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Mon 29th Mar 2021 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Campbell – we have got to wean ourselves off discounting and move forward, the customer is the focus of everything we do: David Campbell, group chief executive of PizzaExpress, has said the company has got to wean itself off discounting and get away from being seen as “the poster boy” of such offers. Speaking at part of the Propel Friday Wrap video series, Campbell said: “I don’t like discounting. I’ve talked before about it being a terrible drug and one you have to get off. I don’t think we can go cold turkey but we will wean our way off it. If you have a strong brand you don’t need to be putting as much money into discounting but it is a vicious circle – the more you discount, people then try to put up prices to compensate for the money you are discounting, prices go up, you get resistance, so you discount more, therefore you put prices up again, it just doesn’t work. I hope if we have this conversation in two or three years’ time you wouldn’t be able to call us the poster boy or girl of discounting.” Campbell said under the previous ownership there hadn’t been a big enough focus on the customer. He said: “The previous ownership had a plan, had strategy and I understand what it was, but clearly it didn’t work. At the time a lot of people were suddenly going how can we move out to get Chinese shareholders and get restaurants in China. We are an international company, but the largest part of the company is in the UK and Ireland, and that’s the real focus of it. I think the second bit is under that ownership cycle there really hadn’t been a focus, or I don’t think a big enough focus, on the customer. So, the customer is at the front of every single thing we do. When I look back at when I started at Wagamama there was a focus on the customer but not a full understanding of who that customer was, and there was a lack of momentum and investment in the estate. We took on one element of the brand’s DNA, which was kaizen and focused on that. I would love to use that again but it is a bit weird sitting at a pizza company talking about kaizen, but it is about evolution. It is not about just renewing the estate but also about reinvigorating the existing estate. We have 360 restaurants, circa 40 of them have gone through a FutureExpress – that’s 320 that aren’t. That’s going to take a few years, so we better make sure the business is moving forward and more than just through refurbishments.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Harri’s National Minimum Wage tool will keep you compliant: It’s that time of year again when the National Living and Minimum Wage (NLMW) rates change. Are you absolutely sure everyone in your organisation is being paid the correct level? Would you be willing to bet up to £10,000 per person? A Harri spokesman said: “You can rest easy with Harri’s Auto scheduling enhancement tool knowing all pay rates are updated on time. This unique tool, exclusive to Harri, will automate your NLMW requirements significantly reducing your payroll headaches. Manually updating everyone’s salary information from 1 April every year with the new NLMW rates is very challenging, especially this year with the shift in the bands from 25 and over to 23 and over. It is even more onerous to individually update people to new NLMW bands on their birthdays. Getting this right is important, because failure to pay workers the NLMW could result in penalties up to £10,000 per person. HM Revenue & Customs has just published a list of 139 non-compliant companies, many in hospitality, who between them underpaid workers £6.7m.” From April, Harri will provide this unique Auto scheduling enhancement. For more information about this and any other Harri products, click here. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com
 
Rise of experiential leisure concepts highlighted in updated multi-site operators’ database, list available exclusively to Premium subscribers on 31 March: The increasing rise of experiential leisure concepts is highlighted in the updated multi-site operators’ database, with many showing confidence in the sector’s recovery by setting out further growth plans. Operators such as the Imbiba-backed arcade games concept NQ64, Lane 7, and Sixes, the cricket-based competitive socialising concept from the founders of Mac & Wild, are among many experiential-focused operators new to the list this year. All have set out expansion plans for the next 12 to 18 months, including a further three openings for NQ64, and Lane7 having a pipeline of at least four new sites for openings this year. The most comprehensive list of businesses available in the sector, which comprises 1,630 companies, will be available exclusively to Premium subscribers at midday on Wednesday (31 March). A new multi-site list will then be sent to Premium subscribers at the end of each month with a report on new companies and changes in the list. 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. 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 morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content; and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor 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.
 
Papa John’s HR director Juliett Campbell 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 latest video of the series, Mark Wingett talks to Juliett Campbell, HR director at Papa John’s. The video will be released at 9am on Monday (29 March).

