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Wed 11th Aug 2021 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

US coffee shop brand Gloria Jean’s to begin UK expansion push: Gloria Jean’s, the US coffee shop brand that has 200 sites in Australia run under franchise, is to kick start its push into the UK market, with just under 20 sites already understood to be signed up. Pre-pandemic, the brand, which has 1,000 coffee houses worldwide, had signed a franchise deal with master franchise partner, Naweed Nasir, director of Green Valley Foods, to open 190 sites in the UK during the next ten years. The business, which currently operates sites in Newcastle and Sutton, has lined up three openings in the Greater Glasgow area, as part of its rollout plans. Its city centre site will be on the ex-EAT site in Gordon Street. Meanwhile, the Gloria Jean’s website confirmed sites in the St Enoch Centre and in Braehead Shopping Centre will also “open soon”. It also stated the company has lined up two openings in Edinburgh and one in Aberdeen. In England, the brand says it will be “opening soon” at locations including Nottingham, Chester, Preston, Bury, Gateshead and Tunbridge Wells. It also said it had secured the former Pret site in the Capitol Shopping Centre, Cardiff. A spokesman said: “The stores will feature the new logo, retail design, a fresh menu and our customer service will reflect the values of the Good Cup coffee philosophy. Good Cup ensures that we deliver speed, quality and consistency of product with every coffee and that’s something our team is committed to every day.” Gloria Jean’s was founded in the US, where it now has circa 50 sites, and was established in Australia where it has more than 450 sites. It was acquired in 2014 by the Retail Food Group for £93m. Retail Food Group also owns the Donut King and Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar brands.

Industry News:

Two days until next edition of Propel Blue Book sent to Premium subscribers: 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. A total of 180 of these companies are now posting total losses of £5.95bn as the effects of the pandemic take hold. Meanwhile, 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 jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up.
 
McDonald’s franchise terms probed by Italian regulator: Regulators in Italy plan to investigate the terms and conditions set by McDonald’s in its agreements with franchise operators, according to Reuters. The action follows several complaints that the terms could constitute an abuse of economic dependence. The fast food restaurant operator could face a fine of as much as 10% of its global turnover if it is found guilty by AGCM of breaching Italian antitrust rules. McDonald’s is working with the agency in its investigation, while also saying it is “certain of the correctness of our work.”
 
Retail sales growth slows as rival attractions open their doors: The removal of coronavirus restrictions boosted retail sales last month but growth has started to slow as consumers spent more in restaurants rather than shops, a survey has suggested. The Times reported retail sales increased by 6.4% in the year to July, up from 3.2% last year, according to a report by the British Retail Consortium and KPMG. Although the sector has rebounded sharply in recent months as non-essential shops have reopened, growth is starting to slow now restrictions on the hospitality sector have been removed. The British Retail Consortium said growth was lower than the three-month average of 14.7%. Consumer spending is still driving the economic recovery but households are spreading their money across a broader range of goods and services. Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “Retail sales continued to grow in July, although at a slower rate as the reopening of the hospitality and leisure sectors led to a dilution in consumer spending.”
 
Crate to Plate to join Elephant Park site: Lendlease has announced revolutionary urban farming business, Crate to Plate, has joined Elephant Park, where it will produce more than five tons of fresh produce every year for the sale of which is specifically targeted at restaurants, businesses and residents within its immediate vicinity. By harnessing hydroponic technology and eco-friendly innovation, Crate to Plate grows its produce in purpose-built, sustainable containers, which allows it to fully control the farming conditions. This form of vertical farming means vegetables can be grown locally in urban environments all year round using minimal water and allowing produce to be delivered to consumers within 24 hours of harvest with zero carbon footprint in transporting from farm to customer. As a result, the produce is as fresh as possible and has the highest possible nutrient value – completely free of pesticides and toxic chemicals. Crate to Plate aims to deliver produce only to local residents and businesses, within a half-mile radius of its Elephant Park site. Lendlease intends to extend this innovative process across other sites, including at International Quarter London, the 22-acre emerging neighbourhood in Stratford. Crate to Plate founder Sebastien Sainsbury said: “We’re excited to be expanding to a second location at Elephant Park. At Crate to Plate, we are strongly committed to supplying residents of Elephant Park and the wider Southwark community with the freshest and highest quality, non-GMO food possible. We are proud to partner with Lendlease and look forward to helping them achieve a more sustainable living culture and further sense of community across their developments.”
 
