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Tue 17th Nov 2020 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Sector spend recovery ‘will take years’ says NPD’s Dominic Allport, QSRs seize opportunities: Consumer spending in hospitality won’t return to the levels seen in 2019 for years, according to NPD Group foodservice director Dominic Allport. Speaking at Propel’s final Multi Club event of the year, Allport said: “We have seen a substantial drop in 2020 of about 40% from 2019 and we are not going to see it bounce back for many years. Even at the end of 2022, we think it will still be 18% less than in 2019.” Allport said that spend in 2019 was £57.7bn while this year it would only be £34.2bn, rising to £46.9bn in 2021 and £47.3bn in 2022. He added: “But there is change and it is for those who can think long term. It’s about rethinking brand purpose, how you interact with consumers and also being customer-centric in innovations. Is there something else coming down the line that will give you an advantage over your rivals? It might be sensible to run focus groups, get feedback from consumers and look at what Generation Z is doing because a lot of what they are doing is what’s likely to happen in the future as they grow up. Also think about maximising trade – contactless and digital is absolutely key. Focus on desserts and side dishes – it’s quite easy to upsell and people want treats. Delivery is going to remain important before, during and after covid. Click and collect is ideal because it offers a seamless customer journey where consumers can select at their own speed and it often produces a higher average cheque. Drive-thrus mean people avoid public transport and that is going to be a huge area of focus.” Meanwhile, Allport said quick service restaurants (QSRs) have seized opportunities during coronavirus. He said: “Some QSRs chose to close in March and April, and began to reopen with deliveries and drive-thrus from May onwards and that helped them bounce back. While M&S and John Lewis are haemorrhaging workers, KFC, Domino’s and Papa John’s are talking about expansion and hiring new workers.” Spend tracking shows QSRs are just 9% down on last year. In comparison, spend at pubs is 21% down and 25% down at full service restaurants. At travel and leisure foodservice spend has fallen to minus 52% while foodservice spend in the workplace and in education is 59% below 2019 levels. Allport also said it’s not just QSRs that are looking to expansion and listed BrewDog, Cafe De Nata, Flat Iron, Gordon Ramsay Burger, Jollibee, Nando’s, Tim Hortons and Taco Bell as businesses faring well. He added: “Tim Hortons is interesting and one to keep an eye on in the future. It has about 30 sites and is talking about having a Tim Hortons in every major town and city – that’s quite serious expansion and will be competition for the likes of Costa and McDonald’s.” 
The NPD Group is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Bibendum to be exclusive distributor for MDCV brand, Chateau de Berne: Drinks distributor Bibendum will be the exclusive distributor for MDCV brand, Chateau de Berne. Bibendum will be taking on the MDCV flagship Provence brand alongside the existing and well-known Provence brands – Chateau Saint Roux (organic), Chateau des Bertrands and the most recent addition, Ultimate Provence. Alongside the Provence Brands, Bibendum will be working exclusively on its English wine brands. MDCV UK chief executive Gary Smith said: “Bibendum’s sales teams have delivered the expected growth this year for us on our brands in spite of the challenging circumstances and we have expanded our range with them on the back of that success.” Bibendum chief executive Michael Saunders added: “Over the past year, Bibendum has developed a very close working relationship with MDCV, succeeding in gaining great traction for its wine despite the appalling market conditions that prevailed in the on-trade. It has been clear our two ambitious, quality-focused businesses, with aligned goals, can work brilliantly together. So it is great to now have the entire MDCV portfolio in the Bibendum range, supplying our customers across the sales channels into all parts of the UK.” If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com
Bibendum is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 
Propel’s ‘lessons of lockdown’ video series to feature Roy Ellis next: In the latest Propel “lessons of lockdown” 15-minute video, Ann Elliott talks to Roy Ellis, chief executive of Mission Mars, the north west bar and restaurant operator. Ellis talks about the lessons of the first lockdown that he is applying to this lockdown. The video will be released at 9am on Tuesday (17 November).
 
