Story of the Day:
Trade bodies urge government to take drastic action as quarter of businesses fear failure in next three months without further support: Trade bodies UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) have urged the government to take drastic action as they unveiled findings showing almost a quarter (23%) of their members think their businesses will fail by the end of the year without further support. The findings, from a survey of members of all three trade associations conducted by CGA, revealed the high level of concern about the future of the pub and wider hospitality sector. This was before the latest restrictions for the sector were announced by prime minister Boris Johnson this week, including a 10pm curfew and table service only, which the trade bodies said would only make the situation worse. The survey also found one in eight hospitality staff have already been made redundant, and more sector jobs are expected to be permanently lost when the government’s furlough scheme comes to an end in October. On average, businesses believe their workforce will be 25% lower by February 2021 compared with February this year – a decline of 675,000 jobs. Only 7% of respondents said they were feeling optimistic about the prospects of the hospitality sector over the next 12 months, down from 23% in August and 19% in July. As a result the trade bodies have urged the government to immediately put in place a new sector-specific employment support package and to extend the VAT cut and business rates holiday through 2021 for the sector. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The future of the sector is still very much in the balance. Many venues have still have not reopened and those that have are operating at reduced capacity and a fraction of normal revenue. The additional restrictions announced this week place even further burdens on a sector that is operating with razor-thin margins and needs all the help it can get. It is vital that these restrictions are reviewed regularly.” BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin added: “Only by taking action can the government save our pubs, hospitality businesses and as many as 540,000 jobs. If the government doesn't act now it would be unforgiveable.” BII chief executive Steven Alton said: “Government support in our sector is an investment that will deliver strong returns economically, with skilled jobs and allowing our venues to continue to be at the centres of their communities across the UK.” Sunak has said he will update parliament on Thursday (24 September) on the government's plans to “continue protecting jobs through the winter”.
Deliveroo and restaurant partners demand additional support from government: Deliveroo and major restaurants partners have written to the chancellor to demand extra support following the imposition of further restrictions. Businesses chiefs from Itsu, KFC, Pizza Hut, Zia Lucia, The Athenian, Cocotte and Wingstop have signed the letter urging the chancellor to introduce a support package to ensure hospitality staff incomes remain stable; extend the VAT reduction on food for six months; and extending the business rates relief for a longer period. Deliveroo founder and chief executive Will Shu said: “The government has taken many welcome steps throughout the pandemic to support the restaurant sector. However, these new restrictions pose a great threat to the recovery of the sector in the months ahead. We urge the government to consider our proposals, which would provide much-needed relief to the industry.” A section of the letter reads: “Many restaurants are only just beginning to recover from the initial national lock-down and further long-term restrictions on their operations could have a catastrophic impact on their businesses, in turn, hurting high streets and local communities across the UK. Given the detrimental impact that the requirement to close at 10pm for dine-in and collections services (though not delivery) will have on many restaurants and their staff we believe it is important the government considers further financial measures to support the sector over the coming months.”
Sector businesses without a licence to serve alcohol will not need table service: McDonald’s, Pret and similar fast food and food-to-go operators without a licence to serve alcohol will not need to serve customers at tables, the government has confirmed. Customers buying food and drink from coffee shops and fast food outlets will still be able to order and be served at the counter. The clarification followed after foreign secretary Dominic Raab suggested on Wednesday (23 September) that all restaurants could need table service. Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on whether customers could queue for food and then sit down. Raab said: “In all of the restaurants and hospitality you can go in and order from the tables – what you can’t do without a mask is just sit around and mill around. My understanding is that you need to be able to order from the tables. But, of course, the guidance will be very clear.” A spokesman for No10 said: “The requirement for table service applies to licensed premises meaning that, in these venues, food and drink must be ordered and served at a table. Non-licensed outlets or many fast food outlets with eat-in areas will, therefore, not be required to provide table service. However, customers who choose to eat in will need to do so seated at a table.” Drive-thrus do not need to close after 10pm and can remain open for their usual hours. Takeaway outlets must shut at 10pm, but can continue to make home deliveries after 10pm. Licensed premises can be fined £1,000 if they fail to ensure the rules are followed, which rises to as much as £10,000 for repeat offenders.
