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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Thu 11th Apr 2024 - Propel Thursday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

London Shuffle Club seeks investors to drive growth as it looks to expand across the UK and overseas, opens new venue and rebrands: London Shuffle Club is seeking investors to help drive its growth plans and has rebranded to just Shuffle Club as it looks to expand across the UK and overseas, Propel has learned. Former events organiser Graeme Hawkins founded London Shuffle Club with wife, Nine, in 2016, having previously operated the concept as a pop-up in the Truman Brewery in east London. The business previously operated out of Ebor Street in Shoreditch, a site which it vacated in January, and has just moved into a new home nearby, in the former Beach Blanket Babylon unit in Bethnal Green Road. “We see opportunities across the UK in major cities, and notably, internationally,” Graeme Hawkins told Propel. “We can adapt the offering to suit the space. This year is planned for a second site, and then two a year from then on. At two a year in the UK, we have pipeline for five years, and then international is very exciting, and there’s no limit. We’ve invested heavily in our head office team and infrastructure so we’re ready to move quickly. The market has changed since we began as a pop-up in 2016 – expectations of fit out and service have increased exponentially. There’s also more competition, but that’s because there’s appetite for what we offer. Trading was tough post covid, but the amount of enquiries and bookings we’ve had without opening the doors paints a good picture. We love shuffleboard and believe its beautiful simplicity, coupled with special interiors, food and drink, is the sweet spot that differentiates us.” The new Bethnal Green site features 12 gaming tables across three floors alongside an enhanced food and drink offering. “Our Ebor Street venue provided an incredible opportunity, but it was never going to be a long-term home for the business,” Hawkins added. “The opening of this site is an exciting step for us that really solidifies the business with a long lease in an area we have traded successfully for years. In the last year, we have worked hard to define our position in the market and have invested in areas across the board to further enhance our product. Expect to find an expanded food and drinks offering and the introduction of tech to enhance, but not dictate, the game playing experience in a beautiful, iconic site. We don’t want to stop there. We are in regular discussions on additional venues for our lane shuffle offering plus mixed shuffle sites.”

Industry News:

Liberation Group chief executive Jonathan Lawson to speak at Excellence in Pub & Bar Retailing Conference, open for bookings with 20% discount on tickets for Premium Club members: Jonathan Lawson, chief executive of Liberation Group, 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. Lawson will discuss how the award-winning business has maintained its high standards while continuing to grow its mainland estate, the development of its bedrooms business as it targets a 700-bedrooms division, and the integration of the Cirrus Inns business, including its entry into the London market. 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: to book places.
Next edition of Premium Club Turnover & Profits Blue Book released tomorrow shows sector companies’ profit outstripping losses by £1.81bn, down from £1.84bn last month: The next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book, which will be sent to Premium Club members tomorrow (Friday, 12 April), at midday, shows the profit being made by sector companies is now outstripping losses by £1.81bn, a drop on the £1.84bn last month. The Blue Book shows the total profit of the 901 companies in the list is £3,966,230,136 and losses are £2,160,906,038. The Blue Book shows 577 companies in profit and 324 reporting losses. The Blue Book is updated each month and ranks companies by turnover, profit and profit conversion, listing directors’ earnings for the past five years. Premium Club members also receive access to five other databases: the Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate; 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. All Premium Clubs 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 that are Premium Club members 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 supplier. Email today to sign up.
NTIA urges government to extend new protections afforded to retail workers to front-line security staff: The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has urged the government to extend new protections being afforded to retail workers to front-line security staff within the night-time economy. NTIA chief executive Michael Kill spoke out following the announcement of the government’s plans to target serial or abusive shoplifters with tougher punishments in order to protect the UK's high streets. He said while this is commendable, thought must also be given to protecting those who keep night-time venues safe for guests. “As we celebrate this step forward, we must also address the urgent need to extend protections to the security sector,” he said. “Shockingly, more than 90% of security operatives endure verbal and physical abuse or sexual harassment in the line of duty. It’s imperative that the government considers implementing similar measures to safeguard these essential workers who contribute to maintaining public safety. As we move forward, I urge the government to prioritise the safety and well-being of all front-line workers, including those in the security sector, and continue collaborating with industry stakeholders to ensure comprehensive protection for those who serve our communities tirelessly. Together, we can create safer environments for both workers and patrons alike, fostering vibrant and thriving high streets and night-time economies across the UK.”
Italian waiters say ‘arrivederci’ to UK as new visa rules kick in: Italian waiters are saying “arrivederci” to the UK as new visa rules kick in. The Times reported “Goodbye London” was the headline in the Italian daily La Repubblica on Tuesday (9 April) after a new British regulation raised the minimum salary threshold for a skilled work visa from £26,000 to £38,700. But even before the new minimum salary hike, the need to find a company willing to pay the administrative costs of obtaining a work visa put off many from hiring Italian waiters and lower-paid workers, said Francesco Ragni, founder of the Italian expat website Londra Italia. There are around 120,000 roles already unfilled in the UK hospitality sector, which relies on foreign workers to do 15% of jobs. Recent research has shown that more than 90% of the 8,500 migrants recruited in the sector last year would not qualify under the new £38,700 threshold. “Since coming out of covid, the hospitality sector has had labour shortages of between 8% and 12%,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality. “The successive tightening of the skilled worker visa means that the route from Europe to fill those skilled jobs have all but been eliminated.” La Repubblica warned that the latest rule change was definitively putting an end to a chapter in the Italian involvement in London, which dates to the founding of the city in AD 43 by the Romans and the 14th-century presence of bankers from Lombardy in what is now Lombard Street. After the Second World War, Italians introduced cafe culture to Soho by opening the Bar Italia in Frith Street before restaurateurs acquainted the British with pizza, Parma ham and chianti bottles wrapped in raffia.
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a restaurant business that focuses on a fusion of Japanese/South American food and is seeking a head sushi chef. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “This is a growing group with a new opening this year and it is looking for a head sushi chef to lead a team of six sushi chefs in this 100-cover restaurant with a great following and elevated food style. You will need to deliver high quality sushi and have great leadership skills to motivate and train the team through high-volume service. The food style is fusion, but your focus will be just sushi, which makes up half of the business. This position would suit a sushi chef from a premium restaurant background, longevity in roles, good back-of-house management and experience in high quality sushi at high volume.” The salary is up to £60,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email

Company News:

