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Fri 10th Sep 2021 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Government challenged to prove vaccine passports will work or put an end to them, Scotland approves plan: A select committee has told the government to spell out exactly how vaccine passports will work or drop the scheme altogether. William Wragg, Conservative MP for Hazel Grove, chairs the public administration committee that reported on the government’s covid-status certification plans. Downing Street has now published its response to the report, which has only served to strengthen the committee’s views on the matter. “The committee has severe concerns about way policy has been developed and kept under consideration,” Wragg said. “Following through on such a costly, discriminatory and potentially ineffective policy will have consequences for trust in and acceptance of measures to tackle the pandemic. It’s time to prove how this’ll work or to put an end to it.” Wragg’s words were welcomed by UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls, who tweeted: “Scathing public administration committee report publishes government response to its report on vaccine passports and reiterates its view government has provided no evidence to support introduction, and questions whether they will work in practice. Citing diminishing benefits of a certification system as more people vaccinated, the committee’s report demanded government provide scientific evidence, public health data and cost benefit analysis as essential to public acceptance of system. Government response has not provided this, they say. Cites SAGE evidence that jabbed and unjabbed individuals carry similar viral load and the vaccine may not protect against transmission, limiting benefit of vaccine passports.” Meanwhile, UKHospitality has accused the Scottish government of ignoring its concerns after it voted in favour of introducing vaccine passports on Thursday (9 September). The plan will come into force north of the border from Friday, 1 October, affecting people entering nightclubs and some large-scale events such as football matches, music festivals and concerts. UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson said: “The Scottish government has not listened, and now our businesses face just three weeks in which to prepare for a policy that will put further economic and resourcing pressures on them. The Scottish government has not consulted with hospitality, it has not produced any credible plans for the introduction of passports, and it has not even defined what a nightclub is. This leaves many businesses fearful they will fall within scope of this legislation and concerned about the open-ended costs they might now face.”
 

Industry News:

Next edition of Propel Blue Book sent to Premium subscribers today: The latest edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, is to be published today (Friday, 10 September) at midday. The latest Blue Book sees a further 62 companies added, taking the number of UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators featured to 408, with a total turnover of £30.7bn. The Blue Book, which is updated every month – on the second Friday of the month – has begun to reflect the economic damage of the pandemic with 200 companies reporting a profit and 208 reporting losses. The Blue Book 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 today at 5pm, he talks to Clive Chesser, chief executive of Punch Pubs, about the group’s investment in its leased and tenanted estate, the impact of its debt refinancing, the acquisition of the Young’s tenanted business, and the impact of the crisis on the company and the wider industry. 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.
 
Restaurant Marketer & Innovator calls for ‘30 Under 30’ nominations: The Restaurant Marketer & Innovator “30 Under 30” list, which recognises 30 talented future leaders in marketing, innovation and strategy roles within the sector who are under 30 years of age, has opened its nominations for 2022. Judges will look for creativity, confidence, commercial awareness, ability to collaborate, leadership skills and perseverance. They will also look for experience in senior stakeholder management, understanding of how to develop strategy, ability to self-reflect, and clear potential to be an industry leader of the future. Nominees should have at least three years’ experience in the hospitality sector. Nominations close on Thursday, 30 September. They are anonymous and can be made by anybody by clicking here. Self-nominations are accepted. Selected candidates will be invited to attend the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator conference and 30 Under 30 presentation evening in London in January. All those applying for a place will be automatically considered for the Future Marketing Leader of the Year prize at the Restaurant Marketer & Innovator Awards. Restaurant Marketer & Innovator co-founder James Hacon said: “The 30 Under 30 programme is great recognition by the industry of your achievements to date and highlights you as a leader of the future. As part of the programme you will be in a network of like-minded professionals, who you will meet and get to know. Our alumni from this programme from the past three years have created close bonds and have seen their careers propelled forward. It’s great to be back after a year away with the pandemic.”

