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Thu 5th Nov 2020 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

BBPA – longer term support and review of restrictions needed to save 12,000 pubs from permanent closure: The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has urged the government to provide more longer term support to save as many as 12,000 pubs from permanent closure as they enter a second lockdown. The trade body has also called for the government to use this time to review the effectiveness and necessity of restrictions post-lockdown. It comes as the House of Commons voted through the legislation confirming a second lockdown in England will start from Thursday (5 November). Prime minister Boris Johnson also announced chancellor Rishi Sunak would deliver a further package of support for businesses affected. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “As our sector enters this second lockdown, we are fearful for the future. Oxford Economics research estimates as many as 12,000 pubs are at risk from permanent closure unless the government provides a longer term support package for the sector. Countless breweries and suppliers to pubs are also at very real risk of closing for good due to this second lockdown its longer impact. We warmly welcome all the support the government has given our sector this far through the crisis. However, as we enter this second lockdown, it is clear more support is going to be needed so our sector can get over this latest hurdle of a second lockdown and the inevitable further hit on consumer confidence. We also call on the government to take this time to review the restrictions on the sector within the tiering measures to ensure they are based on evidence, proportionate and necessary. We are encouraged to hear the chancellor will make a further statement on support. We are hoping this will include business grants in line with those he delivered during the first lockdown, that adequately cover ongoing fixed costs. These must be available to all pubs and delivered quickly. We’d also like the chancellor to recognise the longer term stimulus support we have asked for pubs and breweries. Specifically beer duty cuts, continued VAT reduction and an extension of the business rates holiday. These are critical to enable pubs and brewers to play their vital role in reinvigorating local communities and the national economy.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message – SANTA MARIA launches ‘spice hacks’ to help operators: Spice experts SANTA MARIA has teamed up with Simon Hulstone, of The Elephant, and Lee Desanges, of Baked in Brick, to create a series of “spice hacks” to help operators save costs, time and space and meet the increased demand for takeaways and delivery. Barny Macadam, development chef from Santa Maria, said: “Our spice blends are a quick and easy way to add variety to a reduced menu, while still meeting consumer demand for global cuisines. In the right combinations, a slimmed down spice cupboard and a few staple ingredients can be used to make lots of different dishes. Our Penang red curry for example, can be used as a seasoning for Thai fishcakes, added to coconut milk for a creamy Thai curry and stirred through aromatic soups and noodle dishes. And, our chimichurri can be sprinkled over diced vegetables, stirred in water and oil for a fresh sauce or used as a marinade for salmon.” To download a free “hack pack” full of hints, tips and advice to help you stay ahead of the game click here. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

More than 400 operators register for Propel Multi Club free live digital webinar focusing on ‘navigating the new normal’ today: More than 400 operators have registered for the Propel Multi Club Conference, taking place today, Thursday (5 November), which takes the form of a day-long digital live webinar and focuses on “navigating the new normal”. The event starts at 10am and operators that have registered can email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to receive the log-in details. 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 lockdown 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.

Operators stay open but shift business models during lockdown: A host of operators are staying open during the lockdown in England but are shifting their business models in order to continue trading. Itsu, the healthy Asian food chain, created by Julian Metcalfe, is to keep 27 of its circa 70 stores open during lockdown. Metcalfe said: “The health of our teams and customers, their family and friends, as well as the community at large is more important than all the noodles in the world. We were just about to reopen many branches of Itsu but this can now wait. From Thursday, some will close but as many as possible will be keeping their doors open for takeaway in-store and delivery. Lockdown can cause terrible suffering and we applaud your extraordinary efforts as you cope.” Costa Coffee has confirmed its stores will “remain open for takeaway, delivery and collect services”. The coffee chain also tweeted that its drive-thru lanes will also remain open along with all 9,000-plus of its Costa Express machines. But one store has been closed until 2 December after a member of staff tested positive for covid-19. The coffee shop is located at Sanders Garden Centre, Brent Knoll, Somerset. Tasty-owned Wildwood will keep its restaurants open for click and collect while it will also offer delivery from selected sites. Homeslice has announced nationwide deliveries of its Take & Bake pizzas. Customers can get their hands on an authentic 12-inch Homeslice pizza, ready for baking at home. Its sauces are available for delivery too. Family-run Vallebona has a selection of Grazing Boxes also available for nationwide delivery. London-only deliveries will see the likes of Indian inspired Kricket restaurants sending out dishes such as Keralan Fried Chicken, Hyderabadi Aubergine and King Prawn Moilee. There will also be a call and collect service. Fin and Lorcan Spiteri’s Hoxton haunt will be delivering favourites across the capital from their recent opening – Studio Kitchen. Food available includes fried onion cheeseburgers, buttermilk fried chicken buns and crispy barbecue chicken wings. Sustainable-minded restaurant Fallow in Heddon Street will deliver signatures dishes to London as well this month. On the menu will be its much-loved corn ribs, and burgers include the Ex-Dairy Cow Burger, and its Kombu Fries. But healthy food-to-go concept Pure has decided to shut during lockdown. The 22-strong group, which is undergoing a company voluntary arrangement, stated: “We’ve made the difficult decision to close all our shops and delivery service. To our peers in the industry and all our customers, stay safe, keep healthy and we’ll see you soon.” 

