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Wed 29th Sep 2021 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Industry bosses renew call for Scottish covid passport scheme to be scrapped as two-week grace period announced: Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has faced renewed calls from industry bosses to scrap Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme, as she announced a grace period of more than two weeks before the controversial measure is implemented. Sturgeon insisted this was not a delay, but instead was a “very pragmatic compromise”. As it stands, the Scottish government scheme is due to come in from 5am on Friday (1 October). From this point, those going to nightclubs as well as large-scale events will have to show they have had two doses of coronavirus vaccine. However, in an update to Holyrood, Sturgeon announced businesses will not face the threat of enforcement action for non-compliance until Monday, 18 October. She told MSPs she had made the change after listening to the “reasonable concerns of business”. But UKHospitality Scotland executive director Leon Thompson said: “The reality is the Scottish government is not ready to introduce this scheme. With no published regulations or guidance, businesses are working in the dark with little chance of being ready for Friday. Similarly, there has been no public campaign to advise people on what they need to do, with the app for downloading certification only available from Thursday. The delay in enforcement doesn’t remove the difficulties that many businesses will face later when staffing shortages will remain. Many businesses are already planning to remove themselves from scope. For example, pubs planning to close function rooms at midnight to avoid the need to check passports. This reduces their ability to trade at full capacity now when they need to generate maximum revenue and undermines financial prospects as we head closer to Christmas. With covid cases falling rapidly, and the first minister acknowledging businesses are already playing their part in keeping customers and workers safe, the question remains why the Scottish government believes covid passports are necessary.” The Night Time Industries Association has already said it will mount a legal challenge to the scheme, Sturgeon also said £25m will be made available to small and medium-sized businesses to help improve ventilation. In response, Thompson said: “Hospitality businesses continue to work hard and invest in safe venues for customers and staff. This funding for improved ventilation is welcome and UKHospitality looks forward to learning more about it.”

Industry News:

Two days to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, 73 companies being added: A total of 73 new multi-site companies, operating 417 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-site Companies, which will be released on Friday (1 October), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes international growth concepts making their UK debut, expanding vegan brands, regional coffee operators and a number of brands growing through franchise. Premium subscribers will also receive a 6,200-word report on the new additions to the database. The comprehensive database is updated monthly and provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different. Alongside this, Premium subscribers will also receive the third edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Wednesday, 6 October, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. Premium 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 plus 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. To subscribe, email jo.charity@propelinfo.com

CMA considers investigation into Admiral’s £222m takeover of Hawthorn: The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has said it is considering an investigation into Admiral Taverns’ £222m takeover of community pub operator Hawthorn. Admiral agreed a deal to buy Hawthorn, which has 674 venues across the UK, from retailer property investor NewRiver, in July. The move will strengthen Admiral’s position as one of the UK’s largest pub owners, growing its portfolio to more than 1,600 pubs. However, the CMA said it is now considering whether to launch an investigation into the deal. It said it is looking at whether the deal “has resulted, or may be expected to result, in a substantial lessening of competition”. The CMA is inviting parties to comment on the competition impact of the deal, with a deadline of Tuesday, 12 October. The regulator will then decide whether or not to launch a phase one investigation into the deal. NewRiver left the pub sector through the deal, in an effort to raise funds to help further its growth within retail. The company entered the pub industry in 2013 before expanding with its acquisition of Hawthorn in 2018 for £107m, into which it incorporated its existing estate. In April the group first disclosed its plans to offload Hawthorn as a stand-alone business. An Admiral spokeswoman told Propel: “This is standard practice and expected from the CMA. We look forward to hearing the outcome in due course.”

Hospitality restrictions to remain in Northern Ireland despite social distancing ending in shops, theatres and cinemas: Social distancing in the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland will remain in place for at least another week, despite the restrictions being lifted for retail and indoor visitor attractions. Stormont ministers have agreed to remove the legal requirement to socially distance in such places to ease the financial burdens on businesses. However, they will not consider doing the same for the hospitality sector until a further meeting next week. The changes for retail and indoor entertainment venues will come into place at 6pm on Thursday (30 September), but with visitors still legally required to wear face masks. While the move will come as a relief to venues that have been unable to operate at full capacity, the frustrations remain for hospitality businesses having to serve fewer customers to adhere to social distancing rules. For weeks, Northern Ireland's first minister Paul Givan has been urging his executive colleagues to relax the rules, saying he wanted to see all covid-19 restrictions lifted by the end of September.

