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Fri 19th Aug 2022 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Döner Shack appoints new global franchise director as it plans 150 UK sites over next five years: Döner Shack, the fast casual kebab concept, has appointed Nil Naik as its new global franchise director to develop its expansion globally, including plans for 150 UK sites over the next five years. Naik is the former UK and international franchise director for Chaiiwala, where he was responsible for managing and growing the UK franchise network of more than 50 stores and identifying prospects for international markets in more than 235 locations worldwide. He has also worked for other high-performing food and beverage franchise brands, including Coffee Republic, Papa John’s Pizza and Domino’s Pizza. Bringing with him 20-plus years of sales experience in franchise development, Naik joins the Döner Shack management team and will work closely with co-founder and managing director, Sanjeev Sanghera, and Suj Legha, chief executive and multi-unit franchisee. Together, they will build up the brand. Döner Shack’s first restaurant opened in Leeds in 2019. A further two have launched in Manchester and Leicester since, with Glasgow and London due to start trading in the autumn. There are also plans to open 150 restaurants in the UK over the next five years, and establish a presence in the USA, Canada, Europe and the Middle East in a similar timeframe. Sanghera said: “Nil is a welcome addition to our management team, and with his wealth of franchise and sales experience, he will be a huge asset to the brand as we look to deliver the Döner Shack experience across the world. He will be integral in helping us evolve into a multi-site franchise business on a global level.” Döner Shack will feature in Propel’s next UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, which is available exclusively to Propel Premium subscribers. The database is an exhaustive guide to the companies offering a food and beverage franchise in the UK. The fourth edition will be published next month – providing insight on the offer, locations, cost, business background, contacts and other key details. It will be updated and sent out again 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.
 

Industry News: 

Sponsored message – Raymond Blanc backs Hospitality Rising: Raymond Blanc, chef patron of Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, is backing major recruitment campaign, Hospitality Rising. Blanc is among a growing number of operators supporting the initiative, created as the industry’s first official response to the hospitality recruitment crisis, as it moves towards achieving its £5m fundraising goal. Blanc said: “Our wonderful industry is in crisis. It is now more than ever that we need to come together and be united in showing the world how working in hospitality can change lives and create the most memorable and rewarding moments for the guest and employee. Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons has invested in Hospitality Rising not just for the now, but for the future of this industry. We have made many changes over the years, but it is not enough, and only by working together as one team, one voice and one industry can we really make change that will last longer than us all. While we are all currently facing hard times, the answer lies in unity as an industry, respect for our teams and most of all passion for what we all know, love and do day after day.” Invest in Hospitality Rising now from just £10 here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.

Host of franchise operators set to join updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies: A host of franchise operators are among the 47 new multi-site 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 Lars (GFUK) Holdings, which operates KFC franchises across Wales, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, and currently has 37 sites in its portfolio. Also added this month is Caskade Group, which is a franchisee of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, and operates more than 100 sites in the UK, Netherlands and Malaysia. In addition, Renz Restaurants, which is the brainchild of Papa John’s franchisee Renato Raho, operates a site in Newton Abbot and a recently opened site in Barnstaple, Devon. Premium subscribers will also receive a 3,200-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 12,000-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.

Tourism and recreation sector contracts for first time since January: The tourism and recreation sector, which includes pubs and restaurants, contracted in July, amid an unwinding of post-pandemic pent-up demand and increases in the cost of living. The industry posted a reading of 40.8 on the Lloyds Bank UK Sector Tracker input cost index. A reading above 50 on the tracker indicates expansion on an index, while a reading below 50 indicates contraction. It was the first time the tourism and recreation sector has contracted since January, when the impact of the Omicron coronavirus variant was felt. The number of UK sectors reporting falling output approached levels not seen since periods of lockdown. Nine of the 14 sectors monitored by the tracker saw their output contract versus four in June – the highest number since January 2021. In addition, ten sectors reported falling demand versus nine in June, representing the highest number since June 2020. However, the tracker also showed a more positive position on supply chain pressures and input cost inflation, with both easing in July. Of the seven manufacturing sub-sectors monitored by the tracker, fewer supplier delivery delays were seen in five, up from four in June, and reports of higher material prices fell to their lowest level since February 2021. All but one of the 14 sectors reported a slower rise in input prices, up from seven in June, while nine out of 14 sectors reported a slower rise in prices charged to customers.
  
