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Thu 18th Aug 2022 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Number of licensed premises stabilises in second quarter but costs crisis threatens recovery: Britain’s licensed sector has stabilised in the second quarter of 2022, the latest Market Recovery Monitor from CGA by NielsenIQ and AlixPartners reveals. It shows there were just under 106,000 licensed premises at the end of June 2022 – almost exactly the same number as in both June 2021 and March 2022. The research recorded almost 1,000 closures over the second quarter of 2022, but virtually the same number of new openings. However, the monitor suggests more net closures are possible in the second half of 2022 as cost pressures mount for businesses and consumers. The research also highlights key contrasts in fortunes in the licensed sector. They include a stronger performance for managed operators, whose sites have increased by 1.8% in the last 12 months, than for independents, where numbers dipped 0.4%. The casual dining, bar and bar restaurant segments all grew in the last year, while the number of restaurants fell by 1.2% in the same period. The report has a special focus on London, which has been slower than other cities to recover from covid but has been in fractional growth over the last 12 months. Analysis reveals a robust performance in northern and eastern parts of the capital, where many businesses have benefited from the growing number of residents working from home. However, parts of central London have suffered from a shortfall of office workers – including the City, which now has 14% fewer sites than in March 2020. Karl Chessell, CGA’s director for hospitality operators and food, EMEA, said: “These numbers are a welcome indicator of stability in hospitality and proof operators have built back well from the turmoil of covid.” Graeme Smith, AlixPartners’ managing director, added: “While the fundamental, longer-term outlook for the sector is strong, there are clearly some near-term challenges, and it is highly likely a higher degree of volatility will return. For the sector, this inevitably means more closures and more churn, but significant market share opportunities for the best businesses and brands.”
 

Industry News: 

Number of bakery brands set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A number of bakery brands are among the 42 new companies being added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released on Friday, 26 August, at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, features Pettigrew Bakeries – a craft bakery based in Victoria Park –founded by David Le Masurier, which is merging with another bakery, Friends in Knead. Also added this month is Birmingham artisan bakery and café Orientee, which was founded by Yuni Hildreth and is doubling up with a new Korean restaurant concept in the city called Itaewon Bar and Restaurant. In addition, Leeds bakery kiosk business Batch’d, which was founded by David Richmond and currently operates 19 sites, will be featured. Premium subscribers will also receive a 2,500-word report on the new additions to the database. 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. The database currently features 2,572 companies. Premium subscribers will also receive the next edition of the New Openings Database, which is produced in association with StarStock, on Friday, 2 September, 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 11,000-word report on the new additions to the database. Premium subscribers also receive access to 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 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 is 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 Propel group editor Mark Wingett.

Record 400-plus people booked for Propel Multi-Club Conference and summer party in two weeks’ time: A record 400-plus people have booked for the Propel Multi-Club Conference and summer party, which is two weeks away. The all-day conference takes place on Wednesday, 31 August, at the DoubleTree by Hilton Oxford Belfry, and will be followed by the summer party. The party’s entertainment programme includes an appearance from the house band for live music venue group The Piano Works. The six-piece band – consisting of two piano vocalists, drums, bass, guitar and horns – will be playing for three hours. There will also be a barbecue and more. Four hotels have been booked to accommodate guests wanting to stay overnight. Speakers at the conference include CGA’s managing director UK and Ireland Jonny Jones; Garrett FitzGerald, founder of Butchies; Steve Magnall, co-founder of Two Magpies Bakery; Johnnie Tate, founder of Yard Sale Pizza; Kam Dehdashti and Jamie Hazeel, co-founders of Little Door & Co; Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King UK; Will Beckett, co-founder of Hawksmoor; Richard Colclough, managing director of Parogon Group; Ed Devenport, co-founder of Incipio Group; David McDowall, president and chief operating officer at BrewDog; and Andrew Andrea, chief executive of Marston’s. Olivia FitzGerald, chief sales and marketing officer of Zonal, will host a panel of industry leaders who will share their lived experiences and discuss ways hospitality can overcome the current challenges, including how they are working with Hospitality Rising to grow and come back stronger. Meanwhile, Fleet Street managing director Mark Stretton will host a panel on the future of delivery featuring Just Eat’s head of strategic accounts Kirsten Bohlke; Mario Aleppo, founder of Fireaway Pizza; Nathan Wall, chief operating officer at Tiny Cloud Kitchens; and Joe Heather, general manager at Deliverect.