Dardis – the government needs to get a grip on the petrol crisis: Patrick Dardis, chief executive of Young's, has told the government it needs to “get a grip” on the petrol crisis. Dardis told the Standard he fears running out of some items on the menu “if the fuel shortage continues beyond this week”. He said: "There will be a reduction in the products we offer if carbon dioxide and fuel shortages continue. The government was caught napping again. It needs to get a grip. What else can be thrown at business and the economy? It is the perfect storm. They [ministers] have to open up the job market permanently to our EU colleagues. We need, as do the NHS, and many other sectors, a much bigger pool of workers, prepared to work. The economy will be a loser if the government doesn’t.” It follows a call last week from Clive Watson, chairman of City Pub Group, for an Australia-style, two-to-three-year working visa scheme for EU workers to help tackle the ongoing hospitality staffing crisis.

Glasgow’s hotel occupancy nearing 90% for UN Climate Change Conference: Glasgow’s hotel occupancy is nearing 90% for the UN Climate Change Conference in early November, according to data from STR. Glasgow’s occupancy on the books sits between 87% and 89% from 1-11 November, then dips to 80% on the final day of the conference. Such levels mark a substantial increase compared with levels for the remainder of the year, which are trending well below 40%, STR said. It added thanks to its proximity to the host market, Edinburgh is also capturing demand for the event period, with several days above 50%. STR managing director Robin Rossmann said: “As vaccination rates have risen, and international travel restrictions have eased, confidence has grown around major in-person events. The dates around the UN conference have stood out in our forward-looking data for quite some time, and levels have improved as we’ve drawn closer to the event with an improving pandemic situation. Provided there are no late setbacks, these dates in early November will be a huge win for Scotland’s hotel industry.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is on the lookout for a national operations manager for a contract catering business that operates across the UK. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “Our client is looking for an experienced operations manager who really understands the world of catering, events and hospitality. You will take overall responsibility for catering across small and mid-level stadiums nationwide, support on-site general managers and report into the divisional managing director. It is essential you have group or area management experience as well as a passion for food and customer service and a strong understanding of revenue management and P&L accountability. The position will work at a national level. However, a south east, Midlands or north west location would work best and the business will offer up to £55,000 base salary plus bonus, benefits and a company car.” Anyone interested can email Marlene@corecruitment.com

Company News: 

Matt Jones looks to triple Roxy Leisure empire to 30 sites, trade 50% up on pre-covid levels: Matt Jones, chief executive of Roxy Leisure, believes he could “easily” triple the number of sites he runs from ten to 30 in the coming years. Speaking on the Experimental Leisure in Casual Dining panel at Casual Dining 2021, Jones was looking at the immediate future – which will see expansion into Scotland and further into Yorkshire from its Leeds base – and beyond. “We started in 2017 with two sites and knew pretty much straight away we had a model where we could open multiple sites in the same city,” said Jones, who last month announced plans for sites in Edinburgh and York. “We’ve grown to ten sites now, and we’re looking to open five more over the next 18 months. We are coming further south, but not to London yet. We’re looking at how far can Roxy go – can we open 20 sites? Can we open 30 sites? Can we open 40 sites? I think we can go to 30 sites easily, but I think a natural step for us is looking at family sites as well. We’re very much over-18s at the moment and don’t let under-18s in. We tried when we first opened but found the blend of families trying to enjoy their day out and stag-dos didn’t work at all, but we hopefully have a family bar on the horizon.” Business has, in fact, been booming for Roxy since the post-lockdown reopenings, and Jones believes offering multiple leisure and entertainment formats under one roof has been key to that success. He added: “I’ve got another business that runs freehold pubs across Yorkshire that is slightly down, but Roxy is doing really well post-covid, and I’m talking 50% up on pre-covid levels. At the end of the day there’s nothing new in bowling alleys or in putting pool tables in bars and pubs, but it’s the way we put it together. Unlike of a lot of entertainment we’re putting ten or 11 games under one roof, so the dwell time is really big, and people are spending three or four hours in each venue. We were worried when the rules came in which restricted guests to groups of six, but since those have eased it’s been fine.” 