Scottish nightclub owner to wait until 18 September to reopen: The owner of the UK’s most northerly nightclub won’t open the doors to his club until over-18s are double vaccinated. Brian Cardosi, who owns Scotland’s most northern nightclub, Skinandi’s, said: “Yes, we are losing turnover, but better to lose a bit of turnover rather than local people and lives.” He said he would keep the doors shut until 18 September. From 9 August, when Scotland moved to “beyond Level 0”, the legal requirement for social distancing and limits on gatherings were removed – meaning all venues, including nightclubs, could reopen. NHS Test and Protect will still be in operation, however, which has brought fears that rooms full of single-jabbed youngsters could result in hundreds required to isolate. Cardosi has chosen to wait an extra six weeks to open his Thurso nightclub due to Scottish government rules that state people will still have to self-isolate in the case of close contact with someone who had a positive test result – unless they have been fully vaccinated for 14 days, received a negative PCR test and aren’t showing any symptoms of the virus. “Most of my customers will have only had one jab unless they work in an environment that has allowed them to have two jabs early on or they are vulnerable,” he said. “So the chances are that, within the first weekend or two, somebody is going to test positive in there and that means the majority of my customers are going to have to isolate – and, likewise, so are half of my staff. And if you have got a full nightclub, you could be talking about anything between 400 and 700 people having to isolate.

Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking to speak to hospitality-focused sales professionals. The company is working with a client who is changing the way hospitality is run and is keen to appoint a new business development manager (BDM). A spokesman said: “This is the perfect job for a smart, proactive sales professional. You will build long-lasting relationships, turning leads into opportunities and nurturing them through to close. They will also be working closely with the customer access team to on-board, retain, upsell and, ultimately, push revenue growth. The role will focus on building and maintaining a robust sales pipeline, exploring innovative and authentic ways to connect with buyers. It is essential the incoming BDM has proven success nurturing and building strong relationships as well as having strong negotiation and deal-closing skills. The role will require some UK travel, following leads passed from colleagues. The position is based in London, with some remote working available and is paying up to £45,000 base salary, plus strong commission.” If you are keen to find out more, send your CV to Tom@corecruitment.com.
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 

Company News:

Deliveroo hires Amazon executive Devesh Mishra as new chief product and technology officer: Deliveroo has announced the appointment of Devesh Mishra as chief product and technology officer. Mishra will have responsibility for Deliveroo’s engineering, data science, design and product development functions. He will report directly to chief executive Will Shu and will sit on the executive team. Devesh will start at Deliveroo in early September. Mishra joins from Amazon, where he has worked for the past 16 years and held a number of senior roles. Most recently, he has been vice-president, global supply chain at Amazon, overseeing a team of thousands, made up of engineers, data scientists and product managers, operating a supply chain spanning 185 markets. In this role, he has built and operated the world’s most technologically advanced supply chain, using data analytics, predictive technology and machine learning to scale Amazon’s retail and marketplace business. Mishra and his team have leaned heavily on innovation and cutting-edge technology to develop a highly bespoke and automated real-time supply chain management system, allowing Amazon to operate with great efficiency. His team manages a multibillion-dollar inventory, one of the largest inventory pools in ecommerce globally. Before this, Mishra was director for Amazon’s WW Inventory Buying and Sourcing, where he was responsible for more than 200 product lines in nine countries, supporting in excess of $40bn revenue. Prior to Amazon, Devesh spent six years in engineering roles and achieved his MBA from French business school Insead.

