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Wed 24th Nov 2021 - Pret sales rise above pre-pandemic level for first time
Pret sales rise above pre-pandemic level for first time: Sales at Pret A Manger rose above their pre-pandemic levels last week for the first time. The chain’s transaction volumes in locations including London’s financial districts and regional towns, northern counties and Scotland were higher than they were in the final week of January 2020, according to the weekly Bloomberg Pret Index. Sales in Yorkshire led the way – standing 61% above January 2020 – followed by a 35% rise for the London suburbs since the beginning of the pandemic as many people continue to work from home, the figures showed. Districts where sales are still below pre-virus levels include the City of London, 13% down as staff spend fewer days in the office, as well as the capital’s airports and mainline stations as rail and air travel remain depressed. Pano Christou, Pret chief executive, told The Telegraph that financial districts were regaining momentum but warned: “On average around the country, we’re back at the level of business we were at before the pandemic hit. But we know we need to keep pushing in London’s business districts and constantly think about new ways to grow our business in those crucial markets.” Bloomberg uses the sandwich chain’s transaction volumes in clusters up and down the country to monitor the health of the economy. The rebound puts Britain well ahead of New York, Philadelphia and Washington, where Pret’s shops are trading far below normal levels.

Two days to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, 54 businesses being added: A total of 54 new multi-site companies, operating 369 sites, have been 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, includes a number of brands growing through franchise, expanding sports concepts, and regional pub and hotel operators. 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 17,000-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. 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

Two-metre rule was ‘picked at random’: The two-metre social distancing rule is a “random measurement” and does not protect against catching covid, a University of Cambridge study has suggested. The Telegraph reports that researchers said that the number was chosen from a risk “continuum”, rather than being a mark of safety, and without extra measures, such as face masks, a person with covid could infect someone else at a two-metre (6.5ft) distance. The government first advised the public to stay two metres apart in March 2020 to prevent the spread of covid. That June, the rule moved to “one-metre plus”, which allowed people to remain one metre (3.3ft) away if extra measures were in place, such as face masks or meeting outdoors. The Cambridge team used computer modelling to measure how droplets spread between people through coughing, including how the droplets flow through the air and evaporate. Published in the journal Physics of Fluids, the findings showed that there is no sharp cut-off once the droplets spread beyond two metres and smaller droplets in the air can easily move beyond this mark. The researchers said that the two-metre rule was an easy-to-remember message, but should not be taken as a sign of safety.

Center Parcs will tear heart out of ancient woods like Worth Forest, nature groups warn: Plans by Center Parcs to build a £350 million holiday resort in West Sussex would “tear the heart” out of ancient woodland and set a precedent that could lead to the destruction of many other protected woods, conservation charities are warning. The company wants to build up to 900 lodges, a “subtropical swimming paradise”, restaurants, roads and car parks on 550 acres at Oldhouse Warren, in Worth Forest near Crawley. The site is within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The charities said surveys had shown it was a breeding ground for the goshawk, firecrest and marsh tit. The Times reports that The Woodland Trust, Sussex Wildlife Trust, CPRE Sussex, Sussex Ornithological Society and RSPB have issued a joint statement against the plans. They said it would “tear the heart out of Oldhouse Warren’s irreplaceable ancient woodland and this special part of the High Weald AONB, resulting in irreversible loss of habitat for wildlife. It puts to the test the effectiveness of planning policy that gives ancient woods and AONBs exceptional protection from damage and destruction. The inevitable loss of habitat would make a mockery of the government’s commitments to address climate change, expand the acreage of protected landscapes and to plant 30,000 hectares of new trees by 2024.” They said that allowing destruction of ancient woods after the UK brokered a deal to end deforestation globally at the Cop26 conference would be “steeped in irony”. Center Parcs said: “We take our responsibility to the environment and forests extremely seriously. We have more than 30 years’ experience of sensitively managing the woodlands in which our villages are located, carefully nurturing and maintaining the forests to protect and enhance biodiversity.” Center Parcs said in July that it had secured an option to acquire woodland at Oldhouse Warren for its sixth UK site because it was south of London and had “excellent transport links”.

Canary Wharf-based all-day restaurant and cocktail bar to open next week: Shutters Canary Wharf, a new all-day restaurant and cocktail bar based on the ground floor at One Canada Square, will open next Wednesday (1 December). It will be open daily, with brunch served from 8am-11am followed by all-day dining from noon to 10pm, featuring a fish-led menu focusing strongly on Cornish produce. The breakfast offerings include steak and eggs, smoked west coast haddock kedgeree and sweetcorn and coriander fritters, while among the all-day options are Cornish crab, steamed St Austell Bay mussels, griddled octopus and whole baked Cornish sole. A Mexican-inspired cocktail bar will sit on the upper level, while a separate counter will be stocked with juice, smoothies, pastries and Shutters’ own blend of coffee, hand-roasted in Cornwall. By night, the counter will serve wine and build-your-own deli boards of cured meat, cheese and lighter bites.

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