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Fri 3rd Sep 2021 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Pring – we have the firepower to look at small group acquisitions: Nick Pring, co-founder of Urban Pubs and Bars, which earlier this week entered into partnership with Davidson Kempner and Global Mutual to support and accelerate the growth of the company, has told Propel this will include the ability to acquire small groups. Pring said the 21-strong company now had “substantial backing” to push forward with its expansion plans, including adding “one or two sites” under its Salt Yard format in the capital, and more openings under its experiential, sports bar concept Bat & Ball across the country. On the expansion of Bat & Ball, which currently operates a site at Westfield Stratford, Pring said: “We are looking at sites which are about 8,000 square foot-plus in size, and therefore we believe there is an opportunity to pick up ex-nightclub sites around country, alongside former retail units, for the concept.” Pring also said despite more operators looking to open in London “villages”, he was confident the company had the right strategy and experience to secure sites “perhaps others may not consider and make them work”. The company currently operates three “City Bars”, including Fleets, which it opened earlier this summer on the former All Bar One site in Ludgate Hill. A fourth, Nest, is due to open in Bishopsgate, opposite Spitalfields Market, later this month. Pring said he was confident central London trading levels would come back, but “maybe not until well into next year” and securing “rent-free periods” would come into their own. Salt Yard, which Urban Pubs and Bars acquired in 2018, consists of four sites offering Spanish and Italian tapas. The first new site under the Salt Yard umbrella is due to open later this year. Pring said since its acquisition, the company has evolved Salt Yard into more of a bar concept, without losing the “exceptional food offer” it inherited, allowing it to become more an all-day dining proposition, and encouraging consumers to graze rather than rely on “lunch and dinner occasions”. Urban Pubs and Bars was founded in 2014 by Pring and Heap following the sale of their prior business, Realpubs, to brewer and retailer Greene King. Its ethos focuses on “acquiring the best sites and recruiting exceptional operators who are passionate about food and drink”.

Industry News: 

Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows sector losses of £6.1bn: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £6.1bn being reported by 208 companies. However, a further 200 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1.55bn. The next edition will include 408 companies, an increase of 62 companies compared with the August edition. The 408 companies produce total turnover of £30.6bn. The next edition of the Blue Book will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday, 10 September at midday. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive two other databases – the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each 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. In this week’s Premium Opinion column, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday (3 September) at 5pm, sector investor Luke Johnson sets out the case for alcohol and examines the defence against those who would prohibit or curtail its sale and consumption while Mark Wingett looks at another big month ahead for the sector. 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.

Propel’s face-to-face events return on Tuesday with the Multi Club Conference and Summer Party: Propel’s face-to-face events schedule returns with a bang on Tuesday (7 September) with the Multi Club Conference and Summer Party. The highly-anticipated event takes place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Oxford Belfry and has been sold out for many weeks. The conference will focus on “new directions and new ideas” and will feature a line-up of speakers from exciting new growth brands and older established brands with new ideas hatched during lockdown. Speakers include Yasha Estraikh, associate partner at leading investment firm Piper, which has worked with Loungers, Flat Iron, Turtle Bay, Hickory’s Smokehouse and Be At One; Zonal group product director Alison Vasey; Tim Wilks, founder of Lane7, the bowling alley, ping pong and karaoke concept; Azzurri Group chief executive Steve Holmes; Junkyard Golf managing director Sam Jones; Honest Burgers co-founder Phil Eeles; WatchHouse founder and chief executive Roland Horne; Andrew Stones, partner at sector investor Imbiba; PizzaExpress group chief executive David Campbell; and Boom: Battle Bar chief executive Elliott Shuttleworth. There will also be two panel sessions. The first – focusing on the concepts looking to make their mark in a post-covid world – sees Propel insights editor Mark Wingett talk to Maragume Udon chief executive Keith Bird, The Bok Shop co-founder Jamie O’Mara, Maray co-founder Tom White and Lime Squeezy Thai Kitchen founder Pranee Laurillard. The second – where the sector goes from here – features UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls; Charlie McVeigh, Drafthouse founder, sector investor and The Breakfast Club chairman; leading industry commentator Paul Chase; and Rum Kitchen managing director Mike Parnham. In the evening will be the summer party, with barbecue, quiz, live band and more. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “It’s great to be back and I think people are looking forward to being able to catch-up again face-to-face.”