Portobello Pub Company interested in further corporate deals, will remain a majority freehold business: Mark Crowther, chairman of Portobello Pub Company, the pub and restaurant operator backed by private equity firm Zetland Capital, has told Propel that the business is interested in further corporate deals this year, off the back of its acquisition of Darwin & Wallace. Propel revealed earlier this week that Portobello had acquired Darwin & Wallace, which operates seven leasehold sites in London, for an undisclosed sum, taking its total estate to 27 sites. Crowther told Propel: “We are certainly interested in further corporate deals this year with the support of our backers Zetland Capital and OakNorth. Similar size [to Darwin & Wallace] and bigger.” In terms of further openings under the Darwin & Wallace umbrella, Crowther said: “I think we’ll be led by the opportunities on Darwin & Wallace, although I can certainly see Brighton working seeing as we already have three pubs there, plus good London areas. But we’ll remain a majority freehold business.” In terms of trading across the Portobello Pub Company estate, Crowther said: “Like everyone, we had a great December, but a quieter January and February. Current March/April trading has been good, especially in the last few weeks and over Easter.” Darwin & Wallace – which operates sites in Canary Wharf, Chiswick, Clapham Old Town, Ealing, Richmond, Wimbledon and at Battersea Power Station – was founded by Mel Marriott in 2012 and backed by private equity firm Imbiba and approximately 200 smaller individual shareholders, via the government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme. The deal sees Marriott step down from day-to-day operations, with the enlarged group led by Portobello Pub Company managing director Richard Stringer. The rest of the existing Darwin & Wallace senior team will remain in place.
Punch acquires three sites from Leicestershire operator Steamin’ Billy: Punch Pubs & Co, the Fortress Investment Group-backed business, has acquired three pubs from the Leicestershire operator Steamin’ Billy for an undisclosed sum. The Dog & Gun in Syston, the White Bear in Hinckley and the Horse & Trumpet in Sileby all form part of the latest pub package acquired by Punch. All three will join Punch's leased and tenanted estate, which is made up of more than 900 pubs, as part of its 1,300 strong portfolio. The deal leaves Steamin’ Billy with one site, The Cow & Plough in Oadby. Punch Pubs & Co head of estate development and acquisitions, Andrew Cannons, said: “We are pleased to welcome The Dog & Gun, the White Bear and the Horse & Trumpet into the Punch family and look forward to seeing our proposed plans come to life. Our publicans will have access to Punch’s industry-leading investment and support. Our priority is in providing the communities of Syston, Hinckley and Sileby with fantastic community pubs and I am looking forward to sharing further updates as these plans progress.” Earlier this month, Propel revealed that Punch is in talks to acquire the 25-strong ex-Wear Inns business, which was placed into administration last year. The Clive Chesser-led Punch is believed to have moved into pole position to acquire the business, which comprises 21 freeholds and four long leaseholds, located across the north east of England and Yorkshire. It is understood that Punch is currently in talks to acquire 24 of the sites, with a deal thought to be valued at around £15m. Talking to Propel earlier this year, Chesser said: “Over the past year, we have been very active in looking for single site acquisitions in the independent sector, and we have acquired some cracking pubs through that route. We continue to actively pursue those opportunities, as well as large or small packages of pubs; we’re always attentive to opportunities that might arise in the market, and we expect more activity in this area during 2024.”
GSG set to open fifth Bold Street Coffee site: GSG Hospitality is set to open a fifth site for its Bold Street Coffee concept, and third in Manchester. The group, which currently operates two Bold Street Coffees in its home city of Liverpool and two in Manchester, is set to open at 2 Hardman Street in the Spinningfields area of Manchester. “We are thrilled to announce the grand opening of Bold Street Coffee’s fifth site, located in the vibrant heart of Manchester’s Spinningfields,” said GSG founder Matt Farrell. “After months of anticipation, we're finally ready to unveil our newest location, where we’re bringing our signature blend of passion, quality, and community to Spinningfields. At Bold Street Coffee, we're not just about brewing the perfect cup of coffee; we're about creating unforgettable experiences. Join us as we celebrate this milestone and embark on this new chapter in our journey. Stay tuned for more updates and special offers as we gear up for our grand opening.” GSG also operates two salt Dog Slims bars – one each in Liverpool and Manchester – plus speakeasy cocktail bar 81, tequila bar El Bandito, all-day restaurant Nord, Caribbean cocktail bar Manolo and the Duke Street Food & Drink Market – all in Liverpool. Last year, Farrell told Propel he was looking to take Bold Street Coffee into new cities and also expand the concept with a bakery offering. He also said he was keen to roll out the food and drink market concept GSG operates at Duke Street and could open another Manolo-style site in Manchester.
Scoffs to open its debut Itsu site next week: Scoffs Group – the largest Costa Coffee franchisee in the UK with 112 stores – is to open its first site with Itsu next Friday (19 April) in Exeter, Devon. The business will open on the site previously occupied by outdoor clothing retailer Regatta store next to Pret A Manger in the city’s High Street. Itsu launched its first franchise site on the outskirts of Reading in August 2021, with Heart with Smart, and has since added three further franchisees in Savvi Group (a Costa Coffee franchisee), IVI Holdings (led by Atul Pathak, formerly the UK’s largest McDonald’s franchisee) and Scoffs. Speaking to Propel last month, Itsu chief financial officer Greg Thorp said: “Scoffs will build more around the south west, south and some parts of the south east. We may take on a fifth partner this year, possibly a partner through the north and the Midlands may come through this year, but if not, we will do more sites ourselves. As a brand and as a franchise system, there is a lot more confidence in the business. It takes a few years to get these things right and understand how to franchise for a business that has been equity-led for a couple of decades. So, I think we’re in a much better spot.”
Doughnut concept Project D ‘turns the corner’ after suffering downturn in customer spending, delayed store openings and other ‘unforeseen challenges’: Derbyshire doughnut concept Project D has said it has “turned the corner” and positioned itself for future success after overcoming a series of financial challenges over the past few months. These include a downturn in customer spending, delayed store openings, the failure to recruit a chief executive who had pledged a £250,000 investment, and a rise in the cost of its main commodity. Having introduced a series of cost-saving measures, the business said it turned a profit in March following three successive loss-making months. Project D currently has sites in Sheffield, York and at Heathrow airport’s Terminal Two, while a further site in Nottingham is now listed as permanently closed. The business raised £475,000 last summer through a Crowdcube crowdfunding campaign, to support its expansion plans, and managing director Max Poynton gave an update to its investors. “Since successfully raising funds through our crowdfunding campaign, we’ve encountered a series of unforeseen challenges that have tested our resilience and adaptability as a company,” he said. “One significant challenge has been the downturn in customer spending, resulting in a 20% decrease across our other business lines. Additionally, the rise in the cost of cocoa, one of our main commodities, has put additional strain on our resources. Moreover, our retail shop-fits exceeded our budgeted allowances, further impacting our bottom line. Recruitment has also proven to be a considerable hurdle, particularly in finding skilled team members for both our bakery and retail stores. Furthermore, our efforts to secure a chief executive who had pledged a substantial investment of £250,000 were thwarted when they were unable to raise the agreed funds, leaving us in a challenging position. The delayed opening of our shops meant we missed out on projected revenues during the busy run to Christmas, opening much closer to the typically quieter months of January through March. However, despite these setbacks, we have not been deterred. We have implemented strategic measures to address our financial challenges and positioned ourselves for future success. Through rigorous cost-cutting measures and operational efficiencies, we have successfully reduced our production costs. This includes manufacturing more of our fillings in-house and incorporating seasonal ingredients that are more cost-effective. As a result, after experiencing losses in December, January and February, we achieved profitability in March through these production savings.” Poynton said Project D has now grown its wholesale channels and secured contracts with the “UK’s leading operator of theme parks and attractions, creating exciting opportunities for revenue generation and market expansion”. Looking ahead to the second quarter, he said the focus will be on continued cost management and optimisation while further driving growth in its wholesale sales channel. “We are committed to overcoming these challenges and are confident in our ability to navigate these turbulent times,” Poynton added.

