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Tue 31st Aug 2021 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Caring plans all-day, fine-dining, Mediterranean-influenced restaurant in Mayfair’s Mount Street: Serial sector investor Richard Caring is planning to open an all-day, fine-dining, Mediterranean-influenced restaurant in the former Porsche Garage site in Mayfair he secured late last year. Propel understands the venture at 1-3 Mount Street will be “of a similar standard with similar clientele” to Caring’s Scott’s restaurant, located at nearby 20 Mount Street. While the menu and interior identity of the new restaurant are to be confirmed, the cuisine will be Mediterranean-influenced, leaning towards a Greek theme, with circa 230-covers. Propel revealed last year Caring was in talks to take the space, with rumours it could be a new location for his Le Caprice restaurant, which closed in 2020. Earlier this month, it was revealed Caring was planning to open a further site in Manchester, following the success of his Ivy Asia concept in the city. As revealed by Propel last month, Caring is understood to be in talks to take the Armani Shop space above Australasia in Manchester’s Spinningfields Square. The 15,000 square foot store closed earlier this month. Local reports suggest the space is to become a second site for Sexy Fish, the high-end restaurant concept Caring debuted in Mayfair in 2015. However, Propel understands if Caring is successful in securing the site, he may launch a new concept at the site, one also with a Greek influence has been mooted. Earlier this summer, Caprice Holdings, which is backed by Caring, opened its first international site. The company launched Nōema, a restaurant and bar, on the Greek island of Mykonos. Caring recently confirmed he is to take on the former Revolution site in Richmond to open a second site for his Scott’s concept. As Propel revealed in May, Caring has taken on the site in Whittaker Avenue for a Scott’s on the River concept he has been toying with for a while.

Industry News:

Second edition of The New Openings Database to be sent to Premium subscribers today: The second edition of The New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, will be sent to Propel Premium subscribers today (Tuesday, 31 August), at midday. It will show the details of 258 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches. The database shows the details of which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location. There will also be a website link to the businesses so you can find out more about them. It is published on a monthly basis. Premium subscribers also receive access to two other databases. The latest Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, was sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (27 August). The database contained 64 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed up to 2,016. The 417 sites run by those 64 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 60,133 sites. Premium subscribers also received a 12,000-word report on the new businesses added. 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. Premium subscribers also receive the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. There are currently 351 companies featured in the database. 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.

FSB – business rates are regressive and outdated: The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is calling for a review of business rates to go ahead in the autumn, describing the tax as “regressive and outdated”. The UK’s largest business group has written to the government to highlight steps that should be taken to protect small businesses, spur economic recovery, and secure green investment as part of a business rates review that is set to move forward in the autumn. In a letter to ministers, FSB national chair Mike Cherry said the business rates system was “indefensible” and is stopping small companies from investing in post-covid expansion plans. It called for a series of changes. These include tax exemptions for investments in solar panels, insulation, ventilation, recycling facilities and bike sheds — which could increase the value of a property and therefore its rates bill; relief for childcare providers; an increase to the threshold for small business rates relief from £15,000 to £25,000; and more frequent revaluations that are “light-touch and transparent”. Cherry said: “The government is absolutely right to overhaul a business rates system that often lets online retailers operating from remote warehouses off the hook while punishing small businesses that serve as community hubs. This is a levy that hurts small firms trying to do the right thing. If you put solar panels on the roof to aid your transition to net zero, or install ventilation to support the well-being of your staff, the Valuation Office Agency will advise your local authority that you should be paying more in business rates. As we look to aid the small business community’s transition to net zero, and employee safety and well-being as we come out from the pandemic, this simply cannot be the right approach.”

Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland ‘considering’ vaccine passports for clubs and pubs: Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she is “actively considering” a passport-style scheme for premises such as pubs and nightclubs. Sturgeon made the remarks amid record case covid case rates in the country but insisted she was not currently considering a circuit breaker lockdown. But on vaccine passports – similar to the policy planned for England from the end of September – Sturgeon said the Scottish government was “actively considering” a move to “vaccine status certification” or “covid status certification” using recent test results. She said a new app due to be launched in the coming weeks – initially talked about as being for international travel – would allow “domestic” use too. She said: “I would not, I would think, be in favour of vaccine certificates for access to essential services that people would have a choice over. But places where it’s optional, we all have a choice whether we go to – it may be an added layer of protection and mitigation, not a silver bullet, but an added layer that will be worth considering.” Asked if nightclubs and pubs were among the “optional” places she mentioned, Sturgeon said: “Yes, the kind of places you’re talking about of course come into these categories, but I don’t think it’s fair just to single out. Nightclubs have had a particularly torrid time – they’ve been closed longer than any other setting.”
 
Contactless spending limit to increase to £100 in October: The spending limit on each use of a contactless card is to rise from £45 to £100 from Friday, 15 October. The maximum amount was increased from £30 to its current level at the start of the pandemic, and plans to raise it further were announced in the Budget. Almost two-thirds of all debit card transactions are made via the tap-and-go technology. But academics have warned raising the limit could increase crime. When contactless card payments were introduced in 2007, the transaction limit was set at £10. Cards were generally used in this way in place of small change when buying snacks, papers and occasional groceries. The limit was raised gradually to £20, then to £30 in 2015. The pandemic accelerated a move away from cash, with shoppers often being encouraged to use contactless in many stores to reduce close contact between staff and customers. It meant the government and industry hurriedly increased the limit to £45 and announced plans to raise it again to £100. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Increasing the contactless limit will make it easier than ever to pay safely and securely. As people get back to the high street, millions of payments will made be simpler, providing a welcome boost for retailers and shoppers.” However, there are concerns the next increase will prove tempting for criminals to step up efforts to steal cards. A report for University College London's Jill Dando Institute of Security and Crime Science said: “Raising the contactless card limit to £100 would likely make card theft more attractive, increasing a broad range of acquisitive crimes including snatch theft of wallets and purses, hold-up robberies, and home and vehicle break-ins to find cards that can be used fraudulently.”
 
London mayor ready to work with Westminster Council to maintain alfresco ‘lifeline’ for hospitality: London mayor Sadiq Khan has said he is “ready” to work with Westminster Council and local residents to maintain traffic-free roads in Soho. Cars have been barred from much of the capital’s oldest entertainment hub since the end of the first covid-19 lockdown, with bars and restaurants setting up on the pedestrianised streets. But Westminster City Council has announced it is set to end the scheme on 30 September, bringing to an end what many Londoners regard as one of the most positive changes to have come out of the pandemic. Khan said “traffic-free roads have been a lifeline to hospitality businesses in Soho”. He added: “As London recovers, I’m determined to see bars and restaurants flourish once again, and I stand ready to work with Westminster and the local community to ensure they do.” The streets affected by the ending of the temporary road closures include Frith Street, Greek Street, Dean Street, Moor Street and Old Compton Street. John James, managing director of Soho Estates and a member of the Soho Business Alliance, said removing the area’s alfresco permissions would send the streets back into effective lockdown. He added: “History tells us hospitality can be a leading force in driving economic recovery. Soho needs alfresco to survive, and we simply wouldn’t be here without it.”

Business lunch bookings receive boost after Freedom Day: Working lunches have bounced back after more office workers returned to the City following Freedom Day, according to new data. Reservation platform TheFork has revealed a 26% jump in lunchtime bookings following 19 July, when the government dropped its work from home message and the final lockdown rules and indoor capacity limits were lifted. Commuters to the capital were the most eager for a business lunch with London topping the list for bookings ahead of Birmingham, Windsor and Brighton. Nationally, there was a 53% spike in 3pm bookings with office commuters opting for later lunches above breakfast meetings. There was also a 19% increase in brunch bookings with mid-morning meetings favoured over breakfast ones. TheFork managing director Patrick Hooykaas said: “With restaurant bookings for business brunch and colleague lunch bookings on the rise, it’s a positive sign commuters are returning to the cities, revisiting their favourite haunts, and beginning to resume old habits post-pandemic, and we look forward to seeing this continue over the coming months.”

