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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators

Tue 23rd Apr 2024 - Propel Tuesday News Briefing

Story of the Day: 

Bistrot Pierre to roll out new all-day dining concept if feedback is positive, launching Pierre’s in response to changing consumer demands: Bistrot Pierre has told Propel it will roll out its new all-day dining concept if the feedback is positive, and that it is launching Pierre’s in response to changing consumer demands. The new concept will launch at Friars Walk in Newport on Thursday, 2 May, marking the group’s return to the Welsh town following a two-year absence, with the Bistrot Pierre in Friars Walk having closed in September 2022. “It feels like the right time to come back with a new trading concept – we’ve been talking about it since July last year,” Jess Wight, Bistrot Pierre’s marketing director, told Propel. “The reason we started that conversation is looking at how customer dining habits and behaviour have changed. Bistrot Pierre has been around for 30 years this year, and since then the world has become a very different place. We still have customers come into the Nottingham restaurant and tell us they were here in 1994 when we opened, and they’re still really loyal, which is amazing, but the people who will follow them dine out quite differently and are no longer looking for three courses and a glass of wine. We’re seeing people look for a more casual way of dining. Newport did extremely well on key occasions like Christmas, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day but people didn’t see us as somewhere they could come for a quick coffee or a sandwich on a Tuesday afternoon. That’s becoming more prevalent and that’s why we’re responding to it.” As well as menu changes, Pierre’s will feature more comfortable seating, so people “can sit and chat over a coffee for a couple of hours and aren’t restricted by a restaurant chair”. Wight said: “There is potential for a roll out, but we want to get it right before we choose where we go next. We’ve got a great menu to open with but we’re really looking for customer feedback, sales trends and how the younger demographic respond. And if we need to, we’ll do some tweaks to the food and drink offering, and any pricing and offers, and then look at where we can roll out to next. We’ve paused on any acquisition while we get this right, and then, who knows?” Newport also marks a first opening for the group since 19 of its sites were acquired out of administration in 2020 and brings its estate back up to 18. “Nothing is off the cards, but the first thing we will do is look at where we’ve got Bistrot Pierres, and if there is a location that screams to us that a Pierre’s could to really well here, then that will be what we do first,” Wight added. “Opening a new site and getting in a new team is a big task, but if we already have somewhere we know it will work, that will be our main priority. That will be our first step, and then step two will be starting to look further afield should it be right. There isn’t a short-term plan currently for more Bistrot Pierres. We perform really well in the sites that we’re in, and we’d have to think long and hard about what it would mean if we were to grow outside of those locations we are in. We’ve had different strategies over the years as we’ve grown the business. We were very Midlands based, then went down to the south west, which performed really well after the pandemic when people weren’t travelling abroad. But hospitality is just not trading like it used to, so we’ll have to see what happens. Now is the right time to focus on the new concept though as we’ve got some real good stability in restaurants. Recruitment was hard after the pandemic, but we feel like we’re in a really good place now in the majority of our Bistrots.”
 

Industry News:

Sponsored message – Sybron becomes carbon neutral on its journey to net zero: Sybron, a UK supplier of cleaning, hygiene and catering products to some of the largest names in hospitality, has been awarded with carbon neutral NCZ silver certification. This verifies that the company has had an ISO compliant scope 1, 2 and 3 carbon emissions report and has fully balanced all emissions through an ICROA-approved, VCS-certified carbon offset project. Sybron launched SyBio in 2022, environmentally friendly products that “deliver improved performance, safer applications and reduced costs”. SyBio replaces harmful, non-renewable chemicals with “adaptive biotechnology that cleans, disinfects, augments, remediates and protects a range of environments”. In 2023, Sybron launched SySoft luxury bamboo toilet tissue, made from 100% bamboo and with plastic-free packaging. Sybron created this sustainable product with exceptional environmental properties, in response to growing customer demand. “Our core business values are innovation and sustainability, so achieving carbon neutral status is a first and major step towards our ultimate goal to achieve net zero,” said Sybron sales and marketing director, George Mason. “Innovation and sustainability go hand-in-hand as demonstrated through the launch of SyBio and SySoft and we have other projects in the pipeline, all of which will enhance our and our customers’ sustainability criteria.” To find out more about Sybron, click here. If you have a sponsored story you would like to see featured in this newsletter position, email paul.charity@propelinfo.com.
 