Bewiched Coffee plans 20-strong drive-thru estate: Northampton-based cafe operator Bewiched Coffee, which opened its first drive-thru site earlier this summer, has set out a target of operating a 20-strong drive-thru estate by the end of 2025, Propel understands. The company opened its debut drive-thru site in Moulton Park, Northampton, saying it was the first purpose-built independent coffee drive-thru in Europe. It has signed on two more drive-thru sites to be delivered in the third quarter of 2022 and the second quarter of 2023, with negotiations for a further five in progress. Bewiched founder and managing director Matt Fountain said: “We plan to have five operational drive-thru sites by the end of 2023, moving to 20 by the end of 2025. We intend to achieve this alongside our existing equity strategy and the imminent launch of our franchise programme. We are looking for more development sites in any location, our soft use is great from a planning perspective and we have a lot of flexibility on passing traffic counts and square footage. We are also looking for established franchise partners with track records in their own line of business, alongside a strong covenant and desire to operate customer focused drive-thru sites.” The company currently operates 12 sites, aside from the drive-thru unit. 

Toby Harris targets doubling State of Play’s portfolio by this time next year, UK sites performing ‘much more strongly’ versus 2019 levels: Toby Harris, chief executive of State of Play – whose portfolio includes darts, ping pong and bingo concepts Flight Club, Bounce and Hijingo – is aiming to double the size of his estate by next autumn. Three deals for sites in the United States – two of them delayed by the pandemic – are back on track to open over the winter, while there are also plans for further UK venues to add to its latest brand, Hijingo, which launched in Shoreditch in June. Speaking on the Experimental Leisure in Casual Dining panel at Casual Dining 2021, Harris said: “We’re planning to open three sites in the US over the winter – in Houston, Atlanta and Las Vegas. Atlanta and Vegas were pre-covid deals, so it’s been a long wait to finally get those open, and we’re looking at one or two more in the UK too. By this time next year, we’re looking at doubling our size in terms of units from six to 12. Business is really encouraging – we’re only operating in London, Boston and Chicago at the moment, so it’s like a two-tier situation. In the UK, we’re performing much more strongly versus 2019, whereas in the US the Delta variant has been much more of a thing. The infection rates seem to be finally going down, but they’re three to four months behind where we are. There’s a very clear read across from UK to US.” Harris also believes one of the key components of his business’ success is making sure the food and beverage side of his venues is not eclipsed by the entertainment aspect – something he feels makes it difficult for other experiential leisure concept rivals to emulate. He said: “Flight Club, for example, takes darts to another level, but it’s then about overlaying it with a really impressive food and beverage programme, and people don’t expect that. The first time you go, whether in the UK or US, that experience is way better than what the customer has been expecting. There’s now an expectation the food and cocktails are to a certain level, so it’s really difficult what we do, without being boastful. Delivering quality food and beverage on a multi-site and international basis is hard enough, but when you throw an activity into the equation it’s really difficult. Try doing what we have done overnight, even without the technology.”

