Story of the Day:
Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker finds UK spending more on eating out as 2014 progresses: The average British household spent £200 on out-of-home leisure activities in March, which amounts to a total nationwide spend of around £5.1bn, according to the Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker. Spending in March was down £4, or 2%, on February but £9 more than January. However, March saw British households continue to increase their spending on eating out, up 2% from February, with February up 11% on January. Conversely, households reduced spend on drinking out and other leisure activities, down 6% and 3% respectively against February. Average household spending in March was broadly flat, compared to February 2014. However, February was a particularly strong comparator because of Valentine’s Day and the school half term. March’s findings point to further increases in spending on eating out of home in 2014 as the economy enters recovery mode. Greene King’s commercial director, Steve Jebson, said: “As the recovery takes hold, consumers continue to watch their pennies very closely, but overall the underlying strength of the market is improving. We anticipate that GB households will continue to spend more on leisure activities as we move towards the summer, with an Easter peak in April. People across Britain have spent an additional £230m since January on eating out. In the month of March, there was a marginal increase of 2%, to £75 from £73. However, spend on other leisure activities fell 3% versus February. Warmer and drier conditions would have contributed to the slight reduction on other leisure activities as Britons enjoyed more free leisure activities, particularly spending time outdoors.”
Propel’s 3 July Multi Club Conference and summer party opens for bookings:
The Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday 3 July at the Oxford Belfry, which will be followed by the Propel summer party in the evening, is now open for bookings, and operators can book two free places each. A full-day conference will be followed by the summer party, to include go-karting, a BBQ, the top live covers band The All Stars (which includes Simply Red’s guitarist and Rod Stewart’s bass player) and Lucky Voice karaoke. To secure places or get more information, email Jo Charity on firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon Chaplin – restaurant sales achieving well over 90% of asking price: Simon Chaplin, head of restaurants at the property agency Christie + Co, has reported a diminishing number of distressed restaurants in early 2014, and buoyant prices. In his blog, he wrote: “Conversations that my colleague and business recovery expert Stephen Jacobs has had with independent operators and with insolvency practitioners suggests a diminishing number of restaurants in distress in the early part of 2014. And this bullishness seems to be converting into excellent prices achieved for restaurants which do come up for sale. While Christie + Co’s recent sale of the Albannach in Trafalgar Square was a further indication of London’s booming property micro-climate and achieved well above the asking price, our other restaurant sales throughout the UK have achieved equally impressive results. In total (but excluding the Albannach), we’ve seen average sale prices at well over 90% of asking price. And while the Albannach was a sale borne out of distress, all the other restaurants sold by Christie + Co in the first quarter of the year were consensual sales.”
Westminster Council considers giving pubs extra protection: Westminster Council is considering giving pubs in central London facing closure special protection against developers, according to the London Evening Standard. A proposed new planning status suggested by the council would prevent pubs from being rapidly converted into flats or supermarkets. They would have to be marketed for 12 months at a reasonable price before any development can go ahead. A spokesman for Westminster City Council described the borough’s 99 Grade II listed pubs as “important local amenities” and said he hoped other councils would adopt its proposed rules. According to a Greater London Authority report published last year, more than 1,000 pubs have closed in the capital over the past decade. John Cryne, chairman of Camra’s North London branch, told the newspaper: “We want a planning system where local communities have a say in their built environment.”
Domino’s Pizza in the US adds Google Wallet functionality: Domino’s Pizza in the United States has expanded its mobile payment options by integrating Google Wallet into its Android smartphone app. Google’s mobile wallet functionality allows users to store debit and credit cards, as well as loyalty cards from retailers, on their Android-powered phones to pay electronically for transactions. Patrick Doyle, chief executive of Domino’s, said: “This is yet another way Domino’s is using technology to improve our customer experience. Google Wallet is a great technology that allows customers even more flexibility and convenience when it comes to paying for their Domino’s orders.” Until 15 June, any customer who orders at least $10 of items using the Android ordering app and selects the “Buy with Google” option to pay using Google Wallet will receive a free order of Domino’s new menu item, Speciality Chicken, which was introduced this month.
IKEA to start selling vegetarian meatballs: The Swedish furniture retailer IKEA plans to sell new “green” versions of its popular meatballs, which will be completely meat free, the retailer announced. Without unveiling a date for the new product launch, IKEA, which sells an estimated 150 million meatballs made of beef and pork, said it wants to cut carbon emission and tackle climate change with the new eco-friendly version.
