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Wed 10th Aug 2022 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Lord – hospitality sector in deeper trouble now than during the pandemic: Pubs, restaurants and bars are seeing outgoings triple, and are in deeper trouble now than during the pandemic, Sacha Lord, the night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, has warned. Lord said that the combined damage of debt burdens, soaring inflation, energy bills, supply chain difficulties and wage increases, have led to a “perfect storm tearing through the heart of the sector” and has called for the government's urgent return to parliament. Speaking on Sky News, Lord said: “This is a crisis and we need immediate intervention. We need somebody to get a grip and we need strong leadership to get us through this.” Lord reported energy bills in some hospitality venues have tripled, with many expecting extra costs of between £15,000 to £20,000 by the end of the year. One Manchester restaurant, Wood Manchester – managed by former MasterChef winner Simon Wood – has reported an increase from £3,000 per month to almost £9,000 per month for utilities, despite opening only five days per week. Lord said: “The hospitality sector is one of the most integral parts of the UK economy, and one which is now in an extremely perilous position, more so than during the covid pandemic. Trading is now unviable for many and I believe we will see closures at an unprecedented level over the 12 months leading to unemployment on an unimaginable scale. The speed at which the economic turmoil has devastated businesses in the sector is frightening.” Lord called for the government to implement a temporary reduction in VAT on business energy bills from 20% to 5%. He added: “Urgent meetings with energy providers and leaders from across the industry are needed to discuss pragmatic solutions and reduce the financial burdens that landlords are facing. We must keep this sector afloat before it is too late, and to save the livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of staff that the sector employs.”

Industry News: 

Sponsored message – Parkdean Resorts becomes latest to pledge support towards Hospitality Rising campaign: Leaders behind Parkdean Resorts, Britain’s biggest holiday park operator, have pledged their backing towards major recruitment campaign, Hospitality Rising. The company has joined forces with leaders behind the high-profile movement, created as the industry’s first official response to the hospitality recruitment crisis, as it moves towards achieving its £5m fundraising goal. Steve Richards, chief executive of Parkdean Resorts, said: “Hospitality Rising comes at a critical time for our sector – with tens of thousands of vacancies across the hospitality spectrum, it’s vital we embrace new and innovative ways to showcase the wide range of rewarding, life-long careers that are possible in hospitality. We’re therefore delighted to add our backing to Hospitality Rising, and join such a broad church of industry bodies, suppliers, and operators – from quick service restaurants, service stations and pub chains, right through to championship golf courses, fine dining and luxury hotels – in highlighting the vast array of opportunities in this amazing sector.” Coca-Cola Europacific Partners recently became the first official platform supplier partner for the campaign, which is attracting support from across the sector. Invest in Hospitality Rising now from just £10 per employee here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com

Next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book to feature 596 companies turning over £30.1bn: The next edition of Propel’s Turnover & Profits Blue Book, produced in association with Mapal Group, will feature 596 companies that are turning over a collective £30.1bn. The Blue Book shows the effects of the pandemic, with total losses of £5.7bn being reported by 328 companies. However, a further 268 sector companies are still reporting total profits of £1.3bn. The next edition will be sent to Premium subscribers on Friday, 19 August, at midday. The Blue Book, which is updated every month, provides an insight into UK operator turnover and profitability over five years, profit conversion and directors’ earnings. Premium subscribers also receive the New Openings Database, produced in association with StarStock, and the Multi-Site Operators Database, produced in association with Virgate, which are also updated each month. Premium subscribers also now have 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. 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 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.

Quarter of pub and restaurant operators thinking of closing their business as energy price crisis escalates: A quarter of pubs and restaurant operators are thinking of closing their business in the next 12 months as they become increasingly worried about the energy price crisis, according to new research. More than three quarters are considering reduced opening hours to tackle rising energy bills, the survey from eEnergy and Censuswide revealed. Nine in ten business owners said they did not expect energy prices to return to last year's levels within the next 12 months. In response, 83% said they had either previously cut staff to tackle the rising prices, or were considering making redundancies, or reducing staff hours to cope. The research found businesses were overpaying for their energy due to poor energy efficiency. Almost all businesses of 500 surveyed reported they were wasting more than a fifth of their energy each year. A quarter of hospitality businesses said introducing better energy efficiency measures was the long-term solution, while almost a third called for a government support scheme to be introduced to help the sector. Steve Alton, chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping, told the Daily Mail : “Our members, who independently operate pubs in every community across the UK, are all facing exceptional business pressures and the largest impact on their profitability is utility cost increases. With many operators struggling to make any profit despite summer trading, their position is extremely fragile. There is no need for business failure with the right level of support which will allow our nation's pubs to be at the heart of levelling up and regeneration in every community.”

