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Mon 19th Apr 2021 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Trade bodies again call for three-month extension to business rates cancellation over fear of businesses being ‘unviable’: Sector trade bodies have again called for a three-month extension to the business rates cancellation as a survey revealed almost a quarter of operators believe their business will be unviable before the end of the year based on current trading estimates. UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping have welcomed the reopening of pubs and restaurants that have outside areas but have warned there is still a long way to go for businesses to recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic. They warned the majority of businesses are still in very real danger of failing. The survey of members from all three trade bodies by CGA showed only 40% of pubs have been able to welcome customers back to their outside spaces, with turnover only expected to be 29% of that achieved over the same period in 2019. This is despite an average of more than £8,000 a site being invested in outdoor areas and safety measures. Even when step three of the roadmap allows indoor drinking and dining for six people or two households, they are estimated to only reach 56% of turnover when compared with pre-pandemic figures. The trade bodies are calling for business rates to be cancelled completely in England for hospitality until October 2021, to allow businesses time to recover before yet another cost comes back online. This would cover an additional three months, with rates currently set to restart in July. In Scotland and Wales, hospitality has a full year of business rates holiday. A joint spokesman for the trade bodies said: “It’s important to note even when restrictions are fully lifted in June, our members will still only be achieving 80% of the turnover seen in 2019, a figure which at any other time would have been untenable, so more support is going to be needed in the long term. Their businesses are teetering on the edge of survival and they will now be facing their business rates becoming due on 1 July, with potentially only one full week of restriction-free trading under their belts. For many, this will be the last straw, jeopardising the jobs that have been protected by the furlough scheme until this point. We need to see a full cancellation of business rates until at least October to allow them the breathing space to recover their businesses.”

Industry News:

Sponsored message – get this party started with free Rock and Roll Bingo for reopening month: As operators plan for indoor trading next month, leading music and technology providers Startle and Rock and Roll Bingo are offering pubs and bars across the country a free month of their music quiz to help them hit the high notes on reopening. Rock and Roll Bingo has become one of the on-trade’s favourites. The game is a proven traffic-builder that’s fun for customers of all ages to play and easy for pubs to host. Just as importantly it’s covid-safe – customers play on their phones, at their table, with no need for a host in the pub, or pens and paper. Pubs can claim ten free games of Rock and Roll Bingo to host anytime during the month after reopening on 17 May, with no ongoing commitment. There’s also a special, one-off National Game on Friday, 21 May, with a £1,000 cash prize for one punter, to encourage high customer participation in this event as part of a wider nationwide celebration of pubs reopening. Startle chief executive Adam Castleton said: “We’re thanking licensees for everything they’ve done to help their communities come through this incredibly tough time, and helping them celebrate reopening with their customers.” To register, click here. If you have information you would like to feature in a sponsored message, email
Startle is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Propel launches Data Masterclass video series, DataHawks founder Victoria Searl on building post-lockdown resilience and business success: Propel has launched a series of videos with its partners to help operators make the most of their data as they rebuild from the pandemic. Kicking off the Data Masterclass, which is sponsored by Airship and Toggle, is DataHawks founder Victoria Searl, who outlines the evolution of the sector and explains how hospitality had changed long before covid. She then delves into the era of personalisation we now operate in to discusses the particular data points operators need to be capturing to understand the demographic, geographic and behavioural profiles of customers to drive optimum engagement. Searl talks through the seven steps to creating a business changing acquisition, conversion and retention strategy, with actionable examples using recent client case studies and also sets out a bold vision for future marketing, based around using data to build a “digital dialogue” with customers. Other companies taking part in the series are Airship, Reputation, S4labour, Startle, Wireless Social, Yapster, Yumpingo and Zonal. The first video will be sent at 9am on Monday (19 April).

