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Tue 5th Jan 2021 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Douglas Jack – many private companies could run out of liquidity in the Spring: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has forecast Quarter One of 2021 will be liquidity crunch time for many private companies. In a note, he stated: “We expect January’s statement season to be used to ensure all forecasts assume lockdown continues through until March. The main relevance of this will be how it affects liquidity and future net debt. Quarter One is traditionally the quietest quarter in licensed retail; it is when tenants are most likely to hand back the keys. Sadly, without any additional government support and with the rent moratorium ending in March (with 15 months of rent due in some cases), many private companies could run out of liquidity. Many sources have suggested a 20-30% supply reduction. We are more optimistic than this due to corporate activity. This and capital reallocation will be key to preserving businesses and jobs. In our view, the best corporate opportunities will be in leaseholds. They should benefit well-capitalised operators with successful operating models that can accommodate accelerated leasehold expansion. In pubs, Marston’s operating model is ideally suited to bolt on acquisitions, per its excellent transaction with Brains. Loyalty and pent-up demand for British pubs is as strong as ever. Post-pandemic, pubs should be able to adapt and cater for resumed demand for experiential leisure. This is not the case for restaurants, for which demand is likely to re-continue the long-term trend from in-store to delivery. Where to buy? This is what has changed. The pressure for environmentally-sustainable lifestyles and investing is only going to increase. Where this next step-change is most likely to affect leisure is in reducing travel, aided by more efficient and sustainable hybrid working patterns, online meetings and staycations. This should benefit and increase demand for suburban and market town sites (which is good for Marston’s and Loungers), and prolong the recovery of city centres.”

Industry News:

Scottish lockdown highlights continued need for business support: UKHospitality Scotland has reiterated its call for financial support to ensure that businesses survive following news that Scotland will enter a new national lockdown. UKHospitality Scotland executive director Willie Macleod said: “The fact that we are going into another lockdown is a clear sign that we are still a long way from normality. That means hospitality businesses are a long way from being able to begin to trade their way back to safety and keep jobs alive. UKHospitality acknowledges the growing incidence of virus transmission attributable to the ‘new’ virus strain and the need for measures to counter this until vaccinations get moving. In which case, it is crucial that the lockdown comes with the necessary financial support to keep businesses alive and jobs secure.”

Shuttered nightclubs offered as vaccination centres: The campaign group #SaveNightclubs are offering up its nationwide network of venues to help support the NHS vaccine rollout. The campaign group offered Matt Hancock all its closed venues and thousands of unemployed staff to help speed up the vaccine rollout process across the UK. A spokesman said: “With hundreds of spacious venues available, each kitted out with huge refrigerators and various rooms for the vaccinations to take place, nightclubs all across the nation are offering to lend their support to the government and NHS. Over the last ten months, the industry has faced lockdowns, household and tiered restrictions and an impossible curfew of 10pm. Now, in the midst of what is nearly a third national lockdown with no end in sight, this is likely to result in nightlife venues closing for over an entire year. Unlike hospitality and gyms who were able to trade over the summer months, nightclubs have not been able to open at all, despite the introduction of social distancing and covid PPE measures, resulting in zero revenue since March 2020.” 

App launches to highlight options for non-drinkers: The UK’s first app – Better Without, founded by entrepreneur Jonny Stevens – has been launched for those who enjoy a social life, bars and pubs but without the need to drink. Over 70 leading brands are in working in support of the app including names such as Heineken, Fever Tree, BrewDog, Adnams, Mockingbird Spirits, San Miguel, Salcombe Distillery, Double Dutch, and Thatchers. In recent times, there have been some excellent non-alcoholic spirits, beers and drinks come onto the market to serve the growing community who classify themselves as ‘non-drinkers’. Research has shown that non-drinking amongst the young has been steadily growing and yet there are few sources for this audience to access to help them understand their options. Founder Jonny Stevens said: “With so many great no and low alcohol drink options available, I wanted to make it easy for people to find them direct on their phone. I also believe that the hospitality industry needs to do more to embrace this change and our aim is to promote both the industry and excellent products that the consumer can access. The producers have worked hard to engage this growing audience with some exciting new concepts. The options are available and the industry needs to increase their range. Why doesn’t every hospitality venue have a no or low alcoholic beer on draught?” 