Pubcos sign declaration to protect certain tenant rights amid latest England lockdown: The pubs code adjudicator (PCA) has announced the six regulated pub-owning businesses (POBs) have signed a formal declaration that serves to protect certain tenant rights during the latest lockdown. This declaration is on identical terms to, and has the same effect as, that agreed by POBs and was in place between March and June during the first period of pub closures. It effectively stops the clock from Thursday (5 November) on many code deadlines that apply to tenants making arbitration referrals during the emergency period, and provides safeguards relating to specific Market Rent Only (MRO) option rights. This does not, however, prevent a tenant from taking code steps during this period if they so wish. A statement from the PCA said: “As in March, we have given advance notice to tied pub tenant representative groups about these measures. We will continue to engage with the POBs to ensure they return to usual processes as soon as possible, and tenants can continue to benefit from their code rights. As regulator, all the PCA’s statutory enforcement powers continue to exist. The PCA will be working tirelessly to promote and protect the code rights of tenants and will take further measures if these prove necessary.”

Small hospitality and leisure businesses three times more concerned about coronavirus than Brexit: Small business operators in the hospitality and leisure sectors are three times more concerned about covid-19 than Brexit, according to research by Hitachi Capital Business Finance. A study of 1,107 national small business leaders, across all sectors, on what they thought their biggest barriers to growth was in the next six months showed more than half (51%) cited the direct impact of covid-19 on their operations. By comparison, a quarter (25%) were concerned about Brexit and its impact on their business. However, the proportion of leaders in the hospitality and leisure sphere that were scaling back operations this quarter rose to 48%, with 81% citing covid-19 as their main barrier to growth – three times the proportion concerned about Brexit (23%). The research also discovered the proportion of all businesses either contracting or struggling to survive remains high at 27%, up from 15% pre-coronavirus. Hitachi Capital Business Finance head of insight Joanna Morris said: “The covid-19 pandemic changed every aspect of our lives in 2020. Some sectors are worse affected than others. Confidence in the second quarter dropped to the lowest levels we have ever seen, and while the bounce back has been strong, confidence levels remain a long way below where they were pre-covid. Before the pandemic, Brexit was front-of-mind for the majority of business owners. As we enter our second national lockdown closer to the deadline, we are no further along with plans to comply with the changes, minimise any negative impacts and capitalise on the positives. This loss of momentum is a concern.”
 
Services sector growth slows with slumps in hospitality, travel and leisure: The growth of the UK’s services sector slowed in October to a four-month low, with a slump in demand for customer-facing service providers, especially those in the hotels, restaurants and catering category, according to new data. The IHS Markit/CIPS Services purchasing managers’ index was 51.4 last month, down from 56.1 in September. Anything above 50 is seen as a sector in growth. It was propped up by the strong housing market as owners took advantage of the stamp duty holiday, generating fees for estate agents. Tim Moore, economics director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey, said: “October data indicates the UK services sector was close to stalling even before the announcement of ‘lockdown two’ in England, with tighter restrictions on hospitality, travel and leisure leading to a slump in demand for consumer-facing businesses. This was only partly offset by sustained expansion in areas related to digital services, business-to-business sales and housing market transactions.” He added: “November’s lockdown in England and a worsening covid-19 situation across the rest of Europe means the UK economy seems on course for a double-dip recession this winter and a far more challenging path to recovery in 2021.” The data was collated between 12 October and 28 October from interviews with company buyers.

