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Tue 23rd Mar 2021 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Loungers co-founder Bishop invests in Hub Box, as it gears up for next stage of growth: Jake Bishop, co-founder of Loungers, has invested in Hub Box, the south west-based burger and barbecue concept led by Richard Boon, as it looks to open a minimum of three new sites this year, Propel has learned. Bishop joins fellow Loungers co-founder Alex Reilley in investing in the nine-strong business and will join the company’s board as a non-executive director. Reilley, who is non-executive chairman of Hub Box, invested in the business in 2017. Bishop’s investment in Hub Box comes off the back of a strong performance in 2020 (when the business was permitted to trade). Annual sales for the financial year ending 31 December were £7,202,535, which while down on the prior year (FY19: £8,533,654) includes the first and second national lockdowns. Underlying Ebitda for the period was up to £606,389 compared with £125,617 in FY19 as the business posted like-for-like sales of 29.7% for the period between the end of the first lockdown and the beginning of the second (4 July to 2 November). Hub Box opened a new site in Mermaid Quay, Cardiff, in November 2020 and will open further sites in Cheltenham’s Brewery Quarter and Plymouth’s Royal William Yard scheme in the coming months. Propel understands the business has also secured the former Zizzi site in Discovery Quay, Falmouth, which is due to open on 17 May, while it is also in talks on a further site in the West Country. Bishop said: “I’ve known about Hub Box for a long time and in getting to understand the business better, it was clear to see that the business is special – above industry performance, an excellent management team, delightful staff, and obvious growth and scale potential. All of which is underpinned by a high-quality product that Richard is obsessive about. I am delighted and honoured to join Hub Box and hope that I can bring some of my experience to the table and help the business achieve further success”. Boon said: “We are delighted to welcome Jake to our board. It is perfect timing with three amazing new locations pipelined for 2021. Aside from the fact that Jake is a top bloke, his wealth of sector knowledge and scaling a business in our sector will be invaluable to both myself and the executive team in the next exciting period of our growth.” Richard Negus at AG&G acted on the Falmouth deal.

Industry News:

Sponsored message – container pricing from the Far East has risen from historic average of circa $1,600 to as high as $15,000 over past six months: Container pricing from the Far East has risen from a historic average of circa $1,600 to as high as $15,000 over the past six months. Hopes that increases might abate after Chinese New Year are now fading fast as containers remain positioned in the wrong parts of the world. Henry Stephenson, managing director of family-run catering equipment business Stephensons, said: “We had been gearing up for complications with importing due to the end of the transition period with the EU. However, this has been eclipsed by the implications these container rates are having on pricing and availability of goods from China. We have seen increases of up to 25% on bulkier products – a lot of importers are taking the decision to hold off placing orders for raw materials and finished goods, leading to likely shortages in the market once demand from hospitality finally returns. Distributors will need all their purchasing skills over the coming months – goods will need to be secured from multiple sources and they will have to commit to large volumes of stock in order to minimise the impacts of stock outs and price hikes for their customers.” Stephensons is actively resourcing to European and UK manufacturing sites wherever realistic. Visit https://www.stephensons.com or e-mail sales@stephensons.com if you have an enquiry. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com
 
London food-led businesses, concepts with Asian and plant-based menus make up majority of new companies on updated multi-site operators database, available on 31 March: Food-led businesses, particularly in the London region, make up the majority of the 276 new businesses listed on the updated Propel multi-site operators’ database, which will be available to Premium subscribers on Wednesday, 31 March – it features 1,629 companies in total. Poké, sushi and Asian food specialists are making their mark while plant-based food operators are also increasing in numbers. The database has seen 205 businesses no longer trading since it was last updated. The list will be available at the end of March and will then be updated on a monthly basis, complete with a report detailing new companies and changes in the list. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what each business does and significant news associated with it. Being a Propel Premium subscriber not only entitles you to the most comprehensive list of businesses in the sector today; those signed up also receive their daily newsletter at 7pm on the evening before everyone else who get theirs 11 hours later at 6am. There’s also regular video content and exclusive columns from Mark Wingett. An annual premium subscription costs £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com to sign up.
 
