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Fri 29th Oct 2021 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

McDonald’s to launch MyMcDonald’s Rewards in UK in 2022: McDonald’s is to launch its first global digital reward scheme, MyMcDonald’s Rewards, in the UK in 2022. The offer launched in the US earlier this month and already has 12 million signed up. Chief executive Chris Kempczini said: “Earlier this month, we were proud to launch our new loyalty program, MyMcDonald’s Rewards, in the US. The loyalty of every McDonald’s fan has been unmatched for 65 years, and with these new digital connections, we’re able to do an even better job of rewarding them for it. We already have more than 22 million active MyMcDonald’s users in the US, with more than 12 million enrolled in our new loyalty program, MyMcDonald’s Rewards. And that’s before national advertising for loyalty, which began earlier this week. It is a good example of how our core menu and personalised marketing come together through digital channels to build a stronger relationship with our customers. Our digital systemwide sales across our top six markets were nearly $8bn in the first half of 2021, a 70% increase versus last year, and that’s why we’re moving aggressively to bring MyMcDonald’s Rewards to our top six markets. We currently have loyalty programs in place in France and the US. Germany and Canada plan to launch MyMcDonald’s Rewards before the end of this year, followed by the UK and Australia in 2022. MyMcDonald’s Rewards is just the first example of how we will lead as a digital innovator by leveraging our scale and engaging with our customers in a truly integrated way. For the past 18 months, our digital customer engagement, global marketing, data analytics and restaurant solutions teams have worked to standardise our infrastructure and align the system against some common frameworks. These efforts ultimately paved the way for MyMcDonald’s Rewards, our first global digital offering that we are now deploying across our largest markets.”

Industry News:

Updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies released today at midday, 66 companies being added: A total of 66 new multi-site companies, operating 446 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-site Companies, which will be released today Friday 29 October, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes a number of brands growing through franchise, regional pub and hotel operators and expanding seafood brands. Premium subscribers will also receive a 5,133-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. It features more than 2,000 companies. Alongside this, Premium subscribers will also receive the fourth edition of the New Openings Database, which Is produced in association with StarStock, on Wednesday, 3 November, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The fourth edition will now include a 14,600-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to another database – the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated monthly, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. 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. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up. In this week’s Premium Opinion column, Propel insights editor Mark Wingett talks to Ian Dunstall, director at Upham Inns, about the challenge of turning around a business during the crisis.

Glynn Davis – hospitality operators should consider dynamic pricing: Bars and restaurants should follow the example of retailers in looking at dynamic pricing. Such a move could help ease the economic pressures being felt by the sector, says retail trends commentator Glynn Davis, writing exclusively in Friday’s Propel Opinion. He highlights the example of Asda, which recently announced plans to roll-out electronic shelf edge labels (ESLs) in its stores. “The opportunities for the likes of Pret A Manger and other foodservice operators in introducing such labels is obvious, and is enhanced significantly when you consider the ability to also add QR codes onto the ESL to show nutritional information,” said Davis. “There has also been work undertaken to include Near Field Communication (NFC) tags onto some labels, thereby enabling individuals (such as those with subscriptions) to simply swipe their phone and be shown a different price to that shown on the label. As the hospitality industry faces higher costs from multiple directions, there maybe needs to be a more intelligent, flexible way of dealing with pricing rather than the blunt-instrument way it has largely been dealt with to date. For many companies, the extent of their dynamism with pricing is to charge more for dinner than for lunch. The problem for businesses is that everybody seems to regard any sort of dynamic pricing-type activity as being sinister and all about ripping off the public. One way to introduce price movements is to completely remove any sinister perceptions and bring in a bit of fun. Such activity might be seen as a bit gimmicky, but if it moves the dial on the public acceptance of dynamic pricing, then the hospitality industry can make some progress towards adopting a more intelligent approach to pricing.” Davis will share more of his thoughts in this week’s Friday Opinion, which will be published on Friday (29 October) at 11am.

