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Fri 19th Nov 2021 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Gravity owner expects £12m-£14m annual run rate for Wandsworth experiential site, eyes £85m-£95m valuation for business, lines up ten more UK venues: Gravity co-founder Michael Harrison is projecting a £85m to £95m valuation for his business and anticipating a run rate of £12m to £14m per year for the large-scale experiential site he launched in August. Gravity opened its first trampoline park in 2015 and operates 16 sites across the UK, as well as a franchise in the Middle East, but launched its biggest site yet three months ago. Gravity Southside, a multi-attraction experiential site based in a former Debenhams in Wandsworth, offers eight immersive experiences under one roof and is set over three floors of the Southside shopping centre. Harrison is now planning ten more such sites across the UK as well as a series of smaller “satellite franchises”, and further expansion into the Middle East and United States. “We’re the fastest growing leisure company in the UK, with over half a million square feet of high street space, and early next year we hope to have a valuation of between £85m and £95m, so it’s been a mad six-and-a-half years,” Harrison told last week’s Propel Multi-Club Conference. “There is private equity interest – Gravity Wandsworth will have a run rate of £12m to £14m a year. We are looking for franchise partners and investors because its bigger than I could ever have imagined, it’s now about keeping up with the demand. We have designed heads of terms and almost agreed on ten locations across the UK – if it’s a top shopping centre, chances are Gravity’s going there. We will be franchising other, probably smaller, sites around the UK – you can satellite off those ten locations with ones with two or three attractions rather than eight or nine. I’ve got a lot of franchise interest from Saudi, so it looks like we’ll do a ten to 15 park deal there, and in the US. As we open the next ten Gravity’s across the UK, we will be three businesses in one – the daytime trade for the families, the night time trade for adults and the corporate side where people can come and work in dedicated office space and then enjoy themselves.” Harrison, who said capital expenditure for Gravity Southside was around £6.4m with 15 months’ payback, is also pondering the next steps for Gravity’s F&B offering. “We wanted to open in June but opened in August,” he added. “We wanted to get through the summer holidays and look at the food concept when it quietened down, but it never did. We’ve only just started putting food out these last few weeks, and I’m still in two minds whether to bring in a good food operator or go it alone. It’s still up in the air with that, but when you have three floors with 80,000 square feet you can have many different food concepts, and I think we’ll edge towards putting other operators in there for the food.”
Harrison is one of 24 operators in the Propel Premium Advent Calendar, giving subscribers access to a great video each day in December from our autumn conference series. Each day in December in the run-up to Christmas, Premium subscribers will be sent a video featuring some of the sector’s leading operators, who will share insights, advice and expertise. Harrison will feature on 21 December. 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

Industry News:

Broad variety of multi-site concepts set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A broad variety of multi-site concepts are among the 54 new multi-site companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday, 26 November, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features Elevens Group, which is owned by football star Gareth Bale, and is opening its second venue, a mini-golf bar and restaurant called Par 59, in Cardiff. Husband-and-wife team Sam and Katie Congdon, who are behind Plymouth’s Vessel Beer Shop, are now opening a new microbrewery and bar called Pilgrimage Brewing, three doors away from their debut site. In addition, Paeonia, which is a bubble tea concept originating from Taiwan, is planning to open a second site in west London and expand to five venues by the end of 2022. Also added this month is Leeds-based e-sports and video game bar concept, Pixel Bar, which offers gaming booths, cocktails, burgers and wings, and has now opened its second site in Manchester. Premium subscribers will also receive a 3,900-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. The database features more than 2,000 companies in total. Alongside this, Premium subscribers will also receive the fifth edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 3 December, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The fifth edition also includes a 14,000-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 group editor Mark Wingett. In this week’s Premium Opinion, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday (19 November) at 5pm, Peter Hansen, partner at Sapient Corporate Finance, looks ahead to what can be expected for M&A and investment in the pub sector in 2022 while Simon Wilkinson, ex-chief executive of Byron and La Tasca, discusses why senior executives never have all the answers and why it is good to talk. 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

