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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 2nd Apr 2024 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

The Salad Project plans to reach 20 sites in London by 2026, raises £1m toward expansion: The Salad Project, the all-day dining concept that launched in London in 2021, is looking to open a further 16 sites in the capital over the next two years. The company was launched just before the pandemic by Florian de Chezelles and James Dare, who met at the EHL Hospitality Business School in Lausanne, and currently operates sites in Spitalfields, Old Street, Oxford Circus, and in Watling Street in the City. The latter site opened earlier this year under a new Spaces format – “a digital ordering-only, ultra-convenient version of our concept catering to our loyal City customers”. Speaking at Propel’s Multi-Club Conference, De Chezelles said the company, which scooped a £100,000 prize for winning top restaurant in the inaugural Uber Eats UK & Ireland Restaurant of the Year Awards, has recently fundraised £1m to aid its expansion plans. He said that the business invested £500,000 per location, with sites cash generative within two months. He added the group’s Oxford Street site was generating average weekly sales of circa £75,000. He said: “We grew to a £9m run rate in February, which is three times growth on last year and we are a profitable business at headquarter level, which is going to help us massively with our growth over the next few years. We've got a replicable underlying model. The stores generate cash incredibly quickly, with the return on investment, up until this point, never longer than a year and a half. We've managed to build a loyal customer base. People get hooked on the product. We also have a clear short-term path in front of us with the desire to keep growing in London by opening bricks-and-mortar stores. There are still so many people who have never heard of The Salad Project and who would welcome a healthy lunch that has decent value for money. So, we'd like to be opening five locations between now and next February, and think we can get to 20 locations by the end of 2026. Our desire is to grow in London. Once we've equipped ourselves with the right team, we'd love to be able to continue to grow in the UK, as we think it falls short in comparison with other countries in terms of healthy eating. We think there's lots of room to grow.” On the new Spaces format, which opened at the end of January, De Chezelles said: “It is too early to draw conclusions as to whether or not this is an absolute success. But so far so good. People seem to enjoy it, they aren't too traumatised by the experience and it will be a really important piece of discovery for us to look at what the future is made up of and can we start opening more smaller footprint stores like this in super dense areas like all the City, etc.” De Chezelles was among the speakers at the Propel Multi-Club Conference and Premium Club members will receive access to all 12 videos from the conference on Friday (5 April) at 9am. A Premium Club subscription costs an annual sum of £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Premium Club for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. Email kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com today to sign up.

Industry News:

M&B divisional director Susan Chappell to speak at Excellence in Pub & Bar Retailing Conference, open for bookings with 20% discount on tickets for Premium Club members: Susan Chappell, divisional director at Mitchells & Butlers (M&B), will be among the speakers at the Excellence in Pub & Bar Retailing Conference. The all-day conference takes place on Tuesday, 14 May at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. Chappell, who is responsible for the All Bar One, Browns, Nicholson’s and Castle estates, which have an annual turnover of £500m, will highlight how M&B is evolving its business to stay abreast of trends in digital and premiumisation, and how its business transformational programme Ignite is delivering ongoing improvements. For the full speaker schedule, click here. Tickets are £295 plus VAT for operators and £395 plus VAT for suppliers. There is a 20% discount for operators and suppliers who are Premium Club members. Email: kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com to book places.
 
