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Tue 13th Oct 2020 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Huge swathes of sector ‘face falling by wayside’ under new covid alert system: Huge swathes of the sector face “falling by the wayside” because they will have the “worst of both worlds” under the new covid alert system, sector trade bodies have warned. They said there is of a lack of support for hospitality businesses in tiers one and two, and called for a rethink of the 10pm curfew in areas where covid rates are low. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The impact of all of these restrictions is huge and we are quickly reaching the point of no return for many businesses. For those businesses in tier three areas – forced to close their doors again – things look bleak but the support announced last week for closed businesses will hopefully give them the breathing room they need to survive another lock-down. There is currently a concerning lack of support on offer for hospitality businesses in tier two, and to a lesser extent tier one, despite facing restrictions that is seeing trade down by between 40% to 60%. They will have the worst of both worlds, operating under significant restrictions without the financial support on offer to tier three businesses. Without enhanced grant support and enhanced government contributions to the Job Support Scheme, many are going to fall by the wayside. It is time for the government, at the very least, to rethink the mandatory 10pm curfew in those areas where covid rates are low. It was imposed without credible evidence that hospitality is the source of increases in transmission, while some evidence points the other way. To leave hospitality out to dry would be a grave and risky move, and would cost many people their jobs.” British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin added: “Singling out pubs for closure and further restrictions is simply the wrong decision and grossly unfair. It’s why we are calling for a proportionate response to the virus based on tangible transmission evidence. Local lock-downs that close pubs will devastate our sector and the communities it serves. And most pubs will struggle to sustain viable business under tier two with their trade being so heavily impacted. Thousands of local pubs and jobs will be lost for good.” British Institute of Innkeeping chief executive Steve Alton said: “For those who are not forced to close as they are not in high risk areas, restricted trading hours, empty high streets and consumer confidence at an all-time low means their once viable businesses are now on a cliff-edge as the furlough scheme ends for them this month. The Job Support Scheme will be of little use to employers, as they will need to contribute funds they do not have towards the cost of staff wages for hours not being worked. Our sector is uniquely affected by all three levels of measures and many successful operators will be forced to make their workforces redundant and shut for good. The long term cost of those redundancies will far outweigh the short term support that is needed for hospitality this winter.” Ian Fozard, chairman of the Society of Independent Brewers, added: “While pubs that are legally closed are being offered financial support this does not seem to apply to small breweries that will lose more than 80% of their sales.”
UKHospitality is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Industry News: 

Propel Multi Club digital live webinar looking at ‘navigating the new normal’ opens for bookings, two free places for operators: The next Propel Multi Club Conference will take place on Thursday, 5 November and will take the form of a day-long digital live webinar focusing on “navigating the new normal”. The event, which starts at 10am, is free for operators, who can claim two places by emailing anne.steele@propelinfo.com. Speakers include Stephen Owens, managing director of pubs and restaurants at Christie & Co, who will provide an overview of the effect of covid-19 on the pub, restaurant and hotel property market – and where it goes from here. Tim Shield, of John Gaunt & Partners, will talk about the opportunities and challenges that face the sector as it adapts to the covid era – and emerges from it. Andrew Ball, partner at hospitality specialist haysmacintyre, which has 140 clients in the sector, will provide insights on the key accountancy issues all operators need to be aware of generated by covid-19. Robert Cook, chief executive of TGI Friday’s, will talk to Propel insights editor Mark Wingett about how the business has navigated lock-down with a new management team and new ideas. Richard Hodgson, chief executive of YO!, will discuss how the company used the crisis to evolve into a fast casual operator. Simon Potts, chief executive of The Alchemist, will talk to Mark Wingett about navigating the crisis, opening new sites, listening to its teams and evolving its culture. BrewDog chief operating officer David McDowall will talk about how the company fought back against the crisis and lessons it learned from its international businesses. The NPD Group’s Dominic Allport will talk about the impact of covid-19 on consumer behaviour and trading, and looks forward to highlight the likely winners and losers from the market rebound over the next 12 to 18 months. Andy Hornby, chief executive of The Restaurant Group, will talk to Mark Wingett about how the Wagamama owner approached the crisis, the restructuring of the business and the lessons learned. There will also be two panel sessions. Mark Wingett will talk to Kevin Charity, founder of Coaching Inn Group; Andy Laurillard, founder of Giggling Squid; Peter Borg-Neal, founder of Oakman Inns; and Prue Freeman, founder of Daisy Green about how covid-19 changed their businesses, their leadership style and the sector for the better and the worse. Meanwhile, sector investor Luke Johnson, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls, Robin Rowland and London Union founder Jonathan Downey will talk to Mark Wingett about what comes next for the sector.
 