Barkby Group reports sales up 97% in July: Premium gastropub operator Barkby Group has said trade across its seven-strong pubs division for July 2021, had been “extremely strong” with sales up 97% on the same period last year. It said its pubs had benefited from pent-up demand and a boom in staycations, with accommodation revenue up 25% on a like-for-like basis, compared with the same period in 2019. Earlier this year, the company entered a new lease at the Ebrington Arms, an award-winning pub located in the Cotswolds, which it began trading on 30 June. It said opening trade was very strong with £23,000 of sales in its first full week. The company said: “The final six-month period of the year was again heavily impacted by covid-19-related restrictions with pubs closed for the majority of the period. Trading restrictions began to ease in mid-April when we reopened all pubs for outdoor food and drink only. Despite a positive opening weekend, poor weather resulted in disrupted trading in April. From 17 May, we welcomed customers back inside with a maximum group size of six or two households. Given the disruption leading up to the summer, the second half of May and June were, overall, a very positive trading period with the business returning to both positive cash generation and profitability for the final quarter of the financial year. Forward order bookings are strong, and we are optimistic of a sustained period of good trade and profitability over the summer months as we benefit from the pent-up demand and UK staycation boom.” Charles Dickson, chairman of Barkby, said: “Since the easing of lockdown restrictions on 17 May, we have seen consistently strong trade across the pub business. The business has returned to positive cash generation. We have expanded our portfolio of high-quality pubs with accommodation to now include the Ebrington Arms in Ebrington, Gloucestershire. We continue to pursue further opportunities to expand the portfolio.”
 
Wetherspoon to close Bristol pub: JD Wetherspoon has confirmed the closing date for one of its Bristol pubs, whose fate has hung in the balance for several years, will be 19 September. Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said: “There will be no redundancies as a result of the closure, with all staff being offered jobs at other Wetherspoon pubs in Bristol. We thank our loyal staff and customers for their service and custom over the years. On occasion the company sells pubs and this is the case here.” The fate of St George’s Hall has long been a matter of speculation. In spring 2019, Wetherspoon revealed plans to sell it after disappointing financial results. The pub was among 16 UK Wetherspoon branches earmarked for sale after those results. There was a U-turn in November 2019, when Gershon said: “There had been an offer to purchase it, but after consideration, we decided to continue to run it as a Wetherspoon pub. All the staff have been told and are delighted with the decision. We trust that our loyal customers will welcome the good news too.” However, Wetherspoon accepted an offer for the pub in May this year, prompting next month’s closure. The buyer is yet to be announced.
 
Daily Mail reports on Gino D’Acampo’s loss-making restaurants: Gino D’Acampo’s loss-making chain of Italian restaurants had to be rescued with a £12.9m bailout even before the covid-19 pandemic hit, The Daily Mail has reported. The newspaper added: “The money was lent from a linked restaurant company owned by the celebrity chef’s co-investors, Iceland bosses Sir Malcolm Walker and Tarsem Dhaliwal. It followed four years of losses, totalling £7.6m. D’Acampo’s restaurant chain was founded in 2015, with an initial branch at Manchester’s Corn Exchange. It has since branched out to eight sites in northern England and Birmingham, promising to be “the best Italian in town”. The 45-year-old’s lavishly furnished eateries promise “crowd-pleasing classics inspired by my travels and what’s in season”. Separately, D’Acampo’s My Pasta Bar business, which has two branches in central London, is £5m in debt. It also appears to have been bailed out by businesses controlled by Walker and Dhaliwal. The My Pasta Bar branch in Leadenhall Market in the City was still decorated with its logos but a sign was hanging in the window, apologising for its closure until further notice due to coronavirus. An identical notice hung in the window of the Fleet Street restaurant. A source said: “As to why Gino’s restaurants have lost so much money, I don’t really know. I would guess the relationship between him, Sir Malcolm and Tarsem Dhaliwal is pretty fraught, given the losses and the fact he’s gone away opening new restaurants with someone else now. The losses must have gone up even more because of the pandemic.” Gino D’Acampo Worldwide Restaurants Limited made losses of £997,000 in 2017, £530,000 in 2018, £2.9m in 2019 and £3.1m in 2020. Accounts for 2020 showed Gino D’Acampo Worldwide Restaurants owed £12.9m to Individual Restaurants – which runs Piccolino and The Restaurant Bar and Grill. The sum is believed to include a bank loan of £7.125m, taken out in 2019.
 