Big Fang Collective to make London debut later this year: Big Fang Collective, the Imbiba-backed entertainment venue operator that owns the Golf Fang brand, is to make its debut in London later this year with an opening in Waterloo. The company, which earlier this year secured £5.5m in funding from alternative lender ThinCats for further UK expansion, will open a new 30,000 square-foot space in Waterloo later this year. It will be one of three openings the business has lined up for this year. As reported by Propel last month, the group, which is behind Golf Fang, Big Fang Karaoke, Big Fang Arcade and Nothing Cheezy, will open a site in Bristol later this year. It will open on the former Wilko site in the city’s Union Street. The company, which was founded in 2016 by Kip Piper and Dan Bolger, will also launch a site in Nottingham this summer. Big Fang Collective already operates six sites around the UK, employing more than 260 people, with each of the venues offering a combination of crazy golf, DJs and signature cocktails inside a “cathedral of graffiti”. The group has expanded its proposition with multiple concepts including in-house pizzeria, Nothing Cheezy, and Big Fang Karaoke, an immersive karaoke destination, both of which launched in Liverpool in 2023. The collective recently launched its first Big Fang Arcade in Sheffield, which will also be rolled out into its Cardiff destination later this month. The company said: “We are excited to be able to confirm that we are in the process of launching new sites in Bristol, Nottingham and London. The cities provide the perfect location for the Big Fang brand, with creative communities and thriving atmospheres, we think we will fit right in. We’re still to confirm the Big Fang brands launching in each site, but we’re planning multi-concept venues that bring together immersive experiences for our audiences. We look forward to sharing more about our growth journey in each city.”
Nell’s Pizza to open fourth site: Nell’s Pizza, the giant pizza concept from the founders of Common Bar in Manchester, is to open its fourth site. Husband and wife team Jonny and Charlotte Heyes, who are behind the Common Bar and The Beagle in Chorlton, will take on the ex-Croma site in Manchester’s Clarence Street, with an opening planned for later this year. Nell’s opened its flagship site at the Kampus neighbourhood near Manchester Piccadilly in 2022 and followed this with openings within Common in Edge Street and The Beagle. Nell’s Pizza is known for its 22-inch New York-style pizzas.
JKS-backed pub venture eyes Chiswick opening: The pub venture backed by JKS Restaurants is set to open a third site, in London’s Chiswick. Propel understands that the business, which already operates The George in Fitzrovia and The Cadogan Arms in Chelsea, is set to take on The Crown on Chiswick High Road, which closed last month. JKS opened its first pub, The Cadogan Arms, in July 2021, in partnership with Dominic Jacobs and James Knappett, followed by the opening of The George, in Great Portland Street, later the same year. The Crown in Chiswick was previously operated by Harcourt Inns. A number of the freeholds of the former Harcourt Inns sites were placed on the market through Savills in the autumn of 2022, including the Three Cranes in the City, The Crown in Chiswick, The Coach in Clerkenwell and the Hero of Maida. The latter two were acquired by a private investor and are both to be operated by the Public House Group, the umbrella company from the team behind The Pelican in London’s Notting Hill. The Public House Group, which also operates The Bull in the Oxfordshire village of Charlbury, is currently gearing up to reopen the Hero of Maida pub, which is based in Maida Vale between Warwick Avenue and Little Venice.
Thai Leisure Group to open second Thaikhun Street site: Thai Leisure Group, operator of Thaikhun and Chaophraya, will open the second site under its all-you-can-eat buffet concept Thaikhun Street on Friday (12 April), in Sheffield. The business, which opened its first site under the concept in Manchester’s Trafford Centre at the end of 2021, will open the new restaurant in the Oasis Dining Quarter in Meadowhall. The company said that the buffet menu will change daily, meaning diners can explore a “new range of freshly made Thai dishes each time they visit, with plenty of vegan and vegetarian options”. Kim Kaewkraikhot, owner of Thai Leisure Group, told the Yorkshire Press: “Meadowhall is set to be our tenth UK restaurant and only our second all-you-can-eat buffet in the country, so we’re really looking forward to opening in such a great destination. We’re passionate about sharing the authenticity of Thai cuisine and can’t wait to bring that to the people of Sheffield and beyond. We’ll also be offering our signature deals including bottomless soft drinks, two for £12 cocktails and our hugely popular dessert stations, so be sure to come along and try them for yourselves.”
