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Tue 9th Nov 2021 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Urban Pubs & Bars eyes 70-strong London estate as it appoints former JD Wetherspoon director: London operator Urban Pubs & Bars is looking to grow its estate in the capital to up to 70 sites after appointing Miles Slade as operations director. Slade joins having recently held the position as retail director at Windsor & Eton Brewery where he was responsible for all retail operations including new site development and acquisitions. Prior to this he was retail director for JD Wetherspoon. Last month, Urban, which was founded in 2014 by Nick Pring and Malcolm Heap, acquired 13 sites from London bar operator Barworks. The transaction came on the back of Urban’s recently announced partnership with Davidson Kempner and Global Mutual. The joint venture was established to support and accelerate the growth of Urban and the Barworks transaction is the first acquisition of scale, increasing Urban’s number of sites to 34 pubs, bars and restaurants across flexible trading formats including the Salt Yard Group in the West End and Bat & Ball at Westfield Stratford. Pring said: “We are entering a new phase now with Urban as we look to grow to 60 or 70 sites within London and also establish Bat & Ball in major cities around the country. We recognise we need to take on some proven operators with experience of working within larger organisations to enable us to deliver this plan and Miles certainly fits that description. We are really looking forward to working with him and taking Urban to the next level.” Heap added: “We have a number of sites in the pipeline as well as Barworks joining the Urban family at the start of December. Miles taking the reins of operations will enable myself and Nick to spend more time looking for new sites and building the company.” In addition to the Barworks acquisition, Urban has recently opened two new sites – Fleet’s in St Paul’s and Nest in Bishopsgate.

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Qikserve partners with QSR Automations to streamline food order fulfilment: Digital ordering solutions provider QikServe has partnered with QSR Automations, the global leader in kitchen automation and restaurant technology, to streamline food order fulfilment for customers. The integration between QikServe’s digital ordering platform and QSR’s ground-breaking ConnectSmart platform will ensure all customer orders placed are automatically analysed and routed to the correct areas of the kitchen for faster, more efficient preparation. The smart integration will allow restaurant operators to have a single digital platform to manage everything from wait lists and table turns to orders placed by customers for delivery, collection or dine-in. The integration also offers brands greater flexibility between their online menu and the items held within their point of sale (EPoS) system. Daniel Rodgers, founder and president of QikServe, said: “Our partnership with QSR Automations allows brands to take orders and fulfil them in the most streamlined way possible, meaning less pressure on staff to juggle incoming orders, guests getting served quicker and tables being turned around faster.” Jennifer Karpinsky, vice president of business development at QSR Automations, added: “Our partnership with QikServe means we can unlock digital ordering for customers as well as drive real efficiencies within the fulfilment process that has a material impact on a restaurant’s bottom line.” If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book shows sector losses of £7.3bn: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £7.3bn being reported by 265 companies. However, a further 191 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £849.5m. The next edition will include 456 companies, an increase of 31 companies compared with the October edition. The 456 companies produce total turnover of £30.2bn. 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, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Subscribers also receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews and now also have access to a curated video library of the sector’s finest leaders and entrepreneurs, offering their insights on running outstanding businesses in the sector. Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. 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

Slowdown in pub and restaurant spend as consumers cut back on socialising with household bills rising: New data from Barclaycard has revealed a slowdown in pub and restaurant spending during October. Transactions in bars, pubs and clubs saw a smaller rise last month of (37.1%) than in September (43.5%) when compared with 2019 levels, according to Barclaycard’s monthly Consumer Spending Index. It also showed restaurant spending had a larger decline (8.3%) than September (2.1%). The study believes the blame can be put firmly at the door of rising household bills, with 88% of consumers saying they are worried about the impact of rising inflation on their personal finances. A similar number (89%) are concerned that rising bills will have a negative impact on their pockets, with almost a third of that number saying that is why they are cutting back on social events, including drinks and meals out. However, there was a 127.1% jump in online takeaway spend as the colder weather saw more Brits order fast food via delivery apps in October. In entertainment (up 28.4%), spend on cinema bookings showed the highest level of growth (17.3%) since October 2019 – largely due to the launch of the new James Bond film, “No Time to Die”. October also marked the first month that cinema spending crossed over into positive growth since the start of the pandemic. Overall, consumer card spending grew 14.2% in October compared with the same period in 2019, according to the figures.

