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Fri 16th Oct 2020 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Pub company leaders demand financial support in tier two areas from government: Pub company leaders from Greene King, Fuller’s, Mitchells & Butlers, Stonegate and Young’s have penned an open letter to chancellor Rishi Sunak demanding a continuation of financial help for its operations in tier two regions. The businesses said pubs in the coronavirus tier two areas are facing closure because restrictions will impact them severely but they will not receive the help that tier three pubs will be offered. Extracts of the letter read: “Major cities across the UK are now being moved into tier two covid measures and the announcement that London is to join them imminently is a cause of grave concern to the pub sector. As chief exeutives of the UK’s largest pub companies, responsible for more than 9,500 pubs, restaurants and late-night bars and more than 105,000 jobs across the country, we are calling for urgent bespoke support for the industry.” The letter, which has been signed by Greene King’s Nick Mackenzie, Fuller’s Simon Emeny, Stonegate’s Simon Longbottom, Mitchells & Butlers’ Phil Urban and Young’s Patrick Dardis, added the pub companies accept the need to control coronavirus but the sector had invested millions of pounds to ensure it is the safest places for people to consume drinks and eat food. The letter continued: “We are now in a position where the government’s response to the pandemic is at risk of causing more harm to the sector than the pandemic itself. Since pubs and restaurants could reopen in the summer, we have been left reeling from low footfall. On average, our pubs and restaurants in London, which have reopened, are experiencing sales down by about 60%-plus year on year. Moving London into tier two further disincentivises customers to return. The perverse reality is that as a sector we are financially better off under tier three measures. While pubs are being closed in other European countries, the financial support made available to them is far greater than is available to pubs in the UK. For example, France is providing 100% wage subsidy until the end of the year and The Netherlands is currently providing 90% wage subsidy. As a minimum, we are asking that you extend the support made available to hospitality businesses under tier three to those under tier two immediately.”
 

Industry News:

Propel Friday Wrap video series continues with guest serial sector investor Hugh Osmond: Propel continues its new Friday Wrap video series on Friday (16 October) at 3pm. The new series, sponsored by leading payment app OrderPay, sees Mark Stretton, former sector journalist and now head of sector PR firm Fleet Street Communications, and Propel’s insights editor Mark Wingett discussing that week’s key issues facing the UK’s hospitality sector, with a leading sector operator or expert. This week, they are joined by serial sector investor Hugh Osmond, the co-founder of Punch and founder of Various Eateries, to discuss why he has chosen to float not one, but two businesses in the current climate; his thoughts on the future of the sector and consumer behaviour; and what strategy we need to follow to combat the impact of covid-19.
 
Mark Wingett to look at ownership change at Gourmet Burger Kitchen as part of latest Premium column: Propel insights editor Mark Wingett will look at the latest change in ownership at Gourmet Burger Kitchen and what’s next for those in “tier two” as part of this week’s Premium Opinion, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday (16 October) at 5pm. There will also be the latest sector rumblings from Premium Diary. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, discounts to attend Propel conferences and events, and regular columns from Mark Wingett. Subscribers also receive access to our database of multi-site companies, which has grown to 1,600 businesses. An annual premium subscription costs £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com 

Pub and restaurant groups suffer sales set-back in September: Britain’s managed pub, restaurant and bar groups saw sales fall back significantly in September after August’s Eat Out To Help Out campaign boost and the introduction of the 10pm curfew, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker. With 88% of group-owned sites reopened, up from 85% in August, total sales across the whole managed sector were nevertheless 20.3% down on the same month last year, compared with being down just 12.2% in August. Like-for-like sales in those businesses trading were 14.7% below September 2019, having been flat in August. Drink-led pubs suffered the most, with total sales down 22.7% and like-for-likes down 21.1% on September last year. Restaurant groups performed better, helped by the cut in VAT on food and delivery sales, with total sales down 19.6%, but like-for-likes just 6.7% below September 2019, helped by the fact that only 72% of group-owned restaurant sites were open and trading during the month. In contrast almost all (96%) of the country’s managed pubs, food-led and drink-led, had reopened. Delivery accounted for 10.4% of sales among restaurant groups in the Tracker cohort in September, up from 8.8% in August and the pre-lock-down level of 5.9% in February. Regionally, London still struggled during September. Total sales across managed pubs, bars and restaurants inside the M25 were down 32.1% on September last year, with collective like-for-like sales in those sites open down 24.2%. In contrast, outside the M25 the market saw like-for-like sales down 12.3% and total sales down 16.7%. Like restaurants, food-led pubs and pub restaurants did better than drink-driven businesses with collective like-for-likes down 10.9% on last September and total sales down 11.9%. For managed pub groups as a whole, total sales were down 17.7% and like-for-likes down 16.4%. Bar groups, which had 79% of their sites trading, had the worst of the month, with like-for-like sales down 37.1% and total sales down 42.7%. At the end of September, underlying annual like-for-like sales for the whole market were down 23.9% on the previous 12 months, with total sales down 35.3%.