Propel Premium subscribers to receive monthly update to multi-site database next Friday, another 53 companies added so far: Propel Premium subscribers will exclusively receive the monthly update to the multi-site database on Friday, 30 April, at midday. The exhaustive database of businesses comprised 1,628 companies when it was issued to subscribers at the end of March, and a further 53 companies have so far been added. Alongside the database will be a report detailing the new companies and highlighting the changes seen in the multi-site universe over the past month. The go-to database has the most comprehensive multi-site operator information in the sector – 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. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Premium subscribers already receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Propel Premium subscribers 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. Email to sign up.

Three in four of England’s licensed premises remain shut following return of outdoor-only service: Three in four of England’s licensed premises remain closed following the return of outdoor-only service last week, according to latest figures from the Market Recovery Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners. A total of 20,832 venues were trading again by Thursday 15 April – 23.2% of England’s 89,953 known licensed sites. Reopenings have been more widespread in the pub sector than restaurants, thanks to the wider availability of beer gardens, patios and other outdoor areas. Four in ten (39.1%) of England’s food pubs have been open, alongside almost one third of community pubs (31.6%) and high street pubs (29.9%). Reopening has been more difficult in the restaurant sector, where outdoor trading space is often limited. Fewer than one in eight (11.8%) sites in the independent-led restaurant segment have opened, though casual dining restaurants (23.5%) have been quicker to return. By region, openings have been spread quite evenly across the country, reaching a high of 24.4% in the central and east, and a low of 21.8% in the north of England. All licensed premises in Scotland and Wales remain closed until later this month. Karl Chessell, CGA’s business unit director – hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “Three in four venues in England remain closed, and while some may open over the next few weeks, we will have to wait another four weeks until it is feasible for many hospitality venues to reopen again. Until then, operators deserve support from local authorities to make the most of outdoor trading space – not to mention some sunshine.” AlixPartners managing director Graeme Smith added: “While reports of strong consumer demand this week are welcome and while operators are driving sales where possible through use of their outside spaces, the stark reality is this trading represents a small proportion of normal revenues and most will be making a loss. Many challenges remain during this reopening phase and the months ahead.”
AlixPartners is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Osmond considering further legal action: Serial sector investor Hugh Osmond has said he is considering launching further legal action around compensation for those hospitality businesses “needlessly affected” by certain lockdown measures. Osmond, who with Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, has already brought a legal action against the government to try to force the early opening of hospitality venues, which will be ruled on this week on whether this will proceed to a full trial. He told the Daily Mail: “If we can prove certain lockdown measures were not justified by scientific data, I will look into whether there is a legal case for compensation for those hospitality businesses needlessly affected. There has always been an assumption hospitality has spread covid. What we want to show most of all is having put into place strict safety measures and having looked at the data, there is no evidence that justifies closing 150,000 hospitality venues.”

