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Fri 13th Nov 2020 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Christmas period to be ‘acid test’ for industry as tougher restrictions drive pub and restaurant group sales into reverse in October: The Christmas period will be the “acid test” for the industry as the rollout of more regional covid-19 restrictions further depressed sales in Britain’s managed pub, restaurant and bar groups in October, according to the latest Coffer Peach Business Tracker. With 83% of group-owned sites open, down from 88% in September, total sales across the managed sector were down 33.9% on the same month last year – a clear deterioration from September when sales were 20.3% below 2019 levels and August when they were just 12.2% down. All parts of the market performed worse than in September. Like-for-like sales in those businesses trading were 28.9% below October last year, compared with a 14.7% fall in September. Drink-led pubs saw total sales down 37.6% and like-for-likes down 35.3% on October last year. Corresponding figures in September were minus 22.7% and minus 21.1%. Food-led pubs and pub restaurants fared a little better, but still performed markedly worse than in September, with total sales down 28.9% and like-for-likes down 27.8%. Across all managed pubs, food sales were down 24.5% with drink sales dropping 37.6% on the same time last year. Restaurant groups performed the best, helped by the cut in VAT on food and delivery sales, but still saw total sales down 29.6%, and like-for-likes 19.5% below October 2019. Delivery accounted for 12.3% of sales among restaurant groups over the month, up from 10.4% in September and the pre-lockdown level of 5.9% in February. Regionally, London continued to struggle. Total sales across managed pubs, bars and restaurants inside the M25 were down 39.5%, compared with 32.1% in September, with collective like-for-like sales in those sites open down 35%. Outside the M25, the market saw like-for-like sales down 26.8% and total sales down 31.9%. Bar groups had the worst of the month, with like-for-like sales down 52.6% and total sales down 56.9%. “What’s crystal clear is that even before total lockdown in England, the imposition of tier two and three restrictions across large swathes of northern England, as well as the tough restrictions in Scotland and Wales, had a massive negative impact on sales performance,” said Karl Chessell, director of CGA, the business insight consultancy that produces the tracker, in partnership with The Coffer Group and RSM. At the end of October, underlying annual like-for-like sales for the whole market were down 26.2% on the previous 12 months, with total sales down 37.9%. The Coffer Group chairman David Coffer said: “The post lockdown figures, especially over Christmas, are sadly or joyfully going to be the acid test for the industry. We expect it will be a truly seismic period with far-reaching effects.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message – getting back in the game with help from McCain Foodservice: In a bid to support the foodservice industry, earlier this year McCain Foodservice UK offered an opportunity for its customers to enter a prize draw and be in with the chance to win £10,000. The lucky winner has been announced – The Chequers at Crowle in Worcestershire. McCain Foodservice UK is thrilled to be supporting a local, independent business in getting back in the game during these testing times. The Chequers director, Faye Donely, said the money would be a massive help in extending its garden and outside dining area, ensuring the future set-up and operation is secure for covid dining restrictions. Richard Jones, commercial director at McCain Foodservice, said: “Everyone at McCain is proud to know McCain has played its part in the future progression of The Chequers story. We aim to continue to be able to support similar businesses and our customers throughout the future.” For more McCain Foodservice updates and to see the latest news and “back in the game” support available, click here. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com 
 
Propel’s ‘lessons of lockdown’ video series to feature Martin Williams next: In the latest Propel “lessons of lockdown” 15-minute video, Ann Elliott talks to Martin Williams, chief executive of Rare Restaurants, which runs Gaucho and M Restaurants. Williams talks about the lessons of the first lockdown that he is applying to this lockdown. The video will be released at 9am on Friday (13 November).

Propel Friday Wrap video series continues with BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin: Propel continues its new Friday Wrap video series on Friday (13 November) at 3pm. The new series 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 Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, to discuss the resilience of the pub sector, the damage the crisis is doing to the UK’s brewing industry, the enhanced role pubs have played in their communities and where the sector goes from here.
 
