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Wed 23rd Sep 2015 - Propel Wednesday News Briefing

Story of the Day:

Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker shows UK plans bumper Christmas: This year’s Christmas is set to be a bumper celebration as Brits reveal plans to spend more. This month’s Greene King Leisure Spend Tracker has revealed over a quarter of British adults (27%), who expect to celebrate the festive season, intend to spend more this Christmas than last year, while almost 60% have indicated they have no plans to cut spending this year. Not only are Brits sidelining attempts to reign in the Christmas budget, the nation is also planning to start Christmas shopping early. About 60% of British adults making merry this Christmas have either already begun buying their presents or plan to have their shopping underway by the beginning of December. Just 9% intend to leave buying their gifts until the fortnight before Christmas Day. Stereotypically, men are twice as likely to be last minute shoppers than women. Fiona Gunn, Greene King’s marketing director, said: “Further growth on last year’s spending would mean a great boost for the UK economy. Beyond showing how much Brits enjoy the festive period, these findings indicate that consumers are much more confident in their personal finances than in recent years. Interest rates are expected to stay low, supermarket price wars are driving household costs down and online orders are making the Christmas shopping much easier.” Overall, average British household leisure spend increased by 1% year-on-year in August, while it increased 8% month-on-month. Month-on-month, family households increased their total leisure spending by 12%, as school holidays encouraged higher spending on family entertainment. Year-on-year, eating out saw the most significant increase as the casual dining sector continued to grow. This trend was particularly notable in London and the south east. Households without kids increased spending on other leisure by 11%. Much of this increase was a result of increased spend on live sports events, particularly given the early start of the Premier League this year. Gunn added: “The continued increase in wages and rise in consumer confidence could be a driver of the recent uptick in spending on ‘other leisure’. Over the school holidays, parents have been entertaining their children with trips to the theatre, the cinema, museums and other attractions. Spending on live sports events has also seen an increase due to the earlier start to the Premiership football season and, as the Rugby World Cup has just kicked off, we look forward to seeing this trend continue throughout the autumn.”

Industry News:

Sector companies invited to benchmark themselves: More than 70 companies took part in the first sector Benchmarking Survey last year, conducted by Propel in partnership with accountants haysmacintyre. All contributions are confidential and go to haysmacintyre without being seen by Propel. Companies are invited to take part in this year’s survey by clicking through on the link below (it should take about 15 minutes to complete) – all contributors receive a copy as soon as it’s published: Deadline for inclusion has been extended to this Friday (25 September).

Focus Brands boss reports licensing and on-demand key areas for growth: Focus Brands executive vice-president Paul Damico, whose company’s six brands have 5,000 locations in 67 countries and produces sales of $2.7bn, has told the Technomic and Propel Menu Trends Conference that licensing, on-demand and non-traditional locations will be key expansion routes for the company – aside from traditional routes such as domestic and international franchising. It produces white label and branded products for other operators, including Taco Bell, Arby’s and Schlotzsky Deli. A three-year contract to provide Cinnabon rolls to 7,000 US Burger King sites had produced an Ebitda contribution of $2.5m. Damico also reported it is partnering Postmates, the fastest-growing “on-demand” provider, with each of its six brands piloting on one of eight test markets. “Ordering for delivery ‘on-demand’ is the fastest growing segment and Postmates positions us to occasions that we miss today,” said Damico. The company has also expanded into non-traditional locations and its brand can be found in army bases, amusement parks, airports, casinos, higher education establishments, Walmarts and medical centres. The company’s Moe’s Southwest Grill had even co-located at new-build petrol stations because they provide very high footfall.

Starbucks planning to introduce mobile order and pay in UK and Canada next month: Starbucks is planning to introduce mobile order and pay in the UK and Canada next month. The company said it would make the system available at selected company-owned stores in the two countries. It comes after Starbucks finished the roll-out of mobile ordering and payment at its 7,400 US company-owned sites with the service also now available to Android users. The app allows customers to choose a store from a map view, browse, select and customise their food and drink items, view the estimated timeframe the order will be ready, and pre-pay. Chief digital officer Adam Brotman said: “Bringing mobile order and pay to our customers is about meeting their needs of convenience and customisation at any time of the day. The fact that it also represents the fastest technology application roll-out we have ever done is indicative of the strength of our digital ecosystem, how well it has been received by both our customers and store partners and the impact we think it can have on the future of retail.” Mobile ordering and payment was first introduced in the US in Portland, Oregon, last December. In July, Starbucks said mobile ordering and payment accounted for 20% of transactions, or about $9m every week.

