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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Fri 12th Apr 2024 - Propel Friday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Chestnut sees turnover rise to £27.5m and site Ebitda jump 220% in FY24, set to add couple of sites to portfolio: East Anglian pub company Chestnut has seen turnover increase to circa £27.5m and site Ebitda jump 220% to reach £6.2m for the year ending 31 March 2024, Propel has learned. Chief executive Philip Turner said like-for-like sales in the first three months of 2024 were up 6% with accommodation sales ahead of expectations. Turner added the business is set to imminently add another couple of sites to its 16-strong portfolio. “Trading is robust,” he said. “Margins in our food business have also improved dramatically as we have worked hard to cut our procurement costs.” The company said operational progress made in 2023 is reflected in the fourth quarter metrics, which have flowed through to full-year 2024 site Ebitda growth. By developing real-time performance analytics, like-for-like improvements in the fourth quarter include food margin of 1.44%, wet margin of 3.3%, accommodation revenue up 11% and a 4.60% improvement in labour cost. The company said the turnaround in profit conversion rates achieved in 2023 has seen site level profit increase 220% since FY23 to £6.2m and sales/Ebitda conversion consistent across the year at 23%. Turner spoke after Chestnut reported revenue increased 15.4% to £21,764,706 for the year ending 31 March 2023 compared with £18,856,971 the previous year – with splits of 55% food, 19% accommodation and 29% drink. The group reported adjusted Ebitda (including head office costs) of minus £325,000, with a reported accounting loss of £3.40m including financing costs (£916,000), depreciation and amortisation charges of £1.95m and £300,000 related to the group’s employee option programme. Site Ebitda was £3.20m, compared with £4.60m in 2022, partially attributable to the integration of new businesses, increased wage costs (£2.0m) and a £0.5m increase in utility costs. “The 2023 results reflect a challenging year for the team and the sector, but taken in the broader context of what we have achieved up until today, speaks to a well-controlled operating business, with strong discipline over capital deployment and a healthy balance sheet to underpin the further growth of the Chestnut proposition and brand,” said chief financial officer Garrath Fulford. During the period, the group acquired The Old Bridge in Huntingdon and Peter Graham Wines as it diversified the business. Chestnut is about to launch its inaugural direct-to-consumer wine product. The group has 250 bedrooms in operation and under construction, while the Packhorse Inn in Malton reopened last week after a two-month refurbishment and extension project. An excess of 2,000 covers are forecast for summer 2024. Philip Turner 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. Turner will talk about creating sustainable rural managed pubs and diversifying the business, such as acquiring a wine merchant, as part of its growth strategy. 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.
 

Industry News:

Next edition of Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book to be sent to Premium Club members today: The next edition of the Propel Turnover & Profits Blue Book will be sent to Premium Club members today (Friday, 12 April), at midday. The 901 companies in the database are turning over a total of £65.2bn. A total of 577 companies are making a profit while 324 are making a loss. The profit being made by sector companies is now outstripping losses by £1.81bn. 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 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 kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com today to sign up.
 
Scottish government announces plans to improve rights of tied pub tenants: The Scottish government has announced plans to improve the rights of tied pub tenants in the country. A new Scottish Pubs Code is intended to enable eligible tied pub tenants to sell a guest beer from brands with small production levels, or switch to a market rate lease that allows them to purchase from any supplier. The new code will come into force on 7 October if secondary legislation is approved in parliament next week. The code will be overseen by an adjudicator who is expected to be appointed next month. Ministers expect the legislation to lead to a fairer tied pubs sector, with risks and rewards being more equally shared between tenants and their landlords. In 2023, it was estimated that there were just under 700 tied pubs in Scotland. Small business minister Richard Lochhead said: “We need to do all we can to protect pubs, bars and licensed clubs in Scotland, which in 2022 supported 34,000 jobs and play an important role in our communities. I am pleased that we are now free to introduce measures contained in the Tied Pubs Act and give tenants more freedom to choose the lease that best suits their needs and diversify the number of products they can sell. It’s in everyone’s interest that the sector prospers and I look forward to working with tenants, pub-owning businesses and the new Scottish Pubs Code adjudicator to deliver these important changes.” The Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill 2021 was passed by parliament in March 2021 and became an Act two months later. The introduction of secondary legislation follows the conclusion of unsuccessful legal challenges to the Act by some pub-owning businesses. A statutory Pubs Code and a Pubs Code adjudicator has been in place in England and Wales since 2016. 
 
