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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Mon 8th Apr 2024 - Propel Monday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

New World Trading Co makes ‘promising start to new financial year’, hires Glenn Pearson as new CFO: New World Trading Company (NWTC), the operator of 35 bars and restaurants under six brands including The Botanist, saw its financial year (FY23) end “ahead of expectations”, delivering sales over £73m, Propel has learned. NWTC said that strong trade is predicted to continue in the first quarter and beyond following the success of its latest The Botanist site in Sunderland, which opened its doors to customers on 30 January. It comes as the company hired Glenn Pearson as its new chief financial officer. NWTC said that Pearson has extensive experience in working with private equity and brings with him a wealth of industry knowledge, having previously held chief financial officer roles within the hospitality sector, most recently at Urban Pubs & Bars and earlier at Admiral Taverns, where he spent 12 years, following a period as director of financial control at retail giant The Very Group. He will join Rod McKie, executive chairman, and Amber Wood, chief operating officer, as NWTC continues to strengthen its senior leadership team, supporting the business as its portfolio grows, with a strong pipeline of openings in place for the next three years. McKie said: “Glenn has a wealth of experience in strategic financial management, and we look forward to benefiting from his leadership and expertise as we continue to strengthen and evolve the business. We’re currently trading well, with a promising start to the new financial year and are looking ahead to an exciting pipeline of openings while remaining focused on industry innovation and delivering great customer experiences.” Pearson replaces Jim Pickworth, who stood down as NWTC’s chief financial officer earlier this year after five years in the role. He has subsequently joined Urban Pubs & Bars as its new chief financial officer.

Industry News:

Panel discussing the challenge sector faces to maximise performance of pub assets to take place at Excellence in Pub & Bar Retailing Conference, open for bookings with 20% discount on tickets for Premium Club members: A panel discussing the challenge the sector faces in ensuring it maximises the performance of its pub assets in an era of declining alcohol sales will be held 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. The panel will feature Stonegate Group chief commercial officer Melissa Wisdom, Shepherd Neame managing director Jonathon Swaine, Greene King managing director Clair Preston-Beer, City Pub Group founder Clive Watson, and sector investor Luke Johnson. 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 two updated databases this week: Premium Club members are to receive two updated databases this week. The updated UK Food & Beverage Franchisor Database, which will be sent to Premium subscribers on Wednesday (10 April) at midday, will feature 16 new entries. It now has 350 entries and more than 126,000 words of content. Among the new entries are eight overseas brands looking to break into the UK market. They include Taiwanese bubble tea business Truewin, Taiwanese dessert franchise Taro Yuan, a dual-branded IHOP and Applebee’s concept from parent company Dine Brands, German beer house business Paulaner, Australian fresh tea concept Gotcha, US Korean barbecue brand Dae Gee, Turkish fast-food chain Çiğköftem and US hot dog chain Wienerschnitzel. Premium Club members will also receive the next Turnover & Profits Blue Book on Friday (12 April), at midday. A further ten companies have been added, while 48 have updated figures. The database now features 901 companies, with 577 in profit and 324 making a loss. Premium Club members also receive access to four other databases: the Propel Multi-Site Database, the New Openings 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 are also 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 – enhanced energy protections act on sector’s concerns: UKHospitality has said enhanced energy protections being introduced act on the sector’s concerns. Regulator Ofgem has unveiled new measures that will expand access to the energy ombudsman, force brokers to be more transparent and improve the treatment of businesses. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “I’m very pleased that Ofgem has taken steps to enhance protections against unfair treatment by energy suppliers. UKHospitality and our members have been raising serious concerns about this issue for the past two years and this is a significant victory in our work to deliver a better energy market for hospitality businesses. The lack of protection for businesses was obvious for all to see and these changes demonstrate that our concerns have been heard loud and clear by the regulator. Extortionate energy costs have been a huge restraint on businesses over the past two years and the behaviour of some energy suppliers exacerbated that already challenging situation. I hope these measures go some way to mitigating these costs and protecting businesses, but I’d continue to urge energy suppliers to be proactive in supporting their business customers.”