Chicago files lawsuits against DoorDash and Grubhub for engaging in ‘deceptive business practices’: The City of Chicago is suing Grubhub and DoorDash alleging the delivery services “engaged in deceptive practices to prey on its affiliated restaurants”. Reports in the US state the lawsuits claim both DoorDash and Grubhub “advertise order and delivery services from unaffiliated restaurants without their consent, leaving restaurants to repair reputational damage and resolve consumer complaints”. According to the City of Chicago, both companies advertise delivery services for restaurants without their agreement, hurting the businesses’ reputation when customers are unhappy about the cost or service. City investigators also found both companies charge higher prices for items than restaurants set on their own menus and charge more in total fees than initially disclosed to customers. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement: “It is deeply concerning and unfortunate these companies broke the law during these incredibly difficult times, using unfair and deceptive tactics to take advantage of restaurants and consumers who were struggling to stay afloat.” Meanwhile, a spokesman for Grubhub said the allegations are “baseless” and “categorically wrong”.

Starbucks staff in US seek to form union: Fifty Starbucks workers in New York are trying to form a union, which would be the first in the US for the coffee company if successful. Last week, the group of workers in the Buffalo area publicly announced their union organising drive and the formation of its organising committee, Starbucks Workers United, in a letter to Starbucks chief executive Kevin Johnson. None of the more than 8,000 Starbucks locations in the US are unionised. Alexis Rizzo, one of the founding members of the organising committee, has worked at Starbucks for six years, since she was 17 years old. She emphasised the union drive was an effort to improve a workplace she enjoys working in. She told The Guardian: “We’ve been called Starbucks partners and we want to become real partners, to be able to have a voice to make our job better and to make our customers’ experience better.” Rizzo and several other workers emphasised chronic understaffing, lack of seniority pay and communication problems between workers and corporate as some of the issues workers seek to resolve through organising a union. She added: “We’re the ones who are the face of the company doing this job every single day. We know better than anyone what we could do to make it better, not just for ourselves, but for our customers as well because their experiences are suffering. We really do love and care for our stores deeply, and we just want to make them a better place to work and a better place to go to.” A Starbucks spokesman said: “While Starbucks respects the free choice of our partners, we firmly believe our work environment, coupled with our outstanding compensation and benefits, makes unions unnecessary at Starbucks. We respect our partners’ right to organise but believe they would not find it necessary given our pro-partner environment.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking for a head of recruitment for an entrepreneurial hospitality brand. The position, based in London, is paying up to £70,000. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “This role will lead the talent attraction strategy, influencing senior stakeholders and ensuring purpose, vision, values and goals are at the forefront when attracting and appointing new staff in the UK and Europe. The incoming head of recruitment will be accountable for reporting on key recruitment metrics and analytics, driving and championing the diversity and inclusion agenda. They will also be committed to coaching and influencing stakeholders to raise the profile of talent diversity, partnering with inclusive platforms and measuring the success of their approaches. Additionally, the role will provide hands-on recruitment advice and support to senior leaders in their role of ‘hiring manager’ to recruit specialists and leaders into their teams.” Anyone interested can email Gemma@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 

Company News:

