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Mon 8th Nov 2021 - Toca Social, the interactive football bar concept, to open in Birmingham
Toca Social, the interactive football bar concept, to open in Birmingham: Hammerson has re-let part of the former Debenhams department store in the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham to Toca Social, the interactive football bar, reports The Times. It will be Toca’s second UK venue, after opening at the O2 in London in the summer. Toca describes itself as the world’s first interactive football and dining experience. Visitors can eat and drink as well as kicking a ball against a digital wall in various games. It is taking the top floor (some 40,000 sq ft) of the old Debenhams store in the Bullring, which closed in May. “Toca Social are excited to bring the world’s first interactive football and dining experience to the UK’s second largest city,” Alex Harman, Toca’s president, said. “The Bullring is an iconic destination and we are delighted to play our part in its repositioning towards social experiences.” Also moving into the former Debenhams store in the Bullring is Marks & Spencer, which is taking 67,000 sq ft of space on the bottom two floors. Harry Badham, chief development officer at Hammerson, said: “Repurposing this important space at Bullring & Grand Central has given us an exceptional opportunity to create not only the latest store and food hall concept with one of the nation’s best loved retailers, but also to partner with one of the UK’s most exciting new immersive social and entertainment businesses.”

31 new companies to be added to Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, will include 456 companies, an increase of 31 companies compared with the October edition. The 456 companies produce total turnover of £30.2bn – 191 are in profit and 265 are reporting a loss. The next edition of the Blue Book will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday (12 November) at midday. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive two other databases – the New Openings Database, produce in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Propel Premium for a year for £895 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. The regular single subscription rate of £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers remains the same. Email to subscribe.

Struggling retailers face ban on quitting rental sites: Struggling retailers risk being forced to stay in rental properties after their initial lease has expired, under government proposals intended to prevent a rash of post-pandemic court cases between landlords and tenants. The Telegraph reports that occupiers who cannot agree a payment plan with their landlord could be ordered to remain a tenant for longer than initially agreed under the new arbitration code, which is being drawn up in a bid to avoid legal disputes after thousands of retailers withheld payments during covid. The Department for Levelling Up is to require all landlords and tenants involved in a covid dispute to go into arbitration to ease pressure on the courts. The rules, which will be published in coming weeks following months of negotiations with landlords and commercial tenants, are intended to provide a framework for this process. Existing legal cases brought by landlords attempting to sue tenants into paying rent will be declared void when the new code is introduced, sources said. The rules will give extra protection to commercially viable businesses, meaning they will not be expected to take on debt, restructure or make redundancies in order to pay off rental debts. Insolvent tenants will be liable for full rent. There will be no presumption that landlords should automatically suffer a rent cut, even if the landlord has remained far more profitable than the tenant. The ban on tenants leaving a property is likely to prove controversial, with opponents warning that it risks locking companies into paying rent they cannot afford. Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said it could leave tenants in buildings which both they and the landlord want them to be out of. Dickinson said: “While we support the principle of compulsory arbitration, the devil is in the detail. The most important questions to answer are the extent to which tenant businesses will be required to pay rent for stores they weren’t allowed to open, and what scope arbitrators will have to impose payment plans that neither party actually wants.” Service charges will also be included in the proposals, in a move likely to draw ire from landlords as they may be forced to cover the cost of keeping properties open for tenants during lockdown. The Department for Levelling Up declined to comment.

The Confessional opens third site, three more to follow: York-based burger restaurant The Confessional has opened in Telford for its third site. The company already has locations in York and Bolton and says on its website that a further three are opening soon. Freshly grilled Aberdeen Angus burgers and a range of craft beer are among the offering at the new site, which is at the Telford Centre. Manager, Glynn Morrow, said: “We are excited to have The Confessional at Telford Centre. The company’s refreshing approach is something we are sure customers will enjoy and will complement our growing line-up of food venues already available.”

New £600,000 Maidstone food hall opens with eight independent operators: A new £600,000 food hall in Maidstone has opened its doors, selling products from local independent businesses. Love Food has launched as the first of a phased development at the town’s Lockmeadow Entertainment Centre, which already boasts an Odeon Luxe and other entertainment facilities. Among the offerings will be Thai street food outlet Aroi Dee, an offshoot of the Thai Orchard brand, while Flour Power offers cakes, keto milkshakes and smoothies. Funky Feast creates health foods with Middle Eastern, North African and Asian flavours, while gourmet hot dogs come from Mr Big’s. Cocktails will be served up at the Moondance Bar, while deluxe burger brand Notorious Brg makes its Maidstone debut following a successful opening in Canterbury. A sustainable vegetarian and vegan menu comes from Street Food by EasyDine, and family-run Total Jerks cooks up Caribbean dishes. Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr Fay Gooch, told Kent Live on opening the venue: “Love Food really is what the town needs right now, a dining experience that reflects world flavours with fantastic choice. Customers can expect good quality food from local businesses providing some wonderful flavours, and diners can feel proud to be supporting local businesses.”

Cumbrian-based delivery-only burger concept to open third kitchen, eyes further expansion: Cumbrian-based delivery-only burger concept Boom Burger is to open its third kitchen – and is eyeing further expansion across the county, and eventually the UK. Spurred on by the success of its Bowness base, Boom Burger will launch in Kendal on Monday, 15 November. Launched by Joe Nichols last year, the business will open the kitchen on Mintsfeet Industrial Estate, which joins its growing portfolio that also includes another unit in Penrith. Head of marketing Elena Nagles said: “We found we were delivering a lot across to Kendal. We’ll be doing burgers, hotdogs, pizza, breakfast, brunch and bites. Our plans for the future are to keep expanding, we want to open more kitchens in Cumbria and even across the UK.”

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