Lockdown comes as customers were ‘getting used to new normal’: Hospitality customers were getting used to a new normal before the second lockdown was announced, according to the latest Customer Sentiment Tracker from Feed It Back and KAM Media. The tracker discovered there was a 42% drop in the volume of complaints in October compared with September, suggesting customers were beginning to accept the conditions of the hospitality sector during the pandemic. Based on feedback from 89,825 customers via the Feed It Back platform, Net Promoter Score (NPS) for October 2020 (56) tracked in line with October 2019 (56), rising back up following a dip during Eat Out To Help Out in August (54). The biggest recovery in customers’ eyes came from the fast casual sector with NPS jumping to 59 from an August low of 22. Feed It Back chief executive Carlo Platia said: “Fast casual sector struggled in the eyes of its customers since reopening, but October saw a considerable improvement and, just as many [sites] close, it seems the sector has won back customers.” KAM Media managing director Katy Moses added: “Going into this second lockdown consumers are less fearful and more stressed and frustrated. There is a huge opportunity for hospitality to be a saviour once lockdown measures lift again.”
Feed it Back and KAM Media are Propel BeatTheVirus campaign members

Arrests made for alleged fraud over Eat Out To Help Out scheme: A trio of arrests have been made in connection with alleged fraud relating to the Eat Out To Help Out scheme. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said three men had been arrested on suspicion of fraud linked to the government initiative introduced in August by chancellor Rishi Sunak. HMRC officers arrested the men – aged 43, 48 and 37 – on Tuesday at their London addresses on suspicion of cheating the public revenue and fraud by false representation. They have all been questioned and released while investigations continue. Kath Doyle, deputy director of the fraud investigation service at HMRC, said: “The vast majority of businesses will have used Eat Out To Help Out responsibly, but we will not hesitate to act where we suspect abuse of the scheme. This is taxpayers’ money and any claim that proves to be fraudulent limits our ability to support people and deprives public services of essential funding.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking for an experienced head of retail to join a national business. This role entails leading the fresh food side of the operation and will be based in, and around, London. The position will pay £65,000 to £80,000, depending on experience, and a full driving licence is needed. The company has an optimistic growth strategy for the next few years so this is an exciting opportunity for the right person, who would play a key role in moving the business forward, working closely with the managing director, marketing and the operational team, to help with developing strategic initiatives, implementation plans, grow profitability and be a key part of the leadership team. Anyone interested can send their CV to Stuart@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 

Company News:

Shoreditch Bar Group among interested parties for Deltic Group: Shoreditch Bar Group, which last year acquired the remainder of London bar and restaurant operator Novus’ late-night business, is one of the parties running the rule over the Deltic Group, Propel understands. The Peter Marks-led Deltic, which is the UK’s largest nightclub chain, began working with advisers from BDO last month, as it seeks investment to help support the business through the extended period of closure. BDO is currently overseeing a sales process for the business, which is thought to have attracted interest from private equity firms and trade buyers. Propel understands the Shoreditch Bar Group, which earlier this year acquired The Hoxton Pony in Hackney, is one of the trade players and is thought to be working with Steve Thomas, the founder of Luminar, the at-one-time circa 300-strong chain, from which Deltic was born, on a possible bid. Deltic was founded in 2011 after Marks and a group of investors bought the Luminar nightclub group after it went into liquidation. Speaking to Propel last month, Marks said that no nightclub business would survive unless outside financial support “is received from somewhere”. He warned the industry was at a “critical point” and the next month would be crucial. Marks said the business was going through “all options in case government support wasn’t forthcoming” – and by doing nothing, the business was unlikely to see beyond the end of 2020. Marks said: “We've got to make sure we have a plan B, plan C and plan D – so assessing all the options at this stage is the sensible thing to do. We want to make sure we do the right thing by our landlords, our suppliers and our employees. We thought we were going to be able to reopen in September and, from there, we have just gone backwards. No nightclub company will survive at all unless there is outside help from somewhere.”