Pho head of people Jade Berry to feature in ‘A Focus on HR’ video: In a new series of Propel lockdown videos in conjunction with, Harri, the all-in-one workforce management platform built by hospitality, for hospitality, we focus on the role of HR and people directors. We speak to HR and people directors from leading sector businesses about the biggest challenges they faced during the crisis, how each lockdown has impacted their role, keeping teams engaged and thoughts on how recruitment will evolve. In the next video of the series, Mark Wingett talks to Jade Berry, head of people at Vietnamese group Pho. The video will be released at 9am on Tuesday (23 March).
 
UKHospitality calls for return to drinking at the bar among key changes to reopening roadmap as it reveals toll wreaked on sector by pandemic: UKHospitality has called for a return of drinking at the bar among key changes to the government’s reopening roadmap as it revealed the toll the covid-19 pandemic has wreaked on the sector. A year on from the first national lockdown, the industry has experienced more than eight months of closure, costing more than 600,000 jobs, 12,000 business failures and lost sales of £86bn. The trade body said with only a minority of operators being able to trade outdoors from 12 April, closure for the vast majority is due to last another nine weeks until 17 May, when indoor hospitality is permitted to reopen. With the expectation consumer confidence will take time to recover, trading is unlikely to return to anything like normal levels for at least six months, UKHospitality said. With the industry urging the government to follow the “data not dates” and loosen the restrictions that are in place at different stages of the roadmap, the trade body has urged the government to make some changes. It said hotels with self-contained rooms should be able to open alongside other self-contained accommodation on 12 April and for the earlier reopening of children’s indoor play areas – set for 17 May. It also called for people to be able to order via a hatch or outdoor until outdoor reopening in April, people to be able to order at the bar from indoor opening in May, and for customers to be allowed to consume drinks while standing outdoors. Meanwhile, covid-secure weddings and receptions should be allowed indoors from April, with an increase in guest numbers from 17 May in line with sporting and other events. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “We also urge the government to look again at some areas of support it introduced in the Budget, in particular the business rates cap, which unfairly penalises a large proportion of hospitality businesses that will find themselves paying full rates just days after restrictions are fully lifted in June. That cannot be right, and we urge ministers to think again.”
 
Greenhow – time for industry to adopt ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme: Martin Greenhow, managing director at Mojo Bars, has called on more of the hospitality sector to adopt the group’s ‘Ask for Angela’ scheme, in light of the tragic death of Sarah Everard. Introduced three years ago, the scheme gives customers a discreet code phrase they can give to staff if they feel unsafe or threatened. Posters making them aware of this are displayed in toilets. Greenhow was responding to news reports that suggested plain clothes officers will be appearing, unnoticed in licensed premises across the country. He told Propel: “I think this presents an opportunity for hospitality to try to assist. After all, the safety of our guests is ultimately in our best interests, not to mention a moral responsibility for us all, every one of us has a daughter, sister or mother we would hope could call upon assistance if they felt in peril. To that end at Mojo, we introduced the ‘Ask For Angela’ protocol three years ago and while we have had hardly any instances where it has been used, I fear this may be down to a lack of public awareness of the scheme although, of course, I hope it’s simply because it hasn’t been required. I suggested the scheme to our local police and authorities as a tool that could be used to assist in the goals of Project Vigilant, a suggestion that was warmly received. Of course, to make it work, wider adoption in hospitality together with a raised level of public awareness is essential. Raising adoption of the protocol throughout the industry is in itself a pretty challenging undertaking but I can think of no better publication to try to encourage this than Propel. I personally feel a genuine practical initiative from our industry, given the seriousness of the situation, further establishes hospitality as the responsible profession and industry that we know it is. If widespread adoption can be achieved then it surely isn’t beyond us, in conjunction with local government, etc. to ensure any vulnerable individual is aware of the safety net we can help to provide by raising general awareness of how we can help.” Those operators wishing to know more about the scheme can email askforangela@mojobar.co.uk
 
