Story of the Day:
UKHospitality – thousands more pubs could close unless government takes urgent action, Propel Blue Book shows 58.4% of multi-site companies making a loss:
UKHospitality has warned thousands more pubs could be lost in the next few years unless the government takes urgent action. Figures released by the Altus Group showed 7,000 pubs have closed in the past decade, which the trade body said while “truly shocking”, they “come as no surprise to many in the industry”. According to Altus, 400 pubs in England and Wales closed last year and some 200 shut in the first half of 2022 as inflation started to eat into their profits. That brought the total number of pubs down to 39,970 pubs in June – the lowest since Altus's records began in 2005. According to the research, the West Midlands saw the biggest number of pub closures in the first six months of 2022, with 28 shutting. It was followed by London and the East of England which both lost 24. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The overwhelming burden of taxation – particularly business rates – and red tape will have proved too much for many licensees. The pandemic intensified the distress that many business owners were facing, and in many cases business support was not enough to keep them afloat. While these are pub closures, there has been similar – sometimes worse – levels of closure across restaurants, nightclubs and broader hospitality. The current economic crisis increases the chances of further decline, with soaring costs in energy, food and drink, a higher VAT rate, falling consumer confidence and an acute labour shortage. For businesses struggling to repay covid-related debt this could simply be too much. We need the government to take urgent steps to remove barriers to growth, help to tackle the cost crisis we’re facing and support more people into work and training. Without this help, we could see thousands more pubs lost from their communities in the next few years.” Meanwhile, the damage done to the industry by the pandemic is highlighted in the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, with losses outstripping profits in the sector almost five times over. The next edition of the Blue Book that will be published in mid-July will show 344 companies making a combined loss of £5.7bn compared with 246 companies in profit – making a combined £1.2bn. The 590 UK pub, restaurant, cafe and hotel operators featured have a total turnover of £28.6bn. The Blue Book, which is updated every month and produced in association with Mapal Group, 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 email@example.com to upgrade your subscription
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Host of pizza brands to feature in the next edition of The New Openings Database, 19,100-word report included:
A host of pizza brands will feature in the next edition of The New Openings Database
, which is produced in association with StarStock. The database will show the details of 371 newly announced site openings and upcoming launches for Premium subscribers when it is published on Friday (8 July), at midday. The database 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. It is published on a monthly basis. The next edition features Brighton and Hove pizzeria Fatto a Mano, founded by Rupert Davidson, which has opened Fatto Pizza & Beer
, its first permanent restaurant, in London’s Pancras Square. Meanwhile, Bristol sourdough pizza brand Pizzarova
, which was founded Alex Corbett, has opened its third site, at 237 North Street, Southville. In addition, Gloucestershire operator Fat Toni’s Pizzeria
, co-owned by Darren and Jason Orsi, which has opened its first sit-down restaurant, in Five Valleys Shopping Centre in Stroud, will be featured. Also added this month is Pizza Punks
, which recently opened two sites in Leicester and Durham, and is now opening two further sites in Liverpool and Nottingham. Premium subscribers will also receive a 19,100-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to three other databases. The latest Propel Multi-Site Database
, which is produced in association with Virgate, was sent to Premium subscribers last Friday (1 July). The database contained 50 new companies, bringing the total number of businesses listed up to 2,531. The 323 sites run by those 50 new additions means the entire database of sites has reached 65,803 sites. Premium subscribers also received a 4,500-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. There is also 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. Premium subscribers have also been given exclusive access to the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database
, which is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and will be updated every two months. The second edition featured 120 companies and almost 47,000 words of content, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost, business background, contacts and other key details. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Propel Premium subscribers to receive five exclusive videos:
Propel Premium subscribers are to be given exclusive access to five videos where sector leaders and entrepreneurs offer their insights as they develop their businesses in a post-covid world. The videos, which will be sent to subscribers on Friday (8 July), at 9am, will include Mario Aleppo, founder of the fast-growing pizza franchise Fireaway
. He talks to Propel group editor Mark Wingett about the origins of the business, the brand’s journey, standing out from competitors, finding franchisees, and taking its first steps overseas. James Hacon, global chief marketing officer of Mapal Group
, talks about excellence in hospitality, onboarding and retention. Graeme Smith, managing director at AlixPartners
, discusses the latest investment landscape, who are the winners and losers in a post-pandemic world, and the businesses to watch. Alan Laughlin, chief executive of Vapiano
, talks about bringing the brand back to glory through revitalisation and taking the business on a journey of evolution. Sarah Willingham, founder of Nightcap