Propel Friday Wrap video series continues with Steve Locke: Propel continues its new Friday Wrap video series on Friday (10 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’s 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 Steve Locke, interim managing director of The Breakfast Club, owner of Lockes bar in Covent Garden and co-founder of Be At One, to look at how trade is picking up in London, the need to invest in your people, looking outside the industry to combat staff shortages, launching a new business and helping another one reach its potential.
 
UKHospitality – extension of debt protection scheme ‘will save thousands of business and jobs’: An extension of debt protection to tenants will “save thousands of businesses and jobs”, according to UKHospitality. Dubbed “breathing space” when it was introduced in May, the scheme gave tenants facing financial difficulties 60 days to get their finances back on track without debts piling up and the threat of enforcement. The additional news that there will be further protections for non-rent debts will also benefit beleaguered hospitality operators, according to UKHospitality. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The extension of existing protections, along with some further additional ones, is a very welcome response to our lobbying of government to that end. It is right and fair that the economic pain of the pandemic – in which hospitality was one of the worst affected sectors suffering long periods of forced closure and restricted trading – should be shared between landlords and tenants. This move will save thousands of businesses and jobs, and is a key step on the way to recovery for both the sector and the country.” However, the trade body lamented a missed opportunity to stop county court judgements being used by vindictive landlords, and Nicholls urged the government to close the loophole “at the earliest opportunity”.
 
Joseph Holt CEO urges youngsters to take up bar roles and help solve recruitment crisis: Richard Kershaw, chief executive at north west brewer and retailer Joseph Holt, is encouraging students and school leavers to take up pub and bar jobs as the UK desperately seeks more hospitality workers. Kershaw believes young jobseekers could help alleviate the recruitment crisis if they took up work as bar staff or waiters, regardless of academic qualifications. Kershaw told The Business Desk: “Working in, say, a pub after graduating or leaving school is a way of accruing some really valuable skills such as learning how to be part of a team, communication and taking responsibility. Thanks to our long-term planning and the loyalty our staff show to our family business, we’ve been lucky in that we have managed quite well. But it’s in all our interests to solve the recruitment problems across hospitality. If pubs and restaurants are forced to close it will have a knock-on effect on the entire industry and the communities they support. It’s why we need to encourage young people, or perhaps those returning to work after a break, not to look down on bar work. Of course, it will continue to suit those who just want a few hours work. But with the hospitality industry facing an unprecedented recruitment crisis, now more than ever we need to remind people looking for work that it doesn’t have to be just a job – it can be a wonderful career.” Joseph Holt runs two “progression” courses to help employees work their way through the company ranks from bar staff to manager, and even offering them the opportunity to run their own pub.
 
Just Eat begins reusable packaging trial: Just Eat has begun a three-month reusable packaging trial. The company has teamed up with ClubZero for the pilot, designed to replace plastic packaging through a convenient return scheme. The initial trial will see six Just Eat restaurant partners across London test drive the service, giving customers the choice to opt in for reusable packaging when placing an order. They can arrange either for the packaging to be collected through the ClubZero app, or can leave the items themselves at designated ClubZero drop-off points. This follows Just Eat’s existing partnership with sustainable start-up Notpla, which has seen it pilot the use of seaweed-lined home-disposable and compostable packaging. Robin Clark, senior director of global partnerships and sustainability at Just Eat, said: “This trial will help us assess how best to roll the service out more widely so, with the support of customers and restaurant partners, we can continue to tackle plastic pollution across the sector. Building a more sustainable future for the food delivery industry is extremely important to us. We’ve already taken a number of positive steps to drive this change, from pioneering the use of seaweed sauce sachets and boxes to increasing the number of electric vehicles we use in food delivery.” 
Just Eat is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 
Brits plan what they want to eat from the moment they wake up, study reveals: A poll conducted by Subway suggests food is the first thing on people’s minds when they wake up, and Brits spend an average of two hours a day thinking and talking about what to eat and when to eat it. In fact, 70% of those polled said getting hungry during the day causes them to lose concentration and get irritable at work, while a quarter admitted to eating two lunches as they cannot wait until lunchtime to eat. The research also revealed the typical Brit is ravenous up to four times a day and sends seven food-related texts to their friends each week, while six phone calls a week are dedicated to discussing what to eat. Seven in ten adults admitted too that talking about food to friends and family is one of their favourite things to do. Subway commissioned the study to mark 25 years of Footlong Subs. Subway UK and Ireland head of marketing Mays Elansari said: “Our new research shows we’re clearly a nation of dedicated lunch lovers.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a grab-and-go business that is looking for a managing director. The agency is looking to speak to candidates who are looking for a new challenge and have extensive executive experience in food retail concepts. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “Ideally you will have managing director or operations director level experience, but you will also need to have worn many hats inclusive of HR and learning and development and be passionate about the people aspect of the business. You will support this business in building culture, driving operational excellence and can be counted upon to deliver extensive growth. This is an exciting role with multiple brands under one umbrella. The business has an excellent investor involved and the incoming managing director will have the support by both the existing team, founders and funders. The client is very much looking for someone with excellent knowledge of London and experience and expanding business outside of the capital.” Anyone interested can email Kate@corecruitment.com
COREcruitment is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 

