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Mon 11th Jan 2021 - Update: TGI Fridays, Wing Wing, Hogs Back Brewery
Electra Partners to sell TGI Fridays this year: The Times has reported that the private equity owner of TGI Fridays in the UK plans to put the bar and restaurant chain up for sale this year as it winds down its portfolio. The Times reported: “Electra Private Equity, a London-listed investment vehicle, is also aiming to sell off its other assets before the year is out and return the proceeds to shareholders. Its other businesses include Hotter Shoes, the footwear retailer, and Sentinel, which makes flushing and cleaning products for residential heating and hot water systems. It is thought that other private equity firms and trade rivals are likely to show interest in the three businesses, which Electra has improved and invested in, including during the course of the pandemic. Analysts reckon that TGI Fridays, which Electra bought for £100 million in 2014, could be worth as much as £275 million, while Hotter Shoes could fetch £85 million or so and Sentinel around £20 million. Although its outlets have been forced to close during lockdowns, a new management team has introduced delivery, as well as click and collect ordering in select restaurants. It has also introduced new products, including food to cook at home and there are plans to build up the cocktails offering. The sale of TGI Fridays comes against the backdrop of a severe downturn in the casual dining sector, which has been hit by a wave of collapses and restructurings. However, operators are hoping that, once they are free to reopen, trading will be boosted by pent-up demand among households keen to get out following lockdowns. For the 2019 financial year TGI Fridays – which is being renamed Fridays – generated a profit before tax and other items of £25.6 million on revenues of £214.8 million and a 1% increase in underlying sales.”

Wing Wing signs for flagship Chinatown site: West End landlord Shaftesbury has announced the signing of Wing Wing, the London-based Korean crispy chicken specialist, for a site at 47-49 Charing Cross Road, Chinatown. Wing Wing takes inspiration from Korean food and popular culture, with a dining offer focused on ‘Chimaek’ – a combination of chicken and maekju, the Korean word for beer. Light, crispy wings come in a variety of flavours – each piece cooked to order and hand-brushed with a signature glaze – and sit alongside burgers, wraps, rice boxes, and salads on the brand’s menu. Wing Wing was also the first UK brand to have ‘bottoms-up’ beer dispensers that allow customers to serve themselves beer at the table. The Chinatown London restaurant, spanning 2,500 square foot across three floors, will be Wing Wing’s flagship location, and its third in the capital following Tavistock Square and Hammersmith, also featuring event spaces and KTV karaoke rooms. The store is set to open in spring 2021 and will implement appropriate covid-safe protocols and follow government guidelines for both the restaurant and event spaces. Carl Kjellqvist, managing director at Wing Wing, said: “Wing Wing brings two Korean institutions together – food and music. Our signature, hand-glazed crispy chicken has been incredibly popular since we started in London a few years ago, and we cannot wait to open the flagship restaurant in Chinatown, in the heart of cosmopolitan London and the ideal place to have a flagship for any east Asian brand.” Shelley Sandzer acted on behalf of Shaftesbury.

Hogs Back Brewery offers Hop Hanger for vaccination drive: Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery has stepped up to the national covid-19 vaccination drive, offering its Hop Hangar as a drive-through facility for people in the area to receive the life-saving jab. The brewery’s offer is currently being assessed by the Local Resilience Forum, the alliance of councils, police, NHS and other strategic partners which is co-ordinating the response to the covid-19 pandemic in Hogs Back’s Surrey and Hampshire heartland. By opening up the large doors at either end of the Hangar for vaccine recipients to drive through, and housing the medical staff and chilled vaccines in the adjacent Tap Room bar, Hogs Back believes the brewery site in Tongham offers an ideal space for the vital programme. Rupert Thompson, managing director of Hogs Back Brewery, said: “We’re offering the Hop Hangar as our contribution to the vaccination roll-out, and we’ll work with the Local Resilience Forum to ensure we can meet its requirements. Our brewery is in a location well served by main roads, and we believe it would be very effective as a drive through facility. We think people might not even need to get out of their cars to be injected, although that’s for the organisers to decide, and it can all be done under cover. We have fridges for the vaccines, and rooms for the medical and support staff. We can even offer those who’ve been vaccinated a cup of tea afterwards, and for the staff manning the site, we’ll also provide a free bottle of our very own TEA – our flagship Traditional English Ale – for them to enjoy once they’re off duty. As far as we know, we’re the first brewer to offer a vaccination space. With the whole of the UK now getting behind the programme, we’re keen to play our part and support our friends and neighbours.”

Neapolitan pizza concept Santa Maria to launch vegan spin-off: Neapolitan pizza concept Santa Maria is to launch a new vegan spin-off called Vergine Maria at its original site in London’s Ealing. In a post on Instagram, the company said: “We have always wanted to start a vegan project. We strongly believe a plant-based diet is a sustainable and viable alternative that, in the near future, will be even more popular. That is why we have created Vergine Maria. We took a Santa Maria pizza and made it Virgin, makes sense, no?” Vergine Maria will take over the company’s original site in Saint Mary’s Road, with the Santa Maria brand moving to a site in nearby Bond Street. Pasquale Chionchio and Angelo Ambrosio founded Santa Maria in Ealing in 2010, and also operate sites under the concept in Fulham and Fitzrovia.

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