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Tue 19th Jan 2021 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Hawthorn Leisure founders and ex-Ei Group director to launch new pub company: Gerry Carroll and Mark McGinty, who co-founded Hawthorn Leisure, are teaming up with James Croft, ex-group strategy and retail director at Ei Group, to launch a new pub venture – Valiant Pub Company, Propel has learned. It is understood the new venture will initially focus on suburban, community pubs. The company is believed to have recently engaged with potential investors to promote the industry as a future investment opportunity. It is thought no size limits have been put on how small the group will start out or how big it could eventually grow. As chief executive and managing director of operations respectively, Carroll and McGinty created and rolled out a number of different operating models including Hawthorn’s successful operator managed model. The Valiant team first worked together at Enterprise Inns (Ei Group) where among other initiatives they jointly set up the Beacon division. When Carroll and McGinty left to form Hawthorn, Croft continued his career at Ei Group, working in finance and property. He subsequently became its group strategy and retail director, where he was the architect of its successful turnaround strategy. He created Craft Union and the managed expert joint ventures, and had overall responsibility for all of the managed pub divisions. Carroll was managing director at Enterprise Inns, for five years, overseeing circa 3,500 pubs producing more than £200m Ebitda. He also held senior roles at Mitchells & Butlers, Little Chef, Whitbread and Warner Bros. He told Propel: “We all love pubs and are looking forward to developing Valiant Pub Company and launching the business in 2021. We were heartened to see how well pubs bounced back post the first lockdown and believe once covid restrictions are lifted the pub sector will be one that recovers quickly. Having visited hundreds of UK pubs post lockdowns we were hugely impressed by the professionalism of operators and their ability to create safe environments for their customers.”

Industry News:

Propel’s ‘lessons of lockdown’ video series to feature Tim Foster next: In the latest Propel “lessons of lockdown” video, Mark Wingett talks to Tim Foster, co-founder of Yummy Pub Company. Foster talks about launching new revenue streams, changing the group's long-term plans during the crisis, reinforcing the company's culture, going to the wire in terms of cash burn and planning for a brighter future. The video will be released on Tuesday (19 January) at 9am.

British Takeaway Campaign calls for support to attract investment and extension to tax breaks for hospitality: The British Takeaway Campaign (BTC) has called on the government to adapt the eligibility criteria for the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) to help attract investment into the hospitality sector. In light of the existential challenges facing small and independent businesses during the covid-19 crisis, access to capital – rather than debt – is vital if business owners are to rebuild, the BTC said. EIS rules dictate a company must be less than seven years from its first commercial sale to qualify for the scheme, while SEIS rules require companies to be less than two years old and caps investment at £150,000. The BTC has called for these specific criteria to be relaxed to encourage investors to invest in established, proven businesses so they can access the capital they need to rebuild. As part of its Budget representation, the BTC also called on the government to commit to four further policy asks. These are extending the 5% VAT rate cut for hospitality and the 100% business rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure for financial year 2021-22; further support for the sector on the issue of rent repayments, including loans to tenants where landlords have provided rent concessions; extending grants for small and medium-sized enterprises to access new technology, equipment and specialist advice; and an exemption for the smallest businesses – with fewer than five premises – from proposed online advertising bans on food and drink products high in saturated fat, salt or sugar products, which will threaten the sector’s recovery. BTC chairman Ibrahim Dogus said: “Due to the covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic crisis, thousands of previously viable businesses in the hospitality sector are now on the brink of failure. Our members – small, independent businesses, including restaurants and takeaways, food manufacturers, supply-chain organisations and trade associations – are part of the backbone of the UK economy. Many have been able to remain open during the crisis. However, they desperately need this government support if they are to survive and thrive in the future.”