, the owner of The Cocktail Club, the Adventure Bar Group and the Barrio Familia group of bars, talks about creating the business and where she sees opportunities in the market over the next three years. 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 email@example.com to upgrade your subscription
London mayor launches latest phase of tourism campaign to encourage visitors back to capital after footfall drops 24% on 2019: Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched the latest phase of his tourism campaign to encourage visitors back to London. Data from Springboard shows footfall across the West End this year is 24% down on pre-pandemic levels. The mayor has now launched the latest chapter of his Let’s Do London campaign, with adverts across television, radio and social media. The £2m campaign highlights the capital’s wide range of attractions and entertainment. Last year’s initial launch brought in an additional £81m in spending and 330,000 overnight visitors to the capital. Khan said: “I’m proud my Let’s Do London campaign has already helped to bring hundreds of thousands of tourists back to London, but I am determined to show even more people across the country and the rest of the world that our capital is ready to welcome them.” Kate Nicholls chief executive of UKHospitality, added: “The diverse and wonderful reasons for visiting London are as strong and plentiful as ever, so it’s only right that, while inbound tourism makes its recovery, domestic holidaymakers get to experience London while it is a little more accessible than most summer seasons.” Sara Holt, UK sales and marketing director at Merlin Entertainments, said: “Last year’s campaign drove unprecedented return on investment and protected jobs. The international tourism industry in London is some way from being recovered, and with the cost-of-living crisis looming, we cannot rely on domestic tourists to come in the numbers of the past.”
Budweiser Brewing Group staff in Lancashire to go ahead with strike action after talks collapse: Strikes action by Budweiser Brewing Group staff in Lancashire is to go ahead after talks collapsed. Union GMB said its members at the Samlesbury site will take part in a 36-hour walk out from Saturday, 16 July, with a further 12-hour stoppage on Tuesday, 19 July. GMB said it met with the Budweiser Brewing Group management team to discuss next steps in the wage negotiation. However, instead of “meaningful engagement” to resolve the dispute, the GMB said the brewing company’s management said it should recommend the “derisory” offer of 3%, “which amounts to a real terms pay cut”. The union added bosses also “threatened workers they wouldn’t be able to claim back pay if the deal was not agreed by Thursday, 21 July”. A Budweiser Brewing Group spokesman said: “Our people are our greatest strength, and as such we are proud to offer a competitive package – wages in the brewery are in the top 10% for the region and a range of benefits are provided including private medical cover, well-being allowance, access to the Verhelst Foundation to support physical and mental well-being, a ‘perks at work’ programme, product vouchers, opportunities for scholarship funds and bonuses. We’ve made significant investments in Samlesbury, which have resulted in further innovation and automation, additional skills development, promotions and many new job opportunities. Over recent years we have increased our headcount by more than 65. The teams have implemented plans to ensure supply has not been interrupted, and we will continue to minimise the impact to customers and consumers. While we have not yet reached an agreement, we continue to work toward a mutually acceptable solution.”
Snell – inflation issues making Ebitda progress challenging, planning further expansion in the south: Matt Snell, chief executive of premium casual dining restaurant group Gusto Italian, has said the business is planning to expand further south in the coming year – but that inflation is making it difficult to increase Ebitda. Gusto reported “resilient” financial results for the year to September 2021, recording a “reassuring” turnover of £12.4m, with an Ebitda of £585,000. This compares to £34.7m turnover for the 18 months to September 2020, when adjusted Ebitda was -£3.78m. Snell said food is up 20% and labour costs 16% versus 2019, and utilities are due to go up 50% in September. Snell said: “The inflation issues that everyone is aware of are making progress at an Ebitda level extremely challenging. We have a set of operational initiatives that we are working through that we are confident will offset this. I can honestly say it's never been more difficult to run a restaurant business than it is at the moment.” He added: “The performance of our restaurants, feedback from customers and positivity of our people are all representative of the momentum we feel building behind Gusto Italian. Given the macro-economic climate, this will be particularly important in ensuring we can remain resilient in response to the unprecedented headwinds facing the hospitality sector. Although the next 18-24 months will no doubt bring plenty of challenges, this is an exciting time for the business, and our financial footing offers us an opportunity to continue to invest in our people, develop our sites and expand our footprint.” The Palatine-backed business said it was now looking to build on these solid foundations by growing its estate and expanding further south over the coming year. Last December, it opened a new flagship restaurant in Nottingham, which serves as the basis for design concepts that will run through new locations and newly refurbished venues. As part of a self-funded £2m capex programme, existing sites including Liverpool and Leeds have undergone a significant renovation, with a full refurbishment also scheduled at Edinburgh. Chief financial officer Frank Bandura said: “With a year-end cash position of £5.5m, a strong balance sheet and a supportive shareholder in Palatine Private Equity, Gusto Italian has the resources to continue growing in the future.” The company added: “The accounts show that when allowed to open and trade freely, the business performed very well. Indeed, across months where restaurants were operating as normal, the business consistently outperformed expectations.”
