Story of the Day:
Quarter of Britain’s licensed premises yet to reopen since lock-down: Almost a quarter of Britain’s licensed premises were still to reopen at the end of August, with the London market particularly slow to recover, the latest edition of the Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners has revealed. It showed just over three quarters (76.3%) of sites have returned to trading since the sector was given permission to reopen in early July. This is an increase of more than 14 percentage points on the total of 61.7% sites trading at the end of July, but indicates almost 27,000 licensed premises remain shut. While many independently run premises returned during August, their trading numbers (68.2%) remain much lower than the group-managed side of the market (89.1%). Central London is still well below capacity with 71.2% of sites open, compared with other major cities such as Liverpool (81.5%), Manchester (79.9%) and Birmingham (79.6%). The Market Recovery Monitor showed the pace of recovery has varied significantly by sector. Pubs have been quicker to return after the end of lock-down than restaurants, with nine in ten food pubs (94%) and community pubs (89.4%) trading by the end of August. Casual dining restaurants have been slower to return, but the government’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme and VAT cut incentivised many to reopen over August, and more than four in five (83.8%) are now trading—up by 20 percentage points on July. Openings have been notably slower in other segments of the market. Two thirds (67.2%) of bars and just over half (54.8%) of licensed sports and social club venues are back open, with both particularly restricted by social distancing and other coronavirus-related precautions. “After the sector’s toughest ever spring and early summer, it is pleasing to see more than 15,500 venues reopened over August, but concerning that nearly one in four licensed premises are still shut,” said Karl Chessell, business unit director for food and retail at CGA. “The Eat Out To Help Out scheme and VAT cut had the desired effects of encouraging more operators to reopen and stimulate trade, and there was some pleasing progress for the casual dining restaurant sector. However, new restrictions on gatherings, slow London footfall and the risk of local lock-downs all give cause for caution as we move into the autumn. August showed us the sector can recover well with the backing of government and consumers, but it is clear that support needs to be sustained for some time to come.”
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Yumpingo is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Propel and Bums on Seats to host online live workshop and webinar to drive and deliver Christmas party bookings in a covid-19 world, open for bookings:
Propel and Bums on Seats are to host an innovative two-hour online workshop and webinar to help operators and venue managers to think “out of the box” to deliver a safe and successful Christmas. The “A mini miracle – Christmas out of the box” event will take place on Wednesday, 14 October, from 2pm to 4pm and is open for bookings. Amber Staynings, chief executive of Bums on Seats, will be delivering this fast-paced intuitive workshop and webinar that focuses specifically on driving and delivering Christmas party bookings for 2020 in a covid-19 world. She will examine the challenges of selling Christmas party bookings in a socially distant way and will work through strong, fast and effective alternatives for reaching existing and new customers to secure bookings. Staynings will look at delivering an exceptional guest experience for Christmas party bookings, maximising venue space and time available, and increasing customer satisfaction and spend per head – all while adhering to covid-secure guidance in hospitality. There will also be a live question and answer session. Staynings said: “Owners of restaurants, bars, pubs and hotels are in a fight for survival against stiff competition and changes in customer expectations and behaviours. The old ways of doing things no longer work. Businesses need to think – and act – differently.” Tickets are £99 plus VAT for Propel Premium members, £149 plus VAT for operators and £199 plus VAT for suppliers. To book, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Bums on Seats is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
BBPA fears business rates bill will be “last straw” for many pubs: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has said an £800m business rates bill could be “the last straw” for many UK pubs. The BBPA voiced concerns that should the pub sector-specific relief on business rates end as planned in March 2021, pubs will face the hefty £800m bill as they struggle to see off covid-19. The news comes as stage one of the government’s review into business rates closes this week. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Ending the business rates relief for pubs and handing them a bill of £800m – an average of £25,000 per rate paying pub – could be the last straw for thousands of pubs. Given that all these pubs made it through the lock-down – over 15 weeks without being able to open their doors – and have remained viable businesses despite social distancing and significantly lower footfall, it would be devastating for them to fall at the final hurdle in the post-lock-down recovery. It would mean much of the government’s vital support for the sector through lock-down would have been wasted. This is why we are asking the government to extend the relief and help protect our great British pubs and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they support. Investing in our pubs now will enable them to survive and thrive into 2021 and beyond, help lead the economic recovery and generate a larger tax revenue for the government in the future.” The BBPA has called for the government to extend its pub sector relief on business rates for at least another year. The trade body said extending the rate relief for pubs could save thousands of locals and provide worthy investment for the government, saving tens of thousands of jobs and securing future tax revenue from pubs in the longer term, as well as preserving thousands of pubs that are the heart of their communities across the UK.
