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Thu 9th Sep 2021 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Black Sheep Coffee plans more than 30 new openings, including first UK franchise site: London-based speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee is set to enter a new chapter of its plans to become a national brand in the UK, with more than 30 new openings planned for the next seven months, including its first domestic franchise site. Gabriel Shohet, co-founder and co-chief executive of the 43-strong brand, told Propel the business had 35 sites either signed, being built or in legals, with plans to have them all open by the end of next March. This will include ten openings in Scotland, comprising five in Edinburgh, four in Glasgow and one in St Andrews. Meanwhile, the business is planning to open in Leeds, Liverpool, Guildford, Colchester, Birmingham and Chelmsford. It is also planning to add further sites in Manchester, London and Oxford. The company, which recently opened in Windsor, has openings lined up in the capital in Bishopsgate and Paddington. The business recently opened in the former Caffe Nero site in Elizabeth Street in the capital, and Shohet said seven of the group’s pipeline sites are also ex-Nero units, plus one ex-Starbucks site. The company is also understood to have signed its first UK franchisee for an opening in Birmingham, with another one set to be signed for west London. The business, which in 2019 raised £13m in new investment towards its expansion, is currently raising funds through its final EIS raise, with £3.4m out of a target of £5m currently secured. Shohet told Propel: “After only opening one site in 2020, at Battersea Power Station, it is great for the business and the teams to be back on the expansion and openings trail. The next year will see a new chapter for the business as we look to build a national presence and provide a point of difference to more traditional coffee brands.” On the launch of a franchise offer in the UK, he said the business was focused on working with “mum-and-pop and husband-and-wife teams”. Earlier this summer, the company, which has two franchise sites in the Philippines, opened its first French site, in Paris. Shohet said the site was performing well, “considering it is in a heavy office and tourist location”. He said the brand’s franchisee in France was looking at more sites but “building our presence in our domestic market” was the key priority for the business, and overseas expansion should not become “a flag planting exercise”. 

Industry News:

16 of 62 new companies being added to updated Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book turning over in excess of £25m: Sixteen of the 62 companies being added to the updated Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, are turning over more than £25m. The next edition of the Blue Book, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (10 September) shows the 62 companies are turning over £1.6bn. The Blue Book will now feature 408 UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators with a total turnover of £30.7bn. The Blue Book has begun to reflect the economic damage of the pandemic with 200 companies reporting a profit and 204 reporting losses. 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. 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.

Tax on jobs comes at worst time, say businesses: Small businesses have rounded on the government over its plans to raise national insurance contributions (NICs) and a tax on dividends, warning the move could damage recruitment and entrepreneurialism. On Wednesday evening (8 September), MPs approved the 1.25% increase on both employee and employer NICs from next year. This will lift the tax on employment from 22.7% to 24.6% and will widen the gap with the self-employed, whose NICs rate will increase from 9% to 10.25%, reports The Times. Self-employed traders, many of whom missed out on pandemic support, also will be hit by a 1.25% increase in tax on dividends. The new health and social care levy will generate a total of £14bn a year, which falls to a net £12bn of income as some will be paid by public sector employers. About £11bn will come from NICs and £600m from the increased tax on dividends. Business groups said the timing could not have been worse as they faced difficult decisions next month when the furlough scheme ends. Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, said the levy “will be a drag anchor on jobs growth at an absolutely crucial time”, with businesses carrying “huge debt burdens”. About two-fifths of all NICs are paid by employers, with the rest borne by staff. Employer NICs comprise the largest single tax on big business, accounting for 25.7% of all taxes paid in 2019 by the 100 biggest British companies, according to PwC. The NICS announcement had been expected, but the additional 1.25% to the tax on dividends was not. Confederation of British Industry president Lord Bilimoria said: “This is out of the blue, so investors, savers and businesses will need time to consider the full implications. Such investment plays a critical role in supporting businesses and enabling growth across the whole economy.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is looking to appoint a non-executive/chair to support and work with a UK lifestyle hotel group. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The business is looking to grow and is working with a boutique hospitality investment house to delivery significant scaling while maintaining its character and reputation. It is looking for someone who can mentor the founders, assist a little with brand and property, and offer advice on expansion. This is not the traditional hotel operation but a quality, lifestyle-led business that has scope for growth in multiple avenues. We are looking for someone who has ideally founded and scaled a hotel concept in the UK and beyond.” Anyone interested can email Lara@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member