Paul Charity to explore how pub landscape has transformed in a generation as part of latest Propel Premium column: Propel managing director and founder Paul Charity will explore how the pub landscape has been transformed in a generation as part of this week’s Premium Opinion, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday (20 November) at 5pm. “It's almost laughable how misguided public perceptions can still be about pubs,” he writes in his 1,500-word piece. 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. An annual premium subscription costs £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com
 
Busaba MD – applying pre-covid agreements to current environment just doesn’t make good business sense: Terry Harrison, managing director of Busaba, the Thai chain founded by Alan Yau, has told Propel that landlords “applying pre-covid agreements to a current (or post-covid) environment doesn’t make good business sense for either side of the equation”. Harrison was talking after the company surrendered the lease of its restaurant in Chelsea’s King’s Road, after failing to reach an agreement with the site’s landlord. The company secured approval for its company voluntary arrangement (CVA) proposal last month. Harrison said: “The majority of our landlords have been very supportive, but there is a minority where the penny just still hasn’t dropped yet that the world has changed – maybe not forever, but certainly for the foreseeable. We understand there are huge challenges for all of us, landlords and tenants alike, but applying pre-covid agreements to a current (or post-covid) environment just doesn’t make good business sense on either side of the equation. Unfortunately, we have decided to cease trading at Chelsea rather than gamble with a site that we barely made profit at before the pandemic. It’s a shame because we had a strong core following in the Chelsea area and we’d like to thank all our patrons for their support. We will, hopefully, be back in the area soon.” Harrison said the company had agreed deals with landlords on eight of its 12 sites and was close to agreeing most of the last remaining sites. Busaba, which earlier this summer was acquired by London-based private equity firm Tnui Capital, launched its CVA at the start of September. The CVA saw it exit its site in Eastcastle Street, Oxford Circus, which it placed on the market earlier this year; plus the lease of its former site in Manchester; the lease of its former site in St Albans; and the site it was set to take in Reading’s Jackson’s Corner development. Davis Coffer Lyons is marketing the ex-Busaba site in Chelsea. 
 
‘Integrity of insurance companies at stake’ over business interruption policies appeal: Night Time Industry Association chief executive Michael Kill has said the integrity of insurance companies is at stake as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) appeal case over non-payment on business interruption insurance policies due to coronavirus reaches its final stage at the Supreme Court. Kill said: “The night-time economy and hospitality sector has been decimated by the impact of covid-19, not least by the behaviour of insurance companies in their management of business interruption claims since the closures of many businesses due to the pandemic. We are now at the final hurdle with the FCA Supreme Court appeal hearing this week, and can feel an immense amount of frustration and anger from businesses at the insurance companies that have utilised this process, although expedited, to elongate the potential outcome. It has to be said that you can only feel that this strategy by insurers will purposely see many businesses close without seeing their claims fulfilled, bringing into question the integrity of the insurance sector.” A test case brought by the FCA on behalf of thousands of businesses that claimed they should have been paid by insurers to cover closures during the pandemic was favoured by the High Court in September, which agreed business interruption insurance policies with pandemic or notifiable disease clauses should be read as to cover covid-19, and claims should be met “in most cases”. The FCA said its aim in bringing the case was to urgently clarify key issues of contractual uncertainty for as many policyholders and insurers as possible. The FCA did this by selecting a representative sample of policy wordings issued by eight insurers. The judgment said most, but not all, of the disease clauses in the sample provide cover. The test case has also clarified the covid-19 pandemic and the government and public response were a single cause of the covered loss, which is a key requirement for claims to be paid even if the policy provides cover. However, the judgment did not say the eight defendant insurers were liable across all of the 21 different types of policy wording in the representative sample considered by the court. Each policy needs to be considered against the detailed judgment to work out what it means for that policy.
 