Punch Pubs MD Robin Belither and COO Andy Spencer to speak at Excellence in Pub & Bar Retailing Conference, open for bookings with 20% discount on tickets for Premium Club members: Punch Pubs & Co managing director Robin Belither and chief operating officer Andy Spencer 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. Spencer and Belither will talk about building the company’s managed partnerships division from scratch, the journey the division has been on, its successes, learnings and what comes next. 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.
 
Propel’s latest Multi-Site Database to be released on Friday with seven category segmentation including 765 operators from the pub and bar sector: The next Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate, providing details of more than 3,000 multi-site operators, will be released on Friday (26 April) at midday to Premium Club members – and companies are now searchable in seven main segments. The database features 910 (29%) operators from the casual dining sector, 765 (25%) pub and bar operators, 510 (16%) cafe bakery operators, 420 (14%) quick service restaurant operators, 250 (8%) hotel operators, 190 (6%) experiential leisure operators and 53 (2%) fine dining operators. The database is updated each month – this edition includes 23 new companies and brings the total to 3,098. New additions in the pub and bar sector include Berkshire-based brewer and retailer Siren Craft Brew, which is opening a second taproom, in a 3,800 square-foot space in Reading’s new Station Hill development. Plus, Longbow Bars & Restaurants, founded in 2019 by Rob Hattersley, is rapidly expanding in the Derbyshire area. Premium Club members also receive access to five other databases: the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, the New Openings Database, the UK Food and Beverage Franchisor Database, the UK Food and Beverage Franchisee Database and the Who's Who of UK Hospitality. Plus, all members will be offered a 20% discount on tickets to five Propel paid-for events – The Excellence in Pub Retailing Conference (14 May), Social Media for Profit (18 July), the Talent and Training Conference (1 October) and Restaurant Marketer and Innovator (two days in January 2025). Operators are also able to send up to four members of staff to each of our four Multi-Club Conferences for free. Premium Club members receive their daily Propel Info newsletter 11 hours earlier than standard subscribers, at 7pm the evening before. They also receive videos of presentations at eight Propel conference events two weeks after they are held. This represents around 100 videos of industry insight over the course of the year. Premium Club members will be sent a dedicated monthly newsletter that will highlight key updates in the sector and direct subscribers to all the vital content their membership offers. Premium Club members also receive exclusive opinion columns every Friday at 5pm, which include the thoughts of Propel group editor Mark Wingett and a host of industry leaders from across the sector. A Premium Club subscription costs an annual sum of £495 plus VAT for operators and £595 plus VAT for suppliers. Companies can now have an unlimited number of people receive access to Premium Club for a year for £995 plus VAT – whether they are an operator or a supplier. Email kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com today to sign up.
 
UKHospitality welcomes delay to tipping legislation but urges greater clarification for agency workers: UKHospitality has welcomed the delay to implementing the UK’s new tipping legislation but has urged greater clarification for how it will affect agency workers. New tipping laws set to come into force have been pushed back from July until October this year to allow businesses more time for implementation. It comes as the final code of practice of the Fair Tips Act was officially unveiled and laid before parliament by the Department of Business and Trade yesterday (Monday, 22 April). The new code introduces significant changes aimed at enhancing transparency and fairness in the distribution of tips across the hospitality industry and other sectors. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “Hospitality is a people business, and it’s so important that we reward our staff through a fair and transparent tipping system. Delaying the implementation for a further three months is an appropriate step. The revised time frame will now allow businesses to implement any changes required and is evidence of government acting on feedback from UKHospitality. It is disappointing, however, that the government has not provided greater clarification of agency workers and the payment of tips, which is a particular sticking point for businesses. Given the desire from all parties involved to get this legislation right, we would urge government to work with UKHospitality on providing greater clarity on this issue before the legislation comes into force in the autumn.”
 
Supply chain management company Alcumus Safecontractor to host free webinar help operators elevate their supply chain resilience: Supply chain management company Alcumus Safecontractor is to host a free webinar helping operators to elevate their supply chain resilience. With the hospitality industry facing various supply chain disruptions, and in today’s competitive environment, it is essential to ensure compliance with industry regulations. Failure to do so can lead to expensive fines, legal issues, damage to reputation and even site closures. During this webinar, Amanda Reynolds, senior business manager at Alcumus Safecontractor, will discuss crucial strategies to address key issues like labour shortages, operational efficiencies, and increasing environmental, social and governance (ESG) pressures. Reynolds will also delve into the vital significance of capturing and establishing baseline health and safety and ESG data, offering valuable insights for senior professionals looking to protect their supply chains. The webinar will be sent out at 9am today (Tuesday, 23 April). 
 