Survey reveals UK consumers’ pre-occupation with food: Brits spend more than a solid month every year thinking about food, a new study reveals. The study of 2,000 people explored consumers’ relationship with food and found the average Brit will mull over their hunger, meal choices and eating habits for an average of two hours and 13 minutes every day – which equates to 34 days every year. The poll, commissioned by Weight Watchers UK, revealed the first focused thoughts towards food come in at 8.55am, while potential lunch options come at 10.33am. They’ll first wonder “is this good for me?” when mulling over a snack at 11.21am – while the evening meal is first imagined at 1.03pm. The biggest reason to want a snack was shown to be boredom (47%) – while over a fifth confessed to needing a sugar hit, or just to cheer up when sad or stressed. Social pressure to indulge at events such as birthdays or weddings (18%) was also a reason for British minds to go into overdrive thinking about food, the poll showed.

Research finds two-thirds of consumers judge a restaurant by the quality of its coffee: New research has revealed two thirds of consumers judge the quality of a restaurant, pub or hotel based on the quality of its coffee. The survey of over 1,000 consumers by UCC Coffee UK & Ireland, also found 77% of diners said a good coffee makes the difference between a mediocre and an exceptional dining experience. Phil Smith, head of category and insight, UCC Coffee UK & Ireland, said: “With coffee on the high street going from strength to strength, it’s time for eating out operators to take their coffee seriously. Our research shows that consumers are demanding quality whenever they are eating out and this could be the difference between a satisfactory experience and surpassing expectations.”

Loyalty and payment app Velocity buys US rival Cover: UK-based hospitality loyalty platform Velocity has bought Cover, the mobile payments app accepted at over 350 restaurants in the US. The acquisition will accelerate the expansion of Velocity’s global hospitality platform, which connects premier restaurants with affluent diners, allows them to settle their bill directly from their phone, and builds loyalty through tailored status and rewards programmes at the world’s leading venues. “We are delighted to have completed the acquisition of Cover, the first major step in accelerating our international roll-out,” said Alex Macdonald, Velocity co-founder. “With the acquisition, we are excited to bring our suite of loyalty, CRM, and analytics tools to restaurateurs in the US, enabling them to identify, attract, and retain high value, trend- setting customers. We see ourselves as a hospitality company first, and a technology company second – a value shared with our newly expanded US team.” With this acquisition, Velocity claims to be the largest restaurant mobile payment company in the world.

Company News:

Beds and Bars seeks new marketing director after Duncan Robertson secures managing director job with youth travel company: Pan-European bar and hostel provider Beds and Bars is seeking a new marketing director as Duncan Robertson, who holds the role of sales and marketing director and has worked for the company for nine years, prepares to leave in November for a new position as managing director of a youth travel company. Beds and Bars chief executive Keith Knowles told Propel: “I’m really proud that Duncan is taking this new job – really delighted for him. This company is all about personal growth and development. Duncan is certainly not one of those CV hoppers – he has been instrumental in growing sales during his nine years here. He is still working as hard as ever here and will still be with us until November. Duncan will leave with our very best wishes – a friend of the company for life.” Beds and Bars is currently seeing like-for-likes up 10% on last year, with Ebitda up 13% – and is set to embark on a £7m investment at key London sites in 2016. Anyone interested in applying for the job should contact managing director Murray Roberts on

Prezzo gets go-ahead to open new restaurant in Grantham: Prezzo has been given the go-ahead to open a new site in Grantham, Lincolnshire. The company has been granted permission by South Kesteven District Council to open the restaurant in St Peter’s Hill, creating 20 jobs. It will now refurbish two adjoining empty units next to Costa Coffee and hopes to open the venue, which will cater for about 100 diners, before Christmas, reports the Grantham Journal. The restaurant will be open from noon to 11.30pm seven days a week. A spokesman previously said: “A new Prezzo restaurant will contribute to the vitality and viability of the shopping frontage in Grantham town centre. The inclusion of Prezzo in the town centre will also increase consumer choice and diversity in this location. Prezzo would be an asset to the evening economy of Grantham town centre, especially give its proximity to the Guildhall Arts Centre.”