Premium Club members to receive next New Openings Database and videos from Propel Multi-Club Conference on Friday: The next Propel New Openings Database and the videos from Propel’s March Multi-Club Conference will be sent to Premium Club members on Friday (5 April). The database features openings by casual dining operators such as Pho, the Vietnamese restaurant group, which is launching sites in London and Norwich. Meanwhile, Japanese-inspired The Blue Pelican is opening in Deal in Kent and the Medlock Canteen debuts at the New Jackson scheme, at Manchester’s southern gateway. The database is published on a monthly basis and Premium Club members will also receive a 3,200-word report on the 54 new additions to the database. Premium Club members will also receive all the videos from the Propel Multi-Club Conference at 9am on Friday. They will include Raja Adil, group chief executive of the Adil Group, talking about building one of the largest family-owned quick service restaurant operators in the UK; and Sir Tim Martin, founder and chairman of JD Wetherspoon, discussing the current state of the UK pub market and the evolution of its offer. Premium Club members also receive access to five other databases: the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, the New Openings Database, the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database and the Who’s Who of UK Hospitality. Plus, all members will be offered a 20% discount on tickets to five Propel paid-for events – The Excellence in Pub Retailing Conference (14 May), Social Media for Profit (18 July), the Talent and Training Conference (1 October) and Restaurant Marketer and Innovator (two days in January 2025). Operators will also be able to send up to four members of staff to each of our four Multi-Club Conferences for free. Premium Club members receive their daily Propel Info newsletter 11 hours earlier than standard subscribers, at 7pm the evening before. They also receive videos of presentations at eight Propel conference events two weeks after they are held. This represents around 100 videos of industry insight over the course of the year. Premium Club members will be sent a dedicated monthly newsletter that will highlight key updates in the sector and direct subscribers to all the vital content their membership offers. Premium Club members also receive exclusive opinion columns every Friday at 5pm, which include the thoughts of Propel group editor Mark Wingett and a host of industry leaders from across the sector. A Premium Club subscription costs an annual sum of £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Premium Club for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. Email kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com today to sign up.
 
UKHospitality – sector facing £3.4bn Budget hangover: Significant increases to payroll costs and business rates that have now taken effect jeopardise crucial investment in the hospitality sector, UKHospitality has warned. The association said the failure to tackle costs on hospitality businesses in the Budget means the financial investment needed to deliver forecasted industry growth of 6% a year is at risk. It said almost two-thirds of the sector’s annual £5.4bn investment in growth could be diverted into paying the new payroll and business rates costs. It said: “Increases to the national minimum wage and national living wage will see the sector’s wage bill increase by £3.2bn. As a sector reliant on its workforce, employment costs make up more than half of operating costs and hospitality pays £40bn in wages and employment taxes. Increases to business rates add up to £224m. The tax on property heavily penalises community-based businesses, like hospitality.” After a “collective failure” to act in Budgets in Westminster, Edinburgh and Cardiff, UKHospitality is calling on all governments to rebalance the costs that hospitality businesses pay and reduce its cost burden so they can make the investments needed to grow and create communities in which people want to live, work and invest. It said the three quickest levers government can pull are fix business rates – replace short-term solutions with a permanently reduced business rates multiplier for hospitality, leisure and high-street retail sectors at a rate of 30p in the pound; employment costs – support businesses to introduce the record increase in the national living wage by temporarily reducing the rate of employer national insurance contributions; and reduce the rate of VAT on hospitality, leisure and tourism to 12.5%, “returning to the effective policy during the pandemic and matching the average of our continental competitors”. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “Every day, hospitality is serving Britain. It’s serving the nation with good food, drink and experiences, as well as contributing £140bn in revenue, £54bn in tax receipts and providing three and a half million people with jobs. All of those benefits to Britain, our lives and communities are put at risk by the £3.4bn Budget hangover hitting the sector. Businesses can’t find £3.4bn easily – that’s the cost of a billion cups of coffee. The money they want to put towards investment in growth will have to be spent keeping their doors open. Our sector firmly believes in paying people a good wage that reflects their value and importance to what we do. But we need healthy and profitable businesses to do that, supported by regulation that doesn’t penalise a community-based sector. Governments across Britain have levers they can pull to help businesses keep serving Britain. They can, and should, fix business rates, ease employment costs and reduce VAT. I would urge them to pull these levers quickly.”