NTIA – rising inflation putting one in five business and more than 250,000 jobs at risk: Rising inflation is putting one in five businesses and more than a quarter of a million jobs at risk, according to the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA). UK inflation has hit double digits, according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics. The consumer price index rose by a record 10.1% in the 12 months to July, up from 9.4% in June. NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said: “Inflation reaching double puts further pressure on businesses, placing more than a quarter of a million jobs at risk and one in five businesses on the brink of failure in the next six months. We are seeing businesses handing the keys back to landlords every week, as operating costs become completely unsustainable. Time is running out for the government to intervene. At this moment, we need a decisive leader who will stop escalating energy prices and give further relief to struggling businesses by reducing VAT and extending business rates relief.” Neil Manhas, general manager, UK and chief financial officer, Europe, Pizza Hut UK & Europe, added: “Surging energy prices, rising food costs, and geopolitical uncertainty continue to hammer the UK economy. And as we hit double-digit inflation, these figures are just another stark reminder of how this is impacting business as usual. For hospitality, the pressure is even higher. With an endemic labour shortage crisis, supply chain disruption, and skyrocketing price rises across food, fuel, and utility supply chains – inflation is impairing the industry’s road to recovery. We need to lower VAT for hospitality back to 12.5% so businesses like ours can continue to deliver on our promise to generate jobs and look after our communities.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a real estate company based in London that transforms under-used spaces into community and business hubs. It is looking for a real estate operations director to support its growth plans. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The real estate operations director will be responsible for leading all operations and providing overall planning, direction, and execution in each assigned group of locations. They will hustle, execute, problem-solve, and lead a growing business in their region. They will be responsible for the success of the business and business partners in their market.” The salary for the position is up to £115,000 and based in London. For more information, email Sheila@corecruitment.com

Licensing update: Licensing solicitor John Gaunt & Partners has published its latest licensing update, providing a useful monthly summary of licensing news. This month, there are some good news stories around food standards and National Hospitality Day, along with details of a licensing clinic at the Propel Multi-Club Conference and summer party at the Oxford Belfry on Wednesday, 31 August. This can be accessed here.
 

Company News:

Fairgame founders secure £5m investment to bring concept to market and plan rollout in UK and abroad: Competitive socialising concept Fairgame will launch in London this autumn after securing a £5m investment to bring it to market. The concept from Richard Hilton, the founder of Gymbox, and sector investor Paul Campbell is due to open in Canary Wharf in late September. Fairgame’s first site is backed by a £2.5m investment from BGF and a further £2.5m from a consortium of private investors. This funding will drive the rollout of additional sites in the UK and abroad. The adults-only site, spread over 15,500 square feet at Frobisher Passage, will combine food and drink alongside nostalgic fairground games – with a competitive edge. Every game will be hooked up to innovative wristband technology and linked to a custom app to track gamers’ scores. The food offer will be provided by Burger & Beyond, Mission Mars-owned Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza and Don Mas Tacos, as well as prosecco-infused candyfloss, gelato and toffee apples from the Candy Stand. Drinks at the Fairgame Bumper Bar will include small-batch artisanal spirits, frozen margaritas and craft beer. Hilton said: “We believe we’ve created the most exciting concept in the competitive socialising space. Fairground games have been enjoyed by generations for decades, but nobody has modernised the games or the experience. We’ve reinvented the fairground for the 21st century, creating a network of games, adding wristband tech and introducing a bespoke app to log gamers’ scores and track leader boards in real time.” Chris Jones, investor at BGF, said: “We are delighted to be backing such a vibrant and innovative company. With a large addressable market and strong potential for growth, we look forward to opening Fairgame to the wider public.”

