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Wed 10th Mar 2021 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Domino’s boss – we will turbocharge investment to double our collection business: Domino’s chief executive Dominic Paul has outlined how the company wants to grow its collection business. Speaking following the company’s full-year results, he said: “We are focused on the future and planning how we deliver the next phase of growth of the business, by maximising on the opportunities in our market, our digital capabilities and our brand. It is critical we retain customers that are new to the Domino’s system, and continuing the digital shift that accelerated through the pandemic. Furthermore, we will ensure we are in as strong a position as possible to benefit from the gradual unlocking of the economy that we expect in 2021. As we come out of the restrictions of covid-19 we will be competing in an environment that has most likely changed forever with an increased presence of aggregator operators and more digitally aware consumers that are familiar with the benefits of home food delivery. We have already invested in our core capabilities and built upon our core strengths to capture the opportunities ahead. We know how to improve our marketing effectiveness, utilise data and insights to inform our decision making, leverage the strength of our supply chain to drive efficiencies and accelerate our already strong digital and technology credentials. We are starting from a position of strength. Our supply chain already achieves 99.9% availability and accuracy; 94.3% of delivery sales are made online, our IT platform stability has significantly improved; and our new mobile app is due to launch in the first half of this year. Our aspiration is to raise the bar for the rest of the market, accelerating our like-for-like delivery orders, and reducing the average delivery time for our customers to below 20 minutes, from the current figure of just under 25 minutes. There are a number of evolutions we are planning to make our overall customer experience better for collection: we are going to enhance our food offer and make our products just right for the collection customer as well as redesign our in-store collection experience and roll-out targeted collection offers. In addition, we have developed an in-car collection service, which we are already rolling out across the system and aim to have 450 stores offering the service by the end of June.” Paul said Domino’s wants to double its market share in collection, growing it faster than delivery. The company has 66 franchisees running 1,200 stores. On how franchisees fared last year, the company stated: “Based on the unaudited data submitted to us by franchisees, average store Ebitda for all UK stores for the full year was approximately £229,000, equivalent to a 20% Ebitda margin. This compares to £145,000 or 14% margin in 2019. Franchisee profitability would have been assisted by the strong growth of delivery during the year, along with a ten-week reduction in National Advertising Fund contributions from 4% to 2%, as we tactically chose to reduce marketing spend over the second-quarter lockdown period. In addition, while franchisees have passed on some of the benefit of the VAT rate cut through increased discounts to consumers, the net benefit of the VAT reduction has more than offset increased covid-19 related costs incurred by our franchisees.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Placed offers one month free recruitment as part of Ready-Steady-Go campaign: Placed, a mobile-first recruitment app, is working with venues across the hospitality industry to staff up and bounce back from the pandemic as lockdown eases. With uncertainty around Brexit and many employees on furlough, employers have voiced apprehensions around the return of original teams when venues open again. And the possibility of shifting regulations means it’s a real struggle knowing how to approach recruitment in the coming months. Placed is offering a three-part Ready-Steady-Go plan, designed specifically with the hospitality industry in mind. A spokesman said: “This staggered plan uses bespoke employer brand pages, tailored content and targeted jobs to ensure employers can steadily hire and build up strong teams based on key experience and cultural fit. It’s free to start, flexible should lockdown rules change, and tailored to your business’ needs. Placed’s smart-matching algorithm means candidates are far more engaged with the jobs and companies they explore, resulting in a 70% view-to-application rate and a three times higher conversion rate to hire, compared with traditional methods.” Partnered with brands such as Bone Daddies, Park Plaza Hotel, Roka and Searcy’s, Placed's community spans hundreds of thousands of forward-thinking, go-getter candidates that companies are connecting with daily. For more details, click here. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email