High Street coffee prices rise by a third: High Street coffee prices have risen by a third, new research has found. The Sunday Times reported that the cost of a medium latte rose up by 30% between 2021 and the start of 2024, according to data from the global manufacturer UCC Coffee. In Buckinghamshire, where the research was conducted, a medium latte cost £2.75 at a Pret A Manger in 2021, but had risen to £3.60 by the start of this year. Costa Coffee, Starbucks and Caffè Nero all had similar price rises. According to Mintel, the market research analyst, the number of regular coffee drinkers who bought a caffeinated beverage from a shop fell from 89% in October 2022 to 83% in October last year. Findings from its survey revealed most customers today chose price over brand. Trish Caddy, a food industry analyst at Mintel, said there was “a tendency to shift away from branded coffee shops towards cheaper alternatives, such as barista-style drinks offered at supermarket cafés”. A spokesman for Caffè Nero, which offers the lowest prices among the big coffee chains, told the Sunday Times its “pricing is a reflection of the extensive costs our business now faces to operate”. Meanwhile, Starbucks said some of its prices had “seen adjustments as a result of increased input costs and operating expenses experienced by the wider industry”, while Costa Coffee said it had faced significant inflationary pressure over the past 18 months.
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a fine-dining restaurant business that is seeking a general manager. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “The ideal candidate will have experience as a senior general manager or operations manager within a smaller establishment, ideally with a track record of managing high-volume sites and high net worth individuals.” The salary is up to £90,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email kate@corecruitment.com.
 

Company News:

Sky News – Adnams open to sale: Suffolk brewer and retailer Adnams is to explore an outright sale amid a funding squeeze across the brewing industry that has triggered a growing wave of insolvencies. Sky News reported that Adnams has begun contacting prospective investors and buyers after hiring advisers earlier this year to shore up its finances. A source close to Adnams acknowledged that a full sale of the company was now an option, having indicated last month that it was not under consideration. They insisted, however, that Adnams' preferred routes to raising capital remained a funding injection from a high-net-worth investor or family office. The sale of some of its freehold assets from its estate of pubs and inns would also be considered, they added. The objective of the plan is said to be to raise capital to pay down bank debt and fund further growth initiatives. Advisers from Alvarez & Marsal are working with Adnams, which remains partly owned by members of its founding family. Last week, Adnams announced the appointment of chief financial officer Jenny Hanlon as its new chief executive. Hanlon, who will take up her new role following the company’s annual general meeting in June, will become the company’s first female chief executive in its 150-year history. Hanlon will succeed Andy Wood, who will remain with the business until the end of the year in a consultancy capacity before retiring.
 
Megan’s – business maintains its impressive growth trajectory, strong pipeline secured for 2024: Megan’s, the all-day, neighbourhood restaurant concept, has told Propel that the business is maintaining its “impressive growth trajectory”, with a “strong pipeline” of new openings secured for this year. The company, which will open its 20th site next month in London’s Twickenham, reiterated that its revenues are set to surpass £30m by March 2024. It said that site Ebitda is on track to exceed 22%, while company Ebitda stands at “a solid 16%”. It comes as the business reported an increase in annual turnover of 17% for the year to 31 March 2023 to £26,457,133 (2022: £22,700,869), with like-for-like sales growth of 1.5%. The company said that this growth was supported by the successful opening of four new sites during the financial year – in Marlow, East Dulwich, Welwyn Garden City and Richmond. Adjusted Ebitda for the year stood at £2.7m (2022: £4.3m), which it said represented a 10.1% adjusted Ebitda margin. It also posted a pre-tax loss of £1,988,731 (2022: pre-tax profit of £1,076,846). The business saw a 2.8% margin reduction driven from food inflation and 3% from electricity inflation. The company said: “The reduction in adjusted Ebitda from 2022 is largely reflective of the cessation of covid government, VAT and business rate support in the 2023 year. Whilst cost of goods and electricity saw inflationary increases in 2023, the business was able to reduce other operating lines, notably labour, by 5.6%.” Gill Clements, finance director at Megan’s, said: “With an improved market backdrop, our continued success is owed to our high-quality offerings, all-day trading model, and exceptional teams. Thanks to our strong performance and financial stability, we're able to invest in our business and we have a strong pipeline secured for 2024, with our next site in Twickenham due to open in May. Additionally, we're thrilled to share that we're making our biggest investment in team pay, reflecting our ongoing commitment to our dedicated team and being a best-in-class employer.”
 