Spider Entertainment confirms plans to launch its own competitive socialising venue: Spider Entertainment, which provides design/build and operations management services for immersive entertainment venues, has confirmed it will open its first competitive socialising venue, in Manchester, later this year, called Spider Box. As Propel revealed last month, Spider Entertainment is to open a site at The Printworks scheme in the city. It has signed a ten-year lease agreement with DTZ, owners of The Printworks. Spider Entertainment, which has worked with the likes of Merlin Entertainment and Kidzania, said it is managing and undertaking the landlord works, ensuring that the property is fit for the experience to be built in due course. It is expected that these works will be completed by June, at which point the fit out of the experience will commence. Rob Hetherington, chief executive of Spider Entertainment, said: “Since our formation in 2020, we have had the ambition and drive to realise the opportunity to move into the ownership and operation of location-based entertainment. Manchester and more importantly The Printworks was at the top of our list of venues. The recent investment into Europe’s largest digital ceiling demonstrates The Printworks commitment to the site and to the city and we believe that Spider Box will fit neatly with its plans to make The Printworks a leading destination for immersive experiences and digital technology.” Propel understands that Spider Entertainment was previously eyeing an opening in Holborn, London. David Bell, of Starka, acted on The Printworks deal. 
Family entertainment centre operator completes restructure, generates FY profit: Family entertainment centre company Big Apple Entertainments has completed its restructure that includes a demerger into two separate groups. Big Apple Entertainments (Holdings) continues to be the ultimate parent company for one of these groups, which includes the trade of two freehold centres in Wallasey, Merseyside; and Dereham in Norfolk. In addition, it owns the freehold of a property in King’s Lynn in Norfolk, which is currently held for development, and which also houses another centre. The other group, American Amusements Holdings, was de-merged by way of a dividend in specie. That group now owns leasehold sites in Woking, Wokingham and the Isle of Wight. Turnover for the remaining Big Apple Entertainment business stood at £3,757,882 for the year to 30 June 2023 against £8,969,398 for the wider group during the 18 months to 30 June 2022. Pre-tax profit stood at £1,408,734 (2022: £3,031,951). The company said: “The group generated a profit of £1,184,663 for the year due to robust trading across all of its sites. The group has invested substantial capital expenditure across its sites in order to enhance the quality of its facilities and maintain a high-quality facility for its patrons. Due to the strong performance in the period, the group was able to clear substantial amounts of its borrowings with surplus funds.”
Greggs reports ‘significant progress’ on sustainability targets: Food-to-go operator Greggs has said it has made “significant progress” towards its 2025 sustainability targets. Three years into the five-year plan, Greggs said it has now opened 896 Greggs Foundation Breakfast Clubs, feeding more than 62,000 children every school day; donated almost £650,000 of Greggs Outlet profits to the Greggs Foundation Community Grant programme to distribute to communities in need; has 97.1% of electricity usage across all operations come from renewable sources; maintained more than 30% of its range as “healthier choice” products; and in excess of its 500 shops (21% of the estate) feature eco-shop elements. Chief executive Roisin Currie said: “I’m delighted that, in key areas, we have already achieved what we set out to do by the end of 2025. We have significantly exceeded our target to make 30% of our products a healthier choice; and our responsible sourcing policies are firmly established ahead of schedule. However, we’re always determined to do better. We believe in setting ambitious targets that push us to think innovatively and collaborate effectively, even in demanding circumstances.” Launched in 2021, The Greggs Pledge sets out ten focuses “to help make the world a better place”, with the aim of developing these over the years to come. Among its targets by 2025, Greggs will have opened 1,000 school breakfast clubs, providing 70,000 meals each school day; created 25% less food waste than in 2018 and continue to work towards 100% of surplus food going to those most in need; have 50 Outlet shops providing affordable food in areas of social deprivation; make sure 30% of its offering is “healthier choice” items; use 100% renewable energy across all of its operations; have 25% of its shops featuring eco-shop elements; and use 25% less packaging, by weight, than in 2019.
Indian street food concept makes Yorkshire debut for seventh site: Indian street food concept Tikka Nation has opened its seventh site and first in Yorkshire. Founders Sumit Jain and Vikas Narula opened their first Tikka Nation in Dorking, Surrey, in July 2020. This was followed by sites in Uxbridge in west London, Watford, Sutton Coldfield, St Albans and Preston. Tikka Nation has now opened on the lower ground floor at Leeds University students’ union in Lifton Place, Leeds. “Prepare your taste buds for a culinary adventure as we bring the vibrant flavours of Indian street food to the diverse community at Leeds University,” Tikka Nation founder and chief executive Vikas Narula said. “From spicy chaats to flavorful kebabs, Tikka Nation promises an unforgettable journey through the bustling streets of India, all conveniently located on campus. We owe this milestone to the unwavering support of our loyal customers and the dedication of our incredible team. Thank you for being a part of our journey, and we can’t wait to serve you at Tikka Nation's newest outlet.” To help with its growth plans, the business last year brought on board Paolo Peretti, former managing director at Patisserie Valerie, who helped restructure the cafe chain following its administration. Peretti now works as a self-employed franchise consultant and has helped fellow Indian street food brand Karak Chaii grow to circa 20 sites.