Delays in cutting interest rates ‘will keep UK economy subdued’: The British economy will remain subdued this year thanks to the Bank of England delaying cuts to interest rates amid stubborn inflation, but growth is expected to improve markedly in 2025, new forecasts show. The Times reported gross domestic product is projected by the EY Item Club to jump by 0.7% this year, a downgrade from the 0.9% expansion forecast by the consultancy in the winter. Economic activity is likely to remain constrained by interest rates staying tight for longer than thought. Financial markets now expect the bank to lower rates by a quarter point only once or twice this year, starting at the September or November monetary policy committee meetings. Six quarter-point rate cuts were priced in at the start of the year. Higher-than-anticipated inflation and signals from members of the monetary policy committee that borrowing costs need to remain tight prompted the EY Item Club to trim its expectations for rate cuts this year to three from five, starting in June. The base rate stands at a 16-year high of 5.25%. The EY Item Club said it expects inflation to reach the official 2% target in the second half of this year and average below that level for the rest of 2024. Crucially, a string of inflation data from the US has prompted a recalibration of how long the Federal Reserve will maintain a restrictive policy position among investors, casting doubt over the Bank of England’s future interest rate decisions. Only one or two quarter-point cuts by the world’s most influential central bank are priced in now after figures this month showed inflation jumped to 3.5% in March. Peter Arnold, EY UK chief economist, said: “High inflation, energy prices and interest rates have mired the UK in economic stagnation in recent years but all three obstacles to growth have now either fallen away already or are expected to diminish in 2024. Falling inflation and interest rates, alongside tax cuts, should help unlock growth in consumer spending, house prices and real incomes. While 2024 isn’t expected to be a year of enormous economic momentum, it should provide a stepping stone to a far brighter 2025.”
 
UK bottle return scheme delayed again: A bottle return scheme, one of the government’s flagship schemes for reducing waste, has been delayed by two years. The Times reported the decision means the “deposit return scheme” first floated six years ago will not start operating until 2027 at the earliest. The new timeline is a fresh delay for a major recycling policy that had already been postponed from 2024 to 2025. Dozens of countries around the world already have such schemes in place, including Germany and Australia. The idea is that consumers pay a higher upfront cost for single use bottles and are then refunded money when they return the bottle to a machine or “takeback” desks in shops – 20p in the case of a Scottish scheme that was due to be introduced last year. The Scottish plans were postponed amid a row between Westminster and Holyrood, leading to plans for a unified, UK-wide scheme to begin at the “stretching” start date of October 2025. However, that has been delayed to 2027, to allay businesses’ concerns about the costs and practicalities of implementing such a scheme. Steve Barclay, the environment secretary, recently told MPs that having a scheme that worked across four of the UK nations meant 2025 looked to be an unrealistic target. Shops will be required to host return points for the bottles, and people will have to bring them back with caps or lids attached to receive their money. The Times understands that only Wales will be including glass in its scheme, though the Scottish government had previously wanted to include glass too. The glass industry had lobbied heavily for excluding glass for the scheme, arguing it would be better to boost how much glass is collected by kerbside recycling from homes. Steel and aluminium bottles will be covered by the scheme.
 
Uber Eats reports ‘huge shift’ in London restaurant selection as orders move away from ‘weekend treat’: Uber Eats has said it has seen a “huge shift” in its London restaurant selection since lockdown measures were eased as orders move away from being a “weekend treat”. It comes as Uber Eats adds a series of London restaurants to its platform, with Detroit Pizza and Four Seasons among those signing exclusively across all their sites. Uber Eats now has more than 21,000 restaurants across the capital on the platform and in excess of 200 cuisine categories. It said restaurants like VQ, which are open 24 hours a day, are serving up orders across all dayparts – a “stark contrast to the traditional views of takeaways being a weekend treat once in a blue moon”. In addition to the new exclusive partnerships in the capital, Uber Eats has recently added a slew of London eateries including better fried chicken concept Coqfighter, Japanese restaurant group Taro and Korean barbecue brand Yori. Acai brand OakBerry has also joined, while chicken sandwich concept Butchies is also now available on Uber Eats across its five London sites. Crosstown Doughnuts, the artisan doughnut and speciality coffee brand, and Doughnut Time have also both just joined Uber Eats, ending their exclusive partnerships with other delivery operators. Matthew Price, regional general manager of Uber Eats in UK & Ireland and northern Europe, said: “We’ve seen some fantastic recent additions to Uber Eats thanks to the hard work of the team, which supports our restaurant partners every day. Londoners are going to love our new expanded selection.”
 