Pubs in RedCat subsidiary placed into administration revealed: The ten pubs that make up RedCat Leased Pubs (RCLP), the subsidiary of RedCat Pub Company, which has been placed into administration, have been revealed, with the majority based in the south east. Propel revealed last week that Nick Holloway and Steve Absolom, of Interpath Advisory, had been appointed as joint administrators to RCLP, after RedCat Pub Company, the investment vehicle founded and chaired by Rooney Anand, carried out a strategic review of its business. All other RedCat group entities continue to trade as normal. Interpath said RCLP has been impacted by the wider challenges facing the pub sector, notably, recovery since covid-related lockdowns, changing consumer habits and the cost-of-living crisis. Pre-tax losses at RCLP increased from £1,493,453 in the year to 3 April 2022 to £6,586,002 last year, while turnover stood at £5,271,021 (£3,155,813). The joint administrators were appointed after the loss-making business was unable to meet its financial obligations. Interpath has commenced a process to market the leases, business and assets of all of the pubs. The three tenanted sites will continue to trade together with two of the managed sites. Upon appointment, the remaining five sites have been closed. RCLP has no employees. Sites that remain open under sub-tenant agreements are the Garden Farm (Carlingford Road, Chester-le-Street, County Durham), Railway Tavern (The Market Square, Edmonton, north London), and the Cumberland Arms (North End Road, Kensington, west London). The managed sites that remain open are The Bull Inn (Barming, Maidstone, Kent), and The Occasional Half (Palmers Green, Enfield, north London). The five closures are The Redback (Fulham Road, Fulham, west London), the Chiltern Taps (Oxford Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire), the Elmbridge Arms (High Street, Weybridge, Surrey), The Gatehouse (High Street, Tonbridge, Kent), and the Colton Arms (Greyhound Road, West Kensington, west London). Holloway said: “Financial challenges have weighed heavily on the company in recent years, which rendered it unable to continue in its current form. The administration now provides a period in which we can undertake a marketing process to explore a sale of business and assets of the pubs either individually or as a group. Regrettably, the financial position of the business means that five sites have now closed.” RedCat Pub Company plans to exit more than a fifth of its 114-strong estate after a strategic review of its business. Alongside RCLP, a further group of five sites within RedCat's managed division will also be marketed for sale in the coming weeks, taking the total potential number of managed sites for sale to 14. This takes the total number of sites the group plans to exit to 24.

Bubble tea concept founded by Sushimania CEO looking to add at least two more London sites in 2024, in talks over franchising opportunities in UAE: Bubble tea concept Pürcha, founded by Sushimania chief executive Paul Cheung, is looking to add at least two more sites in London this year and in talks about franchising opportunities in the UAE, Propel has learned. Cheung launched Pürcha last year after seeing long queues for bubble tea in Chinatown and has opened sites in Croydon and Holborn, with an outlet in Charing Cross launching imminently. Pürcha serves drinks brewed fresh to order and claims to be the only bubble tea business that uses purified mineral water in its process. Customers can also pick their percentage of ice and sugar that’s added to their drink. Pürcha also offers Taiwanese fried chicken that can be seasoned with flavours such as salt and pepper, and plum. A spokesperson told Propel: “Pürcha has great expansion plans and is set to open a further two stores at least in the capital this year. After these new locations, Paul hopes to look into franchising and is already speaking with representatives in the UAE for franchise locations.” Cheung said he was inspired to bring a better form of bubble tea to Londoners after seeing the bubble tea boom but being unimpressed by offerings in the capital. Originally from Hong Kong, he moved to London when he was a child and graduated from university in London in 1987 after studying business. He started his first restaurant offering Chinese cuisine in Enfield in his early 20s and has also owned a bakery chain and been involved in multiple food businesses over the years. He remains chief executive of Sushimania, which operates nine sites across the UK.
 
Chipotle makes changes to international team structure as Jim Slater steps down: Jim Slater has stepped down as Chipotle’s chief international officer, Propel has learned. Anat Davidzon, formerly Chipotle managing director, Canada, has been promoted to managing director, international, overseeing both Canada and Europe, including the UK. Jacob Sumner remains director of European operations, reporting to Davidzon. Slater joined Chipotle in September 2016 as managing director of its European operations, including overseeing its growth in the UK, before being promoted to chief international officer in April 2022. Prior to that he was at Costa Coffee, where he was managing director UK & Ireland for just over two years. Chipotle operates 20 sites in the UK – 18 in London plus one each in Watford and Guildford – having opened its latest outlet in the capital, in Tottenham Court Road, last week.
 
