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Thu 25th Aug 2022 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

The Ned makes slow recovery on pre-pandemic performance with turnover more than halved: The Ned, the City of London mega-venue and private members’ club operated by Soho House that offers 250 bedrooms, ten restaurants, 17 bars, a spa and meetings and events space, is making a slow recovery but is still down on pre-pandemic levels. Revenue for the year ending 31 December 2021 grew 39%, from £24,607,000 in 2020 to £34,223,000, but remains less than half that of pre-pandemic levels. Turnover in 2019, the last year before covid, was £77,249,000. Average room occupancy moved up slightly to 32% from 29% in 2020 but is still way down on 85% in 2019. Average room rate increased to £324 from £287 (2019: £301). Accommodation accounted for 27% of turnover, compared with 22% in 2020 and 30% in 2019. Pre-tax losses narrowed from £2,984,000 in 2020 to £1,300,000, compared with a pre-tax profit of £2,707,000 in 2019. Membership stands at just under 3,000, with a growing waiting list vetted and reviewed quarterly. It accounted for 14% of turnover, compared with 20% in 2020 and 9% in 2019. Food and beverage accounted for 53% of revenue (same as 2020, down from 58% in 2019), and spa and fitness 2% (3% in 2020, 2% in 2019). Payments of £2,484,207 were received from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in the period, compared with £6,078,421 in 2020, and the company also secured a HSBC revolving facility of £5m in January 2021. The company also said highly qualified staff are in short supply and competition for them is intense, meaning “the need for short-term pay rates could become prevalent in the short-term future, thus negatively impacting profitability”. However, the company said it has made a positive start to 2022. “As a business, management acted to minimise the impact [of covid] by identifying cost savings associated with the reduction in revenues, which have since positively grown and exceeded expectations through early 2022,” it said. “Ownership remains focused on development of The Ned and The Ned’s Club brand, with potential sites being identified in gateway cities around the world. The brand perception of The Ned has continued to change the landscape of leisure and hospitality in the City of London, and the continued evolution of the product and service offering will contribute to future growth.” Earlier this summer, the concept expanded to the US with the opening of The Ned NoMad in New York, and a further opening in Doha, Qatar, is also in the pipeline. The Ned opened in 2017, set in the 29,450 square-metre former Midland Bank headquarters at 27 Poultry, designed by Sir Edwin “Ned” Lutyens in 1924. The building had lay empty for eight years when it was spotted by Soho House founder Nick Jones in 2012, and The Ned is now part of Soho House’s parent company, Membership Collective Group.

Industry News: 

One day to go before release of updated Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, 47 businesses being added: A total of 47 new multi-site companies, operating 292 sites, have been added to the next edition of the Propel Premium Database of Multi-Site Companies, which will be released tomorrow (Friday, 26 August), at midday. The updated Propel Multi-Site Database, which is produced in association with Virgate, includes regional bar and restaurant operators, expanding bakery brands, and growing entertainment concepts. 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 now features 2,617 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 14,000-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 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.
Digital delivery experts Meredith Sandland and Carl Orsbourn to host exclusive webinar to help operators drive online sales and profitability: Digital delivery experts and best-selling authors, Meredith Sandland and Carl Orsbourn, are to host an exclusive three-hour UK webinar with Propel readers to help operators make the most of the delivery opportunity and drive profitability. The webinar will take place at 10am on Tuesday, 25 October and tickets costing £245 plus VAT can be booked by emailing The first 50 people to sign up will get a free copy of Sandland and Orsbourn’s book, Delivering the Digital Restaurant, which is endorsed by Danny Meyer, chief executive of Union Square Hospitality Group and founder of Shake Shack. The webinar will see Sandland, a former executive at Taco Bell and ghost kitchen operator Kitchen United, and Orsbourn, also a veteran of Kitchen United, share insights gleaned from hundreds of restaurant operators, executives, and tech company leaders on the best strategies to grow your digital revenue and profitability. It will include growing online sales, driving direct sales, improving the off-premise guest experience, expanding capacity and using ghost kitchens and virtual brands. Propel managing director Paul Charity said: “With delivery playing such an important role as a result of the covid-pandemic, we are delighted to be working with Meredith and Carl, who are experts in this field, for this not-to-be-missed webinar to help operators drive sales further. I met them in Chicago at the National Restaurant Association Show where every session they held was sold-out way in advance. It’s great to be working with them in the UK.”