Peter Backman – customers will need to be reminded that eating out is fun, enjoyable, value for money – and safe: Sector analyst Peter Backman has said that over the next few months of uncertainty, it will be “necessary to continue to strengthen our defences and confidence within the industry and within individual businesses”, and for customers to be reminded that “eating out is fun, enjoyable, value for money – and safe”. Backman said: “Over the next few months, there will still be uncertainty. When will the vaccine arrive in quantity? How effective will it be? And for how long? As experience begins to answer these questions, let’s hope the answers are benign so that we will be able to lower our guard and start eating out, enjoying our communal leisure time and travel. When we have the confidence to do these things, the eating-out economy will start to open up. But covid will still lurk and it will cause more mayhem – with luck, these bouts of mayhem will happen less frequently, and with less severity. Customers will need to be reminded that eating out is fun, enjoyable, value for money – and safe. Businesses will need to create their own confidence by shoring up finances, ensuring their people are committed, looked after and safe. Overall, we’re going to have to live with this situation for some time. That’s the time to prepare – or repair – defences while we wait until covid has been corralled as best it can be.” At the same time, Backman said preliminary numbers from his next Ones to Watch report reveal 12% of sites run by smaller, previously fast growing, “bubbling under” brands, have closed in the past six months. He said: “Operators are probably more worried than they’re letting on. There are almost four quarters of unpaid rent; utility bills to paid; and any VAT backlog is to be repaid next spring. Some larger operators raised loans or equity in the early stages of lockdown and those funds will probably be enough to see them through. But for most operators, finances are a worry. They are kept going through government-backed interventions, such as the furlough scheme. To the accusation that such businesses are zombie companies and should be exposed to the rigours of the economy, I would say many (probably most) restaurant businesses are operated on a sustainable business model (that was certainly the case before covid struck), and they will return to health in due course.”

‘Big three’ food delivery apps ‘earning £1bn-plus per year in fees from UK restaurants’: Just Eat, Deliveroo and UberEats are earning more than £1bn in fees from UK restaurants amid calls for a reduction in their pricing, according to research commissioned by rival Flipdish. Each company defended its position while adding they have supported thousands of food and drink businesses through the pandemic and they only prosper if the restaurants they serve fare successfully. Flipdish’s findings also revealed Just Eat has captured 37% of the UK delivery market with Deliveroo on 36% and UberEats at 26%. A separate poll of 1,031 regular takeaway customers showed almost half (48%) are unaware of the fees charged. When told, 59% said they feel it is unfair that online market places can demand high commission and 83% believe they should be more transparent online about the fees charged to restaurants. A Just Eat spokesman said: “Since the start of the pandemic, we have given well over £11m worth of support to the many thousands of independent restaurants we work with through a number of support measures, including commission rebates on delivery and removal of commission on collection orders.” A Deliveroo spokesman said: “Throughout covid-19, we have invested millions in our restaurant partners, helping them increase their sales and producing new tools to support both their dine-in and delivery businesses.” An UberEats spokesman said: “At the beginning of the crisis, we put in place a range of initiatives to help restaurant partners, particularly small business owners, as they keep their kitchens firing to feed people across the country.” Conor McCarthy, chief executive of Flipdish, which said its pricing is based on fair commission rates that adapt as restaurants grow and does not charge a standing monthly fee, said: “Giving away a huge chunk of revenues is a particularly painful blow to restaurateurs who are struggling to get back on their feet after the crippling lockdown. The best way to support local businesses is to order direct so more of the cash stays with the restaurant.” Research discovered customers in London collectively spend £452m with Just Eat, Deliveroo and UberEats, while Greater Manchester coughs up £68m, with Birmingham third on the cities lists, handing over £53m. After the top 20 major cities, the rest of the UK pays £121m.
 