UKHospitality plea to government to avoid ‘bloodbath’ over rent payments to landlords: UKHospitality has called on the government to act now on the rent crisis to avoid a “bloodbath” of closed businesses and thousands of jobs lost. The trade body has written to the chancellor of the exchequer and the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government to ask for help in three areas: to extend the rent moratoria until 31 March 2021; ensure county court judgments are prohibited for rent debt; and to work with landlord and tenant bodies on levers to encourage negotiations – eg, mandatory rent reviews where landlords are currently not negotiating. UKHospitality claimed there is estimated £760m owed in rent costs, which will rise to £1.06bn after the rents are due nationwide on 29 September. It also said many landlords intend to use the end of the moratoria to issue winding-up petitions to tenants, both large high-street chains and individual businesses. The government has so far shielded businesses from eviction and the worst aggressive enforcement activity by landlords during the past six months through the lease forfeiture and debt enforcement moratoria. However, these come to an end on 1 October. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The rent crisis, with the September quarterly rent day fast approaching, is the biggest threat to the recovery and future of hospitality. As things stand, later this month, many businesses will not be able to pay rent that is due. Landlords will be able to take back the keys and thousands of sites and the jobs they support will be lost. More time is needed to come to agreements. A moratorium that goes on until the end of March 2021 will allow businesses to trade through Christmas and new year. While the hospitality sector has suffered through this crisis, we appreciate the landlord community has too. We would be keen to work with Government to build on our constructive partnership to ensure any future moratorium is targeted at those most in need and, potentially, conditional so that it brings parties together.” UKHospitality argued a six-month extension of the moratorium will help businesses get back up to speed and retain staff while landlords will be forced to come to the table and find sustainable future agreements.
Jamie Rollo – M&B and Cineworld might need to raise more cash to reduce leverage: Morgan Stanley leisure analyst Jamie Rollo has argued Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) and Cineworld might need to raise more cash to reduce their leverage given the latest coronavirus situation. Rollo said: “In recent days, we have seen rising covid-19 cases in many countries, new social distancing measures introduced in the UK, and equity raises at various travel companies. For companies under our coverage, we have shown months of funding left based on current available liquidity and cash burn under a zero-revenue scenario. The companies that seem most at risk here are the travel companies, pubs (M&B at five months) and cinemas (Cineworld at nine months). The companies that have already raised equity (Compass, Whitbread, SSP, JD Wetherspoon), generally, have good liquidity and some were not burning cash even in lock-down so have no liquidity risk at all. We have also looked at proforma leverage, which we base on peak net debt over 2020-22e (factoring in cash burn/capex) and 2019 pre-covid Ebitda, to give a sense of indebtedness in a post-covid normalised world. This suggests the highest leverage is also at the travel, pub and cinema companies, all at three to seven times Ebitda, and all above their pre-covid leverage levels (and targets). This suggests even if these companies do not need more liquidity today, they might need to raise equity to reduce their leverage at some point in the future. We remain cautious on most of these names. Interestingly, the stocks with the highest leverage also have the weakest liquidity, when we would expect the reverse.”