Six Smashburger sites set to go to auction after franchisee bankruptcy: Six Smashburger outlets in the San Diego area, along with a ten-unit development agreement, are scheduled for auction on 22 May in the bankruptcy of the Smashburger franchisee SoCal Eats. The franchise operator filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on 8 January in the US bankruptcy court for the southern district of California. Smashburger has described the bankruptcy as the result of capital structure issues within the franchise operation.
Shaftesbury takes new 15-year loan and terminates £110m of interest rate swaps at a cost of £29m: The West End of London pub and restaurant landlord Shaftesbury has announced a 15-year loan with Canada Life Investments (CLI) and the completion of refinancing with Lloyds Banking Group. The £134.75m 15-year term loan with CLI is secured on properties held in a subsidiary company and has a fixed interest rate throughout the term. The loan is repayable in full at maturity in May 2029. On drawing the loan from CLI, Shaftesbury will cancel its £100m revolving credit facility with Bank of Scotland, which was due to expire in September 2016. Part of the proceeds of the CLI loan will be applied to repaying drawings under the BoS facility and meeting the cost of terminating £110m of interest rate swaps entered into with BoS. The cost of terminating those swap arrangements amounted to £29m, equivalent to 10p per share. Together, these transactions have increased the group’s financial resources, improved the maturity profile of its debt and diversified its sources of finance. Finance director Christopher Ward said: “We are delighted to have entered into this long-term relationship with Canada Life Investments, a new lender to the group, as well as completing the restructuring of our arrangements with Lloyds Banking Group. The quality of our assets and the security of their income streams continue to prove attractive to existing and potential new lenders.”
Survey reveals young people managing million-pounds businesses: A survey carried out by the Pub & Bar Careers team has found that more than 60% of managers under 30 operate a business with an annual turnover of £1m or more. Two thirds – 67% – of managers took less than three years to gain the experience and expertise needed to take on a responsible managerial position. Harriet Teague, 24, who manages the Fullers pub The Pilot in West London, said: “After two years of hard work and steady career progression in the industry, I’ve become the manager of a busy pub in Chiswick. There is a common misconception that young people can’t progress into managerial positions, or find rewarding employment.” Entry-level roles such as glass collectors and bar staff are proved to be the route to senior positions, as more than four out of five – 81% – of managers started their careers behind the bar. Three quarters of managers have also completed college or graduated from university.
UK sales boost McDonald’s European like-for-likes by 1.4% in first quarter of 2014: McDonald’s has reported positive UK sales helped boost European like-for-likes by 1.4% in the first quarter of 2014 to the end of March. UK sales along with sales growth in France and Russia offset weaker sales in Germany. Operating income rose by 6% in Europe. However, globally the company saw a 5.2% profits slump with US like-for-likes down 1.7% because of severe winter weather, negative comparable guest traffic and “challenging industry dynamics”. UK boss Jill McDonald reported strong sales growth for its McCafe drinks range, which includes new mocha as well as iced smoothies and frappes. McDonald’s chief executive Don Thompson said: “In the near term, we are prioritising our efforts around those elements of the restaurant experience that are most impactful – offering the best food and beverage options and delivering outstanding service. For the long term, we are focused on more effectively leveraging consumer insights to guide our global growth priorities of optimising our menu, modernising the customer experience and broadening accessibility to brand McDonald’s. We are intent on pursuing initiatives that will strengthen our relationship with our customers to reignite our business momentum.” Looking forward, McDonald’s is focused on stabilising key priority markets including the US, Germany, Australia and Japan.
