Story of the Day:
Sector bosses lambast government over move to make full vaccination mandatory for nightclubs and large events, PM warns requirement may be needed in pubs: Sector bosses have lambasted the government after it announced full vaccination will be mandatory to enter nightclubs and large events from September, with Rekom UK chief executive Peter Marks accusing Downing Street of treating the industry “like a political football”. The government said by the end of September all over-18s will have had the chance to receive both vaccine doses and develop immunity. Prime minister Boris Johnson said some 35% of 18 to 30-year-olds – three million people – were unvaccinated. He urged young people to get fully-jabbed saying it was the “right thing to help get back the freedoms you love”. Asked if there would be a vaccination requirement for pubs, Johnson said he “certainly didn't want to see” vaccine passports for bars, but the government “reserved the right to do what's necessary to protect the public”. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This announcement comes as a hammer blow on a day when nightclubs, a sector that has been closed by the government for 16 months, were finally given hope that they could start to trade viably and make progress toward rebuilding and paying off accrued debts. Covid passports will be a costly burden that run the risk of creating flashpoints between staff and customers, as well as raising potential issues with equalities legislation and the handling of customer data. As recently as last week the government asked us to work with them on a voluntary scheme, so this new policy is devastating and risks hitting these fragile businesses and derailing their recovery and costing thousands of jobs.” Deputy chief medical officer professor Jonathan Van-Tam said he “completely sympathised” with the sacrifices young people have made. But he added: “On the science side, however, it is a case in point that if you pack my garden shed full of people and they are unvaccinated, the likelihood of transmission is going to be far greater than if you pack my garden shed full of people who have been fully vaccinated and are 14 days out the other side of their second dose.” Marks said: “To say we are disappointed by this government’s U-turn is an understatement. Jonathan Van Tam’s talk of his party in his garden shed shows how little this government and their scientists understand the modern club. Nightclubs have the best air ventilation systems in hospitality, retail and most other settings – with air changes on average every five minutes. Who else does that? We can sanitise and clean just like any other venue and there is no difference between a club and most pubs at midnight. It should be down to individual risk assessments in line with the specialist scientific advice we have received. We are no more than a political football. Mandatory covid passports may make sense one day once the entire adult population has been offered vaccines, but does government really think this threat will entice the ‘vaccine wary’ to take the vaccine? They will just stay later in the pubs and hold their parties in their houses.” Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said the whole industry was "taken by surprise". He added: “I am not a scientist or a doctor, but I am deeply concerned by the discriminatory nature for those who either can't have the vaccine for medical reasons or age, or who do not want to.” Night Time Industries Association chief executive Michael Kill said: "So, 'freedom day' for nightclubs lasted around 17 hours then… What an absolute shambles.”
Food-led businesses dominate new entries on updated Propel Premium database of multi-site companies this month:
Food-led businesses are dominating the make-up of the new companies being added to the Propel Premium multi-site database in July. The updated database, which is in association with Virgate and has the most comprehensive information on multi-site operators in the sector, will include a minimum of 63 new companies when it is released on Friday, 30 July, at midday – and is only available to Propel Premium subscribers. The 63 new companies operate 261 sites between them. New additions with a food-led bias include north east-based pizza concept Scream For Pizza,
which will open its second site in August. Terra Brazil
is a Brazilian rodizio restaurant with a site in Watford and has now signed for a second site. Burger & Sauce
is a Birmingham-based burger brand that opened its fourth site this month with plans for a fifth in the pipeline. Available only to subscribers, the exhaustive database was most recently sent at the end of June and included the details of 1,880 companies. The go-to database 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 also receive access to a second exclusive monthly database, the Blue Book. The Blue Book database provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. The latest version, which was released on Friday, 9 July, features a total of 280 companies. They are ranked by turnover and profit conversion. It also shows directors’ earnings over five years and the top-earning director. Total turnover for the 280 companies is £25.8bn. The minimum company turnover to be included will be £4m. Subscribers also 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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