Liverpool lock-down has left city’s hospitality industry ‘on its knees’: Steven Hesketh, vice-chairman of the Liverpool Hospitality Association (LHA), has told Propel placing the city at the highest tier of restrictions has left the industry there “on its knees”. He added businesses in the LHA, which has about 120 members, had reported more than £200,000 worth of cancelled hotel bookings in the past 48 hours. And he said many operators were now days away from deciding whether they would be better off shutting again – at least temporarily – rather than staying open. Pubs in the city have been ordered to close, although those that serve a “substantial meal” – as well as restaurants – can remain open. But Hesketh, who operates two hotels and a restaurant in Liverpool, said the restrictions on travel and other measures introduced were already hitting trade. He said: “It’s got to the point now where instead of looking at what central government can do to support us, it’s about what we can do for ourselves. People can’t go in and out of the city and that’s really affecting businesses. Even if the government was to change direction now, the damage has been done. It would take at least eight weeks to turn things around and, sadly for some businesses, time is running out. Liverpool is different to other cities such as Birmingham and Manchester because it is very heavily tourist and event-led. The whole ecosystem is built on hospitality, but the industry is on its knees and needs more support fast. The government has spent about £200bn since the crisis began and it probably needs to spend that again just to get us through until the start of next year in the hope that a miracle happens and we have an effective test-and-trace system and we are closer to a vaccine.” Hesketh, who also runs a hotel in Chester, said he believed a second national lock-down was inevitable, and argued a two-week “circuit breaker” might be the best course of action. He said: “At least during the full lock-down we had the furlough scheme and the other support in place. Now we’re caught between a rock and a hard place. Are we better off staying open on what could be 10% occupancy or closing? We are among those companies facing that decision in the circumstances. It’s just really tough. The only bright light has been how the sector – in and outside Liverpool – has pulled together and supported each other since April. We have done everything we physically can and I have no doubt hospitality venues are the safest place to be.”
 
BBPA claims tier two restrictions will ‘decimate pubs’: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has said the move to place London, Essex, York, Chesterfield, Barrow, Erewash and north east Derbyshire in tier two of coronavirus restriction measures will “decimate pubs”. The coronavirus three-tier scheme means stricter rules are imposed when an area is upgraded in terms of greater covid-19 prevalence. The trade association says a “proper package” of financial support for pubs, brewers and their supply chains in tier two areas is vital if they are to survive. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Tier two restrictions will decimate pubs, brewers and their supply chains in these regions unless a proper package of support is given to them. All pubs are already particularly struggling due to the current restrictions of the 10pm curfew, rule of six and low consumer confidence exacerbated by low footfall caused by a lack of tourists and commuters. These further restrictions will leave most pubs fighting for their very survival. Tier two measures mean pubs can remain open but households cannot mix inside them. This completely kills our pubs’ business model making many of them totally unviable yet under tier two restrictions they are not eligible for any additional financial support from the government unlike in tier three where additional support is provided. Without additional financial support, specifically access to financial grants and a job retention scheme closer to that in tier three, many pubs will be closing their doors for good. They must also clarify how long these restrictions will be in place and what criteria the decisions for moving in and out of the tiering system will be based on.” Night Time Industries Association chief executive Michael Kill added: “The restrictions on tourism and drop in footfall across the capital is being exacerbated by the operational challenges and restrictions that are making businesses unviable. Our sector is being systematically closed, and needs absolute clarity on the government's recent measures and a robust support package to survive the winter.” 