Sales down 12.8% versus last year but dry-led sites shine: Hospitality sales last week were down 12.8% compared with last year but sales in dry-led venues are up 16% on last year, according to S4labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality. However, sales at wet-led establishments are 40% down on last year. And data also showed London is still suffering more than the rest of the country. Both food and drink sales in dry-led sites are up compared with last year while the reverse is true at wet-led venues. S4labour claimed it is likely people are increasingly going out for a sit-down meal with drinks rather than heading out to a pub or bar for a drink, and noted roughly 10% of sites are still yet to open after lock-down measures were introduced, more of which are likely to be wet-led venues. Chief product officer Richard Hartley said: “Venues that are established as table service have an already adapted way of working, and greater consumer confidence, alongside much larger capacity with the given restrictions.”
S4labour is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Delivery disruptor for independent restaurants hits £100,000 fund-raise in six hours: Delivery disruptor Big Night has hit its fund-raising campaign target to offer a “higher-quality food and drink delivery service for independent businesses”. Co-founded by The Laughing Heart restaurateur Charlie Mellor, Big Night aims to offer a better delivery service in London for smaller operators than what is currently available while charging a fair surcharge for restaurants and fair wages for those delivering the orders. With a target of £100,000, the initiative that is on the Seedrs platform reached its target with 40 days left to run, with Clerkenwell Boy – food influencer and award-winning author – named as an adviser and early investor. Investors will currently receive equity in the business as a total stake of just under 9%, with the business valued at £1.1m. It currently has ten independent operators on board with a view to reach more than 4,000 customers within 12 weeks. On the reason for launching the delivery service, Mellor said: “During lock-down, we were working with one delivery service for two weeks and experienced more complaints in that time than in four years as a restaurant.” The ten restaurants on board already are: Two Lights, The Laughing Heart, Royale, Luca, Legare, Mangal 2, Levan, Sager + Wilde, Anglothai x Newcomer Wines and Supa Ya Ramen. The pitch on Seedrs added: “Our platform allows independent restaurants to showcase their menu online and facilitates the delivery of the items to their customers. For this, we charge a 5% to 6.5% commission from the restaurant and a £1 service charge on each order from the customer. The drivers are paid a minimum London Living Wage per hour and can earn more depending on demand.”

Confidence in going out leads to increase in sales at pubs and bars: A renewed confidence in pubs and bars has helped overall year-on-year spending rise by 2% in September, according to a report from Barclaycard. The report revealed a 9% boost in September spending at pubs and bars – the first increase since February – was helped by pub-goers admitting they are now less cautious about visiting the on-trade compared with August; 44% of people said in September they were worried about visiting pubs versus 50% in August. Despite restaurant spend declining 18.7% year-on-year for September, it was still a marked improvement on the 39.1% decrease seen in the previous month, indicating diners continued to take advantage of a range of extended discounts following the official Eat Out To Help Out initiative that ended in August. However, spending on takeaways and fast food saw the highest increase ever (25.8%) as eating at home remained a popular option. Barclaycard head of consumer products Raheel Ahmed said: “Consumers clearly made the most of the sunshine by socialising in September, with spending at pubs and bars seeing the first increase since before the national lock-down was introduced in March. There were also signs that many Brits squeezed in a last-minute summer holiday in the UK, as spending on accommodation stayed at similar levels seen in August.” Other notable figures included spending on essentials rising by 6.1%, bolstered by a 15.4% rise in supermarket expenditure, as a quarter of Brits admitted to stockpiling goods in case of shortages. Meanwhile, non-essential spending went up by 0.6%, with strong increases in home improvement and DIY (25.7%) and furniture (28%). Clothing spend saw a substantial improvement of 4.2% growth as shoppers invested in autumn/winter wardrobes and parents prepared their children for a return to school.