Rekom wins licence for new nightclub in Norwich: Rekom, the new name for the Deltic nightclub business, has been granted a licence for a new venue in Norwich, which it hopes to open next year. It was granted for the former Liquid nightclub in Prince of Wales Road, which it wants to turn into the Atik nightclub. Norwich City Council’s licensing committee granted the licence for the venue last week, although Rekom still needs to secure planning permission for a number of changes to the building. The committee agreed to a licence for the venue from 11am until 4am on weekdays and 12pm until 3am on Sundays, with conditions attached. There were six objections from people living nearby about noise and disturbance, while Green city councillor Ash Haynes, who represents Thorpe Hamlet, also lodged an objection. Separate plans lodged with City Hall are seeking permission for part of the building’s roof to be raised to create a rooftop bar and outdoors smoking terrace. The applicant said it was, essentially, a reinstatement of a former licence for the venue, which operated for more than a decade as nightclubs, including Liquid and Pure, until it shut in 2012. A spokesperson for Rekom, which also runs the next door Bar and Beyond, said: “We are delighted the council has granted us the licence for Atik Norwich, which we plan to open early 2022 and trade four nights a week. The two-room venue will create 50 jobs and help rejuvenate Prince of Wales Road after what has been an incredibly tough time for those working in hospitality, especially the late-night sector. We are now working on plans and design, but we know Atik will bring something different to Norwich and fill a gap in the market for young people to meet, dance and create fun memories.”

Ting Thai Caravan debuts in Glasgow, fourth site in total: Ting Thai Caravan has opened in Glasgow city centre, occupying the former Patisserie Valerie unit on West Nile Street. As part of the application for the city centre unit, owners explained what Glaswegians could expect from the potential new restaurant, commenting: “Ting Thai, which recently launched a third Edinburgh restaurant in Lothian Road to excellent reviews puts its success down to authentic Thai cooking from Ting and Ae Tapparat, who, after many years, cooking in Bangkok’s five-star hotels and restaurants returned to their first love of street food to which head chef Ting has developed his own style.”
 
Social enterprise Fat Macy’s seeks funding for second London restaurant: Fat Macy’s, the social enterprise that exists to help young Londoners get out of hostels and into their own home by training and working in our food businesses, has launched a crowdfunding campaign, as it looks to open a second restaurant in the capital. The company, which was founded by Meg Doherty in 2016, currently operates the Ebury by Fat Macy’s “a mission-driven restaurant serving Middle-Eastern-inspired food” in Pimlico. It is now looking to raise £45,000, of which it hopes to raise £30,000 through crowdfunding platform Crowdfunder, to open a second restaurant on Shoreditch High Street. Brookfield Properties has offered the business a space on the east London road that it can turn into a new restaurant and training academy. The company said: “By opening in Shoreditch, each year we’ll be able to train 100 people and provide a minimum of 20 people with housing deposits to move into their own homes. We’ve had 30 trainees go through our programme and, so far, ten of them have secured a housing deposit for their first flat. We need to raise £45,000 to fit out our training academy and kitchen, and transform a disused building in Shoreditch.” It has so far raised just over £10,000 towards its £30,000 target.

