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Fri 29th Jul 2022 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Ex-Bill’s MD Scott Macdonald to oversee new pub venture backed by Sir Tony Gallagher: Scott Macdonald, the former managing director of Bill’s and Polpo, is to oversee the Lionhearth Group, a new pub venture backed by property developer Sir Tony Gallagher and businessman Chris Palmer, Propel has learned. Lionhearth Group will be the new brand that replaces Country Creatures, the three-strong Oxfordshire-based venture which specialises in “creating restaurants, inns and hotels that focus on great British hospitality”. It is currently run by Sam and Georgie Pearman, founders of The Lucky Onion Group, who joined the executive team of London gastropub operator Cubitt House last year. Propel understands that a handover of the business is currently taking place, which will see Lionhearth take on The Swan in Ascot-Under-Wychwood and the Chequers near Chipping Norton, which are owned by Gallagher and Palmer. The third site, the Double Red Duke near Bampton, will remain under the Country Creatures brand, although it is thought it may eventually become part of the Cubitt House business. Macdonald told Propel: “I will be operating and leading the rebrand and growth of the Lionhearth Group for Sir Tony Gallagher and Chris Palmer. We have bought two new pubs, The Salford Inn, Chipping Norton, and The Cock in Coombe, Blenheim. The Salford will be open by mid-autumn, and the Cock Inn by the end of the year. We also have a couple more pubs in the pipeline by the end of 2022. We have just acquired three cottages in Kingham and a cottage directly next door to the Swan to allow us to grow our rooms division to capitalise on an ever-growing market. We’ll have a beautiful group of premium Cotswolds pubs to sell rooms, food and drink.” MacDonald was most recently interim managing director of café brand Fego, and previous to that, headed up Sourced Market. On joining Lionhearth, he said: “The opportunity arose, and I was introduced to the owners. We got on really well. I've got a strong background and track record in hospitality, my hospitality life started in pubs, and it’s come full circle. Great hospitality is great hospitality, whether that be on the high street or a leafy Cotswolds village pub.”
 

Industry News: 

Sponsored Message – Craft Guild of Chefs endorses Heinz Professional Mayonnaise with Grade A rating: Kraft Heinz Foodservice’s Heinz Professional Mayonnaise has achieved a Grade A rating, the highest distinction awarded by the Craft Guild of Chefs. Andrew Green, chief executive of the Craft Guild of Chefs, said: “It’s a superior product that meets the criteria any chef would want and expect when using a condiment such as this. This will go a long way in providing the culinary world with a go-to which helps make ingredients shine, elevates menus and excites their diners. Well done Kraft Heinz Foodservice!” Following rigorous testing, the mayonnaise scored 169 out of 180, a result rarely seen in the industry. One chef said: “It held well and there were no signs of any splitting or separating – even with excess beating and blending. It also took well to other items being added to it without losing too much from the consistency.” Lawrence Ager, culinary sales manager at The Kraft Heinz Company, added: “We took a lot of time and care to develop this as an innovative solution to suit so many culinary requirements within the pub, restaurant and casual dining arena. The feedback we received when it was sampled certainly reflects the hard work we have put into creating such a high-quality product.” Visit www.heinzprofessionalmayonnaise.co.uk for more information, or contact chloe.schiltz@kraftheinz.com. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.

Updated Premium Database of Multi-site Companies released today at midday, 43 businesses being added: A total of 43 new multi-site companies, operating 217 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-site Companies, which will be released today (Friday, 29 July), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes growing hotel and restaurant brands, regional pub operators and expanding experiential concepts. 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. It now features 2,572 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive a 3,200-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 5 August, at midday. It focuses on newly announced openings and upcoming launches in the sector and is updated every month. The next edition also includes a 18,400-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. Premium subscribers have also been given exclusive access to a new database. The UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK and will be updated every two months. The third edition features 140 companies and almost 60,000 words of content, providing insight on the offer, locations, cost 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 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 Mark Wingett. In this week’s Premium Opinion column, Wingett looks back at the week’s key issues, and Kim Teo, chief executive and co-founder of Mr Yum, the mobile ordering and payments platform, talks about how the sector’s desire to understand customers has been taken to a new, more sophisticated level, and why there are more levels to explore.