Newcastle-based pub operator Sir John Fitzgerald on the market: Sir John Fitzgerald, the Newcastle-based operator, which has 16 managed pubs spread across the north east, has been placed on the market, Propel has learned. It is understood the company, which was founded after its namesake moved to Newcastle from Ireland in the 1850s, is working with accountancy firm PwC on the sales process that commenced last month. The company, which operates a mix of community, food-led pubs and city centre, wet-led pubs, is believed to have generated Ebitda of just under £3m for the year to January 2020. Sir John Fitzgerald’s pubs include Newcastle venues The Bacchus, The Bodega and The Bridge Hotel, as well as Fitzgeralds in Newcastle and Sunderland, and the 29 Bar and Kitchen in Tynemouth. Real estate investment firm Aprirose, which acquired north east-based managed operator Wear Inns for £22.4m in August 2018, has been linked as a possible buyer for the business. In July, Blackrose, the pub management company launched Aprirose last year, made five senior appointments as part of its expansion strategy of 200 new site acquisitions by the end of 2021. It currently manages 43 pubs. Aprirose has also been linked to the 42-strong package of pubs, which were originally placed on the market at the end of last year to address competition concerns surrounding Stonegate Pub Company’s £3bn acquisition of Ei Group.

Shepherd Neame – the priority is to stabilise the business but we have long-term growth opportunities in our heartland: Shepherd Neame boss Jonathan Neame has pointed to growth opportunities for the business in its north and central Kent heartland that will flow from infrastructure development projects, which are expected to increase the population by 20% by 2031. He told Propel he thought the current crisis is “likely to accelerate infrastructure development”. Neame said the current priority is to stabilise the business, which is likely to take the large part of 2021 and look for opportunities thereafter. The company is to sell three of its leasehold City of London pubs – it has 15 pubs in the City and west of London, which are now unlikely to reopen until 2021. In his results presentation, he stated: “The hospitality market will evolve rapidly as a result of covid-19. It is likely many secondary or city centre outlets may close for good. In that context, many of our pubs may benefit, particularly suburban and community pubs, which is the core base of our estate.” He added: “The sector will need ongoing support. We are hopeful the government now recognises the importance of hospitality to jobs and the British economy, and will reflect this in future policy making. We will continue to make the case for lower overall taxation on the sector, such as extended business rates holiday and lower rates of excise duty.” Neame told Propel he felt the government is making a mistake in hitting a low-risk part of the economy while keeping a high-risk part of the economy – education – open. “My real concern is that the government is shutting down parts of the economy that are safe,” he said.
 
Hall & Woodhouse has ‘extremely strong’ balance sheet to weather coronavirus storm: Dorset-based brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse has said it has an “extremely strong” balance sheet to help it weather the storm caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The company provided the update on its position as it filed its accounts for the year ending 25 January 2020. Executive chairman Anthony Woodhouse said: “The team has done a fantastic job in getting the business into battle formation. We are in a privileged position of owning the vast majority of our pubs and with relative limited borrowings and excellent relationships with our lenders, we have an extremely strong balance sheet and sufficient liquidity, based on our forecasts. When the world recovers, our superb high-quality pub estate and teams will be well positioned to rebuild trade. In my first year as chairman, it has been my privilege to work with a team of such talent and dedication, and I would like to put on record my thanks for everything they have achieved in this year of change. It is they who put us in as strong a position as we are to ride out this current storm.” The company reported turnover for the full year increased 1.5% to £116.6m, compared with £114.8m the previous year. Pre-tax profit was down 1.7% to £5.9m, compared with £6m the previous year. Operating margin was down slightly to 7.6% from 7.8% the year before. Net debt reduced to £50.6m from £56.5m. Woodhouse added: “We always planned 2019 would be a year of change for the company, with some senior departures, the transition to the next generation of leaders and the next iteration of our long-term strategy. It is testament to the planning, skill and hard work of the team under Matt Kearsey's leadership this has been achieved so smoothly. During periods of change, it is easy for the business to be distracted from the day-to-day. It is particularly pleasing to report, therefore, the team has delivered profits in line with the previous year’s (in which they had achieved substantial growth). This was despite a challenging trading environment, particularly during the autumn when poor weather and the chronic political uncertainty adversely affected trading.” Hall & Woodhouse operates more than 200 pubs across the south of England.

Star Pubs & Bars to give tenants 100% rent concession during lockdown: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is to give its pubs on core leased and tenanted agreements a 100% rent concession during the lockdown in England. Pubs will receive the concession regardless of whether or not they choose to operate a takeaway service. The move takes Star Pubs & Bars investment in rent reductions to more than £30m since March. Should the national lockdown continue beyond 2 December, the company will move to a 90% rent reduction for its leased and tenanted pubs until the national restrictions are lifted in England. It will also review its latest tier support in the coming weeks, based on guidance received from government about post lockdown regional restrictions and any further grants or support made available. Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens, said: “This second lockdown is devastating for pubs throughout England and the on-trade as a whole. It is also extremely frustrating given the time and money spent making pubs safe, and the corresponding very low levels of infection currently linked to pubs. From the outset of this crisis we have said we will continue to review our support in line with the changing regulatory landscape, and hope the actions we’re taking allows for some surety in these very uncertain times. Clearly we all hope pubs will reopen on 2 December as the run-up to Christmas is such a critical trading period for the industry.”

