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Mon 8th Apr 2024 - Update: Loungers hires Kate Eastwood as Lounge MD, Justin Carter becomes group MD
Exclusive – Loungers hires Kate Eastwood as MD of its Lounge concept, Justin Carter promoted to group MD: Cafe bar operator Loungers has hired Kate Eastwood, formerly of Fuller’s and Revolution Bars Group, as the new managing director of its Lounge concept. Eastwood joins the Nick Collins-led Loungers from Fuller’s, where she has been an operations director for the past four years and responsible for over 100 sites in London and across the south of England. Previous to that she spent more than six years at Revolution Bars Group, including time as its sales and marketing director. She has also had stints at Bramwell Pub Company, Laurel Pub Company and Whitbread. At the same time, current Lounge managing director Justin Carter has been promoted to the new role of group managing director of Loungers. Effective from today (8 April), Carter, who has been in the business for nine years and was also formerly an operations director at Fuller’s, will take overall responsibility for all three of the group’s brands – Lounge, Cosy Club and Brightside. Carter, who previously founded the Elbow Room chain which he ran for 13 years before selling it in 2008, initially joined Loungers as its chief operating officer in 2015, before being promoted to Lounge managing director two and a half years later. The business has also promoted David Matthews to Lounge operations director (North), following two successful years as a regional operations manager driving the “expansion of the company’s Northern frontier”. Last August, the business appointed Lucy Knowles as the new managing director of its Cosy Club brand. Knowles previously held the same role at London bar chain Corney & Barrow, later joining SSP, the operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, as group marketing director. Collins, chief executive of Loungers plc, said: “I am delighted for both Justin and David and would like to wish a very warm welcome to Kate. We have got to know Kate well over the last few months are excited about the impact she will have leading the Lounge business. As the business continues to grow, it’s critical we have the best organisational structure in place to protect and enhance both our culture and the hospitality we provide. The creation of the group managing role provides a great platform for Justin to influence our current three brands in their different stages of evolution. It is also really pleasing that in David’s promotion to ops director, we have another great internal progression story. David joined the business in 2019 as an ops manager, and over the last five years has had a major influence on our performance and growth. We are fortunate that our rapid growth creates fantastic career development opportunities; our goal is to be the number one choice for anyone looking at a career in the UK hospitality industry.” In January, Loungers executive chairman Alex Reilley said it feels like the business 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 its latest site – the Barolo Lounge in Yeovil’s High Street – on Wednesday (10 April).

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.

Gino D’Acampo says sector is “falling down like a pack of cards”: Chef Gino D’Acampo is the latest high-profile figure to call on the government to ‘act now’ to support the hospitality industry, which he says is “falling down like a pack of cards”. He told the Manchester Evening News that rising costs are crippling independent cafes and restaurants – while playing into the hands of fast-food giants. He was speaking as he launched his latest restaurant in Manchester, at the Innside by Melia Hotel on First Street. He said he feels lucky that his current business model is inside hotels, which acts as a ‘mama’ to his own business and that he has a loyal following at his own restaurants. He said he has spoken to scores of fellow chefs – including high profile TV figures – who are ‘having a rubbish time’ trying to make the numbers work and to survive. He said: “The government really have to do something about it – nobody understands the importance of hospitality. Hospitality is everything, for any country. When tourists come in, who is going to greet them? We are – the hospitality people. When someone has something to celebrate, who is going to help them do that? We are – the hospitality people. I understand there are other important things, the NHS, other businesses, I get it, and I sympathise with everybody, but the hospitality one is going down fast. I can see people going down ‘bam bam bam’ and it’s like what the hell is going on? The biggest problem is that now, we are allowing the big companies and fast food to flourish, but why? Because they serve food where inflation is not as big as ours, and they are winning. But as they are winning we are losing – because our children, our families and our grandchildren, they tend to go and eat in those places instead of places where the food is all made fresh. So, they are winning, we are losing as humans, it’s bad. I want to say to the government they’re going to have to wake up and do something very quickly, because it’s falling down like a pack of cards. When I go to my local high street, four places are down... You go to another high street there are more restaurants closing than opening. A VAT cut could have been a very big help but they need to do something drastic now.”

Comptoir continues international expansion with its first Abu Dhabi site: Comptoir Group, the owner of the Comptoir Libanais brand, has opened a new site under its Shawa concept at Zayad International Airport in Abu Dhabi on 31st March 2024. Shawa is Comptoir’s fast casual dining concept. The restaurant is located in the airside departures area of Zayed International Airport. The second largest airport in the UAE, Zayed International receives an immensely high footfall of international visitors, serving over 80,000 customers daily and expects 27 million passengers this year. The 1,325 sq ft restaurant has capacity for 50 covers and is Comptoir’s first restaurant in Abu Dhabi. Working in partnership with HMSHost, this is Comptoir’s first franchised Shawa restaurant and third franchised restaurant in the region, with Comptoir Libanais restaurants in Dubai and Doha airports. The restaurant will sell authentic Lebanese lamb and chicken shawarma wraps and platters as well as offering vegan and vegetarian plates with falafel and halloumi. The menu will also encompass a breakfast range of pastries, sandwiches and shakshuka dishes. 

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