Metcalfe lambasts PM over ‘criminal’ six-month work from home call as restrictions risk millions of jobs: Julian Metcalfe, the founder of Pret A Manger and healthy Asian food chain Itsu has lambasted prime minister Boris Johnson for “spouting Churchillian nonsense” and blasted him over his “criminal” six-month work from home call. It came as the sector warned the 10pm curfew posed a risk of calling last orders at many venues forever. And the City of London Corporation said the government needed to find a way to deal with coronavirus that “doesn't cripple the economy”. Metcalfe described Johnson's speech as a “man sitting down with his Union Jack talking utter nonsense”. Metcalfe slated Johnson's “exaggerated nonsense”, before adding he feared the plans would see millions of jobs lost. Metcalfe told BBC Radio 4: “Unless we get some clarity from the government we end up having to keep many, many – I dread to think how many – people will end up being made redundant, it's heartbreaking. It's hundreds and thousands of hospitality businesses. The knock-on effects are on the people who look after them, who service them, who bring them food, and clean them – it's hundreds of thousands, millions of jobs. What we need is the government, particularly our prime minister, this man sitting down with his Union Jack talking utter nonsense, that's where we need leadership. To turn to an entire nation and say stay at home for six months and to spout off some Churchillian nonsense about we'll make it through, it's terribly unhelpful to this country. This talk of six months is criminal, it should be we will review it, we are here to serve you as civil servants. We will review the information and the data each week, each hour, we will behave like responsible people.”
Food-to-go sector ‘will suffer from covid-19 effect for three years’: The food-to-go market will continue to be hit by covid-19 for three years and is set to decline by 43% this year, according to research by retail analysis company IGD. The sector is expected to be valued at £10.8bn in 2020 – a drop from £18.9bn in 2019. And despite a return of sorts in 2021 with high levels of year-on-year growth off a low base, 2022 will see the market reach only 88% (£16.7bn) of 2019 levels. IGD senior food-to-go analyst Nicola Knight said: “Unsurprisingly, since the UK went into lock-down, almost all food-to-go shopping trips experienced significant declines. Where previous forecasts saw the sector growing at twice the rate of grocery retail, 2020 has seen a rapid change in consumer behaviour and daily routines that could have long-term implications. Footfall in cities and transport hubs – on which many food-to-go businesses depend – has so far been slow to return. The shift to more homeworking, in particular, has had massive implications for food-to-go. Specialist operators with sites prevalent in affected locations are already adapting strategies to offset this long-term change in consumer behaviour. The return will be gradual and may be subject to reversal; trends may differ by geographic area subject to local lock-downs.” Although IGD predicts food-to-go specialists in city centres and transport hubs will be hit hardest in the medium to long term, it also examined other areas of the sector. It claimed coffee shops will also be affected but on a lesser scale because locations are more dispersed and have a strong local presence; quick service restaurants will be the most resilient due to their value options and have adapted well via drive-thrus and deliveries – and will grow their share by 4.6 percentage points between 2019 and 2022; and retailers will benefit from increased visits where food-to-go crosses over with other shopping missions with convenience stores, in particular, benefiting from their local presence. Knight added: “Changes in consumer behaviour throughout this period offer up opportunities but food-to-go businesses need to be quick to grab them. Picnic sets for outdoor socialising, lunch boxes for home workers and meals to be heated at home are all examples of rapid deployment of new ranges adapted to current consumer needs.