Council bans junk food ads on its billboards: A council has voted to ban junk food adverts as part of a fight against high levels of child and adult obesity. BBC News reported Sefton Council has passed new legislation that means advertising can no longer be put on council-owned spaces such as billboards. The ban could also include bus stops, taxi wraps and stations. The Merseyside council's cabinet approved recommendations to support the ban, which will come into effect later in the year. The proposed restrictions will not affect services that are currently advertised and would allow local services to continue using council-owned sites. The Local Democracy Reporting Service said a report submitted to the council in the past week found evidence that advertisements for unhealthy food and drink products directly and indirectly impacted what people eat. It said young people “who recall seeing junk food adverts every day were more likely to be obese”. Sefton has high rates of child and adult excess weight and widening health inequalities. Data taken from the National Child Measurement Programme showed Sefton's rates of children living with obesity generally rose with increasing deprivation. The move follows a similar one by Knowsley Council earlier in the year, which saw it become the first local authority in the north west to restrict unhealthy food and drinks adverts.

O’Riordan – we’ve got to get better at using technology or else we’re going to have even more companies falling by the wayside: Most hospitality businesses are reluctant to innovate because they are fighting too many fires, Jane O’Riordan, chair of Caravan, Red Engine and Turtle Bay has warned. O’Riordan, an industry veteran who leads the innovation working group within the government’s Hospitality Sector Council, told The Times the pressure on the industry was only going to grow, particularly for small and medium-sized hospitality businesses, as costs continue to rise. They include the 9.8% rise in the adult rate of the national living wage to £11.44 on 1 April. She said making better use of new technology and processes should be part of the solution to the challenges facing hospitality businesses. “We’ve got to get better at it or else we’re going to have even more companies falling by the wayside,” she said. The only exception, she said, tended to be much larger groups, which could afford to employ innovation teams. She added: “But the majority of the sector is not a Nando’s or a Pret, it’s SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] as we are SME-dominated as a sector and they are not very good at innovation.” Other barriers included being “distrusting of new things”. O’Riordan added: “That’s not because they are luddites, it’s mostly because they’re thinking, ‘It’s all well for you telling me I need to do this differently, but you aren’t going to be here on Saturday at 8pm when everything goes wrong and I have 15 people who can’t get their food, or can’t pay’. Overcoming that is quite a challenge for lots of people. Another challenge is the expense and bandwidth. [They think] ‘Do I have the bandwidth, time and the management effort to adopt the change when I’m trying to survive’?” O’Riordan has teamed up with the government to hold a series of events to help to encourage technology adoption within hospitality businesses. The first, on workflow productivity, will be held at Oxford Brookes University next month. She said: “What we’re trying to do is take the more mundane, less value-adding and quite frankly less exciting parts of hospitality and find a way of removing those through a new process or technology, so that we can deploy more hours into the fun stuff that everyone loves, like talking to customers and working with people.”

Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a premium restaurant group that is looking for a head chef to run its flagship site at Battersea Power Station in London. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will be hands on, cooking high quality ingredients in a fast-paced service environment. You will lead a large team of chefs through service and report to senior management. Your role will be to train and motivate your back of house team and also monitor high standards across the site. There is a large semi-open kitchen that can serve up to 450 covers when busy with fresh, seasonal and sustainable modern European food.” The salary is up to £52,000. For more information, email olly@corecruitment.com.
 

Company News:

Loungers set to take on Pitcher & Piano site: Cafe bar operator Loungers is set to further strengthen its presence in Bristol, with the acquisition of a site on the city’s harbourside. Propel has learned that the Nick Collins-led business is set to take on the Pitcher & Piano site in Canon’s Road from Marston’s. The site is set to close later this month. A Loungers spokesperson told Propel: “We are in advanced negotiations regarding a site on Bristol's harbourside and hope to open a Lounge there during the summer. We're really proud of our Bristol heritage and hope that this location will allow us to welcome a new Lounge in our home city. Should we be successful in completing this deal, we look forward to the Bristol Pitcher & Piano team joining the Loungers family.” In January, Loungers executive chairman Alex Reilley said it feels like the business, which also operates Cosy Club and roadside diner concept Brightside, is only just getting started and “there is so much more for us to go after”, as the company opened its 250th site in total. He said: “We’re on track to open 34 sites in the current financial year, which will be a record for us and will involve the creation of more than 1,000 jobs. In the longer term, we believe there is scope for more than 600 Lounges alone across the UK.” At the end of last month, the company opened its 218th Lounge site, Sarto Lounge in Sidcup. It will open the Barolo Lounge in Yeovil’s High Street on Wednesday (10 April).

