stay: Travelodge has put forward a case for landlords to stick with its brand in a presentation. As the deadline for lease extensions approaches, the company claimed in the presentation that it was well placed to provide “the optimal route for landlords to participate in the growth of this sector”, reports Property Week. The presentation states: “Our class leading performance supported by our leading brand, strong systems, experienced team and new funding means we believe we are in the strongest position to deliver results for landlords.” If landlords agree to a lease extension, they forfeit the right to a landlord-only lease break that can be triggered before November. In the presentation, Travelodge warned of the cost implications and potential disruption a lease-break would cause landlords. It said: “It is unlikely an alternative operator could generate higher room rates and occupancy than Travelodge, especially with lower capex and marketing spend. Disruption will be significant, immediate and likely to cost far more than £1,000 per room.” Nick Leslau, whose firm Secure Income REIT owns 123 Travelodge hotels, has hired advisors to find buyers for his hotels.

Starbucks unveils reusable ‘circular cup’: Starbucks has unveiled a reusable “circular cup” in the UK made from six single-use paper mugs. The cup has been created by Cornish company Circular&Co, which specialises in recycled cups and travel mugs. Starbucks, which uses about six billion cups a year at its more than 30,000 locations, said the new cup contributes to a circular economy, where resources are kept in use for as long as possible rather than discarded to landfill. The company stated: “Starbucks has a longstanding commitment to environmental responsibility and has for decades embedded sustainability as a priority across all aspects of our business. The use of reusables is part of Starbucks ongoing commitment to reducing waste and becoming a resource positive company.” Starbucks introduced compostable and recyclable coffee cups in London earlier in the year in a bid to reduce waste by 50% over the next decade. The “circular cup” goes a step further by providing an official reusable product “that should last for years”. In January, the company laid out environmental targets for 2030 including halving landfill waste from stores and carbon emissions from its direct operations and supply chain. Starbucks is set to add more plant-based food and drinks to its menu, make its packaging reusable and invest in better waste-management, chief executive Kevin Johnson said. Earlier this month Starbucks began again accepting reusable cups in stores across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, after a temporary pause was put in place due to the covid-19 outbreak. Starbucks also rolled out straw-less lids in July to save 40 million plastic straws across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Multi-interactive leisure experience hits £500,000 fund-raise target for permanent site: A multi-interactive leisure experience operating as a pop-up has hit its £500,000 fund-raise target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to open a permanent venue. Cloud 9 encompasses the best of Gladiators, Ninja Warrior and Total Wipeout to create an “unbeatable inflatable experience”. It is set to open in an undisclosed location near London. Cloud 9 is offering 12.77% equity in return for investment, giving the business a pre-money valuation of £4.1m. So far 229 investors have pledged £511,354 and the campaign is “overfunding” with eight days remaining. The venue will feature a giant obstacle course; a sports arena for dodgeball, football and basketball; a Gladiator duel platform; interactive bungee run; a “last man standing” game; and Nerf shooting gallery. The venue will also feature licensed bars and cafes. Cloud 9 founders Andrew Fairnington and Megan Thomas said: “After an amazing response at our pop-up we’re excited our vision will become reality this winter when we open the first permanent Cloud 9 venue.” Cloud 9 launched in Watford in November 2017 as a pop-up in a school sports hall as a “great way to prove the concept” and a “stepping stone”. The founders said the pop-up was 45% full in its first year, 60% full in year two and 75% in the first five months of year three before lock-down. The founders said Cloud 9 had FY19 revenue of £229,000 and Ebitda of £10,700.

Lane 7 to open delayed Leicester ‘super site’ featuring F&B village in October: Lane7, the bowling alley, ping pong and karaoke concept, will open its “super site” in Leicester in October after building work was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company will launch its biggest site to date as part of a redevelopment of the former Leicester Central railway station, which features in the £47m Great Central Square regeneration scheme. The 30,000 square foot site, which was originally due to open earlier this year, will feature a double-height shipping container-style entertainment village featuring food and drink offerings as well as tenpin bowling, crazy golf, gaming tables and a beer hall. The make-up of the site will also allow some of the Midlands’ most popular street food trucks to take up temporary residencies within Lane7, reports Leicestershire Live. Last week, Propel revealed Lane 7 had lodged a licensing application for a site in Bristol. Lane7 operates six eponymous venues across the UK as well as its family-friendly Gutterball Alley site in North Shields.