Sadiq Khan encourages Londoners to enjoy their city: The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has encouraged Londoners to enjoy the best of their city this summer by promoting free and cut-price events and activities through the latest part of his Let’s Do London campaign. Among the free activities and events Londoners can enjoy this summer are This Bright Land, a new cultural festival at Somerset House; a series of performances at the National Theatre’s River Stage on the Southbank; the Back to Earth exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery responding to the climate emergency; and the return of the world-famous Notting Hill Carnival. Trafalgar Square continues to host an official UEFA ‘Fan Party’ in celebration of the Women’s EURO 2022 Championship featuring a packed programme of free activities, including a free screening of the final on Sunday.

Transport for London announces restoration of pre-pandemic night tube services: Transport for London (TfL) has announced that, from this weekend, all night tube services will be fully restored having been suspended during the pandemic, which will boost London’s night-time economy. Services on the Piccadilly line return on the evening of Friday, 29 July, and will run throughout the night on Fridays and Saturdays. The return of this line means a complete restoration of the weekend Night Tube and Night Overground services previously available to customers, providing more options for safe travel around the city. Michael Kill, chief executive of Night Time Industries Association, said: “We are extremely pleased to see the night tube services back to full capacity. Following a tough few years, it’s great to see the industry and key stakeholders working together to re-establish these important transport links. As London starts to regain its pre-pandemic business levels, it’s vitally important we build back confidence in our transport infrastructure and promote a safe and accessible night time economy for customers and workers to travel throughout the capital.”

Job of the Day: COREcruitment is working with a growing brand looking to speak to energetic, dynamic candidates who still have tons of passion for the industry and can think outside the box. As operations manager, they will be tasked with developing a brand that leaves a lasting impression with its consumers, be on top of all market trends and get involved in the marketing of the business as well as the operations of the current sites. With two more sites planned in the coming year, the company is looking for a high potential candidate who has some confident operations management experience but can take that next step into strategy and brand awareness. It is looking for a self-starter who can give and take direction, for a role about understanding what great food looks and tastes like. The salary for the position is up to £85,000. For more information, contact kate@corecruitment.com.
 

Company News:

Eggleston – first coastal site trading beyond expectations, London not dead in the water: North east multi-site operator Howard Eggleston, owner of the Tomahawk and Rio Brazilian Steakhouse brands, has said his first coastal site is trading “beyond expectations”, and he remains open to a future return to London. Eggleston last week opened his fourth Rio site and 18th overall, investing £300,000 in a 110-cover restaurant at the former Chiquito site in Walkergate. This followed the opening of his 14th Tomahawk, in the former Vista Mar premises in Saltburn Banks, last month, which he told Propel has been a roaring success. “We’ve been expecting a big dip due to the cost-of-living crisis and everything else going on, but trading has been surprisingly strong,” he said. “We opened our first coastal site five weeks ago and it has been phenomenal, it’s been absolutely packed. It’s been trading well beyond expectations, probably helped by staycations, and we’ll definitely be looking at more coastal sites.” In May, Eggleston took the decision to close his only London site, a Tomahawk in Hoxton, and despite no immediate plans to return to the capital, he has not written off the idea. “We’d probably not go much further south than Nottingham at the moment, and if we went back into London, we’d do it with a partner who knows the market down there. It may be something to come back to in the future.” Eggleston said earlier this year he planned to grow his estate to 50 by the end of 2023, and would like to see 25 open by the end of this year. The next Rio will open in Warrington in September, followed by Knutsford and Altrincham before the end of the year, while Tomahawks will open in Chester in August, and Morpeth and Nottingham in September. November will then see both concepts open side-by-side at a site in Sunderland – replicating a successful venture in Newcastle. “We’ll be looking to do more of that too as it seems to work well,” Eggleston added. “The target of 25 before the end of the year may have been ambitious because it was before all the utility prices went up, but there’s lots of sites in play.”
 