Company News:

Sushi Shop plans franchise expansion across UK: Sushi Shop, part of the AmRest family, is looking to secure a number of regional master franchisees across the UK, as part of its expansion plans here, Propel has learned. Founded in 1998 by Grégory Marciano and Hervé Louis, Sushi Shop is a European chain of restaurants for premium sushi, sashimi and other Japanese specialties. The brand has established an international network of company-operated and franchised stores across 12 countries, having been part of AmRest, the European multi-brand franchise restaurant group, since 2018. Sushi Shop, which currently operates five sites in London, said that built largely on a digital, delivery and takeaway concept, its “innovative business model has proven remarkably resilient throughout the pandemic, growing by double digits in 2020”. The pandemic has driven a rise in delivery and takeaway services, as customers were forced to change their dining habits during lockdowns, which the brand said worked in its favour, and it is now looking to build on this success by expanding in key regional UK cities. On behalf of the group, Christie & Co has been solely retained to seek ambitious hospitality operators who would be interested in becoming a multi-site franchisee of the brand. There are four regions where the business is seeking new Sushi Shop partners, each of which has the opportunity to open at least ten sites in the coming years. These are London, the Midlands, north of England, and Scotland, all where “suitable trade zones are ready to get started”. The company said: “The Sushi Shop brand offers opportunity for rapid expansion in towns and cities throughout the UK, especially as with limited hot food options, the stores can operate in A1 (retail) space in most cases. The business itself has high margins with controllable costs, giving exceptional returns. Since Sushi Shop has its London team in place already, the set-up, as well as the ongoing support, can be given to incoming franchises at all times.” Simon Chaplin, senior director of corporate pubs and restaurants in Christie & Co’s hospitality team, said: “We are delighted to be working with AmRest in this exciting project, to help expand the Sushi Shop brand across the UK. While Sushi Shop operates in a niche market, it has a wide appeal by providing a fresh, healthy food option that is well suited to all meal categories.”
Christie & Co is a Propel BeatTheVirus campaign member
 
