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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 10th Aug 2021 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

AMT Coffee to rebrand as Change Please, looks to double estate by 2024: AMT Coffee, which operates a circa 50-strong estate of sites in transport hubs and in hospitals across the UK, is to rebrand as Change Please, under a new partnership with the social enterprise, after coming under new ownership, Propel has learned. The business, which was formed by the McCallum-Toppin family, was acquired earlier this year by property entrepreneur David Maxwell. The deal is understood to have left the McCallum-Toppin family with a small minority shareholding in the business. Under the new ownership and the Change Please rebranding, which will commence later this year, the business plans to double its existing estate to circa 100 sites by 2024, with special focus on further growing its hospital-based estate. Last month, Propel revealed Paolo Peretti had been appointed interim managing director of AMT Coffee. Peretti, formerly of Leon, Vital Ingredient and Patisserie Valerie, is overseeing the beginning of the next stage of the company’s development, which will include the start of the rebrand programme to what is seen as the more contemporary Change Please branding. Propel understands all but four of the company’s sites are now open, with its transport hub estate trading in line with expectations. 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. 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. Change Please, which was founded in 2015 by Cemal Ezel, is a social enterprise that trains people who are homeless to be baristas, paying each person the London Living Wage, providing housing to people who are homeless within ten days of them starting employment and then supporting them into jobs. It operates five coffee shops in London.

Industry News:

Sponsored story – QikServe launches competition to find the food and hospitality industry’s serving superstars: A search for the food and hospitality industry’s best servers has been launched by QikServe. The Serving Superstars competition is open to any professional food and/or drink servers – the winner will be awarded a £1,000 super tip. To be eligible, they just need a nomination from their employers, colleagues or satisfied customers. Suggestions for Serving Superstars can be made via Nominators should explain why their candidate is a Serving Superstar and give examples of that person going above and beyond to provide an excellent customer experience. Judges from Fridays, Center Parcs and Wells & Co, as well as Call Systems and QikServe, will read the entries and decide who will be rewarded with the super tip. Runners-up will receive a £200 Amazon voucher from Call Systems and a £100 voucher from Fridays. The competition closes on 15 September. Daniel Rodgers, president and founder, QikServe, added: “QikServe is celebrating its tenth year of service to the food and hospitality market. As part of this, we want to celebrate the people within this industry we are so proud to be a part of. I hope the competition, and the tip we award, brings some well-deserved recognition to the hardest working Serving Superstars.” If you have a story you would like featured in this sponsored story position on the newsletter, email
Dozens of companies sign up for unlimited access to Propel Premium: Dozens of companies have signed up to provide their staff with unlimited access to Propel premium for £895 since the offer was introduced two months ago. They include: Boutinot Wines, Hawthorn/New River, Vapiano, Beds and Bars, Access Group, Sysco, Greene King, Welcome Break, Teneo, Molson Coors, Sky UK, Dodo Brands, Heineken/Star Pubs, CKR Restaurants, Bidfood, KBE Drinks, Papa Johns, CGA Strategy, Big Table Group, Bateel, Fujitsu, KPMG and AB InBev – Budweiser, HIT Training and Chipotle. Meanwhile, the next edition of the Propel Blue Book of Turnover and Profitability for Premium subscribers, is to be published at midday this Friday (13 August and produced in association with Mapal Group). The Blue Book features 352 UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators with a total turnover of £29.6bn. The Blue Book, which is updated every month – on the second Friday of the month – provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. And, on Friday, 30 July, Propel Premium subscribers received the updated database of multi-site companies for July, which is produced in association with Virgate. The latest edition of The Propel Multi-Site Database included 71 new companies, operating 477 sites between them, and increases the total number of companies on the database to 1,951. Subscribers received the database as a PDF and an Excel spreadsheet, they were also sent a 12,094-word report on the businesses added during July. 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. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. It is updated at the end of every month. Subscribers also received a new database on Friday, 30 July. The New Openings Database, produced in association with Starstock, focuses on the newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and will be updated at the end of every month. 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. 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 to sign up. 