Gail’s lines up five more openings, rent levels appear to be stabilising: Tom Molnar, chief executive and co-founder of Gail’s Bakery, has told Propel rent levels now appear to be stabilising – but at lower prices to before the pandemic. Molnar said more “sensible” deals were allowing the business to continue its growth. Gail’s, which has just opened in the Buckinghamshire town of Beaconsfield for its 71st outlet, has five more openings lined up. The company will launch in Kew, south west London, on Friday (3 September) having secured a former bank in Station Parade. That will be followed by a site in Sevenoaks, Kent, later in the month with Gail’s having signed for the ex-Phase Eight women’s clothing store premises in Blighs Court. Gail’s is also set to extend its footprint in London with sites in Finsbury Park and Paddington while the business has also secured premises in Cobham in Surrey. Molnar said: “We’re finding rents are now stabilising but at a level that attracts us and makes it affordable. A lot of properties we are being offered are former banks. There’s still a reasonable amount of supply in the market.” In June, Molnar told Propel that Gail’s, which is backed by sector investor Luke Johnson, had seen “strong interest” as it looks for a new investment partner to help drive it forward. He said that process was “still ongoing”. Gail’s was founded in Hampstead in 2005 and is run by Molnar and managing director Marta Pogroszewska.

Ole & Steen secures The Strand and Chiswick sites: Danish baker Ole & Steen is set to further add to its presence in London, with openings in The Strand and Chiswick. Propel understands the 13-strong business will open a site at 351-353 The Strand on a corner site opposite Waterloo Bridge. The 36-cover site will open on Monday, 27 September. In addition, Ole & Steen has confirmed it will open in Chiswick at the end of October on a site formerly occupied by GAP. This new store will have seating for 47 customers inside with 16 seats outside. In the same month, the business plans to finally reopen its site in Oxford’s Westgate scheme. Ole & Steen UK managing director Lee Nixon told Propel: "We've loved welcoming customers back into our bakeries over the summer and we'll be finishing 2021 by welcoming more customers as we open new bakeries. We also will launch our autumn menu on Tuesday, 14 September, which is sure to add some new favourites including seasonal porridge and soup, along with extending our vegan offering. Our recent partnership with Too Good To Go also confirms our commitment to reduce waste – so we're looking forward to a busy end to the year. We're also delighted to be able to finally welcome back customers in Oxford who have been extraordinarily patient.”
Ole & Steen features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which has recently been updated for Premium subscribers. Ole & Steen has turned over an average of £10.9m in the past four years. The Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, and ranks 351 companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors and now includes Propel insight editor Mark Wingett’s “Propel Pick” – his pick of the companies well placed to grow in the post-pandemic era. 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.

Archie’s to double up in Birmingham: North west-based burger, shakes and waffles concept Archie’s is to double its presence in Birmingham. Propel has learned Archie’s, which was founded in 2010 by brothers Amer, Imran, Asim and Irfan Rafiq, is to open at the ex-Caffe Nero site in the city’s Lower Temple Street later this year. The eight-strong group already operates a site in Selfridges, in the city’s Bullring scheme. Founded in Manchester, the company operates five sites in its home city, plus restaurants in Liverpool and Leeds. 

Lina Stores lines up opening in the City: Delicatessen brand Lina Stores is lining up its first site in the City of London, Propel understands. It is understood the White Rabbit Projects-backed company is planning an opening in Bloomberg Arcade. White Rabbit Projects backed Kym’s, chef Andrew Wong’s restaurant at the scheme, which closed last year. Earlier this summer, Propel revealed Lina Stores was in talks to take the former Sourced Market site in Wigmore Street. Lina Stores, which recently opened its first site outside the UK in Shibuya in Tokyo, currently operates restaurants in London’s Soho and King’s Cross as well as its original delicatessen in Brewer Street.

Heineken injects £38m into pub estate: Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars is investing £38m to benefit 700 local pubs across England and Wales by the end of 2021. The move will create an estimated 500 jobs. As part of the programme, almost 80 pubs will be transformed with major makeovers costing between £125,000 and £400,000 each. Star Pubs & Bars said every scheme will be bespoke and tailored to the pub and the community it serves. The company added the revamps will make the pubs more “comfortable and stylish” inside and improve beer gardens. Better quality food will be introduced, which is typically expected to account for 30% of sales, as well as good coffee and premium spirits, wine, lager and cider. The programme brings Heineken UK’s total investment in the Star Pubs & Bars estate since January 2020 to £73m and builds on the £62m in rent reductions during the pandemic. Star Pubs & Bars managing director Lawson Mountstevens said: “Many people have rediscovered the joy of their neighbourhood pub between lockdowns over the past year, and are opting to stay local. This investment responds to that demand giving communities quality pubs on their doorsteps. We’ve spent £62m on rent cuts to keep our pubs afloat during the pandemic. The pandemic has shown the resilience of the great British pub and especially the leased and tenanted model. We’re committed to building on that support with refurbishments, so that pubs around the country thrive for the long term.”