Three in five licensed premises won’t have space to trade outside, managed operators and larger regional cities proving most resilient against pandemic: About three in five licensed premises will not have some kind of space to trade from when the market reopens for outside trading from Monday, 12 April, the latest edition of the Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners has revealed. The Monitor also showed the impact of the pandemic is particularly apparent in the independent sector, which has recorded a net decline of more than 5,000 sites since March 2020, while the managed sector has recorded less than a quarter of that. It also showed five big regional hubs – Bristol, Liverpool, Nottingham, Edinburgh and Sheffield – have all lost less than 3% of their licensed premises since March 2020, while many smaller cities – including Plymouth, Aberdeen, Worcester, Exeter and Swansea – have all lost more than 10%. When it comes to outside trading, it showed about 41,100 premises in Britain have a garden, terrace, car park or other area in which they could potentially seat guests – 38.2% of all sites. Numbers fluctuate widely between segments of the market, with four in five (80.5%) community pubs in England able to offer beer gardens, patios or other outside space, compared with just 11.9% of casual dining restaurants. Scope for outside trading also varies substantially by region. In the largely rural south west of England, just over half (51.1%) of sites have outdoor space, but the number is below a third in London (33.1%). In Wales, where hospitality is due to reopen outdoors after 22 April, two in five (42.1%) sites have outdoor space. But in Scotland, where venues may open outdoors from 26 April, less than a quarter (22.9%) have that capability. Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “With huge pent-up demand for hospitality and consumers’ confidence rising, outside trading could give sales a useful kick start – but there are a lot of variables at play. Well over half of licensed premises have no space at all in which to trade, though they could yet reopen in April if local authorities take a proactive approach and open up street space to serve on.” AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith added: “The overhang of rent liabilities also remains largely unresolved, which means in spite of the clear pent-up consumer demand that exists, the hospitality sector is far from out of the woods.”
AlixPartners is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Political hospitality facilities in Scotland receive ‘scandalous’ 17 times the financial support of private sector: MSPs have subsidised their own hospitality to the tune of £680,000 since the pandemic began, compared with estimated average support of £40,000 for privately owned pubs, restaurants and hotels across Scotland. The figures are contained in quarterly reports on the level of financial support required to run the catering services at Holyrood. Scottish Hospitality Group spokesman Stephen Montgomery said: “This scandalous news will be impossible to stomach for those working in the hospitality sector. It’s the very definition of the self-serving behaviour that gives the political classes such a bad name. The level of taxpayers’ money given to their own facilities is genuinely unbelievable compared with the amount we’ve had to beg for over many months and it all leaves us with an extremely bad taste in the mouth. What’s worse is the government has admitted through an FOI response it doesn’t have any evidence for the restrictions that are costing our businesses dear.” 

Welsh hospitality businesses need clarity on further reopening and vital new cash support, warns UKHospitality Cymru: Clarity on when hospitality can reopen outdoors in Wales and on crucial new financial support from April onwards for businesses forced to stay shut is now vital to avoid job losses and business closures, UKHospitality Cymru has warned. Some parts of the industry such as self-catering, holiday parks and hotels with room service only have been allowed to return but outdoor hospitality will not be considered for reopening until at least Thursday, 22 April. UKHospitality Cymru executive director David Chapman said: “Our businesses see retail and other areas opening up while they are frustrated and fearful for their existence. Existing support runs out this month and they are hanging on by their fingernails financially. We are only asking for a fair and level playing field that offers clarity and financial stability. After 12 months of listening to our calls for much needed support, it would be a waste of that sound investment in Welsh jobs to fall short at the final hurdles.”

Airship relaunches track and trace solution as mandatory check-in returns: Hospitality tech platform Airship has relaunched its track and trace solution, Trck.to, as it was confirmed it will be mandatory for operators to reintroduce track and trace when doors reopen from April. Airship chief executive Dan Brookman spoke with the Department of Health and Social Care team on Friday (26 March), confirming all hospitality businesses and other close-contact businesses in England will be required to keep a record of all customers that visit their premises. This policy will be in place until at least September, with businesses instructed to refuse entry for customers who do not agree to check-in. Trck.to is GDPR-compliant and works through the customer scanning a QR code or visiting a URL. The system allows for the recording of an arrival time and expected dwell time, as well as the ability to check-in further guests. 
Airship is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

PGB confirms rent review negotiations can restart: The Pub Governing Body (PGB) in conjunction with the PGB of Scotland, has confirmed rent review negotiations can recommence from Wednesday (31 March). The PGB, the organisation responsible for promoting the advancement and improvement of landlord and tied tenant relationships in the licensed retail sector, suspended rent review negotiations on 8 January.