Greater Manchester to fund Bounce Back loans for SMEs: Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, has said the authority will fund £10m of Bounce Back loans. The support, which comprises emergency loans of between £2,000 and £50,000, is specifically for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that are unable to access state-backed capital from commercial lenders. Greater Manchester Combined Authority has made loans available from Monday (16 November) to businesses in Greater Manchester that bank with providers not accredited to lend under the taxpayer-backed Bounce Back Loan Scheme. Banks such as Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and NatWest are restricting access to government-backed loans to their existing customers as they battle long waiting lists, leaving businesses desperate for cash. Burnham said: “We have a duty to protect and support our SMEs through this crisis, which means easy access to vital funds.” He added the initiative would allow “a bespoke approach to lending that improves efficiency and helps to ensure survival”. Loans will be administered by GC Business Finance, which is a not-for-profit lender. Burnham wants to see the same system adopted across the country. He said: “To enable us to build back better, we need to make this style of funding available to all businesses across the UK, taking the burden off traditional banks and placing greater emphasis on diversity of funding.” Bounce back loans are fully guaranteed by the Treasury. They are interest-free for the first 12 months and then incur a 2.5% rate. More than 1.3m businesses have borrowed £40bn under the scheme, but the National Audit Office has warned taxpayers could lose as much as £26bn from loans that are never repaid. Mark Hughes, chief executive of The Growth Company, which includes GC Business Finance, said his firm’s tailored approach to lending plus a wider package of support for borrowers would help put firms in the best possible position to recover.
 
Sector shares rise on Moderna vaccine news: Shares in the majority of listed pub and restaurant companies climbed on Monday (16 November) on the back of news of the effectiveness of the Moderna vaccine for covid-19. In the late afternoon, trading shares in pub companies – Marston’s, Mitchells & Butlers, JD Wetherspoon and Young’s, had climbed 9%, 10%, 8% and 7% respectively. Meanwhile, Loungers saw its shares climb 8% and shares in The Restaurant Group increased 6%. Moderna revealed early data showed its vaccine was almost 95% effective in preventing covid-19, which follows the news last week that Pfizer has developed a vaccine that has 90% effectiveness.
 
EasyJet founder backs delivery disruptor brand easyFood: EasyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou is backing food order brand easyFood as part of the Easy group. The easyFood app has launched in Leicester and aims to cut food delivery prices by up to 75%. While other food delivery companies charge as much as 40% of every order as their commission, easyFood claimed it will charge a flat fee of £3.99 per order when delivering up to three miles from the restaurant or £1.50 if the restaurant delivers itself or customers using the app pick up the food themselves. Jeewan Sagu, co-founder and chief executive of easyFood, said: “We’ve been working on our app and our model for years and have invested more than £1m into it. We’ve put in the work to make sure it is not just successful, but really thrives and becomes a main competitor to the likes of Just Eat and Deliveroo. We’re passionate about keeping the food and beverage industry afloat as they bring local communities like Leicester closer together. We have even incorporated table ordering into our app to help communities, restaurants, and customers during the covid-19 pandemic.” Sir Stelios added: “We have always prided ourselves on making things affordable for everyone, and with the model easyFood has for both customers and restaurants, they are a welcome partnership. The government’s social distancing guidance makes many restaurant owners nervous about making it through this very difficult period. It’s a great opportunity for those businesses that are being affected by the downturn to join easyFood and transition to a delivery-based operation.” The company uses a franchise model with plans to have 260 territories where the brand will launch as soon as the franchises are snapped up. Launches in Birmingham, Lichfield and Walsall are already lined up. EasyFood is free for restaurants to join, with no subscription fees or hardware costs during the second lockdown and once doors do open again, it said it would scrap all dine-in fees for pubs, bars and restaurants. 
 
Scottish operator rules out opening pubs over moral reasons: Pub-restaurant group operator Craig Tannock has chosen to keep all his sites shut for moral reasons even though he is able to open them. Tannock, who owns Mono, Stereo, The 78 and the Flying Duck, said the health and safety of staff and customers had been his main consideration, but added he would not criticise anyone else for reopening while the pandemic continues. Mono, a vegan restaurant, bar and live music venue in Glasgow, said in an online post it would remain closed through November, even though it could open in a limited capacity under the current tier system because “we do not think it is appropriate for us to open in a moral or a business sense due to the current restrictions”. Tannock who employs circa 180 staff, said he had reopened two of his other venues for a time but all are now closed. And while accessing government support, he has not had to make any staff redundant. “We are uncomfortable opening up while this virus is about, full stop. Right from the beginning, I failed to understand this rush to reopen,” he told The Herald. “We have always felt that we don’t want to just open up to lose more money than by staying closed.” Tannoch opened The 78 in the west end of Glasgow and city centre venue Stereo for a short period in September but found it difficult to trade as music venues. He explained one main lender is a major brewery, which has been very accommodating, and the pubs’ landlords have also been helpful. Tannock added: “That’s why I can’t make a call on anyone else’s decision because you don’t know what pressures they are under.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is currently working with a business that uses technology to attract and retain customers within the hospitality and retail industries. This business is looking to appoint a platform consult/project manager to support the business through a period of growth. The position is based in based in Guildford and will pay up to £60,000. The individual will be responsible for translating customer requirements into capabilities across the business’ platforms, designing solutions that avoid core platform coding changes and highlighting addition revenue opportunities. They will also work collaboratively within the delivery team across large accounts as well as running and contributing to functional workshops. As well as a strong technical background, they would also have a good understanding of the retail and hospitality industry. Anyone interested can email Hayley@corecruitment.com with their CV.
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 