Soho House owner on track to meet openings target as second-quarter revenue almost doubles: Membership Collective Group (MCG), the New York-listed company behind the Soho House chain of members’ clubs, has said it is on track to meet its openings target this year as it further boosted Ebitda. The company, which operates 36 Soho House members clubs mostly in North America and Europe, reported revenue for the second quarter ending 3 July 2022 increased 96.5% year-on-year to $243.8m. Adjusted Ebitda was $15.4m, up $27.9m from the second quarter of 2021. Total members grew to 193,370 from 171,927 in the first quarter of 2022, and 51.3% year-on-year. Soho House Members grew to 142,250 from 130,919 in the first quarter 2022, and 27.1% year-on-year. The group’s membership wait list now sits at an all-time high of more than 81,500 and retention rates continue at pre-pandemic levels. Membership revenue of $65.9m increased 46.9% year-on-year, accounting for 27.0% of total revenue. In-house revenue grew to $109.7m, up 139.5% year-on-year. Revpar was 39.6% higher year-on-year on a like-for-like basis. Nick Jones, founder and chief executive of MCG, said: “We had a good second quarter, welcoming more than 21,000 new MCG members and successfully opening a new Soho House in Los Angeles and The Ned NoMad in New York City. We have since opened two more Soho Houses, in Balham (south London) and Copenhagen, in July. We were able to grow revenue almost 100% year-on-year, driven by continued strong membership growth, as well as recovery of our in-house and other revenues. This growth was despite significant headwinds and some continued covid impact, most noticeably in Hong Kong. We continue to increase our Ebitda and remain confident in our membership targets. We are on track to meet our target of nine new Soho House openings this year, as well as two new Ned sites in New York and Doha, and a new The Line in San Francisco.”
 
Brakspear reports Ebitda up 111% and only 9% down on record year of 2019, debts reduced by £10.7m: Henley-based pub operator Brakspear has reported an increase in Ebitda of 111% in the year ending 26 December 2021, and only 9% down versus its record year of 2019. The business was able to generate Ebitda of £9.1m in the year, compared to £4.3m in 2021. Turnover was £26.8m, up 38% on 2020 (£19.4m) and 24% down versus pre-covid 2019 (£35.3m). Cash reserves of £11m were broadly unchanged compared to 2020, while the company’s debt was reduced by £10.7m, effectively returning its borrowings from 2020. While the business restricted capital investment during the year due to the uncertainties of covid, £1.2m was offset through the sale of three non-core pubs to pub operators, and the sale of a parcel of land for residential development. Capital investment returned to normal levels in the first half of 2022 with the acquisition of Ghyll Manor (a pub, restaurant and events venue with 28 letting rooms) in Horsham, Sussex, and the Royal Standard in Wandsworth. In addition, significant improvements were made to The Bull on Bell Street in Henley, The George in Shipston on Stour and The Dew Drop in Hurley. Chief executive Tom Davies said: “We will look upon 2021 as a year of two halves. The first was heavily impacted by the enforced closure of our pub estate for 15 weeks, and the remainder of the period adversely influenced by a restricted operating environment. This was followed by a really positive second half of the year where record trading, driven by pent up demand and staycations, was complemented by government support in the form of a VAT discount. We demonstrated lots of resilience over the last two years and I am very satisfied with the robustness of our business. We have moved on from covid and will continue to invest in our estate, despite the economic challenges currently affecting our industry. I am confident we will face the challenges presented by staff shortages, inflation and especially energy costs with the same positive attitude that we have come to expect, but do not take for granted, from our people.”
 
