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Tue 4th Jan 2022 - Corbin & King, Tasty, Greene King, Only A Pavement Away, Gino D’Acampo at al
Jeremy King – customer demand is ‘gratifyingly strong’ and staffing levels are good: Corbin & King co-founder Jeremy King has told Propel that customer demand is “gratifyingly strong” and staffing levels are good despite the uncertainty and restrictions being caused by the pandemic. The company, which operates nine sites, said no date has been confirmed when work will recommence on its new seafood restaurant, Manzi’s in Soho, or begin at its two other pipeline sites – a large brasserie in the City of London’s King William Street and a community restaurant in Notting Hill. Corbin & King has taken a number of steps to preserve cash and support trading, including the agreement of rent relief and deferral of payments by the majority of landlords, renegotiation and/or reduction in contractual services, suspension of any unnecessary capital expenditure, and launching a new revenue channel, “Home Dining”. Talking about current trading, King said: “I can only describe it as a curate’s egg. When we are allowed to trade properly we are in very good shape but we are constantly under threat for reasons I don’t need to enumerate as they are shared by us all. Mercifully, our staff levels are good and customer demand gratifyingly strong. I am actually rather positive about 2022.” King spoke after Corbin & King reported turnover of £22.5m for the year ending 31 December 2020 versus £53.1m the year before. Like-for-like sales in the period were down 57.7%. The company saw a pre-tax loss of £9.4m versus a loss of £5.7m the year before. Corbin & King received government grants totalling £7.5m in the period. A £13.2m loan owed to parent company, Minor International, which was payable in May 2020, remains outstanding.

Next edition of sector profitability guide to feature 500 companies: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is updated monthly for Premium subscribers, will feature more than 500 companies when it is published on Friday 14 January at midday. The Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group, provides a five-year overview of turnover and profit, ranking companies according to turnover, pre-tax profit and profit conversion. It also provides details of directors’ earnings and highest paid directors. The next edition shows the pandemic’s effect on the sector with 321 companies making a combined loss of just over £8bn. 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. 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 single subscription rate is £445 plus VAT for operators and £545 plus VAT for supplier. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to sign up. 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 group editor Mark Wingett.

Tasty – December was considerably weaker than anticipated: Wildwood operator Tasty has reported trading for the second half of the year up until December 2021 was extremely encouraging. It stated: “However, along with the rest of the hospitality sector, December, normally the company’s strongest performing month, was disappointing, especially given the level of the preceding few months’ trading. The rising infection rates of the latest Omicron covid-19 variant and in particular the reinstatement of working from home advice by the UK government, significantly reduced the number of customers eating out and specifically deterred the larger Christmas bookings. As a consequence, trading for the peak December trading period was considerably weaker than anticipated. The company confirms that its restaurants have so far remained open with only isolated covid-19 related disruptions to date and is currently trading from 50 restaurants out of a total estate of 54. The four restaurants that have remained closed due to predicted poor trading conditions in their locality and labour shortages, should re-open later in the year however the company will continue to consider the sale of two or three of those restaurants. Despite the employment shortages, supply chain issues, covid-19 related restrictions and a weaker Christmas, the company has, nonetheless, adapted well and navigated its way through the difficulties faced. 2022 will not be without its challenges as the company prepares for the end of government support, in terms of reduced VAT and business rates. However, it is confident in its brands and optimistic about the trading potential of the group, especially with the strong revenue stream provided by takeaway and delivery services.”

Hutson, Hartnett and Wilson amongst those named on New Year Honours list: Chef Angela Hartnett, hotelier Robin Hutson and Greene King managing director Andy Wilson, were all named in the New Year Honours list. Restaurateur and chef Hartnett, who received an MBE in 2007, was awarded an OBE for her services to the hospitality industry and the NHS throughout the pandemic. Hutson, the founder of Home Grown Hotels, The Pig, and Lime Wood Hotels in Hampshire, was also award an OBE for services to the hospitality industry and philanthropy. Wilson, who is managing director for Greene King’s Destination Food Brands division, received an MBE for services to business and charity during covid-19. He has been instrumental in driving £2m of fundraising in 2021 by Greene King’s 40,000 team members, supporting a number of events and even running the London Marathon in October, for the company’s chosen charity partner, Macmillan Cancer Support. Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie said: “Andy has put his heart and soul into raising vital funds for Macmillan Cancer Support and I’m delighted he has received an MBE. He’s a constant driving force within our company, always thinking of new ways to engage pub teams, support centre staff and the Greene King leadership team in raising money. He is renowned for his infectious enthusiasm and energy, qualities that allow him to be so successful in motivating all around him. I look forward to seeing what his next fundraising challenge will be!”