Last orders called on more than 200 Scottish pubs as £820m in beer sales alone lost during pandemic: More than 200 Scottish pubs have shut permanently since the start of the coronavirus crisis, with industry leaders concerned the hospitality sector will be in crisis long after the pandemic ends. Representatives from the pub, hotel and restaurant industries also said Scottish pubs have lost up to £820m in beer sales alone as they gave evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee about their experiences of the pandemic and concerns about how easing of restrictions will continue to impact the sector and jobs in Scotland. Paul Togneri, senior policy manager for the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, told MPs more than 200 pubs in Scotland, of about 4,500 prior to the pandemic, had been “lost forever” as a result of the crisis. Togneri said there had to be “support from both governments” in Holyrood and Westminster to return the sector to “the economic powerhouse it once was”. Stephen Montgomery, spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, said the reasons behind some of the Scottish government rules around alcohol consumption and the restrictions on hospitality businesses were not backed up by evidence. His views on the alcohol restrictions were echoed by Willie Macleod, executive director for Scotland at UKHospitality, who said some of the rules were “verging on the nonsensical”. He added: “We are used to managing licensed premises, managing the consumption of alcohol, managing our customers and we believe we provide a safe, controlled setting for the consumption of alcohol.” The representatives also urged the Scottish government to publish guidance for the reopening of the hospitality sector in good time, and criticised the late publication of guidance in the past. Montgomery said: “We are now a week from opening up outdoors and we still haven’t got any idea of the guidance, there has been no regulations printed yet. We’re on a whim.”
Conditions now right to immediately bring forward indoor reopening in Wales argues UKHospitality Cymru: The indoor reopening of Wales’ hospitality businesses should be brought forward to at least align with England and Scotland’s commitment to opening doors on 17 May and even earlier if possible, UKHospitality Cymru has argued. Executive director David Chapman said: “Covid-19 cases in Wales are currently the lowest number since we were open for business in last autumn, below 20 per 100,000. Our vaccination programme is a huge success. Scotland has joined England in announcing opening indoors on 17 May. We are opening on a very limited basis outdoors on 26 April, some two weeks after England, yet we have been closed longer. The indoor opening ‘soft target’ remains before the end of May. There are simply no reasons now why our first minister, in his three-weekly review on 22 April, couldn’t indicate we could be open before England and Scotland or at the very latest alongside England and Scotland on 17 May. An early opening would help key businesses survive, boost local communities and the Welsh economy as a whole and lift the mood of Wales tremendously.” UKHospitality Cymru said the guidance issued by the Welsh government ahead of outdoor trading resuming on 26 April was a “victory for common sense” with no curfews, no restrictions on time slots and no attempts to stop businesses selling alcohol with meals. The trade body said it continued to negotiate with the Welsh government on further financial support for the industry to cover from 1 April.
Pubs and restaurants in Northern Ireland to resume outdoor trading on 30 April as sector reopening fast-tracked: The reopening of the hospitality and tourism sectors in Northern Ireland have been fast-tracked as part of a series of lockdown relaxations agreed by Stormont ministers. Pubs and restaurants can serve customers outdoors in groups of six from no more than two householders from Friday, 30 April. Operators can then resume indoor operations from Monday, 24 May. Meanwhile, outdoor visitor attractions can reopen from Friday, 23 April, along with hairdressers and beauty salons. Self-contained tourist accommodation, such as caravans and rented holiday homes, can operate from 30 April, when remaining non-essential retail will also reopen. The curfew on takeaways and off-licences will also be removed. Remaining tourist accommodation can operate from 24 May and indoor visitor attractions can also reopen. Wedding receptions and post-burial events will also be able to take place in indoor hospitality venues. With Northern Ireland having marked one million covid-19 vaccines by last weekend and with other key health and scientific indicators “going in the right direction”, ministers have agreed to bring forward the relaxation of restrictions.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is supporting a large hospitality business that is on the lookout for a chief technology officer. Based in London, the business is flexible on salary range. The chief technology officer will represent the technological agenda at senior level company-wide as well as lead, grow and mentor their own department. As well as leading projects, consolidating technology platforms and tracking performance metrics, the chief technology officer will need to take the initiative though leadership, innovation and creativity. To find out more click here. Anyone interested can email
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Licensing update: Licensing solicitor John Gaunt & Partners has produced a useful monthly summary of licensing news, featuring information on various pieces of guidance issued by the government, the ongoing court case to advance the relaxing of restrictions relating to the leisure Industry and the first post-lockdown visit to the pub by its entire office. This can be accessed here.
John Gaunt & Partners is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Corbin & King reports FY turnover passes £50m before pandemic hit, first week of reopening ‘better than anticipated’: London restaurant operator Corbin & King has reported turnover increased beyond £50m in its financial year before the pandemic hit while the first week of reopening had been “better than anticipated”. The company saw turnover of £53.1m for the year ending 31 December 2019, compared with £44.2m for the nine months ending December 2018. The shorter accounting period reflected the alignment of the company’s accounts with parent Minor International, which bought Graphite Capital’s stake in December 2017. Ebitda for the year ending 31 December 2019 stood at £2.7m, compared with £7.5m in the prior period. Operating loss before tax increased from £2m to £3.9m while pre-tax losses were up to £5.4m from £3.1m. A £13.2m loan owed to Minor International, which was payable in May 2020, remains outstanding. In his report accompanying the accounts, co-founder Jeremy King said: “We have taken a number of steps to preserve cash and support trading and these have included but not limited to rent relief and deferral of payments by majority of landlords; suspension of any unnecessary capital expenditure; and launching a new revenue channel, at-home dining. We have been pleased with how the business has performed when restaurants have been allowed to reopen. While it is still too early to predict how the pandemic will affect trading for the remainder of 2021 and beyond, with the combination of the actions taken to combat the effects of the pandemic and support provided from government, suppliers and landlords, the directors have come to a decision the group has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the period of 12 months from date of approval of these accounts.” The company, which operates eight sites, reopened its Bellanger restaurant in August 2020 and said it had traded successfully when restrictions allowed. As previously reported, work on its new seafood restaurant in Soho – Manzi’s – has been put on hold, with no date confirmed when it will restart. On reopening, King told Propel: “The first week has been better than anticipated and the customers have been doughty in the elements. We are open at Bicester, Bellanger, Soutine, Delaunay Counter and also at the Colbert – both on the terrace and in the Square itself with a different offer. There may not be that much money in them all but it is a wonderful fillip for the staff to be working again.” 