Welsh hospitality collective says rule against travel is ‘final nail’ for sector: The Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective (WIRC), which represents more than 300 businesses, has claimed a government message to stop non-essential travel will be “the final nail in the coffin” for hospitality venues in Wales. The group has urged first minister Mark Drakeford to clear up his statement that appears to prevent people travelling outside their home areas because “there is no way the industry can survive”, based on such a regulation. Since the announcement, the first minister has also banned sales of alcohol after 10pm across the country, which includes supermarkets and off-licences. WIRC said in a statement: “The first minister’s statement urging people to avoid non-essential travel will be the final nail in the coffin for many pubs, restaurants and cafes in Wales if it effectively tells the public not to visit hospitality venues outside of their immediate area – there is simply no way the industry can survive if that advice is widely followed. The first minister must clarify this was not his intention and draw attention to the fact that the vast majority of hospitality venues are safe to visit and should continue to be supported.” The group said barriers to viable trading are immense, citing a loss of turnover due to the two-metre rule, the rule of six and the 10pm curfew that will prevent the possibility of two sittings per evening at restaurants. It added: “Action has to be rapid and almost immediate. If time is needed to formulate the best ways to direct help in consultation with businesses and unions then there at least needs to be an indication that significant help is coming. Back in July, it was the case that businesses were making decisions on jobs, now they are making decisions on closure. For many, the only thing that will keep them going in the coming days and weeks is borrowing – they will not be able to do that without light at the end of the tunnel.”
10pm curfew will not help curb coronavirus, says almost half of survey respondents: A snap poll from hospitality research company KAM Media found 47% of the English public are unconvinced the government’s 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants – to come into force on Thursday (24 September) – will make a significant difference in preventing the spread of covid-19. Some 34% said it would help “somewhat”, while 24% claimed it would “significantly help” in preventing coronavirus. The data also revealed 14% would visit hospitality sites less frequently and 23% believed it will result in people congregating at private residences post-10pm. KAM Media managing director Katy Moses said: “We’ve seen less than 5% of confirmed covid cases originate in hospitality, proving the new government lock-down measures are simply not evidence-based. Our poll shows adults in England agree, with almost one-in-two seeing no value in introducing this curfew. There is no doubt the fear this is spreading will have a further negative effect on the economy. The UK hospitality industry is incredibly well regulated, with the vast majority of venues going well above and beyond what has been deemed necessary to protect the general public. No other industry has taken the same level of precautions to ensure their customers and staff are safe. Unfairly scapegoating the industry and creating a fear culture in this way when so much is at stake is unacceptable.” The online poll was nationally representative of 150 adults living in England carried out on Tuesday (22 September).
KAM Media is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Europe’s hotel industry reports best performance since February: Europe’s hotel industry has reported its best performance since February as the industry continues its recovery, according to the latest data from STR. The overall European market saw revpar drop 51.8% year-on-year to €44.69 (£41.07), while the average daily rate was down 13% to €101.14 (£92.95). Occupancy was down from 44.6% to 43%. The occupancy and revpar levels were up significantly from July but remained the lowest for any August on record in Europe.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking to speak to delivery performance managers to join a large fast food brand. The position will cover the UK and Ireland region and will offer a salary of £40,000 plus bonus and car. This fast food brand has an extremely strong footprint nationwide and has recently invested heavily in the digital capability and is in need of support in this area. As the delivery and performance manager, the individual will be responsible for growth plans and delivery channels, partnerships and operational excellence. They will take on the day-to-day management of all delivery partnerships as well as collaboratively working with teams in logistics, manufacturing, finance and demand planning. Anyone interested can email Sonny@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Ayerst joins Leon as managing director: Natural fast food brand Leon has appointed Nick Ayerst, formerly of The Restaurant Group (TRG), as its new managing director, Propel has learned. Ayerst stepped down as managing director of TRG Concessions earlier this year. He had been with TRG for almost 14 years, including the last seven as managing director of its successful Concessions arm. Ayerst will oversee the company’s managed and franchised operations in the UK and overseas. Shereen Ritchie continues as the UK managing director for Leon Restaurants. At the same time, Propel understands the company is set to trial order-at-table at a select site, as it continues to evolve its trading model. On Wednesday (23 September), the company announced the launch of 13 new grocery products, including six ready meals as part of its exclusive partnership with Sainsbury’s. Following the recent launch of its Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets, Brown Seeded Sourdough and Waffle Fries, the company has launched three product ranges that will span three new categories. This includes six new gluten-free ready meals, which are priced at £4 each. Leon chief commercial officer Charlotte Di Cello said: “With our first grocery anniversary around the corner, expanding our range will always be so important to us because we want our customers to experience the great-tasting products Leon has to offer in both our restaurants and in the comfort of their own home.”