Hospitality fastest growing sector for second month in a row: Hospitality was the fastest growing UK sector for the second month in a row, according to the latest Lloyds Bank UK Recovery Tracker. Tourism and recreation – which includes pubs, hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities – had an output reading of 70 in October. A reading above 50 signals output is rising, while a reading below 50 indicates output is contracting. The sector was boosted by the relaxation in international travel rules and more tourists visiting the UK. The number of UK sectors reporting output growth hit a three-month high in October, as businesses experienced intense pressure to raise prices. Price increases reflected the sharpest monthly rise in input cost inflation since October 2016. A total of 12 of the14 sectors reported output growth in October, up from ten in September, and the highest number since July. Businesses also experienced intense supply chain pressure in October, with the length of delivery times rising at the sharpest pace since August. Jeavon Lolay, head of economics and market insight, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “After a brief summer slowdown, the UK recovery regained some momentum at the start of the fourth quarter. However, while encouraging, the headwinds from supply chain disruption and brisk input price inflation are proving both more persistent and stronger. This could further dent consumer confidence and restrain household spending, the mainstay of the recovery so far.”

Total beer sales fall 14.2% as Brits drink more wine and spirits during forced closures of pubs and bars: New data from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has revealed Brits drank more wine and spirits but less beer during the 2020 lockdowns. The percentage share of alcohol consumed through wine in the UK increased by two percentage points, while over the same period, the percentage share of alcohol consumed through beer decreased by four percentage points – with total beer sales in 2020 falling by 14.2%. It means during at the height of the pandemic, Brits consumed 33% of their alcohol through beer and another 33% through wine, compared with 37% for just beer and 31% for just wine in 2019. Over 2020, Brits consumed 26% of their alcohol from spirits, up two percentage points from 2019. According to the BBPA, the key reason behind this shift in drinking habits was the forced closure of pubs, where typically, seven in ten alcoholic drinks served are beer. BBPA chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “With the pubs closed, it’s clear people turned to wine and spirits from shops and supermarkets rather than beer. Because of this, overall beer sales in 2020 fell by 14.2%. In short, sales in supermarkets didn’t make up for sales lost from closed pubs. With pubs open and trading again in 2021, we hope customers will revert to choosing a beer at their local – a safe and managed space at the heart of communities throughout the UK.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a Hong Kong-based restaurant group that is on the lookout for a head of people. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The ideal head of people will have a bachelor’s degree and preferably an MBA or HR qualifications. The role would suit a proactive people leader who has at least ten years of progressive leadership experience, with two to three years leading an HR function. The hiring company is open to supporting a candidate relocating from the UK and will offer a full relocation package and a competitive salary.” Anyone interested can email michelle@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Emeny – we are on the front foot again, plans to strengthen environmental governance agenda: Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny has told Propel the business is back on the front foot in terms of looking at opportunities and “in negotiations for some new acquisitions”. He said: “We are cash generative, we’ve made a profit in the half year, we’ve had an equity raise, we’ve begun paying a dividend, and we are in negotiations for some new acquisitions. We are about to fit out a new site in the City, that I think confirms our commitment to London, which will open in time for the new financial year. We are on the front foot now.” He also said the business was looking to do more in terms of the company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda. The business recently appointed Oliver Rosevear, ex-head of environment and sustainability lead UK & Ireland at Costa, as its first head of sustainability. Emeny said: “We have already started making improvements to our ‘Life is too good to waste’ programme. I look forward to our full-year results, to sharing a wider plan on our ESG agenda. It is very important for our customers, and our colleagues as well, when we talk to them, they want more from us on this.” When it came to possible price increases, Emeny said the company wanted to avoid “taking any short-term decisions that impact the recovery of the business”. He said: “Our biggest priority is to get as many of our customers back into our pubs, as often as possible. We are being quite cautious on price increases, we don’t want to put obstacles in the way, because now the inflation that we are seeing, we have some control over, which is good. The interesting thing around inflation is how long are we going to be seeing this level of inflation for. I was reminded this morning that in 2011, inflation went up to 5%, and then it came quite swiftly down.” Unlike some of its peers, Emeny said the business hadn’t seen a recent cooling off in trade. He said: “The reason why is probably around the recovery trajectory of a business like ours, because with our large weighting towards central London and the City, we always knew we would be slightly slower to recover than everybody else. If you think about the Counting House (Cornhill), the Barrow Boy & Banker (Borough High Street) and the Parcel Yard (King’s Cross station), these are six-figure weekly sites. So, what we have seen, especially in the last seven weeks, is a continued momentum in these sites.” In terms of Bel and The Dragon, Emeny said the business had used “lockdown well to integrate some of our process round Bel into the estate, to invest in the pubs”. He said: “We have opened a seventh one and just about to start on our eighth. We have great confidence in that brand.”