Rishi Sunak spent £2m on focus groups for Eat Out to Help Out scheme: Rishi Sunak ordered multiple taxpayer-funded focus groups and polls to craft the messaging of his Eat Out to Help Out campaign in July 2020, it has been revealed. The Treasury negotiated five public opinion contracts worth more than £2m, including those to establish how best to “sell” the hospitality scheme to voters, according to internal emails released this week, under order of the information commissioner. Sunak, who was then chancellor, has denied that the £850m policy drove a second wave of covid infections, despite research showing it caused a rise of between 8% and 17%, while the economic benefits of the scheme were short-lived. At least 184 individual focus groups were carried out over the course of the first four contracts, reports The Guardian. The documents reveal that polling found that only 13% agreed the government should create incentives for people to spend on eating out while 39% thought it should not be a priority. This led to Sunak’s team discussing how to make the scheme more saleable to the public. The Treasury’s director of communications, Olaf Henricson-Bell, asked colleagues: “Can we test if people are more supportive of the hospitality stuff if it’s framed as about jobs?” In response, Cass Horowitz, a special adviser, replied that the ‘eat out, help out’ phrasing “frames it as supporting the sector/jobs rather than just having a nice time”. The Treasury has claimed an internal report in the months after the scheme suggested that there was little evidence it led directly to a spike in infections. A spokesperson said: “The government routinely conducts research on public sentiment to inform policy development, including during an unprecedented pandemic where the government acted to protect lives and livelihoods. The Eat Out to Help Out policy was considered as part of that work to support the hospitality industry and the jobs that relied upon it.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a foodservice business that is seeking a head of sales operations. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will facilitate the ongoing success of the sales and retention teams through key area and across multiple platforms. Areas of responsibility will include lead generation, sales marketing, training and development, innovation, special projects and CRM management. It is imperative that you have experience in a senior capacity across these areas along with a proven background in senior leadership team performance improvement. The team is established, and this newly created position will facilitate continuous growth and improvement utilising innovation in technology, dynamic training programmes and effective and accurate forecasting based on extensive sector knowledge. This will be a strategy driven role utilising market data and aligning to a wider company goal while maximising sales opportunities.” The salary is up to £60,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email olly@corecruitment.com.
 

Company News:

Stonegate returned to profitability in Q1, continues to work toward achieving long-term balance sheet goals: Stonegate Group, the UK’s largest pub company, returned to profitability in the first quarter of its financial year as it reiterated it continued to work towards achieving its “long-term balance sheet goals”. For the 16 weeks to 14 January 2024, the group achieved adjusted Ebitda of £117m (16 weeks 2023: £104m; 52 weeks 2023: £375m) and operating profit of £132m (16 weeks 2023: £79m; 52 weeks 2023: £68m). Pre-tax profit for the 16-week period was £23m against a pre-tax loss of £17m in the same period 12 months previously (52 weeks 2023: loss of £257m). The company reported profit growth across all its operating formats with total profit growth of 13.6%. It said Christmas trading was particularly strong, with double digit growth in the key trading week. For the 16 weeks to 14 January 2024, like-for-like sales in its managed estate were 1.6% up on the prior year. Craft Union, the group’s operator-led business, delivered like-for-like sales of 3.3%. It said its leased and tenanted division also “traded well, demonstrating consistent growth” with like-for-like sales of 7%. Total revenue for the period was £536m compared with £522m in the prior year and £1.719bn in the 52 weeks ended 24 September 2023. Of the £536m, the managed segment contributed £313m (16 weeks 2023: £319m, 52 weeks 2023: £1.011bn), while the leased and tenanted pubs and commercial property together contributed £129m (16 weeks 2023: £123m, 52 weeks 2023: £427m) and the operator-led segment, contributed £94m (16 weeks 2023: £80m, 52 weeks 2023: £281m). It comes as concerns were raised over the TDR Capital-backed company’s ability to refinance £2.2bn of its debts before 2025. Earlier this year, the business brought in advisers from Evercore, the investment bank, and Kirkland & Ellis, the law firm, to assess options for shoring up its balance sheet after an increase in interest rates. In December, Stonegate completed a £638m refinancing of a 1,034-strong pub portfolio, with debt provided by US private equity firm Apollo Global Management. David McDowall, chief executive of Stonegate, said: “I am really pleased with the performance of the business in 2023, which included a sector-leading Christmas trading period. We have delivered a rise in revenue and a significant increase in profitability. Our all-round performance exemplifies the strength and depth of the Stonegate estate, with our outstanding Craft Union and leased and tenanted divisions continuing to lead the way. This is testament to the hard work of our people and partners, but also to the success of our ongoing initiatives to increase profitability across our portfolio of brands and venue formats. Our performance gives me real confidence in the future and excitement in seeing our strategy come to fruition. Notably our asset optimisation plan that makes sure we have the right pub in the right location, further profit improvement initiatives, and above all, our efforts to continue to support the Great British pub. We have been very clear that we continue to work towards achieving our long-term balance sheet goals, with the successful refinancing of a portion of our estate in December marking a significant strategic step towards this. We would also like to assure our valued employees and partners that venues are not at risk as a result of this process.”
 