Daisy Green Collection plans Holland Park opening: Australian restaurant group Daisy Green Collection is planning to open a new site in London’s Holland Park, Propel has learned. The 15-strong business has applied to open on the site of the Holland Park Cafeteria in Holland Park. Last month, Propel reported that the Prue Freeman-led business saw turnover in the year to 23 April 2023 climb to £17,862,986 (2022: £13,646,921) as it said it believes its performance is “in line with best-in-class comparable operators in the UK and despite significant macro challenges”. The company opened three new sites in London during the period including a “landmark site in the City of London of more than 10,000 square foot” – Paradise Green at 100 Bishopsgate, which it said has traded strongly. Last year, the company also relocated its Ziggy Green site in London’s Mayfair to larger premises. Ziggy Green, which was previously at 1 Heddon Street, moved a few doors down to 4 Heddon Street.

Wingstop UK secures Milton Keynes site: Lemon Pepper Holdings, the company behind the rollout of Wingstop in the UK, has added a site in Milton Keynes to its 2024 opening pipeline, Propel has learned. Wingstop UK, which is on track to open 15 sites this year, has taken on a site in the Midsummer Place scheme. The brand has already opened in Leeds, Hounslow and Watford this year, with an opening on the ex-Bodeans site in Clapham scheduled for Monday, 22 April. The openings build 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. Wingstop UK has also secured openings for later this year in Croydon, Stratford Westfield and Wood Green. Mark Segal, of Brasier Freeth, acts for Wingstop UK.

German kebab brand to make UK debut: Haus des Doners, the German-based brand, is to make its UK debut after securing a site in London. The business, which operates circa 75 sites in Germany and one in the Netherlands, has secured the Flipside site in Cowcross Street, Farringdon, for an opening later this year. The company, which launched in 2029 with a site in Hürth near Cologne, will open under the name House of Doner in the UK, and is thought to already be in talks on further sites in the capital. Brandon Elmon, of Genius1 Group, acted on the Farringdon deal.

Wells & Co hires Tom Durham as new finance director: Bedford brewer and retailer Wells & Co has hired Tom Durham, formerly of Young’s and SSP, as its new finance director. Durham joins Wells & Co after nine and a half years at Young’s, where he was most recently director of retail finance. He also spent almost three and half years at SSP, including 20 months as a commercial finance manager. Durham reports to chief financial officer Antony Fryer. Last month, Wells & Co reported a “significant increase” in Ebitda as its sales shot up by £7m to £62.3m in the year to 1 October 2023. Its Ebitda grew from £8m in 2022 to £9.5m, which the company said “bodes well” and “demonstrates robust financial health and resilience in a competitive market”. It also said considered cost control and a focus on consolidating capital investments made in the previous year drove sales across the group. Its pub partner estate of 130 leased and tenanted pubs, which the company said “has always been the bedrock of the business”, where it provided “ongoing support across operations, food and drink marketing and more”, increased total revenue by 6%. Meanwhile, its UK managed pubs delivered a sales increase of more than £3m across the estate, with revenue from accommodation growing by 25%. 