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a food and beverage and retail business looking for a group HR manager to oversee two multi-faceted venues in London. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “The group HR manager will, among other things, drive and support the recruitment, retention, and training of new and existing company employees, create and deliver employee engagement initiatives, develop and support the implementation of learning and development initiatives to meet the needs of the business, support with the design of remuneration and company benefits packages, and ensure the effective induction of all new employees.” The salary is up to £50,000 and based in London. For more information, email abbie@corecruitment.com
 

Company News:

Taco Bell opens 100th UK site: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell has opened its 100th UK site. Franchisee Adil Group has opened the restaurant in Spalding, Lincolnshire. The landmark site is based on the Lincs Gateway Business Park in Goodison Road. Taco Bell has doubled its number of UK restaurants in the past 18 months. The UK’s first Taco Bell opened in the Lakeside shopping centre in Essex in June 2010. Since then, it has created an estimated 3,000 jobs and sold in excess of eight million crunchy beef tacos. The brand’s UK growth has helped Taco Bell expand its restaurant count by 25% outside the US, where the first Taco Bell was opened in 1973. Adil Group chief executive Raja Adil said: “It feels like the opening of the Spalding restaurant has been a long time coming and we know it’s something locals have eagerly been anticipating. The day has finally come, and the news we are also the 100th store is the cherry on top.” Gino Casciani, general manager of Taco Bell in the UK & Europe, added: “The doors opening on Taco Bell’s 100th store is a fitting time to reflect on the 12 years the franchise has been in operation in the UK and it’s an incredibly proud moment. However, as the business eyes up future moves, it will come as little surprise that we are setting our sights on further growth.” Taco Bell’s store count will rise to 102 by the end of the week, with restaurants also opening in Torquay and Hornchurch.
 
Greene King commits to 5,000 new apprentices: Brewer and retailer Greene King has committed to taking on 5,000 new apprentices by 2025 – building on the 15,000 it’s already supported since 2011. It comes as research by the company revealed one in five Brits (20%) would consider an apprenticeship as opposed to A-levels if they could, with 45% admitting their A-levels were not essential to their chosen career. Andrew Bush, chief people and transformation officer at Greene King, said: “Whatever happens on A-level and GCSE results days, it’s worth remembering there are alternative career paths available. Our apprenticeship programme allows young people to immerse themselves in the hospitality industry and forge a long-lasting and exciting career. Not only can you earn from the get-go (meaning no restrictive student debt), but every day is also different in this fast-paced industry.”
 
Tim Hortons opens first UK dark kitchen: Canadian quick service restaurant brand Tim Hortons has opened its first dark kitchen in the UK, Propel has learned. SK Group, which is leading the rollout of the brand in the UK, has opened the site in partnership with Foodstars in Kentish Town, north London. The dark kitchen delivers within a two-mile radius and operates daily from 9am to 10.30pm. The opening follows Tim Hortons making its London debut last month, which saw the brand achieve its most successful opening day in the UK, as well as one of the best globally in the last five years. SK Group chose Kentish Town due to the “huge popularity of the brand within the area, with an expanded presence in London continuing to be a significant part of the plan”. Tim Hortons has 59 restaurants in the UK and several key locations in the pipeline across drive-thru and high street over the coming months. Expansion is happening outside of London too, with the brand opening its largest UK drive-thru, on Monday 29 August, at Trafford Park, Manchester. It will be the brand’s ninth site in Greater Manchester. Kevin Hydes, chief commercial officer of Tim Hortons franchise in the UK, said: “Opening our first site in London was a huge milestone for Tim Hortons, as we entered a new territory, but to our delight, the opening was a huge success, and demand in Park Royal is still phenomenal. This highlighted the demand for our offering within the capital, with north London being an area of interest. This dark kitchen delivery format allows us to trial a new concept, focusing on a fast delivery service throughout the day, and we are excited by the potential it offers. Our model has continued to prove its success and we are continuing to grow the Tim Hortons estate, both in London and nationwide, with multiple formats.”