CMA tells Groupon to treat customers fairly or face court action: The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has written to Groupon UK to urge it to step up and treat its customers properly – or face court action. The CMA has found evidence that Groupon does not always provide customers with the refunds and other forms of redress, such as replacement items, to which the CMA considers they are legally entitled. In cases where customers have not been provided with the goods or services they paid for, they are sometimes only offered Groupon credits instead of refunds. The CMA is also concerned the company is failing to ensure that: purchased vouchers can always be redeemed within the advertised periods, descriptions of goods and services are accurate, products are in stock and delivered within the advertised time-frames, items are of a satisfactory quality and customer service is satisfactory when customers contact them about problems. As well as potentially breaking consumer protection law, Groupon UK could be in breach of the formal commitments – known as “undertakings” – that it gave to the CMA’s predecessor, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), in 2012. As part of these commitments, Groupon UK pledged to ensure information on its website is not misleading and to comply with customers’ legal cancellation and refund rights. Andrea Coscelli, CMA chief executive, said: More people than ever are shopping online, especially over the past year. It is, therefore, essential online businesses treat customers fairly and refund them money where due under consumer law. Groupon must swiftly step up and do right by its customers if it wants to avoid court action.” Groupon now has the opportunity to respond to the concerns outlined in the CMA’s letter and to avoid court action by signing further undertakings to address the CMA’s concerns. This may include redress for consumers denied a refund and additional compliance monitoring.
July was a strong month for pubs, bars and nightclubs, according to Barclaycard data: Consumer card spending grew 11.6% in July compared with the same period in 2019, as the heatwave and easing of restrictions saw Brits make the most of their new-found freedoms, according to Barclaycard data. The entertainment industry saw growth for the first time in more than 16 months, up 8.1%, as consumers bought tickets to the theatre, cinema and sporting events. This comes as 32% of Brits say they expect to spend more on leisure activities and day trips this summer, and 16% plan to spend more attending shows and events – a welcome sign that further growth may be on the horizon. Pubs, bars and clubs had another strong month, recording 30.5% growth when compared with July 2019, as Brits socialised in beer gardens and returned to nightclubs for evenings out. Raheel Ahmed, head of consumer products, said: “July’s major sports fixtures and the heatwave kept the nation in good spirits, providing more reasons to celebrate together, and giving the entertainment industry its long-awaited boost back into growth. While some sectors took a small step back as the post-lockdown ‘honeymoon’ period cooled, July was a positive month overall. However, with inflation expected to rise, it will be interesting to see how this impacts consumer spending behaviour over the coming months.”
Job of the day: COREcruitment is currently working with a hospitality business that is keen to appoint an experienced IT director. This position is based in the Home Counties with a national remit and pays up to £110,000 base salary and package. A spokesman said: “We are looking for someone who can lead at senior level within this large and multifaceted business. The candidate will be responsible for all areas of IT and infrastructure strategy across the company, leading a team internally and a number of external contractors, Leading on areas like data, IT capex projects, security, telecoms and other related areas.” COREcruitment added it is keen to secure someone who is passionate about IT and customers, as well as employee experience. It is looking for someone innovative and creative who can really lead when it comes to adopting new technology, cost saving, profit maximisation and business performance. Please email for details.
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Delivery Hero builds 5% stake in rival Deliveroo: Germany’s Delivery Hero has acquired a 5.09% stake in online food delivery rival Deliveroo, driving the British company’s share price to its highest since listing on the stock market in March. Shares in Deliveroo, which disclosed the holding in a stock market notice on Monday, rose more than 6% to 345p in early trading. They were priced at 390p in its initial public offering. Delivery Hero is one of the world’s largest food delivery companies. The Berlin-based group is worth €33bn and has previously said it could look to enter the UK market through an acquisition. Delivery Hero already owns a 7.4% stake in Just Eat Takeaway. Founded in 2011, Delivery Hero operates in 51 cities across ten countries, and owns the Foodpanda brand. It sold its UK business, Hungryhouse, to Just Eat in 2016.