TUC calls for minimum wage to increase to £15 an hour ‘as soon as possible’: The minimum wage should be increased to £15 an hour as soon as possible to help millions of low-paid workers struggling amid the cost of living crisis, the TUC has said. The union has thrown its weight behind calls for a more ambitious legal floor on pay rates and said the government needed to draw up plans to get wages rising as workers suffer the biggest hit to living standards on record. It said too many workers were living “wage packet to wage packet”, and a £15 minimum should be in place by at least 2030 but could be achieved sooner “with a government that was serious about getting wages rising after years of sluggish pay growth”. The minimum wage is now set at £9.50 for those aged 23 and over, with lower rates for those who are younger. Strike action has spread across the economy during a summer of unrest, as workers see the real value of their wages cut by inflation soaring to the highest level in 40 years. In a report setting out its plan, the TUC called on the government to work with the Low Pay Commission to reach the level “as soon as possible over time”. Ministers need to put in place a target for the minimum wage to reach the equivalent of 75% of median pay, the TUC said, an upgrade on the current plan to hit two-thirds of median pay by 2024. Median wages are now £14.85 an hour. However, business leaders are worried about rising costs and the prospect of a long recession caused by the cost of living crisis. Matthew Percival, the CBI’s director of skills and inclusion, said: “Business supports a higher wage economy, but the only sustainable path – not only for those earning the minimum wage, but right across the economy – is higher productivity.” A government spokesperson said it was helping families with rising costs, adding: “We are determined to make work pay, and this year’s increase is the largest ever ‘national living wage’ rise, helping millions of families across the country.”
Fish and chip shops ‘facing extinction’, industry body to meet with government today: Fish and chip shops are facing “extinction” amid the soaring price of cod, sunflower oil and energy, an industry body has warned. The National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF) is urging the government to cut VAT and help shops battling a tide of rising costs with their energy bills. The federation has secured a meeting with ministers today (Thursday, 25 August) to further its plea for help. NFFF president Andrew Crook said about two thirds (66%) of shops had reduced opening hours to save money, equating to a fall in staffing levels of four people per shop. He added: “Unfortunately, this is potentially an extinction event for small businesses. It’s like nothing we've ever seen before.” A government spokesman said it is supporting businesses of all sizes and last year created the UK Seafood Fund, which was earlier this month extended to 2025 after delivering funding to various projects promoting sustainable fishing. He said: “We are working closely with industry to mitigate the impact our sanctions against Russia may have on British businesses, including through the creation of the £100m UK Seafood Fund. We’re already supporting businesses of all sizes by slashing fuel duty, introducing a 50% business rates relief for eligible high street businesses and put the brakes on bill increases by freezing the business rates multiplier, worth £4.6bn over the next five years.” Craig Williams, from Sand Bay Fish and Chip Shop near Weston-super-Mare, told the BBC the situation was worse than during the pandemic. “People were coming in to spend their money when they were furloughed,” he said. “People had money in their pockets, people are penny-pinching now, so fish and chips might not be top of their priority list on a Friday night.” Jason Ford, from Bishopston Fish Bar in Gloucester Road in Bristol, said the shop has already raised its prices three times this year. He said business had dropped by about 30% during the same period, but added “we’re still going”.