Wendy’s unveils new global restaurant design, includes dedicated delivery pick-up windows: Wendy’s, the third-largest quick service restaurant chain in the US, has unveiled its new global restaurant design, which includes dedicated delivery pick-up windows. Called Global Next Gen and aimed at improving customer, staff and digital experiences, it will also feature dedicated parking and pick-up for mobile orders; new technology to allow restaurants to handle more digital business; a galley-style kitchen design; energy-efficient lighting; and a “sleek and modern look”. The new design will start to be rolled out in the US over the autumn, and the chain plans to open its first new Global Next Gen store in New Albany, Ohio, next spring. Wendy’s president and chief executive, Todd Penegor, said: “As the first restaurant brand to offer a modern pick-up window more than 50 years ago, Wendy’s continues its legacy of design and innovation with Global Next Gen. To accelerate our business and expand our footprint across the globe, we must consistently meet the needs of our customers however they chose to engage with Wendy’s, whether that’s through a digital platform or in the drive-thru. Global Next Gen enhances the customer experience across ordering channels and streamlines operations for our crew, all while creating better returns for franchisees.” Wendy’s returned to the UK in the summer of 2021 following a 20-year absence, and earlier this month said it would ramp up its UK expansion with four new openings by the end of the year. The brand recently opened its eighth site since it returned to these shores, in Camden, and now plans to open sites in Kingston, Uxbridge, Maidstone and Sutton by the end of 2022. Penegor also said earlier this month that the brand’s potential in the UK remains “vast” and that six franchisees had been approved for the region, who expect to start opening restaurants early next year.
 
Merlin hit with winding up petition in dispute over debt: Merlin Entertainments has been hit with a winding up petition by Experian as the leisure operator seeks to bounce back from the upheaval of pandemic lockdowns. The company – which runs attractions including Alton Towers, Warwick Castle and Legoland Windsor – is facing the threat of legal proceedings from Experian amid a dispute over a debt. A spokesman for Merlin told the Telegraph that Experian’s actions, “regarding a very small debt”, were “wholly inappropriate”, and the company will apply to have the petition thrown out. The spokesman added: “Merlin has a 20-year track record as a highly cash generative company, and supportive owners. Our 2021 audited accounts show a strong recovery from the pandemic.” It is understood Merlin has been in talks with Experian over the debt. Experian declined to comment. The petition was served on Merlin Attractions Operations after the group suffered a spate of senior resignations earlier in the year. Nick Varney, who was Merlin's chief executive for more than two decades, resigned at the end of April alongside his chief development officer, Mark Fisher. Merlin was bought by a consortium of investors led by Lego billionaire Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen in 2019. Kristiansen’s family vehicle, Kirkbi, joined forces with investment giant Blackstone and the Canadian pension fund CPPIB to buy Merlin in a £6bn deal.
 
Hoburne profits up 120%, boosted by trend for staycations: Hoburne, the operator of eight UK holiday parks, has reported its profits rose 120% during the year ending 31 January 2022, boosted by the trend for staycations. Pre-tax profits more than doubled from £4,526,393 in 2021 to £9,950,666, with turnover up 30% from £36,819,239 to £48,019,889. It said an “unprecedented demand” for UK holidays saw holiday home sales increase by 20% and holiday sales by 79%, while other trading activities increased by 21%. Although the previous year’s results were impacted by five months of covid-related closures, the latest financial year also saw two and a half months of forced closures. The group compensated its holiday home owners for the periods of time they were unable to use the parks and passed on both a reduction in rates and reduced rate of VAT for their pitch fees and other bills. The group received Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme payments of £510,057 (2021: £2,107,288) and a local authority grant of £145,973 (2021: £155,560). Recruitment of team members has proved to be “a particular challenge”, and the group moved to paying the Real Living Wage as a minimum, as well as introducing an employee assistance programme. Among a raft of improvements have been new pitch developments, new models including luxury lodges and hot tubs, upgraded Wi-Fi and increased maintenance and repairs. Total dividends paid were £3,300,000 (2021: £987,875).