O’Riordan – we are definitely starting a period of investment activity: Jane O’Riordan, chair of Caravan, Flight Club and Turtle Bay Restaurants, has said the sector is “definitely starting a period of investment activity” and to take advantage of this, leadership teams should be putting plans in place right now. Talking as part of AlixPartners’ Boardroom Minutes video series, O’Riordan said: “We are definitely starting a period of investment activity. There are some very strong brands with good growth runways in the UK and overseas, which are the right opportunities for the right partner to help come along and grow those businesses. You can definitely see there are good opportunities for those. You can see this strong rebound in consumer demand and how changes in consumer demographics and the change in competition has made the playing field, going forward, a different place to where it was five years ago. In addition, there are businesses that haven’t put the right strategies in place, which would benefit from more consolidation, and there are sectors out there where there are opportunities for this so you could put the right investment in, whether that be concept evolution or technologies that will come with bigger scale. There is going to be a period of strong investment activity, not necessarily all through acquisition, but certainly focusing on the growth play.” O’Riordan also said the sector has been supported by the government but it hasn’t “built resistance”. She said: “While we have all borrowed and been supported by the government during the period of recovery, we are now in a position where we are starting to open up again and are, at least, trying to repair our fragile balance sheets. However, there is no oxygen in that tank for growth out of that. We have been well supported and we can recover but we haven’t built resilience so, as a sector, many of the businesses, in order to grow, are going to look for growth capital or are going to look for opportunities for actually developing their businesses and to take advantage of future value creation. That, at the moment, is a challenge for leadership teams and everyone should be looking at what their options are. Whether that is extra investment for technology or concept evolution to adapt to consumer changes or for omni-channel approaches. It is going to require strategies that leadership teams should be putting in place right now. Across businesses that I am involved with, we are getting ready to take advantage of the period post-recovery when we need to grow our businesses from a position of having a very fragile balance sheet, and that requires growth capital but also strategies about what you are going to do with it. You can’t just say you are going to raise some money and carry on doing things you used to do before because the world is not going to be the same as it was before so you are going to have to look forward and say ‘what am I going to do to my businesses to make sure we are positioned to take advantage of this evolving consumer base?’.”
Nando’s rolls out Yumpingo in UK and Australian markets: Yumpingo, the complete guest experience management platform, has partnered with Nando’s to roll out its solution across all locations in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. These markets are now able to leverage Yumpingo’s proprietary one-minute review to capture in-the-moment guest sentiment through every digital and in-store customer journey. Nando’s UK initially piloted Yumpingo in July 2020, integrating with Vita Mojo, its order and pay provider, before rolling out to all 450 UK locations later that year. In the three months following the rollout, Nando’s UK received more than 350,000 guest reviews that led to significant improvements in food and service with specific impact to off-premise dining, resulting in a 15-point improvement in its net promoter score. On the back of this, last month, the team at Nando’s rolled out Yumpingo in all 193 locations across Australia and New Zealand. Nando’s group chief executive Rob Papps said: “Yumpingo has delivered Nando’s a turnkey guest experience management solution, enabling our markets to make better decisions with more certainty through the real-time eyes of our guests. Together we are entering a new era of being able to optimise every guest experience with greater confidence and speed than ever before.” Yumpingo founder and chief executive Gary Goodman added: “Nando’s and Yumpingo share a common vision to enable hospitality teams to serve more happy guests every day. Working with best-in-class innovative brands such as Nando’s is accelerating how we do this, by mapping real-time guest satisfaction data to business outcomes to make confident adjustments by shift or at scale by brand and territory.” Nando’s has 1,200 restaurants in 22 countries.
