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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Wed 25th Nov 2020 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

BBPA – tier restrictions will cost wet-led sites £1.5bn and destroy thousands of pubs: The British Beer & Pub Association has written to the chancellor Rishi Sunak ahead of Wednesday’s spending review to urge him to deliver emergency grants to pubs because they will face a £1.5bn loss – the equivalent to £47,000 per pub. The trade body revealed if the new tier system introduced by prime minister Boris Johnson led to all wet-let pubs in the UK being subject to the restrictions in tiers two and three, it would cost the sector £1.5bn, with £680m of the total being from lost beer sales alone – the equivalent of 180 million pints – which would damage Britain’s brewing sector as well. The BBPA argued this would destroy thousands of pubs and brewers across the country, forcing them to close for good unless the government provides vital grant support pubs and brewers urgently need. In its letter to Sunak, the BBPA has urged him to deliver emergency grants to pubs in line with those in the first lockdown because 90% of pubs placed under the new tier two and tier three restrictions will operate at a loss. The current support grants range from £1,300 to £3,000 per month, which is not enough to compensate for lost revenue and ongoing fixed costs. In the letter, BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “I cannot overstate how serious the situation facing our brewers and pubs is at this stage. It would be utterly heart-breaking if, having survived through the past nine months, pubs now face ruin with the end of the pandemic in sight.” The trade body made recommendations that pubs with a rateable value of less than £15,000 should be eligible for a grant of £3,000 per month; a value between £15,000 and £51,000 should receive £6,000; a value of between £51,000 and £100,000 should receive £9,000; and a value of more than £100,000 should receive £12,000. She added: “It is clear that pubs are being singled out for exceptionally strict treatment, despite a lack of available evidence that they are any more responsible for outbreaks than other types of venue.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message – there’s a new butcher in town with no bull: Many consumers concerned about the environmental, ethical and health impacts of eating meat have chosen to cut down their intake in recent years, leading to a huge increase in people identifying as flexitarian. For caterers, this is both an opportunity and a challenge – the need to satisfy consumers and add diversity to their menus, while cooking vegan dishes without adding complications to the flow of their kitchen. There is therefore a growing demand for products that can deliver both, which is where the meat replacements market is thriving. The Vegetarian Butcher offers a range of meat replacement products that cook like meat, taste like meat and have the texture of meat. We believe delivering “all the wow without the cow” when it comes to the flavours and textures of meat helps to satisfy flexitarian consumer cravings, at the same time addressing the concerns that drive them to cut down their intake in the first place. With The Vegetarian Butcher, chefs can easily switch out centre of plate ingredients in some of their most popular dishes to deliver the same level of appeal, but without the meat. Find out more here. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email

People and Training Conference goes virtual with daily video, CPL Learning to feature today: This year’s People and Training Conference has gone virtual with a video sent out each day at 9am this week. The event, which showcases outstanding people culture among companies in the sector, is organised by the British Institute of Innkeeping in association with Propel and sponsored by CPL Learning. The next video, which be sent on Wednesday (25 November), features CPL Learning chief operating officer Jamie Campbell, who talks about evolving the way the sector supports its teams – taking positives from 2020.

Three households allowed to mix over Christmas in UK but not in hospitality venues: Up to three households will be allowed to meet up during a five-day Christmas period between 23 December and 27 December but they cannot meet in hospitality settings or other entertainment venues. The agreement has been made by leaders of the four UK nations, who added 2020 “cannot be a normal Christmas” but family and friends will be able to see each other in a “limited and cautious” way. People can mix indoors in homes, places of worship and in outdoor spaces but existing rules on hospitality and venues will remain and the bubbles people form must be “exclusive”. This means people cannot get together with those from more than two other households and, once a bubble is formed, it must not be changed or be extended further. Travel restrictions will also be lifted between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to allow people to visit families in other parts of the UK. The agreement was reached at an emergency meeting of Cobra – the UK government’s emergency committee. In a joint statement, they said: “Even where it is within the rules, meeting with friends and family over Christmas will be a personal judgment for individuals to take, mindful of the risks to themselves and others, particularly those who are vulnerable. We need everyone to think carefully about what they do during this period, balancing some increased social contact with the need to keep the risk of increased transmission of the virus as low as possible.” Michael Gove, the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said people will be able to “enjoy something closer to a normal Christmas”. While Wales’ first minister Mark Drakeford said: “People will be allowed to do what the law will allow them to do, but this is not an instruction to travel, it’s not an instruction to meet with other people. People should still use a sense of responsibility.” Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister added: “The virus is not going to be taking Christmas off, so although we want to give a little bit of flexibility for Christmas we are still urging people to be very cautious and to use this flexibility responsibly and only if you think it is necessary.” Northern Ireland’s first minister Arlene Foster welcomed the announcement and said she hoped it would give people space to plan.

