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Wed 3rd Nov 2021 - Update: Nightcap, Wendy’s, Loungers, Greene King and Flight Club
Nightcap reports upgrade on expectations: Bar operator Nightcap has reported unaudited total net sales for the 13-week period of the new financial year since 28 June of £7.6m. The company stated: “This is a 68% increase compared to the same period in 2019, when there were no covid-19 restrictions. The London Cocktail Club increased total net sales by circa 55% over 2019 and Adventure Bar Group (ABG) by circa 75%. Like-for-like sales at LCC were up 52% when compared to 2019 and like for like ABG sales were up 24% for the same period in 2019. The group’s balance sheet is solid, with cash at bank of £12.2m as at 26 September 2021.” Chief executive Sarah Willingham said: “I am delighted to announce this upgrade of our expectations for the 53 weeks ending 3 July 2022, as a result of such strong performance across the group. Our teams have been incredible, working tirelessly to meet the unprecedented pent up demand. I can’t thank our customers enough for their continued loyalty and commitment to helping, not just Nightcap, but the hospitality industry as a whole. Nightcap was built during the covid-19 global pandemic to acquire and expand leading brands in the drinks-led bar sector and whilst the macro-economic climate remains uncertain, we believe that this uncertainty is core to our opportunity. As anticipated, new sites are becoming available as the fallout from the pandemic continues. We expect the end of the rent moratorium in March 2022 to further improve availability of excellent sites. With the opening of three new sites in November and a further 23 sites in legal negotiations or under offer, we are confident both in the strength of our bar concepts and in our ability to continue our rapid expansion across the UK.”

Two days to go before fourth edition of The New Openings Database release, to show details of 306 new sites, 15,000-word report included: The fourth edition of The New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, will show the details of 306 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (5 November), at midday. The database shows the details of which company has opened a site, or its plans to open one in the future, and will have details on what type of site it is and its location. There will also be a website link to the businesses so you can find out more about them. Published monthly, this fourth edition of the database features several international growth brands making their UK debut, new and expanding luxury leisure concepts and regional brands in growth. For the first time, Premium subscribers will this month also receive a 15,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to two other databases. The latest Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, was sent to Premium subscribers last Friday (29 October). The database contained 66 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed up to 2,152. The 446 sites run by those 66 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 61,740 sites. Premium subscribers also received a 5,000-word report on the new businesses added. The go-to database 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. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Premium subscribers also receive the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated every month, 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; 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

Wendy’s secures first UK drive-thru site: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, has secured its first drive-thru site in the UK, in Colchester, Essex. The brand, which made its return to the UK earlier this summer with an opening in Reading, has secured a site at the £65m Northern Gateway Leisure Park scheme. The development, spearheaded by Turnstone Estates, was granted planning approval last December by Colchester Council. The scheme will be located south of the A12’s Junction 28 and is set to get underway in the New Year. Greggs has also secured a drive-thru site at the development. As well as Wendy’s and Greggs, the complex has already secured a 20-lane bowling alley from Hollywood Bowl and an indoor golf centre from Puttstars. Earlier this year, Wendy’s was understood to be in advanced talks on taking a site at Thurrock Shopping Park, which was also thought to be for a drive-thru unit. The company recently added a third dark kitchen unit to its estate, in Hornsey, as part of its partnership with Reef Kitchens. In August, the brand signed up Reef Kitchens as its first franchisee in the UK. Meanwhile, Wendy’s confirmed it had secured a site in Brighton, as part of its UK rollout. As previously revealed by Propel, Wendy’s, which recently opened its third site in the UK since it made its return to these shores in June, in Oxford, is taking the ex-Gap site in Brighton’s Western Road. Wendy’s, which also opened in London’s Stratford earlier this summer, is set to open in Romford and Croydon before the end of this year. It is also believed to have lined up openings on the ex-Royal Bank of Scotland site in Camden High Street and in Peterborough. Savills is aiding the brand’s expansion in the UK. 

Peel Hunt – Loungers has record high trading but record low valuation: A note from analysts at Peel Hunt has pointed out that Loungers has a record low valuation despite record trading. The note stated: “Excluding the 2020 covid-19 share price dip, Loungers EV/Ebitda rating has fallen to record low levels, at a time when the company is achieving record levels of trading, driving four 2023E forecast upgrades since April, with more to follow in our view. We believe Loungers is incomparable in the hospitality sector; if you would like to know how, we and the company are hosting institutional site visits on 4 and 8 November.”

Household spending power hit by high taxes and stagnant wages: Household incomes will rise at the slowest rate on record over the course of this parliament because of stagnating wages, higher taxes and falling employment, an analysis has found. The Times reports that the Resolution Foundation think tank concluded that disposable income – a household’s spending power after taxes and other costs – would rise by only 0.1% a year, the lowest over a parliament on record. The previous record was between 2015 and 2019 under David Cameron and Theresa May, when the annual rise was 0.3%. Adam Corlett, principal economist at the foundation, said: “Last week the chancellor hailed his budget as marking a ‘new age of optimism’, but the economic reality facing families across Britain is far more sobering. The official economic outlook is for Britain to experience the weakest parliament for income growth since records began, with ‘growth’ of just 0.1% a year. Worse still, we’re currently under-performing against even this terrible forecast. The current parliament of stagnating, or even falling, incomes is driven by historically weak pay growth and falling employment. Of course, Britain can – and must – turn this outlook around. But doing that requires a proper economic strategy ... that has the goal of higher living standards.”

