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Morning Briefing for pub, restaurant and food wervice operators
Wed 24th Jul 2024 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Weather cools Euros effect as hospitality groups record 2.9% sales growth in June: Britain’s managed hospitality groups recorded year-on-year sales growth of 2.9% in June 2024, the latest CGA RSM Hospitality Business Tracker reveals. The figure is down slightly from May’s rate of 3.6%, but ahead of the current rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, and is the eighth period of growth in the last nine months. The Tracker, produced by CGA by NIQ in partnership with RSM UK, shows restaurants were the best performing channel in June, with year-on-year sales growth of 4.7%. While the Euros brought sports fans into pubs for match days involving England and Scotland, the damp weather kept people away from beer gardens and terraces, and sales in this channel rose only 2.7% above June 2023. The on-the-go segment achieved 4.0% growth, but bars were down by 4.0%. Trading was notably stronger in London, where the Tracker recorded sales growth of 4.4%, compared to 2.5% outside the M25. The capital has outpaced Britain as a whole for all but one month in 2024. Karl Chessell, a director at CGA by NIQ, said: “June’s solid if unspectacular growth capped a decent first half of the year for Britain's hospitality groups. The weather has been far from ideal for pubs and drinks suppliers, but England’s progress in the Euros has been a very welcome lift for venues screening games. A good month for restaurants shows consumers remain eager to eat out, and we can be optimistic that people will loosen their spending as some cost pressures ease. Nevertheless, with the Tracker hovering only just above inflation, groups will have to work hard to achieve meaningful sales growth in the second half of 2024.”

Industry News:

Panel discussing challenges around career development in a fast-moving, broad sector to be held at Propel’s Talent & Training Conference, open for bookings with 20% discount on tickets for Premium Club members: A panel discussing the challenges around career development in a fast-moving, broad sector will be held at Propel’s Talent & Training Conference. The all-day conference takes place on Tuesday, 1 October at One Moorgate Place in London and is open for bookings. The conference will showcase examples of outstanding people culture among companies within the sector and how the industry is attracting talent. Led by Karen Turton, founder of Purple Story, the panel will feature Barrie Robinson, operations director at Parkdean Resorts; Mat Heather, group operations director at Old Spike Roastery; Travis Fish, operations director at Comptoir Libanais; and Valerie Graham, operations director at Premier Inn. For the full speaker schedule, click here. Tickets are £345 plus VAT for operators and £395 plus VAT for suppliers. Premium Club members get a 20% discount. Email: kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com to book places.
 
Propel’s next Multi-Site Database to be released on Friday with seven category segmentation including 532 operators from cafe and bakery sector: Premium Club members are to receive the updated Multi-Site Database on Friday (26 July). The Propel Multi-Site Database, produced in association with Virgate, provides details of 3,200 multi-site operators and is now searchable in seven main segments. The database features 937 (29%) operators from the casual dining sector, 778 (24%) pub and bar operators, 532 (17%) cafe bakery operators, 436 (14%) quick service restaurant operators, 261 (8%) hotel operators, 200 (6%) experiential leisure operators and 54 (2%) fine dining operators. The database is updated each month and this edition includes 50 new companies. New additions to the café and bakery sector include Hertfordshire bakery business Leavened Bakery, London all-day café operator Bobo & Wild and East Midlands coffee shop concept Public. Premium Club members also receive access to five additional databases: the New Openings Database, the Turnover & Profits Blue Book, 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 Propel paid-for events including the Talent and Training Conference (1 October), Restaurant Marketer and Innovator (two days in January 2025) and Excellence in Pub Retail (May 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.
 