Eat Out To Help Out may be to blame for covid-19 spike: Eat Out To Help Out could be to blame for a “rapid acceleration” of positive coronavirus cases, according to an Oxford University report. The government initiative that allowed 50% off food per person from Monday to Wednesday – up to a maximum of £10 – throughout August, saw more than 100 million meals eaten at UK hospitality sites. Oxford University public policy researcher Toby Phillips said in The Conversation: “The rapid acceleration in the proportion of detected positive cases at the start of September is consistent with cases where infections occurred in mid-August. Looking at the English regions, there is a loose correlation between uptake of the scheme and new cases in the last weeks of August. Again, this isn’t to say that the scheme caused those cases. But it certainly didn’t discourage those people from going out. In future, policymakers should heed the lessons from this experience. Rather than trying to encourage a big bang ‘back to normal’, governments should settle in for the long haul: encouraging and establishing patterns of behaviour that are safe and consistent with a pandemic. If the goal is to financially support businesses, many countries have simply continued to give them loans, debt relief or payroll subsidies. If the goal is to get people out and spending on high streets, policies should be designed to keep people spread out (for example, allowing people to spread consumption across the week, and including take-out). And if the goal is to boost confidence so that people return to normal, well maybe we just can’t do that yet.”
Job of the day:
COREcruitment is looking to support a business in its search for a dedicated office manager. The role is based in south London and will pay up to £30,000. This is an opportunity for someone to come in and set up the business from the ground up. This is a new venture for a local business company that is looking to acquire new property and redevelop it. The individual will help grow the business, set up processes, deal with logistics and liaise with the sales team. There will be the option to work from home initially, before moving to a permanent office and run things from there. The ideal individual will have proven experience as an office manager and executive assistant as well as strong knowledge of office procedures and health and safety. Anyone interested can send their CV to email@example.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Licensing solicitor John Gaunt & Partners has produced a useful monthly summary of licensing news relating to the covid 19 situation, this can be accessed here: LINK
John Gaunt & Partners is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Osmond’s Broadstone Acquisition Corp announces pricing of $300m IPO: Broadstone Acquisition Corp, the “blank check” company from serial sector investor Hugh Osmond, has announced the pricing of its initial public offering of 30,000,000 units (shares) at a price of $10.00 per unit. The units are listed on the New York Stock Exchange and trade under the ticker symbol BSN.U. The company began trading on Friday (11 September) and closed the day with a price of $9.86 per unit. Each unit consists of one class A ordinary share and one half of one redeemable warrant, with each whole warrant exercisable to purchase one class A ordinary share at a price of $11.50 per share. After the securities comprising the units begin separate trading, the class A ordinary shares and the warrants are expected to be listed on the NYSE under the symbols "BSN" and "BSN WS," respectively. The offering is expected to close on 15 September, 2020. The new company aims to find a combination target in the UK or other European markets that has been adversely affected by the covid-19 outbreak but is otherwise fundamentally healthy. It is led by chairman and director Osmond; chief executive and director Marc Jonas, who co-founded Wellington Pub Company and Punch Taverns; and chief financial officer and director Edward Hawkes. Filings in the US have also confirmed the three independent directors who will sit on the new vehicle’s board. They are Rory Cullinan, the former RBS Investment Banking chief; Philip Bassett, former partner and head of investor relations at private equity firm Permira; and Ian Cormack, who had a successful City career in leading international and UK roles at AIG, Citigroup and Citibank, where he spent over 30 years.
BrewDog agrees franchise deal with Bruton Capital for ten sites in Germany: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has agreed a deal with Bruton Capital to open ten franchise sites in Germany, Propel has learned. Over the next three years, Bruton Capital plans to open the bars in the metropolitan areas of Berlin and Frankfurt am Main. The first bar under the deal will open in early 2021 in Wiesbaden. Marcus Thieme, chief executive of BrewDog Germany, said: “Bruton has a strong background in real estate investment and has also expanded into food and beverage in recent years. We are very happy to have found such a professional partner to extend our network of BrewDog bars and bring more great beer and the full BrewDog experience to the people.” Jairaj Amin, founding partner at Bruton Capital, added: “BrewDog has a high quality product, a great brand and unique position in the market. We look forward to continuing our close relationship with BrewDog as it grows and develops its business in Germany. We see tremendous opportunities in the market place and are investing for the long term to develop exciting new BrewDog locations in Berlin, Frankfurt and Wiesbaden.” As part of this co-operation Bruton Capital will also acquire the BrewDog bar in Berlin Mitte. In the long term BrewDog is planning to recruit even more franchisees and to open 40 bars across Germany and Austria in the next few years.