Pret to launch second site under partnership with Tesco: Pret A Manger, the JAB Holdings-backed group, will open its second site with a Tesco this week. It will open a new shop in the Tesco Extra at Serpentine Green, Peterborough, on Tuesday (10 August). The Peterborough shop is Pret’s second shop inside a Tesco supermarket, following the opening of a site in the retailer’s supermarket in Kensington, west London, in June. It will serve a menu of freshly prepared food and organic coffee and teas, all prepared in Pret’s on-site kitchen throughout the day. Pret has hired ten new team members to staff the shop. The launch also follows the introduction of Pret’s first grocery food range in Tesco earlier this year, through which it sells frozen croissants, granola, coffee pods and ketchups. Pano Christou, chief executive at Pret, said: “Last year, we set ourselves the challenge of bringing Pret to more people. Since then, we’ve launched and grown our Pret-at-Home range, bringing the joy of Pret to people’s homes across the country. Now we’re taking this further and bringing the experience of Pret to select Tesco stores, making it even easier for customers to enjoy our freshly made food and organic coffee as part of their regular Tesco shop. As the UK emerges from lockdown, this partnership with Tesco is one way in which we’re transforming our business model to adjust to a new way of living and working. We look forward to working with the Tesco team on this partnership.”

Children’s adventure play operator begins construction on second Hobbledown park: Children’s adventure play operator Kidspace Adventure Holdings (KAH) has begun construction on a new Hobbledown adventure farm park. KAH has broken ground on its second Hobbledown park, and its fourth in total, at a 100-acre-plus site in Hounslow Heath, west London. Following a £13m investment, Hobbledown West London is due to open in the summer of 2022 and will feature a range of indoor and outdoor adventure play that will be the first of its kind in the UK. The park will also be home to a wide variety of animals and an “adrenaline village” that will include zip wires and high rope adventure courses, offering unique family days out. KAH, which is backed by Kings Park Capital, has also secured a new £9m banking facility with Santander UK, which will play a key part in funding the development and helping KAH realise its ambition of becoming a leading visitor attractions business in the UK, delivering extraordinary days out through immersive and magical play for families. The development of the Hobbledown brand comes on the back of an “exceptional performance” from KAH’s existing Hobbledown site in Epsom, Surrey, since the easing of lockdown restrictions on 12 April. Since that date, and despite ongoing restrictions that have reduced capacity and prevented the operation of certain activities, like-for-like revenue at the site in the 16 weeks to 1 August was up 51% on the same period in 2019. Including the businesses two indoor sites, which were not allowed to open until five weeks later, total revenue for the group was up 40% in the period. Its other two sites are indoor play and children’s party venues Kidspace Croydon and Kidspace Romford. 

Megan’s appoints Christobell Harrington-Jones as new operations director: London-based, cafe and deli concept Megan’s has appointed Christobell Harrington-Jones, formerly of Wagamama and Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) as its new operations director, Propel has learned. Harrington-Jones joins the 13-strong group after a year and a half as commercial food operations director at Hilton. Prior to that, she spent more than five years at Wagamama, including stints as an operations director and change programme director. She also spent more than four years at M&B, including more than two years as a retail business manager. She will report to former Wagamama colleague Sarah Hills – Megan’s managing director. Megan’s is to begin adding to its regional estate, with an opening in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. The 13-strong group, which recently opened in Wandsworth, has secured the former Prezzo site in the town’s High Street. The company already operates a site in St Albans and recently secured the former Laura Ashley site in Church Street, Weybridge, for an opening next year. Last month, Propel revealed Megan’s would open a second Chelsea site as it adds to its openings pipeline in the capital. The company is set to open on the ex-Cote site opposite Chelsea & Westminster hospital, adding to its outlet in King’s Road, which was the first cafe to launch. It has also secured a site at 25 Dulwich Village for an opening later this year. In June, Megan’s said it was looking to recruit a further 100 staff, including two senior board positions as it continues its growth plans. It is looking to add to its workforce, including the appointment of a people director and operations director – both board positions. The business has big plans for growth and brought in a new management team with Hills, formerly managing director of Bill’s and Wagamama, and Gill Clements, ex-finance director of Byron, both joining last year.