UKHospitality backs government’s employment support system reform: UKHospitality has backed the government’s reform of the employment support system. New work and pensions secretary Liz Kendall has stated a long-term ambition to reach 80% employment through better quality of work and higher earnings. Her plans include a new national jobs and career service to help get more people into work; new work, health and skills plans for the economically inactive, led by mayors and local areas; and a youth guarantee for all young people aged 18 to 21. “The government’s commitment to reform the current system of employment support is a positive step to help drive economic growth and get more people into work across all sectors,” said UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls. “As a central pillar of the UK economy, the hospitality sector plays a key role in driving growth, supporting job creation and regenerating towns and cities across the country. We have been working closely with the government to develop successful pilot employment schemes in cities including London, Liverpool, Manchester, Coventry and Cardiff, to tackle labour shortages in the sector and provide jobseekers with the opportunity to upskill and secure fantastic job opportunities in hospitality. This is a step in the right direction. However, it’s crucial the government delivers its manifesto commitment to reform the apprenticeship levy and improve its delivery to ensure both workers and businesses are fully supported and create a sustainable model for growth moving forwards.”
 
Job of the day: COREcruitment is working with a group of boutique hotels and accommodation in and around Oxford looking for an experienced head of finance. A COREcruitment spokesperson said: “You will oversee two management accountants. In this pivotal role, you will also guide, support, and interpret the company’s financial direction, ensuring its long-term financial health and success. Reporting directly to the owner and managing director, you will be responsible for all aspects of financial activity. This includes accounting, reporting, process improvement, audit preparation (both external and internal), budgeting, forecasting and more.” The salary is up to £70,000 and the position is based in Oxford. For more information, email fabian@corecruitment.com.
 
Promoted content – meet Samarkand Palav, the Uzbekistan street food concept freshening up London: Akbar and Sanobar, the husband-and-wife duo, recently opened their street food business Samarkand Palav with the help of McCain’s Streets Ahead Programme, celebrating the unique cuisine of Uzbekistan. If their unique story and passion doesn’t grab your attention, their food certainly will. To find out more, click here.
 

Company News:

Adil Group paid £17.45m to acquire 40 former Caskade KFC sites: KFC franchisee Adil Group paid £17.45m to acquire 40 former Caskade Group restaurants, adding to its portfolio of 73 existing KFC restaurants across the country, Propel has learned. Propel revealed last month that the remainder of Caskade’s 53-strong KFC business had been closed. The Caskade business, which was founded in 1984, had been experiencing challenges. A report by joint administrators Begbies Traynor said: “Despite management information reporting positive Ebitda performance, the companies suffered liquidity challenges throughout 2023 and into the first quarter of 2024. This is evidenced by a build-up of significant creditor arrears across a number of creditors. As at June 2024, circa £11.5m was owed to KFC by the group, with arrears of unpaid tax of circa £3m owed to HM Revenue & Customs. Furthermore, the group was in arrears in respect of repayments due to the bank, and the group’s energy supplier had threatened to disconnect the group's stores due to the quantum of arrears, prior to a formal payment plan being agreed in the first quarter of 2024. It is understood that financial difficulties were as a result of: the enforced closure of three of the group’s better performing restaurants during September and October 2023; the cessation of one of the major online food delivery networks, which accounted for a significant element of the companies’ turnover; and significant intra-group loans and cross-funding being provided to connected (by virtue of common ownership) corporate parties, including certain companies operating as quick service restaurants under an alternative franchise brand, to aid their expansion and support liquidity. The companies’ management had been pursuing a sale of the group’s shares and discussions had resulted in a non-binding offer being received from an unrelated third-party. However, it is understood this offer was revised materially downwards due to concerns over the underlying financial performance of the group and wider concerns regarding due diligence and the third party eventually withdrew their interest.” Propel understands that two offers made it to the final round of bidding – the one from the Adil Group and one from an unnamed party that offered £16m. During this period, a separate offer (outside of the first-round bids) was received from an overseas entity for a headline amount of £20.5m for all the stores. However, the administrators said “significant” conditions meant the offer was deemed unviable. Adil Group has been a KFC franchisee since 2004, when it acquired 11 restaurants from an existing franchisee. It is thought that through the Caskade deal, Adil Group acquired some strong performing sites in the south of England with real growth potential.
 