Mackenzie – I am confident that our sector and our teams can meet the next set of challenges: Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, has said he is confident that the sector and its teams can meet the next set of challenges it faces, and is hopeful about the long-term future of the great British pub. Talking to The Times, Mackenzie said: “Last year was one of the toughest imaginable for Britain’s pubs. Full lockdown, phased reopening, supply chain and worker shortages, consumer uncertainty – it is a list that I hope we don’t have to revisit. We’ve also seen the best of our sector: the resilience and dedication of pub teams up and down the country; clear evidence of the important role that pubs play at the heart of communities; and the ability to bounce back, as the sector did over the autumn. Looking ahead to this year, I am confident that our sector and our teams can meet the next set of challenges. However, right now, there is real uncertainty about the short term. The shift to working from home under Plan B has put our industry in a precarious position. Christmas is our busiest and most important time of year and our sector’s recovery will now be damaged and delayed. In particular, the viability of city centre pubs is again under threat. Sales in our pubs within the City of London on Monday, 13 December, were 50% below the same time in 2019. The government needs to act now to help these businesses cope with Plan B. Even worse, the threat of further restrictions seemingly looms. The government should be applauded for the speed at which it rolled out financial support during 2020. It saved jobs and gave the industry a fighting chance when trading was allowed. Make no mistake, that level of support will be needed again if new restrictions are introduced – and support is already needed now for city centre pubs. I remain optimistic about 2022, even if the headlines today are worrying. If the government is willing to provide the necessary support to help pubs through the coming weeks, then 2021 showed that customers will want to come back and support their local. That makes me very hopeful about the long-term future of the great British pub.”

Only a Pavement Away plans to open ten cafes across the UK: Only A Pavement Away, the charity that aims to offer hospitality careers for those facing homelessness, prison leavers and veterans, will be launching an ambitious cafe initiative in the coming months, aiming to create 250 jobs. The target is to have a training café in ten major cities across the UK. The plan is for the charity to acquire mothballed sites from its employer partners and to work with companies who are willing to second a manager and assistant manager to run the cafés. The cafés would be staffed by Only A Pavement Away ‘members’ and open to the public, allowing them to demonstrate their work ethic and pick up experience. A spokesman said: “Staff will receive training qualifications whilst working in a retail, customer-focused environment together with the knowledge and skills required to live independently. They will be paid the going rate for their roles and the intention is that they would secure permanent employment with one of our employer partners during their time in the café.” Greg Mangham, who started the charity with his wife Gill, said discussions were underway with industry experts on the requirements needed to set up the project. Since its launch in October 2018, Only A Pavement Away has placed 170 of its ‘members’ into work, adding circa £4 million to the economy. In addition, it has helped coordinate the distribution of more than £1.6 million worth of donated food and drink from the hospitality industry to those in need during the pandemic.