Hummingbird Bakery appoints Ziad Joumblat as new chairman: US-style cupcake concept Hummingbird Bakery, which was acquired out of administration earlier this year by London-based family investment office Acropolis Capital, has appointed industry veteran Ziad Joumblat as its new chairman, Propel has learned. Joumblat is currently president of Joel Robuchon International and managing director of Kababji, the Lebanese grill house concept. He is also the former chairman of Big Fernand Restaurant Group and former director of YO! Sushi and Eathos. Acropolis Capital acquired the Hummingbird Bakery business via a pre-pack administration process. The deal for the US-style cupcake concept, which was founded in London in 2004, secured the ongoing operation of Hummingbird’s shops in Notting Hill, South Kensington and Spitalfields, and protected more than 60 jobs. However, it saw the brand’s sites in Soho and Islington close. Acropolis Capital, which is also an investor in Social Entertainment Ventures, said it was committing “meaningful capital to support Hummingbird’s recovery and future growth”.
Potts – we are effectively starting a new business plan: Simon Potts, chief executive of The Alchemist, the 20-strong bar and restaurant concept backed by Palatine, has said the company is, effectively, starting a new business plan after the impact of the past 18 months. He told Propel: “We have got a good set of investors who have accepted that some of the horizons they originally set have had to be pushed back a year or two. They are happy with the new business plan that has been developed and are looking to encourage some of this creative thinking that we are being able to present. I am excited about what that is going to bring over the next 12 months. We are, effectively, starting a new business plan and I am pleased to say we are way ahead of that from a trading perspective.” In terms of the M&A market, Potts said “everyone is expecting a softening of the market”. He said: “It was great to see the TriSpan deal for Pho and I am not saying that gets the whole party started again but at least somebody has taken those steps. While the general message is that people are switched off from consumer-facing opportunities, clearly people are going to start looking at the good consumer businesses and assessing them in their own right for what they are worth rather than taking a broad-brush view. The debt market is the next one that needs to be unlocked.” Earlier this year, The Alchemist completed a refinancing of its banking facilities and shareholder loans to raise additional capital.
Ole & Steen teams up with surplus food app Too Good To Go: Danish baker Ole & Steen has become the latest sector operator to team up with surplus food app, Too Good To Go, in the fight against food waste. The new partnership means all 14 Ole & Steen bakeries in the UK are now signed up to the Too Good To Go app so surplus baked goods are eaten and enjoyed rather than wasted. The partnership is global so customers in Denmark and the US can also get involved. Too Good To Go lets people buy surplus food and drink from bakeries, restaurants, grocery stores, pubs, cafes and producers to stop it from going to waste. Consumers can download the free Too Good To Go app and search for their nearest Ole & Steen with unsold food. They then purchase a “Magic Bag” for £5, collect it at an allotted time and enjoy it. The Ole & Steen Magic Bags contain a variety of baked goods – from Cinnamon Socials to loaves of fresh bread – worth at least £15 if sold at normal retail price. Katie Lister, UK marketing director at Ole & Steen, said: “Since we opened the first Ole & Steen in the UK in December 2016, we have worked hard to minimise our food waste, but we know we can do better. After seeing the success of the partnership between Lagkagehuset (Ole & Steen, Denmark) and Too Good To Go, and watching our US team also help reduce its food waste, we knew partnering with fellow Danish brand Too Good To Go would be the perfect solution to help us. By partnering with them, I believe we can, as a business, make an even greater difference as well as helping our customers to also do their bit.” Paschalis Loucaides, UK managing director at Too Good To Go, said: “I’m proud to welcome Ole & Steen to the Too Good To Go partner community. Ole & Steen’s passion for delicious, sustainable food perfectly aligns with our own ethos and it’s great to have them alongside us in our fight against food waste. Food waste accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions and by ensuring that every Cinnamon Social and every loaf of bread is eaten and enjoyed, we can protect the future of the planet together.”