Cricket-based concept Sixes to open third site: Sixes, the cricket-based competitive socialising concept from the founders of Mac & Wild, will open its third site, in Manchester, on 29 August. Founders Calum Mackinnon and Andy Waugh will open the venue at the Corn Exchange on Cathedral Street for its first foray outside of the capital, with more locations in the pipeline. As previously revealed by Propel, the business is backed by a number of former professional cricket players, including ex-England captain Sir Andrew Strauss. It runs two sites in London already – in Fulham and Fitzrovia. Mackinnon said: “The opening of a clubhouse in Manchester – a vibrant city famous for its love of sport – is the perfect next step. Cricket has a rare, unifying quality, capable of connecting people from all backgrounds. We’re combining our love of sport with a passion for quality food and drink.” The sporting element is suitable for complete beginners to seasoned players. The concept uses state-of-the-art technology, from partners Batfast, to scale the level of challenge to suit the batter at the crease. Facilities at the Manchester site include three state-of-the-art nets to hire by the half hour, a champagne bar, a 70-seater bar and dining space, and an open kitchen with robata grill serving British barbecue-inspired favourites, such as “low and slow” chicken wings, house-smoked sausages available by the half-metre, overnight coals sweet potato, vegan burgers, whisky-glazed short rib, bubble and squeak pakoras, mac ’n’ cheese croquettes, smoked chicken Caesar salad and the signature Sixes’ meat volcano. Drinks also include craft ales, wines and cocktails that include Eton Mess, Ashes Manhattan and Sixes’ Fruit Cup and Tea Time. Sixes is also in talks on a site in Oxford.

Zambrero lines up a second UK site: Zambrero, Australia’s largest Mexican quick-service franchise, which donates a meal for every burrito or bowl purchased, is to begin its UK expansion, with an opening in Essex. Propel understands the business, which made its UK debut earlier this summer in Kentish Town, plans to open a site in Loughton next month. The company, which operates more than 200 restaurants globally, said its sites offer “a fresh take on Mexican favourites, a focus on modern superfood ingredients, specially crafted marinades and distinctive sauces”. Through its Plate 4 Plate initiative, Zambrero said its mission is to stop world hunger by donating a meal to someone in need for every burrito or bowl purchased. To date, Zambrero has donated more than 49 million meals via its humanitarian partner Rise Against Hunger. Founded in 2005 by then-medical student Dr Sam Prince, Zambrero offers a fresh, modern interpretation of classic Mexican food.

Black Sheep Coffee lines up further regional openings: London-based speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee is to boost its regional presence with a pair of openings in Glasgow and a further site in Manchester. The circa 35-strong business, which operates four sites in Manchester and one in Oxford, has applied to open two sites in Glasgow, on the former Body Shop unit in Sauchiehall Street, and the Cath Kidston store in Gordon Street. Propel revealed earlier this year that Black Sheep Coffee planned to open its first site in Scotland, in Edinburgh, at the St James Quarter development. At the same time, the business has lined up a fifth opening in Manchester in the corner unit of 2 St Peter’s Square in the city. Last month, the company, which, in 2019, raised £13m in new investment towards its expansion, signed up to take a space British Land’s 155 Bishopsgate development in the City of London. It will also run the reception cafe within the development. Earlier this week, the business announced it would open a second site in Wembley, at White Horse Square. It is to further strengthen its presence in the capital, with openings lined up near Baker Street station and King’s Cross/St Pancras stations.

Cocotte confirms fifth London site for South Kensington: Healthy rotisserie chicken concept Cocotte has confirmed it will open its fifth restaurant in London, in South Kensington. The brand will open in a 1,765 square foot site that was formerly occupied by Squirrel at 11 Harrington Road on 23 August. It joins Cocotte’s line-up of restaurants in Notting Hill, Shoreditch, Parson’s Green and Queen’s Park. Cocotte founder Romain Bourrillion said: “We have wanted to open a Cocotte site in South Kensington since day one and we are very glad to finally be able to open one of our restaurants in this beautiful suburb. I lived in this area for many years and we hope to bring something that our neighbours will love and be a part of the local community.” George Collison at Colliers represented the landlord, APML Estate, in the deal, while Marc Rogers of MKR Property, acted for Cocotte.