Finnish roastery launches AI coffee blend: A roastery in Helsinki has launched a coffee blend chosen by an artificial intelligence (AI) programme, whose “somewhat weird” selection of four different bean varieties was judged to be “unimprovable” in a blind tasting by human experts. Up to now, blending has been more of an art than a science. There are about 200 established bean varieties, and roasteries typically mix only two or three at a time so that the characteristics of each can be distinguished. However, the Kaffa roastery hired Elev, a local AI consultancy, in the hope that software trained on the flavour profiles of the various beans might come up with something unorthodox but drinkable. It did precisely that as the AI chose four different beans: predominantly the “velvety” Fazenda Pinhal from Brazil, but also smaller doses of varieties from Colombia, Ethiopia and Guatemala. It also produced its own packaging and detailed tasting notes, which described the coffee as a “well-balanced blend of sweetness and ripe fruit”. The results, unveiled at the Helsinki Coffee Festival over the weekend, passed muster with a panel of Kaffa’s baristas, who ruled that the combination required no further adjustments. Svante Hampf, the roastery’s founder, said the idea was for digital and human blenders to work in concert, each enhancing the other. “This was the first step in seeing how AI could help us in the future,” he told the Associated Press. “I think AI has plenty to offer us in the long run. We are particularly impressed [with] the coffee taste descriptions it created.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a new plant-led concept opening in east London that is headed up by a Great British Menu winner and is seeking a general manager. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “Ideally you will have experience of working in a Michelin-starred venue. You will assume full operational responsibility reporting into the managing director. The restaurant sits at 24 covers and is purposely small to ensure quality is delivered. The business is looking to give people incredible experiences and bring a slice of happiness to London through clean food. You will also look after exclusive events – a very successful arm of the business.” The salary is up to £65,000 and the position is based in London. For more information, email kate@corecruitment.com.
 

Company News:

Lithuanian ‘fast lunch’ restaurant concept that uses smart technology to ‘deliver lunch in less than two minutes’ exploring UK expansion: Lithuanian “fast lunch” restaurant concept, iLunch, which uses smart technology to “deliver lunch in less than two minutes” is exploring expansion to the UK. iLunch was founded in 2016 by Aurelijus Jasevičius, opening its debut site in A Goštauto street in Vilnius before expanding to 16 sites across Lithuania. Catering to the lunch crowd, its branches only open from 11am-3pm Monday to Friday and customers only spend an average time of ten-15 minutes in the restaurants. “iLunch is a chain of daily lunch restaurants characterised by its innovative ideas and excellent reputation,” Jasevičius said. “It is now rapidly expanding not only in Vilnius, but also in other major Lithuanian cities as well as abroad. Fast lunch at our restaurants has already become an integral part of the city life, where everyone is always in a rush. As cities grow and the number of business centres increases, iLunch restaurants become the first choice for working people and young families as it can offer fast but high-quality food. An innovative self-service ordering system is directly linked to the kitchen, while the food is being continuously prepared with real-time monitoring regarding the remaining number of dishes and the actual customer flow. This allows the customers to order their lunch quickly while avoiding the human contact, mistakes and waiting.” iLunch was among the exhibitors at this month’s International Franchise Show at ExCel London. It is offering franchises for small (400-500 covers), medium (500-700 covers) and large (700-900 covers) restaurants, with a fixed fee of €30,000 per restaurant plus VAT and 6% of gross sales per month. Total investment is €300,000-€500,000 for small restaurants, €350,000-€400,000 for medium sized ones and €400,000-€500,000 for large ones.
 