Inn Collection Group acquires debut Lancashire site: The Inn Collection Group has acquired its debut site in Lancashire as it strengthens its pubs-with-rooms estate. The company has added The Lindum Hotel in Lytham St Annes to its portfolio. The acquisition of the 88-bedroom site takes the group’s site tally to 16. The undisclosed deal is the group’s fifth acquisition this year as it continues to drive its “buy and build” strategic growth plans forward. Managing director Sean Donkin said: “The Lindum Hotel has, in buckets and spades, everything we look for in an Inn Collection Group venue – vibrant, multifaceted destinations, a wow factor element and somewhere we would like to eat, drink, sleep and explore from with our own families and friends. Despite the challenges covid-19 continues to throw at the sector, 2020 continues to be a year of growth for our group. As well as mounting up our operations in the Lake District and Yorkshire, the purchase of The Lindum Hotel will see us expand our offering across the border into Lancashire.” The Lindum Hotel will continue to trade in its current format securing the jobs of all employees at the site. Completing the sale was property adviser, Christie & Co, while The Inn Collection Group was advised by Newcastle-based law firm Ward Hadaway on the transactions, with Bradley Hall on pre-acquisition diligence.

Urban Village Pubs secures £1.2m funding package: Urban Village Pubs has received £1.2m to support working capital and refinance from alternative lender to mid-sized businesses, ThinCats. Urban Village Pubs aims to take the best characteristics of village pubs and blend them with the environment of an urban pub. The business was founded by Ian Grundy and Gavin Drew in 2017, and operates eight sites across the south of England. It works with small, local breweries, and specialises in offerings such as self-service fridges and craft beer walls. The food is delivered from open kitchens and focuses on hand stretched pizzas, sharing platters and pub classics. Most sites have table tennis and the business is looking to introduce further competitive socialising measures in some venues such as interactive darts and shuffleboard. Drew said: “We have been impressed by the flexible approach adopted by ThinCats and its desire to support our business, especially in a sector that has largely been ignored by high street banks despite Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme availability. After the initial summer lockdown, our sites responded exceptionally well with strong like-for-like growth. Obviously, the further national lockdown is very frustrating for our industry but hopefully it will be short lived and we can respond in a similar fashion when we reopen for a second time.” Stuart Thompson, director, regional business development at ThinCats, added: “The team at Urban Village is passionate and experienced, and its vision for the pubs under its umbrella is impressive.”

England’s only McDonald’s-free county gets restaurant: The only English county without a McDonald’s restaurant now has one. The fast food chain has opened the doors at a site in Rutland, East Midlands, after plans to build a diner and drive-thru were approved in January. The restaurant, which is located near Oakham, will move to a drive-thru only service on Thursday (5 November) as the country goes into a second lockdown. McDonald’s said the store will create more than 65 jobs. Before Rutland County Council approved the plan for the fast food chain, there was some resistance among residents. According to the BBC, among the 55 objections made to the authority, one person wrote: “I’m proud Rutland is the only county not to have a McDonald’s.” While others expressed concerns about the impact a McDonalds’s would have on smaller, independent businesses in Oakham. Positively, licensee of the Crown Tavern pub, Lindsay Taylor, said the restaurant “could bring people to Oakham and help shops on the high street”, once lockdown had lifted. She added: “People are worried about littering and that sort of stuff, but that’s not McDonald’s fault. People think we live in a posh area, because it’s Rutland, but there’s a split.” Franchise owner Glyn Pashley, who operates the new restaurant, said he was “delighted to be opening in Oakham” and holding the mantle of “the first [McDonald’s] restaurant in Rutland”.
 