Peter Backman – covid may accelerate the process of regionality: Sector analyst Peter Backman has argued different covid-influenced restrictions across the country may accelerate the process of regionality in the hospitality sector. Writing off the back of the headline in the Financial Times on Thursday (8 October), which read “Johnson set to follow Sturgeon’s lead with curbs on pubs in north”, Backman said: “In this country, we are not very good at thinking regionally and we seem uneasy with the idea of giving economic and social power to regions. Historically, probably as a result of weaker central power and perhaps greater regional awareness, the UK was regionally segmented, much like the USA or Germany are today. But then, with the rise of factors such as better travel links, the divide began to blur. More recently, and specifically for the restaurant industry, this meant that the consumer was able to enjoy the same pizza from PizzaExpress whether in Brighton or Burnley. Without singling out PizzaExpress, the regional model seems to get the brand working in London and then drive it out to as many towns and cities across the land as possible. The London-centric view is not universally true of course. Loungers, to take just one example, is based in the West Country. But the result is the same whether you find yourself in the north of England or the south of England, or Wales, in Leicester or Northampton, Manchester or Newcastle, whether the locality is suffering from lock-down or whether it isn’t. The same brands seemingly appear in high streets, shopping malls, leisure parks, airports – wherever you find yourself. Or at least that was the defining process before covid. But the headline in the FT may portend a different process. One in which regionality plays the major part. In fact, regional brands were beginning to gain traction before covid – Mowgli in the north west for example, or Loungers. Just as covid has accelerated some trends – to home working for example, or delivery – so it may accelerate the process of regionality. That will cause chains that are intent on driving their brand’s growth through increasing their regional coverage, to have a rethink of their expansion model. But, overall, regional differences could be a good thing by providing greater choice, making each town and city unique once again, and allowing regional brands to exert greater power over their own growth.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with an entrepreneurial, growth-focused restaurant business that is keen to appoint a passionate managing director. Working alongside the founder, the managing director will be focused on planning and implementing strategy for the future, including sourcing new funding and doubling the operating size. The business has been built on the value of great food, served in a vibrant environment by people who love what they do. There is a tight-knit team and great customer awareness. This position would suit an individual with great restaurant experience and a genuine interest in the industry. It is essential the managing director has executive level experience, strong experience in scaling businesses – ideally small to mid or mid to large – and ideally experienced in sourcing funding and working with investors. Anyone interested can email Hollie@corecruitment.com with their CV or profile.
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 

Company News:

TRG launches bao virtual brand; appoints Farrer as head of change: The Restaurant Group (TRG), the Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s operator, has added a further virtual delivery brand to its portfolio called Bao Now, Propel has learned. The new pan-Asian concept, which offers “steamed buns and range of tasty fillings”, is understood to have been launched through its concession’s restaurant and bar site 1751 at the Hilton Hotel near More London. The new virtual brand is available through Deliveroo and UberEats. Speaking to Propel last week, TRG chief executive Andy Hornby said he believed there was more in the delivery and takeaway market for the company’s leisure division to go after, especially with Frankie & Benny’s, and that the sales mix for delivery and takeaway could grow to 20% during the next year. The company has developed and launched a number of new virtual delivery brands over the past 18 months, although it is thought not all will be revived. At the same time, TRG has appointed Rebecca Farrer, formerly of SSP and PizzaExpress, as its new head of change. Farrer stepped down as brand director at PizzaExpress in 2014 to join SSP as its new international head of brands. Farrer left the then Hony Capital-owned pizza chain after six years after holding the positions of head of brand activation, head of brand development and head of business innovation. Previous to joining PizzaExpress, she was head of consumer marketing at Alton Towers and a senior marketing manager at McDonald’s.
 
McDonald’s UK CEO – crisis has ‘taught us a lot about ourselves’: Paul Pomroy, McDonald’s UK chief executive, has said the coronavirus crisis has taught the business “a lot about ourselves and I learnt [about myself] as a leader”. According to Marketing Week, Pomroy described the pandemic and subsequent lock-downs as “quite refreshing” for the business after more than 50 consecutive quarters of growth in the UK. Speaking at the Festival of Marketing, Pomroy said: “It’s given us a new agility and emphasis to come back to where we were before. Everyone says to use a crisis to your advantage and we certainly are at the moment.” Speaking about how McDonald’s worked through lock-down, Pomroy said “we all thought closing would be the hardest decision but opening was the harder part”. In terms of planning marketing, he said: “We’ve been doing four-week chunks and now we need the confidence to look six-to-nine months in advance. That means leadership from me to give the confidence to the team that we will make mistakes and we will waste some money because no one knows if there will be a local lock-down.”
 