Authentic Alehouses’ secured creditor updates portfolio valuation after receiving offers ‘below anticipated levels’: Crowdstacker, the secured creditor of Authentic Alehouses, is having the valuation of the portfolio updated as part of preparations to begin selling the pubs. It comes after interest and, in some cases, formal offers were made on a number of the seven pubs but at levels “below what was anticipated”. An email to investors, seen by Propel, stated: “Given the prevailing environment and a potential impact on the hospitality industry, we expect an impact on delivering the strategy. We, however, will share updated valuations and details of any acceptable offers in due course.” Three of the four previous operating pubs – The Albert Hotel in Hull, the Countess of Rosse in Shipley and The Ponty Tavern in Pontefract, were reopened over July. While initial trade remains below comparable levels last year, it is “slowly improving”. The Fountain Inn in Barnoldswick remains closed because it is in an area subject to a local lock-down and has been currently deemed high risk for staff to return. The situation is being reviewed on a weekly basis. A proposed sale of the one of the closed pubs, believed to be The Wakey Tavern in Wakefield, was in the final stages of completion but has “unfortunately been suspended”, the email said. The other two sites – the Crown Inn in Addingham and The Red Lion in Driffield – remain closed. Allan Harper-led Authentic Alehouses entered administration in March 2019 despite raising £6.4m in peer-to-peer loans via Crowdstacker. Simon Bonney and Michael Kiely, of Quantuma, were appointed joint administrators. Authentic Alehouses launched in July 2017 with a £5m crowdfunding campaign on Crowdstacker that was later doubled. Harper also led Burning Night Group, which went into administration in October 2019 after raising £7.5m on the same platform. Two months later, Burning Night Group was bought out of administration by a special purpose vehicle created by turnaround specialist Access Commercial Finance, which was a secured creditor of Burning Night Group.
Ole & Steen to complete reopenings, Nixon confirmed as permanent MD: Danish baker Ole & Steen will complete the reopening of its full 11-strong London estate on Tuesday, 15 September, with its sites at Nova, Victoria and Oxford Circus being the last to return. At the same time, it has confirmed Lee Nixon, formerly of Costa Coffee and Le Pain Quotidien, as its permanent managing director. Nixon’s confirmation as the company’s new managing director follows a successful period as interim managing director, following the departure of Simon Ward-Nicholson from the role earlier this summer. The reopening of its final two sites in the capital – it also operates a site in Oxford – follow what the company said was “a considered reopening programme, primarily focused on safety for both teams and customers, alike”. The bakery chain began its reopening programme with stores open for takeaway, click and collect and delivery, with a renewed focus on its partnerships with both Deliveroo and Karma – the food waste app. Regarding the reopening, Nixon said: “We began reopening our London bakeries in June with a meticulous focus on heightened safety measures to ensure both our customers and teams felt safe when visiting our stores. Our reopening has been overwhelmingly successful, with such a positive reaction from both returning and new customers. This has spurred us on to ramp up our reopenings and we are delighted to announce all of our stores in the capital will be back from this week. Next, we are focusing our attention on launching our new and improved app that will allow our customers to not only earn rewards but pay at their table, in order to beat the queue and enjoy a fully contactless transaction. We will also continue our growth plans in London, opening our new Notting Hill store in December. The new bakery is just two minutes’ walk from Notting Hill Gate tube station and will help us to grow our base of already-loyal west London fans. I’m also particularly excited about our Christmas offer this year as it will be our best yet. I think that after the year we’ve all had, our customers deserve something a bit special for Christmas.”
The Big Table Group launches new virtual delivery brand Stateside Diner: The Big Table Group (BTG), the Epiris-backed operator of the Bella Italia, Las Iguanas and Café Rouge, has launched a new virtual delivery brand called Stateside Diner, Propel has learned. Currently available out of a select number of the group’s Bella Italia sites through Deliveroo, Stateside Diner offers US-style fare of hot dogs, mac and cheese, and Ben & Jerry’s. The James Spragg-led business had been embracing the virtual delivery brand growth trend over past few years, with the likes of Bang Bang Burritos and Blazing Bird being launched out of Las Iguanas sites, and an exclusive development agreement with Deliveroo seeing the creation of the Chicken on the Green concept, which is available through its Café Rouge restaurants. Its investment in these virtual brands comes with each having their own dedicated websites. Propel revealed last week that Epiris could eventually pay £18m for the bulk of the former Casual Dining Group business.