PizzaExpress serves up covid-19 BI legal suit against Axa and Liberty Mutual: PizzaExpress is suing Liberty Mutual’s Luxembourg-headquartered carrier and Europe’s second-largest insurance group Axa in another high-profile legal dispute over business interruption (BI) claims from the covid-19 lockdowns. According to a claim filed in London’s High Court, various subsidiaries associated with the restaurant chain – including the operator of the PizzaExpress franchise in Jersey and the Milano brand in Ireland – are suing Axa SA and Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe SE (LMIE). LMIE is the European insurance company set up by Liberty Specialty Markets that began operating in November 2017. The unit was redomiciled to Luxembourg in 2019 to offset any negative impact from Brexit. Sources with knowledge of the commercial court action said the suit concerns disputed BI payouts related to the coronavirus pandemic, with the restaurant chain seeking to recover losses suffered as a result of lockdown measures. Axa subsidiary Axa XL is also party to the action with the unit understood to have underwritten part of the cover under scrutiny, sources said. PizzaExpress – which was taken over by its bondholders under a debt-for-equity swap with previous owner Hony Capital in July 2020 – expanded into the Republic of Ireland in 1995 and currently operates 14 restaurants there under the Milano brand. The full list of claimants in the latest suit are: PizzaExpress Group, PizzaExpress Restaurants, Bookcash Trading, Agenbite and PizzaExpress (Jersey).

Airbnb pledges to support tourism in the West Midlands: Airbnb has outlined plans to invest £500,000 to preserve and showcase the West Midlands’ cultural assets and boost tourism in the region. The official hosting provider of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games said it will back community-led tourism projects across the West Midlands, with a focus on heritage and sustainability. This includes: developing a West Midlands marketing and communications action plan to preserve the region’s “cultural and hidden gems”; launching a strategic demand driving campaign in partnership with Visit Birmingham to build upon Airbnb's agreement with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games partnership and increase visitation to the area; working with the host community to grow and invest in host clubs in the region through events and host training; and donating £30,000 as part of the pledge to complete the funding for the Ribbons’ Birmingham AIDS and HIV Memorial piece of art. Amanda Cupples, general manager for Northern Europe at Airbnb, said: "The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games showed to the world, and the rest of the UK, just how much Birmingham and the West Midlands has to offer – from sport, to food, and everything in between.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a well-established award-winning wholesale business that trades in multiple categories across various channels both in the UK and abroad. It is looking to appoint a chief operating officer as it prepares to embark on expansion. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The chief operating officer will be a pivotal figure in spearheading this planned expansion for the foreseeable future. They will work closely alongside a creative and passionate founder to develop the business, implement new ideas and ensure the business continues its successful incline.” The salary is up to £100,000 and based in north London. For more information, email mikey@corecruitment.com

Company News:

FiLLi eyes ten sites in the UK as it makes debut: FiLLi, the fastest growing chai and Indian street food business in the United Arab Emirates, is set to unveil its first UK outlet in London this month. Taking its network to more than 40 fast casual stores across eight countries – FiLLi UK will open a 2,000 square-foot store in Harewood Avenue, Marylebone. The business is already in negotiation on stores in Luton, Leicester and Manchester and the plan is to open up to ten new UK stores over the next two years with select franchise opportunities available. FiLLi was founded in 2004 and the new London store – catering for eat-in, grab and go, delivery and collection – will feature its signature Zafran Chai and an all-day menu encompassing everything from classic paratha and kathi rolls to samosas, bun kebabs, wraps, burgers and masala fries as well as a breakfast range including a variety of omelettes and egg bhurji. FiLLi has developed a series of franchise formats – designed for high street, shopping centre, business parks and event locations – ranging from 500 square-foot kiosks up to 2000 square-foot stores, catering for up to 80 customers indoors with additional outdoor seating. The FiLLi trademark is now registered in 48 countries in addition to the Gulf locations. “In Dubai and the UAE, we see long dwell times in our stores and so we always look to make our environments comfortable, relaxed and easy-going through the day,” said UK head of franchise, Peter Davies. “As for our chai – people simply adore it. Too many start-up tea businesses in the UK have pitched a premiumised and often inaccessible tea offer. We think the UK market is ready for the best chai going.” 