Mark Wingett to look at impact of second lockdown as part of latest Premium Opinion column: Propel insights editor Mark Wingett looks at the impact of the second lockdown and asks how long before frustrations boil over in the sector as part of the latest Propel Premium Opinion, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday (13 November) at 5pm. He also takes a closer look at Liberation Group’s latest pub portfolio acquisition. Meanwhile, leading sector analyst Simon Stenning looks at the current state of play and forecasts for the final quarter of this year and first one of 2021. 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
  
Sales at 24% of pre-lockdown levels with just 25% of sites staying open during latest shut down: Analysis from S4labour, the online labour-scheduling management system from Catton Hospitality, shows just 25% of hospitality sites have stayed open after the first week of the latest lockdown. Statistics also revealed there is little variation between rural and urban sites, nor between geographical regions across the UK. Of the sites that have remained open, sales are, on average, just 24% of what they were pre-lockdown for the first week of trading, with food accounting for 27% and drink being 23%, which shows a significant adjustment of the industry to the new environment. A glance at site-specific data shows that venues offering pizza and other, more typically, takeaway food are vastly up on other sites. Alastair Scott, chief executive of S4labour and managing director of Malvern Inns said: “I am really impressed with how fast operators have adjusted their businesses to cope with the new environment, particularly as the rules were changing right up to the last minute. At Malvern Inns, we are using this time to build things for the future that we may want to maintain as part of our new long-term operations. This includes a takeaway offer, an off-licence and a village shop, as well as getting ahead and preparing for Christmas and even Valentine’s Day. But if we break even during the lockdown, we will be over the moon.”
S4labour is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 
Hospitality sector suffers £751m losses per week during first lockdown: The first lockdown led to a weekly loss of £751m in spending in the Great Britain hospitality sector but recoveries can be made via deliveries, according to the market research firm Kantar. Across the first half of 2020 (to mid-June) out-of-home food consumption in Great Britain fell by 36%. As countries emerged from the first wave of lockdowns, the transition to home working restricted the recovery in spending. In the second quarter of 2020, Great Britain experienced a continued decline of 35% compared with the first quarter. For Great Britain, combined grocery shopping and out-of-home food purchasing declined by 11% in the first half of the year. While non-alcoholic drinks consumption grew by 10% in 2020, overall spending dropped by an average of 36% versus the same period in 2019. The European out-of-home food market has been more heavily affected compared with Latin American and Asian countries due to meal delivery apps and services across Asia and Latin America. Penetration of meal delivery services (among consumers aged under 50) in cities in South Korea is at 99%, 84% in China and 80% in Brazil. This is compared with much lower penetration of 36% in Great Britain, 37% in Spain and 44% in France. Meal delivery spending in Great Britain grew from £157m per month in 2019 to £521m per month in the second quarter of 2020, compensating for some of the losses from consumers not eating out. Kantar strategic insight director Lucy Chapman said: “The innovation and growth seen in home delivery services has been a bright spot. Brits are increasingly using food deliveries as a chance to treat themselves at home. There are opportunities for traditional out-of-home brands to find new ways to help consumers recreate restaurant experiences while going out is restricted. Maintaining brand presence is important with many people looking forward to returning to restaurants. Four out of five went back to eating or drinking out over the summer, suggesting that when it’s open, people want to interact with the hospitality market.”
 