Hub Box acquired for £600,000 and release of £1.5m of secured debt against company: Hub Box, the south west burger brand, was acquired for a total cash consideration of £600,000 and the release of £1.5m of secured debt against the company, Propel has learned. Propel revealed earlier this month that the ten-strong business was sold via a pre-pack administration to South West Restaurants, a new company led by the brand’s founder Richard Boon and backed by existing Hub Box investor Simon Henderson, of Provenance Investment Partners. The transaction saw all of Hub Box’s restaurants continue to trade, with all of the company’s circa 300 staff transferring to the new company as part of the deal. An update by administrator Interpath said: “Despite revenue growth between FY21 and FY23, Hub Box’s net profit fell from £200,000 in FY21 to a loss of £1.5m in FY23. The company has been negatively impacted by rising energy, food, interest and labour costs following the pandemic, which caused profit margins to decline. The company opened a site in Plymouth in May 2022 at a cost of circa £1m and made total losses of circa £400,000 up to April 2024 when the site was closed. The company has been reliant on the summer months for strong trading and as a result, liquidity between November and April has been challenging in recent years, with key creditors on payment plans for the past two years. Despite these payment plans being in place, following a period of weak trading between November 2023 and April 2024, the company was forecasting an immediate funding requirement.” The marketing process generated interest from several parties on a variety of basis, with five first-round offers received. Propel understands that one of the interested parties was the Active Partners-backed Honest Burgers. Interpath said: “Two of the parties progressed to a best and final offer deadline on 8 July 2024. The offer that was ultimately transacted was from the purchaser for cash consideration of £600,000 and the release of £1.5m of secured debt against the company. The offer from the purchaser was transactable in short order and had the support of the two secured creditors. The other best and final offer received from ‘Party B’ included an additional £200,000 of cash consideration. While the other best and final offer received from ‘Party B’ indicated slightly higher gross realisations; after taking into account a number of other variable considerations, the joint administrators were of the opinion that the net realisations after costs were broadly the same when compared with the purchaser. However, the offer of ‘Party B’ did not receive the support of all of the secured creditors.”
 
Exclusive – Sandbox VR UK franchisee raises more than double its target as it breaks £1m barrier in crowdfunding campaign: VR Entertainment, the UK franchisee of Sandbox VR, has raised more than double its fundraising target after breaking the £1m barrier in its crowdfunding campaign, Propel has learned. Having smashed its £500,000 target within four days of its inaugural fundraise through Crowdcube, VR Entertainment has so far raised almost £1,070,000 from more than 220 investors to aid its growth ambition to operate 30 venues across the UK and Ireland by 2031. The campaign ends at midnight today (Wednesday, 24 July). The brand, which opened its first UK venue in London’s Holborn in July 2022 and has its largest VR venue in Birmingham’s Grand Central, operates circa 50 venues globally. Andy Scanlon co-founded VR Entertainment with Jake Wilmot-Sitwell four years ago to take on the UK & Ireland master franchise for the brand. “We’ve been thrilled by the response to our crowdfunding campaign and are really excited to put this additional funding to use as we ramp up expansion,” Scanlon said. “The public interest just goes to show that there’s a latent demand for this kind of cutting-edge immersive experience in the UK, and we’re excited to be at the forefront of it.” A total of 160,000-plus guests have visited Sandbox VR’s London and Birmingham venues to date. Scanlon added: “Our venues are going from strength to strength, posting 39% year-on-year like-for-like-sales growth on average this year. We’re now really eager to open the Sandbox VR experience to even more people around the country.” A new report produced by Propel on the fast-growing experiential leisure sector will be available to purchase on Thursday, 1 August. The report profiles the current shape of the experiential leisure market – including brands, estate size, trading type and geographical location and future trends. It provides a detailed list of UK experiential leisure companies including key staff and Companies House information. The report includes more than 190 companies, 3,500 sites and a 35,000-word report. Existing Premium Club members can receive the report on Thursday, 1 August for £395 plus VAT. The report will be made available for free to existing Premium members on Tuesday, 10 September at 9am. Email kai.kirkman@propelinfo.com today to order a copy.
 