Mojo Bars managing director – we feel like we are being used as fiscal cannon fodder: Martin Greenhow, managing director at Mojo Bars, has said it feels like the sector is being used as cannon fodder and “thrown into the breach whenever a sacrifice is required”. Speaking on Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show, Greenhow, who operates bars in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Harrogate, said: “It is looking pretty grim. It is almost irrelevant which tier we go into because the extra restrictions being imposed make it virtually unviable for us to operate. I have spoken to numerous colleagues in the industry over the past 24 hours and there are many simply considering not opening again, it’s just not worthwhile. Our site in Manchester that was open on the last Friday before lockdown in tier two would have taken approximately £10,000 last year, but on that last Friday it took £175. It really feels like hospitality is being tortured, and the only parallel I can draw is that it’s akin to waterboarding. We are closed down and then we are allowed out for a gasp of fiscal oxygen and then we are slammed back down again. And all of this is happening without rhyme or reason, no data, no evidence, and all based on presumptions of middle-aged men with little interest in the survival of our sector. We feel like we are being used as fiscal cannon fodder. We are thrown into the breach whenever a sacrifice is required, some form of sop for the government to show action when they are about to make a change. We seem to be the victim that can be thrown to the wolves.” Meanwhile, Glasgow-based restaurateur Marco Giannasi has argued operating in the sector currently is like “trying to walk blindfolded”. Giannasi, who owns the Battlefield Rest on the south side of the city, has highlighted huge uncertainties about the rules under which his business and the industry will be operating under during the key festive period. He tweeted: “[Being] in the restaurant business at the moment is like having to walk blindfolded. We do not have any ideas of what plans there are in place during the festive season. Will we have a licence? How late will we trade? Any grants still available?”
Sector businesses face seven-day shutdown and £4,000 fines for flouting tier system rules: Pubs and other businesses flouting rules under the new tier system could be closed for seven days and fined up to £4,000 under tough new powers for councils. Downing Street said local authorities would be able to issue three new notices to law-breaking shops and venues once England enters the new, strengthened three-tiered system. Businesses can be slapped with a coronavirus improvement notice, giving them 48 hours to bring in covid-secure measures while continuing to trade. Fines of £2,000 will be handed to businesses that disobey these orders. Pubs and shops with more serious breaches face an immediate restriction notice, which will close premises that pose a public health risk for 48 hours to allow staff to put in necessary safeguards. The toughest measure – a coronavirus restriction notice – would close premises for seven days. Breaching the closure orders carries a fine of £4,000. A Downing Street spokesman said: “Until now, local authorities have been able to issue fines to businesses that have failed to comply with their legal obligations to be covid-secure. The new powers will allow them to formally request rapid improvement or close these premises where appropriate through the issuing of notices.” The powers are contained in the new Covid Winter Plan unveiled by prime minister Boris Johnson on Monday (23 November), which comes into force when England’s lockdown ends next Wednesday (2 December). Pubs can reopen in tier one with table service-only but in tier two they can only serve alcohol with a “substantial” meal. In tier three, pubs and bars must close except for takeaway and delivery. The 10pm curfew has been scrapped. Instead, last orders will be at that time but customers can finish their drinks or meals until 11pm. In tiers two and three, indoor gatherings of different households are banned, including meeting inside public spaces such as pubs and theatres. Areas will be told which tiers they are going into on Thursday (26 November).