David Lloyd Leisure reports record new member sales, plans further expansion in UK and Europe: Health and leisure business David Lloyd Leisure has reported record new member sales in the year ending 31 December 2021 and is planning further expansion in the UK and Europe. The company says its UK clubs were forced to close for 29% of the year due to covid restrictions, while its European sites were subject to stricter social distancing and antigen testing rules than here. But revenue was up from £238,700,000 in 2020 to £341,330,000, and pre-tax losses were more than halved from a £108,278,000 loss in 2020 to one of £50,782,000. It received £14,363,000 in government grants (2020: £23,013,000), of which £11.1m was from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (2020: £22.5m) and £3.2m in other governments grants (2020: £500,000). The company said: “Since the re-opening of our UK clubs, record-breaking new member sales have driven our recovery, with our total member count returning to pre-pandemic levels as at end of July 2021. The rapid bounce back and unprecedented business growth has, in part, been fuelled by pent-up demand experienced by our industry as a whole. However, our breadth and depth of family friendly lifestyle facilities, plus our suburban locations, has also driven the uplift, supporting the shift in lifestyles to hybrid working and less commuting, which has seen a boom in people looking to join health clubs closer to their homes.” The company sees no threat from the cost-of-living crisis due to its traditionally more affluent membership. However, post-pandemic trends have seen it increasingly able to also recruit from a broader sector of the market “who may not previously have considered them but are now looking for more than just a gym”. The company has also “invested heavily” in its digital offering, including an app called @Home which receives a million views a month. It said: “Covid-19 had a short-term negative impact on the company’s member base, but the bounce back driven by strong performance in new membership sales has been fantastic. The company’s future strategy will focus on building and retaining the David Lloyd membership base, new club acquisition and integration, and David Lloyd Digital. The company continues to look for further expansion opportunities across UK and the rest of Europe, including acquisitions and new build sites.”

Cornish Bakery to open eight stores over next 12 months, confirms Scottish debut: Growing independent chain The Cornish Bakery has said it plans to open eight new stores over the next 12 months, and has confirmed it will make its Scottish debut later this year. Propel reported in February that Caledonia Park, in Gretna Green, was among several sites Cornish Bakery had in development. It has now confirmed it will open a 2,500 square-foot unit and the design village later in 2022, in partnership with investment manager Railpen. Steve Grocutt, founder of Cornish Bakery, said: “Caledonia Park is the perfect location to launch our distinctive brand in Scotland, proving my mantra that bakery is the new coffee shop. We are continually looking to increase our estate as one of the fastest growing, independent bakery brands in the UK, and we are looking forward to making our mark in Caledonia Park.” Matthew Howard, head of asset management at Railpen, added: “One of our main priorities is to extend our F&B offer. We’ve experienced a wave of retail firsts over the last few months, and we are keen to replicate this success within our culinary line-up, so we are pleased to see the likes of Cornish Bakery choosing Caledonia Park to launch their Scottish debut site.” Cornish Bakery, which earlier this year announced plans to more than double its circa 49-strong estate to 100 venues, is also developing sites in Plymouth Barbican, Bury St Edmunds and Truro. Johnstone Property Consultants and Time Retail Partners acted for Caledonia Park, while Four & Co acted for Cornish Bakery.
 
UK arm of Motel One expects to return to pre-covid trading levels in 2023: The UK arm of Motel One has said it expects to return to pre-covid trading levels in 2023. The business, which operates three sites – in London, Newcastle and Manchester – reported turnover increased 74.5% to £6,433,018 for the year ending 31 December 2021, compared with £3,686,661 the year before. Ebitda was up 21.4% to minus £4,538,706 from minus £5,773,152 the previous year. Pre-tax losses narrowed to £4,864,065 from £6,429,783 the previous year. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “Although the impact of the covid-19 crisis is decreasing, the company will likely require support from the parent company, Motel One, with regards to cash needs, including those for the settlement of liabilities, loan payments, payment of tax and other commitments. The return to pre covid-19 trading levels is expected in 2023, so it will take some time for the company to recover from the damages caused by the crisis. The directors have received written confirmation from the parent company that it will provide the support necessary to ensure the company meets its liabilities as they fall due until 31 July 2023.”

Loungers opens Cosy Club site in Canterbury: Cafe bar brand Loungers has opened a site for its Cosy Club brand in Canterbury. The company, which also operates the Lounges brand, has opened the venue in St Margaret’s Street. It marks the 33rd Cosy Club opening and 203rd site for the group. Loungers is also opening a Cosy Club in Milton Keynes and is believed to be lining up a site for the brand in Harrogate.