Turtle Bay opens earlier for breakfast offer: Turtle Bay, the Caribbean restaurant brand backed by Piper, has started opening up at 8.30am with a new breakfast offer, Propel understands. The 42-strong business is now opening its doors at 8.30am in 28 of its sites across the country. In these sites, the company is offering two-for-one on all breakfast and brunch dishes every day until 11am as part of its Bay Breakfast Club. In the remainder of its sites, the Bay Breakfast Club runs from 10am to 11am.
 
Qoot to focus expansion on outer areas of London as it uses delivery kitchens to ‘test the water’: Scot Turner, vice-president of operations at Qoot Restaurant Group, which operates a number of fast-growing brands in London, has told Propel it plans to concentrate expansion on the outer areas of the capital and is using dark kitchens to “test the water” in those locations. Qoot opened its second The Lebanese Bakery site in London, within department store Harrods, in September following a five-month delay due to the coronavirus outbreak, but has begun looking for further stand-alone sites for the concept. During lock-down, Qoot opened a number of delivery kitchens in the capital – including in Clapham and Crouch End – and Turner said not only had they helped “keep the cash flow” coming in, they were helping identify “unexpected” opportunities for the company. “The demand we are seeing has shown concepts such as The Lebanese Bakery can work in areas that we might not have perhaps thought of. As a result, we are exploring a number of opportunities in north and south London where we might open permanent locations. It’s a similar picture for our plant-based concept By Chloe. The Crouch End delivery site has been incredibly successful and we’re now looking to open a site in that area – and we would not have looked at that previously. It’s giving us a chance to learn about these communities. We still see growth in central London as a key strategy, but quite clearly coronavirus is having an impact on footfall in the heart of London, so we are adapting our focus, at least for now.” Turner said the changing footfall patterns meant the company’s plans to bring Kuwait chef Ahmed Al Bader’s hot sandwich concept 77 Josper Bar to the UK were on hold “for now”. He added: “When we look at the market it attracts, it is one that is built for central London rather than the suburbs.” Turner said, eventually, he would love to take some of the concepts outside the capital, but London remains the focus. “I’m a northern lad so it would be great to see and something that is in the pipeline,” he said. 

Neat Burger lines up Soho opening: Neat Burger, the Lewis Hamilton-backed, plant-based concept, plans to open a third restaurant site, in London’s Soho, Propel has learned. The company, which launched its debut site in Mayfair last year, is understood to have secured the former Herman Ze German site in Old Compton Street. Earlier this year, it opened its second site in Lock Place, Camden Market. It also operates Deliveroo Edition sites in Battersea and Whitechapel. Kit Alexander at Etch acted on the Soho deal.
 
Euro Garages to add to F&B mix with Cinnabon link-up: Euro Garages, the forecourt and roadside operator, is to add to its range of food and beverage operators with a link up with US brand Cinnabon. The company is set to open the first site under the new agreement at the Frontier Park development, off Whitebirk Roundabout, near Blackburn. Cinnabon previously operated a handful of sites in the UK, including one at the Trocadero in Piccadilly at the start of the previous decade, before retreating from the country. Euro Garages is also believed to be looking to add new franchise concept NKD Pizza to one of its north west-based sites over the coming months.
 
Former Wagamama head of innovation to launch Indonesian restaurant concept: Jasmin Ayling, former head of innovation at The Restaurant Group-owned Wagamama, has launched an Indonesian restaurant concept. Ayling is to open the debut site of Rendang + Rice at Buck Street Market in Camden after agreeing a deal with landlord LabTech. Rendang + Rice will have a takeaway focus and offer Indonesian family-favourite dishes such as the eponymous slow-cooked rendang curry with sustainably sourced beef, and an array of bao, both sweet and savoury. Half the menu is plant-based, and in line with Buck Street Market’s environmental credentials. Ayling said: “I have always dreamed of opening a restaurant and I wanted to capture a part of my family story with Rendang + Rice. All the food has been made fresh and from scratch. As a dedicated market for the eco-conscious, Buck Street matches our ethos of sustainability perfectly.” LabTech commercial director Maggie Milosavljevic added: “Rendang + Rice will add another layer of international flavour and authenticity to the already vibrant market.” LabTech acted on behalf of Buck Street Market while Rendang + Rice dealt direct.
 
