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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 4th Feb 2022 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Keeping VAT at 12.5% would save £4.6bn over ten years and create almost 300,000 jobs in ‘once of a lifetime opportunity’: Keeping VAT at 12.5% for hospitality and tourism rather than returning to 20% in April would save £4.6bn and help “level up” the country, a coalition of industry bodies have told the government. The British Beer and Pub Association, UKHospitality, the Tourism Alliance and the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions have published a study that highlights the huge benefits such a move would grant the government over a decade. The report found a permanent rate of 12.5% will bring VAT on hospitality and attractions in line with the European average and set off a virtuous cycle of industry investment and growth. It went on to say that, over a decade, the reduced level of VAT would create 286,850 jobs, generate £7.7bn of additional turnover, deliver £4.6bn in net present value of fiscal gains and return a positive gain on the government’s investment in less than five years. UKHospitality is also in the process of putting together an “open letter” it plans to send to chancellor Rishi Sunak highlighting the “once in a lifetime” opportunity the retention of the current lower rate of VAT would bring. It states: “The reduced rate of VAT that you introduced as part of the Plan for Jobs has been an incredible success, helping us to sustain jobs and businesses despite the ravages of the pandemic’s various waves. It has been critical in keeping prices affordable for our customers. The policy has been a resounding success and is central to our sector and the nation’s economic recovery. We therefore implore you to maintain VAT at 12.5% and witness the hospitality sector rebound strongly and deliver jobs and growth around the country.” The trade body has also engaged Deloitte to gather data on the impact of the reduced rate of VAT. This data will be presented to HM Treasury to assist in the understanding of how the reduced rate has impacted the hospitality sector, as well as gauging the current levels of confidence and sentiment in the industry as a whole. A spokesman for the coalition of industry bodies said: “We must now reignite our industry with a long-term approach and vision to our sector recovery. The report sets out the undeniable case for making permanent the 12.5% rate of VAT. The tourism and hospitality sectors can truly act as an engine for the UK’s recovery as we look beyond the pandemic. As we approach the point where the reduced rate comes to an end, we are united in calling on the government to change course and cancel the planned increase. The economic and societal benefits of making this change would be enormous.”

Industry News:

Sixth edition of The New Openings Database to be sent to Premium subscribers today, 26,100-word report included: The sixth edition of The New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, will be sent to Propel Premium subscribers today, (Friday, 4 February), at midday. It will show the details of 495 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches. The database, which is published on a monthly basis, shows the details of which company has opened a site or its plans to open one in the future. It will have details on what type of site it is and its location. There will also be a website link to the businesses so you can find out more about them. The sixth edition of the database features new and expanding leisure and hotel concepts, unique cuisine and regional brands in growth. Premium subscribers will also receive a 26,100-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to two other databases. The latest Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, was sent to Premium subscribers last Friday (28 January). The database contained 87 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed up to 2,293. The 918 sites run by those 87 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 63,489 sites. Premium subscribers also received a 6,500-word report on the new businesses added. The go-to database 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. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Premium subscribers also receive the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which is produced in association with Mapal Group. The Blue Book, which is also updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. 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 suppliers. Email jo.charity@propelinfo.com to upgrade your subscription. 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. In this week’s Premium Opinion, which will be sent to subscribers today at 5pm, he talks to Turtle Bay chair Jane O’Riordan and chief executive Nick Crossley, about how the Piper-backed business has bounced back strongly, how it uses social media to grow its consumer base and its expansion plans. Meanwhile, RedCat Pub Company chairman Rooney Anand discusses why a company’s higher purpose must not come at the expense of ensuring a business survives, and Lavender Bank Partners Geof Collyer gives his take on the sector landscape as it comes out of the crisis and how he sees the next 12 months panning out. Will Wright, head of restructuring for Interpath Advisory, also takes a look at the commercial rent arbitration mechanism that will kick in when the moratorium ends at the end of March.
 