Zonal becomes second Platinum sponsor for Hospitality Rising: Hospitality technology provider Zonal has become the second Platinum sponsor to back major recruitment campaign, Hospitality Rising – including providing marketing support for the initiative. The family-owned business will be supporting the campaign as it looks to solve the industry’s staffing crisis and revolutionise the way people view careers in the sector by creating what is being dubbed the world’s biggest hospitality recruitment drive. By encouraging venues and brands to pledge £10 for each employee, the campaign hopes to raise £5m to drive marketing and recruitment across the industry. Zonal follows Coca-Cola European Partners in becoming a Platinum sponsor. Olivia FitzGerald, chief sales and marketing officer at Zonal, said: “The team at Zonal has partnered with hospitality businesses since the company was founded more than 40 years ago, and like our customers, we’re proud to be part of a sector that puts people at the heart of all it does. Recruitment is a huge concern for the industry today, so it was clear we needed to back Hospitality Rising – working with operators to tackle the challenge with one voice and making hospitality the career of choice for young jobseekers.” Mark McCulloch, founder of Hospitality Rising and campaign director, added: “By coming together and simply investing a small portion of our budgets into driving forward this major recruitment campaign, we can ensure the industry flourishes once again and gains the recognition it truly deserves. We are grateful for this latest backing from Zonal and to all the other fantastic investors that have pledged their support. There has never been a more crucial time than now to work towards a brighter future for all of those in hospitality.”
Liquidators seek buyers for craft ale haul following collapse of Manchester brewer: Buyers are being sought for a huge stock of beer brewed by a defunct Manchester craft brewer that ceased trading in April last year. Liquidators at Begbies Traynor in Manchester said there are approximately 300 barrels of beer and hundreds of cans of craft ale left over following the collapse of brewery Beatnikz Republic Brewing Co. It amounts to an estimated 20,000 pints ready to be pulled. The beer, currently sat in a bonded warehouse near Strangeways, consists of a mix of craft ale including IPA's, pale ale, stout and specialist fruit-based beer. Paul Stanley and Jason Greenhalgh, of Begbies Traynor in Manchester, have been appointed as joint liquidators of Beatnikz Republic Brewing Co. They said the stock is a good opportunity for someone in the trade as they seek to recover funds for creditors of the company. Stanley said: “Plenty of the beer has a 2023 best before date. Buyers would have to collect the barrels and kegs and the price of the beer reflects this logistical challenge. This beer was commonly retailing at around £6 a pint in the Northern Quarter but we're looking for around £1 a pint, which includes the duty that needs to be paid.” Beatnikz Republic Brewing Co collapsed after being hit by the impact of lockdown restrictions, rising transport costs and inflation.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a client looking for a marketing director. A COREcruitment spokesman said: “This role will develop and implement the overall marketing and communications strategy, with assistance from the wider department and agencies. The role will focus on strategic input on the wider company strategy, with an opportunity to implement some exciting growth changes. The business is seeking someone creative, innovative, and agile in their approach, but also pivotal in ensuring the business’ proposition is always seen as exciting and relevant to customers.” The salary is up to £100,000 and based in London. For more information, email

Company News:

Trust Inns acquires sixth site of 2022, four more in advanced stages of purchase: North west pub company Trust Inns, which is owned by the family interests of the late Trevor Hemmings, has acquired its sixth site this year, Propel has learned. Trust Inns has added the Punchbowl in Cleethorpes to its 344-strong portfolio. The company said the pub, based in a prime waterfront spot, “is a perfect fit for Trust Inns’ leased and tenanted model with a strong offer and great local support”. Trust Inns aims to complete a minimum of ten acquisitions this year, with four more outlets already in advanced stages of purchase. Mark Brown, managing director at Trust Inns, said: “Trust Inns thrives on running successful community pubs and sees great opportunity to develop and grow its estate over the coming months. We are delighted with our acquisitions so far and believe they are an excellent addition to our existing portfolio.” This week, Trust Inns reported a return to profit. Turnover increased to £37,928,000 for the year ending 31 March 2022, compared with £15,381,000 the year before. The business saw a pre-tax profit of £5,606,000 compared with a loss of £9,101,000 the previous year.