Little Farm to launch ninth site in London: London-based healthy food shop and restaurant Little Farm is to open its ninth site in the capital next month, in the City. The Bojidar Savkov-founded business will open on the former EAT site in Cannon Street. It comes after the brand recently opened on the former Caffe Nero site in More London and in the Broadway Shopping Centre in Hammersmith. Osman Semerci, founder of private equity firm EMEA Capital, made a “significant” investment in Little Farm in 2019. The investment marked Semerci’s first foray into the foodservice industry after more than two decades of experience in international investments. Founded by Savkov, Little Farm offers breakfast and lunch made with ingredients sourced directly from local farms.

Panera Bread merges with Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros Bagels: US fast casual brand Panera Bread, which is backed by JAB Holdings, is merging with Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros Bagels to form an overarching company, Panera Brands, that is said would “build an unrivalled fast-casual platform”. The combined company will have almost 4,000 units and 110,000 employees across ten countries. Panera currently has 2,100 locations throughout the US, while Einstein Bros Bagels has 1,005 and Caribou Coffee has just over 700. The company added Panera Bread would share its “strong digital infrastructure, industry-leading loyalty programme, robust food innovation pipeline, world-class supply chain and access to extremely well-capitalised franchise owners”. Panera chief executive Niren Chaudhary will lead the new group, while also continuing as head of Panera. Einstein Bros chief executive Jose Alberto Duenas and Caribou chief executive John Butcher will report to Chaudhary while continuing to lead their brands. Chaudhary told Restaurant Business: “We believe Panera Bread, Caribou Coffee and Einstein Bros Bagels together will leverage each company’s unique expertise and services to build an unrivalled fast-casual platform with a tremendous runway for growth.” JAB Holdings also backs Pret A Manger.

Devon hotel sells off £1.5m asking price: The Fox & Hounds Country Hotel in Eggesford, Devon, has been sold by estate agent Christie & Co off a £1.5m asking price. Set on the banks of the River Taw on a six-acre site, the hotel is situated in the heart of the stunning north Devon countryside, among the scenic landscape of the Tarka Trail. The main hotel features parts dating back to the 1800s and comprises 22 en-suite bedrooms, a luxury two-bedroom self-catering tree house, restaurant, bar and its own fishing boat. The Fox & Hounds Country Hotel has been owned by Nick and Tara Culverhouse since 2008 and came to market in order for the couple to spend more time on their other successful business, the Mill End Hotel in Chagford. Since purchasing the Fox & Hounds Hotel, the couple have worked hard to not only improve the fabric of the building but the business’ trading performance, establishing several profitable income streams, including accommodation, weddings, events and the restaurant. As a result, the Fox & Hounds has earned itself an excellent reputation and won numerous awards, including “Best Dog Friendly Hotel Devon 2018” in the Luxe Pets Guide. Nick Culverhouse said: “We have had 14 amazing years at the Fox & Hounds, and it has been a real roller coaster of a ride and none more so than the past 18 months. A special thanks to all the brilliant people we have worked alongside during this time. We are sure that Matt and Helen (new owners) will take the hotel on to the next level and we wish them every success in the future.”
 
Will Alexander to open second Otis & Belle: Chef Will Alexander will launch his second Otis & Belle artisan bakery, shop and cafe in Stow-on-the-Wold on 11 August, following the launch of his first venture in Moreton-in-Marsh in October last year. Otis & Belle will continue to be a strong advocate for the health benefits of sourdough bread. This will be baked on the premises, alongside Viennoiserie, patisserie goods and British classics. The varied menu will range from sausage rolls, Cornish pasties and sandwiches, cinnamon buns, cruffins, seasonal tarts, Opera cake and the signature Paris-Brest dessert. In addition, Otis & Belle will sell products from local and renowned suppliers, such as Valrhona chocolate, organic flour from Shipton Mill and local charcuterie. Carefully selected barista-style coffee will also be on offer. Will Alexander said: “I’m so excited to announce the opening of Otis & Belle in Stow-on-the-Wold. Talbot Court is a beautiful place, and I just can’t wait to join the incredible community of independent businesses and welcome our new customers.” 
 