McDonald’s extends $5 meal deal: McDonald’s $5 value meal offer will be extended to August at most US locations after 93% of its restaurants voted in favour of the plan, according to a memo seen by Bloomberg. The fast-food chain kicked off the meal offer on 25 June for an initial four-week period to compete with similar promotions offered by rivals to attract cash-strapped customers. Early performance indicates the meal deal “is meeting the objective of driving guests back to our restaurants,” McDonald’s said, in a message signed by Tariq Hassan, chief marketing officer, and Myra Doria, national field president. The company reported a first-quarter profit miss in April and noted that consumers across income groups were seeking value. Rival Burger King, owned by Restaurant Brands International, was running a $5 “Your Way deal” last month, while Wendy’s announced a $3 breakfast meal deal in May.
 
Dessert franchise set to make London debut: Dessert franchise Chocoberry is set to make its London debut after securing a new franchise partner. The business, founded in Leicester in 2018 by Kashif Razzaq, has since grown to 14 UK sites plus one overseas location in Dubai, which recently relocated to Mohammed Bin Rashid Boulevard. Back in the UK, it has further sites in Manchester and Peterborough in the pipeline “coming soon”, as well as “two-plus” London stores. “I am delighted to share that I have achieved a significant milestone by successfully securing my very first franchise partner for Chocoberry, in the vibrant and dynamic city of London,” said Ameer Nurmahomed, who joined the business as franchise development manager in February. “In addition to the great news, I’ve also successfully negotiated some fantastic commercial deals with suppliers. These agreements are expected to lower our food costs and provide crucial support to our franchise partners.”

Thornbridge JV secures Sheffield site for fourth pub: Thornbridge & Co – a joint venture between Derbyshire’s Thornbridge Brewery and specialist beer importer Pivovar – has secured a site in Sheffield for its fourth pub. It will open The Fargate just across from Sheffield town hall in Pinstone Street as part of the regeneration of Fargate and High Street in Sheffield city centre. Director Jamie Hawksworth said: “The Fargate is going to be one of Sheffield’s most prominent pubs, with more than £1m of investment being made on the new bespoke interior. This is going to be a wonderful showcase for the brewery and its beer, and we think it will be a great boost to the work already been made to make the city centre great again. Work is expected to start on the fit-out later this year, with an opening date yet to be announced.” Fellow director Simon Webster added: “We have been working with Sheffield City Council for more than a year in identifying this site and then working together to offer outdoor seating as part of the new Fargate development. The views from both inside and out of this prestigious building will add to the customer experience. Thornbridge & Co is delighted to be able to invest in Sheffield city centre and be part of the new development.” Founded in 2018, Thornbridge & Co also operates The Market Cat in York, The Bankers Cat in Leeds and The Colmore in Birmingham. In May, the business reported 18% first quarter like-for-like sales growth and annual turnover up 16%, and said it is closing in on deals to double the size of its estate.

Panmure Gordon analyst – we now expect to see expansionary capex pick up as Fuller’s returns to the expansionary trail: Anna Barnfather, sector analyst at Panmure Gordon, has said that she expects to see expansionary capex pick up as Fuller’s returns to the expansionary trail after a five-year hiatus. It comes after Fuller’s reported first-quarter like-for-like sales growth of 5.3% alongside easing inflationary pressures and said it was “well positioned to take advantage of appropriate acquisition opportunities”. Barnfather said: “Despite the ongoing share buyback, the balance sheet remains strong, benefiting from the receipt of proceeds from the sale of 37 tenanted pubs (£18.3m) and Mad Hatter (£20m), which leaves net debt at £92m versus £133m at the start of the year giving scope for acquisitions. Fuller’s has been very quiet on this front over the last five years, being more in net disposal mode. However, we do now expect to see expansionary capex pick up as Fuller’s returns to the expansionary trail. This is likely to be done on a site-by-site basis, but it has bought small chains and packages in the past. The last significant acquisition was in 2019 with the £40m purchase of Cotswold Inns & Hotels comprising seven freehold inns and two leasehold bars. Prior to that it bought six Bel & The Dragon country inns and four Jamie’s city bars in 2018. We model one new site in FY25E and five new sites per annum thereafter.”