Peter Backman – amount of money being invested in dark kitchens is ‘overgenerous’, ‘clearly bubble brewing’: Sector analyst Peter Backman has argued the amount of money being invested in dark kitchens is “overgenerous” and there is “clearly a bubble brewing”. He said: “The trouble with dark kitchens is concisely illustrated by the situation in my area. It is already served by two Deliveroo Editions and is not far from a Foodstars dark kitchen site – and it now looks as though it will gain another 22 kitchens. And my area is only one slice of an investment boom in dark kitchens – a boom in which Karma Kitchens, a small, two-site, London-based dark kitchen operator has been able to raise a quarter of a billion in investment money for creating dark kitchens across Europe. And other dark kitchen investments are coming in from the likes of USA-based Reef and many others. Moving to a dark kitchen (or starting up in one) removes the need for front of house space. And hence, by not needing to pay for that space, a dark kitchen starts to deliver a profit, on paper at least. Dark kitchens have a clear role to play, but the amount of money being invested seems to me to be overgenerous, to put it mildly. And where is this money going? Some is going into marketing and fitting out kitchens, but plenty is going to property owners and developers. I suspect these are the people who will really gain from dark kitchens. There is clearly a bubble brewing and like all bubbles, it will burst. The good news is what will be left behind once the bubble bursts will be the beginnings of a sustainable model for dark kitchens. Just like the tiny mammals running around in the undergrowth when the dinosaurs ruled the world, which of the dark kitchen models that are left will grow to profitable maturity once the dark kitchen dinosaurs have been wiped out?”

Grant delays ‘push pubs to brink of closure’: The survival prospects of pubs struggling to stay afloat because of the pandemic are being undermined by delays in the distribution of emergency government grants, industry experts have warned. The Forum of British Pubs, which campaigns on behalf of pub tenants, said many were still waiting to receive grants that were due towards the end of last year. Pubs were eligible for up to £3,000 for the month-long closure that began in November, but a survey by the group found fewer than half had received the money by the first week of this month. There also were delays to a £1,000 “booster grant” announced in December to help pubs that predominantly serve alcohol rather than food to get through the Christmas period when they found their trade either curtailed or banned. One in two respondents to the survey of 529 pubs said the payment was still outstanding. More than two thirds reported the grants covered less than half of their running costs during the period, with only one in 20 saying they covered between 75% and 100% of their costs. Dave Mountford, of the Forum of British Pubs, told The Times: “Our sector has fundamentally had to rely on the government subsidies simply to stay in business, with many finding that even with the grants they will struggle to reopen as their costs have been materially more than the amounts they have received. The delays that have been experienced in receiving the grant support, though, have made the position much worse.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a London-based restaurant business that is looking to appoint a marketing/brand manager. The position, based in the capital, will pay up to £55,000 plus benefits. The role will be responsible for the planning, development and implementation of marketing and digital communication strategies. This restaurant business is seeking a motivated individual to lead and develop the marketing side of operations and communicate this to the consumer. Anyone interested can email Stuart@corecruitment.com with their CV. 
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Coffee#1 co-founder to launch coffee concept: James Shapland, the co-founder of Coffee#1, the Caffe Nero-owned brand, is to launch a coffee concept called Coffi Lab, Propel has learned. In line with the growth of Coffee#1, Shapland is currently seeking sites for the new concept in neighbourhood centres and high street market towns across south Wales and the south west. Propel understands Hannah Gillard, current finance director at SA Brain. will become the managing director of the new venture from next month. Coffi Lab, which is working with property advisor EJ Hales to find suitable sites, plans to be “a heart-warming, authentic retail coffee brand in a neighbourhood setting”. Shapland co-founded Coffee#1 in 2000 and went on to grow it to 15 sites across Wales and the south west, with an annual turnover of £5m a year, before selling it for an undisclosed sum to SA Brain in 2011. Caffe Nero paid almost £30m to acquire a majority stake in Coffee#1, which now operates more than 100 sites, in February 2019.

Domino’s Pizza UK merges digital and marketing teams, appoints new CMO: Domino’s Pizza UK is bringing its digital team under the remit of marketing for the first time as it looks to “support increased digital investment” and drive growth. The newly-merged marketing, digital and communications team will be headed up by chief marketing officer Sarah Barron, who joins from her role as chief growth officer at Coca-Cola-owned Costa Coffee, reports Marketing Week. Domino’s had a strong 2020 helped by the rise in people staying at home, with delivery orders up 11.8% in the third quarter and like-for-like sales jumping 17.5% in the UK and Ireland. It said the various lockdowns last year accelerated its transformation to a digital business in terms of how it operates and communicates with customers, and how customers interact with the brand. Barron will report directly to Domino’s chief executive Dominic Paul, who described the integration of its digital and marketing teams as “an important step” in the future development of the brand. Barron takes over from Simon Wallis, Domino’s former sales and marketing director and current international managing director, who has been acting chief marketing officer. He is due to take on a new role as chief transformation officer on Monday, 1 February. Domino’s hired its first chief marketing officer in August 2019, expanding the then role to include sales, marketing, product development and innovation. The brand brought in former McDonald’s marketer Emily Somers to take on the position. She left last March, however, after less than a year to continue with the growth of her own marketing and communications consultancy.