Away Resorts CEO – 35 to 40 sites would be our sweet spot, group in ‘purple patch’ for acquisitions: UK holiday park operator Away Resorts chief executive Carl Castledine believes 35-40 sites would be the “sweet spot” for the business he founded 14 years ago. The group has grown to 27 sites over the past year following the acquisitions of Aria Resorts, in August 2021, and Coppergreen Leisure Resorts four months later. This followed its own acquisition by private equity business CVC Capital Partners in June 2021 from Freshsteam, which had bought a controlling majority shareholding two years previously. “We moved post-pandemic from six parks, one of which remained closed, to 26 parks plus a boutique hotel in Devon,” Castledine told Propel. “We quadrupled in scale, which is an exciting journey for everyone to be on, and CVC have been brilliant in backing us for growth. We are definitely looking at other assets right now. We remain strongly acquisitive, and we’re very excited about being able to acquire more sites that we can sprinkle the Away Resorts pixie dust on to make them contemporary assets fit for a future generation. I think around the UK coastline – in locations that are high footfall or resort destinations, with parks of the appropriate scale, type and style we’re looking for – we think probably 35-40 assets would be our sweet spot, and that’s subject to being able to acquire them at the right pace and right entry price. I think that sort of territory, with good geographic distribution, is probably where we’d say is a good mature location for this brand. In terms of private equity, there’s a life to that cycle that we want to go through, so making the acquisitions sooner rather than later means we can influence the assets and make them higher performing, but what we can’t do is rush it. Rolling out with a holiday park proposition can take time because the right sort of assets don’t come up often, but presently we’re in a purple patch for acquisitions too.” Castledine added: “The plan is to do both organic new build and acquisitions, but given the pace and scale at which we’ve acquired, I think we have to be careful to digest what we eat. We’ve taken on quite a significant growth curve, and what we want to do now is stabilise the business and propel all our operating processes, procedures and investment packages into those parks to bring them into being a recognisable Away Resorts proposition. Once we’ve got some stability around that, I think we’ll potentially be looking at new builds or expansion on our existing sites.”

Marugame Udon secures debut UK regional site: International udon noodles and tempura restaurant brand Marugame Udon has secured its first regional site in the UK, in Reading, Propel has learned. The company, which is led by Keith Bird and backed by Capdesia in the UK, is understood to have secured a unit at The Oracle scheme for its first opening outside of the capital. At the same time, Propel also understands the business, which has so far opened four sites in London since its debut here last year, has lined up an opening in Bromley, as it looks to open 12 sites in the next 12 months within the UK. The brand made its UK and European debut in London last year with a flagship site opening off Liverpool Street, followed by sites in The O2, Canary Wharf and St Christopher’s Place. In mid-June, the fast-growing brand opened its fifth restaurant in London at retail and leisure destination Brent Cross. It has also secured further sites on The Strand and in Argyll Street, near Oxford Circus. Also in its pipeline is the former Carluccio’s site on The Balcony, at Waterloo station, which will be its transport hub debut in the UK. Last month, the business appointed Judd Williams, formerly of Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG), to the newly created role of head of franchise for UK & Europe, as it prepares to sign up its first franchisees here. The brand has more than 12,000 restaurants worldwide and said earlier this year it plans to have at least 100 outlets in the UK and Europe within five years. Richard Brown of RAB Retail acts for Marugame Udon.
 
Cookies & Cones to open sites in Primark stores: Essex-based American-style dessert company Cookies & Cones has signed a deal to open sites in Primark stores. Propel understands that the first site under the new agreement will launch in Wood Green before the end of this month. Matt Davis, chief executive of Cookies & Cones, said: “I am super excited to announce our partnership with Primark, one of the world’s leading international clothing retailers. Over the last six months, my team and I have been working closely with Primark to develop a bespoke concept for their stores. In the coming weeks and months you will start to see Cookies & Cones in a number of Primark stores.” Cookies & Cones opened its debut site, in Leigh-on-Sea, in 2018. The Wood Green opening will be its ninth in total, after recent launches in Braintree and Croydon.