Propel Friday Wrap video series continues with Kate Nicholls: Propel continues its new Friday Wrap video series on Friday (3 September) at 3pm. The series, which is sponsored by innovative staffing solution provider Stint, sees Mark Stretton, former sector journalist and now head of sector PR firm Fleet Street Communications, and Propel insights editor Mark Wingett discussing this week’s key issues facing the UK’s hospitality sector, with a leading sector operator or expert. This week they are joined by Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, to look at another crucial period for the sector in the run up to the end of the year, the standout issues that need to be resolved, those coming over the horizon, and how well the industry is positioned to aid the recovery. 

BBPA – pandemic has shown true merits of leased and tenanted pub model: The pandemic has shown the true merits of the leased and tenanted pub model, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has argued. The trade body made the remarks in its response to the consultation on proposals to amend the pubs code in which the BBPA said making wholesale changes to the code could undermine the relationship between pub company and tenant or lessee and would be unnecessary and obstructive. The BBPA said through the pandemic, pub-owning companies provided £285m in reduced or cancelled rent to tenants who couldn’t trade because of lockdowns, or whose trade was reduced because of restrictions. In the same period, these pub-owning businesses also provided additional support such as refunds on spoilt beer, covid signage and personal protective equipment, meaning on average their leased and tenanted pubs received £27,000 in support. In comparison, independent pubs and those leased from commercial landlords would generally not have had access to anywhere near the same level of support during the pandemic. Although the BBPA said it does not believe wholesale changes should be made to the code currently, it does believe small changes could be made to improve operational elements of the code and address anomalies with the original drafting. In particular, the trade body has called for a longer negotiating period on Market Rent Only agreements before referrals to arbitration to avoid unnecessary costs for both pub owners and tenants and lessees and further delays. For these same reasons, it does not support proposals for parallel rent assessments, which it argues would create confusion and add extra unnecessary burdens for pub-owning businesses while not delivering any meaningful benefit to prospective tenants. A BBPA spokesman said: “The partnership between tenant or lessee and pub owning business has never been stronger. The value and support received on a tie agreement has really come into its own during covid. It is vital the pubs code supports the long term viability of the model.”

Sector operators urged to support inaugural National Hospitality Day: Sector operators are being urged to support the inaugural National Hospitality Day on Saturday, 18 September. The event is being launched “as a celebration of the UK’s dynamic and resilient restaurants, hotels, pubs and bars, along with the suppliers that support them”. National Hospitality Day aims to support a coalition of industry charities by encouraging venues to host events showcasing the best the sector has to offer. Operators already signed up include Kent-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame, Scottish brewer and retailer BrewDog and Azzurri Group-owned ASK as well as chefs Angela Hartnett and Tom Kerridge. National Hospitality Day is being organised by sector charities Hospitality Action, Springboard, The Drink’s Trust and The Licensed Trade Charity. Funds raised will go towards these charities who all support the hospitality industry and its workers. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “Our venues have been through hell over the past 18 months and the majority are still struggling to get back on their feet, even with restrictions now lifted. National Hospitality Day will rightly be a great celebration of everything we love about our sector, reminding customers of the intrinsic role hospitality plays in the social fabric of communities – and helping to raise money for our fantastic industry charities.”

McDonald's franchisee in Oregon seeks to recruit 14 and 15-year-olds: A branch of McDonald's in Oregon, US, is calling on 14 and 15-year-olds to apply for jobs at the restaurant amid a shortage of fast food workers. The Biddle Road franchise in Medford put a banner outside its shop two weeks ago, urging younger workers to apply. According to reports, it has seen a spike in applications since making the offer, which complies with labour laws. It comes as fast food and other outlets across the US struggle to fill vacancies despite restrictions easing. Heather Kennedy, operator of the Medford restaurant, told Business Insider such staff shortages were “unheard of” in her family's 40-year history operating McDonald's franchises. Initially she tried to attract more workers by raising the restaurant's minimum wage to $15 (£10.50), but did not spark enough interest. However, Kennedy said she had received more than 25 new applications since she opened her doors to under-16s. McDonald's declined to comment on the move but told the BBC it was sharing best practices for hiring with all its franchisees. McDonald’s added franchisees had a range of measures to tackle staff shortages including better pay, sign-on bonuses, and new benefits like backup childcare. McDonald's also recently announced it will be raising hourly wages to reach an average of $15 per hour at company-owned restaurants across the country.