More than 600 operators booked in for today’s Propel Multi Club: More than 600 operators have booked for today’s (Wednesday, 10 March) Propel Multi Club, which will take the form of a day-long digital conference and look to help operators to “thrive and survive”. Speakers including Yishay Malkov, chief executive of Various Eateries; Alex Reilley, chairman of Loungers; Sarah Willingham, chief executive of bar company Nightcap; Dan Warne, founder of Sessions Market; Philip Turner, founder and chief executive of Chestnut Group; and Neat Burger co-founder and head of operations Stasi Nychas, will share their experiences and insights as the sector looks to come through the other side of the pandemic. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “In these unprecedented times, operators are looking for inspiration and guidance to navigate their way through the most difficult period in their history. We’ve put together a great programme of speakers and it’s fantastic so many operators are joining us for this event.” The conference begins at 10am. Anyone who has registered but not received a link by 9.30am should email

Third of consumers say they'll return to outdoor-only hospitality: One in three UK adults have said they will visit pubs and restaurants when they reopen with outdoor seating and service only, according to a snap poll by KAM Media. The research found Generation Z and younger millennials are least likely to be put off by the prospect of “outdoor seating only”, with 43% of 18 to 34-year-olds saying they’ll return, compared with 24% of over-55s. A further 26% of UK adults intend to wait for pubs and restaurants to reopen with indoor seating and service before they visit. Meanwhile, 33% said they are not planning on visiting pubs or restaurants at all for the foreseeable future due to covid-19. This figure was 42% for over-55s. KAM Media managing director Katy Moses said: “Overall, UK consumers are considerably less fearful coming out of lockdown three compared with lockdown one. They are however much more frustrated and bored, which is a huge opportunity for hospitality to be a saviour in the eyes of its customers and give them something to smile about once lockdown measures lift again.” 
KAM Media is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Welsh government extends rent moratorium for three months: Hospitality businesses in Wales will be protected from landlord eviction actions until the summer. Businesses that have seen their trading impacted by the pandemic and are struggling to pay rents will have protection running until the end of June, Ken Skates, minister for economy, transport and north Wales, has announced. The moratorium against forfeiture for the non-payment of rent was due to end at the end of this month. UKHospitality Cymru executive director David Chapman said: “An extension to the moratorium is a positive and pragmatic move by the Welsh government. Many valuable hospitality businesses across Wales have piled up huge levels of rent debt over the past year, which will be a barrier to viability as they look to reopen. Rent debt levels have spiralled to unmanageable levels for too many businesses through no fault of their own. Businesses have been forcibly closed or operating under the most severe restrictions for a year. All the while, they have had to continue to meet costs and rent has remained a very significant one. Although some landlords have been helpful and engaged with tenants, the crisis has escalated for many businesses. The spectre of rent debt continues to loom over the sector even as we begin to prepare for our reopening. The extension to the moratorium will give us valuable breathing space, but we will still need a permanent solution to the problem.” The UK government is expected to announce a similar extension to the rent moratorium in England this week. 

Food delivery platform showcasing high-end restaurants to launch next week: Food delivery platform Gourmet2Go, which showcases high-end restaurants and chefs, will make its debut next week. Founded by George Thwaytes, Gourmet2Go will launch in London on Tuesday, 16 March, with plans next for Newcastle, before expanding to the rest of the UK. The platform aims to connect customers “with the best local restaurants, gastro-pubs and food boxes”. Thwaytes said: “We set up Gourmet2Go to give restaurants of high quality a chance to showcase their food on an app that only has high quality food. For example, our market research showed there is amazing food on offer on other apps, but they are alongside other options that aren't of the same calibre. We intend to fill a gap in the market for a well curated app for customers, but also for an affordable price for those that sign up due to the current circumstances. We all know hospitality has been hit incredibly hard, yet all want them to still be there when this is over.” Gourmet2Go found 92% of diners are interested in quality-assured restaurants and the company said it would strictly vet outlets before allowing them to sign up. 