Stonegate to open 40th Be At One site: Stonegate Group, the UK’s largest pub company, is to open the 40th site under its Be At One brand, and the second site under the format in Liverpool, next month. The company has invested £800,000 in converting The William Gladstone pub in North Street to a Be At One. The brand’s debut Liverpool site opened in Seel Street in 2016. The North Street opening will be the first under the brand since last April, when it opened in Newcastle. Stonegate has also invested £350,000 on refurbishing its site in Nottingham. The new North Street site will accommodate up to 300 guests and introduces several innovative features, including a designated area for cocktail masterclasses, an interactive “party mirror” in the ladies’ toilets, and a “selfie wall”. Stonegate acquired the then 33-strong Be At One business in 2018 in a deal valued at circa £50m. 

Dishoom to make US debut with Pastis collaboration: Dishoom, the Indian restaurant group, is to make its US debut as part of a short-term collaboration with the New York-based French brasserie Pastis. The latter, which is based in New York’s Meatpacking district and owned by Starr Restaurants, with restaurateur Keith McNally as a consultant, posted on Instagram: “New York, mark your calendars! We’re thrilled to announce a never-done-before collaboration between Pastis, New York’s iconic French brasserie, and Dishoom, the UK’s celebrated Indian restaurant. Inspired by the vibrant café cultures of Paris and Bombay, this partnership brings together two places where people from all walks of life gather to eat, drink, and share ideas. Don’t miss out on this one-of-a-kind event that celebrates the essence of café culture across the globe. Mark your calendars and join us for an unforgettable breakfast!” The collaboration will run from 19-23 August and 26-30 August, from 8am to 11am.

Gail’s to replace Leon at Cheshire Oaks: Fast-growing Gail’s Bakery, which is set to make its debut in the Midlands later this summer, is to increase its presence in the north west with an opening in Cheshire Oaks. The business is to replace the Asda-owned Leon at the scheme in Ellesmere Port. Gail’s, which made its debut in the north west last year, currently operates sites in Altrincham, Didsbury, King Street (Manchester city centre), Chester, Wilmslow and Knutsford in the region. It has also been linked to an opening in School Road, Sale. Earlier this week, Propel revealed that Gail’s had secured a site in Stratford-upon-Avon for its debut in the Midlands, with opening projected for Thursday, 12 September. Propel understands that a site in Moseley is also on Gail’s radar.

Heartwood Collection opens second pub with rooms: Heartwood Collection, the Alchemy Partners-backed business, has opened its second pub with rooms – The Ropemaker in Emsworth, Hampshire – and has three further pubs with rooms scheduled to open in 2024. The 43-bedroom The Ropemaker, which has reopened after a multimillion-pound refurbishment, follows the opening in February of The White Horse in Dorking. The group has three further locations confirmed to open in 2024 – including The White Hart in Lewes, East Sussex – in line with its plan to grow to more than 60 sites and in excess of 500 bedrooms by 2027. The company said that the 43 bedrooms at The Ropemaker have been refurbished to incorporate “Heartwood’s signature warm, welcoming style with quirky nods to the pub’s coastal location and Victorian heritage”. Bedrooms range from a “snug” to “really fancy”, with prices starting from £100 per night. Richard Ferrier, chief executive of Heartwood Collection, said: “Following the successful opening of The White Horse we are hugely excited to be opening our second pub with rooms in Emsworth. We have been delighted with the welcome we have received from the Emsworth community and are looking forward to the opening of the three further pubs with rooms scheduled to open in 2024.” Heartwood currently operates 25 Heartwood Inns pubs and 14 Brasserie Blanc restaurants across the UK.

Burger & Sauce to open in Liverpool next week: Burger franchise concept Burger & Sauce will make its Liverpool debut next week for its 15th site. It will open at Unit 4 in Liverpool Central Station, Ranelagh Street, on Wednesday, 29th July. The brand, which was founded in 2020 and launched as a franchise in 2022, is planning to reach 20 stores by the end of this year and 50 nationwide by the end of 2025. “We can’t wait to launch our first store in Liverpool as we continue to grow Burger & Sauce as a franchising brand,” a company spokesman said. “We had an amazing response to Burger & Sauce’s franchise launch due to the quality of the proposition and the popularity of the brand and concept. We hope to grow that popularity further in Liverpool as the local community experience what makes Burger & Sauce special.”
 