Gunewardena planning Olympia venue: Des Gunewardena, co-founder and former chief executive of restaurant group D&D London, is planning to launch a new flagship venue in London’s Olympia, Propel has learned. It understands that Gunewardena is in advanced talks to open a venue in Pillar Hall, a circa 30,000 square-foot space, which is part of the Olympia development. It is thought that the new venue will incorporate a restaurant, bar, and substantial events and live music spaces. Speaking to Propel last month, Gunewardena said that his new venture will focus on “landmark sites”. He said that there is still a ready supply of attractive sites in the capital. Gunewardena left D&D London in September 2022 after 16 years with the business. Last December, he announced he is to open a new restaurant and bar venue at The Royal Exchange, in the City, this May. Last week, he announced he had signed a deal with Canary Wharf Group to open a new concept in Canary Wharf in the fourth quarter of 2024, on the former D&D site, Plateau. 
 
Tasty reveals list of sites set to close as part of restructuring plans: Wildwood operator Tasty has revealed a list of 14 sites it will close as part of its restructuring plans. Earlier this week, the business unveiled proposals to exit as many as 20 loss-making sites as part of a restructuring plan after a “challenging state to its new financial year. The group said it also plans to enter into a £750,000 loan agreement to fund the restructuring plan and provide additional working capital, “to stabilise the company in FY 2024 and to meet new opportunities in the sector in FY 2025 beyond existing operations”. The loan agreement is with Will Roseff, a UK-based high net worth investor, chartered accountant and director and shareholder of bet365. Now Tasty has announced that it will close the Wildwood sites in Bicester, Birmingham, Brentwood, Cambridge, Chichester, Edinburgh, Kettering, Kingston, Ludlow, Market Harborough, Plymouth Derry’s Cross, Skipton and Worcester, plus its Dim T site in Loughton.  The group currently operates 54 sites comprising 43 Wildwood, six Dim T-branded sites, two non-trading sites and three sub-let sites. A spokesperson for Tasty said: “We understand the impact of these difficult decisions, but unfortunately, they represent the steps needed to navigate a path through the challenges that are prevalent in our industry specifically, and the economy in general. In our pursuit of operational efficiency and long-term sustainability, we have decided to implement a restructuring plan. We are confident that the changes will ensure the long-term viability of the company and will protect the employment of the majority of our staff. Our primary focus will be on optimising the performance of our remaining Wildwood and dim t restaurants and thereby securing the long-term viability and profitability of the company.”