Company News:

Liberation Group like-for-like UK managed sales up 26%, paid £31.2m for Wadworth package: Channel Islands and West Country-based brewer and retailer Liberation Group has reported a 26% increase in like-for-like sales across its managed pubs in the UK in the 13 weeks to 28 August 2021, compared with the same period in 2019. The Jonathan Lawson-led company said its overall 55-strong managed estate achieved like-for-like sales growth of 2% during the period with the “exceptional growth” in its UK pubs offset by declines in the Channel Islands. Growth in its UK-based Butcombe managed pub estate was generated from sales of food (up 52%) and rooms (up 83%). The business, which is backed by Caledonia Investments, said its 64-strong tenanted estate generated an 8% growth in volumes with Jersey and Guernsey outperforming the UK. Tenants have been supported with rent discounts during the pandemic, which moved to 100% of contracted levels in all three geographies by June. The company paid £31.2m for the 21 pubs it acquired from Wadworth & Co last December. Liberation said these pubs have performed ahead of expectations since reopening. The company said: “We have an investment strategy for each pub and have so far developed six of the acquired pubs. Pleasingly, the strong performance has been in both the developed sites and uninvested sites. The acquired pubs added 143 rooms, which have contributed to accommodation revenue growing to 14% of UK managed pubs total revenue.” The business said more than 30 development projects are planned for the next 12 months. The most significant investments will see development into food-led pubs and inns including into the estate of 250 rooms. In the year to 30 January 2021, the company said the impact of the pandemic had reduced turnover by 23% to £68.3m. It said strong working capital improvement and proceeds from the disposal of underperforming assets offset the underlying Ebitda loss of £0.8m and exceptional costs of £1.7m to achieve “positive cash flow generation before capex investment and acquisitions”. The group said net external debt of £38.5m at January 2021 was consistent with January 2020, while the value of freehold assets increased £27.3m to £128.1m. Its pubs and inns and brewing and distribution divisions achieved positive Ebitda of £0.7m and £1.7m respectively during the year. Group chief financial officer Simon Hope said: “We enter the second half with stronger liquidity than at the end of January and we are well placed to fund our ambitious development plans and M&A strategy when the opportunities arise.”

Cornish Bakery reveals double-digit like-for-like growth, plans to double portfolio to 100 sites: Growing independent chain The Cornish Bakery has revealed it is experiencing double-digit like-for-like sales growth compared with pre-pandemic, and has ambitions to more than double the number of its 48 UK outlets. Led by former property developer Steve Grocutt, the Cornwall company has forecast taking £20m through its tills and launching at least ten of those new outlets in 2021-22. New bakeries have recently opened in Chichester, Lymington and Dorchester – with sites at Bakewell, Rye and Plymouth Barbican to follow in the near future – and Grocutt aims to bring the estate up to 100 branches within the next five years. He said: “The pandemic may have caused us to take a temporary pause from the front-line business. However, it’s actually fuelled our hunger for determined growth of all the right kinds, in all the right ways. Within our bakeries, sales are in significant growth, with like-for-likes way up compared with 2019 and the summer of 2020. Our enhanced menus are delivering extremely strong average transaction growth, and we’re leading our industry with our commitment to low waste due to our innovation in our ‘recycled’ products. Our new mail order option also elongates the year and provides our holiday customers with a way to get their Cornish Bakery hit at home whenever they want.” Cornish Bakery was helped through the pandemic by a £1m loan, provided through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme by Clydesdale Bank, which allowed the company to reopen its then 45 bakeries in June 2020, having been forced to close them and place staff on furlough three months earlier. The funding also allowed the company to launch its online mail order and a click-and-collect service.