Peckham Cellars team to double up with Camberwell site: The team behind London wine shop and neighbourhood restaurant Peckham Cellars is to open a second site. Helen Hall, Luke West-Whylie and Ben McVeigh will launch wine bar concept, Little Cellars, in nearby Camberwell in early 2023. Like its Peckham sibling, the new site in Camberwell Church Street will serve an eclectic mix of old and new world wine by the glass, alongside a bar snack menu courtesy of Peckham Cellars’ head chef, Pablo Urain Alfonso. The corner unit site will offer 40 covers in total – comprising 24 indoor seats and a further 16 on the outdoor terrace. The trio have also acquired the adjacent property, which they will launch as the “Cellar Next Door” bottle shop, complete with 25-cover basement tasting room that will also act as the hub for their online wine delivery business. Hall said: “We’ve had our eye on the site in Camberwell for some time after spotting it last year. We knew we wanted to grow the business and open a second site, ideally somewhere in south east London again, as we’ve built up such a loyal customer base with Peckham Cellars. We want Little Cellars to emanate the relaxed, fun environment that Peckham Cellars has become known for.”

Kymel Trading makes ‘rapid recovery in turnover and profitability’, optimistic of ‘return to normal level of trade’: North east-based Kymel Trading, which operates Trenchers Fish Restaurant in Whitby, made a “rapid recovery in turnover and profitability” in the year ending 31 December 2021 and is optimistic of a “return to a normal level of trade” during 2022. The company saw pre-tax profits rise from £18,338 in 2020 to £598,893. Turnover was up to £2,401,735 from £1,772,267 the previous year. It received £328,913 in Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme payments (2020: £320,341) and £36,857 in Local Restriction Support Grants (2020: £3,000). The company also operates redeveloped Whitley Bay seafront site the Spanish City Dome after signing a ten-year lease in 2019, which had a break date of 31 March 2021, but the directors chose not to exercise the break clause. During the pandemic, the company was granted a one-year capital repayment holiday on a bank loan of £1,486,239 (2020: £1,568,928), which is due to mature in November 2023. At the year end, the company had cash in the bank of more than £710,000 and net assets of £2.9m. It said: “While recent general consumer confidence in the UK has been low, our target customers appear less sensitive to economic downturn, though the effects recent increases in the general cost of living are yet to be fully realised. The restaurant sector has continued to attract more of consumers’ disposable income over recent years, and especially local to the restaurant, with the recent popularity of staycations. With the gradual lifting of restrictions during this year and the continuing popularity of staycations, the company has been able to make a rapid recovery in turnover and profitability. The directors are now optimistic that the company will return to a normal level of trade during 2022.”
 
Fryday – companies with diverse boards will be the ones that thrive: Charlie Fryday believes it will be companies with diverse boards which are most successful in the future. Fryday, who spent nine years with Britvic and seven years with Molson Coors before joining Heineken UK three years ago, last year became the company’s first female category and commercial strategy director for the UK on-trade. One of her first achievements was launching Heineken UK’s Women & Allies Network – as part of a further drive for diversity and inclusivity at the company, which includes separate task forces for gender, race, age, disability and LGBTQ+. “Fairness and equality are really high on Heineken’s agenda, which is one of the things that attracted me,” said Fryday. “Brewing hasn’t had historically, and still doesn’t have, an equal split of men and women in leadership positions. It’s not just talk, Heineken are serious about trying to get more balanced and diverse boards, as its companies like that who will be successful in the future. We aim to have 40% senior female leaders by 2030. I’m massively passionate about the pub, but also massively passionate about being a role model for women in the industry. I want to show that you can have a great career and be a great mum.” Fryday says Heineken “put its money where its mouth is” by sponsoring the recent Women’s European Championships, won by England’s Lionesses. Although Heineken-specific stats are not yet available, for Fryday, it was about more than just beer sales. “I went to the opening game, and it felt like a moment in time, and I’m really proud I work for an organisation that has been bold enough to start sponsoring women’s sports,” she said. “It feels like a moment in time for the industry too, but there’s a long way to go. Half our consumer base is female, and our organisation doesn’t reflect that, but it feels like we’re going in the right direction.” As for the other inclusivity task forces, Fryday says there has been good progress since Heineken set them up two years ago, leading to changes in policy as well as “just having the conversation and tackling some of the more difficult taboos.” She added: “It’s not just about diversity in numbers – you could have a team where it’s a 50-50 divide with all sorts of ages and ethnicities – it’s about feeling included at work. Sometimes we get caught up on the numbers and stats, but it’s about that feeling of inclusion as well. Doing well by doing good is something we need to think about at lots of levels, especially in terms of attracting people into the industry. There’s a long way to go, but I’m confident that the right conversations are happening, and we are starting to make progress.”