Deep Blue looking to strengthen franchise business after licensing revenue grows 40%, sells one site and takes out £800,000 loan note: Deep Blue Restaurants – owner of the Deep Blue, Harry Ramsden’s and Fish & Chips @ 149 brands – has said it is looking to strengthen its franchise business after licensing revenue grew 40% in the year to 27 September 2022. Total revenue rose from £23,584,210 to £26,014,293 during the period, with its owned/operated estate – which dropped from 45 sites to 42 – contributing £24.6m (2021: £22.6m). Revenue from franchising and licensing increased from £1m to £1.4m. “The ongoing impact of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine prevented us from increasing the size of our estate but we continued to strengthen the franchising and licensing business, which remains a key strategic objective,” said director James Low, in a statement dated March 2024. “Franchising and licensing revenues rose in the period by 40% on the previous year. Franchising and licensing opportunities are increasing both nationally and internationally, which management believe will begin to be realised within the next 12 months.” The company’s Ebitda dropped from £5,407,755 in 2021 to £3,318,479 while its pre-tax loss widened from £381,847 to £2,347,865. Of the 2022 turnover, £25,937,496 came from the UK (2021: £23,535,593), nothing from Ireland (2021: £43,434) and £76,797 from Asia (2021: £5,183). The company received £72,063 in government grants compared with £391,000 in 2021. The company also reported £122,919 in exceptional costs relating to a loss of disposal of fixed assets (£79,875), an out of court settlement (£15,333) and redundancy costs (£27,711). Low said he was pleased that the business had achieved a gross profit margin of 68.7% and positive like-for-like sales despite challenges such as the government’s 35% tariff on Russian white fish. The company has taken steps to improve employee retention including reviewing pay rates plus improving staff benefits and training programmes. It expects to this year see the benefits of a retail channel development agreement allowing Harry Ramsden’s products to be sold under licence within the UK retail sector. Deep Blue is also exploring the use of virtual brands to optimise the profitability of its existing bricks-and-mortar estate. The company also plans to refurbish its remaining coastal sites, “which is expected to both increase sales and underpin the expansion of the franchising and licensing business”. In February 2024, the business sold one Deep Blue site and received £800,000 through an interest-free loan note, which is repayable in October 2024. Bank loans of £1,162,017 are due to be repaid by the start of August 2024, while Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme loans of £2,125,000 are due to be repaid by August 2025. No dividends were paid (2021: nil).
 
Temper to launch burger concept: Temper, the Imbiba-backed, Sam Lee de Lagonell-led modern barbecue brand, is to launch a sister, smash burger-focused concept next Wednesday (17 April) in London. Temper Burger will open on the former Patty & Bun site in White City. Propel understands that Temper is already looking at further sites in the capital for the new concept, which will offer smash burgers made with the same beef as its steaks. Lee de Lagonell told Propel: “The launch of Temper Burger is part of our commitment to sustainably sourcing beef. We buy the cattle that produces Temper's signature steaks exclusively through Charles Ashbridge in North Yorkshire, ageing and butchering it in-house. The burgers are made from the same beef as the steaks, so it’s the same amazing quality meat, and it minimises waste at the same time. At Temper, we always have our eyes on expansion, so I think it would be a safe assumption that the same can be said of Temper Burger.” Lee de Lagonell told Propel in December last year that the business was set to launch a new concept. She was speaking after the company opened its fifth Temper restaurant in the capital, in Merchant Square, Paddington. The business, which launched in 2017 and is operated under the Casper & Cole umbrella, also operates sites in Soho, the City, Shoreditch and Seven Dials. Nick Garston, of the Found Agency, acted on the White City deal.
 
Caravan FY lfl sales up 7.6%, latest opening in Covent Garden exceeding expectations: Caravan, the restaurant, bar and coffee-roasting concept, saw its like-for-like sales increase 7.6% in the year to 25 June 2023, as it said the initial performance of its most recent opening, in Covent Garden, had exceeded expectations. The company, which will make its regional debut in Manchester later this year, reported turnover for the year of £22,116,560 (2022: £20,133,694), with adjusted Ebitda of £1,003,044 (2022: £1,730,478). It posted a pre-tax profit of £179,611 (2022: £863,739). The company said: “The period ended 25 June 2023 saw strong trading for the group, as our focus on providing a high-quality service and food experience, at a democratic price point, appealed to new and existing customers, driving record sales volumes across the estate. Our growth year on year came in both customer transaction volumes and spend across our restaurants, and saw continued strong performance all day across every day part. Despite the sector facing challenges from long-lasting industrial action across the rail network, and prolonged high inflation, Caravan has grown both sales and Ebitda when removing the impact of government support measures in place in relation to the pandemic in the prior year. During the period the business focused on driving sales growth, continual improvements to profitability, and on building the pipeline for new restaurant openings, with our eighth restaurant, in London's Covent Garden, opening following the period end. The initial trading performance of Caravan Covent Garden has exceeded expectations, and the business has subsequently exchanged contracts on the ninth Caravan site, and first outside of London, due to open in Manchester in mid-2024.” The company said it was in the process of attaining B­ Corp status and has removed single-use plastic from the business. Last month, Laura Harper-Hinton, co-founder of Caravan, told Propel that the business had begun discussions on funding options for 2024-25. On further expansion, she told Propel: “We’re looking to continue to grow in a mindful, yet ambitious way over the coming months. Further regional locations are definitely on the cards, as are other London locations.”
 