Wingstop UK secures Wood Green site: Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out US chicken brand Wingstop across the UK, is set to open a site under the concept in Wood Green, north London, Propel has learned. Wingstop is set to open a site in Capital & Regional’s The Mall scheme. The company also has openings lined up in the Cabot Circus scheme in Bristol, and at the former Bella Italia site in Manchester’s Piccadilly Gardens. The brand opened its 13th UK site last month, in the Bullring, Birmingham, It currently operates seven dine-in sites in the UK, plus six delivery kitchen units. In May, US chicken brand Wingstop, which has more than 1,500 locations worldwide, announced a minority investment in its UK franchisee Lemon Pepper Holdings. The company said the investment followed strong performance in the UK and underscored the brand’s confidence in the market as a key growth lever for global expansion.

Pho builds openings pipeline, to make Scotland debut: Pho, the TriSpan-backed Vietnamese street food restaurant group, has secured three new sites, including its first in Scotland, Propel understands. The 31-strong company will open a site in Edinburgh’s St James Quarter in November. It will follow this up with openings in The Brewery Quarter, Cheltenham, and in Carlton Street, Nottingham, early next year. The company recently launched in Lincoln, with the opening there believed to have been “very successful”. Pho is also thought to be in talks on a site in Plymouth. Founded by Stephen and Juliette Wall in 2005, TriSpan acquired a significant majority stake in the business at the start of last month, in a deal that is thought to have valued the business at just under £40m. The founders and management maintained a significant interest in the company with Patrick Marrinan, promoted from finance director to managing director, to lead its next phase of growth. Robin Rowland, TriSpan European operating partner, became chairman of the business. On the Cheltenham site, Stephen Wall said: “We are looking forward to opening in Cheltenham. The Brewery Quarter is the perfect location for us, with like-minded neighbours such as Mowgli and Cosy Club, and we hope the people of Cheltenham will be as excited about us coming to their town as we are about our launch.” Hubbox, the south west-based burger and barbecue concept led by Richard Boon, will open in The Brewery Quarter next month, while Flight Club plans to open there next year. 

Mayfair members’ club Mortons sold out of administration: London-based members’ club Mortons, which was previously owned by Mayfair tycoon Marlon Abela, has been sold out of administration with plans to reopen next year. Administrators for the venue have sold the building, fixtures and goodwill out of administration after the company ceased to trade in 2020. Graham Bushby and Nick Edwards, of RSM, were appointed as joint administrators of the private members’ club in Berkley Square in January last year. Directors of the business decided to appoint administrators after the club struggled with cash flow pressure. Abela was behind Mortons as well as two-Michelin star restaurant The Square and Kyoto-inspired Michelin star restaurant UMU London, all of which RSM were appointed to last year. The Square ceased to trade while UMU was previously sold out of administration, with the business and some 20 jobs saved. Abela told The Telegraph earlier this year he was on the hunt for “something with more seats, more volume and more casual dining”. Mortons was originally built for the chancellor of the exchequer in 1823. In recent years, the four-storey venue has been a hit with celebrities. Bushby said: “This deal will secure the future of an iconic Mayfair building, which hopefully will be reopened after refurbishment in 2022 – helping to maintain the vibrancy of Berkeley Square as the industry unlocks post-covid.”

Oakman plans £2.2m venture to return Ludlow pub to its historic use: Oakman Group has applied for planning permission to turn the former George Hotel in Ludlow, most recently a PizzaExpress restaurant, back into a pub. The £2.2m scheme also includes the back storage area of a neighbouring unit, giving the pub extra room for a covered outdoor dining area, which the group believes is essential in making the plan viable. Based in the Shropshire town’s Castle Street, the PizzaExpress restaurant has been closed since last year. A planning statement by Walsingham Planning, agent to Oakman Group, said: “The pub industry and public expectations have developed such that pubs now struggle to survive on bar sales alone. The additional seating covers are therefore required to meet business needs and secure the pub’s long-term viability. The applicant plans to invest heavily into this development to the tune of about £2.2m. The additional covers provide financial security for this level of investment.” It is also hoped the project will benefit other food and beverage outlets in Ludlow, with the statement concluding: “Bringing the building back into use as a pub will help draw people into Ludlow town centre and result in increased dwell time and linked spending within the area. Local businesses will benefit from its use, and the development will help attract additional investment into the town centre. The proposed development would create a number of jobs – estimated to be 25 full-time equivalents – with the requirement for bar staff, waiting staff, kitchen staff and management.” The plans will now be decided by Shropshire Council.