Propel Friday Wrap video series returns with Paula Mackenzie, MD of KFC UK: Propel’s Friday Wrap video series returns today (Friday, 4 February) at 3pm. The series, which is sponsored by Mr Yum, the mobile menu, ordering and payment platform used by leading hospitality and entertainment venues, sees Mark Stretton, former sector journalist and now head of sector PR firm Fleet Street Communications, and Propel’s group editor Mark Wingett discussing this week’s key issues facing the UK’s hospitality sector, with a leading sector operator or expert. This week they are joined by Paula Mackenzie, managing director of KFC UK, to discuss how the fast-food business has navigated the crisis, the role delivery is playing in the company’s growth, the importance of diversity in the sector, and the secrets behind the brand’s marketing success. 
 
Future of UK pub operators ‘hangs in the balance’ without ongoing government support as survey reveals industry’s fragility: UK pub operators facing huge cost increases, crippling debt and fading cash reserves will be left with their futures hanging in the balance without ongoing government support, a new survey has found. The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) released the findings after its most recent member survey detailing the continued devastating impact of the pandemic on pubs. It found 73% of respondents reported their revenue over the festive period was down by more than 20%, and half of those were down more than 40% compared with the same period in 2019. Similarly, 72% said they were more than 20% down on profit, with two thirds down more than 40% against 2019. Looking at 2021 as a whole, 75% saw overall revenues down more than 20%, with half of those down by more than 40%. More than a third currently have no cash reserves left, and of those that do, half only have up to two months left before the coffers are empty. The majority (93%) of pubs are suffering levels of inflation significantly above the national rate of 5.4%, with two thirds facing inflationary business costs of more than 10%. Ongoing repayments for pandemic specific debt means 55% of respondents still have debts of more than £40,000 per pub, while a quarter of those surveyed need at least a six-month suspension of business rates to recover and rebuild, and half require a full year. The vast majority (90%) believe the draught duty discount should be at least 10%, and two thirds need to see it at more than 20% to have any real impact on their business. Looking to the future, half of those polled said they will only continue to trade with further government support, while one in ten licensees already believe their business is unviable and will cease trading shortly. Steven Alton, BII chief executive, said: “Essential interim support will need to be delivered to enable our members to meaningfully start their recovery, while they tackle the strategic challenges of resourcing, inflation and rebuilding long-term sustainable levels of trade.” 
 
Modest uplift for out-of-home drinks sales after restrictions lift: Out-of-home drinks sales saw a modest revival last week after covid restrictions were lifted, CGA’s latest Drinks Recovery Tracker shows. Average drinks sales by value in Britain’s managed pubs, bars and restaurants in the week to Saturday (29 January) were 8% below the equivalent period in 2020 – the first time the weekly comparison has dropped into single digits since November. The week included three full days of trading without “Plan B” restrictions in England, and sales last Thursday and Saturday (27 and 29 January) were just 4% and 6% behind 2020 levels. In Scotland and Wales, where restrictions were slower to ease, weekly sales were 17% and 20% behind, although both numbers represent week-on-week improvements. Jonathan Jones, CGA’s managing director, UK and Ireland, said: “These figures leave us cautiously optimistic that pubs, bars and restaurants can build their sales over the coming weeks, and we can hopefully look forward to something of a recovery.”
 