Yumpingo is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Pubs and restaurants ‘relieved’ by opportunity to trade without restrictions but many still keeping measures in place: Pub and restaurant owners have spoken of their “relief” they can finally open without restrictions. However, they will still tread carefully to ensure their customers feel safe. Kent-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has said table service is remaining in most of its pubs, with only “some sites” having bar service reintroduced. Chief executive Jonathan Neame said: “While restrictions have been lifted and the country’s recovery can hopefully now get under way, we still have a long road ahead.” Physical screens between seating areas are to be introduced, Neame said, while adding screens at tills would remain. Neame “recommended” both staff and customers wear masks inside pubs, despite it now being left to the individual’s choice. “We acknowledge some customers may still be apprehensive about going out and we will do our best to accommodate their individual needs,” Neame said. Oisín Rogers, who runs The Windmill pub in London, told iNews: “Not having to comply with all these rules takes a lot of the pressure off. It’s our first opportunity to trade properly in 18 months – it’s been very painful. We can be a free-flowing place, and we’ll be back to enjoying some normality – standing, talking, having a pint.” In Bristol, Pasta Loco co-owner Dominic Borel said he was “excited” social distancing measures were lifting. He said: “I have five sites and we’re adding a sixth in three weeks’ time, so it’s exciting to be expanding, adapting, coming up with new menus and hiring new people. We’re still very anxious and nervous about the situation, though. Finding staff is such a hurdle. There’s also Test and Trace to deal with – we need the isolation rules changed. We’re still going to be taking precautions.” Hospitality leaders have urged the government to change the isolation rules to include a “test and release” clause. The current rules advise anyone “pinged” by the NHS app to isolate for ten days, regardless of whether they test positive for the virus or not. Claudio Ribeiro, the co-owner of Federal cafe and bar in Manchester, said “people are still a bit nervous” despite Britain’s new-found freedom. He told iNews: “We’re not going to forget everything right away. We’re fortunate not to have lost too much money in the pandemic because our takeaway kept us going. We won’t ask customers to wear masks, but if staff still want to, we’ll let them. We’re not going to enforce social distancing but we’re also not going to pack tables in and we won’t introduce communal ones yet.”
ONS findings on impact of covid-19 on hospitality ‘highlights need for immediate investment in sector’: The findings by the Office for National Statistics on the impact of covid-19 on the hospitality sector shows investment is now needed in the sector to drive growth and help communities build back better, UKHospitality and the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) have said. According to the ONS study, consumer spending on hospitality remains at less than 70% of pre-pandemic levels. The trade bodies are urging the government to invest in the sector through the reform of VAT, beer duty and business rates, which “unfairly” penalise the sector. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “While ‘Freedom Day’ sees 12,000 venues finally open their doors and the sector operate viably for the first time in 16 months, hospitality is far from out of the woods. For the sector to enjoy a sustainable recovery, government will need to continue working closely with us in order to put in place the right trading environment including measures such as the extension of the business rates holiday until at least October, allowing firms to bounce back strongly, and to rebuild fragile consumer confidence.” BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin added: “The numbers are clear – more investment is needed now for our sector so it can play a leading role in building society and the economy back better. Investment in our sector can help the country build back better with stronger communities, more jobs and a boost to villages, towns and cities across the country.”
KFC UK comes out on top for chicken welfare: KFC has come out on top of fast-food chains in the UK for the welfare of chickens raised for its meat, with Subway, Starbucks, Domino’s and McDonald’s lagging behind, according to charity World Animal Protection. The annual league table, aptly named the “Pecking Order” report, ranks fast food restaurants globally and locally on their commitment, ambition and transparency around the welfare of chickens in their supply chain. In the UK, KFC was the only brand to achieve “leading” status with an overall score of 92%, followed by Nando’s that reached a level of “good” with 78%. Burger King and Pizza Hut were both assessed as “making progress” with scores of 70% and 67% respectively. Starbucks and Subway ranked at the bottom of the table with 0% and a “very poor” assessment. World Animal Protection said KFC’s work with the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC) – a set of standards for birds’ welfare – and its reporting on its performance against its own standards set it apart from other operators. Nando’s, Burger King and Pizza Hut also scored high points for signing up to the BCC in the UK, unlike Starbucks, Subway, Domino’s or McDonald’s. Jonty Whittleton, global campaign head at World Animal Protection, said: “Many big brand restaurants are denying billions of birds the chance to see sunlight, grow at a healthy rate or behave naturally. Covid-19 has taught us that the welfare of animals and human health is interlinked – there should be no business as usual. Commercial motives are driving cruelty and suffering, and this needs to end. KFC, once again, has shown leadership in the UK and Europe since it signed up to the BCC in 2019, which will improve the lives of millions of chickens. But it is disappointing that companies such as Starbucks, Subway, McDonald’s and Domino’s are refusing to change for the better.