Holyrood committee rejects pubs code plan for Scottish ‘tied’ tenants: A Holyrood committee has rejected a campaign to give Scottish pub tenants “a better deal” with landlords. In Scotland, about 750 pubs are “tied” to a particular brewery or company, meaning tenants rent from pub owners with an obligation to purchase alcohol from a particular firm. Scottish Labour MSP Neil Bibby had hoped his plan would create a statutory pubs code to regulate the relationship and set up an independent adjudicator to enforce the code. Bibby argued tied pub tenants in Scotland would gain statutory protection, with restrictions eased on the range of drinks they can stock. But Holyrood’s economy committee turned the plans down at the first stage. The proposals will still have to come before the full Scottish parliament, but it is unlikely it will be overturned. Bibby said: “This bill would rebalance the relationship between tied tenants and the big pubcos at a critical time. The committee's failure to comprehend, never mind endorse, reform is a slap in the face for Scotland’s tied publicans.” But deputy committee convener Willie Coffey said: “While the committee commend the intentions behind this bill, the majority felt there was a lack of hard, independent evidence that suggested a widespread imbalance exists. However, a minority of the committee did agree there is an imbalance in the relationship between pub tenant and landlords and felt the proposed legislation could be part of the solution.” The proposals were supported by groups including the Scottish Licensed Trade Association and the GMB union. But the Scottish Beer & Pub Association (SBPA) previously warned Bibby’s plan could have the opposite effect and pose a “real danger” to the sector. SBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “The proposal was an attempt to replicate Westminster legislation, despite the huge differences in the Scottish pub market. It simply wouldn’t have worked and would have seen Scottish pubs lose out on millions of pounds of investment at a time when the industry needs it most.”
 
Welsh operators able to claim £3,000 when taking on young apprentices: Operators in Wales will receive £3,000 for every young apprentice they take on as staff in a bid to recover from covid-19. Wales’ economy minister Ken Skates said businesses can claim up to £3,000 for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25 so long as they work at least 30 hours per week – if they are aged 25 and older, £2,000 can be claimed. If apprentices work less than 30 hours, companies can still claim £1,500 per employee under 25 and £1,000 if older. No business can claim for more than ten new apprentices. Skates said: “Coronavirus and the impending threat of the UK leaving the European Union without a deal have placed incredible pressures and challenges on our economy, our companies and the livelihoods of our people. Apprentices make a huge contribution to our employers and give people a crucial opportunity to learn new skills, gain valuable experience and enhance their knowledge. Our incentives will be important in helping Welsh businesses give an apprentice an opportunity to shine.” The announcement is part of the Welsh government’s £40m proactive jobs and skills package.
 
Beannchor founder warns of ‘tsunami of redundancies’ across Northern Ireland hospitality sector: Bill Wolsey, founder of Northern Ireland hospitality company Beannchor, has called the handling of the lockdown in the country a shambles and said if pubs and restaurants can’t open over Christmas, there will be a “tsunami of redundancies in January”. Friday (13 November) is when the deadline for Northern Ireland’s two-week “circuit breaker” imposed by the government is set to end, but the hospitality sector has still not been told whether it can reopen. Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Wolsey said: “We have been given no advice and are sitting waiting to hear if we can open or not open. It is a shambles, an absolute shambles. We want to open. We were told after the four-week lockdown that if the R number was brought down, we would be able to open. The R number has been brought down and we are still not able to open. 65,000 people work in our industry and if we don’t get some sort of sensible decision and are not able to open over the busy Christmas period, there will be a tsunami of redundancies in January. Our staff are on furlough but it costs us around £30,000 a week just to remain shut, so furlough is not the answer. I have been in business for more than 40 years and learnt a long time ago never to hedge your bets when it comes to the politics. The tactic from our politicians is to close but there is absolutely no strategy. When they closed four weeks ago, you would have thought they would have said that ‘if the R number comes down, this is what we will do’, but it appears they went into lockdown and no one gave any thought about what would have happened when the R number came down and how we could reopen. Here we are at the 11th hour with no decision made. Staff morale is on the floor because they don’t know if they will have a job at the end of it. It is a time of huge stress, not just for us as the owners of the business but for everybody who works for us. My feelings towards the politicians are the same as I feel toward Test and Trace, not fit for purpose. They are clowning around and a group of numbskulls.”