New fine dining restaurant delivery service launches in London: A new fine dining restaurant delivery service has launched in London. Yolk is designed to offer a service “akin to having a personal chef” with users assured of “an on-demand, fine dining experience that matches the standards of the capital’s best restaurants”. Yolk has partnered with a selection of London’s high-end restaurants including Michelin-starred Benares; Crazy Pizza, the concept from Billionaire Life that is owned by Italian businessman and former Formula One boss Flavio Briatore; and American steak restaurant chain Smith & Wollensky. The inspiration for the name Yolk comes from the egg itself. The yolk is the nutrient-bearing portion of an egg, with its primary function to supply food. The rest of the egg forms the delivery method, protecting the core, the meal – just as the new Yolk service intends. Yolk’s delivery bikes use silicone heat mats to maintain food at exact temperatures. Adjustable trays are configured to suit the size of the dish ordered and the flexible heaters are connected to the bike’s battery to keep it at the constant temperature chosen by the chef as it leaves the kitchen. Founder Bernardo Braga said: “During lockdown, food delivery services became more popular than ever. In reality though, too often the exemplary cuisine being produced by London’s best chefs and restaurants is let down by the final step of bringing it to your door. At Yolk we are determined to change this.” The app allows users to browse by area, cuisine or even by a specific restaurant and also remembers previous orders.

Company News:

High-class cafe brand EL&N appoints Michael Logos as group MD: High-class cafe brand EL&N has appointed Michael Logos as its new group managing director, Propel has learned. Logos is formerly chief executive of Presman & Colard, the UK and UAE-based franchise and licensing consultancy. Previous to that he was a quick service restaurant divisional director for Retail Food Group and chief executive of Crust Gourmet Group. His appointment comes as the business plans to expand across the Middle East. As previously reported by Propel, the company opened its first international site in the Galleria Mall, in Qatar, earlier this summer. The business recently launched a site in The Avenues Mall, Kuwait, and has an opening lined up in Dubai’s DIFC. In a video on YouTube announcing plans for expansion, founder Alexandra Miller said the company is looking to take EL&N to “all corners of the globe”. Propel understands EL&N is also close to securing a site in Paris. Earlier this summer, the company opened its ninth site in London, in Soho. The group opened its latest site in Wardour Street, on the site of the former Printroom unit.

Jollibee lines up former Burger King site for Glasgow opening: Jollibee, the Philippines fast food group, has lined up a former Burger King site in Glasgow for its Scottish debut, Propel has learned. The company, which will open its seventh UK site next week, in Reading, is set to open on the former Burger King site at 59 Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow. The fried chicken brand, which operates about 1,200 sites worldwide, plans to be in “every major city in the UK”, and is planning a further 15 to 20 openings here next year. The brand, which plans to open ten new sites in 2021, has openings lined up in Edinburgh, Newcastle and Nottingham. Its expansion in Europe will include its first restaurant in Spain, which will open later this year in Madrid. Earlier this year, the company said it would invest £30m to open 50 sites in the UK by 2025, and Parkinson told Propel the company hopes to open 20 next year, with sites in Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Brighton, Exeter, Norwich and Southampton set to come online. The business expects to invest almost £1m per site. 

Tim Martin – reports on beer supply issues at Wetherspoon inaccurate: JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin has said a number of reports regarding beer supply issues at the company have been inaccurate. The company said: “For example, a BBC headline said ‘Wetherspoon runs low on beer amid driver shortage’ and quoted the singer Billy Bragg who said ‘Here’s a lament for Tim Martin, whose Wetherspoon chain is struggling with the realities of the Brexit for which he campaigned so loudly’. In fact, it is inaccurate to say ‘Wetherspoon runs low on beer’ because beer shortages applied only to a minority of the 23 products sold on draught by the majority of Wetherspoon pubs. As of Wednesday (1 September), when the BBC report was issued, the overall amount of beer Wetherspoon had in stock was about the same as two years ago. These limited shortages followed threatened industrial action in recent weeks by drivers and warehouse staff acting on behalf of Heineken which, Wetherspoon understands, included an overtime ban. As a result, some Wetherspoon pubs ran out of Heineken products and there was a knock-on effect on other brands. Therefore, the impression given by the report in the BBC article regarding shortages was highly misleading.” Martin also highlighted how “strenuous efforts are being made to link supply issues to Brexit”. He said: “In this case the main link relates to industrial action – Brexit gave the power to the UK government to allow more HGV drivers in, should it choose to do so. There are supply chain issues in many EU countries following the pandemic. It has been widely reported there are shortages of 400,000 HGV drivers in Germany, France and Spain, for example, and Germany, in particular, is struggling with major worldwide supply chain issues. As an aside, it is interesting to note a recent BBC report on McDonald’s running out of milkshakes hardly mentioned Brexit and its report on shortages at Nando’s did not mention Brexit at all. By the same token, a BBC report, a fortnight ago, on beer supply issues in Scottish pubs did not mention Brexit either. However, the BBC report on Wetherspoon refers to Brexit in the headline.”