Byron and Pasta Evangelists among nine restaurants at new Editions site in Bristol as Deliveroo launches first kitchen in three years: Deliveroo have opened its first delivery-only site in more than three years, since its Manchester launch in 2018. The Editions site is based at Purdown in north Bristol, which allows customers to order food from nine restaurants. Deliveroo pioneered the creation of delivery-only “Editions Kitchens” in April 2017 and now has 18 sites across the country, with more than 120 kitchens representing 60 restaurant groups. The restaurants in the Purdown site are a mixture of national chains and independents, including Bristol’s own Oowee Diner. Also among them are Famously Proper-owned burger brand Byron, which closed its bricks-and-mortar site in Bristol in 2018, while completing the line-up is sushi restaurant Zumu, fried chicken business Coqfighter, Indian restaurant Kricket, The Athenian, Kokoro, Pasta Evangelists and Honi Poke/Sushi. Deliveroo’s Editions director Meera Mittel said: “We love the food scene in Bristol, which is why we are excited to be opening our first delivery-only site in this city with nine new restaurant partners. Bristolians can now enjoy amazing new food from a whole host of the best-loved restaurants. The new site aims to help increase business for our restaurant partners and create even more work opportunities for site staff and riders.” Finn Lagun, co-founder of London-based Pasta Evangelists, added: “We are delighted to be bringing our freshly made pasta and sauces to the people of Bristol in partnership with Deliveroo. This marks the first time Pasta Evangelists has appeared on Deliveroo outside of London.”

London nightclub Egg lost £20,000 per night during lockdown: London nightclub Egg lost about £20,000 a night while it was shut during the coronavirus lockdowns. Managing director Hans Christian Hess revealed the figure as he expressed feeling “apprehensive” about the UK government’s introduction of covid passports for club entry at the end of September. He told My London: “We’ve been shut for 18 months and it’s been really hard. Brexit together with covid has definitely been an issue. Bills are adding up and authorities are not helping with the guidelines and restrictions. It’s been a nightmare.” Since reopening in July, the King’s Cross venue has required a negative covid test result for all those wanting to enter, which Hess said “works really well” and claimed the club hasn’t had issues with spikes in infections so far. He added: “We’re happy. We’ve been quite busy. People have been getting down and the vibe has been really good.” In terms of covid passports for nightclubs, which will require people to show proof they have been double vaccinated, Hess said: “It will be really difficult for us. I’m feeling a bit apprehensive.” Last week, the Night Time Industries Association warned the government’s decision to proceed with the move “will cripple the industry”. Other event venues are also set to be included in the government’s new plan to help curb the spread of the virus.

London restaurant Tredwells to close, chef planning new venture: Chef Chantelle Nicholson will close the doors for the last time at her London restaurant Tredwells later this month, but already has plans for a new opening next year. After seven years in the heart of Covent Garden, last service at the Upper St Martin’s Lane venue will be on Friday, 24 September. However, Nicholson will be announcing details of her new restaurant, opening in early 2022, in the coming weeks. She said: “We will be closing the doors at Tredwells with fond memories and a great sense of achievement. The past seven years have been an incredible journey, and I would like to thank all the people who have been part of it, as well as the guests who enjoyed our hospitality. My team and I are excited for our next chapter.” Tredwells’ seasonal menus focused on British produce, championing locally sourced produce and sustainable food systems, and it was awarded a Michelin Green Star in January. Last autumn Nicholson also launched a three-month pop-up restaurant called All’s Well in Hackney, to help preserve jobs and keep up morale during the covid pandemic.