Rhumshack Group confirms opening date and location for second Ma Petite Jamaica: London-based Rhumshack Group has confirmed an opening date and location for the second site for its Caribbean diner brand, Ma Petite Jamaica. Propel reported earlier this week that the group is set relocate its Shoreditch Cottons Caribbean Restaurant and Rhum Shack to a new site in Hoxton Square, adding a 100-cover downstairs bar, and open a second Ma Petite Jamaica, in Shoreditch. It has now confirmed that the new Ma Petite Jamaica will open in the Curtain Road site which is being vacated by Cottons. The new Ma Petite Jamaica will open on 25 August, and the new Cottons will open in early September. Owner Chris Singam operates three other Cottons venues in the capital as well as Asian food cooperative Tai Pan Alley, British-European brasserie Camden Social and Spanish brunch bar Gansa – all in Camden – and two branches of bubble waffle concept Bubblemania, in Camden and Brent Cross.
 
Shoryu Ramen to launch debut franchise site next month: Shoryu Ramen Restaurant Group, which specialises in kyushu cuisine from the southernmost of Japan’s main islands, has confirmed it will launch its first franchise site next month. As revealed by Propel in March, the group is to launch a new site under its eponymous brand at 190 Kensington High Street, its 11th in total. Dishes will include karaage fried chicken, takoyaki octopus balls and Hakata Tetsunabe gyoza served in a hot cast iron skillet with spring onion and grated ginger. There will also be a range of sake available, with beginners encouraged to try the three-drink ‘Kikizake Sake Flight’. The site, which will have a soft launch on Monday, 19 September, is the first in partnership with Bowl Life Ltd – a subsidiary of Restaurants Inc, the development vehicle founded by sector investors Krishan Katyal and Dominic Ford. Bowl Life plans to open at least three new Shoryu Ramen restaurants over the next few years and has ambitions to look beyond London for future development.
 
Enhanced Hospitality to open Soho restaurant next week: Enhanced Hospitality, the Roger Payne-led operator of the We Are Bar business and Shaka Zulu in Camden, is opening a new restaurant in London’s Soho. The company is launching Block Soho in St Anne’s Court, in the former Zelman Meats premises, next Thursday (25 August), reports Hot Dinners. The main focus of the restaurant will be meat cooked over coals, alongside seafood and shellfish. The restaurant will include a large sharing table along with a separate bar space. Executive head chef Stephen Boucher and head chef Arber Malaj’s menu will include smoked pulled pork, sourdough toast and apple; and grilled tiger prawns with chilli oil and garlic butter. Enhanced Hospitality recently opened British brasserie concept Maddox Tavern in Mayfair. 
 
Pied a Terre executive chef behind menu of new Soho restaurant: Asimakis Chaniotis, executive chef of Michelin-starred Pied a Terre, is behind the menu for a new restaurant in London’s Soho. Bantof – which is described as a restaurant, cocktail bar and art space – is opening in Great Windmill Street on Wednesday, 7 September. Chaniotis has curated a menu of tasting plates that are designed to go with both the cocktail list and the restaurant’s rotating exhibition of art, reports Hot Dinners. The cocktail menu has been put together by mixologist Jack Sotti’s company SuperNacular. Sotti’s list features a mixture of new and classic cocktails with a twist, with every drink named after a different Soho landmark or personality.
 