Amber Staynings – eliminate customers’ fears to save Christmas bookings: Hospitality venues need to understand and act on their customers’ fears in order to save their Christmas bookings. Amber Staynings, founder and chief executive of hospitality consultants Bums on Seats, says data from her company shows whereas 85% of Christmas bookings would be made before the end of October pre-covid, this year it is closer to 35%. “If you want to understand your customer, then you need do no more than consider how you are feeling personally right now,” said Steyning, writing exclusively in Friday’s Propel Opinion. “We must all learn from our customers’ fears so that we can eliminate or reduce them substantially to secure much-needed bums on seats. It’s imperative that you understand and empathise with your potential customer in order to build trust and maintain the long- term relationship crucial to building loyalty and your underlying profitability derived from sales. Learning from experience is one of the joys in life as far as I’m concerned, and applying the lessons from this year’s generally slower preparations for Christmas within hospitality is a MUST for next year. Christmas, with the right planning and timing, should be the most profitable trading period which impacts on revenue in subsequent periods as well as the rest of the following year and beyond. Now that we are almost into November, what we really need to discuss is what can we do to drive Christmas sales this year? The answer is much simpler than you might expect – understand and eliminate your customers’ fears to bring them into your venue, and make everyone happy with Christmas cheer!”

London hospitality operators among those demanding a full reinstatement of the Night Tube: A group of hospitality operators have put their name to a letter demanding that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, fully restores the Night Tube service immediately. Khan recently announced that weekend services on the Victoria and Central lines would resume on 27 November, but there is no date for the other lines. However, a letter from 37 leaders in the hospitality, retail and property sectors has been sent to the Evening Standard, saying this is not enough. The letter was organised by Simon Thomas, chief executive of the Hippodrome Casino in Leicester Square. This follows a 156,000-signature petition demanding a full reinstatement to protect women travelling home, in the wake of Sarah Everard’s murder. The Night Tube is the last part of the Underground network to be restored to normal service after the end of the lockdowns, its return delayed by a now-resolved union dispute. The reopening of the other lines has been delayed by driver shortages and planned engineering works, according to Transport for London.

Code Hospitality acquires The Good Food Guide: Dining resource The Good Food Guide has been acquired by Code Hospitality, from Waitrose & Partners. The guide ceased publication earlier in the year, but new owners Code, the hospitality membership network, intends to develop it and grow its digital offering. Code has major expansion plans for 2022 and sees the acquisition of the guide as a way to help achieve those goals. “I’ve long respected The Good Food Guide in continuing to not only champion hospitality, but to publish authoritative, reliable guides year-on-year since 1951,” said Code founder Adam Hyman, who started the London-based business in 2013. “I’m excited to now own such an iconic brand that we can evolve. We will continue to produce a 2022 Guide at a time when the industry needs championing most as it recovers after the pandemic.” The guide’s editor will continue to be Elizabeth Carter, who has worked with the publication since the 1990s and has been editor since 2007. She added: “A new lease of life – what a great 70th birthday present for The Good Food Guide. It’s been a gruelling time for the restaurant business, and after watching from the sidelines for 19 months I’m thrilled to be getting back to work. For the very first time, the guide will be part of a community for the hospitality industry, and I’m looking forward to experiencing fresh thinking, discussing new ideas and eating some delicious food.”

Mark Hix – let’s leave VAT at 12.5% for another year: Chef and restaurateur Mark Hix has argued VAT should be left at 12.5% for another year to give the sector a chance to reach a “more stable place”. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Hix stated: “As an industry, we are also facing particular problems. The biggest is staff shortages – The Fish House currently closes after Sunday lunch and doesn’t reopen until Wednesday morning. The facts are these: our staff take home more than the National Living Wage. So, someone working 45 hours a week is roughly earning the equivalent of £25,000 per year, with the chance of training and career development to see that baseline total grow. Of course, we would like to take the Prime Minister’s advice at the Tory party conference and double rates in pursuit of a high-wage, high-skill economy. But we can only afford to pay £20 an hour to our front-of-house staff if you, the customers, are willing to pay £10 for a cup of coffee. And for all the talk of how we need to increase our national productivity, the reality in my small business in Dorset is that every single member of our overstretched team could hardly be more productive than they are now, unless they grew a second pair of hands and feet, or could be in two places at the same time.”