UKHospitality warns Scottish government £40m support fund is ‘nowhere near enough’: UKHospitality has warned the Scottish government the £40m it claimed to put aside to help the hospitality sector is not going to be nearly enough. The trade body has called on the devolved government to outline how t will provide further financial support as soon as possible. UKHospitality executive director for Scotland Willie Macleod said: “Financial support for hospitality businesses, which are either closed or operating under severe restrictions, and supply chain businesses is welcome. The reality is, however, that the £40m pot made available by the Scottish Government is not going to be nearly enough. It will be nowhere near enough to offset the massive hit businesses have taken. It will not keep businesses afloat and it will not keep enough jobs safe. Compulsory closures in the central belt and the trading restrictions elsewhere are biting hard. Consumer confidence is also low, which means revenue is down and cash flow reduced. Businesses need cash in order to survive and keep as many of their employees as possible in jobs. The Scottish government must go further. It needs to announce as soon as possible how it will use its share, understood to be £700m, of the £1.3bn allocated last Friday by the chancellor to the devolved governments. It must use a significant chunk of this to help the beleaguered hospitality sector and its employees. Many hospitality businesses including nightclubs, meeting spaces and conference venues are, as yet, unable to reopen and they need the support that has hitherto been denied them. There must also be a change in the way these restrictions are being rolled out. It is increasingly incumbent on government to provide adequate notice of restrictions being placed on businesses and, at the same time, provide full details of how these businesses will be supported.”
UKHospitality is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 
Welsh operators demand clarity on ‘circuit breaker’ proposal: The Welsh Independent Restaurant Collective (WIRC), which represents more than 300 businesses, has sent an urgent letter to Welsh government ministers asking for clarity on proposals to impose a “circuit breaker” shut-down of hospitality. The letter, which has been co-signed by Welsh brewer and retailer Brains, how such a move will have “very direct and profound impacts on thousands of Welsh businesses and jobs, and as such, urgent and immediate support is now essential to their survival”. The letter raises six areas for urgent consideration. It asks for clarification of the aims, objectives and length of a circuit break, and why it may apply to some sectors and not others. The WIRC has urged the government to announce further support for the sectors affected by a circuit break closure at the same time as the announcement is made. The group expressed concern the forthcoming third phase of the Economic Resilience Fund “does not address the immediate needs of survival, now”. The WIRC has also asked for clarity on whether hospitality will be able to trade at Christmas, because businesses need to make their orders, commit to stock and staff, and market their seasonal offers. The group said hospitality and tourism businesses have a crucial role to play in the post-covid economic recovery, but only if they are given support to survive now and has also asked the government to provide guidance to employers on what to communicate to their staff. Simon Wright, restaurateur and WIRC co-founder, said: “The first minister needs to be able to answer all of these questions when he makes an announcement, including how UK-wide job support measures will work in Wales. He must directly address businesses and their staff who are currently in a state of great anxiety and explain how they can get through this. That is his responsibility.”

Burnham – north west is ‘the canary in the coal mine’ for government’s coronavirus response: Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham has said the north west region is being “set up as the canaries in the coal mine” and vowed to fight moves to add the area into the highest tier three coronavirus category. There has been speculation Greater Manchester and Lancashire will soon join the Liverpool City Region in the most restrictive tier three band, where pubs and bars are forced to close for at least a month, reports The Business Desk. Measures that will be reviewed monthly for at least six months. While business leaders have called for financial support as local lock-downs kick in, Burnham said: “Government says there’s no money left, there’s no money to put on the table. But it will cost less to support people in this moment than it would to let people struggle. The government is not giving city regions like us and Liverpool City Region the necessary financial backing. That’s why we have unanimously opposed the government’s plans for tier three. They are flawed and unfair. They are willing to sacrifice jobs and businesses here, to try and save them elsewhere. Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region and Lancashire are being set up as canaries in the coal mine. All the way through this we have offered to work with the government but we hit a point where we just can’t see jobs of people put at risk, health put at risk and homes put at risk. This is an important moment. We can’t be treated as second-class citizens. Greater Manchester will stand firm.”