Street footfall plummets as England enters second lockdown: Footfall on UK streets plunged as England entered its second lockdown, according to data from Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social. While Saturday, 31 October saw footfall 46% down on the benchmark figure taken in February, the first Saturday (7 November) of lockdown saw that drop to minus 72%, while comparisons for Sundays (1 November and 8 November) were minus 42% and minus 70% respectively. Newcastle saw a drop in footfall of 39 percentage points on Saturday (7 November) compared with the previous Saturday, and represented a huge plunge of 85% down on the February statistic. York was also 89% down on the footfall from February, while Bristol and Liverpool also felt the pain on Saturday (7 November) with drops of 78% and 81% versus February. Birmingham had been one of the busier city centres before the second lockdown but footfall there on Sunday (8 November) was 83% down on February, which was also 58 percentage points down from the Sunday before (1 November). Wales was on its final “firebreak” lockdown weekend (7 and 8 November) so, not surprisingly, footfall was 84% down versus February but Wireless Social said the figures from the upcoming weekend (14 and 15 November) will be very interesting to whether see if people hit the shops and restaurants or are cautious about venturing out. Footfall in Scotland last weekend remained similar to the two weekends before that because restrictions remained the same. On Saturday (7 November) footfall was down 58% of February’s figure and down 65% on Sunday. 
Wireless Social is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 
TripAdvisor issues first ‘freedom of speech’ warning notice on hotel’s review page: TripAdvisor has stamped its first warning notice on a hotel’s review page after complaints against it resulting in a reviewer being imprisoned. Thai hotel, Sea View Resort & Spa Koh Chang, made a legal complaint against a customer for negative reviews, which resulted in his arrest. US citizen Wesley Barnes posted a number of reviews that allegedly accused the Sea View Resort of “modern day slavery”. He was subsequently detained and charged under Thailand’s anti-defamation laws and faced two years in jail, if convicted. He was later released after issuing a public apology. The matter appeared to have ended when Barnes left Thailand, reports the BBC, but TripAdvisor posted a warning to potential guests who visit the review page. It reads: “This hotel or individuals associated with this hotel filed criminal charges against a TripAdvisor user in relation to the traveller writing and posting online reviews. The reviewer spent time in jail as a result. TripAdvisor serves its users best when travellers are free to share their opinions and experiences on our platform – both positive and negative. The hotel may have been exercising its legal rights under local law, however, it is our role to inform you so you may take this into consideration when researching your travel plans.”
 
CMA fast-tracks proposed Crowdcube and Seedrs merger to phase two investigation: The proposed merger between crowdfunding platforms Crowdcube and Seedrs has been fast-tracked to a phase two investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The two companies requested the CMA fast-track the investigation to a phase two stage last month. In most merger cases, a full phase one investigation is needed to determine whether a deal can be cleared or whether further scrutiny is required. However, merging companies can ask for the CMA’s review of the deal to be moved more quickly to phase two where it is clear from an early stage there are competition concerns that require an in-depth investigation. The CMA has announced the criteria for a fast-track reference are met as the transaction gives rise to a realistic prospect of a substantial lessening of competition in the supply of equity crowdfunding platforms to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and investors. It found the merging companies would have a very high combined share of supply in the UK, and evidence from the companies’ internal documents and third parties suggest the companies are very close competitors. The CMA is therefore concerned, if completed, the deal could result in SMEs and investors losing out as a result of fewer choices, higher fees and poorer quality services. By requesting a fast-track, the merging companies waive the right to offer undertakings or formal commitments to address the CMA’s concerns and thereby avoid a phase two investigation. Instead, if competition concerns are found at phase two by an independent group of panel members, they will set out potential options for addressing these concerns.
 