Aspirational Brands lines up two new Handmade Burger Co sites; secures third ‘House’ venue: Aspirational Brands, the growth vehicle behind brands including Thai brand Lemongrass and Japanese Canteen, is to open two new sites under its Handmade Burger Co concept and launch a third venue under its “House” format, Propel has learned. The company, which currently operates four Handmade Burger Co sites after resurrecting the brand in 2020, will open its first completely new sites under the concept later this year in The Beacon shopping scheme in Eastbourne, and the St Enoch Shopping Centre in the heart of Glasgow. It also still plans to reopen further sites, which previously traded under the brand, in Southampton, Leicester, Reading and Peterborough. At the same time, Propel has learned that the business has secured the former Grill on the Corner site in Bothwell Street, Glasgow, for an opening under its “House” format. The site will reopen later this year under the new name Bothwell House. Earlier this year, the company opened a second site under the format when it launched the 5,000 square-foot St Martin’s House in London’s Covent Garden. The company launched the first site under the format, Tatton House, on the former Brasserie Blanc in Knutsford in 2020. As previously revealed by Propel, Aspirational will also launch a new pizza concept – Pizza Social – in the neighbouring unit to the proposed Handmade Burger Co site in The Beacon scheme, in Eastbourne. It is thought sites in Worcester, Oxford and Leicester are also under consideration for the new concept. Last year, the business also took on the London-based Japanese Canteen business.
You Me Sushi to make regional debut: You Me Sushi, the London-based restaurant and takeaway concept, is to make its regional debut in Reading, Propel has learned. The 13-strong business, which recently opened a new site in New Malden, is to take on the former Sta Travel unit in the town’s Friar Street, with an opening planned for later this year. Earlier this year, Propel revealed that the business had appointed Paul Turner, formerly of Costa Coffee, as its new managing director. Turner joined You Me Sushi after more than six years at Costa Coffee, most recently as regional operations director for London, East Anglia and the south east. He has also had stints at The Entertainer and Marks & Spencer. You Me Sushi, which was founded in 2008, launched its first franchise store, in Stratford, last year.
Brucan Pubs targets growth to ten sites before deciding future direction: Co-founder James Lyon-Shaw intends to grow Brucan Pubs to a “magic number” of ten before deciding whether to merge, seek further investment or stick to its own path. The company, founded by former ET operations director Lyon-Shaw and ex-The Ivy Collection head chef Jamie Dobbin in 2018, last week secured its fourth site, The Star at Witley in Surrey. Lyon-Shaw believes a growth rate of roughly one a year is about right for a concept which redevelops sites and their offerings to create destination dining pubs. “We were always aiming to get to four within four or five years, take a year to consolidate and tighten the screws, then start looking for some serious investment and growth – and that’s roughly where we are,” he told Propel. “We’re very hands-on operators, and if we did it any faster, we’d take our eye off the ball and the existing sites and teams won’t get the attention they need. I think we can take it up to ten, and after that it becomes a bit of a different machine if we want to continue growing – the head office function and investment needs to be bigger, the controls are much tighter. The aim was always to grow to a point, then see if we look for further investment, a joint venture or merge with another pub company, enabling us to grow further with the right support in place. It’s easy to get distracted by properties coming to market which may seem viable on a different model, such as wet-led or social gaming, but we have to stick to our format and remember that food-led pubs are what we do. Our whole network is set up to deliver our ethos and core product, and if you start deviating from that, you end up diluting the reputation.” Brucan Pubs is currently very much a Surrey/Berkshire operation, and despite having looked further afield, Lyon-Shaw insists sticking with what they know is best. “The aim is not to have a pub we can’t get to at least once a week to ensure we can stay as hands-on as possible,” he added. “We’ve looked at properties towards Beaconsfield and Berkhamsted, and even the New Forest and the Cotswolds, but it’s making sure can we get there regularly and help the teams maintain standards and offer a supportive head office level function rather than remote management. I think the Surrey/Berkshire belt fits quite comfortably for now and we’re currently looking along the M4 into west Berkshire for site number five. We have a site in mind, but it’s early days yet.”