Caffe Nero third-quarter UK sales up 10.5%: Caffe Nero, the Gerry Ford-led, premium coffee house brand, has reported a 10.5% increase in sales for its UK business for the three months to 29 February 2024 versus the same period last year, and said it expects a strong finish to its financial year. At group level, Caffe Nero reported 12.7% year-on-year sales growth during the quarter versus last year. The company said its performance built on the strong first half of the financial year, driving year-to-date sales growth at group level of 14.1% versus last year and 10.9% for its UK business. It said that the strong third-quarter sales performance in the UK was supported by “impressive Christmas trading”, with more than 7.7 million customers served during December and sales of £34.5m. In January, the UK launch of the honey oat latte also helped drive sales of speciality coffee by 2% year on year. The business said its UK third-quarter sales performance was also underpinned by the sustained growth of Caffe Nero’s new channels business. The company said: “The continuing strong partnerships with Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Just Eat saw sales through delivery grow 13% year on year, with total sales year to date up 20%. During the same period, the Caffe Nero ‘coffee at home’ business drove sales growth of 55% year on year, fuelled by double-digit sales growth through the brand’s own channels and retail partnerships with Waitrose, Amazon, Ocado and the Ambassador Theatre Group, as well as the successful embedding of the new partnership with Morrisons.” Caffe Nero also continued its new store opening programme in the quarter, opening eight new stores at group level during the period, taking the total opened at group level during the financial year to date to 45. In the UK, Caffe Nero opened a further two new stores, taking the total number of new openings this financial year so far to 14. As a result, the group currently operates 1,062 stores across ten countries, with 10,000 employees serving more than 150 million customers a year. Ford said: “We saw robust sales during the third quarter of our financial year, which has built on the strong first half performance. Our Christmas sales were particularly pleasing with our stores delivering several record sales weeks during that period. I was also pleased to see the performance of the honey oat latte launch in January. Our delivery and ‘coffee at home’ businesses continue to perform well and with a strong new store opening pipeline in front of us, including our first drive-thru site at Stansted, I think we will have a strong finish to our financial year.” Propel revealed in January that Caffe Nero will open its first drive-thru site, at Stansted airport, this spring, with the opening set to be the “template for further drive-thru stores in the future” for the business. The drive-thru will be 500 yards from the main terminal building on the main road in and out of the airport. With an investment of more than £1.2m, the store has been built from scratch with a bespoke design and further strengthens Caffe Nero’s partnership with the Essex airport, taking the total number of the brand’s sites there to five.
 
Tossed to open first site outside central London heartland: Tossed, the healthy eating brand owned and led by Neil Sebba and Angelina Harrison, is to launch its first site outside its central London heartland. The business plans to open at Chiswick Business Park in the coming week. The Enjoy Work campus comprises 12 large office buildings and is home to the headquarters of several media companies. Sebba told Propel: “This is something a little different for us – opening outside of our core central London heartland.  We have been working with the landlord and its site team on this for some time having reached out to us. We love its ethos, and the feedback we have had from the campus workers has been phenomenal; we can’t wait to open!” The business now comprises 13 stores, with high-profile central London locations including Cheapside, Baker Street and Victoria. Sebba said: “Diversifying outside of central London is something that has interested us for some time. We believe there’s a clear demand for our freshly-made-to-order healthy and delicious food with a wider audience, and the local interest in this opening certainly suggests that’s true.”
 
Paskin siblings plan new The Barbary opening in Notting Hill: Brother and sister duo Layo and Zoe Paskin, who are behind the likes of The Palomar in Soho and Evelyn’s Table in Chinatown, are planning to open a new flagship site for their The Barbary restaurant concept in Notting Hill. Propel understands that the siblings are set to take a site at 112 Westbourne Grove, the mixed-use building in the corner of Chepstow Road and Westbourne Grove, which used to house Maddox Gallery. The new site is set to feature a “reimagining of the iconic Barbary horseshoe kitchen counter”. The 75-cover venue will also include a dining room and dedicated cocktail bar. The Paskins opened the first The Barbary in Covent Garden in 2016, their second restaurant following The Palomar in Soho, while coffee house Jacob the Angel followed a year later in Seven Dials. The siblings are also behind The Blue Posts and The Mulwray in Soho. 
 
Scottish Pizza Hut franchisee reveals pipeline of more than 30 store acquisitions, planning ‘many more openings’: Scottish Pizza Hut franchisee Glenshire Group has revealed a pipeline of more than 30 store acquisitions and said it is planning “many more openings” under the brand. The group, which is also behind the 21-strong convenience store brand Greens Retail, became a Pizza Hut franchisee in September 2023 and opened its first site next to his convenience store in Kirkcaldy. Two months later, the group, which is led by Harris Aslam, and which also owns frozen drinks brand Skwishee, acquired 16 Pizza Hut delivery sites. “We already have more than 30 stores in the acquisition pipeline and we’re planning lots of new store openings within the Pizza Hut franchise, as well as other brands too,” Aslam told Food Chain Magazine. “As we grow, there’s an opportunity for us to increasingly adopt the roadside destination model of having multiple brands under one roof, so there’s lots of ongoing discussions and trials happening with brands. We remain focused on growth. We’re a fairly young and growth hungry leadership team with ambitious goals. However, we must be careful not to grow for the sake of it, but instead keep an eye on our turnover and profitability to ensure we can sustain such expansion. We’ll also continue to innovate as we strive to grow our multi-brand approach. The multi-brand concept provides an interesting opportunity for us to combine our different businesses under one roof. We stock our Skwishee frozen drinks in Greens stores across Scotland, for instance, and in several Nisa stores throughout the UK. Pizza Hut also provides a unique opportunity for cross-brand sales. We opened a Pizza Hut delivery and collection site alongside our Greens store in Kirkcaldy in September last year, which we predict will boost Greens’ sales as it will encourage customers to visit the neighbouring stores when collecting their pizza. This is just one example of how the multiple synergies across the group can benefit one another, and although we only have one multi-brand location at the moment, there is definitely scope to expand.” Although the family business dates to 1982, Glenshire Group was established in 2020 to consolidate its existing retail and development businesses.
 