Deliveroo appoints global property director for Editions, lines up four new sites: Deliveroo has appointed David Ives, formerly of Primark and Cushman & Wakefield, as its new global property director, Editions, Propel has learned. Ives joins the delivery firm after seven years at Primark, including the past four years as head of new markets. He joins Deliveroo as it looks to add four delivery kitchen sites to its current Editions estate in the UK. The company has recently been granted permission to open its first Editions site in Scotland. It will convert a vacant commercial building in Glasgow’s Scotland Street, near West Street, with the premises to be split into nine kitchen pods. Propel revealed earlier this summer Deliveroo had applied to open an Editions site that will house five kitchen units in Ormside Street, Southwark, and it planned to open a site in Bristol’s Eastgate Road later this year. It is also understood the company has applied to open a new Editions site in Randall Road, Vauxhall. Propel reported earlier this year Deliveroo was seeking leasehold sites at regional locations and also in central and Greater London for its Editions brand. At the start of this year, Deliveroo said it planned to expand into circa 100 new towns and cities in 2021 across the UK as well as more than double its number of Editions sites globally.

Provenance Inns & Hotels – covid has provided opportunity to implement several key strategic changes to move to a ‘more robust, profitable and sustainable business model’: Yorkshire-based Provenance Inns & Hotels has reported the covid pandemic has provided the company with the opportunity to implement several key strategic changes to move to a “more robust, profitable and sustainable business model”. These include centralised food and drink menus to drive “consistently higher quality” and a staff review that saw some employees move from salary to hourly paid. As a result, labour margin has reduced to 31.5% from 46.9%. The company, which operates seven sites, has also removed the majority of discounts it offered “to allow the business to perform profitably on its core offer”. A “significant” programme to “modernise and refresh” all its sites was also undertaken as well as a review of its marketing and customer feedback strategy. The company stated: “In conclusion, the national lockdown due to covid-19 gave us a unique opportunity to review the business fully and implement several key strategic changes to move to a more robust, profitable and sustainable business model. While covid is likely to remain a risk for some time to come, the medical advances that are being made in the wider world and the business' ability to manage those risks means we are better placed than some of our competitors to operate in a post-covid environment. The rural location of all of our inns, with large outdoor spaces, also make the business model appropriate and relevant for the future.” Provenance Inns & Hotels provided the update as it reported turnover fell 28% to £3m for the year ending 30 August 2020, compared with £4.1m the year before as a result of its sites being shut for three and a half months “during the most significant trading period of the year”. Pre-tax losses narrowed to £638,000 from £1.5m the previous year. 

Puttshack signs on Scottsdale site: Indoor mini golf experience Puttshack, which earlier this spring completed a growth capital round of $60m (£43.2m) led by Promethean Investments, has further added to its US openings pipeline, after securing a site in Arizona. The company has signed a new lease in Scottsdale Quarter, a high-end multi-use development, with an opening expected in late 2022. The Scottsdale location joins Puttshack's growing list of upcoming US locations, including Oak Brook (Chicago), Miami, Boston, Houston and Nashville. Puttshack opened its first US site in Atlanta in April. Puttshack plans to open Oak Brook this autumn, followed by Miami, Boston and Houston in 2022, and Nashville in 2023. It said it is planning to continue to announce multiple new US locations soon that plan to open in 2022. Puttshack chief executive Joe Vrankin said: "Scottsdale's young, dynamic and active community makes it a priority market for us, and we look forward to being a key tenant in Scottsdale Quarter. As the leader in tech-forward social entertainment, we can't wait to expand Puttshack's presence in Arizona and other top-tier markets across the entire US." The company said the new funding would continue to support its growth, bringing the experience to more cities in the US, UK and around the world. In the UK, it operates sites in Bank and White City in London as well as Intu Lakeside in Essex. The company is globally headquartered in Chicago.