Island Poké appoints Hux Norman as its new head of property: Island Poké, the London-based White Rabbit Projects and Hero Brands-backed business, has appointed Hux Norman, formerly of Loungers, as its new head of property. Norman joins the business, which is currently in the process of appointing a managing director, after nearly five years as property manager at café-bar business Loungers. Last month, Island Poke, which currently has 18 sites in London and 11 in France, made its regional debut with an opening in Bicester. It plans to open 100 locations across the UK in the next five years, including four new restaurants in Edinburgh.
St John to open third London restaurant: St John, the restaurant concept from Fergus Henderson and Trevor Gulliver, is set to open its third London restaurant later this year. Although a site is yet to be confirmed, St John Marylebone is set to open in September – sitting alongside St John, which opened in Smithfield in 1994, and St John Bread and Wine, which opened in Shoreditch in 2003. The group also used to operate a restaurant in Bermondsey, which closed in 2018, while a project to take the concept overseas for a first international opening, in Los Angeles, was scuppered by covid. It has, however, bolstered its bakery division by opening permanent sites for its former bakery pop-ups, in Covent Garden and Borough. The Marylebone site will be an all-day restaurant with a menu devised by Henderson and St John chef-director, Jonathan Woolway.
KFC and Taco Bell franchisee buys Birmingham hotel off £12.5m guide price: Caskade Group, which is a franchisee of KFC, Pizza Hut and Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell, has acquired the Hotel Indigo in Birmingham off a guide price of £12.5m. The hotel in The Cube development has 52 rooms, a Marco Pierre restaurant operated by Black and White Hospitality and an exclusive whiskey and cocktails lounge. Bespoke has taken over management of the hotel, which is now called The Cube Hotel, and operations will continue as normal. Hamid Ali, chief executive and chairman of Caskade Group, said: “We are delighted to be investing in Birmingham and have exciting plans for the hotel and restaurant. We are also looking forward to being one of the main host hotels for the Commonwealth Games this summer.” Graham + Sibbald, with joint agents Fleurets, led the sale. Caskade Group operates more than 100 KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut stores in the UK, Netherlands and Malaysia.
Silvani – there remains strong demand from private investors for defensive, income producing assets: Jack Silvani, director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, has said “there remains strong demand from private investors for defensive, income producing assets”. Silvani was talking after a Windsor property let to PizzaExpress on a long lease was acquired by a private investor for £1.65m, which reflected a net initial yield of 4.85%. The property is situated directly opposite Windsor Castle, on Thames Street. Silvani, director at Coffer Corporate Leisure, who acted on behalf of the purchaser, said: “There remains strong demand from private investors for defensive, income producing assets. This is especially true for premium, high footfall locations such as central London or, in this case, opposite one of the most visited tourist attractions in the UK. We expect the differential in pricing between prime and secondary assets to widen as investors remain selective.” Phillips Roth & Co acted on behalf of the vendor, a private client.
Cornish independent food store and cafe concept set to become employee-owned: Cornish independent food store and cafe concept, Great Cornish Food Store, is set to become employee-owned. Founded in 2016 and sharing a premises with the Waitrose store in Tregurra Park, Truro, the business offers Cornish produce from a fishmongers, butcher, deli, takeaway and cafe, all under one roof. It has now moved to offer its employees the chance to part-own the business and share in its profits going forward, as well as giving them a more active role in how the company is run and how it will evolve. Founder Ruth Huxley is no stranger to the concept as her father worked for chemicals company Scott Bader, who were pioneers in employee ownership. “I grew up with an understanding that there are different ways of doing business and was very aware how rewarding my dad found being part of an employee-owned company,” she said. “I’ve had the idea for a while that this might be something I could replicate with my own business, and it feels like this is the perfect ‘re-set’ moment for it. The store is in great shape and we have an incredible team, who very much deserve a boost after all the challenges they have handled so admirably over the past two years.” Oliver Basham, general manager of the Great Cornish Food Store, will join Huxley as one of the company directors. He added: “I’m inspired by Ruth’s vision and the company ethos, and by this pioneering move to be an employee-owned company. It has gone down so well with all of our team, some of whom have been with the company since the very beginning. They are delighted to be more directly involved while being reassured Ruth isn’t disappearing from the business.” Since its inception, the Great Cornish Food Store has injected around £8m directly into the Cornish food and drink industry and created more than 20 jobs.