Rosa’s Thai Café founders to relaunch Redemption business: Alex and Saiphin Moore, the founders of Rosa’s Thai Café, are to relaunch vegan restaurant and dry bar concept Redemption, after investing in the business, Propel has learned. Propel understands the Catherine Salway-founded business, which had grown to three sites in the capital, in Seven Dials, Notting Hill and Shoreditch, went into liquidation earlier this summer. Alex and Saiphin Moore, along with Rosa’s finance director Tom Kristensen, are now set to bring the business back to life by reopening the Seven Dials site next Wednesday (30 September). The trio have partnered with Salway to recreate a new version of the business. It will showcase a new menu with the help of new head chef Erich Riberio and a support team. This is the second business the Moores and Kristensen have rescued from liquidation via their company, Atomex, the first being the Peruvian restaurants Ceviche and Andina, which were acquired in November 2018. Atomex’s intention is to help founders fix broken businesses and turn them around. Propel understands the company is currently in talks on finding a new home in Shoreditch for Andina, after failing to come to an agreement with the landlord of the concept’s former site in Redchurch Street. Redemption will be run by Raquel De Oliveira, who is also managing director of Ceviche and Andina. Alex Moore said: “I am a big fan of the Redemption brand and its pioneering stance to promote all things vegan. With the right support, we hope we can help the new business survive the covid-19 nightmare in great shape so it can eventually expand again and, ultimately, fulfil its potential.”
Subway in rent dispute with landlords of UK franchisees: The army of franchisees that operate Subway’s 1,600 UK sites are paying their shop rents – the company just isn’t passing the money on, according to a group of its landlords. According to a report by Bloomberg, Subway Realty is “exploiting” the UK’s ban on evictions by holding the rent from franchisees during the coronavirus crisis in the knowledge it can’t be pursued, the landlords said. “Subway is fully aware no action can be taken against them because of the moratorium on commercial tenant evictions, even though the moratorium is intended to protect those tenants who really do need help and can’t pay their rent,” said Adam Coffer, chairman of the Property Owners Forum, a group set up during the pandemic that represents more than 100 independent landlords, including some who said they are owed rent by Subway. A Subway spokeswoman said: “Subway is paying landlords who have provided the necessary payment information. We continue to work to do the right thing for our franchisees and the broader UK economy. We are negotiating reasonable rent reductions for franchisees who are predominantly small business owners and have been significantly impacted by the economic downturn. These Subway franchisees represent exactly the type of business owners intended to be protected during this time.” In a letter sent to landlords in June that was seen by Bloomberg, Subway outlined changes to long-standing arrangements for rental payments that were previously handled directly by UK franchisees. Under the new system, Subway Realty, which holds leases on the company’s stores on behalf of franchisees, now collects payments from individual operators and passes them on to landlords. It also proposed an agreement with landlords they did not seek rent for the three months to 23 June and agree to monthly payments thereafter. However, some landlords said they have received no rent since March, even though they know their franchisee tenant paid it to the parent company.
Leelex unsecured creditors receive dividend of 4.1p in the pound: Unsecured creditors of London and Leeds bar operator Leelex, which went into administration in 2018, have received a dividend of 4.1p in the pound, a new report has revealed. Meanwhile, secured creditor HSBC, which was owed circa £1.2m, has suffered a shortfall of £905,621 having received an additional payout of £119,172. Joint administrators David Costley-Wood and Owen Jeffery, of KPMG, said in the report, which covered the period from 20 March to 11 September, preferential creditor claims of £7,445 were paid in full. Leelex operated Leeds venues Neon Cactus, Jake’s Bar and Cielo Blanco along with The Distillery in London. Prior to the administrators’ appointment, a sale of The Distillery to Good Harbour Trading was completed for £400,000. The report revealed a rent bond of £35,000 had been due to be paid in July. However, after Good Harbour Trading was forced to close the business due to coronavirus restrictions and in light of declining sales, a settlement of £22,500 was agreed. As previously reported, a separate sale of Neon Cactus, Jake’s Bar and Oporto was completed to Akito prior to the administration. Leelex went into administration in September 2018 after a “slowdown in the casual dining sector resulted in the company finding it increasingly difficult to service its current debt levels, leading to cash flow issues for the company as a whole”.