Las Iguanas to open £1m restaurant on site of former Burger King in Blackpool: Las Iguanas, the Latin American-themed brand owned by Casual Dining Group, will open a £1m restaurant on Blackpool’s Golden Mile in mid-November. The company is converting the building at the junction of Church Street and the Promenade that was formerly occupied by Burger King. The 6,000 square foot restaurant and bar is expected to create about 50 jobs. A spokesman told the Blackpool Gazette: “We’re excited that we’ll be opening mid-November and the restaurant and bar are going to look amazing. We think that Blackpool is a vibrant and exciting town and that residents and visitors alike will embrace something a little bit different to the hum drum. We’ll be bringing the fresh tastes, colours and beats of South America to town this autumn so look out for the arrival of a big slice of Latin magic.” Las Iguanas, which was bought by Casual Dining Group in July for about £85m, operates more than 40 restaurants across the country.

Leelex appoints new managing director as it prepares for further expansion: Leeds-based hospitality group Leelex has appointed Paul Lane as managing director as it prepares for further expansion. Lane, who is currently a director having started with the company 15 years ago as manager of its Oporto bar, takes over from current managing director and founder Ged Feltham. Feltham will still play an active role in the running of Leelex, focusing on new business development and as managing director of the company’s gin brand Portobello Road Gin. He said: “I’m confident that Paul will be invaluable in his new role to continue the development of Leelex’s bar and restaurant portfolio. His experience and passion for the job is second-to-none.” The company plans to open multiple new sites in various cities in the coming months, including a second outlet in London. Leelex currently operates Leeds venues Pintura Kitchen & Bar, Cielo Blanco, Jake’s Bar & Still Room, Neon Cactus and Oporto as well as the Portobello Star, which is based on London’s Portobello Road. The company currently employs 145 staff and has a reported turnover of £6.2m and expects sales to reach £8.2m this year.

Cosmo applies to open world buffet site at Northampton nightclub: World buffet brand Cosmo has applied to open a site at the former Balestra nightclub site in Northampton. The building, which dates back to the mid-19th century and is grade II-listed, has been vacant since the nightclub closed in spring 2013. The site used to be known as the Northampton Corn Exchange and in 1920 it was converted to a cinema. In 2010, the building was given a £250,000 refit and was renamed Balestra. When the company went into administration two years ago, the club closed and the building was later sold to the current owners, Cosmo Restaurants of London, which plans to convert it into a restaurant. The company opened its first restaurant in Eastbourne, East Sussex, in 2003, and now has a total of 17 across the country, including one in Northampton. A decision on the plans is expected in November.

Former Cubitt House executives launching first restaurant today: Two former executives at the central London gastro-pub operator Cubitt House, Gabriel and Marcello Bernardi, are launching their first restaurant today (Wednesday, 23 September). They are opening 120-cover restaurant and bar, Bernardi’s, in Marylebone, central London. The venue, on a prominent corner site between Seymour Place and Seymour Street, occupies two floors of a restored Victorian building. The ground floor contains a restaurant with a casual Italian menu and classic Italian cocktails, fine wines, prosecco and beers. There is also a dining bar, table seating for 80 guests, open kitchen and outdoors dining during warmer months. The lower ground floor, with space for 40, has a “living room style” interior, with armchairs and low lighting, and will sell cocktails and sharing plates. The seasonal Italian menu from head chef Sabrina Gidda includes tarragon gnocchi, rabbit ragu, broad beans and pancetta and salted cod, white polenta, peperonata and sorrel. The Bernardis, who are of Italian descent but born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, played a key role in the establishment and success of the Cubitt House group.

Square Pie opening first site outside London tomorrow: Square Pie, the gourmet pub company, will launch its first site outside London tomorrow (Thursday, 24 September) at the Grand Central shopping centre in Birmingham. The site, which is the company’s seventh restaurant, is part of the businesses’ wider expansion plans having opened its biggest venue at the O2 in Greenwich, London, in June and with plans to open an additional five restaurants in 2016. The brand is also currently fund-raising through crowdfunding platform Crowdcube to help finance the next stage of growth and has so far raised 60% of its £750,000 target. Founder Martin Dewey said: “2015 has been a big year for us so far, and we’re excited to be broadening our listings outside London. This is just part of our wider business growth plans over the next few years, as we are looking to open even more restaurants around the country, bringing our very unique high quality pies to more Brits nationwide.”