Report shows huge significant impact for hospitality sector of Bristol project: An impact report undertaken by the team behind Bristol tipi village Breaking Bread has highlighted the socio-economic and environmental impact of the project within the local hospitality industry. Breaking Bread launched in July last year and was a collaboration between some of Bristol’s most established hospitality venues and key events organisers – The Pony & Trap, Pasta Loco, The Love Inn and The Pipe and Slippers. It ran up until October, providing activity for the region’s hospitality industry and supply chains. Throughout the three months of Breaking Bread’s operation, the project provided work for more than 100 hospitality and event industry workers. By taking these 100 staff out of the furlough and Universal Credit process, Breaking Bread saved the government an estimated £220,000 through direct employment. The project was also a huge benefit to local suppliers with a direct spend with local contractors and suppliers sitting at £561,000. A total of 37,000 people visited the outdoor restaurants at Breaking Bread. Of the 16.4 tonnes of carbon dioxide the event emitted, this was entirely balanced through global tree planting and land protection initiatives. Food waste was sent to an anaerobic digestion plant to be processed and into renewable energy sources and agricultural bio-fertiliser. Breaking Bread is scheduled for a return in the spring, with the introduction of more community initiatives including The Team Canteen. The centralised space among the tipis will have a fully equipped kitchen capable of providing education, training and food production, which will be available to community groups and charities. 

BrewLDN to feature outdoor street food arena, festival moves to July: BrewLDN, the festival from Craft Beer Rising founders Daniel Rowntree and Chris Bayliss, will feature an outdoor street food arena for the first time. This year’s event will now run later in the year – from Thursday, 29 July to Saturday, 31 July – due to the capacity exceeding 1,000 people and so it can have the “full social experience”, with the government aiming to introduce “no legal limits on social contact” in mid-June. The improved and expanded festival at the Printworks’ container yard in Rotherhithe will feature 250 exhibitor stands and 150 independent breweries. Trade-only sessions will be held on the Thursday and Friday between 11.30am and 5pm. The latest breweries to join the line-up include Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn and east London-based Signature Brew. The street food arena line-up will be revealed in due course.

Company News:

Honest Burgers appoints Frank Hayes as new chief executive: Honest Burgers, the Active Partners-backed business, has appointed Frank Hayes, former managing director of pub company Spirit Group, as its new chief executive. Propel revealed last year Hayes, who was most recently managing director of Northgate, the commercial vehicle rental and disposal company, had joined the board of Honest Burgers as a non-executive director. Honest Burgers said Hayes had extensive leadership experience in both hospitality and other sectors, including 13 years at Yum! Brands and three years at Spirit Group. Hayes, who had led Northgate in the UK and Ireland since June 2017, was also previously commercial director at Wyevale Garden Centres and a consultant with Burger King. At Spirit Group, he was responsible for the food-led half of the managed pub company, which at the time had circa 2,000 pubs. He supported the sale of the business to Punch in 2006. The arrival of Hayes sees Gary Mann take on the newly-created role of chief commercial officer at Honest Burgers. Mann served as managing director for “three rapid growth years prior”. Meanwhile, David Foulis, its finance director of three years, is leaving the business this month to “pursue other opportunities”. Foulis will be replaced on an interim basis by Holly Elliott, previously finance director of Caffe Nero and Five Guys. Propel revealed in January Elliott had stepped down as group finance director of the US better burger brand. 

Adventure Bar Group to launch first fully outdoor venue as it heads to Birmingham for regional debut: London bar operator Adventure Bar Group is to launch its first fully outdoor venue, in the former Digbeth Arena site in Birmingham. Luna Springs, which will be the company’s debut regional site, will open its doors on Monday, 12 April, creating 50 jobs. The 3,500 capacity venue is named after The Lunar Society of Birmingham – an 18th century secret club comprising prominent figureheads and creative intellectuals who would meet on every full moon. Tom Kidd, co-founder of The Adventure Bar Group, said: “We’re excited about coming to Birmingham and embracing the creative energy and inspiration that buzzes through the city – our aim with Luna Springs is to create a hub of experience; from the very best local street food vendors on the scene to musical talent and supporting local events and movements. We want to be part of the fabric of the city and the go-to venue this summer for an incredible time.” Adventure Bar Group operates nine sites in the capital, including Bar Elba, The Escapologist and Tonight Josephine. 