Roxy Ball Room looks to double up in Birmingham: Roxy Leisure, operator of Roxy Ball Room, is planning to double its presence in Birmingham. The company, which already has a site in Heath Mill Lane in the city, has applied for a licence to open in a basement site of the former EasyGym in Corporation Street. Roxy Leisure currently operates 11 sites across Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham under the Roxy Ball Room, Roxy Lanes and Roxy Arcade banners. Last year, the company secured a £7.5m investment from private equity firm Foresight, with Mark McQuater, the former chief executive of Revolution Bars Group, becoming its chairman. 

Living Ventures-backed new company paid £75,000 to buy back Leeds Blackhouse site: BH Restaurants (Leeds), a new company backed by Living Ventures, bought back the Blackhouse Grill restaurant in Leeds for £75,000, a new report has revealed. Blackhouse and Newgate Restaurants, the Living Ventures-owned businesses, were placed into administration in June following the closure of its restaurants in March due to the covid-19 pandemic. The companies operated restaurants in Leeds, Glasgow and Manchester under the Blackhouse Grill brand and Olive in Liverpool. A progress report by administrators Philip Duffy and Sarah Bell, of Duff & Phelps, showed the £75,000 for the Leeds site was paid in full on completion of the deal. The remaining three sites have been handed back to their landlords. The report showed Blackhouse’s indebtedness to its secured creditors totalled almost £545,000 and interim distributions totalling £188,600 have been made to date. Newgate’s indebtedness to landlord Bruntwood totals about £630,000 and a distribution is set to be made in due course. A total of £7,200 has so far been distributed to former employees for unpaid holiday pay. The report showed unsecured creditors’ claims total £1.2m and £600,000 for Blackhouse and Newgate respectively and according to the report it is anticipated there will be insufficient funds to allow a distribution other than possibly through the prescribed part.

Banana Tree makes delivery kitchen debut: South east Asian-inspired restaurant Banana Tree, led by William and Anne Chow, is making its delivery kitchen debut. The company said the move would help it capitalise on its strength in this market and to help make up for lost in-eat sales during the pandemic. The new kitchen, in Kentish Town, will be closely followed by another one next month in Chiswick. Banana Tree has partnered with Foodstars and all sales will be serviced via Deliveroo, with staff members having returned from furlough to run the units. Finance director Anne Chow said: “Over the past few years, delivery had become an integral part of our business model. It was therefore a no-brainer to keep this side of the business going when the first lockdown happened, and this has enabled us to keep our teams engaged and fully involved. We also continued our sustainability efforts, with the move to mostly recycled cardboard containers for our deliveries , as well as our green energy and recycling drive. We were therefore thrilled when in December that Banana Tree was voted best eco-friendly restaurant by customers at the Deliveroo Awards.” The nine-strong operator has kept most of its sites open for delivery since the beginning of the pandemic, apart from its flagship site in Soho, which closed completely during the lockdown periods. Banana Tree also opened all restaurants to the public whenever local restrictions allowed, having spent the first lockdown period preparing new covid-safe protocols. Managing director William Chow said: “2020 was a tough year for everyone, but thanks to our loyal team members, both at the restaurants and at our head office, we will be reopening our restaurants with a bang!” 
 