SSP wins major contracts at Tenerife airports: SSP, the operator of food and beverage outlets in travel locations worldwide, has secured a deal to renew the majority of its business across Tenerife North and South airports and to continue to operate 15 locations. In Tenerife South, the company has secured two deals to operate eight food and beverage outlets, including a new family-friendly food court and the island’s first Popeyes unit. At Tenerife North, SSP has retained all its business, with two new contracts to operate seven food and beverage outlets. Jeremy Fennell, chief executive of SSP Continental Europe, said; “We’ve been a leader in the market of Tenerife for a number of years now, following the launch of our operations here on the island in 1990, and it’s very gratifying to be building on our success with these new contracts at Tenerife North and Tenerife South airports. We’re excited to be bringing brands such as Popeyes to travellers through Tenerife for the very first time.”
 
Liverpool Turkish bar and grill concept set to open fourth site: Liverpool Turkish bar and grill concept Elif is set to open a fourth site in the city. Elif will open in the grade II-listed former NatWest Bank building in Castle Street on Monday (29 July). Elif will be based on the ground floor level, with planning permission granted to turn the upper storeys into a hotel, reports Insider Media. Owner Alan May said: “We are delighted to have brought new life to this incredible city centre building, and to have taken Elif to a whole new level of luxury. The new restaurant is stunning. It has a sophisticated feel, and we know that guests are going to go ‘wow’ from the moment they step inside. We are confident Elif will become a destination dining experience and that we can compete with The Ivy when it opens its doors in Castle Street, as well as other upmarket restaurants nearby. We’ve also created a private dining room for around 14-16 people, which will offer an exclusive area for families who want to sit away from the main body of the restaurant, or those wanting to celebrate a special occasion or have a select business party.” Elif also has sites in Bold Street, Lark Lane and Childwall.

Frasers Hospitality sees UK and French operations return to profit driven by strong recovery and growth in rooms sold: Luxury serviced apartments business Frasers Hospitality saw its UK and French operations return to profit in the year to 30 September 2023, driven by a strong recovery and growth in rooms sold. Its pre-tax loss of £1,387,000 in 2022 turned into a profit of £377,000 as turnover grew from £8,653,000 to £9,463,000. Of this, £8,152,000 came from UK operations (2022: £7,361,000) and £1,311,000 from French operations (2022: £1,292,000). It received no government grants compared with £3,000 in 2022. No dividends were paid (2022: nil). Director Rebecca Hollants Van Loocke said results are in line with expectations. “Top-line group revenue for the year improved 9.2%, driven by continued strong recovery in our underlying properties’ performance,” she added. “Our properties, with their strong brand and strategic locations, continued to experience growth in rooms sold. To mitigate the industry­-wide labour supply challenges, we are prioritising talent acquisition and staff retention paired with progressively embedding new technology to meet evolving consumer needs and mitigate potential service gaps. Consequently, the senior management team remain optimistic about the group’s future.” The group said that post year-end, all matters pertaining to an arbitration proceeding were fully settled and the related insurance receivable confirmed. “Accordingly, all related provisions held as at year end were reassessed and settled post year end,” it added. Frasers operates 72 sites in 20 countries across brands such as Hotel du Vin & Bistro, Malmaison, Modena and Capri. This includes five in London and one each in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Frasers is owned by Thai business magnate Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi.

Swingers to introduce new carnival experience to West End site: Competitive Socialising, the owner of crazy golf concept Swingers, is to introduce a new carnival experience, “blending the nostalgia of the past with the exhilaration of today”, to its site in London’s West End this September. The new experience will feature 2,500 square feet of old-school games and sideshows, with more than 30 games designed to “spark joy and friendly competition”. Matt Grech-Smith, co-founder and co-chief executive, said: “Carnival elevates Swingers to a whole new level of fun and excitement, combining the nostalgic charm of traditional games with our signature hospitality. We believe this addition will solidify Swingers as one of the best entertainment destinations in London, offering unmatched competitive socialising for all our guests.”