Patrick Dardis – ‘give the people back their liberty’: Patrick Dardis, chief executive of London-based pub retailer Young’s has said “give the people back their liberty – enough is enough”. He said pubs, restaurants and the wider UK hospitality category have been “brought to their knees” by a government “blatantly ignoring the evidence from the sector that pubs and restaurants are safe”. “The industry has spent hundreds of millions of pounds creating covid-safe environments to allow the country’s people to improve their mental health and well-being, and to enjoy some relaxation from the stresses of these awful times,” said Dardis. “Pubs are a huge part of our culture and are a significant part of every community – the only places where alcohol is consumed in a controlled and supervised manner. The tiered approach in pubs and restaurants has forced friends and families to resort to meeting in each other’s houses. Of course it has, we British need to see our friends and families. Why does the government not get this? There is absolutely no evidence to support some of the messaging suggesting pubs are a significant factor in the spreading of the virus. The sector has supplied the government with evidence that clearly demonstrates the opposite is true. We need the powers that be to reconsider their approach to our world-renowned great pubs and restaurants. Give the people back their liberty – enough is enough. We understand the need to follow covid protocols, in particular, social distancing until the vaccine has been rolled out, of course we do. We will continue to ensure our pubs and restaurants are the safest environments. We need your support as do millions of peoples whose livelihoods depend on you preventing disaster from happening. Make your voice heard in the Commons.”
Huge rise in footfall in Wales is ‘very nearly back at pre-covid levels’: Footfall in Wales was “very nearly back at pre-covid levels” on the second weekend after the country’s “firebreak” lockdown, according to data from Wi-Fi solutions provider Wireless Social. Footfall in Cardiff on Saturday (21 November) was 18% below the average level recorded in February, before the pandemic struck. On Sunday (22 November), it was just 11% down on that figure. The reopening of restaurants, pubs and non-essential shops was behind the resurgence. Wireless Social said: “[Footfall was] very nearly back at pre-covid levels. This is surely a promising microcosm of what may happen when lockdown restrictions are lifted in the rest of the UK, a sign that people are eager to get out, shop, eat and drink when it is safe and they’re allowed to do so.” The majority of England and parts of Scotland were still in lockdown and there wasn’t a huge change in the pedestrian footfall in UK city centres compared with the previous two weekends. Footfall for the UK on Saturday (21 November) was at minus 69% versus the February average while Sunday was 66% down. Both figures were a slight rise on the weekend before, no doubt boosted by the Wales bounce back. In England, there were no major changes but London had the highest footfall with minus 60% and minus 59% of February’s figures on Saturday and Sunday (21-22 November) respectively. Manchester and Leeds stayed roughly the same with drops below 80% versus February for the weekend. Scotland’s main two cities had differing results. Glasgow, which went into the toughest tier four restrictions as of Friday (20 November), saw footfall plummet by 31 percentage points on Saturday (21 November) against the previous Saturday to reach minus 85% against February figures, while Sunday (22 November) was minus 86%. Edinburgh, in tier three, which means cafes, pubs and restaurants are allowed to open until 6pm to serve food and non-alcoholic drinks, recorded footfall at minus 60% and minus 61% on Saturday and Sunday (21 November) respectively against February figures. This was almost identical to the weekend before of 14-15 November.
Wireless Social is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Alan Yau plans to revolutionise franchising: Wagamama, Hakkasan and Busaba Eathai founder Alan Yau believes the current model for franchising “has outstayed his welcome” and is looking to the tech world for the inspiration to create a new one. Speaking to Caterer Middle East, Yau said “the system has not evolved in the way office accommodation has evolved ever since its creation”. Outlining his plan to revolutionise franchising, Yau revealed what he called “Franchising 2.0”, which would be “modular co-selling architecture”. He explained: “A food producer and seller partnership that focuses on a modular supply chain, where the commercial relationship is simple, easy to set up, operate and exit.” Yau said that his Franchising 2.0 would take its cue from co-selling in technology, which he described as “a method of product and service distribution where channel partners are the primary route to market”. He said: “These channel partners are organisations or people that sell products, or provide services on behalf of a hardware, software, cloud services or networking partners.” Yau said that he plans to implement this system for his upcoming “Wagamama 2.0 project”. He said: “Can you imagine? A product as perfectly fit in relation to the modular component architecture of the world of ramen... ”