Company News:

Pret launches new dinner range for delivery and new Order Ahead service: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned chain, has further diversified its offer with the launch of new Dinners by Pret delivery range and a new Order Ahead service. Available from 30 Pret sites from Thursday (19 November), the new Dinners by Pret range comprises focaccia pizzas; pigs in blankets; mac ’n’ cheese; hot rice bowls, including curry and chili; and milkshakes. The new dinners menu also includes three new vegan-friendly hot rice bowls. Briony Raven, UK food and coffee director at Pret, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to offer more customers new (and freshly made) Pret Dinners for their evening takeaways. With many of us having tried to take up cooking during the last lockdown, we decided it’s time to let our customers sit back and relax while Pret handles dinner – you’ve seen enough of your kitchen this year. We’ve worked hard to take some of the nation’s most beloved comfort foods and give them a Pret twist, including our new focaccia pizzas. Not only have we created new items to add to our dinners menu range but we have expanded the delivery services to be from 30 shops with our delivery partners. Not only that but we have also made sure to include something for everyone including more vegan dishes than ever before.” Customers looking to arrange a takeaway from their local Pret for breakfast or lunch can now visit the brand’s website and order directly through its new Order Ahead system to safely pick up their order at their designated shop at the specified time.
 
German Doner Kebab appoints new franchise recruitment director for North America, 75 restaurants in development pipeline: German Doner Kebab (GDK), the flagship concept of Hero Brands, has appointed a new franchise recruitment director for North America to spearhead its growth and development in the region. Michael Bruno joins from Focus Brands and has more than 25 years’ experience in the sector. Bruno will be heading up the franchise recruitment arm for GDK and will be tasked with developing the franchisee growth pipeline across North America. Bruno’s appointment comes as German Doner Kebab opens its first two restaurants, in Ottawa and Vancouver, and forges ahead with its North American expansion and ambitious plans to engage and recruit quality franchisees across the region. GDK has five franchisees who have signed up for a development pipeline of 75 restaurants across North America, embarking on significant growth with key locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, New York, New Jersey, Houston, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver. GDK USA managing director Nigel Belton said: “I am looking forward to working closely with Michael as we seek to rapidly develop a robust development pipeline. With our first two stores now open in Canada, I am confident this will translate into much more interest and excitement, which will support our endeavours to ‘on board’ the right partners to build the GDK brand.” Bruno added: “This really is a fantastic opportunity to be joining a new disruptive brand and help the senior team drive and further strengthen GDK’s footprint as it prepares for an exciting growth period. I’m seeking to engage with experienced franchisees across North America that are keen to expand their restaurant portfolio and join the GDK family.” The GDK franchise business employs more than 1,000 people within the UK and also operates franchised stores in Sweden, Dubai, Abu-Dhabi, Oman and Bahrain.
 