Private members’ club to open at Kensington Roof Gardens: The landlord of Kensington Roof Gardens, CKE, has secured a signature private members’ club to operate the UK’s largest roof gardens. CKE said the new private members’ club, further details of which will be released soon, will have “core values that are founded on the principles that we should live by, motivating ourselves and our community to create more sustainable and enjoyable lives”. It said the club will enable its members to explore “new frontiers through networking, exploration and education”. P-Three and Cushman & Wakefield acted jointly for the landlord on the 15,000 square foot space, which spans two floors and is complemented by a 0.6-acre garden, while Levy Real Estate acted for the tenant. Thomas Rose, co-founder of P-Three, said: “We conducted an international marketing campaign and attracted several offers for this space. By securing a private members’ club for the Roof Gardens we have secured a high-quality operator that can maximise the various spaces, levels and gardens while also being sensitive to the Kensington catchment. This is without doubt going to be one of the best members’ clubs in the world.”
 
McDonald’s taking further steps to reduce more potential toxins in its food packaging: McDonald’s is taking further steps to reduce more potential toxins in its food packaging, setting a 2025 as goal for replacing more items in its supply chain. It has released the new goals as part of its company-wide sustainability framework. The company committed to removing added-fluorinated compounds from its packaging materials globally. McDonald’s said in 2008, it eliminated long chain per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, from all guest packaging globally. Between 2013 and 2015, the company eliminated bisphenol A and phthalate chemicals from its packaging. The fluorinated chemicals have come under increasing scrutiny for their impact on the environment and the body. PFAS is a family of about 5,000 man-made organic chemicals used in non-stick cookware, fabric stain-protective coatings, fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, personal care products and fire-fighting foams. McDonald’s said its packaging materials are compliant with the Food and Drug Administration, European Union and other regulatory bodies. It added: “We are continuously monitoring, testing and innovating on all packaging materials in partnership with our suppliers to ensure they are safe for customers and the environment.” 
 
Former professional rugby player takes speciality coffee shop concept to Bristol for third site: Former professional rugby player Sam Smith is taking his Worcester-based speciality coffee shop concept Wayland’s Yard to Bristol for its third site. Smith will open the outlet in Whiteladies Road for takeaway on Friday (22 January), before welcoming dine-in customers when lockdown restrictions are eased. The premises was previously home to Brew Coffee Company. Smith told Bristol Live: “I’ve always enjoyed visiting Bristol as it has such a good coffee scene. I used to visit Brew quite a lot and really liked the spot, so I’m excited to be able to open it as the third Wayland’s Yard site. It’s definitely a strange time to be opening a new place but it has been nice having something positive to work towards in what is a challenging time.” Smith, a former Worcester Warriors and England under-20s winger, launched Wayland’s Yard in Foregate Street, Worcester, in October 2016 after injury forced him to end his career. He added a site in Birmingham in March last year.
 
Stem & Glory launches at-home range and online store: Vegan restaurant concept Stem + Glory is launching an at-home range as part of a new UK online store. It follows work over the past six months to develop the restaurant’s menu into a new cook-at-home offering. The online store, which will launch on Tuesday, 26 January, consists of finish-at-home ready meals, such as its Swede Gnocchi and Glorious Bourguignon, and recipe kits such as Kimchi Pancakes and Activated Charcoal Fettuccine with Mushroom “Scallops”. The online store will also carry probiotic drinks and a vegan bar featuring niche UK brewery craft beer and British wine. Louise Palmer-Masterton, founder of Stem & Glory, said: “During the hospitality hibernation, we kept our eyes firmly on our product development and brand identity. Since our first crowdfund in 2018, we’ve been asked many times to open branches in towns all over the country so we are really happy we can now offer our restaurant-quality meals to the whole of the UK. We will also be introducing, later in the year, some merchandise, online workshops and off-the-shelf products.” The at-home-range will be run from Stem & Glory’s London site, and for every box sold four meals will be donated to staff at neighbouring St Barts hospital.

Chef Andrew Sheridan to launch French-style street food van to serve Birmingham: Chef Andrew Sheridan is launching a French-style street food van to serve Birmingham. Sheridan, who recently opened his debut restaurant 8, will be reinventing traditional French-style bistro dishes and serving his culinary creations on wheels through Artisan Street Kitchen. Launching on Thursday, 28 January, the à la carte menu will feature French onion soup and ham and cheese croquettes to start, mains of croque monsieur, Madame or Florentine, followed by French toast with banana and caramel sauce, and chocolate choux buns. There will also be “a little extra” option that includes deep fried dauphinoise and deep fried bourguignons. All orders are to be made in advance online via the website, where guests will be required to select the location of the pick-up, the collection date and designed time slot in advance to ensure a controlled and safe collection. There will also be a series of collaboration evenings in February and March, including with chefs Aktar Islam, of Opheem, and Paul Foster, of Salt. Artisan Street Kitchen will also be hosting a permanent residence at the Solihull Taste Collective, based at Mell Square in Solihull.