Oowee Vegan targets Cardiff for seventh site: Bristol-based Oowee Vegan has submitted plans to open its seventh site, in Cardiff. The proposed restaurant would be in Wellfield Road with the application requesting a change of use from retail to restaurant. The most recent tenant of the unit is the shop Flying Tiger. Last year, Oowee Vegan opened a venue in Dalston, east London, followed by a site in Brixton in November. This week it opened a permanent kitchen in Brighton at The Western pub in Cranbourne Street. Oowee Vegan was founded in 2016 by Verity Foss and Charlie Watson. The first Oowee opened as an American-style diner serving meat dishes. The original North Street restaurant in Bristol is still running, serving steaks and meat burgers. The applicant for the Cardiff site, Thornedge Properties, plans to use 60% of the site as retail space and the remaining 40% as a cafe area serving hot and cold drinks and hot food. It also plans to use the outdoor seating area at the back of the property to seat up to 12 people, reports Business Live.

Deliveroo expects customer spending on its apps to grow by up to 40% this year: Deliveroo, which earlier this week confirmed its intention to float on the London Stock Exchange, said it expects customer spending through its food delivery app to grow by 30% to 40% in 2021. The 40% rise in its Gross Transaction Value – the total amount of transactions it processes on its platform (GTV) – would be down on the 64.3% increase seen last year, when lockdowns helped drive performance. The company said it also expects its gross profit margin will dip to 7.5% to 8%, compared with 8.8% in 2020, as order sizes fall back to normal levels. In the group’s initial public offering filing, the company said more than six million people order from more than 115,000 restaurants and stores through Deliveroo every month. During the past year, the business said it benefited from £1.3m of furlough support from the UK government and received a further £3m in covid relief grants overseas. Redundancy costs during the year stood at £6.6m.

WatchHouse launches subscription service: Edition Capital-backed coffee concept WatchHouse has launched its own subscription service. The company said with its new “fully customisable” WatchHouse.YourHouse. subscription service, customers across the world can get WatchHouse coffee delivered straight to their door, choosing the frequency, size of bag, coffee style and grind type. Subscribers have the choice between the 1829 house blend, so named for the date the first WatchHouse in Bermondsey was built, or the refined Roasters Spotlight. Customers will also receive an information card on the origin and tasting notes of the coffee to help the subscriber’s understanding of the chosen coffee, exclusive WatchHouse offers, and a compliments card, packaged inside a premium recycled envelope. Bags start from £10 for 250g with customers able to currently get their first two bags for £15, including free UK shipping. Those who place coffee orders of more than £100 will be invited to a free one-on-one online brewing tutorial with the specialist WatchHouse coffee team. Customers can choose three, six, 12-month packages, or a flexible monthly subscription package.

Piling to begin Roost expansion with Wilmslow opening: North west-based restaurateur Steve Pilling is to begin the expansion of his rotisserie chicken restaurant, pizzeria and craft beer concept Roost, with an opening in Wilmslow. Pilling, who opened the original Roost on the former site of his fine-dining restaurant Damson in Heaton Moor, has secured the-CAU site in Wilmslow’s Water Lane for the second opening. Roost will serve rotisserie chicken, wood fired pizza and burgers along with a range of craft beer, cocktails and milkshakes. Pilling opened the first Roost in 2017. 