Gino D’Acampo to open second Luciano restaurant; My Pasta Bar business calls in liquidators: Chef Gino D’Acampo has announced that he is to open a second restaurant under the Luciano name, in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. Named after his first born, Luciano will take over the ex-Piccolino site on London Road, bringing “upmarket Italian dining” to the village. It will be Gino’s second restaurant under the name of his 19-year-old son, joining his recent opening at the five-star ME London hotel, on The Strand. D’Acampo said: “I have many friends in Alderley Edge and the surrounding areas, it’s an amazing place and one in which I’m super excited to open. The location on London Road couldn’t be any better, it’s a fantastic property. I’m looking forward to spending time here with the amazing team, and our incredible, loyal guests.” Managing director of Luciano by Gino D’Acampo, Mat Cunningham, said: “We’re looking forward to bringing Luciano to Alderley Edge. Gino’s influence in the kitchen is significant, not just in terms of the sourcing of ingredients and creation of dishes, but the impact he has on chefs who love to work with him and aspire to his talent and attention to detail. He’s incredibly hands-on.” Luciano will also expand into the former premises of neighbouring Chinese restaurant Yu to create an event and private dining spaces which is anticipated to launch in the spring. Last August, Individual Restaurants, the operator of the Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill brands, announced it was to close four sites – the Piccolino restaurants in Clitheroe and York, and The Restaurant Bar & Grill in Manchester and The Alderley Bar & Grill. At the same time, liquidators from Beesley Corporate Recovery have been called into the chef’s My Pasta Bar chain, which has debts of £5m. The three-strong, London-based business owes £4,939,332 to 49 creditors, in addition to £113,975 to HMRC and £37,887 in staff wages, according to recent filings at Companies House. The first My Pasta Bar opened in Fleet Street in 2013, followed by sites in Leadenhall Market and Bishopsgate.

Erpingham House to make London debut with pop-up: Erpingham House, the UK’s largest plant-based restaurant, is to make its London debut with a pop-up. Erpingham House is arriving at Cloud Twelve wellness club in Notting Hill on Tuesday, 11 January, taking over its brasserie for Veganuary. The menu at Erpingham House at Cloud Twelve will include seitan fillet mignon; and forest mushroom duxelles with leek cannelloni, pickled blackberry, port and truffle jus. Erpingham House will also be working on extending the food offering at the Cloud Twelve’s Kids Club. Loui Blake, managing director of Erpingham House, said: “We are excited about our first pop-up in London and our partnership with Cloud Twelve. The space is beautiful and the location is incredible, we have a lot of shared values, interest and passion for quality. With this pop-up we want to build on London’s growing plant-based movement and help people incorporate more healthier food options into their diet.” Jenya Di Pierro, founder of Cloud Twelve, added: “I am inspired by the Erpingham House mission and vision for healthy sustainable living with great respect to the planet and all the things on it, while placing an emphasis on nutrition and what goes into our bodies. It’s great to have a partner who is so aligned with our values and has elevated plant-based food to such a premium level. I’m looking forward to our collaboration and I’m sure it will be a great success within the London food scene.” Erpingham House operates restaurants in Norwich, Brighton and Edinburgh.

Gleneagles reports strong bookings for 2022 and 2023 as it posts £9m pre-tax loss: Gleneagles Hotel has said it is seeing strong bookings for 2022 and 2023 as it reported a £9m pre-tax loss in its latest financial year. The hotel said after reopening in April 2021 it enjoyed “strong trading”, adding: “The company was able to weather the covid-19 pandemic due to liquidity support from our parent company as well as our primary lender, in the form of funding through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.” Strong trading in the summer of 2021 has allowed early repayment of the £5m loan. The hotel reported turnover at £19.7m for the year to 31 March 2021 against £66.4m for the 15 months to 31 March 2020. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors said they expect no, or very limited, restrictions such as in 2020 and 2021 after the spring of 2022. There were 894 staff on the Gleneagles books, compared with 967 in the previous 15 months, with the wage bill decreasing from £24m to £17m.

Individual Restaurants plans new concept Riva blu: Individual Restaurants, the operator of the Piccolino and Restaurant Bar & Grill brands, is planning to rebrand the Gino D’Acampo My Restaurant in Leeds, to a new concept, Riva blu, Propel has learned. The company, which last year appointed former TGI Fridays chief executive Karen Forrester, as its new executive chair, is understood to have submitted a planning application for the new Italian restaurant and bar concept in the city’s Park Row. The site is currently operated under Individual Restaurants joint venture with chef D’Acampo. Last summer, the 28-strong company appointed Forrester to oversee its next stage of growth. Ice Acquisitions, the new vehicle controlled by Sir Malcolm Walker and Tarsem Dhaliwal, acquired the bulk of the Individual Restaurants business out of administration in November 2020 in a deal worth more than £40m. It subsequently announced it was to close four sites – the Piccolino restaurants in Clitheroe and York, and The Restaurant Bar & Grill in Manchester and The Alderley Bar & Grill, Cheshire.

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