Bone Daddies Group secures new loan facilities to fund new site capex: Bone Daddies Group – which comprises the eponymous ramen restaurants, Shack-Fuyu and Flesh & Buns – secured two new loan facilities earlier this summer, with one set to be used to fund new store capital expenditure. In accounts filed at Companies House, the company reported turnover for the year to 30 September 2021 of £10,993,919 (2020: £11,703,075), with Ebitda of £319,343 (2020: £539,728), and a pre-tax loss of £528,378 (2020: loss of £406,606). During the year, the company entered into a new Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) agreement for £1.85m with HSBC with an annual interest of 3.99% over base rate. The balance at the year end was £1,806,225. Post year end, in June 2022, the HSBC CBILS facility was replaced by two Investec loan facilities (facility A and facility B) due for repayment by 27 January 2027. Facility A was to refinance the existing HSBC CBILS, and has a facility limit of £2m and an interest rate of 4.50% above the Bank of England base rate, subject to a minimum of 4.5%. Facility B was provided to fund new store capital expenditure, with a facility limit of £2m and an interest rate of 6.00% above the Bank of England base rate, subject to a minimum of 6%. Speaking to Propel last month, Demetri Tomazos, founder and chief executive of the Bone Daddies Group, said about current trading: “We’re still here, we’re standing, and we’re amazed and thankful on a daily basis at the continued support we have from our guests during these times. It’s a tough time and it continues to be tough, as it is for everyone; I’m thankful our outstanding, resilient team is still delivering an exceptional experience and product to our guests.” The business has lined up an opening under its eponymous brand in The Sidings scheme within the old Eurostar terminal at Waterloo station. The company is also relaunching its Flesh & Buns site in High Street Kensington under its eponymous brand this month.

New Friska owner ceased trading with only £10,000 of £250,000 sale consideration paid: Renroc Retail, which acquired Bristol healthy fast food cafe chain Friska and four of its sites out of administration last summer, has ceased trading having paid only £10,000 of the £250,000 deferred consideration sum for the business. Propel reported last month Friska had closed all four sites in Bristol. A progress report on Friska from administrators Mazars, showed on 26 July 2022, Renroc Retail advised the administrators it had been “left with no alternative but to cease trading” after experiencing various complications with trading and getting new leases agreed or assigned with the respective landlords. The report stated: “£250,000 of the proceeds from the sale of the business to Renroc Retail was to be paid as deferred consideration. This sum was to be paid monthly over 24 months, commencing September 2021. The deferred consideration payable in relation to the sale to Renroc Retail is not subject to any specific conditions (ie profitability/sales, etc). Accordingly, the deferred consideration was intended to be recoverable over the 24-month period. However, to protect the position of creditors, the deferred consideration has been secured by way of a legal debenture over the business and assets of Renroc Retail. As at the reporting period end date, £10,000 has been received (in June 2022) in respect of the deferred consideration whereas £114,166.60 should have been paid by this point. As a result of Renroc Retail’s decision to cease trading, the administrators await Renroc Retail’s proposals in relation to the outstanding deferred consideration. Furthermore, the administrators are seeking legal advice from solicitors regarding the position.”

McDonald’s franchisee Aberrant Group doubles drive-thru estate: McDonald’s franchisee Aberrant Group has doubled the size of its estate with the acquisition of four drive-thru sites in the West Midlands, Propel has learned. On the back of the acquisition, the business, which was founded by David Knight in 2016 to purchase, operate and develop a group of McDonald's restaurants, currently owns and operates eight drive-thru sites, employing more than 1,000 people with an annual turnover in excess of £45m. On the new acquisition, Knight said: “This is a proud moment for me and an exciting step on the Aberrant Group journey as it really is the first big milestone in our development and growth, doubling the size of the group and taking us into new operating markets. The real work starts here as we start the change management process to merge the leadership teams, business processes and 1,000-strong workforce together into one group, energised to run great restaurants, delight our customers and drive strong sales growth. We have had to navigate exceptional circumstances and challenges presented by the pandemic and now by the cost-of-living crisis. However, we have navigated this better than our competition, staying true to our values and being led by a strong and progressive business plan, which sees us continue to evolve as a true omnichannel business and grow market share as we are led by what our customers want and expect from us.” Last year, it opened a new drive-thru sites at junction 13 of the M6, Stafford. The double storey, 100-seat site was a new concept and the first of its kind in the UK, and included a dedicated delivery cell, automated beverage system, click and serve, and digital menu boards.