Little Door & Co secures fifth venue, to take over iconic Bag O’ Nails site: House-party inspired late-night bar and restaurant concept, Little Door & Co, will open its fifth site in London’s Soho this June, Propel has learned. The Little Violet Door is the group’s second central London site, joining The Little Scarlet Door in Soho and neighbourhood locations The Little Yellow Door (Notting Hill), The Little Blue Door (Fulham) and The Little Orange Door (Clapham). Once open, the group will pass more than 150 employees and will be on course to deliver a turnover of £12m for 2024. Within Shaftesbury Capital’s Soho neighbourhood, the 3,400 square-foot, 180-capacity site at 9 Kingly Street – formerly music venue Bag O’ Nails frequented by the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Paul McCartney and Pete Townshend – is spread over two floors with additional terrace seating out front. Each area in the new venue is being designed to transport guests to a real-life home with colourful soft furnishings, prints, bookcases and record collections. Additional touches pay homage to the birthplace of Swinging London in the 1960s, with references to both music and fashion. The ground floor will house a sitting room and a vinyl bar, while downstairs is designed with flat parties in mind. At the very heart of the venue will be the kitchen disco, where DJs will “provide a house party vibe straight from the kitchen counter from Wednesday through to Saturday”. Additional lower ground floor rooms will include a living room, laundry room and a games room complete with retro video game consoles and cocktail bar. Unlike its sister sites, The Little Violet Door will trade from noon daily, with a menu of sharing dishes including tacos and mezze boards, while the Little Door & Co’s signature bottomless brunch will be available every weekend. Co-founder and director Kamran Dehdashti said: “Following the success of The Little Scarlet Door, our ambition has always been to grow our footprint in central London. From hosting our first pop-up ten years ago, our fifth site is a real milestone.” 
 
Six by Nico confirms Oxford site opening: Six Company, the company behind the Six by Nico restaurant business, has confirmed it will open a site under its core brand in Oxford. As revealed by Propel in February, Six Company will open a site on the rooftop of the Westgate scheme. Six by Nico Oxford – which opens on Wednesday, 22 May – will have capacity for 64 covers in the main dining area with a private dining space for 12 guests, plus a terrace in a space boasting nearly 4,300 square foot overall, and 50 jobs will be created. Since opening in Finnieston in 2017, Six by Nico now has 15 locations including two in London, two in Manchester and three in Glasgow, as well as sites in Aberdeen, Belfast, Dublin, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Leeds and Cardiff. Founder Nico Simeone said: “We are thrilled to bring the taste of Six by Nico to Oxford. Westgate Oxford, located in the heart of the city, is a great site for us as it has become a popular food and lifestyle destination. We pride ourselves on originality – Six by Nico is founded on a meticulously curated and ever-changing tasting menu that combines various ingredients, tastes, and dishes, drawing inspiration from both the UK and beyond.” Earlier this month, Propel revealed that Six by Nico has lined up a second opening in Edinburgh, with an opening in Queensferry Street, in the unit formerly occupied by Foundry 39. A further three sites are set to open in the second half of this year.
 
Domino’s completes acquisition of remaining 85% stake in largest franchisee on island of Ireland for £62m: Domino’s Pizza has completed the acquisition of the remaining 85% shareholding in its largest franchisee in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland for £62m. Last month, Domino’s announced it had entered into a binding sale and purchase agreement to acquire the remaining stake in Shorecal for a total consideration of €72m (£62m). Domino’s said following clearance by the Republic of Ireland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, the transaction has now completed. As previously announced, 61% of the consideration is payable in cash, with the remaining 39% to be satisfied by an issuance of shares in the company. Shorecal operates 34 of the 99 Domino’s stores across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Domino’s previously said the acquisition will allow the business to take control of a significant opportunity to “materially increase the store count in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland”.
 