McDonald’s introduces delivery to parked cars at 24 restaurants: McDonald’s has trialled a food delivery scheme to parked cars via its app. The initiative “Click. Park.” allows pre-ordered food to be delivered to a parked car outside 24 McDonald’s restaurants. Other measures introduced within the past month include increasing the number of menu items; the introduction of portable screens in its dining areas to offer safer ordering; additional protective screens near to the self-order kiosks to create ordering booths; removing chairs and free-standing furniture to increase the size of walkways; enabling front-of-house teams to support customers in making use of table service and the My McDonald’s app when visiting; and Apple Pay can now be used to purchase food.
Hop reopens first of its five sites, new tech to help customers: London-based Vietnamese street food concept Hop has revamped its ordering journey for the reopening of its first site. Customers will be able to order food via digital screens at the Broadgate, east London, site on Monday (14 September) or by using the website. Hop founder Paul Hopper said: “I’m really excited about Hop 2.0. Our customers want decent food, fast. This new tech will help speed up service and opens up the menu to customisation, easily swapping noodles for courgetti in the pho for a lighter lunch, for example. In these times, the option to order without human interaction using the kiosks or click and collect will really appeal.” In addition to the digital overhaul, Hop reopens with a greener vision including a zero-to-waste claim thanks to its partnership with sustainable waste management company ByWaters.
Staffordshire & Cheshire Leisure Group acquires fourth The Grill Co site, further outlets in pipeline: Staffordshire & Cheshire Leisure Group has acquired the fourth site for its The Grill Co concept – and is eyeing further expansion. The company has added The Davenport Arms in the village of Marton, in Cheshire, to its portfolio. The 110-cover site will undergo a small refurbishment, transforming it into a modern country pub and grill restaurant, ready to open in October. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the group plans to accelerate growth over the coming years with more openings in the pipeline. Managing director Leon Burton told Propel the company is opening one site annually at present but hopes to increase that to two or three a year, as he feels more suitable properties will be thrown up from other operators closing. He said: “We hope to expand further throughout Staffordshire and Cheshire before a nationwide rollout of The Grill Co concept. We are working with a number of commercial landlords to find suitable properties and are also remain on the lookout for further investment.” The Grill Co also operates the Staffordshire Grill in Brewood, The Milehouse in Newcastle-under-Lyme and the Cheshire Grill in Lach Dennis.
Vegetarian self-service operation Tibits shuts London sites permanently: Vegetarian self-service concept Tibits has announced the permanent closure of its two London restaurants. After a 12-year spell in the capital, the business – which operated on a buffet-style service, focusing on plant-based cuisine and zero waste – was forced to shutter during lock-down but could not reopen sites in Heddon Street and Bankside. Co-founder Reto Frei said: “Running a restaurant in London has become more and more difficult in the past three years with ever-increasing costs. It is with sadness that we will not be part of the London restaurant scene anymore. We thank our great team and loyal guests for their support in the past 12 years.” Staff were offered jobs in its Swiss and German outlets. A successor is being sought to take on the London premises.
Boparan to reopen Carluccio’s in Dublin: Boparan Restaurant Group will continue the gradual reopening of its Carluccio’s estate by welcoming customers back to its site in Dublin. The company, which paid £3.2m to acquire 30 Carluccio’s sites and buy the rights to the brand in May, will reopen the restaurant on Thursday, 24 September. The move will take the brand’s total number of reopened sites to 21.
TGI Friday’s continues free appetiser scheme: TGI Friday’s has extended its offer of free appetisers on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays until the end of September due to “huge demand”. TGI Friday’s, the Robert Cook-led brand, introduced the offer of a free appetiser when purchasing a main meal as an extension of the Eat Out To Help Out scheme. Diners can choose from any appetizer, including boneless hot wings tossed in Frank’s Red Hot sauce and sesame chicken strips tossed in a glaze made with Jack Daniel’s. Customers can redeem the offer by presenting it on the Friday’s rewards app before ordering.