Flat Iron refinances £3.2m of existing facilities, trading since 17 May above expectations: Flat Iron, the eight-strong steak concept backed by Piper, has said earlier this summer it refinanced £3.2m of its existing facilities into new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) facilities. The Tom Byng-led group also said it secured a capital repayment holiday and an extended term on its remaining non-CBILS facility, thus providing “significant additional liquidity”. In an update to Companies House for the 53 weeks to 30 August 2020, the company said: “Having already drawn a further £1.5m on our existing facilities in October 2019, in September 2020 the company further strengthened its liquidity through an additional £1.8m CBILS loan facility secured through Thincats expiring on 30 September 2025. Furthermore, in May 2021, the company refinanced £3.2m of its existing facilities into new CBILS loan facilities and secured a capital repayment holiday and an extended term on its remaining non-CBILS facility, thus providing significant additional liquidity to the company.” The business said prior to the emergence of covid-19 it was performing well, with continued year-on-year sales and adjusted Ebitda growth. The company said: “From 17 May our restaurants were permitted to reopen, albeit with restrictions, and trading to the date of signing of these financial statements (24 August 2021) has been above expectations.” Turnover for the 53 weeks stood at £12.36m against £18.16m the previous year, with a pre-tax loss of £5.86m versus a loss of £4.56m in 2019. The company is set to return to the expansion trail with an opening in London’s Bankside. Earlier this summer it secured the former Gourmet Burger Kitchen site in Clink Street. Propel understands Flat Iron is looking at a possible further two or three openings in the capital over the next nine months.
 
Various Eateries secures Haslemere site for Coppa Club: Various Eateries, the AIM-listed Andy Bassadone-chaired business, has secured a site in the Surrey town of Haslemere for an opening under its Coppa Club brand, Propel has learned. The 12-strong group has secured the former Georgian Hotel in the town for an opening next spring. The business, which opened its eighth Coppa Club earlier this summer in Clifton, Bristol, will open its next site under the brand in November, in Putney. The group will open a site in Brewhouse Lane, Putney Wharf. Last September, Various Eateries raised £25m through an initial public offering and said it believed there was potential to open up to 100 sites under its fledgling Tavolino brand, and capacity for more than 50 Coppa Clubs across the UK.
 
Brunning & Price kicks off new expansion push: Brunning & Price, the pub operator owned by The Restaurant Group (TRG), has begun a push for new sites. Propel has learned the 80-strong Brunning & Price has again retained Christie & Co to acquire suitable new sites for its expanding destination pub-restaurant portfolio in the UK. Brunning & Price’s ambitious expansion plans were put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic. However, following its recapitalisation of £175m this year, TRG has given the brand the green light to commence a new proactive search for acquisition opportunities. On behalf of the group, Christie & Co is seeking large and period or characterful leasehold or freehold sites in affluent rural, town and city centre locations across England and Wales. Suitable properties could include either trading or closed licensed premises, or commercial buildings that may be suitable for conversion. Small to medium-sized hotels could also be considered. The acquisition project is being led by Simon Chaplin and Noel Moffit, senior directors of corporate pubs and restaurants in Christie & Co’s hospitality team. They said: “We are delighted to pick up where we left off in the search for further Brunning & Price sites. The net has now widened as TRG seeks to expand outside Brunning & Price’s traditional heartland, and we are now able to review suitable properties throughout England and Wales, opening up many more opportunities for Brunning & Price and those wishing to sell.”
 
Atul Kochhar to launch Kanishka Kitchen at Heathrow airport: Two Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar is to open a new site at Heathrow airport, later this year, Propel has learned. The chef is set to open a version of his Mayfair-based Kanishka restaurant in the airport’s Terminal 5, landside. Kanishka Kitchen is expected to feature a restaurant, bar and grab and go option. It is thought the new venture will again be a collaborative project with Kanishka Holdings managing director Tina English, with whom Kochhar opened the original Kanishka restaurant in Mayfair in 2019. In July, Kochhar announced he planned to open a restaurant at Wembley Park, north west London, and launch a site in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. Kochhar agreed a deal with Quintain to launch Masalchi, which means “the spice master”, later this year. Masalchi will be on the corner of Olympic Way and Wembley Park Boulevard. Kochhar also secured the former Azzurri Group-owned Zizzi premises in Aylesbury End, Beaconsfield, to launch Riwaz this year. Propel understands Kochhar was keen to strengthen his presence in the county, having launched Hawkyns in nearby Amersham, and Sindhu and Vassu – both in Marlow. Kochhar also operates Indian Essence in Petts Wood, Kent.
 