Operators concerned about whether staff will return and getting them up to speed for reopening: Sector operators are concerned over whether staff will return after lockdown and getting those that do up to speed for the reopening of their businesses. Talking at the recent Propel Multi Club, Zoe Bowley, managing director at PizzaExpress, said she was hugely optimistic for the future, but acknowledged there is a recruitment challenge, especially if the company’s forecasts for a buoyant summer are correct. She said: “There is uncertainty over whether overseas team members will return to the UK, if they want to come back, and if so, how they get back. That is an immediate challenge for us. We also have to be conscious of muscle memory for our teams, I remember last time we came out of lockdown and I spoke to one of our more experienced managers who had been with us for 23 years and he said it was like having to learn to ride a bike again. So, if one of our most experienced team members is saying that, we can’t underestimate how challenging it will be for all our teams to reopen restaurants, potentially very busy restaurants. I believe this alfresco period is going to be really challenging. We will focus in that May to June period on getting their legs back and running again and get that efficiency, and then from June a lot of our innovation will kick in.” Speaking at the same event, Philip Turner, founder and chief executive of pub operator The Chestnut Group, said he was also concerned about “bringing its people back into the business”. He said: “We’re still concerned about taking people back into the business after the extended furlough. It will take a while. The pent-up demand from customers is fantastic but the team going from zero to 100 miles per hour is a worry. I’d be amazed if we make any money if we open before 17 May. We’d be doing it as service to customers and mainly for the team. We don’t want to lose money. If we do open outdoors-only then it will help us build up the momentum.” A particular concern for Hunter is chefs who he said have been away for a year and may never come back. Extra efforts have traditionally been placed in this area with Turner hiring through targeted ads in local newspapers and through local network events. “We’ve taken a much more studied approach to bringing in young chefs through links to the chefs college. We’ll take them directly from there,” he said.
 
Douglas Jack – weaker property market could be a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’ for companies to acquire, protect jobs and grow earnings: Peel Hunt leisure analyst Douglas Jack has argued a weaker property market could be a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to acquire, protect jobs and grow earnings. He said experiential leisure and location would have greater relevance than before the pandemic as competition from the home continuing to increase. Jack has identified his top picks as Domino’s Pizza (target price 425p), which is “ideally positioned to benefit from the structural growth in home delivery”; and cafe-bar brand Loungers (300p), Marston’s (125p) and Kent brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame, which are “ideally positioned to benefit from hybrid working and a strong staycation market”. He said: “Most trends have accelerated due to covid-19. For consumers, these are structural trends based on sustainability and convenience. A covid-19 trend that should fully reverse is demand for events and experiential leisure as the market reopens. Companies that survive covid-19 should thrive in the short term. Under covid-19, the rebalancing of eating-out supply has rapidly accelerated as has the use of technology to drive productivity. The short-term outlook is further supported by pent-up demand, big increase in customer savings, international travel disruption benefiting staycations, lower labour and property cost inflation as well as the extension of the VAT cut and business rates holiday. Increasing the profit growth/debt reduction that is carried into future years has to be a primary objective. To this end, like-for-like growth is likely to be driven by product differentiation (preferably experiential leisure as competition from the home continues its structural growth) with location having greater relevance than before the pandemic (hybrid commuting and less business travel should be here to stay). With the rent moratorium ending in June, sadly many companies will close and others will remain cash-strapped and unable to expand. The better-capitalised quoted operators should be strongly placed in a weaker property market. For them, this could be a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’ to acquire, protect jobs and grow earnings. The UK should have a V-shaped economic recovery in our view, leading to higher labour cost inflation. This and the direction of capital investment should require increased investment in productivity and sustainability.”
 
Tim Martin – marquee proposal is ‘another government headline-grabbing initiative that shows madcap Downing Street dodgem car is out of control’: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has argued government proposals to allow marquees to be put up in pub gardens without planning permission instead of indoor drinking is another “headline-grabbing initiative that shows the madcap Downing Street dodgem car is out of control”. He said: “One crazy aspect of the proposals is the government itself has banned indoor drinking in pubs. Now it is permitting indoor drinking outside pubs in marquees. Of course, the normal pub safety features and controls, those that are indoors, built up by increments over decades and centuries, will be lost under these arrangements – including visibility of customers from the bar, CCTV, proximity to lavatories, comfortable seating and so on. Some publicans and politicians will likely be seduced by these crumbs from the Downing Street table, but they should beware – the government has veered from ‘eat out to help’, to curfews, to ‘substantial meals only’, to baffling tiers, and then to lockdowns. Marquees are expensive and will be jettisoned in a jiffy by Downing Street if selfish political expediency deems it advantageous. Pubs are pawns in the game and kowtowing to the latest headline-grabbing initiative doesn’t pay. The truth is that the madcap Downing Street dodgem car is out of control. It’s using emergency powers to spend more money than any government in history, unsupervised by parliament, and unchecked by a supine opposition. The pub trade and the country need less weekly, barmy ideas from Boris in the future – and more review by parliament, consultation with industry and common sense. MPs and the public should relay to Boris the advice from Eddie Grant’s famous song: ‘Sometimes, I think it’s insanity, the way you go’.”