Hostmore secures Cambridge site for 63rd+1st, scope for ten-plus venues by end of 2023: Hostmore, the newly listed parent company of Fridays, has secured the fourth site for its fledgling 63rd+1st concept, in Cambridge. Propel understands 63rd+1st has secured the former Strada site in the city’s Trinity Street for an opening next spring. It will follow openings under the brand in Cobham and Glasgow, while a third 63rd+1st will open in Harrogate this month. It is thought the company is also exploring openings in Edinburgh, Oxford and Bath. The Robert B Cook-led company believes there is scope to open ten sites under the concept by the end of 2023. Spanning circa 5,000 square feet, the Cambridge site will feature a bar and lounge area adjacent to the restaurant space, seating 110 guests inside with an additional 24 covers available on a private alfresco heated terrace. Inspired by the street food scene in Manhattan, the menu is centred on smaller sharing plates. Cook said: “We are delighted to be bringing the fourth 63rd+1st to Cambridge and continue to share the 63rd+1st experience with guests across the country. 63rd+1st represents the coming together of people, culture, tastes and styles.” Last week, Cook told Propel that Hostmore now has the platform in place to expand Fridays, with a “robust” pipeline of sites already lined up. While the business has talked about acquiring smaller brands for its portfolio, Cook refuted reports that negotiations were already taking place and was waiting to see what happens when the moratorium ends next year, when he believes there could be “some good deals to be had”. For now, he said, the focus was on growing Fridays and 63rd+1st. David Muslin, of Ecliptic, acted on the Cambridge deal.

Bru Coffee and Gelato reveals plans for 20 new franchise sites by 2023: Coffee and dessert bar concept Bru Coffee and Gelato has revealed plans to open 20 new franchise sites across the UK by 2023. Established in Leicester in 2014, the company now has six stores across the UK and said it has big plans for growth over the next few years. As part of its expansion strategy, Bru is working with Runo Group, which matches businesses with suitable franchise partners. Bru franchise director Aftab Gaffar said: “One franchisee that recently came on board committed to six new franchises, without ever having worked with us before, which I think is testament to the strength of the Bru brand and its potential. Coffee holds a really important place in people’s lives, and this trend is set to continue.” Bru Coffee and Gelato operates three sites in London – in Docklands, Harrow and Walthamstow – along with outlets in Cardiff, Leicester and Reading.

Innis & Gunn commits to pay staff ‘real living wage’: Scottish brewer and retailer Innis & Gunn has become the latest hospitality group to pledge to pay its staff a “real living wage” as minimum pay. As part of Living Wage Week, The Living Wage Foundation announced the current rate of £9.50 per hour will increase to £9.90. These hourly rates are calculated annually to better reflect the real cost of living. As one of around 120 accredited Living Wage Employers in the Scottish hospitality sector, Innis & Gunn will pay all staff these rates as a minimum, including all staff at their four Scottish brewery taproom bars. Innis & Gunn founder, Dougal Gunn Sharp, said: “Offering our staff the real living wage is another way for Innis & Gunn to reward our teams for their hard work and the skills they bring to our business, from brewing to bartending. The hospitality sector is often considered low-paying, and the challenges facing the industry at present have been well documented, so ensuring we have strong staff retention is even more important.” Meanwhile, Innis & Gunn has moved its headquarters to a new site at Edinburgh’s Orchard Brae House, with more hot desks to allow staff to split their working week between office and remote working locations. Sharp added: “The way we work has undoubtedly changed since 2020, and our new hybrid working policy offers our staff flexibility and balance. Our headquarters will move into our new brewery once built, so this new office gives us the perfect opportunity to test and learn ahead of moving into our forever home.”
Innis & Gunn features in Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is updated monthly for Premium subscribers. Innis & Gunn has turned over an average of £22m in the past five years. The Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranks 456 companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors. 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.