Ivy Collection to reopen eight sites for outdoor dining next month: The Ivy Collection, the Richard Caring-backed group, will reopen terraces for outdoor dining at eight of its restaurants across the country on Monday, 12 April. In line with government guidelines, guests will be able to reserve tables of up to six guests from separate households, subject to availability. The restaurants that will be opening the doors to their heated, covered terraces will be The Ivy Chelsea Garden, The Ivy Spinningfields, The Ivy Harrogate, The Ivy Cobham Brasserie, The Ivy Kensington Brasserie, The Ivy Tower Bridge, The Ivy Soho Brasserie and The Ivy St John’s Wood.

Flight Club confirmed for Bristol opening: Flight Club, the darts concept owned by Red Engine, has confirmed it will open a site in Bristol later this summer. The concept will open a new venue at 41 Corn Street in the city. “We can’t wait to open in Bristol!” said Steve Moore, chief executive and co-founder of Flight Club. “We’re always looking for the next great location to bring social darts to, and Corn Street is perfect for this opportunity. Every Flight Club is unique, and we’re excited to bring this venue to life with some unexpected, ridiculous, joy this summer.” Flight Club, which is taking the ground and basement space at 41 Corn Street, aims to also open a site in Leeds as well as sites in Australia with a recently signed new franchise partner. Red Engine has also secured a second site for its Electric Shuffle concept, in London Bridge, which it plans to open this year. 

Sugoi JPN to launch Soho dark kitchen: Japanese and Latin American fusion concept Sugoi JPN is to open a further dark kitchen site in London’s Soho at the start of next month. It will launch the dark kitchen site out of 204 Wardour Street alongside Japanese-inspired street food concept Japanified. Both will be available for delivery, via Deliveroo, or takeaway. Both brands are part of Under One Kitchen, a project set up by entrepreneur Felipe Preece during the pandemic to help support hospitality brands. The project allows brands to work alongside each other but as distinct businesses under one roof to help cut down on costs, allowing them to continue operating as a delivery and takeaway service during the crisis. In just one year, Under One Kitchen is now working with 23 operations across seven kitchens in London, with more to come.

BrewDog relaunches pub bookings with online bar: Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog has opened bookings at its bars ahead of beer gardens reopening on Monday, 12 April. The company will reopen 35 of its sites for outside booking, takeaway and collection, including Birmingham, Exeter, Liverpool and York. To mark the moment, BrewDog has launched the Open Arms, an online bar, complete with ambient sounds such as “quiet swifty”, “brew dogs” and “group shanty” so customers can enjoy all the sounds of the pub at home, in the countdown to pub gardens opening in just over five weeks’ time. The company is also launching the BrewDog Beer School, an online crash course in craft beer. Participants will work their way through videos, quizzes and lessons in their own time with “some of the best brewers and teachers in craft beer”, including BrewDog co-founders Martin Dickie and James Watt, and malting and brewing scientist Dr Charlie Bamforth.

Bar Douro to launch street food sandwich specialist Roulote: Portuguese food and wine concept Bar Douro will launch street food sandwich specialist Roulote as a pop-up in its London Bridge street food market restaurant in Flat Iron Square. Roulote is inspired by Portugal’s street food scene and sandwich culture, taking its name from the trailers that dominate the street corners of Lisbon and Porto. It will initially only be open on Fridays and Saturdays, ahead of launching from a street food van in summer. Roulote will serve two stand-out sandwiches for takeaway only: the Bifana – thinly sliced pork shoulder, poached in a white wine and fermented pepper sauce and served in carcaças bread with savora mustard mayonnaise; and the Octopus Roll – a soft white roll loaded with octopus, red peppers and caramelised onions and topped with coriander, straw potato crisps and piri-piri mayonnaise. Takeaway alcohol-free beer from Free Star will also be available. Roulote will open between noon and 4pm, from Saturday 13 March until Saturday, 10 April (Fridays and Saturdays only).
‘Wine drinkers’ clubhouse’ to open in Haggerston: A new “wine drinkers’ clubhouse” is opening in Haggerston, east London. Jonathan Alphandery is launching Planque in Acton Mews this summer. Taking over two railway arches, the space will have a restaurant and wine bar that's open to all. But there will also be a private members’ club with benefits including in-house cellar storage facilities, priority access to restaurant reservations and wine events, along with exclusive use of the club lounge and private dining space. There will also be a store on-site that sells food, wine and kitchen equipment. Seb Myers, formerly of P Franco and Chiltern Firehouse, will run the food side of the operation, with the 40-seat restaurant serving modern French food. Alphandery told Hot Dinners he sees Planque “as the culmination of a decade's obsession with natural and minimal intervention wine”. 