The NPD Group – eight trends of how covid has impacted eating out: From a surge in food deliveries, use of drive-thrus and vegan and veggie purchases to treats to beat boredom, insights firm The NPD Group has found eight trends of how covid-19 has impacted the sector. The NPD Group’s consumer data showed spend on food deliveries increased 50% during the 12 months to February 2021. Many consumers used delivery services for the first time – particularly older and more affluent groups, and about half of these new users of delivery services will stay. Dominic Allport, insights director (foodservice), at The NPD Group said: “With more working from home, delivery has moved beyond the evening meal to an option for all times of the day. Deliveries of snacks and coffee has emerged as a growth area that will continue to expand in 2021.” Secondly, it found food collection orders were worth £400m to Britain’s local restaurants in February 2021. Research showed spend on digital click and collect orders grew 51% in the 12 months to February 2021 to reach £1.5bn. The NPD Group said meal deals and money off incentives have helped increase average spend up by 24%. During the pandemic, more than one third of all eat-out spend (almost £11bn out of a total of £31bn) was driven by some sort of deal or promotion. The fourth finding was a 50% increase in the importance of drive-thru spend for coffee chains and quick service restaurants. Data indicates £2.3bn was spent at Britain’s 2,000 quick service restaurants. Coffee chains with drive-thrus in the 12 months to February 2021 saw a 14% increase in spending versus the same period a year ago. Overall, during the pandemic, drive-thru spend represented 12% of total spend, a 50% increase in importance compared to pre-covid. During the past year, edible treats have helped relieve lockdown boredom. When wanting a treat, average spend per person is 10% higher than average. Consumers have spent more than £8.2bn on treating occasions, accounting for 26% of all spending in the 12 months to Feb 2021, compared with 18% a year earlier. The sixth finding was more than £1bn of consumer spending is now linked to offering vegetarian and vegan menu options. This represented almost 4% of total foodservice spending in the year to February 2021, up from around 2% pre-covid. Operators will be maximising the desire of eating and drinking alfresco, particularly from 12 April, Allport said: “With some scientists warning social distancing will be in place for years, not months, operators need to find ways to serve customers outside.” And the eighth point made by The NPD Group was the importance of customer service and to stand out, restaurants must “make sure their customers feel engaged and empowered to maintain their loyalty”. 
The NPD Group is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

UKHospitality welcomes guidance update on grant scheme to help ‘forgotten’ hospitality businesses: UKHospitality has welcomed updated government guidance that supports previously “forgotten” businesses with Additional Restrictions Grants. The guidance, which has been passed on to local authorities, offers grants to those unable to access the Restart Grant Scheme such as contract caterers, which often operate out of the properties of others, events businesses and thousands of suppliers to the sector. The trade body also urged local authorities to ensure grants find their way to “hard-hit businesses” to ensure “the whole of the hospitality sector” is properly supported. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is another pragmatic move by the government. It is reassuring to see Westminster understands the impact of the covid crisis on hospitality goes deeper than closed venues on high streets. The pain is being felt throughout the totality of the sector. Less visually prominent businesses like suppliers, catering businesses and event spaces have been hit just as hard. The support has to make its way through to these businesses as well. Too many of our members have reported they have struggled to access grant support and are at risk of being left behind. This must end. UKHospitality has been urging the government to acknowledge this and highlight this point to local authorities. It is good to see our voices being heard. Local authorities must now take this guidance to heart. They must act to ensure valuable businesses in their areas receive the support they desperately need.”
 
haysmacintyre publishes detailed report following sector snapshot survey: Hospitality specialist haysmacintyre has published a detailed report of its snapshot survey of the sector as it moves through 2021 and beyond. The report covers future prospects, new innovations and changes to the industry. To view the report, click here.
haysmacintyre is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is supporting a national service company as it looks to recruit an experienced business development director. The position will look after sales for a national division, leading a passionate and dedicated team. The ideal candidate will have a dynamic and adaptable communication style and be a proven sales leader. Experience in the business and industrial or education catering sector is essential. This is a national position and the salary and package are “very competitive”. Anyone interested can email Hollie@corecruitment.com for a confidential chat.
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