Wenzel’s lines up new openings, launches new pricing campaign: Wenzel’s, which operates more than 105 bakery stores in southern England and the Midlands, has lined up new openings across southern England as it looks to grow further nationally. The 108-strong business, which expanded into the south west for the first time at the end of last year with an opening at The Dolphin shopping centre in Poole, Dorset, is planning further openings in Dorset and Hampshire, including in Westbourne, Southbourne Grove in Bournemouth, Andover, Boscombe, and Castlepoint Retail Park in Bournemouth. Karl Spinks, chief operating officer, told The Sun: “This is an exciting time for Wenzel's as we continue to grow and bring our fresh, quality products to more locations across the UK.” The expansion plans come as the company has rolled out its Baking a Difference campaign, which includes price drops and multibuy offers to help customers get through the cost-of-living crisis. These include a baguette meal deal for £5.85, down from £6.25, a hot drink paired with a sausage roll at £2.99, and a hot drink with a doughnut also for £2.99. Peter Wenzel, chairman and founder of Wenzel’s, said: “We're not just lowering prices; we're reinforcing our commitment to stand by our community, especially those facing the cost-of-living crisis, without compromising on the quality that our customers expect from us.” The business paid dividends of £2.5m in the year to 31 March 2023 despite a drop in profit, and said it invested in the necessary facilities for more store openings. Turnover was up from £55,919,493 in 2022 to £61,431,678 as the business opened 13 new stores during the year to take it to 102 locations. Its pre-tax profit fell from £6,634,769 in 2022 to £2,399,658 as costs rose by almost £3.5m. 

Heartwood Collection acquires Lymington pub from Stonegate Group: Heartwood Collection, the Alchemy Partners-backed business, has acquired The White Hart in Lymington, Hampshire. The pub is the third site it has acquired from Stonegate Group in the space of a month after securing The Old Crown in Great Bookham in Surrey, and The Prince of Wales in East Barnet, north west London. Built in the late 1700s, The White Hart is a grade II-listed building located on the edge of the New Forest. Following the acquisition, the pub will undergo a significant multimillion-pound refurbishment to restore and preserve its many historical features. Richard Ferrier, chief executive of Heartwood Collection, said: “The White Hart is a beautiful pub that is clearly much loved by the local community in what is a fantastic location. We’re looking forward to restoring this pub and returning it to its former glory. We have long wanted to open in or close to Lymington and are delighted to have found the White Hart.” The Heartwood Collection said it remains on track to grow to more than 60 inns and brasseries by June 2027. At the end of February, the company opened its first pub with rooms, The White Horse in Dorking, with a further four already confirmed by the group for 2024. Heartwood Collection operates 23 Heartwood Inns pubs and 14 Brasserie Blanc restaurants across the UK.

Urban Pubs & Bars reopens former M&B site in Clapham, hires new head of food: Urban Pubs & Bars, the London pub operator founded by Malc Heap and Nick Pring and backed by Davidson Kempner and Global Mutual, has opened its new venue in Clapham. Propel revealed in February that the Chris Hill-led business had secured the site previously occupied by Mitchells & Butlers' (M&B) All Bar One brand in Northcote Road. The property, which was closed by M&B late last year, has undergone a £1m refurbishment and building programme and has reopened under the new name The Red Setter. Hill said: “Being here in Northcote Road fills us with excitement. We've been counting down the moments until we can open and invite people to enjoy the exceptional standards that Urban Pubs & Bars is known for.” At the same time, the business has hired Lee McMullen as its new head of food. McMullen joins the business from Hippo Inns and from leading the food for Stonegate Group’s Chapter Collection. He previously worked at Oakman Inns and at the Savoy Hotel in Limerick. He said “I’m over the moon to have joined a brilliant team with amazing pubs and bars. I can’t wait to help the business grow and work alongside our team of chefs to create incredible food.” In February, Urban Pubs & Bars, which operates 42 sites, said it was poised for further expansion as it reported record revenue of £52.2m for the year ending 30 April 2023. The group has more than doubled in size in the last 24 months. 