Gender pay gap regresses in hospitality sector: The pay gap between genders has regressed in the hospitality sector in the past year, according to a new report produced by diversity community WiHTL in partnership with PwC. It showed the average mean pay gap in the sector increased for the first time in three years, from 5.4% to 7.7% (7.4% to 9% overall in hospitality, tourism and leisure). The report found the average hotel, tourism and leisure company had 58% males in the highest paid 25% of their workforce, but 54% females in the lowest paid 25%. Female jobs are much more likely to be casual and vulnerable to reactionary business decisions like furlough, while there are far more men in the best paid senior positions and technical roles. The report did, however, highlight promising signs that progress might return. It found a wealth of action being taken by businesses including focusing on people development, inclusive recruitment, updating policies and processes and improving education and awareness. Tea Colaianni, founder and chair of WiHTL, said: “While it is widely acknowledged the impact of the pandemic upon the economy disproportionately affected both women and the sector, it’s encouraging to see companies across the sector stepping up and taking meaningful action. We have seen significant investment in developing a common language for inclusive leadership and a remarkable effort to support the promotion of talented female leaders at all levels. There is still much to do to ensure parity of gender representation and opportunities in the workplace, but every step forward can contribute to making a significant difference to pay equality and the broader diversity and inclusion agenda.”
 
Sat Bains heads Harden’s top 100 restaurants list: Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham has topped this year’s Harden’s top 100 restaurants list. Opened by Bains and his wife Amanda 20 years ago in a converted red-brick motel tucked away under a flyover off the A52, Restaurant Sat Bains, which was fourth in the last survey in 2020, offers ten-course tasting menus – and young chefs from around the world seek work in its kitchens. Purnell’s, the Michelin-starred restaurant from Glynn Purnell, in Birmingham was second on the list, up from 52nd in 2020, while Da Terra in London was third, climbing 305 places since the last survey. Now in its 31st year, Harden’s surveyed 3,000 diners who contributed 30,000 reviews to form the basis for the annual poll. Greater London counts for roughly half the entries in the top 100. Modern British and French restaurants still predominate (accounting for 58 and 13 listings respectively) with fish and seafood third on six. In terms of the top 500 list, the cities with the highest number of top-scoring restaurants outside London were Edinburgh, which was again second, with 14, followed by Brighton, which had 11 entries. Among significant changes since the last survey, the number of “fish and seafood” specialists rose from 151 to 158, possibly reflecting an interest in lighter and healthier cooking; likewise, “Japanese” establishments increased from 73 to 85. In the London section, the guide hails the rise of African cuisine as a new basis for fine dining restaurants in the capital, hailing a trend similar to the rise of the “nouvelle Indian” at the end of the 1990s. 
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a hospitality business based in London that is looking to recruit an international operations director. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The next phase of this company’s expansion is going to be operating into Europe and America – it is looking for someone with lots of energy and drive who can lead this part of the business. Ideally, you will have some European language skills, experience of openings, project management and working with external partners. This role will involve a substantial amount of travel and often at very short notice. Multi-site hospitality experience is essential.” For more information, email Kate@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Tomahawk Steakhouse in funding talks, plans to double estate to more than 50 sites: North east-based multi-site operator Howard Eggleston is in early stage talks with two investment firms about backing the expansion of his business, which comprises the Tomahawk Steakhouse, Rio Brazilian Steakhouse and Pollo by Tomahawk concepts, Propel has learned. The talks come as the business is set to open nine new sites by the end of July, taking its estate to 26 sites in total. Eggleston told Propel the business has a long-term goal of doubling the size of its estate, driven by its core brand, Tomahawk Steakhouse. The group said it has been courted by numerous private equity firms and is in early talks to secure funding. It is also “looking to acquire any smaller steakhouse groups that are coming to market”. Eggleston told Propel: “We are in early-stage talks with two investment firms, who both see the potential of the business. When it comes to expansion, we are quite opportunistic and have been looking to pick up distressed businesses. We have got good momentum behind us since the turn of the year, and apart from our site in London, we are ahead of expectations. Our site in London has picked up over the last week, but there is a long for it to go to get back to the levels it was seeing last autumn.” The next opening for the company’s core brand will be in Chester. It plans on opening a further eight sites before July including restaurants in Saltburn, Morpeth, Harrogate, Didsbury, Sunderland and Durham, with the latter two being under the Rio Brazilian Steakhouse brand. Eggleston said: “2022 has opened out to be a really exciting time for the expansion of the Tomahawk group and we have been inundated with potential sites all over the UK. We are busy daily touring the country meeting with landlords and agents securing sites, but that doesn’t mean we are anywhere near capacity.” Eggleston said the group was also interested in joint sites for the Tomahawk and Rio brands, after the success of an 8,000 square foot site in Newcastle, which houses both.
 