Gleneagles and Hoxton hotels owner Ennismore to merge with Accor: Gleneagles and Hoxton hotels owner Ennismore and hotel group Accor have announced they have entered into exclusive negotiations to form the “world’s leading lifestyle operator in the hospitality sector”. Through an all-share merger, the companies said “a new autonomous and fully asset-light entity” will bring together “an unrivalled portfolio of world-class brands”, including The Hoxton, Gleneagles, Delano, SLS, Mondrian, SO/, Hyde, Mama Shelter, 25hours, 21c Museum Hotels and Working From_. The new entity will be headquartered in London and will take the name Ennismore. Sharan Pasricha, founder and chief executive of Ennismore and Gaurav Bhushan, chief executive of the Accor Lifestyle division will become co-chief executives of the combined entity. Accor will be the majority shareholder of the new entity, with Pasricha holding a substantial minority position. At its inception, the combined entity will comprise 12 brands with 73 hotels in operation with a committed pipeline of more than 110 hotels and another circa 70 hotels under active discussion, and more than 150 destination restaurants and bars. Based on the current network and pipeline, the companies said that the new lifestyle platform should achieve an Ebitda of over circa €100m by mid-term, the project resulting in significant cost synergies of approximately €15m per year. In order to form this joint venture, Accor intends to buy out its partners in sbe, Mama Shelter and 25hours. The planned combination also envisages the formation of a new company, which will hold all the leased assets under the combined entity’s brands. Pasricha said: “Over the past nine years, our mission with Ennismore has always been creating hospitality brands that inspire discovery. I’m passionate about how brands make you feel, from the personalised digital experience to the design, and with an incredible team of operators and creatives around me, we have expanded The Hoxton across the globe; reimagined Gleneagles; and crafted unique restaurant and bar concepts. This exciting autonomous entity with Accor – one with culture and brand purpose at its heart – allows us to come together to build on our combined portfolio of unique lifestyle brands, accelerate our growth and explore new markets. I look forward to working with Gaurav and Sébastien (Bazin, chairman and chief executive of Accor) on this exciting next chapter as we become an unrivalled player in the hospitality industry.”

Leadenhall Market tenants offered additional rental support ahead of Christmas: The City of London Corporation is looking to support shops, pubs and restaurants at the City’s historic Leadenhall Market, by offering rent charged on a turnover basis. The governing body of the Square Mile said a plan has been approved that will see new leases drawn up for any of the 35 eligible businesses that wish to take up the offer. The new terms aim to reduce rents to more affordable levels during the current pandemic for firms at the market. The letting of any vacant units within Leadenhall Market will also be on the same turnover rent basis. Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation, said: “This has been an exceptionally difficult year for many City businesses. We hope the option of turnover rent for those tenants based in the iconic Leadenhall Market will help to lessen the immediate burden of overhead costs and support a sustainable recovery.”
BAME in Hospitality and CPL Learning call for those working in sector to share their experiences: BAME In Hospitality, the not-for-profit organisation founded by former Corbin & King head of procurement Lorraine Copes, and CPL Learning, the learning and development partner to the hospitality sector, are calling for people in the industry to share their experiences by completing the Inside Hospitality Survey. This survey aims to gain insight into how people feel about working in the hospitality sector and whether they believe their race, ethnicity or culture has had an impact on their experiences. The opinions gathered will help shape future education and provide insights that will assist in creating an inclusive workplace for all. Copes said: “I am approaching this as I would approach any problem needing to be fixed, we need to understand the current status quo first. I am a firm believer the only way to improve and implement change is to measure, track and make incremental changes.” CPL Learning chief operating officer Jamie Campbell added: “We want to play our part in helping the hospitality sector to be an inclusive workplace for all that offers equal opportunities. This survey will play a crucial role in highlighting the areas where we can contribute.”