DHP Family reports ‘strong performance’ since reopening as pandemic results in full-year turnover dropping 80%: Live music venue and club operator DHP Family has said it has seen “strong performance” since restrictions were lifted after seeing full-year turnover drop more than 80% as a result of many of its venues being shut by the pandemic. The company – which operates eight sites in Bristol, London and Nottingham and has a partnership with Manchester Cathedral to deliver its live music programme – said the brand position of its venues, strength of its management team and cash position left it “well placed” to recover. The company stated: “At the time of writing [14 September], post-19 July, with all restrictions lifted, DHP has returned to a strong performance boosting our balance sheet with profits during a normal slower time of the year. This will set us up well during the last quarter of 2021.” It comes as DHP Family reported turnover fell to £9.3m for the year ending 31 December 2020, compared with £44.6m the previous year. The company saw a pre-tax loss of £1.8m, compared with a profit of £1.9m the year before. The company stated: “The first two months of 2020 started strong for DHP with February being one of the best months in recent years from both club and the live music business. As with many businesses this changed in March 2020 with the covid-19 lockdown and the restrictions on nightclubs and live music running through the whole of 2020. During the year DHP has restructured its cost base to meet the downturn in turnover from the resulting closure period. As the business was allowed to reopen in mid-2020 the demand was good throughout the summer months for our bar areas and sit-down club nights and we quickly adapted to an app-based ordering system.”

Tossed opens new flagship Baker Street store: Tossed, the healthy-eating brand owned and led by Neil Sebba and Angelina Harrisson, has opened its new flagship store at 55 Baker Street in London. The location replaces Tossed’s previous Baker Street site, which is being demolished by the landlord, and maintains the company’s store count at 11. Like the recently opened store in Cannon Street, the new Baker Street store also opens for breakfast, offering a range of fresh-made eggs bowls, vegan porridge, juice, smoothies and hot drinks under its mantra of “food to make you feel good”. Sebba said: “We are delighted to have secured this fantastic store location in London & Regional’s flagship office block in Baker Street. It places us at the heart of our guest base where we can offer healthy and delicious food, made fresh, for every meal occasion. With each store opening we try and raise the bar a little higher, and the team has really delivered here. It’s unusual to have the luxury of an established guest base for a launch day, so we have worked hard to keep the closure period to a minimum, and we are excited to be welcoming them back.”

Bill’s appoints new operations director: Bill’s, the Richard Caring-backed group, has appointed Antonio Cipollaro, formerly of Cote and PizzaExpress, as a new operations director, Propel has learned. Cipollaro joins Bill’s after almost 12 years at Cote, including the past two years as an operations manager, Previous to that he spent eight years at PizzaExpress. Cipollaro is the third new operations director that has joined Bill’s in the past 18 months. Earlier this summer, Bill’s appointed Dan Wonfor, formerly of Cote, Food and Fuel and Geronimo Inns, as a new operations director. Last July, the company appointed Joel Claustre, formerly of Searcys, as an operations director. Propel understands Claustre and Wonfor remain with Bill’s. A spokesman told Propel: “We have strengthened the team and continue to do so.” In August, Caring told the Sunday Times he planned to plough £10m into refurbishments of his Bill’s estate. Eight of the 52 restaurants will be fitted out with bars and will feature DJs and live music. “Not to turn them into a nightclub,” he added hastily. But “some of the Bill’s need a lot of help”.

Slim Chickens lines up Brighton opening: Slim Chickens franchisee JRK Restaurants has lined up its third opening for the US brand along the south coast, in Brighton. Propel understands JRK, which already operates Slim Chickens sites in Southampton and Bournemouth, is planning to open in Brighton’s North Street Quadrant, spread across two existing units, including the former New York Coffee Club site. Earlier this summer, JRK opened its second site, in Bournemouth's BH2 leisure complex on a former Frankie & Benny’s unit. Last month, Slim Chicken’s master franchisee in the UK, Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), added to its Slim Chickens estate, with its first opening in the north east. Slim Chickens opened in the former MOD Pizza site in the Metrocentre, Gateshead. The 13-strong Slim Chickens is set to open on a second former MOD Pizza site, in Nottingham. Slim Chickens also operates a concessions site in the Sainsbury’s in Selly Oak, Birmingham, as part of BRG’s The Hub, which sees five restaurant brands housed under one roof.

Various Eateries eyes Bath site for Coppa Club: Various Eateries, the AIM-listed Andy Bassadone-chaired business, is eyeing an opening in Bath. Propel understands the 12-strong group has applied to open on the former GAP store in the city’s Old Bond Street. Earlier this month, Propel revealed Various Eateries had secured a site in the Surrey town of Haslemere for an opening under its Coppa Club brand. The 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.