Ten Entertainment Group boss – 10pm curfew will only affect 10% of trade but further support needed to ‘level the playing field’: Ten Entertainment Group interim chief executive Graham Blackwell has told Propel the 10pm curfew will only affect about 10% of its trade but has called for further government support for the bowling sector to “level the playing field”. Speaking following Ten Entertainment Group's interim results, Blackwell said the business was in “good shape” and was “cash generative”. He said: “We were at 10% like-for-like growth before lock-down and I don’t see why we can’t eventually get back to that, although our hands are tied at the moment. About 90% of our trade comes before 10pm, but any restrictions are unhelpful. What we have tried to do as we are operating at 50% of capacity is move some of the trade from peak to off-peak and we have been pretty successful with that, which is part of the reason we’ve managed to return to 83% of previous levels. But we need further support. For example, as a bowling business we don’t benefit from the 15% VAT reduction so we would like to see the government extend that to us to level up the playing field.” Blackwell said it had been able to move some trade to off-peak by offering customers incentives. The company is continuing the 50% discount on food and non-alcoholic drinks between Monday and Wednesday at least until the end of September, while it has introduced 25% off on Fridays, which Blackwell said would be permanent. Bowling deals, including buy one, get one free are in place for October half term. Blackwell said none of its sites were loss-making, while landlords had been very supportive, which had allowed the company to re-gear some of its leases and also defer some rents. The rollout of its new food menu was completed to coincide with the Eat Out To Help Out scheme and Blackwell said the company would look to enhance the offer further. He added: “With the rise in staycations, more people are going bowling and the key thing, right now, is to show they can do that in a safe environment with us.”
Haute Dolci to make London debut with Wembley Park site: Premium dessert concept Haute Dolci is to make its London debut after securing a site at Wembley Park. The company has agreed a deal with developer Quintain to open a 3,350 square foot restaurant, including a mezzanine, at the new neighbourhood scheme, in Wembley Park Boulevard. Haute Dolci offers a range of desserts including Belgian waffles, American pancakes and French crepes. Founder Nizam Mohamed said: “I have spent the past 12 years perfecting the concept behind Haute Dolci and I am thrilled to be opening the doors to our first restaurant in London at Wembley Park. The entire premise at Haute Dolci is about creating special moments and an extraordinary and unforgettable experience for visitors. This aligns with the Wembley Park experience of memorable times and the culture of the landmark destination.” Quintain retail director Matt Slade added: “The new signing will boost the provision of the experience offer that is commonplace among our tenants, catering to ever-changing consumer behaviours. It will also benefit our retailers by creating yet another reason to visit the varied mixed-use destination.” Haute Dolci operates eight sites across the north of England and Midlands.
Giggling Squid to open Cambridge site next week for biggest restaurant to date: Giggling Squid, the Thai restaurant brand founded by Andy and Pranee Laurillard, will open its new site – and biggest to date – in Cambridge on Monday (28 September). The company will open the restaurant in Wheeler Street having secured the former Jamie’s Italian premises last year. The venue will have capacity for 150 people and is Giggling Squid’s 36th site. Andy Laurillard said: “In undoubtedly challenging times for the hospitality industry, we’re delighted we are in a position to open a new restaurant. The new location in Cambridge will be our biggest and reflects our determination to continue with our ambitious business expansion plans.” The Cambridge site will offer dine-in and takeaway, with delivery operations through partner Deliveroo launching later this year.