Chef Nigel Haworth buys pub back from Brunning & Price, announces autumn opening: Michelin-starred chef Nigel Haworth has bought the Three Fishes in Mitton, Lancashire, back from the group he sold it to three years ago, and is planning a mid-November opening. The move sees Haworth’s career come full circle, having originally opened the pub in 2004 before it became the flagship venue of his Ribble Valley portfolio, which was in turn part of the Northcote Leisure Group he ran with wine expert Craig Bancroft. Ribble Valley, including the Three Fishes, was then sold to Brunning & Price, the Restaurant Group’s gastropub arm, in 2018 in a deal which included three other pubs in the region. A Brunning & Price spokeswoman told Propel: “The pub never reopened under our ownership and we thought for a while about what to do with it and how it might fit into the portfolio. We have another pub close by so in the end we decided it was better for someone else to have a crack at it.” Formerly joint managing director and chef patron at Northcote Hotel, where he started out in 1984, Haworth has spent most of his career in the Ribble Valley. He has recruited Danielle Strain to advise on establishing sustainable planting and harvesting techniques, while more details on his menu are expected to be revealed in the near future. Keeping it in the family, interior design at the pub will be handled by Haworth’s wife Katherine, with whom he launched an environmentally-focused food and beverage consultancy in 2019. The pair’s children, Kirk and Keeley, are also involved in the trade, having opened the plant-based concept Plates in Shoreditch in 2018.
 
Tortilla strengthens partnership with SSP, opens first airport site: Tortilla, the Quilvest-backed fast casual Mexican concept, has further strengthened its partnership with travel hub foodservice company SSP Group with two new sites, including its first at an airport. The Richard Morris-led business, which earlier this summer appointed advisers to explore a possible initial public offering, opened this week at Gatwick airport. This will be followed by Tortilla Leeds Skelton Lake Services on Wednesday, 6 October. The business first linked up with SSP at the end of 2019 to explore opening in transport hubs, which led to an opening at London’s Euston station. Propel understands the two businesses are still looking at converting more of SSP’s Mi Casa sites in train stations to the Tortilla brand, although there is no timescale on this. Following the two new sites, Tortilla will operate across rail, road and airport services for the first time. Tortilla has opened three sites in recent months in Exeter, Edinburgh and Windsor, with Gatwick airport and Leeds Skelton Lake Services being the company’s 52nd and 53rd site in the UK and 63 globally, including delivery kitchens. Morris said: “Both sites provide an excellent opportunity to showcase our highly adaptable, fast-casual product proposition to customers within locations that benefit from significant footfall.” Richard Lewis, chief executive of SSP UK & Ireland, added: “Tortilla is a much-loved high street brand and has already proven to be a hit with travelling customers at our Euston station unit. We’re excited to now be bringing the brand to air and motorway services locations, and we look forward to further developing our partnership and opening more sites in the future.” Last month, Tortilla extended its partnership with Deliveroo. The new agreement means Tortilla’s menu will be exclusively available for delivery across the UK via Deliveroo. In addition, Tortilla will launch in several new Deliveroo Editions kitchens to service new regions that were previously outside of its coverage area.
 
Italian pasta concept Miscusi to make UK debut: Italian pasta concept Miscusi is to make its UK debut, after securing a site in London’s Covent Garden. The business, which was founded in 2017 and operates 12 restaurants in Italy, will open its first site outside its homeland in November, at The Yards – 23 Slingsby Place. It is thought this will be the first of a number of sites the brand will look to open here. Propel understands the launch here is being overseen by Marcel Khan, formerly of Five Guys, Nando’s and Thunderbird Fried Chicken, who is the brand’s head of international development. Khan played a key role in the launch and expansion of US better burger brand Five Guys in the UK. Originally launched in Milan, Miscusi champions a Mediterranean diet and the brand’s ethos is “rooted in respecting the planet through the power of food”. It runs a regenerative agriculture project just outside of Milan, to help understand and reverse the effects of climate change through biodiversity. Earlier this year, the business obtained B-Corp certification. At the beginning of 2021, the business, which was founded by Alberto Cartasegna, secured a €20m investment from MIP, a venture capital fund, and the American fund Kitchen Fund, which includes SweetGreen as an investment. Cartasegna said: “London is where I took my first steps as a kitchen assistant at 18 years old, and as a brand it’s been our dream for a long time to bring the Miscusi experience to the UK. Italian hospitality is based around being welcoming and generous – and for me this also means creating a space where Londoners from a diverse range of backgrounds and ages can feel comfortable coming together. After having served more than one million plates of pasta over the past four years, I’m happy to say the Italians are coming to London!”
 