Bristol Subway franchisee falls to loss as costs climb: Subway franchisee Pasco Group, which operates 18 sites in Bristol and the surrounding area, has reported turnover increased to £9,469,653 for the year ending 30 June 2023 compared with £9,375,689 the previous year. The company made a pre-tax loss of £985,132 compared with a profit of £2.235,913 the year before. Administrative expenses rose from £1,353,349 to £3,263,448. In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “The group has performed broadly in line with expectations and continues to sustain sales in a highly competitive fast changing environment. The group has continued to maintain a healthy balance of reserves to meet its current and long-term liabilities as they fall due. Furthermore, the business continued to position itself for sustained long-term growth by investing in the staffing structure and providing developmental training across the group.” A dividend of £44,095 was paid (2022: £174,017).

Greek boutique hotel brand Ergon House to make UK debut: Greek boutique hotel brand Ergon House is to make its UK debut. The company has agreed a deal with Shaftesbury Capital to open a site in London’s Covent Garden. A refurbished heritage listed building, 26 King Street, will be home to the brand’s first hotel outside Greece with the property set to open next year. The circa 20,000 square-foot will offer a blend of living, restaurant spaces and culinary experiences in a Mediterranean-inspired atmosphere. The venue will have more than 20 hotel rooms, with access to a private gym. There will also be a 2,220 square-foot rooftop restaurant with an alfresco terrace, with views of the London skyline. With food at the forefront, Ergon House will deliver a multitude of culinary experiences open to the public, including an Agora marketplace where bakers, butchers, fishmongers, and greengrocers will bring farm-to-table produce to visitors. With 25 company-owned and franchised Mediterranean delis, restaurants, markets and hotels in Greece, Cyprus and the Middle East, Ergon House is looking to grow its presence within Europe. Thomas Douzis, founder and chief executive of Ergon House, said: “Ergon House Covent Garden marks a significant milestone for us. It represents our dedication and commitment to providing a memorable, one-of-a-kind experience for guests, and marks a new era in our journey. We chose Covent Garden for our first location in the UK because of its strong reputation in retail and food and beverage. It offers a unique opportunity for us with local and international visitors, and the solid cultural foundation it has cultivated. We look forward to embedding ourselves within the West End.” Michelle McGrath, executive director, Shaftesbury Capital, added: “Making places like Covent Garden thrive requires the right blend of high quality destination concepts and uses that foster an environment for trade and consumer experiences to flourish. Covent Garden is now the go-to destination for British and international brands, culture, entertainment, and art, with the opening of Ergon House cementing this further. This unique boutique hotel will enhance the Covent Garden experience, delivering a distinctive blend of high-end hospitality experience that aligns with our goal to continually evolve and enhance the neighbourhood. The addition of a new rooftop restaurant and terrace for the district will deliver a rare and high quality experience for locals and visitors.”

SSP makes debut in Finnish rail market: SSP Group, the UK operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, is expanding its operations in Helsinki with the opening of four new food and beverage outlets at the Finnish capital’s main rail travel hub. Already a well-established operator in the Finnish airport market, this latest win marks SSP’s first foray into the country’s rail sector. The first two units, a Starbucks and an Upper Crust, have already opened, and two more outlets are scheduled to open in the second half of 2025 as part of a major redevelopment of the station. Helsinki Central station is the busiest travel hub in Finland, welcoming more than 200,000 passengers every day. SSP Finland managing director Elena Heiska said: “With an impressive track record in the European rail market, this new win will enable us to build on our successful operations in Finland, strengthening our position in a major capital city. It will also provide a firm foundation for our plans for further expansion in Finland and beyond. Our operational skills and compelling brand portfolio enabled us to tailor an offer perfectly suited to passengers at Helsinki station, which was instrumental in our success in winning this tender. Starbucks is a much-loved name in Finland while Upper Crust has proven very popular with passengers at Helsinki airport and we’re confident that it will be equally well received with travellers at the station.” Jani Jääskeläinen, programme manager at station operator VR, added: “We’re very happy to be opening Starbucks at the iconic Helsinki Central station. Starbucks, as such a well-known brand, is a great fit at the entrance of this the busiest rail location in Finland. We have completed the first half of the development programme and we’re looking forward to the second phase that will be delivered by SSP at the station in 2025, as we continue the improvement of our infrastructure and support services.”