Backer of Bird and two Michelin-starred Midsummer House sees losses widen after making £1,832,828 loss on deconsolidation: Crown Partnership, the backer of the five-strong fried chicken and waffle chain Bird, saw its losses widen in the year to 31 July 2023 after making a £1,832,828 loss on deconsolidation. Holding company Crown Holdings, which also operates the two Michelin-starred Midsummer House restaurant in Cambridge, saw its pre-tax losses widen from £430,578 in 2022 to £1,011,233. Turnover for the period dropped from £17,036,377 to £15,795,284 during the period. It follows the placing of several subsidiaries into voluntary liquidation during the previous year – Inspirational Bar and Restaurants, Seasoned Restaurants and Tate and Morgan. The company said its revenue in 2022 when removing the turnover of the deconsolidated former group companies was £13,564,000. It added that its pre-tax loss turns into a profit of £821,000 when adding back in the expectational losses resulting from the deconsolidation. No government grants were received compared with £92,895 in 2022. Dividends of £282,000 were paid (2022: £140,423). “The partnership has, and remains, focused on maintaining margins and controlling overhead costs wherever possible, while focusing on material growth in its two main businesses, Seasoned Events and Seasoned Venues,” said director Dale Storrer. “Despite the pre-planned decision to divest a number of group companies during the early part of 2023 and the consequential impact to Crown Holdings, both the businesses under the ‘Seasoned’ brand have continued to perform well in a highly competitive market. 2023 saw Seasoned Venues secure two new contracts, with a new contract for Seasoned Events having started in early 2024. The partnership will continue to grow turnover and trade its way out of the restrictions of previous years, expecting a strong return of the hospitality sector. Profits are expected to return in 2024 to levels achieved historically.”

Mountain Pub Company buys three JD Wetherspoon sites: Mountain Pub Company, which runs seven community pubs in the north of England, has bought a package of three JD Wetherspoon pubs. The pubs are Mockbeggars Hall, Wirral, Merseyside; the White Hart, White Hart Fold, Todmorden, West Yorkshire; and the Sir Norman Rae, Market Square, Shipley, West Yorkshire. Richard Tole, director at WTS Property Consultants, who assisted Mountain complete the deal, said: “They are an excellent addition to its growing estate and I'm excited to see the transformation of these pubs in the coming weeks and wish Helen Standing and the team at Mountain Pub Company all the best with the upcoming relaunches.” 

Greater Manchester better burger concept prepares to open four franchise stores in Scotland: Greater Manchester better burger concept Side Street Burgers is preparing to open four new franchise stores in Scotland. Founded by Josh Ryan in 2020, Side Street Burgers currently has sites in Rochdale, Manchester, Reading along with Upton Park and Walthamstow in east London and Bonnyrigg in Scotland. “On behalf of Side Street Burgers, I am finally pleased to announce that we are preparing to open not one, not two, not even three but four new franchise sites in Scotland,” said franchise consultant Krishma Vaghela. “The four sites, three of which are quick service restaurants and the other a dark kitchen (with a significant difference), will start opening after the Ramadan and Easter holiday period. Keep watching this space for location announcements in April. For now, I shall leave you with the launch of the very first site in Scotland, in Bonnyrigg. This store has exceeded all expectations in terms of turnover, and that’s prior to the introduction of the new American barbecue menu.” Ryan previously said he was aiming to open nine new stores in 2024, all through multi-unit franchise operators.
 