New World Trading Company completes refinancing of banking facilities and shareholder loans: Graphite Capital-backed pub restaurant group The New World Trading Company (NWTC) has completed a refinancing of its banking facilities and shareholder loans to raise additional capital. The group, whose brands include The Botanist, The Florist and The Oast House, also said it expects to continue opening sites at a rate of between five and eight a year. NWTC stated: “The company is funded by a combination of bank loans, shareholder loans and cash from operations. We have communicated and negotiated with our debt providers, trade creditors, landlords and other creditors to ensure their support and to ensure our continued ability to trade and operate as a going concern. The banking facilities and the shareholder loans were refinanced in December 2020 providing an injection of new capital, and the directors now have a reasonable expectation the group has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future. The government stimulus package, including a temporary reduction in the rate of VAT on food and non-alcoholic drinks, the suspension of business rates and the availability of grants to support reopening will also provide headroom in the coming months. When the sites were open between July and November 2020 following the first covid-19 lockdown, trading was strong.” The business provided the update as it reported turnover increased to £55.3m for the year ending 31 March 2020, compared with £51.8m the previous year. Pre-tax losses grew to £37.3m, compared with £5.7m the year before, following an impairment charge of £25.8m against the goodwill of the business. The company opened three sites during the period, taking the total to 29. It is also set to open a venue in Plymouth for its second Club House and is understood to be in talks on sites in Cardiff and Ipswich.

PizzaExpress appoints Arslan Sharif as first group digital and loyalty director: PizzaExpress, the David Campbell-led business, has appointed Arslan Sharif, formerly of Costa Coffee, as its first group digital and loyalty director, Propel has learned. Sharif previously held the same role at Costa, where he spent just over three years. At Costa he led the digital, loyalty and data transformation of the coffee chain in the UK, Europe, China, Middle East, US, and Japan across 2,500 retail stores and 10,000 Costa Express machines. He was responsible for Costa’s digitally-led loyalty programme (Coffee Club) with six million customers in the UK. He will now be responsible for the digital, customer and loyalty transformation at PizzaExpress, as it looks to become the leading digital casual dining business in the UK and internationally. Earlier this year, PizzaExpress strengthened its management team with the appointments of Jo Bennett as its new chief business officer, and Shadi Halliwell as its new chief customer officer. 

The Alchemist completes refinancing of banking facilities and shareholder loans: The Alchemist, the 20-strong Simon Potts-led bar and restaurant concept, has completed a refinancing of its banking facilities and shareholder loans to raise additional capital. The refinancing took place last month and the company’s directors said they now have “a reasonable expectation the group has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future”. The company said: “In evaluating the going concern assumption, the directors have prepared cash flow forecasts for the period to 31 March 2022 and compared these, together with a range of severe but plausible sensitivities, to the available bank facilities and the related covenant requirements. The group's trading locations generated strong results when allowed to open, despite the significant restrictions in place affecting opening hours and capacity. This has given the directors confidence in the group's forecast turnover, Ebitda and cash when measures are eased in 2021. Sensitivities applied to the forecasts demonstrate sufficient covenant headroom even without any mitigating actions being taken. In addition, the directors are confident the bank and shareholders remain fully supportive of the group.” The group reported turnover stood at £45.9m in the year to 31 March 2020. At the end of that period it held cash or cash equivalents of £5.9m. Pre-tax losses widened from £205,372 to £1.64m. Net liabilities of the group were £4.6m, including long-term shareholder held debt of £18.1m, at the same date. During the period, it opened new sites in Birmingham; at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth; and three venues in London – at Canary Wharf, Embassy Gardens and Old Street.