The Cinnamon Collection to open in UAE: Fine-dining Indian restaurant group, The Cinnamon Collection, will open its first international outpost, in Dubai in late November, in partnership with luxury waterfront resort, Park Hyatt Dubai. Vivek Singh’s The Cinnamon Collection Dubai is a two-year multi-brand residency, during which time The Cinnamon Collection’s three distinct dining concepts – The Cinnamon Club, Cinnamon Kitchen and Cinnamon Bazaar – will each debut in Dubai. The residency will start with Cinnamon Bazaar, before in spring 2022, the restaurant will transform into Cinnamon Kitchen. The Cinnamon Club arrives in autumn 2022 as the third and final part of the residency. Singh said: “We are delighted to be working with Park Hyatt Dubai and excited to be able to bring all three brands to Dubai. This year marks the 20th anniversary of our first restaurant, The Cinnamon Club, so it feels a fitting moment to extend our brand reach overseas. We look forward to welcoming a new group of diners when we open our doors.”

Deliciously Ella founders buyout investors: Ella and Matthew Mills, the couple behind plant-based brand Deliciously Ella, have announced they have bought out all of the company's shareholders. The husband and wife said they had bought out their investors to make the company a “family business” and had been both an “extraordinarily emotional moment” and a “daunting” one. In a note on Instagram, Ella Mills said: “We bought our investors out of our company, which means that as of a few minutes ago, Deliciously Ella became a fully owned family company again.” The couple said “raising money from our bank to make it happen comes with a lot of personal risk, but we believe with every fibre of our being that this is the right step for us all”. Earlier this summer, Ella Mills launched her first restaurant in Mayfair. Plants by Deliciously Ella opened in Mills’ former cafe and deli site in Weighhouse Street. Mills previously ran three deli and cafes sites in the capital, closing the last one in March 2020, blaming the coronavirus crisis.

Wendy’s closes in on Brighton and Camden sites: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, is closing in on adding further sites to its UK openings pipeline, in Brighton and Camden. The company, which earlier this week opened its second site in the UK since it made its return to these shores in June, in London’s Stratford, has begun seeking staff for sites on the former Gap in Western Road in Brighton, and for the ex-Royal Bank of Scotland site in Camden High Street. 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. Last 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. Savills is aiding the brand’s expansion in the UK.

Banwell House Pub Company acquires Bude hotel: Banwell House Pub Company, led by Toby Brett, has acquired the An Mor hotel in Bude, Cornwall, for an undisclosed price. The hotel is believed to have been originally constructed in the 1800s and extended in the 1930s and 1970s. It now comprises 27 en-suite bedrooms, a two-bedroom apartment, public bar, restaurant, guest lounge and gin school room, as well as a large enclosed outdoor trading area with outdoor bar and lawned gardens with panoramic views. Since purchasing the hotel in 2014, the previous owners carried out significant repairs and improvement works to the building, transforming it from a dated coaching hotel that traded as the Hartland Hotel to a contemporary destination hotel. Banwell House Pub Company was established in 2010 for buying and repositioning freehold properties. The group currently operates seven pubs in the south west. Brett said: “The growth of Cornwall was happening before the pandemic and looks set to continue. An Mor is a little different from our other businesses, and the most significant purchase to date. We plan to move the hotel further towards the family market, carry out some scheduled maintenance and see what the next 12 months brings.” Christie & Co acted on the deal.
Christie & Co is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Megan’s confirms Dulwich Village opening: London-based, cafe and deli concept Megan’s has confirmed it will continue its expansion plans with an opening in Dulwich Village, in November. The opening on Wednesday, 3 November will take the group to 14 sites, double the size of its estate since going into the first lockdown last March. It has opened four sites this year so far, and is also set to open a second site in Chelsea before the end of the year. Amy Harris, head of marketing at Megan’s, said: “We are thrilled to be opening a restaurant in the hamlet in Dulwich Village as it is such a beautiful area and really feels like a homely neighbourhood – exactly our kind of vibe. We really hope to be the heart of the community and we look forward to getting to know our new neighbours and their pups.” Megan’s is going through a period of expansion with openings planned in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and in Weybridge, Surrey, for next year.

FB Holdings to open fifth site for fried chicken and chips concept Jaqks: FB Holdings, which is behind the rapidly growing Dirty Wild Wings concept, is opening a fifth site for its fried chicken and chips concept Jaqks. The restaurant will open in Temple Row in Birmingham on Monday (6 September) and will be Jaqks biggest to date. Marketing manager Deni Sharankova said: “We have been working increasingly hard to expand our brand presence in the city and when this location came up next to McDonalds we could not resist taking it on. We have big expectations for this and you won’t be disappointed.” Other brands within the FB Holdings portfolio include Indian street food establishment Indico, which currently operates in The Mailbox in Birmingham and Shirley; and the most recent, Bulls Street Burgers, serving-up classic burgers and sides.