Red Engine team launches first international Electric Shuffle site, in Dallas: Red Engine, the team behind Flight Club and Electric Shuffle, has opened its first international Electric Shuffle site, in Dallas, Texas. Based in the Deep Ellum neighbourhood, the wholly owned venue features two bars, 17 Electric Shuffleboard tables and numerous nods to the heritage of the historic building it features in. Chief executive and founder Steve Moore is confident of the runway potential the US can offer. He said: “This site has been one and a half years in the making and is a huge moment for the brand, particularly after the highs and lows the past 18 months delivered to us all. This project has been one of our most challenging but rewarding yet and we truly believe we can offer something unique to the US market.” US chief executive Gene Ball added: “After a week of soft launches the reaction has already been incredible. Dallas hasn’t seen anything like this before.” The team has ambitious expansion plans, with hopes of confirming its second site in Austin, in the coming weeks. 

Costa teams up with M&S Food team on new food offer: Costa Coffee and M&S Food have announced a new collaboration – Costa Coffee Now Serving M&S Food. Launching in the spring, customers will be able to choose from more than 30 M&S Food products, including new lunch options, hot meal boxes and children’s food. Available in more than 2,500 Costa Coffee stores across the UK as well as via drive-thru lanes, the offer will build on Costa’s current food range and “perfectly crafted coffee to provide even more choice for customers”. Costa managing director for the UK and Ireland, Neil Lake, said: “As we continue to craft new coffee experiences across our stores, Costa Express machines, and Costa coffee in a can and at-home offer, we are bringing together two of the very best brands in a UK-first to launch the Costa Coffee Now Serving M&S Food range.” Stuart Machin, chief operating officer and M&S Food managing director, added: “This collaboration gives many more customers the opportunity to enjoy our wide range of sandwiches, salads and snacks in more than 2,500 locations across the UK – not just on the high street but in neighbourhood locations and retail parks. It extends our reach and supports our strategy of making M&S more relevant, more often for families.”

Tortilla appoints new head of people: Tortilla, the UK’s largest fast-casual Mexican restaurant group, has appointed Elisabete (Betty) Tavares as its new head of people. Tavares has 12 years of experience in people management and human resources. She joins Tortilla having previously worked on a consultancy basis with businesses across the food, leisure and restaurant sectors including casual dining chain Tasty. Most recently she was head of people at Fulham Shore, owner and operator of the Franco Manca and The Real Greek restaurant brands, and prior to this held roles at Wahaca and Azzurri Group. Tortilla chief executive Richard Morris said: “Betty brings strong sector experience and proven expertise in leading and implementing market-leading HR programmes and will be a fantastic addition to the team at a time when we are further enhancing our HR proposition to ensure we recruit, retain and develop our people in the best ways that we can, and position Tortilla as a best place to work in our industry.” Meanwhile, Propel understands Tortilla’s former head of people, Nicki Sahota, has joined Marugame Udon Europe as its talent and culture manager.

Neat Burger appoints Werner Coetzee as head of franchise: Lewis Hamilton-backed plant-based concept Neat Burger has appointed Werner Coetzee, formerly of YO!, as its new head of franchise, as it looks to expand globally. Coetzee spent more than 22 years at YO! as its international franchise director overseeing the brands growth outside the UK. Neat Burger has ambitious plans to expand globally and previously revealed its goal was to open 14 franchises within 24 months. Last month, it said it was planning to open a further 30 sites across London, after raising $7m (£5.1m) in a new funding round. The latest raise will also fund international expansion, including moves into the US, UAE and Italy, and product development. 

Starbucks to work with British farmers to cut emissions: Starbucks is partnering with Arla UK on a new pilot to help British farmers cut emissions in milk. The new three-year programme will see Starbucks work with 14 farms across England, Scotland, and Wales to identify new sustainable farming innovations, with the aim of developing an industry-leading blueprint for how to produce dairy sustainably. The programme will focus on reducing greenhouse gases produced by the production of dairy, which is the largest contributor to Starbucks carbon footprint, accounting for 22% of its global carbon emissions. Alex Rayner, general manager at Starbucks UK, said: “This partnership with Arla and the dairy farming community underpins our commitment to produce high quality and responsibly sourced products. Purchasing sustainable dairy is integral to our work expanding our environmentally friendly menu options, while enhancing the Starbucks experience.” The 9,400 dairy farmers that own Arla Foods have been working to produce more sustainable dairy for more than two decades. Starbucks will also be working with scientists from The Nature Conservancy, a global, and environmental stewardship non-profit who will support the partnership. Starbucks has an ongoing commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 globally and become a resource positive company. Meanwhile, the company has opened its first Starbucks pick-up store in partnership with Amazon Go on the Upper East Side in New York City, with two more on the way in the area by early 2022.