Managed operator TCG reports rugby boost: Managed pub and bar operator TCG has reported a flying start to the Rugby World Cup, boosted by its Proud of Our Ale Festival, which also kicked off on Friday evening. Chief operating officer Nigel Wright said: “The makeup of the TCG estate with many strong, drinks-led sites, really comes into its own for big sports occasions and sales across our sites showing the rugby were well ahead of last year, not just on Friday but over the whole weekend. Our flagship sports pub, the F3K in Fulham, more than doubled last year’s sales, thanks to fantastic planning by the team and an international customer base, which meant there were good crowds for matches other than just the England versus Fiji game. The Comedy in Leicester Square also benefited from a global sports following, achieving a 35% uplift. Elsewhere, Henry’s in Cardiff saw sales up by 64% on the back of both the Ireland and Wales matches at the Millennium Stadium, and Finnegan’s Wake in Edinburgh was up by 38%. Many of our local pubs performed well, including the Steam Passage in Camden, which had a record week, Molly Millar in Wokingham and Sefton Arms in St Helens, both up in excess of 30%.”

Ed’s Easy Diner opening third Birmingham site tomorrow:
Ed’s Easy Diner will open its third site in Birmingham tomorrow (Thursday, 24 September). The company is opening its latest venue at the new Grand Central shopping centre, located opposite Tesco Extra on the upper concourse. The 1950s-styled American diner will serve the company’s usual menu of burgers, hotdogs, sodas, shakes, beers and floats as well as breakfast options. The restaurant will be open Monday to Saturday from 7am-10pm and Sunday from 9am-9pm. The company has nearly 50 sites including two others in Birmingham – at the Barclaycard Arena and within the Selfridges department store at The Bullring. Earlier this month it hired Ivan Schofield as its new chief executive, taking over from Andrew Guy, who retires from the business at the end of the year.

Former Surya Hotels director of operations launches first restaurant: Gez Chetal, the former director of operations at Suffolk-based Surya Hotels, has opened his first restaurant concept where diners cook their own meals at the table on hot stones. Chetal and business partner Roger Cash have launched Hot Rocks @ Mojitos in King’s Lynn, Norfolk, on the site formerly occupied by The Thai Orchid, creating ten jobs, reports the Lynn News. The restaurant, which Chetal hopes will be the first of six in East Anglia, seats 140 people and has a Latino theme. Diners are brought hot lava rocks and food to the table and can cook their meals to their liking. There is a set price for an unlimited amount of wine and food.

Gatwick food and beverage supremo joins Davis Coffer Lyons: Gatwick Airport food and beverage supremo Charlotte Christiansen has joined Davis Coffer Lyons as an associate director of its London estate and development team. This follows the recent appointment of Camilla Topham as a director from Shelley Sandzer, to continue her working relationship with developers and institutional landlords, both in London and nationwide. Christiansen delivered a new food and beverage strategy at Gatwick, which transformed the transport hub’s dining offer and saw the introduction of operators including Jamie’s Italian, Comptoir Libanais, Nando’s, Wagamama and Bruno Loubet’s Grain Store, many of whom were opening their first airport restaurants. The strategy pioneered many new practices for airside catering including the ability to cook with gas, which was previously disallowed. Prior to working at Gatwick, Christiansen worked on the food and beverage strategy at Westfield London and Stratford City. At Davis Coffer Lyons, Christiansen will work with Westfield, Greenwich Hospital and Westgate Oxford as well as a range of other high profile developers and landlords.

Lifeboat Pub Company acquires third site, this time in Hunstanton: The Lifeboat Pub Company has acquired its third site, this time in Hunstanton, Norfolk. The company, led by Tim Joudrey, has taken over the Wash and Tope Hotel in Le Strange Terrace. The site will close on Friday (25 September) for about eight weeks for a major refurbishment. Joudrey told the Lynn News: “The pub will provide a much-needed family venue, offering quality dining and a huge range of branded drinks. We expect to create additional permanent jobs at the pub as well as seasonal vacancies. In the past the pub has struggled due to lack of investment and the hope is to update the venue to provide exceptional facilities for the local community and further afield.” Lifeboat Pub Company also operates the Two Lifeboats in Sheringham, Norfolk, and the Punch Taverns-owned Shroppie Fly in Audlem, Crewe.

Owner of Japan Centre and Shoryu Ramen to launch udon house restaurant concept Ichiryu in London:
Tak Tokumine, owner of the Japan Centre food stores and ramen restaurant Shoryu Ramen, will launch udon house concept Ichiryu in London. Tokumine will open the first Ichiryu early next year after securing a site in New Oxford Street. Ichiryu’s menu will include traditional Japanese udon, sushi and sides with a modern twist and a focus on the umami flavour. The menu will offer a wide range of light and healthy udon, chilled or hot, served with a large variety of freshly prepared toppings. The restaurant will offer both takeout and dine-in options with a relaxed seating area and also feature an open kitchen. Tokumine opened the first Japan Centre in Warwick Street, London, in 1976 and launched Shoryu Ramen in November 2012, which now has five sites in the capital.