Sticks ‘n’ Sushi secures Westfield London site for tenth UK opening: Japanese restaurant group Sticks ‘n’ Sushi will mark the ten-year anniversary of its launch in the UK, with the opening of its tenth site here before the end of the year, Propel has learned. The company, which was founded in Copenhagen in 1994, will open a site at Westfield London, this December. Sticks ‘n’ Sushi White City will be the group’s eighth restaurant in London. It also operates sites in Cambridge and Oxford. The company said the opening, which will create 50 jobs, continues its “measured and highly successful expansion” over the past decade. Located near the main entrance of Westfield London, the 120-cover restaurant is across two floors. The menu will “serve the high-quality, fresh food for which the restaurant group is known, offering a unique combination of traditional sushi and yakitori sticks from the grill and retaining guest favourites such as the much-loved ‘Ebi Bites’ and popular ‘Hotate Kataifi’, made with scallops, miso aioli and trout roe”. Andreas Karlsson, group chief executive, told Propel: “We are delighted to be able to open another restaurant where we can welcome new and loyal guests. This is a testament to our exceptional teams across the group who all contribute to our ongoing success. We are particularly proud to be able to create many more jobs and opportunities for our employees.” At the end of last year, the business reported the UK was now its biggest market as company turnover hit £57m in its most recent financial year ending at an unspecified date in 2021. The company said growth in the UK, employee retention and takeaways were among the keys to the record-breaking year with Ebitda of circa £5.9m. The chain, which operates 12 restaurants in Denmark, nine in the UK and two in Germany, said the UK market had been crucial to its best-ever result. It will open a third restaurant in Berlin, in late September. Davis Coffer Lyons acted on the Westfield deal.. 

Bath Pub Company reports revenue up 34% on pre-pandemic levels: The Bath Pub Company has reported a 34% increase in like-for-like revenue in the first half of 2022 compared with pre-pandemic levels. The company operates four food-led pubs in the city. Managing director Joe Cussens said: “We have invested heavily into our estate over the last couple of years – in particular the outdoor areas where we’ve added outdoor bars and expanded trading areas; those developments are now bearing fruit. However, despite the strong growth in revenues, current trading conditions continue to be extremely challenging. Supplier cost increases, especially energy, are impacting margins and staff shortages are leading to wage inflation that is very difficult to manage. These are undoubtedly going to present challenges this year. However, we are in a generally affluent part of the country with a resilient customer base and have good pubs in good locations, so, while we are concerned about the trading outlook we are also optimistic that we will come through it in a strong position.”

Kerridge – The Butcher’s Tap & Grill might be one we look at rolling out: Chef Tom Kerridge has told Propel that his Butcher’s Tap & Grill concept “might be something we look at rolling out”. The original Butcher’s Tap was launched in Marlow, Buckinghamshire in November 2017 as part of a joint venture with brewer and retailer Greene King. The site functions as a butcher’s shop and bar until 5pm, when the space operates a simple meat-led menu with beer on tap, wine, spirits and community nights. Kerridge told Propel: “The Butcher’s Tap is probably the one that's bucking a trend because it's slightly more value led. It's fast moving. It's got that energy and that excitement of local people coming into it, so that works really well. It might be something we might look at rolling out. It’s a concept that's not built on an individual skill set. It’s burgers, it’s fries, it's steaks, it’s a grill, and beer. It would need a team of people, but it doesn't need people that have been within the business for ten years.” In terms of opening more restaurants, Kerridge said: “I get offered lots of stuff, including going overseas but I'm just not interested. We're just very happy doing what we do. And there's enough plates to be juggling at the moment.”

Big Mamma Group opens second site in Germany, plans Hamburg opening: Big Mamma Group – the operator behind London restaurants Gloria, Ave Mario and Circolo Popolare – has opened its second site in Germany, in Berlin. The company, which made its debut in Germany earlier this year, with the opening of Giorgia Trattoria in Munich, has opened Coccodrillo in Berlin’s Weinsbergpark. The group, which operates circa 20 restaurants across France, England and Spain, is thought to have lined up a further opening in Germany, in the former Die Bank restaurant site in Hamburg. The company, which opened a debut bricks-and-mortar site for its pizza delivery concept, Napoli Gang, in London’s Ladbroke Grove earlier this year, is planning to open a fourth site in London, in Kensington. The company is planning a site with around 180 covers in the former HSBC bank site in Kensington High Street. The company is “investing considerably” in turning the former bank into “a restaurant of the highest quality”. It is also thought to have submitted plans to convert the former Natural Kitchen site in Marylebone High Street to a restaurant spread over ground and first floors.