Casual Dining show postponed until September to run alongside Lunch! and Commercial Kitchen: Next year’s Casual Dining trade show has been moved from March to September due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and government restrictions. Organiser, Diversified Communications UK, said the event would now take place on 23-24 September at ExCeL London. It means Casual Dining will run at the same time as its sister show – food-to-go trade event Lunch! – and the London debut of Commercial Kitchen. Diversified Communications UK said while the UK’s strict lockdown measures are expected to ease over the coming months, social distancing and restrictions on mass gatherings look to remain in force for March 2021. It said, notably, many Casual Dining exhibitors and visitors are among the millions of people currently furloughed, which makes it even harder for firms to plan their stands and product launches at this time. Chris Brazier, group event director for the shows, said: “While all three will remain separate shows, they will, in effect, create one much larger hospitality event for the industry at the time that it needs it most.” 
 
Searches for pub reopening dates and ‘takeaway pints’ surge during latest lockdown: Searches for pub reopening dates and takeaway pints rocketed during the first week of the latest lockdown. According to analysis of Google data, searches for “when can pubs reopen in England” soared by 2,501% last week. Meanwhile, the question “what pubs are doing takeaway pints?” surged 2,938% in the first week since hospitality venues were ordered to close for the second time this year. Pubs and restaurants were initially told they were not allowed to sell takeaway pints under the rules of the second England-wide coronavirus lockdown. However, it was later announced “click-and-collect” and phone orders of alcohol are allowed from pubs and micro-breweries.
 
Socially distanced beer festival ready to launch after lockdown: Camden Winter Beer Hall, featuring craft beer and street food, will launch on Friday, 4 December, as lockdown ends. Independent UK craft ales, Bavarian street food, live brass bands and party DJs will set up at Camden’s Electric Ballroom and run until February 2021. The event is available for groups of four, five and six people at £15 per person. Should the current lockdown be extended, tickets for affected shows will be switched to a date of customers’ choice from the remaining three-month schedule. 
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking to speak to finance directors with restaurant group experience. It is looking for a candidate who is ACA/ACCA/CIMA qualified and has an extensive hospitality background for a client that is recruiting. The position will be based in London, paying up to £100,000. Key responsibilities will include managing the financial department in day-to-day operations as well as overseeing all financial accounting, reporting and planning. This role will also play a key part in the senior leadership team and contribute to overall group strategy. Anyone interested can email Oliwia@corecruitment.com with their CV. 
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 
Licensing update: Licensing solicitor John Gaunt & Partners has produced a useful monthly summary of licensing news relating to the covid-19 situation, which can be accessed here
 

Company News: 

TGI to launch ‘Friday’s for grown-ups’ bar focused concept: TGI Friday’s is to launch a bar-focused concept, which harks back to the heritage of the brand as it looks to re-engage with older consumers. The first site under the new concept, which is being pitched at a more grown-up demographic, is set to open early next year in Cobham, Surrey. The company is about to start work on the former Carluccio’s premises with the concept inspired by TGI Friday’s original site, which launched in New York’s 63rd and 1st in 1965 and that it might take its name from this location. Speaking at Propel’s final Multi Club event of the year, TGI Friday’s chief executive Robert Cook said: “It’s cocktail-led but still has all the attributes that one would expect from Friday’s. When the first one opened in New York, it was a cocktail bar with a small food offering. Rather than a small food menu, we’re going to have a sharing menu. I would describe it as Friday’s for grown-ups – people aged 40 to 55. We’re looking at where those people have gone as Friday’s fans and how can we re-engage with them. It will be a lot of fun and something to smile about in quite a difficult world. We’re grabbing the opportunity where we are able to pick up sites in a smaller format. Our sites are 6,400 square foot on average and these are about 4,000 square foot to 4,500 square foot. With so much distressed property in the market at good prices we’ve been able to secure half a dozen sites.” It is thought sites in Canterbury, Harrogate and Cambridge are under discussion for the new concept. Cook said trading has been “relatively good” if “patchy”, but the tiering system coming into force had made things “very difficult to navigate”. Its refreshed “Famous at Friday’s” brand is now in place in 12 sites. Cook, who joined the business in December last year, said he originally hoped the new format would have been in place in almost half its 87-strong estate by now, but another five sites will have undergone the change by the time lockdown is due to end. With its other initiatives such as click and collect, delivery and at-home boxes in place, Cook said it has allowed the business to be “more nimble on its feet” this time around and also “provide incremental revenue streams besides a portfolio of restaurants”. But Cook said the procedures in place meant the business was ready to reopen for dine-in in England on 2 December “or whenever it might be”. He added: “My fear is it might be longer than that. I just hope we have some sort of Christmas to trade on.”