New dessert cafe concept Tysa launches in Colchester: Tysa, a new dessert cafe concept, has launched in Colchester, Essex. Tayyab Razak has opened the cafe in the High Street on the site of the former Big Man’s Fish and Grill takeaway. Tysa, which is open from 8.30am-10pm on weekdays and closes at 11pm on weekends, has more than 30 desserts on offer as well as milkshakes, cakes and coffee. Razak told the Daily Gazette: “There is no dedicated dessert place in the town centre. We’re trying to create that culture where friends, families and couples can come into town, like they do for a meal, to enjoy desserts. I think the restaurant culture is on the rise, so it is a great time to open. We are bringing something different to Colchester. We want to be part of the revitalisation of the town centre.”

North Lincolnshire Businesswoman of the Year opening third site this week in Grimsby: Entrepreneur Liz Parry, the 2014 North Lincolnshire Businesswoman of the Year, is to open her third site this week. Parry is launching The Curious Cat Cocktail Bar and Kitchen in Bethlehem Street, Grimsby, on Friday, on the site of The Larder coffee shop and deli, creating about ten jobs. The two-storey grade II-listed building has been refurbished and the 220-capacity venue features a 6.5 metre dark oak bar on the ground floor, with kitchen and cellar and a function room upstairs. It will have an extensive cocktail list as well as serving an array of spirits and Heineken Extra Cold beer. Parry also operates Abbys Bistro, which is next door to The Curious Cat Cocktail Bar and Kitchen, and The Riverside in Cleethorpes, which she bought last November. She told the Grimsby Telegraph: “We want to top and tail what we offer at Abbys. We hear from customers at Abbys that there is limited choice for a drink before or after a meal, in a similar environment. There is definitely a different atmosphere between a restaurant or bistro and a bar, one is food-led and the other drinks, but we feel there is an opportunity to provide something that fills the gap, between that and the traditional pubs.”

Greene King signs app deal with MatchPint for free licensee usage: Greene King’s leased division Pub Partners has struck a deal for its tenants and lessees to receive a year’s free subscription to top sports app MatchPint. MatchPint is an app that allows sports fans to find pubs showing sport. It usually costs £200 for a pub to be included. As well as helping customers find somewhere to watch the latest game, offers on popular drinks brands are also available, helping pubs bring new customers through the doors. The cost of the app and funding of the drinks deals is being met by Greene King and suppliers Diageo, AB InBev and MatchPint. Clive Chesser, business unit director for Greene King Pub Partners, said: “We are constantly working to secure deals like this which directly help our licensees reach new customers and boost their trade. This is great news for our tenants and lessees, particularly with the Rugby World Cup on our home turf. Hundreds of hard-working Greene King licensees will benefit from being on this app.”

Douglas Jack – M&B like-for-likes have been 0-1% for three years now: Numis Securities leisure analyst Douglas Jack, who has an ‘Add’ recommendation on Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) shares with a 400p price point, has cut his profit before tax forecast for the company by 2% this year – and 2% next year. He said: “Like-for-like sales fell 0.7% (food -0.2%; drink -1.4%) in quarter four, and are up 1.0% after 43 weeks, despite the company benefiting from soft comparables of 0.1% in quarter four and 0.6% over the full year. We are cutting our 2015E profit-before-tax forecast by 3% and 2016E by 2%. Although margins should be in line with guidance (down circa 30bps), the lack of traction on sales has led to a change in chief executive, with Phil Urban replacing Alistair Darby. Like-for-like sales rose 1.0% (food 2.1%; drink -0.3%) over the first 50 weeks. This performance was in line with the pubs constituent of the Coffer Peach Business Tracker (+0.9%), but behind the overall Tracker (+1.6%, including restaurants). In quarter four, the company claims it suffered from subdued trading conditions and wet weather, but it did under-perform the Tracker by 1.5% over these two months, with the under-performance limited by M&B being the Tracker’s largest constituent. Ebit margins fell 67bps in half one, but should be down circa 30bps over the full year. We believe the recovery to slight margin growth in half two reflects labour cost reduction and minor gross margin improvement. Guidance is for Ebit to be at the bottom of the £328-£338m range; and with total sales up 7.0% (£2,108m), this would imply a margin of 15.6%, versus 15.9% last year. Like-for-like sales have been between 0% and 1% in each of the last three years. Without progress in the top line, it is almost impossible for the company to grow margins, and its Ebit margins are 400-500bps below where they were in the early 2000’s. Urban, who worked with Bob Ivell at Scottish and Newcastle Retail, is likely to have a primary objective of generating sales momentum. M&B has a high quality managed estate, which is currently valued on a price-to-earnings ratio of 10.3x and an EV/Ebitda of 9.0x. The EV/Ebitda would be 8.1x if the pension deficit (equivalent to £1.20/share) did not exist, a scenario that could emerge if interest rates rise. We believe there should be limited downside risk to forecasts and valuation, but it is likely that investors will have to continue to be patient if they are waiting for a positive catalyst (such as a resumption in dividends).”