Afrikana reveals six-store openings pipeline for this summer and beyond: African restaurant concept Afrikana has revealed a six-store openings pipeline for this summer and beyond. The business opened its 16th restaurant earlier this month, at 4 Vantage building in High Point Village, Station Approach, in Hayes. It was Afrikana’s fourth London site and first in the west of the capital. Founder Omair Ali has now revealed that its next opening will be in Ilford, east London, in June, followed by Kingston, south west London, in July, Holloway (north London) in August and Hounslow (west London) in September. Beyond that, it has further openings slated for Tooting (south London) and Reading, but these do not yet have opening months. In February, Propel reported that Afrikana has a long-term, pipeline of 50-plus restaurants, with up to ten set to open this year. Ali, who is also the managing director of City Restaurants Group, earlier this month opened a first UK site for French taco concept, Tacosmash.
 
The Real Greek set to launch in Sheffield: The Real Greek, the Fulham Shore-owned brand, is set to launch in Sheffield for its second new opening of 2024 and 27th overall. It will open at the city’s Meadowhall shopping centre on Monday, 13 May, following January’s launch at the Liverpool ONE destination. The new 130-cover site will offer both indoor dining and a 50-seated terrace, with plans to offer a delivery service with Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat in the coming months. As well as cold and hot meze, souvlaki wraps, Greek salad and sweet treats such as baklava, the menu will also offer Greek drinks such as Moschofilero and Mavrodaphne wine, Mythos beer and aperitifs Tsipouro and Ouzo. Sandro Spahiu, managing director at The Real Greek, said: “We are thrilled to announce the upcoming opening of The Real Greek at Meadowhall. Sheffield’s dynamic energy and diverse culture make it the perfect home for our newest location.” In February, Propel revealed that Fulham Shore has appointed Spahiu as The Real Greek’s new managing director, while also hiring Javed Akhtar to the same role at its 70-strong Franco Manca brand. The previous month, Marcel Khan, Fulham Shore’s new chief executive, told Propel that there is still “a lot of white space for both brands to grow into”, and over the next 12 months, it will look to secure ten new sites between the two brands.
 
Old Spike Roastery set to open sixth site: Social enterprise Old Spike Roastery is set to open its sixth site, Propel has learned. Old Spike is gearing up to launch in New Street Square, near Chancery Lane in London, on Wednesday, 1 May. The company was founded in 2014 by Richard Robinson and Cemal Ezal, who went on to found fellow coffee social enterprise, Change Please. As well as a roastery in Gatineau Yard in Loughborough, south London, Old Spike currently has coffee shops in Peckham Rye, Elephant & Castle, Piccadilly, Fenchurch Street and Cabot Square. Each site serves Old Spike’s specialty coffee alongside baked goods. “At Old Spike, we’re committed to ensuring everyone who comes through our doors leaves with a better story than the one they came in with,” the company’s website said. “Whether that’s by offering those affected by homelessness tangible ways to gain new skills and a job, or by serving a customer a delicious, socially conscious cup of coffee, we want to create meaningful social impact. We were the first speciality coffee roastery operating as a social enterprise and have since been at the forefront of using coffee as a vehicle for social change. This model has served us well and we have since grown the business. We now serve a much wider network of companies and individuals and have partnered with our sister company, Change Please, to offer a full barista training academy to help support all trainees that come on to our programme.” As well as launching a barista training programme with Change Please, Old Spike ploughs 65% of its profits back into supporting its social mission. It also plants a tree for every coffee it sells through a partnership with the Eden Reforestation Project.
 