Natural Kitchen having to ‘take drastic action to have a chance of coming back’: Justin Green, managing director of London-based deli and cafe concept The Natural Kitchen, which was placed into administration last month, has said the business is having to take “drastic action to have a chance of coming back”. Propel revealed in September, the nine-strong company was working with property advisers Lambert Smith Hampton in regards to the marketing of its business. It has since been placed into administration with Quantuma overseeing the process. Propel understands Green is looking to buy back the bulk of the business. In an update on the group’s website, he said: “Like many other businesses, Natural Kitchen has struggled as the pandemic evolved with no realistic opportunity to reopen successfully given our City-based locations. It’s no one’s fault but covid. This resulted in Natural Kitchen having to take drastic action to have a chance of coming back. The process is ongoing, and we are now trying our very best to agree on a reopening strategy with our partners. This will, in the main, now be next year as we find ourselves in lockdown again with no guarantee that restrictions will be lifted enough for the business to trade pre-Christmas. When you begin to return to your places of work in the City, Natural Kitchen will, we hope, be open again to serve you. Unfortunately, this is not likely to be everywhere and will depend a great deal on the pragmatism of our partners to find a way through. Like you, we have everything crossed for the future.”

Flower Burger secures UK debut site: Milan-based vegan burger brand Flower Burger, which earlier this year signed a master franchise agreement with London-based multi-brand multi-unit food and beverage operator Gerry’s Group to develop the brand across the UK, has secured its debut site here, Propel has learned. The brand, which already operates in Italy, France and the Netherlands, has secured the former Herman Ze German site in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia. The site is set to undergo a refurbishment, before launching post-lockdown with “signature Flower Burger design”. The company is on the hunt for further sites in central London. The partnership with Gerry’s, which was brokered by food and beverage business developer and franchise consultant Seeds Consulting, involves 45 openings in key cities over the next ten years. Founded in 2015 in Milan by Matteo Toto, Flower Burger is an “innovative vegan burger concept” with 14 locations in Italy, Marseille and Rotterdam. All burgers are produced from raw ingredients and without the use of additives in its central production facility and they are cooked in store to order. Gerry’s Group is a multinational company operating more than 30 Costa Coffee locations in the UK, as well as Wok To Walk franchises in the UK and IHOP restaurants in Pakistan. Kit Alexander at Etch acted on the Fitzrovia deal on behalf of the vendor, while Adam Bowers, of Stonebrook London, acted on behalf of Flower Burger.

Marco Pierre White restaurants in Wales report weekend covers at full capacity: Black and White Hospitality, which owns the rights to restaurant brands belonging to Marco Pierre White, has said its two Steakhouse Bar & Grill restaurants in Wales have been inundated with reservations following the two-and-a-half-week “firebreak” lockdown ended on Monday (9 November). The teams at the Cardiff and Swansea venues are gearing up for a bumper weekend with both reporting covers at full capacity. Black and White Hospitality marketing manager Carys Cobley said: “The interest and support from the people of Swansea has been just phenomenal and is on a level never seen before. The Cardiff team is also reporting similar interest. Both are also reporting really positive numbers in the run-up to and during Christmas.”
 