Midlands smash burger brand set to expand with two new openings this year after launching franchise programme: Midlands smash burger brand Brgr Lab is set to expand with two new openings this year after launching a franchise programme. Brothers Hamzah and Hassan Islam, who previously ran a marketing and branding agency together, launched Brgr Lab in 2020, opening its first restaurant in Coventry’s Stanton Road that same year. It launched a franchise programme last month and now has openings lined up in Birmingham and Leicester, earmarked for September. “We are incredibly excited to be expanding Brgr Lab’s footprint and introducing our concept to Leicester and Birmingham,” Hamzah Islam told whichfranchise. “Both cities have a vibrant food scene, and we believe our dedication to quality and innovation will resonate with local communities.” Brgr Lab is offering owner operator and area developer opportunities, as well as to existing takeaway or diner owners looking to refresh their operations. It estimates the cost of a franchise at £80,000 to £110,000, depending on the site, with franchisees expected to have at least 50% of the total investment in liquid capital. “The market has been crowded for a number of years with average quality at best, so we recognised that the opportunity presented by the covid pandemic would only be successful if we could produce a fantastic menu using only the freshest of ingredients, slick and efficient operations and great branding,” Hamzah added. “We have taken our passion for detail into our franchise model – from systems and operations, supply chain, training to marketing programmes. We are leaving nothing to chance in order to secure the success of our franchise network and are now thrilled to be launching our exciting franchise opportunity in the UK.” 