The Pepper Collective appoints managing director: Salt’s restaurant division, The Pepper Collective, has appointed Paul Fleming as managing director. Fleming, who was commercial director at Salt, will be responsible for driving forward the day-to-day operations and bringing Pepper’s project pipeline to life, in line with the company’s ambitious strategy. Fleming’s commercial experience ranges from West End theatres and music festivals to global beverage brands, and he brings to the business “an unrivalled understanding of how to grow brands in challenging markets”, The Pepper Collective said. Group chief executive Andrew Fishwick said: “Paul’s ability to drive large-scale projects with all of the diplomacy and skill required is second to none. I am so excited to bring him into our team and go on this exciting journey with him.” Fleming added: “There has never been a more important time for hospitality businesses to build meaningful partnerships, to share knowledge, resource and skills to create joyful experiences.” In addition to Fleming, The Pepper Collective has also appointed Janelle Ladewig as general counsel. Ladewig, a qualified solicitor, brings extensive experience in commercial property, particularly the sale and acquisition of high-worth businesses.
 
Five Guys secures former Chiquito site in Crawley: Five Guys, the US better burger brand, is set to continue its expansion in the UK, after securing a site in Crawley, West Sussex. The John Eckbert-led company has secured the former Chiquito site at Crawley Leisure Park, with an opening planned before the end of the year. Propel understands the circa 100-strong Five Guys is in talks on a number of former Gourmet Burger Kitchen sites and is set to take the former Frankie & Benny’s site in the Parrs Wood Entertainment Centre, Manchester. Earlier this summer, Propel revealed the company had launched a “curbside” pick-up option at selected sites across its UK estate. It launched the option at 14 of its sites across the country, including those in Leicester, Nottingham, Cheshire Oaks, Gloucester Quays and Milton Keynes.
 
Whitbread to convert two Travelodge sites into Premier Inn hotels: Whitbread, the owner of Premier Inn and Hub by Premier hotel brands, has exchanged contracts to secure two trading Travelodge hotels for Premier Inn. The agreements with separate private landlords will see the Travelodge Bury St Edmunds hotel and Travelodge London Uxbridge hotel convert into Premier Inns. The move means the demand for additional bedrooms in popular locations noted by Premier Inn can be met. Commenting on the acquisitions, Mark Anderson, managing director for property and international at Whitbread, said: “Securing new Premier Inn hotels in Bury St Edmunds and Uxbridge is a strategic investment by Whitbread in popular markets for business and leisure travel. It’s part of our ongoing strategy of growing market share, through Whitbread’s strong balance sheet and financial flexibility and resilience, in locations where we are under-represented and where we see opportunities to create long-term value for our shareholders and guests.” The Travelodge Bury St Edmunds hotel opened in 2018 and is located in the north of the town, close to transport connections and major local employers such as British Sugar. Premier Inn’s existing hotel is located to the south, within Bury St Edmunds town centre. The Travelodge Uxbridge hotel is located on Bakers Road adjacent to Uxbridge underground station. Premier Inn has been actively pursuing a site in the town centre to complement its existing 80-bedroom site to west of the town centre. The timescale for converting the hotels into Premier Inns has not yet been confirmed.
 
Michael Caines to launch beach bar and restaurant alongside patisserie in Exmouth: Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines has unveiled plans to open Mickeys Beach Bar and Restaurant alongside Sylvain Peltier, as well as Michael’s Café Patisserie Glacerie as part of the Exmouth seafront regeneration project in Devon. Mickeys will be a casual dining restaurant that will feature a glasshouse and outdoor terraces. In keeping with Caines’ ethos of local and seasonal produce, Mickeys Beach Bar and Restaurant will source local produce to support the local community of food producers and farmers, reduce food miles and promote biodiversity. Adjacent to Mickeys Beach Bar and Restaurant will be Caines and Peltier’s first Café Patisserie Glacerie franchise. It will offer fresh French patisseries, house-made gelato ice-cream, artisan coffee, milkshakes and hot pies, Cornish pasties, sandwiches and salads that will be available for grab and go. Caines said: “Mickeys has been in development for five years and I am so excited to see the building finally come to life. It is a space for the local community and beyond. Above all, it’s a place of fun. I’m excited to be able to share more over the coming months as we approach the opening.” Mickeys Beach Bar and Restaurant joins The Harbourside Refuge in Porthleven, The Cove at Maenporth and luxury country house hotel and restaurant Lympstone Manor as part of the Michael Caines Collection.
 