Zonal strengthens management team with two senior appointments: Hospitality technology company Zonal, has appointed Olivia FitzGerald as chief sales and marketing officer, and James Taylor as chief financial officer, strengthening its leadership team. Previously the managing director of Majestic Wine Commercial, FitzGerald is well versed in commercial and customer strategies having run her own consultancy where she worked closely with a high-calibre roster of companies within the hospitality and tech space. She will be joining Zonal’s newly appointed chief financial officer James Taylor as key members of the company’s leadership team. Taylor joined Zonal earlier this year from global loyalty, rewards and commerce software provider Yoyo, where he was also chief financial officer, working across the hospitality and retail sectors. In his new role, Taylor will be a key part of the newly strengthened leadership team to drive forward and deliver Zonal’s vision and roadmap for technology innovation and customer success across the hospitality sector. 
Zonal is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
Roxy Leisure eyes Edinburgh launch: Roxy Leisure, the operator of the Roxy Lanes and Roxy Ballroom concepts, is looking to open its first site in Scotland, in Edinburgh. According to Edinburgh Live, the company, which is chaired by Mark McQuater, the former chief executive of Revolution Bars Group, plans to open on the former old BHS site on the city’s Princess Street. The site’s basement will be converted to include six bowling lanes, two duckpin bowling lanes, ten American pool tables and five ping pong tables. Earlier this summer, Roxy Leisure opened its largest site to date for its Roxy Ball Room concept. The company agreed a deal with Orchard Street Investment Management to take 21,000 square foot of space at the 200,000 square foot leisure complex, The Cornerhouse, in Nottingham. It already operates a site in the city’s Thurland Street. Roxy Leisure currently operates 12 sites across Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham under the Roxy Ball Room, Roxy Lanes and Roxy Arcade banners. Last year, the company secured a £7.5m investment from private equity firm Foresight. 
Black Sheep signs for second Wembley site: Black Sheep, the artisanal coffee shop with a strong focus on ethical trading, has signed to open a second unit in Wembley Park. Its existing 1,600 square foot cafe opened at Wembley Park in August 2018, close to one of the neighbourhood’s three London Underground and train stations. The independent coffee brand has now signed to open a second coffee shop, with a cocktail bar element, in White Horse Square. The day-to-night concept will serve residents and visitors looking to catch up over a coffee during the day, before transforming into a bar in the evening.
Hero Brands hires two international brand directors: Hero Brands has appointed two new international development directors to develop new master franchise partnerships across the world. Christian Bradford and Steve Turner have joined Hero Brands as it gets set to embark on a period of rapid growth across its exciting brand portfolio, which includes German Doner Kebab, Choppaluna and Island Poké. Christian Bradford comes from Buckingham Consulting, where, as the director of global business development, he worked with retail and food and beverage concepts and more than 500 master franchise companies. Steve Turner is a global retail brand builder and joins from Al Mana Group where he recruited some of the best-in-class franchise partners in territories spanning Iraq, Iran, Armenia, Kuwait and Indonesia. Hero Brands is focused on building the food brands of the future and brings a leadership team assembled from the world’s leading global food and beverage brands. Its portfolio includes German Doner Kebab, which is now forging ahead with expansion plans in the UK and worldwide, with 700 franchises already signed up to its global growth strategy. Choppaluna is a fast, fresh, food-to-go and dine-in brand, which has opened locations in London and Berlin in the past 12 months. Hero Brands has also recently brought Island Poké into its fast-casual portfolio. The UK’s leading poké operator has a development pipeline of 23 sites over the next five years, which will treble its current UK footprint. Hero Brands chief executive Athif Sarwar said: “Hero Brands is focused on growing the brands of the future. We are delighted to add Steve and Christian to the team. Their business expertise and international contacts will be a key asset as we forge ahead with our global growth plans.”