Peach Pub Company starts search for finance director as like-for-likes hit 6.8%: Peach Pub Company is kicking off its next growth phase by announcing the search for a new financial director to help manage expansion over the next two years and continue building the business. The move comes at a time of buoyant growth for the independently owned pub company which is set to hit £23 million turnover and add two new pubs by the end of 2014. “We’re looking for a director to head up our Oxfordshire-based finance team who can help us grow, develop the team and deliver our next stage of expansion,” said Peach co-founder Hamish Stoddart. “We’ve already created a professional finance unit, which is as strong today as it’s ever been, and now we’re on the hunt for an exceptional individual to help round out the team and play a major role in hitting our expansion targets. We’re already on track for a bumper year, with a solid start to the quarter and like-for-likes of 6.8% over the last three months, as well as a particularly good Easter,” he said. “Two of our pubs, The Fishes in Oxford and The Embankment in Bedford were star performers, turning in a record-breaking Easter day, and we’re optimistic that the next few months are going to be just as good. As well as getting us in the best shape to capitalise on growth potential, we also want someone who is hungry for a bigger role, someone who can support myself, Lee Cash and the other directors as we channel even more of our energies into getting Peach to a £30 million business with 22 great pubs,” he added. “It’s a big job, ably done by the incumbent Andrew Percy who is taking on a new role outside Peach next month when he joins Loungers.”
Red’s True Barbecue shares research trip with fans:
Red’s True Barbecue is turning its latest R&D road trip into an online travelogue, giving social media fans the chance to share in the 1,100 mile ‘pilgrimage’. The fast-growing smokehouse restaurant concept, owned by James Douglas and Scott Munro, is taking a full media team, including a photographer, blogger and videographer, on its annual pilgrimage to the US, where they’ll travel in a Winnebago across five southern states to source new and interesting menu ideas. The 2014 tour, sponsored by Wild Turkey Bourbon, will see the team travel through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas, visiting up to five BBQ joints each day, and meeting some of the country’s leading Pitmasters and food writers. Fans of Red’s can keep up to date with the tour at www.truebarbecue.com/pilgrimage
. It will feature a photo and video diary, interactive map and blog. Followers will also be given the chance to engage on social media to vote for certain outcomes and decisions of the journey. James Douglas, co-founder of Red’s, said: “We’ve always involved our believers in the brand through social media, so this trip is a natural extension to enable them to share in the incredible world of barbecue. We’ll meet some of the biggest names in US barbecue, no doubt a few odd characters, and like in previous years, we’ll be trying some more unusual dishes, like pickled pig lips. All in all, it’ll be entertaining and will shine a light on the provenance, culture and mystery of what Red’s is all about. While it’ll be good content for the brand, our annual pilgrimage is invaluable to the development of the business too. In recent years we’ve uncovered items such as our now famous Donut Burger, which to date has sold more than 20,000.”
Former M&B marketer plans second Wiltshire Pubs site: Former Mitchells & Butlers marketing executive Sheila King is planning a second pub this October for her Wiltshire Pub Company after the success of her first, The Cross Keys, Wanborough, near Swindon, a Wadworth pub. King, who was most recently previously head of bars category at SSP, opened the site last October with business partner Russell Esworthy. Her first site is described as “a premium country pub”. King told Propel: “We’ve just hit top pub on TripAdvisor and eighth place overall in Swindon. When we took over this business it was 230th – all done in six months. I’m so proud of team and this really endorses that there is a desire for quality, independent pub operators. We wanted to ensure we created a quality and long-term sustainable business and we are now looking forward to opening a second Wiltshire Pub Company site in October.”
Cote boss – ‘the bigger you get the more you have to invest in training’: Cote joint managing director Harald Samuelsson has argued that training needs to see constant investment as companies grow. He told The Daily Telegraph this morning: “The bigger you get, the more you need to invest in training to achieve consistency, adding extra resource to the training department.” The company, which has 48 sites and annual sales of £80m, is targeting 200 sites in the UK before expanding abroad, Samuelsson told The Telegraph.
Bill’s to create 1,250 jobs across 25 new sites: The restaurant chain Bill’s plans to create 1,250 jobs across 25 new sites in the next 12 months, according to the company’s head of people, Marco Reick. Generous relocation allowances, behaviours-based hiring and preventing assessors from seeing candidates’ CVs “until the very end” are among the tools Bill’s is using to build a workforce with “genuine passion” that can, and will, develop careers with the organisation, he told the audience at a RetailChoice.com seminar in London. Reick said Bill’s recruiters were particularly attuned to candidates without previous hospitality experience, in the face of a tightening talent pool within the sector. Overcoming line managers’ bias against candidates without restaurant experience had been a big hurdle for the people team to overcome. However, delaying managers’ sight of CVs until after they have seen how candidates perform in assessments was helping to ease that prejudice, Reick said. Bill’s has 33 restaurants, with three more due to open by June.