Duelling piano bar concept Jukeboxers to launch in Birmingham: Duelling piano bar concept Jukeboxers is set to launch its debut site in Birmingham on Friday, 27 August. Following a £250,000 investment, Jukeboxers is set to open beneath the Utilita Arena in King Edwards Road, and features two back-to-back duelling grand pianos and an in-house band. The concept will see guests tasked with creating the perfect party playlist by requesting songs to be played via the Jukeboxers app. Husband and wife duo, Samuel Marks and Shannon Spreen, who are the founders of Jukeboxers, have refurbished the venue and created 12 jobs, from bar staff to musicians starring in the in-house band. Spreen said: “We are so excited to be launching Jukeboxers this summer. The concept is something that is totally new and exciting for the city. We have taken inspiration from our travels and performances over in the US.” 

MJMK to launch permanent site for AngloThai in the new year: Bar operator MJMK – the team behind piri piri brand Casa do Frango – is set to launch a permanent site for AngloThai, the concept from husband and wife team John and Desiree Chantarasak. Following a series of supper clubs and festival appearances, The Chantarasaks will open their new home in central London at the start of next year. According to the Evening Standard, it will be a continuation of their current half-British, half-Thai concept – inspired by John Chantarasak’s own background – where ingredients from the UK are used to cook Thai dishes, served alongside a list of low-intervention, natural wines put together by Desiree Chantarasak. Before AngloThai’s launch, the couple are expected to host a series of small suppers, dubbed AngloThai Baan, at their own home in south London. AngloThai has previously offered meal kits for customers to cook at home. A recent pop-up offered dishes such as Gai Yang – garlic and coriander grilled poussin with fish sauce caramel glaze and sweet chilli vinegar “nahm jim”; Mu Ping – whisky and soy-marinated Ibérico pork skewers with roasted chilli and tamarind “jaew”; and Sai Ua – red curry pork sausage with smoked aubergine “nahm prik” relish, pork scratchings and vegetables.
 
Trampoline park secures £300,000 loan to buy new kit for site destroyed by fire: RedKangaroo trampoline park has secured a £300,000 loan to buy new equipment and an inflatable park section at its original site that was destroyed by a fire in 2018. The Coventry-based business has been given the funds from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund (MEIF), provided by The FSE Group, Debt Finance Fund and backed by the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). RedKangaroo, which operates sites in Coventry, Reading and Nottingham, has created 40 jobs with the reopening of its 32,500 square foot site in Exhall, on the border of Coventry and Warwickshire. RedKangaroo founder Paul Wrightman said: “Following a fire that put the park out of action in 2018, our re-fit was put on hold last year due to coronavirus. This funding has enabled us to complete the work on the park and create an exciting new area to offer even more variety.” Chirag Mistry, investment manager at The FSE Group, which manages the MEIF Debt Finance Fund, added: “Due to the current restrictions placed on foreign holidays, I am sure RedKangaroo is likely to be a popular venue during the six-week summer holidays.”

Newcastle-based leisure group gets go-ahead for £600,000 project at County Durham hotel: Newcastle-based leisure group STR Enterprises is set to invest £600,000 into one of its hotels after being given the go-ahead for expansion. The family-owned business, which owns and operates a number of hotels across the north east, has received planning permission from Durham County Council for a major upgrade to its Honest Lawyer Hotel in Croxdale Bridge, County Durham. STR Enterprises is planning to remodel the interior to create a new function room and bar, while also making changes to its restaurant. The company – which also operates The Victoria Hotel and Point Cottages in Bamburgh, The Quayside Exchange in Sunderland, The Centurion Bar in Newcastle and Centurion Park, at Wallsend – said the first phase of work would start soon. Director Jason Sanderson told Business Live: “As a hospitality company, we’ve always been interested in unique buildings whose potential hasn’t been realised for one reason or another but could be achieved with investment and great service. We, therefore, purchased the hotel, previously known as the Bridge Inn, in 2003, and renamed it the Honest Lawyer after a popular New Zealand hotel. However, to stay ahead in the hospitality sector, you have to be very self-critical and, in truth, we had already begun to look at refreshing the venue and its offer prior to the onset of the pandemic in 2020.”

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