Multi-site operator Chaytor Services closes Cheltenham restaurant: Multi-site operator Chaytor Services has closed its Cheltenham restaurant, Daffodil. The restaurant, in Suffolk Parade, was refurbished in February this year, but the recent economic turmoil has taken its toll on the venue. A notice said: “The pressures during covid, followed by the continued difficulties throughout the hospitality industry of recruiting enough high-quality staff, has meant that we feel we cannot continue to operate at the standards to which an iconic restaurant such as this fully deserves. We are so grateful for all of your support over the years, we have hosted many amazing events and people. We will miss our fantastic customers and staff greatly.” Chaytor Services operates three sites in Worcester – Brown’s in Quay Street, Bushwackers nightclub in Trinity Street and Sin bar in New Street. It also runs another Bushwackers in Birmingham.
 
Jamaican restaurant and takeaway to open second Dover site: Jamaican restaurant and takeaway, Jerk 'n' Tingz, is opening a second site in Dover. Owner and chef Matthew Omo-Bare is opening the venue at the St James’ retail and leisure park, adding to its London Road outlet. The new site will be a sit-down restaurant only, with takeaway available for collection. The London Road site will then be solely for deliveries, reports Kent Online. Jerk n’ Tingz was founded by Omo-Bare Bare in 2018. It started off as a Caribbean frozen food delivery service in Kent, and the following year, the London Road outlet was opened. Jerk n’ Tingz will join Nando’s, Burger King and dessert operator Kaspa’s at the St James’ scheme, which is also home to an M&S Food Hall, food-to-go operator Greggs, a cinema and a gym.
 
Ivy Collection gets go-ahead to open in Bournemouth: The Ivy Collection, the Richard Caring-backed business, has been given the go-ahead for a new site in Bournemouth. The company has been granted permission by Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole Council to open on the former New Look store, which closed at the start of this year, in the town’s The Square. There will also be space for 28 diners in an outside eating area, the application says. In granting the application, planning officers said in their decision statement the area was of “key importance” to the town centre vitality, reports the Daily Echo.
 
Five Guys opens Basildon restaurant: Better burger brand Five Guys has opened its new site in Basildon. The company has opened the outlet in the former Villagio restaurant at Festival Leisure Park. In June, Propel revealed Five Guys – which has more than 1,000 venues worldwide, with more than 140 in the UK – is set to open another flagship restaurant in London, in Victoria. The business has secured the former Balans site in Cardinal Walk. Five Guys, which is understood to also be in talks on a site in London’s Park Royal, has further sites secured for openings this year in Tunbridge Wells, Staines, Sheffield, Windsor, Preston and Richmond in North Yorkshire.
 
Black Sheep Coffee opens in Reading: Speciality coffee shop operator Black Sheep Coffee has opened in the former Caffe Nero site in Reading’s Queen Victoria Street. Black Sheep Coffee co-founder Eirik Holth said: “Our customers have been asking us about Reading for years, and we’re excited to finally open the first Black Sheep Coffee in this epic historical town!” The business has 60 UK sites plus a further 50 in the pipeline, and it plans to have them all open in the next 12 months. It recently secured a site for its Welsh debut, in Wood Street, Cardiff, and has also lined up sites in Warrington, Liverpool and Colchester. It is also planning to introduce a drive-thru format, and will this autumn make its entry into the US market, having secured four sites in Texas.
 
Wagamama opens Southend restaurant: Wagamama, The Restaurant Group-owned business, has opened a site in Southend. The company has launched the venue in the former Bella Italia premises in London Road. The building has been empty since the beginning of the pandemic, when Bella Italia closed after parent company Casual Dining Group went into administration, reports the Basildon, Canvey and Southend Echo.

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