Tunbridge Wells superclub promises ‘unique nightclub experience’: A potential new 650-capacity nightclub in Tunbridge Wells will provide a “unique nightclub experience” if the plans are given the go-ahead, its owners claim. The owners of the Pure Fun Factory in North Farm Road want to expand its activities and adapt the site to provide new services including a nightclub, a fashion store, a nail salon, a creche and an exhibition hall. The new club, on High Brooms Industrial Estate, may stay open until 4am from Thursday to Sunday. Jeremy Millins, managing director of the Pure Group, which lodged the plans and has more than 20 years in the trade, said it would boost the area. “The Pure Fun Factory is a great facility for the local community and children. However, it is not financially viable, so we have looked at other solutions and looked at options for night-time trade,” he said. “There is definitely a gap in the market and I’m sure the people of Tunbridge Wells will be positive towards it. For a big club experience, you have to go to Maidstone or London.” Some 80 jobs could be created if the plans are accepted by Tunbridge Wells Council. Millins said as soon as permission is granted the company is “ready to go” with the new club having three bars and two dancefloors.
Wetherspoon confirms interest in Frome: JD Wetherspoon has confirmed it is looking at several options in Frome, Somerset (population: 26,203) for opening a new site. Rumours first began that the national pub chain would be coming to Frome back in 2012. A spokesman for Wetherspoon said: “We are actively looking at the town of Frome and are currently considering a number of options at the moment. We are keen to be in Frome as it is an up and coming, vibrant town.” Meanwhile, Wetherspoon opens its refurbished pub and hotel, The Bath Arms, Warminster, Wiltshire (population: 19,036) next Tuesday, creating 45 jobs. The company has spent £2.26m re-developing the existing pub in Market Place, a Grade II listed property and one of the town’s three surviving 18th century inns. The new-look pub will feature one bar and a beer garden at the back where smoking will be permitted in a designated area. There is also a car park. The hotel has five bedrooms on each of two floors.
Only Way is Essex star completes acquisition of Spirit sub-lease: Michael Norcross, the Only Way is Essex star and boss of The Sugar Hut in Brentwood, has acquired the lease on the Grand Hotel, Leigh-on-Sea and obtained planning permission to turn the property, closed since 2008, into a boutique hotel and restaurant. Spirit Pub Company holds the head lease. Bob Whittle, director at the property agent Fleurets, handled the deal. Norcross said: “I have long admired this iconic building and dreamed of rejuvenating it to reflect the original architecture. It has been my desire to bring the quality West End hotel experience to Essex and I see this building and its location as the perfect opportunity to achieve my dream. My vision is for this classical building to be used by everyone throughout the community, enjoying quality food and drink and utilising it for various events from weddings and family celebrations to art exhibitions, fashion shows and anything else which would usefully serve the region. The business itself will employ people from the surrounding area and I intend to source local suppliers and use the finest locally available produce.” In 2012, Norcross purchased the freehold of the Sugar Hut from Enterprise Inns for £1.3m.
Blackpool four-string Ma Kelly’s to expand to Magaluf: Ma Kelly’s cabaret bar chain, which has four venues in the Blackpool area, is set to open a new nightspot in Magaluf, on the Mediterranean island of Majorca, on 1 May. Owners Paul and Paula Kelly decided that the concept had been so successful in Blackpool they would export it. The company has already opened Ma Kelly’s venues at Lytham Road, Foxhall Road and Talbot Road in Blackpool, and at London Street in Fleetwood. All of the bars offer non-stop free cabaret from 1pm to 3am every day of the year. Mick Sugden, manager of the Ma Kelly’s venues, told The Blackpool Gazette: “We have bought a bar in Magaluf, called the Fountain, and we are transforming it into a Ma Kelly’s venue. We’ve invested a large amount of money in the Magaluf bar. I’ve just been out there and everybody is talking about it. They are looking forward to experiencing great Blackpool-style cabaret shows. It’s being done out in Ma Kelly’s colours – black and red. It will have Las Vegas-style signs and the entertainment will all be free. It will be something completely new for Magaluf. People like our bars because they are very safe.” Sugden said acts from the resort will be flying out to Magaluf to perform for the tourists.