Thai Express to launch new ‘kitchen’ format at Edinburgh’s St James Quarter: Thai street food restaurant Thai Express is to open a site at the St James Quarter in Edinburgh. Thai Express will be taking 2,600 square foot at Leith St Eats and bringing a new format – “Thai Express Kitchen” – to the Scottish capital. The concept is expected to cater to the evening trade and will boast an open kitchen and salad station. Thai Express has more than 350 stores worldwide. Managing director Sachin Pattani said: “As well as extending our food and drink offering with exciting twists on your traditional Thai classics, St James is the perfect setting to unveil our new concept.” Thai Express will be joined by US chicken brand Wingstop, which will be making its Scottish debut. As revealed by Propel this week, Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out the brand in the UK, is opening an 1,800 square foot restaurant at Leith St Eats on level one, in the unit previously earmarked for @Pizza. Ed Corrigan, assistant leasing director for the St James Quarter, said: “We have been blown away by the success of our restaurants and food outlets so far at St James Quarter. Proof of this is our continuing to attract sensational new brands of the calibre of Wingstop within just weeks of our launch. We are delighted to land a global first with Thai Express Kitchen, a new format that will be perfect for St James Quarter’s premium standing and will expand on our all-day and night-time offer.”

Bone Daddies appoints new head of people: Bone Daddies Group, which comprises the eponymous ramen restaurants, Shack-Fuyu and Flesh & Buns, has appointed JB Hall as its new head of people. Hall has a wealth of HR and hospitality experience, having previously been head of people at skinny chops concept Blacklock, London gastropub operator Noble Inns and upmarket steakhouse chain Hawksmoor, and is current consultant for Together Charity. Bone Daddies Group said it has made the appointment as part of its drive to focus on culture, people and encouraging more people into hospitality as a career. As part of Hall’s role, he will place a heavy focus on training and coaching, fostering a positive culture and driving employee development. Operations director Steve Hill said: “Things have changed in hospitality and as an industry we now have an amazing opportunity to do what we should have been doing a long time ago. Making fundamental changes to our work space and practice, not just trying to adapt it to make it more digestible. Our indigenous workforce just doesn't aspire to the old thinking that unsociable hours, late nights, long physical shifts are acceptable at any price. JB Hall has joined the Bone Daddies Group to add to the leadership team, which is genuinely willing and able to go on a journey to build exceptional, happy, high performance workplaces that this new talent pool can aspire to. It will take time and some sacrifice but this is a once in a generation opportunity to rock this boat.”

MasterChef The Professions winner Laurence Henry to open debut restaurant: Nottingham chef and MasterChef The Professionals winner Laurence Henry has been named chef-patron at Canal Turn – the new restaurant and entertainment space currently being built at The Island Quarter in the city. Henry, who won the BBC show in 2018, has been in talks with Conygar, developer of The Island Quarter, for more than two years with ambitions to put down roots in his home city. Henry will operate and oversee the food offering at Canal Turn – which will have venues spanning three storeys and opens in the spring. He said: “I have been looking for some time for my own restaurant where I can deliver my own style of cooking and be truly creative, and do be able to this in Nottingham – my home city – is incredible for me.” The middle ground level of Canal Turn will be Henry’s signature restaurant. The upper events level is a large, open-plan space with capacity for 200 people. Conygar chief executive Robert Ware said: “Nottingham is on the map because of its Michelin star restaurants and we know this will be strengthened with the addition of Laurence Henry.”