Electric Pubs adds to portfolio: Electric Pubs, the Dorset-based pub and restaurant operator, has added to its portfolio. The company will shortly reopen the World’s End in Almer, which has been shut since the spring. As part of the nearby Charborough Estate, it has been a pub for almost 600 years. The original site burned down about 30 years ago, but it was rebuilt in the style of its predecessor. The pub will offer a selection of real ale and cider with regularly changing guest ales. Electric Pubs director Steve Killingbeck said: “Over time, we plan to expand the food and wine offering. We will have a largely British menu with a strong emphasis on Dorset produce, meat and fish, and bespoke wine. We also plan to significantly expand and upgrade the outside areas, developing a large country garden in the fields to the rear, which we hope to open in the summer of next year.” Richard Drax, co-owner of Charborough Estate, said “We are delighted Electric Pubs will now be operating the World’s End. It shares our vision for the pub and how it can develop going forward.” Electric Pubs was established in 2019 and operates five other sites. It is also developing a seafood-focused restaurant and bar, to be located within the Bridport Arts Centre, which will open next year. Charborough Estate was advised by Savills on the World’s End deal.
 
Costa Coffee introduces anti-bacterial reusable cup lid: Costa Coffee, which is owned by Coca-Cola, has launched an anti-bacterial reusable cup lid for £1 as part of a trial across 500 participating stores, with national rollout planned for 2021. More than 1,200 were sold in the first week of sale. The fully reusable lid is more hygienic and better for the environment than regular takeaway lids, Costa said. The lid is made from polypropylene, a durable thermoplastic polymer with an anti-bacterial coating and is suitable for small (12oz), medium (16oz) and large (20oz) takeaway cups across Costa Coffee stores, as well as small (12oz) and medium (16oz) cups available at Costa Express machines. The lid is dishwasher-safe and can be used time and time again if cared for correctly. A Costa spokesman said: “As we continue to drive reuse and recycling rates across our stores, we understand not every customer will opt for a reusable cup, but we hope our new reusable lids will be an entry point to reuse for those customers. They are smaller and more convenient, with the added benefit of its anti-bacterial coating to give even more peace of mind when contact is a concern. Initial sales results suggest it’s something the market has been missing and we look forward to expanding nationally in 2021, following the success of this trial.”
 
McDonald’s festive advert to launch during new series opening episode of I’m A Celebrity: McDonald’s will release its Christmas advert during I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, which will take up the entire 90-second break on Sunday evening (15 November). The animated video shows a single mum trying to get her son to embrace his inner child but he refuses to do so until after they have visited a McDonald’s drive-thru. The boy also stashes a bag of “Reindeer Treats”, which is what McDonald’s has named its carrot sticks on its festive menu, to feed Santa’s reindeer on Christmas Eve. Music is the advert is a cover of Alphaville’s Forever Young. It comes as McDonald’s has pledged to donate funding to enable FareShare to redistribute four million meals to families in need before next Easter. Added to its donation before the October school half term, McDonald’s will help fund more than five million meals.

Zia Lucia announces opening date for new restaurant: Zia Lucia has teamed up with Laine Brew Co to create a new beer to mark the opening of its new pizza restaurant on Friday, 11 December. Founders Claudio Vescovo and Gianluca D’Angelo have used delivery services to their advantage during lockdowns while setting up their fifth site, which will be in Wandsworth, south London. Zia Lucia brings its four doughs to the site plus the new beer, which is named Birra Cabriolè – an unfiltered lager at 4.6% ABV to pair with traditional Italian food. The beer will also be available at Zia Lucia’s sister Berto Pasta restaurants. Pizzas at Zia Lucia Wandsworth will be priced between £7 and £12. They include signature Arianna and Andrea Pirlo pizzas, and are available on all four types of dough. Toppings range from fiery nduja, spicy spianata salami, truffle sauce, honey, burrata, rich blue cheese gorgonzola and roasted pepperoni. The menu will also feature seasonal specials, starters, plates, salads and desserts. The drinks menu focuses on Italian-style cocktails, bottled beers, wine and prosecco. The 60-cover site was the former Chit Chaat Chai site, located in Old York Road.
 