Rare Restaurants plans Cardiff opening for Gaucho: Rare Restaurants, the Martin Williams-led operator of the Gaucho and M Restaurants brands, is eyeing an opening in Cardiff for the former brand, Propel understands. The company, which earlier this year secured a new Gaucho site in Liverpool, as it set out a new five-year growth plan, has applied to open a restaurant at The Hayes, in Cardiff city centre. The business, which already has openings in Newcastle and Canary Wharf lined up for this year, is set to open in the former Martins Bank headquarters in Water Street, Liverpool, in the third quarter. It opened a Gaucho in Glasgow earlier this year. Williams told Propel earlier this year the group’s new growth strategy could see it opening up to 30 new sites across the UK. Williams said the company, which before his time operated the now-defunct CAU brand, would not look at doing a smaller sister concept, but would look more toward how The Ivy has been successfully rolled out. He said: “We are probably 15%-20% more expensive but with people looking for a more premium experience I believe there is an opportunity for Gaucho to go into more markets. We will look at further opportunities in London but also in the likes of Cardiff, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, St Albans, Cheltenham, Belfast and Dublin.” The company will open its third M Restaurant next month in Canary Wharf. 
Whitbread to invest more than £200m in new hub by Premier Inn as it secures the Strand site: Whitbread has secured a freehold property in the Strand in central London for its latest hub by Premier Inn hotel. Subject to planning permission, 5 Strand will be transformed into a hub by Premier Inn with Bar + Block steakhouse restaurant. The purchase and development are being funded from the group's existing cash resources with the hotel expected to open sometime during 2027. Whitbread stated: “With a total investment of more than £200m, including construction and related costs, this development reflects our commitment to continue to invest in expanding our presence in the popular London market where a significant proportion of Premier Inn's future pipeline is located. The purchase also underlines the group's confidence in the hub by Premier Inn brand. The brand was first introduced in 2014 and now has a total of 2,431 open rooms that performed strongly in FY22 and continue to score highly with our guests. The brand is designed for locations in major cities where property prices are relatively high but, thanks to its smaller room format, is still able to generate attractive long-term returns while providing affordable rooms for guests.” Chief executive Alison Brittain said: “I'm delighted we've been able to acquire this iconic location, which is set to become our latest hub by Premier Inn hotel. The purchase reinforces our confidence in the long term potential of the London market, the hub by Premier Inn brand and the growth prospects of our UK business.”
Nightcap secures Canary Wharf site for The Cocktail Club: Nightcap, the owner of The Cocktail Club, the Adventure Bar Group and the Barrio Familia group of bars, has secured another new opening for The Cocktail Club in Canary Wharf, London. The ground floor site located at 9 Cabot Square comprises an indoor area of about 1,600 square feet, in addition to an outside terrace area, a 2am licence daily with an unrestricted capacity of 160. The venue will open later this year. The opening will be the seventh for The Cocktail Club since it was acquired by Nightcap and takes the total number of The Cocktail Club sites to 17. Nightcap now has 36 sites within its estate and a further 20 premises under offer or in legal negotiations for all its brands. Sarah Willingham, chief executive of Nightcap, said: “With our first site in Canary Wharf for Nightcap, we are sticking to our strategy of taking The Cocktail Club to prime locations across the country. Canary Wharf has become a key location for hospitality over the past few years, developing a vibrant mixed community of bars and restaurants. With the uplift in footfall at Canary Wharf from the recently opened Elizabeth line, it is only going to make the estate busier and more accessible to large communities inside and outside of London. We have seen the success of our recently opened sites in other prime locations such as Exeter and Cardiff in the past months, and with another new site about to open in Birmingham in September and now Canary Wharf, it is testament to the hard work of the entire team.” Nightcap has also completed its £10m debt refinancing facility with HSBC, following the fulfilment of all conditions.
SSP to bring Starbucks and Burger King to Berlin Brandenburg airport: UK-based transport hub foodservice specialist SSP Group is to strengthen its presence in the German market by bringing Starbucks and Burger King to the Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt airport terminal one. Starbucks and Burger King will both feature as part of the airport’s mezzanine airside food-court. The Burger King unit will span 329 square metres and seat 125 customers, while the Starbucks coffee shop will occupy 104 square metres, seating 28 people. An additional Burger King restaurant with a 285 square metre footprint and seating for 126 diners will open landside. These outlets will welcome their first customers in May 2023 and employ a total of 75 full-time team members. Both brands will feature digital menu boards that change according to the time of day. At Burger King, customers can use self-ordering technology including 12 terminals available airside and another ten landside. Jeremy Fennell, chief executive of SSP continental Europe, said: “SSP already has an established business in Berlin, with operations in motorway services and Berlin rail. Winning this new contract at Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt airport is an excellent next step, building on this success as we continue to serve the Berlin travelling consumer.” Aletta von Massenbach, chief executive of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg, added: “Burger King and Starbucks are an excellent fit with the existing range of food and beverage options at our airport. We are looking forward to a great partnership with SSP.”