Restaurant offering high-end food modelled around ‘greasy spoons’ to go from pop-up to permanent, more sites in pipeline: A restaurant and events business offering high-end food modelled around “greasy spoon” cafes is to go from pop-up to permanent, with more sites in the pipeline. Only Food and Courses, developed by Robbie Lorraine and Martyn Barrett, will open its first site in early November at Pop Brixton in a repurposed shipping container. It follows a series of pop-up events in Kent, where Lorraine and his team offered guests his take on food inspired by his childhood. Lorraine has worked at high-profile restaurants, venues and events ranging from Roux Fine Dining, The Shard, Royal Ascot and Chelsea Football Club. Barrett, who has extensive commercial and operations experience, has led and launched multiple businesses, ranging from major food halls at Selfridges & Co in London and Birmingham; high-end restaurants at London City Airport; as well as high-profile event catering operations at venues such as Goodwood. Barrett has also played a pivotal role in the rollout of hot chocolate shop Knoops. The 28-seater Pop Brixton site is the first of a number of units expected to open, with a London high-street site earmarked for summer 2021. Lorraine said: “I’ve always had a vision for something like this so I’m really excited to be bringing it to life now. Food brings back so many memories for people and I really enjoy tapping into some of these with some modern twists on things we used to eat.” 
 
JKS and Joy at Portobello offer new food delivery services: JKS Restaurants, led by Karam, Jyotin and Sunaina Sethi, and Flora and Pastaio restaurants – led by Steve Parle – located at Joy at Portobello, have launched home delivery services. JKS is offering finish-at-home dishes from its Gymkhana, Brigadiers and Trishna brands. Through its Ambassador General Store, customers can order food from each restaurant and finish cooking/garnishing at home. JKS said: “We offer a selection of ready-to-cook family feast experiences and finish-at-home signature dishes, with all products carefully considered so that each dish is simple enough for any level of home cook.” There is also the option to buy beverages such as collaboration beers, wines and cocktails. Gymkhana offers classic and contemporary Indian cuisine, using seasonal British ingredients with a strong focus on the tandoor and chatpatta sharing dishes. Brigadiers focuses on different methods of Indian barbecue, using tandoors, charcoal grills, rotisseries, wood ovens and classic Indian smokers. Trishna takes inspiration from India’s coastal flavours and cuisine from Mumbai down to Malabar. Joy at Portobello, which houses restaurants Flora and Pastaio, has meals and groceries available for home delivery too. From Flora, there will be whole cooked lobster, chilled and served with aioli, American plum pie, double-baked chocolate cake, jars of freshly made salsa verde to mention just a few items. While Pastaio can deliver its fresh pasta, alongside sauces like 8-hour beef and porcini bolognaise sauce.
 
American-style restaurant Electric Bar & Diner launches at The Ned: The Ned has opened American-style restaurant – Electric Bar & Diner – in the City of London. As the sister restaurant to Soho House & Co’s Electric Diner Portobello, it has a revamped menu that offers a mixture of diner and deli favourites, such as burgers and bagels to salads and cheesecake, with shakes and cocktails too. Diners can opt to eat at the counter or in one of the red leather booths, or just grab a coffee and a slice of pie to go from the dessert counter. The restaurant is one of eight places to eat at The Ned – a grade I-listed former Midland Bank building – and will replace the space once used by Zobler’s and by Cafe Sou. Serving breakfast, brunch, an all-day menu and desserts, customers can expect dishes such as the breakfast burrito, cheese omelette, guacamole, bacon (£11); lobster roll, spicy mayo, pickled cucumber (£16); flat-iron chicken, roast garlic, chicken jus (£16); electric reuben with corned beef, kraut, swiss cheese, rye (£14); vanilla waffles with salted caramel ice cream, hot chocolate sauce (£8); and Old Fashioned cocktail – Woodford Reserve bourbon, old fashioned syrup, orange (£12). 
 
India’s Azure Hospitality makes delayed UK debut with Fitzrovia restaurant and bar: India-based Azure Hospitality has made its delayed UK debut with an opening in London. Founders Rahul Khanna and Kabir Suri have launched restaurant Pali Hill and hidden cocktail bar Bandra Bhai in Mortimer Street, Fitzrovia. Inspired by India’s diverse culinary heritage, ground-floor restaurant Pali Hill offers a seasonal changing menu of regional sharing plates. The name comes from one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Mumbai. The open kitchen in the 60-cover restaurant features a large grill that will serve dishes such as razor clams with kokum juice and fresh coriander; and grilled middle white pork with sweet tamarind, crushed black pepper and fennel. Meanwhile, Bandra Bhai is an underground cocktail bar inspired by the illicit hangouts of India’s smuggling era. The name is a “playful tribute” to a ring of smugglers who dealt in illicit goods during India’s closed economy. The 40-cover bar is accessed via a “hidden” doorway in the venue’s basement and offers cocktails such as The Don, inspired by the Bollywood movie character’s love of whisky and spice, and the Jimmy Jimmy Jimmy, which honours the “king of Indian disco”. The venues were due to open in May, but this was pushed back as a result of the pandemic.