Adnams cancels rent for tenants during latest lockdown: Suffolk brewer and retailer Adnams has cancelled rent for its tenants during the latest lockdown in England. In an update, chief executive Andy Wood said: “From the outset of this pandemic, we have always looked to our values, what we can control and being adaptive to the environment in which we operate. We always start whatever we do with the question ‘what is the right thing to do?’ This latest lockdown will save lives, it will change the way we do business and we, like others, will face difficult decisions. However, we have been planning for such eventualities and we will continue to do all we can to support one another. Our guiding principles are as they were back in March. Protect the health of each other, our customers and our communities, ensure we navigate the business healthily through lockdown, save our pubs and, importantly, save jobs. We have, once again, cancelled rents for our pub tenants as we do all that we can to help them. Together, we did this before and the more we all follow the rules, the sooner we will be out the other side of this. Let’s all support one another, stay positive and stay safe.” The company’s bottle shops and online store will remain open during lockdown.

Unsecured creditors of All Star Lanes not expected to receive dividend: Unsecured creditors of bowling alley operator All Star Lanes are not expected to receive a dividend, a new report has revealed. In their progress report, joint administrators Lee Causer and Neville Side, of BDO, said unsecured creditor claims of £1.5m have been received to date. But based on present information, it is not anticipated there will be any funds available for distribution to unsecured creditors, they said. The report also showed secured creditor HSBC, which was owed £1.6m plus accruing interest and charges, had now been repaid in full following the sale of the company last year. As previously reported, sector investor Luke Johnson paid £2.325m to acquire All Star Lanes out of administration. The company now operates four sites in London having closed its Manchester outlet in September, which as subsequently been acquired by Lane7, the bowling alley, ping pong and karaoke concept.
  
Time Out to launch Dubai market in first quarter of 2021: Time Out Group, the global media and entertainment business, has announced it will open its latest market in Dubai in the first quarter of 2021. The Dubai site is joined by three more in the pipeline – Porto (fourth quarter 2021), London Waterloo (2022) and Prague (2023). Dubai will mark the seventh site for the “food and cultural market rooted in editorial curation”. Time Out Market Dubai, as part of a management agreement with Emaar Malls, will join sister sites in Lisbon (2014), Miami, New York, Boston, Montreal and Chicago (2019). After temporary closures in March 2020 due to the pandemic, several Time Out Market locations have reopened with enhanced health and safety protocols. Time Out Market Dubai will be the first in the Middle East, located in Souk Al Bahar, an Arabic-style retail, entertainment and dining destination in the heart of Downtown Dubai. The market has a unique waterfront position on Burj Lake, next to The Dubai Mall and the iconic Burj Khalifa. It will be 30,000 square foot, featuring 17 of Dubai’s top chefs and celebrated restaurateurs, three bars and dedicated spaces for cultural experiences. Time Out Market chief executive Didier Souillat said: “We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Emaar Malls on the new opening in the beautiful Souk Al Bahar. The Time Out brand has a strong presence in Dubai with ITP Media Group whose editors were instrumental in selecting and tasting the very best curated mix from the city’s top culinary talent.”
 
Rosa’s Thai makes regional Editions debut: TriSpan-backed Rosa’s Thai Cafe has made its regional Deliveroo Editions debut, with an opening in the delivery firm’s Reading kitchen. The Gavin Adair-led business already operates two Editions sites in London – in Blackwell and Crouch End. Earlier this week, US better burger brand Shake Shack announced it had launched in the Reading Editions kitchen. Rosa’s is set to keep the majority of its sites open for delivery and takeaway during the second lockdown. Last month, Propel revealed the business had secured a restaurant site in the City North development next to Finsbury Park Station, for a planned opening before the end of the year. The company is also believed to be in talks to take the former Saigon restaurant unit on Nelson Road, Greenwich. The business recently opened in Queensway, as part of the West Walk Estate, and The Cut, Waterloo.

Caffe Nero launches festive menu plus chance to win free coffee for a year: Caffe Nero has launched its festive menu and the chance for customers to win free coffee for a year. The vast majority of Caffe Nero stores in England will continue to offer takeaway, click and collect and delivery via Uber Eats, and each time a customer pays via the Caffe Nero app, a prize could be revealed including the chance of winning free coffee for a year. The business’ winter menu offers savoury products such as a Vegan Feast Panini and a Brie, Bacon and Cranberry Panini. Sweeter dishes include Salted Caramel Billionaires Cake and the returning mince pie, which comes with a family box option to take home this year. Drinks include two new flavours: the Gingerbread Latte with Cinnamon dusting, and the Mint Hot Chocolate. Caffe Nero is launching gift sets too, starting with the Discovery Box at £20, which contains Nespresso compatible capsules and ground coffee. 

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