67 Pall Mall offers three-course meal delivery kits with suggested wine matches: 67 Pall Mall, the world’s first private members’ club for wine-lovers, has launched dining at home boxes with recommended wines to match each course. London-based members and virtual members will be able to order weekly dinner boxes inspired by 67 Pall Mall’s new cookbook ‘Wine and Food. The Perfect Match’. Boxes will feature fresh ingredients from the club’s suppliers, to create a three-course menu delivered directly to their homes. Recipe cards will be included in the box with instructions on how to prepare each course. Boxes cost £47 plus £20 delivery fees. The first box, which is available from Friday (13 November), includes Scotch Burford Brown egg with haggis and piccalilli, and 2018 Grüner Veltliner Smaragd, Ried Kreutles, Weingut Emmerich Knoll has been chosen as a matched wine; dukkah-encrusted fillet of cod, dried apricot falafel, sumac yoghurt and pomegranate, pairs with NV Viña Ventisquero, Viognier, Tara Atacama, White Wine 2; and port-poached pear, whipped stilton, honeyed walnuts, and recommends NV Tawny Port, 40 Year Old, Quinta do Noval as a match. A different menu is available for Friday, 20 November.

Mindful Chef strikes Selfridges partnership: Healthy recipe box service Mindful Chef has struck a partnership with Selfridges for a new frozen range of meals and smoothies. Selfridges will stock a curated selection of Mindful Chef’s healthy frozen meals and smoothie mixes, all available to purchase from the flagship store in London’s Oxford Street. Additionally, to mark the launch, Mindful Chef has created two exclusive frozen meals – miso aubergine with edamame and teriyaki-glazed salmon – and two smoothie mixes – matcha coconut and tropical turmeric – for the department store. Mindful Chef chief executive Tim Lee said: “While sales of our recipe boxes soared 450% over the first lockdown, it became clear to us there also exists a consumer demand for incredibly quick and simple frozen meals that, nevertheless, provide nutritional value to our customers when time is poor.” Mindful Chef has also recently launched a curated selection of its plant-based frozen meals into Planet Organic stores across London and expanded the frozen range available from the Mindful Chef store. Last week, Nestlé agreed to acquire a majority stake in Mindful Chef, which will see consumer-focused private equity firm Piper exit the business. 
 
The Athenian to launch festive menu: Greek street food restaurant group The Athenian will launch its festive menu on Monday (16 November). Dishes will include winter souvlaki with a festive twist where the souvlaki will be combine wild boar sausage, dressed in aromatic herbs, wrapped in handmade with a dollop of cranberry sauce. There is also a vegan version with Moving Mountains vegan sausages. Both the wild boar and the Moving Mountains sausages are available as a wrap, box or “naked”. The Athenian has also added some traditional Greek desserts to the menu, including the syrupy chocolate baklava and the melomakarona – a Greek honey macaroon. Launched in 2014, The Athenian has sites in Canary Wharf, London Bridge, White City and Victoria that are offering takeaway and its menu is also available on Deliveroo. The festive menu will be served until the new year.

Cafe Murano offers white truffle menu box for delivery: Michelin-starred chef Angela Hartnett has launched a white truffle menu box for delivery from her London-based Cafe Murano concept. The decadent kit for two to share has been assembled by Hartnett and Murano chef Emily Brightman and has some of the restaurant’s classics as courses but customers can add as much Umbrian white truffle from Meera Cortesi as they wish using a truffle slicer, which comes in the pack. The menu includes focaccia and olive oil, fresh tagliatelle with truffle butter or polenta ravioli with truffle butter, braised feather blade of beef with crushed celeriac, vacherin with confit potatoes and buttermilk panna cotta. The kit costs £175 for four courses and prices start at £105 for a 30g white truffle. Delivery is available within the M25. 

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