Free refills of sugary drinks to be banned from April 2022: Sector businesses will be banned from offering free refills of sugary drinks from April 2022 under government plans to tackle obesity. The government announced shops will be blocked from offering promotions such as “buy one get one free” or “three for two” on such items under the new regulations. At the same time, restaurants and cafes will not be able to sell free refills of sugary soft drinks as part of the measures to support Britons to eat and drink more healthily. Public health minister Jo Churchill said: “We know families want to be presented with healthier choices. This is why we are restricting promotions and introducing a range of measures to make sure the healthy choice is the easy choice. Creating an environment which helps everyone eat healthier foods more regularly is crucial to improving the health of the nation.” In July, the government announced plans to develop anti-obesity measures after evidence suggested those who are overweight are at increased risk from coronavirus. Under laws being drawn up displaying calories on menus will be mandatory for restaurant, cafe and takeaway businesses with more than 250 employees. UKHospitality warned at the time that such a move could cost some businesses up to £40,000 per menu run.

Eataly pays $1.9m wage settlement: Italian brand Eataly has agreed to pay a total of $1,887,500 to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by employees of its Flatiron and Financial District stores in New York . In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that Eataly violated New York labour law by “failing to pay wages for all hours worked due to a policy of time shaving”, “failing to provide proper wage and hour notice”, and “failing to provide proper wage statements”. The plaintiffs specifically allege that managers “routinely instructed” them to “perform unpaid off-the-clock work,” with one of the plaintiffs alleging this happened “throughout his employment … at least three times per week”.

Proposals unveiled for ‘UK first’ leisure scheme: A ‘cohesive use’ scheme featuring a 223-room hotel, extensive food and beverage space and a day spa which developers hope will bring international interest to Nottingham has been submitted for planning. Proposals for the ground-breaking, multi-million scheme also include a 100m-long atrium, co-working space, apartments, green public realm and leisure facilities. The latest phase of The Island Quarter development is believed to be the UK’s first cohesive-use development, incorporating multiple uses within the same flowing space. The ambitious plan has been hailed as a ‘UK first’ which leads the way in terms of sustainability, innovation and engagement with nature and green space in a post-covid world. The proposal – which will create more than 550 jobs when completed – is believed to be the UK’s first cohesive-use development, incorporating multiple uses within the same flowing space, similar to Roppongi Hills in Tokyo. Richard Watson, of developer Conygar, said: “The Island Quarter is the biggest city centre regeneration schemes in the UK, and we believe it is vital for the development to bring something outstanding to Nottingham, for which the city and the Midlands can be proud of. We are fortunate to have a site in Nottingham with its great heritage and an international reputation – with developments such as this and, among other schemes, the renovation of Nottingham Castle, we want to ensure it retains its rightful place as the Queen of the Midlands and a core UK city. It is an ambitious project – unmatched across the UK. The scheme will raise the profile of Nottingham, so we are working closely with our team of architects and designers to create a lasting legacy and community for Nottingham.”

Peter Backman – the second quarter of 2021 is going to be a crucial period: Sector analyst Peter Backman has argued the second quarter of 2021 will be a crucial period for the sector. He stated: “The road back to normality is not straight. Instead, there will be times of greater significance and danger. It seems to me that the second quarter of the new year is probably going to be a crucial period. It’s when things will start to look brighter – customers will be starting to come back. But it is also the time when the backlog of costs and debts will start to be repaid. The timing may change, especially if the government steps in with overt encouragement – retaining the 5% VAT rate, perhaps, or maybe launching EOtHO v2 – or it helps by further delaying debt repayments (even if they ultimately must be repaid).”

Restaurant job losses rose by 163% in 2020: UK restaurants and casual dining firms recorded almost 30,000 job losses in 2020 as the covid-19 pandemic drove a 163% jump in redundancies. Data compiled by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) revealed that 29,684 jobs were lost across fine dining, independent businesses and large multiple casual-dining chains during the year. It represents a sharp increase from 2019, when 11,280 job losses were reported across the sector, after firms were hit by two national lockdowns, local lockdown restrictions, curfews, changes to service rules and recently strengthened tier measures. The CRR also said branch closures by hospitality firms had increased by 76% to 1,621, compared with 922 in 2019. As a result of the tier adjustments that came into effect in England on New Year’s Eve, 22,082 restaurants are in tier four and are all closed except for takeaway, and 4,946 are in tier three. Only five restaurants in the Isles of Scilly remain open for diners, according to the real estate adviser Altus Group. Prof Joshua Bamfield, the CRR’s director, said the pandemic had accelerated a major shake-up of the sector that was already taking place. “The sector experienced rapid growth in outlets during 2014 to 2017 as successful chains added additional branches, but they frequently paid too much, while maintaining quality standards proved difficult,” he said. “The need to cut costs caused by over-expansion, increased competition and weak consumer demand produced a crisis in the industry before the pandemic.”