Bundobust to open delayed second Manchester site this month featuring first in-house brewery: Indian street food and craft beer restaurant Bundobust will open its long-awaited second Manchester site this month, which will feature the company’s first in-house brewery. The site, which will open on Thursday, 16 September, will be housed in The Cartway in Bruntwood’s grade II-listed St James’ building in Oxford Street. Bundobust has transformed the former indoor car park into a 150-cover restaurant, taproom and brewery. A ten-hectolitre brewhouse with nine fermenting vessels is capable of producing 20,000 pints of Bundo beer a month, with the brews exclusively available at Bundobust sites. Marko Husak, who founded the business with Mayur Patel, said: “We were due to open in May 2020. The past 18 months have slowed us down, but the delay has meant that we’ve been able to develop our beer recipes. Expect the familiar Bundobust vibe and menu, with the bonus of being in a working brewery.” Chris Middleton, Bruntwood senior retail and leisure manager, added: “Marko and Mayur’s creativity will add hugely to the already vibrant Oxford Road corridor.” Husak and Patel opened the first bricks-and-mortar Bundobust in Leeds in 2014. They have since added venues in Piccadilly, Manchester; and Bold Street, Liverpool.

Estabulo Rodizio opens ninth site with Norwich launch: Brazilian all-you-can-eat steakhouse Estabulo Rodizio Bar & Grill has opened its ninth site, in Norwich’s Riverside Retail Park. The brand specialises in authentic Brazilian rodizio, where customers pay a set rate and have unlimited access to different types of meat served table-side by waiters. The 15 cuts of local meat on offer are served off a cooking spit and carved in front of the customer. There is also a selection of vegetarian, vegan, halal and fish dishes available and unlimited sides, as well as a gourmet hot and cold salad bar. Customers are given cards to indicate when they’re ready to be served again, with a green and red side to signal to waiters. Earlier this year, the company launched the Portuguese-inspired Casa Peri Peri at Wakefield’s Trinity Walk shopping centre.

Kricket’s first stand-alone bar throws open its doors: Indian restaurant group Kricket’s first foray into the bar trade has opened for business. Soma, named after the Hindu moon god, has launched in Denman Street in Soho, adjacent to the existing Kricket restaurant site there. The bar serves up drinks influenced by the Indian subcontinent, including a martini with curry leaf vermouth and a margarita with chaat masala. Will Bowlby and Rik Campbell founded the White Rabbit Projects-backed business six years ago and started life in a 20-seater shipping container in Brixton, but it has now grown to three permanent restaurant sites in Brixton, Soho and White City. Bowlby and Campbell said: “It feels great to be emerging from such a challenging period with a project that we're so excited about. People have always loved the cocktails we offer at Kricket and we've always talked about launching a stand-alone bar and the chance to offer the hospitality we've become known for at Kricket in a new context.”

Five Guys continues Scottish expansion with West Lothian outlet: Better burger brand Five Guys is poised to open a new restaurant in Livingston’s The Centre, as it looks to continue expanding north of the border. Due to start trading next week, the outlet will join a large number of existing food and beverage operators including The Restaurant Group-owned Wagamama and Nando’s. Sharon Bloodworth, director of retail asset management at The Centre’s landlord Hines, told The Scotsman: “Five Guys is one of the world’s best-loved restaurant chains, and following immense growth in recent years has become one of the most popular food and drink brands in the UK. It’s great to be able to add another high-profile brand name to our restaurant line-up and to enhance our customers’ choice of eatery.” Paul Hamilton, brand and customer director at Five Guys, added: “We’re thrilled to be opening a new restaurant in the heart of Livingston.” Five Guys, established in the United States in 1986 and launched over here in 2013, is looking to boost its portfolio across the UK. In May, UK chief executive John Eckbert said the brand was looking to open up to 25 new sites in Britain this year. The latest was a restaurant that opened in Hemel Hempstead’s Jarman Leisure Park last month, just after as the brand’s first UK drive-thru was launched at Teesside Park in Stockton-on-Tees.