North east doughnut concept set to grow to five sites, including first opening outside region: North east doughnut concept Harry's Handcrafted Doughnuts is set to grow to five sites in the coming weeks, including a first opening outside the region. The company currently operates stores in Darlington and Newcastle, and will expand outside the north east for the first time for its third site, in a vacant unit at Ipswich's Sailmakers Shopping Centre. It will then return to the region for further openings in Gosforth and Middlesbrough. The venture was launched during lockdown as an online delivery business by Jack Beadle and Richard Bridge. “We have been looking for suitable premises in Ipswich for a while,” said Beadle. “The fact we had the excellent opportunity to take on an additional kitchen area close by really helped to seal the deal. We can't wait to bring our tasty treats to the people of Suffolk.” Harry's Handcrafted Doughnuts is a sister business to Beadle’s urban axe throwing concept Hatchet Harry’s, which opened its seventh site in May, in Derby, and has a further opening in Brighton in the pipeline. It is also believed to be in talks for a site in Reading.
Coal Shed and Burnt Orange team to open new Italian restaurant next month: Black Rock Restaurant Group, which owns The Salt Room and Burnt Orange in Brighton, as well as two Coal Shed restaurants in London and Brighton, will launch its new Italian restaurant in the south coast city next month. Founder Razak Helalat will open the doors to the Tutto, which promises an “informal atmosphere in traditional Italian style”, on Thursday, 15 September. The menu will “bring together the best of regional Italian cuisine made with simple, seasonal ingredients” and will be headed up by head chef Mirella Pau, previously of London Italian restaurants Cafe Murano and Padella. It will include seafood risotto with datterini tomatoes and amalfi lemon; salt hake with panzanella sauce, ortiz anchovy and basil; and veal cutlet Milanese with rocket, pecorino and roasted San Marzano tomatoes. There will also be a 90-bottle list of Italian wine sitting alongside classic cocktails and a separate menu of spritzes and negronis. The 70-cover restaurant will be set in a grade II-listed 1930’s former bank and will also have a theatre kitchen, while a further 30 covers will be provided on an outside terrace.
Slim Chickens applies to open in Plymouth: Boparan Restaurant Group (BRG) has applied to open the 28th restaurant under its Slim Chickens brand, in Plymouth. Propel reported earlier this year that Plymouth was one of the cities BRG was in talks to open a site in, as it continues its pipeline of openings. It has now submitted plans to open in the former Cafe Thorntons site in New George Street. The 27th Slim Chickens opened earlier this month in a Tesco Extra store in Redditch, the first under a new partnership with the retailer. In July, BRG opened four new restaurants under the Slim Chickens brand and said it plans to be operating 350 restaurants in Britain under the US brand in the next few years.
Tim Hortons to open drive-thru site in Aintree: Canadian quick service restaurant brand Tim Hortons is set to open a drive-thru site in Aintree, Merseyside. SK Group, which is leading the rollout of Tim Hortons in the UK, will launch the outlet at Aintree Shopping Park later this year, creating 50 jobs. Kevin Hydes, chief commercial officer of the Tim Hortons franchise in the UK, said: “Our arrival in Merseyside is a momentous occasion for us as fans in the Liverpool area have made it one of the most requested locations we have had.” Earlier this month, Tim Hortons opened its first UK dark kitchen, in London’s Kentish Town. The brand has circa 60 UK outlets and has plans to add about another 30 locations here by the end of 2022.