Crate Brewery and Silo partner to launch sustainability-driven market: London-based Crate Brewery and zero-waste restaurant Silo are partnering to launch a sustainability-driven market to support suppliers. The market, which will be based within Crate Brewery’s home at The White Building in Hackney Wick will open on Thursday, 22 October. Running from Thursday to Sunday, the market will showcase artisanal producers and pioneers selected for their approaches to sustainability within their sectors. The market will also act as a platform for the independent businesses and designers with which Crate and Silo have built close relationships. Crate director Jess Seaton said: “We’re pleased to be building on our vision for The White Building and give a platform for these producers and to showcase such sustainable and beautiful products.” Doug McMaster, chef-patron of Silo, added: “It’s been an extraordinary year and, as a restaurant, we cannot thank our suppliers enough for the support. We’re looking forward to growing and developing this aspect and feel this is an excellent opportunity to introduce these great businesses directly to our friends and customers.”

Bala Baya introduces early evening offer in response to 10pm curfew: Bala Baya, the Tel Aviv-inspired concept in London’s Southwark from former Ottolenghi chef Eran Tibi, has extended its discount scheme in response to the 10pm curfew. The offer will now include 50% off all food and soft drinks up to a value of £10 per person every day for early dinner bookings between 5pm and 6pm. Tibi said: “The 10pm curfew is quite devastating to the hospitality industry but I found the inspiration to adapt. We have decided to launch our #5isthenew7 discount to combat closing early. We're calling it #EatEarlyToHelpOut. We are going to need all the support to get through these tough days.”
 
Bairds reports number of plants stop production or running at greatly reduced capacity as coronavirus hits demand: Essex-headquartered malt company Bairds has said a number of its plants have had to either stop production or run at greatly reduced capacity as a result of the drop in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic. However, the business pointed out, at no stage, had it failed to meet its obligations to its customers or suppliers. It has also introduced split production shifts as part of safety measures to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus among staff. The company stated: “Volumes of deliveries greatly reduced from mid-March. The result of lower beer and whisky production as a result of covid-19 is indicating 2020 volumes will be more or less the same as 2019. The full extent of the impact on the business is not known at this time.” Bairds, which operates five production facilities in the UK, provided the update as it reported revenue rose to £135.1m for the year ending 30 September 2019, compared with £115.9m the previous year. UK and Ireland revenue was up to £119.6m, compared with £104.6m the year before, while sales to the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific markets were all up. Ebitda from continuing operations increased to £9.4m, compared with £6.8m the previous year. Pre-tax profit jumped to £10.3m from £86,000 the year before. The company has restated the 2018 comparatives as a result of a restructure during the period that saw the trading assets and liabilities of Saxon Agriculture sold to a fellow GrainCorp subsidiary and, therefore, presented as discontinued operations. Bairds stated: “The company experienced a drop in volume in the brewing sector as one national customer contract was lost due to price competition below what the company was prepared to offer. The company experienced an increase in the volume sold in the craft brewing sector due to increased production to meet demand.”
 
Club Mexicana launches DIY taco boxes and cocktail kits: Club Mexicana, the vegan restaurant concept that offers Mexican and Californian-inspired street food, has launched DIY taco boxes and cocktail kits. They are available to order online with delivery across the UK. The range will change monthly but initially features the Al Pastor Taco DIY kit, which feeds four people and consists of its homemade al pastor seitan, with Mexican chillies and Adobado sauce accompanied by corn tortillas, caramelised pineapple and salsa verde. Also available are loaded nachos alongside cocktails such as the Electric Margarita with tequila, orange liqueurs, and lemon and lime. Founder Meriel Armitage said: “We want to bring a sense of our signature Club Mexicana warmth into people’s homes.” Club Mexicana also operates a restaurant in London’s Soho. 

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