Samyukta Nair opens third Mayfair restaurant: Samyukta Nair, the restaurateur behind Mayfair’s Jamavar and Bombay Bustle, has opening her third site. Nair has launched Mimi Mei Fair within a Georgian townhouse in Curzon Street. Diners are transported to old world China “within the resplendent rooms of Mimi’s private residence”. The opening marks the third restaurant from the newly formed LSL Capital, founded by father-daughter duo Samyukta and Dinesh Nair. The three-floor restaurant has been reimagined as the secret London residence of Empress Mimi, which means “secret” in Mandarin. The kitchen is led by Chinese-Singaporean executive chef Peter Ho with the menu featuring contemporary Chinese dishes from across Hong Kong, Singapore and mainland China. The menu of sharing dishes includes a traditional apple wood-roasted Peking duck with homemade pancakes; and lobster cooked three ways – wok-baked with spring onion and ginger, steamed with Mimi’s pickled chili or braised with “Yung Chun” noodles. There is also a private dining room that seats eight while the Moon Bar offers a range of cocktails. Samyukta Nair said: “My passion for Chinese food, art and culture began while living and studying in China, and it has remained an obsession. Dreaming the individual spaces to life and curating the menu with Peter has been such a wonderful experience.”

Taco Bell sees plans to convert Pizza Hut in Grantham turned down: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell’s bid to open a Grantham outlet by converting a former Pizza Hut restaurant has been rejected. A planning application for the works at the London Road site were submitted in July, but has been thrown out by South Kesteven District Council. Taco Bell wanted to include a drive-thru in its plans, but the council, in turning down the application, said they had safety concerns over increased traffic in the area. In their decision document, planning officers Phil Jordan and Chris Brown said: “The proposed development would significantly increase the amount of traffic at the Gainsborough Corner junction (A52/Springfield Road/B1174 junction) resulting in an unacceptable impact on the highways network, in terms of capacity and adverse impact on highway safety.” Taco Bell can still appeal the decision, but has not yet made any indication either way. The Pizza Hut restaurant closed permanently last September, one of a raft of closures the company introduced as part of its company voluntary arrangement (CVA). Since then, it has also closed two sites in Derby, one in Southampton and another in Sittingbourne which were not part of the CVA. Taco Bell, meanwhile, last week got the green light for a second Nottingham city centre restaurant and submitted plans for an Exeter drive-thru. It will also open its first drive-thru in Wales later this month, when its new site at Cardiff’s Dragon Retail Park begins trading.

Bath-based patisserie opens in Bristol for second site: Bath-based The Choux Box Patisserie will later this month open its second site in the south west, with a unit in Bristol’s harbourside Wapping Wharf. The company, founded by Somerset-born pastry chef Orlando Partner, opened its first site last October serving a range of French pastries – but with all its ingredients sourced within a 20-mile radius. The Choux Box will occupy a unit formerly home to Loop Massage. The Choux Box’s new venue will open on Friday, 17 September, with its production kitchen remaining in Bath. Partner, who has more than ten years of experience working in Michelin-starred kitchens, told Business Live: “We cannot wait to try out some incredible new flavours with the people of Bristol and the Wapping Wharf community.” Stuart Hatton, managing director at Wapping Wharf developer Umberslade, added: “We're very pleased Orlando and his team have chosen our growing neighbourhood as their first Bristol home.”

Hawksmoor opens long-awaited New York site for international debut: Hawksmoor, the upmarket steakhouse chain, has made its long-awaited international debut, in New York. After more than five years and one aborted attempt, the company has opened a site in the United Charities Building. The restaurant was due to open last March until the outbreak of covid scuppered those plans, but now the business has made founders Will Beckett and Huw Gott’s dreams of opening a restaurant in New York a reality. Last 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 also opening 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.