Anytime Fitness opens three new locations as it closes in on 200 sites: Anytime Fitness, which operates gyms across the UK, has opened three new London locations as it closes in on 200 sites. It has opened gyms in Tottenham Hale, Kingston and Abbey Wood, adding to the locations launched in Wimbledon and Brixton in January and February, bringing its estate to 192. The business said the openings showcase its potential to open in new-build residential developments, with Tottenham Hale and Abbey Wood opening in the new Heart of Hale and Thamesmead schemes. All three gyms are also operated by new franchisees, which it said demonstrates “a sustained interest in the franchise sector and the ambitions of entrepreneurs to run their own fitness facilities”. Anytime Fitness said new franchisee enquiries have risen significantly so far in 2024, and there is a healthy pipeline of openings set for the rest of the year. “Despite the challenging economic climate, we’re proud to consistently be opening new Anytime Fitness gyms,” said Daniel Penn, head of network development at Anytime Fitness UK. “The franchise sector is proving to be incredibly resilient, and it’s exciting to be able to welcome these new franchisees into our network and see them open their first locations.” Penn added that the three new gyms have all made a strong start to trading, opening with a significant number of members and already enjoying healthy revenue figures. In February, Anytime Fitness, which has more than three million members worldwide and operates across five continents, said it had broken its global record for pre-sale signs-ups.
Bedfordshire better burger concept set to open third site: Bedfordshire better burger concept The Shack is set to open its third site, and first in neighbouring Hertfordshire. The Shack, which already has restaurants in Biggleswade and Barton-le-Clay, is set to take over the former Deroka Turkish and Mediterranean restaurant at 32 Sun Street in Hitchin, which closed last summer. Owned by Zahurul Islam, The Shack serves up burgers, chicken wings and tenders, grilled sandwiches and Sunday roasts. “This is the start of another journey and we’re taking you with us,” The Shack said on social media. “Over the coming weeks, lots of exciting things will be happening behind these doors, and we’ll be taking you along our renovation journey at 32 Sun Street. Hitchin. Are you ready? We’re obsessed with food that bangs, but never in a million years did we think we’d be opening our third restaurant just three years after the first, which must mean you guys love street food just as much as us. So, if it’s chilled vibes and next level food you’re looking for, we’re your people.”