Compass Group to roll out ‘eco-labelling’ across workplace catering sites to help consumers make more sustainable choices: Catering company Compass Group UK & Ireland is to roll out “eco-labelling” across its workplace catering sites. It follows a pilot project with researchers in the Livestock, Environment and People labelling (LEAP) group at the University of Oxford. The eco-labelling initiative sees dishes labelled A-E, to highlight which meals have a higher (E) or lower (A) environmental impact. The data is shared with the LEAP researchers who are monitoring whether eco-labels nudge consumers to make more sustainable and planet-friendly meal choices. Scoring is based on greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity, water pollution and biodiversity loss, with the eco-label values for each product created using environmental impact data from the Poore & Nemecek dataset and menu item ingredient information. Initially trialled by the business and industry arm of Compass, Eurest, at 15 industry client sites that remained operational throughout the pandemic, the business has seen positive results in relation to consumer behaviour. LEAP aims to understand the health, environmental, social and economic effects of meat and dairy production and consumption, in order to provide evidence and tools for promoting healthy and sustainable diets. Other areas of focus include availability of plant-based options on menus, placement of products and creative naming trials. Working with LEAP, dishes descriptions were also reviewed and renamed – providing more detail and description of what was within each dish. For example, the Big Veggie Bowl has become a hearty roasted squash and broccoli bowl with maple glazed lentils.

EasyHotel appoints new CEO, set to continue expansion: Karim Malak has been appointed as the new chief executive of “super budget” hotel brand EasyHotel, which is looking to expand its 41-strong international portfolio. Malik, who oversaw the growth of Aparthotels Adagio to a network of 121 hotels across 13 countries, is expected to join the EasyHotel group in December. Earlier in his career, Malik had tenures at both Accenture and The Boston Consulting Group as well as founding revenue management consultancy Mereo. At EasyHotel, he replaces former chief executive Francois Bacchetta, who passed away in June. EasyHotel chairman Harm Meijer said: “Karim brings with him a breadth of industry expertise, combining a strong background in data analytics and nimble hotel operations with a proven track-record in strategic growth delivery. His customer-centric approach to product development will be invaluable as we continue to develop and expand the EasyHotel brand, and I look forward to working together to build on the exciting opportunities ahead for the group. I would also like to thank Nicolas Castanet who, following the tragic death of Francois, has excellently taken on the additional responsibilities of interim chief executive as well as his ongoing duties as chief financial officer.” Formed in 2004 by Sir Stelios HajiIoannou, EasyHotel is now 76% owned by investment funds Icamap Investments and Ivanhoé Cambridge. EasyHotel’s 41 current sites are based in 32 cities across 11 countries, but the company said it has “ambitious growth objectives”, with several developments “in the pipeline” and a “planned schedule of hotel openings”.  Malak added: “I’m delighted to be joining the group at this exciting time and look forward to working with this ambitious team to continue to develop the brand and deliver further growth. A recognised leader in the affordable and sustainable accommodation sector, EasyHotel is ideally positioned to capitalise on the strong underlying structural drivers across its markets.”

Rohit Ghai launches new venture as he returns to Mayfair: Rohit Ghai, former executive chef of Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Jamavar, has launched his new venture as he makes a return to London’s Mayfair. Ghai and business partner Abhishake Sangwan have opened Manthan, an Indian restaurant with a focus on sharing plates, cocktails and mocktails. Taking over the former Lucknow 49 premises in Maddox Street, Manthan, which means “to churn and reflect”, draws on Ghai’s childhood in Madhya Pradesh as well as his experience in some of London’s best Indian restaurants. The menu features “traditional flavours with a contemporary twist” while almost half of the dishes on the menu are vegetarian. Dishes include goat shami kebab in bone marrow sauce, and a Burford brown egg curry. The cocktail menu is inspired by the seven oceans of the world. Asian spirits, fine and new world wine are also available along with an extensive non-alcoholic cocktail menu. Ghai said: “I’ve never cooked this way before in London – dishes that truly speak to my past, as well as my present. Manthan is a culmination of many years of work and I hope it speaks to Londoners as being representative of the comfort food I love from home, as well as the food I have made my name cooking here.” In 2018, Ghai launched his first stand-alone restaurant with Sangwan, Kutir in Chelsea. Ghai, who also operates Koolcha at Boxpark Wembley, will also open Ishka 360, in Doha, later this year.