Dozen people found playing dominoes in restaurant: Twelve people have been fined after they were caught playing dominoes in a restaurant in east London. Police officers found the group hiding in a dark room when they entered the building in Whitechapel. The owner initially claimed those inside were workers, before admitting they were playing the game. Tower Hamlets Council has been asked to consider issuing a fine to the owner of the restaurant for breaching tier four covid-19 restrictions, the Met said. A video released by the Met shows the restaurant owner saying: “They’re playing dominoes.” Chief inspector Pete Shaw said: “The rules under tier four are in place to keep all of us safe, and they do not exempt people from gathering to play games together in basements. The fact that these people hid from officers clearly shows they knew they were breaching the rules and have now been fined for their actions.”

Company News:

Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay volunteered a 56% reduction in salary during four months of lockdown: Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay volunteered to reduce his salary by 56% to £250,000 during the four months of closure that followed the first lockdown in 2020. Findlay earned a total of £592,423 in the year to 3 October 2020 compared to £722,432 the year before. Finance director Andrew Andrea earned £445,365 compared to £486,062 the year before. In the company’s annual report, Octavia Morley, chairman of the remuneration committee, stated: “During the period of the first UK lockdown from March until July 2020, whilst 93% of the group’s workforce was furloughed under the government’s CJRS, those employees who continued to work to support the business were asked to accept a 20% reduction in their salary during the period from April to July 2020, with normal salaries paid from August 2020. The chief financial officer and the non-executive directors also volunteered to accept the same 20% reduction in their respective salary and fees. The chairman volunteered a 50% reduction in his fees and our chief executive reduced his salary to £250,000 over the same four-month period of closure; a 56% reduction in salary. These reductions contributed to the cash preservation measures during the period and the committee is grateful to our people for accepting the reduction.” Findlay completed 25 years’ service with the company during this period. With effect from the 2020/21 financial period, the pension contributions for the incumbent executive directors will reduce by 2% to 18% of base salary. The committee will review the contribution rate again during the 2020/21 financial period with the intention of reducing pension provision for the existing executive directors to 7% no later than 2023/24.

M&B reports £165m of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme support in 2020 financial year: Mitchells & Butlers has reported that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) supplied around £165m of financial support for the company in the 2020 financial year, ended 26 September 2020, with 99% of staff furloughed during the first lockdown. Meanwhile, all board directors and executive committee members saw their fees and salaries reduced by 40% for the duration of the closure period. In addition, some senior managers who were not required to work during the closure period saw their salaries reduced by 30%. In the company’s annual report, chair of the Remuneration Committee Imelda Walsh stated: “Where employees earned above the upper earnings limit of the CJRS, their pay was topped up by the company to 80% of pay. Therefore, no employees, other than those detailed above, received less than 80% of their normal pay during the closure period.” Chief executive Phil Jones earned £553,000 in total compared to £1,928,000 the year before. Finance director Tim Jones earned £465,000 compared to £1,395,000 the year prior. Chairman Bob Ivell earned £250,500 compared to £286,000 the year before.

Failure of restaurant business continues to impact Jamie Oliver’s profits: Full-year profits at Jamie Oliver’s holding company halved in 2019, as the chef continued to count the cost of the failure of his Jamie’s Italian business. Jamie Oliver Holdings, which also handles the chef’s TV rights, books and endorsements posted pre-tax profits of £4.1m on sales of £30m in 2019, according to newly filed accounts. In the previous year, profits were £8.8m on sales of £28.8m. Turnover declined just over 5% to £38.8m. The chef acquired his international restaurant business for a total cash consideration of £502,500. The international restaurant arm posted turnover of £2.66m and a pre-tax loss of £582,191. The Jamie’s Italian restaurant chain fell into administration in May 2019 with the loss of 1,000 jobs. In total 22 restaurants shut down, with only three sites at Gatwick Airport and international outlets remaining open. Jamie Oliver Group suffered a hit of £5.9m due to administration costs and its impact on the restaurant group’s international arm. The chef pumped millions into the business before it collapsed, including £2.6m to cover wages and the cost of administration, as well as £6.7m of loans. The company said the main driver of profitability for the business was the success of new cookbook titles and TV shows. Oliver and his wife Jools were paid a total dividend of £2m from Jamie Oliver Holdings in 2018, but did not take a dividend in the latest year.