NQ64 lines up debut Wales site: NQ64, the immersive retro arcade bar concept, which received backing from hospitality investor Imbiba earlier this year, is lining up a site in Cardiff, for its debut in Wales. The company, which will make its Scottish debut this week in Edinburgh, is understood to have applied to open a site in the Welsh capital’s St Mary Street. The company will open on the former Badabing bar in Edinburgh’s Lothian Road on Thursday (12 August). The venue will offer more than 30 retro arcade game machines, operated using tokens that are purchased at the bar, as well as a bunch of free-to-play classic consoles. There will also be game-themed cocktails, a selection of beer and “retro” crisps. The four-strong NQ64 was founded by Matt Robson and Andy Haygarth, and currently operates sites in Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. It recently opened a second bar in Manchester after securing the former Club Liv unit in Peter Street. In February, Propel revealed Imbiba had invested £1.4m in NQ64 to aid its further growth plans. As part of the investment, David McDowall, chief operating officer at BrewDog, became its new chairman, with Andrew Stones, ex-managing director of Be At One, representing Imbiba on the company’s board. NQ64 is also set to open a site in Newcastle. 

Celebrity chef to launch 12-month run for Caribbean-focused restaurant Wadadli in Hackney Wick: Chef and Great British Menu presenter Andi Oliver is taking her Caribbean-focused restaurant Wadadli Kitchen to Hackney Wick. Launching on Saturday (14 August), Oliver will open two sites for a 12-month period. Wadadli Kitchen is a communal dining space, located on a covered terrace at the Whitepost Lane site. It will concentrate on two dishes – the Caribbean-spiced Seafood Boil, with shrimps, mussels, crab clusters, smoked sausage, corn, plantain and sweet potato, plus the vegan Barbecue Ital Oil Down on Buss Up Shot – breadfruit, squashes, corn, plantain, sweet potato, gungo peas, barbecue mushroom, barbecue carrots, cooked in a coconut oil down and served on “buss up shot”, which is a roti. Downstairs will be Wadadli Roadside, which offers a takeaway option and a bar that serves dishes such as curry goat loaded fries, vegan umami mushroom curry loaded fries, spice-rubbed spit roast chicken and vegan spit roast roots. There will also be cocktails, including Andi’s Rum Punch that uses overproof rum and vanilla liqueur. And customers can expect an events space from September.

Simeone opens flagship Six By Nico restaurant with fish and chips concept taking centre stage: Scottish-Italian chef Nico Simeone has opened his flagship Six by Nico site in London with the first of its evolving concepts – “The Chippie”. Simeone has opened his second London site after agreeing a deal with Canary Wharf Group in Chancellor Passage on Monday (9 August). It is his eighth site overall with the Canary Wharf venue following openings in in Glasgow (two restaurants), Edinburgh, Belfast, Liverpool, Manchester and London’s Fitzrovia. The latest iteration of Six by Nico offers a new six-course menu every six weeks with the first concept themed around the British chip shop. The 100-cover restaurant has an open kitchen and there is a 40-cover cocktail bar. Highlights from The Chippie menu include a course of chips and cheese with parmesan espuma, curry oil and emulsion and crisp potato terrine along with Simeone’s take on scampi that will see him serve Scrabster Monkfish Cheek, dill emulsion, gribiche, peas and beurre blanc swiftly followed by a Speyside beef shin steak pie accompanied by burnt onion ketchup, mushroom duxelles and a meaty salsa. To conclude, diners will enjoy a deep fried mars bar accompanied by an Irn Bru sorbet and chocolate soil. 

Caprinos Pizza takes former pub for new site: Pizza concept Caprinos Pizza has taken the site of a former pub in Havant. The pizza business that franchises sites, recently celebrated its 51st branch opening in Southampton. The property in North Street, which is close to Havant railway station, has been let by Flude Property Consultants. Flude surveyor Mary Jackson said: “We are pleased to see these premises now let and adding to the local offering. The letting highlights how the retail market is gradually recovering from all the challenges it has faced after the past few years.”
Japanese restaurant takes first site on 20-year lease: Japanese restaurant Edo Japan has opened its first site on a 20-year lease in Redditch. It has taken a 5,068 square foot venue at The Quadrant on a rental of £30,000 a year in the Worcestershire town. Dongehun Wang, director of Eco Japan’s parent company Zensho, said: “We are delighted with the reception we have received from our customers.” Jack Sears, asset manager at landlord Real Estate Investors, added: “We are always pleased to be able to support start-up businesses and delighted they have opened Redditch’s first Japanese restaurant in one of our properties. It is encouraging to see the retail and food sector starting to pick back up after a torrid 2020.”