Proud Embankment to become new venture Eight Embankment: Proud Embankment, the art deco events space in the heart of London’s West End, has been acquired by entrepreneur Aleem Khan from Alex Proud. Propel understands that the site will reopen this summer as Eight Embankment. Khan, who steps into the role of events director, said the venue aspires to become a “multicultural nexus of music and celebration reflecting the energetic diversity of the city”. The business said: “Eight Embankment's forthcoming relaunch promises to be a cultural renaissance, offering an inclusive space where individuals from all backgrounds can converge to revel in a tapestry of musical offerings. Aleem Khan envisions a future where Eight Embankment is synonymous with culture-rich festivities and unparalleled event experiences.” Emma Wright, of CDG Leisure, acted on the Embankment deal.

Devon hotel group sees spend per head increase 17%, current booking levels ‘healthy’: Devon hotel group Manor House has seen spend per head increase 17% as people enjoy short breaks despite the cost-of-living crisis with current booking levels “healthy”. The company, which operates the Manor House Hotel and The Ashbury Hotel golf resort in Okehampton, reported turnover increased to £16,211,067 for the year ending 31 March 2023 compared with £15,795,017 the previous year. Pre-tax profit was down to £1,130,344 from £2,062,479 the year before. The company has strengthened its leisure offer at The Ashbury Hotel by adding five new padel tennis courts and expanded its pickleball offering from four to nine indoor courts. In December 2023, the group secured a £500,000 loan from Barclays to fund capital works. In his report accompanying the accounts, director Michael Armstrong stated: “The results showed a return to more normalised periods of trading after the very positive bounce back year of 2022, following the periods of the covid restrictions. The company was especially pleased to see that overall room bookings had increased by more than 8% and not only were room bookings up, but there was a notable increase in the number of full rounds of golf played by guests up by more than 9.5% from the previous year to in excess of 61,500 rounds. The total spending per head by the resorts’ loyal guests showed a significant uplift from previous years, up by 17% as the company noted a willingness for guests to enjoy their short breaks despite a tightening of personal finances. Current booking levels are healthy.” As previously reported, the company paid back the £4m it borrowed through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme in May 2022. The company did not receive any government grants (2022: £344,540).

Travelodge to open in Stratford for 85th London site: Travelodge – which operates nearly 600 budget hotels across the UK, Ireland and Spain – has exchanged contracts for a new hotel in Stratford, east London. Once open by the end of 2025, it will be the group's 85th hotel in the capital. Planning permission has been granted to transform Gredley House, a vacant office building at 1-11 Broadway, into a 151-room Travelodge. It will also be Travelodge’s closest hotel to Stratford station. The new Travelodge will feature the group's new design, as well as its 85 Bar Cafe. Travelodge has agreed a 25-year lease term with the building’s owner, Unex Group, which has been a long-term investor in the area for more than 50 years. Tony O'Brien, UK development director at Travelodge, said: “We have great experience of converting existing office space into Travelodge hotels and are looking forward to working with Unex to bring this former office building back to life. This type of development is a win-win solution for all parties, as it converts redundant space back into economic use, which is a highly sustainable way of developing, delivers significant inward investment and creates new jobs.” Adrian Morris, managing director of Unex Group, added: “The building's design is a perfect fit for conversion to a hotel and we look forward to redeveloping this building for its new use for the next 25 years or more.” Strettons acted for Travelodge on the deal. Last week, Travelodge reported revenue reached record levels for the year ending 31 December 2023 and surpassed £1bn for the first time, with plans in the pipeline for a string of new hotel openings in the UK this year. The group reported that total revenue was up by 13.7% to £1,035.2m compared with £910.8m the previous year, and adjusted Ebitda increased 14.6% from £212.9mto £243.9m.