Pizza Pilgrims launches new NYC-influenced concept: Pizza Pilgrims, the London-based sourdough pizzeria brand founded by brothers James and Thom Elliott, has launched a New York City-influenced concept on London’s South Bank. Called Slice by Pizza Pilgrims, the new concept, which is currently takeaway only, is described as “a haven for London’s largest slices, alcoholic slushies and 90s arcade games! Serving up Pizza Al Metro – aka a whole metre of pizza for you to enjoy or 12” slices of pizza, living the triangle dream baby! Down with the round and grab a Slice!”. Propel understands that the company has launched the concept as a year-long, pop-up in the former YO! Sushi site at Festival Riverside, Royal Festival Hall.

Hutson – Boris Johnson put the hospitality sector out of “uncertain misery”: Robin Hutson, chairman and chief executive of Home Grown Hotels and the Lime Wood Group, has called on the prime minister Boris Johnson to put the hospitality sector out of “uncertain misery”. Hutson said: “Tell us its lockdown for six or eight weeks, support us, so we can plan how best to bridge to Spring/vaccine. Not knowing whether we will open in two weeks or two months is so much worse than lockdown.” Hutson founded the Seat At The Table campaign, which has so far generated circa 181,500 signatures on a petition asking for the creation of a minister for hospitality. Parliament will debate the petition on Monday, 11 January.

Pure launches online ordering platform: Healthy food-to-go concept Pure has launched an online ordering platform, after experiments with home delivery boxes and online grocery sales didn’t work. As part of “Pure+more”, people pay £4.99 a month to get 20% off an unlimited amount of food and drink, as well as special offers, exclusive recipes and online-only promotions. Spencer Craig, co-founder of the 21-strong group, told The Times that finding alternative revenue streams during the pandemic was a case of “trying everything”. He said that experiments with home delivery boxes and online grocery sales didn’t work because they were already well served by established businesses. Craig said: “The upheaval of [2020] has brought forward our plans, which gives us something really positive to focus on. We have absolutely no idea what our sales will be in 2021, so all we can do is make sure our offering is better than ever. A crisis allows a company to be bold.” Craig said that Pure’s biggest concern is that a “stay at home” message goes beyond Easter, causing “further devastation for our business”. Last year, the business secured £3m from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) with Lloyds Bank to help it through the crisis. The 21-strong company, which launched a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in September, said it entered into the agreement on 7 October with its creditors, which has linked the majority of rent costs to sales over a two-year period.

Costa Coffee launches 50% off food at the start of the week, new limited edition menu: Costa Coffee has launched a limited-edition menu and 50% off all items from the food menu between Monday and Wednesday. Running from Monday 4 January 2021 to Wednesday 3 February, the offer is available via mobile order for collection in store and in-store only. Kirstey Elston, marketing director UK and Ireland at Costa Coffee, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to bring our customers something special this January. Our limited-edition menu carries some Costa Coffee classics, such as our Vegan Ham and Cheeze Toastie, but also some new additions including the Beanz and Cheese Toastie and Caramel Muffin made with Munchies®– they bring that perfect hit of nostalgia at a time when the nation definitely needs a boost. To see in the New Year, we also wanted to gift our customers with another special treat – 50% off all food menu items until 3rd February 2021.”

McDonald’s launches ‘Click & Serve’ service that delivers food to your car: McDonald’s has launched a new Click & Serve, which aims to help people “avoid queuing in the time of coronavirus”. Customers order through the My McDonald’s App, then drive to the restaurant, where they’ll be signposted to special parking bays. Within the app, you then enter in the bay number where your car is parked, and the order will be delivered to the car window. The company said the new service “means you don’t have to queue up or lean out of your car window or any of the usual stuff”. Consumers can also order and pay through the app, and when McDonald’s workers deliver an order they’ll wear a face covering. Food and drinks will be in takeaway bags on a tray, to further minimise any contact.