Former Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing chef creates new hospitality group and adds two new venues: An award-winning chef who worked under Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing has created a new hospitality group and added two new venues to his portfolio. Adebola Adeshina has launched umbrella company the Heritage Social Group, under which his existing sites, The Chubby Castor and The Yard Castor, will sit. The Michelin Guide-listed The Chubby Castor in Castor, near Peterborough, was last year awarded its third AA rosette, while plans are underway for an undercover heated area to allow The Yards Castor, located next door to its sister restaurant, to remain open all year round. Joining them will be an artisan bakery and cafe, located over two floors in Grantham Market Place in Lincolnshire, opening this spring. Westgate Bakery will “use the finest ingredients from local suppliers” to offer focaccia sandwiches, poké bowls and contemporary food to go, as well as a 60-seater cafe serving hot and cold drinks all day. Following this, opening in 2025 will be Westgate 1852, a brasserie serving modern dishes in a relaxed and informal setting at the historic Westgate Hall in Grantham. It will offer a 70-seater restaurant downstairs, a private dining room for 40 guests, a cocktail bar, lounge, wine shop and open kitchens. Adeshina will install new teams into the venues, having overall management of all four, and will create an additional 30 jobs. He said: “Significant investment is going into the regeneration of Grantham, and we are thrilled to be part of it. We believe in this Lincolnshire town and see the opportunities its renaissance provides. That’s why we are creating two new vibrant eateries for local people to enjoy, and that we are confident will help draw people into Grantham itself.” Of the changes at The Yard Castor, he added: “After two years – and two summers of typically unpredictable weather – the demand is to move from The Yard being seasonal to all-year-round, so the team there can deliver creative twists on classics and a cocktail menu, using produce grown from our own garden, whatever the weather and at affordable prices.” Early in his career, Adeshina spent six years with Ramsay, cooking at the three Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsay Restaurant, and at Petrus under Wareing.
 
FoodCo UK set to open Muffin Break in Harrow: FoodCo UK – the operator of Australian brands Muffin Break and Jamaica Blue here – is set to open a new Muffin Break in Harrow, north west London, Propel has learned. The 67th Muffin Break location will open in St Anns shopping centre in May. It comes after FoodCo reopened its Muffin Break store in Carlisle’s Lanes shopping centre after investing £240,000 in doubling its size. Josh Nixon, head of estates at FoodCo UK, said: “The grand reopening of Muffin Break Carlisle marks a significant milestone for our brand, and we are confident that the expanded and refurbished store will surpass our customers' expectations. The new-look Carlisle store sets the stage for an exciting new chapter in FoodCo’s expansion plans, and we are actively seeking new locations and franchisees across the UK.” Last month, Propel revealed that FoodCo UK’s turnover had topped £40m for the first time in the year to 30 June 2023. It launched here in 2001 as the UK arm of the Australian FoodCo business, which was founded in 1989 and has more than 550 locations across eight countries. FoodCo UK is also under offer for ten new stores – nine Muffin Breaks and one Jamaica Blue – with one in Scotland and the rest in the south of England, including four within the M25. Propel also revealed in January that FoodCo had begun the sale of its equity stores to franchisees and was looking to add up to 20 stores in 2024, including in high street locations rather than its traditional shopping centre sites. As well as Muffin Break, it operates 20 Jamaica Blues in the UK. 
 
Wildes Group forecasts gross profit to pass £5m in 2024, focusing on own-brand hotels and exploring opportunities to grow new boutique brand: Hotel and spa operator the Wildes Group has forecast its gross profit will pass £5m in 2024 as it focuses on its own-brand hotels and explores opportunities to grow its new boutique brand. Group turnover grew from £7,775,893 in 2022 to £8,436,987 in the year to 31 March 2023 as its pre-tax loss widened from £1,219,860 to £1,501,559. It received £10,500 in government grants compared with £224,450 in 2022 and no dividends were paid (2022: nil). “We expect turnover to increase again in 2024 as the group assets continue to mature,” director Paul Wildes said. “Gross profit for the year was £3.974m compared with £3.504m in 2022. The position has increased with the assets continuing to mature. We expect this to be more than £5m in 2024. The increase in operating loss was due to high inflation pushing up costs, most notably in lighting and heating expenditure. The group expect that profit will recover to circa £2m in the financial year to March 2024 once the inflationary environment returns to normal. Our own branded properties remain a focus into 2024 as we continue to try and source exceptional properties, which we believe fit our strategic aim of creating a new and unique hospitality experience focused on creating a sensory experience that will delight every guest. The company sold its Holiday Inn Express hotel on the Wirral during the year and continues to manage and own its other Holiday Inn Express in Crewe. The hotel continues to be an important revenue and profit generator for the company, which will serve the group well as we look to expand other elements of the group’s business. We are also exploring other opportunities to grow our new boutique brand, and we hope to have some further sites identified by the next strategic report.” During the year, on 1 November 2022, the group disposed of its 100% holding in Kings Gap Guernsey, and losses of £182,376 arising from the company's interests in it up to the date of its disposal are included. On the same date, the group disposed of its 100% holding in Wildes Hotel and Van Dyk Trading, and profits of £250,099 arising from the company's interests in them up to the date of its disposal are included in the accounts.
 