Pret comes to agreement with majority of landlords, acquires former Byron site: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed chain, has made agreement with the majority of its landlords in regards to rent and discussions with the rest “are going well”. Last June, the company hired consultants to help it renegotiate its rents as it sought to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. This initially led to the permanent closure of 30 of its then 400-plus sites in the UK. Unlike many of its peers it has yet to go down the company voluntary arrangement route, and last week reopened a further 47 of its 389 sites with outdoor seating, to go on top of the 276 that have been operating for takeaway and delivery. Meanwhile, Propel understands Pret has acquired the former Byron site in The Pavement in Clapham as part of its plans to explore sites in suburban locations. It is thought this particular site gave the business low rental exposure, due to a turnover based model, and lower capital costs.

Billionaire brothers close in on Caffe Nero takeover: The billionaire brothers behind Asda, who acquired natural fast food brand Leon on Sunday (18 April) in a £100m deal, are closing in on taking control of Caffe Nero after buying up the company’s debts. Mohsin and Zuber Issa, who own forecourt operator EG Group and are this week due to find out if regulators sign off their £6.8bn acquisition of Asda, are understood to have bought about £140m of loans from Swiss private equity firm Partners Group via investment bank Morgan Stanley, reports The Sunday Telegraph. Buying the loans will leave the Issas in a strong position to take control of Caffe Nero if the business was to default on its mountain of borrowing. City sources said Partners had written to Caffe Nero boss Gerry Ford on Friday (16 April) expressing a number of concerns about the state of the company’s finances. It is understood Partners told Ford that Caffe Nero is at risk of breaching its banking covenants and the company will struggle to refinance £145m of senior ranking debts that are due to be repaid next year. In November, Caffe Nero, which employs more than 6,000 people in the UK, launched a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). The move was disrupted by the Issas, who submitted an 11th-hour bid to buy the company outright. Although the deal was rejected, the CVA remains subject to a legal challenge. A Caffe Nero spokesman said: “We have had a successful winter and spring trading and are generating positive cash flow and are ahead of forecast for the past five months. We are forecasting no covenant issues in our projections over the next 12 months and look forward to an even brighter future post-17 May when we open our cafes fully to the public.”

TRG adds kebab-focused brand to delivery portfolio, The Real Greek launches Souvlaki & Skewers: The Restaurant Group (TRG), the owner of Wagamama and Frankie & Benny’s, has added a kebab-focused brand called Babago to its delivery portfolio, Propel has learned. Available through TRG’s Chiquito estate, Babago focuses on kebabs and wraps, with items including the Baba Wrap & Go Bundle, which features a warm kebab wrap, portion of fries and drink for £9.95. Falafel wraps and bowls are also on the menu. The group’s range of virtual delivery brands has included Chicken Cartel, Cornstar Tacos, Levi Roots’ Kitchen, Kick Ass Burrito, Stacks, Birdbox, K-Bird, Pyjama Hotel, Daily Naan, Baragara and Jumping Pans. Propel also understands The Real Greek, the Fulham Shore-owned business, has also entered the virtual delivery brand market. The David Page-chaired business has launched Souvlaki & Skewers through selected sites across the brand’s 19-strong estate. Available through UberEats, the virtual delivery brand features meat souvalki wraps with handmade Greek flatbread; meat-free souvalki wraps with handmade Greek flatbread; “Greek Boxes” – with halloumi skewer, lamb skewer and roast chicken variants; and salads and Greek dips.