High-end gym chain to open debut site in Manchester, UK-wide expansion targeted: A high-end gym chain with advanced fitness clubs is set for UK-wide expansion after it launches its first site, in Manchester. GSquared is backed by serial Yorkshire entrepreneur and investor, Matt Haycox, who founded a multimillion-pound lap dancing clubs business before the financial crash in 2008. Haycox has invested a six-figure sum into GSquared with its Manchester opening in September to be followed by sites in Leeds, Newcastle, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow in the next 18 months. The business expects to invest £5m in its sites over the next three years. As well as a state-of-the-art gym, the Manchester facility includes infra-red saunas, soundproof sleep pods, luxury yoga studio, sauna rooms and is also introducing the BodPod, a body composition machine that calculates body density and fat percentages. It will be located in the 12,000 square foot former Brannigans unit in the Royal Exchange and will limit membership to just 800 people. Haycox said: “Today, post-covid and in a new era where mental and physical well-being is at the top of all our agendas, I believe there is huge demand in the UK for what GSquared provides hence my investment in this fast-growing business.”

Town Hotels opens £7m Liverpool site: Town Hotels, the hospitality division of Liverpool-based property development company Living Brick, has opened its new £7m hotel in the city. The company has opened the Baltic Triangle’s first hotel. The 58-bedroom hotel will include “Shoreditch-style” dining facilities and bars, in a nod to the similarities between London’s East End and the city’s burgeoning Baltic area. Two spaces within the venue will be transformed into the Duck & Swagger pub and The Baltic Brasserie, with both planned to open later in 2021. In May, the company launched the £4.2m, 30-bedroom, Duke Street Hotel. The hotel has been created by Kevin Doran, founder of Living Brick, and his business partner, Phil Walsh. The pair already operate York Street Studios and Chavasse apartments – a portfolio of modern serviced apartments in Liverpool city centre.
Fitness brand Barrecore to open 13th site next month: Fitness brand Barrecore, which teaches customers elements of ballet, yoga and pilates, will open its 13th studio in Leeds. Barrecore currently operates nine sites within central and Greater London, plus others in Alderley Edge, Bristol and Hale. The Leeds studio will open on 2 September at the Mustard Wharf complex at South Bank. Paige Wang, owner of the Leeds franchise of Barrecore, said: “Leeds is a really cool city with a great buzz, so it makes sense for the Barrecore brand to open a studio here. The location at Mustard Wharf is ideal for attracting people from all over the city because it is really accessible. Our clients love the increased energy and strength levels they experience, even after just a couple of weeks. It’s the perfect exercise for building confidence in your own body and mind so it has long-term well-being benefits too. It’s definitely a new experience and one we’re sure the people of Leeds will embrace and fall in love with.”

Social enterprise Miss Macaroon to open outlet at entertainment hub Resorts World: Macaroon merchant and social enterprise Miss Macaroon is opening a store at entertainment complex Resorts World Birmingham. Miss Macaroon, which was set up by Rosie Ginday to reinvest its profits to help unemployed people gain skills, has been selling a range of macaroon gift boxes and ice cream macaroons from a tuk tuk van located in the Atrium at the Genting Solihull-owned Resorts World for the past few months. However, its success has led to it taking on a larger site within the outlet mall that also houses dining and shopping brands. Ginday told The Business Desk: “Every penny we make in profit from the sale of our macaroons is reinvested in supporting young people who need a helping hand to gain skills to change their lives. This new unit provides us with more training space and allows us to create more jobs for young people with complex needs.” Jason Kirsch, operations director at Pendigo Way-based Resorts World, added: “We know the added space will help them create more opportunities for young people in addition to being able to offer an even wider range of their macaroons to tempt our guests. At Resorts World, we are always looking for new exciting offers to add to our guest experience and Miss Macaroon will certainly do that.”

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