McDonald’s to launch ‘McPlant’ vegan burger, plans for nationwide rollout by January: McDonald’s will start selling its new McPlant vegan burger at ten sites in Coventry by the end of this month, with a further 250 to follow by mid-October, and hope it will be available across the UK from January 2022. Production of the £3.49 burger, which is modelled on a Quarter Pounder Deluxe but weighs in at only 420 calories, was delayed after McDonald’s spent months trying to find a suitable plant-based cheese. The company said it tried “hundreds” of options from around the world before working with its existing dairy supplier, Kerry Foods in Ireland, to create a vegan cheese made from pea protein. With the vegan patty already being produced by the US-based alternative meat brand Beyond Meat, the cheese slice was the final step in the process. McDonald’s food and innovation director Grainne Allen said: “The cheese was the most complex and challenging element. It took us months, it became the real focus. We tried hundreds of different options but none worked. In the end we worked with Kerry Foods to create our own. Covid also delayed things because we have to assign dedicated space in kitchens to ensure the burger is vegan-approved.” The move comes after the launch of Greggs’ vegan sausage roll back in 2019 sparked a scramble among fast food outlets to increase their vegan options.
 
Frisco Group disposes of Horsham site: Frisco Group, the pub business led by award-winning licensee Heath Ball, has disposed of its site in Horsham, West Sussex, to focus on its remaining three-strong estate. The company has sold the Anchor Tap in Horsham, which it acquired last year, to Sam Clayton, the owner of the Malt Shovel pub in the town. Frisco Group acquired the Anchor Tap, alongside the Lockhart Tavern in Haywards Heath, last summer. Both sites were previously operated by Sussex brewer Dark Star. Ball acquired The Red Lion & Sun in London’s Highgate in 2007 and, in 2013, The Wenlock Arms near London’s Old Street. He told Propel: “We used the lockdowns as an opportunity to really look at our businesses and while we were very much in survival mode, we got it crystal clear in our minds as to what we are really good at and where the future of the group and our people lay. To that end, the decision was made to sell The Anchor Tap in Horsham. The decision was made due to the wet-led nature of the site, which made it very much an outlier against our future plans. We of course wish Sam and his team the very best with it and we're sure under his stewardship, the site will flourish.”
 
Electric Star Pubs launches eighth venue as historic Hackney pub reopens: Rob Star’s Electric Star Pubs has added an eighth pub to its London portfolio with the reopening, after 26 years, of Hackney Wick’s Lord Napier. Renamed the Lord Napier Star, the pub features a huge 80-seater roof terrace and two first-floor function rooms. Food will be provided by KraPow, a relatively new food collective focusing on Thai flavours, while DJ sets and regular music nights are also planned. Star said: “I’ve spent the past six years trying to reopen this historic building, so pouring that first pint and drinking it on the sun-soaked roof terrace felt extra special. I used to go to parties at the Lord Napier in the early 2000s, and for many years it has been my dream to turn it back into a proper boozer. Sometimes I still can’t quite believe it’s actually happening. It’s the only pub in Hackney Wick, so I will be making sure it appeals to as many people in the community as possible.” Star’s first pub, the Star of Bethnal Green, opened in 2008, since when seven others have followed across the capital. Star has always said he has no plans to expand his empire outside of London, but would consider opening a site in his home town of Leicester if the opportunity arose.
 