Chantelle Nicholson to open new Mayfair restaurant Apricity: Chef Chantelle Nicholson, who closed her Covent Garden restaurant Tredwells in September, will launch her latest venture in March next year. Nicholson will open Apricity, a new restaurant with sustainability at its core, in Mayfair’s Duke Street. Well known for championing veg-forward sustainable cooking, Nicholson’s approach at Apricity will be no different. She and head chef Eve Seemann have created a menu centred around hyper-seasonal, sustainable produce from small-scale farmers and locally foraged ingredients, with a zero-waste approach to cooking. A small street terrace will allow guests to dine alfresco, while in the basement will be a chef’s table where small groups of diners can watch the action from an open kitchen. Nicholson said: “Apricity, meaning the warmth of the sun in winter, is such an exciting opportunity for myself and my team. Creating a space that can serve delicious food and great drinks, with joy and purpose, is key to us.” A former group operations director for Marcus Wareing Restaurants, Nicholson made her solo restaurant debut with Tredwells seven years ago, where she earned both a reputation for veg-dominant menus and a green Michelin star. She also launched a three-month pop-up called All’s Well in Hackney last year, to help preserve jobs during the covid pandemic. Since then, the concept has appeared at Pub in the Park in Chiswick and Marlow and hosted private events, with further plans in the pipeline for the new year. The former Tredwells site, meanwhile, has been taken on by Aspirational Brands – the growth vehicle behind Handmade Burger Co and Thai brand Lemongrass – with a view to opening a new concept similar in theme to its Cheshire House Bar and Grill. Davis Coffer Lyons acted on the Duke Street deal.

BrewDog makes delayed Bradford debut and launches third Red’s franchise: Scottish brewer and bar operator BrewDog will make its covid-delayed Bradford debut on Friday (19 November) and launch its third franchise with smokehouse brand Red’s True Barbecue. The company was originally due to open at the former BrewHaus site in Great Horton Road in March 2020, but the plan was put on hold after the country went into the first covid lockdown. The brand’s latest bar will have 28 taps with craft beer from BrewDog and guest breweries as well as cider, spirits and wine, a take-away service and coffee. The kitchen residency from Red’s will include freshly made pizza, while guests can opt for two-for-one vegan and vegetarian mains on Mondays and all-you-can-eat spicy buffalo chicken or buffalo cauliflower wings for £10 on Wednesdays. The Bradford site will also be running “beer school” sessions, where guests can enjoy guided tastings and learn the background behind five beers over two hours, including brewing methods and how to pair them with the food. BrewDog, which operates 106 bars globally, earlier this month opened a second Bristol site and has lined up further openings in Bournemouth and Cheltenham. It currently has franchise agreements with Red’s in Headingley and Huddersfield as well as Bradford, and is believed to be in discussions to extend this to Hull too.

Pizza Hut names Nicolas Burquier as new managing director for Europe and Canada: Pizza Hut has named Nicolas Burquier as its new managing director for Europe and Canada. Burquier, who joined the brand’s parent company Yum! in 2005, will take up his new role in January. He is currently chief customer and operations officer for Pizza Hut US, where the company said he has improved the customer experience in its restaurants through delivery-focused operations and enhanced restaurant technology to accelerate the brand’s transformation there. He will take over from Regina Borda, who will become managing director of the brand’s operations in Latin America and Iberia. Borda joined Yum! in 2003. She has been managing director of Pizza Hut Europe and Canada for the past three years, overseeing launching Pizza Hut’s “Now That’s Delivering” brand positioning, scaling new technologies and launching the brand’s An Equal Slice for Everyone social purpose programme in the UK with the New Founders Programme – supporting entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds with training and capital. She was previously chief brand officer, Pizza Hut Latin America. 