Restaurateur to launch Maison François brasserie and wine bar at former Green’s site: Restaurateur François O’Neill will launch a brasserie and wine bar at the former site of Green’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar in St James’s, central London, on Monday (14 September). Originally scheduled to open in the spring, O’Neill will launch Maison François with head chef Matthew Ryle and Ed Wyand leading front of house – paying homage to the grand brasseries of Paris, Lyon and Alsace. O’Neill’s father, Hugh, launched Brasserie St Quentin in Knightsbridge in 1980 with his cousin Quentin Crewe, a former Evening Standard restaurant critic. François O’Neill took over the restaurant in 2008, turning it into Brompton Bar & Grill. Matthew Ryle, a finalist in MasterChef: The Professionals in 2018, will head the kitchen, which will open in Duke Street featuring an in-house bakery, dispensary bar and a menu of brasserie classics, hand-made pasta dishes, and fish and meat cooked over a wood-fired grill. There will also be a dessert trolley. Downstairs wine bar Frank’s will offer more than 250 bottles and a 16-cover private room. François said: “Maison François will be everything a brasserie should be – welcoming, fun and hospitable, with classic dishes made with the best seasonal produce we can get our hands on – while also ripping up the rulebook when it comes to service. We’ll show great respect for the legendary restaurants we admire, while marrying this heritage with our love for the dining culture of cities across France. Brasserie St Quentin is a hard act to follow, but I’m looking forward to putting my own stamp on the brasserie tradition.”
All-day Australian restaurant Milk Beach to relaunch next month after doubling in size: All-day Australian restaurant Milk Beach, in Queen’s Park, west London, will relaunch in early October after doubling in size. Founder Elliott Milne has taken over the neighbouring site formerly occupied by Hugo’s restaurant. Milk Beach, which opened in 2018, has renovated the combined space, which will have an enhanced evening service featuring a full dinner menu created by Australian head chef Darren Leadbeater, formerly of Wild Honey and Brunswick House. Dishes will include Cornish sprats with yoghurt tartare and Tasmanian pepper berries; and squid ink tagliatelle with crab and tomato fondue. There will be an updated all-day brunch menu, with house-roasted coffee. The refurbishment of the Lonsdale Road premises has created a new bar serving low-intervention wine, cocktails and beer on tap. As well as the larger interior, the operation will feature an enlarged outdoor seating area with heating for the colder months.
Latin American restaurant Cha Cha reopens in new London location: Latin American concept Cha Cha has relaunched at a new site. Cha Cha has moved from its Maida Vale location to set up home in the same building as vintage-inspired clothing label Sister Jane. The retail and restaurant collaboration Cha Cha x Sister Jane is a 3,000 square foot space in Notting Hill’s Golborne Road. Cha Cha is housed on the ground floor of Sister Jane Townhouse and offers an all-day brunch menu that features European cuisine with a Latin twist and, in the evening, customers can enjoy a new menu and cocktails. The Sister Jane retail space sits on the first floor. The food menu, developed by Anthony Garlando, formerly of Zuma and Pierre Gagnaire, includes acai bowls, sharing plates and main dishes from the Robata grill. Cha Cha co-founder Max Parfentieff said: “We’re thrilled that Sister Jane is part of our next Cha Cha chapter meaning our artistic nature and love of design can truly shine.”
Anatolian concept Rüya to reopen in Mayfair: Turkey-based Doğuş Restaurant Entertainment and Management, led by Umut Özkanca, will reopen its Anatolian concept Rüya in London’s Mayfair on Thursday (17 September). The venue in Upper Grosvenor Street will have a new pared back à la carte menu, an exclusive raki menu, signature cocktail list, and the launch of an Anatolian aperitivo hour. The new à la carte menu will include traditional, aged kasar cheese pide with slow cooked organic egg; and 24-hour slow cooked short rib in a Turkish chilli barbecue glaze. Rüya will also be running a discount scheme during September with 50% off all food and non-alcoholic drinks, up to £10 person, every Tuesday and Wednesday from 5.30pm until 9pm, and also on Thursday, 17 September, to mark the reopening. The à la carte menu will also be available for delivery from Tuesday (15 September) via Supper and through collection and takeaway via the Rüya website.