London DJ and producer partner to launch music venue and street food market: Bradley Zero, a DJ and owner of the Rhythm Sections record label, and Nathaniel Williams, a composer and producer, have partnered for the launch of a new music venue and street food market. Jumbi, which aims to celebrate the duo’s Caribbean heritage through its food and drink offering, has opened in Copeland Park at 133 Copeland Road, Peckham. The food will be supplied by local street food concept Bakes’ n Stuffingz, focusing on St Lucian bakes, which are dumpling with fillings including jerk chicken, salted cod and pulled jerk jackfruit. The venue features a covered outdoor terrace with its own bar, serving rum-focused cocktails, while guests will be encouraged to pick the music from Zero’s own vinyl collection. “Jumbi isn’t a club – it’s a hang out centred around music, food and drink.” he said in an Instagram post.
Harts Group confirms July opening for fifth Barrafina site: Harts Group, which owns Quo Vadis, Casa Pastor and Parrillan, has confirmed a July opening for the fifth site of its Barrafina concept. Propel reported in October that the group would be looking to expand its Spanish tapas concept – which already has sites in Soho, Covent Garden, Drury Lane and Kings Cross – at the new Borough Yards development in London Bridge. The site, located at 2 Dirty Lane and based between two existing Harts Group sites which opened earlier this year – Parrillan and Bar Daskal – will open on 30 July. The Parrillan at Borough Yards is a second site for the Spanish grill concept, while the Bar Daskal is a debut for the group’s new sherry bar concept.
Derby launch for new Mediterranean and English restaurant concept: A new Mediterranean and English restaurant concept, Dreams Bistro, has made its debut, in Derby. Located in the grade II-listed Riverside Chambers on Full Street, which is now managed workspace operated by Derby City Council’s Connect Derby, Dreams Bistro is owned by Christos Martzelou, Eleni Martzelou and Ioanna Michailido. The trio took on the former Hide burger bar site, which was closed by owners Martin Daykin and Vanessa Jones in May after eight years (three under their ownership). The bistro is set to offer “a contemporary menu of Mediterranean and English cuisine” in all dayparts, with plans for special dining nights featuring different cuisine from around the world. With covers for 70 indoors and 60 outside, the restaurant will be able to cater for large parties and events, and a takeaway service will also be available. “We hope will bring a whole new vibe to the Derby eating scene,” Michailido told The Business Desk. “Christos and I are both originally from Greece and have experienced lots of different cuisines, which we look forward to introducing to our diners.”
McCafferty’s lines up Brentwood site: Irish bar concept McCafferty’s is lining up a site in Brentwood, Essex. London City Pub Group, trading as McCafferty’s, has applied to open in the former McDonald’s restaurant in High Street. McCafferty’s has lodged an application with Brentwood Borough Council to open from 8am to 1am between Sundays and Thursdays, and 8am and 2am on Fridays and Saturdays. The site has remained vacant since McDonald’s closed its restaurant there in April 2016 after first trading in the town since 1991, reports Essex Live. The first McCafferty’s opened in Donegal, in Ireland, in 2016 with three more openings in 2018. Two of these were in the UK – in Harrow and Epsom, while the third bar opened in Letterkenny in Ireland. There are now also McCafferty’s bars in London’s Seven Kings and Crouch End, along with Halifax in West Yorkshire, as well as two each in Spain and Dubai.
Italian restaurant Forza Win to return at new Camberwell home: South London Italian restaurant Forza Win, which was forced to close its original Peckham location during lockdown, is set to make a return, in Camberwell. Bash Redford and Michael Lavery’s restaurant is moving to 31 Camberwell Church Street, taking over the former The Church Street Hotel, which has been vacant since 2016. Head chef Sam Oxley will be bringing his menu offering five courses of seasonal Italian dishes – following a traditional Italian meal structure – to the new venue. The Peckham restaurant, which started out as a pop-up wood-fired pizzeria on top of the Truman Brewery in the summer 2012 before opening a permanent restaurant in the borough in Copeland Road, closed in the summer of 2020. Redford and Lavery have continued operating sister brand Forza Wine, which they opened as a rooftop bar and restaurant on top of Peckham’s Market building in 2019.
Flavours Gelato to open third site, in Southend: Gelato shop concept Flavours Gelato is opening its third site, in Southend. The company, which has sites in London’s Bermondsey and Dagenham, is opening the outlet at Rochford Corner in Rayleigh Road, reports Essex Live. Flavours Gelato offers a huge variety of sweet treats including ice cream, waffles, crepes, pancakes and sundaes. There are also almost 20 types of gelato available, as well as seven dairy-free options.