Zambrero builds UK openings pipeline: Zambrero, Australia’s largest Mexican quick-service franchise, which donates a meal for every burrito or bowl purchased, has added a further two sites to its UK openings pipeline. The company, which operates more than 200 restaurants globally, recently opened its fourth site in the UK, in Chelmsford. The brand opened its debut UK site in Kentish Town last year, with a second following in Loughton, Essex, last December, and a third launched in Twickenham earlier this spring. Propel understands that the company has now secured a site on The Broadway, Crouch End. The company, which is led in the UK by chief executive Emily The, is also believed to have lined up a site in Reading. To date, Zambrero’s global network has donated more than 57 million meals via its humanitarian partner Rise Against Hunger.

Various Eateries realigns Coppa Club estate with nod to local community: Various Eateries, the Hugh Osmond-founded business, has realigned its growing Coppa Club estate with a “nod to the locality or property it’s in”. Still described as “clubhouses in beautiful locations, with relaxed spaces to eat, drink, meet, work and stay”, sites in the group’s portfolio now include Coppa at The Picture House in Maidenhead and Coppa between Bridges in Putney. It comes as the ten-strong brand gears up to open a site in Bath, The Bath Townhouse, and eyes further openings in Cardiff and Guildford. Various Eateries chief executive Yishay Malkov told Propel: “Coppa Club is still very much there, but with a bit more of a nod to the locality or property it’s in. Hence Coppa between Streets and Under the Clock in Henley, but also the Swan Coppa Club or The Georgian in Haslemere, when the property has heritage.” Various Eateries, the listed operator of the Tavolino and Noci concepts, is understood to have lined up a site at The Hayes scheme in Cardiff for its Coppa Club brand. It is thought to be looking at taking part of the former David Morgan department store in the grade II-listed property, which could become the Cardiff Townhouse. It is also in talks to take the former Gap site in Guildford.

Pret transactions down in all locations apart from London airports: Transactions decreased in all Pret A Manger locations apart from those in London airports in the week to 21 July 2022. According to the latest Bloomberg Pret Index, the largest decreases were in the West End of London and suburban areas of the capital, falling ten and six percentage points respectively. The index, which is now being used by the Office of National Statistics (ONS), showed that Pret transactions in London airports increased by four percentage points in the same week, while transactions at London and regional stations both fell by 12. The ONS figures also showed that, according to OpenTable, the seven-day average estimate of UK seated diners remained broadly similar in the week to 24 July. Large falls were seen on 18 and 19 July, coinciding with the exceptionally warm weather across the UK.
 
Chopstix kicks off four-site Welsh expansion with second Cardiff restaurant: Fast-growing quick service restaurant brand Chopstix has kicked off its Welsh expansion, which will see four new sites open in the country by the end of the year, with a second restaurant in Cardiff. It has opened in Cardiff’s St David’s Shopping Centre, which will be followed by a launch in Cwmbran this summer, and then two further sites in north Wales by the end of 2022. With “thriving” stores already open in Cardiff, Swansea and Bridgend, Wales has been identified by Chopstix as a region where demand is high. Jon Lake, managing director for Chopstix, said: “We recognise there is a huge appetite for Chopstix in Wales. Both customer feedback and turnover has been remarkable across the Cardiff, Bridgend and Swansea stores. The clear popularity of the brand in Wales has given us real impetus to identify additional locations across the country, and I’m delighted we’ve found such a great site for our second Cardiff store, and for our first in Cwmbran. The next step for us will be moving into north Wales, with two openings in the pipeline.” The sites are among “at least 12” new openings the company has targeted this year, through a mixture of directly owned and operated and franchised stores. It currently has circa 80 sites, and earlier this month opened a new flagship store in London’s Canary Wharf.
 