Leeds hospitality businesses join forces to support industry with five-point plan: Hospitality businesses in Leeds have joined forces to put together a five-point action plan to support the sector and help it survive and prosper. Developed in partnership between independent premises, national operators including Greene King, Stonegate, and Leeds City Council, the proposals include adherence to all current measures and more. The plan includes mandatory face coverings for all staff and customers when not seated at tables in line with the law. All customers have to sanitise hands on entry to premises or will be refused entry. Venues will also create a coronavirus NHS QR code and encourage visitors to use the NHS covid-19 app to check-in on arrival. All employees will have a covid health check before the start of each shift and customers eating or drinking inside will have their temperature checked before entering. Table service is mandatory at all premises. Businesses will also continue to lobby for “last orders” at 11pm or midnight, if current licence allows, with premises closing one hour later. They said this was essential to stop all customers leaving at the same time, relieving pressure on the transport network and avoiding crowding. It would also reduce the likelihood of house parties. Arc Inspirations chief executive Martin Wolstencroft said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the hospitality sector and Leeds City Council to help drive down the rate of infection and help the sector get back on its feet as fast we can.”

Qoot steps in to support Marcus Rashford’s bid for free school meals during holidays: Qoot Restaurant Group, which operates a number of fast-growing brands in London, has stepped in to support England footballer Marcus Rashford’s bid for free school meals during holidays. The government today blocked a proposal to make sure vulnerable children get free meals during the half term and Christmas holiday. The Manchester United striker, who succeeded in forcing the government to make a U-turn on the withdrawal of holiday food vouchers in June, launched a petition urging them to tackle child hunger with the extension, but Rashford failed to convince the government of his plan. Qoot, which owns brands By Chloe and The Lebanese Bakery, said it would step in and offer free school meals for qualifying school children. The group will offer a free main meal, side and drink before 1pm to school children on presentation of benefits document.
 
Hammerson collects 38% of UK rents for fourth quarter: Landlord Hammerson has collected 38% of UK rent for the fourth quarter. The company said it had collected 41% of rent for the quarter at group level, despite 94% of the firm’s flagship tenants permitted to trade by the relevant local government. It said the level of fourth-quarter collections was higher than at the same point following the June quarter date across all of the group’s territories, with the company collecting 33% of rent in Ireland and 51% in France. The company said: “Since the onset of the pandemic, Hammerson has recognised the need to support brands, particularly while destinations were closed. We have worked hard to reach agreements on rent during the closure period that are fair and reasonable. This has involved a combination of rent deferrals, moving to monthly payments and, in some cases, waivers, particularly for smaller and independent brands. With most destinations having fully reopened in June and July, despite the extension of the rent moratorium in the UK, Hammerson expects third quarter and fourth quarter rent collection rates to continue to improve, and for occupiers to pay the agreed rent for these periods, even if discussions regarding the second quarter are ongoing.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a wine and spirits supplier to recruit a senior spirits buyer, based in central London. Their key focus is to build and maintain strong relationships with customers, producers and partner brands. As senior spirits buyer they will responsible for defining, negotiating, purchasing and promoting the product range and the brand while working across all platforms – including retail shops, e-commerce and corporate accounts and direct to private clients. As well as having full responsibility for defining the spirits product offer and ensuring outstanding quality of range, they will negotiate commercial terms for purchasing and seek to identify new commercial opportunities. The ideal individual will have extensive buying experience as well as a diverse broader skill set including brand developing, promoting and content work. It is also essential they have proven industry experience and enthusiasm for the industry. Anyone interested can email Stuart@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 

Company News:

Douglas Jack – Marston’s ahead on trading and debt: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has said Marston’s is ahead on trading and debt reduction. Issuing a “Buy” note on the shares with a target price of 95p following the company’s year-end trading update, Jack said: “2020 sales, at £821m, are ahead of our forecast (£781m) and consensus (£787m). Pub sales were 34% below last year despite circa 30% fewer trading weeks, with not all sites reopening immediately on 4 July, implying resilient trading. Marston’s outperformance versus the sector was fairly consistent over this period. Marston’s wet-led managed pubs achieve cash breakeven at minus 60% like-for-like sales, with food-led at minus 40%. To this end, they should benefit from a circa £2m investment in heated and weather-proofed structures to increase outdoor capacity by circa 15,000 covers. Tenanted, leased and franchised pubs bring no cost when closed, thus, Marston’s should stay profitable as long as its pubs remain open. A total of 99% of the estate had been reopened prior to recent lock-downs. Marston’s has 21 pubs in Scotland – eight are closed and 13 are operating under restrictions. It has 18 pubs in the Liverpool region – four will temporarily close due to not serving meals (under the tier three restrictions). Of all Marston’s pubs, we believe circa 5% may not be able serve meals if tier three were applied to all the UK. Year-end net debt is £1,329m, beating our forecast (£1,412m) and consensus (£1,431m). It is down £70m on 2019, and down £50m since March, despite rent payments being kept up to date (paid monthly in arrears). However, £50m of duty and VAT have been deferred, implying underlying net debt still fell in 2020E, despite all the covid-related closures and trading restrictions. Despite covid-19, net debt should fall from £1.4bn to £1.1bn in two years. Presenting lower risks than non-regulated settings, the case for pubs staying open (beyond 10pm) is strong. Even under current restrictions, Marston’s is trading profitably and paying down debt. Thus, we believe it offers limited downside risk and big upside risk on any news on defeating covid-19.”
 
Costa on track to open more than 60 new sites in 2020: Costa Coffee is on track to open more than 60 stores in the UK this year, with real estate adviser Savills involved in 25 of those deals. Additionally, construction is about to begin or has already started on 14 new stores acquired by Savills for Costa prior to 2020, including locations such as Barnsley East Retail Park; Loaning Meadows Retail Park in Berwick-upon-Tweed; and Morrisons’ supermarket car park in Newcastle-under-Lyme. James Hamilton, acquisition and estates director Costa UK & Ireland, said: “We have been able to continue building our portfolio and opening new equity stores with a focus on drive-thru, despite the challenges of the current pandemic. Working alongside Savills has been a fundamental factor in our successful expansion and continued growth strategy to ensure we continue serving our signature, handcrafted coffees to customers.” Savills out-of-town retail director Charlie Greenhalgh added: “Despite the challenges generated by covid-19, Savills has continued to work alongside Costa Coffee in securing new stores in key retail destinations throughout the UK. These new sites further strengthen Costa’s growing portfolio of stores and demonstrates the strength of the business, which has continued to expand throughout the course of this turbulent year.”
 
Former Busaba chief executive adds ex-Loch Fyne site to pub portfolio: Grosvenor Pubs & Inns, the pub vehicle from former Busaba boss Jason Myers and David Ramsay, will reopen a former Loch Fyne site on Saturday, 31 October. The Kings Arms will be the second site for the company formed in 2018. It will have six boutique bedrooms and an alfresco terrace at a grade II-listed building, which was initially used as stables in 1949, in Egham, Surrey. The site will also house a cocktail area, fresh food restaurant and modern-day pub and taproom. Grosvenor Pubs & Inns also operates The Cricketers on the Green in Pirbright, Surrey. While The Kings Arms – the same name it had more than 30 years ago as a pub – has retained some of its traditional touches, such as exposed brick walls and low-beamed ceilings, the pub has been brought into the 21st century thanks to plush furnishings and rich colour tones throughout. The dining area offers a high-end experience complete with a seasonal menu. The culinary team has created menus dictated by the seasons. Guests can starters including scallops baked in their shell with puff pastry and devilled mushrooms; and duck liver parfait, served with red onion jam and toasted sourdough. Mains come in the form of slow-roasted Hampshire trimmed pork belly, served with crackling, puy lentils, salsa verde and cider gravy; and Herdwick mutton Brick Lane curry, slow-cooked in a medium spiced tomato and cardamom sauce, with pilaf rice and garlic naan bread. The cocktail area features a copper wrapped bar and tasting room featuring a unique by-the-glass wine serving system. There is also a royal throne, vaulted ceiling and wood-cladded walls. The rooms have been named after rebel barons in a nod to the area’s history, which includes the proximity of where the Magna Carta was sealed in 1215. 
 
Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck closes temporarily after coronavirus outbreak among staff: Heston Blumenthal’s three Michelin-starred Berkshire restaurant The Fat Duck has been forced to close temporarily after a coronavirus outbreak among its staff. The self-imposed “circuit breaker” started on 14 October and will last for at least two weeks. It is thought to be the first example of a Michelin-starred restaurant in the country being affected by such an outbreak. In an email sent to customers, the business said: “At The Fat Duck, we pride ourselves on providing the very best experience but, more important, is the wellbeing of our staff and guests, which always comes first. We have, therefore, decided to close the restaurant as of 14 October for the mandatory two-week self-isolation period. We have made this proactive decision, which we hope will act as a circuit breaker and ensure covid-19 doesn’t spread to our other staff. As we all know only too well, [the] coronavirus pandemic is extremely difficult to control and stop spreading. Unfortunately, we have now been affected in the past few days – a number of employees have returned positive tests, which has resulted in them self-isolating at home. We want to be in front of the situation so we are working closely with the relevant organisations and local authorities, and will continue to monitor the situation during this time. It remains a very difficult time for everyone and we are disappointed we’ve had to temporarily stop doing what we love, which is welcoming our guests to our restaurant. We thank you for your understanding and we do apologise for any inconvenience or disappointment caused.”

Roadchef reports sales recovering ‘strongly’, secures waivers on financial covenants: Motorway services operator Roadchef has reported sales have recovered “strongly” since lock-down was lifted while it has secured waivers on its financial covenants for the remainder of 2020. Although its sites remained open during lock-down with limited offerings in order to “provide an essential and safe service to those who did need to continue using the motorway network”, footfall and revenue were significantly lower during this time. Providing the update as it filed its accounts for the year ending 29 December 2019, Roadchef directors stated: “The availability of support from the government and key suppliers enabled the group to continue trading through the peak of the crisis. Liquidity remained healthy and the majority of the group’s employees have been retained, which has been key to provide a platform for the group’s recovery. As a result of this trading environment, a waiver request was required from the group’s lenders in respect of all financial covenants and other potential default events up to and including 31 December 2020. This request has been granted, providing the group with sufficient time to recover profitability. Management has performed a review of forecasts and does not forecast there to be any breach of financial covenants or any default events for a period in excess of 12 months from the date of approval of these financial statements. Following the ending of lock-down, traffic and sales have recovered strongly, reaching 75% of normal levels during August 2020. It is management’s view that, following a significant decline in revenue through the second quarter of the year, the group will experience a smooth recovery through the remainder of 2020, with revenue levels back to normal through 2021. This would result in a circa 15% revenue decline for the 12 months to June 2021. However, summer trading has recovered strongly and is already ahead of expectations.” The company reported the addition of further food and beverage brands to its estate in 2019, including the continued rollout of natural fast food brand Leon and additional Costa Coffee drive-thrus had helped sales grow 3.2% to £198m. Underlying Ebitda was up 6.1% to £41.5m. Chief executive Mark Fox said: “The performance of our two additional Leon restaurants has given us real confidence in the brand’s potential for the future, and our 22 Costa drive-thrus continue to show the importance of convenience solutions for customers.”

Starbucks links compensation programme to racial diversity targets: Starbucks has announced it will link its executive compensation programme to its goal of reaching diversity targets. In a letter to employees, chief executive Kevin Johnson explained how black, indigenous and people of colour must reach 30% representation at corporate level, while that figure must be 40% at branches, by 2025. At corporate level, staff will be required to complete anti-bias training and a mentorship programme will be introduced at in-store level. Johnson’s letter read: “We know that a more inclusive environment will create a flywheel that leads to greater diversity, and thereby greater equity and opportunity for all. Greater diversity enables us to better fulfil our mission.” In the US, store level ethnicity is: 53% white, 8% black, 5.5% Asian and 26.9% Hispanic/Latinx. On a corporate level, the numbers are even more pronounced with ethnicity at: 65.2% white, 19.2% Asian, 7.4% Hispanic/Latinx and 2.6% black. In addition to committing to stronger diversity initiatives on a company-wide level, the Starbucks Foundation will award $1.5m in grants to advance racial equality to more than 400 non-profit organisations across the US. In June, the company circulated an internal memo making a U-turn on the banning of baristas from wearing Black Lives Matter clothing. Starbucks later released its own design for a Black Lives Matter shirt that employees could wear if they wished to while at work.
 