Pizza Hut adds Southampton site and two Derby sites to closure list: Pizza Hut has closed its site at the Hedge End Retail Park in Eastleigh, Southampton and two sites in Derby – venues in Wyvern Way, Chaddesden, and Foresters Leisure Park, Sinfin. The closures are in addition to 29 branches that closed in September 2020. A spokesperson for Pizza Hut Restaurants said: “Unfortunately the closure has been beyond our control and we are doing everything we can to redeploy our team members to other Pizza Hut Restaurants in order to minimise the impact to our workforce. We understand this is a difficult time for everyone involved and are supporting our team members as much as we possibly can.”

Unilever expands plant-based Whopper partnership with Burger King: Unilever has expanded its partnership with Burger King to supply its plant-based meat patties for Whopper burgers at restaurants in Latin America, the Caribbean and China. The product, which will be called the Plant-based Whopper on menus, is made using patties from Vegetarian Butcher, a company Unilever acquired in 2019. The deal is an expansion of the company’s partnership with the fast-food chain that started last year with the launch of the Rebel Whopper burger in Europe, Burger King’s biggest ever product launch in the region. Burger King sells several meat-free versions of its popular Whopper burger, including one from Impossible Meats in the United States. Unilever said the Plant-based Whopper would appear on menus in 325 Burger King outlets in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hangzhou in China, with plans to expand its rollout nationwide in the second quarter of 2021. The burger – made from ingredients including soy, wheat, vegetable oil, herbs and onion – already launched in Mexico on 30 November last year.

Boom: Battle Bar to open third site: Experiential leisure concept Boom: Battle Bar will open it third site, this time located in Liverpool in March this year. It will be located inside the former Poundland store in St Johns Shopping Centre . The venue will be host to a number of gaming experiences such as crazier golf, which includes what it says is the country’s longest indoor crazy golf course at over 100ft. There will also be hi tech electric darts, funky beer pong, 22ft shuffleboards, American pool, axe throwing and table tennis. Other Boom: Battle Bar locations are Cardiff and Norwich. Elliot Shuttleworth, operations director, said: “We are thrilled to be sharing our adventure bar concept with the people of Liverpool. The response we’ve had to the venues in Cardiff and Norwich has been awesome and we really can’t wait to bring this revolutionary concept to the north west.” The venue is spread across 11,000 square metres and will offer a variety of cocktails, craft beers, spirits and a street-food style menu featuring chicken wings, gourmet hot dogs and nachos.

Gaucho owner Rare Restaurants appoints new people and culture director: Rare Restaurants, which runs Gaucho and M Restaurants, has appointed Ed Godwin, formerly of Carluccio’s and EAT, as its new people and culture director, Propel has learned. Godwin was formerly interim people director at Carluccio’s for less than a year, and before that people director at EAT for more than 11 years. He was most recently a consultant to Lebanese concept, Za’ta, which opened last year in London’s Baker Street.

Flight Club lines up Bristol opening: Flight Club, the darts concept owned by Red Engine, plans to open in Bristol later this year, after lining up a site in the city. The company has applied to open at 41 Corn Street. A Flight Club spokesperson told Bristol Live: “We absolutely love Bristol and hope to bring Social Darts and some unexpected, ridiculous joy to the south west in 2021. Once everything’s finalised we’ll be sure to share more updates on what we’ve got in store for Corn Street. Each Flight Club is completely unique, so we can’t wait to bring this to life when the time’s right.” In November 2019, Propel revealed that The Alchemist had planned to open at the site, which was formerly home to Pranj’s Bar. However, it is thought that the company didn’t exchange on the site. Last month, Propel revealed that Red Engine, which is also behind the Electric Shuffle concept, secured almost £11m to support the business through the coronavirus pandemic as it reported revenue jumped 125% in 2019. The funding came in the form of a £5.85m convertible loan note from existing shareholders and £5m through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme via banking partner Santander. Despite the group’s seven UK sites being shut during the first lockdown from March the business generated positive Ebitda for the 52-week period ended June 2020. In 2021, the company aims to also open a Flight Club in Leeds and has secured a second site for its Electric Shuffle concept, in London Bridge, as well as opening sites in Australia with a recently signed new franchise partner.