Carluccio’s acquires La Tasca site in Sheffield: Carluccio’s, led by Simon Kosoff, has acquired a La Tasca site in Sheffield, according to local media reports. La Tasca on Ecclesall Road has shut and reports say the lease has been bought by Carluccio’s. A planning application to use it as a cafe and deli has been put in.
Pub company walks away from Punch lease: The Swansea-based Alchemy Pub Company, which runs several bars around South Wales, has walked away from the Punch Taverns-owned Grand Hotel in Port Talbot, two years after taking it on. Alchemy, which also runs the No Name Wine Bar in Swansea and the Rock and Fountain in Penhow, near Newport, is run by managing director Mark Hartson, who said in February 2013, when he acquired the lease of the Grand, two weeks after it had closed on the retirement of the previous tenants: “We have taken it on as a holding company, with a view to buying the building.” However, Punch Taverns, which owns the 127-year-old building, said late last week that Hartson “has made the decision to leave and his last day of trading will be 27 April. Our priority is to keep the pub open and we are actively recruiting a new operator and speaking with interested parties.”
Planners back scheme for McDonald’s with gym next door: Planners in Aberdeen have recommended a scheme for a McDonald’s restaurant with a gym next door to be built at the city’s Kittybrewster Retail Park. The plan from McDonald’s is for a 24-hour restaurant on two floors, with a state-of-the-art gym in a separate building alongside. A decision on the proposals will be made at Aberdeen City Council’s planning development management committee on Thursday. The local community council has objected, raising concerns including possible antisocial behaviour due to the 24-hour licence and pupils at nearby schools being encouraged to eat more fast food.
Caledonian Heritable snaps up Edinburgh pub site: The Galleon Bar, a pub situated at the western end of Portobello High Street, three miles from Edinburgh city centre, has been sold to Caledonian Heritable. Barry McNeil, associate director of the property agent Christie + Co, said: “The Galleon is a sound acquisition for purchasers who are one the largest licensed trade operators in Edinburgh. In the first three months of this year, Christie + Co has sold ten licensed businesses in and around the Edinburgh area. We believe that the demand for pubs and restaurants in the Edinburgh area is on the rise. Demand is driven by a mix of first-time buyers, multiple operators, as well as investors and developers.” The final purchase price of The Galleon was undisclosed. Christie’s sought offers over £70,000.
Brewer and retailer Harvey’s reports profit boost after savings and disposals: Lewes-based brewer and retailer Harvey & Sons has reported pre-tax profit of £3.69m in the year to 31 December 2013, up almost 60% from £2.27m the year before, thanks mostly to property sales. The company grew turnover by less than 0.25% to £18.44m. It said in Companies House documents: “Savings have been achieved in various areas of expenditure resulting in an improvement in operating profit of £295,000, a 13% rise over last year. The company was able to dispose of redundant storage facilities and a pub, giving rise to a profit on sale of £1.12m. As a result the net profit for the year before tax and interest has increased from £2.27m to £3.69m. It is intended that the cash realised from the disposal will be re-invested in additional freehold property sites as and when suitable opportunities arise.” Earnings per share rose to 39.74p from 34.68p the year before. Land and buildings owned by the company were revalued on 31 December 2013 by the property agent Fleurets, which has resulted in an unrealised deficit of £3m.
Black Sheep Brewery launches best bitter on keg: Black Sheep Brewery has responded to popular demand by making its award-winning Best Bitter available on keg for the first time, 22 years after its launch. First brewed in 1992, when the brewery opened in Masham, North Yorkshire, Black Sheep Best Bitter is available on cask in pubs across the country. Best Bitter Keg has been launched in a host of pubs across the north of England, answering what the brewery says is huge demand from drinkers, and it claims the response from pubs has been “hugely encouraging”. The launch of Best Bitter Keg is accompanied by new stemmed glassware. Jo Theakston, sales and marketing director at Black Sheep Brewery, said: “We have had a phenomenal demand for Black Sheep to produce its first keg beer, and what better place to start than with Best Bitter, our most popular, and one of the UK’s best-known, beers. We listen to our customers and do our best to use their insights to generate new ideas to give our customers and drinkers what they want.” The beer is also available on a stand-alone font.