Generator and Freeland Hotels reports record quarterly profits: Boutique accommodation provider Generator and Freeland Hotels has reported record quarterly profits. The company has seen an 11% increase in profitability in the second quarter of 2022 versus 2019. June 2022 was the group’s most successful month ever with almost 30% year-on-year growth in profit with its properties in London, Paris, Amsterdam and Madrid all performing well. Food and beverage sales have also contributed to the results, with most of the bars, restaurants and cafes across the group now running at full capacity. Alastair Thomann, chief executive of Generator and Freehand Hotels, said: “We are delighted to set new business records amidst the travel industry’s recovery, a recovery that is gaining momentum due to the ongoing ease of restrictions. We have seen a surge of demand for rooms in both our shared and private accommodation. This trend can be seen particularly among Generation Z and millennials who were among the first to get back on the road once borders reopened. There is also a new high demand from families who now value us as an alternative to traditional hotel offerings, with a marked increase in six-bed and eight-bed dormitory bookings. Collectively, we have achieved 10% growth in the overall shared rooms revenue across Europe and 25% up in North America, compared with the second quarter of 2019.”

Nightcap plans Newcastle opening for The Cocktail Club brand: Bar and nightclub operator Nightcap is planning to open the first site under its The Cocktail Club brand in the north east, in Newcastle. The business, which earlier this month reported it ended its financial year on 3 July 2022 with a 23.6% like-for-like sales increase, plans to take on a disused section of the building also occupied by Zizzi in the city’s Grey Street. The company finished its financial year with 31 sites, with a number of openings to follow and a significant new site. Co-founder Sarah Willingham said: “We are well placed to mitigate inflationary rises as we grow and increase our buying power and we will continue to throw the best parties, offering exceptional quality and value, ensuring our lovely customers can still enjoy their great nights out.” The company will open the biggest site to date for its The Cocktail Club brand, in Birmingham next month. The site in Temple Street will be the brand’s 15th and the venue, set across two floors and three rooms, will have capacity for 450 people.

Mission Mars appoints Helen Ramsbottom as new marketing director: Mission Mars, the Albert’s Schloss and Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza operator led by Roy Ellis, has appointed Helen Ramsbottom as its new marketing director. Ramsbottom joins the business after seven years as client business director at the Manchester-based brand and design agency Love. She was also previously marketing and commercial director at Manchester Confidential. Ramsbottom joins Mission Mars as it gears up to open the 13th site under its fast-growing Rudy’s concept, in Didsbury, Manchester. It is set to open a 90-cover restaurant on the former Mad Giant food hall site in Wilmslow Road, for what will be its fifth opening under the pizza concept in the Manchester area. Last month, Ellis told Propel: “Our new Rudy’s in Chorlton and Sheffield are both performing nicely ahead of expectation. Rudy’s Chapel Allerton and Didsbury will open in the next month or two. Beyond this, we have a further four Rudy’s sites very close to final design and should be open by spring 2023. We look forward to investing further in our people with the development of our management development centre and a pizzaiola academy in central Manchester later this year.”

Domino’s exits Italy after Italians favour local restaurants: Domino’s Pizza’s footprint in Italy proved to be short lived with Italians favouring local restaurants over the American version. The last of Domino’s 29 branches has closed after the company started operations in the country seven years ago. It borrowed heavily for plans to open 880 stores, but faced tough competition from local restaurants expanding delivery services during the pandemic and sought protection from creditors after running out of cash and falling behind on its debt obligations, reports Bloomberg. The US chain entered Italy in 2015 through a franchising agreement with ePizza and planned to distinguish itself by providing a structured national delivery service along with American-style toppings including pineapple. Its ambitious expansion ran into trouble as traditional pizza makers scaled up deliveries or signed deals with third-party services to bring their products to customers’ homes while restrictions prevented dining out. The company had already reduced operations in the country from its peak in 2020 and stopped offering delivery from its website on 29 July. It followed an April tribunal in Milan that granted the company court protection against creditors for 90 days, according to an ePizza filing. The measures, which prevented lenders from demanding debt repayment or seizing company assets, expired on 1 July. There have been no further updates on the court process, according to tribunal e-filings or the Italian Chamber of Commerce. The company had €10.6m ($10.8m) of debt at the end of 2020, according to the latest audited annual reports.