New World Trading Co lines up Lichfield opening for The Botanist: New World Trading Company (NWTC), the operator of 35 bars and restaurants under six brands including The Botanist, has lined up an opening in Lichfield, Staffordshire. The venue will join the Everyman Cinema as an anchor tenant in the Three Spires shopping centre, as part of its redevelopment of the former Debenhams store, after Lichfield District Council approved a £1.7m investment in The Botanist. The authority is operating as the landlord of The Botanist and is paying its fit-out fees. Over the coming years, “all of that will be paid back with interest and acts as an investment” for the council, leader Doug Pullen told The Business Desk. Earlier this month, Propel reported that NWTC saw its financial year (FY23) end “ahead of expectations”, delivering sales of more than £73m. The company said that strong trade was predicted to continue in the first quarter and beyond following the success of its latest The Botanist site in Sunderland, which opened its doors to customers on 30 January. It came as the company hired Glenn Pearson, formerly of Admiral Taverns, as its new chief financial officer. 
 
Kanada-Ya set to open in Westfield London: Japanese ramen restaurant Kanada-Ya is set to increase its presence in the capital with an opening in Westfield London. The five-strong brand is set to open a circa 1,900 square-foot site on the Southern Terrace, in the former Balans unit, later this spring. Kanada-Ya first opened its doors to Londoners on 64 St Giles Street in 2014, although it was founded in Japan in 2009 by Kanada Kazuhiro. The brand, which serves authentic Tonkotsu ramen, also operates sites in Ealing, Carnaby, Angel and Piccadilly. Adam Bowers, of onepoint2, acted on the Westfield London deal.
 
Laine Pub Company to partner with immersive experience studio for Brighton festival: Laine Pub Company – which operates an estate of 55 venues across Brighton, London and Birmingham – is partnering with immersive experience studio Pixel Artworks to bring its artificial reality (AR) experience – The Butterfly Trail – to Brighton’s Spiegeltent festival, which takes place throughout May. Set within an eight-metre, 360-degree sphere, visitors to the Spiegel Gardens will be transported to a “magical glasshouse, where they will be guided through a botanical haven to interact and explore the wonder of colourful digital butterflies as they flutter around their heads and land on the palm of their hand, all enabled by a smartphone”. Speaking about this year’s Spiegeltent, Laine’s co-founder and chief executive, Gavin George, said: “This year’s Spiegeltent line-up will be as compelling as ever, but it will be taking an unprecedented leap forward with the addition of an AR experience to the programme. Laine is hugely excited to work with Pixel Artworks to bring The Butterfly Trail to Brighton. It’s a first for both of us to deliver this at an outdoor event like the Spiegeltent, but important for us to be showcasing the future possibilities of pub-based entertainment, something Laine has become well known for since it opened its first pub in Brighton in 1997.”
 
Nelson Hotels & Inns reports slight increase in turnover as profit dips: Cheshire hotel and gastropub group Nelson Hotels & Inns reported a slight increase in turnover for the year ending 30 September 2023 as its profit dipped. The five-strong business reported turnover of £15,836,630, up from £15,716,321 the previous year. Its pre-tax profit fell from £2,246,053 in 2022 to £1,674,308. Dividends of £250,000 were paid (2022: £255,000). The company operates The Manor at Greasby in Greasby, The Pheasant Inn in Burwardsley, The Fishpool Inn in Delamere, The Bear’s Paw in Warmingham and The Grosvenor Pulford Hotel & Spa in Pulford. In August 2023, the company revealed that it has lost 50 koi carp worth £100,000 after a hungry otter got into the Asian sensory garden pond at The Grosvenor. Andrew Nelson, director of Nelson Hotels & Inns, said: “It was definitely a surprise to say the least. With around £100,000 worth of koi now lost, we are trying to find a solution to prevent any further loss. Our colourful carp are not only eye-catching habitants of our garden, who have enjoyed a happy home on our grounds undisturbed for many years, but a substantial investment into our venue.”
 
SSP introduces plastic-free hot beverage cup lids: SSP Group, the UK operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, has reinforced its commitment to sustainability by removing plastic lids from its own-brand hot beverage cups and replacing them with a plastic-free alternative. The new lids, made of bagasse – which is derived from sugar cane stalks – will remove more than eight million single-use plastic items from SSP’s own-brand supply chain each year. The bagasse lids will be used at brands including AMT Coffee and Upper Crust. Kari Daniels, chief executive SSP UK & Ireland, said: “This is a significant step forward in our sustainability journey. Making the move to bagasse lids not only reduces our reliance on plastic but, because the plants can regrow, we are securing the longevity of our supply chain from renewable sources.” SSP is committed to eliminating all unnecessary single-use plastics from its own-brand packaging and ensuring 100% is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. The company has already switched its own-brand cold drinks cups to rPET, which includes recycled materials, and its long-term target is to reach net-zero across its value chain by 2040.
 