Honest Burgers secures government-backed recovery loan and additional shareholder funding: Honest Burgers, the Active Partners-backed business, secured a £4.93m government backed recovery loan at the end of last year, to allow it to navigate the coming months and service its debt, Propel has learned. Additionally, the 46-strong business secured a new £1.3m facility from its shareholders to support its ongoing expansion plans. In a filing to Companies House, the business said: “In November 2021, the directors reviewed the continuing uncertainty facing the restaurant sector and the need for additional support, with the reduced hospitality VAT rate coming to an end in March 2022 and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme support measures no longer in place. While the forecasts showed clear free cash flow headroom before servicing of bank debt, the servicing of bank debt of £4.2m repayment plus £200,000 in Interest would lead to significant uncertainty over the group's liquidity position in 2022. Assisted by the ongoing strong relationship with Santander and continued upward trajectory of recovery, the company was granted a £4.93m government backed recovery loan in December 2021. The loan will be drawn down in tranches over a one-year period, incurring interest at 4.95%. Additionally, in order to support the group's expansion plans, the shareholders have agreed to make a £1.3m facility available to the group, to be used to open up to three leases that the company is legally committed to but is yet to build, which in turn will provide additional Ebitda and cash flow to the group. The loan is subject to a new set of covenants, with between 35% and 25% headroom applied to management's forecast P&L. Despite Omicron, December sales traded strongly and the business continued to recover from the covid crisis (we saw average weekly sales growth for the fourth month running and delivered Ebitda September-December of £1.2m). Despite December's positive performance, the directors do expect a negative impact from Omicron in the short term and have modelled a relatively material downgrade to forecast sales in the first quarter. Despite this, we are still forecasting to comfortably achieve our covenants.” In the year to 27 January 2021, the company saw turnover decrease by £13.1m to £27.3m and Ebitda before exceptional items fell by 86% to £0.8m (2020: £5.7m). The company said it continues to explore a number of growth opportunities and has opened three new sites – Windsor, St Albans and Finsbury Park – so far in 2021-22. Further sites have also been secured in Leeds and Watford. 
 
Champneys reports trading ‘relatively positive’ as full-year turnover falls more than 70% due to pandemic: Champneys, the spa resort business owned by Dorothy and Stephen Purdew, has reported trade has been “relatively positive” in its current financial year. The company also revealed it has taken out a further £6m loan on top of financial support it has received through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme and from its banking partners to “meet its liabilities”. Although all parts of the business are now open, Champneys said capacity was not still exceeding 80% “to ensure the safety of customers and employees alike in these uncertain times”. Champneys provided the update as it reported turnover of £13.7m for the year ending 30 April 2021 versus £48.1m the year before with various operations either fully or partially closed throughout the period. The business saw a pre-tax loss of £16.2m versus a loss of £4.8m the previous year. Champneys received £7.2m in support from government grants versus £1.2m the year before. The total number of guests during the period was 52,000 versus 280,500 the previous year, with revenue per guest increasing to £190 from £150. Royalty income was £826,000 versus £959,000 the year before. During the period, the company carried out a major refurbishment of Mottram Hall in Cheshire having acquired the property in October 2018. 
 