Birds plans further expansion as it secures 63rd site: East Midlands-based bakery business Birds has unveiled plans to open a store in Netherfield, Nottingham, and said it is looking at more sites across the region. The company is opening the 1,200 square-foot store at Teal Business Park, which is located off Colwick Loop Road. The site is Birds’ 63rd store and its 25th in Nottinghamshire. Mike Holling, sales and marketing director at Birds, said: “Teal Park is an exciting new location for us and we’re looking forward to being part of a growing community. After the last few years, it’s great to see so many new businesses opening their doors in the area. We will be focusing our offering on food to go. The opening forms part of our expansion plans, with discussions about more new stores in other locations across the East Midlands already underway.” FHP acted on the deal.  

Beaumont Hotel owners in advanced negotiations to extend £50m bank loan for further five years, post-pandemic trading ‘far exceeding expectations’: The owners of the Beaumont Hotel in London’s Westminster are in advanced negotiations to extend its £50m bank loan for a further five years, while trading since the pandemic has “far exceeded expectations”. It comes as the hotel, which opened in 2014, reported turnover increased to £5,390,721 for the year ending 31 December 2021, compared with £2,521,234 the year before. Pre-tax losses narrowed to £3,011,887 from £4,010,688 the previous year. The business received £1,267,199 through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and other government grants (2020: £1,853,440). In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The facility agreement with Citibank matures in November 2022 and the directors are in advanced negotiations with the bank to extend the loan for an additional five years. The loan facilities contain historic debt yield and loan to value covenants that have been waived for the remainder of the loan term.” Work to extend the hotel into a neighbouring property and add more bedrooms and two additional meeting rooms is expected to be completed by mid-2023. 

Durham restaurant operators acquire third site: Durham restaurant operators Zak Newton and Sam Gadd have acquired their third site in the city. The duo have bought “high-end” Asian fusion restaurant Zen for an undisclosed sum. The restaurant had been owned and operated by Gadd’s parents, Nigel and Deborah, for almost 15 years. Newton and Gadd own two other venues within Durham, Tango and the Rabbit Hole, which also offers “distinctive” pan-Asian fusion dishes. They have both been involved in Zen in some capacity since 2020. Newton said: “Before the lockdown, we operated several business concerns – from barbers’ shops and tattoo studios to blockchain and social impact concepts – but after taking a step back, we realised that time is on our side, and some of the best opportunities are within our area of expertise. Since we have been involved with Zen, we have taken the business digital, with our takeaways and reservations managed primarily online, as well as streamlining and improving systems.”

Alcohol-free brand Mocktails announces two-year Sober October partnership with Macmillan: Alcohol-free brand Mocktails has become the headline partner of Macmillan’s Sober October campaign in a new two-year partnership for 2022 and 2023. As headline partner, Mocktails has committed to supporting Sober October with a minimum donation of £150,000, and there will be no cap on the final donation amount. Sober October is a fundraising campaign that aims to challenge social drinkers to change their habits for a month. All of the money raised will help the charity provide vital care and support for people living with cancer. Mocktails will be donating £1 per case sold in September and October through any outlet as well as on its website.

Whittlebury Hall & Spa returns to profit with two record-breaking months, increases leisure offerings: Northamptonshire luxury hotel and resort Whittlebury Hall & Spa has returned to profit following two record-breaking months in the year ending 31 December 2021. A pre-tax loss of £2,924,000 in 2020 was turned into a £225,000 profit off turnover of £9,597,000, up from £5,647,000 in 2020. It received £1,009,000 in furlough income, compared to £2,698,000 the year before. The company said: “Two months in the third quarter were record breaking for both revenue and Ebitda, with a good conversion rate of 33% revenue to Ebitda. One month showed the highest Ebitda month in the history of the business, and another the highest Ebitda for that month. Over the third quarter of 2021, Ebitda was £1.6m, making up for the minus £873,000 Ebitda we started with when restrictions were lifted in May 2021. Despite opening three months later than expected in 2021, we delivered a year-end Ebitda of £878,620, despite there still being restrictions in place for some of this time, and the significant impact caused in December with Omicron. Turnover recovered to £9.6m for the year, up from £5.6m in 2020, but still short of 2019 levels. This was a good result given the relatively short trading period for the year (six months).” The first units in a series of new leisure apartments were completed in the spring of 2022, while the golf and spa offerings have been “repositioned” and other activities added, “giving people more reasons to choose us as a holiday destination”. The company added: “The enforced shutdowns were without question costly for the business, but did allow time to refocus and repurpose some areas of the business. Opportunities have been identified, and the business has decided to place more focus on our leisure business as demand for UK staycations is set to be high.” The company also received £250,000 from its insurer relating to business lost during the pandemic, and no dividends were paid. It has forecast turnover of £18m in 2022, reflecting strong levels of demand and enquiries, and the return of events and conferences.