Covid furlough fraud cases double in six months as bill hits £57bn: Reports of possible furlough fraud have topped 26,000. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said it had received 26,232 reports by the beginning of last week, up from 23,500 at the start of last month and double the 13,114 in October, reports The Sunday Times. A total of 11.4 million jobs have been protected by the scheme. Furlough has cost taxpayers £57bn. Users have come under pressure to return furlough funds when they are back in profit, especially if they want to pay dividends. Firms have so far returned £700m. As well as furlough, there have been reports of fraud on other schemes. The cabinet office said banks had filed 24,000 suspicious activity reports (SARs) to the police about the £46bn Bounce Back Loans scheme, and 15,983 SARs about other potential misuses of covid schemes. The cabinet office’s fraud line, launched in October with Crimestoppers, has also received 1,800 reports. HMRC said fraudulent claims were “unacceptable” and urged people to report any suspicious claims.

Free event to support operators affected by IRHPs: The Transparency Task Force is staging a free event on the topic of interest rate hedging products (IRHPs). The content of this event, which will be held online on Thursday (1 April) from 6pm to 8pm, aims to support operators that had the products forced on them by UK banks between 2005 and 2009, which were supposed to be products to protect companies against interest rate increases on their borrowings, but ended up with them having inexplicable problems or defaults on their credit files and rating. Commentary will also be made on the expert evidence submitted to John Swift QC and what his pending investigation and report on the IRHP scheme might reveal. To find out more and register, click here.

Paula Lindenberg and Toast Ale scoop honours at Footprint Drinks Sustainability Awards: AB InBev president UK & Ireland Paula Lindenberg and Toast Ale were among the winners at the Footprint Drinks Sustainability Awards, in association with Matthew Clark. The presentation was broadcast to a virtual audience on YouTube. Lindenberg was recognised with the Special Achievement Award. The award was handed on by last year’s winner, Adnams chief executive Andy Wood, and presented by George Kyle, of C&C Group and Matthew Clark. The new Covid Contribution Award was presented by UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls to Toast Ale. Warner’s Distillery held on to the Stakeholder Engagement Award for the second year running, while Pernod Ricard was crowned with the Sustainable Supplier Award. The Energy Efficiency Award, presented by British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Emma McClarkin, was won by Midas Mead, while Foxhole Spirits lifted the Most Sustainable Use of Raw Material Award. The Footprint Drinks Sustainability Awards is the barometer for sustainability and responsible business practice for the drinks industry and represents the annual celebration of businesses and individuals making a difference to sustainability in the on-trade drinks sector and its supply chain.
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a national restaurant business that is on the hunt for a HR director. This is an opportunity to drive and develop the culture and contribute to a restaurant group as it pushes forward with reopening. The HR director will be required to lead the HR department, including talent acquisition, learning and development, employee engagement, compensation and benefits, talent management and the financial planning of the department. This position is based in London but will cover a national remit, paying up to £90,000, plus potential for progression. The business feels hospitality experience and a genuine interest in the sector is essential. Anyone interested can email Kate@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Albion & East to launch crowdfunding campaign for next stage of growth: Albion & East, the Imbiba-backed, London-based bar business, is set to launch a crowdfunding campaign, as it looks to fund its next stage of growth and open its first site in north London, Propel understands. The four-strong, Sarah Weir-led, business is set to launch the fundraise early next month via Crowdcube, with an initial target of £500,000. The business currently operates four bars – Martello Hall in Hackney, Canova Hall and Cattivo in Brixton and Serata Hall in Old Street. A fifth bar, Allora Hall, will open on the former Monkey Nuts site in Crouch End, in May, which will mark the company’s debut in north London. Propel understands Albion & East has a further two sites in the pipeline for 2021 and it wants to accelerate growth by acquiring new sites over the next three years. One of these sites is set to open under a “experience-led concept – an urban distillery and tasting room”. It is thought to have a site in the pipeline for this concept, with a target opening in late 2021. It is also thought the funds raised will also go towards the further development of its Tiny Tower Liquor off-shoot. Weir told Propel although the crowdfunding campaign would bring short-term benefits in terms of a funding injection, it was the long-term benefits that were “exciting” the company. She said: “You can now own part of your local bar and I think that is something compelling as we come out of lockdown and for our target market. It raises our engagement with consumers to a new level.” Propel also understands The Dream Corporation, the Imbiba-backed immersive entertainment business, is also planning to launch its own crowdfunding campaign through Crowdcube in the coming weeks. It is thought the business will use the funds to accelerate the roll out of its immersion room concept Otherworld. The company, which is chaired by Alex Moore, co-founder of Rosa's Thai Cafe, opened its first Otherworld site in Haggerston, east London, in mid-2019.