Prime Steak & Grill Restaurants founders and MD to launch poutine concept: The founders of upscale concept Prime Steak & Grill Restaurants and its managing director Tracey Matthews are set to launch a new concept. House of Poutine (HOP), which will celebrate the comfort food dish of the Canadian province of Québec, will open in St Albans in mid-September. The 1,000 square foot site at Half Moons Yard in Chequers Street will span two floors and have 40 covers inside and a further 20 on a covered exterior. HOP will offer an all-day service daily with its menu also available for takeaway, delivery and click and collect. Poutine dishes will range between £6.50 to £10 per portion each with a selection of gourmet toppings, such as confit duck with hoisin gravy with cucumber and spring onions; and buffalo chicken with Frank’s hot sauce. Vegetarian and vegan options will also be available. Prime Steak & Grill Restaurants operates three sites – in St Albans, Beaconsfield, and Chandler’s Cross. 

Entrepreneur Tom Snellock to launch Clays in November: Clays, an indoor virtual clay pigeon shooting experience, will open its first site in the City of London at 55 Moorgate, in early November. As revealed by Propel in July, Clays will offer a “fully digitised clay shooting experience using world-class technology, alongside an offering of enticing food and cocktail menus”. Spanning two floors, the 11,000 square foot venue will comprise 12 “pegs” or booths, which can be booked by groups of up to 20 people for a 90-minute session. Clays is the brainchild of Tom Snellock who has a background in green energy and had only ever raised a shotgun twice in his life before being inspired to create Clays. A spokesman said: “It was on a chance trip to a battery powered energy farm, where Tom struck on the idea of Clays. Tom has a background in successfully growing companies, taking tech startup Limejump, where he was one of the earliest employees, and growing it to a point where it was acquired by Shell. He then used his capital from this venture to invest into Clays, where he crunched his numbers and saw that he could make this work, before embarking on an ambitious funding round. Eighteen months later and [it] now has more than 70 investors and incorporated plans for further sites internationally, over the next five years." Snellock added: “The idea for Clays started around the game and bringing this fun activity to more people in a beautiful setting, but the beating heart of the company is the data and technology. We’ve built a foundation of technology that will allow the business to scale and allow the great people we have hired from the hospitality industry to focus on improving the customer's experience. The other aspect of the business that we’re really proud of is the sustainability, from our decision to pick a meat supplier that is carbon negative to our zero to landfill waste disposal we hope to be a force for good.”

Rick Stein strengthens board: The restaurant company operated by Rick Stein has appointed Richard Banks as chairman of its board of directors. Mark Hixon also joins the board as non-executive director. Banks, formerly chief executive of UK Asset Resolution, is recognised for the successful restructuring of the failed banks, Bradford & Bingley and Northern Rock in the wake of the financial crisis. Hixon is the managing director of Consulting Associates Worldwide, with 30 years’ experience in management consultancy, specialising in improving business performance through the management of people, processes, systems and cost. He has a long-standing relationship with Stein as, for the past ten years, the business has provided breakfasts to guests at his boutique hotel in Padstow. Despite recent challenges, the restaurant group has continued to report unprecedented growth in impact and reach – developing e-commerce and innovating lines in restaurant kit delivery boxes, as well as navigating its restaurants across the UK through the uncharted waters of the coronavirus pandemic. Stein said: “We are delighted to be able to appoint Richard and Mark as chairman and non-executive Director of our board. We are excited both, with their wealth of financial and business experience, should find our company sufficiently dynamic and interesting to offer their guidance for the next few years.” 

Bread Ahead to take over Southwark Cathedral cafe space in six-month residency: Independent bakery and baking school Bread Ahead is to take over the cafe space at Southwark Cathedral in a six-month residency. The cathedral is close to Borough Market where Matthew Jones opened the first Bread Ahead in 2013. The residency, which begins on Monday (6 September), is set to showcase a number of new menu items. The cafe will be open daily from 8:30am to 6pm serving breakfast and lunch, with a seasonal menu that will highlight the best of British produce. There will be freshly baked patisserie alongside salad, soup and light sandwiches. A curated list of wine and beer, as well as hot and cold drinks, including coffee, will also be on offer. Located within the Southwark Cathedral grounds, the site will seat up to 60 guests with a courtyard having space for a further 60 people. The Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, said: “We are looking forward to working even more closely with these amazing bakers who have been such supportive friends already with our annual Lammas Day service and their participation in so many community events.” Bread Ahead operates five sites across London, three of which have baking schools.

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