Trio of F&B operators to launch at Manchester development: Three independent eateries have secured units at the new Mansion House development in Manchester’s New Islington Marina. Flawd Wine will launch a wine bar and bottle shop in the waterfront building, while Mezze will open a Cypriot kitchen and bar next door. Also among the new arrivals is a cookery school fronted by food writer and author Pippy Eats. The deals have been overseen by regeneration company Urban Splash whose commercial manager Nicky Harries told Insider Media: "As we come to the closing chapters of our New Islington story, we are proud to bring more great businesses to the area. This is a neighbourhood that’s grown so much in recent years, becoming one of the city’s most vibrant places. These businesses will add to the mix on offer along New Islington’s Marina, opening the area up to more people.”

Indian Hotels Company brings business club brand to UK: Indian Hotels Company has opened the debut UK site – and the first European outpost – for its business club, Taj The Chambers. The club is located within the company’s Taj hotel in Buckingham Gate, London. Taj The Chambers provides members with “high-end facilities to conduct business, or simply relax and unwind”. It features a bar; individual work pods; a private dining space, which also transforms into a meeting room; and a lounge. The lounge offers Indian and international cuisine. Mehrnavaz Avari, area director of Taj Group’s UK hotels, said; “Taj The Chambers is for a community of accomplished acclaimed achievers. Designed with elegant and stylish interiors, the club will give members access to an uber-luxury private and exclusive ambience at one of the city’s most central postcodes.” Taj The Chambers now has a presence at eight of the company’s hotels, and will soon launch in New York.

Noodle cafe Koya to open third site next week: Tokyo-style noodle cafe Koya is to open its third restaurant, at Hackney’s Broadway Market next week. Koya Ko is the brainchild of chef Shuko Oda and restaurateur John Devitt that specialises in udon noodles and will launch on Monday (13 September). It is a follow-up to the original Koya Bar in Soho and Koya City inside the Bloomberg Arcade in the City of London. The Broadway Market site has been “inspired by the fast-paced dining of the train station noodle bars found in Japan”. The owners said Koya Ko will offer a “fun, revamped take on Koya’s favourite udon and donburi dishes,” which have been created exclusively for the new restaurant. It will offer standing dining and have a focus on eating outside and its takeaway customers. The standing counter will offer space for eight guests, with 15 covers for seated indoor dining and a further 25 covers outdoors, and all dishes will be available to take away.

Birmingham-based independent burger business to permanently take over kitchen of recently reopened city pub: Birmingham-based independent burger business Stackz Burger Shack is to permanently take over the kitchen at a city pub. Stackz Burger Shack will serve its food at The Flapper from Friday (10 September), offering loaded burgers and fries. The collaboration will see Shane Moyne moving Stackz Burger Shack into the recently reopened pub in Kingston Row. Moyne said: “We’re excited Stackz will have a permanent home at The Flapper. Collaborating with one of the city’s most iconic venues is a dream come true. We’re working hard behind the scenes to ensure the kitchen is ready and the menu is top notch.” The Flapper’s owner Sam Campbell-Whyte added: “We can’t wait to partner up with a fellow independent brand that has the focus and passion The Flapper has. When we returned we mentioned that we were looking forward to working with independent retailers in Brum and this is just the start. Big things are happening and we’re thrilled Shane has chosen The Flapper as his permanent home.”

Manchester-based brewer ShinDigger expands with six-figure funding: Manchester-based brewer ShinDigger has secured a six-figure funding to expand premises and diversify sales channels. ShinDigger has added an extra 5,000 square foot of space to cold store premises at its central Manchester site with support from HSBC UK. Funding has also helped ShinDigger Brewery pivot operations during the covid-19 pandemic. The business quickly adapted its business model from supplying to hospitality to develop direct-to-consumer online retail channels, including 90 minute on-demand delivery and UK-wide delivery services. A combination of all of these routes to market have generated significant growth. Since hospitality fully reopened, ShinDigger has seen a 50% increase in year-on-year turnover compared with pre-covid levels. Co-founder Paul Delamere said: “The huge growth in our customer base is a testament to our team’s perseverance and versatility, with the digitisation of our services having undoubtedly opened up exciting new pathways for further expansion.” ShinDigger was established by Delamere and George Grant in 2013, with the two friends initially brewing beer in their shared student accommodation.

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