Cafe and catering business Restore opens fifth Bristol site: Restore, the Bristol café and catering business, has launched its fifth site in the city. Led by Kristian Crews, the business has opened a site in the Prudential Buildings, in the city’s Wine Street. Restore also operates café in Harbourside, Clifton Down, Gloucester Road and College Green. The company said: “With a commitment to sustainability, Restore aims to focus on business with purpose through our core values: people and planet. We are proudly independent, and driven by a passion for sustainability and a desire to promote conscious consumption, Restore offers an innovative experience for our customers. At Restore, every aspect of the cafes and catering business is meticulously challenged to minimise our environmental footprint. From the locally sourced ingredients to compostable and biodegradable packaging, and planting trees with our partner, Ecologi, every detail will be continually reviewed to ensure a sustainable and ethical approach wherever possible. In addition to our commitment to the environment, Restore places a strong emphasis on supporting local communities and businesses. By partnering with regional suppliers and artisans, we not only provide customers with the freshest and finest ingredients but also contribute to the growth of the local economy.”
 
Edinburgh doughnut concept set to grow again with opening of second store following double closure: Edinburgh doughnut concept Kilted Donut is set to grow again with the opening of a second store following a double closure, Propel has learned. The business was founded in 2017 by husband-and-wife team, Mark Anderson and Lena Wollan, who came up with the idea after visiting a doughnut shop every morning while honeymooning in New Orleans. Kilted Donut opened sites in Leith and Stocksbridge, along with an off-site kitchen, before a third site followed, in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket. Due to “a combination of rising costs, not great locations and the cost-of-living crises”, the company closed its Leith and Stockbridge shops “with a heavy heart”. But it is now ready to grow again, and as well as doubling the size of its kitchen, will soon be opening a new site in Morningside Road in Edinburgh’s southside. “The site has undergone significant upgrading as well as investment, transforming it into an attractive retail destination that will also have up to 12 covers and employ five full-time staff,” a company spokesman said. “This is in on top of the three additional bakers newly employed at Kilted Donut’s kitchen in Granton to cater to the increased demand that Kilted Donut is enjoying, with further expansion certainly on the cards.” Ahead of the new opening, Kilted Donut is hosting an Easter pop-up at Edinburgh’s Bonnie & Wild food hall, which uses its position within the St James Quarter to champion “small Scottish food businesses and local talent”. The pop-up will run for the next two weeks. Wollan added: “This exclusive deal with Bonnie & Wild is the perfect topping to the past few months, which has seen us expand our kitchen and prepare to open a new shop in Edinburgh’s southside.” Kilted Donut makes its doughnuts fresh every day in up to 20 different flavours available, ranging from the traditional to more unique such as fiery Scotch bonnet or Peshwari.
 
Third generation Welsh operators open third site after securing more than £500,000 in grants and loans: Third generation Welsh operators Fred and Bert Bollom have opened their third site after securing more than £500,000 in grants and loans. The £1m investment in On The Rocks, a 150-cover bar and restaurant with a 20-metre long dining terrace overlooking Swansea Bay, has been part-funded by a £470,000 loan from the Development Bank and a grant of £116,000 from Visit Wales. The brothers also own Mumbles Pier amusement arcade and the Copperfish cafe, having taken over the Ameco Leisure Group from their father in 2015. The family business was initially established by their grandfather in the early 1920s and it now it employs up to 140 people in peak season, reports Insider Media. The Bolloms said: “The combination of the loan from the Development Bank and the grant from Visit Wales means that we’ve been able to create something really special with On the Rocks and we’re delighted with the feedback to date.” 
  