Friska closes last four Bristol sites: Bristol healthy fast food cafe chain Friska has closed the doors of all four sites in the city. The stores in Victoria Street, Queen Square, Harbourside and Bristol & Bath Science Park Emmerson Green shut suddenly yesterday, and three of them are now listed on Google as ‘permanently closed’. Friska, which opened its first store in Victoria Street in 2009, was founded by Griff Holland and Ed Brown and at one point had eight stores in Bristol, three cafés in Manchester and a 24/7 operation at Luton Airport. Friska sites focused on city centre areas with high footfall from office workers, but the original owners had to sell the business last summer due to the pressure from the covid lockdowns and people increasingly working from home. A few Friska sites, including Park Street, were sold, but Renroc Retail took over the stores at Victoria Street, Queen Square, Harbourside and Bristol & Bath Science Park. 

Shepherd Neame acquires three Essex pubs: Kent brewer and retailer Shepherd Neame has expanded its estate by acquiring three Essex freehold pubs in an off-market deal. It has brought The Bellhouse in Leigh-on-Sea, The Exchange in Southend-on-Sea and The Hamlet Court in Westcliff-in-Sea into its stable. “They will be superb additions to our client’s growing estate of 303 pubs across Kent, London and the south east,” said Warren Drake of Drake & Co, who acted on the deal. Shepherd Neame earlier this month took on its first Bournemouth site with the acquisition of Boscombe Promenade seaside bar and restaurant Urban Reef.

Press Up set to open first The Dean brand hotel outside Ireland, in Birmingham: Irish hospitality group Press Up, which operates more than 65 venues, is set to open the first of it’s The Dean brand hotels outside of Ireland, in Birmingham. Press Up has been given the go-ahead to convert the grade II-listed Central Methodist Hall into a 150-bedroom hotel with eight new bars and restaurants at ground and basement levels. It will also have a gym and events space and create more than 400 jobs. Dating back to 1904, the building has most recently operated as live music destination Que Club, but has lay empty since 2017. Jessica Carlyle-Clarke, head of business development and new opportunities UK for Press Up, said: “We are thrilled to have been granted planning permission for our biggest UK project to date in this iconic landmark building in Birmingham. This is the start of a very exciting time for the group.” Founded in 2009 and part of the McKillen Corporation, Press Up operates restaurants, bars, hotels and cinemas mainly across Ireland, but recently started expanding in the UK with the opening of two restaurants in Doncaster.

Wetherby Whaler reports soaring profits: Wetherby Whaler, the fish and chip business founded by Philip and Janine Murphy, has reported soaring profits. The company which operates seven sites, including the original Harry Ramsden’s in Guiseley, reported turnover grew to £9,696,073 in the year to 31 October 2021 (£8,570,311 the year before). Pre-tax profit was £2,263,279 (£1,346,644 in the year before). The company has cash reserves of £1.9m and debt of only £150,000. It reported “challenging times ahead” as fish prices have been rising since October, together with ingredient costs and fuel. The business, founded in 1969, added a site in Sutton Road, Tadcaster, during the year. The company states: “Originally a traditional fish and chip takeaway serving the local community, it was here that we learnt our trade and developed our skills and knowledge that enabled us to prosper. It was this original experience that enabled us to focus on two guided principles that developed to become the foundation for the ‘whaler experience’. These principles are always using quality haddock without skin and bone, cooked in the crispiest batter with Maris Piper potatoes, and warm friendly service with a smile.” It serves 750,000 portions of haddock a year and has sites in York, Pudsey, Wakefield, Wetherby. The founders’ daughters, Caroline and Joanne, work in the business. A dividend of £700,000 was paid during the year.