Hawksmoor to open long-awaited New York site next week: Hawksmoor, the upmarket steakhouse chain, will make its long-awaited international debut, in New York, next week. After more than five years and one aborted attempt, the company will open a site in the United Charities Building, steps from Manhattan’s Gramercy Park, on Wednesday, 8 September. The restaurant was due to open last March until the outbreak of covid scuppered those plans, but now the business is days away from making founders Will Beckett and Huw Gott’s dreams of opening a restaurant in New York a reality. Writing in Propel Premium’s Diary section, insights editor Mark Wingett said: “I expect I speak for everyone in the UK hospitality sector when I wish the Hawksmoor co-founders and everyone attached to the business, good luck with the last few days of preparation and the long-anticipated launch. It can’t think of many better businesses to be flag bearers for the UK’s hospitality sector across The Pond.” Earlier this month, it was reported Hawksmoor was working with Berenberg, the stockbroker, to gauge potential demand among City fund managers for a possible initial public offering. Hawksmoor’s plans are understood to be at an early stage and a flotation is among a number of avenues under consideration. The Graphite Capital-backed steakhouse concept is to open its first London restaurant in four years this winter. The company will open a restaurant and bar in a floating pavilion in the docks of Wood Wharf, a new part of Canary Wharf. Beckett and Gott launched the first Hawksmoor restaurant 15 years ago in Spitalfields, east London. The business has grown to include six restaurants in London, one in Manchester and one in Edinburgh.

Wendy’s opens second UK site: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, has opened its second site in the UK since it made its return to these shores in June, with a launch in London’s Stratford. The company, which returned to the UK with an opening in Reading, opened a site over the weekend at the front of the Stratford Shopping Centre at 52 Broadway. It is the first multi-floor dining room for Wendy’s in the UK. The company plans to open in Croydon, Romford and Oxford by the end of the year. Earlier this month, Propel revealed Wendy’s is planning to open a site in Brighton. Propel understands the brand has applied to take over the Gap store in the city’s Western Road. Earlier this month, the brand signed up Reef Kitchens as its first franchisee in the UK. The company said it had signed a development commitment with Reef to open and operate 700 delivery kitchens over the next five years across the US, Canada and the UK. Wendy’s said it would build on its successful test of eight delivery kitchens that have already opened in Canada. The company expects Reef to open about 50 delivery kitchens in 2021 in those three regions, with the remainder being opened between 2022 and 2025. Chief executive Todd Penegor said the company was very encouraged by the early results it is seeing from its return to the UK. He added: “We have a strong pipeline of company restaurants with several more planned for this year and have signed up our first franchisee with Reef Kitchens, which is planning to open a handful of delivery kitchens this year in the UK.”
 