Inflation will cancel out any ‘draught relief’ benefit: Drinkers will not feel the benefit of the Chancellor’s tax cut on a pint of beer because of the impact of inflation on prices, pub bosses have warned. Industry chiefs warned that spiralling inflation was poised to cancel out any benefit from a “draught relief”, which will apply to 40-litre kegs of beer and cider. Pubs and restaurants are currently experiencing inflation of around 14%, fuelled by an increase in the minimum wage and rising food prices. “We will pass on the duty cut at a wholesale, but in all honesty, pubs are facing between 25p to 30p per pint inflation, and all this will do is take the top off that,” Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame, which runs 300 pubs across London and the south east, told the BBC’s Today programme. “While I’d love to see the price of beer come down, it’s very hard to see that, because a lot of inflation is still coming down the track in terms of energy and food.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is currently supporting Workspace as they look to appoint a chief operating officer. The client is a fast-paced, innovative and highly entrepreneurial business which is growing its flexible office space portfolio across the UK. Due to continued expansion, it is looking to appoint a chief operating officer, who will work directly with the chief executive across the estate. They will be fully responsible for product oversight and need to have a great interest and understanding in people and F&B. This role would suite a seasoned professional with an exceptional record in workspace/flexible office operations. Ideally, they will have had exposure to both established and start-up environments and be able to evidence product/concept development and delivery. The position is based in London, paying up to £150,000 base salary. If you are interested in finding out more, email Sheila@corecruitment.com 

Company News: 

C&C Group – talk of Admiral Taverns sale pure speculation: C&C Group chief executive David Forde has dismissed claims that the company had begun to explore the sale of its 47% stake in Admiral Taverns as “pure speculation”. Forde told Propel the company reviewed its assets on a regular basis, but talk of a sale of Admiral Taverns was a “surprise” to the C&C Board. Elsewhere, Forde hailed the resilience of the pub sector, saying: “I’m as great believer in the British pub – a wonderful institution”. Forde went on to say the pub sector had “withstood many difficult challenges” and he believed the current situation will lead to greater efficiencies in areas like delivery. On the company’s on-trade performance, C&C stated: “During August 2021, volume throughput per outlet recovered to broadly FY2020 levels, with a robust operational performance and stock availability enabling Matthew Clark to broadly meet demand, despite a backdrop of capacity constraints in the industry driven by a shortage of drivers. Recovery was aided by the European Football Championship and further helped by England’s run to the final, which supported mid-week trading. Further, warm weather and ‘staycations’ led to strong performances across traditional domestic holiday destinations, particularly coastal areas. The casual dining category has rebounded strongly, with volumes in June 2021 at c.90% of FY2020, despite social distancing rules still being in place, and by the end of August 2021 they were broadly in line with FY2020. Conversely, hotel recovery, particularly in urban centres, has been slower, with volume recovery at c.57% of FY2020 in June 2021, but we have been encouraged over the summer as trade has rebuilt to 74% of August 2020. Net revenue per case has performed strongly, with higher value categories such as spirits performing well, supported by premiumisation and consumer readiness to pay more as part of a drinking occasion. Matthew Clark was profitable in Q2 FY2022.”

Gravity Southside becomes first UK hospitality operator to employ robot waiters, new sites in the pipeline: The owners of Gravity Southside, a multi-attraction experiential site in Wandsworth, has employed three new android staff to help support its team on the restaurant floor. The robot serving team can deliver up to five trays of food and drink at a time and are equipped with the latest artificial intelligence and voice modules. They are designed by Chinese tech firm Pudu and have been used in hospitals, schools, office buildings and subway stations around the world. However, Gravity Southside is the first to employ the robots in the UK hospitality sector, to help ease the current staffing shortage. What’s more, the androids will be paid £10.85 per hour, and their earnings will be donated to children's charity Together For Shorter Lives. Gravity Southside co-founder Michael Harrison said: “Gravity Wandsworth is still hiring human staff to work alongside our new recruits – and we’re eager to hear from candidates across the whole of the hospitality sector.” Able to cater for some 1,000 people at a time, Gravity Southside features e-karting, augmented reality bowling, street golf, alternative reality darts, shuffleboard and a huge arcade space featuring more than 50 games. The venue also has three food and beverage venues – a sports bar, a cocktail bar and a Japanese street bar and noodle kitchen. Founded by Harrison, Simon Whicker and Harvey Jenkinson in 2014, Gravity Entertainment has built more than half a million square feet of entertainment space across 17 UK venues, as well as a Middle East franchise, and has various other sites in the pipeline. Gravity and partner Landsec have poured some £6m into the Southside venue – a pilot space intended to shape other Gravity openings in the UK in coming years. The Wandsworth site employs around 125 people, with the group employing 600 in total.