Black and White Hospitality to create more than 100 jobs, reveals reopening plans: Black and White Hospitality, which owns the rights to restaurant brands belonging to Marco Pierre White, is creating more than 100 jobs across its 40-plus venues. The positions are available across a variety of positions for both front and back of house. Chairman and chief executive Nick Taplin said: “Our franchise partners are now busy putting plans in place for a safe and very welcome return to business and need staff who will make guests’ experience second-to-none.” Current plans will see six venues reopen with alfresco dining from Monday, 12 April. This will then increase to 26 venues opening on Monday, 17 May with restricted indoor dining. Then, come 21 June, it is hoped all restaurants will be reopen. Taplin added: “Initial indicators suggest demand to eat out will be very high and if last summer is anything to go by, all our sites will are going to be in for a very busy time.”

BloomsYard to make London debut: BloomsYard, the cafe wine bar concept from Bharti Radix, ex-finance director of Draft House, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group and Petersham Nurseries, is to make its London debut, in Broadgate, Propel has learned. BloomsYard, which Radix launched last year in Watford, has secured a site at 100 Liverpool Street. It will operate the cafe in the reception area of the development and will offer an espresso bar serving drinks to-go in the main entrance on the south side of the building, connecting Broadgate to the Crossrail entrance. It will be open all day, offering selected artisan coffee, tea and wine, as well as sweet and savoury snacks, with an option to eat in or take away. Radix said: “Located in a very exciting part of London, close to key transports hubs, I particularly like Broadgate’s focus on the customer experience and believe BloomsYard, through its daytime and evening offering, will be that sacred place when you need time away from the hustle and bustle of city life.” Alice Keown, leasing director for hospitality and leisure at British Land, added: “The newly founded, independent cafe will be an exciting addition to the building and Broadgate’s thriving food and drink scene.” Radix, who early last year stepped down as chief financial officer of Coffeesmiths Collective, opened the first site under the concept in the Upper Mall at Watford’s Intu shopping centre.

Landlords drop out of Caffe Nero legal challenge: All but one of the landlords that joined a legal challenge to a restructuring of Caffe Nero have dropped out of the battle. Eight landlords have abandoned the challenge after intensive lobbying by Caffe Nero, with some property owners believed to have been offered sweetened terms. Lord Sugar, whose property business Amsprop was among the challengers, is said to have abandoned the legal move, which is being funded by Mohsin and Zuber Issa, the brothers who bought Asda and are behind the petrol station empire EG Group, reports The Sunday Times. One source claimed the single remaining challenger, whose identity is unclear, was adamant they would stick with the legal claim, which can still be brought with only one participant. If it fails, Caffe Nero’s restructuring will be upheld – but if it passes, it could go into administration, allowing the Issa brothers to swoop. Under the terms of Caffe Nero’s company voluntary arrangement (CVA), its 650-plus landlords will get 30p for every pound they are owed. Shortly before the vote last November, the Issas offered to repay landlords their debts in full as part of a move to seize control of the company run by Gerry Ford, who founded the business in 1997. Despite that, the restructuring was approved by 93% of landlords. In the UK, Nero Group, which also owns Harris + Hoole, employs 6,000 people across about 800 sites, with between 650 and 700 sites affected by the CVA. The Issas want to acquire Caffe Nero to expand it into EG’s forecourts and potentially into Asda, which the brothers acquired for £6.8bn in partnership with private equity firm TDR Capital. After failing to stop the CVA, the Issas unsuccessfully tried to buy Caffe Nero’s debt from two lenders, Alcentra and Partners Group.

Purezza plans Manchester opening: Brighton-based vegan pizzeria Purezza is set to make its debut in the north west, with an opening in Manchester. Propel understands the four-strong Purezza has lined up the former Dough site in the city’s Northern Quarter for an opening later this summer. Last November, Purezza raised £2.4m from multiple investors, including MVK Group and Veg Capital. It plans to use the cash injection to open branches abroad, as well as develop a retail line of its mozzarella – Purezza has its own vegan cheese factory. Purezza opened its debut outlet in Brighton in 2015 before adding a site in Camden three years later. The company doubled its restaurant portfolio with launches in Hove and Bristol last summer. 