London restaurant and food hall operator ceases restaurant operations to focus on management business, fully repays bank loans: London restaurant and food hall operator Pearl Investments has ceased its restaurant operations to focus on its management business and has fully repaid its bank loans. The company and its subsidiary, Edgware Capital, previously operated a single restaurant and provided management expertise to four others, as well as letting and operating a food hall in the capital. In February 2024, the management of its restaurant was granted under licence to Gold Delight. “Following the licensing of the restaurant in February 2024, the group and company is no longer operating any of the restaurants itself,” director Pui Hing Tsui said in the group’s accounts for the year ending 31 March 2023. “Rather, it generates its income from the management fees charged to the restaurant operators. The cessation of restaurant operations by the company as of February 2024 was attributed to a strategic realignment, encompassing factors such as a refocus on core competencies and resource allocation considerations.” Bank loans that stood at £2,096,828 at the year-end were repaid in August 2023. Group turnover was up from £6,389,880 in 2022 to £8,523,338 while its pre-tax profit grew from £1,069,214 to £5,260,250 following a £3,833,000 gain in investment property value. Of the 2023 turnover, £5,189,705 came from restaurant sales (2022: £3,377,146), £1,183,190 from rental income (2022: £1,024,485) and £988,282 from management fees (2022: £1,061,667) among other items. No government grants were received compared with £251,224 in 2022. “The sales from restaurants, as well as the income from rent and management services, have surpassed those of previous years,” Tsui added. “The group has simultaneously maintained positive cash reserves. On review of the past year end, the trading sales in the restaurant continued to improve and the income from rent and services have performed well.” During the year, the company acquired a 10.9% shareholding in Hypergood, a key supplier to the group, for £1m. 

Chef Anthony Demetre to launch ‘little sister’ to Wild Honey St James: Chef Anthony Demetre is set to launch a “little sister” to the Michelin-starred Wild Honey St James. Bistrot at Wild Honey will launch on Saturday, 27 April, at 8 Pall Mall, Sofitel London St James – adjacent to the restaurant Wild Honey St James, on its lower level. Main dishes include ricotta dumplings ‘gnudi’ and parmesan velouté; Cornish skate, brown butter, parsley and lemon; and grilled red prawns, Hungarian smoked paprika and garlic. There will also be more than 25 wines available by the bottle (from £29 for white, red and rosé), carafe (500ml from £19), glass (from £6), and Coravin (from £20). The selection is predominantly European, plus there will be a range of signature and classic cocktails, including Demetre’s own creation.
 
McDonald’s youngest ever female franchisee opens second store: Laura Wilder, who became McDonald’s youngest ever female franchisee, has opened her second store with the company. Wilder founded Marmalade Restaurants in 2022 at the age of 30 and the following year opened her first restaurant, in the Fishponds area of Bristol. She has now opened a second site, a 24-hour drive-thru at Fieldfare in Emersons Green. The new branch is also one of McDonald’s new eco-friendly sites, as the company builds towards being net zero by 2030. As well as features such as roof-mounted solar panels, timber frames and partition walls, wall lettering made from recycled materials and a fully modular structure that can be repurposed in the future, it will trial air windows to retain heat and plastic kerbstones made from recycled materials with built-in internal drainage. “An incredibly proud moment, opening a new McDonald’s drive-thru restaurant in Bristol and to see Marmalade Restaurants double in size,” Wilder said. “I always dreamt of running my own business, so in two years, to now employ more than 240 amazing employees across two areas of Bristol and to have the opportunity to be involved with these wonderful local communities feels like a dream come true. People are at the heart of our business, and we look forward to welcoming new employees with the jobs our restaurant will create. It’s particularly exciting to be opening this new restaurant as McDonald's celebrates its 50th year in the UK.”
 
Liverpool pub owner set to open new Italian restaurant in the city: Liverpool pub owner James Nolan is set to open a new Italian restaurant in the city. Nolan took over The Deysbrook pub in West Derby in March 2015 at just 22 years old and invested £260,000 into giving it a major refurbishment. He will this summer open Amici in the former Justino’s site in Aigburth Road, south Liverpool, creating 25 jobs. “I’m very excited to be opening Amici this summer, reopening the closed site and offering a new venue in Aigburth,” he said. “I’m passionate about hospitality; delivering the right service, excellent food and drinks and creating a fantastic atmosphere, and we’ll be working hard behind the scenes until we open to bring that all together. We’re very much looking forward to meeting the local community including those who visited the previous restaurant, as well as new faces and getting to know them when we open the doors this summer. There isn’t a more perfect time to bring a taste of Italy, as well as a range of summer drinks, to south Liverpool.”

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