Backman – will franchising take the place of private equity: Foodservice analyst Peter Backman has questioned whether private equity investment in the restaurant sector is dead, and if so, is franchising going to take its place. He said: “Prior to the onslaught of covid, private equity had proved to be a wide-ranging way to get investment into the restaurant sector. It was built on two complementary notions: one was the scalability of the model – the way to double Ebitda was to double the number of stores. The other notion was the ability of investors to flip their investment – to sell it on to another entity that, in turn, could see that it would be able to flip its investment in a few years by selling it to another investor. This dual-headed driver – scalability and flippability – financed both emerging and expanding restaurant businesses and enabled the whole sector to grow. But there was a fly in the ointment. Even before covid, some of the shine was wearing off this model – Ebitda was becoming less easy to grow (as a result of the overcapacity the private equity-based model induced), and investments became less easy to flip because investors were becoming warier. And then covid threw all of this into focus. So, how to get investment on board? Becoming publicly quoted is one route (provided the business is large enough). Another route – and one I have written about before – is franchising. Two particular benefits of franchising are appropriate at this time: the brand can grow without significant investment from the franchiser, and franchising brings committed entrepreneurial ‘managers’ into the business. The number of brands that are following this route is growing impressively – Creams, Kaspa’s, Chaiwalla, German Doner Kebab and now they are being joined by Shoryu Ramen, Black Sheep, Shushi Shop, Pret A Manger and others. All of these possess significant keys to running a successful franchise: a relatively simple operating model – no fiddly cooking and dish preparation – combined with a strong brand identity.”
 

Company News:

Black and White Hospitality launches new restaurant concept Mr Whites with Leicester Square opening, exploring expansion opportunities in UK and abroad: Black and White Hospitality, which operates and manages the Marco Pierre White group of franchised restaurants, has launched a new concept after opening a site in London’s Leicester Square. The restaurant is located next door to the Odeon cinema and heralds the return of the brand to the capital’s West End in more than ten years. Called Mr White’s, the restaurant is what is hoped will be the “first of many” for the concept, with opportunities being explored both in the UK and abroad. With British heritage at its heart, the menu centres on steak, grills and chops but also includes an Italian influence with handmade pizza. The restaurant also serves a range of gin including Mr White’s London Dry gin, a new drink that has been developed by Pierre White and launched earlier in the year. Nick Taplin, chairman and chief executive of Black and White Hospitality, said: “Leicester Square is known worldwide as the place to go for entertainment and around 2.5 million people visit it every week so is one of the capital’s busiest places. That level of footfall therefore makes this new venue a very exciting proposition. Mr White’s is an evolution of taking tradition and quality ingredients and placing it in an easy to access, relatable setting that’s been created purely for the guest who wishes to enjoy easy and affordable dining. It was an easy decision to launch a new international brand here and this will hopefully be the first of what will be a many new Mr White’s restaurants. We are already looking at other opportunities including another site in London along with others in Cardiff, Spain, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sri Lanka, so it’s a hugely exciting time for Black and White Hospitality as we look to expand our reach on a truly global scale.” Kenningham Retail acted on behalf of landlord Soho Estates.

The Athenian prepares for international expansion, further UK openings also planned to double estate: Greek street food restaurant group The Athenian is set to take its brand overseas for the first time, with 11 delivery kitchen openings with Deliveroo planned in Spain and the Middle East this year and next. Plans have been announced to roll out two new sites in Madrid, followed by four in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, by the end of 2021. These will be followed next year by a further four sites opening in the UAE and one more in Barcelona. Founder Tim Vasilakis said: “We’ve been looking to start The Athenian’s international journey for some time, so launching in the UAE and Europe is a huge move for us – and an exciting one. I can’t wait to bring our food to people in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Madrid and Barcelona and give them an authentic taste of Greece, made The Athenian way.” Founded in 2014 and operating mainly in London and Bristol until now, there are also plans afoot for a planned UK expansion to double the group’s size within the next year. It plans to operate 18 units by December, then grow to a total of 26 UK sites – with a mixture of new delivery kitchens and bricks and mortar restaurants – by the end of 2022. The menu at the UAE sites will be completely halal but still using core Greek ingredients, which complements the new halal chicken gyros being launched here nationwide in November. A new plant-based menu will also be available alongside the regular one, including “meatless meatballs”, which will run as a special until January.