Company behind National Motorcycle Museum and two West Midlands hotels sees turnover remain below pre-covid levels: The company behind the National Motorcycle Museum and two hotels in the West Midlands has reported turnover increased to £14,391,073 for the year ending 30 June 2023 compared with £13,219,486 the previous year. However, revenue remained below the £14,763,395 reported for the year ending 30 December 2019 – the last full year before the covid pandemic. Of the 2023 turnover, £9,370,106 came from the hotels (2022: £8,996,934), £4,192,436 from catering and conference facilities (2022: £3,488,215), and £828,531 from the museum (2022: £734,337). Pre-tax profit was down to £389,330 from £1,041,377 the year before. The company still owes £1.75m (2022: £2.35m) borrowed through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. No government grants were received (2022: £105,091). No dividend was paid (2022: nil). As well as the museum, the company operates the Manor Hotel in Solihull and the Windmill Village Hotel & Golf Club on the outskirts of Coventry under the Best Western brand.
 
Coffee bar that transitions from day to night to open in Liverpool: A coffee bar that transitions into offering cocktails at night is opening in Liverpool this month. Switch CoffeeBar is the brainchild of Jon Dunnington, who is from Liverpool and now splits his time between his home town and New York City. Based in Liverpool’s Wolstenholme Square, Switch CoffeeBar will offer coffee during the day before switching to coffee-based cocktails from a globally inspired list alongside upbeat music. With a focus on sustainability, Switch CoffeeBar said it responsibly sources its coffee beans and prioritises eco-friendly packaging. Used coffee beans will be incorporated into cocktails to minimise waste. Operations manager, Joe Jackson, said: “Switch CoffeeBar is forging the gap between day to night; from coffee to cocktails. By 5pm, we’ll make quite the transition to ramp up the atmosphere, taking our guests from day to night with an obvious ‘switch’ and the introduction of our coffee-based cocktails. We can’t wait to reveal more and show everyone exactly how we’ll be doing that from the interior to the music and menu.”

Vine Hotels increases turnover and narrows losses as recovery continues: Vine Hotels, which is co-owned by former BBC boss Greg Dyke, increased its turnover and narrowed it losses as its recovery continued in the year to 31 March 2023. Its turnover was up from £6,311,080 in 2022 to £8,101,410 while its pre-tax loss narrowed from £64,237 to £58,985. No government grants were received compared with £196,190 in 2022. Dividends of £781,022 were paid (2022: £681,022). Director Garin Davies said the recovery in trading levels seen in the previous year continued, “if against a background of increasing costs and higher levels of consequential debt across the group”. In addition, the group enhanced its revenue from an increasing level of management contracts for third-party operators. Davies said the company has a “very strong market presence in the specialist functions market, particularly weddings”, and that the “staycation market continues its unprecedented demand”. He added: “The directors are monitoring the cash flow position and the availability of working capital and are confident of having access to the resources sufficient to take maximum advantage of the opportunities that will arise. The group has no current plans to add to its two hotels.”

Restaurant Associates launches future leaders level 5 apprenticeship programme: Restaurant Associates, part of Compass Group UK & Ireland, has launched a level 5 apprenticeship training programme, focused on leadership and management. The Future Leaders programme is designed to nurture and accelerate the management performance of Restaurant Associates’ business leaders, “harnessing their strengths and equipping them with the essential skills to drive Restaurant Associates’ growth agenda while embedding its people-focused cultural values”. Delivered in partnership with Instep, a specialist leadership and management skills provider, the 18-month programme combines group workshops, peer learning, personalised coaching and guest speakers to embed key leadership skills, knowledge and behaviours. A total of 11 candidates will develop core people skills such as emotional intelligence, motivating teams and managing conflict alongside more technical skills such as data-driven decision-making, strategic business planning and implementing impactful, positive change. In 2022, Compass Group UK & Ireland launched “Our Social Promise”, a commitment to support a million people with opportunities and change their lives through job creation, education, training, community and charitable engagement by 2030. Matt Thomas, chief executive of Restaurant Associates, said: “Our retention and growth agenda would be impossible without the loyalty, hard work and development of our teams. This programme will bring to life real-time opportunities that will allow the teams to develop with confidence their skillset.”
 