Ed’s Easy Diner to replace clothing shop in Plymouth: Ed’s Easy Diner is looking to open its first south west branch in Plymouth, creating 35 jobs. Planning documents submitted to Plymouth Council showed how the 1950s-style diner could move into a unit on the first floor of the Drake Circus shopping centre. It would replace the Dappa Me men’s clothing shop, which is currently in Unit 19, near the Cornwall Street entrance to the mall.
Itsu opens Ludgate Hill site today: Itsu, headed by Julian Metcalfe, is opening its new site in Ludgate Hill in the City of London today, occupying the former Earl of Sandwich sandwich chain site. Earl of Sandwich has 30 outlets in the United States, and opened its first UK shop in Ludgate Hill in 2011 but received a “very nice offer” from Itsu for the site.
Think.Eat.Drink. to open in Kings Cross in June: A new bar and restaurant, TED (Think.Eat.Drink), will open in the Caledonian Road in King’s Cross, North London this June “offering outstanding ethically sourced British food within an environmentally conscious setting”. TED, to be opened by Jamie Grainger-Smith, is “on a mission to make a step-change for future dining experiences”. Grainger-Smith launched the TED consultancy in 2005, which offers sustainable guidance, advice and support to the food and drink industry, and went on to set up an accredited membership scheme for operators and suppliers that want to eat, drink and think more ethically and profitably. His restaurant experience includes the River Cafe, assisting Jamie Oliver with setting up Fifteen Restaurants and co-founding the multi award-winning Acorn House, Kings Cross and the Waterhouse in Hoxton. He said: “My goal is, put simply, to create a feel-good neighbourhood restaurant with delicious food and exemplary service.”
Domino’s UK franchisee with nine sites marks 25 years with the company: Businessman Siggy Wilberg, Domino’s longest-standing UK franchisee, is celebrating 25 years in Swindon with the pizza delivery company. Born in Norway in 1944, Siggy moved to the UK in 1980 and, on spotting an opportunity for pizza delivery, set up one of the country’s first pizza delivery companies – the American Pizza Company. Having built up a network of six stores, he sold up and became one of Domino’s very first franchisees in late ‘80s with the opening of a Domino’s store in London. Following success with two Domino’s stores in London, Siggy, who lived in Abingdon at the time, jumped at the chance to open the first Domino’s in Swindon and sold his London stores to work closer to home. Today, Siggy owns four stores in Swindon which employ over 230 local people, as well as four other stores in Yate, Bath, Newbury and Halesowen, plus one in Germany. Siggy runs his franchise with business partner James Swift, who began working for Siggy as a delivery driver aged 16. Siggy has mentored James over the years and the pair became business partners in 2000. He holds a Gold Franny – an accolade presented only to the very top Domino’s franchisees worldwide from over 70 countries.
Hertfordshire freehold on the market for £1.3m: The freehold of the Six Bells, 2010 Camra Best Hertfordshire Pub, is on the market through agent Fleurets from an asking price of £1,300,000. Current owners Patrick and Jo Remmington have owned the business since 2005. Six Bells featured in the Rory McGrath Pub Dig TV series when the car park was excavated to search for Roman treasure. Said Fleurets’ divisional director Andy Frisby: “Trading accounts for the Six Bells demonstrate that this is a very profitable and healthy business. The idyllic setting, good quality food offer and the welcoming atmosphere that Jo has been able to deliver for almost a decade is key to the success of the business”.
RBS suspends holiday park December loan repayment after storm devastation: RBS has reported that it suspended the December loan repayment for the Golden Sands Holiday Park beside Sandy Cove in North Wales after the severe winter storms. Neil Parry, head of consumer industries at RBS, said: “Golden Sands has been our customer for over five years. Normally, the park’s location near the beautiful sandy North Wales Blue Flag beach of Sandy Cove is advantageous, but the December storms battered the sea wall, leaving the park underwater. Appreciating that Easter is such a key time for the leisure industry, we knew the team at Golden Sands would need support quickly to ensure they didn’t miss this busy period of trading. We immediately suspended their December loan payment to provide adequate breathing space and aid cash flow and extended their overdraft facility to cover the time delay in their insurance cover being paid. As a result their flood damage has been repaired in time for Easter and visitors will benefit from improved facilities during their stay including a revamped bar. We have also put in place a flexible facility that will enable them to expand.” Robert Sewell, Golden Sands’ founder, said: “RBS were really there for us in our time of need.”