Mollie’s Motel & Diner sets out plans to open 100 sites across the UK: Mollie’s Motel & Diner, the Soho House-developed concept, has set out ambitious plans to expand to 100 sites over the next ten years through roadside and city centre locations. The business is backed by majority shareholder Javad Marandi, the entrepreneur and investor who owns Soho Farmhouse, alongside co-shareholders David Elghanayan and Darren Sweetland. Mollie’s was launched in Buckland, Oxfordshire, in 2019. Earlier this year, a second site opened at Cribbs Causeway, Bristol, following a £15m investment. A third, larger hotel in the former Granada TV Studios in Manchester city centre is scheduled to open in 2022 with Soho House located above Mollie’s on the building’s top floors. A further ten locations have already been earmarked as part of the immediate expansion plan. Mollie’s, which is working with property advisor Fleurets on its expansion plans, has two formats and is seeking two to three-acre freehold sites in strategic edge-of-town or roadside locations with the opportunity for 75-plus bedrooms, 145-plus cover diner and car parking. The city centre model will focus on prime city centre locations with high prominence with an opportunity for more than 100 bedrooms, 145-plus cover diner and 125-plus cover lounge/bar. Propel revealed last week the company had secured a £10m interest-free loan facility earlier this summer, to support the company’s expansion plans and provide working capital for new site openings. The company has so far drawn down £4.5m from the new facility. A site near Brighton seafront has been mooted for a while. Since the lifting of restrictions in May, the group’s Oxfordshire site has seen record turnover and its most profitable period of trade since inception. The company also expects the Bristol site to be Ebitda positive by FY2022. 

Cake Box plans up to 12 franchise openings and Asda kiosk store roll out in next six months: Cake Box, the specialist retailer of fresh cream cakes, is planning to open 12 franchise stores in the next six months as well as roll out more kiosks in Asda stores following a trial. The company reported Ebitda climbed 110% to £4.14m in the six months to 30 September 2021. Pre-tax profit surged 122% to £3.7m – up from £1.66m last year. As previously reported, revenue jumped 92% to £16.47m, up from £8.59m in the same period the year before. The company said the opening of 20 new franchise stores in the period helped drive success, as did its successful trial of seven cake kiosks in Asda stores. Cake Box said it intends to further roll out more kiosks in Asda stores in the second half of the financial year. Chief executive Sukh Chamdal said: “Our proven franchisee model continues to deliver and we now plan to open up to 32 new franchise stores in this financial year, helping more entrepreneurs than ever build their own businesses and serve their local communities. Despite continued uncertainty in the wider environment, it’s clear our unique customer proposition remains highly attractive. We look ahead with confidence in meeting full-year expectations and making further progress in the years ahead.”

Papa John’s franchisee opens eighth site with Evesham launch, two more to follow this year: Papa John’s has opened its latest store in Evesham, through multi-franchisee Atif Maroof Zar and his brothers, Umair Ramay and Amir Maroof. The siblings now run eight Papa John’s, with two more scheduled to open before the end of the year. Atif previously managed a Papa John’s before he made the move to becoming a franchisee in 2017. He said: “We are hungry to grow our multi-unit franchise operation, and we are putting the back-office infrastructure in place for bigger and better expansion. We now have our own payroll manager and area managers, and each store has two branch managers. Evesham is part of a cluster of stores we run, including our Papa John’s in Stratford Upon Avon, Redditch and Bromsgrove, which helps streamline the delivery of supplies, recruitment and general management. It also means we have the back up in place to ensure everything runs as efficiently and smoothly as possible. Getting these processes right is important as we have a taste for expansion.” Founded in the US in 1984, Papa John’s now has more than 5,000 stores across 40 countries including 500 in the UK – the 500th opening in Ormskirk in September. 

Murdin joins Wagamama as interim customer director: David Murdin, formerly of Whitbread, Costa and Debenhams, has joined Wagamama as its interim customer director. Murdin, who was most recently brand and marketing director at Dunelm, has joined Wagamama to cover Kay Bartlett, who has gone on maternity leave. Bartlett, formerly of Lucozade Ribena Suntory and AkzoNobel, joined Wagamama last year, originally as UK marketing director. Murdin was previously programme director at the Coca-Cola-owned coffee chain Costa. He was also previously Debenhams’ managing director – restaurants, and before that spent six years at Whitbread, first as marketing director for its restaurants and then chief operating officer for brand developments, including the launch of Bar + Block.