Cricket-based concept Sixes secures fourth site: Sixes, the cricket-based competitive socialising concept from the founders of Mac & Wild, is to open its fourth venue after confirming it has secured a site in Birmingham. As revealed by Propel at the start of this month, Sixes, which opened its third site last month in Manchester, has secured the former Café Rouge in the city’s Mailbox scheme. It is thought that the company hopes to open the new site before the end of the year. At the end of last month, founders Calum Mackinnon and Andy Waugh opened the concept’s first site outside London at Manchester’s Corn Exchange. As previously revealed by Propel, Sixes is backed by several former professional cricket players, including ex-England captain Sir Andrew Strauss. It runs two sites in London already – in Fulham and Fitzrovia. Sixes is also in talks on a site in Oxford, believed to be at the Westgate scheme. Will Biggart, of Torridon, acts for Sixes.

BrewDog withdraws plans to open site in Wapping: Scottish brewer and bar operator BrewDog has withdrawn plans to open a site in London’s Wapping. At the start of this year, the business announced plans to open a new site in London called BrewDog & Friends. Tweeting about the potential new opening with a picture of the inside of the proposed site – a former power station in Wapping – BrewDog co-founder James Watt had said: “Excited to hopefully turn this amazing old building in London into a new amazing BrewDog brewpub. The concept would be called ‘BrewDog & Friends’ and we would invite brilliant breweries from all over the world to do brewing residencies in the facility. Fingers crossed!” The space is now being jointly marketed by Bruce Gillingham Pollard and Distrkt. Earlier this week, Propel revealed that BrewDog is to open its biggest site to date, complete with bars, brewery, workspaces, bowling alley and coffee shop, in London’s Waterloo. The company will launch the new 26,500 square-foot global flagship site next summer over two floors of the former international Eurostar terminal, which was previously set to be a UK debut site for Time Out Market. It will be the biggest BrewDog location in the world, encompassing two floors of “amazing craft beer, spirits, food and entertainment in the centre of the city”.

Yard Sale Pizza to open in Lewisham next month: Yard Sale Pizza, the restaurant and delivery concept that includes sector investor Paul Campbell as non-executive director, will open in Lewisham, south east London, next month. As revealed by Propel at the start of last month, the Johnnie Tate-led business, which opened in Crystal Palace earlier this summer, will take over the former Fish Bar site in Brockley Road, Crofton Park. Earlier this year, Yard Sale Pizza secured the former The Crust Co site at 63 Bedford Hill, Balham, for its seventh site. The company opened its debut restaurant in Clapton in 2014. It also has branches in East Dulwich, Hackney Road, Leytonstone, Walthamstow and Finsbury Park. Casey Phillips, at Casey Phillips Property Partnership, acted on the Lewisham deal.

Bill’s appoints Rebecca Tooth as new chief operating officer: Bill’s, the Richard Caring-backed group, has appointed Rebecca Tooth, formerly of Coppa Club and Cote Restaurants, as its new chief operating officer, Propel has learned. Tooth joins Bill’s after a brief spell with Coppa Club earlier this year, which followed 12 years at Cote, where she had stints as its central operations director, operations director and regional director. She will report into Bill’s chief executive Baton Berisha, who is also the chief executive of the Caring-backed Ivy Collection and Caprice Holdings. Last month, Propel revealed that Bill’s had appointed Antonio Cipollaro, formerly of Cote and PizzaExpress, as a new operations director. 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.”

JKS Restaurants to launch Vietnamese pop-up in Soho: JKS Restaurants, led by Karam, Jyotin and Sunaina Sethi, is to launch a new Vietnamese pop-up, VIỆTPopulaire, offering “street food classics found in the coffee shops and beer stations of Hanoi’s old quarter”, in London’s Soho, Propel has learned. The company will launch the new venture in conjunction with chef Luke Farrell on the former XU site in Rupert Street today (29 October) for a limited run of seven weeks. The company said the concept will bring the “convivial atmosphere of Vietnamese dining to the capital, with bánh mì taking centre stage on the menu alongside iconic Hanoi dishes such as Bò Né”. For each week of the pop-up’s seven week run, a new weekly special bánh mì will feature. The herbs and chillies featured on the menu make their way to ViệtPopulaire from Ryewater Nursery in Dorset, where founder Farrell has a collection of Vietnamese herbs in tropical greenhouses. He also had one of the first bánh mì shops in London 11 years ago called ViệtBaguette, in an old butcher's shop in Charlotte Place, Fitzrovia. VIỆTPopulaire will continue serving food and drinks into the late hours, with last sittings at midnight. Jyotin said: “Bringing the concept to life and carefully curating the menu and the atmosphere has been an exciting challenge for our team; we hope Chinatown visitors enjoy the result as much as we do.” Julia Wilkinson, restaurant director at Shaftesbury, added: “JKS Restaurants really understands the London market, so we look forward to seeing the reception for VIỆTPopulaire over the next few weeks.” London-based operator Bao, which was founded by Shing Tat Chung, Erchen Chang and Wai Ting Chung, and backed by JKS, confirmed the permanent closure of its Xu restaurant in Soho, at the start of this month.