M&B places 20 permanently closed sites on market: Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), the All Bar One, Harvester, Miller & Carter and Toby Carvery operator, has placed 20 permanently closed sites on the market. The Phil Urban-led group is working with property advisers CBRE on marketing the 20 leasehold sites. Propel understands the sites are spread across the UK, and across a number of the company’s brands. An M&B spokesman said: “As announced in September, M&B reopened the vast majority of its estate, approximately 95%, after the first lockdown ended. The remaining sites have been under review on a case-by-case basis since, taking into account factors such as expected footfall and business layout. We have taken the difficult decision not to reopen some of these sites and are working with leaseholders on next steps.”
 
D&D London launches ‘at-home’ kits: Restaurant operator D&D London has launched “at-home” kits. For the first time, diners are able to enjoy dishes created by D&D London’s chefs from their own homes. The inaugural kits include The Bluebird At Home Feast, Sartoria At Home, The Ultimate German Gymnasium Experience, Orrery At Home and The Ultimate Klosterhaus Experience Kit. Each kit includes starter, main course and dessert as well as additional wine options. Dishes include Creedy Carver duck breast, roasted cauliflower, pickled blueberries and five spice sauce from Bluebird; home-cured black cod, liquorice, red Tropea onion jam, extra virgin olive oil crushed potatoes and cavolo nero from Sartoria; Vienna schnitzel, potato salad and lingonberry compote from German Gymnasium and Klosterhaus; and lamb Wellington with pomme purée rosemary jus – for two – from Orrery.  

Loungers set to make Black Country debut with Wolverhampton site next month: Cafe-bar brand Loungers is set to open a site in Wolverhampton next month for its first outlet in the Black Country. The company has transformed the former Topshop store in Dudley Street into Lupo Lounge, which is due to launch on Wednesday, 16 December. Loungers operates 168 sites across England and Wales under the Lounge and Cosy Club brands. 

PizzaExpress to give £12,000 to community heroes for Christmas: PizzaExpress will give £12,000 to 12 community heroes – through £1,000 gift cards each – who have made this year a little more bearable for others in its Share A Smile campaign. Nominations can be made through the pizza chain’s social media channels with the #ShareASmile hashtag until Sunday, 22 November with winners being picked by a judging panel on Monday, 7 December. The £1,000 PizzaExpress gift cards will allow winners to eat free for a year at its restaurants. Potential winners may have made charitable efforts to help those in need, assisted with grocery shopping for neighbours or simply checked in on others to make sure they are coping. PizzaExpress managing director Zoe Bowley said: “This has been a difficult year for so many people and we, like so many, have been amazed and heartened by the kindness we’ve seen. On the run-up to Christmas, we want to put a spotlight on those who have been selfless and supportive and who, quite frankly, deserve a bit of a treat. I have no doubt it’s going to be a difficult choice choosing just 12 winners.”
 
Ex-Fuller’s boss Jonathon Swaine hired as an adviser to Bohem Brewery: Former Fuller’s Inns managing director Jonathon Swaine has taken an adviser role with Bohem Brewery. The north London-based brewer will use Swaine’s experience in the sector to support the growing Czech-style beer business. Swaine, who is managing director, retail, of Rank Group, will also help with further expanding Bohem’s distribution. Bohem Brewery co-founder Petr Skocek said: “We’re delighted that Jonathon is working with us to support the brewery’s growth. This is a challenging time for the whole sector, but Jonathon’s willingness to come on board is testament to the fact that we have a very distinct proposition in the market. Our fresh, authentic lager offers a point of difference, and having access to the advice and contacts of someone of Jonathon’s calibre is a huge benefit as we focus on continuing our carefully managed strategy for growth.” Swaine added: “I’m delighted to support Petr and the team at Bohem Brewery, having long been an admirer of its high-quality, and differentiated lager. The business has an exciting future and I am honoured to be asked to play my part in its growth.” The brewery is based in Tottenham and has its own taproom in nearby Bounds Green. Bohem beers are the “house pour” lager in the Mother Kelly’s and Craft Beer Co bar brands. Privately owned Bohem is backed by a small group of investors.
 