Oakman sets out plans for Harpenden site: Oakman Group, the Dermot King-led pub-restaurant operator, has set out its plans for a new opening in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. The company recently acquired No 6 High Street, Harpenden, the former Kingston House department store and more recently an M&Co store. It is now set to hold a public exhibition of its proposed plans at the premises. It is proposed the site, which will be known once again as Kingston House in recognition of the building’s history as the site of Harpenden’s GP, Dr Francis Kingston, in the mid 1880s and the eponymous department store, will become an Oakman Inn. The proposals include an 80-seater restaurant, bar and a rooftop terrace. If planning permission is obtained, Oakman would hope to open in time for Christmas 2022. Last month, the business said it hopes to have opened 11 new sites by the end of 2023, as it reported sales growth of 36% since July versus the same period in 2019. It has started work on a site in Buckingham which will open next spring. In September, the 36-strong group applied for planning permission to turn the former George Hotel in Ludlow, most recently a PizzaExpress restaurant, back into a pub. 

South coast multi-site operator takes on Greene King pub in Worthing following £400,000 joint investment: Matt Short, of independent pub group Regency Corporation, has added to his portfolio by taking on the former Warwick Arms in Worthing. The property has reopened as Irish theme pub O’Connor’s following a £400,000 joint refurbishment. The work includes a new bar area plus internal and external furnishings. Short said: “As a child, I spent many holidays in Ireland visiting family and friends and always wanted to bring a slice of the emerald isle to Worthing, and The Warwick gave us the space and versatility to create O’Connor’s. We wanted to create a premium Irish pub with traditional Irish food and pub classics.” Short founded Regency Corporation, which runs several pubs on the south coast, including Shoreham’s Crown & Anchor, ten years ago. Last year, the company secured £250,000 from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme through Lloyds Bank to help support the business during lockdown. At the time, the group had been enjoying significant growth and was looking to add more independent small-town pubs to its portfolio. The Greene King Pub Partners division, meanwhile, operates more than 1,000 leased, tenanted and franchise pubs across the UK with independent business partners. Andre Quibell, business development manager for Greene King Pub Partners, added “This scheme was a brave one, and we wanted to do it with an experienced pub operator, which we have in Matt and his team. With them, we’ve been able to create a unique and high-quality high street pub that will be great for Worthing.”

Trio of London freehold pub investments acquired: A private investor has acquired three freehold public house investments based in London, for an undisclosed sum, Propel has learned. The pubs are The Old Ship in Hackney, Hunter S in Canonbury and Tropix, Clapham. All properties are let on identical leases to Ei Group, part of Stonegate Pub Company – with 25 years unexpired. The pubs are situated in affluent Zone 2 locations with strong residential catchments. The terms of the transaction were confidential. Jack Silvani, director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, which advised an overseas client on the off-market sale of the freeholds, said: “This transaction demonstrates the continued confidence in the pub sector as an asset class and, notably, marked the strong return of institutional interest in the sector. We are observing some of the highest transaction volumes in the past decade with many deals taking place off-market.” Ed Sandall, of Fleurets, acted on behalf of the purchaser.

Leeds’ Granary Wharf to get new £1m all-day café bar and club concept next month: Canal Club, a new £1m waterfront cafe bar and club, will open in Leeds’ Granary Wharf next month. Operating initially as an entertainment venue, featuring a mix of DJs and live music in multisensory surroundings, its cafe will launch in the spring – offering a selection of coffee, grab ‘n’ go breakfast options and sweet treats, plus bottomless brunches at weekends. The menu will include tapas dishes and light bites such as beet hummus toast, salt and pepper squid and sweet potato crostini. Among the cocktails offerings will be a cherry blossom martini, served Asian-style with sake and cointreau, and a spicy strawberry and coconut margarita with jalapeño-infused tequila. Operations director Jade Renner said: “We’ve put a lot of thought into Canal Club – from how we want it to look to the type of food and drinks we’re choosing to serve, no stone has been left unturned. The pandemic gave us time to think about what it is that people are looking for when they socialise now. People tend to go out earlier but still want to feel like they’re getting the music and atmosphere they might expect on an evening. We’ve covered all bases and are certain Canal Club will be the new go-to destination for those who like something a little different. We want to look after our guests, so the seated table service offers everyone the opportunity to unwind without having to take it in turns to go up to the bar.”

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