CPL Learning is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a high-volume restaurant in Hong Kong that is looking to appoint a dedicated sushi chef. This new restaurant is the latest opening from a leading restaurant group and is a Japanese dining concept. The ideal candidate will need to have extensive sushi experience, in high-end restaurants with a minimum of five years’ experience. Additional experience of a culinary degree or experience in an internationally recognised culinary school would be an added bonus. A salary between £40,000 and £60,000 will be considered. Anyone interested can email
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News: 

Bird appoints new managing director to lead ‘bold’ five-year expansion plan: Fried chicken and waffle chain Bird has appointed Andrew Clover as managing director to deliver a “bold” five-year expansion plan. The company has several new site launches planned for early 2021 that should see it land in Cambridge, Leeds, Battersea, Waterloo and Shoreditch, with multiple locations expected later in the year through organic growth. Bird has restaurants across London including recently opened Brixton, plus Westfield, Canary Wharf, Camden and Islington – with kitchen locations as far afield as Manchester, Nottingham and Brighton. Its new menu features several vegetarian and vegan options, simple, fresh, healthy salads, wraps and plant-based-burgers, in addition to their signature fried chicken dishes. Clover said: “Bird has all the right ingredients for significant growth and so I feel privileged to take the helm at such a crucial time. My immediate focus has been to get under the skin of the entire brand experience and to revisit operational procedures to set our teams up to win – creating a plug-and-play ready brand if you like. Running parallel to our organic growth strategy is our vision to massively expand our locations through franchise and commercial partnerships in the UK and overseas, which could see 100-plus sites over the next five years. This is a challenging part of the strategy where I bring a wealth of knowledge and a proven track record for delivering sustainable portfolio growth.” Bird was acquired in a pre-pack administration in August last year by the now parent company, Crown Partnership. Senior partner Charles Beer said: “We loved the Bird brand ethos and vision for a world-class casual dining offer and our investment is now approaching £2m. Andrew’s track record tells you all you need to know about why we chose him to lead the brand. As a board member for HMSHost UK, he achieved a sevenfold performance increase for his division. He brought his retail expertise to Stansted’s new departure terminal advising and developing the strategy to maximise the commercial opportunity while enhancing the guest experiences and he was instrumental in developing numerous proprietary concepts for hospitality as well as introducing Leon to the travel community and managing franchises on Starbucks, Burger King and others.”
Five Guys returned to positive Ebitda by May: Better burger brand Five Guys has said that it returned to being Ebitda-positive for the first time since the pandemic started by May 2020. The company said it had 83 of its 100 stores trading by the end of May, achieving nearly 65% of its year to date pre-coronavirus sales budget (£50.5m versus £77m). The group said that its newly integrated click and collect channel generated around 38% of sales, delivery made up 57% and in-store sales circa 5%. In filling its annual report for the year to 31 December 2019, it saw revenue increase 16% to £173.2m (2018:£149m), while it posted its first pre-tax profit of £696,257, against a pre-tax loss of £3.98m the previous year. In a year, when the company opened 14 restaurants, operating profit stood at £20.4m, up from £7.12m. It has opened seven sites this year, with openings in Crawley, Enfield and Manchester (Parrs Wood) close. Propel understands the circa 100-strong Five Guys is also in talks on a number of former Gourmet Burger Kitchen sites and a site in Teesside. The company said: “Despite the inevitable adverse impact of lost revenues, Five Guys has been able to flex its operations to what has been permitted under the coronavirus restrictions, and thereby limiting the downside impact of the unprecedented circumstances associated with coronavirus.” In a Companies House filing, the company said it had investor commitment to top up any shortfall between bank facilities and operating cash flow to the “extent outlined within the company’s post-coronavirus projection for the next 12 months – which includes over £30m of uncommitted capital expenditure – and to not request repayment of interest up to June 2021”. In 2018, a new bank facility of £100m was secured by the company, which is backed by Sir Charles Dunstone, which was used to repay previous bank debt of £35m and shareholder debt of £40m, with the remainder available to fund UK expansion.

Creams reports record October sales, delivery accounts for 50% of past six months’ revenue: Creams, the 90-strong dessert parlour operator, has reported a record-breaking October, with more than £4m of recorded sales across the estate. The coronavirus pandemic has caused a change in consumer spending, particularly for Creams, with its delivery channels skyrocketing nationwide and accounting for 50% of total sales from April to October this year, versus just 21% in 2019 for the same period. Chief executive Adam Mani said: “It’s been a really tough year for everyone, so to see Creams perform so well makes me incredibly proud. Despite the challenges of covid-19, the majority of our stores have remained open and, determined to make the best of the situation, we pivoted our business, offering a seamless online experience for delivery and click and collect. It’s a real testament to the team’s hard work that we’ve achieved such exceptional sales.” Meanwhile, Creams is set to open a new branch in Doncaster on Monday (30 November). It will open for delivery and takeaway only with the dine-in restaurant expected to open in the new year. Mani said: “We’re thrilled to be in a position to press ahead with our expansion plans with the opening of Doncaster. The consumer demand for Creams’ desserts is only increasing, despite the challenging climate we find ourselves in.”