Wingstop to open in Bromley: Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out US chicken brand Wingstop across the UK, is to open a site in Bromley. Propel has learned that Lemon Pepper Holdings has secured the ex-Benito’s Hat site in the town’s Market Square, next to McDonald’s, for an opening this spring. Propel revealed last month Wingstop is to double its presence in Manchester, with an opening on the former Creche unit in the Trafford Centre. The business, which opened in the city’s Piccadilly area late last year, has also secured sites in Brighton and Nottingham for openings this year. The company, which opened the 18th UK site for Wingstop, in Edinburgh in December, has secured the former TSB bank in Brighton’s West Street, and the ex-Pizza Hut in the Cornerhouse in Nottingham. Wingstop is also set to open a site in Wood Green, north London, in Capital & Regional’s The Mall scheme. In November, Charlie Morrison, chairman and chief executive of Wingstop, said the UK market was generating average unit volumes exceeding $2m (£1.46m) for the chicken brand, “well above the average we see in the US”. Mark Segal, of Brasier Freeth, acted on the Bromley deal. 
 
Mellors Group’s Urban Playground set to launch in Manchester next week, second site secured as UK and US expansion planned: Mellors Group, which operates theme parks, attractions and entertainment businesses, will launch its new experiential destination, Urban Playground, in Manchester next Thursday (10 February), with plans to expand the concept and a second site already secured. The venue will feature tech-infused mini golf concept Putters and a live experience of ITV’s The Cube, while the food and beverage offering will include a first UK restaurant for gourmet burger brand The Butcher. It will be based on the upper mall floor of Manchester Arndale, with further sites in the UK and abroad planned for the coming years. Edward Mellors, director of Urban Playground, said: “With the collapse of Arcadia Group and large retail and experiential spaces being left vacant, we are thrilled to launch Urban Playground in its place at Manchester Arndale. We hope this is the first of many Urban Playground attractions across the UK and cannot wait for doors to open. We are also in advanced discussions for further sites for 2022 and actively looking for locations across the UK and US over the next five years. A second venue of 130,000 square feet has already been secured for development.” Nottingham-based Mellors Group last year acquired Skegness Pier for £3m and announced plans to launch a new family experience there. It other brands include Lincolnshire’s Fantasy Island and luxury day club concept Playa Day Club & Restaurant in Nottingham.
 
Big Table Group appoints Debbie Moore as HR director: The Big Table Group, operator of Cafe Rouge, Las Iguanas and Bella Italia, has appointed Debbie Moore, formerly of Prezzo, The Restaurant Group (TRG) and Spirit Group, as its new HR director, Propel has learned. Moore was most recently HR director at Prezzo, the Cain International-backed, Karen Jones-led restaurant chain, which she joined last summer. Previous to that, she spent almost two years as group HR director at TRG. She was also previously HR director at GLH hotels working alongside Big Table Group chief executive Alan Morgan, and spent three and a half years at Spirit as its HR director. She has also worked at the Royal Mail and ISG group. Last month, Propel revealed the Big Table Group was to launch a second trial site of its new Rouge concept, later this quarter, in Birmingham. The company is set to refurbish its existing Cafe Rouge site in the Upper Mall West of the Bullring scheme, with a reopening scheduled for the end of February/start of March. The new pilot site will build on the findings from the first pilot site under the Rouge name, which opened in November in Haywards Heath, West Sussex.
 
Lane7 founder to exit pub industry to focus on growth of boutique bowling concept: Tim Wilks, founder of Lane7, has sold his pub in Stockton-On-Tees, to focus on his growing bowling alley chain. The Pickled Parson of Sedgefield, a modern British coaching inn, has been sold to a local businessman. David Cash, director at Christie & Co, which handled the sale, said: “We are delighted to have successfully sold The Pickled Parson on behalf of Tim to a local buyer. This is the second pub we have sold on his behalf – the other being The Fox Hole, Piercebridge in 2019. The sale underlines the ongoing demand from buyers for good quality licensed opportunities, despite the challenges faced by the hospitality sector during the last 18 months. With this sentiment in mind, coupled with the exponential growth of his core business, Lane7, Tim has now instructed Christie & Co to sell his last remaining pub, The Corner House, also in Sedgefield. Whilst marketing the Pickled Parson, I was inundated with phone calls from people asking whether Tim would also sell The Corner House. At the time, it was his intention to retain this asset and continue to run it under management. However, some really exciting opportunities have been presented to Tim for Lane7 and therefore it makes sense to exit the pub industry completely.” Last week, Propel revealed Lane7 is moving into the family entertainment centre market with a new concept – “Level X”. The concept “will bring together the best in games and tech to create a space that’s as fun for adults as it is for kids”.
 