Former Noble Inns team to open ‘carbon neutral dining’ Clapham pub, aims for string of sustainable projects: Antidote Project, the new name for the former Noble Inns group behind Smokehouse, The Pig and Butcher and The Princess of Shoreditch, will open a new pub in Clapham next month. The Pig’s Head, which opens on 8 November, will be a third site for Maria and Scott Hunter and a first new venue since changing their group’s name to Antidote Projects in 2018. They have partnered with their Pig & Butcher team, Michael Chan and Jack Ross, who will head up the kitchen and front of house respectively. It marks the start of a new string of planet-first projects from the pair, with sustainability at the heart of it. Aiming for carbon-neutral dining, all meat will be butchered on site, while around half the menu will be dedicated to plant-based dishes using native produce from family-run farms. The venue will have a 60-cover bar area and a 40-cover dining area with an open-plan farmhouse kitchen. The Hunters said: “We’d been looking for a site on which to open a business with Jack and Michael for a couple of years and jumped at this spot. It’s a great site, and Clapham Old Town has the vibrant village vibe that we were looking for. We firmly believe the future of sustainability rests on not persuading people to become vegan, but for people to eat much less meat and fish, and for this meat and fish to be of a very high quality. That’s why we source whole native animals from local farms with outstanding husbandry and, as with Smokehouse and The Pig and Butcher, we will butcher in house.” Paul Tallentyre at Davis Coffer Lyons acted on the Clapham deal.

Ninja Warrior to open debut site in Kent: The Ninja Warrior UK Adventure Park is set to open its first Kent site after signing a deal at Chatham Waterside. SREF, part of Schroders Capital, confirmed the Prime Leisure Group-operated entertainment attraction would be occupying the 30,000 square-foot former Dickens World unit on a 15-year lease. The company acquired the site for £12.9m in 2013, with other tenants including an Odeon Cinema, Pure Gym, Gymfinity Kids and Nandos. Inspired by the ITV entertainment show which sees contestants tackle a series of tough obstacle courses in a bid to be crowned UK Ninja Warrior, the adventure park – set to open in December – provides a physical adventure experience. It already operates at ten different venues across the UK. Tom Woolven, investment manager for SREF, said: “The arrival of such a popular and high-profile tenant is just the first of a series of new businesses that we expect to introduce to Chatham Waterside this year, as we bounce back from the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Experiential offerings are continuing to grow across the UK and are a great way to attract visitors to retail and leisure destinations, so we look forward to working with Prime Leisure Group, in addition to our current and prospective new tenants as we continue to enhance Chatham Waterside as one of Kent’s premier leisure destinations.”

Gym and fitness club doubles up, takes over lease of historic Portsmouth building: Gym and fitness club Bodywork 360 has secured its second site in Hampshire by taking over the lease of Portsmouth’s former Drill Hall. The 7,000 square-foot site forms part of the grade-II listed building, on Stanhope Road, which was first configured as a gym a few years ago. A spokesman for Bodyworx 360 said: “We are delighted to have moved into our second home in one of Portsmouth’s most historically significant buildings. The Bodyworx 360 team cannot wait to see what we accomplish over the next couple of years.” The property was leased by Flude Property Consultants, whose director, Sebastian Martin, added: “This letting was a long time in the making due to various lockdowns and issues with a long leaseholder, but it is great to finally see site open and trading.”

Cups Coffee & Creators to open second site with quirky retail twist: Cups Coffee & Creators is to open a second site, this one located in Shrewsbury’s former Country Linens and Interiors building opposite Dough and Oil on Castle Street. James and Nicole Bradbury, the owners of Cups, already run a coffee shop in Chester. The brand offers people the chance to play board games while eating and drinking. The Shrewsbury branch – based on the ground floor of a grade II-listed building – will include retail space for independent creators. Nicole Bradbury said: “Our brand, Cups, is keen to work with the local communities and to develop areas that will benefit Shrewsbury. For this reason, our Shrewsbury store will be a little different from our Chester store. We are creating a quirky retail space for small, independent makers – giving our creators a space on the high street to sell their unique products.”