Stack given green light for Sheffield venue: Leisure venue concept Stack has been given the go-ahead to build a venue in Sheffield to host food and drink units and a stage for live music and events. Plans were submitted last year for the 26,350 square-foot site on land off Arundel Gate, between the O2 Academy and Odeon Sheffield. The permission covers the installation of a series of shipping containers arranged over two floors around a large open plaza seating area, which would be occupied by bar and street food vendors, plus the construction of a concrete podium deck as a stage for live music and entertainment. The proposed opening hours are 7am to 1am daily, with a maximum occupancy of 1,600 people at any one time, and is the development is expected to create up to 150 jobs. The city council has now granted approval for the development, subject to conditions, saying: “The proposal is considered to deliver economic, social and environmental benefits, including the creation of new jobs and commercial activity to strengthen the city centre; a contribution to the city’s cultural offer through a new performance space; and significant improvements to the street scene of Arundel Gate through new landscaping and pedestrian infrastructure.” Stack is currently operating at Seaburn in Sunderland, and in the pipeline are schemes in Durham, Bishop Auckland, Whitley Bay, Carlisle, and Manchester, which are a mix of container villages and repurposed underused sites. Last month, it was granted permission to build similar schemes at Market Wall in Northampton, and in Leeds’ Kirkgate Market. In January, Stack secured new backing from investment firm Kings Park Capital to accelerate its growth.
 
Retiring Aberdeen pub owner puts second site on market: Retiring Aberdeen pub owner Steven Esson has put a second site in the city on the market. Christie & Co has been instructed to market The 524 Bar, located in George Street in the city centre, for a freehold asking price of £130,000. The property features a main bar area and a lounge that can cater for functions and events and currently trades as a free house with no brewery ties. In December, the historic Ye Olde Frigate Bar in Netherkirkgate was also bought to market on Esson’s behalf. Christie & Co is also handling the sale of the pub, located on one of Aberdeen’s oldest streets, for £265,000. Ye Olde Frigate Bar features a main bar area and function room for up to 50 customers, as well as a lounge. The second floor features an additional room, previously used for functions, while a further 20 customers can be accommodated to the front of the pub, where there is outdoor decking.
 
Wingstop opens Watford site: Lemon Pepper Holdings, the company behind the rollout of Wingstop in the UK, has opened a site in Watford. It marked the second opening in a week for the brand following its launch of its first dine-in restaurant in Leeds. Propel revealed in January that the former Honest Burgers site in Watford’s Market Street had been added to Wingstop’s pipeline of openings for 2024. The new restaurant has 70 covers and created 60 jobs. The opening builds on Wingstop’s continued expansion in the UK since its launch in 2018, with a total of 43 sites and more than 1,600 staff. Tom Grogan, co-founder of Lemon Pepper Holdings, said: “Hot on the heels of our successful opening in Leeds, we are excited to launch in Watford, offering hungry diners the best-tasting wings in the business. We can’t wait to open more sites across the UK this year – the two openings this week are just the start.” Wingstop is planning 12 more openings in the UK in 2024.
 
Berry Bros & Rudd opens new spirits shop in London’s Mayfair as it reports 42% sales growth in category: Berry Bros & Rudd, the UK’s oldest wine and spirits merchant, has opened a new spirits shop, in London’s Mayfair. The company said the opening is driven by the growth in the spirits category and increasing appetite for premium-plus drinks, as Berry Bros & Rudd reported 42% revenue growth in spirits year on year, with increasing sales across sake, bourbon and most whiskies and increased bottle spend across categories. The shop, at 1 St James’ Street, connects through to the current Berry Bros & Rudd wine shop at 63 Pall Mall, doubling its retail space. The spirits shop sells a curated collection of more than 1,000 rare and unique varieties from around the world and allows Berry Bros & Rudd to work with select distilleries to produce exclusive bottlings. Geordie Willis, brand experiences and creative director at Berry Bros & Rudd, said: “The growth in premium spirits shows that our customers have a huge appetite for beautiful and rare liquids and the selection has been carefully curated, to offer an exceptional range and experience at the spirits shop.”

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