The Gym Group opens 18th Scottish site: The Gym Group, the operator of 218 gyms across the UK, has opened a site in Glenrothes, Fife. It is the company’s 18th outlet in Scotland and is being opened with The Gym Group’s new branding, launched this month. The 9,080 square-foot gym is on North Street Retail Park. The opening is part of the group’s expansion strategy, which will see it open 28 new gyms in 2022, with the ambition to reach 300 sites by 2025. Oliver Tester, property acquisition director, said: “Our mission is to provide affordable fitness to as many people across the UK as possible and we look forward to continuing to expand our presence and open our doors in more new communities.”
Taco Bell lines up Ipswich site: Mexican restaurant brand Taco Bell is lining up a site in Ipswich. The company plans to occupy the former Carphone Warehouse site in Anglia Parkway South, which has been vacant since December 2021. The wider property has already been developed and seen a “high degree of success” following full occupation. Plans have been lodged with Ipswich Borough Council to convert the only remaining vacant plot to a restaurant and drive-thru unit for Taco Bell. Last week, Taco Bell opened its 100th UK site when franchisee Adil Group opened a restaurant in Spalding, Lincolnshire. Taco Bell has since added outlets in Torquay and Hornchurch in Essex to its portfolio.
Merkur Slots submits plans for Newcastle casino: Merkur Slots has submitted plans to transform a vacant former bank in Newcastle into a casino. The application lodged with the city council relates to the ground floor of 1-3 Haymarket. Merkur Slots is the main UK brand of Merkur Casino UK, formerly Praesepe, which is a subsidiary of the family-run Gauselmann Group. The German group operates more than 700 venues across Europe and under the Merkur brand. The proposed venue would operate 24-hours with the company planning to invest between £100,000 and £250,000 into the venue. A letter accompanying the application said the benefit of the proposal would be the “complementary nature of its use alongside other uses in the retail cluster”, adding it has the “potential to generate linked trips to stimulate additional footfall”.
Wingstop to open largest UK site to date next week: Lemon Pepper Holdings, which is rolling out Wingstop across the UK, is to open the largest site to date here under US chicken brand next week. The 3,500 square-foot, 130-cover site will open in Manchester’s Trafford Centre on Wednesday, 31 August, with expectations of being the brand’s highest volume site worldwide. Earlier this month, it also applied to open a restaurant in the former TSB Bank site in London Road, Southend. Propel understands Wingstop UK, which earlier this summer secured a new multimillion-pound debt facility to aid the further roll of the concept here, is also set to shortly announce five new restaurant locations. Wingstop currently operates 22 sites here, comprising a mixture of bricks-and-mortar sites, under which the five new sites will be, and dark kitchens. The company, which recently opened in Nottingham, also has openings lined up in Brighton and Wood Green, plus a new delivery kitchen unit in Leeds. The UK business has 15 openings slated for 2022.
Essex African and Caribbean restaurant eyes second site: Essex African and Caribbean restaurant BK90 Restaurant and Lounge has applied to open a second site. Owner Alaba Ibikunie Ologun has applied to convert a former newsagent and In the Mood for Food cafe in Elmer Gardens, Rainham, into a second restaurant. He plans to retain much of the cafe and develop the adjacent newsagent into a seating area, reports the Romford Recorder.
The Real Greek to open Gloucester restaurant next month: The Real Greek, the Fulham Shore-owned brand, is to open a site in Gloucester next month. As revealed by Propel in April, The Real Greek is launching in the former Carluccio’s site at Gloucester Quays. It will become the 25th site to open under The Real Greek brand and 12th outside the capital. Last month, Fulham Shore chairman David Page said The Real Greek business was “absolutely flying”. He said: “It means we believe we can open 70 of them in the UK. We just opened two stores in Manchester and they’re doing £45,000 to £50,000 a week, which was way above what we thought they were going to do. And the new Norwich site is a stormer as well. So, the last four or five Real Greek openings have really sort of changed our outlook on what is possible. The work we have done with Michelin-starred chef Nikos Karathanos has helped improve the menu, and we’ve kept the prices as low, you can still have lunch for £7.95 for three mezzes.”

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