Patisserie chef who created desserts for Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal acquires Harrogate Gate Company: Yorkshire-based patisserie chef Charlotte Marrifield, who has created desserts for Gordon Ramsay and Heston Blumenthal, has acquired the Harrogate Cake Company. Marrifield has bought the company from former director Heather Cawthorne for an undisclosed sum. She will continue to use the Harrogate Cake Company name but the company will become part of her umbrella Sugar Therapy brand. Marrifield, who has 18 years experience in dessert and cake making, will move production to her 3,000 sq ft bakery in Thirsk. She told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “We are absolutely delighted to acquire the Harrogate Cake Company as it brings an incredibly strong brand into our business. The products are very high quality and we will continue to follow the original 50-year-old recipes, as well as applying the same meticulous skill and care we are known for. I am very hands on in the business and have a small dedicated team of chefs and bakers, who share my passion for quality.” Marrifield received funding support from the Royal Bank of Scotland for the acquisition.

Welcome Break invests £1.7m in ‘oldest’ service station hotel:
Welcome Break, one of the UK’s leading motorway service operators, has just completed a £1.7m refurbishment of the Days Inn Milton Keynes hotel at its Newport Pagnell site, located between junction 14 and 15 of the M1. The site, which was the first service station accessible to all traffic in the UK, enjoyed a further £340,000 investment earlier this year opening both Harry Ramsden’s and Subway to customers. The Days Inn Milton Keynes hotel now boasts 87 bedrooms. The renovation sees the integration of a selection of bedrooms, originally located separately from the main hotel complex, into the wider building, ensuring customers can remain inside when moving between their room and the communal recreation areas.

Joe & the Juice to open first UK airport site at Stansted: Joe & the Juice, the Danish juice and coffee bar concept, is set to open its first UK airport site at Stansted in Essex. The company, which specialises in made-to-order nutritional juices and shakes, has secured one of the 18 units in the third and final retail phase of the £80m terminal redevelopment, which will open later in the autumn. It will be the 14th UK site for the brand, which has sites across Europe as well as in South Korea, Singapore and New York in the US. Airport managing director Andrew Harrison said: “Interest in this final phase was once again extremely high with over 80 proposals received for the 18 remaining retail units giving a clear indication of what an exciting development this is in terms of travel retail.” Phase one of the departure lounge project included the opening of nine new retail units, while phase two increased the choice of cafes, bars and restaurants with the arrival of 12 new offers.

New paleo cafe and pantry concept launches in Bagshot:
A new paleo cafe and pantry concept has launched in Bagshot, Surrey. Roost, based in the High Street, is the brainchild of three families – Jody and Stuart Diton, Leisa and Ollie Moss, and Kirstie and Kelvin Prince. The menu follows the paleo dietary regime that advocates whole, unprocessed and nutrient-dense foods, reports Get Surrey. The food is freshly prepared, locally sourced and seasonal, and is available to eat-in or take-away. The organic pantry also stocks the ingredients needed to continue the paleo principles at home, including organic and primal baking goods.

Michel Roux Junior-backed Growing Underground reaches £200,000 Crowdcube target on final day after increasing equity offer:
Growing Underground, the farm project backed by Michel Roux Junior that plans to utilise two unused underground World War Two shelters in Clapham to produce leafy greens, has reached its £200,000 target on crowdfunding platform Crowdcube on its final day after increasing its equity offer. The concept, which was offering 10% instead of the previous 8%, has seen 225 investors pledge £203,900, with the largest investment to date being £25,000. The farm consists of 600 square metres of growing space that will have doubled by the end of the year, a food production picking and packing area, propagation rooms, research and development facilities, and cold storage. The pitch states: “We are now fund-raising to finalise the supply of produce to wholesale and end-user consumers. To achieve our goal of producing crops that are consumed by all, we need to install a higher specification packing and processing system that can achieve the volumes required by retailers.”
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