US fried chicken brand Popeyes plans UK launch: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, the US fried chicken quick service restaurant brand, has announced plans to enter the UK this year, with the goal of opening 350 new restaurants in Britain over the next ten years. The brand, which was founded in Louisiana in 1972 and currently operates circa 3,400 restaurants across 29 countries, will enter the UK market as part of an agreement between PLK Europe, a subsidiary of Restaurant Brands International (RBI), which also owns Tim Hortons and Burger King; Austrian-based, family-owned international conglomerate Ring International Holdings and hospitality-industry veteran Elias Diaz Sese. He is a former executive of RBI and is a shareholder and a director of Domino’s Pizza UK and Ireland. Until October 2019, he was president for UK, Ireland & Scandinavia at the Kraft Heinz Company. He spent more than 15 years at RBI across a number of senior positions around the world. Sese told Propel there were three reasons why Popeyes was launching in the UK – the brand, the product and the people. He said: “The chicken sector in the UK has been growing over the past few years, but we believe there is a space in the market that we can own, and that’s why we are coming. The brand is a unique cultural icon in America. In terms of people, it is all about joy, celebration, generosity and music. We have been working on this project for a long time and we could have done it before or a little bit later but we thought this could be a very good moment.” He said the company was currently looking at a lot of potential locations, “but the process is not that easy”. The brand’s rollout in the UK will focus – in the short to medium term – on company-owned sites. Sese added: “Even with a number like 350, which is a big number, even in ten years’ time, if we do things right, that should be achievable in a market like this one. You look at what RBI has done in China, to show what can be achieved with Popeyes. The reception in China for the brand has been remarkable.” The first Popeyes restaurant in the UK is expected to open by the end of 2021 and will represent the brand’s 11th country in the Europe, the Middle East and Africa region, which already has more than 350 Popeyes restaurants. RBI acquired Popeyes for $1.8bn in 2017. The company said Popeyes launch into the UK market was expected to lead to “major investment in market-leading talent and digital innovation”. 

Eckbert – we are going to open up to 25 sites in the UK this year: John Eckbert, chief executive of Five Guys UK, the fast-growing burger concept backed by Sir Charles Dunstone, has said the brand is going to open up to 50 new sites in Europe this year, including up to 25 here. In an interview with Sky News, Eckbert said the brand’s opening pipeline in the UK is “more robust than it has ever been”. Five Guys currently operates circa 100 sites in the UK, and has further openings lined up in Chichester, Stevenage Leisure Park, McArthurGlen Designer Outlet West Midlands and Edinburgh St James for later this year. Propel understands the group has also lined up a further opening in Manchester, on the site of the Yorkshire Building Society in the city's Piccadilly area. Eckbert said: “Our opening pipeline is more robust than it has ever been. We see this as a tremendous opportunity for us to expand our brand, we are going to open up 24 to 25 sites in the UK alone this year and will be opening up another 25 in Europe, across Germany, France and Spain. So, for us, this represents a tremendous opportunity to create jobs, to hire more crew and it is so interesting to see how our sales have evolved. Obviously, our sales in our central London sites, which were our hero sites, have gone pretty well quiet, but we have some amazing performance from our new stores in places like Crawley, Enfield and Parrs Way (Manchester). We have just opened up in High Wycombe to some amazing sales, so stores that might not have gotten the business in a non-pandemic environment have become real heroes/great performers for us right now.” Eckbert said the pandemic had also accelerated the brand’s move into new sales channels and use of technology, including click and collect, delivery and its “curbside” service, which it launched last year. Eckbert said technology had “really changed everything about how we operate”, with the group’s app showing 800% growth from last year to this.

Marugame Udon secures former Wahaca restaurant in London’s Spitalfields for UK debut: Udon noodles and tempura restaurant chain Marugame Udon is to make its UK debut this summer with the London site marking its first in Europe. The company has secured the premises formerly occupied by Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca in Middlesex Street in Spitalfields. The 4,000 square foot restaurant, which will open in July, will feature more than 100 covers as well as takeaway, click and collect and delivery options from partner Deliveroo. The open-style kitchen will allow customers to see the whole udon-making process. Customers will then pick up their udon over the counter and have the option to add tempura and musubi sides, and to spice up their bowls. The offer will also include the brand’s first vegan selection and 30% of the main menu will be made up of vegan dishes. Drinks will include Asahi beer, canned sparkling sake, wine and a range of soft drinks. Capdesia Group, the backer of Wasabi, and Toridoll Holdings Corporation, the backer of Shoryu Ramen and Wok to Walk, announced last summer they had formed a new joint venture to launch Marugame Udon in London. Marugame Udon currently has more than 800 restaurants in Japan and a further 250 across Asia, the US and Russia. Marugame Udon (Europe) will become the master franchisee for Europe and the new London restaurant will be followed by an “ambitious roll-out plan”, involving a combination of both owned and franchise operations in the UK and Europe, working in partnership with local multi-unit/brand operators. The new company is led by Keith Bird, the founder of Natural Kitchen, former chief operating officer of Gourmet Burger Kitchen, and one of Capdesia’s operating partners. Marc Rogers, of MKR Property, acted on the Middlesex Street deal. 
 