Doughnotts opens fourth site, eyes further expansion: East Midlands-based doughnut concept Doughnotts has opened its fourth store, in Beeston High Road, and is on the lookout for more. The company announced in July that it was moving into Beeston Square, in a site anchored by the Arc Cinema. However, due to ongoing setbacks including the rising cost of materials and availability of tradesman, it switched its focus to the site of a former Thorntons in the town, where it has now opened. Doughnotts director Wade Smith said: “We opened the fourth Doughnotts store to a huge queue of people, which was amazing to see. We weathered the pandemic and have diversified with our delivery offering, but we strongly believe in the high street and are keen to grow the number of stores we have.” Doughnotts has other sites in Nottingham city centre, Leicester and Lincoln, and also operated in Derby until April last year. FHP acted for Doughnotts on all four of its current sites.

China-based soup focused restaurant brand Zhang Liang Mala Tang to make UK debut: China-based soup focused restaurant brand Zhang Liang Mala Tang is to make its UK debut. The company is set to open the outlet in London’s Shaftesbury Avenue. It will be a serve yourself Sichuan restaurant, with mala tang soup as the base, reports Hot Dinners. Customers will be able to browse and select the ingredients which, overseas, range from options such as crab legs and seafood sausages through to vegetables or noodles. They then bring them to the counter to choose the soup. Options vary, but include the original mala beef soup as well as chicken and tomato. The chefs will then cook it together with diners then able to add a final touch from the condiments section, such as onions or chilli oil. 

Second Red Oak Taverns site for Midlands operator: Multiple pub operator Katrina Hindocha has taken on a second Red Oak Taverns pub, The Kingfisher in Smith’s Wood, near Solihull. Hindocha, who also operates the Damson pub in Solihull with Red Oak, spent £30,000, which alongside a further £120,000 investment by Red Oak, saw the pub completely refurbished. A further kitchen development will be completed later this year, which will allow the pub to launch a food menu. Hindocha said: “The pub is completely different, and the customers absolutely love the changes. We’ve been able to provide them with a much-needed pub that focuses on the community, and I’m really looking forward to be able to launch food here soon too”. Business development manager for Red Oak Taverns, Jonathan Seaton-Reid, added: “It’s great to have Katrina on board with a second pub with us. She is local and understands the area, and what makes a fantastic community pub. The Kingfisher is now back on the map, and it will be great for customers old and new”.  Founded in 2011 by Aaron Brown and Mark Grunnell, Red Oak Taverns owns and operates 200 mainly leased and tenanted pubs pubs around the country. Last month, the company secured £15m of capital growth from OakNorth Bank, some of which was used to acquire 11 pubs across the south east of England – including nine from Dorset brewer and retailer Hall & Woodhouse – its third pub package acquisition in 2021.

Rockfish founder launches British-caught tinned seafood range, restaurant openings on course for spring 2022: Rockfish, the south west-based seafood restaurant group run by Mitch Tonks, has launched the world’s first range of British-caught tinned seafood. Tonks has ploughed around £200,000 into the project in a bid to find a wider market for seafood landed at his Brixham base. It will be the first range in Britain caught direct from fishermen, including Rockfish’s own boat, The Rockfisher. “I have always been fascinated by tinned seafood, the amazing products from Portugal and Spain that we just don’t have here, Tonks told Business Live. “We have tinned pilchards, tuna and salmon but nothing like the range you see on the continent. So, I started thinking, how do I go about it?” Tonks had pondered setting up his own cannery and hopes to revisit that idea in the future, but for now will send his Brixham hauls to be tinned in Spain. The range is the latest roll-out for a brand that launched a home-cooking seafood concept during the pandemic, which is set to be expanded in January. Rockfish is also on course to expand its eight-strong restaurant chain to ten in the spring. A new restaurant in Sidmouth was given the go-ahead by planning chiefs in February 2020, but the project was put on hold due to the pandemic. Plans were also submitted earlier this year for a £1m 100-seater restaurant in Salcombe, which are currently with South Hams planners. Like many hospitality businesses, Rockfish has been hit by staff shortages since reopening its existing sites, but Tonks believes adapting to the new landscape is the key to surviving. “We have to accept that the staff shortage is not going to go away, and businesses have to think about what they can offer staff in order to recruit and retain staff,” he added. “The world changed in 2019 and we are never going back.”