Mojo reports like-for-like sales up 70% on 2019 levels as it prepares to launch in Sheffield for sixth site: Bar group Mojo has reported like-for-like sales are up 70% on 2019 levels as it prepares to open its sixth site, in Sheffield. Mojo said it had demonstrated a steady acceleration in profitability throughout 2019 and despite covid-19 related hindrances such as staff shortages due to enforced and recommended isolation and ongoing shortages in the supply chain still affecting the business, Mojo “continues to go from strength to strength”. Mojo launched in Leeds in 1996 and now has bars across the north – in Harrogate, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Liverpool with Sheffield launching next month. Director Martin Greenhow said: “Despite many stumbling blocks due to covid-19, I’m delighted Mojo has reported a 70% increase in like-for-like trading when compared with our 2019 figures. 2020 was a well-documented disaster for our industry and I’m thrilled to be able to grow the group and its success even further in 2021. The hospitality industry was one of the industries that was hit the hardest by covid-19, the various lockdowns and the new rules and regulations but despite this we’ve managed to deliver a hugely successful return to normal operations in 2021. We’re opening our sixth bar in Sheffield shortly and it’s great to be adding this to our success story. We look forward to continuing our expansion in the near future.” The Sheffield site will be in the former National Union of Mineworkers building in Holly Street. Set over two floors, the 4,400 square foot premises will provide 350 covers with additional seating on the ground floor and first floor terrace.

Flight Club plans Cheltenham opening: Flight Club, the darts concept owned by Red Engine, is planning to open its first town-based site, in Cheltenham. The eight-strong concept has applied to open a site in The Brewery Quarter. Nikki Kontarines, asset manager for The Brewery Quarter, said: “We can confirm Flight Club has expressed an interest in The Brewery Quarter. We hope we will be able to announce further good news imminently about the opening of this extremely exciting brand.” Earlier this month, Flight Club opened a site in Bristol for its eighth UK venue. Located in Corn Street, the venue is home to seven oches, a total capacity of 200 and a bar with bookable tables for drinks. Flight Club said it “blends the nostalgia and warmth of a British pub with the energy and excitement of a fairground in its atmosphere and decor”. The brand is set to open sites in Dublin, and Perth in Australia. Flight Club is also opening a third US site, in Las Vegas, with its licensed partner State of Play Hospitality.

202 Kitchen lines up Edinburgh and Newcastle openings: 202 Kitchen, a restaurant concept inspired by the “trapbox” trend, which opened its first permanent site, in Manchester, earlier this summer, has lined up openings in Edinburgh and Newcastle. The company, which earlier this summer, said it was eyeing opening ten outlets across the UK before growing internationally, is set to take on the former Red’s True Barbecue site in Newcastle’s Eldon Square. 202 Kitchen is also understood to have lined up the former Laura Ashley unit in Edinburgh’s George Street. 202 Kitchen is the brainchild of Leon Beckford, who launched the concept in Birmingham based on serving comforting soul food piled up in a metal box. Trapbox began life with amateur cooks creating cultural dishes that were packed into a box and showcased on social media, with some selling it to their followers. Inspired by the trend, Beckford wanted to bring it to life with professional chefs alongside a cocktail menu while creating a “social media-friendly atmosphere” and has hosted pop-ups in Birmingham and Manchester over the past two years. Earlier this summer it opened a 6,000 square foot eatery in Manchester’s Spinningfields, and launched a UK-wide search for sites in regional cities. Advised by KLM Retail, it is in active discussions on sites in Cardiff, Leeds and in Essex.

Castlebrooke Investments in £8m Proud Embankment deal: A property investment firm led by former Capital & Counties executives has acquired London nightclub Proud Embankment for £8m. Castlebrooke Investments has taken a 17-year lease on 8 Victoria Embankment, the entertainment venue that plays host to Proud Cabaret. The site has 20,000 square feet of nightclub space and a late licence. The long leasehold from Westminster City Council has 136 years unexpired and is let to Proud Embankment until 2038. The deal represents a net initial yield of 9.83%. Castlebrooke Investments director Simon Gibbs said: “8 Victoria Embankment is a great asset with all the fundamentals of the modern-day leisure venue combined with an attractive risk-adjusted entry basis. We have strong conviction that, as the various vaccine programmes roll out globally, London’s office occupation and international travel volumes will swing back to historical levels, allowing the wider West End leisure sector to thrive again.” Castlebrooke has tapped several former Capital & Counties executives to spearhead deals in central London. Mark Sheehan, of Coffer Corporate Leisure, is believed to have acted on the sale.
 