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking to speak to candidates for an opening general management role within a luxury retirement village business, based in Greater London. The position is a 12-month fixed-term contract, paying up to £85,000 with potential for a future permanent position. This position is a key role for the group because its key mission is to ensure exceptionally high service standards across the property. The individual will champion this new opening by driving the schedule, building a strong business and opening plan, and working towards the business owner’s expectations. They will be instrumental in the implementation of the project, procedures, development of the partners’ relationships and service level agreements for the smooth running of the operations – all with a focus on providing the highest customer journey and satisfaction. Ideally, the individual will have luxury and high-end experience at a hotel or resort. However, the business is also open to meeting individuals from residential, student accommodation and high-end retirement village-type concepts. Anyone interested can email Lara@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Paolo Peretti appointed interim managing director of AMT Coffee: AMT Coffee, which operates concessions at transport hubs, has appointed Paolo Peretti, formerly of Leon, Vital Ingredient and Patisserie Valerie, as its new interim managing director, Propel understands. At the same time, Propel understands property entrepreneur David Maxwell has joined the board of the circa 50-strong business, which was formed by the McCallum-Toppin family. Peretti previously held senior roles with Pret A Manger, Leon, BHS, SSP and Vital, where he was managing director. In 2019, he was appointed managing director of Patisserie Valerie’s retail business, stepping down from the role last spring. In its most recent accounts to 5 January 2020, AMT posted turnover of £20.8m, down from £22.9m in the previous year, with like-for-like sales down 3%. Pre-tax loss widened from £42,964 to £1.1m. It said the fall in sales could be attributed to difficult trading conditions and the closure of key locations due to station redevelopment works. Since its year end, the business obtained £350,000 under the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. Last year, it was reported AMT Coffee owner Alistair McCallum-Toppin faced bankruptcy over a £1.5m debt to his sister-in-law. Alistair McCallum-Toppin, who was the company’s managing director, founded AMT Coffee in 1993 with his brothers Allan and Angus. The siblings began selling coffee from a single cart outside an Oxford shopping centre but have since expanded to more than 50 bars nationwide.
Immersive concept based on Monopoly board game to launch in London alongside themed restaurant and bar: A new immersive concept based on the popular board game Monopoly will open in central London. As revealed by Propel in March, the concept will launch in the ex-Paperchase site at 213-215 Tottenham Court Road. Monopoly Lifesized, which opens on Saturday, 14 August, will be an immersive experience that will open alongside the Top Hat restaurant and bar. It will comprise a 70-cover restaurant and 47-cover cocktail bar. It will be located at The Court – a new 22,000 square foot destination that spans three floors. Gameplay has been woven throughout the drinking and dining experience. Guests will have the opportunity to request a deck of “Monopoly Deal” with their drink order to engage in a quick-playing card version of the game or take a punt with the surprise “Take a Chance” cards on selected serves. The dining menu will be a “quintessentially British small plates concept”, where diners can choose a selection of miniature versions of classics such as The Top Hat Roast (rump steak, parsnip mash and mini Yorkshire pudding) and fish and chips. The bar will serve a selection of cocktails such as the Red Carpet Daiquiri, inspired by Leicester Square and its reputation for film premieres. There will also be soft drinks, craft beer, wine and spirits. It will sit alongside Monopoly Lifesized, which brings the game to life in a live 4D immersive experience across life-sized boards. The Court will be the first in a series of London venues dedicated to live gameplay. Hasbro announced last year, it had entered into a partnership with new company Gamepath to adapt the board game brand into a fully immersive event. Joseph Smith, director of food and beverage at The Top Hat, said: “This dining concept was conceived to encourage people to come together again, for what we hope will be a delicious nostalgic trip down memory lane. We’re excited to be part of the journey as London slowly comes back to life and to be opening a hospitality venture that celebrates the city and its wonderfully rich heritage.”
McMullen to replace Brasserie Blanc in Tower Hill: Hertfordshire brewer and retailer McMullen is to open a new pub near the Tower of London, Propel has learned. The company, which recently reopened the Kings Arms in Fitzrovia, will open the Traitors Gate on the former Brasserie Blanc site in Trinity Square, Tower Hill. The new site is behind the Liberty Bounds, which the company also owns, but there is a lease in place on the site to JD Wetherspoon. Scheduled to open this September, the Traitors Gate will be a “traditional London pub with a McMullen’s twist”, trading across two floors. Last month, McMullen said it was set to open six more sites over the next year, including an ex-JD Wetherspoon in Whitehall, in St Andrews Street in Cambridge, and in St Albans. It is also planning new-build sites at Campbell Wharf marina in Milton Keynes and in Cambourne, Cambridgeshire. The company said it continues to seek “good-quality” freehold and long leasehold property in London and the south east.