Penderyn to open third distillery, in Swansea: Welsh distillery Penderyn is set to open a site in Swansea as part of a landmark £1bn transformation programme launched by the city council. The Hafod-Morfa Copperworks, set to open next March, will form part of the Shaping Swansea scheme, which is set to rejuvenate up to seven different areas across the city. The distillery will be a third location for Penderyn, having expanded into Llandudno, North Wales, last year. Penderyn’s home distillery is based up in the Brecon Beacons, where chief executive Stephen Davies and his team continue to run operations as its headquarters. “We launched our Llandudno site to a roaring success, despite doing so during the pandemic,” Davies said. “That success speaks volumes about our team’s incredible dedication to our whisky lines – and we’re also immensely grateful to those who continue to invest in and enjoy Penderyn from home and in bars. We’re confident our Swansea site will help us to upscale our production of old favourites – while enabling our creative distillers to really get their teeth into some new ideas and projects. 2023 is going to be an immensely exciting year for Welsh whisky lovers.”

Sparkling tea brand Real to open fermentery in Buckinghamshire next month: Fermented sparkling tea brand Real is opening a state-of-the-art fermentery on the Waddesdon Estate in Buckinghamshire next month. The move will increase Real’s production capabilities from 10,000 litres per month to 250,000 litres. The production centre will be open to the public for tours and tastings and will be located at The Bail on the estate. Real founder David Begg said: “Waddesdon Estates and Real have an important shared philosophy and ongoing conversations with the estate director, Garth Clark, have uncovered a mutual fascination and respect for soil health, bacterial development and, generally, a meeting of minds.”

Chef John Javier opens debut UK restaurant: Chef John Javier has launched his debut UK restaurant. The Tent (at the end of the universe) has open on the ground floor of private members’ club, Portland Club, at 17 Little Portland Street in London’s Mayfair. The 34-cover venue will serve “a modern representation of Middle Eastern food in an intimate concept dining room” designed like a tent, with seated DJs nestled between the diners. There will also be live music on Wednesday nights.

Hartlepool leisure development plans get go ahead: Plans to build a flagship leisure development near the marina in Hartlepool have been given the green light. The scheme looks to build a facility including swimming pools, fitness suites and studios alongside a cafe on a 4.1-acre parcel of land at The Waterfront, in Highlight Road. A planning report said: “The proposed building will transform the landmark setting, which includes a listed building. It is considered the scheme represents a flagship development providing equitable and high-quality indoor leisure facilities within Hartlepool.”

Exmouth hotel sold to new owner: The 28-bedroom, family-owned Manor Hotel in The Beacon, in Exmouth, has been sold to a new owner. The 18th century grade II-listed property has undergone extensive renovation works over the last few years to convert it from a hotel specialising in coach group holidays into one catering exclusively for private leisure and business guests. New owner Sam Surani previously owned the Broadway Hotel in Llandudno. He said: “We are excited to take over the hotel and add value to the great historical building by providing an excellent guest experience.” Savills and Christie & Co acted on the deal.

Plans to build aparthotel above new Gaucho in Liverpool approved: Plans to build an aparthotel above the forthcoming new Gaucho in Liverpool have been approved. Applicants Aqua Commercial had previously earmarked the upper floors at 7 Water Street for a residential development but reconsidered its plans for the three-storey site during the pandemic. Its plan to turn the upper floors of the former bank into a ten-suite aparthotel have now got the go-ahead, while discussions with an international hotel operator are ongoing. Rare Restaurants’ bid to turn the ground floor into what will be its 18th Gaucho restaurant were approved last month. Chief executive Martin Williams told Propel in February that it plans to open up to 30 new UK restaurants over the next five years.

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