Caprice Holdings appoints Suresh Banarse as its new HR director: Caprice Holdings, the Richard Caring-backed restaurant group, has appointed Suresh Banarse as its new HR director, Propel has learned. Banarse joins Caprice Holdings from Wahaca, where he has spent the past three and a half years as its people director. Before that he spent two years as global HR director at Gaucho and eight and a half years as people director at YO! Steve Gill, former HR director at Gourmet Burger Kitchen and Krispy Kreme UK, has been interim HR director at Caprice Holdings since November. At the end of last year, Mexican restaurant group Wahaca promoted Gemma Glasson from chief operating officer to group managing director. It is currently seeking a managing director to oversee the growth of its DF Tacos concept, with two new openings being mooted for the first half of this year. Co-founder Mark Selby told Propel the company was “excited” about the concept, and how it sits alongside Wahaca.
 
The Hummingbird Bakery to reveal next stage of evolution with reopening of flagship South Kensington store, plans further sites: US-style cupcake concept The Hummingbird Bakery will unveil the next stage of its evolution when it reopens its flagship bakery in South Kensington’s Old Brompton Road later this month and is eyeing further openings. The South Kensington site has been refurbished to include a personalisation station, where guests can watch while bespoke decorations being added to their chosen cake, and a selection of new desserts will be launched in the store. These include red velvet and white chocolate cookies, popcorn brownies and cornflake and coconut Flapjacks, plus New York, lemon and pecan cheesecakes. Hummingbird’s other London branches, in Spitalfields and Notting Hill’s Portobello Road, are set to receive similar refurbishments, with an open kitchen among the plans for one site, while plans for expansion will be announced later this year. The Hummingbird Bakery chairman, Ziad Joumblat, said: “We are proud to share this next stage of The Hummingbird Bakery’s evolution with you all. We have many exciting plans for 2022, with our sights set on national expansion, nationwide delivery, and even more delectable menu items. The reopening of our South Kensington bakery is just the first step of the journey.” Launched in 2004, The Hummingbird Bakery was last year acquired by London-based family investment office Acropolis Capital via a pre-pack administration process. Although this saved the South Kensington, Notting Hill and Spitalfields shops, it saw the brand’s sites in Islington and Soho close. Joumblat, former chairman of Big Fernand Restaurant Group and former director of YO! and Eathos, was appointed as chairman last summer.
 
Prison-themed immersive experience heads to Liverpool for fourth site: Prison-themed immersive experience Alcotraz is heading for Liverpool for its fourth site, unlocking its doors next month. Combining premium cocktails with a theatrical storyline, Alcotraz sees guests become part of the story as they team up with a cast of actors to try to smuggle contraband liquor past the warden to the inmates, who then transform it into cocktails. Based in Liverpool’s Seel Street, the new experience is called Alcotraz: Cell Block Three-Six and will comprise of ten individual cells, accommodating 50 “inmates” for each experience. Created by Inventive Productions, Alcotraz first opened in London in 2017 and has since expanded to Manchester and Brighton. Sam Shearman, creator of Alcotraz and founder of Inventive Productions, said: “We are excited to be launching the next Aloctraz experience in Liverpool this March. After such a great response to Alcotraz Manchester last year and the continued support for the experiences in London and Brighton, we’re thrilled to be able to grow the Alcotraz brand further. This new Liverpool site will see us experiment with really ambitious expansions to our unique storyline.”
 