Five Guys to open second Bristol site: Five Guys, the fast-growing burger concept backed by Sir Charles Dunstone, will open a second site in Bristol. The business has secured a new ten-year lease at 67-69 Queens Road, the former Bill’s restaurant, with an annual rent rising to £70,000. The premises is a 3,090 square foot ground floor site in Clifton, near cocktail lounge Be At One, Wagamama and the University of Bristol. The restaurant is scheduled to open in summer 2021. Rob Palmer, associate director in the retail team at Savills Bristol, which acted on behalf of Five Guys, said: “It was important to secure a second site in Bristol that complemented Five Guys’ first site in the centre. The former Bill’s site at 67-69 Queens Street was the perfect prime location on the west side of Bristol city centre, which is on a busy street close to tourist locations and Bristol University. Additionally, with the growth in the popularity of food delivery apps, especially over the lockdown periods, this main road frontage will further enable quick, easy and efficient access to the restaurant for deliveries.” Russ Power of property consultant M&P, which advised the private landlord, added: “The strong response to marketing this property and very quick agreement with Five Guys is representative of a return in confidence within the restaurant sector.” Last month, Propel revealed the company had secured a new flagship site in the City of London at the former Wasabi site at 186-190 Bishopsgate. It will be a circa 4,000 square foot site spread over ground and first floors. At the same time, it has been confirmed that Five Guys has secured a further site in Manchester. As previously reported by Propel, the company has taken a unit at the former Yorkshire Building Society site in the city’s Piccadilly area. It has signed a 15-year lease on the new site. In May, Five Guys UK chief executive John Eckbert said the brand was going to open up to 50 new sites in Europe this year, including up to 25 in Britain.
Five Guys features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which has recently been updated for Premium subscribers. Five Guys has turned over an average of £125.5m in the past five years. The Blue Book provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks 280 companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors. 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. Email email@example.com to sign up.
Flight Club lines up opening in Atlanta: Flight Club, the darts concept, has further added to its pipeline of openings in the US, after securing a site in Atlanta. The Red Engine-owned brand, which is operated under licence to State of Play Hospitality, will open in Midtown Atlanta in the Star Metals complex early 2022. The brand already has sites in Chicago and Boston, and has further sites lined up to open in Las Vegas and Houston, by the end of this year.
Southampton-based Bedford Place Pub Group adds restaurant and bar to portfolio: Southampton-based Bedford Place Pub Group has added a restaurant and bar in the city to its portfolio. The company has acquired The Vestry in Commercial Road. Based in a grade II-listed former church, the building sits just opposite the Mayflower Theatre. Bedford Place Pub Group, which has a portfolio of ten venues, predominately based in Southampton, said it has big plans for its most recent addition. Co-owner Piers Kannangara told the Daily Echo: “We want to build on its close proximity to the Mayflower Theatre, while also catering as a go-to destination within the city centre for locals wanting both quality food and drinks. The building also lends itself perfectly for the use of a variety of events including weddings, which it already has a licence for.” The Vestry is now set to be renamed and is expected to open in September following a significant refurbishment. Fleurets acted on the deal.
Kaleido up to three sites with Canary Wharf opening: Healthy food concept Kaleido has opened its third site in London, in Canary Wharf. The salad rolls concept, which is the brainchild of Laura Mimoun and Denis Dahan, has opened a kiosk at 1 Canada Square. The concept, which was launched four years ago, also operates a permanent concession at Selfridges and a kiosk at 1 Kingly Street, in Carnaby. Kaleido is one of the 27 businesses across the UK selected for the Next Level NatWest Accelerator Programme. It counts Marcel Khan, formerly of Five Guys, Nando’s and Thunderbird Fried Chicken, as a non-executive director.