Wagamama announces outdoor dining plans with no pre-booking required: Wagamama has announced the full list of 72 restaurants in England – roughly half of its estate – that it will reopen for outdoor dining on Monday, 12 April with no pre-booking required. The company said it will continue to offer delivery and click and collect at all of its current trading restaurants. The group’s sites in Scotland – in Glasgow Fort, Edinburgh Fort Kinnaird, Edinburgh St Andrews and Livingston – will reopen on Monday, 26 April, while further information will follow on Wagamama’s restaurants in Wales. A Wagamama spokesman said: “We’re excited to begin this first stage of reopening and we’ve got some new dishes for guests to try. We announced in January we had developed our biggest vegan range ever, including our vegan chilli squid. But with some of these dishes not being suitable for our delivery and click and collect menu, guests are yet to try them. We can’t wait to reopen with these new vegan versions of our most iconic dishes.”

Oakman Group strengthens accommodation portfolio as it acquires Woburn Hotel: Oakman Group, the Dermot King-led pub-restaurant operator, has acquired The Woburn Hotel in Bedfordshire after signing a 25-year lease with The Bedford Estates. The Woburn Hotel, which sits at the gateway to Woburn Abbey, features 48 bedrooms and seven individual cottages within the grounds, as well as three conference and events spaces, a restaurant and a large bar. The hotel was closed last year due to the impact of government restrictions and Oakman is hoping to open the hotel on Monday, 17 May when indoor dining is permitted under the government’s proposed hospitality roadmap. Oakman has already started the process of recruiting and is looking to create some 60 jobs. King said: “Following our acquisition of the Seafood Pub Company, this represents another major step in delivering our vision for the business. The Woburn Hotel represents a significant addition to our existing portfolio. We now have 225 bedrooms across The Oakman Group and we will be looking to further grow our capacity. We are developing our ability to provide compelling ‘staycation’ packages as well as ensuring we meet the needs of business travellers.” His Grace, the Duke of Bedford, said: “The Oakman Group has a proven track record over many years as high-quality operators. I am confident Oakman will safeguard our historic values while delivering a contemporary and hospitable offering of which we can all be proud.” The Woburn Hotel becomes the 34th and largest property in the Oakman Group portfolio, giving it a total of 225 bedrooms across the 13 venues that have accommodation.

The Coconut Tree to reopen English sites on 17 May, extends 50% discount scheme until January: Sri Lankan bar and restaurant group The Coconut Tree will reopen its English sites on Monday, 17 May. It will extend its offer of 50% off for all eat-in customers from Monday to Wednesday until the end of January 2022. The company said it was originally inspired to offer its own discount scheme after experiencing success with Eat Out To Help Out last year. Brand director Anna Garrod said: “We’ve been inundated with requests to book tables so we are thrilled to share our reopening news. As a result of the government’s Eat Out To Help Out offer last year, we saw a real surge in bookings. It gave us a new audience that saw it as an opportunity to try new things. So with indoor dining back on the cards, we want to introduce even more people to our dishes.” The Coconut Tree has added two new dishes to its menu – mango curry and string hoppers or “idiyappam” – a traditional Sri Lankan speciality, where rice flour pancakes are popped into a press to form noodles. The company operates five restaurants in England – two in Bristol and one each in Bournemouth, Cheltenham and Oxford – that will open on 17 May. Another new site, in Bath, is still under refurbishment and will open later in spring. A reopening date for the Cardiff restaurant – the only one in Wales – is to be confirmed.

Marston’s gets bondholder approval for waivers amid lockdown: Marston’s has seen bondholders approve its request for waivers in the second half of this year because its pubs have been closed since December under lockdown rules. Holders of 93% of the value of secured class A notes voted in favour of the waivers, Marston’s said. Earlier this month, the company announced the request for “a limited number of further technical waivers of its financial covenant” because of the enforced closure of its pubs. Marston’s previously asked for waivers in May and November 2020, which were approved.