Popeyes UK hires Peter Gibson as director of acquisitions and estates: Popeyes UK, the US fried chicken quick-service restaurant brand backed here by TDR Capital, has hired Peter Gibson, formerly of Chicken Shop, Flat Iron and Nando’s, as its new director of acquisitions and estates. Gibson joins Popeyes from Chicken Shop, where he was responsible for the restaurant's group’s property acquisitions for the past two years. His previous roles include property director at Flat Iron and property acquisitions and asset manager at Nando’s. The appointment comes after Popeyes announced plans to double its estate in 2024, opening over 30 new locations by the end of year. Tom Byng, chief development officer at Popeyes, said: “We are delighted to welcome Peter to Popeyes to lead our property acquisition strategy. His experience in the hospitality industry and proven track record of helping some of the biggest restaurant groups across the UK grow makes him the ideal person to take on this important role as we look ahead to an exciting year for Popeyes. Peter will play a critical role in driving this hyper-growth phase of the business’ history, and delivering on our aim to take the total number of Popeyes UK restaurants to over 60 by December this year.” The company will launch its latest site next Monday (15 April), in Aberdeen, its 11th opening of 2024. The outlet will open in Union Street and seat up to 50 people, with takeaway also available.
 
Five Points Brewing hits £350,000 crowdfunding target as it looks to start expanding pub estate: London-based Five Points Brewing has hit its £350,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube as the business looks to start expanding its pub estate and increase brewing capacity. The company, founded 11 years ago, is offering 2.25% equity in return for the investment, giving a pre-money valuation of £15,200,000. So far, it has raised more than £356,000 from nearly 500 investors, with 13 days of the campaign remaining. Led by its founders and existing investors, the campaign will raise investment for additional brewing capacity, production efficiencies and the expansion of its current taproom and courtyard premises, alongside the acquisition of new pub sites. The company said it views the expansion of its own pub estate as a crucial part of its growth strategy. Its Pembury Tavern site in Hackney will serve as a showpiece for additional sites – providing a model for beer sales, increased brew volumes, diversified routes to market and a showcase for its beer range. Last month, Five Points reported “significant growth” in 2023, marked by a 17% increase in revenue for the brewing company and 23% growth at The Pembury Tavern. Total consolidated net sales across the business were £4.68m. Sales at the brewing company were up 17% to £3.53m, while sales at The Pembury Tavern were up to more than £1m. Ebitda for the group was £297,000. This raise marks a third crowdfunding round for Five Points Brewing, having previously raised more than £950,000 in 2021 and almost £1.2m in 2018.
 
Wingstop reveals 30% of UK revenue coming from delivery as it extends exclusive partnership with Deliveroo: Wingstop UK, which is being rolled out here by Lemon Pepper Holdings, has revealed 30% of its revenue comes from delivery as it extended its exclusive partnership with Deliveroo. Wingstop’s menu is available exclusively to Deliveroo customers to order on demand in 15 cities across the UK. Wingstop UK now has 43 sites nationwide, including 12 delivery kitchens with Deliveroo. Wingstop’s recent openings include Birmingham, Edinburgh and Leeds, and it is on track to open 15 sites this year, including further restaurants in London, in Clapham, Croydon and its largest site yet, at Westfield Stratford City. Tom Grogan, co-founder and chief executive of Lemon Pepper Holdings, said: “Wingstop UK has become a destination for those looking to enjoy great food and an authentic flavour experience and this partnership will help us reach customers to enjoy our delicious wings, tender, burgers and sides from the comfort of their home.” 
 
Pieminister franchisee secures six-figure investment to help expand his padel concept, plans second funding round: Pieminister franchisee Mark Hewlett has secured a six-figure investment to help expand his new padel concept, Soul Padel. Hewlett is the founder of Black 29 Holdings, which in December became a franchisee in the north for pie and mash restaurant operator Pieminister. At around the same time, he founded Soul Padel, with the aim of further spreading take-up of the racquet sport. In January, Propel reported that Hewlett was aiming to launch the first Soul Padel site this year, followed by at least four more, and had appointed consultancy Lamb & Swift to search for sites in sites in the north west. The new funding will be used to acquire suitable sites. The business currently has more than 20 sites under review and offers in on seven locations. It had more than a dozen potential investors when it opened its first round of funding, but Hewlett said it opted to secure all the finance from one high-net worth individual. “When we opened the first round of funding we had interest immediately and decided to secure funding from one individual, who was extremely keen to back our business and is very aligned to our vision and values,” he told Insider Media. “To secure funding this quickly is pretty humbling but also confirms we are bringing something special and unique to the UK padel sector. Our plans now are to look at a second funding round, which will enable us to continue to deliver on our vision to welcome everyone to the court. Now is the right time for investors to be putting money into padel. The sport is at a nascent stage in its growth in the UK and is recognised as the fastest growing sport in the world. Padel offers a diversified investment opportunity into the rapidly expanding competitive socialising sector. Securing funding in just a few weeks signals to the market that we are serious about the growth of the business.”
 