Chef Giancarlo Caldesi to open third restaurant this week: Chef Giancarlo Caldesi will open his second London restaurant and third overall this week. He will open Caldesi in the former Calici site at 29 Belsize Lane in Belsize Park, on Saturday (13 April). The venue will be his second Caldesi restaurant in the capital, having opened the Marylebone original in 2002, and he has also operated Caldesi in Campgana in Bray, Berkshire, since 2007. Caldesi and wife Kate previously ran a Tuscan cookery school in London, between 2005 and 2009, and were subjects of the 2006 BBC documentary Return to Tuscany, as well as appearing regularly on shows including MasterChef, Saturday Kitchen and Sunday Brunch. They have also published several cookbooks and offer cookery courses and private dining hire.

Team behind Hampshire hotel and restaurant open new Indian eatery: The team behind a Hampshire hotel and restaurant have opened a new Indian eatery at Hythe Marina Village. The Indian Kitchen, which offers 48 covers and has created 15 jobs, has opened at the £45m destination, which comprises 225 waterside homes alongside shops, restaurants and bars. Its owners are also behind The Boathouse Hotel and Restaurant, which occupies a nearby site at the Marina. The menu features a wide selection of chicken, lamb and seafood dishes alongside Tandoori breads and 11 different types of rice, reports The Daily Echo. Roshan Seedheeyan, one of the three businessmen behind the new venture, said more than £40,000 had been spent on refurbishing the premises. He added: "We are determined to give our customers a good experience and I think we will do really well. Eventually we hope to start a home delivery service, but not just yet.”

Suffolk Mediterranean restaurant owner set to double up: Delil Simsek, who has run Mediterranean restaurant Francela in Bury St Edmunds since 2016, is set to open a new restaurant in the Suffolk town. He is currently refurbishing the former Really Rather Good coffee shop at 31a Abbeygate Street ahead of opening the Italian Trattoria & Café. It is hoped the restaurant will be open before the end of July, reports the East Anglian Daily Times. Really Rather Good closed earlier this month after owners Annette and George Stanford announced their retirement. They had run the business for almost ten years.

Former Ginger Pig director of operations set to open debut restaurant in London’s Hackney: Lynsey Coughlan, former director of operations at farmers and retail butchers Ginger Pig, which has nine shops across London, is set to open her debut restaurant. She has partnered with fellow Hackney local Lindsay Lewis for Inis, which will be part of Fish Island’s The Trampery campus. Opening in May, Inis will serve up a mix of British and Irish food from head chef Craig Johnson, formerly of Arbutus and The Corner Room, with Ginger Pig as a key supplier. The cafe will open during the day only to begin with, serving breakfast and lunch, with weekend brunches and Sunday roasts also planned, while dinner will come later in the summer, along with alfresco seating. In addition to a “full Irish brekkie”, dishes will include whiskey smoked salmon with crème fraiche and pickled onion on Irish brown bread; mussels with chips and garlic bread; and French toast with mascarpone, stewed rhubarb and brown butter crumble. Clara Rubin is behind the wine list while Hawksmoor head of bars Liam Davy is responsible for the cocktails, reports Hot Dinners.

Shropshire brewery Salopian in management buyout: Shropshire brewery Salopian has been bought by its management team. Salopian, originally founded as Snowdonia Brewery in 1994 by Martin Barry at his pub in North Wales, relocated to Shrewsbury in 1995 and was renamed Salopian, the historic name for Shrewsbury. Barry, in 2004, left the brewery, and Mark Hill became a partner. The deal sees Hill increase his commitment to the future of the brewery alongside managing director Trevor Hourican, with continued support and ownership from Wilf Nelson. Situated in the village of Hadnall on the outskirts of Shrewsbury, the purpose-built brewery is complemented by its taproom and shop. Salopian, in 2021, saw the commissioning of its first canning line to work alongside the bottling line. While the business continues to uphold its tradition of crafting an eclectic range of cask ale, this is now complemented by a range of kegs, cans, and bottles. Hourican said: “This is a really significant deal as it not only recognises the team that has developed the company into the success it is today, but also ensures the next phase of growth is secured, allowing the business to continue developing well in the future. We will continue to diversify our offerings through further investments in canning lines and direct-to-consumer channels.” Arbuthnot Commercial Asset Based Lending supported the management buyout by providing a seven-figure funding package.

Shipping container-style market with F&B traders opens in Caerphilly: A shipping container-style market, which includes food vendors independent traders, has opened in Caerphilly. Ffos Caerffili is opposite the castle in Park Lane, behind the main street, Cardiff Road. Ffos Caerffili operator Grant Jones said: “We are hugely excited to share the wonders of Ffos Caerffili. We’ve been working extremely hard with all businesses involved to present a great range of local traders and are thrilled that the space will become a vibrant and buzzing centre of quality goods, produce and services within Caerphilly.” The opening of the market indicates the first stage of the Caerphilly Town 2035 Placemaking Plan. Funding support has come from the Welsh government’s Transforming Towns Initiative and the European Regional Development Fund. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund, a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda, has also supported the scheme. Caerphilly councillor Jamie Pritchard said: “We really hope Ffos Caerffili will be a place that people enjoy and visit many times over. There’s a good mix of businesses and a positive, friendly vibe.

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