Everyman appoints advisers to assist with landlord talks: Cinema operator Everyman has appointed financial advisers as it assesses the impact of the coronavirus shutdown on its finances. The company, which has 35 sites, has appointed FTI Consulting to assist it in talks with landlords during the coming months, reports Sky News. It joins a list of major cinema operators – including Cineworld, Vue and Odeon – to draft in corporate finance experts to help weather the covid-19 crisis. Everyman has reduced its pipeline of venues since the start of the pandemic, although it still plans to open eight new cinemas in due course. Everyman raised £17.5m from a share placing in April in an effort to strengthen its balance sheet. It said earlier this month: “All appropriate measures are in place to reduce the financial impact of the closure on the group, including the reduction of operating costs and the postponement of new sites, refurbishments and other capital expenditure projects, together with accessing government support schemes where available.”
 
Mobile ordering app Fetch raises £1m: Mobile ordering app Fetch has exceeded its seed funding target of £150,000 by raising £1m. It includes investment from entrepreneur Andrew Harman, of Strive Capital. Following the deal, Fetch plans to further develop its technology, which has already seen it incorporate instant ordering through App Clips, so customers can tap and go without the need for downloading the app. Fetch co-founder and chief executive Jason Jefferys said: “We’re delighted to have received such considerable investment and that others see the potential in Fetch. Strive Capital has made a significant investment in Fetch and Andrew has been hugely successful with his other tech businesses. He brings a lot of experience and guidance to help us succeed in our mission to be the number one order and payment solution.”
 
London-based restaurants launch delivery options: London-based fried chicken shop Billy & The Chicks has returned for delivery. Billy & The Chicks is now on Deliveroo, and soon to be on UberEats and Just Eat, with a streamlined menu, delivering to customers in the Southbank and Canary Wharf area. The offer includes its fried chicken burgers – The Classic Chicken Burger and The Stinger Burger – spicy hot wings, chicken pieces, boneless breast strippers, and sides such as barbecue beans and coleslaw. Meal deals are also available. Meanwhile, all-day Australian restaurant Milk Beach, in Queen’s Park, west London, has launched a burger and pie delivery menu. It is available Wednesdays to Sundays on its website and includes the Larrikin Leadbeater burger – HG Walter grass-fed British beef, emmental cheese, streaky bacon, caramelised onions, Clarence Court egg, beetroot, lettuce and tomato; and the Vietnamese fish curry pie. Milk Beach has also teamed up with St John Bakery to offer its doughnuts. Milk Beach also operates a takeaway shop from its Lonsdale Road premises that is open Wednesday to Sunday and has launched online sales of its single origin coffee. BAO and Bleecker have teamed up to offer nationwide delivery on their new collaboration – the Bleecker BAO Made-by-you Kit. With this limited edition option that runs until the end of November, visitors to the BAO website can buy six BAOs, six 4oz Bleecker burger patties (halved to create doubles), with American cheese slicves, Bleecker seasoning, Bleecker house sauce, BAO hot man sauce and onion. It’s enough to serve two people and costs £30 plus delivery fees. Soho restaurant and bar Folie has launched Petite Folie – a new patisserie brand that delivers desserts across London through delivery company Supper. Head pastry chef Valérie Morton and executive head chef Christophe Marleix have designed a menu that offers classics such as vanilla mille-feuille with salted caramel, apple tarte tatin, hazelnut and almond Paris-Brest plus chocolate and lemon tarts for up to eight guests. Customers can also pick up their pre-orders from the restaurant. Premium Japanese restaurant Bisushima in the Page 8 hotel, overlooking Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square, which managed to open for just two days before lockdown, is offering a new delivery service from the launch of its à la carte menu, which includes premium quality fish and seafood such as wild sea bass sashimi with shisho and Tosazu shiso dressing; mackerel tatsuta with salsa and shiso dressing; and grilled live fresh Water eel kabayaki donburi.

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