200 Degrees appoints commercial director: Nottingham-based coffee roaster 200 Degrees has appointed Will Kenney as commercial director, Propel has learned. Kenny brings with him 20 years of experience in the coffee sector, having held senior positions in the industry. Kenny’s responsibilities at 200 Degrees include managing and driving all commercial aspects of the business, particularly its wholesale offer and the online sale of beans and coffee machines. Kenny said: “I feel my experience complements 200 Degrees’ vision for growth and I’m looking forward to helping to share our knowledge of running successful coffee shops with our wholesale partners, working with the wider team to increase our reach and offer to customers – while staying true to 200 Degrees’ core values.” Co-founder Tom Vincent added: “Will’s years in the industry are testament to his passion for coffee and his expertise make him the ideal fit for us. He loves the product as much as we do, and his commercial understanding of the market makes him instrumental in steering 200 Degrees to new opportunities – to further enhance our customer experience.” Founded by Vincent and his business partner Rob Darby in 2012, 200 Degrees has its roast house near Trent Bridge in Nottingham and operates 11 coffee shops. Its next opening will be in Manchester at the end of May. The site, which includes a barista school, and will open in The Hybrid Building in Mosley Street.

Former Horeca head at Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company launches craft beer filling station drive-thru concept: Matt Kelly, formerly head of Horeca at Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company, has launched a retail concept centred around a drive-thru craft beer growler filling station for market towns, Propel has learned. The first location for the Filling Station is in Ives in Cambridgeshire. The business offers a draught tap wall of ten frequently changed brews from breweries across Cambridgeshire and neighbouring counties as well as national companies. The beer is served from growler filling taps supported by a range of canned and bottled brews from a fridge bank. The Filling Station units are converted 40-foot shipping containers that house a chilled cellar, tap wall, customer service area and collection point. Kelly has worked with four private investors to fund the business and is looking to add four more Filling Stations over the next four years into similar market town locations. Kelly said: “With consumers now back in their home geographies for longer, most market towns suddenly have lots more people who love craft beer. As one of those consumers I was frustrated by the lack of choice and innovation in this area. There are also incredible local breweries who need our support at the moment, and this gives them a much needed lifeline to get their beers out there to new consumers. Our growler system allows customers to take away some of these great UK brews and enjoy them ice cold wherever and whenever they want.”

The Coal Shed owners to launch Burnt Orange venue: Black Rock Restaurant Group, which owns The Coal Shed and Salt Room restaurants, is to launch a fourth site, called Burnt Orange, Propel understands. The business, which was founded by Raz Helalat, is understood to have secured a site in Brighton’s Market Street for the new restaurant and bar that will feature “wood-fired flavours and well-made drinks” and promises to be a “new grown-up hangout” for the city. The company already operates The Coal Shed and The Salt Room sites in Brighton, plus a The Coal Shed at London’s One Tower Bridge scheme. 

Shu – we must prove ourselves to market: The boss of Deliveroo has conceded the company will have to work hard to prove itself to the stock market after the slump in its shares that followed last month’s £7.6bn listing, reports The Times. Will Shu, the food delivery group’s chief executive and co-founder, said: “We have a lot of work in front of us to build the business over the long term, and also to prove ourselves to the markets. It is day one of doing that.” Shu conceded the reopening of Britain’s hospitality sector was likely to have some impact on the rate of expansion but added, in other markets where covid-related restrictions had eased including Hong Kong and Dubai, growth had remained strong. He added: “The truth is we don’t know how things will turn out in the UK and how much these new consumer behaviours will stick but we are really positive.” Asked about concerns over the self-employed status of the company’s riders, Shu insisted they wanted “complete flexibility”, and added: “I’m not wedded to any particular model. However, I am wedded to the model that riders want. I want riders to have the flexibility they have now but also have benefits that are congruent with a flexible model.”
Birmingham-based Tex-Mex restaurant to double up: Birmingham-based Tex-Mex restaurant Perios is to double up with an opening in the city centre. Perios, which serves Mexican classics such as tacos, burritos, nachos, as well as American burgers, beef and chicken, has taken the former Handmade Burger Co premises in Brindleyplace. The 3,150 square foot restaurant will be opening in a canal-side location at The Water’s Edge and will become the second location for Perios following its launch in nearby Shirley. The new restaurant is expected to open this summer, depending on covid-19 restrictions. Perios operations director Sharath Sundar said: “Perios has been a great success for many years in Shirley and we felt now was the time to expand our services and bring our taste of Latin America to Birmingham city centre for the first time.” Stacey Muir, marketing and events executive at Brindleyplace, said: “Perios will be a fantastic addition to Brindleyplace’s varied food and drink offering, and will provide an exceptional new experience for those who work and visit the estate.”