London luxury health club brand Third Space signs for Chelsea location: London luxury health club brand Third Space has secured a location in Chelsea for its 14th site. It will open a 30,000 square-foot gym at 19 Mallord Street in 2025. It comes after the business returned to profit in the year to 31 December 2022, turning a pre-tax loss of £7,392,316 in 2021 to a profit of £46,065, as turnover more than doubled from £24,951,636 to £51,424,485. Third Space chief executive Colin Wagget said: “The borough of Chelsea has been on our radar for quite some time, and we are delighted to finally announce our arrival and collaboration with the Sloane Stanley Estate, a natural fit within our portfolio.” Miles Commercial, Savills and Levy Real Estate represented the Sloane Stanley Estate while P-Three acted for Third Space.

South west Neapolitan pizza business set for record year after expanding team and streamlining processes: South west Neapolitan pizza business Pig and Olive has said it is set for record year after expanding its team and streamlining its processes. Husband-and-wife Simon Harris and Rachel Hicken founded Pig and Olive after they purchased a £200 pizza oven on eBay in 2015. They have since expanded it to two permanent sites, in Westward Ho! and Barnstaple, plus six regular rural locations for its two mobile units. Rachel said that since undergoing a 12-week business management course at University of Exeter, profit margins have rebound from 12% to 39% and she has grown her team to 28 people, including the recruitment of marketing and operations managers. The business has since been able to increase pizza sales from 19,406 last year to 40,000 and is on course to increase turnover by 50%. “Profit margins have bounced back and 2024 is set to be a record year for us,” Hicken said. “But more importantly, I now have the time to focus on our strategy and developing our purpose. I’m excited to invest more time into our vision and see what heights we can take Pig and Olive to.”

Belfast operator planning more locations for his Vietnamese coffee concept: Belfast operator William Chan is planning more locations for his Vietnamese coffee concept, Phin. Chan opened the first branch of Phin in April after selling Madame Pho, the Vietnamese noodle business he grew to four sites in the city – and has since opened a fifth. Named after a tool used for brewing coffee in Vietnam, the first branch of Phin opened in the former District coffee shop in Ormeau Road. Telling Belfast Live he’s keen to open more branches of Phin, Chan said: “So fingers crossed, we find the right location over the next couple of years.” He added: “Vietnam is the second highest producer of coffee in the world but you don’t really hear about it because it’s used more like a filler coffee in different blends. But they’re producing a lot of good coffee now, and I really wanted to bring it over here and educate people as well. We import the beans directly from Vietnam, and with this type of coffee you find it’s really strong, there’s a very high caffeine content. We really wanted to bring the vibe and experience of going to a coffee shop in Vietnam as well – it’s lively, there’s a lot of socialising, it’s a very relaxed atmosphere. Social media has played a big part in our success so far – our drinks are quite Instagrammable, which helps when it comes to the coffee scene these days.” Chan has been involved in hospitality from a young age, with his family owning Cantonese restaurant Furama in Antrim for more than 30 years.

Sri Lankan restaurant Kolamba to open second site next month: Sri Lankan concept Kolamba will open its second London restaurant, in Spitalfields, next month. Founders Eroshan and Aushi Meewella will open the 92-cover Kolamba East at 12 Blossom Street in Norton Folgate on Tuesday, 6 August. Offering the duo’s “modern take on Sri Lankan home-cooking”, it follows the launch of their first restaurant, Kolamba, which opened in Soho in 2019. Kolamba East will feature a new menu of dishes including snacks or such as Mas Paan (a fluffy bun filled will slow cooked black pork curry, served with pineapple jam) and Idli with Sambar (savoury rice and lentil dumplings paired with sweet and spicy chutneys). There will also be a new selection of larger feasting plates such as the Moor King Prawn String Hopper Biryani (alternating layers of delicate steamed noodles and a rich king prawn curry) and a Jaffna Lamb Shank (served in a rich and spicy tamarind sauce). Alongside two private dining rooms, Kolamba East will include a dedicated central bar serving cocktails made using Sri Lankan spirits and ingredients. These include the Curry Leaf Gimlet, a cocktail of curry ghee-washed gin and lime, and a Colombo Sour, made with Colombo Gin and a cashew orgeat. There will also be a “carefully considered” wine list.

 
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