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Sun 14th Mar 2021 - Hugh Osmond joins legal action over reopening roadmap, Pret launches first grocery range
Hugh Osmond joins legal action to force judicial review of reopening roadmap: Serial sector investor Hugh Osmond is backing the legal action to force a judicial review of the roadmap, demanding pubs and restaurants be allowed to have customers indoors from Monday, 12 April – the same date as non-essential shops reopen. Osmond, the founder of Punch, has joined Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, in the legal action. Osmond, the former owner of PizzaExpress and current Various Eateries director, has written to prime minister Boris Johnson, “over his irrational decision to delay the opening of the hospitality industry for five weeks after non-essential retail”. He goes on to say there is no “justification for the prioritisation” of non-essential retail over hospitality and called on Johnson to “seek specific advice from SAGE”. Osmond said he “will move to issuing judicial review proceedings” if this step is not taken. The letter said they “are considering further the potentially indirectly discriminatory effect” on young people and those from BAME backgrounds working in the hospitality industry. It also stated “time is of the essence” for the industry, that the “cost of lockdown to the hospitality industry is £200m a day”, and it is “critical that certainty is achieved by 5 April at the latest”. Tweeting with the #case4hospitality on why he is getting behind the legal action, Osmond said: “Hospitality significantly safer than non-essential retail. Hospitality essential for communities and mental health. Hospitality can’t operate online. No evidence linking hospitality venues to covid transmission.” According to the Mail on Sunday, Osmond said: “This legal case will give a fighting chance to more than three million people who work in hospitality and to the tens of thousands of businesses, suppliers, landlords and contractors large and small forced into bankruptcy.” Declaring “our democracy should be better than this”, Osmond raised hopes the legal action would “open up a chink of light” for all those who had been affected adversely by the government's anti-covid measures. Lawyers for the action will argue it is “a matter of simple logic and borne out by the evidence” that safety measures were easier to enforce in pubs and restaurants than in non-essential shops. They will say: “Customers attending a hospitality venue for table service are easily identifiable through track and trace, which they are requested to complete as a condition of entry, and can occupy their own socially distanced areas, in stark contrast to customers browsing and queuing in shops.” Commenting on the legal challenge, UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The swift vaccine rollout and its impact on case numbers is extremely positive. It gives us hope the government will be able to deliver on its commitment to make this the last ever lockdown and, most importantly, to remove all social distancing restrictions for good on 21 June. While any restrictions remain in place, our pubs and restaurants can only break even and the viability of thousands remains at risk – we lost more than 12,000 in the past year alone. That is why we urge the government to review the roadmap and look to remove or reduce restrictions on trading – table service, online or takeaway only, no standing outdoors – at the earliest possible opportunity. It may also be possible to allow some limited indoor operations to resume at an earlier date. While we understand the need for caution, we would urge the government to review the roadmap again and make decisions based on data, not dates.”

Pret launches first grocery food range in partnership with Tesco; eyes franchise model: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed chain, is to launch its first grocery food range, in partnership with Tesco, as a further part of its transformation plan, which aims to bring the brand to more people. Meanwhile,, The Sunday Times reported the business could be set to introduce a franchise model as it looks to back up the Tesco deal by opening sites in more suburban areas. The new bake-at-home frozen croissants range will be available across circa 700 Tesco stores from tomorrow (Monday, 15 March), and will consist of three different bestselling flavours – classic all butter, chocolate filled and vegan. The move builds on Pret’s expansion into consumer-packaged goods and follows its coffee-at-home range launched last summer, which is now available at Amazon, Ocado, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s. The range has been developed in partnership with All About Food, and will be available in Tesco stores including those in Birmingham, Bristol, Belfast, Cardiff, Liverpool, and Glasgow. Clare Clough, UK managing director of Pret, said: “With millions sold yearly, we know how much our customers love our croissants, which is why I’m thrilled we have been able to launch our new frozen range. Featuring three of our bestselling flavours, our teams have worked hard to ensure customers can get the same freshly baked taste they get in our shops, at home. We’re delighted to be partnering with Tesco for Pret’s first supermarket food range, marking an important moment in our journey to bring Pret to more people.” As part of the group’s transformation plan, Pret has also launched the UK’s first in-shop coffee subscription offer; broadened its delivery and digital footprint through partnerships with Deliveroo, Just Eat and UberEats; launched a click and collect trial in select shops; announced a new partnership with Moto, which will allow the company to expand its motorway service estate to three shops in the UK; and created a new dinners menu – Dinners by Pret. Meanwhile, The Sunday Times reported the Tesco deal is set to help Pret win new customers ahead of a plan to open sites in suburban areas. Clough said some of these would be owned by Pret but some would be franchised. “We really believe in the power of Pret as a national brand,” she said.

Propel Premium subscribers to receive access to Propel Multi Club Conference video on Wednesday: Propel Premium subscribers will receive access on Wednesday (17 March) to the video of the first Propel Multi Club Conference of the year. Premium subscribers should email anne.steele@propelinfo.com now to receive their code on Wednesday to view the conference. Speakers include Graeme Smith, managing director at AlixPartners; Dan Warne, founder of Sessions Market; Yishay Malkov, chief executive of Various Eateries; Victor Lugger, co-founder of the Big Mamma Group; Alex Reilley, chairman of Loungers; Salima Vellani, founder of host kitchen business KBox Global; Philip Turner, founder and chief executive of Chestnut Group; Neat Burger co-founder and head of operations Stasi Nychas; and Sarah Willingham, chief executive of bar company Nightcap. There are also two panel sessions. Fledgling concepts talk about evolving and growing in a covid-impacted world featuring Grace Regan, founder of SpiceBox; Carla Casadei, founder of Young Vegans; Oliver Hyde, founder of Flour Pot; Morten Jensen, founder of Light Bar & Market; and Marco Reick, director at Qoot. Meanwhile, leading sector players look at what comes next for the industry featuring Simon Wilkinson, chief executive of Byron; Steve Holmes, chief executive of Azzurri Group; Zoe Bowley, managing director of PizzaExpress; and Dermot King, chief executive of Oakman Inns. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out, discounts to attend Propel conferences and events, and regular columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Propel is also to improve its service for Premium subscribers by publishing a monthly updated list of multi-site operators – with a standalone report. The new multi-site list will be sent to subscribers at the end of each month with a report on new companies and changes in the list. A refreshed list of circa 1,600 companies will be sent out to all Premium subscribers at the end of March. It provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different, and what each business specialises in. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. The list will then be updated at the end of each month. An annual premium subscription costs £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com

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