Chicken & Blues announces multi-year exclusive partnership with Deliveroo: Dorset-based Chicken & Blues has announced an expansion of its partnership with Deliveroo and the signing of a multi-year exclusive collaboration to 2023. The concept has worked with Deliveroo across Bournemouth and Poole since its launch in the area in 2015, now delivering to upwards of 5,000 customers per week from two locations in the region. As part of the new partnership agreement, Chicken & Blues is also adopting Deliveroo’s new “Signature” service to enable customers to order delivery directly via the Chicken & Blues website and social channels. Co-founder Joshua Simons said: “Over the past year in particular, thousands of new customers have enjoyed ‘Mama’s Home Cookin’ delivered to their door thanks to Deliveroo’s expertise and logistical know-how. We are now working closely with Deliveroo’s operations team as we look to take Chicken & Blues to neighbouring towns and cities.” Harrison Foster, UK and Ireland growth director for Deliveroo, added: “Chicken & Blues has set a high bar for other quick-serve chicken brands in the UK with its innovation, customer engagement and initiatives to support its local community. We are excited to see this partnership reach new heights.”

Birmingham-based Global Venues to open new 3,500-capacity music spot in city: Birmingham-based Global Venues is to open a new 3,500-capacity music spot in the city. Forum Birmingham is taking over the space previously known as The Ballroom, which has lain dormant for a decade having had a spell in the 2000s as Carling Academy Birmingham. Global Venues, owned by the Chauhan brothers, has extensively renovated and modernised the space, ready for lockdown easing in late summer. Some of the upgrades include restoration of the original woven wooden sprung dance floor, a steel mezzanine and new sound system and LED screens. Billy Chauhan said: “Prior to the pandemic, a quarter of a million people in the West Midlands worked in the culture, media and night-time industries, and the relaunch of this historic venue in Birmingham will help to refuel this damaged part of our local economy.” Global Venues’ other sites include Que Club, Void, The Monastery and 52 Gas Street.
Sambrook’s begins production as it sets up home at Britain’s oldest brewery: Independent brewer Sambrook’s has begun production at Ram Quarter in south London – Britain’s oldest continuously working brewery and former home of Young’s. Relocating from its previous headquarters in Battersea, Sambrook’s is launching a new brewhouse and bottle shop at the development by Greenland. A taproom will follow in the summer with space for events as well. Alongside its brewing facilities, Sambrook’s is opening a heritage centre that will show the area’s history. From mid-May, visitors will have the chance to look “behind the barrels”, enjoy tours of the old Young’s coppers, and try their hand at making beer. Duncan Sambrook, founder of Sambrook’s, said: “We always wanted to celebrate traditional beer-making with a modern twist, and where better to do it than at the home of British brewing? Our first brew on-site marks a major step forward in our plans at Ram Quarter.” Greenland UK chief executive Taotao Song added: “From the start of our redevelopment, we knew the importance of protecting and celebrating Ram Quarter’s brewing legacy. We’re delighted to be supporting Sambrook’s as part of our work to create a new destination in Wandsworth.” Alongside Sambrook’s, the development is now home to a number of independent leisure brands. It was announced last year that Strike bowling, Mai Thai Deli and Schooner bar will be coming to Ram Quarter, joining Backyard Cinema, fine dining restaurant London Stock, Story Coffee and MoreYoga.

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