Chopstix to expand Greater London footprint with three openings in next month: Fast-growing quick service restaurant brand Chopstix is to expand its footprint in Greater London further with three new sites set to open in the next month. The addition of Kingston, Brixton and Bromley marks the next step in a busy summer of growth for the brand – founded in 2002 by brothers-in-law, Sam Elia and Menashe Sadik – totalling seven store openings across the UK since the start of July. The high performance of existing stores in the capital, the marked success of the new site in Canary Wharf that opened in June, and market mapping undertaken by the Chopstix team, has outlined the significant opportunity for growth in London. Managing director Jon Lake said: “London will always be a special city for Chopstix – Sam and Menashe first started selling noodles at Camden Market, and Oxford Street was the site of our first bricks and mortar store. So it is a testament to how far the Chopstix brand has come over the last 20 years that we’re in a position to open three new stores, in such a competitive city as London, after what has already been a year of significant growth. We’re extremely proud and excited to follow successful store launches from Cardiff to Ayrshire with such expansion in London, it really demonstrates there is huge appetite for Chopstix noodles across the UK and an encouraging indication that even further growth is possible over the next 12 months.” Chopstix plans to open at least a further five stores this year, through a mixture of directly owned and operated and franchised sites. It currently has circa 80 outlets.

Council investigates after Jeremy Clarkson uses ‘cunning loophole’ to open restaurant: Jeremy Clarkson's restaurant was finally opened after months of wrangling thanks to a “delightful little loophole” that allowed him to circumvent traditional planning laws. The Clarkson's Farm star’s planned Diddly Squat eatery in Chadlington, Oxfordshire, had long been hampered by furious residents and West Oxfordshire District Council. But the former Top Gear presenter is believed to have made changes to a barn on his land using a clause that allows the use of farm structures to be tweaked from their original purpose without council-approved planning permission. However, the council told the Daily Mail it is investigating after rejecting the initial planning application in January. Class R permits the change of any agricultural building into a commercial retail unit, restaurant or cafe provided the conversion does not exceed 500 square metres. Clarkson explained to reporters: “It's called permitted development. We happen to have a barn that met every single one of the criteria.” Despite the ongoing row, Clarkson opened his restaurant last month, offering a three-course meal for up to £69 per person where diners will be filmed for the second series of his Clarkson’s Farm television show.

James Newman to launch Detroit pizza concept: Former Gusto Italian marketing director James Newman is launching a new Detroit pizza concept, Well Oiled, in Leeds this October. Following a series of successful pop-ups, and now investment from pub/brewery-sector entrepreneur, Ed Mason – co-owner of Five Points Brewery & Taproom, The Pembury Tavern, and Leeds’s oldest pub, Whitelock’s Ale House – Well Oiled is set to open in Meanwood this autumn. The new pizza concept has partnered with Mason’s latest contemporary pub opening, The Meanwood Tavern, to offer its brand of Detroit-style pizzas, served as both slices and full pizzas. Along with a small sharing plates menu, the new business will operate an omnichannel approach, selling through dine-in, click and collect, third-party delivery, and own delivery model. Newman said: “Detroit pizza is the fastest growing pizza trend in the US right now, and we’re just starting to see it trickle into the UK. Following two years of development and pop-ups, we couldn’t think of a better partnership than with Ed and his team to launch Well Oiled. We’re the first to market here in Leeds and we plan quite quickly to drive suburban interest before setting up shop in the city centre next year.” Baked in unique rectangular steel pans from the States, Well Oiled’s Detroit pizzas feature artisan-made, focaccia-style dough, plentiful premium toppings from local British producers and house-made fermented and pickled ingredients. Newman is currently looking to expand Well Oiled into Leeds city centre in 2023, and plans to grow the brand to five sites over the next few years. 

Fuller’s partners with Made in Hackney to launch plant-based burgers across its estate: Fuller’s has announced a new partnership with Made in Hackney – a local community cookery school and food kitchen, which will see the latter’s plant-based burger become available across the pub operator’s estate from this month. Made in Hackney has also developed some bespoke vegan dishes for Fuller’s Christmas menu this year. Fuller’s said the plant-based dishes will widen its Christmas offer and strengthen its commitment to offer more sustainable dining. Paul Dickinson, Fuller’s director of food, said: “Made in Hackney’s mission aligns perfectly with Fuller’s ethos. Its commitment to helping the community, making healthy eating accessible and tackling the climate crisis resonated with us at Fuller’s. We are also always looking at how we can diversify our menus. We know plant-based dishes aren’t only for those following a vegan lifestyle – with almost 40% of meat eaters in the UK having reduced their meat consumption in the last six months. So, to be able to offer plant-based dishes that are nutritious and delicious is fantastic.”

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