The Real Greek hits 20 mark with Norwich opening: Fulham Shore-owned The Real Greek has opened a site in Norwich. The outlet has opened in Chantry Place in the former Giraffe premises and the restaurant is fully booked for the next fortnight. The Norwich restaurant is the 20th Real Greek to open in the UK and the only one in East Anglia. Earlier this month, Fulham Shore chairman David Page told Propel the company is paying rents, on average, that are 40% less than pre-covid levels for new sites. He also revealed two thirds of the properties it is looking at, having identified 150 sites for its medium-term plans, are former retail units. From its current base, Fulham Shore has identified more than 125 more locations for Franco Manca in the UK and 30 more for The Real Greek. This will bring its total estate to more than 230 restaurants.
 
Liverpool takeaway boss jailed for £100,000-plus VAT fraud: A Liverpool takeaway boss who failed to declare his true income to evade a tax bill of more than £100,000 has been jailed for two and a half years after an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Bahram Mansouriboroujeni, 60, of Phythian Close, Kensington, Liverpool, is the director of Deep Pan Express in Scargreen Avenue, Norris Green. He did not register for VAT and failed to declare his true earnings in his self-assessment tax returns. In total, he evaded paying £103,551 in VAT and income tax between February 2016 and October 2019, the investigation found. Mansouriboroujeni admitted to a charge of failing to declare the true extent of the monetary turnover of his takeaway business at Liverpool Crown Court in June. He was sentenced to 30 months in jail at the same court last week.
 
Yorkshire Wildlife Park reports ‘solid’ results despite covid impact: The company behind Yorkshire Wildlife Park has reported “solid” results despite the enforced closure of the attraction for four months last year due to covid-19. The park was established in Doncaster in 2008 by founder directors Steve Minion, John Minion, Cheryl Williams and Neville Williams. It is currently home to more than 450 animals and in excess of 70 different species. Accounts for parent company Wild Life Group showed turnover of £11.9m for the year ending 30 November 2020, compared with £13.5m the previous year. Pre-tax profit was £661,000, down from £2.86m, but Ebitda of £5.17m was close to equalling the previous year's figure. Visitor numbers were 568,000, against 759,000 in 2019, but this was achieved despite the closure of the park for four months, a reduction in school visits and social distancing limiting capacity. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors said the numbers were a testament to the "growing appeal" of the park. Yorkshire Wildlife Park has also received government assistance through a reduction in VAT, furlough scheme and business rates relief. The directors added: “Providing we do not suffer a further lockdown, we remain optimistic this year's results will show real growth.” In April, the park opened its new front entrance, central entertainment hub and new animal reserves. It has also made investments in services and car parking, among a host of improvements. Construction work is ongoing on other projects, including a new bistro, 104-bedroom hotel, 2,000-seat theatre and conference centre, and additional shops. In September 2020, Yorkshire Wildlife Park secured a £15m investment from BGF to support the expansion of the park with the aim of doubling its size and significantly increasing the annual visitor numbers from 750,000 to 1.5 million. Lloyds Bank also committed an £18m debt facility.
 
Fridays to open second 63rd+1st site, in Glasgow next month: Fridays is opening its second 63rd+1st site, in Glasgow city centre next month. The restaurant will open on Friday, 24 September in Bothwell Street, with a capacity of 135 people inside and 24 outside. With a menu inspired by Manhattan's street food scene, 63rd+1st will be decked out in a club interior and plans to be open all day. The concept is named after the street that the brand hails from. Fridays chief executive Robert B Cook said: ”63rd+1st represents the coming together of people, culture, tastes and styles – inspired by more than 50 years of unique heritage it is a cocktail bar and restaurant where great things will happen. To say we are excited to bring the second 63rd+1st venue to Glasgow would be an understatement. We have always felt the love and loyalty from our Scottish guests and we can’t wait for them to join us and be spoilt by the 63rd+1st experience.” 

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