Yard Sale Pizza to open Crystal Palace site next month: Yard Sale Pizza, the restaurant and delivery concept that includes sector investor Paul Campbell as non-executive director, will open its eighth site in the capital, in Crystal Palace next month. As revealed by Propel last month, the Johnnie Tate-led business has secured the former Fish Valley site in Westow Hill. The restaurant will launch on Monday, 2 August. The site will offer delivery and collection, along with an area for dine-in that will open at a later date. Earlier this year, the business secured the former The Crust Co site at 63 Bedford Hill, Balham, for its seventh site. The company opened its debut restaurant in Clapton in 2014. It also has branches in East Dulwich, Hackney Road, Leytonstone, Walthamstow and Finsbury Park.
Joule’s opens flagship pub in nod to its roots in Stone: Shropshire brewer and retailer Joule’s, which is headed by Steve Nuttall, will open a flagship pub as part of a collaboration with Stone Town Council, Crown Wharf Theatre Trust and Joule’s Brewery. Crown Wharf Stone, which is located on the canal adjacent to Stone High Street, will open on Tuesday (20 July). The canal was used by the original Joule’s Brewery while Crown Wharf Stone sits next door to the old Joule’s warehouse – a listed building in the shadow of the old brewhouse. The project has taken five years to come to fruition and building works have been ongoing for the past two-and-a-half years, with an original opening date for October last year. Managing director Nuttall said: “We have been planning this for so long. We wanted to let people see the pub and enjoy a normal pint so we have waited for that. It’s a hugely significant day for us to be trading in Stone once again after a gap of nearly 50 years. This is the biggest project we have ever done – it is a pub that represents us. We felt it was important to return to Stone, the original home of the brewery.” Joule’s marketing manager Pip Machin added: “The past three weeks have been intense because we have trained a whole new team. It’s a new chapter, a new start and, with restrictions easing, we can look forward, I hope, and put a very testing 18 months behind us.” The company has invested more than £3.5m in the project in creating the taphouse and also a shell building for a community theatre and a shell building for a heritage centre, both free to their respective users.
Plant-based concept Kojo to open in Devonshire Square: Fledgling plant-based concept Kojo is to open its second site in London, at Devonshire Square in the City. The concept, which is the brainchild of Nobu Hotel London Portman Square's executive chef Michael Paul and husband-and-wife team Ryan and Alina Jones, will open a grab-and-go format site at 10 Devonshire Square. The first Kojo opened last December, on the former Carluccio’s site in Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead. It is thought a third site, mooted for High Street Kensington, will also launch by the end of this year. With the slogan of “In Plants We Trust”, Kojo offers an all-day menu inspired by a range of Asian cuisines and features “signature gluten-free dishes, vegan friendly offerings, no added sulphur wines”, cocktails using sustainably produced spirits, and refined sugar-free bakes.
JD Wetherspoon gets go-ahead for £5m pub in Grays: JD Wetherspoon has been given the go-ahead to turn a former cinema in Grays, Essex, into a £5m pub. The company has sought to open a pub in the State Cinema for a number of years. However, problems surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and questions over the state of the George Street building have delayed the project multiple times. Plans that were initially approved by Thurrock Council were later abandoned by JD Wetherspoon after it said the amount of work required to follow through with them made the project “unviable”. However, fresh proposals were submitted in May to turn the empty cinema into a pub, complete with a beer garden, and those plans have been approved by the council. Restoration works to the main lobby and stall foyer will celebrate the building’s rich heritage, having opened as a cinema in 1938. A JD Wetherspoon spokesman told Essex Live: “We are committed to developing the site and, once again, making it an important part of the town’s social scene. The council has a superb plan to regenerate Grays and we are delighted to be a part of that.”
Tim Hortons lodges plans for new drive-thru in Warrington: Canadian quick service restaurant brand Tim Hortons is eyeing a new site in Warrington, Cheshire. SK Group, which is leading the rollout of Tim Hortons in the UK, has lodged proposals to launch a drive-thru restaurant at the former The Restaurant Group-owned Frankie & Benny’s premises at Apollo Park, near to junction eight of the M62 at Burtonwood. The restaurant permanently closed only last month. As many as 25 full-time and 35 part-time jobs would be created, reports Insider Media. Tim Hortons has 28 sites in the UK. The company will open a drive-thru in Chester at the end of the month while it has tabled plans for a drive-thru in Oldham. It forms part of the brand’s plan to create more than 2,000 jobs across the country, bringing Tim Hortons restaurants to every major town and city by 2022. Professional ice hockey player Tim Horton founded the brand in 1964 to create a space where “everyone feels at home”.