Gin brand Bullards adds two more London shops to portfolio: Norfolk-based, sustainably-focused, gin brand Bullards Spirits is to open two more shops and tasting rooms in London before the end of the year. The company’s first site in the capital launched at Westfield London in White City in the summer. Joining the London estate is a 205 square foot venue in Canary Wharf at Cabot Square and a 998 square foot flagship site at 42 Market Building in Covent Garden. The Covent Garden site is a joint venture with Double Dutch and will comprise a ground-floor shop and an additional upstairs tasting and mixology room. The bricks and mortar sites will allow guests to learn about the history of Bullards and discover the range of gin in a curated full sensory experience, offered free to all visitors, led by brand ambassadors. Driven by founder Russell Evans, 2021 has seen the team working to adapt and evolve the business model to deliver the Bullards experience to shoppers across the UK. This shift to retail through a new and evolving omnichannel strategy aims to create sales by transforming the purchasing process through new sensory touchpoints. The company also has a gin shop and tasting room concession in the Jarrold department store in Norwich.

Pret A Manger launches Christmas menu with new items: Pret A Manger’s new Christmas menu is available from the chain’s 465 UK stores until the end of December. New additions include a turkey and trimmings toastie, a vegan flatbread and a Christmas stuffing mac-and-cheese. A new nutty salted caramel brownie has been added to the sweet treats range, while a new recipe makes the mince pies suitable for vegetarians. Among the new drinks are the love bar latte and popcorn bar hot chocolate – both included in the Pret Coffee Subscription, which allows customers to redeem up to five drinks a day for £20 a month. For the first three weeks, Pret’s Christmas lunch sandwich will be available exclusively in shops and on Deliveroo, while the rest of the range can be ordered in shops or via any delivery partner. Briony Raven, UK food and coffee director at Pret, said: “With many of us missing our favourite Christmas treats last year, we’ve put together a festive menu that celebrates the nation’s favourite Christmas dishes and Pret goodies. Not only have we brought back our iconic Christmas classics, but we’ve also created many new items, and plenty for our vegan customers to dig into.”

Birmingham-based independent Indonesian coffee shop doubles up with London launch: Birmingham-based independent Indonesian coffee shop concept Ngopi has doubled up with an opening in London. The outlet has launched in Dalston Lane, Dalston. The venue serves coffee, light meals and Indonesian coffee beans to take home. The food menu includes the Fried Indomie Toastie – instant noodle sandwich with cheese, corned beef and egg; and the Batagor – fried bakso, prawn wonton and tofu served with peanut sauce and topped with sweet soy sauce and chili sauce. Drinks feature melon milk, iced pink banana latte and kopi susu panas – a double shot espresso served with milk and palm sugar syrup, reports Hot Dinners. Ngopi opened its debut site in Birmingham’s Dale End in 2018.

Reef acquires UAE cloud kitchen operator iKcon: Reef Technology, the largest operator of delivery kitchens, logistics, and proximity hubs in North America, has announced its entrance to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region through the acquisition of iKcon Restaurant. The acquisition of iKcon marks Reef’s first major transaction in the MENA market and the company said it marked part of its broader strategy toward global expansion. iKcon has a portfolio of more than 100 local, regional and international restaurant partners such as Just Salad, YO!, California Pizza Kitchen and German Doner Kebab, operating through its kitchens. Tommy Rosen, head of development at Reef, said: “We are excited to welcome iKcon and its team members to Reef’s global proximity platform. The Middle East and North Africa are crucial markets in the rapidly evolving food and beverage and retail industries, and our acquisition of iKcon will position Reef to become a leader in the region.”