UK listed companies will be forced to publish annual plans on how they will go green: Every company listed on the UK stock exchange will be legally obliged to produce annual plans for becoming more green or risk financial penalties, Rishi Sunak will announce on Wednesday. The Telegraph reports that The firms will have to produce regular “transition plans” for how they will help Britain reach net zero in carbon emissions by 2050 – a flagship Boris Johnson climate commitment. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) would oversee the requirements, meaning if companies failed to publish such plans they could theoretically be fined or kicked off UK stock markets. It means companies involved in the mining, drilling for oil, burning coal to produce power and other carbon intensive activities will have to prove they are planning to go green. All financial institutions in Britain would also be bound by the new rules, meaning banks and pension funds will come under pressure to make eco-friendly investments. The new rules could come in as early as 2023, with a consultation being published and talks beginning with the FCA, who will have a key role in shaping any changes adopted. In a linked announcement, the chancellor will also say that more than 450 firms from all parts of the financial industry have signed up to climate change goals. It means more than $130 trillion of financial assets – some 40% of the world total – will be controlled by financial services firms committed to reducing global warming.

Historic debts push fish ‘n’ chips chain into administration: An East Midlands chain of fish and chip restaurants is up for sale after administrators were brought in to find a buyer for the business. Raj Mittal and Arvindar Jit Singh, partners at ,business advisory firm FRP Advisory, have been appointed as joint administrators to Georges Tradition Limited and Georges Tradition (Belper) Limited. Georges Tradition Limited operates a chain of seven takeaway, pub and restaurant sites in Allestree, Chellaston, Chilwell, Ilkeston, Long Eaton, Woodlinkin (The Thorn Tree Pub) and West Bridgford. The business also operates a head office in Chellaston and central food processing plant in Ilkeston. Administrators were appointed as a result of historical debts relating to the launch of a restaurant chain, which was subsequently exited. All stores are open and continue to trade while the administrators market the businesses for sale. All 137 staff have been retained. Mittal said: “George’s Tradition is a much-loved chain of fish and chip shops that has been established in communities across the East Midlands. While the company has faced some historical financial challenges, the remaining business is strong and so we are confident that there will be appetite from potential investors to take the brand forward.” The sites in Leek and Loughborough, which use the George’s Tradition branding, are owned by separate, independent entities and are not impacted by the administration.

Former executive chef at Soho House to open debut London site this month: Esra Muslu, the former executive chef at Soho House Istanbul, will open the debut site for her restaurant concept, Zahter, this month. As previously revealed by Propel, Muslu, who was also previously head chef at Ottolenghi Spitalfields, will open the venue in the former Choccywoccydoodah site in Soho’s Foubert’s Place. Zahter – which launches on 30 November – will be spread across four floors. It will feature an open kitchen, counter dining and substantial alfresco seating on the ground floor; a dining room on the first floor and a private events space and cookery studio on the third floor. The restaurant will spotlight the Istanbul culinary scene, with recipes handed down by Muslu’s mother. Zahter previously appeared as a pop-up at Carousel in Marylebone. Muslu has opened five sites in Istanbul – Nu Pera, Moreish, Backyard, Auf and Kauf & Unter.

Langan’s Brasserie reopens: Langan’s Brasserie, operated by Graziano Arricale and James Hitchen, has reopened following an extensive refurbishment. Originally opened in 1976, the venue went into administration during the covid-related lockdowns but has now undergone an overhaul by Arricale, who is also behind Italian-inspired restaurant and cafe brand Chucs, and Hitchen, founder of hospitality group East Coast Concepts. Each of the three floors now has its own distinct identity – with a first-floor main dining room and dedicated seafood bar, an invite-only late lounge on the ground floor and a private dining room for up to 20 guests on the lower ground floor. Offering breakfast (from 8 November), lunch and dinner daily, the menu features classics British-French fare, while the cocktail list includes the Joan Collins, named after the actress who frequented the original brasserie in its 1970s heyday. Arricale and Hitchen said: “We are so proud to be bringing the new and reimagined Langan’s to London. We look forward to creating a real hub for the locals – along with those from the worlds of fashion, art, film and music – to help us bring Langan’s back to its rightful place at the centre of Mayfair.”

Greene King to open first northern site for Metropolitan Pub Company this month: Brewer and retailer Greene King will open the first north of England site for its Metropolitan Pub Company division this month. As revealed by Propel in July, Greene King will reopen the Memorial Hall building in Manchester’s Albert Square as The Fountain House on Thursday, 11 November. The site had previously been home to the Albert Square Chop House for the past ten years. Renamed as a nod to the Victorian fountain opposite, the building has undergone a complete refurbishment, creating 40 jobs. The Fountain House is located over three floors of the grade II-listed property. Complementing its food and drink offering, the upper floors of The Fountain House will be available to host events. Metropolitan Pub Company managing director Michael Horan said: “We are excited to bring our first pub to Manchester. The Memorial Hall site is perfect as it will allow us to team our premium gastropub experience to customers in the heart of the city.” Metropolitan Pub Company operates unbranded premium pubs, predominantly in London.

Flight Club plans Cardiff opening: Flight Club, the darts concept owned by Red Engine, is planning to make its debut in Wales, after lining up a site in Cardiff. The company, which this week confirmed it will open a site in Cheltenham’s Brewery Quarter, has applied to open a site at 3-4 St Mary Street in the Welsh capital. In September, Propel revealed that the company plans to open in Scotland next year, after securing a site in Glasgow, Flight Club has secured a site at 280 George Street in the city. Earlier this summer, Flight Club opened a site in Bristol for its eighth UK venue. Located in Corn Street, the venue is home to seven oches, a total capacity of 200 and a bar with bookable tables for drinks. The brand is also set to open sites in Dublin, and Perth in Australia.

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