Bagel Factory set to make Liverpool debut: Bagel Factory, which is owned by Cremonini Group, one of the largest European food operators, is set to make its Liverpool debut. It will later this month launch a kiosk at the Liverpool ONE destination, offering a wide range of bagel choices for any time of day, whether savoury, sweet, gluten free or vegan. It is a 27th UK site for the brand, which recently become halal-friendly certified. It has 12 locations in London, four in Leeds, two in Manchester and one each in Southampton, Luton, Birmingham, Newcastle, Hull, Huddersfield, York and Edinburgh. Antonio Ghirarduzzi, managing director at Bagel Factory, said: “We are really looking forward to launching Bagel Factory in Liverpool for the first time, bringing our bagels to a city full of on-the-go movement, where we truly feel the demand for us will be strong. An established and renowned destination such as Liverpool ONE offers us the opportunity to confidently debut in a new city, and we are incredibly excited to open our doors next month.” Last month, Propel revealed that Bagel Factory is set to open eight sites in 2024 and remains on track with its plan to have a 38-strong estate before the end of 2025. It comes as the business reported turnover from its 18 company-owned sites increased to £3,057,465 for the year ending 31 December 2022 compared with £1,593,155 the year before. Pre-tax losses were up to £604,029 from £518,032 the previous year.
 
Freemans Events Partners makes four new senior appointments: Freemans Event Partners, the UK-based global multi-service event partner, has made four new appointments to its senior team, including a new head of food. Luke Buckle will be responsible for heading up the food department across Freemans’ portfolio of event and venue partners, including Twickenham Stadium, Lord’s Cricket Ground and Silverstone Circuit. Having most recently worked at RedCat Pub Company as a regional operations manager, he has also held management roles at businesses including Marston’s and Cirrus Inns. In addition, Jamie Coleman has been promoted to head of beverage. During his ten-year tenure at Freemans, he has managed the bar operations at iconic events and venues such as Major League Baseball at London Stadium, the NFL at Wembley Stadium and the Formula One British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Jake Denton has also been promoted to head of concessions and will manage a team of account managers across 650 event days, as well as a growing portfolio of concessionaires. All will report into Lee Davies, the company’s operations director, who has been with Freemans for over two decades and has overseen the company grow from a food and beverage and concessions business into a multi-service operation. Chief executive Stephen Freeman said: “This is an incredibly exciting time for our business, and we are thrilled to announce these appointments ahead of what promises to be a very exciting and a busy 2024 for us. These appointments and promotions underline our strategy of driving growth through partnerships with best-in-class venues and partners across the world.”

Aspinall’s narrows losses but turnover remains more than half of pre-covid levels: London private gaming club Aspinall’s narrowed its losses in the year ending 30 June 2023, but turnover remained way off pre-pandemic levels. The period saw turnover rise to £12,234,000 from £7,604,000 the previous year but the figure lags way behind the £30,959,000 reported in the last full year before the pandemic, ending 30 June 2019. Of the 2023 figure, £11,838,000 came from gaming (2022: £7,272,000) and £396,000 from food and drink (2022: £332,000). Pre-tax losses narrowed to £2,016,000 from £6,020,000 the year before (2019: profit of £1,693,000). In their report accompanying the accounts, the directors stated: “Despite continued challenging market conditions, gaming revenue increased during the year as international travel restrictions eased after the impacts of the global pandemic.” The company had net assets of £13,054,000 at year-end (2022: £14,947,000) and net current assets of £8,256,000 (2022: £12,534,000). Aspinall’s said funding from parent company Crown Resorts will help it meet its liabilities. Aspinall’s did not receive any government grants (2022: £142,000). No dividend was paid (2022: nil). 
 