Whitbread to reopen 65 restaurants in April, 435 by May, plus 25% discount offer: Whitbread has announced it will reopen 65 of its 435 UK restaurants on Monday, 12 April, alongside a 25% discount offer at all sites. The operator of brands such as Beefeater, Brewers Fayre, Table Table, Whitbread Inns, Cookhouse + Pub and Bar + Block, is set to open pub gardens in line with government guidelines, followed by the full opening of its 435 restaurants in May. Blue Light Card and Defence Privilege Card holders will be entitled to 25% off food across all restaurants, as well as customers who sign up to restaurant brand newsletters. On 12 April, 65 restaurants will welcome guests to their all-weather gardens with umbrella cover while indoor dining will be available at all sites on 17 May. Customers can make reservations online now. Under Scotland government guidelines, 38 sites will reopen for outdoor dining (and possibly indoor dining) from 26 April. All 358 sites in England will open from 17 May, while the opening of restaurants and pubs in Wales and Northern Ireland will be updated in line with government announcements.

Shaftesbury announces second Chinatown Bakery signing, Wing Wing opens in Charing Cross Road: West End landlord Shaftesbury has announced the signing of a second Chinatown Bakery that will open in spring. Meanwhile, Korean crispy chicken specialist Wing Wing has opened a flagship site on Charing Cross Road. Operating from Newport Place since 2012, Chinatown Bakery in Chinatown London has secured its second site close by in a 400 square foot bakery on Wardour Street, offering the full range of iconic products from Char Siu pork buns, to egg tarts, and pork floss buns. Wing Wing has opened its new restaurant this month. It covers 2,500 square foot across three floors. The brand specialises in light, crispy chicken wings, cooked to order and individually hand-brushed with a signature glaze. Julia Wilkinson, restaurant director at Shaftesbury, said: “Chinatown London is the most authentic portrayal of Far East dining in Europe, so it is vital we continue to provide both the home comforts and new trends revered by our communities. Adding Chinatown Bakery and Wing Wing does just this.” Simon Tang, co-owner of Chinatown Bakery added: “We are very proud of the name we have created for ourselves at Chinatown Bakery, and to announce that we will be opening a second location is a great demonstration of our work.” DCL and Shelley Sandzer represented Chinatown London for Wing Wing. HGR and CDG Leisure acted for Chinatown London on Chinatown Bakery. 

Starbucks plans to go carbon neutral and reduce water use and waste by 50% by 2030: Starbucks has announced plans to go carbon neutral, and cut its water use and waste in half by 2030. Starbucks senior vice-president for global coffee, tea and cocoa Michelle Burns said: “For farmers and their communities, we know it is critical we work together to address the challenges they face associated with climate change which are making it increasingly difficult to grow high-quality coffee. By reducing carbon emissions and conserving water, we can help farmers be more productive while we are also contributing to a better planet and bringing coffee to customers in a sustainable way.” Starbucks purchases coffee from more than 400,000 farmers in 30 countries. It said farmers participating in the C.A.F.E. (coffee and farmer equity) Practices programme have higher productivity than the country averages. Starbucks is targeting cutting its carbon and water footprints at origin or what Starbucks refers to as “the first ten feet” from farm to port. It said it would use three strategies to do so. These are to help farmers analyse soil so they can decrease fertiliser use; promote and distribute climate-resistant tree varietals; and protect and restore at-risk forests in key coffee landscapes. In its bid to conserve water, Starbucks said it would invest in ecological wet mills for C.A.F.E. Practice farms; invest to make water processing technology and machinery more efficient; and develop water replenishment projects in coffee communities. After successful programme launches in Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Rwanda and Kenya, Starbucks has expanded its programme to Colombia. 

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