Lyons Holiday Parks adds to Welsh estate by acquiring Sunnyside Caravan Parks: Lyons Holiday Parks, which operates 14 sites in north Wales and Cumbria, has extended its Welsh portfolio by acquiring Sunnysands Caravan Parks. Sunnysands owns five sites in north Wales – Parc Caerelwan, Moelfre View Caravan Park, Tyddyn Goronwy, Sunnysands Caravan Park in Talybont and Snowdon View Caravan Park – for a combined 83.88 acres and more than 1,200 pitches. Richard Prestwich, director in the leisure and trade related team at Savills, who acted on the deal, said: “We have worked with the owners of Sunnysands Caravan Parks for over 50 years and are delighted to complete the sale of these prime located holiday parks to one of the largest holiday park operators in the UK. Holiday parks continue to draw significant investor interest particularly for assets located in prime tourist destinations.”

Boutique Hotel Group repays CBILs loan in full as it swings back into profit, recruits chefs from India: Boutique Hotel Group, which operates Nunsmere Hall, Peckforton Castle and Inglewood Manor in Cheshire and is owned by the Naylor family, reported that it has repaid its CBILs loan in full on its first anniversary in January this year “as it was felt it would not be required”. Turnover rose to £7,246,733 in the year to 31 October 2021 (2020: £5,334,774), while pre-tax profit was £1,300,032 compared to a loss of £1,262,303 the year before. The company said its focus had been on delivering postponed weddings and events. “By the end of 2022, we should have delivered the majority of postponed weddings successfully,” it stated. The company said it had recruited five chefs from India. “They are all settling in well and bring a fantastic energy and work ethic with them,” it stated. Recruitment for housekeeping roles was difficult, it said, because it’s a position that generally would have been filled by Eastern Europeans who, in many cases, have “gone home and not returned”.  It added: “As a business, we have always paid above minimum wage and living wage to help us stand out from other businesses, and this is something we continue to do, along with other creative ways of making us more attractive as an employer.” The company also reported its Land Rover Experience franchise at Peckforton Castle had suffered because the car company was not able to deliver to demand due to supply issues.

Din Thai Fung to open third London site, featuring robot waiters: Taiwanese dim sum brand Din Tai Fung, which operates more than 160 restaurants worldwide, is set to open its third site in London, featuring robot waiters. The brand will open at Centre Point on 22 September, joining its sister sites at Covent Garden and Selfridges. The 13,500 square-foot space will house 218 covers and a large separate bar area serving the brand’s signature cocktails. As well as its signature xiao long bao, handmade dumplings and rice and noodle dishes will be on offer, alongside a selection of sweet treats. XueFeng Bai, Din Tai Fung’s UK Director, said: “We are honoured to be opening our third site here in London, a reflection of the ongoing loyalty of our customers. Having come from humble beginnings, our cooking remains true to that with unchanged recipes for over half a century. We look forward to more people discovering our brand and are excited to grow the Din Tai Fung family.”
 
Hammerson swings to H1 profit as shopping centre footfall recovers: Shopping centre owner Hammerson swung to a first-half pre-tax profit as footfall recovered to near pre-pandemic levels and costs fell. The group, which owns the Bullring and Grand Central in Birmingham, reported a pre-tax profit of £50.3m compared with a loss of £375.5m for the same period a year earlier. The company said this reflected a 48% increase in like-for-like net rental income, lower administration and finance costs and strong contributions from its Value Retail holding. It saw revenue in the period fall to £62m from £65.3m. The company said footfall at the end of the second quarter strengthened to 90% of 2019 levels. It said that sales, occupancy and rent collection also improved toward pre-pandemic levels. Rita-Rose Gagné, chief executive of Hammerson, said: “We continued to make good strategic, financial and operational progress in the first half. Footfall, sales, occupancy and collections are recovering and now close to 2019 levels.  We saw a good leasing performance now ahead of previous passing rent and marginally ahead of ERV. We have strengthened our tenant profile, we have a strong and diversified leasing pipeline for the second half, and robust occupancy levels across our destinations.”