West Sussex-based brewery exceeds £100,000 crowdfunding target to aid expansion: West Sussex-based family-run brewery Lister’s has exceeded its £100,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as it looks to expand. Lister’s, founded by the Waite family at Ford, near Arundel, is offering 4.17% equity in return for the investment, giving the company a pre-money valuation of £2.3m. So far, more than £112,000 has been raised from 300 investors, with 24 days of the campaign remaining. The company had a record third quarter in 2021 with £56,000 of sales, up 84.7% on 2020 and 86.9% on 2019. For the period May 2020 to April 2021, Lister’s reported revenue of £46,936, with Ebitda of £13,312. The company wants to use the funding to expand its sales team and distribution network, increase its brewery capacity and develop anaerobic digestion technology to turn spent yeast and brewery by-products into biogas to power the brewery. As well as brewing beer, Lister’s also turns its spent barley into dog treats, which are sold in 144 Pet’s Corner stores. It’s not the first time Lister’s has used Crowdcube, having overfunded on a £75,000 fundraise it launched at the start of the first lockdown, in March 2020, to move its operations to the Angmering Park Estate. Its pitch states: “Lister’s products and brand spans both the beer and pet food industries, putting what would usually be an unused product back into the food chain. Our aim is to become as sustainable as possible. We want to continue our plan to take the Lister’s brand across the country, making it a household name.”

New seafood restaurant opens in Bridlington: A new seafood restaurant has opened overlooking Bridlington harbour following a £250,000 investment from local businessman Michael Harrison. Salt on the Harbour, which is located over two floors next to the South Quay, has launched following a full refurbishment, creating 30 jobs. It comprises an à la carte restaurant on the first floor, a restaurant and bar area on the ground floor and a fish and chip restaurant and takeaway to the rear. There are also seven refurbished hotel bedrooms in an attached building, which forms part of the seaside town’s Lawrence Complex. Harrison’s entertainments company he founded in 1990, Harrison Leisure, refurbished the space that until recently housed restaurants Blue Lobster and Rags. Harrison has pledged to use the restaurant to promote local seafood, saying: “We buy and source all our crab, lobster, and seafood right here from approved dealers in Bridlington harbour – you can see it landed right outside. We are committed to providing the very best quality, locally landed seafood. The fishermen are pleased we are backing it too – especially considering the difficulties the fishing industry has faced with Brexit-related exports – and also creating new markets for shellfish in the UK's hospitality sector. We look into what goes into our meals very, very closely and are prioritising buying locally and reducing our food miles at all times.”

Edinburgh Beer Factory swaps leased site for new freehold in East Lothian: Independent brewer Edinburgh Beer Factory is moving from it leased site in the Scottish capital to join sister company, Thistly Cross Cider, at its freehold site in East Lothian. The move from the Bankhead brewery to West Barns, some 30 miles away from Edinburgh on the Scottish east coast, will allow the two companies to solidify their partnership and maximise efficiency by sharing ideas, expertise and costs. It is hoped the move will be completed by the spring. Edinburgh Beer Factory was founded by the Dunsmore family in 2014, and in 2020 it partnered with artist Eduardo Paolozzi to open Paolozzi Restaurant & Bar with Gino Stornaiuolo, which will remain a city centre home to complement the out-of-town production site. Co-founders Lynne and John Dunsmore said: “Moving to the Thistly Cross site in West Barns is transformative for us. Having lost all our pub, restaurant and export sales for large parts of 2020 and 2021, we received fantastic support from our online and multiple grocery customers. Now, with rising costs coming from every direction, this opportunity has come at just the right time. The site is within the Edinburgh catchment area and will allow us to work even more closely with our friends Thistly Cross, forming a real powerhouse of Scottish craft drinks.” Thistly Cross founder Peter Stuart added: “We are very much looking forward to welcoming the Edinburgh Beer Factory team on site. To have two iconic, independent Scottish producers in one place will be very special.”

Neat Burger slashes its cheeseburger prices for World Vegan Month: Lewis Hamilton-backed plant-based concept Neat Burger has lowered the price of its best-selling cheeseburger from £6.49 to £1.99. It is available at all Neat Burger sites throughout November, in celebration of World Vegan Month. This follows the recent launch of McDonald’s McPlant burger, priced at £3.49. Neat Burger co-founder and chief executive Zack Bishti said: “The appetite for plant-based options from not only vegans, but meat eaters too, has accelerated at a speed even we couldn’t have anticipated. We wanted to pay it forward following our last raise, and by lowering the price of one of our bestsellers, we aim to be as accessible as we are game-changing.” Last month, Neat Burger announced plans for a further 30 London sites after raising $7m (£5.1m) in a new funding round that will more than triple the brand’s existing brick-and mortar portfolio. The business is also set to open 16 additional delivery kitchens in early 2022 – through Deliveroo and virtual kitchen partner Reef, which is also backed by SoftBank.

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