SSP opens its first UK Burger King drive-thru: SSP Group, the UK operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, has opened its first Burger King drive-thru location. It has launched on Thremhall Avenue, near the terminal on the main road in and out of Stansted airport in Essex. Burger King already operates from inside the terminal and at the M11 junction 8 services at Birchanger Green. “I am so delighted to share the news of our new Burger King drive thru opening today,” said SSP operations manager Atif Ali. “This is our first drive-thru Burger King in SSP UK & Ireland. It has been a huge project with many cross-functional teams involved. The unit looks stunning, and it’s located just outside Stansted airport on Thremhall Avenue. If you are coming into the terminal drop off, you can’t miss us. If you were in a hurry and forgot to get your burger while leaving the airport, don’t worry, we have got it all covered. Just come to Stansted Burger King drive-thru for a Whopper on the go!” It is understood that Caffé Nero will also next month open its first-ever 24-hour drive-thru branch, in the same hub on Thremhall Avenue, which will be the brand’s fifth unit at Stansted.
 
Gooey co-founder launches crowdfund to help fund opening of new pasta restaurant: Patrick Brown, co-founder of Manchester brunch and bakery concept Gooey, has launched a £60,000 crowdfund to help fund the opening of a new pasta restaurant in the city. Brown is hoping to launch Onda, in Manchester’s Circle Square on Oxford Road, at the end of May, and has already raised more than a third of his target on its first day. This includes more than £14,000 raised in the first 40 minutes after launching the campaign. “We need to raise £60,000 to help open our restaurant,” Brown said. “To raise this money, we are selling discounted vouchers to Onda, including priority booking. We are also selling other perks like full tiramisu trays, pasta workshops and more. Every voucher comes with a little extra for you to spend at Onda as a thank you for the support. We’re doing it completely on our own channels, opening without investment, and all the money goes towards fitting out the restaurant, kitchen appliances and so on.” The vouchers will expire at the end of 2025. Brown founded Gooey with Jake Ansbro and Sax Arshad in 2020 as a delivery-only service during lockdown. It then opened a kiosk in the foyer of the Ducie Street Warehouse before launching its debut bricks and mortar site, a 40-cover all day cafe and bakery, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. It now has six sites in the city through a mixture of cafes and kiosks, and recently opened a kiosk in Liverpool’s Bold Street for its first site outside of Manchester, and sold its first overseas franchise, in the UAE. In February, Gooey’s franchise consultant, Charlie Mander of Presman & Colard International, told Propel that he sees the potential for 30-40 Gooey sites in the UK. Brown is also behind EATMCR, a branding and design consultancy “supporting food, drink and culture.
 
Fallow team confirm April opening for new venue Roe: The team behind London restaurant concept Fallow has confirmed its new restaurant in London’s Wood Wharf, Roe, will open on Monday, 22 April. Chefs Will Murray and Jack Croft, alongside chairman James Robson, will follow the same nose-to-tail and root-to-stem ethos seen at its sister restaurant, Fallow St James’s, and Fowl, the fast-casual chicken shop concept it opened in the capital last October. Set across three floors, the 500-cover restaurant features a ten-seat chef’s table, a mezzanine private dining room and a wraparound terrace overlooking the South Dock Canal. Head chef Jon Bowring, who worked at Dinner by Heston for ten years, will lead a menu in which the eponymous roe deer, native to London’s East End, takes centre stage in a Roe Mixed Grill, championing underused cuts of the meat, with harissa flamed haunch, skewers and sausages served with bright, smoky peppers. Forgotten varieties of fish like wrasse, pouting, dab and tope sourced from Cornish and Devon waters will also be used to create dishes, while Bowring will introduce his own version of a Cornish Pasty, filled with Maitake and oyster mushrooms, a Madeira gravy and served with a walnut ketchup. The drinks list, curated by bar manager Tommy Long, features cocktails “inspired by the jewels of an English garden”, plus biodynamic and low-intervention wines. Last week, Propel revealed that the team behind Fallow had secured a new £3m loan to aid its growth plans. The business secured the funds from NatWest after reporting a 70% increase in net revenue for the first quarter of 2024 to in excess if £3m across its two sites.

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