Pub and sandwich shop operator switches business model to nationwide deliveries: Experienced operator Micaela Clegg, who runs The Black Horse pub and Relish sandwich shop, who switched her business model to open a delivery-only business called Little Weighton Kitchen during the pandemic, is expanding. The Hull-based businesswoman will be delivering Little Weighton’s healthy recipes, which customers unpack at home to create their own meals from, nationwide. Clegg told The Yorkshire Post: “During the first lockdown, like most business owners, we had no choice but to close The Black Horse and Relish so we set to work planning a new venture and filling a gap in the market for a local recipe box. We are championing the best produce Yorkshire has to offer and supporting fellow small businesses by presenting seasonal, sustainable and locally sourced ingredients to enable users to cook imaginative meals with ease at home. We really miss all our regular customers at Relish but we are reaching many of them with Little Weighton Kitchen and we hope to get to the rest of them soon.”

Curzon to open cinema at Hawley Wharf development in Camden: Boutique cinema chain Curzon is to open a site at the Hawley Wharf development in Camden, north London. The company has agreed a deal with landlord LabTech for a 6,000 square foot site spanning eight of Camden’s 30 historic railway arches. Encompassing five separate cinema theatres, each with 30 seats, it will form a landmark cinema for the brand, which will be its 15th in the UK and ninth in London. The cinema is set to open in the autumn. It will stand alongside more than 60 new food and beverage outlets, 150 independent and branded stores and 195 serviced apartments as part of Hawley Wharf’s 580,000 square foot venture. Curzon chief executive Philip Knatchbull said: “We are thrilled to be launching our latest landmark cinema within the Hawley Wharf development, taking a tangible plot of Camden’s history. Last summer we worked with LabTech on a successful pop-up cinema in the heart of Camden Market, so we know the demand is there. The railway arches are a unique space, and we are confident it will become a much-loved destination for film lovers.” LabTech chief executive Yaron Shahar added: “Hawley Wharf is shaping up to be a leading London destination, functioning as an independent eco-system where people can visit, work, live, and socialise, and we are proud to announce Curzon will sit at the heart of it.” Colliers and CBRE represented Hawley Wharf Camden.
Surge of bookings for rooftop bar as £18m Telegraph Hotel announces opening date: The announcement of the opening date of the £18m Telegraph Hotel in Coventry has prompted a surge of bookings for those wanting to be the first to drink at its rooftop bar. The hotel, which is housed in the former Coventry Telegraph newspaper offices, will open on Monday, 17 May with its outdoor rooftop bar called Generators taking bookings from Wednesday, 14 April. The hotel was originally planned to open in December last year but tier restrictions and a further lockdown led to a delay. Generators has already had 800 bookings for its tapas-style menu – created by Michelin-starred chef Glynn Purnell – and cocktails offer for those following the rule of six. The bar is covered and heated and will be open from Wednesday to Sunday on a weekly basis. The hotel, which has taken two years to complete after £18m worth of investment, has 88 bedrooms and is operated by Bespoke Hotels. Amy Windsor, general manager of the Telegraph Hotel, said: “Lockdown has really heightened anticipation and our guests won’t be disappointed. We are offering a table service at Generators, which is fully outdoors, with a maximum of six people operated within government guidelines in a safe environment. Tables have to be booked in advance.”

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