Bakery Twelve Triangles opens fifth site as food store: Edinburgh-based bakery Twelve Triangles has opened its fifth site but it will be a food store rather than a restaurant as planned. The Easter Road site offers a variety of baked goods, homemade takeaway dishes and fresh produce, as well as soft serve ice cream. Founders Rachel Morgan and Emily Cuddeford chose to open as food store after realising what customers wanted during and post-coronavirus. Cuddeford said: “Our Easter Road site was originally planned as a restaurant but times have changed and we’re delighted with our new food store. We’re still able to use the large kitchen and, with the expertise of our chefs, we’re placed at the heart of burgeoning food and drink scene in this part of the city. We’re able to explore new flavours, techniques and dishes while celebrating the local producers we treasure.” The store has an emphasis on produce for people to cook at home and prepared salads, sandwiches and pies, alongside sourdough, cakes and pastries. Shelves are lined with fresh meat, charcuterie, cheese, organic vegetables, honey, jam, pickles and ketchups. There is also a hatch onto the street. Chef Joe Howarth, who worked with Skye Gyngell at Somerset House’s Spring, is developing hot dishes including curries and made-from-scratch pasta and gnocchi. Baker Connor Stewart will be developing a range of pastries, cakes and cookies specifically for the site.
Seafood restaurant Catch to open fourth site after £200,000 investment: West Yorkshire-based seafood restaurant concept Catch has announced it will open its fourth site on Monday, 5 October. The building on Street lane, which used to be The Fisherman’s Lodge, has been given a £200,000 refurbishment. It joins three other restaurants in the chain, one of which was opened by Emmerdale star Charlotte Bellamy, who plays Laurel Thomas, at the start of September, in Headingley. Catch serves a wide range of seafood, including traditional fish and chips that will be cooked in vegetable oil rather than beef dripping after locals made the request. It will also operate as a takeaway and a bar has been incorporated into the site too. Catch managing director Sarah Stuttle said: “It’s a great achievement for us to have opened in Headingley and now Street Lane in what has been a very difficult year for the industry. The Fisherman’s Lodge has been a part of the local community for a long time, and we’re excited to welcome these loyal customers to Catch, as well as some new faces.”
Goodbody – SSP cash burn better than anticipated and good outcome on liquidity: Goodbody leisure analyst Paul Ruddy has said cash burn at UK transport hub foodservice company SSP was better than anticipated and has seen a good outcome on liquidity. Reflecting on the company’s pre-close update, Ruddy said: “Cash burn is better than we anticipated, guided to a range of £250m to £270m (we expected £290m cash burn with a smaller Ebit loss) and better than previous guidance, although it does mention rent deferrals. This means liquidity at the end of the current financial year will be £480m to £500m with current monthly cash burn of £25m per month. On current trading, weekly sales are now circa 76% below last year recovering from minus 90% in June and minus 95% in April and May. The UK also saw a small recovery in the air sector during the summer from leisure customers while the rail sector was very weak in the third quarter but is now seeing signs of a slow recovery. The group has now reopened circa 1,100 units, which is more than a third of its total. The reopenings are selected in locations that can achieve break-even level of sales at low levels of passenger numbers. Operating losses for FY20 are above our forecasts and at the higher end of the consensus range, however, this should not come as much of a surprise given the disruption to global travel that continued into the late summer. Liquidity is better than we anticipated and current cash burn is manageable, helped by government support. We will reduce forecasts for FY21 to reflect the slow rebuild of the travel market with sales only running at circa 75% of pre-covid levels.”
Caprice Holdings to reopen Balthazar next month: Balthazar London, the French brasserie in London’s Covent Garden owned by Caprice Holdings, will reopen on Thursday, 1 October. The Russell Street restaurant will be open daily, offering a diverse menu of fruits de mer from the raw bar alongside a selection of classics, including escargots with garlic, parsley and Pernod butter; and duck confit with braised lentils. Its weekend brunch will also make a return while a list of French wine and champagne as well as cocktails will sit alongside the food menus.
Jesse Elias opens solo venture Gordo’s Pizzeria: Jesse Elias, former general manager at Yard Sale, has launched a pizza parlour in Dalston, east London. Gordo’s opened in August with the idea of being a late-night space yet traditional with its fare, reports Hot Dinners. Pizza prices range between £6 and £14; with the most expensive being Calabrese – a pizza with spicy spianata salami, burrata, nduja and ricotta. There is a small wine list and one lager on the drinks menu. Gordo’s also offers a delivery service.