Portobello Brewery takes over the management of 13 Antic pubs: Portobello Brewery has added a further brand to its London-based estate, after agreeing to operate the 13 former Antic sites under management. The 13 freehold pubs, which are located across London villages and suburbs, take Portobello’s pub estate to 15 sites. The sites include the flagship Westow House in Crystal Palace, which has recently added 23 en-suite bedrooms, along with other locations including Forest Gate, Peckham, New Cross, Sutton and Brixton. Mark Crowther, who was recently appointed chairman of Portobello Brewery and, since 2012, has been chairman of the Downing-backed entities that own the 13 pubs. He said: “We are delighted to welcome these freehold pubs into the Portobello family. They are all much-loved pubs that have continued to trade well until the recent lockdown in their great locations despite the current economic uncertainty. Despite the upheavals created by the covid-19 pandemic, this development represents an excellent opportunity to accelerate the growth of the Portobello pub estate, while providing a shop window for our beer brands. We intend to invest further in the estate to ensure the pubs maintain their retail offer and distinctive personality in their local markets.” Nick Carter, associate director at Downing, said: “We are always seeking to work with high-quality, talented operators and are pleased to partner with Portobello, with whom we are looking forward to an exciting future for these pubs. We would like to thank the team at Antic for their previous management of these assets.” Portobello Brewery was founded in 2012 by Rob Jenkins and is based in the heart of the Portobello area of west London. Former We Are Bar chief executive Richard Stringer joined the business in 2019 as managing director of its pubs business. Last September, it acquired the Hack & Hop in the City of London for its second site only seven weeks after completing on its first venue – King & Co in Clapham. 
Dishoom launches debut delivery kitchen outside London, in Brighton: Indian restaurant Dishoom is launching a delivery kitchen service in Brighton – its first outside London. The kitchen, which is out of the Deliveroo Editions site in the East Sussex city, will serve Dishoom favourites that will be delivered between noon and 10.30pm in most postcodes from Brighton Marina across to Shoreham Harbour. The menu has been devised so dishes that travel well are included, such as Keema Pau, Chicken Ruby and House Black Daal. Vegetarians can enjoy Pau Bhaji, Mattar Paneer, Jackfruit Biryani and more while vegans can sample such meals as samosas, bowls of Chole, greens and Basmati Kheer pudding. Newly launched Kathi Rolls that contain chicken or paneer in makhani sauce in wholewheat paratha can be ordered as an alternative to the lunchtime sandwich. New main dish Pepper Lamb Curry – lamb with black pepper, green chilli, garlic and ginger, cooked with red and yellow capsicums in masala sauce is also available. Sodas include Limca and Thums Up plus Mango Lassi. For each meal served, Dishoom donates a meal to a child in poverty and has, since 2015, donated more than nine million meals to charities Magic Breakfast and Akshaya Patra. The company has retained all jobs since the start of the pandemic and even created an additional 50 roles.
Southampton-based Hoxton Bakehouse to open fifth coffee shop, in Petersfield this week: Southampton-based Hoxton Bakehouse is to open its fifth coffee shop on Thursday (26 November), in Petersfield. The company is opening the outlet in Chapel Street, which will also be offering Hoxton Bakehouse’s festive menu. This includes the mince pie cruffin Danish with brandy pastry cream, turkey melt on sourdough with cranberry relish, and white chocolate and cranberry cookie. Hoxton Bakehouse is led by Florence Hellier and Darren Bland, and operates a bakery in Southampton that supplies more than 60 hotels and restaurants as well as its cafes in Bishops Waltham, Lymington, Southampton and Winchester. Hellier said: “Covid-19 has affected the wholesale side of the business a lot – the restaurant scene is a lot quieter. We are, therefore, currently focusing on our bakeries and building a wonderful community around them. Being classed as an essential business means we are still open and going ahead with our opening in Petersfield.” Hoxton Bakehouse is also continuing to deliver locally to its outlets – a side of the business that Hellier said has proved popular after the first lockdown and is “here to stay”.