Developer announces £50m investment to transform former Intu shopping centre into lifestyle destination: Developer Ellandi has announced it will invest £50m to “create a leading lifestyle destination” at the former Intu shopping centre at Merry Hill near Birmingham. The move, which will see more than 126,000 square foot of deals have or are set to complete in 2021, is the first long-term investment programme for a former Intu shopping centre and will be complete by July 2025. Plans include the development of a new family entertainment “Leisure District”, allowing visitors of all ages to enjoy a range of non-retail activities and attractions, as well new restaurants. Existing leisure facilities will undergo upgrades and be better connected to the main mall. Mark Robinson, co-founder of Ellandi, said: “Despite the pandemic, Merry Hill has seen footfall outperforming city centre locations and other super-regional shopping centres. In addition to being able to access a range of both big-name brands and smaller independent businesses, customers today demand significantly more from shopping centres than they did in years past. This investment will not only enhance and complement Merry Hill’s existing retail offering, but also the range of leisure-led, non-retail and food and beverage attractions – delivering a high-quality environment in which shoppers can also spend their days socialising, relaxing and having fun.”
Holy Moly Macaroni secures ex-Prezzo site for relocation: Harlem-influenced, soul-food street trader Holy Moly Macaroni is to relocate to a larger site due to “popular demand”. The concept will move from its current location in Birmingham’s Grand Central scheme into the former Prezzo in Harborne. The concept, which is the brainchild of Birmingham chef Anthony Duffy, opened a 1,750 square foot restaurant at the Grand Central shopping centre back in 2018. It had been operating at markets and festivals, and had also featured at Digbeth Dining Club. The company said: “Due to popular demand, Holy Moly is moving to a larger site with additional outside seating and space for live music.”
Former Galvin chef to turn supper club into permanent Hackney restaurant: Gabriel Waterhouse, former chef at Galvin Brothers’ La Chapelle, is to turn his east London supper club, Water House Project, into a permanent restaurant. The concept has been operating from temporary premises in Mare Street, Hackney. Now Waterhouse will open a permanent spot in September, in nearby Corbridge Crescent. The restaurant will have a monthly changing tasting menu with dishes including St Austell mussels and Jerusalem artichoke with chive and lemon; and Herdwick lamb, black garlic, polenta and mint. The space will be split into two communal tables plus a few individual tables, reports Hot Dinners. The chef started The Water House Project supper club in 2015.
Kingsland Drinks Group makes move to being partially employee owned, agrees new funding: Greater Manchester-based wine and spirits supplier Kingsland Drinks Group, including Kingsland Drinks, and newly established Ten Locks, has made a move to being partially employee owned. Current director shareholders – Andy Sagar, Karen Wilson, Michael Forde, and Mark Dixon – have successfully managed the business for 17 years, investing significantly in capability and capacity and diversifying the business into new markets. After a period of careful consideration and planning, the owners have agreed the time is right to restructure the ownership model while recognising any changes in the stewardship of the business will need support and take time to transition. After reviewing all the potential options, the shareholders concluded the best outcome was to sell a majority of the shareholding into an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) structure. The shareholders will remain active in the business as executive members of the board and will retain an equity interest while moving the majority – 51% – of the company into the EOT, giving employees indirect ownership status. The remaining 49% will continue to be held by the owners. There will be a board of trustees, consisting of one external independent trustee, two founder trustees and two employee trustees, charged with looking after the best interests of the co-owners of the company. The business, including the board of directors and senior management team, will continue to function as normal, with the board of directors being accountable to the board of trustees, which will be chaired by Ian Hiscock. The company has also agreed new funding facilities in conjunction with its existing provider, NatWest, and a new partner, Wells Fargo. This provides the business with additional funding headroom and the capability to plan for future growth with its stakeholders. Sagar said: “We have always put employees at the heart of our business and the move to EOT allows our colleagues to feel even more connected to the company.”