Whitbread to open Premier Inn hotel in Watford Junction: Whitbread is to open a new Premier Inn hotel in Watford Junction – its fourth site in the Hertfordshire town. The company’s development partner Tellon Capital has secured planning permission for the 168-bedroom hotel and 54,000 square foot of office space 200 metres from the mainline train station. Louise Woodruff, Whitbread acquisition manager for outer London and the south, said: “Watford Junction – with its powerful business economy and excellent transport connections – is a strategic growth location for us and we have been seeking a presence close to the station for a number of years. Achieving planning consent with Tellon Capital for almost 170 Premier Inn bedrooms close to Watford Junction station is a real win for us. The location complements our three existing hotels in Watford and fulfils our current network requirement in the town.”
 
Bar group teams up with better burger brand to offer takeaway and delivery food at wet-led bars: Big Grillie Style, which started life at Levenshulme Market in 2015, is now operating from The Drawing Room sites in Didsbury, Bramhall and Altrincham. Big Grillie Style founder Alex Applegarth teamed up with bar group The Drawing Room when the tier system was first introduced, with the wet-led bar in Bramhall facing closure if it couldn’t provide substantial meals. Now the partnership is being made permanent and rolled out across its sites. Applegarth had actually parked his burger business and was working as a supply teacher when the pandemic hit. But unable to be furloughed, with his work drying up, and with dozens of local businesses scrambling to stay open, Big Grillie Style was brought back to life. Applegarth said: “Coronavirus nearly ruined me but The Drawing Room and my ability to make burgers has genuinely saved me in this past year.” Priced between £6.95 and £9.95, the burgers are available for delivery and takeaway until The Drawing Room sites are allowed to reopen.

TGI Friday’s launches free ‘Parent Packs’ as part of at-home offer: TGI Friday’s has launched “Parent Packs”, offering its kids activity kits for free when ordering via its click and collect menu. The activity packs include a range of creative activities to get kid’s minds working, including colouring, puzzles and selfie props that are designed to help families have fun and enjoy quality time together. Currently available on all click and collect orders, the kids activity packs will soon be rolled out to TGI Friday’s DIY meal kits too. Chief marketing officer Dan Staples said: “We particularly wanted to offer something to help parents who are once again juggling work and home-schooling while keeping the kids entertained and fed. Our ‘Parent Packs’ will help kids get in touch with their creative side and keep them busy while parents get a well-deserved break.”

Gainford Group invests £2m to create rooftop bar and restaurant at Newcastle hotel: North east-based operator Gainford Group is investing £2m into the creation of a rooftop bar and restaurant at one of its Newcastle hotels. The company has started work on Above, a transformation of the existing rooftop area at The Vermont Hotel, which will have panoramic views across the city. The work comes more than two years after plans were first revealed for the transformation scheme, with the arrival of the pandemic leading the firm to pause work on its developments. The Above rooftop bar and restaurant, which will have a retractable glass roof, will create 50 jobs once it is open. Director Imran Khaliq told Business Live: “It’s been a long time coming but we have finally got started on Above. Our plan is to have it ready by spring time.” The project marks the first phase to transform the rooftop area of The Vermont, with phase two expected to create a second open-air mixed-use area.

Historic building housing Boston Tea Party and PizzaExpress branches sold for £3.89m: The historic Citadel building in Birmingham, which is home to branches of all-day dining casual cafe brand Boston Tea Party and PizzaExpress, has been acquired by property investment company Kinrise. It has purchased the Citadel for £3.89m from Lasalle Investment Management. The building in Corporation Street comprises 46,000 square foot of retail and office space. Samuel Lawson Johnson, of Kinrise, said: “The Kinrise model welcomes all businesses: small, medium and large and Citadel’s layout is perfect for those looking for a single desk or a full floor, interconnected by a vast atrium for all to enjoy as a social space.” Citadel is set to open to new tenants following refurbishment this year.
 