Leeds cake shop set to open in Manchester for second site, eyes further expansion: Leeds cake shop Get Baked is set to open a second site, in Manchester, as it eyes further expansion. Get Baked has gone viral on social media and had customers visit from across the UK for its 12-layered chocolate “Bruce” cake, which it said sells out within minutes both online and in store. Owner Rich Myers is now bringing his concept to Peter Street in Manchester city centre this summer, with a takeaway outlet rather than the dine-in offering it has in Leeds. “Manchester is the obvious choice,” he told the Manchester Evening News. “We want to grow up north before we head south, and we’ve already got lots of customers coming from Manchester to Leeds. Because we ship nationwide, we also know from our demographic just how many people are ordering from the Manchester area. As a city, Manchester in my eyes is becoming more and more of a real city on a world stage – it is full of amazing hospitality businesses, but I think that we offer something different. There’s already good dessert places, but nowhere that does it quite like we do, so it feels the right fit. It will be a small site, so I don’t want people to expect it to be as big as Headingley in size, but it will be open late to 10pm like Leeds. However, in Manchester we will probably look to open earlier in the morning rather than from noon.”
 
London wine and whisky merchant opens new shop with tasting rooms: London high-end wine and whisky merchant Justerini & Brooks has opened a new shop with tasting rooms. The business, which is celebrating its 275th birthday, has launched the site at 41a Burlington Arcade, in Piccadilly. The first-floor lounge has a space equipped with a Coravin system for tasting wine including those from Domaine du Comte Liger Belair, Philipponnat and Château Lafleur. There is also a basement area downstairs for whiskey tasting, reports Hot Dinners.

Award-winning Merseyside brewery to cease trading: Award-winning Merseyside brewery Chapter is to cease trading. Chapter has been based in Sutton Weaver at the border of Runcorn and Frodsham for eight years. It describes itself as a small, independent outfit producing diverse beer, inspired by literature. The brewery's beer is found in many pubs across Merseyside and at festivals in the region. However, it has announced that it will cease operating in June. In a statement posted on Instagram, the brewery said: “After eight years of fun, freneticism and fulfilment, it is time to close the book on Chapter. We have had the privilege of making beer for you all and being alongside you drinking it. However, the time is right to finish this particular story. We have won awards. We have made friends. We have made something. Not a bad outcome. Trade friends: thank you for everything. We have some beer that need homes so get in touch.” Earlier this year, Chapter won a national award for its 5.5% Smoked Porter “Dead Man's Fist”. The beer won the gold medal in the speciality beer category at this year's Campaign for Real Ale Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition.

Nottingham craft beer shop operator opens micropub at city railway station: Nottingham craft beer shop operator Matt Hinton has opened a micropub at the city’s railway station. Hinton, who owns Beer Cavern in Flying Horse Walk, has launched Brew Tavern. It has opened in the space that was previously occupied by the BeerHeadz micropub, which closed earlier this year. Brew Tavern has five cask lines as well as eight keg offerings. Hinton told Nottinghamshire Live: “As far as the layout of the bar and space, you can’t do a great deal with it as it’s small. We didn’t want to drastically change it. We wanted to add a few touches to what was already here. We have few cans and bottles in the fridge trying to hit the styles that you don’t necessarily see as often on draught. We are trying to make the place as inclusive as possible. These include Belgian beer, a gluten-free ale and a low-alcohol lager.” There is also a selection of spirits and wine. Beer Tavern is open daily from noon. Closing time is 10pm Sunday to Thursday and 11pm Friday and Saturday.
 
Chester operators scrap plans to convert former church into aparthotel-style apartments: Plans to turn a vacant Chester church into aparthotel-style short-stay apartments have been withdrawn. The plans were submitted by the team behind The City Hotel, which opened in May 2021 at the former The City Arms pub in Saltney, and restaurant with rooms No 32 Tarporley. The team planned to convert the old St Andrews United Reformed Church in Handridge into 17 “aparthotel style units” plus a ground floor unit that the applicant said would have been suitable for a pizzeria, cafe or bar. But the plug had now been pulled on the proposals and it is not clear what the future now holds for the site, reports Cheshire Live. The church, which was built in 1880, was purchased in March 2022 for more than £350,000.

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