SSP opens Bottega Prosecco Bar & Caffe at Stansted: SSP has opened a Bottega Prosecco Bar & Caffé in the departure lounge of London Stansted Airport.  The concept is inspired by the philosophy of the Venetian bacaro (an informal osteria), where food is presented in the form of ‘cicheti’ (appetisers to be eaten at the counter), or as substantial dishes served at the table. Cathy Granby, business development director of SSP UK & Ireland said: “Bottega has been a highly successful element in our brand portfolio for four years, and we are delighted to be opening a further unit at Stansted. The brand has proven a big hit with air passengers and offers a new, premium experience for those passing through Stansted, offering them an excellent opportunity to treat themselves to something special before their flight.”

Crest returns to profit: Privately-owned hotel group Crest Hotels has returned to profit after receiving £365,506 in governments grants in the year ending 31 December 2021 (2020: £464,809), and £100,000 in business interruption payments. The company made a pre-tax profit of £1,177,645 (2020: loss of £279,688) on turnover of £5,237,859 (2020: £3,513,909). It said: “The directors prepared updated budgets and forecasts to reflect the change in trading circumstances (following covid-19). They also took steps to reduce costs across the group to mitigate the financial impact of the government restrictions by use of the Job Retention scheme, rates grants and capital repayment holidays where applicable. The group is continuing to support the development of the facilities offered by its hotels in the coming year to achieve continued growth after the challenges of the covid-19 pandemic. While this had a detrimental effect, the directors consider this to have been temporary, and that the business is sustainable in the long term.” Dividends of £77,186 were paid, while the group’s directors have provided a loan of £3,915,921 (2020: £1,729,879) which is interest-free and payable on demand. A further £618,436 was loaned to a company also owned by the directors, the balance of which was still due at year-end. Crest acquitted its sixth hotel – the 54-bedroom Park House ion Shifnal, Shropshire – in December 2021 for an undisclosed sum.

Nottingham operators line up third site in the city: The team behind The Taphouse and Another? Wine Bar in Nottingham are set to open a third venue in the city. Brothers Sam and Tom Benjamin have taken the lease on at 6 Richmond House, Hurts Yard, with a view to creating a high-end cocktail bar and fine dining restaurant. The property is currently being fitted out and will have room for 69 covers over two floors, which will open in two phases. Sam Benjamin said: “This was already an established late-night pitch previously. This street has a whole lot of nightlife and day trade, it is the ideal place. The idea behind it is when you finish at the wine bar or taphouse or anywhere that closes at midnight, there is nowhere to go that is chilled and relaxed. We want to bring a little slice of London to Nottingham with high end cocktails and fine dining element.”

Michelin-starred chef set to open Brazilian restaurant in London: Brazilian Michelin-starred chef Alberto Landgraf is set to open a London restaurant inspired by the flavours of his home country later this year. Alberto Landgraf, chef patron of Oteque in Rio de Janeiro, plans to open Bossa at 3 Vere Street, reports Hot Dinners. Landgraf worked with Tom Aikens and Gordon Ramsay in the early 2000s before returning to Brazil in 2006 to first open Epice in São Paolo, which won a Michelin star, before launching Oteque, which was awarded one Michelin star soon after opening, followed by another a year later.

Peter Royle plans to extend Teignmouth footprint with flagship promenade site: Plans to transform a former Teignmouth seafront restaurant into a landmark venue have been submitted. The plan, is convert the old Beachcomber site into an 88-seater called The Captain’s Table, have been tabled by Peter Royle, owner of Teignmouth’s Finn McCool's restaurant and Woolacombe's Captain’s Table. The project will see several minor structural changes to the building, which has not been used as an eatery since a fire in 2018. Royle said: “We have been working in Teignmouth for more than six years and are excited to be given the opportunity to strengthen the bench of the town's hospitality sector. The promenade is such a special place. The Captain’s Table will provide a new opportunity to bring light and energy to this iconic location, with that, all year-round enjoyment throughout the day and into the evening.”

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