Historic Somerset pub gets first new owner in three decades: Husband-and-wife team Jeanine and Harish Kumar have taken over the historic Burcott Inn in Wookey, Somerset. The pub dates back to the late 1500s, with some parts of the original building still remaining, and also features four self-catering cottages housed in the original stables. The business has been owned and operated by Ian and Anne Stead since 1994, who will now go travelling before returning to look for a home in the area. The new owners will be relocating back to the UK to run the pub after living in Dubai for the past 20 years. They said: “Together with Harish’s background in the hospitality industry and our love of the west country, the Burcott Inn was the perfect choice to make our new home. Chef Harrie will be heading up our team in the kitchen, serving modern pub food with an interesting twist. He’s built an enviable skillset working in various world class restaurants over the last 30 years, and we aim to support the community by using locally sourced produce.” The deal was brokered by Nicholas Calfe, Christie & Co’s hospitality team director, and funded by Gary Boyce, director at Christie & Co’s sister company, Christie Finance.

New buffet concept to replace Prezzo in Hereford next month: A new buffet concept, Amazing Asias, featuring Indian and Thai dishes, will replace Prezzo at Hereford's Old Market Shopping Centre on Tuesday, 9 November. The 120-seater restaurant said it would have 70 items available on the buffet and offer outside seating. Prezzo announced in March 2018 that the restaurant in the centre’s Garrick Lane would close, and it has remained empty since. Prices for adults at Amazing Asia are £14.99, while children under ten are £11.95 and under-fives go free.

Burger King opens first vegetarian restaurant: Burger King has opened its first fully vegetarian restaurant in Madrid, Spain, for a month. The move is an attempt “to reach both people who base their diet on vegetable products, and those who do eat meat but who reduce their consumption.” The pop-up, on Paseo el Prado, is rebranded as Vurger King and will exclusively serve vegetarian items for an entire month. The menu includes a plant-based Whopper, vegan chicken nuggets and a new plant-based option called the Long Vegetal featuring “meat” from The Vegetarian Butcher. The newest addition is inspired by one of the brand’s best-selling items, Long Chicken, and is made up of bread, lettuce, mayonnaise and a chicken substitute made with soy and wheat. The non-vegan mayonnaise can be omitted for a fully vegan option.

Bespoke to run new £30m hotel and holiday home development in North Wales: Hotel management company Bespoke will operate a new £30m hotel and holiday apartment development in Abersoch, north Wales, with work due to begin next spring. A completion date of 2023 has also been set for the hotel, which has been named The Abersoch and will boast 42 bedrooms, with 18 holiday apartments on the top two floors. It will also feature a restaurant, bar, gym, spa, swimming pool and thermal suite set across the ground floor, which will be fully accessible to the public. The venue will be built on the site of the former Whitehouse Hotel, which shut in 2004 and was demolished in 2016. Developer Broomco secured planning permission for a new development in 2015 before Providence Gate Group Holdings (PGGH) took on the scheme this year. Bespoke president Robin Sheppard said: “It has been quite the journey getting the hotel to this point, with covid delays and the challenges it brought to the hospitality industry, but the future is looking more positive. The Abersoch will be a 12-month-a-year operation, and we believe it will become the jewel of the Llyn Peninsula.” Earlier this year, Bespoke took on the running of both Coventry’s £18m Telegraph Hotel and the grade II-listed Dumbleton Hall Hotel in the Cotswolds.

Gym brand Snap Fitness opens site at Llanelli retail park: Gym brand Snap Fitness has opened a site at the Cross Hands Retail Park in Llanelli, Wales. Snap’s UK master group franchisee MSG Life is operating the 4,850 square foot site, which provides a full range of fitness equipment. The letting, along with a deal that has seen variety store One Below Retail also join the scheme, means the retail park is now fully let. Conygar Investment Company acquired the 9.96-acre site, which had previously been lined up for a 90,000 square foot supermarket store, in October 2015.

Plans for Rhyl holiday park to be decided by Welsh government after public inquiry: The Welsh government has called in plans to construct a holiday park at the former home of Rhyl Rugby Club in north Wales. The proposals include seven one-bed pods, 23 two-bed chalets, seven three-bed chalets, seven four-bed chalets, a 24-bed bunkhouse and a leisure complex with restaurant. North Wales Construction bought the site in 2018 when the rugby club moved to a new home, but a request was made in April by the local authority for the Welsh government to call in the application. This has now been confirmed, with the final say going to Welsh minister for climate change Julie James after a public inquiry.

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