Honesty Group adds to pub portfolio: Honesty Group, the company led by cookery writer Romilla Arber, has strengthened its pub portfolio by launching The Hartley Arms in Donnington Village, West Berkshire. The company, which also operates nine coffee shops, has reopened what was previously the Three Horseshoes, following a refurbishment. The weekly changing menu is dictated by the seasons, while the selection of drinks come from local distilleries, producers and breweries alongside a selection of classic cocktails. Honesty also runs the Crown & Garter in the nearby Inkpen and a general store in the village as well as the Honesty Cookery School and a wholesale bakery. The company has also launched a click-and-collect service for the local area, where customers can purchase bread, hampers, meat and deli items to be collected from their local Honesty store.
 
Café De Nata and Ugly Dumpling secure Camden Market sites: Café De Nata, the Portuguese tart operator, has secured its fourth site, at Camden Market. The company has taken a 600 square foot space after agreeing a deal with market owner LabTech. Café De Nata’s latest offering, which is due to open in mid-November, will include 12 covers, with customers able to view the tarts being hand baked via an open kitchen display. The Camden site will join its other cafes in Hammersmith, Soho and South Kensington. Joining Café De Nata is Asian fusion concept Ugly Dumpling, which has opened its second bricks and mortar site, within Camden Market’s Asian Alley. Ugly Dumpling combines both Western ingredients, such as cheeseburgers and pecan pie, and Asian home recipes. Thomas Payne & Company represented Café De Nata while Ugly Dumpling acted for itself. LabTech dealt directly.

Artisan bakery concept Medicine to double up in Birmingham: Medicine, the Birmingham-based artisan bakery concept, is set to open a second site in the city. The business, which was founded by Simon and Francesca Jones, will open its third site in total later this year after taking in the former Tom’s Kitchen site in the Mailbox scheme in the city. The business already operates a site in the city’s New Street and in the village of Codsall, Staffordshire.

Luke Selby to take the helm at Palomar Group’s Evelyn's Table: Luke Selby, who is National Chef of the Year in 2018, will take the helm at ten-seat chef's counter Evelyn's Table in London’s Soho this month. Selby will be in charge from Tuesday, 27 October with brothers Nat and Theo by his side. The restaurant, which sits in the beer cellar of the Blue Posts, will serve a five-course menu focused on British ingredients and using French and Japanese techniques. Selby was head chef of Ollie Dabbous' Hide Above when it was awarded a Michelin star in 2018. He had previously worked at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons. He said: “At Evelyn's Table I hope to be able to show not only what I have learned from my formative training but also the ethos and essence of Japanese and French cooking. I was captivated by the care and approach to food and nature the Japanese have, the respect for ingredients. I intend to translate this attitude at Evelyn's Table by working with and championing British produce. Honey Spencer will run an accompanying wine bar the Mulwray, serving an array of fine and natural wines. The restaurant space is owned by the Palomar Group, which is behind the Soho restaurant of the same name as well as the Barbary, Jacob the Angel and the Mulwray.

Pizza Pilgrims founders to publish first book next month: Brother Thom and James Elliot, the co-founders of Pizza Pilgrims, will publish their first book next month. Pizza: History, recipes, stories, people, places, love (A book by Pizza Pilgrims) will be available to buy on 12 November, although it can currently be pre-ordered through Amazon. The book includes a history of pizza, a look at world famous pizzerias, maps of the brothers’ favourite global pizza cities (so readers can conduct your very own pizza pilgrimage), and more than 30 recipes. It also has interviews with leading pizza operators, “pizza facts, movie scenes, world records and even pizza tattoos”. 

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