Full throttle for Deliveroo’s £8.8bn float: Deliveroo is poised to disprove doubters in the City and set its listing price towards the top end of its £8.8bn range. The company, run by co-founder Will Shu, has seen strong interest from investors outside the UK. Deliveroo is understood to have secured three big investors, including two from the US and one from Europe, reports The Sunday Times. Last week, a number of fund managers – including Aviva, M&G and Legal & General – declared they would not invest in Deliveroo’s float because of concerns about workers’ rights and governance. Deliveroo has 100,000 riders around the world. Last week’s prospectus revealed it was engaged in legal disputes over their status in countries including the UK, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy. The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain and Bureau of Investigative Journalism claimed couriers earned as little as £2 an hour. Deliveroo disputed the figure, arguing the vast majority of riders, who are paid a fee for every delivery, want flexibility and current employment law does not allow it to offer them basic rights. Deliveroo has set aside £50m of shares for customers. Although Shu will have a small stake, he will control 57.5% of the voting rights due to a dual-class share structure that will let him veto takeovers and prevent him from being ousted. After three years, the firm will revert to a more equal share structure.

Red’s True Barbecue launches at-home range with Tesco: Smokehouse brand Red’s True Barbecue has launched a range of frozen burgers and sausages inspired by the restaurants’ most popular menu options, available exclusively in Tesco stores and online. The range includes three burgers and two sausages, “so people can recreate the Red’s restaurant experience at home”. The three five-ounce burger flavours are American Style Classic, Texan-Style Smoky Chipotle and Chilli, and South Carolina Style Sweet and Tangy Mustard. The sausages are Louisiana Style Garlic, Onion and Paprika, and Alabama Style Tomato, Garlic and Smoked Salt. Red’s True Barbecue founders Scott Munro and James Douglas said: “We originally introduced a taste of the Red’s restaurant experience into supermarkets in 2015 when we launched our range of table sauces. Now, to be able to bring the quality, bold southern US barbecue flavours into homes with our premium frozen meat range means even more people in the UK can celebrate the joy of true barbecue.”

Keff to open first deli site, in Camden Market: Keff, currently an online “shop” selling Mediterranean dips and salads, will make its move into bricks and mortar in mid-April, opening its first deli site at Camden Market’s North Yard. The new site will offer hot and cold takeaway – including a “pita toasties” menu alongside salads and dips to take away. Loosely translated, Keff comes from the Arabic “kef”, meaning fun, joy and pleasure. Co-founder Yoram Janowski created Keff during lockdown together with his business partner, Adi Frost, a childhood friend and a former TV director specialising in food programmes. Janowski said: “A year ago, Keff was literally a dream come true and together with Adi we managed to get here with hard work, determination, and some very lovely and loyal customers who love our food. We’re excited to be part of London’s grand ‘reopening’ too.”

Costa kicks off 50th anniversary celebrations with free drink offer: Costa Coffee, owned by Coca-Cola, is kicking off its 50th anniversary celebrations this year by offering customers a free drink. From Tuesday (30 March) until Thursday (1 April), any registered Costa Coffee mobile app users, who scan the app when purchasing a drink from any of the 9,000-plus Costa Express coffee bars nationwide, will receive 300 points, the equivalent of £3, which can be spent in any participating Costa Coffee store or drive-thru across England, Scotland and Wales. Instead of a drink, the 300 bonus points can be used on any food item to the value of £3. 

Former Liberation MD launches business consultancy: Christine Oxford, former managing director of Channel Islands and West Country-based brewer and retailer Liberation Group, has launched a consultancy to help operators navigate their way out of lockdown. Business Solutions aims to advise businesses “needing to turn strategy into operational guidance, manage cash flow and navigate their way through what could be a critical time for hospitality businesses”. Oxford, who has also worked in hospitality property operations at Admiral Taverns and Punch, said: “My job is to bring a calm and an informed approach to what can feel like an overwhelming decision process. Creating solutions that focus people on the main priorities and instigate longer-term plans.” 
 
Batemans offers free refresher training courses to customers, opening cash and carry facility: Lincolnshire brewer and retailer George Bateman is offering free refresher training courses to its customers’ staff, when the lifting of restrictions allow. The courses will be delivered at the brewery by qualified trainers and cover areas including covid-19 regulations, cellar management and beer dispense, licensing, customer service and stock control. The company is also opening a cash and carry facility so customers can keep their stocks to a minimum, knowing they can collect from the brewery. This will operate between 10am and noon daily. In May and June, Batemans is offering all its customers and tenants stock promotions to help them get back on their feet.

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