California Pizza Kitchen emerges from bankruptcy: US restaurant brand California Pizza Kitchen has completed its bankruptcy restructuring with an equity transaction that eliminated more than $220m (£164.9m) in existing debt from its capital structure. The company said it “now faces no near-term debt maturities” and that, substantially, all of California Pizza Kitchen’s equity is now held by its pre-petition lenders. California Pizza Kitchen filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the end of July. The restructuring agreement includes a commitment for $46.8m (£35.8m) in new financing that enabled the ongoing operation of its restaurants. Chief executive Jim Hyatt said: “We are a stronger and healthier company as a result of the restructuring and we look forward to delivering more of our innovative, California-inspired cuisine to our loyal California Pizza Kitchen guest community.” The company said, going forward, it was focused on expanding global franchising, innovating its menu with such items as the recently introduced plant-based “Don’t Call Me Chicken” pizza and accelerating its recent off-premise sales increases during the covid-19 pandemic. California Pizza Kitchen, founded in 1985, has more than 240 restaurants in ten countries and US territories.
Corbin & King expands home delivery service nationwide: London restaurant operator Corbin & King has expanded its home delivery service nationwide. Until now, the offer, which was launched in June, had only been available within a six-mile radius of its Colbert restaurant. Dishes include The Wolseley’s goujons of haddock, Fischer’s Black Forest gateau and Zédel’s steak haché et frites. There is also a range of side dishes and desserts, wine and champagne as well as its new range of bartender-bottled cocktails.
Douglas Jack – M&B’s outperformance of the sector should increase despite tougher restrictions: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has argued Mitchells & Butlers’ outperformance of the sector should increase despite tougher restrictions coming into force. Issuing a ‘Buy’ note on the shares with a target price of 300p ahead of the company’s full-year results, which are expected soon, Jack said: “We estimate £1,470m of revenue (consensus: £1,404m) in 2020E. The 34% drop reflects 0.9% like-for-like sales during the first 24 weeks, 16 weeks (31% of the year) of full closure, and a 13% drop in like-for-like sales during the first 11 trading weeks of the fourth quarter. The run-rate of minus 6.4% like-for-like sales during the first three weeks of September was mostly before trading restrictions were stepped up. We forecast £204m of Ebitda (IAS 17; £254m IFRS 16) versus consensus’ £166m. On an IAS 17 basis, first-half Ebitda was £168m. In the third quarter, we believe Ebitda was minus £45m. Our fourth-quarter forecast requires £81m of Ebitda from £430m of revenue, and a 19% Ebitda margin. This is slightly below 2019’s margin as we expect the benefit of the 15% VAT cut and the business rates holiday to be almost equally offset by the operational gearing impact of lower sales. M&B's like-for-like sales were slightly ahead of the sector in the fourth quarter. The Coffer Peach Business Tracker was down almost 16% between July and September, prior to being down 29% in October due to the rule of six, 10pm curfew and regional lockdowns. The sector may fare worse in December than October as the old tier three is the new tier two, and the new tier three is full lockdown. M&B’s outperformance should increase under tougher restrictions – 75% of its sites are food-led versus 52% of the Coffer Peach Tracker; only circa 15% of M&B’s estate is in the north of England, where the restrictions are likely to be toughest; and circa 95% of M&B’s estate was able to reopen before the second English national lockdown, owing to 50% of its sites being in suburban locations and 25% in rural locations. We estimate trading is profitable above about 40% like-for-like sales due to the VAT benefit (retained), business rates holiday, and a more efficient operating template. We now forecast first half sales that are 25% below 2019 levels during trading weeks, culminating in total first-half sales being 35% below 2019 levels. Assuming a reasonable second half, aided by a vaccine rollout, we now forecast £240m Ebitda (IAS 17) versus £320m previously (consensus: £332m), reflecting lower sales, offset by the extended VAT cut and Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. M&B’s 343p/share net asset value is based on a revaluation that was done at the darkest hour of the first covid-19 wave, In our view, the 2022E EV/Ebitda rating of 6.9 times is too low for a business that is likely to emerge relatively strongly from covid-19.”
Hop Vietnamese launches at-home kits for nationwide delivery: London-based Vietnamese street food concept Hop has launched nationwide delivery of its Hop at Home kits. Kits will feed two or four people and will include some of the brand’s popular phos and curries. Dishes include its aromatic broth with flat rice noodles, spring onion, fresh herbs, a lime wedge and sliced chillies – customers just choose pulled beef brisket, marinated caramel chicken or soy and ginger mushrooms to go with the broth and noodles. Hop boxes such as chicken and coconut curry or soy and ginger mushroom curry, both served with fragrant jasmine rice, pickled veg, herbs and chilli are available too. Kits can be cooked in ten minutes at home. To celebrate the launch of Hop at Home, the restaurant is offering 50% off kits. Prices start at £19.45 for a meal for two. Hop also has its Broadgate site in London open, so customers in the capital can take meals away or order them on Deliveroo.