Fuller’s announces return of Shakespeare in the Garden initiative: London-based pub and hotel operator Fuller’s has announced the return of its Shakespeare in the Garden initiative. Produced by theatre company Open Bar, this year’s production sees The Tempest taking centre stage in pub gardens across the Fuller’s estate. This is the ninth year Fuller’s customers have been able to enjoy alfresco productions, which this year will have a socially distanced twist. Customers can attend one of 21 performances of The Tempest across 14 Fuller’s pubs from 1-30 September by booking in advance. Open Bar co-founder and director, Nicky Diss, said: “Every year we try to bring accessible and fun Shakespeare shows to Fuller's pub gardens and, this year, we all need inspiring theatre more than ever.”

Kingston-based operator adds hotel to portfolio: Kingston-based operator Sun Hotel has further strengthened its portfolio in the Surrey town. The company, which runs a number of hospitality businesses in the area, has acquired Warren House from private owners in a deal brokered by agent Christie & Co. Situated on the Coombe Estate, Warren House comprises 46 en-suite bedrooms, nine conference suites, three lounge and dining areas. Alex Campbell, director in Christie & Co hotel’s team said: “The business has a number of revenue streams and following a very quick purchase we anticipate the new owner will invest significantly into Warren House as part of its plans to reinvigorate the business in the local and wider London market.”

Global interactive fitness platform to make West Midlands debut with Bullring launch: Global interactive fitness platform Peloton is to open its first West Midlands site, at the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham. The company will launch the 1,700 square foot experiential store on the upper level, close to Zara, after agreeing a deal with Bullring owner Hammerson. The showroom will provide consumers with the chance to experience the Peloton bike, with a personalised walk through. With thousands of live and on-demand classes, taught by a roster of elite instructors, Peloton delivers real-time motivation and curated playlists from the world’s best artists. In the UK, the brand’s immersive content is accessible through the Peloton bike and the Peloton app, which provides a full slate of fitness offerings. Bullring was identified as a key location for the brand outside of London and forms part of Peloton’s expansion plans in the UK.

Scottish hotel operator Crerar hosts NHS key workers for weekend of thanks: Scottish hotel operator Crerar hosted more than 380 NHS key workers and their families at its venues at the weekend to say thank you for all of their efforts during the covid-19 pandemic. The company dedicated all rooms across its portfolio of seven hotels in Nairn, Oban, Inverurie, Isle of Mull, Inveraray, Glencoe and Royal Deeside. This amounted to about 850 guests and 2,000 complimentary overnight stays. Each guest also received a personal note of thanks in their room from first minister Nicola Sturgeon. Crerar Hotels was founded in 2005 by Paddy Crerar. The collection included five luxury hotels and two inns. 

Elior UK secures contract with Scottish arts centre: Catering company Elior UK has secured a five-year contract with Scottish arts centre, An Lanntair. The contract will see Elior manage the catering and hospitality at the venue based in Stornoway. In a phased approach, An Lanntair will first reopen the ground floor with Elior providing refreshments and light bites on the forecourt via a catering pod. Phase two of the venue’s reopening is expected in mid-September when Elior will assume operation of the indoor cafe and bars. Elior UK managing director Kenny Finlayson said: “This attainment signifies our increased presence in the Highland area and continued growth within the leisure sector. We look forward to welcoming visitors with a memorable food and drink offer that will enhance their overall experience.” An Lanntair chief executive Elly Fletcher added: “We are looking forward to working together with Elior to create a wonderful culinary offer that complements and connects with our arts programme throughout the year.” 

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