Benugo looks to introduce more sustainable menus as it expands Cooking Sections partnership: Deli cafe operator Benugo will expand its partnership with Turner Prize 2021 nominated Cooking Sections as part of a long-term project to add ingredients that help regenerate the planet to its menus. Entitled “Becoming Climavore”, the project aims to shake-up menus at museums and art galleries across the UK, including the V&A, Serpentine and Science Museum. The first step is to remove farmed salmon from menus. This will be followed by Benugo creating new Climavore products using filter-feeders and regenerative coastal ingredients that have a positive effect on marine ecology and proactively respond to the ecological challenges in the waters around the island, including foraged Cornish seaweed and ocean greens. Benugo commercial director Shane Kavanagh said: “Sustainability improvements in food often translate as doing less harm, and the opportunity to learn about, and experiment with, ingredients that actually have a regenerative effect on ecology and do positive good has been immensely exciting.”

PPHE to make Austrian debut with £12.7m mountain hotel deal: PPHE Hotel Group, the company which develops, owns and operates hotels and resorts, has agreed, via its subsidiary, Arena Hospitality Group, to acquire the Franz Ferdinand Mountain Resort Nassfeld, a four-star hotel in Nassfeld, Austria, and related businesses, for £12.7m. The hotel offers 144 family rooms, a restaurant, bar, conference rooms, private car park, wellness and sauna and children facilities. In addition, the agreement includes the acquisition of a detached property consisting of 21 rooms currently used as employee accommodation, and a site adjacent to the hotel, currently in use as a terrace, which is earmarked for future development of a swimming pool. PPHE stated: “This latest acquisition is a strategic fit that complements the group’s summer leisure business and builds on the seasonal synergies, which can be achieved due to the hotel’s close proximity to the group’s Croatian operations. In addition, Austria is one of the group’s largest customer markets for its Croatian operations and this hotel will help further raise the group’s profile in this important market.” Boris Ivesha, president and chief executive of PPHE, said: “This latest acquisition marks our entry into Austria, which is a strong and important customer market for our Croatian operations. It is also a further step in creating a stronger footprint in the region, where we now have properties in Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Germany and Austria.”

Greene King scoops trio of accolades at TIARA Talent Awards: Brewer and retailer Greene King has won three accolades in the TIARA Talent Awards recognising its commitment to its people and apprenticeships. The TIARA awards “set a new standard of excellence for the recruitment sector” and the finals night saw Greene King win the Talent Acquisition Award, the Early Careers Pioneer Award and lift the overall title of the Judges’ Choice Talent Acquisition Team of the Year Award. Graham Briggs, head of apprenticeships and employability programmes at Greene King, said: “Winning these three awards is wonderful news and it is testament to the outstanding work of our people. The creativity and effectiveness of their work can be seen every day throughout Greene King. Leadership at all levels and across all our teams displays a culture that is deeply rooted in care, friendship and camaraderie for our employees and customers. We embrace individuality and challenge social barriers, creating opportunities for all.” Greene King has now supported more than 13,000 apprentices since its programme began ten years ago and now offers more than 30 different apprenticeships.

Eight Stony Street founder’s third site for wine bar, restaurant and shop concept opens in Salisbury: Kent Barker’s third site for his Somerset-based wine bar, restaurant and shop concept has opened. It is a second Wilding site, following an Oxford opening in May, for Barker, who launched Eight Stony Street in Frome in 2019. The venue is based at the Old George Mall in High Street, Salisbury, on the site of a former Café Rouge premises. Barker said: “The restaurant will complement our sister brand Eight Stony Street, giving us a chance to share local suppliers and delivering a sustainable dining experience.” Occupying 3,724 square feet, Wilding also features a dedicated wine shop and a cafe and adds to the mall’s existing food and beverage offerings, including independent cafe Boston Tea Party and better burger brand Byron. The mall is owned and run by Railpen, the investment manager for the £35bn Railways Pension Scheme, whose asset manager, Mahmoud Attia, added: “We are delighted to welcome Wilding to Salisbury and to be supporting the business’ growth. With its many awards, huge selection of wine and reputation for quality food, Wilding will add something special to the Old George Mall. The signing also demonstrates Railpen’s commitment to securing local, independent businesses to complement leading high street brands.” Time Retail acted for Railpen, and Everard Cole represented Wilding.

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