Pret appoints Dan Burdett as chief customer and growth officer: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-owned chain, has appointed Dan Burdett, formerly of Tiqets and Ebay, as its new chief customer and growth officer, Propel has learned. Burdett joins Pret after nearly two years as chief marketing officer at Tiqets, the Amsterdam-based start-up that has built a platform for booking tickets for museums and other attractions. He also spent over two years as chief marketing officer for Europe at Ebay. Pret created the chief customer officer role in 2018, which was first taken up by Barnaby Dawe, the former global chief marketing officer for Just Eat. Dawe resigned from the post at the end of 2019. In his new role, Burdett will be responsible for setting the Pret’s global direction across food innovation, coffee and packaging, brand and insight, sustainability, technical and quality and commercial growth.

Greggs, Starbucks and Subway set for Tamworth development: Greggs, Starbucks and Subway have been lined up to open on the development of a former Co-op site in Staffordshire. The site in Ninian Way, Wilnecote is set to be transformed into a brand-new retail and trade destination after Tamworth Borough Council’s planning committee gave the go-ahead for the redevelopment. Starbucks will take the place of Costa in one of the drive-thru units, and will be joined by sites from Greggs and Subway. These names add to those previously announced including Lidl, B&M and KFC. Central England Co-op is working with Hawkstone Vale Developments Ltd to regenerate the site and offer these new and improved options for the local community, with work hoped to get underway in summer 2021 and be completed by summer 2022. A spokesperson for Central England Co-operative said: “The Society is delighted that the exciting plans for the site of its former supermarket in Ninian Way, Wilnecote have been approved and work can get underway on transforming the site in 2021. We are excited to work with Hawkstone to create this exciting development and create a legacy for the local community in Wilnecote, creating new and substantial local employment and a brand-new trade and retail destination.”

Ladbrokes owner rejects £11bn offer from MGM resorts: US casino giant MGM Resorts has made an $11bn (£8.1bn) offer for British gaming company Entain, which owns Ladbrokes. The move is the latest attempt by a casino operator to move into the online gambling business. In addition to its chain of high street betting shops, UK-based Entain also owns a number of online sports betting and gambling sites. Entain confirmed the offer, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, but said the price was too low. Entain had recently rebuffed an earlier $10bn (£7.3bn) all-cash offer from MGM, the newspaper said. Along with Ladbrokes, FTSE 100-listed Entain also owns sports-betting site Bwin and online gaming group Partypoker. It describes itself as “one of the world’s largest sports betting and gaming groups operating in the online and retail sector.” Last month, Entain renamed itself from GVC Holdings. Other brands the $9bn group owns include Coral, Eurobet, Gala and Foxy Bingo. The new bid for Entain comes with financial backing from MGM’s largest shareholder, InterActiveCorp (IAC), which took a 12% stake in MGM Resorts last August.

Wadworth pubs to recognise community superstars: Brewer and retailer Wadworth is celebrating the efforts of local heroes who have gone that extra mile in 2020. Throughout January, 18 pubs across the south west of England will treat two people every week to a complimentary meal for two with a drink to be enjoyed when the pubs reopen. Nick Young, operations director for Wadworth’s managed pubs, said: “So many wonderful people have supported their local communities throughout the covid pandemic and we wanted to give something back to these ‘community superstars’ by inviting them to join our table and enjoy a meal for two. We want our pub communities to nominate their own heroes every week whether they choose a key worker or a local resident who has gone the extra mile; our pubs want to celebrate their kindness and give something back.” Every week locals will be able to nominate their ‘community superstars’ on the pub’s own Facebook page and each week the pub’s manager will choose the winner.

Donald Trump’s Scottish golf courses lose £3.4m: Donald Trump’s Scottish golf courses have again reported significant losses, totalling £3.4m, despite the first signs of profitability at his flagship Turnberry resort. The annual accounts for Trump Turnberry’s parent company, Golf Recreation Scotland, show the luxury hotel and golf resort in Ayrshire lost £2.3m in 2019 after ploughing more money into upgrading its facilities. It emerged last week that Trump’s first Scottish course, at Menie north of Aberdeen, lost another £1.1m in 2019 and again required loans of nearly £1.2m from Trump’s family trust to keep it running. Despite its headline losses, Turnberry reported its first operating profit under Trump’s ownership, of £321,000, and also began paying off £115m in outstanding loans from the US president for the first time. Despite reducing its debt to Trump by nearly £1.6m in 2019, the accounts for both businesses put their total debts to him at just under £158m. Turnberry said 2019 was a boom year, after investing heavily in its two golf courses, spa and events businesses. Its turnover grew 6.4% to £19.7m and staffing increased by 13% to 541 employees, many of whom were on fixed-term or seasonal contracts.

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