Private investor brings London-based pubs investment portfolio to market: The Max Barney Estate has brought a four-strong, London-based pub investment portfolio to market, including the Good Mizer in Camden, with a combined asking price of £12.45m, Propel has learned. Propel understands that property adviser AG&G is marketing the investment opportunity, which also includes the former Salt House in St John’s Wood, the Thomas A Beckett in Peckham, and the Metropolitan in Notting Hill. All are prominent corner buildings with substantial residential upper parts and have combined passing rent of £661,500 per annum.

Former Leon, TRG and Heston Blumenthal alumni launch virtual brands company: A team of food development, operations and franchising experts with experience at sector companies including natural fast food brand Leon, The Restaurant Group (TRG) and Boparan Restaurant Group has launched a company offering a range of franchise food brands for virtual delivery offers or dine-in menus. Restaurant Brands Collective is the brainchild of Toph Ford, a former head of food and marketing at Leon; Brett Boyers, who has worked across restaurant openings, operations and franchising at TRG, Boparan Restaurant Group and Individual Restaurant Company; and Stefan Cosser, who managed the creative team at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen for more than five years. Restaurant Brands Collective said it offers franchise solutions, “which utilise a range of food brands, aimed at helping multi and single-site hospitality and leisure businesses drive incremental sales from their existing kitchen equipment and teams”. The company’s range of franchise brands include gourmet mac and cheese brand Mac & Co, “superior fried chicken” brand The Wingstitute and Californian-style smashed burgers and fries from its Pickled Pink brand. The company’s launch has been backed by a grant award from Innovate UK, the government-backed UK innovation agency, which is part of UK Research and Innovation. 

Yumpingo appoints new president: Restaurant intelligence platform Yumpingo has appointed David Cantu as president, Cantu will spearhead the company’s US operations, and will be responsible for growing the sales and global consumer-facing teams as well as leading the expansion of the US team. Cantu brings more than 30 years of restaurant industry experience, having most recently served as co-founder and chief customer officer at HotSchedules, a provider of end-to-end, best-in-class technology and services for the restaurant and hospitality industries, since 1999. Cantu has also previously worked in numerous managing roles at restaurant brands such as Outback Steakhouse and PF Chang’s. Yumpingo chief executive and founder Gary Goodman said: “Over the past two decades, David has transformed how hospitality companies around the world connect and support the needs of managers and their teams, and will be instrumental in leading our operations in the United States.” Cantu added: “What has evolved from a friendship to an investment and now joining its leadership team to help with the strategic planning and growth of one of the most innovative guest experience technology companies I’ve come across is equally humbling and exciting for me. Knowing the stakes to win the hearts and minds of every guest has never been more important than it is today, I could not be joining at a more pivotal time.”
Yumpingo is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Former Just Eat director joins mobile ordering app Fetch: Mobile ordering app Fetch has appointed Benvolio Panzarella as its global vice-president of sales and marketing. Panzarella has previously been the general manager of Just Eat Italy as well as regional director for electronic company Belkin. He has worked in a variety of sectors and works with companies on their international expansion, as an international business development consultant and investor/board member for a number of growing international companies. Fetch stated: “Having been responsible for the Italian launch and growth of Just Eat, coupled with his sales team development and business analysis skills, Benvolio will play a pivotal role in helping Fetch grow into new territories.” Panzarella said: “Since my tour of duty in Just Eat, I’ve been looking for the next big, disruptive thing to help transform an entire industry, and this is definitely it. Having gotten to know the Fetch team over the past few months, I can easily say this feels a lot like Just Eat did ten years ago.” Fetch chief executive and co-founder Jason Jeffreys added: “When coming out stealth mode, all an entrepreneur can hope for is to attract and assemble a solid team. With more than 20 years of international business development experience, Benvolio will bring his strategic vision and sales team management expertise to Fetch, and I couldn’t be happier.” Earlier this month, Fetch raised £1m to further develop its technology.

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