SSP launches new premium bar and restaurant at Gatwick airport: UK-based travel hub foodservice company SSP Group has opened Juniper and Co, a bespoke bar and eatery created just for Gatwick, at the airport’s North Terminal. Offering a broad range of drinks and a locally-inspired food menu, Juniper and Co has added to a growing dining scene at the airport. Gatwick’s director of retail Rachel Bulford said: “It’s exciting to not only have a new food and beverage offering for our passengers to enjoy, but for it to be unique to Gatwick really demonstrates the pull of the airport.” Richard Lewis, SSP UK & Ireland chief executive, added: “With the steady return of passengers to Gatwick, we’re delighted to be opening our doors at Juniper.” SSP’s recent involvement at Gatwick includes partnering with Warrens Bakery to open an outlet there in November 2019.
 
Unsecured creditors of company behind Drayton Manor receive final dividend of 2.5p in pound: Unsecured creditors of the company behind Staffordshire theme park Drayton Manor have received a final dividend of 2.5p in the pound, a new report has revealed. Mike Denny and Peter Dickens, of PwC, were appointed as joint administrators in August last year and Drayton Manor was subsequently sold for £15m to Looping Group, which owns 15 parks in Europe, including West Midlands Safari Park and Pleasurewood Hills in the UK. The transaction includes all of the business and assets of the group, with 599 employees transferring across to the new business. According to the administrators’ progress report, the total paid to unsecured creditors is almost £150,000 having been owed more than £2.4m. Secured creditor NatWest was owed £18.9m, which the administrators said had been 77% repaid. Lombard NC, which was owed £600,000, has been repaid in full. The report also showed the administrators secured £195,000 through a business interruption insurance claim. Drayton Manor had been operated by the Bryan family since it was established in 1950.
 
West Midlands-based hotel Hampton Manor boosts F&B offer including restaurant headed by MasterChef The Professionals winner: West Midlands-based hotel Hampton Manor has boosted its food and beverage offer with the opening of a new restaurant, headed by MasterChef The Professionals winner Stuart Deeley, and a bakery and shop. The Solihull hotel, which is owned by the Hill family, is already home to Michelin starred restaurant Peels. Now it has been joined by Smoke, which is on the edge of the walled garden. Headed up by Deeley, who won the BBC show in 2019, Smoke sees the food cooked over coals in the old furnace house using “seasonal produce, sustainable farming and simplicity”. The menu includes oak-smoked British trout, dill pickled kohlrabi and horseradish; and Dunwood Farm rib-rye (for two to share). Meanwhile, The Bakery has also launched. Min Go, who joined Hampton Manor earlier this year from Myers Bageri in Copenhagen where she was lead baker, makes her loaves using UK stone ground grains. The shop also offers a range of organic produce, including tarts and pastries, cheese, coffee and bottles of wine. The Hill family has been running Hampton Manor and its 45-acre estate since 1986.
 
Restaurant Association of Great Britain president buys 16th century Devon property from Heritage Hotels: Robert Walton, president of the Restaurant Association of Great Britain, has bought the grade ll-listed four-star Langdon Court Hotel in Wembury, near Plymouth, from Heritage Hotels. He and wife Donna Ida Thornton, the highly regarded fashion designer, plan to invest in the Jacobean building, which closed almost 18 months ago, to restore it to its former glory. Walton hopes once the venue is up to scratch, its “elegant surroundings will be matched by its food offering”. He said: “When Donna and I first saw Langdon we were completely blown away by the beauty of the building and the grounds, and immediately agreed this was the one we had been looking for. It’s something that we had been wanting to do for some time – to create a venue that offers the best in food and accommodation, supporting up-and-coming chefs in stylish surroundings. We had been looking all over for our next project and the south west has so many things going for it, with top quality local produce from both land and sea, along with a growing reputation for dining out and for high-end holidays.” The sale was handled by property consultancy Vickery Holman. Heritage Hotels placed Langdon Court on the market for £1.85m last November, the venue having closed seven months previously at a loss of 20 jobs. 

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