St Helens-based Brothers Burgers to double up with Warrington launch: St Helens-based Brothers Burgers has doubled up, with an opening in Warrington. Brothers Darren and Steven Leigh have launched the branch in Bold Street in the former Barnum’s Dance premises. Due to the national lockdown, the site is only be open for takeaway and delivery. Steven Leigh told the Warrington Guardian: “After the negativity of 2020 and now finding ourselves in another lockdown in 2021, we cannot let the good people of Warrington wait in suspense any longer. We have decided to open the store for collection and delivery for now until we get over the very serious situation we all find ourselves in.” The Leighs launched the concept in St Helens in 2018.

Historic After Dark nightclub to close permanently after losing licence appeal: After Dark nightclub will be closed permanently after an appeal court upheld a council’s decision to revoke its licence in 2019. After Dark was first opened in Reading in 1973 and has hosted the likes of Radiohead and Supergrass but its owner Zee Khan lost an appeal to save its licence at High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court. The club’s licence was revoked by Reading Borough Council due to noise and safety concerns, according to The Reading Chronicle. The club has been closed since March last year due to the coronavirus pandemic but the building it is housed in was awarded asset of community value status last month meaning redevelopment of the building is not allowed and also means it cannot be sold for alternative uses without the knowledge of the local community.

Helmsley Group plans zero carbon hotel in York: Helmsley Group has submitted plans for a new zero carbon hotel in York. Located on the currently derelict Mill House car park site, off North Street, the development is set to generate net zero carbon emissions. During construction, green alternatives to traditional methods will be used to achieve a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) “excellent” building. The carbon output from construction will be minimised and, where it can’t be, will be offset via a recognised framework. Aimed at business and tourism visitors to the city, the hotel will comprise 99 rooms. It is also set to support an associated programme of wider public realm upgrades nearby, including public spaces and landscaping.
 
Tofu manufacturer reports booming sales: West Yorkshire tofu manufacturer The Tofoo Co has reported soaring turnover and launched a new product. The Ilkley-based company recorded turnover of £14.7m in 2020, an 89% year-on-year and representing its best year to date. The result represents strong growth from the business’ first year of trading in 2016, when Dave Knibbs and Lydia Smith acquired the business and turnover was £600,000. The Tofoo Co is also launching Tofoo Chunkies – its first frozen tofu product. Knibbs said: “In the past four years, we’ve been on a mission to share with consumers the incredible ingredient that is tofu. Through consistent innovation and a strong brand presence, we’ve built a very loyal consumer base that enjoys making delicious and wonderfully unexpected meals using The Tofoo Co products.”
 
Costa Coffee launches limited time latte range: Costa Coffee has launched a limited-edition latte drinks range. The range includes the caramel oat latte, the vanilla coconut latte and the hazelnut almond latte. Russell Braterman, global innovation director at Costa Coffee, said: “We’re delighted to introduce our Latte+ range. As the nation’s favourite coffee shop, we put customer experience at the heart of everything we do so, naturally, launching industry-leading innovation reinforces our commitment to give our customers something that they can’t get anywhere else.”
   
The Gym Group reports ‘manageable levels of debt’ despite losing 45% of trading days: The Gym Group, the nationwide operator of 184 no-contract low-cost gyms, has announced it has emerged through 2020 “with manageable levels of debt and significant liquidity”. In a trading update to year end on 31 December, chief executive Richard Darwin added 2020 has been “challenging” as the Croydon-based operator revealed total revenues were £80.5m, down from £153.1m in 2019, and the company lost 45% of its trading days as a result of government restrictions. Darwin said: “2020 has been a challenging year for our business, our members and our colleagues. Through the outstanding work of our team we provided a covid-secure exercise environment for our members and demonstrated the resilience of our business model by trading profitably when gyms have been open. Our cash management during the pandemic has ensured we ended 2020 with manageable levels of debt and significant liquidity.” The business reported year-end non-property net debt of £47.3m (December 2019: £47.4m); cash flow positive during post-lockdown trading periods with £3.8m of deferred rents outstanding at the end of 2020; monthly cash burn (before expansionary capex) during the current closure period was circa £5m; and significant liquidity available under the company’s £100m bank facility.

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