Shepherd Neame signs deal to brew Singha for UK market: Kent-based brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has signed a deal with Boon Rawd Brewery Company to brew premium Thai lager Singha for the UK market, Propel has learned. Shepherd Neame has been the sole distributor of Singha (5% ABV) in the UK since 2019. This evolution of the partnership will see the brand brewed and packed in 330ml and 630ml single bottles and 30-litre and 50-litre kegs at its Faversham brewery. Singha 330ml cans will continue to be imported. Shepherd Neame will distribute UK-brewed Singha in keg and bottle to selected pubs in its 310-strong estate across London and the south east, and to on and off-trade customers nationwide. It will continue to manage Singha’s UK marketing strategy, sales, distribution and promotion. Shepherd Neame chief executive, Jonathan Neame, said: “We’re delighted to build on our successful partnership with Boon Rawd Brewery, drawing upon our well-established brewing credentials to produce Singha and continue working to raise its profile as an exceptional world lager throughout the UK.”
 
Cantinetta Antinori to make London debut this autumn: The historic Italian winemaking Antinori family will open its first London-based Cantinetta Antinori restaurant this autumn. The restaurant chain, which first opened in Florence in 1957 and has since expanded to Zurich, Vienna, Moscow and Monte Carlo, will launch at 4 Harriet Street, adjacent to Sloane Street. The family has been committed to the art of winemaking for more than six centuries, across 26 generations, and the new opening sees them partner with restaurateurs, the Giraudi family, and wine suppliers to the UK’s leading restaurants, the Berkmann family. The restaurant has been signed on a ten-year lease and will span a 3,700 square-foot three-storey period building, offering all-day traditional Tuscan dining, fine wines and live music. Allegra Antinori said: “We opened the first Cantinetta Antinori in Florence in 1957, moved by the desire of having people experiencing a taste of typical Tuscan hospitality, with perfect pairings between our wines and the traditional cuisine. Still moved by the same intent, we are excited to begin our new story in London and welcome the community with our heartfelt Tuscan hospitality.” Davis Coffer Lyons advised landlords Cadogan while Saul Lewin acted for Cantinetta Antinori. 
 
Stonegate appoints Daniel Wilkinson to board: Stonegate Group has appointed strategy, legal and business development director, Daniel Wilkinson, to the board. Wilkinson joined Stonegate in 2015 and has been a key player in the growth of the group, closely involved with the strategic planning and implementation of the mergers and acquisition programme, which has led to Stonegate becoming the largest pub company in the UK. “Daniel’s appointment to the Stonegate board is testament to the significant contribution he has made during his time with the company,” said chairman Ian Payne. “When Daniel joined Stonegate In 2015 we operated 630 pubs. We now have an estate of more than 4,500 and are proud to be the largest pub company in the UK.”
 
Scottish gin distillery, shop, bistro and events venue goes up for sale: A sustainable premium gin distillery with botanical herb garden, shop, bistro and events venue based in Edinburgh has been brought to the market. The Secret Herb Garden and The Secret Garden Distillery also includes a five-bedroom house with private gardens and orchard, set at the foot of the Pentland Hills Regional Park. The current owners established the business in 2012 and it now encompasses the only Scottish premium gin distillery in the UK where the botanicals are grown, hand-harvested and hand-dried on site, where the gin is also distilled. The business is thriving, with an established international customer base including a number of blue-chip venues, premier retail outlets and supermarkets. Planning permission has also been grated for a major new-build distillery extension including a visitor centre and offices. The sale is being handled by Savills. Katherine Wigham, of Savills’ leisure and trade team, said: “Voted as one of Scotland’s top ten wedding venues, the property benefits from planning consent for a maximum of 20 weddings per year and 40 dining events, all of which are facilitated by the café operator. This brief heritage has set fantastic foundations for a future operator and owner to build the business even further.”

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